Affordable Processor with Fabulous 2 Channel ?


Gang,

I'm using my Mytek Brooklyn DAC as a pre for music and TV. It is fabulous sounding but I really would like to have 5.1 channel surround, and a single remote! 

Is there an affordable processor (used OK) that has at least as good 2 channel performance? Emotiva is right out. I owned one, and it sounded thin as paper. I note that there are a lot of Krell processors for sale at reasonable prices. 

Thoughts?

Erik
erik_squires
I have been more than happy with the stereo and HT sound quality with my NAD T175HD pre/pro for more than 6 years.  If 4K or Atmos are not at the top of your list, look into one of these or even better an Anthem AVM50 or D2V.  Not sure what affordable is but these were all a minimum of $3000.00 plus when new with the D2V coming in at $6000.00 or near.

Bill
I really like the modular construction of the NAD, and I have a 30W digital integrated in the bedroom. I also heard the masters series 2 channel DAC and it was god awful. So, mixed experiences. 
@btw22

The Classe SSP 800 is fabulous for both stereo and surrounds (HT) but is expensive even used for around $3500 and up cause its original msrp was $9500. Eventhough the SSP 800 is obselete and was discontinued last year but its after market resale value is still at around $3500ish and up.
The OP wants an affordable pre pro I’m assuming for under $3k or maybe around $2k. Also not sure what the OP’s budget is?

@erik_squires

What is your budget for a used pre pro? If you’re willing to spend for around $3500 I would highly recommend a used Classe SSP 800 or a used original version of Classe Sigma SSP. The original version of the Classe Sigma SSP did retail for $5k new and you can find a used one for maybe under $3k. The original version or version 1 of the Classe Sigma SSP has been replaced by a Classe Sigma SSP Mk2, which now retails for $6k new and is a current model. The Classe Sigma SSP Mk2 is basically the same processor as the original version of the Sigma SSP with an upgraded audio video boards to accommodate supports for Dolby Atmos, DTS-X as well as 4K video pass through, etc, which the original version 1 can’t.
The Classe Sigma SSP is optimized for stereo performance.

Both Classe SSP 800 and Sigma SSP will perform and sound very good in two-channels or when used as stereo preamps.
I would go with the Sigma SSP if I were you as it is more current and has USB DAC port inputs (back & front) and is DNLA equipped which the SSP 800 lacks. They both sound equally good in stereo for stereo music playbacks but the SSP 800 will perform and sound better than the Sigma SSP in surrounds (HT). Actually according to some people that the Sigma SSP actually sounded slightly better in stereo or when used as a stereo preamp compared to the SSP 800 but the difference is subtle. Classe also claimed the same. But the SSP 800 is better for use in multi-channels or surrounds for HT.

However, all Classe processors do not have video processor / upscaler, so Classe simply switches the video signal unaltered and passing it through to your tv display or projector. Both Classe processors also are not equipped with auto room correction software but instead Classe provides manual PEQ (Parametric EQ) which requires proper tools and equipments and knowledge on how to implement it.

What power amp are you currently using or plan on using with the processor? If you go with either Classe processor I would suggest using high end power amps as well such as the ones from Classe amps and alikes in order to achieve overall high fidelity performance of your setup and system. Or if you’re on the budget the Rotel RMB-1585 five-channel amp would also work with either the Classe SSP 800 or the Sigma SSP. The Rotel RMB-1585 retails for $3k brand new, which is quite a bit cheaper than Classe amps.




Honestly I would like to stay under $2,000

I use ICEpower based Class D amps. I'm extremely happy with them. 

I hear a lot for Classe. Didn't they just get sold or shut down? 

Best,

Erik
Feature wise, I do not need more than 5.1 and do not care about video scaling. 
I still use a Krell Showcase processor. Has a 7.1 analog input for surround and a balanced input for CD's. Built like a tank. Never had a problem. They usually sell in the $600 range. Original price $4000.
lux - 

Yeah, I'm very attracted to the Krells in the used market for just that reason. 

Erik,

If under $2000.00, I really would look for an Anthem Statement D2v or AVM50v2.  They are rock solid reliable and ARC is top shelf.


Bill

Thanks @willland !

I haven't thought of Anthem since they got sold and closed down Sonic Frontiers. I will check them out! 

Erik

The Krell Showcase / HTS range was amazing.  However, they are getting very old and a lot of these units are starting to fail in different areas (digital board, analog channels, etc.).  If you want to take a chance on these, go for it.  But expect a risk.  Also, the Krell units standard behavior for COAX digital input is to down-convert everything to 44.1/48khz sampling rate.

I remember reading that the Classe SSP-800 will convert everything to 96khz, because they believe that is the optimal sampling to feed the specific DAC chips.  The Classe is going to be an excellent item, but expensive again.  Same price range as the Krell S1200 (which is the same generation.

I think I have seen Anthem D2 in the $2k range.  That would probably be your best bet, but I don't know how it behaves with digital coax.

