Are there really any high end pre/processors at a


I am playing with HT and have been into 2 channel for many years. I finally find a 5 channel amp that I can stand listening to but I am back to what has stopped me from setting up 5 channel; the crappy sounding processors.

I have tried several older processor (Lexicon MC12, Cary Cinema 11, Parasound P2 ECT) via analogue out to my Cambridge 751 and although interesting certainly not close to a really good preamp. I did try a newer Onkyo and I will leave the model number out because it was the worst sounding but I did get to try direct HDMI connection with that unit.

To clarify I do use very high end signal cables when going analogue so it is not the cabling. My HDMI cables are also very high end so again not the problem. I am using about $40K worth of very good speakers so let's eliminate them. For me it comes back to the processor. I really do not want to spend huge money on a processor because next week it will be worth nothing with technology so one thought was the Marantz 7005 but I am real open to any suggestions.
liveaudio
It's been about a decade since I gave up trying to integrated a SSP with a high end stero system. In my opinion, a good preamp is one of the hardest things to find and put into a system, no SSP I ever tried even came close. I gave up and went to using a Denon receiver for my hometheater and seperate stereo gear for music.

I haven't heard any of the latest batch of high end SSP's in my home, but I haven't heard from anyone who has said they found a great one either.

Warning: If you are going to recommend one, I need tubes in my preamp. LOL!
there are several pro/pros from a few years ago that are very highly regarded for audio performance - theses were in the 'cost no object' price bracket, but now can be had for a fraction of their new prices.

amoung those often cited for exemplary audio performance are Theta Casablanca, Proceed AVP2, Meridian 861 and 568, EAD, and Krell. of these, i've personally owned the Theta Casablanca, Proceed AVP2 and Meridian 568. to my ears, there was no comparison - the Theta Casablanca was hands down the best for audio. great sound steering for theater, and very near the equal of a dedicated 2 channel preamp for audio.

like the previous post, i've also gone back to using a dedicated 2 channel preamp and HT bypass for the processor, but if i was looking for a single box solution, the theta casablanca was the best i found.
I also have a high-end 2-channel system, with a VAC Sig mk2 preamp and VAC Statement 450 monos. I watch movies through the system with an Oppo-95 to an Integra DHC-80.3 processor using usb connections. The VACs drive the front L and R channels through cinema bypass and the center and rears are also controlled by the Integra through a 5-channel Sunfire Signature amp, bridged. I have a Velo sub also tied to the preamp than can be easily adjusted remotely.

Once everything is balanced the first time(not as tough as I thought, with Audyssey software provided w/the Integra), the settings hold and movies are a blast. My thinking was that I would try to integrate my high-end 2-channel components into my movie-watching experience, if I could. While its not perfect, for my living room, its working quite well. The Integra was also quite reasonably priced and does everything I need for now.
The Casablanca III with Extreme and Superior DAC’s that’s listed on AudiogoN right now for $3,000 might be just what you’re looking for in a processor.
There are very few decent SSPs out there, and even of those chances that one works optimally for your tastes/system are slim at best. Sounds like you should do what Fplanner did and integrate a decent SSP into your analog system so that it controls processing, center, and surrounds for movies/TV but your stereo pre remains the sole preamp in the chain for critical 2-channel listening (HT bypass helps here, but not necessary). Best of luck.
Ahh tell us which onkyo -dont be shy. This is not a magazine you can be honest
My theory is "Why compromise on 2-channel if you don't have to?" Its worked well for me as I'm in 2-channel 90% of the time.
I've had the 180 degree opposite experience. I found the audio performance of my HT system so compelling that I ditched my ARC and Joule preamps in favor of an Onkyo pre-pro and switched from highly regarded full range audiophile speakers to a set-up that uses Ohm 100s (sometimes MMGs) with a pair of Rythmik subs.

I'm not going back any time soon, but I know that for other folks...YMMV.

Marty

PS The Onkyo features Audyssey XT32 Pro and I suspect that this software is a major factor in my satisfaction with the system's performance.
Theta.
Fplanner2000 - Can you please be more specific about how you have your system wired up? Thanks!
I agree with Fplanner; there's no reason to sacrifice your 2-channel sound if you want to add the fun of home theater. I really enjoy Dolby digital and DTS surround not only on movies, but on regular tv as well. It even makes commercials more bearable.

