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Old 08-02-2008   #31
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Cool Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Originally Posted by jimmydaves View Post
I'd rather spend $1600 for something like the Integra DTC 9.8 preamp/processor that really does a great job with home theater as well as music instead of spending thousands of dollars on an "audiophile grade" item multi-thousand HT preamp who's technology is still at least 2 years behind.
Well I can really understand that opinion I am starting to feel that way as well but won't make the call until I can listen to the SSP-800!

Integra is coming out with the DTC 9.9
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Old 08-02-2008   #32
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

In my albeit limited experience with the new pre/pros out there, I am totally convinced that almost any of them will make DD and DTS sound like crap if the allow PCM or bitstream decode the new codecs as they are SO much better than what we are used to.

I also have a strong interest in two channel and multi-channel music, so to keep me happy in my rig, my pre/pro must do analog audio as well as it does the new codecs. I will even go one further to say we are no where near knowing just how good these new codecs sound as no real upper end company has gotten these units out, and even when they do, they are still first gen models!

Imagine what the likes of Krell, Levinson, and Meridian can do in a few model years with these uncompressed audio formats???????
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Old 08-02-2008   #33
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

When you have good/great speakers, you definitely want a great source to feed them, but at some point it really does make you aware of how much amplifcation and the preamp part of your system costs and also the amount of power used on them.

I recently purchased the Paradigm Signature S8's (after several months of deliberation) but they have not yet arrived and now I'm focusing on the best front end possible for the Paradigms, but I don't want to spend a fortune.

My use is primarily home theater, but I still feel that the S8's and C5 are worthy in that category, especially the C5 center which I feel is probably the best center speaker I've heard (with the possible exception of the Aerial CC5 I owned once).

I want to get great sounding power, primarily for those 3 speakers. I held onto my Paradigm ADP590's for now because it does it's job quite nicely and I simply could not justify spending $3000 for the Signature version of that or, using 200 watts to power one of these (such as in the 200 x 5 watt amps I see quite frequently).

So actuallly that is my primary preoccupation at this point. Getting great sounding power for those 3 speakers and then figuring out about the side surrounds.

I used a decent receiver to power the Paradigm Studio speaker system I had, but I knew this would be a temporary setup since I knew at some point it was my destiny to possess those Signatures. At this point, I'm looking at the preamp/processor and separate amp combination. So that puts this part of my system in a totally different price category and I'm hoping that I can make wise and hopefully cost-effective decisions on those two items.

The preamp/processors I've looked at so far have been the Anthem D2 and the Integra DTC 9.8. I've read many positive reviews on the Integra 9.8; some comparing it favorably with the Anthem D2. As far as amplifiers, I've been more drawn to the Bel Canto line of amps. Of course, Anthem amps are there as well, but part of me wants to explore these Class D amps that run cool and don't consume so much power.

I just wonder if there are other Class D amps out there that compare favorably with Bel Canto, but at a lesser price. The Integra 9.8 sounds like a great product for me due to my primarily home theater use. So, how about the Integra 9.8 (9.9) and the Bel Canto amps, possibly the M1000 or M300?

I know that AVRev has reviewed both Bel Canto and Paradigm Signatures so I'd love to hear your thoughts, advice, suggestions as well as my fellow AVrev readers about my current idea of a front end. Thanks!

Last edited by jimmydaves; 08-02-2008 at 11:42 PM..
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Old 08-04-2008   #34
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Originally Posted by jimmydaves View Post

So actuallly that is my primary preoccupation at this point. Getting great sounding power for those 3 speakers and then figuring out about the side surrounds.

...


The preamp/processors I've looked at so far have been the Anthem D2 and the Integra DTC 9.8.

...

I just wonder if there are other Class D amps out there that compare favorably with Bel Canto, but at a lesser price. The Integra 9.8 sounds like a great product for me due to my primarily home theater use. So, how about the Integra 9.8 (9.9) and the Bel Canto amps, possibly the M1000 or M300?

Thanks!
The DTC 9.8 is fabulous - one of the greatest steals in audio history. I had a > $50 2-channel system bulit around a Levinson line stage, Theta Dac/transport, 2 Krell KAS-2 monoblocks, and a pair of Martin-logan Prodigy's plus tuner and phono. There were some expensive interconnects and speaker cables to boot. It was a very satisfying and revealing stereo.

I upgraded to multichannel for less than the price of the Prodigy's alone. How? I learned that in today's multichannel, you do not need to spend the kind of outrageous sums of the old high-end 2-channel game to get great sound.

I have had the 9.8 since last fall coupled to an Oppo 980H via HDMI. Well under $2,000!! I acquired some about to be discontinued Martin-Logans - Clarity's and Scripti's - at great prices new with warranty. I paid close to full pop for an ML Stage center, and a JL Audio Fathom f113 sub.

For amps, I got a used Bryston Powerpac 120 cheap with 10 years left on the warranty for the center. And, after auditioning several other amps, I got 2 Parasound A23's for the sides/rears - $895 each with 30-day return privilige at Audio Advisor plus a 10-year warranty.

It seems like a mismatch with the old expensive stuff and the new cheap stuff. But, you know what? It's the best reproduced sound I have ever heard anywhere. And, I have heard some really, really expensive upscale 2-channel gear. There probably is multichannel somewhere better than this. But, I have not heard it yet.