Digital COAX will always give you better 2-channel PCM sound than anything over HDMI.  COAX is better for even old school Dolby Digital / DTS.  The only thing that HDMI audio is good for is the hi-res bluray formats (DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD).

Thanks auxinput!

So I looked again, I guess the Krell Foundation is still out of my price range unless I wait, does anyone like their musical performance?

Erik

I would get a used Classe Sigma SSP over a used  Krell Foundation. Krell as a company isn't the same anymore since Dan D'Agostino's departure from the company in 2009. The Classe Sigma SSP sounds better than the Krell Foundation especially in two-channel performance for stereo music playbacks.
The Classe Sigma SSP is optimized for stereo performance for music playbacks. But the surround or multi-channel performance for HT is very good as well but its stereo performance for 2ch music playbacks that stands out. 

I've heard both processors in the same setup and system and the Classe Sigma SSP sounded better especially in two-channel for stereo music playbacks. 
For stereo digital music files playbacks the Sigma SSP's USB DAC input port sounded significantly better than its other digital inputs. This unit is optimized for its use of USB DAC input signal path for digital music files downloads. Its USB DAC inputs circuitry was copied and pasted directly from Classe CP 800 stereo preamp/DAC. You can read more on that online to find out. 

The Classe Sigma SSP original retail price is cheaper than the original retail price of the Krell Foundation. I think the latest version of Krell Foundation retails for somewhere between $7k to $7500 and the original or first version of the Krell Foundation retails for maybe around $6500, whereas the Classe Sigma SSP version 1 (original version) retails for $5k and the Sigma SSP Mk2 retails for $6k and will sound better than the Krell Foundation especially for stereo music playbacks or when used as a stereo preamp. 

However, the Krell Foundation has more connections eg inputs & outputs connectivities than the Classe Sigma SSP. The Classe Sigma SSP is stripped off unnecessary inputs and outputs connections. You won't find any legacy analog video connectivities nor multi-channel analog audio 7.1 inputs on the Classe Sigma SSP.  But the Sigma SSP has a pair of stereo analog audio inputs (both XLR & RCA). And the analog audio outputs on the Classe Sigma SSP has XLR balanced outs only for its front LR channels only and with the remaining channels are only available in single-ended but the optimized ones. 

The Classe Sigma SSP internal circuitry  is true differential or fully balanced design all the way for only its front LR channels and with the remaining channels are single-ended design.
The Krell Foundation processor has all XLR analog audio outputs for all channels but not sure if its internal circuitry is true differential or fully balanced design all the way like the Classe. 

For stereo music playbacks the Classe Sigma SSP also sounded better than any Anthem processors, but the Anthem has advantages in multi-channel or surround sound applications for HT cause Anthem's ARC (Anthem Room Correction) is very good and really works.
Especially the new Anthem AVM60 processor is equipped with the latest ARC2 and performs very well in surrounds for HT and is better than the Classe Sigma SSP in that regard. 

The Arcam processors are good too.
Thanks for all of that @caphill. 

I do my own room correction really, so I'm not worried about that.  I'll read more on the Classe SSP! 

Best,

E
Caphill,
is there any difference in quality on the Classé Sigma when streaming music through Tidal  when connecting via airplay vs a hard connection via USB?
@bwguy 

Yes, there's compression with airplay which degrades sound quality regatdless of which device it is. 
I would never use airplay. 
Good to know.  I always heard air play was lossless, (ALAC)  but always thought a hard connection was better.
@bwguy 

Are you using the Classe Sigma SSP? 
Post removed 
Well, if 2-channel is your top priority I'd do it a little differently in an effort to put more of your budget toward stereo and less on the multichannel electronics.  If this sounds like you, read on.  And if not, just disregard.

With your budget I'd buy a Yamaha RX-A870 (a pretty respectable AVR with a good track record of reliability unlike many others, and you'll get all the latest tech versus an older prepro) from Accessories4Less for $550 and use that for multichannel processing duties and amplification for your center and surrounds if needed.  With the remaining $1500 or so I'd buy a good, used stereo preamp with a HT bypass input.  You may already know this, but you can then just hook the front L/R preouts from the AVR (which the RX-A870 has) to the HT bypass input on the stereo pre and you're done.  You can then seamlessly switch between stereo and multichannel just by changing the input on the stereo pre, and the best part is that for critical 2-channel listening the AVR is completely out of the the signal path.  Best of both worlds!  Only downside is that you'll need one additional pair of interconnects to connect the AVR to the stereo pre (that you may have lying around anyway), and you'll have one additional box in your system -- if that's an issue.  I used this setup for years before I had a dedicated listening room and it was a lifesaver -- even my wife could use it without a problem, and that's saying something.  

Ok, if you're with me so far, right now there's a Pass Labs X-2.5 and a Hegel P20 for sale here for around $1500, and I think both offer a HT bypass.  Frankly, with your wonderful DAC I think you'll get much more out of its performance capabilities in critical 2-channel listening with either of these steeeo pres than any prepro you'll get for $2k, at least IMHO.  

