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Preamp/processor recommendations

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by robinbowes, Feb 28, 2005.

  1. robinbowes

    robinbowes
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    Hi,

    I'm currently considering merging my hifi/AV setup and would appreciate some advice. I'm reasonable competent (degree in electroacoustics, worked in audio engineering, mod my own equipment, etc.) but have had no exposure whatsoever to the current market, hence the request for advice.

    My hifi setup is as follows:

    Slimdevices Squeezebox
    Art DI/O DAC
    Rotel RA820A (heavily modded) - used as preamp and to power HF drivers
    Rotel RB850 - power LF drivers
    B&W DM610, bi-amped

    My home cinema setup is as follows:

    Toshiba SD330 DVD
    Sky+ Box
    Toshiba 36ZP38B
    speakers that came with the telly!

    The main driver for making the change is that I am possibly going to come into possesion of a 40" NEC LCD which does not come with any sort of audio capability, so I would need to add a processor plus amps/speakers. So, I'm looking into buying a Surround Processor/preamp that I can use for both my hifi and Home Cinema setups.

    A summary of my requirements/wants is as follows:

    Must sound good with analogue inputs, i.e. hifi use

    Surround processing, primarily from the Sky box, but also DVDs. I'm not really familiar with the current formats, but I think this means that Dolby Digital is a must, with the option for a sub-woofer. DTS, Dolby Digital EX, and DTS ES would be nice-to-haves

    Remote control (source switching, volume)

    I plan to use my existing amplifiers/speakers, purchasing more where necessary. Unless I spend some serious money (unlikely), I'll most likely use the DM610s for front left + right and pick up some small bookshelf speakers for rears and centres.

    Perhaps I'd be better off picking up a cheap "all-in-one" home cinema setup like the Sony HT-DDW750 (to pick one at random) for use with the HC setup and keeping my existing kit for hifi?

    All advice/suggestions welcomed.

    R.
     
  2. jiml

    jiml
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    I have a Yamaha E800 for sale in the classifieds Link to Yamaha That would work with your existing amp as it has 3 built in amps for the surround and centre channels.
     
  3. dmurfet

    dmurfet
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    Although far from expert I'll ask one of the first questions the expert would which is what is your budget - bear in mind this might include cables too!

    Once you have decided on a budget, I would suggest looking at stuff 30% under your budget and then you can decide which bits make the most difference to you (in your system!) and get better stuff for that area.

    There's lots of good stuff available second hand (which is where I am lurking mostly) unless you are after the very latest technology which obviously will come at a price.

    I know I haven't answered the question you asked in the first instance, but I have answered at least a couple of the questions you didn't!

    ;)
     
  4. robinbowes

    robinbowes
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    The obvious question is "why are you selling it?"

    R.
     
  5. robinbowes

    robinbowes
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    Ah, budget, that old chestnut!

    I really looking for good value kit that I can upgrade in the future. For example, I'm aiming to use my existing RA850 amps (possibly buying a couple more) as they are good quality yet pretty old, therefore cheap. I will also be using my existing speakers (B&W DM610s) but will probably upgrade them in the future.

    So, for the surround processor / pre-amp, I'm looking for something that is good value, not necessarily cutting edge as I'm not a big movie watcher.

    I guess what I'm really saying is that I have no idea how much I would need to spend to get something that I am happy with. I suspect that I might need to spend quite a lot, particularly to get a pre-amp that sounds good with stereo audio as I have fairly discerning ears. £200 on the processor would be ideal. But if I have to spend £500 I will, or even £1000 (but in that case, I would not be rushing into anything).

    R.
     
  6. robinbowes

    robinbowes
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    Add to that:

    Component video input/output

    R.
     
  7. jiml

    jiml
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    I've just bought a Yamaha 2500 from Germany :smashin:

    Was using the E800 with a Musical Fidelity A3.2 stereo amp, but listen to less music nowadays so decided to go for convenience. May still use the MF for front channels if the 2500 is noticibly worse, but I don't think I will and will probably end up selling the MF too. Your other option of course is a cheap receiver with pre-outs for the front channels.

    For quality, you really need to use a hi-fi pre-amp, the ones built into receivers are not so good. The receiver pre-outs would go into the line-in in the hi-fi amp.
     
  8. robinbowes

    robinbowes
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    Ah, I see.

    I must say, this sort of set up sounds like the best option for me - best quality for stereo music, and additional channels for the surround channels.

    Are you aware the E800 is advertised at Hyper-Fi for £69.99?

    R.
     
  9. jiml

    jiml
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    69.99 sounds cheap. You should maybe demo a Denon 3805 before deciding which way to go. A recent review says it is as good in stereo as some £1000 hi-fi amps and it's advertised for ~£800. The Arcam a300 may be even better. These also have component video output.

    I think the Yamaha 2500 is much better with surround effects than the E800 and has more "oomph". The auto setup is also nice. From Germany it is ~£560 delivered. Would do everything you want but may be overkill if you don't watch much movies.

    Also bear in mind that you could just connect your dvd and sky box straight to your hi-fi and listen in stereo. That's the cheapest option :D
     
  10. liamjf

    liamjf
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    Hi, you have a couple of options (or maybe more!). If you are keeping your current DAC (which I know nothing about) then you don't need anything to process stereo and i would add a decent receiver (a Marantz 4500 say for £170) and a matching b+w centre speaker and you are away. Add better surrounds when you can. Or, if you want to sell the dac and get a stereo quality processor/pre amp then you are looking at second hand and more money. stuff from Tag, lexicon, Arcam and even Rotel might fit the bill. Not many (none that I know of) cheaper receiver/processore will have component video switching. This shouldn't be necessary as you should just plug the video from the dvd to the tv/plasma.

    Liam.
     
  11. davehk

    davehk
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    Yeah, right - try actually ordering one. Just for fun, I've just phoned them:

    "I think all the ex-display ones have gone" (How many did they have, I wonder - 1? ZERO?) -- "we might have a brand new one though ---- yes Sir, we have one brand new one in its box = £149"

    what a surprise
     
  12. lovegroova

    lovegroova
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    TAG Mclaren AV32R processors are selling for £899 at hifibitz at the moment. They are fantastic pieces of kit with an analogue bypass for 'hifi', and all the surround processing you'll ever need.

    Additionally, some existing owners have bought the top spec version and are offloading their lower spec versions second hand for bargain prices. (I was one of those folk, but have sold mine already). Have a look in the classifieds section or ebay.

    You will, of course need extra amplification for the surround/centre speakers but this can be purchased 2nd hand for little money.
     

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