Sony STR-DA777ES to Pre/Pro?

I'm looking to upgrade to a dedicated pre-amp/processor. I like the bells and whistles that the Sony has, but I also want to hear a noticable audio difference. I'm using the receiver right now with a seperate 5-channel amp. I've heard so many conflicting stories about some of the processors that are out there that I'm wondering if now is the time to buy. People like Lexicon, it has a plethora of features, but Stereophile did not like the RF problems from the video switching. I've heard both rave reviews and absolute horror stories about the California Audio Labs processor. Bryston's SP-1 seems to be having a slow start--software problems, and it seems to be stuck in 5-channel mode. Aragon Soundstage, I can't even find a decent review of this one--I have been told by salesman that it is one of the best out there, but I don't want to rely on his word. Integra Research, once again I hear rave reviews, but I can't even locate a dealer for them. I don't want to buy anything that will be too close to the Sony in sound quality. I want to hear a noticable difference. Any suggestions? I plan to just hang on to the Sony if this is not the time to buy.
Argent, see the recent thread 'Best Stand Alone Processor'. Though the person posting that thread did not get his question answered, I think it may be a good start for you. I would write again, but am pooped at present.

I will say there are a bunch of pre/pros. that should do well against the sony generally. In order to say anything further need to know what is your budget, and what are your priorities (HT or 2 ch.)?

Priorities: home theater-80%, sacd-20%. Price: Less than $6,000. I want upgradability first, then sonics, then bells and whistles. Thanks for the info on the other post. I read it thoroughly. I felt though that my question is a slightly different situation in that while I definitely want better sound and processing, I also want to retain the nifty options. I can live with my Sony for now, so I plan to keep auditioning until I find something I like. My problem is I keep finding conflicting information on some of this gear.