Upgrading to Tube; Amp or Preamp

I am currently looking to upgrade my existing system a piece at a time. I currently have a set of Vandersteen 2ce Sigs, VPI mkIII w/RB250 Origin Mod w/Dynavector cartidge, Adcom 565 Preamp, Adcom 555 mkII w/Musical Concept mod, and a Rega Planet CD. I have a rather small listening room, 15x18 w/vaulted ceilings and want to migrate to tube gear. I have heard the Rogue 120 amps and 99 preamp on the Vandersteens and thought they sounded marvelous.

I am into analogue mostly classical, jazz, and some rock. My budget is in the $2000 dollar range and since I want to get as big a bang for the big would it be best to replace the Preamp or Amp. The Adcom gear is a little too bright and the soundstage and imaging are not near (imagine that)what I heard with the Rogue combo. I like the Vandersteens alot but have heard that they get a little too laid back with tube gear. My aim is to put about two to three thousand in my system a year until my wife stops me.

Look forward to the suggestions, oh yeah getting rid of my wife is not an option (ha, ha).
The Rogue gear is a wonderfull choice.I use the 120 with the 66 if you can afford it go for the 120/99 combo.The 120/66 combo is tough to beat for about 2500 used.Your room is similar to mine 15x18 with cathedral celing.I play more Vinyl than Cds.
I presently have a Rogue 66 (not magnum version) mated with a Bryston 4B-ST and I am very happy. I think getting a tube preamp (Rogue is my "bias") is the way to go - keep the SS power of the Adcom but "warm" it up nicely with a tube preamp. While many have tried (not me) a tube amp with a SS preamp it seems to be the general opinion here and elsewhere that a tube preamp/ss amp is a better combo then a ss preamp/tube preamp.Haven't tried a tube amp as my Maggies like current and I can't afford the high powered tube amps that would do the speakers justice...
sorry - brainfart - meant to say better combo in a tube pre/ss amp than ss pre/tube amp. You could find a used Rogue for between $700-$900 or spring more money for the 99. If Rogue is really a serious choice you could buy as used 66 and have it upgraded to the Magnum version and still have plenty of money for further tweaks, gear or software. Not sure how the upgraded 66 compares to the 99 but maybe someone else here has made that comparison...
If you are primarily listening to vinyl, then definitely look first to your preamp and consider one of the excellent used tube preamps with phonostages that often appear on the used market. The Conrad-Johnson PV-9A or PV-10 each have a very good phono stage, for example, and are overall very good. There are certainly other good options.
Rav1952 It is a misnomer to conclude that tube gear is necessarily too laid back with Vandy's. Depends on the gear. ARC which has a more upfront presentation matches extremely well with Vandersteen, real synergy. Conrad Johnson which is a bit darker probably not as well for most tastes. I would try to audition the Vandy's with ARC as well. I have heard the Rogue's once and at the price appear to be a very solid value but it is always difficult trying to evaluate a component in an unfamiliar system.
I would go pre amp first. Try the VAC Standard which you can find under 2K online. You can get excellent deals on the upper end Kora pre amps online too. The only unit I was extremely impressed with at or about the 1K price point was the EAR. Of course these units were reviewed and judged with the gear I used at the time. Your milage may vary. Using a THOR I picked up for well under 4K online a few months back.
I have Vandy 2C's with an ARC SP-8 preamp and D-115
ARC amp. Great mating with the speakers with outstanding imaging and midrange..plenty of bass for me, but the highs seem a little rolled off compared to other systems I've heard. Stress on the word "little". So far, I haven't messed with CD's.

The D-115 is great . The only problem I've had is that I bought it with used tubes and replaced the original set with a used set from ARC...every time one of the 6550's goes out, the amp has to go to the shop because it takes out a resistor too. This has happened twice in 10 years. Guess that's not too bad, but some may think differently. Have given some consideration to trading it in for a D-70, but will probably keep coughing up the money because I love the sound. The SP-8 is a jewel. Hardly any problems at all with it. Mates well with my alternate amp, a souped up Dyna St 70. Both the ARC products would probably fit your budget in the used market.
Conceptually agree witha the previous posts regarding a tube pre, but include the Audible Illusions Modulus 3A in your comparisons. Good luck.
Try to get a PREMIER 3 by C.J.has a great phono stage.Otherwise try to get the PV-5.This would go good with a S.S. amp.Audible Illusions is also a good choice.good luck in your search.
I have Vandies with Rogue 120s and a 99 pre and I used to use a ss amp and preamp. What you won't get is the same kind of bass you get with a ss amp. What you will get is a midrange that will make you not care. You will get coherence, timbre and a soundstage depth that your Adcom stuff just can't do.
Palpable floating images and sweetness will suddenly become adjectives with real meaning in your system. Solid state hardness combined with cd brightness drove me to tubes years ago. I have not missed solid state. 'nuff said.
Count me in the camp that uses a Rogue 99 pre, but currently driving a Plinius SA-100 Mk III (100 wpc SS amp). I did a lot of listening, also during a search for a system for my brother. I am tremendously satisfied with the Rogue, and the Plinius for that matter (and don't get me started about how much I like the new Coincident Super Eclipse).

Anyway, point is that we compared several pre-amps in the same system (mostly BAT, but unfortunately no ARC), and the only thing that topped the Rogue 99 was an Air Tight unit (point to point wiring, but no remote or phono pre) that was about $4,000 used, as I remember. At that it was only slightly smoother around the edges, with the Rogue definitely holding its own in the lower regions. Moral of story: I will eventually replace the Plinius with tubes (although I am in no hurry since I am enjoying this amplifier quite a bit), but I can't say I feel any need to replace the Rogue 99.

