Audio Refinement Pre-2 DSP

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Orin Dym, May 14, 2002.

  1. Orin Dym

    Orin Dym Stunt Coordinator

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    Finally got my new processor preamp last Friday. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Audio Refinement, it is YBA's affordable line. I have Audio Refinement amps and CD player, and had been using the pre-5 preamp until the pre-2 DSP showed up.

    This is a very basic unit, offering DD and DTS, and is upgradeable to EX, but the upgrade is not yet available and its cost is unknown. There are 4 analog and 4 digital inputs. One of the analog inputs is a 5.1 input. There is a bypass mode that can be used on any of the analog inputs, removing any processing of the signal.

    The strength of this unit for me is 2 channel sound. I use the DA converters in my CD player, and have found that the quality of the analog bypass on processors can vary greatly. I found the B&K Ref 20 truncated the bass somewhat, and the 5.1 bypass on the Sherwood Newcastle was completely unacceptable in its performance. The sound with using an analog input in bypass mode with the Audio Refinement Pre-2 DSP is equal to that with the Audio Refinement Pre-5 (an analog preamp).

    As for movies, the auto detect feature works very well, engaging quickly, and stays locked in. The sound is typical YBA, meaning very smooth, but very detailed. After several days of listening, I feel the sound of this unit for movies exceeds that of my ADA Cinema Rhapsody. Even without THX Modes, the center channel is non fatiguing.

    I have not had the opportunity to hear the outlaw 950, so I can not make any comparisons regarding sound quality.

    The manual is the shortest I have ever seen for a processor. It is a no nonsense poorly translated, and definitely has never been passed through an English spell checker, but conveys all the necessary information.

    Bass management is large or small speakers with an adjustable crossover of 80Hz to 120 Hz. Speaker level adjustment is least sensitive speaker set to 0, everything else is adjusted down from that.

    If YBA sonics is something you crave from 2 channel and movies, then this processor is definitely worth looking at. Retail is $1400, I got mine for $1200.
     
  2. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    "The sound with using an analog input in bypass mode with the Audio Refinement Pre-2 DSP is equal to that with the Audio Refinement Pre-5 (an analog preamp)."

    That is a bit unexpected. A representative of YBA/Audio Refinement explained to me last year that the Pre-2 DSP's analog section would not be quite up to the standards of the Pre-5. His recommendation was to wait for the Pre-5 DSP, which would equal the Pre-5 in analog bypass mode in addition to providing DSP capability. Of course, he also said that the Pre-5 DSP would be out by the end of 2001, and as of yet, there is no scheduled release date for it.

    Michael

    Audio Refinement CD Complete owner
     
  3. Orin Dym

    Orin Dym Stunt Coordinator

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    I had also been told that the analog sound would not be up to the same standard as the pre-5, but it does seem to be. The only caveat is the mains need to be set to full response (0 adjustment for output level). There are presets for speaker levels to accommodate different speaker levels.

    As for the Pre-5DSP, it is interesting to look at the spec sheet for it compared to the pre-2DSP. There is only a slight difference in weight(easily accounted by the addition of two knobs to the pre-5DSP) so I do not think the power supplies can be very different.
     
  4. stephen_z

    stephen_z Stunt Coordinator

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    Orin,

    Can you point to or provide a quick summary of key features/performance the pre-2 DSP? The literature provided by an Audio Refinement dealer had nothing on the pre-2 DSP and very little on the pre-5 (website isn't much help either). I have Triangle Titus 202's which tend to be bright for top40/rock (though I love them for jazz/classical/vocals) and I'm looking for "warmer" electronics. I am waiting for an Outlaw 950/770 to show up before trying to demo a Rotel 1066 or the Audio Refinement. Are you're amps multi-3 or multi-5? Which component do you think contributes more to a warmer environment... the pre/pro or the amp or is it split 50/50?
     
  5. Orin Dym

    Orin Dym Stunt Coordinator

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    I have the multi-2 and multi-3 amps. Is it difficult to say which component, the amps or DSP is more responsible for the warm tonality because I have not tried other amps in my current set up, and the only preamps I have used in this set up are the Pre-5, ADA, and the pre-2DSP. With the ADA Cinema Rhapsody I felt I had to use DD-THX to keep the center from being bright. With the pre-2DSP, the center is definitely much smoother. I have JM Lab Cobalt speakers in the system and do not find them to be bright with this setup.

