Help me upgrade my Mac system?!

Hey everyone,

I am looking to upgrade my system, but don’t quite know where to start. Here’s the system:

McIntosh C2600 hybrid tube preamp
McIntosh MC152 autoformer SS amp
McIntosh MCT500 CD transport
Rega Planar 2 turntable
Sonus Faber Grand Piano Home floorstander speakers
AudioArt cables

The setup sounds great for well recorded vocals and even dance music, but it does lack a certain presence and “punch”, and liveliness for rock and pop music. Bass extension and overall presence and slam are not quite there either. My room is large, 16x30 with 20 foot ceilings.
What would you upgrade first? I don’t yet really want to go up to a bigger (heavier) SS Mac amp (462, 312) to save my aging back and due to current space concerns. I had an MC275 tube amp which I loved but it ran too hot for the room, especially in summer. Also bass definition and power was a bit lacking. I’m definitely open to tubes but need guidance from the experts.
Help! I’m considering the new Sonus Faber Olympica Nova series, or perhaps Vandersteen or Revel Performa F228. Perhaps an Audio Research SE type tube amp?

If you listen to a lot of vinyl, I would look at upgrading the phono stage.

try a manley chinook or an EAR 834P.
If you otherwise love your existing speakers, I agree, a stereo pair of powered subs might be the first thing to try.

Bass is stereo despite all the yap about bass being mono. Important for main music system, my speakers have 15" woofers. 

You could try 1 sub if budget or positioning limits. I do successfully use a single sub in my small home theater (velodyne, 1,000 watt servo control of 10"), . I also use a single sub in my office added to bookshelf speakers, a velodyne 12", servo, less power, I forget how much. Great for adding lows, but not imaging of lows which is not critical, but, wonderful for a main music system.

In any case, I suggest you get this CD, listen to Stereo Bass in your existing system, then have it for future evaluation. (I had it in LP, loaned to one of my son's friends, never got it back).

Make sure you can return the sub(s), get them, live with them for a few weeks, keep or return.

Self powered subs take a big load off of your amp, and a big load off the speakers. When not trying to do low bass, you have more positioning options with your mains, that can be quite advantageous.

I would keep source/tt upgrades for later, after you get the punch you are looking for.

I actually went to the an audio show this past weekend and heard the Olympica 2 Novas and they were outstanding. The base on these have really been improved quite a bit, in my opinion the entire line has been revamped.  I am a Grand Piano Home owner and I am familiar with the Sonus Faber.  Sonus Faber has a sound that is quite different to other speakers that draws you in.  I think you should start by upgrading your speakers because the Grand Pianos are nice but I do agree with you they lack that punch.  I really think you will fall hard for the Nova line, they are everything that drew you in about Sonus but in a much larger scale. This is a very well balanced speaker that you can hear for hours but they do rock when needed. I would also listen to the Nova 3 and 5, I really think they will blow you away.

Since you like the Sonus you really need to check out Verity Audio, Rockport and Joseph Audio. These are very similar sonically.   Good luck.....
I agree with the posters above about your SF.  But first, I would encourage you to start with your source and consider a Basis TT and Vector 4 tonearm.  Is your Ortofon a Cadenaz Red?  If so it is a nice match to the Vector tonearm.  

Thats where I would start and see how your 2600 phono section works with a top flight table before moving down the chain.  I hear you about the Mac’s - they are built like boulders - I get the aging back problem! 
If you like Mac gear then why start there...  We all know that your weakest link are your speakers.  It is known that Mac and Sonus go hand in hand, this is why they are paired quite a bit.  I say get the right speakers for your gear and save your money, unless you want to eliminate your Mac all together.  Speakers are the most important part of your gear, they are front and center.  As an example what is the most important piece to a home theatre “center channel” if your center is a piece of the rest does not matter.