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View Full Version : Looking for suggestions on a Surround sound preamp



Midnight
01-31-2004, 12:36 PM
Well, Am just starting to look for a Sound surround preamp. There are a lot of stuff out there to choose from. I am looking for something that I can use for the home theater but also for just music. I am aware of some nice stuff like the Bryston sp1.7, and the Anthem avm20.
I really like the Sp1.7 because it as a analog side that stays totally analog for things like the old turntable. The problem is the price tag. Here in Canada , its sells for $5.500. Thatís a lot of money for a preamp.
I was just wondering if anyone would have any recommendation or suggestions.
Its still early in my research and any help would be appreciated.

I know that this is not a Jbl subject but it will be use to drive my 4435, for what its worth.

Mr. Widget
01-31-2004, 03:56 PM
This should be posted in the "Off Topic" section.

In any event, in answer to your question... it doesn't exist! There is no affordable preamp that sounds as good as a dedicated two-channel preamp that also has surround processing capabilities and costs under the 4K to 5K price range.

In one of my systems I run two completely redundant sets of electronics... costly, a visual clutter, and inconvenient. In my other main audio system I use a dedicated stereo amp and preamp to drive the left and right speakers. I feed the stereo preamp the outputs from the processor to one of it's aux inputs. In 5.1 mode I have the stereo preamp preset at a level that matches the other channels and for CD or phono I run them directly to the stereo preamp and leave all of the other gear off. It can be a bit of a hassle, but my wife seems to be able to navigate it and the improvement in the two channel sound is huge.

In this system I am using a fairly pricey ($2750) B+K receiver as the processor and amplifier for center and surround channels. The B+K has an all analog choice for stereo... it still sounds like crap. I bought it hoping to avoid all of the clutter, I lived with it for a few weeks and never could enjoy the music with the grungy veil the cheap opamps and clumsy circuit design put on top of it. In the standard digital mode it was even worse! For movies it is fine, but for really listening to music, I find I need to go back to a traditional 2 channel set-up. There are a few multi channel processors that have high quality analog circuitry, but so far they are all quite pricey.

If anyone has found a processor with a super clean all analog line level section let me know. The ones I have tried from Parasound, Yamaha, Integra, Pioneer Elite, Lexicon (only digital), and B+K don't cut it!

Widget

Ian Mackenzie
01-31-2004, 04:20 PM
Widget I agree so much so that..............

I hurled the wonder box completely and feed the analogue Front L + R 5.10 outputs of my Pioneer 626 DVD straight into the line input of the BOSOZ (Pass Balanced line stage). The Rear L+R go direct to a power amp with pre set input levels.

JBLnsince1959
01-31-2004, 05:55 PM
Midnight:

"it doesn't exist! "

Widget, You hit the nail on the head. I also run two completely different systems. As yet, I've never found a good sounding processor.:(

If it's made for HT, it's not good enough for 2 channel listening, period. No reason to search for the "Holy Grail" all in one wonder box that will do both.(IMHO)

If it were me and looking to spend that much money, I'll put most of the money into 2 channel ( if that's your real passion, mine is) and then go to Best Buy or some other retail outlet and spend a $1000 to $2000 for a HT wonder box with processor and amps. I personally use a Marantz AV9000 preamp for HT ( in my good system - retail about 1900 then). Pretty good for HT, but really bites:biting: for 2 channel.

It's a b***h switching back and forth, but worth it.

Good luck


rick

maxwedge
01-31-2004, 09:40 PM
I hope you guys arn't dashing my dreams:(. I've had my eye on a Parrasound Halo C2 (http://www.parasound.com/halonew/C2front.asp) for some time now. After I get all my speakers, amps and supporting electronics set up I was (am?) going to fork out some $ for one.:hmm: Right now I'm on stereo, run through a small Mackie mixing board.