As as for the remote, I'd drop a few bucks on a decent universal remote that will make your life a little easier and more pleasurable on a daily basis than any remote you're likely to get from a prepro.  If the Yamaha comes with a learning remote you might be able to just get by with that though. 

FWIW, this is absolutely what I'd do if 2-channel is your priority.  Best of luck!


I second Soix advise and it’s very true on lower end pre pros from Marantz, Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo/Integra, Anthem. These pre pros two-channel performances for stereo music playbacks are compromised and these pre pros are meant to be used for HT. that’s their main design philosophies.

But high end pre pros like the Classe SSP 800, Classe Sigma SSP, Bryston SP3, Meridian Ref 861 v8 are great for both stereo and surrounds (HT) and can function as high end stereo preamps.

I was going to recommend the Bryston SP3 to the OP (Eric_Squires) but the SP3 is expensive ($9500 retail price) and is a current model, so even if you could find a used one it would be still pricey. The Bryston SP3’s stereo performance is even better than both Classe (SSP 800 & Sigma SSP) pre pros.

The Meridian Ref 861 v8 pre pro is even way more expensive around $32k brand new, But its stereo performance is spectacular.

Expensive processors such as Datasat and Trinnov are phenomenal for HT but I don’t think they put priority on stereo performances. Today Datasat & Trinnov are probably the best HT processors you can get for strictly HT use.

Both the Classe SSP 800 & Sigma SSP stereo performances for stereo music playbacks are on par with high end stereo preamps that are in the $5k range IMO. Their stereo performances aren’t compromised at all like those lower end pre pros from Marantz, Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo/Integra, Anthem.
Actually the Classe Sigma SSP is optimized for stereo listening.
People who bought the Sigma SSP put priority on stereo performance for music playbacks.
Unless if you plan on getting expensive stereo preamps that cost upwards of $7k and up, then yes they would most likely be better than stereo performances of the Classe Sigma SSP or the SSP 800. No doubt.
@caphill -

Might be worth clarifying that you mean digital compression, and decompression, vs. dynamic range compression. :D

Not the same thing. 

The theory is some devices suffer more jitter due to the varying amounts of CPU processing decompression takes. 

I do like to use something like the Wyred4Sound remedy for those devices. Works like a charm.

Best,

Erik

I'm not entirely convinced of everything that caphill is stating.  He does have many good points, but I think it's easy to get hung up on the idea that "costs more = better quality".  The lower priced Marantz processors are very good designs, but they do have their "warm" Marantz sound.  Nothing wrong with that.  Big power supply and lots of localized power supply filtering, discrete analog output stages.

The Meridian / Dataset / Trinnov are all seriously expensive, but they make their money on a combination of perception, DSP processing and upgradability.  As far as I have been able to investigate, both Meridian and Trinnov still use op-amp based analog stages.  The Dataset has massive amounts of DSP (6 individual ARC DSP processing chips), but I don't think they have really put much into the analog stages.  Datasat really came from a movie theater product, which has completely different and complex sound processing requirements.  I remember reading posts from someone who had a Meridian processor and had a Datasat brought in for demo in his house, completely with a Datasat engineer to calibrate.  The end result was nice, but he did not feel that the Datasat offered him anything over the Meridian in sound quality.

The Bryston SP3 does have some pretty nice Class A discrete analog stages, but again it is a different sound.  I have had the SP3 and it is very laid back.  Massive amounts of bass, but the mids/highs just don't have impact.  I think the digital/DAC card is compromised as well - they used an off-the-shelf DSP/DAC card instead of designing their own.  Bryston definitely sounds decent, but not my cup of tea.

In all of my testing, Class A discrete analog stages always were superior over normal op-amp based.  But you need to have a system that has the resolution to show this difference.  That being said, there are also different flavors of Class A sonic signature (Krell vs Bryston vs Pass Labs, etc.).  It really depends on the sound you're looking for.

The Classe SSP and Sigma are very nice processors, but they do use the LM4562 op amp for audio stages (which is same as LM49720).  Although it is in a fully balanced configuration.  I think the Classe stuff would probably be about the best you can get for resolution in an op-amp based processor without going to a Krell design (S1200).

@auxinput

I wasn’t implying that the more expensive = the better. Of course does not always work that way. For example, the Classe Sigma SSP stereo performance is actually better than the much more expensive Classe SSP 800 according to many people. I know we are talking about two different generation processors here. But I have to admit that the SSP 800 performs better than the Sigma SSP in surrounds for HT use when using HDMI inputs perhaps partly due to all true differential or fully balanced design for all channels on the SSP 800 vs only the front LR channels on the Sigma SSP. Also partly due to better DAC implementation and configurations and power supplies on the SSP 800 maybe. Perhaps the SSP 800 has better DSP?

