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new preamp/ processor or intergrated?

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by gregs, Sep 29, 2002.

  1. gregs

    gregs
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    Right, here's the situation, i use my system for dual purpose movies an music, currently I have an Arcam AV50 with an 8P to bi-amp the front channels, ( until recently I was using the built in decoder of my Panasonic DVD to get DD & DTS but that has since developed a dodgy laser mech.)
    My question is this; I want to move into 6.1 (both DTS & DD varieties, running two rear surround speakers, but don't know which way to go.

    Do I forget the Arcam kit and buy a new intergrated like the 3802, or do I wait for an affordable processor to come along and use this along with the arcam amps as power amps?

    I'm reluctant to get rid of the Arcam kit as they are good power amps, and are easily upgradable by adding others from the range.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated!

    P.S. Speakers are Kef Q35.2s Q95.2 Q85.2 & 65DS

    Thanks!
     
  2. AOD

    AOD
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    It would help if you could give us some idea of your budget, so we have an idea of what might fit the bill.

    With that out of the way, here goes.

    An inexpensive processor like the Yamaha DSP-E800 doesn't cut the mustard because this is solely 5.1 and you've said you want 6.1.

    Moving up (in price terms) for processors you come to the likes of Cyrus (AV5 & replacement AV8) at around the £1k mark. However the AV5 is only 5.1 and I have a nasty feeling that the AV8 is as well. :(

    Rotel have a new processor out (the RSP-1066) which is about a grand and is 6.1 with Pro-Logic II and most of the bells & whistles you might expect at this price point.

    Further up the chain we come to units like the new Tag McLaren AV30 (about £1800 but only has 6.1 via a hardware upgrade) and then even higher up something like an AV32R EX 192. Futher up yet again you have Lexicon with the MC-12 (can't recall the price but it's not cheap :) )

    An alternative approach would be to take a receiver that has pre-outs for all the channels and use this as a "processor". For example, you could use a Marantz *200 or *300 unit, possibly even something like a Denon 3802. It really depends on what your priorities are. I'm in a similar situation and am saving up for an AV32R.
     
  3. Reiner

    Reiner
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    Do I forget the Arcam kit and buy a new intergrated like the 3802, or do I wait for an affordable processor to come along and use this along with the arcam amps as power amps?

    Affordable processor? You may wait a very long time for that ... ;)

    I rekon you get something like the 3802 and keep your Arcam kit, thus using the 3802 as a pre-amp for the fronts only, i.e. the main speakers are still driven by the Arcam.
     
  4. gregs

    gregs
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    Thanks guys, that's pretty much the lines along which I was thinking. Has anyone had any real experience of the Rotel processor - that's about the limit of my budget! :(

    Am I correct in thinking the Arcam power amps in the 8P and AV50 are better than those in modern intergrateds? (this side of silly money)?

    Ta ;)
     
  5. slingshot

    slingshot
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    Hi gregs, I went for the Rotel processor, when swapping from a DSPE-800, AV50 and Alpha 9P for the fronts.

    What I did was keep the 9P for rears and also bought a P85/3 for the fronts.

    If you do a quick search I think I wrote my findings down, if you listen to the Rotel make sure you find one that's been run-in, I almost went straight back to the shop because it sounded awful.

    It's difficult to say which sounds better out of the AV50 and Rotel for music, basically the Rotel has a more solid bass feel to it, which I'm not entirely sure is natural.

    Anyway if you've got any questions let me know.
     
  6. Paul Smith

    Paul Smith
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    Just a thought,

    An alternative processor to consider might be an older second-hand model, such as a lexicon perhaps.
    An old DC1 (with the latest software) should be in a similar price range to the New Rotel by now, However I don't think the Lexicon will have DTS ES (6.1), but it will have Logic 7 (which many people swear by) and THX EX, so it's nearly there.
    Just to keep your options open,

    Paul.
     
  7. konghh

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    Just one minor problem. Your Arcam has better be as powerful or more powerful then the 3802 or risk the Arcam shutting down when you pump up the volume.
     
  8. Reiner

    Reiner
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    I guess the 8P should be a worthy contender ... ;)
     
  9. gregs

    gregs
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    :confused: Sorry KongHH, can you please expand on why the poweramps in the arcam will shut down ??, it would be used solely as a power amp, and the denon as a pre - can't quite understand where you're coming from.

    Surely any pre-amp with a high enough output can run a pair of 400W monobloc or a 12W valve amp ?
     
