the cart or the horse?

I currently own a Parasound ZAMP, Denon PRA-1500 preamp, and Omega 7's speakers. I stream through a Bluesound Node 2i.  All this resides in a home office of approx 15x10. 

I am not happy with the sound and do not know which component to attack first. There is a lack of presence and body and the sound is well.......boring. I listen to jazz at low volumes and would like your opinion on what to work on first. 

Replace amp,preamp, or speakers? The cart or the horse? My budget is very modest but am willing to go step by step. 

All my best,


Post removed 

unfortunalely your system has fundamentally poor matching synergy.  

an AVR as a preamp is not a good solution for quality 2 channel sound. 

i heard your amplifier and it has a most uninvolving sound.

your speakers are very high efficiency intended to be used mainly with low powered SET tube amps and instrumental music.   

no wonder your sound is a mess.  

what is your max budget?  

I would like to keep it under $2500

what I really need to a game plan.....what part of the chain to replace first, second, and so on

i would suggest a used hegel 95 (integrated amp with built in dac, feed it with the node digital output) for great jump in sound quality

or a lesser improvement, though still much improved, would be a nuprime ida-8

no affiliation, not a seller, just advice to help you....

I would get rid of the cart and horse and look into active nearfield monitors for an office setup. 

Personally I would start with the preamp and get one that has a good DAC in it to bypass the DAC in the streamer.

You could try a different streamer for cheap too  these guys seem to think the ifi zen is better  I have not heard either  


i don’t agree that efficient speakers need low power. Look at what JBL does in the pro market. They put large efficient horns with silly amounts of power. Low power amps don’t sound better they just have less power. Unless you love tubes and need to keep the cost down there is no reason for low power. 


Without question you’re going to receive a multitude of different suggestions, so I may as well offer mine. IMO the best part of your audio system are the Omega speakers, I’d keep them. I believe that you’ll get much more involving and emotionally engaging jazz playback with a tube amplifier.

Fortunately you don’t need high power and I disagree with the the comment above with regard to low power amplification. The Omegas allow you to to focus exclusively on the quality of the amplifier rather than getting more watts.

For example (And there’re numerous good ones)

Luxman SQ -n 150

Coincident Dynamo el 34SEP/300b SET

Dennis Had Fire bottle SEP

Decware SEP several model choices.

Anyone of these choices would sound "much" better and involving than your current amplifier/preamplifier chain. Your jazz recordings will spring to life and pull you in deeper to the music. Your Omegas are not the problem. After improving the amplification I would next upgrade to a higher quality seperate DAC connected to your current music server.


I agree with @charles1dad. The Omegas are the jewel in your system.  Tubes or perhaps SS class A would probably work great. 

   I used the internal DAC on the Bluesound for a while. It was adequate,but a decent external DAC will most definitely be a large improvement. 
   Enjoy the journey. 

Loudspeakers first perhaps Triangle Esprit Titus EZ. Next would be your amp, we can talk about that once you change your loudspeakers. 

The Omega 7's are the hidden jewels of the Omega line.  Go for a quality hybrid tube integrated ... Rogue Sphinx 3 (new @$1600) ... and you should be in business.

Stereophile review - Rogue Sphinx

Sphinx Info Sheet



I would like to agree with the excellent advice on upgrading your preamp / amp to as good a quality tube equipment as you can afford. I would invest in that first. Then, enjoy, save up and work on a good DAC… then upgrade your streamer. Then you can work on interconnects and cables.


Keep with the long game, 0ne step at a time. Luxman would be a good choice. An integrated tube preamp/amp… spend your whole budget… then save up for your next step.


Also, speaker positioning  can make a huge difference if you have latitude to move stuff.

I would suggest: a ps audio sprout 100 integrated to start with, get a pair of Revel M35 which are a smallish floorstanding speaker and get some decent cables. Use your streamer until you can afford a standalone dac/streamer like a used ps audio DS jr dac with a built in network card. I have this setup in my living and it sounds very nice.  

I ask this in all sincerity,  why  the recommendation to change the Omega monitor speakers? They are excellent and very efficient/easy to drive and a very good match for a 10x15 feet listening room. Different speakers but still saddled with the same amp and preamplifier. What is the driving rationale? Simply curious. 