But when used as an analog stereo preamp thus bypassing DAC, DSP, and other digital processings lots of people said that in fact the Sigma SSP sounded better than the much more expensive SSP 800 when using stereo analog audio inputs (XLR) and both processors are in analog bypass mode. Classe also claimed the same.

So that being said I think the Classe Sigma SSP will be suitable for the OP since he’s looking for a processor that sounds great in two-channel playbacks for music and the used first original version of the Sigma SSP in after market can be had for less than $3k since it does not support the latest surround formats eg Dolby Atmos, DTS-X, Auro 3D nor 4K video pass through, HDR, hdcp 2.2. The original msrp was $5k. It’s now been replaced by the Sigma SSP Mk2 which supports the latest formats and the current retail price goes up to $6k brand new. Classe upgraded audio video boards with the Mk2.

The same to be said for the Bryston SP3 processor. When I heard it the SP3 was used as an analog stereo preamp using its XLR analog audio inputs in analog bypass mode. They had a PS Audio Direct Stream DAC as a digital front end source component at the time feeding the Bryston SP3 via XLR analog audio. IMO it sounded really good coming from a HT processor but I have never tried the Bryston SP3 for surrounds using its HDMI inputs or never tried its digital inputs at all, so had no idea how it sounded using its digital inputs thus using its DAC, DSP, etc. When used as an analog stereo preamp using its stereo analog audio input (XLR) IMO the Bryston SP3 sounded better than both Classe SSP 800 & Sigma SSP.
The Bryston SP3 is similarly priced as the original msrp of the SSP 800.

In regards to Datasat and Trinnov processors I completely agree with you they both are great for surround processings for HT use but their analog stages are not any better than the Classe or the Bryston SP3 or the Meridian Ref 861 v8. I think I also mentioned that in my earlier post.

In regards to Marantz AV8802 processor, yes it sounded good for HT use when using its HDMI inputs but when we tried its stereo analog audio inputs (XLR) again fed by a PS Audio Direct Stream DAC via analog it wasn’t quite in the same league as the Bryston SP3 or the Classe Sigma SSP or the SSP 800 or the Meridian Ref 861 v8.
We still felt the need for a dedicated high end analog stereo preamp for stereo listening to music. But yes the Marantz AV8802 performed very good for surrounds for HT (movies) especially for the money.

I an still using the Classe SSP 800 in my dedicated home theater room paired with all Classe Delta series amplifiers (class AB) driving all B&W 800 D3 series speaker system and they sounded spectacular together. But this is strictly for HT use. I have a separate dedicated stereo setup and system in a separate dedicated stereo listening room which consists of completely different gears.
I am about to get rid of my Classe SSP 800 as it’s getting obselete.
I’ll be looking for a new processor that can decode Dolby Atmos & DTS-X pretty soon.
I've been following this discussion pretty closely as I'm in a similar pre-pro decision making point.
Excellent 2.0 listening is the goal, with decent 7.1 HT capabilities desired. I have no desire for any Atmos, etc. 
Video will be direct from an Oppo 205 so I do not care at all about pass-through/ switching of the pre-pro.
All audio input would be either XLR for FL/ FR (vs combo XLR/ RCA analog for 7.1) or HDMI with the source an Oppo 205. All other sources would flow through the Oppo, so I really do not care about the input aspect of the pre-pro.
Therefore the Krell Foundation and Classe SSP 800/ Sigma are all pretty equal for me.
The one aspect I'm not excited about is the limited output connectivity on the Classe Sigma range.
However I'm wondering about the advantage/ disadvantage of RCA ended vs XLR interconnects for the 5 surround channels.

BTW, 

I just wanted to comment that the Classe SSP is doing what the Theta Casanova used to. Convert all analog inputs to digital, use DSP for crossover and EQ.  There was no pure analog pathway in it. 

I also loved mine. I upgraded mainly to get a more modern DAC and HDMI compatibility. 
@Erik_squires 

Nope. The Classe SSP 800 & Sigma SSP do not convert their analog inputs to digital. There’s an analog bypass feature that you need to choose.
It will however convert it to digital if you choose to use their crossover and use the manual PEQ with the analog audio inputs. But if one wants to use their analog audio inputs most likely will bypass DSP and other digital processings. But you will have to tick that analog bypass otherwise DSP and other digital processings gets in the way.

Yep, caphill is correct in that most processors will have a true "analog passthrough" mode.  It's correct that it will not do bass management/crossover, since you are just sending 2-channel analog directly through to the left/right speakers only.  Even Krell has a mode like this.

For HT digital sound quality, caphill may be correct.  The differences in sound quality for 2-channel analog passthrough introduce a new segment:  the analog input stage.  This can actually make or break the sound quality of an HT processor when used as a 2-channel analog preamp.  If caphill is saying that Sigma is better for 2-channel analog, then Classe may have built a better analog input stage.  The SSP-800 was really intended for HT processing, so the analog inputs stages may not be as good.

