I have been all the way up the food chain with EAD from the Ovation to the Signature and then the Pro 8000 and now the Pro 8800 and they have treated me great, one of the reasons that the journey went so smoothly is they have reasonable value retention in a very volatile arena. I would also say that they have great customer support the 8800 has had 3 software upgrades since I got it and in two cases the upgrades arrived before I knew they were out. I too was a 2 channel guy and jumped in feet first to the multi-channel thing and still on the occasion that I use my pre/pro for two channel it performs flawlessly. the new pro 8800 has rca inputs for the analog pass-thru which makes me very happy,good luck on your quest
Yes, EAD comes up quite often in the forum's discussions about good 2 channel performance. Can you characterize the difference in music reproduction between the 8000Pro and the 8800Pro? I may be able to get an 8000Pro used for the kind of money I'm looking to spend, but an 8800Pro may be a bit dear.
Oh, one more thing, Jdevine: can you describe the rest of your system?
If I were you, I'd buy a cheep HT reciever, some sats and a cheep sub.
Run the DVD player through your 2 channel system.
I went through the high-end HT thing. Never again.
Well-done 2 channel beats computerized algorythms and electronic hogwash.
Forgive me rant please.
Good two channel can't be beat.
Beemer hit it on the head. Keep what you have and enjoy it. You don't need a whole lot for movies for them to be enjoyable, even if you are a hardcore "videophile". So long as it has good intelligibility, reasonable dynamic contrasts and the capability of producing boomy bass, you'll be riding down main street. Since you can do most all of this with pretty small speakers, a powered sub and an inexpensive receiver, you'll be dollars and sonics ahead with the least amount of detriment to your 2 channel sound possible. Been there, done that, learned my lesson. Sean
I have the new EAD pro 8800 universal player/ a Levinson 37 cd transport/ a McIntosh MR 78 tuner/McIntosh MC 602 for mains Thiel 7.2's/McIntosh MC501 for center Thiel MCS-1/McIntosh MC162 for surrounds Thiel SCS-3/ Velodyne HGS-15 sub/ Nordost Thor power management/ and all Nordost Valhalla cables thruout and finally a Pioneer Elite TV this is all in a dedicated theater/music room.
I have the Theatermaster8800(non-pro)and use the analog pass through for my VPI scout. The 2- channel performance of the 8800 is very good and the surround sound is about the best.
Beemer, Sean, I would love to have two systems, but as I said in my top post that is a bit of a problem. My high end system has to almost literally be assembled every time I want to listen to it. I just don't have the room anymore to support two independent systems. I can't put my 2 channel in any of the bedrooms, or in the living room, so that leaves the den. That's where I can put one system. And I want that system to (primarily) allow me to listen to music, but also support my movie watching. Sean, you're right, I'm not a hard core videophile, but at the same time I'm not sure I have a lot of alternatives here. If I don't find a way of morphing my 2 channel system into something I can also use for HT then the high end system loses. To both you and Beemer, I would ask you to tell me a bit about your experiences in trying to do this.
Shouldn't a good HT prepro with real 2 channel direct (or pure analog pass through) be no different from a 2 channel POV than trying to pick a new stereo preamp?
Well I don't agree with Beemer or Sean on most of their points at all. I do agree that you don't need an expensive Pre-pro. To each his own of course.
For the price of an expensive pre-pro you can pick-up a used stereo pre-amp with HT-pass through and then use something along the line of Outlaw Audio pre-pro or any number of other cheap pre-pro's or receivers with pre-amp outs. On the other hand...if you can find a pre-pro that to your ear, matches a good high quality stereo pre-amp in sound quality...your answer will be at hand.
Of course, if your going to stick a large TV between your speakers...then I do agree with Beemer and Sean. IMO, You will need a projector or plasma type of display as I have done.
Or, as you said...drop the high quality stereo idea and go with a hometheater that also plays music.
No HT preamp will do what a good 2 channel preamp will.
