Upgrade Opinions

I am looking for opinions as to where to turn for my next significant improvement in my audio system -- seems to be a highly subjective thing.

My current system consists of a Denon DCD 1560 CD, Modded Bottlehead Foreplay II pre (this thing made a big improvement for me over my old Luxman C-120 SS pre), Adcom GFA 555 MKII amp (originally ran two GFA-1A amps and bi-amped my KEF's and really heard no difference in the 555 but also did not have the tube pre then) and KEF Q75.2 speakers.

Better CD?

My thoughts have been around the source -- the Denon seems to be a capable deck but I see posts touting the Denon 1650AR and others the Jolida JD100 (though there seems to be a good many of these offered as used) as well so this is another possibility.


I recently purchased and then returned an Audio Research DAC2 -- was expecting great things but did not deliver. This was a 20 bit unit as is my 1560 though so another possibility would be either a Benchmark DAC1 or RAKK DAC (kit built but company is local for me).

Different Tubes for the Bottlehead?

I have a set of EH's for the bottlehead and RCA Cleartops (very microphonic though). Perhaps a set of Telefunken 12AU7's for the foreplay (relatively inexpensive compared to DAC's) or going to a Tube amp.

Or a Tube Amp?

Current contenders here are an Audio Research Classic 60 ($1200 used) at my local shop or to purchase and rebuild some Dynaco MKIII's. I do want to ultimately get into tubes.

I am looking for incremental improvements I can hear. I know there are many options here but was looking for guidance from people with similar experience.
the source is incredibly important, if you don't have the best source you can afford you never get there..but saying that,the chain is also as important. the jolida seems to be the one for the money and if it doesn't work out, you can always sell due to everyone liking that unit. i have owned jolida amps and really liked them and the sound for the money... also unison cd is a little more but very good in the used market....
I can't stand anything by Denon. That said I would ditch the Adcom amp. I went through 9 long years of Adcom 555II power and pre amps in my system. I bought a used Aragon 8008BB here on audiogon and it was a huge improvement. Bought a new pre-amp too. My speakers are like a new set, been hearing things out of them I never did. A lot less digititis too.