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B&K reference 50 vs. Sunfire Theater Grand III

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dean Arizona, Dec 9, 2002.

  1. Dean Arizona

    Dean Arizona Agent

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    Hello fellow users. I've enjoyed this forum for years and now post my first thread. I could use some assistance in choosing my new a/v home theater pre/pro. The competition has been reduced two choices: the new B&K Reference 50 and the Sunfire Theater Grand III. First, let me say that I gave the Anthem AVM20 due consideration. However, I've decided to purchase an American made product (I'm also disappointed that the 20 is still shipping without certain software upgrades including DPL II). In many respects, the 50 and the TGIII are comparable performers. Both carry Motorola's DigitalDNA technology (56367 DSP), feature balanced connections, and I consider the build quality in both units to be excellent. However, the 50 went with THX Ultra certification and Sunfire chose to use it's own proprietary sound stage. And, Bob Carver's approach to two channel music is quite distinctive. In reviewing the specs for both, the TGIII's connectivity appears to be more versatile. I have to admit, I am a bit enamored with the physical beauty of the TGIII as well (especially when compared with the more utilitarian 50). Let's admit it. We all would like to have a great looking piece in the rack! Any help you can provide in discussing the relative merits and performance of these pre pros would be greatly appreciated. I'm currently using the pre-outs from my Sony ES reciever which I want to replace.
    My audio sytem:
    ATI 1504 (For the mains and second zone)
    ATI 1505 (For the center channel and side and center surounds)
    Sony DVP S9000es
    Sony CA80ES (CD player)
    Sony KA3EAES (Cassette Deck)
    Speakers: Klipsch RF-7, RC-7, RS-7, KSW-15
     
  2. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Dean,

    "However, I've decided to purchase an American made product (I'm also disappointed that the 20 is still shipping without certain software upgrades including DPL II)."

    I am not sure where you are getting your information, but the AVM-20 v2.x is shipping with DPL II, THX Ultra 2, updated proprietary DSP modes, etc. But your bias against a non-American made product means it shouldn't have been a consideration anyway.

    Between the two on your short list, I would choose the Ref50.

    Michael
     
  3. Tom Camlioglu

    Tom Camlioglu Stunt Coordinator

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    You should have your facts together before inserting such a statement.
    While I certainly agree with Michael's post above, I will add that you obviously wrote this with the intent of gathering info notwithstanding Anthem owner's opinions.
    That being the case ... good luck in your choice, but also know that IMO you haven't given Anthem "due consideration".
    But hey, that's your choice too ...
    Tom[​IMG]
     
  4. Fred DeGrandis

    Fred DeGrandis Stunt Coordinator

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    I was going to buy the Sherbourn pre/pro until my dealer made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
    I am expecting the Ref 50 this week[​IMG]
    Fred
     
  5. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    in addition to Tom and Michael's comments, I would add that market globalization makes it extremely unlikely that the Sunfire or the B&K is 100% "American made". They likely have a number of "non American" parts. The most that could likely be said is that they are "assembled" in the U.S.
     
  6. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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    I would have considered the Anthem but, i know no dealer around me that carry's it.
    I bought the Ref50-Ref200.5 and am thoroughly impressed.
     
  7. Jerry Klawiter

    Jerry Klawiter Screenwriter

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    Tom,
    Give the guy a break, he did say feature balanced connections in his post.

    Not the convenience only balanced as the Anthem only sports.

    The others are True Balanced!

    Also, Can the Anthem Up-sample the analog 5.1 inputs like the B&K Ref 50?
    As well apply all DSP modes?
    Even from a Stereo two channel only source?
    All this can be done with the Ref 50.
     
  8. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Jerry,
    Not that it matters because Dean has chosen only American-based companies, but much of what you just stated is not correct or to imply a lack of capability on the part of the AVM-20.
    First off, the AVM-20 has True Balanced outputs, according to Brian Florian's post. They are not there just for convenience. There is a further step for balanced outputs, called Full Differential, that Brian also describes.
    "Also, Can the Anthem Up-sample the analog 5.1 inputs like the B&K Ref 50?"
    If you mean perform A/D, bass management and time alignment, it always could, even before the recent v2.00 upgrade, using 24-bit/96kHz ADCs just like the Ref50.
    "As well apply all DSP modes?"
    Yes, including THK Ultra 2 and Anthem's own proprietary AnthemLogic DSP.
    "Even from a Stereo two channel only source?"
    Yes.
    Michael
     
  9. Jerry Klawiter

    Jerry Klawiter Screenwriter

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    Michael,
    I have been under the impression that the AVM20 does not have true full balanced in and outputs?
    I almost purchased the AVM20.
    I also ask for feedback from avm20 owners both here and at avs in the Ref50-AVM20 threads if the avm20 was capable of applying the dsp modes to analogs ie: SACD, if one choose to do so, No replies came, and my local dealer said it could not be done with the AVM20.
    I will need to give them a call again,and maybe go and try it for myself.
    I also said some time ago, Purchase made in the USA[​IMG]
    Not always possible, but nice when you can[​IMG]
     
  10. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Jerry,

    One point of correction on my part. With the 5.1 analog inputs, the only option other than 5.1 output is with THX Ultra 2 on or off. Since I only have a 5.1 setup, I took what others have said about the 5.1 inputs. But just trying it out myself (by turning on the rear speakers in the setup menus), I determined I can only toggle THX Ultra 2 to generate 7.1 output with the 5.1 inputs.

