Best Sounding Pre/Pros in Different Price Ranges (Mini Reviews and Discussion) - Page 16 - AVS Forum
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post #451 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by swtoby2 View Post

I agree with you on this. I just don't think Zissou is fully aware that he is presenting opinion. Just my biased opinion of course.

Of course I am presenting opinion. If one clearly states one's opinion then he may have been confirmed to have opined.
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post #452 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Zissou View Post

Please read through the thread as all is explained in great detail. Are you aware of a different method of DB testing than that which you have described? I'm not....
My only bias is for neutral, accurate and timbre truthful music reproduction. To that I am inherently biased.

I skimmed through your posts and the impression I got is that your method is more along the lines of plug the component in, listen casually and jot down some thoughts. Pretty much how the majority of audio magazines do things. I didn't see any specifics other than that and certainly nothing that made me feel there was any objectivity going on. I apologize if I missed it in which case maybe you could cite the post that contains your dbt protocols.
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post #453 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swtoby2 View Post

I skimmed through your posts and the impression I got is that your method is more along the lines of plug the component in, listen casually and jot down some thoughts. Pretty much how the majority of audio magazines do things. I didn't see any specifics other than that and certainly nothing that made me feel there was any objectivity going on. I apologize if I missed it in which case maybe you could cite the post that contains your dbt protocols.

Every piece is DB tested using the methodology you mentioned earlier. I am not a proponent of DB testing as I don't feel it's necessary but we have adhered to this for a couple years with every unit tested in ORDER to remove any biases we may have.
Every piece is in place at least 100 hours and usually far more so we don't miss any nuances or changes that burn in may bring. There's just a little more to this than pluggin' da piece in and jottin' down our thoughts. You might find yourself rather enlightened if you were to undertake something like this. Now occasionally a piece may last an hour or so or in the case of the Pioneer 84 (bunch of letters), that we received well broken in, it may last less than 15 minutes when it's extremely obvious that it in no meaningful way represents proper music reproduction and has no chance to. Most pieces are however given a very good shot. Many excellent choices can be found in almost any price point and I have tried to point this out. Both reference systems have been constant for a very long period of time and only the pre/pro is switched in and out and DBed after long listening sessions against the known reference and others on hand. Copious notes are taken about each piece as well. The 5.1 reference system is now being changed so we will need time to acclimate ourselves to the new capabilities and extra transparency we are now afforded. There have been 1000s of hours spent on this endeavour and it continues.
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post #454 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Zissou View Post

You might find yourself rather enlightened if you were to undertake something like this.


Who says I haven't? Could be the reason I am part of the "amps is amps, wire is wire" crowd.
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post #455 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 01:34 PM
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Rhetorical Question: What is HT By-Pass ?
A 2-channel analog pre-amp with a Unity-Gain setting for one of its inputs ( aka: HT Bypass ) will still impart that pre-amps sonic signature on that signal. AFAIK this is how most analog pre-amps function with their HT By-Pass feature. Very few will simply passively switch the input to output without an active stage inbetween. ( The Bent & Placettes may be exceptions )

- Andy
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post #456 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by swtoby2 View Post

Who says I haven't? Could be the reason I am part of the "amps is amps, wire is wire" crowd.

Wire is wire I am with you. If you can't hear the difference between amps then count yourself lucky, enjoy the music AND the money you'll save.
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post #457 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Lammer View Post

Rhetorical Question: What is HT By-Pass ?
A 2-channel analog pre-amp with a Unity-Gain setting for one of its inputs ( aka: HT Bypass ) will still impart that pre-amps sonic signature on that signal. AFAIK this is how most analog pre-amps function with their HT By-Pass feature. Very few will simply passively switch the input to output without an active stage inbetween. ( The Bent & Placettes may be exceptions )

- Andy

Which is exactly why I have never used it. Even passive is adding a path that can have a negative impact.
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post #458 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 02:35 PM
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Zissou, why won't you give the Cary 11 an audition, seeing as you're such a fan of the Cinema 6?

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post #459 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 02:45 PM
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Oh, how I envy you Canucks, with your freedom of speech, your tropical winters and your easy access to T8's, and your expansive list of pre/pros on the audition list. Must be nice! Happy Freakin' New Year!

