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Initial Impressions - Audio Refinement Pre-5


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5 replies to this topic

#1 of 6 Dan Driscoll

Dan Driscoll

    Supporting Actor

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Posted August 02 2006 - 09:05 AM

My new toy arrived yesterday and I hooked it up last night. Installation and operation could not be simpler, and I mean that literally. The rear panel connector layout is clean, simple and clearly marked. Spacing between the connectors is good, I had no trouble fitting my Outlaw PCA ICs, which have locking barrels. Inputs are Tuner/CD/AUX1/AUX2/DVD and outputs are Tape/Main/DVD. The Tape output is for the tape loop. The DVD I/Os are 6 channel and the Main output parallels the DVD FL/FR outputs, so you can drive a separate 2 channel amp or a head-phone amp, as well as a multi-channel amp. All connectors are gold plated RCA, mounted to the rigid back panel, rather than a circuit board. The main power switch is also on the back and the unit has a standard IEC fused 3 prong power socket and removable 3 wire power cord.

There are only 4 front panel controls, Power (Standby), Monitor, Input and Volume. Monitor is for the tape loop and the rest are (I hope!) self-explanatory. There are 5 LEDs which show which input has been selected, along with a power indicator. There is also another LED which comes on when Monitor has selected, a nice feature for anyone who has spent time trying to figure out why there's no sound. Posted Image

There are no balance, tone or shape controls, no trim level or delay adjustments, just a 6 deck volume control. Input switching is via electro-mechanical switches, rather than solid-state circuit routing. The unit is small, but moderately heavy for its size, and has the 3 adjustable ceramic feet typical of AR/YBA equipment. All channel level, bass management and time alignment for MC music and HT is handled by my Sherwood-Newcastle SD-860 universal player.

Now for the good stuff. 8)

Quick overview: The Pre-5 is replacing a Rotel RC-1070 (for 2 ch. sources) and a Yamaha 5.1 receiver (for MC, HT & tuner) being used as a pre-pro. Amp is a Sherbourn 5/1500A, speakers are Vandy 2Cs, a VCC-1, Paradigm ADP-370s and an Adire Rava sub.

Not surprisingly, the sound quality with MC music is excellent, much, much better than thru the Yamaha. There is more depth to the music, resolution and clarity increased tremendously. It is particularly noticeable in the mid-range and high end, which sound much more extended and open, without the harshness of the Yamaha. It was definitely not a subtle change, it was more like a slap in the face "YO! This is what it's supposed to sound like!" :lol:

Somewhat surprisingly, I think it my CD player also sounds better through the Pre-5 than it did through the Rotel. The difference in this case is smaller and more subtle. It may just be a case of being different, rather than better, but there is a difference and it's one that so far I like. There seems to be just a little more depth and openness to the music. I really wasn't expecting that, it was actually something of a concern that I wouldn't be satisfied with the Pre-5 for CD playback. I am very happy and relieved to say that concern has been completely put to rest. Posted Image

The Pre-5 does not have a phono input and I don't have a phono preamp right now, so no vinyl for a while. But I have no doubt that with a decent phono stage my vinyl playback will be at least as good as it was thru the Rotel and possibly better. Suggestions for an good, inexpensive phono stage, new or used, are welcome. :wink:
Dan

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
--Benjamin Franklin

#2 of 6 arjun

arjun

    Auditioning

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  • Join Date: May 02 2006

Posted August 02 2006 - 01:09 PM

Congrats Dan on your new toy! I had the same experience when I upgraded my 3801 to a Ref50+7250 (all B&K) setup.

AJ.

Posted Image

#3 of 6 SteveCallas

SteveCallas

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Posted August 04 2006 - 05:47 AM

Quote:
Not surprisingly, the sound quality with MC music is excellent, much, much better than thru the Yamaha. There is more depth to the music, resolution and clarity increased tremendously. It is particularly noticeable in the mid-range and high end, which sound much more extended and open, without the harshness of the Yamaha. It was definitely not a subtle change, it was more like a slap in the face "YO! This is what it's supposed to sound like!" :lol:
Interesting. I've done some blind, level matched testing with an Audio Refinement Pre-2DSP vs a HK 635 vs a Pioneer 1014, all using a PS Audio amp, and none of us could accurately differentiate sound any quality differences. Processor Test

#4 of 6 ChrisCAB

ChrisCAB

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Posted August 04 2006 - 09:44 AM

Perhaps there is a hearing doctor in your vicinity that gives a group discount?

#5 of 6 SteveCallas

SteveCallas

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Posted August 04 2006 - 01:09 PM

Yeah, that MUST be it Posted Image

#6 of 6 Dan Driscoll

Dan Driscoll

    Supporting Actor

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Posted August 06 2006 - 04:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCallas
Interesting. I've done some blind, level matched testing with an Audio Refinement Pre-2DSP vs a HK 635 vs a Pioneer 1014, all using a PS Audio amp, and none of us could accurately differentiate sound any quality differences. Processor Test


From a functional standpoint, the Pre-2 and the Pre-5 have virtually nothing in common. The Pre-2DSP is a digital processor, the Pre-5 is an analog preamp with absolutely no digital circuitry at all. About the only thing they have in common is the brand name and excellent build quality.

BTW, the Yamaha receiver the Pre-5 replaced digitizes all inputs, including the 6 channel analog input. I believe all the units you mentioned have analog pass through.
Dan

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
--Benjamin Franklin





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