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HDMI 1.3 pre-pro?


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#1 of 42 OFFLINE   Colin Dunn

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Posted June 06 2007 - 08:04 AM

Does anyone yet offer a pre-pro with support for HDMI 1.3?

I am beginning to map out upgrades to my HT. I'd like to start out getting a Denon DVD-3930CI for DVD/SACD/DVD-A, and a Toshiba HD-XA2 for HD-DVD. Later I would add an OTA HDTV tuner with HDMI output, and possibly a Blu-Ray player once the next generation of Blu-Ray stand-alone players hits the market.

My current pre-pro is a Theta CasaNova. It does not have 5.1 analog inputs, and predates HDMI by several years.

I'd like to replace it with something that has a nice smooth/warm sound quality, flexible bass management, and support for HDMI video switching and the new audio formats that the high-def disc formats offer (multi-channel PCM, TrueHD, etc.).

What are my options - available or coming within the next several months? Maximum budget is $4K. That rules out the ultra-high-end stuff from Theta, Classé, etc.

You'd think that the manufacturers could make these changes more quickly now by designing a good 5.1 / 7.1 analog preamp, and modularizing it so the digital 'engine' can be upgraded periodically. But it seems this hasn't happened, and receivers are ahead of pre-pros in offering these features.

I don't want to use a receiver as a pre-pro. All the money needs to go into making a good pre/pro, rather than into low-quality built-in amps that I won't use.
Colin Dunn

#2 of 42 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted June 06 2007 - 09:29 AM

Sherwood Newcastle has a pre-pro scheduled to come out in August with 1.3. The model number is R-972. The other best option may be a Denon AVR that you could use as a pre-pro. At CES they said their new line of receivers (I believe they're due out this summer) would all have HDMI 1.3.

#3 of 42 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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Posted June 06 2007 - 12:22 PM

I think I saw in the latest WSR that Theta has a new pre/pro in the works. I think it has 1.3, but not sure.

NAD also is supposed to have something soon with 1.3.
If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

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#4 of 42 OFFLINE   Colin Dunn

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Posted June 07 2007 - 02:52 AM

If Sherwood Newcastle has a new HDMI 1.3 pre-pro in the works, I wonder if Outlaw Audio is bringing out a new pre-pro as well.

They recently cut the price of the Model 990, which I believe was co-developed with Sherwood Newcastle. (Outlaw's version is supposedly based on the same design but built with a few additional features and higher parts quality.)

I hope Outlaw is still working with Sherwood Newcastle on this type of joint product development. Having heard an earlier Outlaw pre-pro at a home theater meet (pre-pro shootout in Austin about 4-5 years ago), it was one of my favorites of the bunch.

Nothing mentioned about a new upcoming pre-pro on Outlaw's site, though. Posted Image
Colin Dunn

#5 of 42 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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Posted June 07 2007 - 12:45 PM

I suppose if any of us were curious enough, we could check Outlaw's forum. Posted Image
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#6 of 42 OFFLINE   Colin Dunn

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Posted June 08 2007 - 05:52 AM

Took a peek at Outlaw's forums. Found this thread:

http://ubb.outlawaud..../t/000285.html

Looks like Outlaw is developing new products, which may support HDMI 1.3 and the new sound formats, but they aren't going to be available for purchase in the immediate future.

Guess it'll be a bit of a wait before HDMI 1.3 and good pre-amp design/construction come together. Posted Image
Colin Dunn

#7 of 42 OFFLINE   Colin Dunn

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Posted June 08 2007 - 06:02 AM

Looks like that Sherwood R-972 is a receiver, not a pre-pro.

http://crave.cnet.co...-9676526-1.html

Seems counter-intuitive to me that the "high end" companies can't get the resources (parts, documentation, engineering expertise) to design and build a cutting-edge pre-pro as soon as the mass-market companies can. Besides, a "high-end" customer is going to want all the new features along with high-performance analog pre-amp electronics.

Good analog pre-amp designs have been around for years. I wonder why a high-end company hasn't modularized the 5.1 / 7.1 analog preamp piece, so that when new formats and connectors come along, they only have to redesign / re-implement the connectors / digital portion of the pre-pro, stick them in a chassis, test, and ship?
Colin Dunn

#8 of 42 OFFLINE   Phil A

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Posted June 08 2007 - 06:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
Looks like that Sherwood R-972 is a receiver, not a pre-pro.

http://crave.cnet.co...-9676526-1.html

Seems counter-intuitive to me that the "high end" companies can't get the resources (parts, documentation, engineering expertise) to design and build a cutting-edge pre-pro as soon as the mass-market companies can. Besides, a "high-end" customer is going to want all the new features along with high-performance analog pre-amp electronics.

