Wow, so I’ve had the Pre6 (Gen II) in my system for a few days and it has completely lived up to my expectations. First of all, there is no contest between the Pre6 and the Onkyo 885 with regard to sound quality. The Pre6 digs deeper into movie soundtracks and reveals subtle sounds distinctly, where the Onkyo would render such sounds present but veiled. A few examples are: insects buzzing around, the operator speaking on a phone off the hook in another room, individual voices within an audience at a concert, distant conversations that aren’t the focus of a scene, etc. Dialog is rendered through the Pre6 with better articulation and texture, giving voices more character and making quiet conversation easier to dintinguish. Dynamics are as good as I’ve heard, but the Onkyo is very good dynamically as well. To summarize, the Pre6 presents a transparent, neutral and dynamically alive sound that immerses you in a movie like no other preamp/processor I’ve experienced.
For two channel listening, I compared my Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE to the Pre6 by feeding the pre-outs of the Pre6 into the HT bypass input on the W4S pre. Volume level was matched to within about 0.1 dB and my Denon 3800bdci player fed both preamps (2 channel out -> W4S pre, multichannel out -> Pre6). Comparisons were made by switching inputs on the W4S pre between HT bypass and the Denon input. These two preamps were difficult to tell apart. Both were highly transparent, neutral and dynamic. The subtle differences that I observed were: 1) the W4S pre has a slightly lower noise floor (only noticeable with my ear close to the tweeters), although both are very quiet, 2) the W4S pre has just a touch of warmth to the tonal balance, whereas the Pre6 seems dead neutral, 3) the Pre6 provides a more precise level control especially at low volume, whereas the Wyred pre uses a resistor ladder network that forces larger jumps in volume level. That said, I could live with either preamp and consider them both reference quality in my system and to my ears. For now, I will keep both.