Hope this helps, and best of luck.
Seldner,add a Rogue 120 to your system with the Coincident,s its a match made in heaven.Rogue and Coincident have showed toghther a few years back at some local shows.They mate very well.I have a 120/66 combo with a Super Conquest from Coincidents.
I bi-amp my Vandie 2C's with a 2 pair of lightly modified Svetlana 6550C driven Dynaco MK III's (Caps upgraded to RTX MultiCaps, slightly beefed up power supply, improved Bias circuit) Was very happy with Audible Illusions Mod 3 preamp until I got a great deal on Sonic Frontiers Line Stage & separate Phono preamp. Definitely lifted another veil. Gorgeous mid-range, imageing, depth, width etc!!!! Also very honest bass if not the ultimate in extension. Yeah, the treble is slightly laid back, but a little silver between Turntable & preamp (Kimber KCAG, [or Kimber select if you have a phono hum problem. My Grado Reference cartridge does]) will brighten it up just ever so slightly & give a nice sheen & snap to cymbals on small group jazz which is the only plalce I miss an extended top end.
Vandy's not laid back. I forgot to add that matching the ARC stuff to my Vandy 2C's are anythything but laid back. If you've got muscular, ballsy stuff on the front end, it'll sound stupendous with this combo.

Two examples come to mind. Mercury's old SR with Prokovieff's Love for 3 oranges and Sythian Suite smacks you right in the gut in the lower ranges. I also play a lot of Grateful Dead that come on mere cassette tapes. Amazing how faithful the recreation to concert sound. Rocks great with slamming bass!

Sorry, I'm not much help on what to replace first. I do know that my D-115 II is out now and with my Hillig modified ST 70, I can still get great dynamics, presence, and bass but I have to kick up the preamp a bit more. Still not as good as having both ARC products working though.

Good luck and have fun with your explorations.
Another vote for the tube pre first. I think you'll be extremly happy with the upgrade. I also went the tube amp route, later, and was even happier. Obviously, the care and feeding of a tube amp is much higher - something to think about. I love my audible illusions M3 but too much gain can be a problem in some systems. I've heard and liked the VTL 2.5 and have seen these used for about $900-1000.

Good Luck
Counterpoint SA-3000 / SA-100 Combo

I used this combination with Thiel 3.6 for 3 months and got pretty nice sound. Total cost for me $1,075 ($675 + $400). If you want to extend their capacities, contact Mike Elliott (Counterpoint's CEO & chief designer, try visit www.altavistaaudio.com) for upgrade details.

Good Luck!
I want to thank everyone for their input. I am going to try and audition some of the suggestions to see if I can tell the difference. But thanks again to everyone.
One option that I think would really love is an Atma-Sphere MP-3 preamp and then the Rogue amps at a later date. My brother uses the MP-3 with a Rogue 88 stereo amp. There is a Jensen transformer between the preamp and amp that converts the balanced output of the MP-3 to single ended for the Rogue. This combination sounds really exceptional. The MP-3 lists for $3,200 for a linestage and will probably cost $2,000 used, if you can find one (they are seldom available on the used market). The Jensen transformer costs about $250 new. The preamp/transformer combo will also allow you to have a long run (50'+)of inexpensive balanced cable connecting the two pieces if desired. I have not heard the Rogue 99 preamp but based on their 88 amp and the reviews I have read it sounds like it would be a great choice too. God bless.
I believe that the preamplifier is where the money should go first. There are some super used deals on Audiogon at the moment. No need to spend more than $1000. I saw products by Quicksilver, Anthem, Audio Electronic Supply,
VTL and Cary over the last few days that would all be excellent "no risk"choices.
I think 'wellfed' is a mite optimistic regarding Atma-Sphere used prices....$2500 would be a little more like it and maybe that would include the phono stage. I owned a 565 for a couple of years and a friend of mine still owns one. It's a very good preamp. Maybe the phono isn't the best, so perhape looking for a stand-alone phono would make a little more sense. There are a bunch out there on the used shelf for reasonable prices, but that's another story. BTW, I own a new Atma-Sphere MP-3 with phono stage, it's quite something.
I agree with Travis that I am being a little optimistic about the price of a used Atma-Sphere MP-3 linestage. My brother picked one up on eBay about 3 months ago for $1,950 so it is not outside the realm of possibility. They do not come along very often but are worth serious consideration if you can find one. I am sure Travis is REALLY enjoying his music as are my brother and myself.
I plan to enjoy it even more when my speakers arrive, hopefully very, very soon. Best to you, Wellfed.
Thanks Travis. What speakers are you getting?
Mag 3.6. Got Paul Speltzs' Zeros as back up for my MA-1 MKII just in case :).
In revisiting this, for $500 more than your budget you can do exponentially better than my original recommedation of adding a good pre-amp to your current power amp...

Check out VTL's 85 watt per side integrated amp (think it's called the IA 85). It's $2500 and will provide a major upgrade over both your pre and power amps. A conservative 85 watts -- more than enough to power your Vandy's. Saw this at a Vandersteen dealer who does not generally like VTL gear, (at least compared to ARC), but likes this a lot. Supposed to be great synergy with the Vandy's. And I think it has a headphone jack to boot. If you are in SoCal, email me offline for dealer info.