    As for other functions, there is an equalizer for each channel, but I do not use it so I could not tell you much about it.

    There are 4 user storable presets for speaker settings that can be recalled independant of input. The unit always defaults to preset 1 on powerup. There is the usual delay settings in ms for speakers. Keep in mind, I am still less than one week with this unit so I am still learning more about it. My requirements of a processor are very simple. I have 1 CD player and I just want the processor to get out of the way when I listen to 2 ch music, and 1 DVD player--Thats it.

    When it comes to my music listening, it is mostly Jazz-Bela Fleck, Flim & the BB's, Spies. I have zero tolerance for electronics that get in the way by either truncated bass, are so smooth as to remove any life in a recording, or are so harsh sounding as to render the music unlistenable. I find the pre-2DSP meets my needs for 2 ch listening.

    As for movies, I use to think I was not as picky, but again I have no tolerance for a processor that increases the harshness of a soundtrack, or fails to produce an enveloping sound field. I do not want to waste my time tweaking settings for every movie, I just want to listen and enjoy and forget there is even a processor--the pre-2DSP also meets this need.

    As with any piece of electronics--you have to listen for yourself and make a decision that is right for your wants and needs. Enjoy.
     
  6. stephen_z

    stephen_z Stunt Coordinator

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    Orin,

    Thanks for the input! Glad to hear that you have JM Lab Cobalts, since I had a chance to demo these before. Are your speakers full range floor standing or the small monitors? I'm interested in how the pre-2 handles analog passthru (full range signal? any option for a sub-woofer and at what frequency). Looking forward to any new postings from you as you spend more time with the pre-2.
     
  7. Orin Dym

    Orin Dym Stunt Coordinator

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    Cobalt 826 mains, cc800 center. The rears are a custom pair utilizing Focal W cone woofers and the titanium tweeter, and an sv cs-ultra sub. I run the mains large, everything else small, 8o Hz crossover.

    In analog bypass mode, all dsp including bass management is bypassed, so there is no subwoofer contribution.

    Time for a bit more on the functions of this unit. The OSD does not overlay the video signal, but switches with it, so when OSD is on, video is shunted. I guess this keeps the video signal from possibly becoming polluted from the OSD circuitry.

    There are several sound field processing modes-Hall, Stadium, Church, Club, and theater. I have not tried any of these modes since they are not something I use.

    There is a dynamic range compression function, but again, this is a function I do not use so I have not tested it.

    One thing of interest is that it does not appear you can manually set a dd or dts mode. Looks like your choices are auto detect, prologic (selectable from remote) and bypass.
     
  8. Michael Hurst

    Michael Hurst Stunt Coordinator

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    Orin
    Sounds like a great unit, I was looking for exactly the same set-up, music is still very important to me. Spent a lot of time auditioning components and debated whether to just upgrade my two channel pre-amp or get a multi-channel HT pre. I decided on the Rotel 1066 pre, wasn't as good as some of the dedicated two channel pre-amps but still very good. Should be here this weekend !
    I live in Red Mountain Ranch in Mesa, where did you buy your Audio Refinement Pre-2. I thought I checked every place in the valley but I've only lived here a couple years. Maybe we can get together sometime for a movie/music
    Backyard is cool
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Orin Dym

    Orin Dym Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, fire off an e-mail to me ([email protected]) and we can arrange a get together/music demo. I am down south of you in Augusta Ranch (Ellsworth and Baseline).
    I bought my gear from Speakers etc. They are around Thomas and 27th Ave.(www.speakersetc.net) They build some of the finest sounding speakers I have ever heard, and carry some great electronics (YBA, Pass Labs, Audio Refinement, Cambridge Audio, Sherbourn). They have a small but loyal clientele. My work is close to them, so I tend to take my lunch over there and listen to gear or just shoot the bull with them.
     
  10. PhillipC

    PhillipC Stunt Coordinator

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    So in a comparison between the Rotel 1066 and the AR pre2 DSP, which one would come out ahead in terms of 2 channel music quality?
     
  11. Michael Hurst

    Michael Hurst Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry Orin, haven't fired off the e-mail yet. I did get my RSP-1066, it would be an interesting experiment to compare the two pre-amps.
     

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