Who makes a stripped down audiophile grade 5.1 preamp-processor with HDMI these days? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 52 Old 11-26-2013, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
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I have an audiophile friend who is looking for a simple (stripped down) 5.1 preamp processor with HDMI inputs, nothing else needed. Does not want or need 7.2 or 9.2 or, no audessy, no networking needed, no tuner is necessary.
He's seen and heard my former B&K and Integra pre-pros and likes the way these units sound but he does not want all the extra features or network functions. The fewer features the better, just 5.1, DTS, and HDMI connectivity with a remote at most.

>> Does someone out there make a super-simpleton 5.1 audiophile grade unit like this? <<
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post #2 of 52 Old 11-26-2013, 07:48 AM
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Emotiva UMC-200 (currently $499, shipped) (review)

Outlaw Model 975 ($549, not sure if shipping is included) (review)

Yes, they're 7.1-channel processors, but there's no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. smile.gif
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post #3 of 52 Old 11-26-2013, 08:56 AM
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You might wanna also check Audiolab 8200AP and the older 8000AP. More expensive than the two examples above, mut still well worth the price smile.gif
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post #4 of 52 Old 11-27-2013, 07:40 AM - Thread Starter
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You might wanna also check Audiolab 8200AP and the older 8000AP. More expensive than the two examples above, mut still well worth the price smile.gif


Thanks, appreciate the ideas. Audiolab is definitely more in direction my friend would like to go. He's already heard the Emo and Outlaw hoping for something a little warmer sounding. Revisiting NAD again too...

Anything else worth looking at?
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post #5 of 52 Old 11-30-2013, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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What is up with the mixed reviews on the Outlaw 975 preamp processor?

As per Eljay''s recommendation above I went back and reviewed this unit. For its purpose, sure seems like a great way to go for the minimalist and sound quality purist wanting a clean and simple AV preamp. I started to look at it for myself too just to try it and stopped to do a quick check with all of you here. After reading all the differing opinions on various sites around the world, it's really hard to tell if this unit is the greatest value out there for the audio minimalist or a total piece of junk. WTF? I can't imagine it being junk like some people have stated on various forums. What gives, has anyone here tried it and compared it to the $1,500 to $2000 processors and compared it for sound quality alone? I don't visit these forums much but wanted to ask someone who's actually tried it on their own system and made some real hands-on comparisons. Might be the perfect unit for my friend if it sounds great. ???
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post #6 of 52 Old 11-30-2013, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by decooney View Post

I have an audiophile friend who is looking for a simple (stripped down) 5.1 preamp processor with HDMI inputs, nothing else needed. Does not want or need 7.2 or 9.2 or, no audessy, no networking needed, no tuner is necessary.
He's seen and heard my former B&K and Integra pre-pros and likes the way these units sound but he does not want all the extra features or network functions. The fewer features the better, just 5.1, DTS, and HDMI connectivity with a remote at most.

>> Does someone out there make a super-simpleton 5.1 audiophile grade unit like this? <<

I'm close to making a final decision on the NuForce AVP-18

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post #7 of 52 Old 11-30-2013, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Espo77 View Post

I'm close to making a final decision on the NuForce AVP-18


Espo77,
by chance did you see or read this particular review on the Nuforce AVP 18? Makes me wonder how it would sound with higher quality amplifiers and interconnects, cables, etc. The comments about the lack of midrange and bass warmth would definitely be worth checking out with a trial period and break in on a different set of amplifiers. If you get it, please report back and let us know how it goes for you. That unit is at a great price point and simplicity is nice if it sounds good for both video and some audio.
Does Nuforce offer a trial period so you could check it out?

