Thanks you for your prompt answer, I fully understand and agree with your considerations.The key to the "Pilium sound" is the combination of either of the two Pilium preamps (Ares and Alexander) and ANY of the Pilium amps. I have zero experience matching either Pilium preamps with other brand amps or the opposite.
The P link (connect the Pilium pre with any of their amps) which uses normal xlr's is the avenue to get the "Pilium sound". I would not have a clue on how the Pilium gear will match with other brands. When someone asks me the question I tell them that if you are NOT going to eventually go with both a Pilium pre and amp combination or the Pilium integrated amps I suggest they look at other alternatives.
It's not to say that the Pilium amps and preamps won't match with other brands, it's that we have no idea what they would sound like. Unless I know what something sounds like and have heard it personally I would never recommend it.
In the meantime my friend will reflect, a good deep sleep will bring his decision...