Amps or Speakers which one to upgrade next

I have a Rogue Audio Cronus Mag integrated driving Vandersteen 2ce sig II
Very happy with the setup but looking to do better  My budget is around $7000
preferably new but used might be Okay
Let me know what your thoughts are
128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xtomstruck
None of the above. Spend $7K in music - both recorded and live. Be happy with what you have if you're happy.

Agree with simao.

You have a pretty well-balanced system right there.  It all depends on what you're trying to achieve, in more specific terms than "better".

That being said, the CMII hits above it's price-bracket, so if it were me, I'd be looking at speakers.  My CMII is hooked up to speakers that list, coincidentally, at 7K (though I paid a good deal less).

Recommendations: define what qualities you want to enhance; read some of the recent speaker threads.  Otherwise people will just give you their recommendation of their favorite.

+1 Randy
A pair of used Quatro's would definitely be in the price range and you'd get a sub, too. Otherwise, I would get a pair of 2wq subs for your 2 sigs.
to fill out the bottom end.
The rest of my system a Clearaudio Performance DC w/ Clarify arm
Talisman cart. Musical surroundings Nova II and Oppo 103 w/        Ayre Codex
You can check out some pictures under systems 
If you like the sound you have now but want to make it even better, most likely it is a much better amp and source that you want. But I would probably start with tube rolling and trying other cables. Rogue is a value brand, it is not high end.
I daresay if spent wisely you could upgrade your amp AND your speakers for $7K. Perhaps something like this:

And since you like Vandersteen you could do this:

Though I personally also like the looks of these:

And these which as an Audio Note owner I can highly recommend:

That was a fun exercise that took just a few minutes poking around the site, obviously just a few things I like our tastes may differ. My best advice would be take your time, do research, listen if you can, and try to buy once and buy right.  Good luck!
Neither. Put all of it into power and power cables, as a first step. It will transform your system, and once you make the investment, it is there for any component changes in the future.

Your room looks like it's multi-use...and since it is a partial pic, I'm not sure what you've done with the room. That would be the other area to invest in.
Nothing will give you a bigger difference than changing the speakers.  You get the most bang for your buck that way,  Replacing an amp will make a very small difference compared to changing speakers.  I would explore that aspect. I had Vandersteen for over 20 years and that was before they had all these different models.  If you like their house sound, go a notch or 2 up the food chain.
Well, upgrading both might be better, theoretically, but the question is would $7k plus the value of what he has now be enough for a jump ?
Great suggestions from Jond!   He did your homework.  I could have used that in school! 

IMO be careful if you are happy now, once you change one thing it will most likely soon snowball into another, then another and so on....

To quote Paul McCartney "happiness is a warm gun"
I think we all have a list of LPs we’ed like to acquire.

A speaker upgrade is one of the more noticeable and satisfying expenditures. You being a current Vandersteen user I would warn against considering another brand. Your ears have grown accustom to Vandersteen’s presentation and their above average attention to time and phase characteristics. After you’d get over another brands initial general difference in scale you’ll become aware something simply isn’t right.

If you’re compelled to a switch keep your Vandy’s around. As soon as you hook them back up to compare you’ll notice what I’m trying to describe.

Another consideration would be to add a pair of subwoofers to complement your 2ce’s such as a pair of Syzygy Acoustics or the Audio Kinesis Swarm. You’ll keep subwoofers long after the rest of your system has cycled out. In many rooms their location flexibility works much better than built in subs.

Have fun.
I've seen the same system use Rega RS3 speakers in jumps from 800$ rotel amp to 3k amps to 11K amp and the speakers were fully capable
of showing any and all  differences .
@pops Spending other peoples money for them is one of my favorite things to do! :) Even hypothetically lol.
The OP's question is very legitimate and something, I believe, almost each of us faces from time to time. If I had $7k to upgrade amps/speakers I would think long and hard. In my case, I would probably think that this amount is not enough to get me great speakers so I would most likely either wait longer and save up or go ahead with the amp and maybe speaker cables upgrade. $7k is good money for an amp, not so good for speakers.
Looking at your setup. It’s very similar to my original setup, except I had my CM2 driving a pair of Harbeths. Let me ask you this...when you say “better”,  what are you looking to improve?  Do you feel it missing bass, details, clarity, soundstage? I think if you provide the forum with more details and insight, we will be able give you more and maybe better suggestions.  Also, I would also go back to JohnnyR and get his take.  He understands great sound. He helped me build my new system and I’m very happy.  
While Rogue may be a "value brand", as I and many other contented owners have discovered, it offers not only bang for the buck but also very good sound in absolute terms.  My CMII is driving PMC twenty.24's.  My point is that if you were to buy $7K speakers, and even more so some gently used ones at that price, the CMII would still be no slouch at driving them.  That's the conundrum.  Does an Audio Research tube integrated driving 2ce's sound better than a CMII driving Treo CT's?
I looking for better transparency better bass control and little more power  I have listen to Van 2 with the AR vsi 60 not a big enough step 
I talk to John all the time and at the store very couple of weeks

