I have done quite a few upgrades over the last year, and the last two upgrades were adding a Pass Labs XP-20 preamp, and two Pass Labs X600.5 amps. I chose the pre based on comments I read on this site, along with reviews in magazines and other sites. I felt my previous pre (Cambridge-Audio 840E) was the weakest link in my electronics at the time. Another factor was price. I wanted the upgrade to be around $5K, and the Pass dealer made an offer on a piece a demo gear that was only a bit higher. So, I bought it, and was pleased with the result. A month later, after too much beer on the 4th of July, I decided I needed to upgrade my amps to go with the pre. Once again, the dealer made me an offer on demo amps that was $8K off list. This made the Pass amps only slightly more expensive than my mental $12K budget for two amps.
Anyway, it appears the new gear has burnt in, and is working/sounding just freaking great.
Since May 2012 I have upgraded my speakers, DAC, rack, power cables, interconnects, pre, and amps. Now as I sit here listening to the system I realize everything has come together, and is working as a team. I used to wonder what people meant when they say "the speakers disappear", and now I know. There is sound in front of, and all around the stereo, as if it just appears. It isn't from the speakers. It is just there in the air. A wide, tall, and deep soundstage, and it just sounds so good, clear, and precise. I cannot describe how pleasurable this is, and I really have no desire at this point to try and make it better. Everything is just working fine. Whether as background music to calm the mind while trying to program, or doing critical listening at each note, or just being blasted by pounding rock, this system is close enough to perfect for me.
The funny part is I have felt that way about every iteration of stereo I have had, so I know at some point I will start going "What if I upgraded the ......" But for now I am very, very happy, and am not to worried about upgrading.
Mapleshade Samson V.3 maple four shelf rack
Mapleshade Micropoint brass footers under preamp, DAC, SACD, and power conditioner
Aerial Acoustics 7T speakers
Mapleshade 4" maple speaker plinths
Sony XA-5400ES SACD
Bryston BDP-1 digital file player
Bryston BDA-2 DAC
Pass Labs XP-20 preamp
Pass Labs X600.5 amps
Dedicated 20 amp circuit
Shunyata SR-71 AC outlet
Shunyata Triton power conditioner
Shunyata Zytron Anaconda from wall to Triton
Shunyata Zytron Python from Triton to amps
Shunyata Zytron Cobra from Triton to pre, SACD, DAC, and BDP-1
Shunyata Zytron Python digital cable from BDP-1 to BDA-2
Shunyata Zytron Anaconda speaker cables
The Shunyata gear is a very big reason why the rest of the gear is working at its potential.