Sorry if I am trying your patience with a noob questions - I have tried elsewhere on this board, but thought maybe the Focal owners might give me better advice. I am in the process of upgrading/future-proofing (is there such a thing?!) my A/V system. My first step was to get a pair of Focal Aria 926, which were miraculously on sale for $2k at a local store. I would like to continue the upgrade but I want to spend my money wisely. Next I would like to buy either a dedicated amp to drive the Focals when I listen to stereo and also upgrade my receiver, Yamaha RX-V1800, which drives the Focals now, as well as Anthony Gallo speakers for center and surround when in home theater mode (no sub). The rest of my system is a Pioneer BDP-581D for Blu-Ray, Apple TV for streaming, Yamaha CD-changer, and a Yamaha doc for the iPhone. I will also buy the OPPO-103 in the future to replace the CD changer and the Pioneer, so I can have one less box. My main question at this point is - should I buy a dedicated amp, or invest more money and just buy an outstanding receiver? Further details:
a) Music is more important to me than home theater, but ideally I would like both to be great.
b) I live in an apartment building, so I don't listen loud, but not so quite either. I'd say it's important for me to listen at moderate levels. That's where the Focals really shine because of their incredible tweeters.
c) I listen to CDs (no vinyl), though I wouldn't mind a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi receiver to stream lossless files from my Mac. I mostly listen to industrial music, post-punk and other forms of rock. Occasional techno, ambient. Some other formats, too. Basically, my music can be quite demanding and messy. I guess it's easier to say what I don't listen to - classical music, jazz, country, and hip-hop.
d) my budget is moderate. Ideally, I would not want to spend more than $3k.
e) I will be getting an OPPO, like I said.
f) I know that ideally I should audition everything, but we don't live in an ideal world :-)
For now I am looking at NAD C375BEE, which can bet gotten refurbished for $1k. Seems like it has more than enough power. It's an analog amp, but given that I will be getting the OPPO, I will let OPPO's DACs drive the signal. Questions:
a) The biggest question - should I get a dedicated amp + receiver or just a good receiver? What stops me from getting just the receiver is that their THD is not nearly as good as those of a good dedicated amp. But will it really matter to my ears at moderate volumes?
b) Any other alternatives to the NAD given my needs?
c) If you would recommend just the receiver, which one? I'm used to Yamahas, but I am really not opposed to switching. The Yamaha A2040BL looks good, but Marantz SR7009 has also caught my eye.
d) Is the OPPO-103 a good source of sound for CDs? I like the idea of having one box and I am not sure how much of a music performance upgrade a hi-fi CD player will bring.
Well, that was a mouthful, and I hope I was coherent.