I do know that the Bryston SP3 uses another set of their discrete Class A circuits for all 8 channels of the input stages, so caphill's comment about the SP3 being great for 2-channel analog audio could be correct. I still don't like the SP3 architecture - where they have a big main power supply, but no localized power supply capacitors around the actual analog circuits.  I have found through R&D that this lack of localized power supply will give you softer mids/highs and a lacking in attack/resolution.  To each their own, though.  One thing I like about Krell Class A circuits is that they have a lot of localized caps (typically soemting like 6 x 47uf capacitors around a single channel audio stage).  This gives them extreme amounts of attack and resolution.  However, the Krell main power supply is typically undersized (especially in their HT processors) so that you get the typical Krell thin/bright sonic signature.

"But high end pre pros like the Classe SSP 800, Classe Sigma SSP, Bryston SP3, Meridian Ref 861 v8 are great for both stereo and surrounds (HT) and can function as high end stereo preamps."

Yup.  I completely agree.  But as multichannel formats and connectivity change as they undoubtedly will, you're stuck with these processors that at some point will not be upgradeable to new formats.  This is one of the main reasons I recommended buying a relatively cheap AVR for processing and spending relatively more money on a good stereo preamp.  If I have a quality stereo pre like the Pass X-2.5 or the Hegel P20 (and yes, I'd challenge even good prepros to match their stereo performance) at the heart of my 2-channel system, do I care too much if video processing or connectivity change in the future?  No.  I just swap in a new and relatively cheap AVR to handle that stuff and go on my merry way with my quality stereo pre -- thank you very much.  Spending the same or more right now to buy a soon-to-be outdated prepro that has a good stereo preamp section makes little sense to me since you'll end up with a boat anchor in the near future when A/V standards inevitably change.  If 2-channel audio is the priority, THIS MAKES ZERO SENSE TO ME.  Why pay for all those expensive multichannel DACs and processors in a high-end prepro if that's not the priority of the system in the first place?  And, by the way, those multichannel features, which are of secondary importance to the OP in the first place, will be THE FIRST things to be obsolete!!!  WHAT???  Again, if 2-channel is the priority -- and with a DAC at the level of a Mytek Brooklyn DAC -- why would you pay so much for stuff that is of secondary importance and will go the way of the Dodo in relatively short order?  Again, if stereo is the priority this older, high-end prepro route makes absolutely NO sense to me.  That's all I got.  Again, best of luck in your decision and peace out. 
Bryston SP3's are ridiculously cheap used. What's up with that? 
@auxinput

The SSP 800 stereo performance or when used as a stereo analog preamp is superb especially coming from an AV pre pro but the Sigma SSP is slightly better but not by much. The difference was subtle. They sounded similar but the Sigma SSP has lower noise floor thus quieter, better image focus, everything were rendered more faithfully, slightly better dynamic range, etc. But again the difference was subtle.

The Sigma SSP’s USB DAC input signal path circuit architecture, spdif & Toslink input stages as well as analog input stages for only front LR channels were copied and pasted from that of the Classe CP-800 stereo preamp/DAC. The analog input stages of the CP-800 stereo preamp is known to be superior to that of the SSP 800 pre pro and sounded better than the SSP 800. Actually the stereo performance of the Sigma SSP is very close to that of the CP 800 stereo preamp, regardless of whether using the XLR stereo analog inputs or USB DAC inputs.
It takes highly trained ears in order to tell the difference between the two.

Both Classe CP 800 stereo preamp/DAC and Classe Sigma SSP’s front channels use exact same DAC chips but the CP 800 uses 2 DAC chips per channel whereas the Sigma SSP uses only one DAC chip per channel for its front LCR channels. Both the CP 800 stereo preamp/DAC and the Sigma SSP USB DAC input port sounded significantly better than their other digital audio inputs (spdif, Toslink). These two preamps were designed around the USB DAC input ports. You can read more on that online under Classe CP 800 reviews. However the Classe CP 800 stereo preamp/DAC originally retailed for $1k more than the Sigma SSP pre pro which makes the Sigma SSP a better value.

However, when designing a cheaper AV pre pro (Sigma SSP) Classe had to make some sacrifices such as limited features, limited connections (inputs & outputs) on the Sigma SSP in order to build a cheaper AV pre pro than the SSP 800 without sacrificing audio performances. There are features and connectivities that are omitted when designing and building the Sigma SSP.
You won’t find legacy analog video connections, no multi-channel analog audio 7.1 inputs on the Sigma SSP.
Classe also decided to limit the XLR balanced audio outputs only for front LR channels only (they are true differential or fully balanced circuitry) and the rest of the channels are single-ended design and have only RCA outs.

The Classe SSP 800 and Sigma SSP have different design philosophy. The Sigma SSP is optimized for stereo listening to music and is for someone who’s looking for an AV pre pro but main priority will be for two-channel listening to music but wants to have good multi-channel capabilities as well for HT or movies.
The Classe Sigma SSP isn’t for someone who’s looking for a processor for strictly HT use, that would be more for the SSP 800 or Datasat, Trinnov, Anthem, Marantz, Lyngdorf MP-50, Audio Control Maestro.

