Can anyone help me with my setup - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 03-14-2012, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone,

I just recently sold my stereo system ( Martin Logan Vantage / Marantz AV7005 + MM7055 ) and in the process of picking out a new preamp. I'm fairly new at this so... I'm very willing to learn and open to suggestions.

I'm waiting currently waiting for these guys to come in:
Martin Logan Montis
2x Martin Logan Descent I
Mcintosh MC452
Oppo-95

Taking a long time for Mcintosh to really give me a solid date... It's been a month. What's up with that?

I plan on only doing a 2-Channel system for my music and movies. The problem I'm having is choosing a preamp. I'm one of those people who really like to have a nice system that matches so naturally I'm looking at the Mcintosh C50 or Mcintosh MX-121.

I've been leaning towards the C50 since day one, but my question is... Since its a stereo preamplifier, would I run into problems when I want to watch movies? I was planning on using balanced cables from the oppo directly into the c50 and running an hdmi to the tv separately. Would it be a better choice to go with the MX-121? I like the C50 becuase it has much better DACs than the MX-121...

I also am considering the Anthem D2V 3D or Integra 80.3.

Can someone please help me out? Maybe explain why one choice is better than the other?
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post #2 of 22 Old 03-15-2012, 09:32 AM
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Hi; sounds like you are going to put a good system together.

First of all, I would like to mention that IMO the OPPO BDP-95 is the engineering triumph of the century! It sounds better playing CDs or SACDs than my $6000 Ayre SACD player. For only $1000? Amazing.

I have listened to and had McIntosh equipment and it is nice stuff. I no longer use it, however, because I find Audio Research to have the best-sounding preamps. I have the Audio Research LS-26, and I think for $6000 the sound is better than anything McIntosh makes. I use it with a Bryston 3B-SST power amplifier, and the sound is to die for. The LS-26 has been superseded by the LS-27, but the changes are very minor. Highly recommended if you want the very best sound quality.

In my opinion the Anthem and Integra products are inferior by far in sound quality to McIntosh and Audio Research, and not even worth considering for a top-quality system.

For best possible sound from the TV, I run the analog outputs of the TV to the preamp. The LS-26 and 27 have 7 inputs that offer both balanced inputs and unbalanced inputs on every one. It also has a 102-step volume control plus 3 volume ranges that can be preset and memorized for each input. It also has two sets of balanced or unbalanced outputs to go to power amplifiers or subs or whatever. If your TV does not have analog outputs, you will need a DAC in between the TV and Preamp.

For audio listening I run the balanced audio outputs of the OPPO direct to the preamp. For DVD/ Bluray, I run HDMI to the TV from the OPPO. I also run HDMI from my Roku to the TV for streaming video and audio from the internet.

A separate DAC is much better than one built into a preamp; that way the preamp power supply is isolated from the digital circuitry. I consider building a DAC into a preamp a bad design choice.




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Originally Posted by kbn View Post

Hello everyone,

I just recently sold my stereo system ( Martin Logan Vantage / Marantz AV7005 + MM7055 ) and in the process of picking out a new preamp. I'm fairly new at this so... I'm very willing to learn and open to suggestions.

I'm waiting currently waiting for these guys to come in:
Martin Logan Montis
2x Martin Logan Descent I
Mcintosh MC452
Oppo-95

Taking a long time for Mcintosh to really give me a solid date... It's been a month. What's up with that?

I plan on only doing a 2-Channel system for my music and movies. The problem I'm having is choosing a preamp. I'm one of those people who really like to have a nice system that matches so naturally I'm looking at the Mcintosh C50 or Mcintosh MX-121.

I've been leaning towards the C50 since day one, but my question is... Since its a stereo preamplifier, would I run into problems when I want to watch movies? I was planning on using balanced cables from the oppo directly into the c50 and running an hdmi to the tv separately. Would it be a better choice to go with the MX-121? I like the C50 becuase it has much better DACs than the MX-121...

I also am considering the Anthem D2V 3D or Integra 80.3.

Can someone please help me out? Maybe explain why one choice is better than the other?

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post #3 of 22 Old 03-15-2012, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, Thanks !!

Just to make sure I understand this correctly

When you listen to music, you running the 2 channel balanced XLR from the Oppo to the LS27.

When you watch a movie, your running an HDMI to the TV then analog out to the LS27?
Are you unable to use the 2 Channel balanced XLR from the Oppo to the LS27 for movies?
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post #4 of 22 Old 03-16-2012, 11:27 AM
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That is correct.

One option would be to connect the video to the TV using the 3 Component-Video jacks and the audio to the preamp using the unbalanced or balanced audio outputs. I would assume that the unbalanced audio outputs have to work when using the component video connection, but I'm not sure if the balanced ones would function or not; haven't tried that yet.

So far, just using the HDMI to the TV and the analog out from the TV to the preamp has worked well.

P.S. - I just talked to a tech at OPPO and he said that if you set the "Audio Processing" menu to "Down-Mixed Stereo" the balanced outputs will give you the movie audio all the time, even when using HDMI. I just verified that and it works. He says it's not in the manual because there was a firmware update last year to change it after the manual was printed.



