OK, I'm dumb. Does it ever end?

For my first new stereo in 20 years, I wanted simplicity. The Arcam Solo CD called my name, especially with its iPod integration via the Rdock. I bought both the Solo and the dock.

Then I got it into my head that I needed more juice to drive my B&W 683s.

I got a Jeff Rowland 102 amp. At first, as some who contributed to the thread know, I couldn't hear a difference. With each passing day however, I grow more attached to the sound, even through the sonic bottleneck of the iPod.

Now I'm seeing that the iPod/Arcam Rdock is holding me back. The Apple TV, with its optical out holds a certain allure. This of course, would render the Arcam Rdock useless. And since I'm already bypassing the Arcam's integrated amp to use the Rowland 102, AND I don't much use the Arcam's CD/tuner, I am sitting on an overpriced mid-fi pre-amp, and a decidedly odd system. The sound is decent, but the imagery of a Bentley sedan with a Mercedes steering wheel keeps eating away at me. The knowledge that my system is a serious mismatch is keeping me from enjoying the music. And knowing I have a unit (the Solo) whose amp sits idle (I'm not gonna mess with biwiring) is particularly disruptive.

I now realize I bought this stuff with far too little foresight or knowledge, and I'm going to have to take a bath to correct the situation.

I'm mad about Rowland stuff, from the sound to the look, the whole package. My dream machine is the Rowland Concerto integrated, at 250wpc.

My question to you guys is, do I get out of the Arcam and the Rowland 102 while I still can, and pony up the difference for the Concerto integrated (I am NOT a wealthy guy), or "settle" and only sell the Arcam, replacing it with a Rowland Capri pre-amp?

The B&W speakers would be the next axe victim, with Gallo Ref 3s replacing them at some point.

From what I've read, it seems like the Gallos would prefer the 250wpc the Concerto offers over the 100wpc of the 102.

While I'm obsessing, why doesn't Jeff Rowland make a nice silvery DAC?

Any thoughts much appreciated.

Wadia is coming out with an Ipod dock that bypasses the Ipod dac and lets you use your own...my brother is moving to this type of setup...he has high quality gear.
1st of all i recommend that you buy some vintage rowland components and save money. BUT usually it is advisable to splurge on speakers 1st- buy as far above your price/expectation level as you can without committing a felony. btw, rowland has never made digital equipment so don't count on them doing it now...
as hannibal lecter would say- "marcus aurelius- first principles" of audio- take your time! whatever you buy today will be bettered by something that gets listed in audiogon tomorrow, so it's better to save up a bit and get something a little better at first anyway. at least if you can appreciate rowland gear your hearing is intact and will help you make some good decisions down the road.
there are some excellent cdplayers out there that are inexpensive because they are technologically a few years old. they still sound excellent, and you get a free ride when you buy cd's that are engineered well- stock up on those FIRST instead of blaming your system for sounding terrible.
your analogy of the mercedes and the bentley is puzzling though. an ipod is more like a plymouth valiant than a mercedes; the arcam is a "toyota camry".
although, you could do something totally rash and get the meridian/ferrari table radio for $3,000. LOL!! you're right though- it does "never end"- obviously.
Hey Rob,welcome to the show. No you're not dumb,just an enthusiast. The desire for more/better is never ending.
Thanks. I was referring to the Arcam as the Mercedes' steering wheel. I figured Sony would be more akin to a Toyota. I guess car comparisons are subjective...

All I really want is to have a simple cohesive system that sounds great...AND STOP. My girlfriend already wants to kill me for the few purchases I've made in the past couple of months. I was perfectly happy with my old NAD int amp and Allison speakers for 20 years. I want to get back to that level of simplicity and lack of want.

The digital source can be the weak link for a while. Eventually there will be a moderately priced all-in-one hard drive or flash RAM based player, that doesn't require a computer, holds a ton of music and has either optical out or a nice onboard DAC. For now, the Apple TV will suffice. My ears aren't super critical.