Actually the new Anthem AVM60 pre pro ($3k retail price brand new) performs extraordinary in surrounds for strictly HT use with the ARC2 engaged. The ARC2 (Anthem Room Correction) is a phenomenal room correction and is one of top notch and is probably on par with Room Perfect & Dirac Live. The Anthem AVM60, with the ARC2 engaged, will outperform the Classe Sigma SSP when used for surrounds or HT and rivals the much more expensive SSP 800.
But when used as a stereo preamp with room correction turned off both Classe Sigma SSP & SSP 800 sounded better than the Anthem AVM60. Hands down.
It all depends on what you are going to use the pre pro for.

The Anthem AVM60 pre pro is an absolute steal and if you are going to use it for strictly HT or surround movies the Anthem AVM60 will be perfect. But the ARC (Anthem Room Correction) is somewhat difficult to implement and get it set up properly. It isn’t plug n play kinda thing like the Audyssey in Marantz & Denon products.
But if you know how to set it up correctly it is very effective and extraordinary, way better than Audyssey.

However, the Anthem AVM60, both Classe SSP 800 & Sigma SSP, the Bryston SP3 aren’t equipped with video processor / upscaler. The video is simply pass through unaltered. They simply switch the video, they don’t process it. It makes more sense not to equip av pre pro or AVR with a video processor / upscaler. IMO the video part is better off handled on your display or an external video processor or the Oppo players are very good in this area.
Agree on all points regarding the SSP800. It’s a hi-end preamp with stereo bypass which I’m using when listening to my Aurender A10 server because I find the dacs on the A10 a bit better, but the classe’s own are fantastic and can’t be beat with the prices they are going for now, which is around $2500. I also had the Krell S1500 for a year before the Classe, and while it was great for HT, 2 ch just didn’t do it for me. Not really close TBH. It’s GUI was also very clunky.
I’m most likely gonna update to the Lyngdorf M50, room correction and Atmos, but I’m no hurry for now.
Too bad the Sigma doesn’t do Atmos, cause the Lyngdorf is 2x the price.
@btw22 

+1. Actually the GUI on the Classe SSP 800 is not any better. 
The new Sigma SSP Mk2 does Atmos & DTS-X, 4K video pass through but not HDR compatible and the new retail price now is $6k. 
The Lyngdorf MP-50 is better IMO especially for HT. I've heard that its stereo performance is very good too. I think the Lyngdorf MP-50 retails for $10k. 
@soix 

Yes I totally agree with your points. Having a good quality dedicated stereo preamp and a cheap AVR or a cheap pre pro will make more sense since the HT formats keeps on changing constantly. But not everyone would want two separate units : one stereo pre and another pre pro or AVR in their rigs maybe partly due to limited rack space or other reasons. Some would also want very good surround sound quality as well for their HT needs as well as stereo needs. Cause cheap AVR and pre pro would not sound good for HT (movies). Having the best of both worlds will cost a fortunate indeed. Having both high end expensive AV pre pro and high end stereo preamp can be very costly. And some people do not care about the latest formats and would only like conventional 5.1 or 5.2 setups. That seems to be the case with the OP (erik_squires). He does not need the latest AV formats eg Dolby Atmos, DTS-X or 4K video pass through. Our varying needs would dictate what to get. 

I'm very well aware that AV formats become obsolete pretty quick. 
And high end stereo preamps would of course sound better than high end AV pre pros in stereo. No doubt. 

I happen to have two separate setups in two different rooms : a stereo setup in my dedicated stereo listening room, and a dedicated HT room in a separate dedicated HT room. But not everyone have what I have. 


@erik_squires 

The Bryston SP3 lacks support of the latest most current formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS-X, Auro 3D, 4K video pass through, etc. that's why its resale value plummets in an after market. 
The same with the Classe SSP 800. That's the main problem or drawbacks with AV pre pros or AVR that lack supports of the latest most current AV formats, their resale values will plummet quite drastically. As mentioned above that AV formats are constantly changing, evolving, etc.
Welcome to the ever changing AV world. 

@doctock993

For your needs it seems like the Classe Sigma SSP would be your best bet. It has excellent stereo performance and very good HT or multi-channels as well. Unless if you want to go different route by acquiring a separate dedicated high end stereo preamp and separate pre pro or even AVR. This would be ideal but can be more costly if you want the best of both worlds. Otherwise, the Classe Sigma SSP ($5k & $6k) will be way to go if you want a single box solution. But keep in mind that AV formats are constantly changing and evolving as stated clearly by Soix in the earlier post.

Don’t worry about the rca or single-ended outputs for center, surrounds and subwoofer channels on the Classe Sigma SSP. They are still very good single-ended designs. Unless if you’re running very long interconnects or if you have noise issues in around your home then otherwise good quality rca cables would do just fine. Try to keep all cables as short as possible and don’t skimp on cables.
But you still want to use XLR balanced cables for the front LR channels outputs on the Sigma SSP especially if your power amp is also fully balanced design.