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post #460 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by songsmith7 View Post

Oh, how I envy you Canucks, with your freedom of speech, your tropical winters and your easy access to T8's, and your expansive list of pre/pros on the audition list. Must be nice! Happy Freakin' New Year!

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post #461 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou View Post

Wire is wire I am with you. If you can't hear the difference between amps then count yourself lucky, enjoy the music AND the money you'll save.

Have you tried various speaker cables? This is my next task to do....
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post #462 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by vett93 View Post

That is exactly my finding too. My hypothesis is that the additional electronics for tweakability and processing can interfere with the 2-ch analog signal. This is probably why we have source components, pre/pro, and power amps, at a minimum.

This is subjective based on source, DACs used, preamp section, how the speakers are used, and of course how much room influences your system. You lose EQ, Room Correction and Bass management (if applicable) if you are using straight analog out. Ultimately it is how you test it and compare which counts.

Adding some of the 'features' maybe detrimental to the sound (as you allude to) - or can even improve sonic experience since your room is THE biggest influencing component in the system . 'Deader' the room better is the sonic experience.

I regard Meridian MRC and Lex RC has 2 good positive features on correcting room nodes <200hz (not heard Audyssey or Tact in action). Of course I am not commenting on their preamp capabilities (which I have little confidence of )-but you need to take the package and see what turns out better.

Net take away is pick your poison of what sounds best to your ears and in your system in that room (I will always take results of comparisons done on separate rooms with major grain of salt)

Cheers,
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post #463 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Lammer View Post

Rhetorical Question: What is HT By-Pass ?
A 2-channel analog pre-amp with a Unity-Gain setting for one of its inputs ( aka: HT Bypass ) will still impart that pre-amps sonic signature on that signal. AFAIK this is how most analog pre-amps function with their HT By-Pass feature. Very few will simply passively switch the input to output without an active stage inbetween. ( The Bent & Placettes may be exceptions )

- Andy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou View Post

Which is exactly why I have never used it. Even passive is adding a path that can have a negative impact.

Andy/Zissou,

Since this whole thread is about 2 channel performance with a prepro I don't see any compromise for 2 channel sources/performance when you use a dedicated preamp with HT Bypass + a prepro. Can you enlighten me since you state otherwise?

Cheers,
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post #464 of 4583 Old 12-29-2006, 07:01 PM
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Zissou

Very refreshing thread.
I love my 5.1 processing as much as my 2 track, but it seems Bryston is the only pre for audio only. Am I missing something?
BTW - I agree with your opinion on the Canadian gear.

Best
E
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post #465 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 05:44 AM
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After a little research I've found three pre/pros with features I'm looking for. They all seem to get good reviews, but I'd like the opinion of people here as it is very difficult for me to listen to these before buying. After reading this thread I'd much appreciate Zissou's opinion as I agree with many of his findings and applaud his quest for accuracy.

Please rank these for analog (5.1 and 2 ch) and digital source music separately if needed. Thanks in advance! Also feel free to add to the list.

1) Bryston SP2
2) Cary Cinema 11
3) Arcam FMJ AV9
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post #466 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 09:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou View Post

No the 5.1 is not as good but it's a matter of degrees that taken as a whole makes the listening experience more believable. I think it's a rather sad state of affairs when the pre/pros that sound the best are all older models. I hope this isn't a sign that sound quality is taking a back seat to connectivity and tweakability, they rarely complement one another.

The 2 channel rig has slightly better low level definition allowing me to hear further back into the orchestra and get a better sense of the acoustic environment. A cello has more wood sound and dynamics are reproduced with more ease. Vocals are superb on both but there's a little more transparency in the stereo only system. I can quite happily listen to either now and hear music rather than fretting over the sonic limitations and that is a very progressive change from a few months ago.

Zissou, thanks for starting this thread. Very informative! I am also in the camp get 2Ch music right then when you add a sub and surround to that setup it will be great for HT.

I assume the comments above are a comparison of music on your 5.1 Ch rig Vs your 2 Ch rig?
What preamp do you have in your 2Ch rig?
Have you take the Proceed AVP2 to the 2Ch rig and compared?
Are the differences immediately obvious or do you have to really listen hard for the differences?

