Which one defines sound: Pre amp or Power amp?

I'm just wondering which component would influence the sound that comes out of the speakers more?

I have a Rotel 5chx120w 8 ohm power amp, Yamaha rxv1800 receiver and Energy RC-70 speakers for HT. I'm trying to make use of what I have and want to dable in a 2-channel setup.
Here are my options:

a) Buy a Mcintosh mc 252 power amp and use my receiver as the pre-amp.
b) Buy a Mcintosh c2200 pre amp and use my current amp(Rotel).

Which one would yield me a better overall sound?
Since nobody has responded to your question yet, I might as well bite.

Before I give my opinion, I would like to highlight that both your options of adding the McIntosh to your existing setup are not too feasible as your other stuff(especially the Energy speakers) are mainly for HT. If you are considering the Mcintosh pieces, you might as well revamp your whole system by getting both preamp and power amp and changing the speakers as well. Then only the full potential of the 2-channel setup can be realized.

If you really insist, I would go with the preamp first, that if your speakers are capable of revealing the finer nuances and detail from the upgrade.
Leaving the Rotel in play greatly diminishes any significant upgrade in the system's performance.
I agree with Ryder. I would upgrade the speakers first, then preamp. I have McIntosh C42 preamp and MC252 amp. Without speakers that can extract the full potential of the McIntosh pieces, I wouldn't bother upgrading to better pieces like McIntosh, Classe, Pass, C-J, etc.
IMHO, speakers diverge from neutrality more than any other component. That said, this divergance is generally in frequency response, clarity, and distortions that are consonant (harmonically related) with the input signal.

Electronic components, while having lower levels of distortion, have distortions that are "electronic" sounding, and this is usually much more problematic than the distortions of loudspeakers, so I think that you are barking up the right tree.........kind of. Better speakers are just going to let you hear the distortions of your electronics that much more clearly. A bad thing.

Again, I really don't see putting Pirellis on a Yugo and would question the logic of teaming up either of the existing components with a very high end piece. You are just not going to get the bang for the buck, unless you will buy, say the 252 and be able to buy the 2200 in a few months, and then it won't matter; buy whatever you can get the best deal on now.

If you like the Mac sound and reputation for reliability as well as the domestic connection, why not buy one of the excellent Mac integrateds, now? Be done with it, the cost is not going to be that different to get a 6300 or 6500 and the whole electronics issue is dealt with and you can begin saving for that, much needed, loudspeaker upgrade. Just my 2 cents.
For what it is worth read on with my most current experience, this was posted from the other day from another thread of mine.

Speakers or pre's or amps,which is it?

I sold my CAT mono blocks (list $40K)and have not yet replaced them and have been looking but I wanted some music so I have put some mono blocks in place that I found barried away in a corner at my place and likely over 20 years old. I have to chuckle because my first thoughts were these are a joke and I didn't get around to chucking them out, you know the type that you have two push buttons in to insert speaker cable so you have to strip the wire, not too thick or it won't fit. I have two pairs of Stealth Dream speaker cables that list at $8K a pair and can't even use them, never mind the Dream power cords as the amps have their own and pretty well the same size as a lamp cord.

Well I found some speaker cables that have 8 single runs inside and went through the effort of sorting and testing to confirm each one was in phase then tried to hook-up. Well that was a no go, remember the speaker cable plugins on the amps too small. Went and found some other cables and did the process over again and they barely fit in but ti was done.

I know this is going on and on but I had a laugh and figured I mise well share with others too. I can't believe the sound I'm getting, it's just absolutely unbelievable. Now you can't really crank it or it sounds not very good but at moderate listening volumes I have to say I'm just amazed and it is very listenable. A friend called me and we chatted for a bit and I told him I've got some new monoblocks in place so he says he wants to drop by for a listen so I cover up my mystery amps and keep the lights dimmed down so he can't see what they are along with the cables and all you can see is the little red light glowing. He own's a very serious system, anyways he listens and then I turn up the lights and uncover the amps and he says "you gotta be kidding me" and says "I was just listening to those" He goes to me saying "you pulling a fast one on me" and thinks I have something else hooked up but then verifies himself after seeing the mickey mouse speaker cable set-up and just laughs.

These little Yamahahah's really kick but, so now I don't know what to think any more.

The system as it stands currently;

MBL101E speakers
Oracle 2000 trans
Accustic Arts Tube Dac
ARC REF3 pre
All Stealth IC's

I have been interrupted by others who have been calling while doing this thread as my friend is a real prankster and has put calls out to others we know, now he has not told anyone what the amps are but said ***** got a sweet deal going on with some mono blocks he is demoing right now.

