Theta Casa Nova vs. B&K Ref 30?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by MiltK, Jun 26, 2001.

  1. MiltK

    MiltK Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, "upgraditis" is hitting me again and I'm ready to make the move to separates. [​IMG] Just sold my B&K AVR307 receiver and am now looking for a pre/pro. Anyway my choices are either the B&K Ref 30 (~$2300) or the Theta Casa Nova ($3800 w/DD,DTS,video switching). Since I'm already familar with the B&K features, does anyone here have experience with the Theta and comparing the two? Is the Theta worth the extra 1500 bones? In particular, info such as sound, upgradability, features, reliability, customer service, etc. would be appreciated. I'm a 80% music/20% movie person.
    Anyway, I'll be mating it with a B&K Ref 2220 stereo amp (was using it as an outboard amp in my old setup for the mains) and a to be determined 5-channel amp (Parasound, Sunfire, B&K are my top choices). My setup includes:
    M&K S-1C mains
    M&K S-125 center and surrounds
    SVS 20-39PC sub
    Sony DVP-9000ES
    B&K Ref 2220 stereo amp
    BEL "the wire" interconnect (pre to amp for mains)
    Monster M950i interconnects (everything else)
    12-gauge speaker wire from Home Depot
    Tara Labs D-1 digital coaxial
    Sony 36" XBR250 WEGA
    Thanks!
    ------------------
    "I not giving her the shot - you give her the shot!"
     
  2. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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    Both of the units you mention are excellent. Either one would do a creditable job as a front end to the equipment you have. However, the Theta Casa Nova does ALL of its processing in the digital domain (no analog bypass). It does have perhaps the most flexible bass management on the planet, outside of the Theta Casablanca II (which is considerably more expensive of course, but does include analog bypass.)
    To throw a "ringer" into the mix, have you considered the Integra Research RDC-7 A/V Controller? Description:http://www.integraresearch.com/articles.cfm?id=12 Photos: http://www.integraresearch.com/products.cfm?id=1 It is within your price range and has features and performance that put it in the "big leagues". (Stereophile Guide to Home Theater graded it "AAA" along with two very pricey Meridian models, the only three units to achieve that rank in their category.) It is also available locally, as are the two units you are already considering. And I can vouch for its stellar performance -- I own one :>) after considering a number of other units including the two that have caught your eye.
    Good luck!
    Burke
     
  3. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    The Achilles heel of the Integra Research controller is its lack of flexibility with the crossover. All small speakers are fixed with an 80Hz crossover.
    Not the end of the world, but something to consider when making your decision.
    Regards,
    ------------------
    John Kotches
    Contributing Writer
    Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
     
  4. mctague

    mctague Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey MiltK,
    Besides the reported lack of analog bypass on the Casanova, it appears to be a total bear to configure. Though that means its got tons of flexibility if you can figure it out.
    Hey Burke,
    Have you been able to swing any % off at Audio Concepts on a 1 item purchase? I was in there awhile ago trying to buy a Casanova, but they wanted full MSRP.
     
  5. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    Seems like a lot of prepro and power amps for your speakers. You are going to have a 3k prepro and about 3k or so in power amps for $1000 speakers? Why did you sell the B&K 307? It had most of what you needed. (I am playing the devil's advocate and no flame intended)
     
  6. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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    quote: The Achilles heel of the Integra Research controller is its lack of flexibility with the crossover. All small speakers are fixed with an 80Hz crossover.
    Not the end of the world, but something to consider when making your decision.[/quote]
    Yup -- that is true, for now anyway. This is one area that almost kept me from buying the RDC-7. There is hope that this may be addressed in future software updates, although they have not made a firm commitment on it. (In general, however, this unit's upgradeability is a "selling point".)
    As I mentioned, I almost didn't buy the RDC-7 because of its fixed bass crossover at 80hz. Then, for about a week at home, I tried another unit with a high end pedigree that had a very flexible crossover, and finally decided that flexible bass management was just "icing on the cake" and not having a good enough "cake" underneath was a problem. :>) The other unit was lacking in so many other ways, that its flexible bass management was lost in the noise. Literally. IOW, it is a feature definately worth considering, but for me anyway was not the only, nor as it turned out, even the most important consideration -- and I am using a Magnepan MGCC-1 center channel speaker which, (as others delight in pointing out), cuts off WAY above 80 hz. :>) The Integra Research unit excels in so many other ways, I'm learning to live with it. :>)
    And among the features it DOES have, are an RF demodulator for laser disc Dolby Digital (aka AC-3), and a phono preamp. While some may think "These aren't big deals, since very few pre/pros include RF demodulators or phono stages these days", they are pretty darned big deals to those of us who still spin the 12 inch platters!!! :>) Their inclusion, along with a first rate FM tuner, on top of audiophile-quality preamplification for music (including remote selectable analog bypass), rock-solid surround processing, component video switching for THREE inputs, etcetera, makes the RDC-7 a pretty complete package at a very competitive price.
    quote: Have you been able to swing any % off at Audio Concepts on a 1 item purchase? I was in there awhile ago trying to buy a Casanova, but they wanted full MSRP.[/quote]I'll send you a private message.
    quote: Seems like a lot of prepro and power amps for your speakers. [/quote]Maybe he is positioning himself for a major speaker upgrade down the road... or like any number of others who get into higher end stuff, he finds that a certain speaker combo works better with electronics whose costs are "out of proportion" to the speaker's costs according to the traditional rules of thumb for mid-fi gear. I know a fellow who is driving an $1800 pair of Magnepan MG 1.6s with about $15,000 worth of electronics and he feels that is only beginning to tap his speakers' capabilities. (I'm not saying I agree with the MG 1.6 owner on that; just presenting it as part of another point of view.) :>)
    Burke
     
