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Old 08-08-2008   #49
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Originally Posted by mribob View Post
thanks for both of the above replies....I'm taking home that I should run a quality hdmi 1.3 cable from my BD source into my new hd audio compliant processor; then run one hdmi 1.3 cable into the back of my 1080p rear projection tv for best audio and video. I'll be utilizing the best of the BD player; and processor; and TV for all worlds; and run it on 24 frames at 120 hz on the tv monitor....

I will wait until after cedia and find a new bd player that is configured for the new 2.0 version....and hopefully find a new high end pre-pro that can handle this format; hopefully something less expensive than the Krell evo 707. It sounds that I should consider the Halcro 220 as best bet at this time...I really appreciate the help and feedback.
I wouldn't even bother with a Halcro. I personally think there is nothing better on the market in pre/pros than the Denon or the Integra/Onkyo. It sounds like you have been steeped in the legends of high end audio, as had I been for 50 years. I used to look down on home theater sonically, and for a long time, this was justified. But, in the last few years or so, there has been a major shift. It's hard to see it now, but we will look back on it as a major paradigm shift in audio.

I had a very, very nice $50K high end 2-channel system - Martin Logan, Krell, Levinson, Theta, Audio Research, etc. I converted to multichannel late last year, thinking I would keep the 2-channel gear integrated with the multichannel. Believe it or not, I discovered that an Integra DTC 9.8 plus an Oppo 980 connected via HDMI - total cost under $2K - sounded far, far better with multichannel Sacd's than any 2-channel system I had ever heard, vinyl included. And, I had heard some big name stuff even much more expensive than my own.

The old, big names of the old analog-centric high end just can't cut it anymore. They are hopelessly behind in technology because they are not geared up to do the heavy duty digital enginering required for digital signal processing and related items required by home theater. Underlying this is the rapid advance of DSP and related chips themselves, which are continuing to grow in power and capability very rapidly. Onkyo/Integra and Denon are the only companies who have excelled at meeting this current challenge. Everybody else is pretty much an also-ran, even other Japanese mass-market competitors, who may never catch up. I do not think traditional high end, low volume companies can really hope to keep pace, because this new stuff requires a big investment which must be spread across a lot of units sold. That's not the economic model of the high end. That and the lack of skills due to their analog-centric mindset may be a killer for many of them. Designing and polishing a Redbook CD player was child's play compared to this.
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Old 08-09-2008   #50
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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I wouldn't even bother with a Halcro. I personally think there is nothing better on the market in pre/pros than the Denon or the Integra/Onkyo.
Well, let's bring it back to earth now please!

Having personal experience with many of the worlds best AV preamps, and doing the review of the Denon for AVRev, I can say you must have had a poorly set up or designed 2 channel rig if this is true! While the Denon does the new codecs very well, it can't hold a candle to the likes of the Anthem D2 for audio and isn't even in the same field as the Meridian 861.

Fitzcaraldo, I must disagree with you, and while I am happy you feel so pleased with the Integra and Oppo system, I feel you are incorrect with your deductions, there are better pre/pro's, and much better to my ears. I guess it all comes down to listen for yourself, hearing is subjective and does deteriorate over time with age. I am still waiting for the best pre/pro and am single handedly trying to review them all to find it.
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Old 08-09-2008   #51
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Well, let's bring it back to earth now please!

Having personal experience with many of the worlds best AV preamps, and doing the review of the Denon for AVRev, I can say you must have had a poorly set up or designed 2 channel rig if this is true! While the Denon does the new codecs very well, it can't hold a candle to the likes of the Anthem D2 for audio and isn't even in the same field as the Meridian 861.

Fitzcaraldo, I must disagree with you, and while I am happy you feel so pleased with the Integra and Oppo system, I feel you are incorrect with your deductions, there are better pre/pro's, and much better to my ears. I guess it all comes down to listen for yourself, hearing is subjective and does deteriorate over time with age. I am still waiting for the best pre/pro and am single handedly trying to review them all to find it.
What recordings and sources are you using for your judgement?. I don't think you can use movies as a standard. Music is the only reference that you can have a decent real life frame of reference for against the live original. Even there, there are a lot of caveats about using amplified music,. Acoustic music is the very best standard. If it's good with acoustic music in terms a faithfulness to the original, it'll be good with movies and everything else.