I looking for better transparency better bass control and little more power
If you get new speakers, they will be the key to how much power you need. The best amps I've had were 45wpc and now 35wpc. I've had 200wpc & 250wpc. Neither sounded as good with the speakers I have as the 35wpc VTA ST-70 amp I now have. If you go with or keep the Vandies, you will need a high current amp since they are not very efficient  (86db). IIUC, that is not the same as high wattage though there tends to be a linkage between the two. My main point is that high power amps does not necessarily equate to better sound. My speakers are rated at 93.5db efficiency. So 35wpc amp is good for me.

I recently listened to Watkins Gen 4 speakers and was stunned at the sound coming from a monitor/bookshelf speaker. I hadn't considered them because my room is quite large and I didn't think a monitor would be adequate. However he shows them in a 14x28x10 room which is similar to my main room. Bass is unheard of.from speakers that size. Imaging is great. Dynamics is off the charts as is the attack. $2k gets them with 30 day return policy. Depending on room size you might still need a sub. I would in my room. But the Gen 4 goes down to 41hz. BTW they received the golden ear award from TAS. Dick Olsher is the reviewer. I have the article but can't find the link now for some reason

FTR, I am not affiliated with this company . However I do know both father and son Watkins and have bought equipment from them. I heard the speakers in their showroom. Sorry I can't find TAS article because I agree with what he wrote. 

As for an amp,  Bob Latino of VTA sells very good amps IMO. Again it depends upon your speakers sensitivity. He has 35-125 wpc amps which you can build or he will build for you. My ST-70 from him replaced an amp which retailed for 3 times the price. Roy Mottran has a killer preamp at the same site.

I'm not affiliated with this company either except I have one of Bobs amps. FWIW, your $7k budget allows you to get all three of the pieces I listed (excluding maybe  the mono-blocs) IMO you would have a very good base to build from
artemus, just looked up Watkins speakers and they look very impressive on paper. Thanks for sharing.  We are so fortunate to have so many options out there for great speakers at almost any budget.  And keep learning about new ones every day.
I heard the Aesthetic at Johnny's (Atlas?, I believe), with a pair of ProAc's (don't know the model), and was very impressed.
I think you should post your question to him.
I would trust his opinion implicitly.
Adding to what david_ten said , the biggest improvement I ever got in greater clarity,resolution and quiet background was putting all my gear on Balanced AC power. I use the Equi=Tech Q .
All your gear Must have the same ground .Nothing else plugged into the wall may be connected to gear operating on balanced . More quiet background than you can imagine .Movie studios master with this .
Hi Tomstruck, Just a thought but if you have the space and the inclination, I would at least consider as an alternative a listening room enhancement. $7000 could go a long way to upgrade (if needed) your room. I'm speaking as most of us are based on personal experience. My room is small and that has exacerbated the challenges that such an environment presents. Modest room changes and treatments can make the same speakers sound very different. Good luck, Andy
From my experience, I have found that improving my system was best served by working from speaker to source component. My system improved most from isolating my speakers from vibrations. There are a wide-variety of products that fit that category. In my case after auditioning various products I settled on Star Sound Technologies Audio Points and Mapleshade Plinth speaker stands. Good luck with getting to your audio goal.
I also have a pair of Watkin GenFour speakers, amazing music out of them. Every time I am at their shop Bill Jr and I have the most interesting conversations. Great people to deal with. Did he play the Boz Scaggs CD in his listening room?

1 Change your speakers. It won't be easy because no loudspeaker can be much of an improvement over what you have. They can be different though.

2 You already have a great amp. Again there's nothing much better out there. Just different, you probably don't want to go back to solid state.

3 Its certainly worth experimenting with sitting/isolation as both your speakers and amp are susceptible to resonance effect.

