The Emotiva amps have gotten great reviews and I hope that you have many years of great use out of the unit! There are many, many quality pre-pros out there that offer tremendous value. Once you are going the way of separates, it does cost more that just a receiver. However, the sound quality you get generally is worth the added cost. Plus, in the long run, when technology changes, you can just change the processor while still keeping your amplifier.
Now to your question:
1) Since you have an Emotiva poweramp, why not just buy the complementary Preamp/processor from Emotiva? They are having a special on the older version, the UMC-1 and that includes a big discount coupon--40% off-- to upgrade to the XMC-1. That seems like the most logical choice. You then only spend $499 now and can upgrade to the newer model whenever you want and not lose any $$.
2) If you are looking for a more mainstream name brand, then Marantz, Onkyo, and Integra come to mind right off the bat. You can likely get used models down in the $500-$800 range.
3) If you are not interested in HDMI switching, then you can go for higher end units like Anthem and look at the AVM20 or AVM30 (possibly even the 40 which has HDMI 1.1).
I'm not sure what your actual budget is. If it is for anything less than $500, then you are looking at an Anthem AVM20 or an older Onkyo, Integra, or Marantz.
If, however, you are willing to go another route, you can pickup an older, high end receiver that has pre-outs. Receivers like Marantz and Pioneer definitely have 5.1 or 7.1 pre-outs that allow you to use only the pre-amp portion and use an external, higher powered amplifier. You can likely pickup some of the older units for $200-$400. That, I think, would be the cheapest direction of all. Then you can save your $$$ and buy a better preamp down the road.
I think you have lots of good options, it just boils down to how much $$$ you are able and willing to spend right now.
The best value is to get the cheapest AVR with Pre-Outs that has the latest lossless decoding and HDMI protocol (1.3 vs 1.4)that you need. Don''t worry about paying for amplification that will go unused. As you already found out, a dedicated pre-pro already costs more than an AVR with the same features. Many of us do this as it seems to make the most sense.
The separate power amp will last a long time, and could be coupled to many differnt AVR's as the processing/connectivity technology changes along with your needs. But a good amp is a good amp and these never change. I have now had two different AVR's hooked up to my Parasound multi channel power amp and never worried once about not utilizing the AVR's built in amps. To be honest - I wouldn't want to use them. The Parasound is so much better.
I agree with Internetmin. That is as good advice as anyone could ask for. Good luck and keep us posted.
I have a few questions for you. Which speakers are you running and do you use a sub? What is the efficiency? What do you use for video? Are you using a BluRay/DVD player?
Internetmin's answer was perfect. I'd add that if you're willing to do without audio over HDMI and room correction, a used Emotiva MMC-1 can be had for about $275-300 these days. I used one for several years without complaint. They were certainly more reliable than the UMC-1...although with fewer features.
The MMC-1 switches video over HDMI, but audio will need to run via coax, toslink, or analog RCA into the MMC-1.
Best of luck.
I too have a 5 channel Parasound amp that I was running with a BK ref20 until recently. After seeing how much dedicated pre/pros are, I ended up getting an Anthem MRX300 to use as a pre/pro. It's been working great.
I'd buy a receiver based on the features you want. You can always use some of the amp channels for extra surrounds or a second zone.
I figure at $1k, it's so much less expensive than the pre/pros that I can just upgrade it in a few years if there are significant changes in technology.
I've wondered about separate pre/pro v AVR pricing. Is the higher priced pre/pro really superior to a manufacturer's AVR or is the AVR market just more competitive?
The AVR market is just more competitive with mainstream manufacturers having to bring new models to market every year with the latest bells and whistles. If you compare current AVR models to the same manufacturers pre-pro (providing they make one), chances are the case and chassis, decoders, HDMI protocol, room correction, etc. are all the same. The only thing that is different is that the AVR gives you up to 7 channels of amplification - for less money! Kind of makes you wonder the quality of those built in amps?
I would say though that pre-pro from the higher end companies, Cary, NAD, Anthem, etc., probably offer much better 2 channel pre-amp sections than the mainstream company's pre-pros. But this is usually not why people buy AVRs or pre-pros.
HDMI 1.4, lossless decoding, etc in an AVR vs. a pre-pro is exactly the same. The same version of Audyssey in an AVR is exactly the same as what you get in a pre-pro. Therefore with exception of the analog pre-amp sections on some high end models (and this applies only to those interested in two channel music; not movies or concerts), I would say pre-pros are not superior to an AVR.
