What surround sound processor in the 2-3K range should I get? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 01-29-2013, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
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So I've looked at the threads and online reviews (sterophile by Kal Rubinson, etc) and am still confused. Currently have a Rotel pre/pro, an Integra 10.5 and a 50 inch panny plasma all going to the basement so I am rebuilding my main system upstairs. My heart is set on the Oppo-105 (still have to purchase it). Already got my new 65 inch Panny VT50 last week and am breaking it in. Just got my new center (that Albert said would perfectly match my VR4 left and right speakers and it does!) and two addtional surrounds from Albert at VonScweikert so I have my 7.1 system all ready to go. My previous center will go to, yup, you guessed it - the basement!

Both my Integra player and my Rotel processor have been finicky and there are issues with both even now (which my kids can deal with in the basement!) So, it may be counterintuitive to look at those brands but those are on my shortlist. Because I am familiar with the Rotel I thought the new 1572 would be the natural replacement. Then I read a lot of posts saying it has all sorts of problems (audio delay something or the other, no backlit remote, no audyssey, etc). I am planning to get a professional to come set it up anyway so the audyssey may be a non-issue.

The Integra dhc 80.3 seems to be a strong contender. However I read that it may not be that great for music especially from the analog inputs. I plan on having the oppo decode 7.1 (right now I already have the 8 acoustic zen interconnects that I am using for the integra, 6 for the 5.1 and 2 for the two ch, they are mostly silver or matrix reference) although i will have hdmi connection to the SSP also for changing 5.1 to 7.1. Also, listen to vinyl and will not want any analog to digital and back to analog type of conversions at all. So the SSP must be able to do a very good job of passing through unadulterated analog sound whether movie or music. So music is really important for me. SInce the Oppo will have a lot of features (most seem to repeat in the SSP isn't that redundant?) should I get a processor that really is not too complicated?

What else should I look at? I don't want to look at the Onkyo (cause it is similar and I'd rather get the Integra). Any input will be appreciated. Right now I am feeding dvd thru component to my new tv and cant wait to do bluray via hdmi!!!!

7.1 with Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE fronts, VR-2 surrounds, LCR-4 center,
TS-3 rear surrounds and a Martin Logan Depth sub
MMF-7 Turntable with an EAR 834P Phono Stage
Oppo-105
Marantz AV7005
Bel Canto evo6 Amp for front three
Emotiva XPA-5 for rear four
Panasonic 65" VT50 Plasma TV
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post #2 of 17 Old 01-29-2013, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indieman View Post
The Integra dhc 80.3 seems to be a strong contender. However I read that it may not be that great for music especially from the analog inputs. I plan on having the oppo decode 7.1 (right now I already have the 8 acoustic zen interconnects that I am using for the integra, 6 for the 5.1 and 2 for the two ch, they are mostly silver or matrix reference) although i will have hdmi connection to the SSP also for changing 5.1 to 7.1. Also, listen to vinyl and will not want any analog to digital and back to analog type of conversions at all. So the SSP must be able to do a very good job of passing through unadulterated analog sound whether movie or music. So music is really important for me. SInce the Oppo will have a lot of features (most seem to repeat in the SSP isn't that redundant?) should I get a processor that really is not too complicated?

What else should I look at? I don't want to look at the Onkyo (cause it is similar and I'd rather get the Integra). Any input will be appreciated. Right now I am feeding dvd thru component to my new tv and cant wait to do bluray via hdmi!!!!

The 80.3 can do all you are asking but you should also consider the new Marantz AV8801.


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post #3 of 17 Old 01-29-2013, 10:05 AM
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with the 105 you could just get all separate amps and you don't even need a processor, the 105 will act as the processor. unless you have a lot of other sources.
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post #4 of 17 Old 01-29-2013, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by WagBoss View Post

with the 105 you could just get all separate amps and you don't even need a processor, the 105 will act as the processor. unless you have a lot of other sources.

Or need roomEQ and other processing.


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post #5 of 17 Old 01-30-2013, 01:10 AM
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I personally like having a separate 2CH integrated amp (with HT bypass) added onto the SSP. It is the only sure way of getting pure analogue (or if your like, unadulterated) signal path from vinyl. No digital or video circuits. No need to make assumptions about how pure the SSP's analogue path is. If budget allows of course, or put the cost of the Oppo 105 and all the analogue cables towards that and use a cheaper player and HDMI for all other MCH sources.

