6 entry-level monoblocks plus preamp/processor or one nice receiver?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jay Sylvester, Jul 15, 2002.

  1. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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    I'm experiencing some problems with my Onkyo 797 that lead me to believe I might be driving it too hard. I'm hearing crackling noises from my front center channel during loud sequences that go away when I turn the volume down. I never heard the noise before (purchased the receiver in November), but I just moved into a newer building that lets me really crank it up without disturbing the neighbors. Sounds like clipping to me and not the crackling problems common to certain DVD soundtracks. This, combined with the annoying DD-EX flags issue, has me thinking that it might be a good time to sell the receiver while it still has some value and jump into separates.

    I've never owned separates before, but I figure it can't be that difficult. I guess I'd need the following:

    - preamp
    - DD-EX/DTS-ES processor (or maybe a preamp/processor combo)
    - power amplifier(s) or monoblocks

    That's pretty much it right? What I'm wondering is whether or not I can get the same performance/features from entry-level separates that I can from a mid-fi receiver in my price range (~$2000). I don't use any of the "bells and whistles" of my 797 (no video switching, no radio listening, no wacky DSP modes), just straight DD-EX/DTS-ES/DPL2 decoding and amplification and occasional CD/vinyl listening (stereo only).

    Using J&R prices as a quick example, they have AudioSource monoblocks (150W) for $180 each, so figure six/seven of those for $1080/$1260, leaving about $900 for a preamp/processor. I would consider going a bit higher if necessary. Other brands are an option also of course. I haven't seriously followed hi-end audio for years, so I no longer remember who the big players are. Suggestions are very welcome. I considered keeping the 797 as a preamp/processor, but since the decoding problems are one of the reasons I'm thinking about jumping ship, that doesn't really make much sense.

    So are separates worth it at this price point, or should I just get a better receiver and be done with it?
     
  2. JackS

    JackS Supporting Actor

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    Jay- If your interested in mono blocks, check out the nOrh website and the Le Amps. Considered by many to be true High-end at a very moderate price. Although, at $500/pr, and a couple hundred more than the Audio Source you mentioned, the price increase may be worth it. Full descriptions and pictures are availabe at the site, and regardless of your choice, you should find the reading very interesting.
     
  3. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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    Just checked them out, and I like what I saw. It would be roughly $1500 for six 100W monoblocks (they're running a special of 2 for $495 with shipping by sea included), so that would give me about $500 for the preamp/processor. Can I even get a good preamp and DD-EX/DTS-ES processor for that amount? How much more am I looking at spending?
     
  4. chung_sotheby

    chung_sotheby Supporting Actor

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    I think that the minimum that you should look to spend on a pre is $1k or so, with about $1k minimum going to your amplification, if you are going to go the seperates route. keep in mind that the Norh monoblocks are considered audiophile quality, having been favorably compared to the Odyssey Stratos, which itself has been lauded as being the best amplifier per dollar on the planet. Keep in mind that the Norh Le Amps are incredibly revealing of everything, so it is not a good idea to have any kind of bad equipment hooked up to these amps, as they will make the bad sound that much worse. On the other hand, the Stratos is a very forgiving amp. I think that your best option is to purchase three Le Amps for your front soundstage, which should run you about $750, and get a decent three channel, 100 watt amp for the rest of your setup, which should run you about $300, and spend between 900 (Outlaw) and 1300(Rotel) on the pre. This setup will get you immensely better Music and Movies sound than going with the Audiosource monoblock setup with a $500 pre (if there is such a thing, maybe a used B&K Ref 10 or an Acurus ACT3, or HK Sig 2.0)
     
  5. itai

    itai Stunt Coordinator

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  6. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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  7. JackS

    JackS Supporting Actor

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    Jay- If your decision is to go with the nOrhs, I beleive you can get the modded version free. If the amps will not be used with a receiver, let nOrh bypass or better yet, remove the DC blocking caps for you.
     
  8. Mark Leitch

    Mark Leitch Stunt Coordinator

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    Why bother with the 410 if you are getting a prepro?

    If you run the 410 straight to your amps, you could save the cost of a prepro. I would look at getting amps with good sensitivity if you are going to go this route.

    M.
     
  9. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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    Even though I planned to use the S/PDIF out only, I went with the 410 over the AP24/96 because it cost only a little bit more. I had no intention of using it as a pre/pro. As I said, currently, it doesn't support DTS-ES Discrete, and getting 6.1 to work with the various software DVD players is still a bit problematic from what I've read. I just figured that it might be fun to fool around with later on when the support is there.

    Jack - I'm not tech savvy when it comes to amps. What's the benefit of having the DC blocking caps removed? And would I want them to do this if I opt to go with a standalone pre/pro instead of using the analog outputs on the 410?
     
  10. JackS

    JackS Supporting Actor

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    Jay- Due to the modest price of these amps, nOrh anticipated that many people would be connecting them to receivers. Most Hi-end amps do not have these caps. Some/many/most receivers leak small amounts of voltage to the chasis which will cause a "pop" from the speakers when a source is selected. If your going to use a pre-amp, you need not worry about this problem. The advantage according to the people who have made the mod is significantly better sound. You could also go half-way and opt for the by-pass instead of the full blown removal. This is a jumper wire that eliminates the DC capacitors from the circuit without removal of the caps themselves. The only advantage here would be a quick solder job to reinstall the cap if you decided to use a receiver as a preamp. This second option is not as good as a full removal. Please don't ask me why. I don't know.
     
  11. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    Jay,

    WHy not just buy a 3 channel amp to run the fronts/center and let the receiver to power the rears and do the processing as it has all the bells and whistles you need?

    Kevin
     
  12. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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    The receiver's processing problems (DD dropouts on certain DVDs and HD programs) are one of the annoyances I'm looking forward to ridding myself of.

    Depending on whether or not I need the cash, I might just toss it in the office with my PS2, GC, and DC. I'll probably sell it though since it's still worth a good deal of money and is overkill for an office HT IMO.
     
  13. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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  14. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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    It's a home office [​IMG]
     
  15. Eric T

    Eric T Second Unit

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  16. Aslam Imran

    Aslam Imran Second Unit

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    Get a used B&K 125 x 5 amp or a rotel 1075 for about $800 and an Outlaw 950 for $950 and that would leave you with $250 for cables and interconnects. From what I hear about the Outlaw and from knowing the sound qualities of the B&K and Rotel units this system will keep you smiling for years to come. Cant go wrong with it.

    Best of luck.
     
  17. JackS

    JackS Supporting Actor

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    Eric- Thanks for the explaination.
     
  18. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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    How long is the wait for the Outlaw 950 at this point?
     
  19. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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    I dunno, I'm kinda leaning to the Anthem PVA-7 myself. Rated at 105 or 125 a channel depending who you read, and all say it is conservative. Might just be the deal of the year.
     
  20. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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    For those who are curious, I ended up going with the Rotel 1066 pre/pro, 1075 5-channel, and 1050 2-channel for the rear centers. I went to the dealer intending only to purchase the 1066, but after an audition with the 1075 I was very satisfied and was offered a good deal, so I just grabbed it all in one shot. Not the first time I left a dealer with more than I planned on buying [​IMG]
    Thanks for all of your comments and suggestions.
     

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