I'm trying to get a sense of how close a good pre-pro with analog pass thru gets to a good 2Ch preamp. Do you think something like the AVP2 alleviates the need for a dedicated 2Ch preamp with HT bypass?
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post #467 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Robert Joe View Post

Z
I'm trying to get a sense of how close a good pre-pro with analog pass thru gets to a good 2Ch preamp. Do you think something like the AVP2 alleviates the need for a dedicated 2Ch preamp with HT bypass?

In a word yes, it's as good as any preamp I've heard.
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post #468 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 11:37 AM
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just got back from checking out the Parasound C2....and the B&K ref50. Both excellent pieces.

without getting into a blown out reply, in a nutshell, the C2 sounded more accurate in music reproduction, while the B&K ref 50 did slightly better with multi-channel HT content (the center voice imaging was more natural, the surround effects blended better). Compared to my experience with the anthem D2 before, I believe the Parasound probably held the small edge in music, with the D2 performing much better than both the C2 and ref50 for HT.

and thus, my journey continues....


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post #469 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 11:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ssabripo View Post

just got back from checking out the Parasound C2....and the B&K ref50. Both excellent pieces.

without getting into a blown out reply, in a nutshell, the C2 sounded more accurate in music reproduction, while the B&K ref 50 did slightly better with multi-channel HT content (the center voice imaging was more natural, the surround effects blended better). Compared to my experience with the anthem D2 before, I believe the Parasound probably held the small edge in music, with the D2 performing much better than both the C2 and ref50 for HT.

and thus, my journey continues....

Sound like pretty accurate impressions to me.
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post #470 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 01:11 PM
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Robert Joe, what is your main 2-channel analog source ?

My perspective of a pre/pro is to use it as a DAC + volume controal; not as an analog pre-amp for a "critical" analog source.
This is where Zissou & myself differ in our requirements as Zissou also enjoys his vinyl and needs a quality analog pre.

- Andy
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post #471 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 01:32 PM
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"and thus my journey continues..."
-----------------
Hey Sab,

I took a similar journey and interestingly, my impressions were much like yours. While I got rid of my Halo about a year ago, I also prefered it musically over the D1 (D2 wasn't available yet) and several other current high-end pieces; even for HT it was a nice unit, especially since the programmable aux outputs gave me a little extra flexibility. Enjoy the journey

PS. For anyone interested in the PSB Platinums, I noticed a barely used pair of T8s just up for sale at A-gon for close to half-off.

Chris B
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post #472 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 02:00 PM
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I'm looking at those, I wonder if the T8's would be a major upgrade over my Paradigm Sig S4's & dual IB sub combo or if I'd get a better bang for my buck going from a Yamaha 2700 as a pre-pro to one of the units mentioned here.
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post #473 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 02:11 PM
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Zissou, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading along with this thread. Your feedback and experiences have been very enlightening to me. I am currently using a Marantz SR-8500 as my pre/pro with a Sunfire Grand Cinema. I originally was planning on a Aragon Soundstage but do not want to spend that much on something that will be possibly outdated by the time I receive it. I really like what I have heard about the Cary 6 and like the used prices I have seen. It would also appear that I would not lose too much flexibility or features

I would say I use my system 60/40 music/HT but my primary concern will always be the best sound quality I can obtain. So the difference between the receiver and the 6 would be that dramatic? I am hoping and assuming so but want a little more reassurance since I cannot hear it first!
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post #474 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldear View Post

"and thus my journey continues..."
-----------------
Hey Sab,

I took a similar journey and interestingly, my impressions were much like yours. While I got rid of my Halo about a year ago, I also prefered it musically over the D1 (D2 wasn't available yet) and several other current high-end pieces; even for HT it was a nice unit, especially since the programmable aux outputs gave me a little extra flexibility. Enjoy the journey

PS. For anyone interested in the PSB Platinums, I noticed a barely used pair of T8s just up for sale at A-gon for close to half-off.


I also noticed the PSB's for sale on A-gon. I was gonna post and ask Zis if those were his or if it was a different seller.

