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AV processors vs Stereo Pre-amps

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by TheSeer, Jan 13, 2004.

  1. TheSeer

    TheSeer
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    Hello all,

    I'd like to get people's opinions on the following:

    If you have a high-end AV processor (eg ARCAM AV8 or TAG AV192R) then how good is the 'pre-amp' section in these processors for stereo listening? Is the pre-amp section comparable to a £500 stereo preamp, £1000 stereo pre-amp, £1500...........you get my drift.

    Thanks
     
  2. alexs2

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    Hi there....your last thread provoked a lot of thought!....this may do the same.

    For me,it takes a good AV processor to get close to a dedicated,audiophile grade preamp costing half of it's price....to give an example,my Tag when new was over £2000,and a Conrad-Johnson PV10A costing less than £1000 will come very close,and an Audio Synthesis passive preamp will annihilate any preamp/processor up to about £5k,but ease of use doesn't even feature with that preamp!

    Again,in my opinion,if you compared either of those processors to a good preamp in the £2k+ range,most would at least equal them,but the processor is doing so much more than the preamp alone......for what it's worth,I use the Audio Synthesis passive pre when I really want to listen to stereo,and can be bothered to unhook all the interconnects etc to use it.....most of the time,the Tag,with an upsampler/interpolator,and the power amps suitably warmed up is just fine.
     
  3. Peter Baker

    Peter Baker
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    I have exactly the same issue. I listened to the Arcam and the TAG(dual Processor) and found both to be great for Ht, not so great for 2 channel. Whilst they are streets ahead of the aggressive and unlistenable sound from most of the Japanese receivers, they still IMO displayed a splashy top end, and little sense of coherence across the midrange. I do know, however, that I am in the minority, and that many are entirely happy with the stereo sound.
    I found the Naim and Bryston to be much better, but the Naim, is a bit lacking in features, whilst the Bryston is a step up in price.
    Interestingly, I am told that the £2250 Naim AV2 has a 2 channel performance identical to the £600 Naim 110.
    AS ever, you must listen for yourself, and not be taken in by glowing reviews.
    Best of luck
     
  4. parky43007

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    I have to agree with what has been said. I myself have an AV32R and was quite happy with the 2 channel performance but after comparing to a Linn 5103 that a friend of mine has, I was surprised at the improvement with the Linn in 2 channel - it sounds fantastic as a 2-channel pre-amp though limited in terms of options for HT.

    It will be interesting to see how the new Linn Kinos sounds in both the 2 channel and HT worlds.
     
  5. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I've certainly found that the sound quality of the AV32R is greatly improved by using the Perpetual Technologies P1A upsampler interpolator to upsample CD to 24bit/96kHz and then run that into the Tag's dacs...not a solution for everyone,but since I already had the PT gear,it made good sense to use it....the sound isn't as good as the P1A/P3A together,or with those via an Audio Synthesis Passive preamp,but close enough for everyday listening.
     
  6. lovegroova

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    My solution to the 2 channel issue is to use the analogue bypass on my TAG for stereo listening, thus avoiding the DACs which give the TAG its 'splashy' sound. The lovely analogue output from my Densen CD player is left untouched whilst for HT duties, the TAG is very impressive indeed.
     
  7. parky43007

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    I had considered trying my DVD32R via an external DAC thru the AV32R bypass but I don't really know if the results would justify the expense.
    Also I would still want to feed the AV32R with a direct digital signal from the DVD32R. I must admit I haven't checked whether the DVD32 can be configured to use different digital outputs depending on the type of disc used.
     
  8. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Unless the external DAC is very good,I really wouldn't expect much improvement...the stuff I use amounts to about £1500 in terms of DAC/upsampler,and isn't quite as good as a dCS,but certainly a match for a midrange Levinson or Wadia DAC,but the Tag's DACs are actually pretty good,especially if run at their maximum resolution,so unless you wanted to invest a lot of cash in an external DAC,I wouldnt bother.
     
  9. buns

    buns
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    I currently have a meridian 565 and have previously owned a bryston sp1.7. Although both of these sound good for stereo (meridian of course has things against it), the bryston was a clear winner, it really did sound fabulous in stereo. However, my 1500 pound stereo peramp is by far my favorite. This could of course be the influence of valves..... but that just highlights another point, with a stereo pre you have the choice of things like that, with a pre/pro you simply dont

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  10. NicolasB

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    This is something that varies a lot from processor to processor. Some (e.g. Meridian, early Tag AV32R, Lexicon MC-1) don't have an analogue bypass at all, so technically they can't act as a pure pre-amp. Bu using them as a DAC and pre-amp combined can still sound good (Meridian 568.2 and Lexicon MC12 are both impressive in stereo).

    Of the processors that do have bypasses, the quality is variable. I've found Tag and Lexicon bypasses to be very mediocre. Arcam AV8 is good, Naim AV2 maybe a little better still (not as good as the Arcam for film, though), and the Bryston SP1.7 is very good. The SP1.7 is about on a par with Bryston's own BP25 pre-amp. Obviously there's quite a price difference - £4250 vs £1650 - but then again you are getting 5.1-channel pre-amplification and 7.1-channel decoding, processing and conversion with the SP1.7, not just stereo pre-amplification.

