I plan on moving (2) to surround duty and purchasing a W4S ST-500. I would love the Bel Canto but it is a little out of my price range.
I have never tried the Parasounds before but in the same dealer showroom in Singapore, he carries the Electrocompaniet Nemo (mostly Class A), Bel Canto REF1000M (Class D) and we once had a customer bring in his Bryston (I think it was 400W? into 4 ohms?) Class AB.
Here's my impression:
Bryston Class AB had sweeter mids driving the 2.4SEs
Bel Canto Class D had better bass control.. very tight, very controlled.
The Nemo Class A had the best of both worlds.. sweeter than the AB for mids and even more impressive control of the bass than the D. But it was about 3x more than the Bel Cantos
I find most ICEpowered amps have a similar signature. Clean, neutral esp for mids and amazing bass control. My father-in-law uses the W4S ST-500 to drive the Gallo Reference 3.1s and I noticed a similar improvement. The Bel Cantos might have a slightly lower noise floor but I suspect a good passive shielded power cord might have a similar effect.I will also be adding a SCS4 for center duty. I currently do not use a center channel speaker. I've not been very happy with a NHT I was using as a center so I just unplugged it.
I think the SCS4 like most Thiel gear are going to be neutral. It was slightly less "full" than my old B&W CDM CSE speaker I was using previously, but I found good synergy with the Bel Canto REF500M amp.. I think it's a bit warmer than the REF1000M which my friend was using to drive his MCS1.
Maybe in your case, get a W4S ICEBox MC and use 3 channels.. with one for the center. I find the premiums from ST to MC not that big.. might be better bang for the buck.Any advise for a pre-pro? I actually considered something like a used Proceed AVPS. I really don't have the space or the desire to add more than a 5.1 setup but I would like to take advantage of Blue Ray. It doesn't bother me if all the video inputs go directly into the TV. I do that now anyway. Lol.
I am currently using a Denon AVR 4810.
The 9 internal amps can be assigned to handle different channels. Great flexibility and can run a full DSX 11.2 channel setup if you are in the mood for it.
So I use the BCD power amps for front L/C/R and I hook the 8 of the 9 amps to handle the rest of my 11.1 setup. (wide/height/surround/surround back).
I did find the 4 surround channels much more dynamic and more apparent when I disable DSX, ie only use 4 channels, it's a lot better. I think that's my excuse for an MC ICEbox from W4S.
It's an older HDMI 1.3 model though but it does seem to have better components than the new HDMI1.4 based AVR-4311 (which just about matched the 4810 in specs otherwise).
For my money, I'd go for the 4311 now. It's 3D ready HDMI 1.4 AVR, and includes the new Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 (vs base XT on the 4810).
As a bonus, the 4311 has a new feature called "Pre mode" which completely turns off ALL power amps which they think gives a cleaner preamp stage.
If your budget allows for it, also try partnering the AVR4311/4810s with a DenonLink4 compatible universal player