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HD decoding pre amp

Nic Miller

Standard Member
Hi guys

My current setup is an Arcam P7 power amp and I am using a Sony V555-ES (think that's the model) as a processor, but feel the Sony struggles a bit and it's a bit old now with no HDMI, lip sync, or HD sound decoding.

I would like to partner my P7 with a suitable HD decoding processor but am not prepared to pay £4,500 for the Arcam AV888. Are there any other suitable processors around the £2,500 mark? I thought about the Arcam AVR600 but that seems like a waste of the money that has gone into it in respect of the power amp stage.

I only need the amp for the sound side of things and my video processing will be done in my Lumagen. Just want some decent HD sound as am thinking about a blue ray player - probably the Oppo831 unless anyone can give a good reason for another player.

My speakers are Monitor Audio Gold signature, subwoofer SVS PB13 Ultra. My room is 4m x 8m - long and thin. TV and fronts 1 metre from front wall, I sit 4m from the screen, rear speakers 3m behind me. 7.1 system

Many thanks

Nic
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
One of the obvious solutions would be the Marantz AV8003.

But would you consider importing?

Whereabouts are you?

Nick
 

Nic Miller

Standard Member
Not come across the Marantz - not been purchasing or keeping up to date recently - is it any good? It's not a brand I am naturally drawn to I have to say, but performance is what counts.

Anything else on the horizon?
 

Nic Miller

Standard Member
That's always an option, but current amp is old and not ideal. It's only 6.1, no lip sync etc using the anologue route also bypasses any eq/ setup in amp etc and have also heard the sound is more pedestrian and lightweight. Also 7 decent cables are likely to set me back £350!

Any other options out there?

Thanks
 

Berties

Banned
5.1 bypass is good, no extra processing. I paid £58 for six RCA cables, Mark Grant. If you want a HD decoding pre-amp you're looking around £1000/£2000 if not more.

Onkyo have one, but I'd rather have a higher end older pre-amp with Oppo BD player.

You should be able to get a Lexicon MC-12 V5 EQ for £2500 with mic kit, that has 5.1 RCA input. You can bypass it or digitise it for the room EQ.
 

Nic Miller

Standard Member
Seems like a sideways move to me. I have an amp that will take the analogue signal - maybe not in the same league as the lexicon etc, so my next upgrade is to get an HD decoding amp. There just seems nothing out there which is annoying! Help!
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
In addition to the Marantz AV8003, the Onkyo PR-SC886 or PR-SC5507 may fit your bill.

If your BD player has onboard decoding, the Audiolab 8000AP would be worth considering (it supports LPCM over HDMI). However, it won't fit the bill if you're using a legacy or entry-level BD player that requires decoding in the processor (as per your post).
 

Berties

Banned
I really wouldn't get panties in a twist for hd decoding on the pre amp side, at best look into one that'll accept 7.1 multi-channel LPCM over HDMI for example Audiolab 8000AP. That way all the pre-amp is doing is acting as a 8 channel DAC and pre-amp, no HD decoding being done.

If you want a onboard decoding then either the Onkyo but probably a downgrade in sound quality over a older, higher end av pre-amp with RCA 7.1 input (then use Oppo)
 

Nic Miller

Standard Member
Too much to consider! Will defo purchase the oppo 831 bd player. Is the audio lab the best bet for HD sound? Will it be better than the marantz? It is relatively cheap! More importantly is it better than my current Sony?

What is lpcm over hdmi? Is this better than analogue?

Many thanks!

Nic
 

Berties

Banned
LPCM is lossless uncompressed digital audio, basically like several coaxial feeds from DVD player for each channel when playing CD's. So your av pre-amp then converts this to analogue and sends to the 8 channel pre-amp.

As to whether what's best, HDMI to a HD decoding amp/supporting LPCM, or RCA 5.1 out from your unit hard to say. Too many variables, but I guess if the av pre-amp has higher quality DAC, more advanced bass management, room EQ then best to use HDMI digital audio. But presently all good av pre-amps are very expensive- the Audiolab 8000AP is a bit lacking on inputs. But I don't need anything like Onyko pre-amp connectivity.
 

