Hi guys sorry but I was caught up with things and haven't had a chance to respond yet. I appreciate you all taking the time to give me such valuable feedback. I am using everything I listed to drive my Arteluthe Cadenza. They are 96db sensitive, smith horn loaded compression tweeter loudspeakers. Note, these are not the TAD PRO offering that was offered on here some years ago, however it is using the same cabinet and smith horn, and the same dual front ported 15 inch woofer design, just with different, cheaper drivers.
Digital source, nothing too fancy just a Arcam CD player, and a schiit branded dac.
@jmcgrogan2 for sure, simply changing out my xp10 preamp for a different one such as the ref3/5/6 is totally an option. As well, I have every intention of getting an audition of anything new I want to purchase. The goal is to get some more of that tube magic introduced into my system. That's pretty much it. I'm thinking that changing my preamp would be an easy way to do that. My speakers SING, yes, absolutely sing when paired with tube gear. I only ever heard it with a puny (not to say it was bad, it was magical sounding) 6w integrated amp from Triode Labs.
My only misgiving is that a tube amp would have weaker bass. I've come to terms with this and all it would require from me is a slight adjustment to my listening habitsand expectations in what I want out of my music. Trading off bass performance for that real "tube magic" is a tradeoff I think I can live with.
I havent made up my mind with what I want to do but based on the feedback I've gotten so far I think swapping out the xp10 for a Audio Research Ref5 wouldnt be a bad move?
ps. I know I can just google but I value your guys opinions more than a glossy magazine reviewer: what arc preamp would suit me? I'm looking at the used market as I really can't afford to buy a ref5 NEW, I believe it's almost $20k for one new, and I was looking to spend at most $8k on a new piece of kit. (I was budgeting for 13-14k for both a amp/preamp) Im thinking I may be better served upgrading one piece of gear at a time.
Did I mention I just got into this hobby 10 months ago? :)