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Originally Posted by kbn View Post

Wow, Thanks !!

Just to make sure I understand this correctly

When you listen to music, you running the 2 channel balanced XLR from the Oppo to the LS27.

When you watch a movie, your running an HDMI to the TV then analog out to the LS27?
Are you unable to use the 2 Channel balanced XLR from the Oppo to the LS27 for movies?

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post #5 of 22 Old 03-16-2012, 01:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Since that option works, have you experienced any delay in the audio
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post #6 of 22 Old 03-16-2012, 04:08 PM
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You have the makings of an incredible system!!! If I were in your shoes and the purchase wouldn't cause me financial hardship, I would buy the Mac C50 preamp. Not only is Mac equipment built for the long haul, it has ean excellent reputation and fantastic resale value. McIntosh equipment is also beautiful and there is a lot of pride in owning nicely made equipment.

I have been on the two channel bandwagon for many years now. I became disenchanted with the 5.1-7.1 systems, they were complex and not always satisfying to me. While I have never owned Mac equipment I have owned Krell, Bryston and Dynaudio. The build quality of this level of equipment is astonishing, generally military spec parts which explains their longevity!

My current system is decent consisting of an Arcam FMJ-A22 integrated amp, a Yamaha DVD-S2700 (flagship) player, and Yamaha NS-555 speakers. While the Yamaha speakers are no Dynaudio Contours they sound well, well above their $700.00/pr. price! The main point is that all of my equipment works together perfectly. I have a system of relatively inauspicious equipment that can play with the big boys because it has been set up properly. Set yours up correctly and it will be world class!!!
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post #7 of 22 Old 03-17-2012, 01:48 AM - Thread Starter
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thanks math-geek, i really appreciate your input

i guess I'm just a little concerned about movies on the c50
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post #8 of 22 Old 03-17-2012, 07:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

A separate DAC is much better than one built into a preamp; that way the preamp power supply is isolated from the digital circuitry. I consider building a DAC into a preamp a bad design choice.

I've read this quite a bit, but have yet to find any evidence that this is the case. It would appear to be a bit more snake oil, in a hobby that's drowning in it. I would personally do a bit of research before believing arbitrary statements that would lead to unnecessary equipment purchase.

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post #9 of 22 Old 03-17-2012, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

I've read this quite a bit, but have yet to find any evidence that this is the case. It would appear to be a bit more snake oil, in a hobby that's drowning in it. I would personally do a bit of research before believing arbitrary statements that would lead to unnecessary equipment purchase.

I agree. I don't doubt that there is a theoretical difference between a built-in DAC and separate DAC unit, but the noise level added by having the DAC in the receiver is probably so very low that the difference would be inaudible except for very poorly designed receivers with super noisy electronics (e.g., I would not be surprised if it were audible in a crappy BestBuy Insignia receiver). Arnyk recently posted some anecdotal evidence that audio recordings have a very high noise threshold. The improvement from separating the DAC from the receiver would be like trying to hear someone whispering two seats in front of you on an airplane.

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post #10 of 22 Old 03-17-2012, 09:34 AM
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This is something that is obvious to any electrical engineer. Putting the DAC in with a preamp requires extra expense and design work to isolate the digital crud from the preamp circuits adequately. There is no "snake oil" about it.

If done properly, this is going to make the cost of the preamp considerably higher. This is a simple FACT, not an arbitrary statement.

That is why I say it is poor design choice. A separate DAC and preamp will probably cost LESS than a properly engineered combined unit (and probably give more flexibility in using both units).

"Research" is a pretty poor substitute for getting the education required to know the facts.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

I've read this quite a bit, but have yet to find any evidence that this is the case. It would appear to be a bit more snake oil, in a hobby that's drowning in it. I would personally do a bit of research before believing arbitrary statements that would lead to unnecessary equipment purchase.

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post #11 of 22 Old 03-17-2012, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

This is something that is obvious to any electrical engineer. Putting the DAC in with a preamp requires extra expense and design work to isolate the digital crud from the preamp circuits adequately. There is no "snake oil" about it.

If done properly, this is going to make the cost of the preamp considerably higher. This is a simple FACT, not an arbitrary statement.

That is why I say it is poor design choice. A separate DAC and preamp will probably cost LESS than a properly engineered combined unit (and probably give more flexibility in using both units).

"Research" is a pretty poor substitute for getting the education required to know the facts.

Then what is the actual cost difference between the two? What you have provided is only the electrical engineer's perspective. Factor in industrial engineering and business management perspectives. The design work and the cost of the electronics is only part of the costs, and my guess is that it could easily be negligible compared to other factors. There is also the cost of an extra enclosure for a separate DAC unit, a separate manufacturing run, quality control testing, marketing costs, packaging, shipping costs, etc. Without analyzing those factors, it is impossible to claim that one is cheaper than the other.

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post #12 of 22 Old 03-17-2012, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

This is something that is obvious to any electrical engineer. Putting the DAC in with a preamp requires extra expense and design work to isolate the digital crud from the preamp circuits adequately. There is no "snake oil" about it.

