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Thread: Stereo 2.1 Preamps

  1. #1
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    Question Stereo 2.1 Preamps

    The ATI amplifier thread started to veer toward preamps, so here's a thread to continue that discussion.

    I'm currently using old pre/pros for stereo duty in three systems.

    Citation 5.0 + Denon DVD2900 + JBL DX-1 + Hafler SR2300 (2) +JBL XPL200A (2)

    JBL Synthesis® SDP-5 + Oppo 981H + JBL Synthesis® S650 + JBL S/2600 (2) + JBL Synthesis® S3S (2)

    Outlaw 990 + Oppo BDP-83SE + ATI 2003 (2) + JBL K2 S9900 (2) + JBL SYnthesis® S2S (2)

    All three of these somewhat dated pre/pros offer stereo analog and digital input, offer analog bypass and internal DAC conversion, offer analog and digital bass management, and have a ton of features I'll never use in a stereo listening environment.

    At the present time, the Citation 5.0 is not using bass management with the XPLs, but I'm definitely using it on the other two systems. I believe it enhances both systems to a discernible degree.

    What are the currently available stereo preamps that also allow bass management, and whaich ones have balanced outputs for the mains and the subs? One thing that makes the Outlaw 990 a great fit with the K2s and ATI amps is its balanced outputs including two subwoofer balanced outs.

    I see Emotiva had a stereo preamp that sort of fit the bill, but it's sold out and a new unit is under development.
    In.

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome View Post
    I see Emotiva had a stereo preamp that sort of fit the bill, but it's sold out and a new unit is under development.
    From what I've heard through the grapevine... no personal experience, their stuff makes the newer Harman Kardon stuff look pretty good.

    I don't have any experience with 2 channel gear with bass management... does it even exist? It must be a pretty small niche. The true analog multi-channel 5.1 and 7.1 preamps are even a pretty small niche. I think if you must have bass management then this would be your best bet... personally I prefer the simpler approach... a basic two channel preamp.


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    Obviously... not a golfer grumpy's Avatar
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    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't 'bass management' just the ability to direct
    an LFE channel (e.g., movie effects, and I suppose on some multi-channel music discs)
    to the appropriate speakers ... such as a subwoofer?

    vs. having an adequately configurable sub crossover...

    Seems like for most 2.1 systems, the latter would be sufficient (though perhaps not
    as convenient, being a separate box with more cabling and levels to set... and probably
    no remote ).

    This opens up the option of using quite a few 2ch preamps that do have multiple
    outputs and often balanced connectors.
    It's nograveconcern to me, but it appears a fan on AVS "borrowed" my avatar...

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    Senior Member Uncle Paul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    From what I've heard through the grapevine... no personal experience, their stuff makes the newer Harman Kardon stuff look pretty good.

    I don't have any experience with 2 channel gear with bass management... does it even exist? It must be a pretty small niche. The true analog multi-channel 5.1 and 7.1 preamps are even a pretty small niche. I think if you must have bass management then this would be your best bet... personally I prefer the simpler approach... a basic two channel preamp.


    Widget
    I've been looking through preamps the last few weeks, and the Emotiva USP-1 hit my radar. For me, the only real design drawbacks are lack of balanced outputs and tone controls. I searched through the audio and AV forums I'm aware of, and there were a lot of positives and a few "meh"s. I don't recall anyone having QC issues with this particular piece.

    Along with the design limits (really tradeoffs) my only other reservation is that I try to limit the $$ I send to Ch1na, though Emotiva at least designs the equipment here.

    I have to say that the matching XDA-1 DAC is pretty intriguing as well.
    "Zobel is as zobel does"

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumpy View Post
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't 'bass management' just the ability to direct
    an LFE channel (e.g., movie effects, and I suppose on some multi-channel music discs)
    to the appropriate speakers ... such as a subwoofer?

    vs. having an adequately configurable sub crossover...

    Seems like for most 2.1 systems, the latter would be sufficient (though perhaps not
    as convenient, being a separate box with more cabling and levels to set... and probably
    no remote ).

    This opens up the option of using quite a few 2ch preamps that do have multiple
    outputs and often balanced connectors.
    Come to think of it, there were McIntosh preamps with a center channel output that would sorta kinda do this... (C22, C28 and possibly others) they have a separate trim pot so you would have some control on the mono channel's gain. Obviously both of these predate remotes... and neither one sound as good in my opinion as several other contenders in the straight up 2-channel world.