Read the section on sound after break in:
http://www.whathifi.com/forum/home-cinema/nuforce-avp-18-and-mch-300sec7-with-apex-personal-review
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post #8 of 52 Old 11-30-2013, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by decooney View Post

Espo77,
by chance did you see or read this particular review on the Nuforce AVP 18? Makes me wonder how it would sound with higher quality amplifiers and interconnects, cables, etc. The comments about the lack of midrange and bass warmth would definitely be worth checking out with a trial period and break in on a different set of amplifiers. If you get it, please report back and let us know how it goes for you. That unit is at a great price point and simplicity is nice if it sounds good for both video and some audio.
Does Nuforce offer a trial period so you could check it out?

Read the section on sound after break in:
http://www.whathifi.com/forum/home-cinema/nuforce-avp-18-and-mch-300sec7-with-apex-personal-review

I did read the review, and also Kal's short one...(maybe he'll do a follow up soon). This will be my fourth processor, two Adcom's and currently an Arcam AVP-700. I want to simplify things. I will continue to use only two main sources, Directv and a Blu-Ray...(and apps from a Samsung TV, back to the NuForce, for quick and easy A/V enjoyment). For the first time I will be able to experience the joy of everything HDMI, the ARC feature, and the EQ settings. I'm also replacing my, sometimes placement critical Def-Tech Bi-Pole towers with a much higher quality bookshelf...perhaps the Revel M-106 (with its very large off axis response). Purchasing the NuForce will allow me to put more money into speakers. Up untill the Nuforce came into the picture, I had been looking at upwards of three thousand for a Pre-Pro. The Nuforce, for me, is the right product at the right time.

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post #9 of 52 Old 11-30-2013, 10:01 PM
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Sherbourn pt-7030?

http://www.sherbourn.com/

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post #10 of 52 Old 12-01-2013, 08:12 AM
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I'm considering the 7030. With balanced outputs, would it be easier to integrate pro amps for our passive subs? Also, my Cinepro 5 channel amp has both balanced and unbalanced inputs. When looking for a new reciever under $1k, I found the analog inputs for DVD-A and SACD have been removed. The 7030 looks like a good deal at $699.
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post #11 of 52 Old 12-01-2013, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Espo77 View Post


I did read the review, and also Kal's short one...(maybe he'll do a follow up soon). ................................................. Up untill the Nuforce came into the picture, I had been looking at upwards of three thousand for a Pre-Pro. The Nuforce, for me, is the right product at the right time.

A follow-up is not likely but your conclusion is a satisfying one.  While the Nuforce may not be what I want, it may be that for others.


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post #12 of 52 Old 12-01-2013, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Archaea View Post

Sherbourn pt-7030?

http://www.sherbourn.com/


I read somewhere the Sherbourn is a Rotel internally made for Emotiva as an upgraded line. I'm not sure I'm explaining correctly, but that is interesting since Emo sells their own preamp already, why duplicate it if its so good? If that's true and the Sherborn might be worth trying. There were a few barely used Sherborn units on eBay and Audiogon recently with very low hours. Wonder why? Found a few acting scared worrying about not being able to get firmware upgrades down the road for Emo or Sherbourn - or maybe just over-reacting I don't know? Now that software is involved with rapid change, all of these units have their pros/cons and you have to pick one eventually and just go with it. I'm not in to the whole buy-it-try-it-resell-it thing too many times, and neither is my buddy who's doing exactly what Espo77 is doing just trying to simplify. I would like to do the same if the piece sounds REALLY GOOD.

An AVS Forum member and a good friend both offered to buy my Integra DHC-40.1 but I won't part with it unless I can find something super minimalist (don't even want balanced connections) and must proven to sound better on the audio side of the house. Would love to be able to merge my separate 2-channel audio listening system and 5-channel audio-video systems together under one preamp at some point. That NuForce unit looks interesting on paper and with its special volume control you might see in higher end preamps. I'm gonna sort of follow you guys for a bit and see who pulls the trigger on the Nuforce or Sherbourn here and compares.
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post #13 of 52 Old 12-01-2013, 10:25 AM
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It is a good price, but be aware of the potential for bugs and make an educated purchase. Emotiva has promised a firmware update FWIW. There is a 7030 thread in the emotiva forum.
http://emotivalounge.proboards.com/thread/30712/sherbourn-7030-preamp-official-thread?page=22

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post #14 of 52 Old 12-01-2013, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by decooney View Post

Thanks, appreciate the ideas. Audiolab is definitely more in direction my friend would like to go. He's already heard the Emo and Outlaw hoping for something a little warmer sounding. Revisiting NAD again too...

