Amp upgrade, speaker cables or both


Over the last 4 years I have upgraded every bit of my system except for my Analysis Plus chocolate oval speaker cables. The last major upgrade I made was replacing my ancient Kef 104/2 s with Tannoy Cheviots.  Now I am wondering if my Parasound A23+ amp is under powered for the speakers, or if I should bite the bullet and replace my speaker cable, a project I find not very interesting and potentially expensive as I have some long runs. As to the amp, I could spend $5-6000, though would be happy to spend less. I also would consider a used amp, if it wasn't so old that I had to worry about caps going bad, etc.

My system is as follows:  

Amp: Parasound A23+ 165w x 2 into 8 ohms Pre:   Parasound P6
Speakers: Tannoy Cheviots, Analysis Plus Chocolate Oval speaker cables
Digital Streamer/Source: Heavily modified BlueSound NODE 130 (added Fidelity Audio clock board, replacement PSU module & LPSU)/ Innuos Phoenix USB clock/reclocker / Gustard X26 Pro DAC (connected by Shunyata Alpha USB cables)
All other interconnects: Synergistics Research Foundation or better
Power: Power conditioner: Synergistics Research Powercell 10 SE Mk 3 w SR Atmosphere level 3 cord; All power cords SR Foundation

Listening room: WIFE's LIVINGROOM  14' left to right on the front wall, 16' deep, opening up to a dining room area to the rear. That means my speakers are in the corners of the front of the room with a large window and couch in between them, and all of my audio boxes are in a cabinet on the right wall that supports the TV. On the left wall opposite the cabinet/TV is another couch, where the end towards the front of the house partially blocks the left speaker. I have a comfy chair 9' back from the front wall, about 9' from each speaker (speakers are pulled away from the front wall)(as an aside, I got the Cheviots in part as Tannoy was a brand that my guy at Upscale Audio in Laverne said would be able to deal with my listening room, and he was right as I have a pretty good soundstage, considering).

So now to the issues:

Amp:

I am wondering if I should upgrade my Parasound A23+ amp. I wrote Tannoy, and they told me they recommended an amp with 250w x 2, and told me the max power handling of the speakers was 125w continuous, 500w peak. Needless to say, I probably never play the A23+ at more than half way up, but you always read about people talking about headroom. I was looking at the A21+ which has 300w x 2, though it doesn't seem like a much cleaner amp than the A23+.  What would you folks suggest? 

Speaker Cable:

I am wondering if upgrading that would improve SQ. The problem is that with my audio electronics on the right side of the room, I have a pretty long run to the speakers, especially the left one. I was wondering if it might be cheaper to relocate my amp to the right front corner behind the right speaker, and get a long interconnect between pre and amp. When I upgraded my amp power cord to SR Foundation in line with all of my other cords, I got one that would be long enough to go from my SR Powercell to that location.

 

lloyd1969

Hi Jerry

I would never say that cables are as important as an amplifier or preamplifier. I don't think that they are. However, by their definition as part of the chain leading to the sound that reaches our ears, they are a component.

I'm not sure what you mean by "all in or all out". I only said that most agree.. As far as saying that you were wrong, if you found that offensive, I apologize.

John

OP, good write up. 
 

I definitely agree with @soix on throwing a thick blanket in front of the window.

 

I would say that you have a very well balanced system, obviously carefully chosen. I think it would be a mistake to think of nudging one part of the system… although a more powerful solid state amp will get you more kick… but probably not much else. Here is the approach I recommend.

 

Consider this the end point of your system. Think about the next level, which will take a long time to reach and will be done slowly and one component at a time. The first step would be to decide what you would like your next system to sound like… what flavor. 
 

Go listen to an all MacIntosh system, all Audio Research, all Pass… maybe a system based on Wilson speakers, Sonus Faber, B&W, Focal. Listen to high end systems… you can get most of the sound for little money. As many as you can… is there and audiophile group around you could join?

 

Get an idea of where you want to go. Then if your speakers fit in to your future… upgrade your preamp first… no less than 2x investment (lots of research… think used high end)… then amp, then your digital end. Then look over your cables and power cords. 
 

This strategy should take your system to a whole new level and hopefully in the direction pleasing to you in the long term.

Soix pointed out I'd get more information if I "could share what specific improvements you’re looking for and what sound characteristics are most important to you." Hear is what I listen to and what I listen for in evaluating new gear:

I am heavily into guitar oriented rock both, Classic Rock and the punk rock/ post-punk/garage stuff I got into in college, but listen to a lot of singer-songwriter (both voice & guitar/piano and those folks who go on to front actual bands) and roots music, and a lot of jazz. I have spent a lot of time in jazz and rock/punk clubs where the different instruments hit you from the stage rather than through a PA system, so I really appreciate the illusion of a 3D soundstage. A lot of the rock stuff I listen to now tends to have a lot of complex arrangements with a log going on, so I want to be able to hear all of the separate instruments distinctly and realistically. I like acoustic guitars, drums, cymbals, piano, trumpets, sax, string base to sound like real instruments that are being played with all of the percussive sounds and decay you would hear from the stage. I am not a bass freak in the sense that I don’t need the house shaking, but when it is present, I want to hear it tight and controlled. An upgrade would bring me joy if it significantly improved soundstage, increased clarity of the distinct musical lines in busy tracks, or increased the reality of real instruments that are struck, blown, or plucked.

Overthemoon, I made the mistake or reading a review of you Moon 225 x 2 amp you are quite happy with before looking at the price. :(  It sounds amazing, but more than twice my budget.

Thanks for your thoughts, Jerry ( Carlsbad2 ). To clarify, you think that even though my Analysis Plus speaker cable is not as good as my Synergistics Research power cords and interconnects, that it is good enough that you wouldn't upgrade it? And if I don't need more power, what amp and/or pre upgrade would make sense? If I replaced my Parasound gear I could probably get $1400 for the A23+ and $1200 for the P6 pre to add to the $5-6000 I could spend without it being an issue (I love the way tube amps look in homes where they can be displayed, but since my gear has to be out of the way and I worry about having to replace tubes, I'm partially to solid state).