6.1/7.1 Processor recommendations < $1500 to match with my Rotel RMB-1095

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dan Harmer, Oct 29, 2002.

  1. Dan Harmer

    Dan Harmer Agent

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    Well, I just sold my Denon 3802 which I had been using as a pre-pro with my Rotel RMB-1095 5 channel amp (200x5 @8ohms, 330x5 @4ohms). I'm now looking for a new 6.1/7.1 capable processor that will provide a noticeable improvement over the Denon. I've read great things about the Anthem AVM-20(?), but it's out of my budget range.

    I've been considering a B&K Ref 30, Rotel RSP-1066, and the Outlaw 950. I'm particularly interested in hearing some fresh opinions (I've been reading old posts for hours) from individuals who have had a chance to compare the units against one another using the same equipment.

    My front line of speakers are RBH T1s (4 6.5" woofer, 3 tweeters per speaker), along with 2 RBH 1010-SEN subwoofers (dual 10" subs) with 400 watt outboard amps, and 4 (2 currently being used) 66-SE dipolars for the surrounds. I think I could really benefit from adjustable crossovers, and possibly the notch-filter on the B&K, but I'm not positive.

    I'm probably split about 65/35 (Movies-Music). Bass-management for my dvd-audio player is a plus, but I've read all kinds of double-bass issues on the Rotel and Outlaw. I suppose there's always an Outlaw ICBM option or something similar.

    Any comments would be greatly appreciated as I'm ready to buy now, but don't want to make a hasty decision. Thanks,

    -Dan
     
  2. Rich Wenzel

    Rich Wenzel Supporting Actor

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    brand new pre/pros, there arent many sub 1500,

    you can adcom to the list...

    i dont know how much parasound's pre/pro goes for...

    aslo AT and Sherbourn have ones coming out that are similar to the Outlaw...

    Rich
     
  3. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Dan,

    You should've stuck with the 3802 until the next generation pre/pros and receivers are out. Led by the Pioneer 49TXi, they will have a digital inteface for hirez music (DVD-Audio and SACD), making the ICBM and tangle of cables entirely unnecessary. Putting big bucks into current pre/pros is a loser UNLESS the manufacturer is COMMITTED to deal with the hirez interface issue. You may wish to poke B&K and others to see what they intend. BTW, I'm in the same situation but am hanging on to my 3802 until the 1394 digital interface is more widely available - mid 2003 is my bet.

    Austin
     
  4. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    I'd say the ref 30 would be a good choice in that vicinity. The Rotel prepro would be nice I suppose. I havent heard it but it there should definetly be good synergy between the two Rotels.

    Best of luck
     
  5. Bill Polley

    Bill Polley Second Unit

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    I love my Outlaw! They give you 30 days to try it in your home. I did and couldn't send it back! As far as comparing, I compared the 950 to the 3802, and the 950 was easily a better sounding unit. I tried out several receivers, and only a much higher priced Denon came close, but at a substantially higher price than my 950+Parasound combo. As far as pre/pro units, even the Rotel, at 50% more than the 950 was more than I wanted to pay, and was not available to demo unless I actually ordered one (the local dealer didn't stock it at the time!)
     
  6. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Dan,

    Bill's got a point. Since you definitely need SOMETHING to plug the 3802 hole, why not get a cheap, throwaway pre/pro like the 950? I'm told it has decent sound although the user interface has some issues. When the real boxes come out next year, you can pitch the Outlaw and get something more functional.

    Austin
     
  7. Bill Polley

    Bill Polley Second Unit

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    "cheap throwaway" [​IMG] Austin, have you ever owned or used a 950?
     
  8. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Bill,

    As far as I'm aware, the 950 is not hardware or software upgradable. At $900, it's a stretch calling it cheap, but I truly DO believe it, along with many other current, higher priced pre/pros, WILL be throwaways once the 1394 hirez audio interface is deployed.

    Dan's problem is he MUST get something for the next six months. At around $650, the 3802/1082 box fits the bill pretty nicely and will retain much greater resale value since entry-level AVRs is the largest and least savvy market segment. A technologically obsolete pre/pro (regardless of quality) is a much tougher sell since you're selling into a more informed (supposedly) group of potential buyers.

    As far as Outlaw, I can't wait to see their 951 or 960 or whatever they call it. It will no doubt avoid all the problems of the 950 and should be one solid performer with all the latest functions and none of the kludgy gimmicks.

    Austin wrote:
     
  9. Bill Polley

    Bill Polley Second Unit

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    Why does he need something for the next 6 months? My 950 will be in my rack for a long time.
     
  10. Dan Harmer

    Dan Harmer Agent

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    Thanks for the replies thus far guys--keep 'em coming.

