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Pre-pro vs. Amplifier sonic effects

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Gordon C Jr, Nov 6, 2001.

  1. Gordon C Jr

    Gordon C Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd like to know how you all feel about the following question: Which component has the most impact on overall sound of a H/T system.. An amplifier or pre-pro? This is comming from an individual looking at entering the world of separates.. However, I don't want this to become a separates vs. receiver post.
    If an amplifier is the main contributor to better sound, wouldn't it be more advisable and cost effective to purchase an AV receiver to use as pre-pro with all the current features and bypass the receivers interal amplifier and use additional $$$ for higher quality amplifier..
    If the Pre-pro is the main contributer to better sound, wouldn't be advisable to purchase an amplifier with just enough capablility to fill the room with enough sound and use the extra savings for a better pre-pro.
    I realize this is a simplified assessment, but the key question is here. Which component, Pre-pro or amplifier, upgrade would make the biggest impact on a H/T system?
     
  2. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    Gordon, list your setup for better responses....the answer could be an AMP for some and a prepro for others.
     
  3. JerryW

    JerryW Supporting Actor

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    IMO, it's the pre/pro. Then I'd say the amp is next, then interconnects and spkr wire (this is quite controversial). Of course, if you get a lot of clipping from an under-powered amp, then that's going to severely impact your HT enjoyment.
    What would I do? I'd get a nice pre/pro that doesn't break the bank (like the new Outlaw 950) and spend the remainder on good amplification. Get a couple of good monoblocks for your mains and a decent 3-5 channel amp for the center and surrounds (depending on whether you're going with 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1).
    ------------------
    September 11, 2001
    "Those who died will always be remembered.
    Those who killed will never be forgotten.
    We who remain will not let it happen again."
     
  4. Gordon C Jr

    Gordon C Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    Charles,
    I didn't list my components on purpose, because I want a un-biased response to a very general questions
     
  5. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    Ok Gordon, I'd go with Jerry's pecking order then....EXCEPT the speaker is first of course.
     
  6. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

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    Yep, I agree.
    Speakers are number one in my book, followed by the pre/pro, then amplification...interconnects, etc.
    But I only believe this pecking order is true when talking about like quality componenets. In other words, if you are comparing two pre/pros that cost $3k and two amps that cost $2k...the above holds true, IMO.
    If you start comparing the same pre/pro with different quality amps....the amps are sure to change the sound and vice-versa.
    Deja Vu....I was just having this conversation the other day in another thread. The gentleman that I was debating with had the opposite opinion and feels that many agree with his perspective....that the amp affects the sound more than the pre/pro.
    Jeremy
     
  7. Drew Eckhardt

    Drew Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    preamp/processor
    Throwing noisy hardware like tuners, digital processors, video switching, etc. in the same box as line level circuitry without affecting the sound seems to be something that many companies have a hard time with.
    The processor can also provide enhanced algorithms (Logic-7, DPL2) that are more pleasing than what can be derived from the spec or bought in a licensed chip.
    Given sufficiently revealing speakers, there seems to be a substantial difference in such components.
    Conversly, amplifer (line level or power. One can apply the RCA Receiving Tubes manual to spare parts and come up with a decent sounding line stage with little prior electronics experience) design is a text-book exercise which should be hard to get wrong. When not stressed with difficult loads and/or high-output levels solid state amplifiers exhibit at most subtle differences (FETs often seem more laid back than bipolar output devices, although the rest of the amplifer design was different in those comparisons and something like the FET's higher idle bias and corresponding reduction in cross-over distortion might be the deciding factor here).
    That said, I think
    1) There's an issue of balance. If the speakers don't resolve detail well enough, you won't notice the electronics.
    2) There are personal acceptable minimums and points of diminishing returns. If one component in the chain is below one of those points and the others aren't, you want to upgrade it before playing with other things.
     
  8. MarkO

    MarkO Second Unit

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    I think it all depends how well the intended pre/pro matches with the intended amp. There most likely is no single correct answer.
     
