the kisto is the kontrol's 5ch cousin. Halcro has one coming out. Chord dsp8000. I would also say other non linn preamps maybe sim audio or possibly theta.
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"Is there any processor that will come close to the sound of a Kontrol or other high end 2 channel preamps for stereo listening?"
No. None of the computers that are the heart of a HT av processor sound as good as even a modest preamp, let alone a high end preamp.
Does the Linn have a av bypass? If so, buy a inexpensive processor to decode the movies and run it through the Linn. Otherwise, still buy a inexpensive processor and switch interconnects back and forth.
I used to do that when I had a Casablanca 2 with extreme DACs and a older ARC preamp that had no av bypass. Even the Theta wasn't as good as an older preamp, let alone todays SOTA.
Do you have LP's? Is that why two channel pass through is important?
Because otherwise the DACs in the Prepros are likely better than what is in your DAC or Cd player.
Two channel is inferior for Redbook CD playback anyway in my experience.
In less than a month I am going to Chicago to compare the EMM DAC6 and the TAG McLaren AV192, the person who owns these devices tells me there is very little difference between the two on Redbook CD in two channel. He prefers TMS to either two channel options. So maybe your compromising your 7.1 channel to accomadate your 2 channel.
A foriegn thought on this site for sure.
Meridian Surround Processor, its the only choice, until TAG McLaren Processors are resurrected as AudioLab.
I had the same idea in mind when I went shopping for my gear. I ended up with the Parasound C2. I actually met the owner of Parasound and talked with him a fair bit. His vision was building a great 2 channel preamp that was ALSO a great 7.1 prepro. I think he succeeded. The C2 sounds awesome and you can bypass the processors by using the analog 7.1 inputs of the C2. It also has a ton of other features, inputs, outputs and upgradable software. Check it out.
I have both a Parasound Halo C2 and Proceed AVP2+6 and I can tell you that the Proceed kills the Halo pre-pro when it comes to the analog 2 channel and SACD. Redbook CD's also sound better when fed through the digital input but the difference is more subtle.
The Proceed does bass manegement through it's 6 channel analog input which the Halo C2 does not. To make sure this was not the difference I did set them up exactly the same with no bass manegement and set the levels using the Avia test disc. The Proceed AVP2 still produced such a stunning soundstage and air around the instruments that I was in heaven.
I do prefer the Halo C2 in home theater though which is not what I expected.
Since you can pick up a Proceed AVP2+6 for around $2,700 to $3,200 I am sure you would not be disapointed. Make sure it has the +6 option though if bass manegement for SACD/DVD-A is important to you as it sounds very transparent to me in use.
Naaaaaaa....I still like the idea of getting a more "budget" AV pre-pro, and looping it through your preamp's "dirrect" or "auxilary" or "Tape", etc inputs! Thus you can keep your killer 2 channel sound you worked so hard to get sounding right, and have more than satisfactory surround sound by adding either more amps, or using the amps (not so great however) in an AV receiver(as substitute for pre-pro).
Basically here, you'll save money, get the best of both worlds, with good amplification and processing on the video side, and you won't be spending a ton on an AV pre/pro and amp combo, that will likely shortchange you on your 2 channel, and not get so much better on the 16/44 DD/DTS material anyway!!!!
Heck, my old 2 channel system, with an Acurus Act 3 looped into the "dirrect pass through" on my 2 channel preamp, filled in with Acurus 125x5 amp for the rest of the speakers, was FAR AND AWAY BETTER ALL AROUND than most anyone I ever knew's system!
However you still, ofcourse, have options. If you go with a better (say EAD,AVP,Krell,whatever) AVpre-pro for your ALL-IN-ONE DUBTIES, you will, yes still get very good sound, probably either with digital or analog pass through connections, yes. I still don't think, in most cases(especially if 2 channel is strong for you) you're getting "the best of it", by ditching your 2 channel, and going "all in one", often compromised expensive AV pre-pro for your choice!
.....my two cents
AV Pre/Pros are not the most spectacular two channel performers...
of all the pre/pros I've heard over the years, the closest I've heard to really good two channel performance was from the Bel Canto PrePro through the analog bypass inputs. That's the best I've heard from "sanely" priced units (not that the price of a PrePro is considered sane by some individuals!! :) hehehe).
Even as I say this, I have to admit that I have heard better two channel preamps than the PrePro... so the idea of a two channel preamp with home theater pass through is a good idea, or something like the Pre2 or Pre6 from Bel Canto whereby it remembers volume settings for each input upon switching to it. Then you just set the volume level for that theater input and switch to it upon wanting to listen to surround sound...
Here is an example, I am running a Threshold T 2 analog
pre-amp for my 2 channel duty. I am running my Cal Audio
SSP 2500 with a set of 2 RCAs plugged into the front left
and right outputs of the Cal SSP to the HL4 input of the Threshold T2. The T2 when the volume is set to -18 is at
unity gain or HT pass through on some preamps. I then have my surround cables hooked up to the Cal directly and the
digital signal from the dvd player plugs into the Cal. If
playing 2channel SACD, it would be plugged into the T2 as
would CD playback using analog.
I agree with the post above that your better off keeping
your 2 channel pre but I would not use a cheap AV pro through it for HT. You can have the best of both worlds by using a very good 2channel pre and a very good SSP instead
of a cheap AV pro.
Hope this brief explanation helps
I have looked into this, too, and three choices that keep coming up are:
EAD Theatermaster 8800 Pro
Krell HTS 7.1
Theta Casablanca III
I really love the sound of Theta gear, but that darn Casablanca III is just far too complex for my desires. If they ever do update the Casanova, that would be another issue. But, as it stands, I'm still trying to decide between the EAD and the Krell. I am not in a huge hurry, though, as my current Rotel RSP-1066 doesn't seem to get in the way (I am using the analog multi-channel input pass through).
I've got Klimaxes as well and a Unidisk 2.1. Just upgraded from a Levinson 380S to Linn Kinos system controller. Stunning improvement. Kinos has one set of main outs so if you use a sub for stereo as well you need to run the interconnects that feed the sub through the line outs of the Klimaxes and defeat the sub on the Kinos set up menu.
You take your 2 channel preamp, and hook your L/R speaker set up as usually. Then, using an "auxilary input" or "bypass/monitor/tape input", you connect the L/R "amp out's" from your AV pre/pro to the 2 channel preamp, using one of those inputs. You connect all the other C/LS/RS, etc, output's from your AV pre/pro to the other amp channels. So, when you listen to 2 channel, you simply have your CD player, Tuner, whatever, connected to your 2 channel pre, as usually, and no need for the AV pre/pro to be on or switched in. Then, when you do want movies/multichannel, you simply switch the pre/pro in from whatever "auxilary input" you have it connected to on your 2 channel preamp, engaging the front L/R channels. And of course, the other channels are running through the other amp channels you connect. Simple really
This only works well, however, if your preamp volume control can be set to the same point every time you use your HT system. Otherwise the levels for the LF / RF speakers may not match the others. Ideally you'd have a preamp with either a HT bypass input, or a precise, repeatable detented or digital volume control.