Nic Miller

Standard Member
So the oppo could send an HD audio signal of 7.1 lpcm over hdmi to the audio lab which just converts to analogue and I get HD sound? What would be the downside to this compared to an amp that decodes HD?

Any other alternatives to audiolab if I go down this route?

Thanks
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
So the oppo could send an HD audio signal of 7.1 lpcm over hdmi to the audio lab which just converts to analogue and I get HD sound? What would be the downside to this compared to an amp that decodes HD?

Any other alternatives to audiolab if I go down this route?
HD processors are a minefield with no ideal solution as yet.

An LPCM digital audio connection, especially over HDMI, is vulnerable to jitter at system level. This will degrade sound quality compared to a system with better jitter control. The level of vulnerability will depend on the digital audio performance of both the player and the processor.

For something like an Arcam AV888, I wouldn't expect this to be a problem (but then that does HD decoding anyway, which avoids the problem). The Audiolab was measured by HiFiNews as having higher jitter over HDMI (with LPCM), which suggests that it will be susceptible to jitter from the player.

A good player like the Sony S5000, Denon 3800BD or Pioneer 91LX will help to minimise this problem, but then they will probably sound better with analogue connections anyway, which defeats the point again.

The Marantz AV8003 that I recommended probably sounds the best of the reasonably priced processors, but it can't do room EQ and HD codec decoding at the same time.

The Arcam AV888 and Denon AVP-A1 do everything importatn, and do it well, but are expensive.

The Onkyo's do everything, but don't sound as good.

Round and round in circles, with no-where to stop....

Nick
 

Nic Miller

Standard Member
So by saying 'good player' are you saying the Oppo 831 isn't a good player and I should also reconsider this option? Everything I have read about this player says it's awesome!

Really confused about my pre-amp options now!
 

Berties

Banned
That's why I just bought a Lexicon MC-8, great standard Dolby Digital & DTS with Logic-7, then 5.1 RCA bypass for HD offboard decoding with the Oppo. Sounds great for both.
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Nic Miller,

If you're really after a HD decoding processor at around £2k, now is really not an ideal time to buy. As mentioned there are some available from Marantz and Rotel but if these don't apeal to you it may be worth hanging on to see what new models are introduced next year (be prepared to wait longer!). Nad, Parasound, Emotiva amongst others are expected to join the market by then. BTW, I wouldn't call upgrading the Sony to a legacy processor like the Lexicon or Arcam a sideway step, partnered with a suitable disc spinner it will be a giant leap in terms of audio quality. Of course, if you are after all the latest features then that's of no use.
 

Nic Miller

Standard Member
Looks like I'm a bit stuck!

So how would the Audiolab 8000AP compare to the Arcam AV9 and Lexicon MC12 v my old sony v the marantz? Like the idea of the audiolab as the price point makes it a viable stopgap. Not found these mythical AV9's for under £1k that people talk about! The marantz you would have thought would be good for £2k - but looks cheap!

All I want is to play HD sound plus get a bonus that normal sound will be an improvement over my sony - 99.9% movies and TV.

Many thanks and apologies for all the questions that people have probably been asking for months!

Nic
 

Mr_Orange

Prominent Member
It would compare very favourably, and you may well find that it is not just a stopgap, but that it becomes a permanent feature in your system.

Feature-wise it is more comprehensive than the AV9 and MC12, in that it handles HD-audio in addition to all the legacy features. It doesn't have room EQ, but then nor does the AV9 and you'd need a V5 EQ MC12.

I imagine it will blow your old Sony out of the water, period. Can't say anything definite about the Marantz.

You could also look around for a Lexicon MC12HD, which coupled with the upcoming firmware update (currently in beta and free of charge when released), will give you the same HD audio capability as the Audiolab, i.e. 7.1 LCPM over HDMI, but probably at a greater cost, even second hand.

