Originally Posted by fitzcaraldo215
I think you may be overblowing the deficiencies of the Integra with 2-channel digital in. I did not feel a need to keep my Theta Gen Va for CD's. The Integra is perhaps not quite as good, but I am satisfied with it. Besides, neither the Benchmark nor the Bel Canto have analog inputs, as far as I know. So, under your plan, you would have to reconnect to the amps depending on which source you are playing. The only way to avoid this smoothly is via an analog line-stage with Home Theater pass-through controlled via a remote. I do not see the Integra's minor deficiencies being worth all this expense. If you are a heavy vinyl junkie who demands the ultimate, then you probably already have a preamp/line stage that can be used. Home Theater pass-through is just the ultimate solution, because it gets the line stage's analog volume control out of the signal path for home theater. Any analog line stage can work, as long as the volume is reset to the same level for home theater.
You could also seek a better pre/pro, but I have not much personal experience. The Denon has all the Integra's features plus a few more, including many IMHO useless ones that merely drive up the price. So, we are talking a whole lot more money. If it sounds better at all, which I do not know, I doubt it is by enough to justify the price tag.
The Marantz, Anthem or the Classe might be alternatives, but lack of features and price might be the killers here. That, and how much better are they actually going to sound?
Of course, if you are anything like me, once you get hi-rez multichannel going through an Integra, you will get hooked on it and lose interest in 2-channel. I just cannot see spending a lot of money on stereo-only items anymore.
You may well be right re not seeing the point of spending lots of money on stereo-only items - I guess I want the comfort of a 'recognised' DAC for my old music. And I certainly do not want to spend more than $1800 for a pre/pro given everything I've read to date.
I'll probably suck it and see for myself - I can always part company with the stereo DAC if it's not worth it. Though I readily accept your position that one would move away from stereo after hearing good multichannel, there's not nearly the catalog of multichannel available yet to stop me listening to my collection of stereo music - hence my (perhaps old-fashioned) desire to cling to a 'good' stereo DAC as a primary listening source.
Not sure I folow your reference to the Benchmark and Bel Canto having analog inputs?? My thought was to use one of them as the DAC for my digital files (only) and my thought was to send the analog outputs of the Benchmark or Bel Canto (they both have balanced as well as single-ended outputs) to a) the balanced input of my power amp as well as b) a stereo input of the Integra to allow, mainly, the playback of the stereo files from the DAC into the same power amp the Integra would be connected to via its single-ended outputs. Just a thought, if it would work, to allow me the luxury of listening to the Benchmark or Bel Canto without the intervention of the Integra - the Bel Canto has a remote controlled preamp.
I totally concur that it's too early in the game to spring lots of dollars for a compromised pre/pro - to me it's a no-brainer to acquire a relatively affordable Integra (even the 9.9 at $1800 is 'affordable' compared to the other supposedly 'high-end' offerings that reportedly have better sound) that 'does it all' and enjoy the software until a clear 'champion' emerges and then (perhaps) upgrade. At least the Integra will be saleable!!
And, as a once-confirmed audiophile, I find it ironic that the high-end offerings are being compared to the mid-fi names of the Audiophile Era and found wanting - at least in terms of functionality. It used to be the other way round, back in the day. For now, and until the high-end gets its act together, I guess the gap is narrow. I presume lots of high-end manufacturers waited for the dust to settle in the format war, the HDMI issues and the BluRay profiles so as to commence hostilities. At least I hope so. And I wonder if the likes of Denon and Integra haven't stolen a chunk of audiophiles like yourself away in the interim. Interesting times.