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jeffkad 06-25-2008 01:35 PM

Is Sunfire TGP5 worth it, or should I get better pre/pro?
I've been upgrading my HT system, swapped out all my speakers. My new system is B&W N803s/HTM1/DS7, along with my Sunfire Architectural sub. I have a Pioneer vsx49tx receiver, which was considered the bomb back in 02, but the internal amps were a joke with the B&W's. So, although evryone over at AVS and Audiogon said a better pre/pro would make the biggest improvement, I went ahead and got a closeout Sunfire TGA5200 amp for a steal. All I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW, what an improvement!!! It is simply stunning, and more than I expected. My only problem is now I'm kicking myself for not getting the 7200 so I can add the rear surrounds.

So now everything sounds pretty darn good, but I still have upgraditis. The Pioneer sounds perfectly good in HT, and I'm amazed that it sounds so good as a 2 channel preamp (being fed by Pioneer dv47a universal dvp). But I'm dying to see how much improvement a better pre/pro can add, not to mention a better dvp like the Esoteric DV50s (btw, I like to buy used or closeouts to minimize depreciation hit).

So my question is, will the Sunfire TGP5 processor, now a closeout, make a significant improvement over the Pioneer, either as a preamp, or in HT, or both? Or do I have to go to something "supposedly" better, like a Cary Cinema 11, or a Bryston SP2, or Classe SSP300, or Parasound C2 (these are my top choices in 1800-3000 used price range). My main concern is 2 channel, but I do want my HT to sound good too. Just for the record, I don't yet care about HDMI, Bluray, etc. I'm going to let that mkt get saturated and worked out before I jump in, so I don't care about obsolesence. I just care about good old Redbook CD (hence the Esoteric DV50 or the Arcam DV139), and still want some pop and good steering in my HT.

Thanks much.

Oh, and my last purchase will be that new Samsung LCD LNa650. Yes, I know Plasma is it, but I can't help it. Me and my whole family think the Samsung has a better picture (yes, even compared to the Kuros). We're drawn to the LCD like bugs to light, LOL!!!

kennyt 06-25-2008 03:52 PM

Re: Is Sunfire TGP5 worth it, or should I get better pre/pro?
Hey Jeff,

Welcome to the forum!

I would have added that you'd kick yourself for not buying the 5400 (or 7400) as those B&W N803's really like power. Will a good pre help? Yes, but if two channel is your goal, the Sunfire is pretty good, but something like the Proceed AVP could be had even cheaper and will do a better job for two channel, I find the Bryston gear to be a tad bright for my tastes, and with the Sunfire amp and B&W's already, it would be overkill to me, but YMMV and you have to trust your ears. Classe' and B&W are voiced together and used for many studios and are a good match, I've never had the Cary 11 in my home, but have heard great things about it.

Now, the Sunfire is by far the easiest pre/pro to set up in the world. That said, regardless of how hard it is to set up, you usually only do it once, and modify for upgrades, so this is not too important.

When it comes to the DV-50s, your spot on there! I use one, and got Jim Swantko, another of our writers to buy one, great player for the cash, but if you are looking to do this cheaply, look for a DV-50 without the 's'. The 's' only added DVI-D progressive (480p) output, and added $500 to the cost, the audio circuits are identical to the DV-50s.....

jeffkad 06-25-2008 05:04 PM

Re: Is Sunfire TGP5 worth it, or should I get better pre/pro?
Kenny, thanks for the welcome! Regarding the Sunfire 400 watters, I would think I need a dedicated 20amp circuit if had 5x400 or 7x400, doubling up to 800wpc at 4ohms, which the 803s love to do! I have heard though that once you've had mucho power in a system with spkrs that love power, you'll never go back.

