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B&K Reference 30 opinions? (1 Viewer)

Andrew_Ballew

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
Messages
294
Damn you, seperatists! Haha!! :D :D
You have given me the fever, and it seemingly unquenchable. Never again will an integrated receiver be in my home.
I am very satisfied with my amp, but have been through 4 pre/pro's now in a matter of months. I can never, ever find satisfaction. (I have been frugal, trying to buy used and stay under $1000 for my pre/pros. Looks like I am going to have to raise my budget a bit to get what I want.)
After reading up on the B&K Reference 30, it sounds like what I am really looking for- a great sounding pre/pro that is FLEXIBLE- i.e. lots of inputs, plenty of the new surround modes, THX certified, parametric EQ and notch filters for room compensation.
But I want to hear from those who have had experience with this pre/pro. What are your impressions? How does it sound? What about ergonomics? Noise floor? The rated signal to noise ratio of 89db is not very impressive to me, but how does it translate into real world performance?
Thanks
Andrew B.
 

John Kotches

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2000
Messages
2,635
Andrew,

Oddly enough I recently sold my Ref 30. It's a good piece, but B&K is slow to upgrade -- still waiting on Motorola to deliver final versions of the DSPs that have DPL-2 and DTS-ES. That isn't B&Ks fault, but they (B&K) aren't particularly communicative.

Operationally it is sound, with a straightforward interface that shouldn't be too difficult to use.

Noise floor --- no hiss issues with speakers up to about 89dB sensitivity, but I never put any "high sensitivity" speakers to a system with this as a preamp.

Good sound, although it is bettered by more expensive pieces.

The one thing is that all the input/output analog jacks for the 5.1 input and the preamp outs are very close together and (frankly) a royal PITA to connect up. Normal people aren't in there changing systems around constantly, I am.

If you can get one in the 1400-1700 range you'll be ok -- and (supposedly) the DPL-2 and DTS-ES upgrade will be released this summer.

Regards,
 

Gifford L

Agent
Joined
Jul 11, 2001
Messages
41
It's a great piece and offers great flexibility especially in custom installations. Sadly its greatest features are underappreciated because many people haven't set it up right or used it to it's potential. It does sound good, is very easy to use and offers lots of connectivity.

I have no complaints about the jacks being close as they were fine for me and everything these days seems to have som many connections that real estate on the back panels is getting scare except for the taller pre's, but if I was John I'd want a tall pre-pro that can have the jacks futher spaced for easy unhooking all the time.
 

Andrew_Ballew

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
Messages
294
how would you guys compare the sound to the current pre/pro I own- a Rotel RSP-976 (if you have had any experience with it, of course) and what pre/pros around the same price or a bit more expensive do you think would sound better?

Thanks

Andrew B.
 

Pete Mazz

Supporting Actor
Joined
May 17, 2000
Messages
761
parametric EQ and notch filters for room compensation.
Well, the EQ is not parametric(unless I misunderstand the term). It's acts more like a shelving filter. It has one bass and one treble adjustment for starting freq and level. If you set the bass EQ for 60 Hz and +4 dB, you will increase all freqs below 60.

The notch filter(only one) is what I would consider parametric. You can dial in a specific freq and Q(sort of), and level of cut, no boost.

The flexibility, however, is incredible, along with the sound.

Pete
 

Warren_Sc

Second Unit
Joined
Mar 2, 2002
Messages
277
From John



...but how much will that upgrade cost?

More than a year ago I started shopping in earnest for a new receiver. My options were the Onkyo 979/Integra 9.1, the Denon 5800, and the B&K 307 (a powered Ref 30). Each receiver promised to be upgradable which was great because I wanted DPL II. What a perfect time to test and see if upgradablility was worth paying for.

Onkyo came out with their upgrade first. I think it was towards the end of the summer in it only cost $40 for the CD and mostly added DPL II(someone please correct me if I am wrong). It was only recently that Denon came out with their $800 upgrade, which added much more than DPL II.

More than a year after DPL II was available, B&K still has nothing. There is no way I would trust that track record IF you are interested, and therefore paying for "upgradability". Believe me, I wanted the B&K. At the time it was the only one in its price range that had the notch filter.

In the mean time, the non-upgradable receivers competed fiercely and have become feature-rich. Many inexpensive models have at least adjustable bass management...still the notch filter is a neat feature.