I agree with @charles1dad because you also like jazz at lower volumes.  A nice tube amp could put some meat on the bones and as he says you don't need to worry about spending a fortune or chasing tons of watts. 

But @jjss49 makes a great recommendation on that Hegel.  

Since you are open to moving step by step, I think you could tackle the amp/pre side first, keep those speakers, and then get a good DAC for the Bluesound at some point.  

Try your best not to get research fatigue.  Keep it fun. It's a journey.  Keep us posted. 

If you keep the omegas, which are great, stay away from amplifiers with high dampening. A quality set amp is the ticket. 

+1 charles1dad

Tube integrated amp. Add in OFC power cords from Ebay and decent solid core speaker cables.

I do not know those speakers but folks seem to say they are good. That leaves the source and the integrated.  I have the Bluesound and it is very good for the money. So that leaves the amp.  

By all accounts Hegel has gorgeous sounding amps but they can be pricey.  Used can be a crap shoot.  I would get something nice like a NAD C368 which works seemlessly either the Bluesound Node.  Your total spend would be $1K and transformative.  The little integrated would be light years better than the AVR.  I went on this same journey last year.  You can also try a Cambridge or an Arcam some such.  If you buy from an online retailer they will give you a nice in home trial period. Easy Peasy.  

Another alternative is to try a PS Audio Sprout.  Supposed to be a perfect little amp for your exact situation

finakky, don’t forget speaker placement  


Another option if you keep the speakers is the Schiit Ragnarok amp with their dac-card. About $1800 and has very good sound and adjustable gain which should make them match your speakers. 



i should temper my prior thoughts about a hegel or a nuprime... i did not realize the op’s speakers are a more 'niche-y' high efficiency single driver type that may indeed benefit from sweeter, lower powered tube amps... this may well be the ticket if the op is seeking a richer, fuller more saturated sound with those speakers

as others have said system synergy is critical in getting great sound out of a modest budget and speakers with very specific characteristics as the omegas seem to be (i have not heard them but i have heard many of their ilk...)

I am not happy with the sound and do not know which component to attack first. There is a lack of presence and body and the sound is well.......boring. I listen to jazz at low volumes and would like your opinion on what to work on first.

This is straight from @wavendon

He listens to jazz at low volume in a 15’x10’ room. He finds his music reproduction boring and unengaging. His Omegas are single driver (No crossover to deal with) . The driver is very high quality and very easy to drive with its 8 ohm impedance load.

A friend has Omegas (Different model but same design philosophy) he describes them as exceptionally pure , organic and musically and emotionally involving. He is using an 8 watt SET (Aric Audio) and is besides himself with satisfaction.

I believe @wavendon owns terrific speakers and has an excellent chance of achieving just what he desires (Primarily "body" and "presence"). I just happen to feel that his amplifier-preamplifier is the weak point of his current system set up, followed by the the Blue Node internal DAC. Low/modest (But high quality) power tubes to match his speakers crossoverless design.  So awesome potential for improved sound quality and connecting with those wonderful jazz musicians.


I would keep the speakers and simplify everything else. One voicing

Personally, I’d buy a used integrated - ideally something with DAC on plug-in card

With those speakers, you can be flexible on power specs

+ Used PrimaLuna (Prologue 1?)

+ Budget is almost at the very best Marantz integrated (used)

+ Used NAD, and one simplifies things even further (you aren’t far from an M33, certainly an M10) - they all act as streamers. DIRAC might contribute to listening experience in a room that size

+ With your speakers, I think the suggestion of the Luxman SQ-N150 is a lot of fun, albeit you’ll need an external DAC

+ I like the Hegel 95 suggestion above

That gives you a range of tube & ss to consider, and all of those components will last for a long time (and can be resold)

All the above subject to listening preference, but s/b easy to audition because brands are widespread

Save a little more & think about some inexpensive room treatments, if anything obvious jumps out to you

Let us know what you decide to do!

Have a great day

Black Ice F22 using EL84s will rid you of the SS mid-fi and that’s all you need. 
Also, turn up the volume a bit for more “engagement”!

