Change one thing at a time and see how you like the improvemennt/change. I'd try first with the $700 amp upgrade and see how that sounds. It might just ring your bell adequately.....for a time. ;-)
You have some nice gear already and dropping a few thousand may not get you everything you hoped for, maybe more of a lateral move perhaps. The room treatment route would be my choice given your mentioned budget. $500-$1000 worth of treatments can go a long way and often has a bigger impact. Getting the room acoustics more controlled will better your listening experience and evaluation of gear IMHO.
You'll probably go the 'get new speaker' route as yiou seem to want to anyhow.
I'd opt for your second scenario. Better pre and upgrade the amp. The sound will change and it'd be kind of like getting new speakers, and you'll be better off later when you do swing in new speakers.
Improve the signal and improve the sound. Better front ends really do make good speakers sound better.
Regardless your choice... good luck and enjoy.
The sound is good now. There is an old addage don't fix what isn't broken.
The preamp can easily chew up your 2 or $3K budget. There seems no end to what a pre can cost. However I bought a cheap little pre an AE-3 on a Lark. The result for my $350 was taking my very good sounding system to the realm of nirvana. So it isn't allways the more money you pour into the system the better.
If you heard something about a piece of equipment or see something you think you might like take a shot at it. If you are having difficulty spend it elsewherein my case wanted to hear a 6SN7 only preamp.
Can you improve the 'sound' of the Tyler's? Absolutely, but they aren't that bad and unless you have some specific goal you can do a lot worse for more money. I had a problem, I had a goal, and I moved up successfully. But, when I bought the Tylers, my goal was more asthetics than anything else and the urge was to get something new. Frankly I succeded and failed. The Tylers looked better, but overall their predecessors sounded better. And the sound was more important to me.
IMHO, you need to develope some specific goals. Don't buy new amps if you think the Tylers are leaving. Don't buy new amps unless you have a problem with the Tylers you want to correct and you are reasonably confident you can do so. OR, if you plan to get new speakers (out of curiousity) then be prepared to get a new amp to compliment your new speakers. What you have may not work to your satisfaction.
And, if you just want to up-grade something, just to do something (which we all do sometimes), spend your money on sources and/or a pre-amp, tubes or SS depending on your inclinations, which could easily survive the ultimate purchase of new speakers and amps.
FWIW, I never buy new speakers without assuming first that I will be getting new synergistic amps as well. It always seems to work out that way.............:-)
Hey Newbee i have D1s on order to most likely replace my LLS. I should have them in January. If you havent made a move by then i will chime in and let you know my feelings on the two. Good luck and i understand what you mean by itch. I am most satisfied with my LLS sound wise. So much so i got the itch to take it up a notch and hear what D1 is all about in my system and room. I got one good reply in another thread on D1s at RMAF.
Tyler was pretty modest when he described the improvements of the D1 to me, but that is probably a good thing: he is a very modest person in general, and his product sound very, very good, so I am excited to hear how the D1's sound. So many people in this industry hype their product as "the best ever" and then the product fails to meet expectations.
He did seem very excited about the quality of the new product, but definitely thought the D1 was the upgrade to the LSS for a bigger room, not the D2.
It replaced a highly modded over many years ARC SP6B Which uses 6 12AX7s. But this pre was just an ARC by nameplate. The guy I bought it from was a fanatic -he wanted a wire with gain. I thought that's the ticket the proverbial wire with gain. I tried it in my own system at home and was impressed with it's nuetrality.
About 3 months later I started thinking I could use a little warmth and a more tube responsive pre. The gain was ridiculously high. The legendary phono stage caught every nuance that a note of dust can... it sounded like firecracker. If any one wants a......
I've never heard your amp, but in general I think the differences in amps and pre-amps is smaller than most audiophiles imagine, once you get to a certain level of build quality. Speakers are another matter. That said, I'd be reluctant to spend 3k on speakers I couldn't audition in my home (though I did just that when I bought by VR4 HSEs sight unseen, or sound unheard--go figure). And my own opinion, if I might respectfully dissent from Newbee's view, is that you already have the only goal you'll ever need: a better sounding audio system. In my own experience, I've had trouble hearing deficits in my system until I heard something I liked better. Good luck.
Stewie, For the sake of argument, IMHO if you have no reference to what 'better' means (to you) how will you ever know when to stop up-grading. There is always going to be something 'better' on the horizon even if in reality its only different.
IMHO, if I didn't make it clear, if you don't have a goal, how do you know when to stop? When you run out of money?
I'm always concerned for folks who ask for reccomendations for new speakers (or anything) but are unable to articulate what they don't enjoy about thier present speakers or their system. I've been there, done that, and never was really satisfied until I came to an honest assessment of what I wanted to hear, not what some one else said was what they loved, was SOTA, etc. Arriving at that stage it was much easier to read opinions and get some value, and sometimes direction, from them.
BTW, for those folks with defined audio expectations, and who have developed critical listening skills, I think I would disagree with you that the electronic's are not so important. IMHO, once you have found speakers that 'can' satisfy you in your room after they have been properly set up, the electronics are going can make or break real long term 'system' satisfaction.
A good analogy is, perhaps, represented by the fellow that auditions say your VSA's at a dealers or friends home. And thinks how magnificant they are. He get them home and is are disappointed. Why?
Well, assuming you have the same room, so to speak, and you have carefully set them up, guess what - its the electronics that are making the difference.
The speakers are what they are, and IMHO, it is often far easier to tune a high quality set of speakers with appropriate electronics, than it is to find a speaker that matches your electronics and gives you long term satisfaction.
But obviously that opinion is just the result of my experience. YMMV.
Newbee, it may be that nothing hangs on the difference b/t our points of view. I'll just say that--to take a concrete example--I didn't know the bass I was missing in my Kef Reference 3s until I heard the VR4s. On the other hand, the Kef's had a more seamless integration across the frequency range, at least in my room. None of these "problems"--very luxurious problems to have, of course, in our first-world experience--was evident until I heard the speakers side by side. When to stop upgrading? No one's been able to figure that one out, but money's as good an answer as any. As for the amp, pre-amp business, I'd just say that, all things remaining equal, a 3k upgrade in speakers is much more likely to make a difference in sound than a 3k upgrade in amplification, assuming that we start with something pretty good.
That is kind of what I came to as well, after originally posting here with the question, and listening to other amps/preamps in my system. I had some stuff (amp/preamp combos) that retailed for $15,000 (not the highest end, but pretty darn good) and the system improved, sure. More detail in the background, strings and piano sounded more realistic, bass a little tighter. It was nice. But, at 2x the retail price of my old stuff, it should be. And, we aren't talking a huge difference: if I didn't have the cash to double my investment in amplification (I don't) then I won't be sorry about listening to what I have. I could spend a couple thousand and get the amplification marginally better, but if the speakers aren't able to do much more with the signal, what is it worth?
At this point, I am leaning toward a speaker upgrade. With regards to why I am looking at the D1's without hearing them: I would have a money-back option if they didn't work. I love my Linbrooks as well, so anything that has a similar sound (musical, detailed, quite realistic) but is improving on it would be a + in my book. These are just easy to listen to, no matter the amplification, and (not being trained in music, but just enjoying it at a consumer) they sounds pretty close to the "you are there" experience, at least as much as can be expected by trying to duplicate a full orchestra in a 400 square foot living room!