  7. DanR

    DanR Supporting Actor

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    Theta CasaNova all the way. I've got one of the first ones off the production line from Jan 99, and have never had any problems.
    Email me if you want to discuss CasaNova in detail. If I can't answer your question, I'm sure somewhere in that "big binder" style manual, there is an answer. [​IMG]
    We can also talk pricing strategy (and also configuration). You shoudn't have to pay MSRP; I got mine mine when people were lining up for them, and I didn't pay MSRP.
    Regards,
    Dan
     
  8. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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    Well, "upgraditis" is hitting me again and I'm ready to make the move to separates.>>>
    Why is upgraditis hitting you?
    Just sold my B&K AVR307 receiver and am now looking for a pre/pro. Anyway my choices are either the B&K Ref 30 (~$2300) or the Theta Casa Nova ($3800 w/DD,DTS,video switching). Since I'm already familar with the B&K features, does anyone here have experience with the Theta and comparing the two? Is the Theta worth the extra 1500 bones? In particular, info such as sound, upgradability, features, reliability, customer service, etc. would be appreciated. I'm a 80% music/20% movie person.
    Anyway, I'll be mating it with a B&K Ref 2220 stereo amp (was using it as an outboard amp in my old setup for the mains) and a to be determined 5-channel amp (Parasound, Sunfire, B&K are my top choices). My setup includes:>>>
    ----------
    I don't understand the reason why you are upgrading, going from a B&K 307 to a B&K Prepro with B&K separate amps will give you very little improvement if any, don't know about the Theta, I haven't heard it. Everyone I know that owns or sells B&K say's the 307 and Ref30 amp combo, sounds exactly alike. Why waste your money ? If you are going to drop some more money down, go for an upgrade on the speakers. Never waste money on amps unless you need to add more power or to power speaker in 7.1 set-up, amps make very little difference in sound quality.
    M&K S-1C mains
    M&K S-125 center and surrounds
    SVS 20-39PC sub
    Sony DVP-9000ES
    B&K Ref 2220 stereo amp
    BEL "the wire" interconnect (pre to amp for mains)Tara Labs D-1 digital coaxial
    Sony 36" XBR250 WEGA>>>
    You really have a nice set up now, once again, why are you
    upgrading?
     
  9. MiltK

    MiltK Stunt Coordinator

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    All,
    Thanks for your replies. Keep 'em coming.
    Glad to see this turning into a Houston HTF discussion. I was over at Audio Concepts today (talking to Mike) to demo the Theta (they also carry B&K) and it was awesome. Then again, being hooked up to a Dreadnaught amp and Aerial speakers may have had something to do with it. [​IMG] They wouldn't budge on the price though ($3800 with DTS, DD, video switching, and Circle Surround - plus dealer configuration but that kinda takes the fun out of it). Burke, you implied in your previous thread about discounts there. Know of any? [​IMG] Feel kinda bad about it though, I normally shop at Allstar Audio with good discounts (did you get the Integra there?).
    Charles, the price for the M&K S-1Cs are $995 each (audioreview.com has the price listed wrong - go to www.mksound.com). They can handle up to 400 watts each (the surrounds and center total ~$1200 - 200 watt handling) so I don't think it's overkill to get the the pre/pro and amps. In fact, I say it's pretty balanced all around. The 307 was nice but I felt the sound was a bit too dull (especially in conjuction with the amp). Supposedly, the Theta/B&K amp combination will sound great (according to AC). The Theta supposedly has a more forward and lively character. I'm also thinking about a speaker upgrade within the next year too.
    Another question - I read somewhere that the video switching board may degrade the audio signal in pre/pros, is this true? OSD is nice but not necessary.
    MiltK
    ------------------
    "I not giving her the shot - you give her the shot!"
     
  10. MiltK

    MiltK Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey JaleelK, why does "upgraditis" hit 75%(subjective) of the people here at HTF?
    It's an addiction, dude. [​IMG]
    Seriously, I figure I can max out the performance of my system by going to separates as well as maintain flexibility in the future if I bought better speakers or if another DVD/CD format comes out. What if the amps in the 307 won't cut it when I upgrade? Also, I don't think shelling out another $3500 for a receiver in a couple of years is in my best interests if I can spend ~$400 for a new daughterboard in the Theta. Don't get me wrong, the 307 is a great receiver, it's just that spending the money now on a pre/pro/amp setup is the better way to go in the long-term for me.
    ------------------
    "I not giving her the shot - you give her the shot!"
     