It just doesn't happen.
The McIntosh MX119 has multichannel pass through, and two stereo modes which are pure analog. It sounds like the two channel Mc preamps when playing two channel. You can run your front left and right speakers full range or with your sub, selectable by changing modes on the front panel. The MX119 also has the same phono section as in the two channel preamps. The 119 is over your budget at $5100 though.
Okay. Let's say I go along with this (BTW, Beemer, I see from your other posts that you have quite a 2 channel system from the looks of it). My Bedini preamp does not have a unity gain output, so unless I either run it fully cranked or make some kind of volume preset mark I will have to look at another preamp. Assume for the moment I find some way of using my existing preamp. What could you all recommend as a quality multichannel processor to be used for HT?
I see Beemer and Sean's point. It seems that what you're considering will sacrifice 2 channel performance no matter what.
Starting ten years ago, I followed the opposite path you're considering. I first built the HT, then after realizing 2 channel performance had to be much better than what I had I built a separate music system.
After much trial and error assembling a 2 channel rig I truly enjoy, I now have a music system, a home theater, and two computers all in one small room.
While I still work to improve my 2 channel system, my home theater has remained unchanged for six and a half years. I still enjoy it, and I sometimes feel that if I only had the 2 channel set up, I could run my DVD player through it and still be happy.
Gunbei, I'm very envious that you've been able to do this all in one room (it must be some room!), but you must believe me when I say I know I could not put a 2 channel and HT system in my den (I've tried with some friend's equipment).
I am the first to admit what I'm doing will be a compromise, but if I want to have any kind of listenable 2 channel available to me I have to do it. Before I moved into this house I had a dedicated listening room which I used for close to fifteen years, both in building a music system and listening to it. (This doesn't count the 10 years before that just finding out all I could about high end audio.) I just don't have that anymore. I'm willing to lower my standards, but just enough to find an acceptable compromise. I have to live with this reality.
Rontube, I could maybe see what the MX119 goes for on the used market. I haven't heard any Mac stuff in quite a few years. Can you give me a feeling for the sonic character of this device?
Upadte: Ron, forgive me for being an idiot. I guess the McIntosh has only just come out. Probably not many on the used market!
Tony, actually I think my room is a great case for NOT having two systems in close proximity, so I can see your point. Sometimes it feels like the inside of the B52 cockpit from Dr. Strangelove, heheh. Minus Slim Pickens.
"Minachure Rooossian Phrase Book and Holy Bible..."
Yeah, my wife would not be too happy about turning our den into an equipment obstacle course! (g)
Yes, Bedini's and Diapason's!! Look, I would have killed for that combo years ago, but ruined a great audio system to hybridize and "do" HT.
Beemer thinks like I do, he's more technical and talks a lot more, but I agree with him nearly every time. You've got great stuff, don't get rid of it. I made that mistake and my system is just now finding a voice again. EAD is still in my system, good. I would think you could add a EAD processor to your system. Dont dump your amp and pre, since they are synergistic with your speakers. I've done without center speakers most of the time (I rarely have people at the edges of the l/r soundfield) and I would think the quality of your Shihanians dispersion will more than make up for poor center channel. Centers make it really hard to do a consistently well balanced musical sound stage, even though they do help locate voices in videos. They may be the worst issue in hybridizing systems.
Hard steering units, like Lexicons, etc. ALWAYS messed up the quality I wanted. The ARC spd-1 (a glorified old Hafler circuit, with delay added) has always been waaaaay better for music and surprisingly near as good as the best for video. ( I know: from what I've heard, in my room, in my system, for my needs...)
I could rant, but I messed up a great audio only system years ago and I fear you may also. I've respected Bedini, Shihanians diapasons combo since I heard it years ago. My rooms have been too small or I would have owned it.
I HAVE owned a Mac 130 and a newer model Lexicon. I don't mind technology, I even use a TACT pre after my Emotive Audio Sira, to eq and time the room, so don't think that's the issue: I'm no Luddite.
