Two-Channel Pre-Amp or Surround Processor?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by GarryW, Sep 12, 2001.

  1. GarryW

    GarryW Stunt Coordinator

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    I am looking to buy my first pre-amp soon (hello, Outlaws?) and was wondering what would the difference in sound quality be (for two channel music) if I were to buy a sepearte stereo pre-amp and just keep my current Denon Reciever for movies?
    E-bay seems to have quite a lot of mid-to-high end pre-amp listings (just saw a Classe Cp-35 go for >$700. [​IMG]
     
  2. GarryW

    GarryW Stunt Coordinator

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    Also, can anyone make any recommendations on a two channel pre-amp? [​IMG]
     
  3. ling_w

    ling_w Second Unit

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    There is a world of differences.
    A pre/proc needs 6-8 ADC, digital processing capability for all the popular formats (along with licensing fee,) 6-8 DACs, tons of different types of input, video switching of decent bandwidth, 6-8 volume controls if it is ot using digital volume control, power supply to feed digital and analog sections, 6-8 anlog amplification stage and 6-8 DAC buffer stage.
    A 2 ch preamp has to have some switching, some buffer stages, 2 amplification stage, power supply. Because it does not have to deal with any of the digital stages, 1/3 to 1/4 the amount of amplification/buffer stage, no video switching and many other things, it could use vastly better quality parts.
    If you look at Proceed, their preamp PRE is $2k, DAC is $2k. And their low-end pre/proc AVP is $5k and PAV/PDSD is $10k. This does not apply all time though, since many manufactures puts their top notch stuff into individual components.
    As far as 2ch preamps go, the Audible Illusion Modulus 2x or 3x is top notch. It is a steal, even new. It is a tube preamp though.
     
  4. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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  5. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Some people believe (like myself), that if you buy a quality pre amp/processor, that the 2-channel sound will still be "quite acceptable." I'm talking Sony ES, Rotel, B&K, Parasound, Marantz, etc.
    You might want to get the multi-channel digital pre amp/processor 1st, then decide if the 2-channel sound isn't good enough, *then* go for a 2-channel pre amp if that's your inclination. I wouldn't assume that that's going to be the case though.
    [​IMG]
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  6. John Gates

    John Gates Second Unit

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    Agreed with Kevin. You may find that your HT gear does a good-enough job for 2-channel music.
    Personally, I am getting pickier about my 2-channel sound, so I'll probably buy a 2-channel music-only pre-amp within the next year. Tops on my list at this point is (surprise, surprise, those who know me) the nOrh ACA.
    I just found that my Onkyo 787 is outstanding for HT and pretty good for music (it was, after all, designed for HT).
    You can get info on the ACA at http://www.norh.com
    Additionally, here are some reviews on the ACA at Audioreview that I found very informative:
    http://www.audioreview.com/reviews/P...ct_69814.shtml
    I apologize to those who read my posts that I seem to be constantly hyping the nOrh gear. I also hype SVS, Odyssey, Diva, and HTD. You'll have to forgive me. I have found nOrh stuff (and other direct-to-customer companies) to be extremely high value for the money. A previous poster mentioned some very expensive gear, and the nOrh stuff can be had for much less $$$ with still outstanding quality, IMO. The price for performance ratio is so high on the nOrh stuff it's just hard to ignore.
    I'm sure there are other products out there worth considering, but you should definitely try your AV unit first. You may well be satisfied and you can spend your money where it'll have the most impact on your listening habits.
    Peace,
    John
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    System:
    Onkyo 787
    Mains: nOrh SM 6.9 (shipping NOW)
    Center: nOrh marble 4.0
    Surrounds: nOrh wood 4.0
    Rear Center: nOrh prism 4.1
    Subwoofers: 2 x SVS 20-39 CS w/Fidek Amp
    Pics: http://www.geocities.com/givinit2him/
     
  7. Chris Eriksen

    Chris Eriksen Stunt Coordinator

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    I also use two separate systems for music and HT. I was quite surprised at the 2-channel sound quality of my Onkyo 696. I wasn't expecting much, but it is quite respectable in two-channel mode. However, it is not in the same league as my old Luxman preamp, which I still use for 2-channel music.
    I hope this helps! [​IMG]
     
  8. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    John G: Wow! That Norh preamp looks really nice. The only other thing that I'd want would be balanced outputs. If I'm spending mega bucks on two channel, I'm gonna go balanced all the way if possible.
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    Take Care,
    merc
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    DFAST, 5C, DVI, HDCP, SafeAudio, Macrovision and Lewinski!!!
     
  9. GarryW

    GarryW Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks guys!
    I am currently using an older model Denon 2700 which does DD, and puts out 85 WPC. I am using 3 MA-500 monoblocks for the LCR, as it doesn't have outputs for the surrounds, so the Denon is powering these. Coupled with my Paradigm speakers & Sub, this is a pretty great setup for a small room. [​IMG]
    I decided to buy two more of the MA-500's as they are an older model based on the assumption of getting a 5 Channel Pre-Pro. Right now they are just sitting there doing nothing.
    And then I got to thinking, instead of the new Pre-Pro, why not get a nice 2 Channel pre-amp for music and use those two MA-500's? [​IMG]
    I was reading on the Audio Asylum board that there are pre-amps that have a "unity gain feature" that allows some type of pass thru for HT.
    Appreciate all your comments! [​IMG]
     
  10. John Gates

    John Gates Second Unit

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    Garry,
    Yep, the nOrh ACA has that HT passthrough circuit as well. A very nice feature, IMO, for those who want to use the same speakers for HT and 2-channel music. I'm sure there are other quality manufacturers out there who also have this feature. For me, it would be essential. :)
    John
     

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