Trying to setup a "pure" 2 Channel Music System. Here's what I have: A pair of Paradigm Active 40s Sony SCD-555ES (SA-CD and redbook) Denon DVD-1600 (for DVD-Audio/Video,DADs) Technics SL-D2 Turntable (will upgrade in the future, my LP's aren't going anywhere!) What I believe I need: - At the most basic, a preamp to switch between the sources, and provide volume control - It's strictly 2 Channel analog connections, so no necessary "pro-logic" or multichannel processing is needed, I really just need a "Ext. In" or "Pure Direct" pass through mode. - A seperate Phono RCA input w/ ground of course, to handle the different voltage - I guess I primarily need a preamp for volume control, to control the line gain of the sources. Is this correct? Is there a cheaper way to do this setup? I know I can just buy a high quality passive RCA switcher, but what can I use to control the volume? It is my understanding that the "line gain" control knob on the back of the Active 40s is not sufficient at handling a direct connection from these players, is that right? What I would like extra on the preamp: - "Direct" mode is mentioned above, but I assume that it would be nice to have the option of a crossover with a subwoofer preout in the case I get a sub down the line for a 2.1 setup - XLR outputs - Never used before, would this provide any improvement in sound? Worth the extra cost of a more expensive preamp? - An extra set of RCA output jacks for my headphone amp, rather than having to route through it. Or if the preamp has XLR outputs, then I guess I can hookup the XLRs to the Active 40s and the RCAs to the Headphones. - HDCD - VERY minor issue, but if the preamp offers HDCD decoding, then I believe I can pass the 20 bit stream digitally through my 555es, and process the signal in the preamp, not the player, thus not needing an actual HDCD transport (which the 555es isn't). Is that correct? I hope this post makes sense. I got a good deal on the Active 40s, and thought that I could create a simple and inexpensive setup without the need for paying for a receiver/amp. However, with a preamp this doesn't look like the case. Most preamps I read about are all about home theater these days, and are more expensive than receivers. I've been into home theater for a number of years now, but I'm confused as to why a 2 channel setup would seem so much harder to create. Any suggestions or advice you may have would be helpful, and if there are any recommendations for an "old-school" preamp of some sort that's no longer available, I would be more than happy to try and track the model down on Audiogon or eBay. Thanks in advance!