  9. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

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    "Hmm same feeling here... I wonder if its the same guys arguing here. Havent verified it from the other post."
    C'mon Mark, I didn't say arguing, I said debating...we must keep it intellectual [​IMG]
    Seriously though, what is YOUR opinion? Audioreview also has a shitload of good reviews of Bose equipment and DVD players from companies that make Charcoal...don't know if I trust their polls...
    Jeremy
     
  10. Drew Eckhardt

    Drew Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    Various problems with the poll:
    1. Speakers and room acoustics have the biggest effects. With speakers on the list, you're not going to get meaningful responses from the vast majority of subjectivists and objectivists who agree on this.
    2. The poll doesn't specify two-channels or more.
    With just two channels the preamp only handles line level attenuation/gain, switching, and perhaps RIAA equalization which are text book designs.
    Getting this wrong (without a tuner in the mix) is very difficult, so I'd be horribly surprised if power amplifiers didn't come about above preamps in a two-channel world.
    3. The demographic isn't constrained enough. For whatever level of resolution you're looking at, there are going to be plenty of people in the survey who don't have systems that will reveal differences in components farther up the chain and will therefore vote differently than you would.
     
  11. Tony Lai

    Tony Lai Stunt Coordinator

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    I think it's...
    1. speakers/sub
    2. preamp surround processor
    3. poweramp (although the performance difference between a budget poweramp like a Rotel compared to a premium model like a ATI or Bryston would be reasonably minimal).
    This is a HT forum so I don't think analog preamps are our forte.
    I think most of you underestimate the performance of the surround unit.
    A bottom of the line receiver with preouts would be a lot different to an establish surround processor like a Sony 9000es - in fact this is what I use; much better surround performance than most receivers on the market.
    I'm thinking we'll get a slew of user reports when we see a mass dumpage of receivers and processors when we all purchase Outlaw 950's :)
    T.
     
  12. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    I think it comes down to synergy. Your speakers will only sound as good as the rest of the system matches with each other. If you have an amp that is very capable sonically, then you should have a pre amp that doesn't affect it in a detrimental way. Your speakers should be up to the task so that all that beautiful signal is not mucked up when you hear it. Let's not forget the source. Especially all of us who have CD players. We know how easy it is to have bad listening experiences with cd players. One bad purchase and it's tinny, cold and bright city for you. What about your room? You can have all the great equipment in the world but if your room is on the rag and won't cooperate, then you stuck to trying to satisfy yourself for the night because your system is worthless without a cooperative room.
    Which one is more important is like trying to figure out which one of your siblings or family members is most important. We can function without anyone of them but how well? As a family, if we get along and function well as a group then the whole house is a lovely beautiful place to be.
    However, if not.......
    ------------------
    What if it gets no better than this!?!
    [Edited last by Martice on November 06, 2001 at 08:47 PM]
     
  13. Gordon C Jr

    Gordon C Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the replies...
    Martice, Point well taken.. I understand there are many more factors that affect sound than equipment and I believe that speakers are the most crucial component of the system performance overall. Apart from all the synergistic effects that affect sound quality, which is similar to solving world hunger in the H/T world, I am only asking about Pre-pro vs amplifier performance...
    Let me re-phrase it this way: If you were semi-happy with you current receiver set-up and came upon some extra $$$ (Say $5K, I know, not too realistic in this economy) to move into the separates world, which one component would you choose to use the majority of your budget on to raise the level of sound performance of your H/T system the most(amplifier or Pre-pro)? Or which component of your separates of similar value and performance would you choose to upgrade?
    You are all mentioning a previous similar discussion.. I don't recall reading it. Can someone post the link, so I don't try to re-invent the wheel or re-start a burned out topic.
     
