Thanks for all the responses, lots of things for me to consider!
@Elizabeth (and others discussing the hum from my phono pre) — It does not hum through the speakers, the hum emanates from the component itself. I just read something on another thread here that made me wonder if it’s a broken transistor inside the unit. The unit is definitely grounded to the turntable.
I have been careful in my set up to keep AC power cords separate from everything else.
@Uberwaltz — I do feel that I have outgrown the Dynavector phono stage. I think I have the mk3 but the little manual that came with it doesn’t say mk3, so ?? I bought it here on Audiogon in 2008. I am definitely open to purchasing used gear.
I like your idea of getting a good integrated first, comparing to my existing phono pre, and then moving on up through the food chain if I want to keep upgrading.
I do remember reading here in the forums that people thought plenty of vintage amps had really good phono stages, but that most modern amps failed in that department, even if they included a phono stage. That’s why at this point I’m still partial to the idea of getting a separate phono pre.
Obviously serious audiophiles feel there is a lot of benefit to separating components out (integrated vs. separates). I can’t help but wonder if it’s a benefit I will notice, given my less than ideal room and also lack of discretionary income. Would anyone care to explain their thoughts on what is sacrificed when you choose an integrated amp?
@Mijostyn — I was really surprised to see that there’s only one dealer for Parasound in my area. It’s a place more geared toward home theater. I will look into that amp, as I’ve read a lot of praise for Parasound here in the forums.
@Millercarbon & @Jond & @Terry9 — Thanks for your insights. Also glad to hear from a Herron owner.
I appreciate the advice to take my time and to ask for home demos. There are way too many variables for me to get a good feel for something in the store. Do most dealers let customers audition things in their homes for a limited time before purchase? No one has ever offered that as an option to me.
I am interested in tubes! I’ve only had SS systems and am really curious about tubes. As with everything in high end audio, it seems like you can really go down the rabbit hole with tubes, which is not a good thing for me, as I am easily overwhelmed. I can learn some basics though, especially if I can find a dealer who is willing to walk me though what I need to know (I’m much better at ‘hands on’ learning). If I can get good sounds with plug and play tubes I’d be interested in getting into tubes.
@Elizabeth — You called it, I would place myself in the 10 hours a week listening category.
I am kind of an ‘audio freak’ in my own way — for instance my husband is not allowed to touch my turntable, and I am a perfectionist about cleaning and handling my records. I did all my cabling very carefully to separate out the AC power. So what I do know about I am strict about. But I am kind of a numb nuts about techie stuff that no one has shown me or told me about.
I am lucky to live in an area with multiple hifi shops and dealers. I never really recovered from my favorite salesman leaving back in 2010, so I haven’t had a ‘go to’ guy for a long time.
Sounds like there is a consensus that the very first thing I should replace is the receiver. Let’s all take a moment to enjoy this moment of agreement here in the forums, ha ha!