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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In searching for an "audiophile quality" multi-channel pre-amplifier, I've been exploring products from vendors like Accuphase and McCormack, the biggest problem appears to be finding a platform that supports Time Alignment (and maybe Bass Management), but with minimal other manipulation of the circuit path.


Anyone?
 

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If you are going to go "analog" (cleaner sound but no BM, etc.), I think that there are only 2 choices - the McCormack or an older Sony TAP-9000. In the digital domain, the choices are many and well-discussed on these forums...
 

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Definitely not just two choices.


Bel Canto's Pre6 and EMM Labs/Meitner Switchman products are worthy of consideration as well.


Regards,
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Problem is, I've got "large" speakers all around, but they aren't spaced equally because of the room/furniture, so I need time alignment, but not much else (this is for SACD/DVD-A, not HT), so I'd rather not have any heavy duty processing if I can help it.


If processing is involved, then I'd have to go high-end to not degrade the SQ, which I rather not do at this point....so the dilema.


The McCormack MAP-1 looks promising (as does the Accuphase CX-260), but I suspect they don't support time alignment. Same thing for the BelCanto Pre6 I think.
 

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Andrew,


I don't think there is an audiophile multichannel preamp with time alignment without digitizing the signal and then converting it back to analog. The A-D and D-A process will degrade the sound quality to some extend. For this reason, time alignment feature will be difficult to find with analog preamps. The only way to do this properly is in the digitlal domain like the Merdian with DVD -A.


Rich
 

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I can't speak for the Bel Canto or McCormack, which I have not heard, but you could do a lot worse than a used Citation 7.0 for analog sound quality - and they can be had for about $500-600 at audiogon. And as good as the 7.0 is in surround, its two channel bypass is world class IMO. You can handle digital sources by getting the MSB upgrade, plus they can be serviced by Bob Popham who used to work with Jim Fosgate I believe.


Bel Canto also makes an AV processor (Bel Canto PrePro) that should have all the features you need including time alignment, bass management, etc., plus a pair of multichannel analog inputs. I have not seen a review but I spoke with an owner who used it with very expensive gear and said it was the best he has heard - even better (so he says) than the Citation.


Dsmith
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Tom,


I just came to the exact same realization!... That my source should be able to do time-alignment (Since I have yet to turn-on MC mode, I haven't seen what MC configuration its actually capable of!)
 

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IMO, this is the way to go for high-end multichannel music and Home theater. As new formats come around, upgrade your source components.


What are you using as a source?
 

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One thing to be careful about sources that do their own time alignment is when you are using an external analog filters to do bass management, like an Outlaw ICBM. The time-alignment of the source will mess up any bass summation and the crossover to the main speakers. Time alignment is always best done after bass management.


I'd encourage everyone to personally listen to an A-D and D-A conversion chain with their favorite hi-res source and decide if the degradation is too severe for their listening, before assuming that it's not acceptable. The pay offs in terms of time alignment and bass management can be really great.


--Andre
 

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I just remembered that Audio Refinement (by YBA) makes a multichannel analog preamp that sells for about $1,000, but I think it only has one 5.1 input. Still, audio quality should be first rate. But then you can get their pre/pro (Pre2) with 5.1 analog inputs included for about the same price, and I have heard it - outstanding sound quality but a few operational quirks. But I am not sure why you would want the analog only version unless you just don't like digital processing in your preamp.


Dsmith
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thats exactly it, I'd rather not have any A-D/D-A in the chain if I can help it even though as Andre says the SQ may not be all bad. Fortuantely in my case I do not need bass management, so things are little easier.


Tom, my source is the Linn Unidisk 1.1 (I'm traveling, so I still have not had a chance to turn MC on to see whats there).
 

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I tried Multichannel audio and while it was intriguing for it's novelty, I still have a preference for 2-channel stereo ?


Why ? My 2-channel source is better than my 5-channel source, the bass response from my main speakers are better, the 2-channel amp is better, the ICs and speaker cables are better for 2-channel. To do it right, I'd have to replace "ALL" my speakers with IDENTICAL full-range speakers; not to mention IDENTICAL amps/ICs/etc. This situation isn't going to change anytime soon for budgetary reasons.


And getting the sweet spot "right" for 2-channel is hard enough; how much harder for 5-channel ?


I'm suspicious of time alignment and bass management for hi-rez sources; especially for SACD, so I will not use it. But than again, I have the room space to place the speakers in the recommended ITU configuration.


BTW, the Switchman-II is the best pre-amp I've ever owned (that's not saying much). It sure beats the crap out of the Proceed AVP I had been using as a preamp. For the reasons stated above, I mostly use it for 2-channel but it is very good for MC as well.


My 2 cents worth.
 