@caphill,

Thanks for the info. You are correct regarding Atmos processing on the Sigma mkll. Not sure why I thought it didn’t.

$6k retail is definitely easier on the wallet than the $10k Lyngdorf but I’m more inclined to get the Lyngdorf based on their Room Perfect technology. I’ve heard and read so many great things about it. Classe’s 5 band PEQ does help but it can be quite daunting to setup properly and the Lyngdorf’s is pretty much plug and play. Fully balanced XLR outs are also useful for my application. I realize there’s no such thing a “future proof”, but this is the closes it gets for me IMO. 

But who knows when I’ll get around to it. Maybe when I finally decide to sell my Classe, but I realize that I’ve missed my window by a few years to recoup even 50% of my investment. 

I don't really care about Atmos. 5.1 is enough for me though! :) Maybe I'll check out the Bryston too. :) 

I just bought a Marantz 7703 processor.I own a mcintosh mx 119 and an Integra  80.3.The 7703 is every bit a good as the McIntosh  for 2 channel and was much better than the 80.3!  The Marantz is last years model but has the latest  features.Still can be had for 1500$Very solid buy!
@corvette01

The McIntosh MX119 is a very old processor and was based on Marantz older processor (can’t remember model # but I think it’s the AV8003 or even older). The McIntosh MX119 is pretty much very similar as an older Marantz processor with McIntosh faceplate on.

Even the newer McIntosh MX122 processor was based on the Marantz AV8802 processor.
@erik_squires 

Yes the Bryston SP3 will be a great choice if your priority is stereo listening. 

I really don't know if the older McIntosh processors were based on Marantz processors.  I would highly doubt this.  As far as the newer processors (MX122 or 8802 or 8801), they are completely different architectures.  For one, the Marantz does have individual boards that have discrete audio stages for each output channel.  It also has completely different power supply layouts.  McIntosh likes to use R-Core transformers and has different stages of power supply voltage regulation.  As far as I can tell, all McIntosh processors use op amp for analog stages.

If you hunt for pictures, you'll see that the internals are completely different between McIntosh and Marantz units.  It could be that the original firmware of McIntosh was based on a Marantz code.  I have no idea on this.

@auxinput

Yes you’re correct. The McIntosh MX122 was based on the Marantz AV8802. They only shared the same hdmi audio video boards, DSP, firmware, GUI, OSD. McIntosh built their own power supplies, DAC, analog audio stages, etc, etc. But the MX122 was built on the same chassis as the Marantz AV8802.


@corvette01

The McIntosh MX119 is really old probably 15 yrs old or older whereas the Marantz AV7703 is a new modern processor. Completely different generation AV processors. A fairer comparison would be the Marantz AV7703 vs the McIntosh MX122 or the Marantz AV8802 vs the MX122. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Marantz AV7703 sounded as good as the McIntosh MX119. First of all, there’s a not a single McIntosh preamp or pre pro that I heard sounded great. They were dull, lifeless, too syrupy, lacking dynamics, attacks, PRAT, inner musical details and presence.

@erik_squires 

I will be selling my Classe SSP 800 in few months probably towards the end of the year. I will be upgrading to a new processor that can decode Dolby Atmos, DTS-X, Auro 3D, etc. But first I will have to start remodeling my home theater room in order to accommodate overhead ceiling speakers for Atmos & DTS-X setup. 
I'm going to sell my SSP 800 for $3k and it iś in mint excellent condition both cosmetically and functionally. Everything works fine. 
I have all the original accessories, box, user manual, remote, etc.
I've been treating it with great care. It was sent back to Classe in Canada once for service in Jan 2016. My SSP 800 was manufactured in 2010 but I purchased it in 2011. 
@Erik_squires 

If you will be interested at the end of the year let me know or anyone who will be interested. 
Just wanted to throw in my $.02 worth...  I have an original Classe Sigma SSP with optional phono stage/Linn LP12, a BAT VK 500, Nordost cabling, Sigma Amp 5 for surround, B&W surround speakers (7.1), Proac CC2 center, Proac ER-1 sub (only used for home theater), Oppo Blu Ray and most importantly... Aurender N100.  Primary speakers are ProAc Response 5.  I prioritize 2 channel quality over HT but I spend more time with HT.  I find that the Sigma really captures a great balance point between the 2... Really excellent music quality with USB input (huge difference between feeding from my dedicated Mac Mini music system vs. Aurender) and very good HT experience.  I preferred the manual setup of the channel levels/distance/EQ.  I find I need to vary from strictly what the dB meter says different channel levels should be but feel the overall is a very immersive experience.  I appreciate the value proposition choice that Classe made of fully balanced operation for L/R and single ended for all other surround.  As the SSP is a fully functional Pre/Pro system plus DAC for $5K new plus a $500 phono.  An original SSP can be purchased for around $2500 and with it's functionality, I would suggest you are looking at far more money to significantly beat the quality...  Some day I will but it will likely be a minimum of $10-20K more, although my next jump may very well be to upgrade Aurender N100 to A10 and then use passthrough on Classe.  A couple notes of caution...  while the Amp 5 is a very nice, efficient surround amp, I absolutely would not recommend it for primary front left/right even in the balanced configuration.  Going from Amp 5 to BAT was absolutely revelatory for music!  Secondly, the Sigma remote is absolute crap, plan on figuring in cost of Logitec Harmony (around $100) or other universal remote control.  iphone/ipad control app. is solid, but I prefer to have more immediate feed back from Harmony for normal operations.  I hope this helps in your quest!
@psnyder149

