My suggestion as to how Pioneer Elite could create a really great pre/pro came as a result of McIntosh, Anthem, Mark Levinson, and Lexicon refusing to add processing of all HD digital surround formats in their pre/pros -- they feel that all processing should be done in the players.
A lot of high end companies are saying this because they can not even re badge a product with their own name on it.
If you think that there is nothing different about the MX135/136 over a standard receiver, then you don't understand McIntosh -- one little difference is that a receiver has built-in amps whereas a pre/pro does not. While the MX135/136 IMO is much more attractive than other pre/pros, it is an opinion shared by those of us that like that brand for its quality and in the case of the amplifiers, for their quality and their resale value in case they are not kept for 20+ years by their owners.
I own a MX135! The amp section of a receiver is not going to have a negative effect on the audio. The quality of Mcintosh drops very low when you deal with the DVD players and audio processors. I will agree that their amps are of good quality but that is it. Whay care about resale on something that is going to be replaced/out done by technology every 5 years?
McIntosh does not re-badge anything other than perhaps their music server - they engineer each of their pieces from scratch and being a relatively small company, do not have the engineering staff to create very many new pieces at any given time--thus they will not add a new pre/pro for at least another year or more. They even wind their own transformers inhouse. Perhaps you and I are using different definitions of the term "re-badge."
No, Mcintosh uses the same DSP and DAC's that everyone else uses.http://www.mds.com/products/product.asp?prod=DAE%2D5
Here is the DSP that the MX135/136 uses and receivers also use this same TI DSP chip. Mcintosh hand makes certain transformers but they also by R core transformers from japan, so what is your point?
My MX134's analog section is the equivalent of the C45 preamp, but I am interested in the digital domain of high def lossless audio -- and am interested in a top notch pre/pro with HDMI 1.3a or b and that can process all HD audio formats and then have a great set of DACs. As I surmised in my original post -- what meets my needs, since McIntosh is waay behind in creating a new pre/pro, is Pioneer Elite's newest topend receiver since it would not take much engineering by Pioneer to create a wonderful pre/pro from it -- I like its looks, its controls and feature set and happen to like and trust Pioneer Elite. (I am considering the Onkyo Integra on an interim basis for a couple of years.)
Then you will realize that if it is all digital and lossless that Mcintosh and other high end pre pro's would sound the same as receivers.