My 2-channel system was glorious. I am sure there were even better than this, though, and I have heard many of them. My listening is 80% classical, 5% other music and 15% video. I base my opinion on Ondine heavily on multichannel SACD's of live Philadelphia Orchestra concerts I actually attended. No other recordings I have heard in any medium come as close to the sound of the original as the best multichannel SACD's. I am convinced that it will only get better as more music is released in the 7.1 lossless Blu-Ray.

I have a huge record collection going back 50 years, but I am not talking about analog via my pre/pro, at all. In my opinion, analog should not be going into any pre/pro, if it is to be at it's best. There is too much digital processing going on inside there which will degrade analog to a greater or lesser extent. Analog should be routed to a separate analog preamp with home theater pass-through. So, yes, there are a lot of deficiencies in the Denon and Integra as to analog inputs. But, I am not talking about those. I am talking hi-rez digital at its best vs. analog at its best vs. CD at its best with acoustic muic. For me, the Integra and the Denon stand at the top of the class in terms of sound and features. Audyssey EQ has a lot to do with this because it time and frequency aligns everything, including the room, the speakers, the amps, and even the DAC's and analog output stages of the pre/pro because the Audyssey calibration mike hears the net result of all of these. Because it's DSP-based, and works in the time domain, it has none of the negative side effects of previous generations of EQ.
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Old 08-09-2008   #52
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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Well, let's bring it back to earth now please!

Having personal experience with many of the worlds best AV preamps, and doing the review of the Denon for AVRev, I can say you must have had a poorly set up or designed 2 channel rig if this is true! While the Denon does the new codecs very well, it can't hold a candle to the likes of the Anthem D2 for audio and isn't even in the same field as the Meridian 861.

Fitzcaraldo, I must disagree with you, and while I am happy you feel so pleased with the Integra and Oppo system, I feel you are incorrect with your deductions, there are better pre/pro's, and much better to my ears. I guess it all comes down to listen for yourself, hearing is subjective and does deteriorate over time with age. I am still waiting for the best pre/pro and am single handedly trying to review them all to find it.
Ken, I was really hoping the Denon would sound good. I was thinking it might be a giant killer like the GTR with the german cars. Now I have to wait a few more months. What I don't understand is where is the weight of the denon processor coming from???
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Old 08-09-2008   #53
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Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

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With Digital Blu ray for video you want pass through direct no messing around with processing, for audio if you use DD tru HD or DTS HD Master audio it should also be pass through with no messing around. Now for DVD and regular CDs you might want the best DACs you can offer, I believe that is what Classť had in mind when they designed their SSP-800. We will hear how it works
Wes - I disagree. You are applying purist analog thinking to a signal that is in the digital domain. A digital signal does not get degraded by transmitting it around in a well engineered digital circuit. An analog signal is much more fragile. Besides, the bits have got to be transmitted from the BR player to a pre/pro anyway at least for volume control and DAC, if not also bass management, speaker distance compensation, format conversion (codecs,Dolby, DTS, THX, etc.). I do not think there is a BR player out there that can claim it does any of these latter things anywhere nearly as well as a high end pre/pro, not even the $2k Denon. So, for BR, which was the original question, lossless 7.1 included, I still think you are best off getting a minimalist BR player and a maximalist pre/pro hooked up with HDMI. Except for Classe, pretty much all the pre/pros on the market are maximalist right now or at least some want to be and they might be a few upgrades from now.

If you really prefer the sound of a 2-channel, analog-out DAC for CD's to the one that's in the prepro, you will get the very best sonic result by feeding the analog out to a completely analog preamp with HT bypass. Those fragile analog signals can get degraded by all the digital processing going on inside the pre/pro next to the analog circuits, even in a minimalist pre/pro. So, the pre/pro should be bypassed for analog. That goes for any pre/pro, no matter how expensive. Same hookup goes for vinyl, by the way. That's why Theta implemented the outboard, analog 6-shooter with combined digital/analog volume control capability to accompany their previously state-of-the art pre/pro. (Boy, am I glad I did not buy one of those Casablancas last year! It's virtually obsolete now.)

I think you are still drinking the overpriced, minimalist Classe Kool-Aid. Their approch requires a really expensive BR player (theirs to be announced) and a really expensive pre/pro (theirs). I am sure that's exactly what Classe has in mind to create product differentiation without accompanying technical merit. You wind up locking yourself into their architecture.
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Old 08-12-2008   #54
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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
Well, let's bring it back to earth now please!

