Originally Posted by Hans Gruber
I disagree with some of what you say. I think the most important item in a home theater is the amplifier. A good amp will make bad speakers sound good. The pre/pro's are a different story because a lot of the top pre/pro's use the same DSP chips.
I can only comment on my experience so that may well be what you've witnessed, Hans. I guess in my mind I would think that if a particular amp made speakers that were otherwise "bad", sound "good", then one wasn't giving the speakers the required power at the speakers' nominal impedance prior to the change in amp.
It isn't that I don't believe different amps sound different through the same speakers, I just haven't heard improvements on an order of magnitude with respect to cost.
When I auditioned my Magnepan speakers, for instance, I first heard the 1.6QRs through a two channel Rotel. I then went into another room and heard 1.6QRs again, but through two channels of a Classe home theater multi-channel amp. I wasn't there for hours upon hours, but during my admittedly limited test of various material, I couldn't tell one bit of difference and the Classe cost considerably more than the Rotel. I'd buy the Classe, but if I didn't have the cash for it, I'd buy the Rotel and be confident that any improvements attainable via more expensive amplification would be much less dramatic than if I were to, say, spend the difference on a pair of Magnepan 3.6Rs, which through the same amps sound MUCH better than the 1.6QRs.
I'd also consider other more value-oriented upgrades before a change in amplification. I know its said all the time, but it is rarely, if ever, heeded: acoustically treating your listening space will probably give you the best bang for your buck in overall sound improvement of any upgrade. If I were buying budget speakers, like Infinity Betas, I'd hold short of getting the Beta 50 towers and pick up the 40s along with two acoustical panels to put at the primary reflection points. The bigger 50s have more oomph in lower frequencies, but it all just adds to a muddled mess of sound without something to tame room modes. Just food for thought.
A final comment, I agree with Hans' assessment of the ubiquitous DSPs in mid to high end receivers and processors. I see the real difference in the DACs used to send the audio to your pre-outs and subsequently to the amplifier post-processing. Stepping up in receivers to a model that utilizes high end DACs over the next highest model with less expensive components can yield significant results if you have the speakers to reveal them. I know it isn't an apples to apples comparison because the price differential is enormous on a relative scale, but using the multichannel output of a Denon DVD-5910 with zero processing sounds worlds better than pumping the same track out through the DVD player's optical output and then processing it in a Pioneer VSX-1015TX receiver. No ammount of EX or DPL or Cinema or Neo6 can get the level of clarity and detail across that the pure sound of those high end Bur Brown DACs in the Denon.
I know I'm dragging things off topic, but to reiterate: You will not be displeased with your purchase of the Sherbourn.