An honest opinion about upgrading?

I'd like to get better definition and clarity out of my music which is mostly jazz, chill, new age, vocals and some classical. Do i need new speakers, would mono blocks with more power give me a better sound, how about a great integrated amp.
My speakers are the Paradigm S-8's, the power amp is the Rouge Audio 90, the pre amp is the Rouge Audio Magnum 99. I have the Ayon CD-1, Music Hall 9.1 with Black cartridge. My cables are all in the 200-400 price range. What should i do?... i'd like to hear a better sound for a reasonable amount of money. I think about the Ayon Triton integrated amp or maybe the Rouge Audio mono blocks (150 WPC vs the 90 i have now).

With what i have what would your next move be.
well, your speakers are outstanding; i haven't heard the ayon but it appears to be universally praised. my upgrade path would, as you suggest, start with more power--although the s8s aren't especially inefficient, i would think they'll sound richer with more juice, esp. at the low end, and that consequently the treble will be crisper and more detailed. if you can afford rogue monoblocks, go for it--it's great gear; alternatively, try a good high powered 2ch amp--krell, parasound, etc.--i think you'll hear a significant difference. a number of good online mfrs, like wyred4sound and emotiva, also offer a 30-day trial on their stuff, which is a good risk-free way to determine the extent to which more power is the key.
Have you maxed out set up and room acoustics control. If not that would take you a long way towards your goal. FWIW I doubt that moving to tube mono blocks will do it for you, but a good ss amp might help if you don't mind the differences between ss and tubes. FWIW.
That's a $64k question Bob. Always look for the low hanging fruit before making system component changes. But here are some suggestions:

IC/Cables - For more details upgrade your cables. For example, look into purchasing upper mid level IC (hopefully balanced XRLs) cables in the $800 - $1500 range. And you can upgrade power cables for 90 and source. Nice change with great value.

Tubes and Fuses - Look at upgrading tubes and fuses to enhance the clarity and body. More powerful KT88/6550 ($200 to $300) and 12 types and 6SN7.While not a big expense upgraded fuses also have a small impact on the sound...mainly clarity.

M-150 Monoblocks - Switch to monos to improve full height, width, and depth, and overall musicality. More significant change to system with the added cost. You could also upgrade the tubes for monos as well.

Loudspeakers - Maybe you want something totally different like oversized bookshelf AudioNote HE/SE or Quad. That way you keep your 90 and focus on upgrading speakers, ICs, and tubes for pre and power.
I think set up and cables would be the route I would make sure are up to snuff.

You do not say what cables you are using but I have always thought wire was one of the cheapest ways to improve performance - in particular a Gabriel Gold Revelation MKI interconnect for about $300+ would give you a lot of detail (it trounced some pricey wire in my all tube system) and a good standard speaker wire is Alpha Core Goertz Veracity MI2 - very clean and clear with terrific tone.

The Rogue gear is pretty detailed and clear, not up with the best out there but pretty darn good so look elsewhere IMO.

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Don't, until you have done a complete room analysis. You need to understand what the 'room' is hearing. Room treatments are the best way to upgrade before considering spending more. Get the 'room' curve as flat as possible with the speakers you have. Then, dumping the tubes should be first on the agenda. Get a dealer to loan you one of two units.
Always make sure what you already have is set up optimally in your room first before experimenting with changes.
Room treatment is one of the last things I did. It should not have been. Given the level of your equipment, I would learn as much as I could about room treatment, at least for bass control in the corners and some side reflection treatment. Much cheaper the component changes, and much more of a difference, given that you already have good gear. Don't know your speakers, but Bob Reynolds advice regarding the type of impedance load your speakers provide does have a lot to do with whether they are truly suitable for tubes amps - don't know. A benign impedance curve is critical for best performance with tube amps, and the higher the impedance the better.
I would try swapping the preamp. I know it's apples to watermelons but I demo'ed a Rouge pre years ago and it was rather dull on the top. I don't know all their models so I can't pinpoint this as your issue. Mark O'Brian is a good designer and I would ask his advice. Another solution would be the Radio Shack Super Tweeter to breathe life into the soundscape.

