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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let's see if I can post a thread that will interest some people.

I am in the long ongoing process of building an HT system.

I am determined to purchase the "best" components I can reasonably justify/afford.

The front pj is right around the corner, waiting for the room to be finished.

The amplification is pretty much in place with a 3-channel BAT6200 and and older Levinson 2-channel.

I am currently using my Marantz receiver as a pre/pro. In looking at and listening to pre/pros, the ones

I like for both 2 channel and HT are the AVM-20, used RDC-7s, and possibly the Sunfire.

Does it make sense to go with an Outlaw 950 for HT and the Musical Fidelity 3.2cr for 2 channel.

Combined these 2 cost about the same as one of the above pre/pros.

I haven't taken the SACD or DVD-A plunge yet but probably will in a year or 2,

I still need to upgrade the speakers(!).

Man this is turning into an expensive proposition.
 

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Milt, hunt down my review from the last day or so on the Aragon Soundstage. It is the best 1 box solution I have found. The newer Stage One has more bells and whisles but if what you want is great 2 channel and a 5.1 HT setup, the Soundstage should be checked out. If you want 7.1 and need the newer video switching, the Stage One is the ticket or you can upgrade the Soundstage for about $1000 (buy used in the $1200-$1400 range).
 

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Chuck G,


I have opted for a one-pre solution with the AVM-20. It would be difficult to say if it sounds better than my McCormack TLC1 2-channel preamp did, because I no longer have the McCormack 2-channel amp that complemented it so well (went with Rotel 1095 for 5-channel).


I can tell you what you probably already know: that one pre-amp\\processor simplifies your connections and the control of your components. The Aragon is terrific, just as the previous poster mentioned, and was on my very short list (along with the Sunfire Theater Grand III) when I chose the Anthem.


The Anthem is as superb as the reviewers have credited it... the features, including excellent bass management and speaker controls, along with the terrific HT decoding, allow me to recommend it without hesitation as a one-box solution.


Best of luck!
 

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I think using a seperate 2ch preamp for music can be ideal in many situations. I had been away from the hobby for a while and when I got back in it began with HT. As usual, after putting my system together I realized audio was my main interest and my mid level pre/pro (Sony TAE9000ES) though great for 5.1 DVD's wasn't up to the level I wanted for 2ch music which is the case for all but a select few pre/pros. I added a Sonic Frontiers Line 1 (retail $2500 but avail new for $1500) which gave me the sound I was after. You can put together such a combo for as low as $2500 new. This would be a pre/pro like the Outlaw or Sony 9000 and a 2ch unit like the tubed SF (or many other tube or SS units) You will get far more than adequite movie sound and first class 2ch music. I have not been able to listen to all of the pre/pros in my room so obviously my opinion on them is based much on reading, etc. The only pre/pro I know of that has consistently been cmpared equally to good 2ch preamps is the Classe (75?) which costls $7500. I would expect that top models from Theta,etc would also be great but cost is often around $10000 or more. With many 2ch preamps having a featue which allows you to switch between it and a HT pre/pro (main speakers,amplification and 2ch source connected to it) it's also simple to integrate the units together for the best of both worlds. I always thought Lexicon pre/pros (CP3,DC1,2,MC1) were fantastic for HT but lacked musically, This makes them a great choice for such a system. Especially with the great deals available on the MC-1. An MC-1 paired with a tube 2ch pre would be a fantastic combo.
 

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Anthony, you may remember me as a long time Sony TAE/TAP combo owner. I realized the same thing you did. I love movies but music was a bigger priority. Great 2 channel music just wasn't going to happen with the TAE9000. Now I will say all the software update helped and if all you cared for was 2 channel using the TAE's digital inputs, then the TAE was passable. But I needed full analog for my turntable and wanted 5.1 analog bypass inputs so I purchased the TAP a little over 1 year ago. That allowed much better analog music but dealing with 2 volume controls and all the cables was a downside. I took a chance on a Soundstage (from Ricky) and once I put that in the chain, I knew I would not go back to the Sony combo. I don't have experience with any of the pre's you mentioned (AVR 20 Classe etc) but I can tell you the Soundstage, using its stereo direct feature, made me forget the TAP in a hurry. I do somewhat miss the TAE's DSP's but the Soundstage sounds great in DTS and DD and I am probably more a 60% music to 40% ht guy. Ricky even compared his Rougue 66 preamp (tube 2 channel pre) to the soundstage and it was VERY close. I like music better with the one box Soundstage vs the 2 box TAE/TAP combo. For movies it was much closer but the 60% won out in the long run.
 

