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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is it time to move up to a pre/pro?


Three years ago when I started the theater, I bought a Denon 3802, and it has been an admirable performer. The upgrade bug keeps biting though.


Over the past few months I have collected a couple of amps. I now have 7 channels of amplification. (An Adcom 5800 and a Cinepro 3k6SE, both which I bought off Audiogon). So I am not limited by amps. I bought the Adcom off Audiogon for a reasonable price to see if an outboard amp made a difference, especially for 2 channel music. (I believe it did) Recently, I bought the Cinepro through Audiogon as well. Now I have no valid excuse to hold me back.


Usage is about 50/50 movies and music. I have acoustic treatments and use a BFD to help tame a couple of really bad peaks. I have a CRT projector and run all video through a scaler.


The initial requirements for the processor are:


1. Manufactured in the US

2. Balanced outputs

3. Bass Management to allow BM to be applied to individual speaker set with as much flexibility as possible, setting slopes and filters

4. Ability to process input to a 7.1 channel output. (Logic 7 or PL-IIx)

5. Multi channel inputs for SACD and DVD-A.

6. Upgradeable – Software


Requirements for “nice to haveâ€:


1. Equalization

2. Upgradeable - Hardware

3. Multiple subwoofers

4. A way to know the volume setting without having to be able to read the front panel (Only way I know of is through Crestron or AMX style remotes, but I think it would be nice to know the volume level on your remote) Or have volume presets for music versus movies

5. Lip-Sync delay


Things I don’t need

1. Video pass through or processing. All of my video passes through a scaler.

2. Zone 2 option


I initially set a budget of $2,000, but realized there are not many choices in that price range. The MC-1 met the budget constraint, but did not have the features. I bumped that to $3,000 and still did not have many options. Going to $4,000 did offer more choices, but I am having a hard time justifying that big an outlay.


I have lusted after the Lexicon products, but cost is the obstacle there. The MC-12B has all of the features, but costs too much. The MC-8B is an option, but does not get the upgrade support the MC-12 does.


The processors I have identified and their pros and cons:


Lexicon MC-12B:


Pros: Has all of the features, upgradable (Lexicon up to version 5), trade in policy, Logic 7, customer support (SMR website)

Cons: Cost


Lexicon MC-8B


Pros: Features, Logic 7, customer support (SMR website)

Cons: Cost and no hardware upgradeability


Krell Showcase or HTS


Pros: Krell quality, some equalization, 2 channel sound quality

Cons: No PL-IIx (Emails to Krell indicate they might offer a PL-IIx upgrade) upgradeability


EAD Theatermaster 8800 Pro


Pros: One good looking piece of equipment (In my opinion)

Cons: EAD out of business?, no PL-IIx, no chance of upgrades


Sunfire Theater Grand IV


Pros: Fourth generation, PL-IIx, FM tuner and Phono in (I do have a turntable but rarely use it), Firewire port for future expansion, 4 sub outputs (according to website)

Cons: Bass crossover to all speakers, reported poor sound quality, part/build quality


B&K Ref 50


Pros: Cost, PL-IIx,

Cons: Reported loud noises when switching sources, which would drive me nuts


Outlaw Model 990


Pros: Feature rich, bang for the buck, customer support

Cons: Made overseas, no hardware upgrades


I have listed a number of choices, from $1,100 to $8,000. If money were no object, the MC-12, to me is the winner. With PL-IIx available, Logic 7 may have some serious competition though. I have always liked the looks of EAD equipment, and they have had favorable reviews and feedback as far as sound quality goes. But they are no longer in business that I can find. The Sunfire and B&K have had some bad feedback over the years, so I am bit leery about them. The Outlaw has the features but is outsourced overseas. (With my upgrades I am trying to buy products manufactured in the US). The Krells are more affordable than Lexicon, but do not have all the features. And funny that the front panel has only buttons.


Does anyone know of another pre/pro manufactured in the US that I should add to the list?


Or are there features I should be including that I am not listing?


Any feedback on favorable or unfavorable experiences with these units?
 

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I hate to say this, but your "Made in the USA" requirement may limit you. What about the Lexicon MC-4? It meets some of your requirements (but not others) and is less $$$.


As a previous Krell Showcase owner, it is a good unit but, based on several conversations I had with Krell reps and designers at CES, will not be upgraded.


I just bought an Arcam AVP-700, love the sound, balanced outputs but global bass settings and no "USA" origins.


Based on a friend's B&K Ref 50 II, they have fixed many of the annoying clicks and pops that plagued the Series I. It may come the closest to meeting your original criteria. Good Luck...


