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Need rec for a high-end AV pre-amp

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by mgerity, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. mgerity

    mgerity Auditioning

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    Michael Gerity
    I have been a heavy Linn user for a long time, and my AV system for the bedroom is mostly Linn (AV 5105 and C6100 amps, Espek Aktiv speakers, Linn surround, center and sub speakers). Up until recently, I then used a Linn Classik Movie (2005 version) as both a preamp and a DVD player and was quite happy. The Linn was getting old, though, it didn't play blu-ray, and it was having some power on issues, so I wanted to replace it.

    On top of the above, I was also forced into HDMI by my cable provider, and so the Linn could no longer work as a preamp. I searched and searched, and next bought an Arcam Solo Video 5.1, which I THOUGHT was a near perfect, drop-in replacement that included HDMI. Unfortunately, I then discovered that the HDMI connections on the Arcam are stereo only, and have other quirks that make them fail at what I need. Plus, it was not a blu-ray player either.

    I then got an Oppo BDP-103 to add blu-ray, so I no longer needed my pre-amp to be an all-in-one type unit, and could simply get an AV pre-amp (or integrated amp that has pre-amp outputs). Unfortunately, none of Linn's HDMI equipped products (Majik DSM, Akurate DSM, Klimax DSM) appear to support multi-channel/surround, and none of its prior multi-channel products have HDMI, so I apparently cannot stick with Linn. Similarly, the only current Arcam products with HDMI and pre-amp outs are their giant AVR line, which don't fit well into the small, compact setup I have in that bedroom.

    So, what I want is an audiophile level, compact preamp with HDMI inputs and 5.1 analog outputs to replace the Linn and the Arcam Solo. I no longer need it to have a DVD player, because I have the Oppo. Does anybody have any recommendations for such a preamp? I am absolutely fine with (and maybe prefer) something I can get second-hand to save some money, so even discontinued models are fine with me. Again, I'm looking for something that is in line with the rest of the Linn gear for sound quality.

    One other option would be to upgrade to the Oppo BDP-105 instead of my 103, as the Oppos have pre-amp outs, and the 105 has 2 more digital inputs. That could then serve as my pre-amp, I'm just not sure if it's the best approach, and I'm not going to go out and upgrade to a 105 just for those additional inputs only to find out it doesn't work well as a pre-amp.
     
  2. Message #2 of 4 Nov 29, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
    Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    Really, most audiophile products utterly fail at implementing HDMI properly. Is compact size a must have for you? That's probably the hardest one to solve for.

    I really like Marantz pre/pro's (AV7702 mkII and AV8802A) but they are a little larger size wise - but have excellent sonic performance and tons of features. I would rank them above Rotel and many other audiophile components. Other than them, options include Emotiva's XMC-1 (not an "audiophile" brand, but great quality). The next best bet is a separate device that offramps HDMI to analog and then an analog pre-amp.

    Do you have a specific budget/chassis size in mind?
     
  3. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    I went the route of a 2-channel preamp with HT Bypass. I use that configuration in the main system and one back-up system and have another system, although just 2-channel at the moment, has HT Bypass. I view receivers as something that will change more rapidly technology wise vs. some other components and I buy refurbs. accessories4less.com has refurbs of both receivers and pre/pros.
     
  4. Jeff Phelps

    Jeff Phelps Auditioning

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    My experience has been that Denon receivers with rca outs for every channel make great pre-amps for HT. I haven't really checked the newer models. I have an older Denon that has the rca outputs for front, center, surrounds, sub, and multi room if I want to go that way. I run my HDMI connections to my tv and let it do the video switching. I have digital connections from all my equipment to my receiver and all but my computer provide DD and DTS sound. Soon I will be fixing the problem with my computer as I have a new sound card ordered that will output DD and DTS. I don't have the newer Dolby formats but I seem to do OK without them. If you're n the market for a audiophile level pre-amp you will almost certainly get those newer formats with the lastest Denon equipment.

    i looked at the latest and greatest Denon receivers and found one that covers everything you're likely to want. It functions as a pre-amp and a receiver depending on what you want. You can use the rca outs to various amps or you can use the receiver to drive all your speakers if you wish. Personally I have amps for my front channels and my center and I use the Denon to power my surround speakers and back surrounds. This Denon I'm linking to has 9.1 channel sound I believe. And it has pretty much all of the latest signal formats. My problem with buying a system to support those newer formats is that many movies don't even have them. It's rare to find a movie that even supports 7.1 sound. I just ordered a movie that does support 7.1 even though I'm not that crazy about the movie. i just want something to actually make my 7.1 system work to it's fullest. Anyway here's the link to the Denon. It functions as a pre-amp and it has HDMI switching.

    https://usa.denon.com/us/product/hometheater/receivers/avrx7200wa
     

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