  10. konghh

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    Hi Gregs. Let's use a extreme example for argument sake. Say your AV gives out 120-watts 5 channel. Your s/s integrated gives out 25 watts. When you crank up your AV volume control for some really hot action movie, your AV power can keeps up by giving all the power required for the other speakers but your integrated couldn't (because it's so much less powerful) do so for the main speaker. Either the integrated amp starts giving out distorted sound or it's protection circuit cuts in and shut it down. My opinion of course.
     
  11. Reiner

    Reiner
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    I understand what konghh is saying, but surely this does not apply to the said combination (Denon 3802 + Arcam 8P).
    Nothing to do with the pre-amp itself, just with increasing the power (volume) which of course effects the internal amp and the (external) power amp.
    If the latter is less capable than you will perhaps face such a situation.
     
  12. gregs

    gregs
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    Ah!!, gotcha - your refering to a mismatch between the output of the two amps, ie one running out of puff before the other - no worries though, I'm looking at using the 8P for the front channels and the AV50 for the centre, sides and rears :) , giving me 7 channels of equal amplicification.

    Thought I'd found a solution to my processor problem in the form of a Meridian 561, but it only has 6 analogue outputs, you can only get 6.1 using the digital outputs, bummer:mad:

    Anyway, I'll keep a look out, saw a Lexicon DC1.2 for sale but seemed a bit overpriced to me (£2000), what do you all think?

    TTFN
     
  13. Paul Smith

    Paul Smith
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    £2000 for a Lexicon DC1.2, that's rediculous !!!
    I have seen MC-1's struggling to make it past £2000 recently.

    Just for info there's a DC-2 for £1495 (and that's from a shop), Which should put it in perspective,
    Here :
    http://www.audiot.co.uk/html/offers/sh/sh_hc.html

    Cheers,

    Paul.
     
  14. Paul Smith

    Paul Smith
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    Of course there is a Tag AV32r there as well, which will have good support for future upgrades,
    However this all seems to be getting rather expensive now !!

    Paul.
     
  15. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    £1700 for a secondhand one seems to be the going rate fpr a Tag, you can then upgrade it at a later date, likewise the Meridian 568
     
  16. gregs

    gregs
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    Thanks guys,

    That's all really useful stuff, although I've stated my budget at £1000, if I can get hold of second hand 'high level' kit for a little more then I might just do so. Couple of quick questions though; where are the best places to look out for this second hand kit, I'd love to get a Lexicon MC-1 but haven't seen any for sale, at least not the right side of £3500!, best places to look would be welcomed!.

    Secondly, looking at the common three - MC-1 AV32 & 568, what are the key differences in terms of both useability and ownership experience? - as far as i can work out on 'running' costs, Merdian realise you probably don't wan't to give them any more of your money after purchase and offer free upgrades for along time after, TAG grab as much money as possible and as far as I can see from their website charge too much for there upgrades (£50 just to get HDCD ??! :eek:)which really puts me off, (how much would it cost out of interest to upgrade a bottom spec AV32 to a all singing and dancing 7.1 processor?). Finally lexicon appear to be slightly ahead of the others in releasing features, and carry out total revamps of the software, but I imagine these are quite costly as they don't admit to the price!

    I'm keeping an open mind at the moment as i'm in no rush - my main requirments are to have a good future proof processor with lowish upgrade costs and plenty of fidleability!

    All comments gratefully recieved!

    Cheers,

    greg :)
     
  17. Paul Smith

    Paul Smith
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  18. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Greg

    MC1

    No upgrades that I know of, no doubt someone will update me. Lexicon have dropped this one like a dead duck. Previous processors were well supported and it looks good for MC12 owners as well. A cut down version of the MC12 is coming out soon, so I think MC1 days are numbered. If you want PL2 then choices are limited.

    MC1 fairly easy to use, second hand price / ex demo about £3k

    568

    This has been well supported and now is in the much more powerful 568.2. Meridian has a proven tracked record supporting the processors but there gets a finite life when further updates are not possible, hence the demise of the 565. Not all upgrades are free, they just publicise the free ones a little more. Ask about DTS 24/96 and see if it is free.

    I found the ‘interface’ difficult to get on with but I suspect that it is my unfamiliarity with the product rather than a fault on its part. Regular users don’t have an issue here. Old 568s are upgradeable to 568.2 to the best of my knowledge. Much better than MC1 but needs the 562.2 to really function well. Many features (much of the money) are geared to the Meridian digital system so many are paying for things they don’t use. Good processor.