    Here's my thoughts so far:

    First and foremost, in my opinion, I don't forsee digital (firewire) connections for high res audio formats becoming mainstream in 6 months... Sure it's available in from top-shelf Denon and Pioneer receiver/dvd player combos for ~$5k, but that's well beyond my budget right now. Perhaps we'll see some new announcements at CES in January for products that should be out in a year or so. Not only that, but as much as I wish this wasn't true, there's really not that much high-res albums available right now--at least not many mainstream artists.

    Outlaw 950--Yes, the price is right. My main concern is all the comotion going on over in the outlawaudio.com forums regarding hiss, etc. I can try my luck, as I can return it. My bigger concern, as Austin pointed out, is that it's not hardware upgradeable, and not likely to have a software upgrade (via eprom). Still, if it sounds great, I'll take one.

    B&K Reference 30--I'll probably have to buy one of these used to make my budget. I like the fact that it is fully upgradable (in B&K's own sweet time of course). It does have an inactive firewire port on it--but at least it's there hinting it may become useful some day. I know these units are extremely flexible. So it basically comes down to sound--how does it compare to the Rotel 1066 and Outlaw? This is what I can't/haven't been able to test.

    Rotel 1066--Definitely pricier than the Outlaw, and probably similar to a used Ref 30. I've seen comments like, "I got the Rotel amp (1095), but skipped on the Processor". It would definitely match the amp well, but once again... how does it sound compared to the other two.

    Am I leaving out anything from other manufacturers aside from the Outlaw clones?

    I know some of you guys have done head-to-heads with these units, or at least know of some online comparisons. Please speak up! Thanks!

    -Dan
     
  11. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Bill,

    Dan wrote:


    As can you see, Dan's 35% music and specifically mentions DVD-Audio which means he's interested in "high resolution" (hirez) music. The hirez music digital interface from player to processor/receiver, AFAIK, has only been done by three manufacturers to date - Meridian, Denon and Pioneer. Only Pioneer has adopted a standard 1394 audio interface for both DVD-A and SACD - you can read all about it on Texas Instruments site. Meridian and Denon have adopted proprietary links. I'm not a big fan of proprietary anything and avoid it whenever I can. I also not inclined to spend the bucks for Meridian anything let alone the $6k Denon wants. And Denon doesn't even support SACD.

    My inclination then, is to support Pioneer and encourage others to do so. Their current package the 49TXi/47Ai at around $3,500 is getting close to reasonable. Hopefully, they didn't drag down their hirez digital audio achievement with sub-standard video performance in their 47Ai universal player - I guess we'll have to see.

    At any rate, I feel a universal player with standard digital interface solves a lot of problems at once. Substandard DACs in cheap players, the cable tangle of 5.1 analog, the kludgy BM both in players and associated with 5.1 inputs on pre/pros and receivers, the whole Outlaw ICBM thing, etc., etc., etc.

    I believe the hirez audio experience is compelling - it certainly is for me. I also hope (it's too early to tell) that Pioneer has really pulled one off here. Hopefully, their elegant digital link will become a significant competitive advantage, forcing other manufacturers to follow suit. If so, then future products will be interchangeable and differentiated by the quality of their processing rather than the number of their gimmicks. Better for everyone all the way around. That's the six month projection.

    Austin
     
  12. Levesque

    Levesque Supporting Actor

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    I'm using the RMB-1095 with a RB-1050 and a RSP-1066. I was in your situation 3 weeks ago. I've sold my Yamaha RX-V3200, that I was using as a pre-pro, and exchange it for a RSP-1066.
    It's like night and day. I don't believe all those details I was missing. This combination of Rotel products is really good, an impressive value for the price I've paid for those 3.
    And with the 3 in silver, I got the esthetical wife "seal of approval"!!![​IMG]
     
  13. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Dan,

    Why did you pitch the 3802? With your outboard amp, you should have had a decent setup that would hold you until the next generation of processors. It makes absolutely no sense to me to spend a lot of bucks moving around in the same generation. All the boxes you're talking about have little significant improvement over the 3802 with outboard amplification. The primary driver in the nexgen stuff is certainly going to be hirez audio coupled with a few gimmicks like video translation and 3-1 component switching. I suspect you'll see this stuff solidly in the mid-fi by mid 2003. If I'm six months off, so be it.

    Regarding pricing, visit some of the audiophile forums. The setup of choice is a source transport and a processing DAC. Hirez will certainly follow this model and the digital interface is the key. With 1394 Audio, the players can shuck their expensive on-board DACs and piss-poor BM schemes. The processors, on the other hand, can address full bass management and time alignment for hirez sources just as they do for other digital and analog inputs currently. The functionality is already in the box! Therefore, the incremental cost to implement digital hirez is low for the processors and actually negative for the players. That's why I see things going the way I do.