HTH.
 
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Nic Miller

Standard Member
I wasn't aware the 8000AP could handle any HD audio and that the player had to do all the processing. Or do you mean it can accept 7.1 LPCM over HDMI ?

Maybe I need to read up on all this HD lingo!

So if I get it right I can get the Oppo 831 (I assume this is still flavour of the month?) to output 7.1 LPCM over HDMI to the audiolab - this is a digital signal which the audiolab can then mess around with re bass management, DSP etc? it then uses it's internal DAC to convert to analogue for onward passage to the power amp as 7 channel HD audio? Plus I have the option of 5.1 analgue bypass? If that is the case and it is such a big step up in performance from my Sony surely it is a no brainer for such a cheap price? Or would the lexicon be hugely better again?

Many thanks

Nic
 

Berties

Banned
btw the 831 is the cheaper model, the US import player has alu. front panel, 831 is plastic.

As to whether which is better Audiolab or Lexicon not sure but Lexicon has Logic 7 which is a bonus for all other types of surround material. The idea behind LPCM over HDMI is a good one, it's down to the passthrough/digital dection, basically Oppo analogue output to Audiolab DAC section
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
I wasn't aware the 8000AP could handle any HD audio and that the player had to do all the processing. Or do you mean it can accept 7.1 LPCM over HDMI ?

Maybe I need to read up on all this HD lingo!

So if I get it right I can get the Oppo 831 (I assume this is still flavour of the month?) to output 7.1 LPCM over HDMI to the audiolab - this is a digital signal which the audiolab can then mess around with re bass management, DSP etc? it then uses it's internal DAC to convert to analogue for onward passage to the power amp as 7 channel HD audio? Plus I have the option of 5.1 analgue bypass? If that is the case and it is such a big step up in performance from my Sony surely it is a no brainer for such a cheap price? Or would the lexicon be hugely better again?

Many thanks

Nic


You're right, it handles HD audio perfectly via HDMI. :smashin:

Go with the audiolab. ;)
 

Mr_Orange

Prominent Member
I wasn't aware the 8000AP could handle any HD audio and that the player had to do all the processing. Or do you mean it can accept 7.1 LPCM over HDMI ?

Yes, that is what it was designed to do.

Maybe I need to read up on all this HD lingo!

Maybe ;).

So if I get it right I can get the Oppo 831 (I assume this is still flavour of the month?) to output 7.1 LPCM over HDMI to the audiolab - this is a digital signal which the audiolab can then mess around with re bass management, DSP etc? it then uses it's internal DAC to convert to analogue for onward passage to the power amp as 7 channel HD audio? Plus I have the option of 5.1 analgue bypass? If that is the case and it is such a big step up in performance from my Sony surely it is a no brainer for such a cheap price?

Yes, exactly.

Or would the lexicon be hugely better again?

Sorry, don't know.
 

eaglemmoomin

Prominent Member
NAD and Rotel make HD audio processors/preamps also.

So you have Onkyo, Marantz, NAD, Rotel and Audiolab in your price range I don't think thats a bad selection my self. The Audilab is LPCM only but the others support bitstream (ie the player does'nt decode the audio the processor does).

You know I'm not convinced about the question about jitter over HDMI. Jitter thats 10s of f'all compared to jitter of 100s of f'all is still absolutely neglible and is nice way of making you pay extra buckets of money for 'piece of mind'. Also if the data is carried to the amp in packetised form and its checksumed/CRC'd then I'm at a loss to understand how the jitter is really going to effect it anyway. What frequency was the jitter that hifi news recorded at?
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Anyone who doesn't believe in jitter or amplifier decoding should come round my place and I will demostrate the difference. Most people can hear it, though there are some professional reviewers who say they can't, so I ignore everything they say. The difference between LPCM over HDMI from my LG and from my Denon is night and day.

Nick
 

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