I recommend that you speak with a professional. Watch OCD HiFi Guy on YouTube. Mikey is very passionate about helping people get quality sonics from their systems. 

A Sugden A21 class A may be a good match to your speakers, if you can swing $3250. the Border Patrol dac would also be nice, sounds more "analog" at least to me. All you need now is a turntable...😁  😀
I am very thankful to all of you for your thoughts and suggestions, it is very much appreciated. If something pops up on Audiogon that looks like a good fit for me please feel free to drop me a note.

All my best,


With those speakers as many have said a good tube amp.  Doesn't have to be super powerful.  I bought a used Decware Mini Torii ( $1100.00) to use with my 92b Ref 3A de Capos speakers.  it's plenty loud those Omegas should sing with 4 watts.


look around take you time and invest in some good clean used gear.

Dump the loudspeakers, the amp and the preamp.  Stretch you budget a little and get KEF LS50 Wireless IIs.  I agree with all those who stated that your current system is mismatched.  I even agree with those who say your Omegas are a real good loudspeaker.  I just think that getting a good sonic match for the Omegas will give you a somewhat complicated system.  The KEFs will produce high quality sound while keeping it simple and allow for future upgrades.  New they are $2800.

BTW, how did you come about picking the Omegas?

I'm in a different camp than most of the folks that posted here (and I'll likely get blasted for it). I would encourage wavendon to explore some reconditioned vintage tube or solid state integrated amps or receivers. If you can find something with variable loudness controls, that can make a very big difference listening at low volumes. I believe the lower powered solid state gear from the late 60's and early 70's has a very nice tone and sound quality, and the tube gear from the 60's sounds absolutely wonderful. Both of these should be a decent match for your speakers. My current favorites (in no particular order) from extended listening periods with moderately efficient speakers are:

Sansui 777a

Marantz 2215

Marantz 1060

Luxman R1070

Harmon Kardon 330c (the 330b might be even better)

McIntosh MA6200

Fisher X-202-B

Scott 222B

Most of these can be purchased in recapped/serviced condition ready to play for many more years for less than $1000, and some way less than $1000. Good luck on your journey. Feel free to PM me if you want more details on any of the pieces I mentioned. I've spent many many hours with all these and know them well.   



Keep your speakers. 

sell your other gear (keep the Node) and start here with this small tube amp that sounds fantastic for the $$$$.

I have no affiliation with TMR.


Replace amp and pre with an integrated. Need not be big. Something like Unity Atom, NAD M10, Rogue Sphinx (for a touch of tube magic) or BEl Canto C5i. For all tubes any Rogue integrated.  For something very small but good sounding, a Glow Amp 1 if you can find one.   

@onebean  - the old stuff is always fun.  I am actually running a factory refurbished ‘93 Mc pre on my main rig, in part because its so simple I figure they couldn’t have messed it up. Still have my father’s 40 year old Luxman gear and it works just fine (would of course benefit from a refurbishing)

Are there specific vintage dealers you could recommend for @wavendon , and all of us? Would be good to know dealers who do a good job with vintage

I have worked with Audio Classics and had good experiences, but that’s mostly Mc focused

There is SkyFi, but I’ve never worked with them - just note that they do vintage and refurbishing/restoration


Low power amps don’t sound better they just have less power.

This statement is problematic. Most traditional amps of A or AB design tend to sound better in lower powered embodiments. In the case of all transformer coupled tube amps its because the output transformer has wider bandwidth; in solid state amps its often because less output devices are in parallel and so the circuit has less complexity.

I agree that the speakers are a good thing to keep. A surprisingly good little integrated amp is the old Dynaco SCA-35, but it would have to be refurbished (replaced filter capacitors in the power supplies and any parts not to spec; you'll need to find someone competent at this sort of thing) to really strut its stuff. It has the best output transformers Dynaco ever made, and they made some pretty good transformers. Its a 15-Watt/channel amp using EL84s. You might look at other EL84 amps available too, such as the Leben CS300.

