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Old 08-12-2008   #54
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 68
Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

Originally Posted by kennyt View Post
Well, let's bring it back to earth now please!

Having personal experience with many of the worlds best AV preamps, and doing the review of the Denon for AVRev, I can say you must have had a poorly set up or designed 2 channel rig if this is true! While the Denon does the new codecs very well, it can't hold a candle to the likes of the Anthem D2 for audio and isn't even in the same field as the Meridian 861.

Fitzcaraldo, I must disagree with you, and while I am happy you feel so pleased with the Integra and Oppo system, I feel you are incorrect with your deductions, there are better pre/pro's, and much better to my ears. I guess it all comes down to listen for yourself, hearing is subjective and does deteriorate over time with age. I am still waiting for the best pre/pro and am single handedly trying to review them all to find it.
Ken - I finally read your review of the Denon pre/pro. I note that you made no mention of Audyssey, which I personally think is an essential major contributor to getting the very best sound possible from a contemporary pre/pro. Since you did not mention it, I assume you did not use it in the review. It might have made a large difference in your sonic criticisms of the Denon's lack of smoothness and separation. We shall see if the new EQ in the Anthem D1/D2 is as good or better than Audyssey. I am not impressed by anyone else's approach to EQ at this point. Incidentally, I have also upgraded to Audyssey Pro, which sounds a lot better even than the stock MultEQ XT.

I have no experience with the Denon D-Link connection between player and pre/pro that you used. The specs on it look very good. I understand that since the Denon player you used was HDMI 1.1, you had to use D-Link to get the multichannel signal over in digital form. I am, of course, using HDMI 1.2, which is what my Oppo puts out into my HDMI 1.3-capable Integra DTC 9.8. The only issue here is potentially with SACD's. With D-Link, the DSD - PCM conversion must be done in the player. With my Oppo, the DSD is transmitted via HDMI and converted in the pre/pro. I could opt for the Oppo player to do the conversion to PCM, but I prefer the sound the way I have it. (Kal Rubinson in Stereophile prefers it the other way, except on the Pioneer Elite DV-58 player.) I am not quibbling here. D-Link might be even better than HDMI. I just have not heard it, so I do not know. In any case, I myself would prefer to be free from the shackles of Denonís or anyoneís proprietary architecture.

I note that your music selections were, as I suspected, heavily dominated by studio mixed rock ní roll, including many reissues not originally released in hi-rez format. Do not get me wrong. I am not criticizing your musical taste at all. Enjoy it and have fun with it. The point is IMHO these recordings `do not provide the real life frame of reference for determining whether a component sounds like the real thing or not. You may think so, but I do not really know exactly what Rick Wakemanís synthesizer sounds like. (I have Yesí Fragile on LP, by the way.) Depending on which amp and speakers he was using, even Wakemanís sound could be quite different today than it was in the early/mid 70ís when this album was recorded. That, and everybodyís different synthesizer really sounds quite a bit more different from one another than, say, violins or oboes. Even if you heard Yes live at a rock concert, chances are it was in an over-large space with poor acoustics.

There is also the problem of recordings done with a studio mix, where the performers seldom perform in coherent space. The drummer is over here, the synthesizer there, the vocalist somewhere else (in a booth, maybe?). Each has his own separate mike or mikes, and the multitrack original is pasted together by recordists with anything but a continuous, coherent sense of space, as we hear with live music. And, it is an unfortunate fact of life in the pop music world that many, many recordings are very highly processed electronically Ė including compression Ė prior to mastering. Exactly how much of this they have is sometimes very hard to tell by ear because of the lack of a live frame of reference.

My interest is overwhelmingly just on music reproduction. Video reproduction is a secondary bonus. So, what I am saying is that my standard for audio is to have my system reproduce as faithfully as possible the sound of acoustic instruments in real space. If it does this well, it will do all music in the same format well. Thatís essentially The Absolute Soundís philosophy, and I happen to agree. For my money, no format has done this better than hi-rez multichannel fed via HDMI to an advanced codec pre/pro with all speaker channels time and frequency equalized in the room by Audyssey. For right now, the Integra DTC 9.8 and Oppo 980 (I will be auditioning a Pioneer Elite DV 58 in a month or two) do the best job of this that I have heard, and by a wide margin. Unheard, I give the Denon pre/pro the benefit of the doubt, because of the general similarity of its architecture. My combo is adequate with but does not do the best job with Redbook CDís or with vinyl. I have heard better with those formats. But, those formats at their very best do not compare in faithfulness to the original sound to hi-rez multichannel done right. So, those formats are now of much less interest to me.

Itís a shame we do not live closer together so that we could try out our own source material on each otherís respective systems and broaden our opinions.
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