I think once you get the amps connected you will notice a substantial difference.----Re. the quality of the pre section??? Once you ask that question then you have to ask your self why you didn't buy a Meridian or any of the other big buck stand-alone processors, to begin with ?? As a generalization it would be reasonable to assume the "pre-section" within the big-buck stand-alone processors will be better than that of the Marantz.-- The amp section is the easiest to do something about without dumping the Marantz.