Yup. For stereo music playbacks the Classe Sigma SSP sounded the best using its USB DAC input port. It’s magical and it is only $5k brand new for the first original version and $6k brand new for the Mk2 version. And it is also an AV pre pro as well. It does both stereo and surrounds (HT) very well especially for stereo music playbacks using its USB DAC input port. The Sigma SSP’s USB DAC input stage architecture and implementation was pretty much copied and pasted directly from Classe CP 800 stereo preamp/DAC. The CP 800 design was optimized for use with its USB DAC input ports. It was designed by Alan Clark, the Scotchman who was responsible in designing great Linn CD12 player as well as other great Linn Klimax DS products and legendary Mark Levinson preamps. You can read more online under Classe CP 800 reviews and everything about its USB input design stages was explained.

For HT surrounds (when using HDMI) I think there are better choices out there such as the ones with very good room corrections eg the Anthem AVM60 ($3k brand new), Lyngdorf MP-50 ($10k retail price). Even Classe’s own SSP 800 performs better in surrounds for HT than the Sigma SSP perhaps due to all fully balanced designs for all channels on the SSP 800 vs only reserved for front LR channels on the Sigma SSP, better power supplies on the SSP 800 as well as maybe better DSP surround processing power on the SSP 800 and possibly better multi-channel DACs implementation and configuration on the SSP 800. Not sure. But the fact is the Classe SSP 800 performs and sounded better than the Sigma SSP in surrounds or when used for HT or movies.

The Lyngdorf MP-50 is an excellent surround processor with phenomenal Room Perfect room correction or calibration and will outperform both Classe SSP 800 & Sigma SSP or many other av processors when used for surround movies.

Back to the USB input implementation on the Classe Sigma SSP, one time we had a chance to compare the Sigma SSP to the much more expensive McIntosh MX 160 processor using both processors’ USB DAC input port for stereo music playbacks with room EQ turned off. No comparison, The Classe Sigma SSP sounded better than the much more expensive McIntosh MX 160. The MX160 currently retails for $14k brand new. However, when used for surrounds for HT or movie playbacks with Room Perfect engaged on the McIntosh MX 160 and manual PEQ activated on the Sigma SSP, the McIntosh MX 160 performed better than the Classe Sigma SSP. No doubt.

So it all depends on what you are going to use the pre pro for.
I also have the Classé Signa SSP and am real happy with it.  You mentioned it is geared more for 2 channel as opposed to HT.
i have the B&W HTM2 D3 center speaker.  At times when watching movies, it is hard to understand some of the diologue.  Is this due to the limitations of the Sigma?  Would going to the larger center make much of a difference?  Or do I just need to increase the volume of the center channel even more.  I currently have it at 7.5 DB above the mains.  The center and surrounds are powered with the Classé 5300 Delta amp.
@bwguy

I do not have the Sigma SSP at home. I’m currently using the SSP 800 with all Classe Delta series amps. I’m using the Classe CAM-600 monoblock amps driving my front B&W 800 D3 speakers, CAM-300 monoblock amp (single) driving my B&W HTML1 D3 center speaker, and CA-5300 five-channel amp driving my surrounds. The movie dialogue is excellent have no problem understanding dialogues. The SSP 800 is indeed superior to the Sigma SSP for surrounds (HT).

I have heard the Sigma SSP multiple times at the dealer paired with the Classe Sigma Amp5 driving B&W 803 D3 front, B&W HTML2 D3 center and B&W 805 D3 surrounds. I mostly listened to the Sigma SSP in stereo for music playbacks fed via its USB DAC input with PEQ turned off. But I also did try the Sigma SSP for surrounds (HT) but the movie dialogues seemed clear and precise. I had no problem hearing movie dialogues.

I think yours probably weren’t set up right? Did you activate the manual PEQ cause the manual PEQ isn’t plug n play. You will have to know what you’re doing otherwise the results will be a disaster.
I would suggest that you hire a pro or acoustician or a certified Classe dealer to perform manual calibration using its manual PEQ.
You will have to download XTZ software and conduct measurements based off it. Something might have been off with the way yours was set up.

Indeed the Classe Sigma SSP is optimized for its stereo performance for music playbacks but IMO its multi-channel performance is still very good if it’s set up correctly or properly.