I've been thinking about the same "issue" for awhile now. I have had an all-in-one (music, HT, gaming) 2.1 system running by a receiver. After I upgraded my speakers and adding a quality external amp, I feel there's more to it than the music performance I'm getting now and feel the pre-amp/dac section in the receiver is the weak link.
But it seems to me that I won't be able get there unless I spend about $5k for pre/pro such as Anthem AVM 50v or Classe CP800. My current receiver is Anthem MRX and I love its room correction and bass management but I feel pre-amp section might be a little weak to get the best out of my system. My speakers are Focal Electra and Paradigm Sub12. Amp is Pass Labs XA30.5.
Anyone feel integrating a pre-amp/dac like Peachtree NovaPre or Benchmark Dac pre is a good move for music playback? My main concerns are losing room correction, quality sub integration and EQ currently provided by MRX.