Searching for better 2 channel performance?

Once again debating the upgrade options and need help. Hard to find anything 2 channel oriented around here to compare so I have to rely on advise here.

Recently upgraded surround processor to Marantz SR 6005 and am overall very happy with the sound quality. For 2 channel I run a squeezebox thru a Lite Audio dac 60 to the Marantz in pure direct mode to Gallo 3.1 and am happy with the sound but feel I am missing something. Imaging in particular seems lacking. This could be an issue with the material I listen to. Any suggestions on something to showcase imaging both left and right and front to back?

I am considering adding a seperate pre just for 2 channel. This would be used, most likely bought off this forum. Have read many post that seem to make it sound as though modern processors will out perform older equipment due to advancements in quality of parts. Many post on the other side also.

Need recommendations on used pre's or processors >$1000.00 that will outperform the marantz/Lite Audio in 2 channel. Need remote and 2 zone operation. Have considered Classe, Lexicon, Proceed, anc Cary.
Thanks for any guidance or suggestions.
TO nail the imaging use most any recording on the Mapleshade or vintage Mercury Living Presence labels. Try some mono recordings also to get a sharp focused centrally located image which is usually a good omen then for stereo.

Usually, some distance from rear and side walls helps open up soundstage and imaging. Ideally you want the sound reflected from rear and side walls to traverse about twice the distance to reach your ears as the direct sound, and for the the sound to travel at least 5-6 extra feet for reflected sound. That means small rooms in general may have more limitations.

SOme speakers are designed to go in corners or up against walls which is a decent alternate approach to avoid early reflections but generally does not deliver as deep of a soundstage as placement into the room and away from walls.
Thanks Mapman. Based on your speaker placement description I have a problem. My room is a rectangle but positioning puts system on the long wall with the listening area about 3ft from the back wall which is almost all glass. Guess imaging will have to wait for a different configuration.

Any suggestions for a 2 channel pre. Tube or ss. Remote is essential for at least volume control. Would like ht passthrough but must have at least 2 inputs.
Thanks again,
scoly, i'm surprised noone's recommended amping your front channels with a good 2ch amp--the amp section on most avrs is compromised and using a better quality amp can make a huge, night-and-day difference.
Loomis Johnson is right! (Anybody remember Blazing Saddles?) I agree that the AVR's are indeed lacking compared to a dedicated strong 2 channel amp. In both of my rooms I am less than a foot from the back wall (no treatment at all) and imaging is quite good to amazing- and I'm an imaging freak. One of these rooms has a giant entertainment center with glass doors and a big tv between the speakers- I have them pulled out past the front edge of the Ent. ctr and only 4-6 inches on either side. Soundstage is great with Dahlquist DQ-10's or Dynaudio. You can do this!
I would expect the right dedicated 2 channel amp to help with the Gallos. Different pre-amps will certainly be a factor as well

As described, your room and configuration might limit imaging depth but not width. Distance to rear wall may not be as big an issue with the Gallos as a result of use of side facing drivers.

LEss than optimal soundstage depth is not unusual and many live quite fine without it. THings can still sound quite good if things are tuned in well. The glass to the rear will likely have an effect. Try some different things possible within the room limitations and see.
Have to apologize for not stating system. Do have a bryston 3bst amp for L/R channels. Was my intro into what I was missing using receiver. Night and day difference.

Prior to the purchase of the marantz processor I was using an older Denon receiver with a B&k ref 20 and dac 60 for L/R duty. When I got the Marantz compared it with dac to the Ref 20 with dac and found the marantz/dac combo sounded as good or slightly better playing in pure direct mode.

Now I have decided to take the next step and add a dedicated pre for stereo duties. Delima is that where I live auditioning upper end is not possible. Have to rely on sites like this for info and go from there.

With that in mind any recommendations for used pre's in the $1000.00 range. Has to have a remote, ht bypass would be nice but is not an absolute and at least 3 inputs.

Like shimmering highs with solid bass and a velvety midrange.

I'd consider a matching Bryston as a starting point.
You should read Jim Smith's book "Get Better Sound". It's a great read, full of information and should help you improve the sound of your system through speaker and listener positioning. You could do this inexpensively before you try upgrading any of your components.
Ths364 Johnson is right about Loomis Johnson being right! If it were me I might consider the amp as the first place to start looking, but as mentioned it could be several several factors: speaker positioning (correct long-wall placement can be better for more coherent imaging along the front of the soundstage than the usually better depth associated with short-wall set-up), wiring and even things like proper impedance matching or volume pot quality. The "Get Better Sound" recommendation is a good one too.
Steve, just saw your last post. Congrats on the Bryston amp, BTW. I don't know if you can find one on the used market in your price range or not, but you might try the Wyred 4 Sound preamp.
Emotiva has a new preamp coming out, but it's $1500. The NAD T175 might be a possiblity and there's one being offered here at Agon for $875.