Even if your hardware were capable of musical sounds, the current, non-standard production values of mixing and foleying surround video/ audio usually ends up with (consistently) very unsatisfactory music at the cost of (the occasional) good sounding video.
I know: you'll still do it: I did. Just don't get rid of anything you have (unless you upgrade the EAD stuff) and get stuff that will slip in and out of the sytem rather than jettisoning classic and musical equipment that you have. What I am sure of is that you have a wonderfully musical system that can do a fine job on video, as is and can be well augmented with a clean processor that has a good quality passive option.
My post was not meant to say that one can't enjoy music on an HT based system, only that it typically won't be quite as resolving. It is quite possible that some of the newer and / or more expensive products may work much better than my past experiences have led me to believe. Based on the reports here, it would seem that EAD gear may be what you're looking for, if it is within your price range. I have no experience with this brand, although it would appear that those that are familiar with it are quite pleased, both in 2 ch and HT. Sean
Jeff, I have NO intention of getting rid of anything of mine. Even if I ultimately replace my EAD transport / DA with the Marantz 8400, I will just box away the EAD stuff. Same for the Bedini 866.
I have been thinking the same thing about the center channel. I have never really taken to the whole center channel concept for either HT or music. I've found that there is an odd effect especially when sounds pan across all three front speakers (of those I have heard). So I'm going to go into this without a center (for right now); the Diapasons do just fine in developing a coherent center, thank you. (Of course, in about a month Everest will be releasing classic true three channel recordings, so that brings up a whole 'nother problem!)
Your last point is the key: who makes a good "clean processor that has a good quality passive option"? My thoughts during these past few days have led me to believe that if I can find such a thing, then I can keep my Bedini gear in line and have the processor just be a passive through to the amp for two channel use. Then for HT I can just switch in the processor for multichannel stuff. Sound like a doable plan?
It's nice to hear from someone else who doesn't think either Dick Shahinian or John Bedini were / are some kind of odd footnote in high end audio. Dick especially has never gotten the recognition he deserves (IMO).
I understand your position, Sean. I've done some further research into the postings here, and there are more than a few people who have tried this and not been happy. So I have to consider that it is a difficult thing to do, at best. I think my first post perhaps was not as clear as I would have liked. If you see my response to Jeff you'll see that what I would like to try and do is keep as much of my system intact as possible. I really don't want to necessarily replace my preamp with a prepro - that was the hope. But if I can't do that then I'm willing to see if there's a good prepro or just a good processor that has a pure passive pass thru so that I can put it between my preamp and amp in that mode for 2 channel use. Then have that passive tap switched into the multichannel processing for when I want to do HT. Does such a good thing like this exist?
Just perusing here - didn't see anyone mention the Aragon Soundstage. Perhaps you've already discounted for whatever reason - I can only say I've been very satisfied with mine. It's been powered up for 3 yrs. continuous w/ nary a glitch, other than the remote readout being a little confused these days.
I used it for a good while for 2 ch listening and thought it was quite good. I later added the Audio Note M5, and to these untrained ears, although surely more refined, it never put the Aragon to shame. The M5 has pass-through, so the Aragon still does the lion's share of the work for the rest of the family, as other endeavors have severely limited my 2 ch. time.
I might note that the Soundstage was upgraded to the Stage 1 w/ added features, so I found it interesting lately when noticing the used asking prices for the Soundstage had actually increased from when I was more closely following over a year ago. Inflation, or demand, can't say...
Good luck with your setup...
Thanks for the info on the Aragon. I did not discount it from my consideration, really. I just had not looked into it very much. I will explore this further.
Hi, I think that you don't need an HT processor at all, since you already have it in your Marantz. All you need is a high quality analog-only preamp. I could give you a few options: McCormack MAP-1; Bel Canto Pre6; McIntosh C-45; Meitner Switchman; etc. That way your needs for a good quality music playback will be served without sacrificing any performance which, I believe, is inevitable using almost any Pre-Pro in the same chassis with your analog preamplification.
