2 Channel Pre-Amp? - AVS Forum
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Old 04-20-2007, 09:05 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been looking for some time to upgrade my music quality, which is played primarily play though my squeezebox. I am currently running a Denon 3802, heavily modded Denon SACD/DVD Player, and my squeezebox along with Velodyne DF661 speakers. I had been planning on getting an amp (probably the Emotiva LPA 1 and then maybe adding a pro amp for the 2 main channels) and eventually adding a pre-pro. However, given that I am listening about 80% of the time to 2-channel music through my squeezbox (or CD/DVDs through my Denon universal through the 5.1 analog inputs), wouldn't be adding a 2 channel pre-amp w/ HT bypass and a 2 channel amp be a much better and more cost-effective way of doing this?

Would I be missing anything by doing the 2-channel pre-amp + amp rather than doing the multi-channel amp and then pre-pro?

Lastly, what are some good pre-amp in the sub $1000 range?
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Old 04-20-2007, 10:54 AM
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I would actually look for a good integrated with HT bypass. 2-channel pre-amps are a waste, IMO. All you need is volume control and source selection. The main reason to get a pre-amp is for messing with treble and bass controls, and for a gain stage to help out phono inputs - not something a modern audiophile needs. I'd suggest either looking at passive pres or integrated amplifiers with a passive pre section.

Passive pre sections are superior since they eliminate an unnecessary gain stage that exists mainly for aged phono inputs. This elimination is a good thing, since you want to have as few gain circuits in the signal path as possible - distortion is multiplicative, not additive. Unfortunately integrated solutions with passive pre sections tend to be on the expensive side, solely for the boutique status. The cheapest is a Stereophile rated Class A integrated, the Creek 5053E ($1500). However, you can pair a power amp with a passive pre for pretty cheap. The AudioCircle forums should have some suggestions (take a look at TVCs). Another option would be tube hybrids, if you like tube sound but want good solid state power. Look at Opera and Jolida, they have some options in your price range. A tube pre section will give you ~75% of that sweet tube midrange without the shortcomings of distorted bass from an underpowered amp.

With your price range, I'd scrounge audiogon for used integrated amplifiers. I don't know off-hand how many have home theater bypasses, but I know Musical Fidelity and Krell have a few that are out of your price range. I think Arcam has one or two, also.

Here's a thread with some more information on HT bypass (sometimes called unity gain):
http://forums.audioreview.com/showthread.php?t=21947

EDIT: The one problem with passive pre-amps is that the output and input impedances of each connected device must be sufficiently compatible, otherwise you'll have some sound issues. AudioCircle can help with this, as well.
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Old 04-20-2007, 10:57 AM
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stereo vs. multichannel all has to do with personal preference and the ability to setup speakers in your room "correctly".

With that said, I really like my Rotel Preamp RC-1070 and it costed only 500$.

You will have to go out and listen for yourself of course.

Before setting out and spending loads of money on electronics, I would reassess where you are in your speaker department as well. Putting 2000$ into electronics, to me, only makes sense if you have placed at least that much into two speakers.

My opinion, of course, was developed with the offerings that I had around me. In the lesser price ranges, I felt that improvements in speaker greatly outweighed the improvements given by better electronics.
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Old 04-20-2007, 11:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies, I'll have to look into your recommendations. I definitely plan to get something used, probably off A'gon. Agree on the speakers, however, I am extremely satisfied with the velodynes. Pretty rare so not many of heard them but to my ears they sound fantastic. The are full range bookshelf speakers and I believe retailed for about 2.5k in the 90s. Had Swan 2.1 before and they sounded good and are highly regarded but are not even in the same ballpark as the 661s - which leads me to believe they are pretty damn good. Unfortunately, I am relatively new to this hobby so I haven't heard a lot of high end speakers.

Guessing if I go the HT Bypass pre-amp rout rather than than looking for a more expensive integrated piece as based on what I have read I am not sure the amp section of an integrated would be any better (or even as good) as a pro amp but will would nonetheless cost much much more.
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Old 04-20-2007, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UWDawg View Post

Guessing if I go the HT Bypass pre-amp rout rather than than looking for a more expensive integrated piece as based on what I have read I am not sure the amp section of an integrated would be any better (or even as good) as a pro amp but will would nonetheless cost much much more.

They really aren't any cheaper, and in most cases, they're more expensive than an integrated amplifier.
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Old 04-20-2007, 08:25 PM
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The Squeezebox is not a "stellar" 2-channel source.