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #6 of 17 Old 01-30-2013, 04:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Kal, WagBoss and Killian, thanks so much for responding. I already have separate amps but I do need a fairly pure analog pass through for vinyl . From the oppo panels I cannot see any analog audio inputs so I will have to get a processor. Also, as Kal pointed out I would need an SSP if I was to do room equalization, etc. Since I have changed my center speaker and added two more surrounds and a new rear amp, the sound seems "off" so I am hoping to have a professional come out with a sound meter etc and sit in my sweet spot and calibrate the system again (it was done 9 years ago but not since). I am assuming the Oppo does not have that sort of capability. Also, the only processing I would need is to convert 5.1 to 7.1 routinely. If a disc is 7.1 I may use all analog outputs from the Oppo but otherwise use HDMI out to the processor and have it do 5.1 to 7.1 (I hope this is making sense cause I know so little about the digital/hdmi world....btw my first hdmi cables should arrive today from Blue Jeans Cable! biggrin.gif)

Kal, two questions for you.
1) At a lower price point and a longer warranty and the fact that I will have a professional come out for the setup, would the Rotel be better for music than the Integra? (not planning to go to 9.2 system ever cause I have a small(er) room and 7.1 is it!)
2) One of our local dealers has a McIntosh MX 121 dealer demo for sale that brings the cost down significantly from the 6K retail price. I know this is like comparing apples and oranges but not being one to really do a lot of tweaking or utilize a lot of the internet radio type stuff, would that be a superior option at all? I am tempted if the price is right knowing that otherwise I'd never be looking at that brand under normal circumstances. Also, it has a dedicated phono preamp from what I understand (would that be superior to using the EAR 834 phono stage?)

7.1 with Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE fronts, VR-2 surrounds, LCR-4 center,
TS-3 rear surrounds and a Martin Logan Depth sub
MMF-7 Turntable with an EAR 834P Phono Stage
Oppo-105
Marantz AV7005
Bel Canto evo6 Amp for front three
Emotiva XPA-5 for rear four
Panasonic 65" VT50 Plasma TV
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post #7 of 17 Old 01-30-2013, 05:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Kal, I also looked at the Marantz. Looks like a great product but is certainly a lot pricier than the Rotel or Integra. Will try to research it more.

7.1 with Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE fronts, VR-2 surrounds, LCR-4 center,
TS-3 rear surrounds and a Martin Logan Depth sub
MMF-7 Turntable with an EAR 834P Phono Stage
Oppo-105
Marantz AV7005
Bel Canto evo6 Amp for front three
Emotiva XPA-5 for rear four
Panasonic 65" VT50 Plasma TV
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post #8 of 17 Old 01-30-2013, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indieman View Post

1) At a lower price point and a longer warranty and the fact that I will have a professional come out for the setup, would the Rotel be better for music than the Integra? (not planning to go to 9.2 system ever cause I have a small(er) room and 7.1 is it!)
2) One of our local dealers has a McIntosh MX 121 dealer demo for sale that brings the cost down significantly from the 6K retail price. I know this is like comparing apples and oranges but not being one to really do a lot of tweaking or utilize a lot of the internet radio type stuff, would that be a superior option at all? I am tempted if the price is right knowing that otherwise I'd never be looking at that brand under normal circumstances. Also, it has a dedicated phono preamp from what I understand (would that be superior to using the EAR 834 phono stage?)

1.  I do not know which Rotel you are referring but the 1572 sounds quite wonderful but it has HDMI switching delays, lacks a really flexible EQ.

2.  I have no experience with the Mac 121.


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post #9 of 17 Old 01-30-2013, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Kal, thanks again. It is indeed helpful for someone of my limited knowledge to be able to draw on the experience of someone like you. Appreciate that you take the time for this.
I was talking about the 1572 Rotel. I will have one HDMI cable to it from the Oppo 105 (that I am planning on buying TODAY!) and thats it. We do not have cable or satellite (cancelled TV service). Also, I am going to have the AV store send out a professional to set it up so I am assuming that the not so flexible EQ should not be a concern?
Probably not going to get the Mac 121 after I read many posts about it not having a better DAC than the Oppo.....

7.1 with Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE fronts, VR-2 surrounds, LCR-4 center,
TS-3 rear surrounds and a Martin Logan Depth sub
MMF-7 Turntable with an EAR 834P Phono Stage
Oppo-105
Marantz AV7005
Bel Canto evo6 Amp for front three
Emotiva XPA-5 for rear four
Panasonic 65" VT50 Plasma TV
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post #10 of 17 Old 01-30-2013, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indieman View Post
Also, I am going to have the AV store send out a professional to set it up so I am assuming that the not so flexible EQ should not be a concern?

1.  I am skeptical that the typical AV store has a competent professional but I hope I am wrong.

2.  The limitations are limitations for any user and, although a pro will always do better than a newby, he will be constrained by them.


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post #11 of 17 Old 01-31-2013, 04:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Got my 105 yesterday and it looks and sounds fantastic. Tried my standard redbook stuff like Madame Hui Fen Min on Erhu, some rock, SACDs like Alison Krauss, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Pink Floyd DSODM, etc and also bought two new Blu rays (my first ever!): Hellboy 2 and Live free or die hard and was super impressed with the PQ and 7.1 on Hellboy, etc.

Kal, I thought about having one of the travelling calibrators come and do the set up but now I am seriously considering using the preouts on the Oppo and getting a preamplifier like the parasound halo p7 or if I can find one, the bel canto pre6 maybe or something along those lines. They showed me how to adjust the speakers using a sound meter for crossover and dB type of calibration, etc from the Oppo and I wonder if I even need an SSP now except for room eq as you had said.