    The remaining DSPs are unavailable to the 5.1 analog inputs, although most of these DSPs are specific to 2 channel inputs (DPL II, DTS Neo:6, AnthemLogic, etc.). So, if you have your SACD or DVD-A player's 2 channel outputs also routed to another input (i.e. AUX), you can use that input for additional DSP modes if you desire.

    But enough about the AVM-20. Dean is interested in the Ref50 and the Theater Grand III, and is probably looking for feedback about those two processors. Hopefully someone has had a chance to compare them in the same system (I have only heard the two in separate systems).

    Michael
     
  11. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Michael- I think he means true upsampling, 44/16 to 48/24 or 96/24.
    Jerry- Shame on you! [​IMG] Being in Minnesota 'n all... I personally don't split hairs between American and Canadian products (or British for that matter). But everyone has their criteria...
    Double shame on you: [​IMG] Wanting to apply DSP to SACD/DVD-A is like, well, preferring to listen to a CD instead of an lp...
     
  12. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Kevin,

    "Michael- I think he means true upsampling, 44/16 to 48/24 or 96/24."

    No, he actually said "Also, Can the Anthem Up-sample the analog 5.1 inputs like the B&K Ref 50?". I don't think he was talking about upsampling the digital inputs.

    Michael
     
  13. Jerry Klawiter

    Jerry Klawiter Screenwriter

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    Kevin,
    DSP modes such as five or seven channel stereo, or dts neo, DPLII music,or one that the many others ref50 has to offer is not all bad on some of these not so good stereo only SACD recordings. The small loss in the extra A/D at times is well worth it. Also with all the new multi DVD-A/SACD MP3 players soon to be out, I find this feature rather nice and flexible for what ever may come out next, Someday the DVD-A-SACD will go to digital, now what to do with those inputs? the capability to add any & all the features of the processor to those inputs is very nice.
    Michael,
    That is what I though, I understood with the standard analog inputs this can be done. So the dealer was correct with the 5.1 ins on the AVM20, The Ref30 was the same as the AVM20 in this area.
    The Ref50 lets you assign the DVD-A (5.1)
    inputs to any source on the fly within setup.
    Then when in what B&K calls mode-5(Direct),those inputs are direct only as implied, toggle your dsp modes or speaker count configs from 1-7 channels, then the analog coming in those 5.1 inputs are up-sampled and dsp is applied or split into multi channel stereo or mono or what ever mode.
    Very nice for those with a pronto and the B&K ccf, or even the new B&K 10.1 MX-700
    One button press to made all these changes in real time on the fly without making a single change in the setup.
    This also takes no space from the user presets, these are no part of any user preset.
    Here is a poor pix of a few pages to the original B&K ccf for the ref30.
    I have a color Pronto Pro and my ccf has had many modifications made to fit the Ref50, More DSP modes and great color.
    Here you get the idea.
    Again, these in no way take any presets away from the B&K.
    Those are still 100% available.
    [​IMG]
    Press one of those buttons, and that's what you get from the speakers.[​IMG]
     
  14. Jerry Klawiter

    Jerry Klawiter Screenwriter

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    Kevin,
    BTW: We have what maybe a war to pay for and an economy to jump-start. I try to do my share & buy USA, but have not found many deals in this hobby with the made in the USA on them.
    My current speakers are from north of the boarder,
    Nearly the rest of BOTH my setups from over seas.
    Being in Minnesota 'n all,
    I am Minnesota NICE [​IMG]
     
  15. Jerry Klawiter

    Jerry Klawiter Screenwriter

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  16. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    I would also be interested in a comparision of the Ref 50 and the TGIII but seems like no one is doing an A/B discussion of these two. It seems more like an AVM20 and Ref50 features discussion[​IMG]
    Any relevant comparisions between the two?
     
  17. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    I would also be interested in a comparision of the Ref50 and the TGIII but seems like no one is doing an A/B discussion of these two. It seems more like an AVM20 and Ref50 features discussion[​IMG]
    Any relevant comparisions between the two?
     
  18. Dean Arizona

    Dean Arizona Agent

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    Hello again. Granted, this is my first thread but it sure seems to have stirred up quite a hornet's nest. First, in defense of my statement that the Anthem doesn't ship with DPLII. The day prior to creating the post I visited an Anthem dealer. The display model did not have DPLII and the salesman said the model was shipping as configured. I've already taken the time to update the salesman's misunderstanding of the 20's current software configuration for which he was grateful. He admitted that he had not sold a 20 in a while and his product knowledge was not current. Second, in our post "9/11" society, supporting American manufacturers (albeit with significant foreign participation)is a legitimate consideration. I meant no offense to the Anthem camp nor have any "bias" towards it. The 20 is an absolutely superb piece. However, the most frustrating thing I've observed is how goal this thread has been dominated by a discussion of issues unrelated to the comparative analysis of the B&K Reference 50 and the Sunfire Theater Grand III. I think allot of us are contemplating the purchase of a new pre/pro and that these two are on the short list. Perhaps this just a function of the type of free flow discussion that occurs in the forum which gives rise to tangential conversation. Nonetheless, any thoughts on the relative merits of the 50 and the TGIII are still greatly appreciated. Thank you.
     
  19. Jerry Klawiter

    Jerry Klawiter Screenwriter

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    Dean,
    I understand your position on this,
    Similar things happen with Sub threads and the S_S tends to come forward, even if it was not part of a short list for what ever reasons. (People have their passions, myself included)
    I only tried to supply some personal experiences with the hands on the Ref50, Some of what I have described is not complete knowledge on any web site including B&K's.
    I spoke to B&K with my findings of late, They to say the least had been intrigued to my findings as to the analog 5.1 inputs and what can be done.
    Not sure if this was news to them or not?
     

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