Are your speakers on good stands? Also I would experiment with cones under speakes and equipment. Reduce room reflections behind your speakers.
I would upgrade the preamp first, probable to a good tube unit
For definition and clarity, maybe worth thinking about the mains installation, and running your system from a balanced isolating transformer, i.e. equitech, well respected in the us. This made quite a difference to mine, i was happy overall tonally, and i listen to similar music to yours.
Your power amp is not well suited to drive these speakers. S-8 has very low impedance of around 2.5 Ohms. I'd get some serious power if you want more clarity
IF the volume levels which you are obtaining are satifying to you; much of the improvement you desire can be had via NOS driver/phase splitter tubes in your power amp. For definition and clarity, I'd personally recommend a pair of Siemens ECC83's, and bottom gettered Sylvania 6SN7GT's, from the 40/50's. The same 6SN7s can be used in the pre, but they have to be graded, "low noise". Some examples of what to look for, that won't break the bank: ( ( Installing dedicated power lines from your mains(I used two parallel runs, twisted, of 10AWG) will improve your system's dynamics. A pair of Synergistic Research AC Powermasters on the pre and main amps will offer greater definition and imaging improvements(If the speaker/room interface is up to it). Kimber Heroes, Silver Streaks or KCAGs will also help you achieve your goals, as they are more transparent than many other cables in the price range you mentioned. Where were the output tubes manufactured? If Chinese; you may consider a set of Winged 'C'(St petersburg plant) KT88s, ie (
ICs, then amp (s). room treatments too need be investigated.

Better ICs will aid clarity though only to the degree your gear possesses. take care not to attain ICs which pronounce or acentuate the top and bottom end only as a false impression of gain is sure to follow.

Amps, or better yet, power, means control. Having great control of the speakers will sure enlist more clarity, less sibalence, tighter bass, better imaging and sound stage recreation. Mono blocks are usually a plus over stereo amps if no power diffs are had due to having dedicated power supplies per ch. Normally it is a decided improvemnet and very noticeable.

I heard the Paradigm on some hefty Mac gear and the more power applied to it from the MC252 to the MC 602, each gain upwards in amp alone made the sound better overall. I feel the Paradigms like power... or acted like they did.

Tubes, cables, and treatments will all help you regardless and thus a worthwhile bit of time well wasted. but I suspect at 90 - 150wpc, a sure gain towards your aim is to add some greater power and SS is likely going to come cheaper per watt than will likewise tube gear.... and again, I suspect the Studios will enjoy it.
Normally, I would suggest you optimize what you have and treat your room to get the most of your soncis, but in your case, I completely agree with need substantially more power for the Paradigms to sing.
Not familiar with those speaks and amp, but if those speaks are a difficult load as indicated and the amp isn't up to it, that is the place to focus. Look for a high current amp that mostly doubles output into 4 and 2 ohms. Class Ds are a possibility. The better Musical Fidelity amps second hand are a very good value that might fit the bill also.
In the same vein as Shadorne and Mapman my recommendation would be high current electronics.
I had the Rogue 99 magnum pre and a pair of mono block 120 for a few months and while the 99 pre is pretty popular by demand, I found it was not very detail and transparent. Couple of buyers listened to it with my ML SL3 and they came with the same conclusion. If possible, you may get a ARC LS 25/ 26 as loaner and get some SS amp as Bryston 4bsst, you may be in for a surprise. In my set up, the Rogue 99 would not cut it for me, especially at low level listenning.
I own the Rogue 90 and 99 and they drive a pretty tough load, Dynaudio Contour 3.4s. I've tried a few more powerful SS amps (Plinius and Bel Canto), and I've liked none as much as the Rogue. More bass control as expected, but the Rogue stayed.

