As a "I've got no money but I do like music and HT enough to invest a bite of it to build a system" I need some help for a partial upgrade of my current 2.0 system in term of preamp.
My current system is composed of: *iMac for dematerialized music(.flac; 320 kpbs .mp3; .wav files) *B&K Reference 50 s2 as a preamp; 70% used for music and 30 % for HT; got the B&K almost for free from a lady who was getting rid of her ex-girlfriend stuff (crazy!!!). digital music from iMac is managed via the Ref50 internal DACs analogue music: Technics SL-7 and a TEC TC-450 as a phono preamp (cheap but surprisingly good when using a 9V batterie;(dont plan to change it for now!) *Power amp: Gemini XGA-5000...Suprisingly good too! *Front Speakers: Tekton M-Lore; A must have for anyone with a small room (mine is 4*3.5*3m) *cables: I built them myself from parts bought on ebay. Very satisfied with the final result. My preamp is linked to my amp via XLR. Sonically I am very satisfied of this ~1.5K USD setup.
However as from next week I won't have my B&K anymore since a friend o mine gave me 350 USD cash for it because he felt in love with it last week.
So far I have 3 options for upgrading my preamp stage: 1) either getting a better preamp/proc than the B&K; ex: Anthem AVM20 or 30 for their good 2nd price, good combo 2.0/HT and reputation of reliability.
2) go simply for a pure 2.0 system with a DAC; ex/Classe cp-35 + Emotiva XDA-2; Arcam FMJ C30 + XDA-2 for a couple hundreds more; I believe DAC-wise the XDA-2 is hard to beat for its combo performance/price/sound/connectivity but I am open to other suggestion that can compete fairly with the XDA-2. The Asus Xonar Muse might be better but too expensive for me...so not an option.
3)or go for one of those 90's pre-proc with highly regarded 2.0 XLR input and use a new DAC for the digital music sampling; ex/ Classe ssp25 + Emotiva XDA-2; Proceed AVP + Emotiva XDA-2.
let me know what you think guys and thank for sharing ideas with me.