Since the room is not that large and the listening tends to be light jazz, an SET could work quite well too. I would also consider some of Nelson Pass' lower powered amps, like some of his First Watt stuff, if tubes seem too daunting. I would also consider a powered subwoofer to help out in the bass department; if it is not operating above 60-70Hz it will not draw attention to itself no matter where it is in the room (and you might have to move it around a bit until you find a spot where its output is nicely audible at the listening position).

Above all- this is supposed to be fun. Don't sweat it, and be willing to audition the components that interest you in your room. BTW, any tube amp will need at least 1/2 hour warmup to really be taken seriously.

Look for an integrated amp and ditch the parasound and denon. I’m a McIntosh guy so I’d recommend one of their used integrated amps if budget it tight. Good luck. With a bette preamp and amp you’ll be amazed at how good it will sound. 

@wavendon - As has already been stated, replacing your pre-amp and amp with a quality integrated amp would likely pay immediate dividends. As also stated, a low(ish) powered tube integrated should have enough power with your Omega speakers, in an office system, listening to jazz at low volumes. Lastly, with a budget of $2500 you should be able to pull this off, no problem.

A couple of questions that might help folks make specific recommendations:

1. Do you have a preference for tube vs. solid state? There are arguments for either.

2. Do you require remote control?

3. Do you have any location/space considerations?

4. Will you ever have a need for a built-in phono pre-amp, i.e. do you plan on ever adding a turntable for playing vinyl?

5. Lastly, do you want to go all-in on your $2500 budget, or would you prefer to try something less expensive, then re-sell it if it doesn’t float-your-boat and try something else?

IMHO, you could get something for less than $1000 that will better what you’re using now. I believe a Rega io or the new Rega Brio would suffice. And I’m fairly certain a Croft integrated would sound great, but no remote, plus dual-mono volume control knobs. So, there are options depending on what you want/need.

Good Luck! I hope you find something that makes your system sing!

I would like this amp to be:

modest in size as to more easily pass the wife test
have a remote
no phono pre amp is necessary
no preference as to tubes or not as I have never heard a tube amp
used because I may not like it and will want to recoup most of my money through a resale


Doesn't meet your remote speck but it would sure leave you with enough money to purchase a preamp like the Schitt Saga + to add the remote.

The Musical Paradise MP-301 MK3 Mini Tube Amplifier with Headphone Output 6.5 watts per channel.  allows you to change tubes to fine tune the sound profile for very little money.

Better than used and if you find you don't like it pretty easy to get most of your investment back.



The week link is your preamp. If you want separates start with the preamp like a Rogue RP-1. I would keep it simple since the amp is just ok. Rogue Sphinx v3. If you don’t care about the phono preamp get a used V2 and then work on a great DAC. 
Just so you know the BlueSound is a great app. Sometimes when you go to a new DAC and streamer you lose that great app. 
How about a simple NAD 316 Bee. With your BlueSound Node 2i this will do great. Then save up for a killer DAC. 

Should I consider something like this


I would not. For your Omegas, the suggestion from @danager ,the Music Paradise MP-301 is a better option.

I say this based on your expressed desire for sonic "body and presence". This is an inexpensive integrated tube amplifier that has a consistent word of mouth reputation for good sound quality.

This very simple circuit tube amplifier will pair beautifully (IMHO) with your very simple single driver speaker. I believe the body, presence, tone/timbre and 3-dimensional space will be much improved to what you currently have. All this for less than 500.00 USD. Earlier in this thread I listed some recommendations for you.

All excellent choices for your objectives but more expensive  (But worth it). So if you’re leery of spending money then this MP-301 is a very good option to consider. Your jazz will definitely sound better than what you have now.


If it were me (it’s not) and I already owned those Omega speakers, I would be looking at one, or more, of these integrated amps to replace your existing pre-amp and amp:

Musical Paradise MP-301 MK3 Mini Tube Amplifier

Rega Brio (current model, not the Brio-R or original Brio) or Rega io for less $.

Dayens Menuetto Integrated Amplifier

They are all WAY below your max budget. Heck, I might even buy a couple of different ones, do a shootout, then return (if they have a trail period/policy) or re-sell the loser.

The Rega is probably the most popular, but it’s also the most expensive. I own a Rega Elicit-R and I love the Rega house sound. However, I might be tempted to try the other 2 based on their prices.


