For all practical purposes, I have gone the separate route having just finished installing the Parasound A-21 2 Channel Amp with a Yamaha RX-V1030 AVR used as the pre-amp. The A-21 is driving my fronts while the RX-V1030 works all the other speakers. This is the second power amp I have had the pleasure of listening to. It has been over 35 years since I last had one. Back then it was the Yamaha M-65. What a great Amp it was. Does anyone remeber that? The Parasound sounds amazing and is a joy to listen to. It is a great performer all the way around. There is a real sense of "life" and energy to what I am listening to. To be sure, I am not motivated to perform all sorts of AB BA etc etc testing so I can't necessarily say with complete confidence that it is light years better than the Yamaha Rx-V1030. But I don't care. It is just a lot of fun to get back to audio fundamentals if I can use that expression. I opted for Parasound based upon their reputation, the quality and performance of their products. I was leaning toward Emotiva as you can't beat their prices but other than that, they just didn't wow me and Classe was out of my price range.
So is it worth going to separates? For me a big yes.