Ask yourself what you think is lacking in your system and why you feel the need to change or "upgrade" something ? If i thought that there was a weak link in your system, it would be the speakers. Sean
Your amp and speakers are your weak link for now.I personally beleive in putting most of your budget on Source and speakers.The beginning and the end. As time goes by upgrade the pre. and then the amp, and last but not least the power cords and ICs and speaker cable.I would for now, and this is my opinion, get some speakers, get some around 90 db at 1 watt and has a steady inpedance. May I recommend Living Voice,Buggtussel, V. Schweikert 3.5's, or Silverline Corona.Build your system to be neutral, then you can flavor later with having two or more amps around to throw in, depending on your mood. Because there are a lot of good sounds from different manufacturers and one can never have all in one system that does it all perfectly.
Irler, how large is your music collection? If it is sufficiently large, then further upgrades in your system might well be warranted. If your collection is more modest, then you may be better served in developing your audiophile tendencies by buying $3-5k in music (including live concerts). I say this because you've already assembled a very high quality playback system. Your components are well chosen and complement each other (I'm familiar with everything except your PCs). You would basically have to start from scratch (excepting the EMC-1) and spend significantly more dollars to significantly upgrade the music reproduction capabilities of your system.
You admit that you're a neophyte. Take your time and go slow. It's more enjoyable that way. Good luck!
All good responses...when I said neophyte, I meant to this high end equipment. My first real system was Soundcraftsman (which I'm proud to say is rockin' my daughter's room now). I started this two channel after I finished a HT consisting of Vandy 2ce's around, hsu research sub, Adcom and Yamaha DSP-A1, Sony 7700. I'm probably around the 3k range in music now. I do need to slow down a bit, but this hobby has suck me in. Speakers seem to be the next logical step. Regarding speakers...why is it some lower sensitivy speakers 85-87 db so darn expensive? I guess I thought the higher the db, the better the speaker. How does db effect amp selection? This should prob. be another thread, but is there a simple answer to a simple question?
Irler - dbs or SPL ratings relate to the measured output at 1 watt at one meter's distance but you probably already knew that... While there is no easy way to determine what speakers you should audition (and I also feel that your speakers are the weak link in your chain) you should balance your system by trying to look for speakers that would match well and I mean that you don't necessarily have to spend gobs of dough! You have a great system in the rest of your gear and you should look to budget at least what you have spent per piece as a starting point. Home auditions is the best route to take with any gear when possible to get the best feel for the synergy with your system and room.
As to your question there are many expensive speakers that are very efficient say 92 dbs and above and as you noted many expensive ones that have really low ratings. Its more important to match a speakers impedence requirements vs your amp's ability to handle the load vs your desired listening levels and of course how they sound to your ears...
Try before you buy if you can!