The above is why I use an AVR with a multi channel power amp. For two channel analog, I use a 2 channel pre-amp with home theater by-pass. Best of both worlds in one system.
I think it's a bit of both. The AVRs, especially mainstream brands like Denon and Onkyo have economy of scale on their side. Dedicated pre/pros may use better quality parts, have more features and/or configuration flexibility, but it's subject to the law of diminishing returns.
There's a big gap in price between a good $1000-2000 AVR and a $6k+ pre/pro. Marantz has a reasonably priced pre/pro, but it doesn't even have the most up to date version of Audyssey.
I would say ditch the power amp and pre, and get a multi-channel integrated tube. Best the av receivers out there and some pre/power combo's.
Great post dude! That answers my question perfectly.
Thanks to everyone else for your 2 cents, it's great to hear a balanced set of opinions and ideas.
PS: Post closed as far as I'm concerned
Have fun. Glad the community could give you some thoughts that were helpful.
@Saeyedoc/Paraneer. I too had an Onkyo pre 885 and a Parasound Hca2205AT power amp. My Oppo 95 did the processing via 5.1 multichannel analogue ins. Sounded good and actually sounded better than digital with Audyysey XT calibrated. Analogue multichannel sounded better than the digital hands down.
But there was a weak link, it was processing twice. So I looked into Dared.
Researched and bought a Dared DV-6C integrated- multichannel analogue hybrid Tube. Next level. Simply smoked my Pre/power combo I had.
Everything is running purely straight to Oppo 95 with multichannel 2.1/5.1
With my Oppo acting as pre. Just stunning. This $400 integrated brought my system to level I couldn't imagine. You will need an efficient speaker say 90-91 or more to feel the 65x6 power rating. As I run Paradigm Signature S2's V3 with them and it stomps on that 220x5 power I had.
I would refer the Dared to all or everyone who wants great 2 channel/5.1 multichannel movie viewing and stunning two chanbel music. And I also put money back in my pocket simplifying my system of cords.
I'm still amazed at the sound difference....
"AV Receivers all seem to come with amplification and I don't need more amplification. I certainly don't want to pay for it if I've already got it"
IRRELEVANT! Priced of otherwise superior sounding AV receivers on the used market, which can be had for $150 - which included 7.1 ch, Dolby HD/DTS Master, Auto volume and EQ adjust, Audyssey MultEQ, 1080p HDMI 1.4 upscaling, pre-amp out's, and a host of other nicesties - makes the fact that you have included 125watts x 7 of power a moot point! WE'RE TALKIN BARELY $100+ FOR ALL OF THAT, AND SOME OF THESE THINGS SOUND INCREDIBLE FOR WHAT THEY DO!! (yes, better digital processing than 10 year ago Mark Levinson Digital on board currently with most any AV receiver around!)
Yeah, you get the amps thrown in for mere peanuts, my boy! You can use em or not use em. I mean you get a used superb sounding Harman Kardon AVR 354 for $175 on the used market, and sonics are simply stellar! -with or without using the amps in the sucker! (that's 24/192 dac's, 7ch processing with DD and DTS HD, Parmetric EQ, HDMI 1080 Faroudja processing, and ultra smooth detailed and clean sound quality!
I'm simply amazed at how cheap you can throw together some pretty darn good movie and stereo sound quality for dirt cheap any more on the used. It's a wonderful thing
Dunno why you'd NEED to have any currently newly marketed amp these days, new. There's so much dirt cheap used new condition amps out there that will blow your socks off for pennies on the dollar!
CIP, I just sold an othewise superb sounding HCA1205 Parasound (THX cert and independent volume gain conrols -all channels, John Curl Design), for $375 used!!
You buy some HK AVR254 7.1 digital HD receiver, with all the latest bells and whistles for $150 on the used, and even a Parasoud HCA806 6 channel power amp ((bridges to 150 watts x 3 ch for main front's, if you please - I recently sold one for $240 on CL!), and for $400 you simply don't get any appreciably supperior sound quality from most any reasonably priced AV gear out there for real world applications! Simply stellar audio video quality here, really! ..on the cheap cheap. Just sayin....it's like Christmas every day on the used AV net market, no doubt...You gotta be lovin it!