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    Obviously... not a golfer grumpy's Avatar
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    Re: Emotiva

    ...and they look like set pieces from Tron Legacy (IMHO).

    (not judging, just noting...)
    It's nograveconcern to me, but it appears a fan on AVS "borrowed" my avatar...

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumpy View Post
    ...and they look like set pieces from Tron Legacy (IMHO).

    (not judging, just noting...)


    Personally I have an issue with their name... but then I never liked Acura Integra either.


    Widget

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    Senior Member timc's Avatar
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    Why not get a used Lexicon MC8B/12B? They go quite cheap if you don't need the HD models.
    2213 + 2435HPL w/aquaplas + H9800 (Matsj edition)

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Just thought I'd mention I have no need for 2.1 in my two-channel system. And that XDA-1 DAC is really interesting at only $345:

    In addition to being a state of the art 24Bit/192kHz DAC, the XDA-1 can operate as a digital preamplifier and source selector in a digitally based reference level audio system. Inputs for up to six digital sources including AES/EBU, USB, Coax, and Toslink are available. The XDA-1 incorporates a VFD display for volume, input select, and system status messages. In addition, it is supplied with a milled aluminum remote control for convenient operation.
    But it goes back to, "What? No HDMI?"

    Name:  Emotiva XDA-1.jpg
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    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    Just thought I'd mention I have no need for 2.1 in my two-channel system.

    Attachment 51364
    And yet the thread is titled Stereo 2.1 preamps...

    In.

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    Senior Member richluvsound's Avatar
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    Emotiva !

    TI,

    the old adage .... if it sounds to good to be true , then it is Knowing the mark -up on hifi, a little about the cost of components, and that Emotiva is not a charity , its hard to fathom how they can build a
    product of any kind of quality and stay in business.

    2.1 ....... why haven't any other established manufacturers built one ?

    At best, if it retails in the US for $699 , 20% import duty ,parts, labour , MIN 50% profit . You end up with a Pre, that maybe , cost $ 100 to build . You would just about get a K2 worthy transformer for that money !

    Rich

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    Heather [Senorita member] hjames's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    Just thought I'd mention I have no need for 2.1 in my two-channel system. And that XDA-1 DAC is really interesting at only $345:

    But it goes back to, "What? No HDMI?"

    Attachment 51364
    Well, after my experience with Emotiva pre/Processors (shipped back for a full refund) -
    I'd say you are better off WITHOUT them or their take on HDMI ...

    But since HDMI is usually used with DRM and such in multichannel surround gear - why would you have it in pure audio systems?
    2ch - Oppo DV981, JoLida 502, JBL L200+, KEF 105.4
    HT7- Oppo BDP-93, B&K amps, Vandy 2Ce, 2Ci, VCC1, DCM TF600 & 4641

  13. #13
    Obviously... not a golfer grumpy's Avatar
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    it seems that HDMI is becoming the norm for outputting the highest quality
    signals in digital form (e.g., SACD stream) in consumer products (maybe I'm imagining it).
    It's nograveconcern to me, but it appears a fan on AVS "borrowed" my avatar...

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    it seems that HDMI is becoming the norm for outputting the highest quality
    I beleive that it is directly tied to the data rates on the combination of the new uncompressed Audio formats and of course the Blueray video. When you are doing 2 channel only I doubt it's needed at all. I would think a Coax/Toslink would have enough through put.

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

  15. #15
    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome View Post
    And yet the thread is titled Stereo 2.1 preamps...
    I'm only saying I'm not planning on running a sub. Otherwise I'd like all those modern features on today's pre-amps. I wasn't the one that brought up the two-channel Emotiva XDA-1, I was just commenting. Sort of thought it fit the thread though.

    HDMI would be nice since it appears to be heading the way of USB in terms of its ubiquity as a standard for connectivity. I remember my first iMac back in 1998 and everyone wondered why it had that odd USB "plug" (and no floppy drive) . . .

    Okay, forgetting the HDMI . . . why would the XDA-1 not make a good front-end in a stereo system? Just because it's inexpensive? Is there some edict I missed that said a good DAC has to begin at $1000 and can't offer normal pre-amp controls? Seems like an interesting combo but maybe I should take that to a thread for digital stereo pre-amps?
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

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