Klipsch ProMedia dd/dts pre/pro for $99

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Ron-P, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    My search came up empty so does anyone have opinions on this thing. $99 for a pre/pro with some very decent flexability. Bass management is a tad weak, but for $99 I can't find anything else wrong with it.

    ProMedia Pre/Pro Info

    Review with Pics


    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  2. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    At one point, I was considering this pre-pro with 5 Antique Sound Lab V8 monoblock tube amp ($100.00/each back then) for my system.

    I believe this is the same unit as the one packaged for Acoustic Energy's Aego systems. Great price!!
     
  3. John S

    John S Producer

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    If I had an older Prologic but 5.1 DD ready receiver that had real good clean power amps, I would jump on it for sure.
     
  4. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Well, I jumped on it and ordered it up this morning. For $99 and a 30 day return policy, it's a must buy-n-try. IF, it works as good as my Marantz SR5000, it will finally allow me to remove that receiver from the HT rig and use it else where in the house.


    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  5. Brad Wood

    Brad Wood Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron,

    Let me know how that works out. I have an old Marantz AV600 and have been mired in Pro-Logic while I save for a new pre-amp. With no one really set on digital video standards and firewire audio, I'm waiting a little longer to pull the trigger. If this thing actually works, I don't think you can go wrong for $99. It could tide me over until I have some real money to buy a good pre-pro with. I wish they published some actual specs on this.

    Brad Woodhouse
    Minneapolis
     
  6. John S

    John S Producer

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    I agree, I know at least two people, that this thing would be perfect for. Please let us know what you think of it.
     
  7. RolandM

    RolandM Stunt Coordinator

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    Looks okay alright--I'm sure it will do the job. However, to me, it looks like this thing would be better suited to cars or computers. Just my take on it at least. The 12V power supply it requires would further me to see the usefulness of this processor in both the car environment and for use with PCs...

    Just from what I see a big downside might be that there are only two digital inputs, 1 coax and 1 Toslink. Still at $100 US it is a pretty good deal...
     
  8. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    FedEx delivered it on time yesterday. When I arrived home it was waiting. Had to spend a little time finishing up some patch work in the kitchen after installing recessed lighting and then off I went to the cave.

    Read through the directions, decommissioned the Marantz and activated the Kilpsch. The red and green LEDs lit up like a Xmas tree. About an hour was all the time I had last night.

    Here is a short list of what I used for testing;
    - Pearl Harbor (dts/dd)
    - Moulin Rouge (dts/dd)
    - T3 (dd)
    - Pirates of the Caribbean (dts/dd)
    - Cirque du Soleil: Alegria (2-channel CD)

    For this testing secession I set all speakers to small. Calibrated with the supplied test tone and a Rat Shack Sound Meter ('C' weighted / Slow Response). Everything was calibrated at reference and all my testing was done between 0 and -10 depending on the movie.

    First in was T3 and the crane sequence. Everything was very crisp, detailed and extremely enveloping, sounded excellent. Bass was a little weak but a bit of tweaking fixed that. The front sound stage was extremely seamless, something not so noticeable with the Marantz.

    Next up was Pearl Harbor (dts and dd). I ran the second disk of the 4-disk set and played the sequence where Rafe McCawley's plane goes down during the Doolittle raid. This sequence has decent bass but the ensuing gun battle between the planes crew and the Jap's has excellent pistol definition and surround usage. Very impressive. Overall, it sounded like the Marantz only a bit more detailed and crisp.

    Now, came the true test...Moulin Rouge. One of, if not my favorite film. I've seen this movie 40+ times and know it like the back of my hand. Every detail, every scene, every song. Sad but true I know. Anyway, right off, at the DVDs start-up menu I heard details in the music I'd not heard before. This movie sounds beautiful in both dd and dts so I ran though "Your Song" and "One Day I'll Fly Away". "Your song" sounded about the same between the two processors. But, "One Day I'll Fly Away", there were details in Kidmans voice I'd never heard before. Very lifelike, almost as if she was standing right in front of me singing live, it was awesome. Very detailed, very enveloping and the vocals were very solid.

    At this point in the game I was starting to doubt myself. How can two processors that decoded the same information, sound different? How? So, I went back and played some more. Sure enough. The differences are there, subtle, but noticeable.

    I turned off the surrounds and center only running the mains and sonosub for some 2-channel playback. Played a couple songs from my Alegria CD. Sounded about the same with a bit more detail in the high end. Other then that, it sounded like the Marantz.

    Now that I've rambled on I'll sum up my experience, pros and cons.

    The BIGGEST improvement, no more audio 'pop' when the audio drops out during layer changes or when navigating a DVD. I've had this problem every since I added the Adcoms. The Klipsch also provides more detail and crisper highs over the Marantz. Bass response was the same after some tweaking, just a little weak out of the box. The overall sound field was also a bit more enveloping. I noticed this on every movie. Nothing major, but enough to take notice. Overall, I am very impressed with both the dd and dts sound fields. I did not tweak the 5 band EQ at all, nor did I run any dsp modes.

