If you go with an integrated for the main/stereo setup, you can either get a pre/pro plus a 3channel power amp or an A/V receiver with pre-outs for the remaining functions and channels.
Try an Audio Refinement Pre2DSP; excellent for 2 channel stereo and also a very good HT processor. Only a preamp, though, and you'll need a multi channel amp. A used Parasound HCA1206 for about 700 to 800 is hard to beat as it is a John Curl design, THX rated, makes 135wpc @ 8 ohms and 200 @ 4, 4 of the 6 channels can be bridged for stereo 350 watts, each channel has its own output control which is useful if powering an external passive woofer.
Thanks to all...
Kr4...this is the arrangement I have now with the Audiolab/Yamaha...unfortunately the sound quality of the Yamaha is killing the enjoyment. Hense the need for an upgrade. I also wish to switch to tubes for the 2 channel, in which I listen mostly to LP's.
C123666...your suggestion is what keeps me up at night...i do believe that a good processor and multi channel amp would cut the middle by giving me great HT and very close to perfect 2 channel (or at least as "perfect" as the VAC can offer). However, I got my heart set on tubes. To my knowledge there isn't a good tube option in the multi channel amp world...and if there is I probably couldn't afford its maintenance!!!
Chadnliz...I have been thinking about a processor using the VAC for the main channels and trying to match the remaining 3 channels (building a total of 5 channels, not 7) with a dedicated 3 channel multi amp...however I fear matching the sound...can anyone recomment a multi channel amp for this arrangement?
Jdcrox...the Arcam is precisley one of the recievers I am thinkinig about...my digital source is an Arcam, however I shouldn't allow that to sway me! In recievers I have also heard several of Rotel's offerings that are nice.
Thanks to all for your thoughts...your comments are fruitful...I guess I'd like to know if there is a multi channel amp (3 channel) that would match the VAC nicely or if I should stop pounding sand!
PS price range for reciever or proc/amp would be 2 to 3k on the new or used market.