Transparent Stereo Through a Receiver

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Robert Tonkin, Jul 6, 2003.

  1. Robert Tonkin

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    I'm attempting to use a pair of VA Mozart's for both critical stereo listening and HT use (80% music, 20% HT). Since I can only buy one quality component every 3 months (isn't marriage grand), I'm considering a high end power amp for the mains, such as a Bryston 3B SST, for the next piece to power the VA's.

    First question: My mains are 6 ohm, 200 watt, 90db sensitivity. Should I stay with a 150 watt amp, or can I also consider a 300 watt two channel amp, or another make with 250 watts without harming the mains. I don't shake windows, but occasionally I turn up the volume when no one else is home. I want to draw 100% of the potential of the Mozarts, which are simply silk to my ears. I guess I want someone to tell me a 3B SST will do the job with 150 watts. My listening room is 25 by 23 with vaulted ceiling, all open. I don't have the luxury of auditioning amps in house.

    Next will come the prepro. I have spent considerable time reviewing the Anthem AVM20 (yes, I read the whole thread), the Parasound Halo line, B&K Ref 50, and others. I come away with the opinion (so far anyway) that spending 3K to 4K for a mid level 5 channel preamp is not a justified decision for my intended use of mostly music. I'm thinking of using a 100 watt receiver for HT, to both drive the center and surrounds, and to do HT processing. I'm not going above 5.1 for many years, if ever. I will buy a quality center to match the mains, but will most likely consider a smaller set of surrounds on stands for HT use. I can always upgrade the surrounds for SACD if the format lives up to its potential, but it has a long way to go IMHO. I probably won't even buy a sub. I don't have a progressive scan TV, and don't intend to get one for a few years. I'm what's known as a "late adapter" in the Gorilla Game.

    If I have made this decision, it would then make sense to buy a higher end Bluebook CD player for music, with the best on board DAC's I can afford.

    Am I making a mistake spending so much (for me anyway) on loudspeakers, a high end amp, quality cables, and a high end CD player for music enjoyment, and then running the signal through an AV receiver?

    Thanks for your opinions.

    Robert Tonkin
    Juneau, Alaska
     
  2. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    Robert:

    As has been discussed here at HTF many times prior, the best way for you to integrate a home-theater receiver (or pre-pro) with a high-resolution two-channel music system is to run the receiver's front left and right channels through the stereo preamp. To do the reverse, as you asked about, will indeed compromise the music signal to some degree, which could be quite significant depending on the receiver.

    In my music/den system (separate from a theater-room system), I run my Denon pre-pro's main front channels through a McIntosh integrated amplifier's line input. The Mac doesn't have a HT-bypass input, so I set its volume control to 12 o'clock (i.e., straight up) whenever I watch a movie in surround. (The pre-pro was calibrated with the Mac's volume control in this position.)

    For easier use by your wife you could buy one of the many stereo preamps that have a HT-bypass input, which doesn't require a particular volume setting (such a bypass is set at unity gain).

    Exceptionally high-performance stereo preamps that sport a HT bypass are available from Audio Research (tube), Conrad-Johnson (choice of tube or solid-state), Adcom (the GFP-750), Pass Labs, BAT, and Mark Levinson, among others. Classe has a terrific high-powered integrated amp, the CAP-151, with a similar feature (a selectable input to the power amp). If I'm not mistaken, Perreaux has integrated amps and a preamp with HT bypass (see the good folks at Audioadvisor.com, who also mailorder the Adcom).

    Your room is quite large, but if the Mozarts are 90-db sensitive and you don't intend to crack the support beams, 150 watts of clean, high-current power will be plenty. You could contact Sumiko to ask what they consider to be the Vienna's maximum real-world wattage level on peaks. There is a limit on what a pair of 5.5" drivers can handle in a large room!

    Remember that a top-quality two-channel amp rated at 150 or so watts at 8 ohms will deliver about 200 (maybe more) continuous watts at a nominal 6 ohms, and quite a bit more on peaks.

    Happy listening!
     
  3. Robert Tonkin

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    Alex,

    Thank You for taking the time to read my post and respond in such detail. It was exactly the type of response I was looking for. I now know how to proceed, and where to continue my education and research. Thank You for your kindness.

    Cheers,

    Robert
     
  4. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    I agree with Alex's assesment. You are not crazy to spend that much on stereo, but it would be a mistake to run it through a receiver or even a processor.

    Do spend a bit to get a decent entry level receiver that has the features you need and leave the rest to a get a good 2 channel preamp and amp or integrated, especially if you are 80% music.

    I recently purchased a Granite Audio tube preamp to insert into my music chain whereas I had been using a Theta CasaNova processor for DAC, processing, switching, and volume control duties. I had believed at first that the Theta would remain in the chain for CD listening and the Granite would be hooked up for just vinyl, for to afford the preamp I had sold my better digital piece and was down to a Sony S7000 DVD/CD player (I did and still have doubts about its DAC's). To my surprise my CD listening took a huge step forward removing the Theta from the chain and using the S7000's DAC's and analog outputs. My wife even noticed the improvement upon walking into the house and not knowing I had done anything to my system. It took her three steps before she stopped and said accusingly "This is nice, what did you do?"
     
  5. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    Robert:

    You're very welcome.
     
  6. John A. Casler

    John A. Casler Second Unit

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    If you're going with Bryston Amps, you might want to save a bit more and get the SP 1.7 which is a 2 channel preamp with a Pre/Pro built around it.

    That way it all matches and you don't have two volume controls and an extra component.

    Also the SP1.7 doesn't have you invest in the "video switching" you don't need right now.
     

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