Are you running it analog or digital into the 3802 ?

Adding an analog pre will not accomplish anything IMO.
What would an analog pre offer over the Squeezebox's own volume control, or the 3802's analog pre?

Using the Squeezebox's digital out into a better DAC would certainly yield sonic improvements.

But then you are still left with the 3802 as your analog pre, which isn't the greatest either.

For an analog pre, the Bel Canto Pre3 is quite good for the money, has HT bypass, looks good.
Use the Pre3 along with something like a Bel Canto DAC2 ( very musical ) and you will have some great sonic improvements.
http://www.belcantodesign.com/prod_PRe3.html
You can probably buy both pieces used for $1700 at Audiogon.

Another interesting & affordable piece is a Monarchy M24 2007-Edition -> a tube DAC, solid state DAC, tube pre-amp.
http://www.monarchyaudio.com/

BTW, I love my Squeezebox v3 ! ..... and have owned DAC2, Pre3, 3802 in the past.

- Andy
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Old 04-21-2007, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
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I currently actually prefer the Denon in stereo mode to the Squeezebox. Neither sound great and certainly are definitely several notches below my Denon universal as a source. However, I am planning to add an external DAC as soon as I find decent alternative to feeding it into the Denon. DAC wise, I'm looking at the Benchmark, Monarch M24, Bel Canto 2, and VDA2...it will probably depend on what I decide to do with the preamp. I am thinking I would like to add some tube at some point, which leads to my next question.

Any tube preamp with HT bypass that you would recommend? Most I've seen look fairly pricey, particularly considering they aren't integrated pieces. If I went that route, I would probably definitely add a pro amp.

The Krell, KAV 300 (?), although a bit more than I want to spend also looks like an option as does a Music Fidelity Integrated. Of course shortly thereafter I would add a DAC to my squeezebox.

Basically looking for something that will be in my system for a while and into which I will feed a DAC, etc. realizing that most of my music in the future will probably be coming from my computer via a squeezebox or similar device. Decisions, decisions.
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Old 04-21-2007, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UWDawg View Post

I am thinking I would like to add some tube at some point, which leads to my next question.

Any tube preamp with HT bypass that you would recommend? Most I've seen look fairly pricey, particularly considering they aren't integrated pieces. If I went that route, I would probably definitely add a pro amp...

...Basically looking for something that will be in my system for a while and into which I will feed a DAC, etc. realizing that most of my music in the future will probably be coming from my computer via a squeezebox or similar device. Decisions, decisions.

I would also like suggestions on a 2ch tube preamp with HT bypass. I am looking at this kind of setup:

1) Source (CD player, turntable, etc.) >>>

2) Coaxial or Toslink cable from CD and other digital sources >>>

3) DAC >>>

4) analog interconnects (balanced or unbalanced) >>>

4a) phono cable from turntable >>>

5) 2ch tube preamp w/HT bypass >>>

6) analog interconnects >>>

7) HT Receiver w/Direct mode (to selectively defeat the receiver's processing when in 2ch mode) >>>

8) analog interconnects from preout >>>

9) Amp (either a 5 or 7ch HT amp, or a dedicated 2ch amp, or monoblocks).

I would like the 2ch preamp to have a remote control and the option of acting as a pass through when my system is in multi-channel mode. Anyone out there with a setup similar to this?
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Old 04-28-2007, 09:28 AM
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I have an Upgrade Company modified Denon 5910. It has two sets of analog outputs, one is 2 channel and those go directly to my 2 channel preamp (Bel Canto PRe3). The multi-channel analog outs go to my 7.1 receiver (I prefer to let the 5910 do the DAC & processing but the receiver does the work for the cable box). The receiver's front L & R pre-outs go to the HT bypass inputs on the PRe3. A pair of the outputs of the PRe3 go to my Bel Canto REF1000 amps, the other pair go to the amps of my two active subs. To listen to two-channel stereo I simply turn on the 5910 & set the PRe3 to input 1. The sound is SOOO much better than using the receiver! The PRe 3 is easy to use and is very quick, transparent and accurate. It is so much better and more lifelike than the receiver I cannot remember the last time I listened to multi-channel. I even listen to SACD and DVD-A in "stereo" mode.

For multi-chanel or movies & TV I select "Input 5" and the "HT" lights up on the Bel Canto. When in that mode you don't even know it is there, the receiver works the same as if it was direct connected to the amps. There are three unused inputs on the PRe3 so you could add a TT or Tuner or...
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