Upgrade to ATC / Bryston

My system consists of a Squeezebox Touch, Audio gd digital interface, Metrum Octave DAC, HK990 Integrated Amp and Dynaudio Excite 12x Speakers. I also have a Rythmik 12 inch sub that produces tight and controlled low frequencies and blends in seamlessly with the Dynaudios.

I am not in the least unhappy with the sound produced from my current audio system. In fact, I'm am in love with what I hear, describing it as sweet, musical and heavenly with no ear irritation no matter how load I play the music.

The question I have is can I get even more detail and resolution without sacrificing the sweet sound I have come to love in this setup? I am primarily considering swapping out the power amp and speakers to see what if I can find anything I like more. I'm afraid I am going to go through this exercise and end up with exactly what I have now but may be pleasantly surprised.

When I picked up the Dynaudios from the dealer a few years ago, they where driving them with a Bryston 3b SST2 and the resolution was amazing. I can not talk to the musicality because I did not like the source material but it definitely had more detail then my HK990. I've been thinking of buying a used 3b SST to see if I really like it, or is the musicality of the Harmon Kardon worth more than the resolution of the Bryston? I may still use the HK990 as my preamp for now and eventually get an Onkyo P3000R preamp for all the digital it's digital inputs.

On a separate occasion I have also auditioned the ATC SCM 11 driven by the ATC 150 w amp and several other amps. With the ATC amp, the SCM 11 sounded amazing, with lots of detail and beautiful musical synergy. With any other amp, they lost all the magic. Evan adding a non ATC preamp made the speakers lose the wonderful sound.

So now I am considering trying out a Bryston amp and ATC speakers. Both are supposed to be extremely transparent. I could end up with one, or the other, both, or neither. If I can get fantastic detail without sacrificing musicality then I have succeeded. I was planning to get the new version of the SCM 11 speakers (2013) and a used 3b SST2. What do you all think?
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Bob, I think it's obvious that one will have three drivers in operation with a two-way speaker and sub. The point I was making is that it is simplitsic to conclude that one will get a similar result by using a two way with a sub versus a floor standing three way. The OP was looking for more detail/definition and in my experience a critical leap in improvement in that area happens when the dedicated Mid is introduced ala three-way. Just putting a sub with a two way imo is not comparable to a proper three-way typically.

Your last point about quality and price is well taken, but is a variable which comes into play in all speakers and systems. As such it does not support the thought that a two way with sub is like a three-way.

It may be true that in many cases the bass could be superior with a two-way and subwoofer; I don't disagree with that. But imo a dedicated Mid can really open up a speaker in terms of a sense of much more added info and spacious sound. There are some two-way speakers with sensational capacity to capture much of the midrange magic of some larger three-way speakers; ribbon hybrids come to mind. But they may be more expensive than the OP is interested in spending.
First of all, no speaker wire or other magical component I'd going to give my current system the resolution of the Bryston amp...not even close. I'm not saying that speaker wire will make no difference at all, which is why I always use a nice (low cost) heavy gauge wire, but it is minute compared to the difference this amp will make. As far as 2 way, 3 way or 10 way, I don't care in the least...my ears will tell me what good and what's not. I am a believer in lots of power, not for volume but for the instantaneous current needed for the crisp sound of piano and drums, etc.

In general I really hate the affect of any digital processing...to my ears it destroys the sound. I always run the amp in analog direct mode to bypass at that trash.

I'm not looking to reinvent my system or spend a ton of money. As I have already stated, I love the sound of my system now and if I could just build on what I already have I would be happy. Not sure that Bryston / ATC are going to do it for me but from what I've read and heard, I think it's my best chance. I didn't go with an ATC amp because of the money (used Bryston are easy to find at a good price in Cadada) and the fact that I have a bunch of digital sources and would really like a digital preamp like the Onkyo P3000R if I end up liking the Bryston amp. Of course I already have that with the HK if I don't.

Thank you all for your reply's

Earl, like you, I didn't think that a power line conditioner would be of any real benefit and boy was I wrong, and I don't even have a degree or experience in electrical engineering to strengthen my doubts. :-)

Once inserted, I had to lower my listening levels about 2-4db depending on recording. The noise floor dropped considerably which opened everything up.
Elizabeth wouldn't steer you wrong on this one.

All the best,
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