I would say buy Proceed to match the amp.
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In very much the same boat. I want great 2 channel SQ from my HT system. I upgraded gradually (but quickly) from B&W 9NTs to B&W N803's (along with ctr and surround upgrades). Was powering with Pioneer vsx47tx (with rm correction), their $4000 flagship of a few years ago. When I made this change, noticed that some Cds were unlistenable. Got new Sunfire TGA5200 amp (200x5, 400x5 in 4/8 ohms) on closeout, plugged in using Pio as preamp and WOW, what a difference. Assume that's what the Proceed is doing for you. Next got Sunfire TGP5 processor (no room correction), and sound improved again, but not exponentially like the amp. Got a modded Denon3930ci which really improved sound further. I still want to see if I can improve further so I read a bunch of threads, including a very long one on this subject over at AVS forum, and there was a dual consensus (two camps):
1) the Proceed AVP and Cary Cinema 11 are about the best pre/pro values out there for analogue/2 chanl , with BelCanto and Classe pre/pro units considered very good as well. Some also liked Parasound C1/C2, and Bryston SP2. I think both Parasound and Classe only allow balanced input for complete analogue bypass for pure 2 channel. I was going to buy a used AVP2, but couldn't pass up a 55% off deal on a new sunfire, figuring I could use difference later.
2)Others said that even the best pre/pro cannot sound as good as even a good preamp in 2 chnl analogue. Some of them had tried the AVP, BC, etc and sold and went to preamp. What I've learned in the preamp threads, for my budget (1500-3000 used), the best "giant killer" preamps seem to be the Aesthetix Calypso, Modwright SWL 9.0 SE signature (they also have a 36.5 that may run a little more but may be killer), Dodd preamp, and RedWineAudio Isabella (which is relatively new at 4-5k, so may not see used one for a while). CJ, Bryston, Cary all seem to make really god preamps as well. Obviously, there are dozens of candidates, but in my own extensive research, these are the best values I've come up with.
Ultimately, although I've been toying with idea of replacing Sunfire with AVP, I think I will stick with sunfire and concentrate on preamp with HT Bypass, then maybe try an even better amp (need cool running and small, so thinking about NuForce or Spectron, both of which seem like killers). My ratonale is that pre/pro world is constantly changing, and since I'm satisfied with HT SQ, I can play more freely with (and put more money into) separate 2chnl components. Sorry for the lenghty reply.
Hope this helps, and feel free to email me directly if you want to chat more. Jeff
I purchased a Proceed AVP2 +6 on Audiogon and am very pleased. Only audio is being processed by the AVP2. All cinema video signals from the source players are connected directly to a Sony display monitor. This includes HDMI, component, and the AVP2's main video out for on-screen programming adjustments.
As a option for cable TV, the Sony's audio pre-out is connected to the AVP2 for occassional audio reproduction of cable TV broadcasts. For Zone 2, a digital out from the Proceed is connected to the Yamaha's variable pre-outs and a multi-zone amp. I use the Yahmaha's ARC recommended settings to assist in setting-up the Proceed.
The SQ's improvements in balance, clarity and separation has become "convincingly real" compared to the Yamaha's procesor. I'm also auditioning a pair of cathedral monitors that are turning out surprising well for music and fabulous for HT. Extremely smooth, involving, and very enjoyable long-term listening.
Summary: For anyone considering upgrading from a good reciever to separate components, keeping it simple may help alot. Separating audio and video was the best choice. The Proceed AVP2 +6 and matching Proceed AMP5, to me, resulted in a huge step up to a truely wonderful audiophile system for both music and HT. By bipassing all the video switching away from the Proceed AVP2, I can anchor sound quality in the Proceed's and keep all video quality grounded directly between player sources and the Sony display monitor.
Thanks to all and happy to answer any questions.
I use a Proceed PAV/PDSD pre/pro with Proceed Amp-2 and Amp-3. The PDSD provides 5.1 processing with balanced outputs for 5 amps plus a sub, and analog pass-through for the PAV. My amps are closer to the speakers than the processor, so balanced lines are important. I use an HDMI video switcher to select between an HD-DVR and a PS3-80. A Velodyne SMS-1 provides room correction below 80 Hz for a Velodyne HGS-15. Speakers are a pair of KEF 104/2 mains, 200C, and 102/2 surrounds, all biwired. I think you can find a PAV/PDSD pair on Audiogon for about $1K. MSRP was about $10K, but that was some years ago.
Your Proceed PAV/PDSD is a great combination. All-in-one pre-pros, great audio componets, analog-through, current video switching and ARC are very expensive to produce, launch and support. Borrowing ARC to assist set-ups help keep audio investment dollars put into audio sound reproduction. Plus, wiring is cleaner with less connections and cables.
I spoke with several dealers and company reps during this decision. Surprisingly, with all their product offerings, their private comments to me were to steer away from processors with video switching and focus on quality analog audio sound reproduction.
That's when I decided to bipass the cost of newer processors with video switching (some are very good).
To me, a great system can be listened to for hours. I like using the AVP2 through the ST-1's, Ultra 13 and MBM-12's best for music. With plenty of audio headroom, HT audio can follow right in step. People feel differently about adding subs in .1, .2, .3 music systems. The SVS Ultra 13 is very musical and MBM's add a transparent, firmer punch in my 30 x 30 room.
Originally, the AVP2, RF-7's, SVS, and MBM-12's was my plan. A Proceed AVP2 +6 was on its' way from a A-GON member. The TX-1 Yamaha cathedral monitors were a lucky hit whilst perusing a local CraigList. Great fronts for music and HT. I love these speakers and they were never designed for home audio: 15 inch sealed bass drivers, 3 mids and 6 tweeters. 380 watt built-in amps, large staging, smooth and revealing. In 1983, a matching custom FX-1 organ went for 36K pounds and only one was made and shipped to the U.K. (according to an article).
So, this is a good example of how well made plans can change for the better. I'm also looking at a integrated tube amp and the RF-7's for music, too. Matching components appears to be the most important consideration for a system to synergize beautifully together. High prices also appear incidental.