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Expensive pre-pro or cheap one with external DAC? (1 Viewer)

Tim_S

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Oct 2, 2000
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Ok, I know this is an impossible question to really answer and the true answer is that I should go listen for myself. Problem is that living in Tallahassee, I can't as there are no places to audition things and I have to buy mail order or used. With that as preamble. . . .

I am in desparate need of upgrading my pre-pro. I have been using a Denon 3300 as a placeholder for a while and it needs to leave. I am primarily interested in improving music performance and consider any improvements in movies a nice bonus. Unfortunately I don't have space for a separate music only rig, so I can't really go that route. The relevant other parts of my system are VMPS RM1's for my main speakers and an Anthem MCA5 SII amp to drive them with a SVS CS-Ultra for the very bottom end.

My thoughts are to go with one of these two options

A: a more expensive pre-pro, the three most likely are Anthem AVM-20, Cinepro DTC-10 and EAD (used from Audiogon). The Cinepro is easiest for me to acquire but unproven (as it isn't out yet), the Anthem is proven but harder for me to get and the EAD is expensive, so no clear choice for me there.
B: A cheaper pre-pro, Outlaw or Rotel, with a separate DAC like the Perpetual Technology P-3A.

The cost of these options are pretty much close enough that I don't care so much about the price. Any impressions on which is likely to give me better results for music? Also, anyone know what DACs the Cinepro will be using?

Tim
 

Martice

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Jan 20, 2001
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I am primarily interested in improving music performance and consider any improvements in movies a nice bonus. Unfortunately I don't have space for a separate music only rig, so I can't really go that route. The relevant other parts of my system are VMPS RM1's for my main speakers and an Anthem MCA5 SII amp to drive them with a SVS CS-Ultra for the very bottom end.
Hi Tim. Since you are mainly interested in upgrading the audio part of your system for music related purposes, I would check into the Sony TA-P9000es. This unit allows for a lot of flexibility in regards to using it as a preamp itself (which I currently do) or using it as a switcher between preamps and multi channel high resolution players. It has totally transparent 2 & 5 channel bypass inputs as well as 2 5.1 inputs. In your case you could use the TA-P9000es as a 2-channel pre and still hold on to your current receiver for movies. If you in the future would like to purchase a 2-channel preamp you could then use the TA-P9000es as a switcher and hook up your new 2-channel pre amp to the 2-channel bypass and use it for music. This is a real no brainer and an excellent way to have the best of both worlds if you don't want to compromise your music playback in the name of HT. No longer do you have to settle for the limited 2-channel pre amps that have HT bypass switches so that you can have seperate audio & video pre amps.

I picked my unit up at Onecall for under $600.00.

Relevant associated equipment:

GR Research AV1+ L,C,R speakers
Sony TA-P9000es
HK SIg 2.0 - HT Processor
Sony XA-20es CD player
B&K Ref 4420 2-channel power amp
Acurus 100x3 3-channel power amp

Former Pre amps:

Sonic Frontiers Line 1 2-channel pre amp
Adcom GFP-750 2-channel pre amp

I honestly believe that I like the Sony TA-P9000es better as a pre amp then I did the Adcom pre and I really liked that one a lot.

The above equipment list was given as a point of reference.
 

Andrew Pratt

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I'd go with the Rotel and the PA DAC myself. You'd get all the all the latest processing formats and a fantastic DAC for 2 channel music. Obviously we don't know for sure what DAC's the cinepro will use but by all accounts the PA DAC is going to be very hard to beat
 

Ricky T

Supporting Actor
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Oct 28, 1999
Messages
921
For bang for the buck, flexibility, and no ceiling on 2 channel performance, I would definitly go with a separate preamp with HT bypass (ie, Sony TAP for $450 NIB at oade.com used anthem P2L tube preamp in classified forum, etc) and a dac.
You could even keep the Denon 3300 until you want to use more than 5 speakers. I use a Lexicon for HT and Rogue magnum 66 tube preamp for 2 channel, and loving it; I think I have the best of both worlds! I have a lead to a mint, loaded DC1 if you are interested :)
 

Tim_S

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Oct 2, 2000
Messages
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I appreciate the suggestions on the separate 2 channel pre-amp and have thought about that. The problem with that is I have to get rid of the Denon. It's performance on movies is fine for me, but the fan noise after playing for a while is driving me crazy. It is out. So I have to get a new HT processor. A new HT processor, DAC AND 2 channel pre-amp are probably more than I want to spend, although that Pre 2L is looking pretty good.

