Next Step Advice

My listening is 50/50 movies/music, although, my first love is the music. I am seeking some advice on my current system (Rotel RB985 Mkii, Rotel RSP976, Wadia iTransport, Paradigm Studio 20v3, Paradigm Center CC470, Paradigm PDR10, Paradigm Atom v5 rear, Audioquest interconnects). I am not really getting the sound I would like and am ready to improve the musical quality of my system. I would like those of you who know about this kind of stuff to recommend best-bang-for-the-buck next purchase. By the way, I rip my CDs in .wav format for the best quality playback on the iTransport.
My suggestion would be to look at an outboard DAC. PS Audio or Benchmark to name a couple. The PS Audio is very good. There are tons of reviews on this unit.

What is it that you are not getting ? Or what are you wanting to achieve with the change ?

Good luck .
want to try tubes???
I second the DAC. I heard the Wadia iTransport at CES through one of their own DACS, just as good as one of the players, which says a lot.
Saki70: I would like to improve the overall sound quality, a more full, richer, room filling sound. Room is size is approximately 15'X24'. I currently have all of the speakers set at "small". I really appreciate your replies.
By the way ... keeping in mind modest budget, how much should I be expecting to pay for a DAC?
If you basically like the sound of your Paradigm Studio 20s, you might want to consider moving those to the Rear channels and getting some Studio 40s or 60s for the Front. You would then run the 60s as Large and the 20s as small. You might also consider stepping up a notch or two on your subwoofer, perhaps a Reference Servo 15.

You might also try running your CC470 as Large to see if this helps to make the sound "fuller".

I would definitely stay within the Studio Reference line so that the voicing of the speakers is similar. This greatly helps the transition from Front to rear and from side to side.

I'll bet making these moves that will make for one killer system - can I come over and check it out once you're done? [smile]

What's your budget for an external DAC???

You can get a VERY good DAC for just $400.00.

If that's all you have to spend, then try Cambridge Audio's DAC Magic. You get a whole lot of music and performance for just a hair under $400.00.

I am using one with my Wadia i-Transport 170 and my Apple i-Pod Classic (160 GB -- w/NO compression).

I would suggest more power from a warmer sounding (colored)
amp for the front three speakers which all should be increased in size and run as large .

I have the Rotel 1095 and would consider this as the minimum for power , for your room , but not very warm sounding . You have a fairly large room to fill with sound , as per your desire .
You will need some large speakers , especially the bass , that can move some large amounts of air . Try not to depend on the subwoofer for your music listening .

On the otherhand , there are two alternatives .
A) If you have the system on the short wall and listening position back aways from there , you could switch the components to the long wall and move your listening position to the opposite long wall . This would effectivly make your listening room smaller and put you closer to the speakers .
B) You could get an integrated amp (tubed) to use for the 2 channel music only listening . But again you would probably need larger front left and right speakers .

The DAC suggestion is worth a shot for the richer aspect .
But I just don't think that the fuller room filling aspects will be achieved with that amp and speaker combination .

Good luck .
Saki70-why do you consider a warmer sound colored??
I would tend to agree with Saki70. While Paradigm speakers are a good value I was never satisfied with there Studio 100 (versions 1, 2, 3, and S8) presentation or personality. Switching to a PS Audio HCA-2 and later to NuForce SE's helped a great deal smoothing out the mid and upper range while improving their bass response IMO. I ended up spending a great deal more for the speaker presentation I was looking for in my two channel system.

I gave up on trying to integrate two channel and HT some time ago. I'm using Triangle Comet and Comet es in my Pioneer SC-07 powered HT system with great success.
Um, things that are not being mentioned or likely considered here, is the room setup and acoustics. If you have a low 8' ceiling, or sit relatively far back in relation to your setup, you will be getting lots of acoustical challenges to muck up your sound - especially considering the configuration and design of the speakers you're using (tweeter over mid/woofers, and non-first order cross design).
The room acoustics, setup and tweaking are always going to be 50% or more of the sound. So you can't usually have a "how do I get better sound" conversation without including all that, really!
Still, I see you have a Wadia transport, and are mentioning DAC's. I've experience with your Paradigms and Rotel first hand, and can tell you that those components can be swapped out for a larger gain in sound improvement than your digital front end considerations!
You're talking about upper mid-fi speakers and electronics. Get some higher end more refined speakers and amp and preamp setup, and the sound would improve much more dramatically I think.
Still, yes, you must make sure you've addressed your acoustical issues. Otherwise that will hinder your sound quality greatly. So consider.
Thank you very much for your responses. They have given me something to think about. Mainly, dumping my HT system and going with a 2 channel system. The DAC suggestion is something to consider in the meantime, the Cambridge DACMagic is fairly inexpensive and worth a try. Ultimately, I agree that trying to intergrate both HT and the musical quality I want is probably not worth pursuing in a HT system. Thanks again!