Running receiver LR mains through preamp?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Robert Tonkin, Aug 2, 2003.

  1. Robert Tonkin

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    I have been leaning toward an integrated amp for stereo music listening with an AV receiver to do the HT duties. So I am aware of all choices; for HT could I also run the L/R out of the receiver and into a stereo preamp which in turn would lead to a two channel amp?

    I have been advised to look for integrated amps with an HT pass through feature, such as the Classe CAP-151. Do dedicated preamps also come with this pass through feature, and if so what would it be called? I'm thinking if I invest in a good two channel amp for my mains I can live with it for decades and could just upgrade the preamp as the years go by. This may make more sense than an integrated that may become dated down the road.

    Cheers,

    Robert
     
  2. Kevin_R_H

    Kevin_R_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello Robert,

    To answer your question, "Yes", you can utilize a stereo preamp combined with a stereo amp (or 2 monoblocks) instead of a stereo integrated.

    Many stereo preamps come with the "HT Bypass" feature, and this is convenient. However, my stereo preamp doesn't have it, and the only problem is that I sometimes need to fiddle with the volume of my stereo preamp at the start of a DVD. It only takes a couple of seconds to match the mains with auxillary speakers - it is no big deal.

    My opinion is that if you can't choose between 2 stereo preamps because their audio capability is too close to call - but one of them has the HT Bypass feature, then I would go with that one. But I certainly wouldn't avoid all stereo preamps that don't have HT Bypass. It's just not important enough to use as a deciding factor.

    Good luck,
    Kevin
     
  3. Tom Grooms

    Tom Grooms Second Unit

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    I completely agree with Kevin. With out a HT bypass, Just set your pre-amp's volume at 12:00 o'clock position and calibrate your HT receiver at that position. (Unity Gain)

    And I will also add, IMO, a 2 channel integrated amp might be a better choice if you were looking at separates under $2000. Look at Plinius (HT bypass), Musical Fidelity and even NAD makes some good integrated amp's for under $1K....YMMV

    $0.02
     
  4. Robert Tonkin

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    Thank You Kevin & Tom,

    Kevin, I just read your April post ("Help Me Choose an Amp") on the same subject where you articulated this subject much better than I could have put into words. I really don't care if the lawnmower in a movie sounds like a Honda when in fact it's a Lawnboy. The entire thread was a great read. Thank you for confirming what I was already thinking.

    You also opened my thinking to looking at other 2 channel amps other than the "usual suspects".

    I'm looking to power a pair of VA Mozarts, 200w 90db sensitivity in a very large open room. The only thing that will go into the integrated or preamp will be a quality CD player. I will pick up a receiver to run a cheap DVD player (non progressive) and to power the surrounds and a center.

    One last question if I may. If I decide to buy a good used 200 watt amp, let's say one of the "usual suspects" for around $1300 rahter than an integrated amp, what should I plan on spending in the used market for a preamp? I intend to spend in the ballpark of $500 for a high end used CD player, which will be the last piece to buy for my 2 channel music.

    Thanks!

    Robert
     
  5. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    Personally, I don't think you need to limit yourself to two hundred watt amps. VA's while not super easy to drive, aren't big power absorption models either.

    But anyways I was going to throw out some amp suggestions, and thier matching preamps.

    Belles 150A SS amp and 20A tube pre would be a nice match I would imagine.
    Blue circle would probably be a great fit as well with VA's, although the model I am thinking of only outputs 80W.
    My last suggestion and probably the one that would fit your budget best would be to get some McCormack gear. Very nice SS designs, and good upgrade and support system in place from the company. DNA-125, DNA-225, or DNA-1 Deluxe all fall right around your price range used. Then you could pick a used older preamp by McCormack for a couple hundred like the TLC-1. Or one guy is offering a DNA-125 and RLD-1 preamp which has a HT bypass for a package price of $2200

    Anyway all these deal can be found on Audiogon if you are interested, but I think all three of those brands would be good matches for VA Mozart's.
    IMO
     
  6. Kevin_R_H

    Kevin_R_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Robert,

    I appreciate your comments. Thanks.

    You ask how much should you spend on a stereo preamp if the matching 2-channel power amp will cost $1,300??? Well, whatever answer I give, I will be wrong. There's just too many variables. However, a rule of thumb could be about 65% - 80% of the cost of the power amp - so in your case $850 - $1,050.

    As to which specific amps to buy (power and pre), Scott is as good of an authority as this site has. I'm much better at "theory" than giving hard opinions about different companies. So, I hesitate to say something like "Pass Labs gives the best performance in your price range" - I fully admit I don't have that kind of knowledge. Again, I advise you to run your amplifier ideas past Scott (via e-mail) - he can give unbiased opinions on system matching. But, by all means, open your mind to "audio brands".

    Also, please keep me (us?) informed on your path to finding a CD Player. I may be looking to buy one in the coming months, and your experiences could prove beneficial to those of us who follow.

    Good luck to you - I have no doubt you are going to end up with a killer system.

    Kevin
     
  7. Kevin_R_H

    Kevin_R_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Oh, and Robert, I agree you shouldn't get hung up on the number of watts any amplifier can dish out.

    My speakers are known as a pretty difficult load (VMPS RM40). I have had the good fortune to audition three different solid state power amps in my system:
    > 300W Classe' Audio
    > 225W McIntosh
    > 100W Audire Audio
    But, to my ears, the least powerful of the three sounded the best. I know, it's not really a fair comparison, as Audire Audio is considered more of a true hi-end company than Classe' or McIntosh. Yet, it does add support to the philosophy that you shouldn't put a minimum wattage on the power amps you want to consider (unless you have speakers with a super difficult load - like Thiel CS-7.2).