John
 

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I would consider Integra Research RDC-7.1. As you listed multichannel analog input, this processor's i.link may be even better for DVDA/SACD. RDC 7.1 also seems to have best H/W upgradability with slot architecture. Bryston processor may be good as well.
 

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Why would you put the "production" ahead of the "design" as a criteria?


If one product was designed by the Japanese, but made in America.


And another designed in America, but made in Japan.


All things being equal - which would you choose?


Do you prefer design over production, or production over design.


Me personally, I will go with the best product for a given budget regardless who designed or produced a product.


I would rather support good design and efficient production with my dollar.
 

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As John mentioned, the Arcam AVP-700 would be a great choice if music is a priority, and it meets your $2,000 budget requirement. Krell Showcase, Parasound Halo, and Anthem AVM30 are examples that I've seen of pre/pros that have been sold in order to keep an Arcam based on sound quality (myself included). If you were more geared towards HT, I would add the Anthem AVM30 or D-1 to your list for sure. In terms of features, flexibility, upgradability, and build quality, it is hard to beat. About the only thing it doesn't have on your list is Equalization.


Chris
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisDixon
If you were more geared towards HT, I would add the Anthem AVM30 or D-1 to your list for sure. In terms of features, flexibility, upgradability, and build quality, it is hard to beat. About the only thing it doesn't have on your list is Equalization.


Chris
Ah, but it is Canadian... ;)


John
 

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The made in America theme is a good one, when I was in Europe, Europeans do the same. There is nothing wrong with demanding this. Not with that being said, it does limit you, but there are plenty of Pre/Pro too choose from if you go with a US Company, but not most likely manufactured here, designed yes. I love our Canadian brothers, they make some damn good stuff also, Anthem Reference and or AVM30, Classe', Moon Audio comes to mind. US equipment Lexicon of course, Conrad Johnson, B&K, Aragon, Mark Levinson, Coda etc... Now you will limit yourself on the difference in features.... Also, the Arcam is on my short list of products to listen too...(But designed in England and made in China) Or hey, what about some used Chiro equipment!! Great stuff, but no longer around, which is a big bummer, but great equipment!!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacket_fan
1. Manufactured in the US
I guess it's tough to take any of your other requirements seriously when this one is at the top of your list. Nothing wrong with being patriotic, and I'm sure you have rationalizations for why US equipment is better than anything else. It just has as much place in this list as does a bull in a barber shop.
 

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The Sunfire is deinitely designed in the US; my TG2 & CG amp both say "Made in Snomish, Washington, USA" on the back panel. AFAIK they are still made their. There are a couple of pieces on the market with the same basic design (some possible changes, but apparently those are big secrets :p) which I believe are made overseas (being the Emotiva DMC-1, made in China, and a Sherbourne processor, which I'm not sure where its made).


I have had my Sunfire's almost 4 1/2 years now. I have no complaints about the sound, and have had zero quality issues with either piece. They even upgraded my firmware for free (which on my unit was not an advertised feature; supplying me with a flash chip to replace the original EEPROM); this was a great help as it cured an issue which occured due to my new (at the time) HDTiVo supplying a non-compliant DD stream, which the TG2 was muting. The upgrade loosened the tolerances on the muting circuit (this wasn't a Sunfire issue, as every other product I've plugged into it worked fine).


Since you say you aren't interested in video switching you may be interested in the Bryston mentioned; as it doens't do video switching. It's made in Canada, though, if that's important.


My opinion is that to stay with a USA built product at the price range you are talking about there are only a few options: Sunfire TG4, B&K Ref50S2, Lex MC4, and Krell Showcase. I'm not sure where the Lex and Krell are assembled, but would think it would be US.


I also agree with others that made in the US to me isn't a big deal; it takes away lots of excellent choices such as Anthem, Arcam, Integra, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am not sure why wanting to buy equipment that is made in the US causes such a ruckus. I am not trying to make some sort of political statement or offend anyone. Just looking for feedback on a processor that is manufactured in the US.


I could add the Proceed AVP 2+6 to the list, but do not know much about the features, but imagine it to be an outstanding used piece. Will need to do some more homework on that one.


John Robert, I should have listed the MC-4. It also sounds like I will have to do some more searching on the B & K and verify about the improvements to the annoyances folks have reported.


Enigma, sounds like you have had good customer support from Sunfire and are pleased with your TG. Other than the addition of PL-IIx, what differences are there between your TG 2 and the TG 4?


