Hi-Fi wanna-be needing advice on an Amp purchase

The Hi-Fi bug has bitten and I'm looking to upgrade my Yamaha receiver with a quality amp at a Mid-Fi price (under $1,000). I currently have the Paradigm Reference Studio 60s that are poorly driven by an under-powered, awfully bright Yamaha receiver. For the time being, the Yamaha will remain in the configuration as the pre-amp. Through my local dealers, I've been courting the Adcom 5500/5503, Rotel RB-1080 and the Anthem MCA 20. I had a weekend test drive of an Anthem MCA 2, which convinced me I needed to upgrade, but now for a decision. Any advice on great amp match-up for Studio 60s???
I am biased toward tubes.
But I have similar beginnings.
My first "hifi" purchase was a pair of Polk s-10 speakers.
I later upgraded to the rt-10, then the rt-800. At some point inthere I sold my mom's Onkyo rack system to purchase a demo Sony 808ES receiver. Actually sounded pretty good. OR at least, good match for the Polks. At this point, I was bitten, and decided to begin lookingto the "high end" brands for future upgrades. (ha!) I was looking at Adcom, Parasound, etc, and was planning to use my Sony as a preamp and buy a real power amp. I settled on the Parasound HCA 1000A. Good amp for the $. Still, no jaw dropping difference, there was more bass, however.

My first "oh my God!" came when I demoed a CJ pv-10Al preamp.

I had the same Polk towers, the same Parasound Amp, I think by this time a Parasound CD player. The CJ was incredible.
Looking back, I think that maybe I would have bought a good pre first, and used my Sony as an amp. I thought, however, that the Sony was OK, just not the last word.

You're pretty down on your Yamaha, and the word on the street is, the Yamaha units are competent.

Why do you not like the sound you're getting? DO you listen at ear splitting levels, and experience maybe some distortion, or perhaps your woofers bottoming out?

An outboard amp isn't going to change this alot, by that I mean, you might get 3-6 more db (not a lot more volume, perception-wise) but you're still going to distort, and overdrive your woofers.

IF the listening levels are more moderate, and you're experiencing the dissatisfaction, I could mor ereadily agree that maybe you need to upgrade something.

OK, so what to upgrade?

I think that a Preamp makes a bigger difference than an amp- meaning, it's easier for me to hear differences between preamps that are of similar design and quality than amps. I don't know why, and I'm sure that some will disagree.

The thing I would suggest, is that you decide what your goal is. Do you want to make this one change, and that's it? OR are you going to allow yourself to upgrade the entire system, once the big has got you?

Traditional thought is, upgrade the amp. That's what I did first, but as I said, I would have done it differently, had I the ability to do it again. Your situation may be different.

Common sense says a receiver shouldn't be able to drive difficult speakers, but my friend who bought my Hales REv 3s was able to get pretty decent sound with an upper end Onkyo receiver. Something that I would not have thought possible.

So, Consider these words of advice: Think before you spend.

Ask your dealers for a Tubed Preamp to take home. it might just be what you need. IF you're dead set on an amp, I would suggest that you look into tubes. ROgue Audio makes some great inexpensive stuff (Model 88 amp is less than $1k used) they're made in teh USA, and the manufacturer stands behind their products. Other than that, I'd suggest a Musical Fidelity A3Cr amp, should be less than $1k used, was teh cheapest amp to make a Stereophile Magazine Class A recommended components list, I've heard one, and it's definately a good sounding solid state amp. I think I might be able to live with one, if tubes weren't around...

anyway, good luck, and try searching the forums here for good amps.

I'd buy a used Aragon 8002. Great amp and a true bargain. I feel it actually better than it's highly regared big brother the 8008.
How about a YBA Integra DT integrated? I've seen them on A-Gon for about $1200. The extra $200 is a reach but quality is high. Happy listening with whatever you choose.
try the denon pma-2000ivr intergrated amp it is rated at 80 watts but has 120 amps of current. look it up on the denon web site. i also have paradigm studio 60's and the denon amp killed two citation 100 watt amps in bi- amp config.
I would try an integrated instead and let your Yamaha be for a second system. Perhaps a Musical Fidelity A3cr integrated (under $1000 used), or a Jolida 302B (under $1000 NEW). I haven't heard it, but nobody has said anything bad about the Audio Refinement Complete ($600 or so used).

The best thing to do would be to see if you can borrow some amps, or take your receiver to a high-end shop and plug its preouts to one of their amps to see if you hear a noticeable difference. Since you want good sound on a budget, I'd still lean toward the integrated, though.

Good luck!

I second Musical Fidelity. A second choise (maybe even first) McIntosh - MC7100 - great 100w amp.
McCormack DNA-1, they are pertty reasonable & sound damn good for the $$
I think Gthirteen was refering to the Sony TA-F808ES integrated amp, not a receiver. While not easy to find, it is IMO, a sweet piece of gear and can be had for a lot less than a grand. I do agree that for the money, buying a integrated makes the most sense because that Yammie is still going to be bright.
IMO, Paradigm and Anthem make a great match. Both Paradigm
and Anthem are owned by the same parent company -- often
you get good synergy that way. Anthem MCA amps [and the
AVM20 processor] are a great value. You will get far better
sound with separates -- you saw that with your test drive.
Gotta recommend the Odyssey Stratos. I have the 60v2s as well and I have the Stratos amp and it was a truly amazing difference over my 5 channel amp.
I agree that the Yamaha will not sound very good as a preamp when you get a better amp, but if you don't want ultimately to go the integrated route, I would still stick to your plan and start with the amp (trying to match it best to your speakers, room, and listening habits - and don't spend for more power than you'll need if you could use that same money to go lower-power but higher-quality), then go on to the preamp (and its interconnects) as the next step. For many reasons that I've discussed before but won't go into again here, I believe it makes the most sense to begin upgrading at the speakers and then work back from there toward the sources, which in your case means the step at hand is upgrading the amp, either with a power amp or an integrated, along with the speaker cables if you haven't already. Try to audition anything you are considering buying (preferably on your speakers, most preferably in your listening room if possible), playing your music, and in direct comparision to one another where possible.
Z-Man -- Excellent points.
Jolida 1501 RC.....the best of both worlds...
Yamaha MX-1..there is one for sale on audiogon ..I use it with my Studio 100 and I am very happy with it..
Avalon, talk to Underwoodwally, and he can fix you up with a Jolida for around 650.00....
One of the best amps regardless of price are the Aloia's. I still see a few of the 130I's for under 2k. These amps are equal to Wolcott,plinius and Pass in sound quality. They are a steal at retail. The 150I are double the power and price with still the great qualities
GO $1500-1300 and Get a Plinius 8200 . Last amp you'll ever need....