Anything else worth looking at?

Maybe he should listen to some different speakers? I mean thats whats outputting the sound. Switching to different pre-amps wont change the sound to "warm"

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post #15 of 52 Old 12-01-2013, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Maybe he should listen to some different speakers? I mean thats whats outputting the sound. Switching to different pre-amps wont change the sound to "warm"


For some this is true. Not exactly the case in my system, this would be false relative to changing out speakers. I run five Totem Model One Signature speakers (Class-A) in 5.2 and 2.2 along with dual 12" stereo subwoofers. Sounds amazing when using the same dual-monural amps, same CD and BluRay player. The only change is the preamp for comparison.

When I swap out the modern preamp processor for my older B&K Pro10 audio grade preamp, its magical and smooth. Many of the newer and less expensive pre-pro units just don't cut it for both, so I maintain two separate systems, but can intermix components for testing. It seems that folks like Audiolab, Outlaw, NuForce are working to offer what I'm looking for, I guess I just need to start testing like the rest of the members here to find the one that works for both spectrums. Or, I'll end up just keeping two separate AV vs. dedicated audio systems as so many have already figured out. smile.gif
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post #16 of 52 Old 12-01-2013, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Espo77,

What do you think, are you gonna pull the trigger on the Nuforce AVP-18?

I just noticed its a "digital only" device, offering NO analog inputs for audiophile grade CD transports, FM Tuners, Phonos. I suspect its another way they were able to keep it simple and price down. And of course, just one more reason to keep a secondary 2-channel analog system around.
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Subscribed.

While I would call it near audiophile quality, my Outlaw 950 has served me well; however, it only did component video switching. The need for SQ, price, HDMI switching, 5.1 analog input, and some EQ capability has me shopping.

If the Sherborne 7030 didn't have so many reported issues, I would have jumped on it with the new price. And if it follows the pricing trend the 7020 did - it will even go lower.
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post #18 of 52 Old 12-01-2013, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by decooney View Post

Espo77,

What do you think, are you gonna pull the trigger on the Nuforce AVP-18?

I just noticed its a "digital only" device, offering NO analog inputs for audiophile grade CD transports, FM Tuners, Phonos. I suspect its another way they were able to keep it simple and price down. And of course, just one more reason to keep a secondary 2-channel analog system around.

I have the money for it right now but, I'm searching for somebody offering it at a good price. So far it's at list price everywhere. I was all set in my mind to purchase the Oppo 105, hooked up via the left and right balanced out, to the left and right balanced in on perhaps the Yamaha CX-A5000 (which I have been lusting over lately). Obviously with the NuForce, I will not be able to hook up this way, so I may go with the Oppo 103. This is causing me to take a step back and re-think about this because my intention is to optimize my music first approach.

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post #19 of 52 Old 12-01-2013, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

A follow-up is not likely but your conclusion is a satisfying one.  While the Nuforce may not be what I want, it may be that for others.

What does the NuForce AVP-18 offer in terms of Subwoofer adjustment and tweaking? I'm thinking about the HSU VTF-15H and two Revel Performa3 M106 - stand mounted, for main left and right.

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post #20 of 52 Old 12-02-2013, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Espo77 View Post

I have the money for it right now but, I'm searching for somebody offering it at a good price. So far it's at list price everywhere. I was all set in my mind to purchase the Oppo 105, hooked up via the left and right balanced out, to the left and right balanced in on perhaps the Yamaha CX-A5000 (which I have been lusting over lately). Obviously with the NuForce, I will not be able to hook up this way, so I may go with the Oppo 103. This is causing me to take a step back and re-think about this because my intention is to optimize my music first approach.



