Where to go from here? upping the tube ante

I have a Macintosh C2200 tube preamp and MC2102 tube amp (KT88). They are fine components and I'm very pleased with them. However, just in the interest of curiosity I'm wondering where one can go from here? In other words, what components would give me more than what I'm getting with the Macintosh pair? (I've upgraded the 12AX7 tubes in the preamp which led to a nice improvement.)

More of what you say! More music! OK, truthly more naturalness and ease. Not more sounding live, because that's not the point here, but having a violin or piano sound more like the real thing. But musicality is key.

I have an Audio Note balanced DAC and adding it to my system was a revelation over my EMC-1. I guess I would say I'd someday like to look forward to the same improvement with the amp/preamp. But, if the Macintosh are hard to beat please state your opinion.

Additional components:
Electrocompaniet EMC-1 UP used as transport
Tannoy D500 speakers
Audience Au24 interconnects and speaker cables
Acoustic Zen MC2 digital cable
Blue Circle Music Ring
BC and Audience power cords

Looking forward to your thoughts. Thanks.
you would have to hear it to believe it, but mac's 2005 changer is more natural than the front end you are using...altough i respect the tannoys, i think the gradient revolutions and the shahinian obilesks are both more natural...the pre amp/amp combo is as good as it gets(30 years in this hobby)
What are you using as your 12AX7 tube upgrade? What 12AX7's were you using before?
I used Mullard 12AX7s from Upscale Audio. The ones I was using previously were the stock tubes.

I had the Macintosh MCD205 for a while and although i can't do an A/B demo I'm pretty sure that my ears prefer the Audio Note DAC. I'd bet money on it.

I'm sure there better speakers out there, but everytime I demo a pair they sound too "hi-fi" to me. The Tannoys just sound so natural with great off-axis response and are great all-rounders. Maybe some Kharmas someday...
More music, naturalness and ease? How about a turntable.
Budrew, if those are the "Mullards" that are mil-spec in white boxes marked as CV4004 KQDD/K that is part of your problem. These tubes are CRAP from the 1980's, that do not have the same wonderful sonics as real NOS Mullards from the 1970's and earlier. Look at the tubes; you won't see the Mullard name printed on the glass. I would try to find a pair of real NOS Mullards. Andy at Vintage Tube Services might be able to help. Tel # is: 616-454-3467.
Fatparrot, looks like you're right. They are white-box CV4004 Mullards! Looks like I still have a lot to learn about what is really what in the tube world. However, they are better than what came with the C2200 originally.

For the record, I never said I was unhappy with my set up, just curious about where one can go from here. An idle yet dangerous question.

I knew someone would throw in a turntable somewhere! They always do. I don't have any LPs nor do I want to unnecessarily complicate my software inventory. But, I did just inhert all of my grandfathers LPs : 0 Still not going there just yet though.
Budrew, sorry to hit a sore spot with the turntable comment. The reason I looked at this thread was because of your amp & pre which I really admire. I just felt that the McIntosh stuff is so good that the most reasonable way to get more of what you asked about was with the front end, be it Lp's or maybe SACD's. Anyway good luck with your tube rolling and enjoy your great system.
Bid63, No sore spot at all : ) Please, all thoughts welcome. The Mcintosh is great and I doubt that I will do anything new in that department, at least for a long time. They seem to be sleepers; people are quick to shrug off Mcintosh. But, as I learn more about component designs I just get curious about how things compare.

I've actually begun to look into turntables since I'll have so many from my grandfather. Thought I might get a decent Rega as a simple answer for now. Someday anyway. My grandfather also had a Tandberg reel-to-reel with lots of tapes. Could be fun to explore.
Budrew, I use the same Mullard 12AX7's (CV4004) and the 12AT7's from Upscale in my Mac and they are leagues better than the original tubes. That said, this vintage (80's) Mullard isn't supposed to be the best available.

I plan to try to find something better.

Now.. for the real deal. GEC KT88's will make your amp much more natural sounding. I was blown away when I discovered that having a pair of GEC KT88's in there along side the rest of the Svetlana KT88's made a monumental improvement in tonality and listenability. I since purchaed 6 more GEC's but discovered that the amp sounds best with Two Svetlana's and six GEC's. Running with all eight GEC's was too much of a good thing... Having a single Svetlana on each channel opened up the midrange without losing the splendor of the GEC. Nice.

I'd suggest you give the GEC's a try. The MC2102 is softer sounding than the MC2000 and as a result, may require less GEC's to get the same result.

Recently a friend of mine took this advice and inserted two GEC KT88's in his Conrad Johnson P8 amps - (which hold 16 KT88's). The improvement made by having only two GEC's in his amp was even more substantial than what I had in the Mac.
Bwhite, I thought you had a Berning ZH 270?

Did you buy one and not like it? It has always been on my audition list.
Bwhite, Thanks for the info. Are there any concerns about matching different tube brands in the amp at the same time? I found a review of several KT88s and they found the Electro-Harmonix to be the clear winner, though they did not include any GEC tubes, of which I've heard there are many variations.
Hi Fiddler, I've never owned a Berning.
Budrew... Just buy two GEC's and plug them in - you'll notice a new sense of emotion to your music. The improvement is rather significant.

Prior to trying this in my amp, I emailed McIntosh to find out if putting KT88's and 6550's in the same amp at the same time was okay. They replied saying - No problem, the tubes are electronically the same.

Look for GEC's with the 3 getters and the Z date codes. That's about all you need to know. Let your ears tell you the rest.

RE: Electro-Harmonix, I believe they are not exactly a tube company - they buy tubes from "real" manufacturers and then brand them Electro-Harmonix. If you read a review which said the EH are good, odds are they were the Svetlana KT88's which have received good press. Just so happens the McIntosh branded tubes in your amp are also Svetlana. Two GEC's and 6 Svetlana's in that amp will be a HUGE eye opener.

No joke.
The Svetlanas faired the worst in the review I read, but that was back in 2002. I understand Mcintosh revised the Svetlana KT88 specs for their own needs so perhaps the Mcintosh KT88s are improved. Whatever, I'll try some NOS and see what it does for the music.
The Tannoy speakers are a great match for your 2102. I own the 2102 and it was a real toss-up between the tannoys and Kef Referance 205s. I finally opted for the Kefs and I am happy. It is interesting what you folks say about the tubes. Perhaps i will try something different just for fun. This will probably happen when it gets time to replace tubes, anyway.

I would not deviate from your McIntosh equipment. It is well matched and more than a few folks around here are probably shaking their heads in envy.
Budrew - you are correct about the revision. The new(er) (released in 1999 --> 2000) Svetlana KT88's are commonly known to be the "best" modern KT88...These were specified by McIntosh for the MC2000 and then used in the 2102. I too have read that the new(est) Svetlana's are not that great.

Wish I knew the difference between these - or how to tell them apart.