  14. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

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    "Thats a good one I ve heard in a long time. So now you start poking holes into their survey. Also, I calculated the average of all the reviews of Bose products and you know what it came out to: A WHOOPING 2.99 on a scale of 5.00, and that according to you is a good review."
    ...and your point is? You took an AVERAGE. Did you read any of the Bose reviews? If you did, you'll notice some glowing ones....in fact, there are many happy Bose owners in this world, oblivious to sonic nirvana. The readership and participants at audioreview do not depict a "knowledgable audience" in this regard, IMO. Not that there isn't knowledge to be had....you definitely have to pick through the crap to find the diamonds.
    So yes, I am picking holes in their survey. I trust the wisdom of a board like this much more than I do audioreview. With that said, why don't you do some calculations on the above responses...compared to how you feel about the order of importance of certain components. I don't expect everyone will agree with me, but my opinion stands.
    If you would like to pick apart my other threads, why don't you send me a private message and we can deal with it that way. You are in no way contributing to this debate, you are argumentitive and illogical with your responses.
    BTW, my 5800 is an incredible piece of gear. I'm sorry if you don't feel that way. Do a search and see how many happy 5800 owners have added some sort of outboard amplification....only to be happier with its performace. My 5800 does not NEED to be replaced because it is a fine pre/pro....if I wasn't happy with it, I would replace that first. Since I am, I will only increase its ability to externally amp my front soundstage.
    And to follow up, so you don't annoy anyone else with MY other threads, that don't pertain to this one....Yes, the NEXT time I upgrade the pre/pro in my system...it will be a seperate pre/pro. Why? Because I will have already invested in good seperate amps.
    DO you get it? Again, if you have problems with me, send me a private message....others don't need to be drug into our disagreements.
    Jeremy
     
  15. Jack F

    Jack F Agent

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    Mark,
    You lost any credibility in my mind when you misquoted someone elses reply as being mine, then I pointed it out and you have responded in that same thread without even correcting yourself. Didn't you read the replies in between? Or do you just prefer to address me concerning what someone else posted? Or is it that you can't admit up to a mistake and set the record straight? I wasn't even participating in that discussion. http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum14/HTML/046113.html He seems like a really smart dude. [​IMG]
    I'm also with Jeremy on the upgrade to the 5800. It has an excellent preamp section. I don't see how you could improve on it for even twice the cost. If I felt the need to upgrade, I would either add a really expensive Amp, (so I could notice the improvement) or upgrade my Speakers. This is not what I would recommend to someone that owned an $800.00 receiver. Don't confuse the PreAmp section in the 5800 with the little guys. Theirs no comparison.
    The only reason I joined in on the discussion in the thread posted above, is because someone was advising someone to buy a cheap Receiver and a good Amp. Cheap Receivers have cheap preamp sections. The sound difference, even when using external amplification is like night and day. IMHO
    The 5800 is in my Rack and I have never second guessed my decision to purchase it. Also, I haven't even for a second thought about upgrading since its purchase. This is the first time in a long, long time, that I can say that. [​IMG]
    I apologize if anything I have said has offended anybody. These are my beliefs as a result of my personal experiences.
    If you believe differently, I can respect your opinion. Please respect mine. [​IMG]
    Jack
    P.S. I personally don't hold much faith in Audio Review. I still go there on occasion, but I find myself wondering why I bother.
    I wouldn't hold much if any faith in a survey that was performed on AudioReview. I think a lot of people that have no inclination as to what is good and what's not participate in those things. I wonder how many Bose owners voted in that survey? I bet the majority of the people that voted have never even owned a separate preamp/amp.
    [Edited last by Jack F on November 07, 2001 at 02:18 PM]
     
