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Old 08-15-2008   #79
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Originally Posted by kennyt View Post
I am curious to see what you all think of this.

I have had some of the best pre/pro's ever made, including my reference Meridian 861v4. I have also had many reference level pre/pro's along the way, going back to the Proceed PAV/PDSD combo, Linn 5103, etc....

Clearly, the pre/pro market is one of the fastest changing markets in audio, and has been for a long time. New audio and video formats have outdated older units quickly and greatly dropped any potential resale value. The best of the best pre/pro's from only a year or so ago are completely outdated now because of HDMI and all the new HDM advanced codecs.

So I ask you, is it worth buying an ultra high end AV preamp or should we all just buy the new Denon or Integra pre/pro and save our money until this crazy ride stabilizes?
Kenny - you know what I am going to say, but I'll say it anyway. Yes, of course you should. I really do not think you give up that much, if anything on sound quality for the newer main stream high rez input formats, if the higher end pre/pro even has them, like lossless 7.1 or SACD via HDMI. For the sake of argument, I'll concede the point that the Meridian is the end-all, be-all with DVD-A, but that does not do much for most people, including me. Also, Redbook CD can probably be best on the highest end pre/pros, like the Meridian. But, I do not think the Integra, Denon, etc. give up that much in this regard. It's a subjective call. To each his own. The biggest differences might be on analog inputs - vinyl -where the Integra and Denon are weakest. But, as I have said before, I do not think any pre/pro can deliver vinyl nearly as well as an all-analog line-stage.

My bets are already hedged with the Integra. I get, by my standards, awesomely satisfactory sound quality in high rez digital, very good CD quality, plus HD-FM and satellite radio, if I want it(I don't), and it cost $1,600. If, due to new features obsolescence, the resale value goes to about about $0.50 on the dollar across the board, my Integra sure looks a lot more attractive than a Meridian, Classe, Anthem or even a Denon. How about the new Levinson? Yeah, how about the defunct old Levinson or the obliterated Theta Casablanca?

You guys here in this forum are tough on it, but I also get Audyssey. I cannot say enough good things about what this does to the sound of the Integra. You can treat your room until it's blue in the face, and Audyssey will still make the sound better. Audyssey is an equalizer in more ways than one. It equalizes for many (not all) room abberations, it voices all channels(except the sub) as identically as they can possbly be and it time aligns the entire system as a function of frequency (not just as a function of speaker distance). The net result is that a pre/pro with Audyssey steps up and is more sonically competitive with the traditional big boys who don't have it. The playing field, itself, gets equalized by those pre/pros that are Audyssey equipped. The jury is still out on Anthem's new EQ. But, Meridian, Krell, Classe, etc. cannot boast of EQ that is anywhere near as capable as Audyssey.
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Old 08-15-2008   #80
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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I give Kal the props he deserves, and if you read his Music in the Round in this month Stereophile, you'll see he agrees completely with me about the D2 being significantly better than the DTC 9.8. Not trying to toot my own horn, but since you so revere him, I thought you should at least see he and I are completely on the same page.
Kenny - I only said the Integra was the best I had heard. I did not say it was the best period. We already know that Anthem sounds better with analog. When Anthem finally gets HDMI 1.3, I will have to consider it seriously. I'll bet, though that Kal said that was true with Anthem ARC EQ. Am I right?
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Old 08-15-2008   #81
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Kenny - I only said the Integra was the best I had heard.
Perhaps it is my interpretation, but many of your posts have pointed to this (your) system as the be all end all TOTL now, and many comments I have made back were met with disagreement. I want all the readers of the magazine and the forum to have accurate information presented to them, therefore I have been correcting you throughout this post so as to accurately represent the reality, as I see it, in the world today.

Like I said before, I am very happy you are thrilled with this set up, but I have felt you have pumped it to unrealistic heights, and I wanted to keep it all in perspective for the readers and members of this site.

Please take none of this negatively, it is not intended that way by any means. I am very happy you have this level of satisfaction from your rig, I am in fact jealous!!!!

KT
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Old 08-16-2008   #82
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Originally Posted by fitzcaraldo215 View Post
Kenny - I only said the Integra was the best I had heard. I did not say it was the best period. We already know that Anthem sounds better with analog. When Anthem finally gets HDMI 1.3, I will have to consider it seriously. I'll bet, though that Kal said that was true with Anthem ARC EQ. Am I right?
Fitz (& all),
Please educate me on why 1.3 is necessary now. I thought that though their SSPs do not have HDMI 1.3, they would play back these new audio codecs (DTS MA, Dolby true HD) if the BD player could send multichannel PCM over HDMI.

