I am looking to upgrade - looking for advice

So I am the guy who recently asked if a Rotel 1572 preamp would work with a Parasound A21+ amp. So I was asking because I was thinking of upgrading my current amp which is a Rotel 1552. The rest of my system is Yamaha CD player and project turntable (both approx $400 each), Bluesound Node, and B&W 705 S2 speakers. Right now I primarily stream my music through the node. So I was interested in the next step to improvement and I thought it would be what the amplifier. After reading some of the posts on my original question (would the A21 work well with my Rotel preamp I am now thinking that I need to look at both the preamp and amp. Of course that is you agree with my assessment. Here are a few of the amps I was looking at: A21, Vincent  SP-332, and Bryson 3b3. The preamps that were suggested all look outstanding: Benchmark LA4, Backert Labs Rhumba 1.3 and the Audionet Pre 1 G3. It looks like with these I would need to also get a DAC, not sure about the phono stage. Any advice is appreciated. I am knee to this.


My recommendations for preamps that appear to be in your general price range are as follows:

Audionet PRE 1 G3 - $8,1000. Phono stage adds $1,100. No internal DAC available.

Mola Mola Makua - $12,200. DAC adds $8,500. Phono stage adds $3,000.  The internal DAC option is the same as the famous Tambaqui DAC. The internal phono stage option is the same as the amazing Lupe phono stage component.

When it comes time to purchase a matching amplifier, I would recommend the following:

Audionet AMP1 V2 Stereo amp - $11,150

Molo Mola Perca Stereo amp - $9,850


These are simply the finest sounding products I've heard in this price category, and not by a small margin!  


It’s difficult to make suggestions without a budget and your future plans for upgrading.  Separate preamp and amp offers upgrade flexibility, but an integrated offers better value - saving $ on casework and additional cable.  

TJ, you have received a lot of good advice here so I’m just going to emphasize some of those things I heard that I mostly agree with. For starters, I owned a Debut Carbon (my brother has it now) and it’s a great entry level table. I would recommend a cork mat, like the Music Hall, over the factory felt. It doesn’t sound any better but static electricity is less of an issue.

The Bluesound Node is great (I have two) but adding an outboard DAC is likely your best $ for $ upgrade. Just keep in mind that if you listen to hi-rez tracks for example, Tidal uses MQA to deliver them and you would lose that ability if your new outboard DAC lacks that feature.

Building a system around components that are all at a similar price point is great advice but I would add what I think is a reasonable exception -speakers. I have always stretched the budget to get better speakers. They impact what your ears perceive more than any other component. And the two most important relationships in your setup are those between your amp and speakers and between your speakers and your listening room. Get those right and you are well on your way.

Which brings me to my next point. Spending on upgrades before you have optimized your listening room is putting the cart before the horse. If you feel something is missing, you could start by adjusting speaker placement looking to improve the aspects of the sound that you feel are lacking. Soundstage width and depth as well as bass response can be substantially improved with tweaks to toe-in and distance changes. Playing around with positioning can yield surprising results and helps you to get to know the sound of your system. Move them closer together and then farther apart and listen to what changes. I used to try to have my speakers as far apart as possible to get a wide soundstage but there is a point at which that is detrimental. When you locate that sweet spot you’ll know you are on to something.

It’s helpful to start with a test disc if you have one, to verify things like balance for example. It’s also helpful to use tracks you are very familiar with and to use as many different types of music as you might listen to. All of which is mostly free and only requires patience and time. I use a tape measure to make sure speakers are the same distance from the side walls and from behind. Even if your listening room is asymmetrical optimizing placement yields big rewards.

If after all that you still have the itch, at least you should be able to better identify the specific areas needing improvement. Good luck.  



Thanks everyone for all the good advice. Here is what I am doing:

I have bought upgraded cables ( went from cheap to expensive end of cheap). I am upgrading my streamer to the eversolo dmp a6. I am getting rid of my Rotel preamp and amp (1572/1552). I bought a used Hegel h390. Can’t wait till it all gets here and I can connect it all up. By the way when I was researching connectors to buy I ran across RCA cables for $28K. OMG