For what it's worth, I tried the Oppo 105 and returned it for a full refund. There is a whole "sound check" thread on it. Long story by many on it, but I felt other transports sounded a tad warmer, less grainy. Those ESS Sabre32 DACs are interesting though and the unit does have a signature sound to it. I wanted to wait another year and see how the bugs shake out. You might do just as well with the Oppo 103 saving some money too depending on what preamp you select. The only reason I found to try the 105 is if you take advantage of the RCA/XLR analog out section of the unit using the internal DACs. If you bought the NuForce AVP-18 it would be a waste since you would likely be using digital inputs, and the 103 player would work great. Also, i found I like having a preamp vs. direct connect to the Oppo player for obvious versatility reasons. The NuForce AVP-18 and the Oppo 103 player would be a nice combo if the AVP-18 checks out for ya.
Maybe one of the dealers will offer a Cyber Monday 15% off deal for you today smile.gif
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post #21 of 52 Old 12-02-2013, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Espo77 View Post


What does the NuForce AVP-18 offer in terms of Subwoofer adjustment and tweaking? I'm thinking about the HSU VTF-15H and two Revel Performa3 M106 - stand mounted, for main left and right.

??  Crossover, level, delay and PEQ. 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/music-round-63


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post #22 of 52 Old 12-02-2013, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Kal,

Thanks for sharing that article. Apparently there are new updates from NuForce.

UPDATE: I spoke with NuForce Tech support today. The have issued two firmware updates since the Stereophile article. You can now set the sub frequency manually. The former versions would set you to 120hx crossover point. Reportedly, this has been fixed.


ALSO:
I did find out that NuForce shares a similar build platform that Emotiva uses, sourced by the same OEM. 30 day demo would be a MUST for me.

With NuForce, it seems the only way to know is to try it and see how it sounds and works and return it if it does not work out.
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post #23 of 52 Old 12-02-2013, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by decooney View Post

Kal,

Thanks for sharing that article. Apparently there are new updates from NuForce.

UPDATE: I spoke with NuForce Tech support today. The have issued two firmware updates since the Stereophile article. You can now set the sub frequency manually. The former versions would set you to 120hx crossover point. Reportedly, this has been fixed.


ALSO:
I did find out that NuForce shares a similar build platform that Emotiva uses, sourced by the same OEM. 30 day demo would be a MUST for me.

With NuForce, it seems the only way to know is to try it and see how it sounds and works and return it if it does not work out.

I like firmware updates. It's nice to know that Nuforce is taking care of business.

Espo77
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post #24 of 52 Old 12-02-2013, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by decooney View Post

Kal,

Thanks for sharing that article. Apparently there are new updates from NuForce.

UPDATE: I spoke with NuForce Tech support today. The have issued two firmware updates since the Stereophile article. You can now set the sub frequency manually. The former versions would set you to 120hx crossover point. Reportedly, this has been fixed.


ALSO:
I did find out that NuForce shares a similar build platform that Emotiva uses, sourced by the same OEM. 30 day demo would be a MUST for me.

With NuForce, it seems the only way to know is to try it and see how it sounds and works and return it if it does not work out.

I understand that and I wish it was possible to try/report on them.  As for the sub crossover, it is a rare situation that requires anything other than 120Hz.


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post #25 of 52 Old 12-02-2013, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Espo77 View Post

I like firmware updates. It's nice to know that Nuforce is taking care of business.


