IMHO, it's not worth getting into separate pre-amps, etc. (over a high end AV receiver) until we start to know about what your ultimate budget for each 'stage' might be. IOW, if you are only down the road going to by buying speakers that say 'meh', then why bother with audiophile grade separates when you can do quite well with a more integrated AV or HT receiver.
So, my 7.1 A/V center is toast. That's the bad news. The good news is the speakers (however pathetic they are) including the subwoofer are OK. More good news is that I am ready to build an upgraded AV center. That is where I need some advice. I am an avid music listener (no Mp3's for this guy) as well as a BluRay/DTS format junkie. I want to build the best multi purpose platform to create a personal masterbatorium. Unfortuantely, the surround sound piece will have to wait as I cant introduce the bowel shaking sound in my current environment.
My source of entertainment is my Dell XPS420 with BD, Radeon 3400 HD Graphics/7.1 Channel sound. Tons of Ram and a 2.33 Ghz processor. I have 300 gigs of music in FLAC format which represents my music library. My outputs are TOSLINK with integrated 7.1 AND of course HDMI 7.1 output.
For starters I'm just interested in getting my music playing again, but with that I want to buy something that I can build upon to create my surround system. More than brands or products, Im interested in understanding the best CONFIGURATION of Amps, PreAmps, and additional enhancements that I can purchase in stages, with the final stage being a new speaker platform.
Thanks for reading through this jibberish and thank you in advance for your feedback.