Re: System building advice
I had an Anthem pre-amp for a while (paired with a Sunfire Cinema Grand 5-channel amp) and loved it. I'm not running anything that fancy these days (Integra pre-amp and Arcam amp) but thought I'd give a vote to the Anthem gear - just tough to beat for the money.
One interesting thing I've noticed with a lot of preamps/receivers these days is how they try to do everything and I just wonder whether you lose something in doing that. For instance, in my system I don't really need all the video scaling so many of these components offer, I do want HDMI connectivity in order to handle either high bit-rate PCM or the new codecs and I want it for switching but I could get by without the scaling and cross-conversion. My sources are a blu-ray player and a hi-def cable box and if I where using a non-hidef source it wouldn't be for critical viewing so let the TV scale if need be.
I guess I'm just wondering if there is a high-quality pre-amp that focuses on the sound maybe more than the video and just passes the video on without all the bells and whistles. Maybe that is short-sighted of me, I guess it is better to have too much than not enough but maybe simpler is better?
In any event, definitely check out the Anthem gear if you can and it is in your budget (given the brands you list the Statement line doesn't sound like it would be a reach).