Midnight
02-01-2004, 10:23 AM
Yes your right Widget, I should have posted this in the off topics. Sorry guys. I donít know of a way to move the thread. Hopefully the forum moderator can move it over.
You guys are now putting sticks in my wheels. My plans are to finish the basement into a sound room and home theater. It does not include having two different systems, witch is something I may have to do. I will not give up this easy do.
There are some great reviews on the Bryston SP1.7 I have yet to hear it. I think its time to get to the store and find out a little more about it. The problem with this unit is the price. They always roll out the red carpet for Bryston equipment. I was hoping that someone else out there makes a product that does both job well. You may be right and I may be disappointed with this preamp.
I will let you know.
Here is a review done by Audio and Video magazine on the Bryston website. I know that this doesnít mean anything but it does sound good.
Bryston SP1.7 (http://www.bryston.ca/reviews/sp17/avm_sp17.html)

whgeiger
02-01-2004, 05:35 PM
M,

This is a well-built, reasonably priced, 6-channel analog only preamp:

McCormack Audio MAP-1
http://www.mccormackaudio.com/map1.html

Regards,

WHG

boputnam
02-01-2004, 05:56 PM
Hey, WHG...

This looks great. Do you know of any that have balanced outs?

Mr. Widget
02-01-2004, 08:49 PM
That might be a good way to go. It won't have the convenience of built in bass management and switching between DTS, Dolby Digital, etc. but I bet there are work arounds if your sources are well chosen.

How does it sound? If I remember correctly it is in the mid 2 grand price range. That just might be a good value.:)

whgeiger
02-02-2004, 12:19 AM
Originally posted by boputnam
Hey, WHG...

This looks great. Do you know of any that have balanced outs?

AccuPhase CX-260
http://210.166.208.10/photo/cx-260e.pdf

The price of this beauty, depending where you shop for balanced I/O and all, is about $4,000.

Regards,

WHG

MJC
02-02-2004, 10:14 AM
Originally posted by Mr. Widget
This should be posted in the "Off Topic" section.

In any event, in answer to your question... it doesn't exist! There is no affordable preamp that sounds as good as a dedicated two-channel preamp that also has surround processing capabilities and costs under the 4K to 5K price range.

If anyone has found a processor with a super clean all analog line level section let me know. The ones I have tried from Parasound, Yamaha, Integra, Pioneer Elite, Lexicon (only digital), and B+K don't cut it!

Widget
The Parasound Halos are in the $4k-$5k range. The C1 is the $5k unit. I've listened to them in the Good Guys, but that was in an all glass ht room! I'd like to hear what they sound like in my living room. I like the sound the B+K Ref 50 for ht, but not sure I'd like it for 2 channel music. I'm currently using a Marantz 880 receiver for the pre/pro, and a Parasound 5 channel amp. I haven't used just a 2 channel system for over ten years, the last was a Yamaha.
The Sunfire Grand Theater III seems to have more of a "tube like" sound and it will output all channel stereo. So I haven't bought any new pre/pro yet, just not sure. My L212s are for sure, more musical that any ht speaker system.
I keep seeing B+K, Sunfire, Aragon and others on ebay. Must be a reason that people keep trying to unload almost new units. Some, in fact are new, being sold by dealers.

boputnam
02-03-2004, 07:03 PM
Originally posted by whgeiger
The price of this beauty, depending where you shop for balanced I/O and all, is about $4,000.
Hey... (Sorry I missed this, in the throws of all the quarterly reportings right now...)

We need a "drooling" smilie face. Wow. That looks like the ticket, but priced out of my range. I just sold a Soundcraft 24 channel FOH board for about half that - and it has many more knobs and inputs! ;)

Guess I better print this out - looks like good "on the can" material... :slink:

whgeiger
02-04-2004, 08:36 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by boputnam
[B]Hey... (Sorry I missed this, in the throws of all the quarterly reportings right now...)

We need a "drooling" smilie face. )snip(

BP,

Here is one the old fashoned way: (:-[...

Regards,

WHG

John Y.
05-29-2005, 02:57 PM
This should be posted in the "Off Topic" section.

In any event, in answer to your question... it doesn't exist! There is no affordable preamp that sounds as good as a dedicated two-channel preamp that also has surround processing capabilities and costs under the 4K to 5K price range.

If anyone has found a processor with a super clean all analog line level section let me know. The ones I have tried from Parasound, Yamaha, Integra, Pioneer Elite, Lexicon (only digital), and B+K don't cut it!

Widget

Thought I'd resurrect this thread to see if there has been anything new to add to the topic in recent years.

How about some of the latest units? McIntosh has the C45 which has analog processing of the 5.1 analog signals. The Lexicon RV-8 has the capability of bypassing digital processing of analog 5.1.

Anyone (Widget, et. al.?) have any experience with these, or others in the current line of McIntosh or Lexicon units?

