Upgrade path

I'm currently running a set of Dunlavy SC4 speakers bi amped into a Theata Dreadnaught 1 amp with the 5x200 watt set up, Preamp is a Audio Research ls3. Looking for opinions on what I should up grade 1st of the 3 pieces. I was thinking a bigger amp in the 400 watt range but one that would be an noticeable improvement over the Theat which to my ears does a lot of things right. Amp wise I would not be looking to spend more than 4K 
I know the LS3 well; great SS preamp of the day but being a former Dunlavy owner I wouldn't use the LS3. Seems you like the Theta amp so I'd throw out look into a tube preamp. Many great tube preamps out there and if $4K is your budget you'll have no problem finding a nice one.

I think I'd do the preamp if the Dunlavys are staying.
Not opposed to replacing the Dunlavys. But most say I'd have to spend more than 4K to do better? I like the detail I get from the Theta just wish I had a little more bottom end. Again most say to get better bottom end I would lose some of the midrange unless I get into super high end amps. So there is my delima. Can I upgrade my speakers or amp using 4K as a budget or at this budget is my only option upgrading my preamp. I was looking at an older Mac amp the MC2500?
Too many variables to consider before throwing out what amp may give you a little more slam. Used to work at the local Dunlavy shop part time back in the days. The SC4s are ruler flat so if your looking for a big fat bottom you may never get there. Your room size has as much or more to with it. We also sold the ARC LS3 and that was a really good preamp but there’s much better today. I’d look at my speaker placement, do you have dedicated circuits to your equipment which your amp really needs to get the most out of it, and lastly if you don’t have revealing cables that can deliver the goods then I’d start there with dedicated lines. The SC4s are big heavy boxes to move around so wondering if you have the spikes in the plinths?
Yes the Dunlays are pretty nice. Not looking for a fat bottom end. Just looking to tie everything together.I will continue to look for a better pre amp... As more than likely there lies the key. Will a tube preamp soften the bottom end? Also any recommendations either tube or solid state for preamps? Would need a pre with two sets of main outputs so I can continue to bi amp.
It seems like you're overall happy with the sound you're getting but just looking to augment the bottom end a bit.  That seems to be common with your speakers and what the SC4a may have addressed.  I doubt spending $4k on speakers, amp, or pre is going to get you what you seek without potentially compromising other areas.  If I'm you, I'd demo a sub with a good bass management system and see if that adds what you're looking for.  If that helps I'd then get a second sub and live happily ever after -- although I'd eventually replace the preamp as well.  Best of luck. 

If if you have the room: bigger Dunlavys,...or sub-woofers.

Thanks Soix, and unsound. One issue I do suffer from is that some tracks sounds mediocre in my system. others are a sonic bliss. My guess is that its the track/recording itself. Thought switching one of the 3 pieces out would give me more of a even tone across all my music. Also with the Dunlavy speakers Prior to getting the Dreadnaught amp I was running a set of Emotiva mono blocks 500watts while not the greatest of amps but they were good and controlled the bottom end of the Dunlavy's very well. I like the Dreadnaught a lot better. Night and day difference on Sonics and presentation, detail, and midrange. This is what gave me the thought that a higher wattage amp in the same league as the Dreadnaught or better would give me the total overall package??
Would love some bigger Dunlavy's but only have 4k to play with bigger Dunlavy's have been running 7k as of late..
Keep in mind the value of your current Dunlavys.
Others might disagree with your power observations with Dunlavys, but you might(!) be on to something. I had a friend go from two 200 watt mono amps to four identical factory matched of the same amps, and the improvement was much greater than either of us expected with his SC IV's. I'm still not sure whether it was the extra power, the longer Class A bias, or some combination there in. 
The SC IVa' are capable of more of the things you are seeking than you might think. Unfortinately they don't show up on the used market too often. The SC V's show up more often and usually for less than $6k, so with the sale of your IV's you should be within budget. One caveat: a lot of V's and VI's were used in recording studios and might have seen a lot of (ab)use.