After a lot of investigation and thinking, I determined the easiest method for me was to get 2 preamps: one for 2- channel listening with ht pass-thru for ease of setup and the other a prepro used mainly for surround processing and for connecting the center and rear channel amps. I utilize my subwoofer for both systems and run the video straight to the tv via HDMI. But you can also get prepros that process/improve the video if you'd like.

By adding a tubed preamp with pass thru to my formerly all ss system, I was able to improve my 2- channel system dramatically while adding the surround sound. I realize, of course, there are alternate methods of incorporating 2-channel with home theater. I posted this just in case it would work for others contemplating adding ht.

BTW, now is a good time to buy used prepros, especially if you don't require HDMI connections or more than 5.1 surround. Formerly high-end prepros that sold new at $3,000plus are now going for a song.
Yes there is a high-end pre/pro still out there that is the only truly fully balanced end-to-end topology from input to output on all channels. It has just been discontinued after 6 years in production and is still ranks "king" level on most reviewer lists which is the Denon AVP-A1HDCI. I mistakenly had mine listed here not too long ago but have sobered up and will never sell it. Denon has supported this flagship for years with every possible upgrade support (most free). The latest upgrade (not free) included Audyssey XT 32 and a new board with 3 new Sharc DSPs. I use mine for 9.3 HT and for analog 2-ch. My entire rig totals north of $100k and my speakers are Revel Ultima Salons, Ultima Voice and 2 sets of Revel Ultimate Embrace surrounds ($45k alone). My 2-ch setup is a PS Audio Perfectwave Dac MK II cabled into the AVP's balanced inputs and routed out to my amp with MIT Magnum M2 XLR sets on both sides of the processor.

If you are looking for the proper component to set off your rig for multi and 2 ch do not overlook this statement HT pre/pro. Nothing, (repeat) nothing does both duties in a single box better. Hurry up before last upgrade window closes.
I have been there done that. I have own several proccesor preamps from Intergra research lab, procceed, classe, sunfire, marantz... none of them come close to the performance of my dedicated 2 channel preamps. After successfully intergrate my BAT preamp into my ht. I am, now, a happy camper.
01-08-13: Seditious3
Fplanner2000 - Can you please be more specific about how you have your system wired up? Thanks!

The links below will show you how I have my Musical Fidelity A5 Integrated amp with HT Bypass wired into a single system for movies and music with my Yamaha AVR.

The first link is an overall wiring diagram:
Overall Diagram

The second link is if I want to watch movies:
Movies

The third link is for 2-channel music listening:
Music

Works great!
01-10-13: Erikt

The links below will show you how I have my Musical Fidelity A5 Integrated amp with HT Bypass wired into a single system for movies and music with my Yamaha AVR.

The first link is an overall wiring diagram:
Overall Diagram

The second link is if I want to watch movies:
Movies

The third link is for 2-channel music listening:
Music

Works great!
++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks for the diagrams. Being a visual learner, they were a huge help in my understanding on how this all works.
Marty - I'll second the Rythmik subs. I have two 15'ers and my system and for movies it equals or surpasses modern movie houses. For two channel music, I turn off the back sub.
Looks like another audiogon 'driveby'....
You have to understand one important thing. I do consulting in sound and vision. I am in this business for 14 years. I tested a lot in my life. In think in highend audio. This means the properties which are important to be there for highlevel sound. Depth is a key propertie for highend audio. Cambridge and Marantz both are 2- dimensional products. Even the most expenisve stuff the sell. I tested it many times. Onkyo is the only brand I know which can make a deep and wide stage in the price class they are. The Onkyo PR-SC5509 with Audessey Pro is stunning. Without Audessey it is useless and sounds like shit. I use it with a Pass labs X250.5. I play over 4 metres behind the speakers. I metre beside the speakers. And many speakers sounds like Q-sound. So even the instruments play in front of you. You have to use everything well balanced. Wenn you use speakers which are not good in depth, you cannot use this propertie. 3 dimensional sound is always superior to 2-dimensional sound. Because the exitement and emotions are on a much higher level wenn you listen to music or even movies.
The answer is yes, and you need to pay for them. Anthem D2V and Classe SSP800 are 2 of them.