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Chuck,

I remember, I was very close to buying a TAP also. It seemed like such a great idea (especially when we couldn't buy them in USA) but also seemed pretty complicated. I actually had to sell my TAE around XMas time due to $$$ shortage. I'm now using an old Lexicon CP-3 as I slowly rebuild my HT portion of system. I meant to make a mention of the Aragon in my post but started writing and ...... The Soundstage was always listed as one of the units that was capable of great 2ch sound. There seems to be some very good deals on them now also. I would definately go with an Aragon over the Outlaw.

If a "one box" solution is desired, and you want top notch 2ch performance to go along with HT, there are not that many cheap (
 

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Definitely an interesting subject for me as I've been contemplating the same thing. I have the Krell Showcase as an all-around setup and am pretty happy with it. I spent the money and actually stretched the budget a bit to get something that would do both very well. The problem is, in this black hole of a hobby I have chosen, there's always the quest for something "better".


I always wonder how much better can my music sound? True audiophiles swear that music belongs on a 2-channel setup. I believe this is true, but have nothing to verify it with. Which is why I'm considering getting a 2-ch preamp and putting together a music-only setup. I think with all but the best HT pre-pros there is too much compromise. The Krell has a preamp bypass. But, it still has a digital volume control. Which leads me to believe there is still some DSP'ing and EQ'ing happening to get the signal through and back to analog. Maybe it is fine and I would never hear the difference. But, I would like to know for sure.


I'm hoping to spend between $1K-$2K (new or used) for a 2-ch preamp and be more transparent than the Showcase. I've been looking at Adcom, Parasound, Classe and Counterpoint. Not sure if it's possible, but I have to try it.


I'm looking for suggestions/comments as well as Milt99.


BTW, so you know. I am using Klipsch KLF30's for front and bi-amping them with two Parasound 2200 II's. I am considering new speakers for the 2-ch setup, but plan on keeping the amp setup until I can afford Class A monos. Yes, these are way more power than I need for the Klipsch's, but I knew I would upgrade some day to speakers that would be nowhere near as efficient. The good thing about it, they keep the Parasounds operating in Class A at normal listening levels. :)


Thanks,

DAVE
 

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Dave, you really sound like an ideal Soundstage/Stage one prospect. The Soundstage, to me, concentrated on getting the 2 channel right, so they basically have isolated the 2 channel from the digital side. The volume control is analog and in the stereo direct mode you have a passive 2 channel pre in control. You may find the following review helpful...
http://www.audioholics.com/productre...oundstage1.php


You may also want to check into the Rogue Audio 66 tube preamp that has the unity gain HT bypass feature you are going to want. For your situation, keeping the Krell and adding the 2 channel pre may be prefered but if you want a 1 box solution the Soundstage (for 5.1 applications) or the Stage ONe/ Anthem AVM20 (for 7.1) may be better for 2 channel than the Krell.
 

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There was an Aragon Soundstage for sell at audiogon.com. Several have sold already. Heck for the $1400 range, it may be worth trying that instead of a seperate prepro for 2 channel. It depends on what you have to have on the digital home theater side as to if the Soundstage would meet your needs there. The Soundstage can be upgraded until June 30th for about $1000 (adds component video, 7.1 operation, PLII ect, Neo).
 

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If you can do without video switching the Bryston SP-1/SP-1.7 gives you a super clean 2 channel bypass as it uses the BP-25 circuitry (6 channel in the case of the 1.7), probably as good or better than the Aragon, plus you get the 20 year warranty. Video switchers are relatively cheap and arguably do a better job than most receivers and pre/pros. I have a SP-1 for sale at audiogon (dsmith901) if interested. I am getting a new MC-8.


