Upgrade advice needed

I currently have a modest, entry-level system consisting of a Marantz 4500 receiver with Paradigm Mini Monitors, a PDR-10 sub and Atoms as surrounds.

I use this system 80% for 2 channel music (2.1 technically). Though I don't use the surround as much, I definitely like/need the option enough not to be dedicated only to 2 channel.

I would like to upgrade the mini monitors, possibly to Studio 20s or comparable. Will the Marantz hold up to the next level in speakers?

I realize the next incremental step would be to add a 2 channel amp, possibly using the Marantz as a pre-amp.

But what do you think? Can I make a speaker upgrade with what I have? Is the right direction to go? I would appreciate any advice or suggestions on how to take the next step up.

Go for it. Speakers before electronics is a good bet in my opinion.
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Another vot for better speakers. There is a large selection of speakers in the Studio 20's price range. A little research and some listening would be ideal. Good luck and enjoy the hunt.
Which version mini-monitor do you own? I own the Marantz SR-4500. A very nice receiver w/a really great remote, but it has limatations. I'm not too sure how it would sound using it as a pre-amp and adding an external amp. Why not get a floorstander? If it was me and if you like Paradigm, go try to fing a dealer which has remaining stock of Phantom V4's. Great spk. which are very easy to drive and have great bass. Then you could replace the Atom's w/the Mini-monitor's. Just a thought. God Luck, Bill.
Thanks everyone for your response/input.

Bill, the mini-monitors are V.2. I lean toward using monitors vs. floorstanders because I have a dog, and I like having the speakers up away from the hair, dirt, etc.

I just stopped by my Paradigm dealer and he had some Studio 40 V.2's that he let me take home to try out. He didn't have any 20's. He's asking $800 for the 40's. It seems like it may be a little high since they have a few scuff marks and couple of small snags in one of the grills.

So, I'll give those a listen and see if I can start getting a handle on how much difference I hear. I think the biggest improvement I'm looking for is soundstage, imaging and transparency. I liked a lot about the mini-monitors, but regardless of placement it was tough to get the speakers to dissapear. I could get a pretty solid center image, but everything else seemed pretty narrow and a bit boxed in. I know all of the components in the system factor in on this, but I'm hoping to at least move in the right direction with new speakers.

Well, I'm going to see if I can get my hands on some other speakers. I really want to be able to take them home. I have a hard time getting a good comparison listening in a dealer's listening room with (usually) much better amplification, sources, etc.

thanks again
Hi again,
So I listened to the Studio 40's and I was pretty disappointed. I found the highs to be very fatiguing. Though they were definitely more detailed, it was almost a relief to hook the mini monitors back up.

Then I made a big mistake. I went and listened to some Totem Mani-2's ($4K) hooked up to a Rogue tube pre-amp and a large Adcom amp. Oh it was heavenly, I could have listened all day. I found the Totems to be really detailed, but more importantly very musical, warm and inviting.

Now I know I was listening to a whole different level of quality, but I'm looking for suggestions for a more affordable version. How do Totem's other speakers compare, Arrow, Hawk, Model 1, etc? It looks like the Model 1 uses similar drivers.

thanks for any input.
Tim, I've heard the Arro and Sttaf. They both cast realistic sound images and manage to do something most affordable speakers can't - they disappear. Whatever Totem is doing, they're doing it right. If I were looking for speakers in the $700 range, I'd be seriously considering the Arro. If I could afford $1000, I'd be looking at the Sttaf. However, if you can find a pair of Alon Model I's or II's for less than 1k, don't hesitate. They're absolute gems.
Thanks Mingles. I'm definitely thinking about stretching my budget a little to around $1K. I've also pretty much decided to ditch the HT all together and go dedicated 2-channel. So once I decide on some speakers I'll be looking for amplification. I'll have look at the Alons.

At this stage of the game I'm definitley most interested in having a setup that is just really musical and enjoyable, not necessarily hyper-accurate (not that the two can't coincide at some point).

I listen to a lot of rock so I'm thinking a setup with the Arro's or Sttaf's and a fast sub would make me quite happy.
thanks again
Alrighty, so I bought a pair of Totem Sttafs, and I love them.
But, I definitely feel like I'm not getting their full potention with my Marantz SR4500 and a cheap Pioneer DVD player.
So, I think I'd like to get an integrated amp, and with much research, have narrowed it down to a few in the under $1K (used) category.
At the top of my list is the Naim Nait 5i, reviews sound great and I like the idea of the HT pass-through to keep my surround for now.
I'm also considering: Bryston B-60R, Unison Unico, Jolida 1501RC and Rega Mira 3.

First any thoughts on these choices? I really have no way to listen to anything beforehand.

Also, will the system be really hamstrung without also upgrading the CD player? Or will I still get a big step up before a CDP upgrade?

Thanks again for your help.
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