Good posts. @wavendon has gotten numerous worthy suggestions on this thread. I don’t have a good feel or sense as to how committed he may be to getting maximum sound quality his budget would allow. Earlier atmasphere mentioned the Leben 300 integrated tube push pull amplifier which uses the el 84 output tubes.

A bit over the stated budget but an excellent recommendation. I had previously recommended the Luxman SQ N150 which is also another high quality el 84 push pull Japanese tube integrated amplifier. Similar to the Leben but a little less expensive. Either would allow the Omegas to sing at a very high level.

I mentioned the Coincident Dynamo MK III which is a bit different. SEP class A with a triode wired el 34 with zero NFB circuit. Priced under 2,000.00. All three amplifiers are from highly regarded manufacturers and will employ very high quality parts, output transformers and power supplies. This is what the higher cost gets you. I’d shoot for the quality proposition.

If the OP really wants to go for it with his very fine Omegas then these higher caliber tube integrated amplifiers are the way to get there. All of the body, presence instrumental tone (Acoustic dominant jazz instruments) dynamics and transparency one could want at or near his stated budget. That 15’x10’ room would transform into a really nice jazz venue like environment. It would sound gorgeous.



While I have not listened to this amp I bet it would provide wonderful synergy w the RS7 drivers. I have tried many amps w my Omega RS5 and the most engaging and full bodied are zero feedback low powered SET. On occasion, I run a little LTA MZ2 with it's one watt and it's rather spectacular.


have tried many amps w my Omega RS5 and the most engaging and full bodied are zero feedback low powered SET

I see that the amplifier in your link utilize the Lundahl output transformers, high quality for certain.  This the point I was making in my previous post.  You'll get more in the long term with these more expensive but higher quality tube amplifiers.  The quality of the output transformer and power supply literally make or break these types of lower power tube amplifiers. 


Upgrade your amp: The LSA Warp One has gotten excellent reviews, and there’s one FS on Agon for a silly cheap price or the sweet tube amp.  ALSO, Underwood HiFi sells the Audio GD dac pre/headphone

R28 (2022 version) Balanced remote preamp with resistor ladder DAC & 9.5wpc headphone amp


could not agree more mr. charles. the higher quality the amp the better the omega will shine. there is certain delicate balance finding synergy with any single driver speaker but when it's achieved you are in for a real treat! 

Wow....I really appreciate this thread and all of the participants. I think I will proceed with the Musical Paradise amp and give my current setup to my son. 

Cheers to all of you....


@charles1dad makes an excellent point on the Leben 300 and Luxman SQ N150. As I mentioned in my PM, I'm a big fan of EL84's, and these 2 pieces have been on my radar for a while. I'd love to spend some time with both of them. I don't know much about the Musical Paradise amp, but the value seems high. I doubt you can go to wrong with MP, and it will likely help you understand the potential of your system, and help you refine what your end system goal might be. In particular, I think the Leben 300 could be a life long piece of gear for me. I just love tube integrated amps. Follow up and let us know how you like the MP. Also, spend some time on speaker placement to maximize your systems potential. There are some great youtube videos that explain speaker set up. It made a world of difference in my system. Also, don't forget to plan some budget for cabling. You don't need to spend a bunch of money. There are quite a few nice cheaper offerings from Audioquest, Anticables, Blue Jean cables, and many more including DIY recipes.     



At the price point of the Musical Paradise MP 301 I feel it'd be difficult to do better. This is a good introduction to tube amplifiers and  I believe that you'll be happy with what you're going to hear. It will very likely sound good straight out of the box but will improve as it accumulates burn in usage.

This is a very simple tried and true circuit with only 1 output tube per channel,  very good match for your Omegas. A straightforward and pretty pure signal path and no speaker crossover 😊. Over time you can experiment with alternative tubes and compare their sound in your MP 301. This will be informative and fun. 

It you decide that you're happy with a tube amplifier then at some future time you can consider moving on to even better options. In my opinion you've made an excellent decision.  Please let us know your listening experiences and if it's what you were seeking musically. 


+1 everyone

So nice to see a thread that stays on topic and remains positive while presenting information that is not always "the same".