  16. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

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    "So, again, you are telling me that you are going to see better improvement in sound by hooking a better amplifier to your 5800 prepro rather then hooking up a better prepro to the 5800's amps?"
    Yep.
    You are correct Mark. Everything you say is correct. You are a statistics genius....You have a master's degree...you da man!
    Now....take your statistical genius, add up the responses to this thread, and show me the conclusion. Maybe it'll help if I do the math for ya. There was 6 responses that answered the poster's question. Of those 6, 5 elect that the pre/pro is more significant to the final sound quality. 1 of those responses (from you, who is biased due to a poll done on a very knowledgable, highly esteemed, non-moderated board) is saying that the amp is more significant in the outcome of the sound. Now if we eliminate everything else from the equation....speakers, interconnects, etc. The final tally of this poll is 83.3% for the pre/pro and just a hair under 17% in favor of the amp. So there you have it, Mr. Stats. If you favor the opinions of audioreview over those on this forum....cool, but I don't.
    Your argument about my 5800 is irrelevant. I am happy with the sound of my pre/pro, therefore, why change it? Yes, I could get better sound....but I have a budget. I will upgrade my amps first, my (seperate) pre pro down the road.
    For right now, with my budget, yes....the amps will make more of a difference in what I can afford. That better? Does that put a smile on your face? I guess I'm not following your point if it doesn't.
    I'm outta here.
    Jer
     
  17. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    Mark,
    Jeremy is right please address this privately.
    Gordon,
    I think I know where you heading as far as you future upgrades.
    I use 3 monoblocks to augment my Denon receiver,and this decesion was based on,that I needed more power,'cause I listen movie soundtracks at close to reference levels at most of the time.
    Subjective sound quality was also percieved to be better by me,but this is so sensetive,and personal issue[to many],that I never bring this to the "argument".
    Everybody just needs to make up their own mind as what sounds good to them.
    As for which one makes more "dent" on sound quality,well with all thigs equall I think the Pre/Pro,for potential subjective improvement.However if you need more power as well,then you might get both of them as well.
    I also value speakers[subs too] as the #1 component,followed closely by the the room's acoustics.
    Speakers are very placement sesetive,amps,preamps,cd players etc.....,aren't.
    ------------------
    "You Hungarians always disagree"
     
  18. JerryW

    JerryW Supporting Actor

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    quote: Let me re-phrase it this way: If you were semi-happy with you current receiver set-up and came upon some extra $$$ (Say $5K, I know, not too realistic in this economy) to move into the separates world, which one component would you choose to use the majority of your budget on to raise the level of sound performance of your H/T system the most(amplifier or Pre-pro)? Or which component of your separates of similar value and performance would you choose to upgrade?[/quote]
    Well, I'd still choose the same path...
    Outlaw 950 - $1000 < sweet deal
    Pair of nice 150+Watt monoblocks - $750 each
    Good 3-5 channel amp (@ 100 Watts/ch) - $1000-1500
    That puts the total at $3500-$4000... sure, you haven't spent the entire $5k, but I still think it's a great way to go, as far as mid-range seperates are concerned. You'd have plenty of $ left over to buy all the interconnects you'll need and a bunch of software.
    ------------------
    September 11, 2001
    "Those who died will always be remembered.
    Those who killed will never be forgotten.
    We who remain will not let it happen again."
    [Edited last by JerryW on November 07, 2001 at 03:33 PM]
     
  19. Gordon C Jr

    Gordon C Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    Now that we have clearly stated our views on each others opinions and, in between, provided valuable information, let me, so they say, "Throw another turd in the punch bowl":
    Matching Warm and Bright sounding components to achieve a neutral sound is seemingly most peoples objective. What sound would result from the following: (Assuming the speakers are same, say B&W(warm sounding)
    Bright sounding Pre-Pro + Warm sounding amplifier + warm sounding speakers = ______ sound
    OR
    Warm sounding Pre-Pro + Bright sounding amplifier + warm sounding speakers= _______ sound
    Has anyone done such a comparison?
     
  20. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    Here's my 2c on this topic:
    A. Buy the best sounding set of speakers you can possibly afford. You may own these for 10 years or more and regardless of your other components, your system can never sound better than what your speakers are capable of reproducing.
    B. Buy the amplifier best suited to drive those speakers to the level and sound qualities that you prefer, and that you can afford.
    c. Buy the most sonically invisible preamp that you can afford with the money you have left.
    d. Upgrade your source components, and accessories, over time and experience the joy of hearing the improvement with each upgrade.
    ------------------
    Take Care,
    merc
    ----------------
    [​IMG]
    God Bless America!!!
     

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