    As to software, there is more and more hirez available everyday with some blockbuster releases scheduled in the immediate future. It'll come, don't worry.

    Let me know what happened with the 3802 and I'll be better able to make a recommendation (it just might be to buy it back!)

    Austin

    Dan wrote:
     
  14. Dan Harmer

    Dan Harmer Agent

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    I basically decided to unload my 3802 which was performing fine because I kept reading comments like "when I moved from using the 3802 to a dedicated processor, the increase in clarity and definition was eye-opening...", etc. I currently have a 15k speaker setup that I believe was being somewhat masked by the Denon, as I've heard the system with other processors such as the B&K Ref 30 and heard superior sound (although there are many reasons why that could be--not the least of which being room acoustics). Since I didn't have the money for all my new equipment at once, I bought the speakers first, then the amp, and the Denon to hold me over until I could buy a dedicated processor. Perhaps I should have waited, but it's too late for that now and I believe that even the next generation processors will be a little pricey for a while, by the time they come down I'll probably be ready to replace whatever I get now if the high-res audio titles start to take off.

    Not only that, but I needed some bass management for DVD audio / SACD, and figured that I could pick up something link the Outlaw 950 (with rudimentary bass management) for only a little more than I paid for the Denon. I really want something that can help me out with my front line of speakers (the top half) regarding their crossover point--80Hz is too high, the designer of my speaker recommends crossing them over at 40Hz and then crossing over the subs a little higher for the best blend.

    Sure, there's always something better coming if you wait, but a 6-month time frame or more is hard to deal with when you've got the upgrade bug.

    Anyone who's done a face-off with these units please speak up. Also, anyone have any info on when the 1394 jack on the Reference 30 might become useful? Thanks.

    -Dan
     
  15. Legairre

    Legairre Supporting Actor

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    I have a silver Rotel 1066 pre/pro matched with a Rotel 1095 amp. My original processor was my Denon 3300 receiver($1000 list). All I can say is the combo of the 1066 and 1095 are aboslutely incredible. Waaaay more detail than the Denon could have ever hoped to have. I know my amp is a killer, but the combo is just stunning.
     
  16. Kris Coffin

    Kris Coffin Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Dan,

    Can't say much for the Outlaw and the B&K as I have heard neither of them. But I do own the RSP 1066, RMB-1095 and the monster RB-1090. I can't sing high enough praise for the unit, I have had the combo since August, and have been loving it more each day, and each film. The sound is nice and clean, Rotel is doing there best with the software upgrades, have been about 6 - 7 so far. You may want to have a look around the forum for a few of the bass issues that exist with the rsp-1066, I haven't had any complaints, but most of my listening is HT, and the issue seem to be more music oriented. Hope this helps.

    Kris
     
  17. Krzysztof W

    Krzysztof W Extra

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    Hi

    I am happy owner of Rotel combo (RSP 1066 and RMB 1075). HT is great, but in my eyes, it excels with music. It is simply great. I had done some research before I bought it and I believe it is very hard to beat this combination at the given price range

    best

    Krzysztof
     
  18. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Dan,

    Nice post - explains a lot.

    Smart move on the great speaks and outboard amps. But much too much emphasis on electronics. There's just not that much difference in SS pre/pros or receiver front ends. Speaks, room and source - the big three.

    You mention your specialized needs for BM. The Outlaw would let you down here on the hirez side. It has analog BM (no time alignment) locked at 80Hz crossover and you run into the double bass issue if you disable it. The triple crossover applies only to non-5.1 sources. At this point in time, your choices to properly process hirez are severely limited. As I mentioned before, I feel that these choices will expand significantly in the very near future.

    You keep referring to the B&K Ref 30. I can't recommend this unit as it is obsolete, having been replaced by the Ref 50. It's a truism that putting dollars into obsolete equipment is a losing proposition.

    My recommendation is to call B&K and tell them of your dilemma. See if they are committed to provide a standard 1394 digital interface for hirez on their Ref 50. If so, buy it. It meets all your requirements and will fit your budget if you stretch just a bit. If B&K won't give you a firm committment on the 1394, pick up any used pre/pro you want and an Outlaw ICBM. You can then cobble together a temporary system that will be reasonably functional and ready for the trash can when the nexgen does appear. Good luck, Dan.

    Austin

     
  19. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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  20. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Yogi,

    "Trash can" is loosely defined as anywhere other than one's primary system. Kids, bedrooms, patios, buddies, girlfriends, church group, senior center, etc. can all be pressed into service in a pinch!

    A good rule of thumb is: if all your remotes won't fit in one shoebox, you need to get rid of some equipment (or get a bigger shoebox).

    Austin

     

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