Limited budget-spend more money on amp or preamp?

Hi. I am new to decent sound. I have a OK pair of full-range speakers (Von Schweikert VR-2000's) and are now looking for something to power them with. I am very limited with funds now, and am looking for decent used gear (both an amp and preamp). Out of the two components, would money be better spent on a good amp that I will be happy with for several years and a budget preamp, or the other way around? I have been looking at both a Bryston .4B Linestage and a Bryston 3B/4B amp, but I can't afford both. If I go with the .4B preamp, I will have to cut corners on the amp (probably an Adcom 545II). Likewise, if I get the 4B amp, I will have to get a cheaper preamp-something used under $150.

What combo would give me the best sound? Thanks in advance!
Get the Byston amp and go with an Adcom preamp which can be had for your 150 and gives you a tuner and a phono stage. The Adcom 545 is somewhat bright.
Be sure to put at least 50% of your budget towards your soucre. It's the most important. Speakers are second.
speakers first, then source. Preamp first, then amp. Speakers are the biggest deal.. you think your speakers are just "OK?"- go with a used Yba Integre amp. 50 of the best ss watts out there. Your problem is solved. Kills the Bryston. I owned both. No comparison...don't have any experience with Adcom. peace, warren
Speakers are first I'd say too, no point in having a great source if the speakers are not going to be able to reproduce accurately, I'd say start with the speakers, amp, pre, source and cables, in that order.
Given those budget constraints, I would go with the best amp I could get & use a passive. There are several passives to pick from in the $150.00 range or you might even consider attenuators. This is taking into consideration the other components in your system will not change for the time being. I also recommend only changing one piece at a time, so you can get used to it & see how it fits in with your overall plan.

If you haven't already done so, try & tune your room as best you can to realize the full potential of your gear.

Good luck!
How about a good Integrated amp. This will make you happy for now. When you win the lottery you can add a low level electronic crossover and a power amp to biamp the speakers.

I think it is speakers first, with the proviso that the power amp must be adequite for the speakers chosen.

As to source, if you use LPs, the pickup is as important as the speakers (when using that source). Transducers have sonic characteristics far beyond those of other elements in the system.

For Disc players, Tuners, Preamps and the like, reasonably priced hardware is OK. Not to say that superexpensive preamps are not better, but the point of diminishing returns is reached at quite a low dollar figure.
A great source will sound better through lesser speakers than a lesser source through a great speaker.
Sumo Athena class A driver stage, older, but with passive and active modes. Even has a phono section to boot. Around $150- I own one.
Count me on the source first side.
Speakers only reproduce what is fed to them.
Garbage in garbage out as they say.
Go for the best preamp and lesser amp.
Muzikat...Correction. Speakers produce a lot more than what is fed to them. They (like all transducers)superimpose their character on the sound.

Source quality-per-dollar goes up a lot faster than speaker quality-per-dollar. And if you consider the CD, DVD, SACD or LP as part of the "source" it's contribution is much greater than the hardware used to play it. Buy a $1,000 player, and $30-$50 recordings.
I'll take $5,000 speakers and a $100 cd player any day over a $5,000 cd player and a $100 pair of speakers.

I agree with Driver and Warren. You would do very well IMO for not a lot of money with either of these two suggestions.

Suggest you may want to consider the total amp-preamp package as
1) total dollars - looks to be around $1,300
2) length you intend to keep the pieces.
If you expect to keep both for awhile, the integrated makes sense. If you expect to upgrade again soon, then buy seperates. Depending on what component you'll keep longer, spend more on that one.
Preamps - The Adcom is OK, but there's a number of others to consider that I'm sure will come up.
Amps - The Bryston will go $1,000-$1,200. Had a few. They're good value. Consider others like Anthem, Rotel too. Less $ but good.
Good Luck.
Hi Dawgcatching
as you state you are looking at a line stage are we to assume you are not intending to use a turntable,if so and if your cd player or other source component has sufficient gain you could use a passive volume control,some realy reasonably priced passives have shown up recently on audiogon leaving you free to pick your power amp of choice.if you only have one source you could always fit an inboard pair of attenuaters in that source box if there is room or outboard[not so elegant].It is always best to buy components you would wish to use for a long time,regardless of their place in the audio chain.crap is crap and will be audible no matter where you choose to install it.
If you have any interest in home theater I offer you another possibility. Buy a $500 to $600 HT receiver - a used Denon 3803, for example, to tide you over while you learn more about good quality gear. Make certain it has preamp outputs. When you have the money, add a good quality amp to drive the front speakers. Later, after you've saved up some more, buy a nice pre-amp and demote the receiver to HT duties only, by routing its preamp outs through the preamp's HT bypass. This way, you don't waste any money, and you can upgrade in stages. The end result is a high-quality two channel system with HT capability.
Notice how many different answers you got...? This seems to garner opinions that are all over the map. I will say that I hung onto a pair of speakers for a long time with numerous equipment changes and they simply kept sounding better all along the way. Until recently I was not feeling compelled to even bother with making a speaker change. Even then, it was a somewhat impulsive mood that spurred my decision to pick up a new pair of speakers. If your speakers are decent (as I believe they are) I think you will notice the benefits of upgrading gear. That aside, I should note that speaker changes do tend to offer the potential for a dramatic sonic change, though not always for the better. I would definitely opt for a nice integrated amp if I was in your shoes. The YBA would probably be a good call and I think that Primare integrated amps are some of the best buys on the used marketplace, having had first hand experience with their A20 amplifier. My personal fave, however, is the Densen B100. Plenty of other great choices too. If you don't do an integrated, I'd probably second the recommendation for a passive (something like the FT Audio 'Little Wonder') matched up with a nice amp until you're able to put more bucks into a pre-amp. The Densen B-100 has a passive pre-amp section and I was using it as a passive pre- for some time. I ended up preferring this sound over several active pre-amps that I tried. Granted, I was using it with a Densen amplifier that was intended to match up with this configuration, but it was somewhat illuminating to make these comparisons.
The easy (old) answer is spend your money on a great pre-amp and a good amp.

Now, there are so many other options. All given above by other posters. With the advent of low-cost passive pre-amps, you can spend most of your money on a great amp. Unless you listen to vinyl.

Alternatively, there are many good (near great, for the money) integrated amps for sale on the 'gone right now. Consonance, Conrad-Johnson, Cary (they must start with a "C"). Oh, and Musical Fidelity too.

Plus, now, with the hybrid amps you can get the great tube sound (I'm on a tube kick now) and still get enough "oomph" from a solid state amp to drive your speakers well. Plus, the solid state amp section makes these units more affordable than an all tube integrated (which is where I think I am heading...).

The good news is there are several options (used) in the $1200 to $1500 range that will sound between good and amazing.

Good luck!
A used tube pre-amp and a used SS power amp. Having a tube pre will make more improvement than one can imagine. Good luck.
okay, thanks for all of the replies. Sounds like I can't go wrong with either separates or an integrated. I just need a passive preamp, as I don't have a phono.
My vote is for the integrated. You can't just mate up any pre and power amp, there needs to be synergy between the two. This can take a while to find and may not come within your buget. Integrateds take the guesswork out, hold their value better, and are easier to ship when the time comes to upgrade. Most will also allow them to function as a pre or an amp if you decide to upgrade one component at a time.