7.1 with Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE fronts, VR-2 surrounds, LCR-4 center,
TS-3 rear surrounds and a Martin Logan Depth sub
MMF-7 Turntable with an EAR 834P Phono Stage
Oppo-105
Marantz AV7005
Bel Canto evo6 Amp for front three
Emotiva XPA-5 for rear four
Panasonic 65" VT50 Plasma TV
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post #12 of 17 Old 01-31-2013, 05:49 AM
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If you are considering the Rotel, you might want to look at the Emotiva UMC200. It has somewhat effective RoomEq, but very useful parametric EQs if you want to get your ears dirty and can measure the room.

No scaling, very good switching, by all accounts very good analog, very flexible bass management, and it is cheap.

If you need auto EQ, there is always the Antimode.
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post #13 of 17 Old 01-31-2013, 07:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indieman View Post

Kal, I thought about having one of the travelling calibrators come and do the set up but now I am seriously considering using the preouts on the Oppo and getting a preamplifier like the parasound halo p7 or if I can find one, the bel canto pre6 maybe or something along those lines. They showed me how to adjust the speakers using a sound meter for crossover and dB type of calibration, etc from the Oppo and I wonder if I even need an SSP now except for room eq as you had said.

If you have an acoustically designed/treated room, you can live without roomEQ.  Proper setup of crossover and levels is essential but no substitute for roomEQ.


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post #14 of 17 Old 01-31-2013, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Kal and Steve, thank you for your input. Kal, I do have (DIY) bass cylindrical traps at the corners and wall hanging absorbent panels behind and at the first reflection points on the side walls, soft furniture, shag rug and an irregular (slopes from one side to the other) celing so maybe I could say that the room is better from an acoustic standpoint than average. But again I am no expert.....Perhaps I should have someone evaluate. I wonder how to locate a local expert (as opposed to the standard AV store tech guy).

If indeed I can get away with the room shortcomings such as they are, then would you recommend a nice preamp that sends an unaltered analog signal through cleanly for 7.1 and three or four more two channel analog inputs?

7.1 with Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE fronts, VR-2 surrounds, LCR-4 center,
TS-3 rear surrounds and a Martin Logan Depth sub
MMF-7 Turntable with an EAR 834P Phono Stage
Oppo-105
Marantz AV7005
Bel Canto evo6 Amp for front three
Emotiva XPA-5 for rear four
Panasonic 65" VT50 Plasma TV
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post #15 of 17 Old 02-01-2013, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Curses! Foiled again! Oppo just emailed me and informed me that the 105 will not convert a 5.1 signal into 7.1 like Dolby PLIIx or whatever will do which means:
Yup................. I'll need a receiver after all!
I was getting pretty excited about matching the Oppo to a Parasound Halo P7......mad.gif
Oppo did say that the 105 will convert a 2 ch signal into a 7.1 though but that still leaves me listening to the majority of movies in 5.1 only so back to the drawing board.

7.1 with Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE fronts, VR-2 surrounds, LCR-4 center,
TS-3 rear surrounds and a Martin Logan Depth sub
MMF-7 Turntable with an EAR 834P Phono Stage
Oppo-105
Marantz AV7005
Bel Canto evo6 Amp for front three
Emotiva XPA-5 for rear four
Panasonic 65" VT50 Plasma TV
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post #16 of 17 Old 02-22-2013, 06:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indieman View Post

Curses! Foiled again! Oppo just emailed me and informed me that the 105 will not convert a 5.1 signal into 7.1 like Dolby PLIIx or whatever will do which means:
Yup................. I'll need a receiver after all!
I was getting pretty excited about matching the Oppo to a Parasound Halo P7......mad.gif
Oppo did say that the 105 will convert a 2 ch signal into a 7.1 though but that still leaves me listening to the majority of movies in 5.1 only so back to the drawing board.

Most AVRs won't do it either unless you set the oppo to PCM when playing 5.1 material.
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post #17 of 17 Old 02-28-2013, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Here is the temporary fix that I came up with. Ended up getting a Marantz AV7005 from Crutchfield (they had great price on it and free express delivery) and have connected everything up, turntable and all. Ran Audyssey MultEQ and had TV calibrated by BB for free. Sounds really good for the time being and I am going to get prof. calibration for the sound/audio part of it in a couple of months. TV looks beter than before. Watched Dark Knight yesterday and was amazed at the soundtrack. Was a feast for the senses. Loved the blu-ray transfer on that. Again thanks all for your help.

7.1 with Von Schweikert VR-4 HSE fronts, VR-2 surrounds, LCR-4 center,
TS-3 rear surrounds and a Martin Logan Depth sub
MMF-7 Turntable with an EAR 834P Phono Stage
Oppo-105
Marantz AV7005
Bel Canto evo6 Amp for front three
Emotiva XPA-5 for rear four
Panasonic 65" VT50 Plasma TV
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