Upgrade Amp or Preamp 1st? Conrad Johnson?


I am looking to upgrade the 2 channel performance of my system within a home theater 5.1 set up.

Currently have Sonus Faber Cremona M's, Oppo 95, Emotive XPA 5 amp and Emotiva UMC 1 for a pre pro.

I will be replacing both the amp and pre. The question is which to do first. Which will give me the bigger performance upgrade? It has been recommended to me to get a dedicated preamp and not a prepro for better 2 channel performance.

I have been researching Conrad Johnson Tube preamps used for $2000 -$2500. It is hard to actually demo them and I have been going on reviews that I have read.

Any suggstions would be appreciated.

Thank You
Both would make a difference, but unless your amp is a poor match with your speaker, I would start with a very good 2 channel preamp (I like the tube idea).

Just make sure that the new preamp doesn't have mismatched gain with your present amp.

I agree with Dave. I would probably go with the preamp upgrade first, unless you are having difficulty driving your speakers. If that is the case, then upgrade the amp first. Used conrad johnson can be had at a very reasonable bargain and you really get top performance. You may also want to check out Conradjohnsonowners.com, audioafficiando.org, or audiokarma.org for advice on this as well if you are planning to go with a specific CJ preamp or amp.

The honest truth is that I think you will be happy with either upgrade as "tubes" really do have a very pleasant sound compared with solid state. I have heard good and bad about the emotiva line but I think you will notice quite a substantial improvement with going to true audiophile manufacturer such as Conrad Johnson. Let us know what happens.
Upgrade the amp to Bryston 4 or 14BSST and use a Marantz processor with Cardas cables for some warmth. Good for 2ch and multi ch. The Marantz are very underrated and musically quite good. They are just a bit upfront but the Cardas cables help this. I use the Golden Ref and AQ Sky. Both superb. Jallen
To me its about like asking if you should change your left tire before the right tire.
Thank You for the responses.

I know I need to upgrade both the amp and the preamp however due to finances I have to do it in steps.

I do want to buy quality gear to match the cremona's.