I also drove Paradigm Studio 100s for a time with the Rogue amp, and I thought it did just fine.

I recently tried a Cary 98L pre-amp and as Andrewdoan indicated, it was much more detailed and had a much more extended top end. Do I prefer it to the Rogue? I dunno, but if detail and transparency are your targets, you might audition pre-amps. By the way, I use Sylvania 6SN7s in the pre-amp.

If you are not running NOS signal tubes, you should give then a try. They really improve both the pre- and the amp. Better power tubes help too. And those are all cheap relative to a new piece of hardware...
Please do not get me wrong, Rogue makes some very good products for the money, it's a matter of personal preference here. It is subjective and bias when come to 2 channel audio. John Crossett recommended the Bryston 4 Bsst and the Audio Reseach SP16 while I believe the SP16 is dark and bloating in the bass department. As Bobmclean feels his sytem lacking the details and transparency, I would recommend to swap the pre to the Ls25/Ls26 and then amp to the Bryston SS amp. The Cary 98L pre is one of the clean pre-amp where you do not have to crank up the volume for optimum sound quality as with the Rogue 99.His Paradigm S8 ( do not know the version) is a very nice speaker. Good luck and happy listenning.
obviously you are getting a lot of different advice.

I recommend you try different cables and maybe new tubes before selling anything as substantial as your amp or speakers. It is just plain easier to buy/sell wire or tubes than components. You can get big improvements with good tubes too. Also selling components you will probably take a bigger hit (money wise) than selling and buying wire etc...

Just my two cents and also fwiw you can chase your tail forever in this HFOCs (hobby for obsessive compulsives)
Just my two cents and also fwiw you can chase your tail forever in this HFOCs (hobby for obsessive compulsives) Philjolet (System | Threads | Answers)
From Wikipedia:
"The phrase "obsessive-compulsive" has become part of the English lexicon, and is often used in an informal or caricatured manner to describe someone who is meticulous, perfectionistic, absorbed in a cause, or otherwise fixated on something or someone."

"These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and economic loss."

Wow Philojet, at least according to this Wikipedia definition, many here including me may be guilty as charged.
A bit of research shows S8 impedance to be more challenging to drive:

Minimum impedance: 4.2Ω at 92Hz
Nominal impedance: 6Ω

Got a nice ring to it....
Philjolet or PhiloJolet, you get me right on the spot, brother. This is a never end vicious cycle. I took a break from 2 channel audio and try something difference ( H/T application). After finishing my Pio Elite system with an old 32" LCD and after messing around with the new codecs, I am now find myself wanting the Pio Kuros display while my room is rather be perfect with a 40" the most. Then also the SVS/ HSU go down below 18 Hz....while my current subs are not.....Simply cannot win the merry go around no matter 2 channel audio or H/T. Meditation doesn't help since while focusing on my inner soul, I see a vivid dream of the Krell FBI intergrated or the Pass 150 I....
From Wikipedia:
"The phrase "obsessive-compulsive" has become part of the English lexicon, and is often used in an informal or caricatured manner to describe someone who is meticulous, perfectionistic, absorbed in a cause, or otherwise fixated on something or someone."

The last 2 nights I spent tweaking footers under my equipment. And it may happen again tonight.
I did not mean to strike such a nerve with the OCD comment guys!

Just a little something I realized about myself a while back...
Don't think it's a nerve you struck...just the bitter truth

We have found the enemy and it is us.

Let the healing begin....

...then buy more stuff.
No, You don't need lots of power because your speakers are
very efficient. Try New Rotel RA-1520. "Only" 2 x 60W but
very musical, strong tight bass, silky mids and crisp highs.
Don't be fooled with only 2 x 60W. It sound like 2 x 100W.
My friend have Accuphase E-350 and he was amazed by the
quality of new Rotel amplifier ($1000).