I ended up paying $800 for my Sony DA5ES which has several, custom, parametric EQ settings. The mains and center have 3 settings in low, med., and high, frequencies with a +-10db tweak. You can set them to be wide, medium, or narrow which effects the fall-off. The "low" setting goes down to 99hz. I had a blast tweaking my system. PS The Sony claims to be upgradable, too!

Maybe Sony will come with a pre/pro. I can't comment how it will compare to the B&K ref 30 or ref 40, but I am enjoying the feature-set that the DA5ES has.
 

Bob_M

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 3, 2000
Messages
194
John,

>Noise floor --- no hiss issues with speakers up to about 89dB sensitivity, but I never put any "high sensitivity" speakers to a system with this as a preamp. <

Interesting, I once has a pair of BIC's where the tape HISS drove me crazy. I switched over to NHT S1's and the HISS went away. I always assumed it was the tweeter on the S1's that helped but maybe it was the sensitivity. The NHT's were not as sensitive as the BIC's. Anyway my question is , how does sensitivity make a difference on whether you hear the tape hiss or not? You would think I little volume would bring the hiss right back. Thanks Bob
 
Joined
Nov 9, 1999
Messages
16
I moved from the Marantz av600 to the B&K ref 30. I am not put off by the lack of DPLII since it is really for two channel recorded media. Since I don't listen to a lot of two channel stuff and B&K has others modes which I listen to two channel media with, it is no big deal. What is great is the notch filter. Since my room is particularly troublesome for bass (I also use three subwoofers) this notch is certainly gravy for this sweet sounding pre/pro.

As far as its sound, it is fantastic if you are into the way the sound was recorded and don't care for all those ambience setting modes. I don't care for those hall/theater or whatever modes. They always sound un-natural and "plastic" like. I have had the Marantz for a good 5 years and I suspect I will have the B&K for a long time also. I have just upgraded my system to a 7.1 system and the B&K handles it nicely.

By the way I use the Marantz MA-500 to power my speakers. I use 10 separate monoblocks. 2 amps for each front LCR and 1 amp for each of the four surrounds (RR, RL, SR, and SL)

Dave
 

Gifford L

Agent
Joined
Jul 11, 2001
Messages
41
Warren,
As John has stated B&K is slow to upgrade, one reason the ref 30 hasn't been upgraded yet is because Motorola is being slow releasing the new DSP that will have DPLII on board. But B&K's upgrade track record is good with upgrades typically costing the difference in price of the new product it is being upgraded to. You can take a B&K DPL pre-pro made in the 80's and have it upgraded to a 7.1 ref 30 if you want. No other company has gone that far back on upgradability and I think that is important to note.
Further I could wait on DPLII as I've had it and only used it for TV which I thought was great. I didn't play around with it too much for music but I didn't like it as much as a straight up stereo 5 mode. I heard it for a long period at Jim Fosgates house on many cuts of music and video.
John, The Lexicon MC12 and Integra Research look pretty tall ;)
Andrew,
I don't know your Rotel but as to what may (should) sound better for more money you could look at the Integra research for $4200 (soon to be upgraded and list for $500 more I believe) The Anthem AVM 20 is like $3300 and is in the same boat waiting for an upgrade when Motorola is done. The Tag ($4500) is a nice option if you can live with the limited connectivity (no component video or analog passthrough) but I hear it's getting these and when it does your probably looking at over $5K.
It all depends on what is important to you as far as what you get. Even the above slightly more expensive preamps don't have the same bass management flexibility the B&K does. If connectivity with good sound and lots of flexibility are important I'd say the B&K is a good choice. If DPLII or DTS ES discrete in a plug and play fashion are really what your after you might even look to the outlaw or Rotel.
 

John Kotches

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2000
Messages
2,635
Gifford,

Frankly the best one that I've seen, I used to own -- the Golden Theater GTX-1. What a joy to work with, as there was plenty of space for all the connections.

Regards,
 

Camp

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 3, 1999
Messages
2,301
Why is there such a price disparity on the Ref 30? I've seen them selling for as little as $2000 and as much as $3000. What gives?

I would love to find a used one in the $1500 range. Nothing in this price range can compete with the inputs/outputs of the Ref 30.

What's ease of use like?
 

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