If done properly, this is going to make the cost of the preamp considerably higher. This is a simple FACT, not an arbitrary statement.

That is why I say it is poor design choice. A separate DAC and preamp will probably cost LESS than a properly engineered combined unit (and probably give more flexibility in using both units).

"Research" is a pretty poor substitute for getting the education

required to know the facts.

Yes, but can one detect an audible difference?

Are you an electrical engineer by chance?

That last statement is verging on idiocracy. Didn't I read somewhere that you're a professor? Do you separate the concepts of research and education with your students? Could this be why we're far behind other industrialized nations in level of education? "Don't bother researching, just believe me."

Research is a bastion of hope, a buffer between those who seek knowledge and those who make it up as they go along. We could all do with a bit more research from time to time, yourself included. Just sayin'.

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post #13 of 22 Old 03-18-2012, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

This is something that is obvious to any electrical engineer. Putting the DAC in with a preamp requires extra expense and design work to isolate the digital crud from the preamp circuits adequately. There is no "snake oil" about it.

If done properly, this is going to make the cost of the preamp considerably higher. This is a simple FACT, not an arbitrary statement.

That is why I say it is poor design choice. A separate DAC and preamp will probably cost LESS than a properly engineered combined unit (and probably give more flexibility in using both units).

"Research" is a pretty poor substitute for getting the education required to know the facts.

As an EE who actually designs such products (as opposed to a wanna-be professor), I can tell you it's not that difficult to do, and not very expensive either (regulators, caps, inductors, etc are cheap). Probably < a couple dollars, depending on product, volume (number) of parts bought, etc.

For every new thing I learn, I forget two things I used to know.
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post #14 of 22 Old 03-18-2012, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

A separate DAC and preamp will probably cost LESS than a properly engineered combined unit (and probably give more flexibility in using both units).

No.

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post #15 of 22 Old 03-18-2012, 06:39 PM
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Right. The savings in chassis, power supply, etc, will easily cover for the small additional costs in power supply regulation and filtering.

For every new thing I learn, I forget two things I used to know.
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post #16 of 22 Old 03-20-2012, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
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So.. For two channel movies. Would the C50 be okay? Or should I really consider the MX121
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post #17 of 22 Old 03-20-2012, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbn View Post

So.. For two channel movies. Would the C50 be okay? Or should I really consider the MX121

I have a 2-channel McIntosh MA6600 integrated amp (love it!!) which is used for all of our movies and it does a terrific job. I think you need to ask yourself the basic question, "how often will this be used for movies, and what kind of movies do I usually watch?"

..If you watch lots of action movies with all sorts of surround sounds, then maybe a multi-channel pre/pro is a good idea. ..For us, we listen to music nightly but watch movies only on weekends, and usually the movies we watch are the sort that are not improved by extra channels (last movie was Descendants). So we did not want to have to allocate a significant portion of our A/V budget to extra speakers, extra amps, and a complicated processor when it would only rarely be engaged.
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post #18 of 22 Old 05-25-2012, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

In my opinion the Anthem (is) inferior by far in sound quality to McIntosh and Audio Research, and not even worth considering for a top-quality system.

In my decade and a half of staying very close to processors of all kinds, this is the first I've read from anyone that Anthem is not to be considered on par with McIntosh.

I'm anxious to read any kind of support for that claim. Please provide.
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post #19 of 22 Old 05-25-2012, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by elambo View Post

In my decade and a half of staying very close to processors of all kinds, this is the first I've read from anyone that Anthem is not to be considered on par with McIntosh.

I'm anxious to read any kind of support for that claim. Please provide.

The real overarching fallacy is that any of these, Anthem, McIntosh or whatever sound any different from the corresponding circuitry in a mid-fi receiver.
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post #20 of 22 Old 05-26-2012, 11:01 AM
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Agreed, Arny. Do you think the Oppo 95 sounds better than the Samsung BDP3600? I'm not convinced, as the Samsung has analog outputs, too. I guess the question is, are the Sabre DACs in the Oppo 95 audibly better than run-of-the-mill players?

I run the Samsung into a Rotel RSP 1066 with both analog out and just L&R out, so can switch output from the Rotel for any disc.
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post #21 of 22 Old 05-27-2012, 05:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Middleton View Post

Agreed, Arny. Do you think the Oppo 95 sounds better than the Samsung BDP3600?

My agnosticism about good digital players sounding different should be well known! ;-)

My first answer is that in a modern AV system - the HDMI outputs of a music player for a home system seem to be the most important ones, and they are fully digital. Player converter quality is thus irrelevant.

Quote:


I'm not convinced, as the Samsung has analog outputs, too. I guess the question is, are the Sabre DACs in the Oppo 95 audibly better than run-of-the-mill players?

My agnosticism about good digital converters sounding different should be well known! ;-)

I think that the Sabre converters are interesting technology, but their exceptional performance is gigundious overkill given the data they are obliged to convert.
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post #22 of 22 Old 05-27-2012, 10:24 AM
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That's what I thought. Too bad, the Oppo sounds nice a nice piece of equipment. Maybe when the Samsung breaks.
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