    AV32

    This processor has a supreme upgrade record (well into double figures). I first saw this in 1999 and it is still at the top of the pile now. This doesn’t look like changing much either. Many formats were just simple software upgrades and made keeping it at cutting edge really simple and cheap. Upgarding to PL2 took me about half hour all in, most of that was drinking coffee!. There have also been worthwhile hardware upgrades as well but everything is optional. If you don’t want it you don’t pay for it. Normal solution? Buy a new processor.

    Second hand AV32 go for £1600 upwards or you can save money on the less upgradeable AV30. The long term plans for the AV192 (upgradeable form the AV32R) are awesome, well beyond any current processor, but it may be further than you want to take things. It is all modular a la Theta and this design goes back to 1999! It is still the pick of the crop for most around here. Good processor. You can keep it as simple as possible or take it as far as you want. The choice is yours.

    Theta are the only other major player that has this sort of proven AV track record. Lots of money but serious quality kit.

    I think your comment that Tag grabs as much money as it can are way wide of the mark and not accurate. Many of us bought Tags at half the MC1 price, preferring them (and MC12 if current things are to go by). The £50 for HDCD was well received by people. It was asked for on the Tag forum and was delivered by Tag. They weren’t overtly keen and therefore started options in the software decoding. Some are less than £50 other more. If you don’t want them don’t buy them! Do you fancy paying for things you don’t want on other processors? A full blown latest spec Tag AV32 (192bp, 5.1 inputs etc) is about £3500, that includes everything inc DAB Radio (the best there is), compare with £5500 for MC1!

    Fancy upgrading a MC1? Lexicon ahead of the game? If you are looking at current stuff, no way hosay. Go back 5 years and Lexicon showed everyone how it was done, not anymore. They are well off the mark.

    There have been one or two instances of other companies being ‘forced’ into upgrades, generally kicking and screaming, like Denon and Sony but they are a far cry from Tag, Meridian and Theta operations. If you want future proof then you will have to bite the bullet I am afraid. The Tag is you cheapest bet and probably the most upgradeable as well if you are on a tight budget. I would be proud to own any of Tag, Meridian and Theta. I know my money was safe. [I think Cyrus may have updated their processor with a board swap but I haven’t confirmed this]. Re upgradeability of the rest, well they don’t!

    The new Arcam is an unknown quantity at the moment but John is a good guy and I suspect Arcam will support this well but I think it needs some more work on the software at the moment IMHO. They are doing this however. Their upgrades on their CD players are excellent but AV is much more than swapping out boards. It is software engineering that rules here. Tag are stable at the moment but Lexicon and Arcam are having to invest serious money here. I suspect when Tag release the AV192R they will have to throw serious software engineers at the product.

    The other solution is to keep it simple to 5.1 with just bog standard DD, DTS and PL2. No frills. The thing is not all DD, DTS and PL2 solutions are created equal. Many (most?) of the big names make a mess of some basic stuff particularly bass management so buyer beware. This is where upgradabilty really play dividends. Cyrus at £1k might make an interesting solution worth investigating and I always had a sneaking respect for Myrad (500?) at £1500? but don’t know what it can currently do (i.e. PL2 etc) been a while since I played with one.
     
  19. gregs

    gregs
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    Wow!, thanks beekeeper - what a responce!

    I think my initial thoughts on all the mentioned products were based on what I'd been able to find on the websites - Tag's charges seemed steep compared to the advertised free upgrades from Meridian, but I suppose it is more of a case of Tag being upfront about the charges:) nice to see thinking about it!

    My main requirments are plenty of future proofing and support, and as you say it is better to be offered vanilla strawberry and chocolate seperately than to be forced into buying Neopolitan!

    I have seen an AV32R for sale just above my budget, but it think it was only 5.1 'basic' model. I definately want 6.1 (this is the reason I'm looking), I may be being blind when looking on the website, but have you any idea how much it would cost to get a 'basic' model up to 6.1 with dts es dd ex & pl2? - is there a hardware upgrade required to get the extra surround channel??, if it is within reason I might think about a second hand basic model and upgrade as the bank balance recovers!

    Thanks again,

    Greg

    :)
     
  20. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    A quick email to Tag (also on the hardware / software upgrades part on their site) and they will give you all the prices. It would allow you split the cost of upgrades. Even the old Meridian 568 and Tag AV32R 5.1 are serious bits of kit today, outperforming the majority of the competition.

    6.1 / 7.1 differences are small. Granted I have gone the 7.1 route but the differences aren't night and day. Software is limited. I would much rather have quality 5.1 than ordinary 7.1..
    If you have any questions, just post over on the Tag forum and you will see how helpful people are and the level of service that is given.
     

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