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Please help me decide on a pre/pro - anthem, EAD, etc. (1 Viewer)

Kincade

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 6, 2002
Messages
400
Drew,

I've read that over and over... Mostly on AVSforum and agon. I read NUMEROUS problems of buzzing/noise on the 1095; as well as the 1068,1067,1056. And although Rotel is fixing them, I honestly don't want to deal with that for this chunk of change.

From here:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...s&pagenumber=4



A post here too:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ight=rotel+hum

And here:

http://www.htguide.com/forum/showthread.php4?t=142

This isn't to be taken as me vs. rotel; i'm just saying it's a chunk of change for me, and i'm LOOKING for reasons to discount products to narrow down my choices.

Search for "rotel" and "hum" or "buzz" - should get quite a bit of reading.
 

James W. Johnson

Screenwriter
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May 26, 2001
Messages
1,055
So Kincade, did you ever decide on a Pre-Pro?

I know you were asking about a pre-pro about the same time I began looking for one..in fact you were looking at many of the same ones I was looking at.

I ended up getting an Aragon Soundstage and have been in heaven but you know how the old "grass is always greener" theory kicks in. I have now spent some more time reviewing the pre-pros @ $2000 and under again and damn near pulled the trigger on an EAD piece but decided against it after consulting with a few other Soundstage owners.

I think the next logical step for me is going to be a Parasound C2 or Aragon Stage One...but as of now these are still pretty expensive and probably going to only yield me some additional features.

For a 2 channel upgrade I think the next step up is the insane expensive stuff such as a Theta Casablanca.


Anyhow I was just looking thru some older threads here and was curious what you ended up doing.
 

Kincade

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 6, 2002
Messages
400
James,

I found a dealer who will sell me an Anthem AVM-30 for a REALLY good price, i.e. within my stated budget. It satisfies all my criteria above, and I know it will be supported in the future. The only others I was seriously considering were:

*B&K ref50v2
*Sherwood P965
*Parasound C2

B&K isn't out yet, and I've seen how they offer upgrades (rarely).

Sherwood looks amazing, especially for the price; but I've talked to several people whose opinion I respect that say the 2channel bypass isn't to par with the others in my list. That, and finding a dealer on these is a massive chore! I emailed Jeff @ Sherwood and about 6 other dealers, and NONE got back to me. If I can't get someone to sell one to me, how am I going to get service if something goes wrong???

Parasound is missing some of the features I wanted, and I couldn't find one within my budget anyway.

Everything else fell out of my budget; used thetas, EAD's, etc; all would probably be a marginal step up from the anthem, but for a far greater cost. Unless I had a dedicated room with treatments, I seriously doubt I'd be able to realize the full benefit of the next step up.
 

James W. Johnson

Screenwriter
Joined
May 26, 2001
Messages
1,055
Id cross Sherwood off myself if I got that sort of treatment.

I asked EAD if there were 5.1 analog inputs on their older Ovation and was told:
'The Ovation does not have analog pass-through, if that's what you mean. And I don't understand the 5.1 inputs for SACD - SACD is two-channel.'

That made for an easy EAD 'slash off'.
:)


Ive read alot about the Ref 50 not really being much of a stereo performer.

The Parasound C2 makes my mouth water but its very expensive still.

The Anthem AMV-30 is one that I have not given much look to....what DACs does it use and does it have a 'real' analog pass thru? So many Pre-pros actually digitize and contaminate the analog signal going thru.

Personally I think the build and looks of the B&K and Sherwood are just not as classy as some of the older modular pieces like the one I have...which brings me to another questions is the Anthem 30 modular?
From here on out , for me modular is a feature I will have to demand. It makes upgrades and repair alot easier and possible in some instances.
 

James W. Johnson

Screenwriter
Joined
May 26, 2001
Messages
1,055
I put my Soundstage up for sale on Agon last week and had alot of interest.

Basically I am at a point that if I am going to try another piece , now is the time....but sadly there is no going back once I do it. The odds of me finding another Soundstage are slim.

Furthermore I dont want to try more than one other pre-pro at this time just because these sort of higher dollar internet transaction can so easily get mucked up. I dont want to play the odds to much and press my luck.

The AMV-30 , Stage One and Parasound C2 look like the top 3 for me.

Ead Ovation and Plus, Sherwood, B&K Ref 50, Krell HTS (ver1), Sunfire (although I have not heard much about these...I suppose that alone says enough) are all out.

There is one other that Id be interested in but I am not really clear as to what models are what
and so on ... the brand is Proceed.
 

James W. Johnson

Screenwriter
Joined
May 26, 2001
Messages
1,055
Hey...what would really be nice if someone in the Seattle Area has one or 2 of these higher end pre-pros , we could have a little audio shootout.

Maybe compare features some but most importantly compare sound quality in HT and 2 channel use.

Really to make it easier you could just set up a 2 channel rig because I think its safe to say that any HT PRe-pro that blows you away in a 2 channel critical listening environment is going to do the same for HT.