1. Is this not true?
2. Is there any advantage to having decoding take place in the SSP? I've read some reviewers state that this is not the ideal as you lose some of the audio tracks (like the bonus/menu tracks).
3. AFAIK, HDMI 1.3a supports deep color on the video side unlike earlier HDMI versions; but there are no sources which carry this information. So there is no video performance advantage, right?

Sorry for all the questions! Reviews only carry me so far and I'm hoping to leverage on your real world experiences.

I like Anthem's concept of having a good quality video scaler in the SSP. Now if we could make that a full scale video processor with color management, I'd have my ideal new SSP!

Regards
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Old 08-16-2008   #83
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

Rooney,

1. As long as your receiver or pre/pro does HDMI 1.1 or better (both video and audio) you can accept PCM for the new codecs.
2. This is still undecided, and is in large part a problem of standardization. Right now we do not know how it will ultimately be done.
3. While their are souces and displays as well as pre/pro's and receivers that can handle deep color, no software is out with it, so until the studio's start selling something with deep color, it is just vaporware.

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-16-2008   #84
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Originally Posted by kennyt View Post
Perhaps it is my interpretation, but many of your posts have pointed to this (your) system as the be all end all TOTL now, and many comments I have made back were met with disagreement. I want all the readers of the magazine and the forum to have accurate information presented to them, therefore I have been correcting you throughout this post so as to accurately represent the reality, as I see it, in the world today.

Like I said before, I am very happy you are thrilled with this set up, but I have felt you have pumped it to unrealistic heights, and I wanted to keep it all in perspective for the readers and members of this site.

Please take none of this negatively, it is not intended that way by any means. I am very happy you have this level of satisfaction from your rig, I am in fact jealous!!!!

KT
Well, it happens that the Integra is a great sounding unit that happens to have all the essential features for all multichannel formats right now. The high, high enders cannot say this. But, If you go back and read my posts, you will see phrases like "there may be better", or "best I've heard".

I do not claim to have heard every single pre/pro, and I have admitted it. It is also well-nigh impossible to hear them properly set up or in comparison to one another at dealerships. Also, much of the super high end stuff was simply not of interest to me because of lack of essential features, outrageous cost, proprietary architecture, etc. I do not want to get trapped by obsolescence issues or to wait who knows how long for the brand I own to get around to implementing essential new capabilities, if they ever do. This is the pickle you are in. I did my research and avoided this trap.

I think what I have really been trying to say is more about the hi-rez multichannel formats. If well implemented, and they clearly are by the Integra, among others, hi-rez multichannel - currently SACD or DVD-A, soon to be lossless 7.1 - is, by an overwhelming degree, the very best sounding format for the delivery of music in the home. While my credentials in evaluating multichannel gear may be second-rate, I feel that I am pretty credible in evaluating the Integra in multichannel versus the very best of alternative 2-channel sound - vinyl and CD. High, high end 2-channel is where I came from. I have been a high ender for 50 years. My own stereo was truly an outstanding system before I upgraded to multichannel, and I had listened to countless other top-caliber stereo setups. What I feel I can do extremely well is evaluate a sound system and a recording against the sound of the live experience.

I do not have a bone to pick with you. As I said before, my beef is with the high-end journals I have been reading for decades - TAS and Stereophile - the mouthpieces of the high end. Except for Kal, they almost totally ignore all things multichannel. They and their "ditto head" subscriber base and dealers continue to zealously advocate that vinyl, tubes, and many stratospherically priced CD rigs deliver the most true-to-life sound you can get. I am here to tell everyone that they do not. Hi-rez multichannel trumps that stuff in spades, at least to my delicate ears.

So, after all these years, I have a deep credibility issue with almost all things high end these days. It's like the fable of the Emperor's new clothes. I am now off the high-end bandwagon as much as possible. Like all high-enders, I used to look down on home theater for music reproduction, and there used to be good reason for that. No longer. I learned that an Integra DTC 9.8 plus a cheap Oppo player - under $2,000 combined - could vastly improve my music enjoyment over plain stereo, even at its best. This price is unheard of in high end circles. Never before have I gotten a dramatic sonic upgrade for a much lower cost than the equipment being replaced.

This, then, is the cause for all my excitement about the Integra and the Oppo. I discovered them myself even before Kal's review in Stereophile. If there is better than this, fine. There is always something better, or there soon will be. Meanwhile, I am enjoying the very best sound I have ever heard anywhere. Plus, I am pretty much ready for the next set of new formats. So, I can live quite happily with this gear for awhile. Your jealously is well placed.
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