Any benefit upgrading to a stereo pre-amp?

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Hi,

I have noticed that with music the less I involve the AV receiver, the better the overall performance. It started with external DACs which I found to be superior to the internal DACs of my Yamaha RX-V2700 and this shortly followed by upgrade to external power amps. That again lead to a substantial step up in performance.

In the never ending pursuit of hifi bliss, this has lead me now to consider whether an upgrade to a dedicated stereo pre-amp would be worthwhile. Are there any who have gone down this route, is the pre-amp section of the Receiver equal to a second hand £500 (£1000+ new back in the day) stereo pre-amp? More importantly, in what way could it improve the stereo performance and would the difference be as significant as the DAC/Power amp upgrades.

As always your valued advice is greatly appreciated.
 

Mildoo

Active Member
Im also intrested in doing this,

I bought the Cambridge Audio 640r and even thou stereo mode is really good, with the CA 840W/E out now, would it be worth investing in???
 

Mr_Sukebe

Active Member
My "guestimate" is that the pre-amp section of most AV amps is likely to be the worst area of them. That's mainly based upon my own experiences with a few AV amps.
My personal opinion is that the design of most AV amps are driven by the requirements of marketing teams, rather than for genuine audio benefits. In the case of the pre-amp section, it's about as least sexy as something gets, so has turned into a complex plethora of inputs, tone controls, room correction, almost certainly built down to a price so that the unit can appear powerful (at least on paper).

Of course the easy way to prove this either way is to go borrow a decent pre-amp from a good local dealer. Do let us know how you get on.
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Hi Mr Sukebe,

LOL to what you say about the design of most AV amps being driven by requirements of the marketing department.. so true. :D

I use the RX-V2700 in pure 'direct mode' so the signal supposedly takes the simplest path (been brainwashed to think this way you see;)) and is not processed in any way hence why I was of the impression that this couldn't be too complex a design or have much of an affect on sound quality. By contrast, the DACing and Amplification from my experience have a huge affect on sound quality and although I vaguely understand what a pre-amp does, till now, didn't place much value to it's function.

I would ideally like to isolate this area and compare how the Receiver's pre-amp perform against a dedicated hifi pre-amp. Unfortunately, in order to do this I can not approach hifi dealers for demos on the principle that I won't be buying from them, rather pursue the second hand route. Before doing this however, just want to gauge other member's impressions since if it is agreed that there are no perceivable differences, I'd rather save myself the trouble. The alternative of course would be to replace the AV receiver with a more 'audiophile' AV processor as and when Arcam et al decide to jump on the HD bandwagon. It's not that I'm unhappy with what I'm getting with the Yamaha at present but if there's better and I could squeeze a little more out of the system, then I'm certainly all for it.

:)
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Im also intrested in doing this,

I bought the Cambridge Audio 640r and even thou stereo mode is really good, with the CA 840W/E out now, would it be worth investing in???

Hi Mildoo,

Just read through some of CA's blurb and it does sound promising, is RS stocking yet?
 

Mr_Sukebe

Active Member
A potential option would be something like the Linn 5103 or Meridian 568. I'm told that both are pretty good as stereo pre-amps, yet also do a rather nice job as av pre-amps. The only downsides are that they're not cheap even now, and they clearly won't process HD sounds.
What you could do is use them for normal DVDs, music and then stuff an analogue input from the Yam to cater for HD sounds. Just a thought.
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Good idea about the Lin and Meridian amps, although I'd still be pondering if a stereo pre-amp would've been a better choice. :D

But yes, the idea is to have the same setup as many here have with stereo integrated and AV Receiver combos so as to have a completely detached setup for music and movies whilst sharing the front left/right speakers.
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
I take it from the lack of response that everyone here are perfectly happy with the built-in preamps of their receivers. :smashin:
 

stevefish69

Well-known Member
I'm gonna have a play with the new Audiolab AP which is about as near to a dedicated pre-amp as i'll get without splitting the systems.

Like you i've already gone down the Power amp and Dac route so this seems to be the next logical step for SQ bliss :smashin:
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Thanks Steve, :smashin: glad I'm not alone ... :D

In the end I will probably end up with a 'musical' AV processor/preamp, I'm just a little bored of waiting for the right one to come along and thought well, why not try out a few of the alternatives.
 

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