Its quite possible though that my Soundstage might even whoop up on a Theta Casablanca in stereo mode...but I have no idea since I dont have alot of experience with these. I do know that my Soundstage kicks some serious 2 channel ass though ...what I want to know ..actually its really a need to know/ is how much better can these things get.


Anyone up for it?
 

Kincade

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 6, 2002
Messages
400
James,

That treatment IS what made me cross them off my list; too bad, it looks like they've got a great product.

"SACD is only 2 channel" - HA! You'd think tech at a major player would know differently.

I had actually read that the ref50 was a good stereo performer, but suffered from popping, crackling, and other problems. Which apparently have just been remedied, although it had been quite a while.

The AVM30 has a real pass-thru; go to anthemav.com and check it out. Nice piece.

What do you mean by modular? If upgradeable, then yes; they have offered many upgrades over the years to their components; that seems to be a major selling point over the other manufacturers. Plus, they keep their value very well, as they stay current. Hell, they've discontinued the AVM20, but are still going to support it (dplIIx is coming soon).

Is the Aragon Stage1 supposed to be THAT good? I had always read that their older pre-pros were great (based on the aurum pre), but that the new ones weren't up to snuff. I've never seen it grouped with the likes of the C2, etc.

How much better; I suppose it depends on the gear you're running with it. I think after a certain point, you'll pass the other gear up and should upgrade that instead.

I'd love the Soundstage; but it doesn't have a few of my requirements, and for me, I'm not going to spend this kind of money and not get exactly what I want.

Eventually, I want to get a separate room and just run a 2 channel rig; but unfortunately, that isn't an option right now. And as shelf space is at a premium, I can't fit another preamp...
 

James W. Johnson

Screenwriter
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Messages
1,055
Modular means its basically built like a PC, it has a main board and several other add on boards that are either installed into slots or connected via wire.

You can see the modular contruction of the Soundstage on my website.

A modular piece would be upgradeable in almost any way possible....Aragon had a small number of add on boards for the Soundstage to make it a 7.1 processor ..unfortunately they only had a few and are no longer making any upgrades for it.

From what I have heard the Stage One is pretty sweet, maybe not quite as good as the Soundstage in 2 ch but close and it has more features.


Yes I suppose this is true but in my case its not going to happen for awhile. I still feel as though my speakers are source dependent and not the other way around. I suppose you would know when you hit the wall when you can no longer hear a difference between pre-pros.

There is no question that my biggest downfall is my room but since I cannot do anything about that at this time Ill continue to upgrade what I can.
 

James W. Johnson

Screenwriter
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I just got off the phone with a guy at Mondial and he said the Stage One is also based on the Aurum pre-amp and additionally it uses superior Crystal DACs compared to the Soundstage although he thought one would be hard pressed to hear any difference between either of these high end DACs.


Its settled for me...I am either keeping my Soundstage or upgrading to a Stage One.

Parasound is being crossed off because I dont want a silver piece and they are still too expensive.

Anthem is being crossed off just because its the odd man out...why not buy an American made piece if I can? Plus support and repairs will be handled here in the US as well. Canada kicked me out of their country a few years ago, that border incident left a sour taste in my mouth for Canadian goods.
 

Jeff Aguilar

Stunt Coordinator
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Jun 30, 1997
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Lacey, WA
Real Name
Jeff
I got to this party kind of late.

I have the Outlaw 950 for surround sound, paired with an Atlantic Technology 7 channel amp. I did really like my Outlaw for two channel until I moved into the tube area of audio. If you like what the tube based cd player did for your system, I think that you would really like more tube based stuff.

For two channel, I am using a Cayin TA-30 integrated tube amp. It pushes my Martin Logan Aerius i speakers very well. The bass it puts out is actually quite scary for only 35 watts a channel.

I really love the sound of the tube equipment. I recently bought a tube based pre-pro for two channel playback, the TAD-150. It really expanded my soundfield.

I also bought a tube based cd player, the ShengYa CD-S10.

All of my equipment is on my equipment rack and switching for the two setups is done by the Niles DPS-1 switcher.

For me, the Outlaw does a GREAT job with movie playback and tv watching and I LOVE my two channel playback now. I am sure it could be better, it always can, but I am very pleased with everything that I have now.

The Cayin TA-30 runs $899 and the TAD-150 is selling for $699, I believe.

Jeff
 

Kincade

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 6, 2002
Messages
400
Jeff,

Dang nice rack! I looked all over audiogon for that tad-150, without any luck; is it an older product?

So I have a question here; how are these 2 channel preamps with HT bypass set up with a 7 channel pre-pro??? I don't get the order of wiring.

For the mains, is it:

CDP -> 2 channel preamp -> r&l amp channels
Pre/Pro -> 2 channel preamp -> r&l amp channels

Where when using it with a CDP, CD is selected on the preamp, sending the signal directly to the amp. When using it with HT, "aux" is selected which sends the signal from the pre/pro to the preamp, then to the amp.

This is the only order I can think they would work together. Is this correct?

