Request for insight/opinion

System as it stands
Monitor Audio Gold Reference speakers:
a pr 20's
a pr 10's
center channel
no sub yet
very utilitarian DVD player-Pioneer 563A
a Pioneer Elite 45VSX-45TX 7.1 THX 100W per channel receiver

Movies and concert DVD's present with incredibly good sound and punch, these experiences leave me wanting for nothing. Music via CD's, tuner, phono can be very good but rarely are my socks knocked off, honestly. In your opinion, am I asking too much of this ($900-new) receiver? Should I seriously consider separates? If so,does anybody have an opinion on a decent $3000-ish match with the Gold Ref's? Or would getting a better quality CD player be a better direction to go in? Thanks in advance. Jen.
The Elite is rather smooth and rich for a Japanese receiver and is probably the best match you could have found at its price. Elite's are designed by Meridian. If the Elite bi-passes all A/D and D/A conversion in "Direct" mode then for the dollar you can make a big difference with a good sounding CD player. (Assuming you listen mostly to CD's) Tuner will never sound good and it does take a good pre-amp to make a turntable sing. If the Elite still converts everything to digital EVEN in the "Direct" mode then a better CD player won't make a bit of difference. A CD player that would be a great match would be an Arcam. There are others that are good like Rotel but I know Arcam would sound nice with your system.

If the Elite's Bi-pass isn't a true Bi-pass the separates will make a huge difference as long as you pay attention to matching.

Your speakers can still show big differences in equipment way above $3000 but if that is where you need to be you can go in stages because the Elite has pre-outs so the Elite can be your pre-amp for starters.

If you do that, I would look at a Parasound or Rotel amp for starters and I am sure there are a few more out there that are reel good. You don't want an amp that is a little steely sounding like an Aragon, NAD, or a newer B&K. (old ones were better)

This will let you save up for what I think is the best SS pre-amp out there, a Classe. I say that because it is very unusual in high end for a product to be 7 times better at only twice the price. A Classe SS pre-amp (even the older SSP-25) will lunch anything I have heard except for a higher end Classe. (The Parasound is rather good though and cheaper and so is the Arcam.)
Yes you are expecting too much from the Pioneer but, you don't have to go to separates. Well kind of. If the Pioneer has pre-outs, I would get a 2 channel integrated amp with HT pass-thru like the Sim Audio I-5 or some such.

Good luck
I have the MA Gold Reference 10 partnered with Classe 150 amp, Cary Audio preamp with matched Telefunken 6DJ8 vacuum tubes and CAL Tubed Alpha DAC and Delta transport. The sound is nothing short of spectacular. Try the Classe behemoths, highly recommended
I would look into upgrading your DVD player. Remember Linn's motto: start with the source! IMO I agree with this. There are quite a few reasonably priced DVD players which also have very good redbook CD capability....Arcam for example.
Hello again. The Arcam is VERY good.
Thanks to everybody who responded. Duane, I have been told by a Pioneer rep that the Elite in Direct Mode does bi-pass A/D and D/A conversion. Which makes it easier to lean toward upgrading the my CDP. With Arcam, have you had any listening experience with the 73 model? I'm wondering if it is a reasonable choice or would it behoove me to save for the more advanced 33 or 36? Thanks again.
I agree to go to the source. First, experiment with DIRECT mode and your current player. If direct mode sounds better now, then you're going to really be happy when you get an ARCAM or other very good player installed. If direct mode sounds worse, then the Pioneer receiver has better electronics for D/A A/D conversion than the DVD player, which would not surprise me. You will still benefit from a good player, but need to remember that a receiver such as yours is optimized for home theater. I would live with the trade-offs as long as home theater is an important part of your experience. If you want to get crazy about two-channel music, then a second system may be the answer, or a swing away from home theater.
Are you using the digital or analog connection to play the CDs? I'm somewhat assuming the analog since that't the only way you could use the analog bypass.

Regardless of which way it is now, maybe try the other way to see if there is any change for the better.
TFkaudio & others, STEREO mode is quite excellent but DIRECT mode sure isn't. Your hunch was correct. I really don't regret the Elite purchase at all, it is a 10 fold improvement over the relic I had before(got it here on Audiogon,too - brand new/50% off suggested retail)but I do feel a pull towards intoxicating 2-channel music, I can't deny it. It probably would be crazy to go in that direction now but I suspect the day will come!