J. Yo :o:

rek50
05-29-2005, 03:32 PM
My old Denon 5.1 AVR 2600 doesn't sound too bad for stereo and it still works just fine. I know it's SS but so are my car systems.

Titanium Dome
05-29-2005, 04:35 PM
A number of analog stereo aficianadoes swear by the Citation 7.0 as having a superior analog section. I've heard it, and it's very nice, but it comes from pre DD and DTS times.

I own the successor model, the Citation 5.0 which has DD 5.1 and DTS, plus Jim Fosgate's 6Axis. The analog section is very nice as well, but the set up on this thing is horrendous and, again, it's behind the times.

I replaced it in my main system with a Fosgate Audionics FAPT-1, both on the strength of Jim Fosgates's surround capabilities and his dedication to terrific analog bypass. However, it's been superceded by the FAPT-1+, which is said to be improved in almost every parameter. It's around $3k.

There are no balanced ins/outs here, but I've never seen the need in a home system. Others of course feel differently and are welcome to their opinions. ;)

My main system/HT is nicknamed "The Two Jims Theater," due to Jim Fosgate and Jim Lansing being the giants of my audio world. Plus, the entanglements of JBL, Fosgate Audionics, Citation, and Harman Kardon are many over the years.

JuniorJBL
05-29-2005, 05:02 PM
a Rotel RSP 1068 which I find to be a great unit for the price. I focus more on the 2 channel pre for quality audio.:)

Michael Smith
05-29-2005, 05:41 PM
I don't know what bucks a Lexion MC 12 processor would run to over there, but I would suggest you have a good listen to it. It's performance in analogue has been raved about by many of the Hi Fi scribes as approaching 2 CH nirvana, so beg borrow or steal one for a play.
I reluctantly agree with Widget but don't let that stop you.

Michael

Ian Mackenzie
05-29-2005, 06:17 PM
Yeah I scribe with The Widget on this one but I venture a step further,

Although I love 5.1 movies and DVD music concerts, even the DTS compression isn't on a par with a well recorded PCM (CD) or better again HDCD imho. And then there's vinyl. I would'nt waste 3-5 K on a AV preamp frankly.

Besides why do you need AAA HiFi for dialogue in a movie?

I therefore find the whole audiophile 5.1 thing a bit of a myth.

Ian

Titanium Dome
05-29-2005, 08:28 PM
Yeah I scribe with The Widget on this one but I venture a step further,

Although I love 5.1 movies and DVD music concerts, even the DTS compression isn't on a par with a well recorded PCM (CD) or better again HDCD imho. And then there's vinyl. I would'nt waste 3-5 K on a AV preamp frankly.

Besides why do you need AAA HiFi for dialogue in a movie?

I therefore find the whole audiophile 5.1 thing a bit of a myth.

Ian

If you consider it a waste, then of course you'd be foolish to do so. As for your question about the need for AAA HiFi, I don't believe there's an answer to that question that will ever satisfy the person who asks it.

You're a smart guy and I'm confident you've thought this issue through, so suffice it to say wonderful people can be on both sides. :yes:

Mr. Widget
05-29-2005, 08:35 PM
My old Denon 5.1 AVR 2600 doesn't sound too bad for stereo and it still works just fine. I know it's SS but so are my car systems.

I guess it is a matter of expectations... I don't have any experience with your Denon unit, but I doubt that it is all that different from the top of the line Yamaha, B&K, Parasound, and Pioneer Elite units I have had in my system. (All SS also.) None of these processors or receivers had the transparency or detail that a quality 2 channel pre-amp from the 1980s will give you.

Since my earlier posting on this thread, I have more or less lost interest in multi-channel audio (for music) and am focusing on dedicated 5.1 HT and stereo systems.

Widget

Audiobeer
05-29-2005, 08:59 PM
I have been down this road many times. I have always ended up with seperates....in other words a dedicated 2 channel and another Home Theater system. For me I couldn't see spending the limited funds on $5000+ receiver. I have stopped upgrading to the latest Home Theater stuff for now. But if I was to go back to home theater and wanted 1 system I would get a receiver like a Yamaha that was a good used one and run seperate tried and true used amps for each channel. I just got sick of spending $2K + on recievers and/or $3K on new Processor only to see bigger and better model come out. The only reason I would spend that kind of money now was if I felt the value of 2nd or 3rd room usage or if I could employ some new technoligy like WiFi or something like that. Now I gotta tell you my prospective would obviously be different if I won the lottery!