And, of course, you'll need some additional channels of amplification.
I switched from Bryston SP-1.7 Pre-Pro (which considered to have one of the best analog bypasses among various Pre-Pros) to McIntosh C-45 multichannel preamp with substantial gain in music playback quality, without any sacrifice in HT performance. Again, this is my system and YMMV. Regards.
Maril, this is very interesting news. I am also very curious as to how you would characterize the difference in sound between the Bryston and McIntosh. I had heard that the 1.7 had a very good analog preamp capability. My recollection of Bryston gear was a quality of transparency, speed, extension, and very much detail oriented. Was that your interpretation of the 1.7? How does the Mac compare?
Tony, maybe I missed it, but I didn't see any mention of power amps for the surround channels. If you get a pre-pro, you're going to need some amps. On the other hand, if you get a cheap receiver, as Beemer said, you can use the internal amps to power the surrounds. A decent mid-grade HT receiver can be had for around $1000 new or $500 used.
I think maybe you're expecting too much out of the surround system. Think of it as a fun adjunct to your 2-channel system and don't spend much on it. Route the receiver's pre-amp outputs for the front channels to one of your existing preamp's inputs and set the preamp volume control to a known position. This isn't as cumbersome as it sounds.
Get a powered sub, like an SVS cylinder, which is killer for HT, and connect it to the receiver's sub out. One of these will run you about $500.
Don't spend much on surround speakers, either. They are primarily for effects and don't have to be the latest word in resolution or tonal accuracy. It helps if the tweeter has wide dispersion, though. About $500/pair is good enough. Aim for about 90dB sensitivity, since most receivers calibrate to the 75dB reference level at midscale, using 90dB speakers. Extemely sensitive or insensitive surround speakers may be hard to match levels with your mains.
Avoid the center channel. You don't need it. Just set the receiver to phantom center channel mode.
So, for about $1500 to $2000 you have added surround sound capability to your 2-channel system and haven't compromised the sound one bit. Also, you only added one component (the HT receiver) to your rack.
If you have a DVD player, don't worry about the quality of its DACs. Just run a digital output to the receiver. You'll need this to decode Dolby Digital and DTS anyway using the receiver.
I ran a system configured as above for about 2 years and it was entirely satisfactory. About a year ago I got a front projector and 110" screen and split the system into seperate 2-ch and HT systems, which is preferable if you have the room for it, but I could have lived with the previous setup, strictly from an audio standpoint.
Tonyptony, the difference between Bryston and Mac was pretty significant, I almost tempted to mention proverbial "blanket taken off of my speakers". More detail, better defined bass, very transparent HF's, very "musical" and "organic sound". Actually you can look up a review by Kal Rubinson in Stereophile ( I think it's March '04 issue). Also, Mac is a very flexible preamp and does have a very decent phonostage ( tuner module is optional). Regards.
Nighthawk, in my ideal approach I would plan to get a two (or three) channel amp to support the additional amplification. Like you, I'm not sold on the merits of a center channel. I'm not sure about going the receiver route. I'm a big believer in trying to get a consistent "voicing" in my system. I'd like to approach that in HT no differently than in my 2 channel experiences. In that regard, I will probably get a pair of Shahinian ARCs or Slants for the surround channels. There aren't really many options from other manufacturers in matching with anything from Shahinian. As I would like to get a consistent voicing for multichannel music I don't see where it's worth the risk or trouble of trying to find someone else's speakers for surrounds.
I have heard amps that have a similar sound to the Bedini, so I would feel better going that route.
Again, I'm not sure how I feel about going with a receiver-centered approach. Maybe I have my high end thumb stuck too far up my a$$, but honestly most of the HT receivers I've heard that are not too expensive I have not been too impressed with. I still have to consider the quality of a multichannel music presentation. I agree that for movies I could probably be happy with a decent receiver. If I could find a musically satisfactory HT receiver for that kind of money - and if I could get a reasonable match in voicing with my existing amp - it might be a viable option.
