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Surround Preamplifier Costs

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8 replies to this topic

#1 of 9 OFFLINE   Albert Allen

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Posted March 20 2007 - 02:02 AM

I am just really getting into HT and am wondering why I can buy a brand new middle of the road Pioneer 7.1 surround and THX certified receiver for under 500 bucks but I cant find a middle of the road 7.1 surround and THX certified preamplifier for under 1500 bucks...to me this is a real problem. Am I not getting something here? A receiver with all the electronics to decode surround plus (7) 110 watt amplifiers built in costs 1/3 what just a surround preamp costs and the preamp doesn't even have any output power! I already have all the discreet amps I need for 7.1 and my old Sony 5.1 ProLogic preamp so I guess I will just stick with 5.1 and stop whining eh? and yes the only way I could afford the Sony Pre is because it was quite used and very old technology, I think it was well over 1000 bucks in it's day! I guess they figure that if you are rich enough to afford discreet amps then you can cough up the big bucks for a surround pre! Any kind of feedback or advice would be greatly appreciated, Thanks

#2 of 9 OFFLINE   Brent_S


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Posted March 20 2007 - 03:46 AM

Is your Sony Pro-Logic or 5.1? Two very differenent formats.

Without knowing model numbers, I'd guess the Pioneer receiver you mention is THX Select certified and the pre-amp is probably THX Ultra...basically, different quality levels and not apples to apples.

Preamps alone almost always cost more than receivers with more features. The main argument is higher quality components and more careful design are used in the dedicated preamp. I think in reality, economy of scale and "value" pricing come into play. Even if the preamp and receiver were the same price, you'd still need an amp(s)...so most consumers will still buy the receiver giving the preamp a smaller potential market. Historically, separates have been considered an "elite" component so they have to cost more to justify their market position.

There are several high quality non-THX preamps available right now for well under $1500. Sherwood-Newcastle's P-965 can usually be had for around $1k. Outlaw Audio has two models priced at $699 and $1099. They even have a receiver based on the $699 model that goes for $899. There are several high quality receivers, such as the Yamaha 659 for $499 list, that have a full pre-outs for use as preamps.


#3 of 9 OFFLINE   Albert Allen

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Posted March 20 2007 - 04:41 AM

Thanks Brent, as you can tell I am not even a novice at HT, I just happen to have collected a lot of Adcon amps over the years and want to build up a good HT setup. My preamp says dolby ProLogic on the front panel and output to the rear channels are not discreet; it does have a subwoofer output but using a dolby digital test dvd the sub channel is not even seen on my system. I really appreciate your input Brent and covet any more info you could provide. Thanks

#4 of 9 OFFLINE   chuckg


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Posted March 20 2007 - 06:18 AM

The real reason you can buy a full-up receiver for less than the cost of a preamp: In general, a receiever is something joe average will buy, with the high end receivers going to people who have a fair interest and are willing to spend a bit more. A preamp, on the other hand, just screams of audiophile and professional applications, both of which are more likely to shell out the greenbacks. You can get a HTiB for less than the price of my middling-decent receiver, and you can spend more on one speaker that I havein my whole theater. In other words, price has absolutely nothing to do with What you are buying, price has everything to do with how much one is willing to pay. caveat: yes, the quality of a preamp and super-de-dooper speakers is better than what I've got, but then I'm just not willing to pay ten times as much for an incremental improvement. What I have costs ten times as much as HTiB, but the improvement is well worth it!
--ignore the man behind the curtain

#5 of 9 OFFLINE   Sami Kallio

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Posted March 20 2007 - 07:39 AM

HK AVR245 might be your best bet if you're looking for a surround "prepro" on a budget. It has 7.1 preouts and I would assume run ~$200 give or take on used market, or refurbed from HK. Separate market is what it is.

#6 of 9 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles



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Posted March 20 2007 - 07:52 AM

pre-pros are not a mainstream product. They're higher end, and sold in smaller numbers. You can find some good deals on some processors from outlaw for instance: http://www.outlawaud...ucts/index.html

which may fit the bill.

Keep in mind that the outlaws don't have HDMI inputs, which may be important to you if you want to take advantage of high-res multichannel from HD-DVD/BRD currently or in the future.

#7 of 9 OFFLINE   joseph westcott

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Posted March 23 2007 - 03:40 AM

Outlaw audio is getting great reviews and I suggest you audition one if you can find a fellow forum member in your area with one. I think they are strictly internet based but have a great return policy. I also recommend you do some research on Emotiva. I am about to buy one after almost pulling the trigger on a CarverSunfire unit. Come to find out, they are made by the same company in China and also make the Sherbourn digital amps. They are more affordable and have a better warranty. The modular design allows for expansion and provides unprecedented signal isolation. Many people think that it is power that makes a modern amplifier sound better but signal isolation (less distortion) is the real advantage of todays dedicated amplifers.

#8 of 9 OFFLINE   Albert Allen

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Posted March 25 2007 - 04:13 PM

Thanks Joseph for pointing out the Emotiva stuff, it looks great and I am really leaning that way, I need to see a few more reviews on it though before I take the plunge.

#9 of 9 OFFLINE   joseph westcott

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Posted March 25 2007 - 10:30 PM

Secrets of Home Theater is one of the most respected review sites I visit. Here is their link.


Audioholics comes in a close second for accuracy and testing prowess.


And, if you include the Bob Carver Sunfire reviews like this one.


And one more from Audio Video Revolution, another good site.


Just thought I would make it easer for you.

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