  11. chris c

    chris c Stunt Coordinator

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    Milt K, I was recently at Audio Concepts and I thought the Theta/Aerial was the best sounding room in the place (well, maybe the BEL/Vandy 5 combo was a little better [​IMG]. If you are not worried about the lack of analog pass-through I would suggest you go for the Theta. Great equipment. Although, if it were me I'd go for the new EAD Ovation-8 but at $4400 it's probably more than you want to spend.
     
  12. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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    MiltK -
    Check your e-mail.
    And I hope you'll join us the next time our Houston Home Theater interest group gets together (keep checking the Local Meets area for details as they are posted).
    Burke
     
  13. MiltK

    MiltK Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the help, HTF'ers.
    I traded in my AVR307 yesterday to get the Theta Casa Nova. Got the fully-loaded version with DD, DTS, Circle Suround, Spatializer, video switching, etc. Now begins my 3-week wait for it!
    Guess I can download that 11.6 MB 110-page manual and start reading...
    ------------------
    "I not giving her the shot - you give her the shot!"
     
  14. DanR

    DanR Supporting Actor

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  15. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    Yeap Milt, I thought the $995 was for the PAIR of speakers. Matter of fact, I probably have overkill for my speakers. [​IMG]
     
  16. Chris White

    Chris White Second Unit

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    the Theta Casa Nova does ALL of its processing in the digital domain (no analog bypass)
    1) IMO, if you really care about 2-channel stereo, the lack of an analog bypass is a fatal flaw. 2) If you really don't care about 2-channel stereo, I'm not sure it makes sense to invest in separates.
    I really don't understand the manufacturer's thinking here.
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    The Whites' Home Theater Website
    Pictures, DIY Projects, Glossaries, FAQ, Links, Toshiba Tips & Tweaks
     
  17. MiltK

    MiltK Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris,
    Check this review about the Casa Nova that addresses the lack of analog bypass on the Theta website.
    http://www.thetadigital.com/htxrv-sght-casanova.htm
    It's basically a review by SGHT on the Casa Nova and they speculate about some of the reasoning behind the lack of analog bypass. I think the only people who will miss it are the real audio purists out there with full-range speakers (which I don't have - currently analog bypass precludes the use of bass management). On the other hand, I was wondering about how my 1 SACD disc will sound (the signal has to be D/A then A/D and finally D/A again(at 20-bit/48khz)will play. Having analog bypass would've been good for that.
    Nevertheless from what I heard yesterday at the demo, the DACs in the Theta are excellent. The Circle Surround feature royally kicks-butt and will probably be my preferred 2-channel listening mode. It's the first surround mode I've ever listened to from a 2-channel source that didn't ruin the music. Do any of the Theta owners agree?
    ------------------
    "I not giving her the shot - you give her the shot!"
     
  18. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    Chris, I don't get point 2....are you talking 2 channel seperates or HT seperates. Most HT seperate prepros do not include analog bypass.
    My processor(TA-E9000es) got beat up pretty bad for its lack of analog bypass. Thing is, IF you bought the N9000es companion amp, you got analog bypass this way. Since the majority of E9000es users didn't know this, they assumed they had no way to add the bypass. There is a fairly cheap and effective way to add a 2 channel preamp for people with seperates (HT prepro and seperate power amp anyway). The Niles PS-1 switcher is worth the $70 IMHO and will fix anyone who seeks 2 channel analog bypass by getting the Niles plus a decent 2 channel preamp. There are 2 pretty good 2 channel prepros available from audioadvisor (Cambridge Audio C500 and the Parasound 850) for around $250. So you folks with digital only HT prepro's that WANT 2 channel analog bypass, you can do a lot worse than the $320 total it would take to get this combo. I am waiting on Sony making the TA-P9000es analog bypass available in the fall as it will take care of SACD and DVD-Audio with its 2 5.1 input bypasses.
     
  19. Zack

    Zack Auditioning

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    Fellas (and ladies) - the real question is: HOW DO THEY SOUND? I'm dying to hear from actual users of the Ref 30 and see how it compares against some real audiophile-grade components!
    I've got a pretty good system (Nautilus 804's, 805's, etc) and I figure that if the Ref 30 sounds GREAT on 2 channel music, then it'll do a really good job on home theater as well. But, so far, nobody's been able to tell me just how good it is compared to, say, the Theta that everyone's discussing. Anyone able to help?
    BTW: IMHO the 20 bit DACs in the Theta are really going to mess things up for SACD and DVD-A listeners - essentially negating any sonic benefits that these platforms provide.
     
  20. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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    The Achilles heel of the Integra Research controller is its lack of flexibility with the crossover. All small speakers are fixed with an 80Hz crossover.
    Not the end of the world, but something to consider when making your decision.
    Regards,
    ------------------
    John Kotches
    Contributing Writer
    Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity>>
    I really would like to see you guy's do the ultimate amplfier shoot-out the way that you did with the progressive scan DVD players. We need to have ampflifiers compared in double blind level matched listening test, with amplifiers from various price ranges and manufacturers included in the test.
     

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