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post #475 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jedimindcontrol View Post

Zissou, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading along with this thread. Your feedback and experiences have been very enlightening to me. I am currently using a Marantz SR-8500 as my pre/pro with a Sunfire Grand Cinema. I originally was planning on a Aragon Soundstage but do not want to spend that much on something that will be possibly outdated by the time I receive it. I really like what I have heard about the Cary 6 and like the used prices I have seen. It would also appear that I would not lose too much flexibility or features

I would say I use my system 60/40 music/HT but my primary concern will always be the best sound quality I can obtain. So the difference between the receiver and the 6 would be that dramatic? I am hoping and assuming so but want a little more reassurance since I cannot hear it first!

You REALLY should try to audition them if possible.
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post #476 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 02:53 PM
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It's mentioned the Nuforce is great for music, did it do HT very well? Compared to Ref 50 S2 per se?
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post #477 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnrgagne View Post

I'm looking at those, I wonder if the T8's would be a major upgrade over my Paradigm Sig S4's & dual IB sub combo or if I'd get a better bang for my buck going from a Yamaha 2700 as a pre-pro to one of the units mentioned here.

I would be really interested in hearing your thoughts on how the 2700 is doing as a pre/pro for what it is and at the price it is at. If I cannot find a dedicated pre/pro as discussed in this thread with at least some of the connectivity i'm looking for, I am planning on getting a 2700 or denon 4306 by the end of january for a temp solution for another year until newer units come out.

I'm also going to CES in a week, so I hope to see what is in store on the horizon


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post #478 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Lammer View Post

My perspective of a pre/pro is to use it as a DAC + volume controal; not as an analog pre-amp for a "critical" analog source.
This is where Zissou & myself differ in our requirements as Zissou also enjoys his vinyl and needs a quality analog pre.
- Andy

That is my message- adding a 2 ch preamp (w HT Bypass means unity gain) will not compromise analog source in a HT rig (Zissou has no clue about this since he feels it is a compromise ). Z also feels his AVP2 is as good if not better than all those (unnamed) top 2 channel preamps he has auditioned in his system which is fine with me... to each their own

My recommendation is to get a HT pre-pro with HDMI/LPCM support for HT and a 2 channel preamp with HT bypass so you get best of both worlds and NOT go for a one box (obsolete) KISS solution as Zissou is recommending.

Cheers,
Kishore
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post #479 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 04:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Lammer View Post

Robert Joe, what is your main 2-channel analog source ?

My perspective of a pre/pro is to use it as a DAC + volume controal; not as an analog pre-amp for a "critical" analog source.
This is where Zissou & myself differ in our requirements as Zissou also enjoys his vinyl and needs a quality analog pre.

I run a 4.1 system, no center channel. HTPC, FLAC files -> M-Audio USB -> Theta Casanova -> 4 Marantz MA-700 Monoblocks->Spendor SP2/3 and Rel Stadium III. Surrounds are Sonus Faber Wall (I used to have Sonus Faber Concerto fronts).

Back in 1999 the eventual goal was to add a quality 2CH preamp with HT bypass. But I never go around to it because I am amazed how musical my existing setup sounds compared to mega buck setups I have heard (I am into musicality not hi-fi bright and analytical). That is why I have never pursued component upgrades.

Now with the new HD lossless formats available and about 50 SACD titles I wouldn't mind owning I started thinking again about 2CH preamp with HT bypass vs Pre-Pro with analog pass thru. I'm also wondering if the advancement in DAC technology the past seven years would give me a leap in performance compared to my Casanova.
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post #480 of 4583 Old 12-30-2006, 06:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishore View Post

That is my message- adding a 2 ch preamp (w HT Bypass means unity gain) will not compromise analog source in a HT rig (Zissou has no clue about this since he feels it is a compromise ). Z also feels his AVP2 is as good if not better than all those (unnamed) top 2 channel preamps he has auditioned in his system which is fine with me... to each their own

My recommendation is to get a HT pre-pro with HDMI/LPCM support for HT and a 2 channel preamp with HT bypass so you get best of both worlds and NOT go for a one box (obsolete) KISS solution as Zissou is recommending.

Cheers,
Kishore

I think two of you have different assumptions. Zissou has a separate 2-ch rig and so he may not feel the needs to add a 2-ch preamp to his HT setup. I have the same configuration with Kishore's. If I had a separate 2-ch setup, I would not have added a preamp either.

BTW, I run my video sources directly to my HDTV. I don't want any video interferences to the sound. Cary's latest processor got rid of video processing too. Just fyi...
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