Wow, have not seen Transcendental mentioned for years! He had a sweet Jordan module design.
You did not say how many inputs, RCA or XLR, if you need MM or MC, tone, remote etc.
Anyway, if I go with the Chord DAC, I'll need another preamp. Have my eye on the Schiit Kara and the Topping A90 discrete. The Ladder and Gustard both look good, but no remote. Reviews of the newest Emotiva seem reasonable. Preamps are not very hard and should not cost a fortune, but of course, the ego-driven audiofool market says we need $80.000 preamps encased in billet aluminum which is course does nothing to shield hum.
I had a Nakamichi PA-5 years ago and loved it. It has a smooth and sweet sound. The old Apt Holman was well regarded, but left me cold. Back when I had a B&K ST-140, ( modified) I used the original Hafler kit. Clean for it's time but crap switches of course. If all you need is a buffer and volume control, the JDS Atom+ is an amazing little box for the super high price of $109. My Schiit Asgard is OK, but the JDS is cleaner.
So, it depends on what features you need and if you want it to be clean or provide some sort of preferred distortion. Of course for a little more the Schiit Frea gives you both options. The B&K already gives you a little smoothness in the mids, so a squeaky clean CH-FI might do you fine. Amazon return policy makes it easy. Of course, Schiit also has a return. I just ordered a Vidar that I expect to more neutral than my own MOSFET amp, so undecided if I want the perfect clean of the Topping or a little more tuned by ear as Schiit does.