:applaud:

JuniorJBL
05-29-2005, 10:01 PM
have the luxury of a second room so I must make the best of one room.
I have both an HT and 2 channel setup in the same room.
I use a separate pre/pro (Rotel RSP 1068) for my HT and a separate 2 channel preamp for audio (adcom GFP 750).

The adcom has a processor loop circuit that lets me feed my L/R from my rotel to my adcom. This circuit disables the volume control and gives variable input to the adcom.

This way when it is time to listen to music it is all 2 channel (separate CD player just for 2 channel as well)
I did try an Esoteric DV50s that did sound awesome and I may go that route.
It had a balanced 2 channel out that I ran to my 2 channel system and a multi/digital coax that I ran to the Rotel. This worked well also, but the DV50 is a $6000.00 player.

Ian
I too have come to the conclusion that HDCD is better than any other Digital format. But like you said "then there is vinyl" ahhh:applaud:

rek50
05-30-2005, 06:41 AM
"I guess it is a matter of expectations" Indeed, to me happiness is learning NOT to let my expectations over-ride a given situation. I don't expect my "Movie" 5.1 to satisfy my 70's stereo gear "Ears". The 2K$ Denon is nice for movies. I prefer my old gear for stereo.

Robh3606
05-30-2005, 08:37 AM
Hello Audiobeer


"But if I was to go back to home theater and wanted 1 system I would get a receiver like a Yamaha that was a good used one and run seperate tried and true used amps for each channel."

That's what I use. I have a Sony ES and use seperate amps for L/C/R. It also has a 5.1 pass through and a switchable 2 channel pass through so the signals don't automatically get redigitized. Forget about the surround channel upgrade race!! Never ending on that front.

Hello Ian

"Besides why do you need AAA HiFi for dialogue in a movie?"

Well when you go to the cinema what center are they using?? I find that to get really good definition even with movies you need a decent center. Meaning it should be at least comporable to the L/R. Obviously identicle would be the best but that is not that easy for many.

Rob:)

Alex Lancaster
05-30-2005, 02:34 PM
:) I suggest a SONY 9000ES.

Titanium Dome
05-30-2005, 03:41 PM
:) I suggest a SONY 9000ES.

Highly regarded by its owners and generally overlooked by many who would benefit from owning it. Good choice.

amadeo
05-31-2005, 04:57 AM
i would say go for

ROTEL 1098
http://europe.rotel.com/products/specs/rsp1098.htm

its very capable of both music and hometheater
and will compliment any setup....looks great!

JuniorJBL
05-31-2005, 08:11 AM
:nutz:

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?homeproc&1122177670

stevem
05-31-2005, 11:19 AM
I have been reading this thread with great interest, because I have been wrestling with these same issues. My 2 channel system is a bit differnt from most because it's basically digital, not analog. I take the digital output from my CD player, and put into the digital input of a BSS loudspeaker controller. This unit provides crossovers, EQ, and delay for my 3-way active speakers. After the BSS does its DSP thing, it converts the signal to analog (24/96) and the signal goes to the appropriate power amp. This set-up does present some difficulties controlling over-all gain, and I haven't found a solution that I'm totally satisfied with yet.


What I'm considering is leaving the signal in the digital domain going through the surround processor and into the BSS unit. Then if I want to add center and surroud speakers, I can do it the same way as my main speakers, that is through additional digital speakler controllers and amplifiers. The problem is there is only one company that makes surround processors with both multi-channel inputs and outputs, and that is Meridian. Talk about expensive though! My only experience with their products is with the 518, which I am using between the CD player and the BSS. It does some resolution enhancement things, and more importantly acts as a digital volume control (and thats another story!). Any thoughts or experiences with the above?

Steve Gonzales
06-01-2005, 11:27 PM
Outlaw ,the internet order only branch of Atlantic Technologies ,has garnered a very favorable review recently for it's 950 pre/pro. It sells at a reasonable cost and has above average analog stereo capabilities. It also has received some above average marks too, for it's bass management flexablities . Couldn't hurt to check one out (reviews), if you insist on a dual duty preamp/processer. As for me, "Ain't nothin' like a seperate, dedicated rig for each type of duty, very much agreed on that point, just my .02, Good Luck, SG.