Every one of you has made a the choice easier by sharing information and experience, and a big thanks to you all!
Lisa, thank you for your opinion and reason, and your preference.
John, all of your info helps, especially about the sound files and McSpadden exchange policy. I'll look into it.
Ken, that's both encouraging and makes a lot of sense.
Matt, I wish I could go to a showroom. Music stores in Portland Oregon don't readily sell dulcimers, let alone McSpadden. The closest is Dusty Strings in Seattle. It's too far and they only have a few models in their showroom. But that would probably be the 'best' option.
I think what it comes down to for me is that either choice would probably work out. As John said, "it often takes a bit of time to "make friends" with a new instrument, to find its sweet spots and how to get the tone you like out of it." - I think either will be friendly enough. I will consider all of the advice and information, along with a few other people I asked and make the decision.
You are certainly a warm and friendly community and I can't thank you all enough!