BTW, it seems you are not familiar with the Diapasons; the low end is the least of my problems. The Diapason is a complex midrange / high end module sitting atop a Double Eagle subwoofer. A pair of these Double Eagles are pretty much the bomb when it comes to musical low frequency reproduction. (Yes, I believe that there is such a thing as stereo low end.)
Thanks for the words on the Mac, Maril.
Tony, you're right, I was unfamiliar with your speakers. I looked them up on Shahinian's website and they look quite interesting. Even though your mains are capable of subwoofer-quality bass you may still want a dedicated sub for the LFE channel. In my setup, when I was using my Soliloquy 6.5s as mains, which are -3dB at 22Hz, the dedicated sub was still advantageous. The main reason is you can goose the level on the LFE channel 3 to 6 dB to make explosions, etc. more impactful without affecting the level of the mains.
Your concerns about voicing are warranted for music, but for HT you won't notice much of a difference.
One note on surround speakers for HT use - generally you will be better off running the surrounds as "small" in HT processor terms. The bass management function of the processor routes the LF info from the surrounds to the sub. This reduces LF cancellation effects. As a result, you don't need much LF capability in the surrounds since the standard crossover frequency is 80Hz.
Hmm, that's an interesting tidbit about adding a sub for LFE even with full range fronts. I'll have to keep that on the list of things to juggle in this whole merry-go-round. Thanks.
I run a dedicated LFE sub in my system while my other two subs are fed from the second set of pre-outs on my tubed pre-amp.
Works great although does eat up soom floor space. There are. (I think) a couple of subs on the market which allow LFE input along with normal (music) input...you can switch between the two as needed.
Yes, I've head that there are such subs, Dave. One more data point to keep in the mix.
To all, as far as one of my original points goes, what if I got something like a McCormack MAP-1 multichannel preamp? How does something like this stack up against a decent 2 channel? I'm coming to the conclusion that I don't think I want (or need) a processor of any sort. My Marantz DV8400 has channel level adjustments, DD, DTS, True Surround, and distance settings (which don't work for SACD, though). This kind of thing is getting to be more and more common with source components, so why do I want to trouble myself with multiple sets of A/D/A conversion? That's something that still has me put off by HT: if I'm going to drop a huge piece of change on a HT processor why do I want a DVD player? Why don't I just get a quality DVD transport? I never understood the concept of paying for D/A converters you weren't going to use. (rant mode off)
So how about this idea of using an analog multicannel preamp?
Not a bad idea Tony, don't forget about the Audio Refinement Pre-5 also. Stereophile liked it if I recall.
I have had my Sunfire theatergrand for a good while so am out of the loop on the newer analog multichannel gear...if I were in your shoes though and just now building, yes...I would be interested in both of these products.
Hi Tony, The Bedini Shahinian synergy is alive and well. Richard has revised the Diapasons to incorporate titanium drivers and the Double Eagles are now larger. John Bedini just developed 100 watt mono amps that work great with the Diapasons. This is what I currently own. I had 5 channel surround with my system for some time and didn't enjoy it. I find the Diapasons amazing on movie sound.
Tony: 80% of the dialogue in a movie is typically fed through the center channel. While one can easily get away with running a "phantom" center channel, the use of an actual center speaker designed specifically to replicate speech can make a HUGE difference in intelligibility. I found this out when going from a "phantom" center to having a "real" center speaker some time back. The main benefit that i got out of this was that i no longer had to ask the person sitting next to me "what did they say"??? Sean
Sean, is it possible to use the center for movies but then deselect it for multichannel music? I assume this would depend on the prepro being used. If that's the case I would maybe go that route, as I have heard MC music a number of times (on a few different systems) and I rarely find the center channel either necessary or desirable. I concede that it would in fact be useful for movies. The only remaining problem would be to get a center that would integrate well (yes, even for movies!) with my Shahinian fronts.