I would most likely replace the power amp first. You never know how your speakers can sound until you give them the right amp.
I wonder how a Sanders Magtech amp would sound with the Dunlavys?
I was kinda thinking the same. I have a line on a older Mac 2500 which has been rebuilt by Mcintosh and comes with a one year warranty. I know many don't care for Mac amps but it's in my price range and has a warranty. Grew up in a house with Mac gear all my younger years and will I have herd other big names do this or that better Mac has always been that middle of the road amp that I could listen to for hours at a time.. Will have to look up Sanders amps as I'm not familiar with them.

I have a set of the Dunlavy SC-IVs along with about every other Dunlavy model that was ever made. Yes, going to larger Dunlavys will give you more bass foundation, but (loving clean deep bass as I do) I have still felt compelled to add subwoofers. John Dunlavy did design and manufacture a few Dunlavy subs in various sizes. I came across a passive Dunlavy sub that was in an SC-IV enclosure with four 10" drivers. Using a separate crossover and 200 Watt (high current) Mono amp with SC-Vs has brought bass performance to a level I wasn't sure was even possible.

My advice is keep the Dunlavys and keep an eye open for Dunlavy subs to match. It will probably take about 4K to get it right with arrangement similar what I've mentioned above.

It’s a good thing that different recordings sound different. You’re hearing what’s on the recording instead of a coloration imposed by your gear. A coloration may sound good at first but eventually you will notice that you’re missing things that come with uncolored sound.

I’d say stay with what you have in that area and I agree that you should get a sub or two if you want more bass. I don’t think you’ll get there with a different amp.

tomcy6 you believe that 200watts is enough juice for the Dunlavy's?


Here are the specs for your speakers.

Sensitivity: 91dB/W/m. Impedance: nominal 5 ohms, minimum 3.0 ohms, maximum 7.5 ohms including bass resonance. Power handling: peak 250W for 10ms, average (pink noise) 25W. Recommended amplifier power: minimum 100W into 8 ohms.

With a high sensitivity, benign impedance curve and reviews stating that Theta doubles power to 400 wpc into 4 ohms, 200 watts should play them loud enough to drive you out of the room before clipping. Some people feel that you need a more powerful amp to properly control the bass cones. A more powerful amp may get you better bass, I don’t know, but a sub will definitely give you deeper bass and take some of the work from the Dunlavy’s bass cones allowing them to distort less.

There are a lot of nice amps out there and I’d bet you could find one that improves on your Theta. Maybe you should talk to the people at Theta and see if they can upgrade yours and what it would cost.

Tomcy6, that's crazy I just spoke with Theta this afternoon. They said the exact same thing! The only recommendation they gave was to go with a set of mono block amps which would give more current. Of course they recommend Enterprise and Citidel monos. Said I should stay away from tubes as they would be mushy with the Dunlavy speaker said? Said Mac amps would be nice however a different sound. Also said while Krell would grip the bottom end I would lose a lot of midrange magic. One thing I've learned is the Theta takes a long time to warm up and now I keep in stand by mode. And must say the amp sounds great to me! May just look at a better preamp but I need one with 2 sets of main outputs so I can continue to bi amp with the Theta(which is the main reason I thought of replacing the Theta)

2channel, Good luck with whatever direction your audio journey takes you.  There's certainly no shortage of options out there.

Any thoughts on Mcintosh MC2500? Got a line on one that's been completely rebuilt
The MC2500 is one of the amps that made McIntosh.  It is a professional unit and there really isn't a current manufacture direct comparison that I'm aware of.  Bullet-proof, outstanding sound quality.  If you ever wanted to move into Mc, it would be a good way to go.

Good luck & happy listening!

Not a fan of the Macs. Excellent build quality, plenty of parts, and service techs, but the sound to my ears is lifeless. And though with such copius power it might not matter too much, but sacrificing the otherwise advantages of frequency linearity of ss to accommodate auto-formers is non-sensical to me.

Unsound what SS Amps do you like. I've had several other good SS amps in my rig. But here in central Ohio whenever they need serviced it's always we don't/are not a licensed repair facility...which gets old after a few years!! I grew up listening to Mcintosh as a child hearing my Fathers rig. As I recall his Mcintosh Amps were always laid back and musical and we would listen to his ring for hrs. On end with no fatigue.. What about Mac amps do t you like??