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:


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.



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).

Thanks GHDPrenticefor your thoughtful response. I’m curious as to why you suggest focusing on upgrading the preamp first, especially as the A23+ and the P6 preamp are basically Parasound’s Hint 6 integrated in two separate boxes. I also feel that part of what you get with a good preamp these days is a good DAC section, and that is less relevant to me as I think the Gustard X26 with the Innuos USB would be hard to beat in a preamp I could afford. If I do think a preamp upgrade makes sense, what do you think would make me hear a real difference in the $3-4 range (roughly double the cost of the P6 new)?

And btw, I did note you and Sois both suggested trying to throw a blanket over the front window between the speakers. I’ll try that, and if it makes a big difference, maybe I can suggest my wife go for some curtains of some fabric with some weight to it over the blinds.

Thanks for all the info — most helpful. Given what you said it points heavily to a tube preamp and SS amp. The tube pre will help give you the 3D holographic soundstage you’re looking for and the SS amp will give you the power you need for rock, punk, etc. Incidentally, I’m surprised Tannoy said you needed so much power. Your speakers are rated at 91dB and 8 Ohms, so unless they exhibit some big impedance dips in the lower mids/bass I’d think a good 100 Wpc amp that near doubles into 4 Ohms should be more than fine.

You could do this two ways — obviously a separate tube pre and SS amp, or a hybrid integrated with a tube pre section and SS amp. The thing about tube preamps is the tubes tend to last a long time and usually cheap to replace so relatively low maintenance. I’ll just say right off the bat what I’d do. I’d get this nice used Linear Tube Audio MZ2 (w/ optional linear power supply — a must) and this McCormack DNA 1 Rev A Gold +. The tubes in the LTA last forever and the DNA 1 will give you all the power and grunt you’ll need to really bring it. This combo would likely cost only $3500 - $4000 (the DNA 1 is at least $500 overpriced IMHO).

For hybrid integrated you could look at the Unison Unico 90 or 150 — the 90 should be fine but if you really wanna shoot the lights out the 150 is still in your price range if selling your current stuff.

Anyway, just some ideas and hope this helps, and best of luck