Six individuals so far all asking what's the scoop bla! bla! and wanting to come over for a listen, now is this just too funny or what. Tomorrow is the day for the prank on everyone but I gotta say it sounds pretty darn good.

It's now after the fact posting the above and having 8 people over to hear my mystery mono blocks, well all I can say is once we were done and I revealed the mystery amps not one person could believe it. This will be talk for some time now, a couple of others who couldn't make it have called wanting to come by. I have spoken to a few of the others who came by and they said "okay what did you really have hooked up?" I told them what you saw but they think I'm still playing a prank on them.

This experience really has me thinking now.
your experience probably demonstrates that few of us can actually detect the extremely thin margin of difference amps of decent power make in the sound of good speakers.
Upgrade your speakers first.....the heart and soul of a system. Between the pre and amp.....if you can a integrated or older top grade....and have them re-capped. I am a great beleiver in modding older equipment.....reasonable cost and great upside potential.
If your system sounds unnatural, change the preamp. If it sounds weak or thin, change the power amp. To dabble in 2-channel, get a separate preamp. You already have a separate power amp. Take care it is safe to operate your 5-channel in 2-channel mode.
Speakers aside how would the mcintosh c220 pre amp fair with a non mcintosh amp? like a bryston or parasound halo
If i was to get speakers I want a 3-way type. How would these mc's pair with gallo 3.1?
What about paradigm studio 100's
I am considering using the C220 to direct my Classe Cam-350s,Rel Stentor and Thiel CS6s.I was thinking of using the Balanced connections for this while still allowing my Classe SSP-300 to drive my surround system unbalanced......
Hi dev,
Big fan of mbl as you may recall, was it the 101's you had hooked up for the prank?
Here is another little story, though not as funny as dev's.
I have a pair of psb alpha's from a few years back, they cost about 250.00, well they are at work and I just hooked them up last week for a listen.
I can't believe how good they sound! The integrated is an old scott and a little walkman cd player with headphone jacks connected to the scott. Amazing, they just disappeared, of course the space is much bigger than my room at home! But i could live with that setup and maybe a sub.
I too played a joke on an experienced audiophile friend, I pretended to play a record when I really played the oppo cd player, he thought that it was my 430 pound turntable that I was playing, made me wonder should I add more leadshot?
I recommend both the psb speakers and the oppo 980 dvd/cd player. I think you would be happy with either one.
I had the Energy RC70 speakers when I changed my 2-ch gears to HT a few years ago. I thought that I could enjoy 2-ch music from a surround HT system too. BIG mistake!

After many generations of upgrade, I would recommend the following:

Upgrade your main speakers first. After going through a few sets of speakers, I would suggest that you should get the best you can afford. Also note that if you want to use tube power amp, you need to consider the impedance curve of the speakers.

If budget is a constraint, I would sell the Rotel and use the receiver to power the center and surround speakers. Then get a good set of preamp and power amp. For the preamp, I would get one with HT-bypass or unit-gain setting so that the 2-ch gear can be part of your HT system.

If I have to choose between upgrading preamp or power amp first, I would keep the Rotel and upgrade the preamp first. IMO, this would give you most noticeable improvement.

I would also spend money on cable and power line treatment.
I'm willing to bet that most of the people who told you to upgrade those speakers have never even auditioned the RC-70s in person. You need to shell out some serious dough to improve on these speakers. I should know because I've been looking to upgrade them the past couple years, and the only speaker I would consider is the Dynaudio Focus 360 which is a big jump up in price.

Sometimes we forget just how good our systems can be...
Neither. It's the room, speakers, and source material that determines 95% of the sound quality.
a stereo system usually contains an amp and preamp. it is impossible to measure the contribution of each to the overall sound.

so, there is no definitive answer to the question.

it is obvious that the preamp 's signal is usually a fraction of an amp and feeds an amp, whose output exceeds several amps. one may conclude that the preamp is the more important component. but one cannot generalize. there are other factors, such as the speakers power requirement and its impedance as a function of frequency.

some electrostatics are hard to drive, so the amp, may be more critical in explaining the variation in the sound of a speaker than the preamp.
For what it is worth, most audiophiles will tell you that changing out the weakest link will make the biggest difference on overall sound. Thus, if your amp is the weak link, changing it out will make the most difference. If it is the preamp that is the weak link, swapping the preamp will make the most difference.

The post that said that 95% of the sound is room, speakers and source material is embellishing somewhat... but not that far off. I'd say it is 70% and that ones CD player is 15% and amp/preamp is about 10% and interconnects/cables are 5%.