Dsmith
 

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I'd expect the Aragon, Bryston and Krell to all be extremely close as far as their 2ch music performance. I"m pretty sure the Aragon and Bryston both use preamp sections from "sudiophile" preamps made by the same companies and the Krell is a Krell, need we say more?

For $2000 new or used you should be able to find a 2ch pre which improves sound a bit, probably nothing drastic though as all of these units are already at a high level. I"d say go with a tube preamp or linestage. There are many to look at in that price range, used at Audiogon or try www.upscaleaudio.com for a new one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks guys. Many good points and suggestions.

I guess I proffered the Outlaw because I could get it sooner. I also respect companies like Musical Fidelity and Rogue that can offer really excellent gear for reasonable(to me) bucks. I'm still amazed at expensive pre/pros that lack ease of set up and features found in $500 receivers. IMO pre/pros are the least mature technology in the chain. If I had my druthers for a one box solution, I'd probably go with the RDC-7(used).

I read in the latest SGHT about a McCormack pre-amp with 6-channel inputs but requires external DD/DTS processing.

I know that BAT has been working on a tube pre/pro(AV-10). That will be incredible and incredibly expensive. It must be a bear to implement because VK and the gang have been working on it for quite a while.

BTW, I love the BAT6200. It was a bit of an impulse thing but sometimes the right deal comes along and you just gotta jump on it.:D
 

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Seems a lot of people on AVS are raving about the 2-channel quality of the new Fosgate FAPT-1. I'm a new Fosgate dealer but I haven't had to check it out because I can't seem to get them to stick around long enough to evaluate. It's kind of interesting because that's all these guys go on about is the clarity, lack of noise, etc. I talk about some features, upgrades, etc and people bascially say "who cares, this is about music". I guess as soon as I get one in that sticks around for more than 1 hour (the record so far), I'll listen to it myself. But it seems to be worth listening to. Pretty reasonable at $3K. I've heard some bad stuff about the Outlaw preamp as far as noise and music performance. Of course, at that price, it's basically a receiver without the amps. But it sounds to me like it's best to do one good piece than two mediocre ones.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dmheath
The Krell has a preamp bypass. But, it still has a digital volume control. Which leads me to believe there is still some DSP'ing and EQ'ing happening to get the signal through and back to analog. Maybe it is fine and I would never hear the difference. But, I would like to know for sure.
dmheath,


A lot of units use a digital volume control IC - basically resistors implemented with transistors in silicon. The Cirrus CS3310 is common, although not the only one. If you don't mind popping the hood on your Krell, you might find a few of these chips in there.
 

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odyssey audio has a new preamp with ht by pass-you hook your cd player or tt into it and your main amps, also your pro-when you want 2 channel you just turn a knob, kinda cool and under 400$
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by PlasmaSquid
dmheath,


A lot of units use a digital volume control IC - basically resistors implemented with transistors in silicon. The Cirrus CS3310 is common, although not the only one. If you don't mind popping the hood on your Krell, you might find a few of these chips in there.
I will have to pop it open and take a look. That would definitely be better. But, still more components in the path than a passive preamp would have. I'm trying to think where I read about some units that do actually convert the analog ins to digital to do some DSP and volume control and then back again. Maybe I'm wrong. I would hope Krell isn't that stupid. I need to find a schematic or at least a block diagram.


Thanks, Plasma.


DAVE
 

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Also, on some really expensive HT gear (Mark Levinson pre-amps, for example) or on some pro-audio gear, there are actually a whole set of passive resistors that can get switched in/out of the circuit path, under digital control. Basically, it's like going in and taking out one (or one set) of resistors that set the feedback gain or voltage divider and replacing it with another. This is much less intrusive on the signal path than a chip such as the 3310. But you need a lot of resistors to get the resolution that an IC can provide in less space. It's not difficult to do, but costs a bit more because of the added number of resistors, the cost of the analog multiplexers, the added signal lines to do the muxing, and the added circuit real-estate. The 3310 is a reasonable solution for the cost/performance/features.
 

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Q&A,


The HT bypass is a $150 option. Enables you to switch between the Rogue and prepro with a flick of the switch. You can even turn the Rogue off when not using it (keeps the tubes from burning).
 

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The McCormack RDL-1 also has a HT bypass that has unity gain, but they are hard to find used.


Dsmith
 
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