Originally Posted by kennyt
I have been having a lot of discussion on the topic of pre/pro's with AVRev's publisher Jerry Del Colliano, and I am still no closer to knowing what is best to do now!
The upper end is slow, as usual, to release new processors, some companies have dropped out of the AV Preamp market (Chord for one) while others try to get something that works out ASAP. We both agree the feature set of the Integra DTC 9.8 is excellent, and the things the Denon AVP-A1HDCI can do quite simply make it the most feature packed AV Preamp ever.
Will the Classe' sound better? I don't know, but having been waiting for upgrades before, I worry about it if it comes out without the new codecs as I have been burned before (not by CLasse').
Now ironically, I used to use a Meridian 861v4, which I bought so I wouldn't need to replace my pre/pro, but when I thought about it, (mine was upgraded from a v1 to v2 to v3 to v4 before I bought it...) the casing was old, I had more cards in it than any 861 know to the company (per the head or tech support!) and when I figured out the cost to replace all the input and output boards, as well as the upgrade, it would be almost as much as if I sold the old one and just bought a new one, which is what I plan to do, but the last I heard from Meridian was @ CEDIA this last year, so I don't know when those upgrades will come.
That said, I am still unclear what we really need in an AV Preamp.
Sure, we all want HDMI 1.3a, but do we need it? Deep color has promise, but until software comes out that was recorded in deep color is it really necessary??
Ken - Right now I think the answer is obvious, at least to me: get the Integra DTC 9.8 or the Denon. I am 99% satisfied with the Integra and I do not envision me upgrading for many years. I could be wrong, but I think the pace of obsolescence will slow down drastically for a few years. I do not forsee any new codecs becoming available beyond the lossless 7.1 channel ones for awhile at least. Nor do I see radical enhancements to HDMI 1.3a for awhile. We are not going to see 2160p 11.6 channel home theater any time soon! I think even the manufacturers - Duh! - realize that most consumers will stay away from the market if rapid obsolescence continues to be a factor. Like any technology market, early adopters like you will face obsolescence while the market is in the immature, developmental early stages. But, those early stages are coming to an end. Officially, the Blu-Ray Age of Home Theater is just a few months old now (since HD-DVD died) and the only big things on the drawing boards are (1) Blu-Ray 2.0, which is about to appear and ,I think, HDMI 1.3a compatible, and (2) deep color, which is also HDMI 1.3a compatible. In time there will be something else, but what else do we have to worry about for the next couple of years? I do not see anything.
As to your question about deep color, why would you want to buy something expensive today that you know will not support deep color? The sets and projectors are ready for it. The HDMI is ready for it. The pre/pros and even under $1,000 receivers are ready for it. The infrastructure to deliver it is all in place. Do you really think it's not going to happen? Are the studios just going to say, "no, we won't do it!"? Market forces will make somebody say, "I want a box office advantage, so we will make and release our next movie and Blu-Ray release with deep color", and, next thing you know, everybody will be off to the races.
You may not agree, but I think room correction built-into the pre/pro is essential, and Audyssey appears to me to be the best available. You owe it to yourself to hear it, if you have not already done so. My ears tell me it is utterly fantastic and one of the biggest breakthroughs in home audio ever. You will regret it if you do not have this feature, mark my words. You do not want an outboard room correction sytem because (1.) it is much more expensive, (2.) it typically requires extra a-d, d-a conversions, and (3.) it typically requires 2 sets of 8 channel interconnects.
I believe Audyssey is superior to the others because the company is 100% dedicated to just room correction technology. Their approach is not just a frequency domain set of filters, apparently like the new Neptune or several others. Unlike most others, Audyssey is based on time domain analysis and incorporates many years of experience in analyzing listener preferences and correcting many, many rooms large and small. Also, unlike most others, it is not single point or even the average of single point corrections.
These are very smart guys at Audyssey. Check out their website. Tom Holman was the leading light in the development of THX, well over 10 years ago. Many of them are USC faculty members and they are sought after by the movie industry. Also check out the room treatment forum here at avrevforum. We know Meridian is resourceful, but I doubt that their approach to room correction is this sophisticated. Classe has B&W money behind it, but, again, I do not see how they can outdo Audyssey in research and sophistication. Classe's system will also require you to have a certified installer do the room correction for you. The Audyssey Multeq XT built into the Integra or the Denon will let you do an 8 position calibration yourself with the supplied microphone, or, if you want to get really fancy, both units also support a full Audyssey Pro calibration. Anthem might have someting worthwhile from their affiliation with the Canadian national audio research labs, but I think, again, it's fequency domain only. There are other forums elsewhere I can direct you to if you want to do more digging into Audyssey. Forget the new Marantz pre/pro. They have dropped Audyssey in favor of a home grown solution.
The smart money says go with the Integra. It performs great, and for $1,700, you just cannot go wrong. It does everything all these other pre/pros do or hope to do. Even if I am wrong and there is something new you want in 2 years, $.50 on the dollar for reselling the Integra is a much smaller bite to take than the Denon or certainly than on a Classe, Meridian or an Anthem. Just think, if you had bought a Theta Casablanca III with extreme DAC's for $18 - $20,000 a year ago, where would you be now?