Beginner's questions re: amps, sorry a bit long

Hi, guys. I am in the market for a new amplifier. A bit of background--the last real system I bought was 15 + years ago, as a student (saved for years). I have since replaced as the original equipment died the CD player with a NAD 542 and turntable with a Musichall MMF 2.1, basically trying to get the best reasonably cheap equipment I could find, but not thinking about it too hard. I still have the original Boston Accoustics T930II speakers (repaired a few years back, in OK shape) and Rotel (something) integrated amp. My amp has recently turned my "stereo" into a "mono", so I am in the market, and would like to start building the system I always wanted. There is lots to learn.

I went to a good store in Atlanta and had the chance to listen to a wide range of prices of equipment, from $400 NAD amps to $3000 Mac integrated, and up. I expected to notice the difference between the low end and the $1000 range (Riga), and did. I did not expect to hear the difference I did between the $1k and $3k amp. Striking. It has me thinking about making the investment in a higher end of equipment. Here are things I am considering, and would greatly appreciate any comments:

1) Something along the lines of a Primaluna Dialogue 2, a $3k new integrated tube amp. This would be based solely on reviews, as I have no way of hearing it (I live in Atlanta). But, something in that ballpark. Would something with lesser power (I believe it is 38WPC) power my speakers? They are not delicate, and are old, and I will probably have them for another year or two before I can replace them.
2) Getting seperates, but focusing the investment on one end (basically, getting one piece of equipment that will be with me for the duration, and building around). For example, a nice power amp (say Mc MC275--I haven't really researched this yet) and a lower priced pre-amp, such as a Rogue Metis, or Primaluna, all used. Would it be risky getting two disparate pieces of equipment such as that?

To anyone who go to the end, thanks for plugging through all of this, and I appreciate your comments.

Certainly, if your goal is to upgrade your system over several years, replacing the existing gear with higher performance gear, then a better amp makes sense. However, if you intend to keep your speakers, CD player and turntable, then it pretty much will be like putting Goodyear racing tires on an Accord, and you should look at another Rotel, NAD, Cambridge Audio, etc. amp.

But, assuming that the former is true. At the $3000.00 and below price point, an integrated amps makes a lot of sense. No matching of components is involved, one less pair of interconnects to buy. You are not saddled with a great amp and a preamp that underperforms. Not that a Mac wouldn't sound nice with a Metis preamp, but this is a completely different price point than a Primaluna, so I think that you will have to make up your mind about your budget first. Even if you had the cash for the Mac/Metis combo, I should think that you are better off still buying the integrated and using the rest of the cash to upgrade your sources, speakers etc. You will not want to listen to an unbalanced system for very long.

So let's assume, for a moment, that you want a tube integrated. There are some great choices that are made in America, like the Rogue integrateds, Manley, VTL, CJ, Audio Research. Pretty much all of them will be available in the $1500.00 and under price range, used, on this site. But to answer the other part of the question, the Primaluna may, or may not be enough power. And that depends on how big your room is, what your musical taste is, and how loud you listen. The nice thing about this site is that you can give it a try, and make an educated guess, and if you are wrong, move the piece on to the next hobbyist without taking a large financial hit. In fact, with the economy in a shambles there are some very good deals to be had right now in both new and used gear. Good luck and let us know which way you decide to go. Just be sure to keep focused on what this is all about and that is to connect with the music in a deep and enriching way.
I like the idea of a Mac integrated. They're supposed to sound great, & have good resale. I haven't owned one, but I don't think you'd go far wrong. They are kind of huge tho for an integrated as I recall.

A 38WPC integrated tube amp will really limit your choice of speakers. Could be good with something like Merlins tho. You'll have much more choice of speakers with a SS integrated.

Separates vs. integrated: if you need gobs of power for hard to drive speakers, you'll probably need separates. I seem to usually go w/Separates, even for my bdrm. or office systems. But then you've got 3 decisions: amp, preamp, & IC. A Mac (or Plinius, or Sim Audio perhaps) integrated would keep most people happy for a very long time, and then you could focus on speakers, cables, etc.

Good luck!
To respond to one of the above, I ended up picking up a Manley Labs Stingray. So far, terrific--I am very happy with it. Bought it here on Audiogon, which was also a very positive experience.

Now, of course, I want new speakers...
.........don't we all? Congrats and happy hunting.