Cambridge 840a v2 equivalent

I'm moving to separates (AV pre-pro, gasp!), and I'm looking for a 2-channel power amp with similar qualities as the Cambridge 840a v2. Right now it is running as a power amp only, and it is nice, but I have to think if I sell it and use the money for a dedicated power amp I could get something real nice. The Cambridge 840w is an obvious answer, but a bit out of my price range. I'm looking at 800-1000, used or new. I'm very drawn to Parasound, after hearing JC1's at a friend's house, so I've been thinking of the A23. A21 would be ideal, but again, a bit out of reach. What other amps should I be looking at in this arena? I really think Cambridge got it right with the class "xd" design, btw. And speakers are B&W CM7s.


After reading this in your previous thread,
My goals:
2 channel (no subwoofer) listening at the same or higher quality than the current 8004-Cambridge chain. I should say that I am VERY HAPPY with my current 2-channel setup.

Higher quality HT audio, either from the improved processing of a prepro, or of the Oppo.

Get my feet wet in multichannel audio. Currently my SACD listening is done in stereo only.
I suggest you search threads to see how many have struggled with pre-pros, some even mega buck, and they were never satisfied with the 2 channel performance compared to dedicated 2 channel. Using a HT by pass/pass thru, as you are currently doing, gives you the best scenario when 2 channel is important.

If you want to improve 2 channel, upgrade to a better integrated amp with HT pass thru, or 2 channel preamp/amp with the preamp having HT pass thru.

If you want to improve HT, I see your biggest problem being mismatched speakers. In the very early days of surround sound with only Dolby Pro Logic, the rear channels were mono, limited bandwidth, and even less power than the front in the A/V receivers. In that case I would say rear channel speakers might not be as critical as the front. Today is a totally different story since 5.1 surround sound is 5 discrete full bandwidth channels with a separate subwoofer channel. Take a look at the picture here,

Obviously, that jet would sound the same, front or rear in the room, with another pair of B&W CM7's for the rear, and some people would do just that. The best multichannel system is all identical speakers. The next best thing is to use timbre matched speakers. As you keep dropping quality and/or moving to another brand, then that 747 jet on the front may sound like a 2 passenger prop aircraft on the rear. Also, think about it moving from left to right across the front when the center is being used. Matching the rears and center with the fronts will give you a better balance to the sound throughout the room for movies and multichannel SACD. Keep in mind that the automatic setup in A/V equipment, regardless of what type it is, only adjust for room acoustics, and not for the difference in sound character between a JBL and B&W. It's not OK to use different left and right speakers, so why should it be OK to use different front and rear speakers.

Guess I should have read the article link thoroughly, as it looks like some A/V equipment has a "timbre match" feature. I find it very hard to believe it can make those JBL rears sound exactly like the B&W fronts, although it may improve, but to what degree. One thing for sure is that running the test tone with identical speakers, they all sound exactly the same. I doubt a "timbre match" feature could achieve this. I still say it would be better to use matched speakers.
Thanks for the interesting replies! Since I got the new AVR, I have been experimenting with multichannel audio via SACD (DSD direct to the receiver), and I basically came to the same conclusion. Unless I spend a lot of money getting all B&W speakers, it's not going to be satisfactory.

Even with Audyssey XT32, the differences among the speakers are still there when listening to music. However for movies, this is another story. XT32 does wonders and I am very happy with my current HT experience.

I decided to try some 2.1 listening with Audyssey engaged to see what it could do with 2-channel, and holy smokes! It is like a blanket was lifted off my system. The bass is amazing (the AVR allows a crossover of 40hz, which is perfect for my speakers, and many other floor-standers, I would imagine). It is tight, controlled, not boomy, fast, and powerful. I was getting some listening fatigue in the mid to upper treble, but that is totally gone now. I can listen for hours on end now with higher, more realistic full-orchestra SPLs with virtually no fatigue.

Anyway, that is how I got from my post over in the HT section to this post. Still looking for a 2-channel amp!