Tim
 

Tim_S

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Oct 2, 2000
Messages
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What is your total budget? And the rest of your system?
Rest of the system is easy to answer, total budget is hard. Total system is:

Proc: Denon 3300
DVD: Toshiba 4205
Amp: Anthem MCA 5 SII
Mains: VMPS RM1's
Center: B&W CC6 S2 (likely to be replaced soon)
Rears: B&W 601 S2
Sub: SVS CS-Ultra
Sub Amp: Sampson S-1000
Power Conditioner: VansEvers
Cables: Mix of Kimber, Tara Labs and Audioquest

Total budget is an amorphous thing. I can probably spend up to around $3500, but would prefer to keep things under $3k or under as that makes it easier to upgrade the CC (I have a source to get a good price on the Cinepro which is why it falls into consideration).

I suppose getting the Rotel (I'm actually somewhat averse to the Outlaw) and PT DAC for around $2200 (?) would leave enough for a used Pre 2L. Of course then I have a problem actually acquiring the Rotel. . . (my real problem with option B above anyway)

It is definitely a good suggestion. I will think about it some more. Thanks.

Tim
 

Ricky T

Supporting Actor
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Oct 28, 1999
Messages
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$3k is plenty:
7.1 Prepro (Rotel or used Lexicon DC1 ~ $1150)
Preamp with HT bypass (used Anthem ~ $575 or TAP)
DAC (PT, bel canto dac1.1 or dac 2.0, msb gold link, music fidelity, etc, etc, etc $500-1000 used or new)

And ANY of the components can be upgraded without any affect on the other two. And if you buy used, you'd only lose a little on resale down the line.
 

Mike Bledsoe

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May 24, 2002
Messages
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Dear Tim
I am confused, you say that you have to get rid of your Denon 3300 because you can't stand the fan noise?
I have a Denon 3300 and I have no fan noise problem, as a matter of fact it doesn't have a fan. I also use it as a two channel pre-amp when I listen to music since I run it's main two channels pre-amp out to a Denon 5200 dual mono block 120 watts ch. power amp and I am really very please with that set up. ;)
Mike Bledsoe
 

Tim_S

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Oct 2, 2000
Messages
80
I am confused, you say that you have to get rid of your Denon 3300 because you can't stand the fan noise?
Doesn't have a fan? The amps run like a space heater. If the reciever didn't it would melt down. :)
It is defnitely in there and after the receiver runs for a while the fans rev up to try to cool it off and they can make a lot of noise, at least to me. I can't hear it during most music playback, but during quieter passages or some quiet passages in movies it shows up. If I recall correctly there was a big to-do about some of the early units which had really bad fan noise problems. Mine isn't that bad, but it is there.
I don't mean to disparrage the unit at all. It is a nice receiver. Some likely wouldn't notice the noise. I do.
Tim
 

Martice

Screenwriter
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Jan 20, 2001
Messages
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If you really want to maximize your 2-channel capabilities, You should really look at the Sonic Frontier Line 1 with HT bypass. You can get one for about 1150.00 new and still buy you a very solid receiver for HT and still have change left over for an excellent DAC. I've owned the Anthem P2L and it didn't stay in my system passed 20 days. That's when I sent it back and bought the Line 1.

Once again though, I think the TAP unit allows you to not worry about trying to nail the best sound from an all in one unit, the TAP allows you it use it as a 2-channel pre if you find you want to upgrade your main dedicated 2-channel pre amp later on. That's not to mention that the TAP allows you inputs for 2 high resolution multi-channel players. I listen to music most of the time and it's good to know that I can now pick any 2-channel preamp I want to handle music portion in my system as opposed to spending $2-3,000 for an all in one unit that may or may not perform as well in music.

Oh well, I guess I'll stop beating the horse right now because I'm sure he's dead.
 

Mike Bledsoe

Stunt Coordinator
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May 24, 2002
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Tim

That is really strange maybe Denon had two different models
of the 3300 I swear I have no fan in mine. Maybe because you live in Florida where it is so hot or something. The receiver does get a little hot so maybe latter versions had a fan to cool things down a bit, not that I ever had a melt down problem or anything.
Well good luck anyway.

Mike
 

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