Originally Posted by starvinmarvin
The whole point of shopping, listening and comparing is to find a pre-amp/processor that does what you want it to do at a price you can afford. So, if it does what you need (and your financial position has not drastically improved) then why change what you've got? Use it, enjoy it and get your money's worth out of it! The trick, of course, is to get something you really can live with after the razzle-dazzle of the showroom demo has worn off. That's where a good, helpful dealer comes in, right?
You mentioned having a Proceed PAV way back when. It was the first (or among the earliest) pre/processor to lay claim to high-end status. Although the PAV was a well-made product with great features and a very high spec, it actually fell short in the sound quality department. If you played a movie everything sounded good. But listening to music in stereo was much less satisfying, especially when compared to good stereo pre-amps of the day, several of which cost markedly less than the Proceed PAV (and had far fewer features, of course).
Meridian of England soon realized the market potential and released pre/processor models that raised the bar for sound quality. Linn and others followed suit.
The question is, has that technology trickled down into any more affordable pre-processors? Can you buy one these days that really plays music to a high standard without costing an arm and a leg? Is there, heaven forfend, a receiver which can lay claim to really good music reproduction as well as surround sound for movies? I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this!
I disagree strongly with Kenny. The Integra DTC 9.8, soon to be a 9.9, does play hi-rez multichannel music to a very, very high standard for under $2k. It displaced Levinson and Theta 2-channel gear in my system costing over 8 x as much. It is also quite decent on 2-channel digital, but it is not up to the very highest standards for analog inputs. I do not think any pre/pro at any price can do analog input as well as a separate analog line stage.
Actually, the technology leadership in today's pre/pro's clearly belongs to the Japanese brands, including the Integra. They have leapfrogged the traditional high end in features, such that it now the high end that is trying to avoid total obsolescence by adding the features the Integra or the Denon already have. We are talking about pretty basic things like advanced codec support and HDMI 1.3. plus some great breakthroughs like Audyssey EQ, which is brilliant.
I have a >$50 K system, and I have heard quite a few high end 2-channel and multichannel systems at obscene price levels. I have not heard everything, but nothing I have heard rivals the sound of SACD or DVD-A through my my Integra driven by an inexpensive Oppo 980 player via HDMI. I use it 80% of the time just for classcal music. Hearing SACD's of the Philadelphia Orchestra in live concerts I had attended convinced me that it plays music better than I had ever heard it reproduced anywhere.