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Old 08-04-2008   #34
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 68
Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

Originally Posted by jimmydaves View Post

So actuallly that is my primary preoccupation at this point. Getting great sounding power for those 3 speakers and then figuring out about the side surrounds.


The preamp/processors I've looked at so far have been the Anthem D2 and the Integra DTC 9.8.


I just wonder if there are other Class D amps out there that compare favorably with Bel Canto, but at a lesser price. The Integra 9.8 sounds like a great product for me due to my primarily home theater use. So, how about the Integra 9.8 (9.9) and the Bel Canto amps, possibly the M1000 or M300?

The DTC 9.8 is fabulous - one of the greatest steals in audio history. I had a > $50 2-channel system bulit around a Levinson line stage, Theta Dac/transport, 2 Krell KAS-2 monoblocks, and a pair of Martin-logan Prodigy's plus tuner and phono. There were some expensive interconnects and speaker cables to boot. It was a very satisfying and revealing stereo.

I upgraded to multichannel for less than the price of the Prodigy's alone. How? I learned that in today's multichannel, you do not need to spend the kind of outrageous sums of the old high-end 2-channel game to get great sound.

I have had the 9.8 since last fall coupled to an Oppo 980H via HDMI. Well under $2,000!! I acquired some about to be discontinued Martin-Logans - Clarity's and Scripti's - at great prices new with warranty. I paid close to full pop for an ML Stage center, and a JL Audio Fathom f113 sub.

For amps, I got a used Bryston Powerpac 120 cheap with 10 years left on the warranty for the center. And, after auditioning several other amps, I got 2 Parasound A23's for the sides/rears - $895 each with 30-day return privilige at Audio Advisor plus a 10-year warranty.

It seems like a mismatch with the old expensive stuff and the new cheap stuff. But, you know what? It's the best reproduced sound I have ever heard anywhere. And, I have heard some really, really expensive upscale 2-channel gear. There probably is multichannel somewhere better than this. But, I have not heard it yet.

One of the secrets here is Audyssey correction built into the Integra. It equalizes for more than just the room. Within reason, it equalizes for the speakers, the amps, the cables plus the room, because the calibration microphone only hears the net result of all of these. So, the indellible component sonic signatures of the old 2-channel world that reviewers spend pages after pages describing tend to get flattened out into the Audyssey target curve. It's magical. And, it's cheap inside the Integra. Plus, the Audyssey Pro upgrade is even significantly better.

So, check out Parasound for amps. You cannot go wrong. Another steal. If you need more power than the A23's, the A21's have it. I also prefer as many separate amps as you can do with long balanced XLR interconnect and short speaker cables rather than getting a 5-channel amp with long speaker cables plus a 2-channel. My inexpensive XLR at 10 meters sounds better than my old top-of-the-line Cardas XLR at 2 meters. Even cheaper is Blue Jeans cable, but I have not heard it. Then there is Paul Speltz' famous anti-cable for speakers. You just do not have to break the bank any more.

The only problem with this amplifier theory is you need a monoblock amp for the center channel. Used Bryston Powerpacs are not always available, and new ones are way overpriced. Try Audiogon, but I bought an extra one in great shape, because, originally, I was going to use 5 Powerpacs before I discovered the Parasounds. Private message me if you have an interest.

Both the Parasounds and the Bryston accept XLR and have 12 volt triggers, so system on/off is a snap.

For perspective, it sounds really great on video. But I listen to a whole lot more classical music on SACD. When I first heard some Ondine SACD's of live Philadelphia Orchestra concerts I had actually attended, I was floored and hooked forever on hi-rez multichannel. Never had I heard anything as truthful to the original musical performance as this. When SACD dies, it will be replaced by BLU-RAY music discs (or downloads), but the Integra will take the new lossless codecs in stride. All I will need is a BLU-RAY player and/or PC to feed this fabulous audio system. I haven't been this excited about audio since I built my first Dynakits over 50 years ago.
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