Good analog pre-amp designs have been around for years. I wonder why a high-end company hasn't modularized the 5.1 / 7.1 analog preamp piece, so that when new formats and connectors come along, they only have to redesign / re-implement the connectors / digital portion of the pre-pro, stick them in a chassis, test, and ship?

They are around but probably more than $4k. The Bryston SP2, for example, is basically an analog multi-channel preamp with a processor attached. They are looking at the HDMI issue now but I would not expect to see an announcement until CES. I think by CES in Jan., you'll see other manuf. too. Smaller cos. or products produced in a more ltd. no. are usually not the 1st to see new technology. Yamaha tooks some heat for their recently released rec'rs with HDMI 1.2a. Chips are more readily available now and probably announcements will come between the time of CEDIA in Sept. and CES in Jan.

#9 of 42 OFFLINE   Paul-D

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Posted June 13 2007 - 11:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
Took a peek at Outlaw's forums. Found this thread:

http://ubb.outlawaud..../t/000285.html

Looks like Outlaw is developing new products, which may support HDMI 1.3 and the new sound formats, but they aren't going to be available for purchase in the immediate future.

Guess it'll be a bit of a wait before HDMI 1.3 and good pre-amp design/construction come together. Posted Image

Sure wish Outlaw would get something out this year that is up-to-date. I mean the 990 has awards from 2005 - that's 2 whole years ago!! Come on already.

#10 of 42 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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Posted June 13 2007 - 12:12 PM

I'd rather them take their time and do it right, than rush it and have to do another iteration. Posted Image

I'm surprised we haven't heard anything from Rotel, in that they are usually on the forefront too.
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#11 of 42 OFFLINE   LanceJ

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Posted June 13 2007 - 04:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Dunn
Seems counter-intuitive to me that the "high end" companies can't get the resources (parts, documentation, engineering expertise) to design and build a cutting-edge pre-pro as soon as the mass-market companies can. Besides, a "high-end" customer is going to want all the new features along with high-performance analog pre-amp electronics.
It is BECAUSE they are hi-end companies that they don't always have the latest technology i.e. they are much smaller than Yamaha/Pioneer/etc and so don't have the deeeeeep pockets of these enormous companies, along with their extensive R&D facilities.

Do some digging on the net and you'll find how incredibly expensive it is to buy the licenses and the gear itself and integrate it into your own company's equipment. Particularly digital-based systems designed by world-wide consortiums that need to follow exacting specifications to work correctly with other pieces of gear from other manufacturers. And also, being a quality control inspector once upon a time, I know how expensive just testing such systems can become (many times this must be done by a specialized firm contracted by the audio company) and maintaining that quality is also not cheap i.e. QC people need to be paid to make sure of this. OTOH analog systems are much easier to deal with, hence the large number of small specialty preamp, power amp and loudspeaker manufacturers out there.

This is why I'm almost never impressed when people tout X product's supposed superiority over another product only because the other product is from a larger competitor: unless the larger competitor is so big, unwieldy & filled with layer upon layer of managment that there engineering dept is *less* important than their marketing department (I could name some names, but want to keep this on-topic Posted Image), I'm willing to bet many times the so-called mass-market gear is just as good - if not better - than the "hi-end" company's product. Sometimes size does matter.

#12 of 42 OFFLINE   ericks

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Posted June 14 2007 - 05:31 AM

Integra's DTC-9.8 pre/pro is due out at the end of July that will be 1.3 compliant and will be priced at $1600. Has some nice touches too like balanced as well as single ended connection options.

#13 of 42 OFFLINE   Colin Dunn

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Posted June 19 2007 - 02:33 AM

ErickS -

That's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for - a pre/pro at a reasonable cost that has support for HDMI 1.3 and all the audio formats (DVD-A, SACD, DTS-MA, DD+, etc.).

LanceJ -

I kind of suspected what you say - that the resources to develop new pre-pros are often expensive / not readily available to the smaller companies that develop high-end audio products.