    The unit itself is small, very small. Only one button (power) graces the front of the unit, everything else is done via the remote. The remote is very well laid out, kinda cheap feeling but works well. The down side, it's not backlit. Klipsch dropped the ball here. Everything done via the remote and its not backlit. A minor compaint in the grand scheme of things I suppose. Menu navigation is very easy as is setup and tweaking. The LCD display is very easy to read and 6 leds light up either red, green or off. They are bright and there is no option I've found to dim them. I'll need some static-cling window tint for those. The red LED shows full range to speaker, green is anything above 120Hz and if the LED is off, no signal to speaker. Very nice feature.

    As of now, I am extremely impressed with this little box. I walked out of the theater last night with a BIG smile on my face. At this point it's a keeper and will replace my Marantz SR5000 receiver as the pre/pro in the Driftwood. It's got a few short comings, but over all for the price paid, it cannot be beat.

    Hope this helps and I apologize for the long running time. More will follow as I get more tweaking time and testing in.

    Not understanding pre/pros that much, I am a bit in the dark as to how this processor sounds different then my Marantz processor.


    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  9. Brad Wood

    Brad Wood Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron,

    Sounds like good news. I may just order one this afternoon. The only concern for me will be two channel performance. I listen about 70/30 music vs. movies and I don't have the budget for a separate HT and listening system. If this will tide me over until I can gather the funds for an audiophile quality pre that does both, then great! I'll keep everyone posted as to what I come up with.
     
  10. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    My thoughts exactly.

    I bought this knowing full-well I'll be upgrading to a more pro model later. This is only temporary so I can pull my Marantz out of the rig line-up and use it elsewhere. For $99 I could not pass it up, just so happened it works very well.


    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  11. John S

    John S Producer

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    Anybody that has an older yet quality ProLogic reciever with extrenal in's for the channels or even the poweramps, really should not pass this one up. I know one such person in particular that is in this situation.
     
  12. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    Hi Ron, I also own this unit and am very pleased with the performance of it. It is simple and straight forward and does my DD-DTS decoding just fine. I used to own the Harman Kardon 2.0 and although I liked it, the HK had a less flexible bass management system than the Promedia. This was important because I have a ICBM and I couldn't set the BM on the large setting and still get a LFE signal. With the Promedia it allows me to set the BM to the large setting on all speakers thus allowing my ICBM to handle all of the BM duties.

    The HK made movies very warm sounding in comparison to the Promedia and if I had to use another term I'd say that the Promedia is brighter or more alive then the HK. The HK did 2-channel much better than the Promedia and I currently am using my Sony TAP9000es as my two channel pre amp.

    For movies the Promedia was supposed to be a stop gap until I picked me another pre/pro for my system but the Promedia has made it easy for me to forget about my pre/pro needs for now and concentrate on other things.

    If you are a straight 5.1 person and need a processor that is better than the Technics SH500 DD/DTS processor that many used to use not too long ago, then give the Promedia a try. It's worth every dime of the $100 that it goes for.

    Everyone is looking for TRUE audio steals and believe me this is one if you don't have deep pockets.
     
  13. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Hoping you can elaborate a bit for those of us who haven't had the chance to compare the two.
     
  14. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    Hi Bruce.

    Klipsch Promedia has these advantages over the Technics Pre/Pro.

    1. It has a more funtional bass management setup. The Technics only allowed the Large and Small setting with a crossover of 120hz. The Klipsch allows for the following settings:

    Bass Conf 1: All signals below 120hz will be sent to the subwoofer.

    Bass Conf 2: All signals below 120hz will be sent to the left and right front speakers as well as the subwoofer.

    Bass Conf 3: All signals below 120hz will be sent to all speakers.

    Bass Conf 4: (No bass management) All signals below 120hz will be sent to all speakers.

    2. The second advantage is that the Klipsch automatically detects the type of signal coming into it. The Technics had to be manually selected or you wouldn't hear the desired signal.


    3. The klipsch has five band equalizers that can be set for each of the units inputs. The inputs include a set of RCA inputs and outputs for analog devices such as tape decks, RCA and coaxial outputs for the CD player, and Coaxial, optical and RCA outputs for the DVD players.

    The cool thing is that you can select separate EQ settings for each input and save them on one of the four preset buttons located on the remote. So you can have select EQ settings for movies but different settings while listening to music. I've never used these features but I can imagine some may find this feature useful.

    Once again, for $100.00 (I paid $89.00) you can't go wrong and will be very surprised at the sound of this unit for movies. Some may be put off because of the Promedia's looks and price but look at it this way, we have seen some speakers that have compared very well to much higher priced competitors and we've also seen some lower priced receivers compare quite nicely to much higher costing receivers. I would think it not hard to believe that a unit like the Klipsch Promedia could actually decode 5.1 DD and DTS well enough to keep more than a lot of people on this forum happy.

    This piece works especially well if you are trying to piece together a nice system composed of separates and would like to concentrate your efforts on other things like quality 2-channel pre amps with HT bypass, speakers or amps. The fact that you have your basic 5.1 digital decoding worries taken care of with a single $100 bill is the cherry on top and that should mean a better purchase in other areas of your system that you are trying to upgrade.
     