Espo77,
Since you are looking seriously at NuForce, I thought I'd share this with you. At first when I called them today I was given a different number to call for Tech support. I called, and it routed me to a Google locator service with a voice mail message. I did not leave a message. For a minute there, I thought hmmm... this does not look good. However, just two minutes later a person from the tech line called me right back, immediately explaining they were on another call and apologized for missing the call. I then spent the next 20 minutes over lunch on the phone with Bob from their tech support group. Super nice guy, very helpful, answered ALL of my questions and offered additional information too regarding the AVP and MV preamps both. Imagine that, ...immediate call back, nice demeanor,... answered all of the questions, did NOT try to brush me off quickly, and told me to call back again if I had any other questions about firmware, fixes, or how the preamp works, etc. Bob did offer additional information about how the unit is manufactured at the same place where Emotiva has their units built, using the same base hardware platform and chip sets with NuForce's specifics added in. It would be worthwhile to see what the internal differences are (if any) and most importantly to compare sound through a demo. Note: I did share the fact there is a group of us on a forum all sort of looking at "minimalist" preamp-processors together, with none of us pulling the trigger yet, still doing research. NuForce was clearly interested in earning our business. I think proof is in the pudding now, just have to try it and see. I might try one after the first of the year. If you do order one and demo it, keep us posted. Good luck.
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post #26 of 52 Old 12-02-2013, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by decooney View Post

Espo77,
Since you are looking seriously at NuForce, I thought I'd share this with you. At first when I called them today I was given a different number to call for Tech support. I called, and it routed me to a Google locator service with a voice mail message. I did not leave a message. For a minute there, I thought hmmm... this does not look good. However, just two minutes later a person from the tech line called me right back, immediately explaining they were on another call and apologized for missing the call. I then spent the next 20 minutes over lunch on the phone with Bob from their tech support group. Super nice guy, very helpful, answered ALL of my questions and offered additional information too regarding the AVP and MV preamps both. Imagine that, ...immediate call back, nice demeanor,... answered all of the questions, did NOT try to brush me off quickly, and told me to call back again if I had any other questions about firmware, fixes, or how the preamp works, etc. Bob did offer additional information about how the unit is manufactured at the same place where Emotiva has their units built, using the same base hardware platform and chip sets with NuForce's specifics added in. It would be worthwhile to see what the internal differences are (if any) and most importantly to compare sound through a demo. Note: I did share the fact there is a group of us on a forum all sort of looking at "minimalist" preamp-processors together, with none of us pulling the trigger yet, still doing research. NuForce was clearly interested in earning our business. I think proof is in the pudding now, just have to try it and see. I might try one after the first of the year. If you do order one and demo it, keep us posted. Good luck.

decooney, thanks for the input. This is all good news for me, as I continue my quest, other peoples opinions do matter.

Espo77
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post #27 of 52 Old 12-03-2013, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Sure would like to open up the Emotiva, Sherbourn, and NuForce to see what they might share in common and do a side-by-side sound comparison.
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I'm starting to lean towards the Emotiva. Firmware upgrades will be supported according to Nick, 7.1 analog inputs, level adjustments for each channel on the fly, near identicle SQ, more cost effective, and less buggy(??). I do wish it supported legacy video for the Wii, but there is a work-around for that. The Emotiva bundle with the 80x7 watt amp is appealing, but if the Sherbourn drops further in price it sure looks like a steal--even with its issues and lack of future firmware upgrades since it is end-of-life.
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post #29 of 52 Old 12-04-2013, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by decooney View Post

>> Does someone out there make a super-simpleton 5.1 audiophile grade unit like this? <<

Unfortunately the answer is "no". I had hoped the UMC-200 would be that product but it turned out that it has some serious bugs especially if you're looking for "pure" signal paths. Please see this thread: http://www.avsforum.com/forum/newestpost/1491348

Don't know if the Outlaw does any better. These days reviewers seem to toss out "product of the year" awards and five star rave reviews without proper testing.

Markus

"In science, contrary evidence causes one to question a theory. In religion, contrary evidence causes one to question the evidence." - Floyd Toole
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post #30 of 52 Old 12-04-2013, 02:10 AM
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Originally Posted by markus767 View Post

Unfortunately the answer is "no". I had hoped the UMC-200 would be that product but it turned out that it has some serious bugs especially if you're looking for "pure" signal paths.

Does the same bugs exists with the HDMI connections, or just with analog paths ?
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