    I feel a high quality 80W amp will drive your speakers to audio nirvana.

    Kevin
     
  8. Robert Tonkin

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    Thank You Gentlemen,

    Your kindness in taking the time to answer has provided me with plenty of ideas to give thought to. I must admit to leaning toward the "bigger is better" myth with a 200 watt amp, thinking my 25 by 27 square open living room would require the full rated wattage for the VA's. I must also admit to wishing not to hurry to move them out of my in home office (I work at home), where they are sitting about 9 feet in back of me, driven with an old Marantz 2270 and a NAD 5220 CD player (which is starting a slow and painful death). Beethoven's 7th through the Mozart's is akin to a religious experience. What absolute genius.

    I had wondered about tubes but had no idea where to start becoming informed, or even if these 48 year old ears could hear a difference between them and solid state. I spent some time reading through the AudioAsylum tube section and could hear the zeal and enthusiasm of the converted. I live in Alaska and in-home auditioning of high end equipment is mostly out of the question. Shipping a 50 lb amp two ways can really cut into the cost, especially if you do it a few times.

    I'll keep you informed of the journey. Like many things in life, much of the fun is in learning. The craft and trade of audio purveyors and peddlers is truly fascinating. It would appear the best of them usually go broke for obvious business reasons. It's not about a buck.

    Cheers,

    Robert
     
  9. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    Kevin,

    I thought you had Kora monoblocks not Audire Audio?
     
  10. Kevin_R_H

    Kevin_R_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Scott,

    Oh no, I still own KORAs. I'm sorry if my post wasn't clear. On three occasions, I've had friends bring solid state power amps for me to borrow. I had the Classe' Audio amp for 10 days, the McIntosh for 2 weeks, and the Audire Audio Parlando was brought over for day-long auditions three weekends.

    So while I never did A/B tests for any of these solid state amps against each other, my monoblocks were here as a baseline for all three. These SS amps just reinforced that my KORAs aren't going anywhere!!

    Also, I apologize for giving your name out without your permission (to Robert in this thread), but you are one of the folks on these types of boards that I respect your knowledge. Paticularly in used gear in his price range.

    Kevin
     
  11. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    No problem about the name drop.
    I think most of my name dropping of good components to investigate falls on blank ears around here though, for typically the thread dies off soon after my posting.[​IMG] I guess I just like the smaller lesser known good companies then most on this board.[​IMG]
     
  12. Robert Tonkin

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    Scott,

    Trust your recommendations did not fall on deaf ears. I spent considerable time looking over the reviews of the McCormack line you recommended and am starting to track the used market for both amps and preamps. It would appear Conrad Johnson either bought McCormack, or the line is a brand of the higher end Virginia based manufacturer. I was, I believe anyway, able to get a handle on the DNA line upgrade situation too. I'm still looking over the Belle and Blue Circle lines. I see Blue Circle come up often, both in print reviews and online reviews from consumers. All three appear to enjoy a VERY good reputation.

    Some of the thoughts regarding an amp seem to flow along the line of the age of the amp or line of amps. I find myself looking on Audiogon Bluebooks date of manufacturer line often as a primary indication if I'm drawn to a particular line or model. Not sure if this is wise or not, and it's usefulness most likely differs from an amp to a source component anyway. One would believe some of the basic components in the older "classic" amps have a shelf life that should be taken into consideration?? Caps in my Marantz 2270, I'm told, are probably not what they were even ten years ago. I lean toward a new, or slightly new, Classe, Bryston, or Musical Fidelity for the warranty and/or shelf life issue, then swing back to the tried and true amps of yesteryear with the build quality and "musicality" they represent.

    You had mentioned posts dropping off after your recommendations and your posting correlation to this phenomenon. I find myself doing the same questioning; only with me it tends to be my age and genre of music taste. Once these young'uns discover I'm 48 and comment on the genius of Beethoven or Sibelius, they posts seem to wither away.

    In my quest for a system that will please my wife's and my ears for years to come in our enjoyment of classical music, I have also discovered another whole world of music that has come of age while I was busy building empires and raising kids. For example, Cassandra Wilson's Belly of the Sun lit a spark that has not glowed for years. The Mozart' s MAY have had a bit to do with it though. I've had a copy of Joni Michell's Hejira for years. Listening to Furry Sings the Blues through them is like discovering 25% of the piece I never knew existed. The same is true for other titles in my antiquated CD collection, such as Gerry Rafferty's Best of Stealers Wheel or Frank Zappa's Overnight Sensation (ya gotta kick out the jams every now and again). Simple unbelievable what I have been missing for 20 years. Oh well, never too late to learn.

    I will make a plug for the music review section of Absolute Sound. I have discovered more great music in the pages of the last year's subscribed to editions that I went and ordered back issues just to read the music reviews (the equipment reviews are a bonus!).

    Thanks again for both your and Kevins kindness is offering suggestions for avenues of exploration in my newly found audio bliss! They are indeed helpful and appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Robert
     
  13. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    I agree about the music section in the absolute sound these days, simply one of the best. In fact I look forward to their music reviews more than the equipment stuff, as I think the some of the best written and critical music reviews around.

    Another good source of music reviews in a print magazine is Hi-Fi+, very good but not as thorough as the Absolute Sound reviews however.

    Both have turned me on to numerable new artists or performances.

    BTW, McCormack was bought out by Conrad Johnson a couple years ago, but unlike some buyouts, Steve McCormack is still with the company and behind alot of the thinking.
     

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