One of the secrets here is Audyssey correction built into the Integra. It equalizes for more than just the room. Within reason, it equalizes for the speakers, the amps, the cables plus the room, because the calibration microphone only hears the net result of all of these. So, the indellible component sonic signatures of the old 2-channel world that reviewers spend pages after pages describing tend to get flattened out into the Audyssey target curve. It's magical. And, it's cheap inside the Integra. Plus, the Audyssey Pro upgrade is even significantly better.

So, check out Parasound for amps. You cannot go wrong. Another steal. If you need more power than the A23's, the A21's have it. I also prefer as many separate amps as you can do with long balanced XLR interconnect and short speaker cables rather than getting a 5-channel amp with long speaker cables plus a 2-channel. My inexpensive bettercables.com XLR at 10 meters sounds better than my old top-of-the-line Cardas XLR at 2 meters. Even cheaper is Blue Jeans cable, but I have not heard it. Then there is Paul Speltz' famous anti-cable for speakers. You just do not have to break the bank any more.

The only problem with this amplifier theory is you need a monoblock amp for the center channel. Used Bryston Powerpacs are not always available, and new ones are way overpriced. Try Audiogon, but I bought an extra one in great shape, because, originally, I was going to use 5 Powerpacs before I discovered the Parasounds. Private message me if you have an interest.

Both the Parasounds and the Bryston accept XLR and have 12 volt triggers, so system on/off is a snap.

For perspective, it sounds really great on video. But I listen to a whole lot more classical music on SACD. When I first heard some Ondine SACD's of live Philadelphia Orchestra concerts I had actually attended, I was floored and hooked forever on hi-rez multichannel. Never had I heard anything as truthful to the original musical performance as this. When SACD dies, it will be replaced by BLU-RAY music discs (or downloads), but the Integra will take the new lossless codecs in stride. All I will need is a BLU-RAY player and/or PC to feed this fabulous audio system. I haven't been this excited about audio since I built my first Dynakits over 50 years ago.
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Old 08-04-2008   #35
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Well I can really understand that opinion I am starting to feel that way as well but won't make the call until I can listen to the SSP-800!

Integra is coming out with the DTC 9.9
Wes, I understand your caution, but I just do not understand your fixation on the Classe SSP-800. Classe makes great analog input/output stages. I am sure it is going to sound better with analog sources than the Integra, or the Denon, for that matter. But, do you actually listen to vinyl? I hardly do any more, though my record collection is huge and my phono gear pretty darn good. Why? Hi-rez multichannel - currently SACD's - simply blows analog away. And, you know my source is only a $169 Oppo and the rest of my system quite revealing.

Even so, if it's a problem, you could always get a nice 2-channel preamp with home theater pass through, and run your analog straight into that. That's assuming you do not already have one. That would probably sound at least as good if not better than the Classe in analog. There is no DSP running inside the chassis to interfere with the analog in a stand alone preamp.

What the Classe conspicuously lacks is video processing. It switches, but it does not process the video. It just passes it through. That's pretty ridiculous given the price.

I know you hate Audyssey, but the fact is Classe is so far behind Audyssey on the room eq learning curve, it's not even funny. And, you have to get an installer to do the eq for you on the Classe, whenever that eq capability actually becomes available - maybe next year? The free Audyssey you get with the Integra is fabulous, but Audyssey will now sell you Audyssy Pro and let you do it yourself. And, it's even better than plain MultEQ XT.

Is the Classe going to sound significantly better on digital sources, particularly 7.1 lossless? I doubt it. Who knows, they might even use the same chipsets as Integra for this.

The Classe looks sexy, but I am highly skeptical that it will sound significantly better where it matters. Then, there is the price difference of what, over 6 grand? Only you can decide if it is worth that.
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Old 08-05-2008   #36
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

fitzcarldo:

I really appreciate your last two posts and I have a couple of questions.

I feel the Integra 9.8 is the processor for me, especially with my audio use is about 90% home theater and I don't do too much just critical listening. I just read the review of the 9.8 in the newest Home Theater magazine, however, Integra is already on the way to releasing the 9.9 model for $200 more. I haven't yet found out the differences or additions or what, but if you felt the 9.9 is better than the 9.8, would you make the change and upgrade?

Secondly, even though I don't listen to alot of music, I do like to listen to my CDs at times and was wondering if the Oppo 980H is also a good CD player? I know it's good for upconverting DVD's, etc and there is the 981 and 983 Oppo models. I don't know the difference between them. I use my Playstation 3 as my Blu Ray player and my XBox 360 as my HD DVD player. What I need/want is an upconverting DVD player that is also a very good CD player, so would you feel that the Oppo 980H would fit that bill or is there another Oppo model that would do just as well for my needs?

I think the Integra would be the best bet for me as a processor and now that leaves the amplifier. I had read so many good things about Class D amplifiers and Bel Canto being rated very highly in many publications. They are relatively expensive but I like the fact they are monoblocks, but most dealers are leading me to the M1000 model which is 500 watts into 8 ohms which I think is overkill for the Paradigm Signature speakers I've ordered. They say it's not just about the power, but the sound quality.

One of the best amps I've ever owned was a parasound amp, I believe it was 200 x 5 but this was about 8 years ago and I remember it had individual volume pots in the back but I was using it with B&W CDM speakers at the time and it was a wonderful sound. The Parasound had detail, soundstage, bass, midrange, extended but not bright treble. Very, very nice. I know nothing about any of the new Parasound amps.

I'm not sure I need a 200 x 5 amp and this is why. My front 3 speakers definitely could benefit from 200 watts per channel, but my side surrounds don't get used that often in movies and basically just for effects and they're fairly small speakers. I just cant picture wasting 200 watts for each of those speakers. Just seems like an incredible waste.
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