At that price, a used McCormack DNA 0.5 or 1.0 would be a good way to go. The 0.5 at the lower end, the 1.0 at the higher. But you will run up against the limitations in the internal pre-amp pretty quickly.
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Thank you for the amp suggestion. Yes, I do realize that my dual purpose system will never reach audio nirvana....you can't convert an suv into a roadster. the denon does have a unique mode that shuts down all the non-audio circuits, etc. during audio playback. I use this mode 99% of the time.
want to have a noticeable improvement in sound.
Given the relatively modest size of your main speakers I think you have a great and well balanced set up with your Denon @130 W per channel. I don't believe you can achieve a noticeable difference given your medium listening level requirements. I assume your sub is taking most of the tough LF load away from your main speakers anyway. (100 watts is plenty for all but the very lowest frequencies, as it is the woofer that takes all the juice; your sub has a built in amp so no worries!!!)
Have you considered acoustic treatments? Do you have a PEQ to control the LF room modes (less than 8 HZ)? These options might give you a noticeable improvement.
Thanks for the input all! It is great to see differing philosophies. Many will often just dismiss denon altogether. Thank you for not taking that tack. Which is sort of what got me in the spot to start with....many comments online about the "garbage sound" that comes out of mid-fi AVRs.
Yes, I am considering room treatments. but they need to be aesthetically agreeable - to ME. No, I don't have a WAF, but I do have extremely critical aesthetic criteria...I work as a designer. And honestly, I am just picky. I really like the auralex spacearray, but am trying to figure if I can DIY for less $$.
I want to stick with my current speakers for now. Regarding the parametric EQ, I hear what you are saying and get the basics of nodes, though I have no experience in this area -guess I need to read up. thanks again.
Additional comments welcome.