4 Check out good quality recordings/masterings. Your system deserves it.

When you're already near the summit, there's not much left to go. A second pair of ears is also essential at this rarefied level to prevent hallucinations.

A good recalibration trick is to listen to a extreme low budget system for a day or so. You'll soon fall in love with your current setup again.
many hold to the idea that front end is most important as in "garbage in, garbage out"

I disagree. The most colored component is the speaker. It is the starting point for upgrades after acquiring a competent set of components before it.

Proof? take some very high end speakers and power them with a wide variety of amps and front end components. Even though the sound will change the overall characteristics will remain the same. Then audition a wide variety of speakers and the sound changes drastically. That means you should find speakers you like and build a system around them. If you pair a $100K speaker with a $1000 amp it will be far superior to a $100K amp driving a $1000 speaker (assuming the amp is capable of driving the speakers)

as far as investing in music, unless you are vinyl only, with the proliferation of high quality streaming sources these days music is very cheap
Before you spend a penny on new equipment or room treatments get this:
No affiliation.
I was really surprised what a difference repositioning my speakers made ad the unconventional position that sounds best. I would never have them set this way if I didn't hear the difference using this CD. But it may be mostly because I have a very asymmetrical room. Still the difference is at least on the order of a speaker upgrade or more for me.
unless you increase your budget for much better speakers do what simao said.........more music !
Hi Tomstruck,

I would agree with those who are advising you to invest in cabling.Your $7k investmentment will go alot further by purchasing  a top rated power cable. It will provide you with the some of the bass and clarity that you are looking for.

Also consider switching out your speaker and interconnect cables. Another consideration is to roll out your driver tubes (12AU&X7) for some NOS. Rogue is really friendly to Tweaks and responds well to power.

Making these changes will maximize the performance of your existing system. Check these sites out for ideas. An investment into any one of these kinds of cables would shurley be your last. 

Finally, after these upgrades if you still require more bass,  you could  add a subwoofer, as the cronus allows for it. I would not go beyond a 12 inch driver. I think REL. Older B1 would work really well with the Vandersteens.  

In my humble opinion - Best bang for buck scenario, Good Luck

Thales - use for speaker cables and  interconnects

Stage 3 Concepts - Best for power chords

HB cable design, Best for power Distributer if needed.


I agree with Nycjlee and restate my comment to go back to John Rutan and get his take on this.
You've gotten lots of good responses, but I think that having Johnny will provide you with the best information for your situation.
I need to go and listen to his systems again.
Thanks 2channel8 ordered iostek set-up disc 
Like I said in a previous post I talk to John all the time
I will be at Johns on 12/16 for the Vandersteen open house

The very basic principle of electronics is that a good design should be independent of individual device parameters. To put it in the language that everyone here will understand -- if tube rolling changes the sound of your gear, then your gear is garbage.   
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He knows that he doesn't know or pretends to sound like that. Either is fine with me.
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@defiantboomerang first I deleted my post it was impolite at best, my apologies. I will say that statements like "your gear is garbage" are textbook examples of trolling. I sadly fell into the trap of feeding a troll.

".....if tube rolling changes the sound of your gear, then your gear is garbage."

A bold statement with absolutely no basis. If this were true, every 'good designer' would use the cheapest discrete components they could find.....

Looks like I'm also falling into the trap of feeding a troll....

Thought I would add my 2 cents since I have the CM 2 and used to have Vandy 2CEs.
I have 2 systems. The first is based on pricey Passlabs amps, Cary top of the line preamp and Goldenear Triton Ones. The second is a more modest system built around a CRonus Magnum II with Audio Physic Scorpios. System 2, with an amp that is 1/10 the price, sounds every bit as good, if not better, than system 1. My advice - keep the amp, but make sure you use KT90 or KT120 output tubes. I use KT90. Also, CM 2 sound improved dramatically, after I inserted audiophile SR fuses inthe tube circuit. (Same fuses in line circuit made no difference to my ear). Just make sure speakers are relatively efficient - mine are 91db - and the bass depth and control will be excellent. 
I’m waiting to hear the new $5000 ELAC floor standers. If good enough, they could replace the Triton Ones or possibly the AP Scorpios. They might work great for you too.
With a $7k budget you may want to audition High Fidelity Cables products. Their upper line of cables are game changers. I have found that their cables can really let you hear the capabilities of your electronics. In short upgrading to their products improved my system sound to unexpected levels. Of course they have a 30-day trial period, so nothing to lose. As well, they have an upgrade program that is very attractive and insures your investment prospers!