Having personal experience with many of the worlds best AV preamps, and doing the review of the Denon for AVRev, I can say you must have had a poorly set up or designed 2 channel rig if this is true! While the Denon does the new codecs very well, it can't hold a candle to the likes of the Anthem D2 for audio and isn't even in the same field as the Meridian 861.

Fitzcaraldo, I must disagree with you, and while I am happy you feel so pleased with the Integra and Oppo system, I feel you are incorrect with your deductions, there are better pre/pro's, and much better to my ears. I guess it all comes down to listen for yourself, hearing is subjective and does deteriorate over time with age. I am still waiting for the best pre/pro and am single handedly trying to review them all to find it.
Ken - I finally read your review of the Denon pre/pro. I note that you made no mention of Audyssey, which I personally think is an essential major contributor to getting the very best sound possible from a contemporary pre/pro. Since you did not mention it, I assume you did not use it in the review. It might have made a large difference in your sonic criticisms of the Denon's lack of smoothness and separation. We shall see if the new EQ in the Anthem D1/D2 is as good or better than Audyssey. I am not impressed by anyone else's approach to EQ at this point. Incidentally, I have also upgraded to Audyssey Pro, which sounds a lot better even than the stock MultEQ XT.

I have no experience with the Denon D-Link connection between player and pre/pro that you used. The specs on it look very good. I understand that since the Denon player you used was HDMI 1.1, you had to use D-Link to get the multichannel signal over in digital form. I am, of course, using HDMI 1.2, which is what my Oppo puts out into my HDMI 1.3-capable Integra DTC 9.8. The only issue here is potentially with SACD's. With D-Link, the DSD - PCM conversion must be done in the player. With my Oppo, the DSD is transmitted via HDMI and converted in the pre/pro. I could opt for the Oppo player to do the conversion to PCM, but I prefer the sound the way I have it. (Kal Rubinson in Stereophile prefers it the other way, except on the Pioneer Elite DV-58 player.) I am not quibbling here. D-Link might be even better than HDMI. I just have not heard it, so I do not know. In any case, I myself would prefer to be free from the shackles of Denonís or anyoneís proprietary architecture.

I note that your music selections were, as I suspected, heavily dominated by studio mixed rock ní roll, including many reissues not originally released in hi-rez format. Do not get me wrong. I am not criticizing your musical taste at all. Enjoy it and have fun with it. The point is IMHO these recordings `do not provide the real life frame of reference for determining whether a component sounds like the real thing or not. You may think so, but I do not really know exactly what Rick Wakemanís synthesizer sounds like. (I have Yesí Fragile on LP, by the way.) Depending on which amp and speakers he was using, even Wakemanís sound could be quite different today than it was in the early/mid 70ís when this album was recorded. That, and everybodyís different synthesizer really sounds quite a bit more different from one another than, say, violins or oboes. Even if you heard Yes live at a rock concert, chances are it was in an over-large space with poor acoustics.

There is also the problem of recordings done with a studio mix, where the performers seldom perform in coherent space. The drummer is over here, the synthesizer there, the vocalist somewhere else (in a booth, maybe?). Each has his own separate mike or mikes, and the multitrack original is pasted together by recordists with anything but a continuous, coherent sense of space, as we hear with live music. And, it is an unfortunate fact of life in the pop music world that many, many recordings are very highly processed electronically Ė including compression Ė prior to mastering. Exactly how much of this they have is sometimes very hard to tell by ear because of the lack of a live frame of reference.

My interest is overwhelmingly just on music reproduction. Video reproduction is a secondary bonus. So, what I am saying is that my standard for audio is to have my system reproduce as faithfully as possible the sound of acoustic instruments in real space. If it does this well, it will do all music in the same format well. Thatís essentially The Absolute Soundís philosophy, and I happen to agree. For my money, no format has done this better than hi-rez multichannel fed via HDMI to an advanced codec pre/pro with all speaker channels time and frequency equalized in the room by Audyssey. For right now, the Integra DTC 9.8 and Oppo 980 (I will be auditioning a Pioneer Elite DV 58 in a month or two) do the best job of this that I have heard, and by a wide margin. Unheard, I give the Denon pre/pro the benefit of the doubt, because of the general similarity of its architecture. My combo is adequate with but does not do the best job with Redbook CDís or with vinyl. I have heard better with those formats. But, those formats at their very best do not compare in faithfulness to the original sound to hi-rez multichannel done right. So, those formats are now of much less interest to me.

Itís a shame we do not live closer together so that we could try out our own source material on each otherís respective systems and broaden our opinions.
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