  15. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Sounds like your experience is similar to mine. It's beyond a bargin for $99.

    Are you using the Outlaw ICBM? I've been eyeing this up for quite sometime and was thinking about finally getting one now that I've got a pre/pro in the mix.


    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  16. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Martice,

    Thanks for the feedback!! I was also looking for any real sound quality differences.

    For my setup,
    I hate graphic EQs, especially a severly limited 5 -band. Something I would never use. Is there an absolute defeat (on/off) switch for the 5-band EQ? Or is it always in the signal path with the values set to zero?


    Thanks again. I don't mean to sound critical, just trying to evaulate for my system.
     
  17. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    You have to turn on the EQ in order for it to have any effect on the sound. Infact, it has a specific button which reads "EQ On/Off"

    I hope I've been of some help.
     
  18. Brad Wood

    Brad Wood Stunt Coordinator

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    The FedEx guy showed up last night, and here are my impressions after a few hours of listening and tweaking.

    I connected the unit which took all of about 5 minutes and threw in a CD. Since I'm about 70/30 two channel vs. movies, this was important. I grabbed Woodface by Crowded House. A great test disc because it's bone dry, and the vocal is very in your face. The first thing that struck me was no waiting for the unit to read the digital stream! A few years back I spent $1500 on and Adcom GTP-760 only to find that if I wanted to use the digital in for CD's on my 5 disc changer, I'd lose the first three seconds of every song. The music started and the ProMedia sounded fairly decent right out of the box. I listened a bit more and found the highmids and highs to be a bit harsh so I reached for the EQ. I tweaked that for quite a while, and for two channel, the EQ is basically un-usable. I tried to dial back the harshness and I heard some slop in the mids around 500Hz that I wanted to get rid of. After an hour of doubting my ears, I just went back to flat and took a little off the high mids. Then I grabbed the Holly Cole disc and popped in "I Can See Clearly Now," another great test track. The vocal was very forward, but this song really showed some issues with the ProMedia's DAC's. The stand up bass was very floppy and I heard some definite distortion on the fret sounds. I also felt the soundstage was compressed and imaging really wasn't there. All in all, not an amazing sounding unit, but you have to continue with your Mantra, "it's $99!, it's $99!"

    On to movies. While I don't normally like to use EQ on my two channel listening, all bets are off for movies. If I can't hear the dialogue, crank that 1K up to +10! Damn the torpedoes! I popped in "Finding Nemo," a disc I don't usually get to watch very often because it scares the be-jeeezus out of my three year old son. I was pretty impressed with the performance of the ProMedia on Nemo right away. The dialogue was clear and concise, and when I had to use the EQ for it, it was actually helpful. The sub output was a little loose, but overall not drastically of lower quality than my old Marantz. I did notice that the unit has a higher noise floor than what I'm used to. (remember the mantra) I have Tannoy surrounds that are drastically more efficient than my M&K fronts, so noise can be an issue until I get the levels matched. Any negatives in sound quality on movies however, were quickly offset by the imaging of Dolby Digital. I went back to my old Dolby ProLogic Marantz after a dismal Adcom experience, so it's nice to be back in the Dolby digital world.

    As for the remote, it's 50/50. It's very easy to use, but there are a couple of gripes. I wasn't upset that it's not backlit (mantra) but the EQ is very difficult to set. If you don't hold the EQ up and down button while you're adjusting levels, it reverts back to the main window. If you were adjusting band 3, you have to scroll through to get back to it. I also would like to have seen the reset button were under a panel or of a smaller size. I had made some adjustments before I saved them, and accidentally hit the re-set button which took it back to factory default. The remote does allow you to save four presets however, which is definitely a plus since I listen to movies and music very differently.

    In summary, the ProMedia is a pretty handy little unit. It's not audiophile quality, and it's a little harsh sounding, but for $99, it's very usable. Probably more so than a number of processors out there that cost ten times as much. This unit will definitely tide me over until I can afford that MC8B, or until consumer electronics manufacturers get their Sh!& together on digital audio transfer protocols and HD switching.

    Thanks for listening to my long wind!
     
  19. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Nice review Brad.

    I did not test too much in the 2-channel arena as I really don't do it. This was mainly for movies and I felt it excelled over my Marantz SR5000 receiver. During movie playback I did not notice the harshness that you speak of. The overall sound field was incredibly enveloping over my Marantz and that is what I noticed more so than anything else. The highs were a tad brighter, but not harsh. Mid-bass had a solid punch and the bass (after tweaking) was just as solid as that when it was going through the Marantz.

    Overall, it's worth every penny for $99. It has its short comings, but like you, it's a tied-me-over until I can afford better. I mainly wanted my Marantz out of the HT line-up and this filled its spot nicely.

    Next up, I'm in the process of buying an Outlaw ICBM from a member so hopefully I'll get that into the rig by next weekend or so.


    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  20. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    I also wouldn't consider the Promedia a harsh sounding unit. I also haven't experienced the hissing but then again, you did say that you didn't properly calibrate your speakers at the time of your writing.

    In short, unless you require a lot of features, you could find yourself very happy with the tiny mighty Promedia.
     

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