Advice on upgrade of a 2.1 audio setup

I have a system that I’m using both for HT and 2.1 audio. Currently I use a low end receiver (yama HTR-5860). I would like to upgrade my 2.1 path. I don’t care about audio quality for HT/5.1 and I will continue to use the receiver for this.

My speakers are Onix Ref 1 monitors and ACI Force XL subwoofer. I want to stay with these for now. My source is a stock Squeezebox3 streaming FLAC files.

I listen to all kinds of music, but primarily alternative rock, jazz, punk, rock. I like female vocals (e.g. Stina Nordenstam, Patti Smith, Nico, Feist). I listen at moderate volumes but in a large, open room.

I know that I’m missing a lot with my receiver, but in particular I’m looking for two improvements: less fatiguing, easier to listen sound and more clarity, especially for “larger” compositions.

The budget is about $1000 for used equipment. I’m considering are 2 ch amp (SS only - I will use it for HT as well), preamp and a DAC. I know about SB3 mods but I don’t want to go this route.

Which component should I upgrade? Whole budget on amp and continue to use receiver as pre-pro? Divide budget between power amp and preamp and use analog out from SB3? Divide budget between amp, preamp and DAC? I have been reading about tube preamp with a SS amp and I’m very interested in this idea. Is this advisable at this budget? If not, what budget would be required to get the benefits?

Some amps I’m considering: Mccormack DNA 0.5 or 1, Odyssey Stratos, CI D-100, Bel Canto, Parasound, Ps audio HCA-2. I don’t know about preamps yet (I think I need HT bypass and second output to feed my Force XL) or DACs.

Look into Music Hall Raven and Mambo. The Raven has a tuner built in and is 100 watts. The Mambo is tuner-less but has 50 watts of nice warm class A power. Both have awesome built in DAC's with upsampling and pre-amp outs for a sub. Just run your CD into the digital or audio inputs and you are set.
I feel that the SB3 with flac is a decent source. I would look to an integrated with HT bypass. Take the SB3 straight through the integrated and you are good to go. Then when you are ready you can add a DAC.

A little over your budget but it does have HT bypass. A 3.5 would be pleanty. There are other's of course. Hopefully others will chime in with some ideas.
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Elevick/Artizen65 thanks for pointing me towards integrated amps. Music Hall Mambo looks like a nice amp but it doesn't have HT bypass or pre outs from what I was able to gather. MF M5 looks like a great match to my needs although a bit more expansive than what I was looking to spend.

Bob_reynolds, I was thinking about bass management. I was going to configure my receiver to output bass to LR speakers, connect LR preamp out from receiver to the integrated amp HT bypass input and connect a preamp out from the amp to subwoofer. My SB3 would be connected to a line level input of the integrated amp. I would get sub signal from both sources however my LR speaker would be getting full bass signal (no crossover). Would it be harder (impossible?) to integrate subwoofer with main speakers? Is it always better to use crossover for monitor speakers?

X2 looks like an interesting product. To use it in my case I would need a separate preamp (with HT bypass) and separate power amp. It wouldn't help with bass management with integrated, right?
OK, I have just bought a Threshold S/200 Stasis amp here. I hope I made a right decision.

That puts me on a path to separate preamp. Can anybody recommend a preamp that will pair well with the Threshold (no more than $500 used)? It needs to have two preamp outputs and a HT bypass would be desirable. I also want to be able to control volume with a remote.

I think I have read somewhere here that Thresholds don't pair well with tube preamps. Is that true? Could you explain why?

Look at B&K.
If I had known what you were up to, I would have suggested selling your receiver and buying an HT pre/pro and amp combo. You could have fit an Anthem AVM-2 or Sunfire 2 plus a nice 5 channel amp into your mix with great sound and less components.
Elevick, I have considered the 5ch amp + AV preproc route but decided against it. I'm fine with the receiver as AV preproc and amplifier for surround. I wanted to put all the money into the 2ch part of the system.

What b&k preamp would you recommend?
Regarding Threshold amps and tube preamps:
I use an old threshold 4000 with a lector zoe tube amp and find the synergy just fine. If you want an inexpensive ss pre amp for your threshold s/200 try a forte 44. It was designed by Nelson Pass or his design team at forte and should match well with threshold ss amps. It is soley for 2 channel as I don't think it has HT bypass.
Something as simple and cheap as the pro-3 would work. They are very clean and simple.
However, I'd really stress doing it right. What you are planning will kill the theater end of things. A B&K 505/507 receiver even will greatly improve everything all around.
Elevick, thanks for the follow up.

Could you elaborate on killing the theater end of things? I realize that my setup won't improve my 4.1 HT setup much from what I have now. I'm fine with that; I want to improve my 2.1 side. Will it degrade HT? How?
Sorry to be slow. If you are sticking with 2.1, it's really hard to call that theater. In my opinion, you really need an equal quality center channel speaker with a matching amp to your L&R speakers to get any quality listening. You will never get a good balance across the soundstage and will be adding extra electronics to the signal path.
I would push you to scrap the receiver and just go with a nice pre/pro and amp. With a good pre/pro you can add amps and speakers as you go. Something like and Anthem or Sunfire will have great DACs, nice bass control and will rival most 2 channel rigs while producing great theater results.
Elevick, I appreciate your advice. I'm going to try a dedicated 2ch preamp (it is already on its way), but I can see that I might eventually get to a setup with a good pre/pro instead. My HT is 4.1 (phantom center) so I don't worry about center integration. However I'm wondering about bass management/subwoofer; it is definitely easier with a pre/pro. The reason I've been resisting investing in a good pre/pro is that HT technology is such a moving target (new HD DTS/Dolby formats, HDMI, etc.). It is easier to swallow the frequent updates at the lower end (i.e. a receiver) than a pre/pro that is good enough to also serve as a quality 2ch.
Just from experience, my Sherbourn and Anthem pre/pro/tuners simply blow away my Classe pre. For 2 channel, my modded Music Hall is still my main piece with many SET amps...