I’ve just been sitting and re-listening to my collection with big smile on my face. In your honor, I’ll break out the Santana this morning!
When my 5-channel Krell amplifier died, I had to do a lot of thinking, and research, and soul searching in a short amount of time. I’ve always (for 20+ years) built and maintained a home theater setup and then used that for both music and movies. But over the years movies went from maybe 60% importance to more like 20%.
So with this 80%-music priority in mind, I decided to put the budget I had (arbitrarily) determined was reasonable into getting the best 2-ch/stereo MUSIC I could out of my "fronts" (Thiel 2.3s).
And holy crap, was that ever the right decision for me. Literally for 20 years, I’ve fiddled with placement, DOLBY PRO LOGIC (buying and installing the promising DOLBY PRO LOGIC II! upgrade for my (at the time) Anthem pre/pro), trying and dismissing and trying again 5-channel stereo (later, "multi-channel" stereo, of course), trying desperately to get the enveloping, rich, vibrant sound I craved. And now I’ve made more progress toward that goal in 2 weeks than I’d made in the 20 years before.
Long story short (too late), if I were going to put my amp $ into two channels, I’d still need something to run center and surrounds for movies/tv. And I also noticed that my trusty Onkyo pre/pro had begun its 2nd decade, with its 4 HDMI 1.4 inputs, etc. So I got a new Denon receiver to act as my pre-pro. For a 2-ch amp then, in addition to asking here, I’ve spent a lot of time on WhiteCamaroSS’s ampnanza thread (I’m on page, like, 15. I’ll be reading that for the rest of my life I think). Ultimately, I went with the PS Audio BHK Signature 250 "dual-mono". With my Krell as "trade in", I got it for just over $5k. I was excited about PS Audio being a relatively local company. Also, they have a great in-home 30 day policy, and everything I had read about the BHK 250/300s has been positive.
I don’t even know if the Denon is going to be good for my surrounds and center (I assume they will), because all I want to do is listen to stereo music. I did set the Thiels as "small" on the Denon, with a crossover at 60 hz, and have two SVS subs in the corners helping out, but the Thiels and PS are doing most of the work. I keep geeking out to my wife saying, "THIS IS JUST TWO CHANNEL!!1!???!" And she gives me that smile and nod that made me marry her long ago.