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Rethinking big $$$ on HT processors  

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have very happily owned an EAD Ovation for about 2 years now.

I want to move to 7.1 and have sold my Ovation in spite of recent EAD 7.1 upgrade plans. I will wait to see what goodies may surface at CES from EAD & others. I enjoy my 2-channel audio first, and H.T. second. I have been most pleased with the pre-amp section of the Ovation, and its overall features. I am going to purchase a great 2-channel pre-amp, then finalize the HT processor stuff later.

Related gear includes EAD PM2000, Bryston 4B-ST, Micromega Premium DVD2, Bel Canto DAC-1, Harmonc Tech cables, Blue Circle power products, NHT speakers all-around (soon to be Waveform Mach 17's & MC's). I watch a ton of DVDs on my Proxima DX3 via HTPC.

On a whim, I just bought the cheapest DD & DTS 5.1 receiver I could find that has pre-outs for all 5-channels. I am using this receiver as a processor only, feeding into my power amps. The unit in question is the Kenwoood VR-410 selling for $350 US.

I am shocked that I really don't notice too much when running with the cheapo Kenwood, which happens to cost about 1/10th of the price of the EAD Ovation. I believe that my very good power-amps make up for the Kenwood's sonic limitations. I have always thought the movie audio was over-rated anyway - mostly it is dialogue, some background music, and some booms & crashes, etc.

Having convinced myself that the cheap receiver route is MORE than acceptable for my HT needs, I will return this Kenwood, and buy the cheapest 7.1 reciever I can find - probably a Pioneer VSX-D909S or Elite VSX-35TX. (I like the Pioneer aesthetics better than Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo ).

These are just my thoughts from guy who has invested some bigger $$$ in his HT precossor, and finds it highly overkill. My experiences are that a great amp is more vital than a great processor for the movie-watching experience.

- Andy
post #2 of 15
I would agree when talking about straight 5.1 DD/DTS processing. The compression involved (IMHO) masks any potential sonic differences.

However, I do think it is a different story when you get into the 7.1 realm of Lexicon and Meridian when unique software becomes an issue. Also, it depends on bass management with your potential receiver.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
The bass management on even lowly devices surely could be a little more versatile , rather than 1 fixed frequency. But even so, you are allowed to define a speaker as large or small. If you have a sub, then the FLE and bass info from small speakers is routed the sub. If you don't have a sub, then LFE and bass info from the small speakers is routed to the Mains.

If you have a sub with a flexible controller, I don't find the limited bass management of the cheap receiver to be a big deal. But if you are a bass-monger, or have a "wierd" mix of speakers, then you will surely want more flexible bass management.

On the 7.1 subject, unless you are big into propriety schemes like Logic 7, Circle surround, Neo, etc., then THX-EX and DTS-ES is what you do, or don't do. Receivers in the $850 range, such as the Denon AVR-3801 support DTS-ES discrete, while simlar units from Pioneer & Onykyo support the THX-EX matrixed versions (DTS-ES compatible). I also look forward to ProLogic-II , resulting from Jim Fosgate's participation here at AVSFORUM.

I agree that the compression of the audio tracks is a limiting factor in overall quality, whether you have a $500 receiver or $5000 processor. If you intend to use the expensive processor as your main 2-channel pre-amp, then there is even furtehr justification for high-priced processor.

I guess my main point is that I used to think that receivers were crap - a bit of audio-snobbery on my part. But having just played with one, I find that I am compromising very little when it comes to movie watching ... 2-channel is another story though.

- Andy
post #4 of 15
Hey Andy. You have two amps I'm conserdering. The EAD PM2000 and Bryston 4B-ST(actually I'd probably go with the 9B). How do the EAD & Bryston compare? Also how would you stack up the Sim Moon amps as commparred to either of the two?
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
The PM2000 is such a great amp ! I listened to the PM2000, PM1000, Sim W-5, Bel Canto EVO 200.2 at my dealers in the same rig. I purchased based purely on 2-channel listening. The bass extraction and bass control of the PM2000 is sensational. Its dynamics, and ability to deliver transients at even low volumes is also realy really good. I love feeling mid-bass pressure waves against my chest even at moderate volumes. Imaging depth & width are also excellent, and I really like its tonal balance.

The W-5 is also a great amp with tremendous control, but I found it too "dry" sounding for my tastes.

Since getting a 4B-ST 3 weeks ago I am very impressed with its overall nature. Not up to the PM2000 but still very good indeed. I used to have 7B-NRB's and found the tonal balance of them to be poor (bright).

Depending on your speakers, don't skimp on some power for your mains. If your liking the Bryston's, maybe consider a 4B-ST for the mains and a 5B-ST or 8B-ST for the centre/surrounds. The 8B-ST is intereseting in that it can be bridged in a few configurations.