My Shahinian brother (Holzhauer)! You bring me news I did not know. I have a recollection of the new tweeters going in, but when did the Double Eagles get this indicated redesign?
Also, can you describe the new 100W monos? Is it "Bedini high bias AB" or did he finally come out with a new pure Class A mono? Do you have a point of reference you can use for a sound compaison (250/250, 803, Plinius, Rowland)?
What are you using for a MC controller?
What about the Anthem Statement D1, or the Parasound Halo C1/C2? Both sound wonderful, and the Anthem has unbelieveable features, and Anthem is about to upgrade the hardware as well to include IEEE 1394 inputs and HDMI switching and video scaling. Read some reviews, I like it as well as anything I have heard except for maybe the Theta HT PrePro, and that is more expensive by an order of magnitude. Good luck.
" The only remaining problem would be to get a center that would integrate well (yes, even for movies!) with my Shahinian fronts."
Yes that is the problem, I use Apogee Duetta Signatures for fronts and Apogee Centaur Minor for center. This is a very good mate and in all cases sounds better than with-out center.
I have tried other speakers (smaller box types) in the center position with no luck for music...but not bad for hometheater.
Hi Tony, When will the rest of the world figure out how good these speakers sound? John Marks at Stereophile has been extolling their virtues for some time but many still don't know the joy. My Diapasons were new in January of 2003. They were the first pair to use the revised Double Eagles. They are about 3 inches wider and 3 inches deeper. According to Richard, they are essentially two Hawks placed side by side. They do go deeper in the bass than my older pair of Double Eagles but not a whole lot. Probably flat down to 20Hz instead of the old -3db at 20 spec. My modules also incorporated the first version of a new titanium mid range driver.
The new Bedini mono amp is a pure class A unit. It sounds similar to the 803 but with greater resolution at lower listening levels. The bass is about the same. I like the Plinius SA 100 mk3 which I feel bests the Bedini in the mid bass and bass department yet is inferior for resolution of voices. I'd like to hear an SA-102 to compare sometime. If you like it loud like me, I'd go with a mono amp for each speaker for a total of four amps.
Click on the system tab and you can see pictures of my system. Since the pictures, I have added ceiling and wall diffusion and a Sony XA 777 ES cd player.
Yes, I saw the pictures. There're a couple of things that look a little familiar there (bg)! I'll have to give Dick a call about the new DEs. I have a friend who has the Hawks, and one of the things I was afraid to admit was that, while the single Hawk subs did not go down as low as my DEs, they seemed to be a bit quicker, which I think helped with giving them a slightly better feeling of pace. Do you find that true with these new DEs compared to the old?
Do you find that the new Bedini 100 is actually better in the bass than the 803? (I also have a highly modified 250/250 - modified by John himself - I wonder how that would sound next to the 100?)
I will send you a PM reagrding other thoughts Shahinian.
Tony: I would assume that most any decent Pre/Pro has adjustable volume settings for each speaker position. When watching a movie, crank the center up. When listening to music, crank the center down. Simple enough.
As far as finding a center channel goes, try contacting Richard and see what he's got to offer. As mentioned though, most of the dialogue comes through the center. As such, using a center that produces believable and intelligibal speach is about all you need. In most movies, there is very little "blending" where all three fronts are playing in unison to any great degree. Even if there is, it is a movie, not music : ) Sean
Sean, I had already asked Richard about this. If you may not already know, his position is driven first and foremost by what is good for music. In that regard he is NOT a believer in a center channel. I already knew they offered nothing in the way of a shielded center (some of his customers have actually hung a Hawk or Diapason module upside down from the ceiling!). He has not yet offered a suggestion for an alternative maker's center as usable in a Shahinian system. I started another thread for this in the Speakers forum.