If so, how do you set the level of the preamp so that your surround is always calibrated correctly? Do you have to turn the volume to a certain level every time; or does the "bypass" feature just pass the signal through with no attentuation or gain?

Thanks, sorry if this is a stupid question. I had my mind made up, but DANG those tubes look cool!

Lastly; how do these preamps compare to using the anthem AVM30, etc? Will the rogue magnum 66 (about $700 used) give me a better preamp than the anthem/sherwood/etc? Or is it just a tossup?

For the $2k i'm spending on the AVM30, I could get a Sherwood P965 AND a Rogue Magnum 66.

I wish I had more experience with tubes; I've always heard they're a PITA, that they need to be changed all the time, and if they blow it'll take out the amp/preamp. Any of that true??

Thanks for all the help!
 

Jeff Aguilar

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Lacey, WA
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Thanks for the kudos on the equipment rack! I thought it was a good idea to solve my equipment rack blues.

The TAD-150 is a brand new product. I believe that the 'PRICE' of the preamp is going to be $1699 after his introductory pricing promotion ends. I think that he is selling them for $699 right now.

I bought it from Bizzy Bee, the same place that I bought my Cayin TA-30.

I had Paul at Bizzy Bee modify my Cayin about 6 months after I bought it. I sent it in for the Auricaps upgrade. Paul is a great guy who has worked on and has been modding tube equipment for 30 years. Just a great guy to talk with.

While having my integrated tube amp modified, he told me about the TAD-150, that was suppose to come out in the near future. I had sent my Cayin in around the Feburuary, March time frame. It took longer to come out then he expected. It just came out in August. The TAD-150 is a redesigned Audcom 120. The Audcom 120 is a very affordable prepro. His design changes are only in the TAD-150. I think he had the power supplies redesigned and several other things. The tubes that he uses should last about 10 years. He collaborated with Audcom for over a year to redesign their product with their engineers. It is a fantastic piece of equipment. If you lived closer, I would invite you over for a listen. I am very impressed with it. I am really hearing things that I did not know were in the recordings. It is awesome to sit back and hear the music that just surrounds you when just two speakers are playing. This is hard to explain, but with the addition of this prepro, the music comes at you with the appearance of being on different levels. The voices sound like they are up higher than the bass strings or other instruments. Does that make sense? Not only did my soundfield expand and become more detailed but the layers of music hitting you are incredible. It is so hard to explain, it is just awesome.

As far as the difficulty of working with tube amps...

Only the larger tubes of the amp need the most attention. The smaller tubes, 12AX7, 12AU7 and 12AT7 tubes last a very long time. On my amp, the EL34's need to be biased about every six months. This is REALLY easy to do. These tubes do burn out faster than the smaller tubes. They should last a few years. For me, the cd player is not on as much as tv or movies. So, these tubes will last me SEVERAL years. I have been rolling some tubes, (trying different brands to see what the differences are)so I have back ups. They are not that expensive unless you get into the NOS (New Old Stock) from the 60's.

I am sorry that I cannot answer your setup question since I do not have my system set up that way. I wanted a totally tube based 2 channel system. I know a lot of people use solid state amps with tube preamps with great results. I have not tried to set my system up that way. It would take to long to switch all my wires around for me to want and try that.

I hope that helps, and I am glad that I got you to think about "other" options.

I am sure that if you go with the ideas expressed in your thread, you would be really satified with it. I thought I would just give you something else to chew on.

Jeff Aguilar
 

Jeff Aguilar

Stunt Coordinator
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Messages
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Lacey, WA
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Jeff
The best thing you can do is call Paul from Bizzy Bee about the question of the bypass on the preamp.

The EL34 are on my Cayin integrated. If you buy it from Paul, he will mod the amp and the bias process is as simple as turning a screw on the side of the amp while the provided voltmeter is hooked to the side of the amp. REALLY EASY! Here is a LINK to show you what it entails.

Jeff Aguilar
 

Kincade

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 6, 2002
Messages
400
Jeff,

I'll probably call him tomorrow; thanks for the link on the bias - I've heard that, but always wondered what it was for. Do you think this product will be well known enough that it will have any resale, or is it a buy it and keep it thing?

Tony,

Drop me a PM and we'll chat.
 

Jeff Aguilar

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jun 30, 1997
Messages
229
Location
Lacey, WA
Real Name
Jeff
The Cayin has been getting very good reviews. It is a fairly new product. I believe "The Absolute Sound" is going to have an article on the Cayin in the next issue here in a few weeks. Since it is getting better known, it holds it's value very well.

The TAD-150 is a little different though. It is brand new, a boutique product. Once it gets better known, it will hold it's value but right now I think it's just in that "I plan on keeping this" catagory. I think of it kind of like the modded dvd players for better audio. Unless you have heard it, it is hard to convince someone to buy it. I think that the TAD-150 is an incredible product at an incredible price. I truly do not see me ever wanting to get rid of it. The price was really good and what it did for my system was incredible.

Jeff
 

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