    I've not actually heard the Krell Showcase in action as a pre-amp, but I'm told it's very good.

    The Linn 5103 is an oddity. There are people who regard it as the 3rd finest pre-amplifier in the world, beaten only by Linn's own Kisto processor and Klimax Control pre-amp. But as a processor it is very long-in-the-tooth, and very mushy in the surround channels. The Kisto is probably very good (not heard it) but also very pricey.
     
  11. Spligsey

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    Nic.

    Have you heard the Linn Kisto yet?


    Adz

    EDIT

    Ignore, i should learn to read:rolleyes:
     
  12. chrisgeary

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    buns.. what "things" does meridian have against it?

    i have a 561 on dem this week and i'm weighing up whether i want to spend the grand on it or not. ignore the fact its replacing my Denon 3803 - i want to judge it on it's merits alone. I was also thinking about the MC-1, but I can't get my hands on one. The whole 'analogue bypass' debate is very interesting. I have a 506.24 too and like the sound of it very much, but obviously if I have a 561 then it basically becomes a transport. Will the 561 be a worthy of DAC duty instead?
     
  13. buns

    buns
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    no analogue bypass

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  14. NicolasB

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    Why bother, it's not like I'll ever be able to afford one. :(
     
  15. ditton15

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    I was taken by the AudioSynthesis argument that the best pre-amp is no pre-amp. The Dax Decade, for example, does this for two channel stereo - its a top class dac and pre-amp combined.

    Were I to upgrade my lowly AV2802 to a s/h Tag - and I've toyed with the idea and will probably do so eventually - then I would stick with the Dax Decade, or even be tempted to steal a Dax Discrete!! ;-)

    edit: and the Dax Discrete is OK on ease of use
     
  16. parky43007

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    That's why I'm intersted in hearing the new Kinos - "baby Kisto".
     
  17. Spligsey

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    I cant afford a Kisto.

    But, that wouldn't stop me having a listen.

    I cant afford a Meridian 800/861 but i've heard it a few times.


    Adz
     
  18. marck

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    I had the same dilema a while back - I used to have an Audiolab 8000Q and a pair of MX's. I then decided to go home cinema route and sold my 8000Q to purchase the MC-1.
    The difference in audio between the two was massive - the 8000Q was so much better for 2 channel music.

    I have now upgraded to the Krell Showcase - and the preamp on this is excellent - it is truley a stereo amplifier and a multi channel processor. So far it is the only unit that I have been really impressed with (note: I have not auditioned the Bryston or the Meridian). The only thing I have heard which betters it is the Theta Casablanca II (and III). But that is over £12k and in another league!

    Rgds
    Marck.
     
  19. Spligsey

    Spligsey
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    Funnily enough, i have been reading through the 130 page Casablanca III owners manual this morning

    (busy @ work obviously!!!!)


    That is SOME product:eek:

    Adz
     
  20. marck

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    It is the best processor bar none....
     
  21. buns

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    oh id be careful saying that too loud..... I was actively disuaded from one when i was buying...... It may sound fantastic but it is not a machine for the mild hearted, with all of the complexity involved, I was told that a dealer friend had more trouble than they were worth.....

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  22. lowrider

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    Yes, the Thetas have a few interesting features, if a bit too technical for most, like variable slope for the xover, up to 5 subwoofers, upgrade slots, etc... :eek:

    I also would like to listen to one... :rolleyes:

    But, meanwhile, the Krell Showcase is very user friendly, does everything one needs... and sounds so dynamic, it keeps on provoking chills, even with cable TV with DPLII Matrix... :smashin:
     
  23. Peter Baker

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    Hi all
    I'm still agonising over my choice, and this thread is very close to my dilemna.
    I have now borrowed a Proceed AVP/5 channel amp. BTW the amp is probably the heaviest thing I have ever dealt with, approx 8st!!
    I took the set to another shop to compare against the Naim AV2/Meridian 568 which some may recall, I preferred on music to the Arcam Av8/p7 a while ago, when things seemed simpler.
    Stting the two up from cold, we compared the opening from Gladiator. Both were colourful and dramatic, with real attack to the arrow hits etc. If anything, the Naim had better attack, but a smaller perceived soundstage. It also seemed to concentrate more on the midrange. I liked the attack of the Naim, arrow hits and battle seemed crisper, however I think the Proceed was giving me more information.
    Then onto music. The Naim was OK, certainly not as good as it seemed to be previously after the Arcam, but pacy and with a reasonably well controlled top end.
    The Proceed was a different class, true audiophile quality, with a rich enveloping sound which separated each instrument whilst presenting a coherent whole.
    So what's the problem?
    Whilst I love music, I spend much more time with TV film , due to differences in musical tastes with my wife.
    The Proceed, whilst sounding better on DTS film, didn't sound that much better. It also is only 5ch and has no Prologic II, or any likely upgrade facility in future. Plus, it is a disontinued company with questionable future support.
    But for 2ch, it is far better than anything else I have heard. This probably includes the Bryston, which I compared to the Naim kit previously and which sounded better, but not night and day.
     
  24. Steve Collier

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    Yeah, but my rumour is that it will be around £4500 - is this low enough?
     

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