Thanks,
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garman
The made in America theme is a good one, when I was in Europe, Europeans do the same.
For European products? Do we? Damn, better get rid of my Parasound, Velodyne, M&K's, Denon........... :D LOL
 

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From TG2 to TG3 there was quite a bit of connectivity added, as well as a more powerful processor and Dolby PLII. TG2 has only 2 component in/1 out; TG3 has 3 in/2 out IIRC. TG3 has more digital inputs, 7.1 analog in (vs. 5.1 via DB25 conn); etc. Then TG4 added PLIIx, still more powerful processor, and video upconversion (to component). If you aren't interested in video upconversion or PLIIx then you can probably get a TG3 for a good price. The TG2 is, IMO, a good piece as well, and can be found fairly cheap used; if you don't need the added connectivity and PLII of the TG3. Sunfire showed pics of a TG5 at CES, but no feature sets announced, pics of back panel, etc; so I have no idea what the differences are.


There is a really long thread here pertaining to the Sunfire TG series, if you are interested, with lots of input from owners. There have been a number of Sunfire reviews published, most positive, with a notable exception of an Audioholics review of about 3 yrs ago (they have since given a favroable review to the nearly identical Emo, and kind of explained that there were improvements between the TG3 and TG4 "series" of products); personally it just seemed to me that there was some kind of dispute or personality confict there, but that's stictly my opinion.


The Proceed you mentioned is an excellent piece, especially for 2 channel sound. Not so much for features, etc; although several upgrades were offered, so it depends on vintage. While Proceed is no longer produced, they were made by Madrigal, which got roled into the Harmon Specialty Group managed by Lex (also including Mark Levinson & Revel). Supposedly there is some support offered by them, but I don't know how responsive it is (they didn't have such a good reputation for service even when they were being produced).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garman
The made in America theme is a good one, when I was in Europe, Europeans do the same.
I would disagree with this statement. The only thing which makes US products non-competitive is the price not the country where it was designed or produced. If a good American product is offered at competitive price it will flood the market. SVS is one such example. But another example could be Revel F30. I would love to have an audition to these speakers but the MSRP of these is 7,200 USD in Germany. This kinda ridiculous price will obviously push me in the direction of European brands like B&W, Dynaudio etc to get more value out of my money.


Sincerely,

-dollarman
 

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dollarman: Disagree all you want, there is nothing wrong with buying something made in your own country, what I find ironic is most Americans don't believe it can be done anymore. Also the Revels and many other speaker brands can depend on how week or strong the dollar is for them to be $7200, hell the Dynaudio I have are made in Denmark and 12K, did I pay 12k for my Confidence C2, hell no, so I guess your statement can go both ways depending on where your living. I think we should get this thread back on track, I am at fault myself. One of the requirements was he wanted it made here, and I see nothing wrong with that at all, it just

limits his choices.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enigma
Since you say you aren't interested in video switching you may be interested in the Bryston mentioned; as it doens't do video switching. It's made in Canada, though, if that's important.
Unfortunately the Bryston SP 1.7 does not have Dolby Pro-Logic IIx. I'm not sure if updates are forthcoming.


However sound quality is apparently phenomenal, especially in analog bypass, where the unit acts as a BP 26 preamp. It's one of the few units to not digitize anything in analog bypass, even the volume control is fully analog.


Also no video switching, which is something that appeals to me. Plus of course, 20-year warranty.


As indicated, the unit is made in Canada though.


I can understand where you're coming from jacket_fan, wanting to buy equipment made in your own country. Fortunately I have enough of a selection of speakers, amplifiers and pre/pros that I'll be able to do this as well. However I just don't have the cash yet to get Anthem or Bryston equipment right now, so a receiver made overseas has to do.:)
 

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I don't know how they fit in with your requirements, but how about the Rotel processors? They are based in the US (don't know if they are actually built here or not though).


As far as getting volume reading on the remote, the only units I know of is the older Marantz 8x00 & 9x00 receivers. I don't know about the current models, but I would imagine the new 9600 still has this as it still uses the same remote. It's not made in the US however. You can buy the remote and make it work with anything, but it won't display volume and other data for anything but Marantz receivers capable of two-way communication.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by likemav
I don't know how they fit in with your requirements, but how about the Rotel processors? They are based in the US (don't know if they are actually built here or not though).
I though Rotel was based in the U.K.?


They advertise "British slit foil capacitors" pretty prominently and are known for their "British" sound.

Quote:
As far as getting volume reading on the remote, the only units I know of is the older Marantz 8x00 & 9x00 receivers. I don't know about the current models, but I would imagine the new 9600 still has this as it still uses the same remote. It's not made in the US however. You can buy the remote and make it work with anything, but it won't display volume and other data for anything but Marantz receivers capable of two-way communication.
The current Marantz 8500 and the older Marantz 8400 don't.


It's a very neat idea!
 
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