Advice requested: CDP/DAC or Amp?

Thanks in advance to everyone who spends a few moments and words of wisdom on how to best approach the following problem.

I have a mid-fi rig right now. It consists of the following equipment:
Revel F30 floorstanding speakers
Rotel RMB-1075 (5x120w) amp
Rotel CD-1070 CDP
Rotel RSP-976 preamp/processor

I bought all the Rotel gear when I first got into this hobby. I bought the 5-channel amp & pre-amp to give myself the option to go surround in the future, but I much prefer 2-channel listening, instead. I want to replace my equipment and get a CDP/DAC w/ volume control and either monoblocks or a nice stereo amp.

CDP/DACs that I've listenend to and liked:
Wadia 861 (regular & SE)
Wadia 27iX
Cary 306/200
Mark Levinson 390

McIntosh 402 & 501's
Pass Labs 250.5
Krell FPB 350MCX
Jeff Rowland 201
BAT (don't remember which models)

So I was hoping to spend 2-3k on the CDP/DAC and about 3k+ for the amp(s), but the wife is likely only gonna be cool w/ a 3k budget. So rather than lower my quality standard, I'd rather get 1 good piece (amp or CDP/DAC) and re-visit the hi-fi budget down the road. Would I get a better improvement by replacing my amp w/ one of the above-mentioned ones, or would I get better sound by ditching my preamp and/or CDP for one of the ones listed above & going straight into my current amp?

Thanks again to all who offer their advice. I understand that it might be a minor stretch to get the pieces listed above for my budget, but I am likely able to find some way to make it work.
In answering your question, I would buy a nice amp. The 1070 is still pretty good and F30s are really nice but love to gobble up power so I would suggest a McIntosh MC352. I think you would be impressed by the improvement.

However, there may be even better upgrade potential in a new preamp. I feel the preamp is generally underestimated in the audio chain and in my experience, can make a very siginificant difference - moreso than amp upgrades. I haven't come up with a reason why that has been the case in my system but I have owned about 9 preamps and they have all been very different from one another. This has not been AS MUCH the case for my amps. I haven't had very good experiences running a CDP straight to an amp - dynamics and three dimensionality suffer too much for my tastes.

Digital technology moves more rapidly than amplifier design so I would keep the budget for a source more flexible to be able to change it more often. The preamp, amp and speakers are worth investing more at one time. By the way, you gave good information for me to make a worthwhile suggestion. So may people expect the answer to just fall from the sky.

These are just my opinions - you will have to do the exploring yourself. Good luck! Arthur

You could get a Quad 99 CDP CD player w/volume control and a Quad 909 power amp. These are excellent pieces and can compete with units costing much more.

You could buy the pair used for about $1700-1900.

Read the excellent reviews and decide for yourself. Heck, at the used price, you could buy them, try them and sell them for little to zero loss if you weren't thrilled.


Good advice from both members. I am of the opinion that you build a great system around a great pre-amp. If you get one with a tape loop or HT pass-thru, you can keep your pre/pro and 5 channel amp for HT use. Spend $1.5-2K on the pre and about the same on a good amp. Then upgrade the CDP when the format wars shake out.
I would second Aball's opinion. The CD player you have is actually pretty good. I would go with an amp or preamp. Or, like I did when I departed from my Rotel equipment, go for an integrated.

I used a Rotel RB1080 and RC1090 (I think it's 1090?). I bettered the sound of Rotel seperates for less then I payed for both with an ASL AQ-1001DT. It's a tube integrated, but it doesn't lack bass like a some tubes do. It gives you smooth music compared to the harder sounding Rotel gear for a lesser price IMHO. You would still have money left over to get a Jolida JD100. OR - get a nice preamp and amp combo since you have the budget for it.

That being said, I think Rotel is a great company, and I've enjoyed what I got from that equipment for a reasonable price.

Good luck!
I appreciate everyone's advice offered. I had assumed that perhaps the amp would offer the most immediate improvement, though the idea of replacing the pre-amp also makes sense. Even though I have the two HT-capable components, my setup is fully 2-channel. I actually want to move to a pure 2-channel system, since it best reflects how it is used. I now have some research ahead of me to determine the best amp and/or pre to spend my money on.

Thanks again to all who took the time to contribute their thoughts.