No wonder so many small "high-end" manufacturers have gone the retro vinyl/tubes route.

That said, I'm holding out hopes that the companies who sell gear that falls in-between the mass-market names (Sony, Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer, etc.) and the ultra-expensive high end (Theta, Krell, Classé, etc.) will bring out some new pre-pros this year.

These relatively "affordable" high-end companies I'm thinking of include Outlaw, Sunfire, Rotel, higher-end Denon, Adcom, Parasound, etc. Of these, Denon probably has the most big-company resources to throw at developing a new HDMI 1.3 pre-pro, but I'd probably prefer the Outlaw / Sunfire / Rotel type of sound (warm and smooth tonal character).

If I can find an Integra dealer near Austin (their Web site doesn't list any), I'll see if I can audition that new DTC-9.8 in July...
Colin Dunn

#14 of 42 OFFLINE   Laurence_C

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Posted June 19 2007 - 01:54 PM

There is also the NAD T175 which is due out later this fall, no solid date that I've heard of.

#15 of 42 OFFLINE   Colin Dunn

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Posted August 01 2007 - 02:19 PM

The Integra DTC-9.8 is on the market! After stopping for lunch today, I passed by a shop, Austin Home Theater, which is an Integra dealer.

They had a DTC-9.8 sitting out in their front room, but it wasn't hooked up yet. They thought it would be about 60-90 days before they had it set up in their demonstration room. Posted Image Apparently, they are waiting for some new power amps to come in before set it up, but they said they've sold a handful of these units already.

MSRP is $1,600, which is not bad for a pre-pro with 4-in/2-out HDMI switching, 7.1 analog input, Silicon Optix HQV video processing, and support for DVD-A, SACD, DD+, and DTS-HD over DIGITAL HDMI inputs.

Since I only had a few minutes to stick around before rushing back to work (have to earn money to buy toys!), they played a couple of tracks from audio CDs on an all-Integra equipment stack (DPS-10.5 universal player, DTR-7.8 receiver) and Sonus Faber speakers (Grand Pianos).

On that receiver / universal player setup, the highs were smoother than I expected. The Sonus Fabers seemed to have a bit of coloration and bloat in the mid-bass compared to the Magnepan speakers I am using. But it was hard to tell in a short demo (of different equipment, no less) if I can expect high-end audio performance ... or not.

So things look initially promising but I'm not quite ready to fork out $1,600 until I have more confidence in the DTC-9.8's sound quality.

Has anyone gotten to listen to this unit (preferably in their own system) and formed any impressions?
Colin Dunn

#16 of 42 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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Posted August 02 2007 - 12:23 PM

Lots of meaningless info at AVS, but a few people have their's already and have posted. I'm keen on this guy too, but I'm holding off until the NAD is out too so I can get a feel for the differences.
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#17 of 42 OFFLINE   Colin Dunn

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Posted August 02 2007 - 04:19 PM

I read the AVS thread today, and found a promising sign: One of the first few people to get the Integra DTC-9.8 is also a Magnepan user. He had good things to say about the sound quality (especially after doing room correction with the Audyssey feature).

I've found Maggies to be ruthlessly revealing of bright or hard-sounding treble. This is my biggest concern with sound quality - bargain-basement electronics can sound harsh and fatiguing on Maggies.
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#18 of 42 OFFLINE   Colin Dunn

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Posted August 09 2007 - 06:17 AM

After another week of positive comments on the Integra DTC-9.8 over at AVSForum, I decided to take the plunge and order the Integra pre-pro.

It will probably be 2-4 weeks before it shows up.
Colin Dunn

#19 of 42 OFFLINE   Charles J P

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Posted August 09 2007 - 07:32 AM

There is a thread over at Home Theater Lounge discussing some of the HDMI receivers and the Integra Pre/Pro. I know many people, including myself probably won't budget for a dedicated pre/pro and have been happy running a receiver with an outboard amp to make up for the often anemic power of mid-level receivers.

Hopefully Ron and Parker don't mind me posting that. If they do, they can delete this, I won't be offended in the least.

#20 of 42 OFFLINE   ericks

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Posted August 09 2007 - 08:21 AM

I've got my eye on the 9.8 as well. Trying to sift through the junk on AVS is tedious, but the few people who have goten them so far seem happy with them. I'd love to see a more "civilized" discussion here when someone gets one.





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