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Old 09-02-2008   #142
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 68
Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

Originally Posted by faberryman View Post
I didn't say you had. I inquired as to whether we should give your subjective opinion any greater weight than his.
No, you should not. However, you should consider the conditions of Captain Stereoís test and see if it matches the source format and listening/viewing conditions under which you yourself would be using a pre/pro. You should also understand my own mindset and sonic priorities. Aside from the lossless codec issue, I wanted to be clear, as is obvious, on the extent to which Audyssey EQ on the Integra was used. The Integra without Audyssey is, frankly, nothing special. It's adequate, but clearly no match for the Classe. I say this as a knowledgeable owner of the Integra since last November. But, Audyssey is the Integra's sonic secret weapon that elevates its performance considerably. It does not make it the end all/be all of pre pros. I do not think I ever said that. I think I said best I had heard. I have not heard the Classe 800 or a lot of other newer things, but I did extensively audition the Classe 600, among other high end pre/pro's, last year before buying my Integra last November. Also, now having experience with Audyssey, I am a true believer in its considerable sonic merit. I would never again be without Audyssey (now upgraded to Audyssey Pro) or some comparable EQ in my system.

With the right mix of source formats, for me, at least, the Integra is arguably competitve with some much more expensive pre/pro's. Perhaps I have not made the basis for my own enthusiasm for the Integra clear, though I have tried here and there in prior postings. I am an 80% classical music listener. My previous system was 2-channel with no SACD. Though my stereo was high end and cost over $50K, and although I have heard much, much more expensive and prestigious 2-channel systems, the Integra with Audyssey (now upgraded to Audyssey Pro) was a revelation. With multichannel SACDís or DVD-Aís, I find the Integra to provide the best, most realistic musical sound I have ever heard anywhere. There may be better, but I have not yet heard it

Forgive me for using a $169 Oppo player. That seems to have created some controversy. I believe there are only 4 SACD/DVD-A players on the market that will output hi rez multichannel via HDMI to the pre/pro, including the Oppo 980. I think this is extremely important sonically, since it eliminates extra D-A, A-D conversions, analog connectors and cables. I will soon be auditioning what is, I think, the highest priced, HDMI-out SACD machine on the market which is a Pioneer Elite DV 58 at all of $500. Also, I do not yet own a Blu Ray player, as I await music in this medium to come to fruition and the technology to mature.

So, my excitement and enthusiasm is really just about music reproduction in hi rez multichannel, as opposed to 2-channel vinyl and CDís. I have a huge collection of 2-channel music going back 50 years and very good equipment to play it on. Movie sound is just a bonus I use occasionally. While the Integra is more than sonically satisfying to me on movies, I am not interested enough in it to compare it to other pre/proís in that regard. In general, I do not think I have a good enough basis in real life to determine whether something sounds more faithful to the original than something else in movie sound. I do not think anybody does, except the guy who did the audio mix for the movie. So, music Ė accurately recreating the sound of acoustic instruments in real space, plus that elusive emotional involvement factor Ė is the sonic criterion I use. My feeling is that if this is done well, everything else will fall into place sonically. I have a real life basis for music, because I go to many live concerts. In fact, it was live SACDís of Philadelphia Orchestra concerts I had attended that convinced me that hi rez multichannel played via HDMI on my Integra with Audyssey EQ was better than even the most expensive and revered 2-channel sources I had ever heard. There is, of course, tremendous subjectivity in this view, and it involves potentially tricky issues of acoustic memory. But, this is how I have been evaluating musical sound for 50 years.

As a footnote, and since I am baring my soul here, I will concede perhaps a certain potential prejudice against Classe. I respect and admire their analog-domain products Ė amps, preamps, etc. As I was considering the Classe 600 last year, I had some email exchanges with Dave Nauber, a key VP at Classe about the 600ís architecture and where it was going. I think itís fair to say that Nauber led me down a garden path about what was going to happen in HT. Itís when I finally figured out HDMI, lossless codecs, etc, that I realized buying a 600 would have been a big mistake. Perhaps I still harbor some unconscious vendetta against Classe for this, but I try not to. I still do not particularly like the architecture of the 800 in many ways that I think are objective and rational. But, it probably sounds really terrific with the right source formats.

Does that help you understand where I am coming from?
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