- Andy
post #6 of 15
Hi Guys,

I just wanted to say I am very happy with my EAD PM2000. I had two separate systems before. One for 2 channel: Krell 300i and EAD Ultradisc 2000. And another system for Hometheater: Denon 5600 receiver. Then I sold off both systems to get the EAD TheaterMaster Signature and EAD PM2000.

I love the EAD combo for 2 channel and okay for Hometheater. But the EAD PM2000 amplifier is awesome and very smooth. With good bottom end and the it has great control and imaging. I am currently using Mourdant Short Performance 860's for front left and right and their matching T1000 center channel and the MS30 for rears. With the use of Harmonic Technology cabling.

I found the EAD PM2000 was a lot more laid back than the Krell amp. The Krell was good but it tended to be a little bright and fatigueing.

Just my 2 cents, bkwong73
post #7 of 15
I agree that recievers have vastly improved. I was surprised at how good a friends B&K was but my Cal audio unit still sounds noticeably better on surround but not 2.5 times as good!,since that is how much more it cost. You really pay a lot for a high-end processor, just to get good two channel music. Is it worth it? That is a question that I frequently ask myself as I too mainly listen to music. But my fiancee is a huge movie fan and the thrill on her face hearing a dvd sound better than our local theater keeps me content to own the unit. I listened to a few other recievers and found the sound bright, harsh, and with the effects having a hard metallic edge compared to the natural sounds of my processor. Some movies suck but some of the newer dvd have very realistic efects. I watched "The Art of War" with Westley Snipes and when it was raining on screen and the phone rang, it sounded exactly like I was there. With all of the cold weather rolling in, I think I'll rent something tropcial! Happy New Year!
post #8 of 15
if you want to try out an amp that Ive been told is really great, check out www.llanodesign.com

I have pointed these things out to two people who I trust their opinions and they both have kept the amps. They offer an in home trial.

- Jerry
post #9 of 15
I think that the Tag Heuer sounds like a great new processor that could at some point become a Krell & Meridian buster. Certainly having the manufacturer "Buzzing" around the forum gives, the whole idea of long term ownership a higher "feeling" of concern for the customer...

The Artist formerly known as PANARAMAX.....
post #10 of 15
Hi Andy !!

Im gonna wave a little Proceed favoritism !!

HOT rumour is that Proceed will be releasing a second version of the AVP, I guess AVP II. Not sure how much better it will become ? better DACs, faster processors, component switching ...Wonder if they will give out hints at CES...and I am hopeing also they will have an upgrade pgm too !

As for 7.1...ran with this for six months, really loved it and then swapped back to 5.1 when I added 2 subs ..found 5.1 config much less cluttering and less confusing with clear'er sound distinction especially for movies and DTS music, as for 2 chn music, I am a purist now compared to a few years ago..has to be 2-chn baby ...

fun though..!

post #11 of 15
Yep, Proceed is upgrading the AVP with better dacs, and processors. Do not know about the component switching as my sources say that is unlikely. Upgrade should be on market in about 8 months I am told.
post #12 of 15
A little lower on the 'prestige factor' but an excellent option at half of the price would be the Anthem AVM-2. Has component swithching and a lot of other nice features (see: http://www.sonicfrontiers.com/anthem/avm2-compare.html for a comparison to EAD/Proceed/etc.). I've only had mine for a few weeks, but so far am quite happy.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
The Kenwood does have an analog direct mode for 2-channel listening. I found it to be quite "smeared" for lack of a better word. A great pre-amp needs great parts quality, great power supply, isolation & damping, and of course design. ... and even then it might not sound good http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

I have seen the Anthem unit at a dealer, and it is a very good looking piece with lots of features. It is loaded with buttons on the front panel, whereas my EAD had none !

However, as usual, the receiver guys are always the first to market with the latest features & formats. I personally would not sink any money today into any new high-end pre/pro that did have 7.1 support - I would wait for their next generation products to surface.

... still debating over the Denon AVR-3801 or the Pioneer Elite VSX-36TX to be my next processor !

- Andy
post #14 of 15
I forgot the original reason I purchased the Cal SSP-2500. It was not for movies. I figure that if mutlichannel sacd or dvd-a ever took off that I would need a pre-amp that was clean on all 5.1 channels. So, I purchased this unit since there are no good 5 channel pre-amps that are not also surround processors. If they do get there act together then I will have the pre-amp to get the most out the format. So 5.1 pre-amps are not going to be just for movies if this ever happens and I have a feeling that sooner or latter, probabely latter they will get it right.
post #15 of 15
Andy, the EAD and Kenwood were close for music also? Even w/ the EAD running those lucious 1702s in a push-pull config?

Definitely in agreement about the PM2000 being an amazing amp. When I first installed it, it sounded as if I added a subwoofer!


Migliore Theater
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AVS › AVS Forum › Audio › Receivers, Amps, and Processors › Rethinking big $$$ on HT processors