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forgot one more data point.


I got a chance to "A/B" the Meitner Switchman-II against the McCormack MAP-1. No contest, the Meitner wins, but it had better at 3x the price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Oscar,


Thats interesting. Could you describe in what way was the Switchman MK II better than the MAP-1, and whether in your opinion it was worth the price differential?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by AndrewChen
Oscar,


Thats interesting. Could you describe in what way was the Switchman MK II better than the MAP-1, and whether in your opinion it was worth the price differential?
More transparency is what comes to mind. The MAP-1 sounded "colored" compared to the Switchman. The Meitner just plain seemingly did not do anything to the sound other than offer a volume control. Better "bite" on the transients and better bass definition comes to mind as well.


I actually bought "sound unheard" based on reviews from others who post regularly on the AudioAsylum hi-rez highway. (do a search on this forum for "Switchman") and the features it offered. It's a 4x6 inputs to 1x6 switcher built originally for the pro audio market and used by recording studios (e.g. Telarc). I'm a believer in balanced inputs and hoped to have a balance source eventually.


At the moment it is being used as a switcher for 6 channel HT DD/DTS (from the pre/pro), 6-channel SACD, and I almost added a 6-channel DVD-A player with 6 balanced outputs but decided to wait out on this technology for a while.


I'm led to believe I bought the last of a batch first part of this year. They made (are making?) a new version (Switchman-III?) with a better cover plate and moved all the I/O to the backside to cater to the consumer audiophile market (with associated price hikes....I would never have bought at the new price point).


I'm curious if anyone has compared the Meitner to the Accuphase and the Bel Canto Pre6.


positive-feedback.com has links to more info on some of the specifics. I keep waiting for them to come up with a more detailed review.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by oscar1
... I'm curious if anyone has compared the Meitner to the Accuphase and the Bel Canto Pre6...
I'm curious about relative sonic performances of the Accuphase, the Meitner (the wired remote is a pain though), and another high-end unit, the Edge Signatue One, which has a 6-channel passive pre capability, it might infact have the least coloration of all.
 

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what I'm really interested in is which HT pre/pro's have a really high quality 5.1 analog passthrough. I'm all for the concept of upgrading my SACD/DVD-A source, maybe to the Denon 5900. But I need 5.1 DD decoding for watching TV/HDTV in surround. So I would like an HT pre/pro which would satisfy my audiophile need for a good analog preamp section on the 5.1 inputs.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dweltman
what I'm really interested in is which HT pre/pro's have a really high quality 5.1 analog passthrough. I'm all for the concept of upgrading my SACD/DVD-A source, maybe to the Denon 5900. But I need 5.1 DD decoding for watching TV/HDTV in surround. So I would like an HT pre/pro which would satisfy my audiophile need for a good analog preamp section on the 5.1 inputs.
I'm also looking at the Denon 5900 for PQ reasons; have you looked at it's built-in DD/DTS decoding capability ? It has to have pretty decent DACs to support reasonable DVD-A/SACD performance.


I had a similar issue trying to integrate HT with Hi-rez MC. The hardware upgrade for my Proceed AVP pre/pro did not include 6-channel analog bypass; even the 6-channel option included re-digitizing the 6-channel analog hi-rez input so it could perform PCM-based time alignment/bass management functions. I did not think this additional A/D, process, D/A path would do justice to SACD.


A quick survey of available (at the time) and soon-to-be available high quality 6-channel analog bypass pre/pro suggested I would have had to spend a lot more for a new pre/pro than I actually spent for the Meitner Switchman-II and probably with inferior sonic qualities.


I still use the Proceed AVP to handle DD/DTS decoding (it still smoked a current generation $5K Arcam Pre/pro I had tried out) running six channel (5.1) input to the Meitner while running a MC SACD source (Philips SACD1000) through a separate 6-channel input. I may or may not add a DVD-A source at a later date.


OTOH, the Proceed is getting a little long in the tooth, I see benefits to having 6.1 ES/EX for my room and/or additional side/rear speakers (e.g. for Lexicon-style 7.1).


It's been suggested by some that a pure analog MC preamp is going to smoke similarly priced Pre/pro counterparts on pre-amp performance. I can certainly believe this: I found the McCormack MAP-1 ($2200) to be a better music preamp than the Proceed Pre/pro which retailed at more than twice the price. The Switchman is even better and rules on my current system.


I almost bought an EAD DVDMaster Pro which had very good video, DVD-A audio, and even CD performance. And provided 6-channel balanced outputs (to feed the Meitner). I begged off because of price, limited BM options for DD/DTS decoding, no priority on DVD-A, and the prospect that maybe a much cheaper DVD player with DVI output (5900?) could deliver the same PQ.
 
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