Tell me how much I need to spend on audio preamp(s) and amplifier(s) to make my home stereo system sound jaw-droppingly great.
Ze muzeek, she eez my life, so two years ago I upgraded some of my very low-end stereo components to these moderately better ones:
Goldring GR2 turntable
NAD C542 CD player
Orb Audio speaker system
(two "MOD2" double-satellite assemblies + a subwoofer)
WAY better sound, baby, but that's when the money ran out, so I couldn't replace the basic Onkyo receiver
with a nice preamp(s) + amp(s) to make the most of the other components.
Now I have some pennies saved and have started looking at equipment and reviews. This is where you come in. I might could swing $1500 tops for the whole enchilada if absolutely necessary, but I'd like to spend as little as it takes to get good quality gear -- new or used -- that actually makes an audible improvement to my non-audiophile, non-engineer ears. And even if I do drop the whole $1500, I'm not exactly sure how to divide it between the different components so that I'm investing the right proportion in each one.
To get preamp and amp equipment that is of comparable quality to the rest of my system and that will help it live up to its full potential, how much should I be looking to spend on each of the following:
1) phono preamp
2) line preamp
3) or instead of 1+2, a single preamp with phono stage
4) monoblock or two-channel amp(s) with max 110 wpc output (25-75 watts is probably plenty for my small, decently efficient speakers in a 13x20ish foot room)
Or if you think the existing Onkyo receiver is up to the job and I should put my wallet away, g'head and say so.
-- This is just for music; I have zero interest in home theater audio. My musical tastes run the gamut.
-- SS or tube is fine, but I doubt that decently isolated hybrids are within my budget. As a vinyl-loving middle-aged Luddite who digs warm, rich sound, I'm drawn to the concept
of vacuum tubes, and the basic Antique Sound Labs preamp
and monoblock amps
are appealing and affordable. But I don't know if I'd like the reality
of tube gear. It would have to go in this type
of open rack and would have at most a few inches of clearance above it, and I'm not sure that's sufficient for ventilating tube components. Also, I'd get cranky if I had to let the thing warm up for an hour before it stopped sounding like shit.
Please take it easy on the acousticalese; IANAPhysicist.