Darkmoebius, Thanks, I have a couple questions...there is a Bryston 3B-ST available locally for $750. Otherwise there is a 4B-ST on Audiogon for $1350. Is the 3B something to consider, or is the 4B definitely worth the extra $$$?
I've heard a lot about the Mccormack DNA-125. Should I be concerned about the age of this amp?
In brief, what are the downsides to class d amps?
Would you recommend the Odyssey Stratos Extremes dual?: http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?ampstran&1260018001&/Odyssey-Stratos-Extremes-Dual-
Audible Illusions M3A OR L2 are amazing pre's. I had the M3A and replaced it with an L2 for remote capability. Used pieces run approx. 800-1200. As far as amps go, I would go SS if you choose a tubed pre. Monarchy Audio amps are a very nice compliment to tubed pre's (for the most part).
Big vote for Modwright SWL9.0 and a good SS amp. The IA route is not a bad way to go either ... maximize your buck. I like the flexibility of separates. If you like to play with upgrades from time to time you may want to go that route. I am looking at a Plinius SA-50 as a possible next upgrade for SS power. I'll keep my Modwright SWL 9.0 ... unless I go for the 36.5 (gulp).
The Bryston 2,3,4b-st amps are very solidstate like.No worries with McCormack,Steve is great to deal with.Stratos are also excellent amps,differing in the warmth department. Must disagree with the AI-it burns thru tubes and they are slow-as-molasses on updates.
If you are definitely planning on upgrading your speakers in the near future, I recommend that you not upgrade your preamp and amp now. (I realize that this is not what you want to hear, but IMHO, that is the best way for you to approach upgrading your system.)
Pick out the speakers that you want, and then match your future power amp, (or integrated amp), to your speakers.
The amp to speaker synergy is very important, and to pick your amp first, will limit your selection of speakers that will sound good with your amps. (i.e. as examples; a power hungry speaker will not work with a low powered amp, or a speaker that has a very low impedance, may severely tax the power of an amp that does not double in power as the impedance is halved.)
Used Pass Aleph gear. Aleph P preamp for under $1000 and Aleph 3 for under $1000, Aleph 5 for $1400, or Aleph 2 for around $2K. I had all of these and for the price, they are excellent. You could also look at used FirstWatt, though you would have less power.
Like Kurt_tank, I too am wondering how attached you are to your speakers. With $2500 to spend on amplification, you could easily outclass the 602s. I think Kurt is giving you advise worthy of consideration.
Kurt_tank advice is priceless. If you are going to invest in your system, settle on the speakers first or you will start going around in circles; the speakers will then inform your amplifier options. I think your current speakers are not suitable for tube amps in your price range, they really are best suited for SS.
As Kurt_Tank mentioned, it was advice that I didn't want to hear, however I'm glad he mentioned it. I'm not in the habit of continually swapping gear and I'd rather have more options when shopping for speakers. It looks I need to start researching Speakers, on which you'll probably see another thread from me shortly asking for advice. Thanks everyone for your replies. I've been researching each and every suggestion posted.
I agree with the - SPEAKERS FIRST- mantra here. That really decides what all of the upstream gear should be. I have a Magnepan based system, which I love. But that means powerful amps, and then certain types of mellow upstream components (tube pre, mellow turntable/arm/cartridge combo, warmish DAC) to keep the system from being too bright.
One of my audio-geek buddies has B&W 801's and he has all SS gear upstream, Mac 501's and an Bryston Pre. That's to keep his system from getting too warm. With my pre amp in his system, it's muddy, with his preamp in my system it's harsh.
But they each sound great on their own.
That was long winded!! Sorry. Pick your speakers first, then work backwards.
Mmrump, I actually owned the B&W 601 s2 about 5-7 years ago. They were a great value buy. A little shy in the lower mids & bass(as nearly all affordable small monitors are), a tad hard in the high freqs for my taste (I prefer soft dome tweeters), but a surprisingly balanced speaker for that price range. Your 602's have the same configuration & tweeter, except a slightly larger mid-woofer, so the mid-bass/bass is probably a little better.
The collective suggestion to upgrade speakers first makes sense, but I think your B&W's are better than your amp & preamp. By that, I mean you will be better able to accurately evaluate new components through them than you will speakers through that amp & pre. Although, I think the Haflers, run at the low end of their range, may do less sonic damage than the Adcom.
At the price range you are looking at, I'd venture that it's fairly safe to say an Odyssey, McCormack, Belles, or Bryston will perform fairly well with whatever you eventually get speaker-wise. There will be differences in their overall sound, but all are extremely well made and respected designs that withstood the test of time. They are safe bets that hold their resale value, if you find one of them not to your liking. Someone else mentioned Monarchy, their SE-100 deluxe monoblocks are also an amazing value. Well worth considering unless you need a few hundred watts per channel.
Although, I think the performance/sound in preamps varies a lot more than SS amps at that price range.
BTW, are you going to stay with monitor speakers when you upgrade? How big is your room? What type of music you listen to? And how loud?
All those things will help fine tune suggestions for you.
Darkmoebius, Thanks for the advice. I've been keeping my eye out for the amps you mentioned and I don't think I would hesitate to get one if the price was right. Based on the feedback here, I've started a search for speakers simply to get a holistic view of what I want. To answer your questions, the room is 17X13 however it has a large opening (9ft) to a dining room. I listed to jazz, 60's psychedelic, hip-hop, ambient, pop and electronic. All of my music is digital. On occasion i will push them quite hard and wake up the neighbors. I don't have space to place them out 2-3 feet from a wall, and as a result, someone recommended the Paradigm studio 60's or 100's. I can't do stands because I have a small child.
I don't have space to place them out 2-3 feet from a wall
Maybe some cornerhorns like classic Klipsch? They are big and rock hard. But get tucked into corners so they are out of the way. The only problem is that you would probably have to find some locally because they won' be an easy ship.