What is your source ... vinyl, cds, or digital files. If CDs, maybe a CD player like the Emotiva ERC-2 could provide the detail that you are looking for.
My sources are a cheap panasonic bluray player and comcast cable. I was aiming for a 2-channel home theater / 2-channel stereo combo but it doesn't sound great with either one. I'm thinking of scrapping the home theater idea and getting a pre-amp, tuner and CD player. I'm learning as i go and looks like i might have wasted some $ to this point! Any advice? thanks
Front end is CRITICAL. I recently bought a pair of older PSB towers (Image T-65) for $400 on Craigslist, along with the rest of the speakers to complete the surround setup. I bought them to use in my new house (we are moving in a few weeks). For the time being, I hooked them up to my music system right next to my Sonus Faber Cremona towers. They sound surprisingly good... I was taken back quite a bit. And I realized something that I had always been told by my dealer.... SOURCE IS CRITICAL. Whatever your source is: vinyl, CD, digital files, reel-to-reel, etc., that is where it starts. So as I listened to these speakers, amazed, and I realized that there was about $15,000 in front of them. Just goes to show IMHO, how important the source is.
Did you really think that partnering $7K worth of amplifier and speakers was going to sound good with a cheap Blu Ray player and a cable hook-up? If this were clothes shopping, this is like pairing Hush Puppies mall walkers with a Brioni suit.
So, rule #1 ... keep what you have and whatever changes you make, make the changes one at a time, so you can see what effect they are really having.
Fortunately, the PSB Synchrony and Parasound are fine pieces and will serve you well. The Marantz is probably ok, as well. Keep the Panasonic for dvds.
Your sources are the problem. No universal player will give you what a dedicated CD player will give you (note: take with a grain of salt all the praise for Oppo as the be all and end all that you will find on this discussion board).
Rule #2 ... get out there and listen. I don't know if you have a few decent stores in your area. If not, start reading some of the CD player reviews on Stereophile's web site or pick up some of the audio magazines and see what the reviewers are saying. See if what you are looking for aligns with what they are saying.
Assuming that you are in the $1000 to $1500 budget range, I would look at the Rega Apollo or Saturn. Naim and Musical Fidelity would also be tops on my list. The new 800 series Cambridge Audio looks interesting. Obviously, there are other candidates.