I'm as driven by good industrial design as I am by good sound. I feel the Rowland Concerto paired with Gallo Ref 3s will answer my current demands for the forseeable future. Now I just need to figure out how to finance the Rowland/Gallos and make the transition seamless to my S.O.!
# 1 yes you are thinking way to far into it, and obviously so due to a comfort level is not obtained from what you have already spent, and now wasting your audio enjoyment time without actually getting it as a payoff.. First off changing everything for simplicity is a mistake in any endevor or investment.. Streamlining is one thing.. Completley disregarding the rules is another. Your best move is to try and juice the best out of the advanced technology (cough, cough) you have already purchased, and go very seriously into finding the right speakers to take advantage of it… You might find the harmony with the equipment you have, but need a different end tone to complete it. See the best recommended speakers for the size you need to match that amp is where I would start, and don't take these recommendations lightly, they can save you in the end from many more mistakes… Not sure if you purchased everything new or not, however if not you can recover a good amount of your investment, but gear like you have accept maybe the rowland will not hold a very good resale value so be prepared. Oh and room acoustic considerations, and power supply from your wall, and yes even some cable changes could help you with little cost if you just try and audition some stuff for free locally.
Good Luck Welcome to the game     
i suspect your system sounds great. browse all the reselling of end-all products on agon, just to remind yourself that satisfaction is a mindset.
Sometimes I seriously think my record collection (1000's of records) and cd collection (even more) shows I've lost my mind.
Then I think about all the equipment packed away in storage (over $5k).
But then I realised I'm not insane because I enjoy listening and just don't have the time listen or to sell the unused equipment.
As for upgrading, what else would you be doing with your time? (I still get to hike every weekend). What else would you be doing with the money? Does you family eat? Will the kids go to college?
Now when it comes to my wife, well, she's had it. But to tell you the truth, I've had it with her. :)
Planning with a goal in mind and not just jumping in haphazardly is most important to get away from this constant equipment turning.

I am actually going through the same issues with a cottage system. My wife wants simple inexpensive all in one solution with emphasis on cost and small foot print (no floor standers)and big boxes. My goals are also small footprint while keeping cost down but sound quality is very important to me; so we continue to work the issues.

I am sure it is very frustrating and costly to be searching and not finding what you are looking for. And significant others get very perplexed very quickly as the costs escalate. Like throwing money into a pit.

I would suggest sitting down with her and thinking this out before your next move.

And obviously equipment suggestions from this site are very subjective and may not produce system synergies or be anything close to what you are looking for.

Good Luck
Rob - I have Rowland 102 and use it with Benchmark DAC1 as a preamp (it has a volume control). That way I can use cheap DVD player as a transport (Benchmark rejects jitter) getting benefit of good sound from TV, DVD, and MP3. I could also play DVD-Audio but my DVD player doesn't (some do).
Benchmark is connected with short coax, TV with glass Toslink and one more digital input is free. This setup does not allow any analog inputs (I can run them thru TV's input with a loss of quality). If you need preamp - go with Capri - it is match for 102 (looks and sound). Read AudioENz review of 102/Capri combination. They claim that Capri is a stronger of two but they complement each other (Capri is open, vivid and dynamic while 102 is a little laid back).

I like my setup - great sound and freedom from transport problems. I miss remote (Capri has it) but I need exercise anyway. Use Ipod or MP3 if you like but don't base any system decisions on them. Benchmark came with USB version of DAC1 recently to use it with computer up to 96kHz rate.
I don't think it ever ends in this hobby;as far as the other half or significant other, my plan was to get her involved and interested in music; once this was done spending to upgrade has never been a problem as long as audible differences could be heard and the gear had the WAF (wife acceptance factor).
Make use of this site as my whole system has been bought used here and has saved me several dollars over buying new.
Lastly there are many,many knowledgable people on this site who give excellant advice,are a wealth of information, and can help guide you through areas you may not be knowledgable in.
Enjoy the experience!
women are not wired to like hi fi, or spend money on it. she's faking it. my wife has been faking it(in more ways than one) for nearly 30 years. if i even thought she really liked hi fi a little bit, i'd have to find a new hobby......i also pretend to enjoy working in the yard and garden.....it all somehow works out.