As for the TGP5, if they are still available, I can get one for $1600 new, which is the same as the Proceed AVP on Audiogon. I would prefer the AVP2+6, which gives me multi-channel analog, but it's over 2200 used. So it seems that bang for the buck is still with the Sunfire, unless the Proceed is THAT much better? The problem with the parasound is that it only allows analog bypass via a balanced input. If I get the Esoteric, it has balanced output, but I've read (in 6moons review) that it works better via unbalanced. How do you have the Esoteric set up? The classe ssp300 only has analog bypass in the 7 channel input for sacd/dvda. I will have both a dvp and a sonos/BelCanto dac2 feeding the pre/pro, and I'd like both to go analogue in with no processing since I would think the dvp and the sonos/bc combo will have better dacs and sound better unprocessed. Lots of things to consider. The best of all worlds would be a great pre/pro for HT that also acts as a great 2 channel preamp and also has dacs that compete with the better dvp/cdps of the world. Does such an animal exist yet?

kennyt 06-25-2008 06:32 PM

Re: Is Sunfire TGP5 worth it, or should I get better pre/pro?

Originally Posted by jeffkad (Post 16108)
Does such an animal exist yet?

In a word, NO! Not unless you are willing to fork over a LOT of cash on say the Meridian 861 or other similarly priced units.

This is why I am considering adding a good two channel preamp w/Phono stage and a TT to my HT.

I have always read the Esoteric was better with balanced, and in the few instances I have had the opportunity to compare, I agreed, but the difference was very small.

Is the AVP+6 that much better for analog than the Sunfire? In my mind and to my ears, yes. you would be buying a pre/pro that retailed for over $5K vs one for a lot less. Also the Proceed has pretty much 'bottomed out' in value, so you won't lose too much in resell in a year or two, the Sunfire could go lower IMHO.

jeffkad 06-25-2008 07:10 PM

Re: Is Sunfire TGP5 worth it, or should I get better pre/pro?
Kenny, pardon the brainfart, but what did you mean by a TT?

Lots of people are pushing the new Denon AVP as the all-in-one-solution (the animal), but some, including you I think, have said it's not all that.

Have you heard the C1 or C2 from Parasound? Classe should be nice, but I'm afraid it may be too polite. Also have heard the BelCanto PrePro gen ii is a nice unit.

As for value, actually, you're right, the Proceed is a better 2 channel unit overall at roughly 35% of it's original cost, so it is a better value proposition than the Sunfire. The Sunfire may be close in HT though, as I would suspect the newer DSP chips are a little better than older ones. The one thing the Sunfire does have in it's favor is it's new, and I only plan on holding on to it for a few years, so if I'm buying it at 45% discount, I don't think I will lose much (after all these cheap closeout deals are off the mkt). I'm trying to manage a budget here (aka wife), so I'm palying games with dollars. The Sunfire opens up some dough to get the Esoteric sooner. I also realy love that new Harmony remote with the big touchscreen. And I've got a bead on that new Samsung 52" TOC LCD. I do love my toys!

kennyt 06-25-2008 07:50 PM

Re: Is Sunfire TGP5 worth it, or should I get better pre/pro?

Well...... I love the Denon AVP for Blu-ray and HD DVD, for audio it could be a bit more open.

Classe' is polite, but that mates well with B&W.

Realize whichever pre/pro you buy in your list is;

1) Out of production
2) Outdated

Therefore all will lose value, the more of it's actual value you pay, the greater a loss you potentially take,in this case, I would argue the AVP has lost most of it's value, and can't go much lower, the TG5, seems to have more room for lowering. THIS IS ONLY MY opinion, and just as investing in the market, YMMV!

When it comes to the Harmony remotes, I am pretty well versed in them, owning a 659,880,890, and the 1000 (the one with the big touchscreen). I would say the 890 is the best remote they make right now and can be had, with RF relayer, for $216 on Amazon right now, half the price of the 1000, and a far superior remote in my mind....

How much better? Well, I never had to reboot my 890, while I frequently have to do this with the 1000, and the 890 is easier to work with on a day to day basis due to all the hard buttons, but if you want the 'crestron look' for a beer budget, it will get you that and all the flexibility of the harmony system..... at a cost!

I haven't had a Parasound in my system to comment on them.

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