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High-end companies rush to add 5.1 analog inputs to AV Preamps Print E-mail
Friday, 19 January 2001
DVD-Audio is out but the most likely early adopters can’t get their high-end systems to fully benefit from this new technology. The problem is that nearly every high-end AV preamp is missing 5.1 analog inputs. The latest Japanese receivers have the needed inputs but AV preamps from Proceed, Krell, Sunfire and nearly every other respected company are missing these essential inputs.

Most high-end companies are already back at the drawing boards retrofitting their current products for upgrades or redesigning their AV preamps altogether. The big issue is that the DVD-Audio standard forces you to take a digital signal from your DVD and use your DVD-Audio player's (not so great as of yet) D/A sections to convert to analog. Then you have to reconvert the signal to digital in your AV preamp and then back to analog again before it even gets to your power amp. The reason the-powers-that-be did this wasn't because it helps the audio performance, it doesn't help at all. The reason is so you couldn't take a 24 bit feed from a DVD-Audio disc and make damn-near master tape quality duplications of their records. Ironically, there are digital encryption technologies sophisticated enough to protect credit cards over the internet but as of right now, the DVD-A players out there force you to feed your preamp with an analog signal, assuming you have the inputs.

Meridian showed their $14,500 800 DVD player feeding their $16,000 861 AV preamp with a DVD-Audio signal with an all digital connection at CES.

Madrigal is working on a similar system for their updated version of their AVP AV preamp and for other Madrigal AV preamp products. Sunfire has a D25 digital connection for DVD-A as well. Count on analog and in many cases digital in/out upgrades from the best AVB manufacturers in the next few months.

The question is should you wait to upgrade to DVD-Audio? Maybe, if you can't hook up to your current AV preamp or receiver with 5.1 analog inputs. Keep in mind the 24 bit two-channel signal along with the high resolution 5.1 mixes are unbelievable on DVD-Audio and with major studios and companies like DTS releasing titles there is more and more temptation. Perhaps you need both a new DVD-Audio player AND a new AV preamp or receiver?

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