2 Channel Pre-Amps w/ Balanced Outputs (inputs would be nice, too) for under $1000? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-02-2007, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I've found two so far:

Parasound Halo P3

and...

B&K Reference 5 S2

Both seem highly regarded on this forum and others.

I'm kinda new at this hi-fi stuff but I've done a lot of looking lately and I'm out of candidates... Does anyone have any more examples of sub $1k 2 channel pre-amps with at least balanced outputs out there?

My search would probably be over at the Parasound except for this tidbit of info from Sandy Bird's review of the Parasound on Hometheaterhifi.com:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandy Bird View Post

I should mention that the P 3 is a 'quasi-balanced' design. Fully balanced circuits treat the positive and negative signal of the balanced connection separately throughout the internal circuitry. In a quasi-balanced design like the P 3, XLR jacks are at the input and output, but the internal circuits are not balanced. This gives you the benefits of noise rejection in the interconnects, but does not give the benefit of a fully balanced design.

Given the sensitivities exhibited by the NHT Xd active speaker system (which is enroute to my home now) to unbalanced inputs (see Doug Schneider's Soundstage review of the NHT Xd), Sandy's finding the Parasound's XLR connections suspect makes me a bit hesitant about using this pre-amp.

So, my search continues and I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions. If not for sub $1k pre-amps then perhaps up to $1,500 at the VERY most. Thanks in advance for your help!

Ken
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-02-2007, 09:54 PM
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http://www.emotiva.com/rsp1.html

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post #3 of 11 Old 01-02-2007, 10:27 PM
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Used Classe CP-50 was the nicest unit I had, for a grand used.
Used Adcom GFP-750 was very nice too; I used it in passive mode.

You don't mention if you are talking new sticker, new street, or used pricing. You also don't mention if you're looking for solid state, tube, or some implementation of passive. Nor how many balanced inputs you need.
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-03-2007, 04:48 AM
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I think, if you dig deep enough, most equipment with balanced in/out is merely balanced at the input/output stage just like that reference to the Parasound unit.

Fully balanced designs are generally found only in the "high-end" stuff.

Two fully balanced models I know off the top of my head are the solid state Levinson No. 26 which seem to go for around $2500, and the Audio Research LS-5 which is a fully balanced tube unit. No doubt there are many others but I just happen to remember those two.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #5 of 11 Old 01-03-2007, 05:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SMac770 View Post

You don't mention if you are talking new sticker, new street, or used pricing.

The prices I quoted were new sticker. I'm not sure what new street is. I tend to shy aware from used unless I personally know the seller.

Quote:


You also don't mention if you're looking for solid state, tube, or some implementation of passive. Nor how many balanced inputs you need.

Good questions, all. I've been looking at solid state for, more than anything, probably because that is what I'm familiar with. I'm not married to that though.

As far as inputs, one pair would be nice, two would be even better (no more), but since I haven't found too many units like that myself I'd just settle for one set of outputs.

Thanks for your suggestions, SMac77.

Also, that Emotiva looks very nice louthewhiz. I read in another thread where it was supposed to be available in Dec of '06. Looks like availability has slipped to 1/15/07 as per their website. I wonder what that's about?

Ken
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-03-2007, 05:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoaru99 View Post

I think, if you dig deep enough, most equipment with balanced in/out is merely balanced at the input/output stage just like that reference to the Parasound unit.

Fully balanced designs are generally found only in the "high-end" stuff.

Thank's for the insight whoaru99. I'd wondered about that myself. I think a call is in order to B&K and Emotiva to doublecheck that. I might be making a mistake assuming the Parasound is the only unit like that.

Unfortunately, for now, $2500 and up (new sticker price) for a preamp is moving out of my range. Among other things, I'm just getting started at this so I'm wadding in at the shallow end to get exposure to this hobby/pasttime/obsession .

Ken
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-03-2007, 08:05 AM
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The Levinson is $2500, give or take, used.....

But, yes, it's a chunk of change.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-04-2007, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoaru99 View Post

Fully balanced designs are generally found only in the "high-end" stuff.

For what its worth, I followed up and called B&K and Emotiva (very nice folks over at Emotiva) and got an earful of good info . Both the B&K and the yet to be released Emotiva pre-amps sport fully balanced (differential circuit) XLR connections as opposed to Parasounds quasi-balanced connection.

FWIWx2, if the Emotiva RSP-1 were available today, I'd definetly be giving it a try for 30 days (full money back, no questions asked if not 100% satisfied).

So, as of now the Parasound (quasi-balanced), the B&K and the Emotiva "budget" pre-amps are the only 3 sub $1K units w/ any form of XLR connections?

Ken
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-04-2007, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Rahaim View Post

For what its worth, I followed up and called B&K and Emotiva (very nice folks over at Emotiva) and got an earful of good info . Both the B&K and the yet to be released Emotiva pre-amps sport fully balanced (differential circuit) XLR connections as opposed to Parasounds quasi-balanced connection.

FWIWx2, if the Emotiva RSP-1 were available today, I'd definetly be giving it a try for 30 days (full money back, no questions asked if not 100% satisfied).

So, as of now the Parasound (quasi-balanced), the B&K and the Emotiva "budget" pre-amps are the only 3 sub $1K units w/ any form of XLR connections?


Fully balanced input/output connections are not the same as a fully balanced input-to-output design. It's just more double-speak of sorts.

My Anthem AVM 20 has "true balanced" inputs and outputs that (evidently) would be along the lines of those in the B&K and Emotiva. However, the Anthem does NOT have fully balanced circuits from input to output.

The answer you get depends on the question you ask.

If the question is "Does this thing have fully balanced inputs and outputs?" and the answer is "YES", then it's a true statement.

But, if the question is "Does this thing have fully balanced circuits from input to output?", I'd bet a dollar the answer is "NO" for both of them and probably 90%, or more, of all other gear.

Of course, maybe a fully balanced design is not what you are really after. In that case, there is probably little, if any, difference in actual function between the quasi-balanced (what ever that is) outputs and the fully balanced outputs of the others you checked.

It may well be merely the author's terminology referring to balanced input/output without fully balanced circuits in between as "quasi-balanced". If this is the case, that would make the Parasound no different in this regard than the B&K and the Emotiva. When I go back and read the reviewer's remark, it seems clear this is exactly what he was referring to.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-04-2007, 09:07 AM
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Look for a used Sonic Frontiers Line-1.

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post #11 of 11 Old 01-14-2007, 02:27 AM - Thread Starter
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I finally have a chance to followup & revisit this thread...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

Look for a used Sonic Frontiers Line-1.

First, thanks to all who responded with suggestions and advice.

For now, I've made my decision and my decision is... no pre-amp at all (sorta). I didn't mention it before because I hadn't decided on a source (I've been researching media servers/centers), but I just took delivery of my Slim Designs Transporter, ReadyNAS NV+ and 2 Squeezebox bundle. Thing is, the Transporter has fully balanced outputs and multiple inputs soooooo, as I discovered over on the Slim Designs forums, folks are using the Transporter as a pre-amp of sorts with good results.

I'm not committed to using the Transporter long term in this role. We'll see how it performs. But at least it'll give me flexibility to wait for the Emotiva if I decide to go that route. Or maybe I can even wait a bit longer, replenish the cofers and buy a more capable pre-amp.

Ken
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