AVR300 stereo upgrade options

Mark F

Active Member
Hi guys, I'm after some advice on how to upgrade the stereo performance of my AV set-up. Please see my signature for the current kit I'm using for stereo.

I've had my AVR300 for about 9 months and have been pleased with the improvement in stereo it's given me, to the point where I now listen to CDs about 90% of the time and movie usage is only about 10% and the upgrade bug has struck :rolleyes: . If I were starting from scratch, I think I would go for a stereo based system but I don't want to get rid of my AVR300 having not had it that long.

Whilst a decent stereo performer, I feel that my system is slightly missing the "wow factor" - you know, when you play a CD you think, wow that sounds stunning, and before you know it you've played half your CD collection and have a grin from ear to ear.

My initial thought was to add a stereo pre-amp and power amp via the AVR300's pre-outs to drive my front speakers and am very tempted by the current Cyrus special offer - PreXvs plus free smartpower+ power amp (don't shoot me :lease: ).

But, the PreXvs doesn't have a "processor mode" which I guess would make the Cyrus route a bit complex. I briefly spoke to my local dealer. He said if it were him he definitely would not go down the Cyrus route as it would be very impractical (he mentioned a speaker switching box as being preferable to using the AVR300's pre-outs - does this sound right?). I found this very surprising as many people seem to use a separate (different brand) stereo amp. Any thoughts?

Instead, my dealer said the best way to improve stereo would be to add a separate power amp, with his logic being that the AVR300 has a very good pre-amp section. Again, this seems odd to me - I wouldn't have thought I needed the extra power as my room's not that large and my speakers are relatively easy to drive. Also, by adding a separate power amp I'd be giving up the current benefits of bi-amping my front speakers (unless I buy two power amps!).

Any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated - I'm sure I'm missing something here.

Thanks
Mark
 

deaf cat

Active Member
Just checking your going to demo the kit before you buy:) .

I bought a Rega Power amp with my AVR200 to give the fronts it a bit more slam:smashin: Which worked well.

However, when I started to play:D the Rega powering the fronts bass and the Arcam the fronts top, it really did sound rather strange.:rolleyes: so went back to how it was!

No doubt your local dealer has a AVR300, could book in for a little demo, pop along with your speakers and cables and try a few different amps with the 300....:thumbsup: no harm in trying that option.

Have you played with different cables between your Cyrus CD and the 300?
 

Crustyloafer

Distinguished Member
I would also audition the Musical Fidelity A3.5 and A5 integrated amps. They really are tremendous stereo amps and both have a dedicated AV bypass input on them.
 

Mark F

Active Member
Thanks for your replies - much appreciated.

If I'm not misunderstanding, the feedback so far seems to be that if I add a separate stereo amp (either an integrated or a pre/power combo) go for one with a processor mode/unity gain. This rules out the Cyrus PreXvs (despite the fantastic price, which is initially very attractive, but if it's going to be a pig to use there's no point. Also, I'm not able to demo the Cyrus before the offer expires - never a good idea).

A Naim pre (and presumably matching power) is an interesting idea but I was hoping to get the job done for £1,500 or less.

As for interconnects, I haven't really tried many although was impressed with the improvement when I bought the Merlin.

At least I know the discounted Cyrus route is not the answer (unless someone tells me differently) and I can go and demo some alternatives to make sure I buy something that lasts the test of time.
 

deaf cat

Active Member
Mark F said:
If I'm not misunderstanding, the feedback so far seems to be that if I add a separate stereo amp (either an integrated or a pre/power combo) go for one with a processor mode/unity gain. This rules out the Cyrus PreXvs (despite the fantastic price, which is initially very attractive, but if it's going to be a pig to use there's no point. Also, I'm not able to demo the Cyrus before the offer expires - never a good idea).
This processor mode thingy is new to me also, my grasp so far, is that if you are after improved stereo you use the 300's pre-outs into an intergrated amp with the processor mode thing, then plug your cdp in the intergrated and use that for stereo cd. The 300 uses the intergrated as a power amp when dvd's are playing.....or something along those lines....:rolleyes: ......someone with a bit more knowledge will hopefully put me right!

For a quick and easy test you could demo the Merlin Scorpion just to see if a slightly higher end IC makes any difference.......
I know it may seem daft spending cash on a piece of wire, but if the improvement is quite remarkable.......:)
If not, you know that avenue is fine as it is.
 

barnythebear

Standard Member
Would agree with Crusty. I've a C30 and use a MF A5 power amp for my difficult load speakers. The power amp can be wired directly to the preouts on the AVR300 for when you need them so no switching about and no need for preamp to be on. Work well for me most impressed.
 

Mark F

Active Member
Barneythebear,

I see that as well as an AVR300 you also have a C30 pre-amp and two power amps. How is this all connected up and how easy is it to use in practice?

Further left field thought (I dare say I'm showing my ignorance here), is there such a thing a power amp with two pre-amp inputs? If there is, it would be a simple job to connect my AVR300 and a separate stereo pre-amp to it, with my front speakers then connected to the power amp (presumably any gain differences between the AVR300 and the power amp could be adjusted in the AVR300's set up menus).

Thanks
Mark
 

barnythebear

Standard Member
I've got the AVR300 preouts to the MF5 for both front speakers. The MF has 2 inputs, so you don't need the processor mode on the C30, you just use the switch on the front to go between the C30 and the AV. The P25/3 does the centre channel from the preouts on the AV so its biamped. I'm not using the other channels at the moment because the Bose for the rear cannot be biamped. However more money and more Xens and we're in business. As I'm mostly music this works fine with a wonderful sound and I've added the bits over time so it has not been to onerous. I would post pictures but cannot get seem to get them to attatch with my Mac.
 

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