So I'm not new to the audio game but rather the processor market.
I wish to have my setup consist of a pre/processor outputting to a amp.
I'd like to get this done for $600.
Now it almost will have to be a 5.1 setup do to the room configuration. Reasons for wanting a pre/processor instead of a receiver is that id rather drive more power to the speakers. if someone can suggest ideas that eliminate the pre, I'll seriously look at those options.
Ideal setup for audio. optical out from tv to dac (Topping d2), then to pre finally to amp.
There just isn't that great a difference between a preamp processor and an AVR unless you have hard to drive speakers. Since you labeled your thread 'apartment guide' I'm guessing you live in one. In which case an AVR is probably loud enough to warrant an eviction notice.
One question - do you expect to buy everything for $600 or is that just for a preamp processor? You didn't list any of your current gear.