Classe SSP-800 - Time to move on?


I'm looking for some advice...

I've been a happy owner of a Classe ssp-800 for the past 8 years.   Its been a terrific unit and I've found it to be a very musical.  Initially I focused on buying a high in audiophile processor that could also function reasonably well as a 2 channel preamp as it made a lot of financial sense at the time.

Since then my system has grown and changed a lot and I now have a dedicated Ayre preamp in the chain for my 2 channel listening which works great.

So my question is with all of the new home theater audio formats(and 4k) coming out and with room correction built in to a lot of processors now does it make sense to move on?   I've been specifically looking at the Anthem AVM 60, but am open to suggestions.   The whole idea of room correction sounds really good to me.

I would love to hear from some of you previous Classe SSP 800 owners to see if you had any remorse after selling your processor. 

Thanks




rshad0000
I was just over to the Audio Doctor's showroom in Jersey City, a few weeks ago, they have the Anthem AVM 60, and the Audio Control Maestro, I think I saw an Arcam there as well. 

I watched a movie in their reference theater and it was totally  amazing, one of the best sounding home theaters I have ever heard. 

The store owner Dave, builds movie theaters for celebrity clients, he showed me photos of  the Movie Theater he designed and built for Rev. Run, from Run DMC, the guy knows his stuff, as evidenced by his theater which he told me was designed, and built by himself and his staff, including construction, room tuning and acoustic paneling. I would give him a call, he knows his stuff, google audio doctor jersey city. 
I just upgraded from an Integra DHC-80.3 to the Anthem AVM 60.  So far I have to say the reputation for a really clean house sound is well deserved.  I use it for HT and music.  The ARC-2 is fantastic.  I think that alone was worth the upgrade.  I would suggest you listen for yourself.  I suspect you will not be disappointed.
Have had the SSP-800 in my system for 5 years now. Also use a separate preamp for 2 channel listening & bypass when watching MOVIES/TV or listening to SACD. Ayre makes very good products, though not sure of the model of your preamp. Unless you need the extra channels or headphone amplifier that the AVM 60 offers, not sure you would get better 2 channel SQ than what you have now. Built in room correction is a plus, but; I have had no issue dialing my system in after investing in room acoustics. The SSP-800 is still considered to be a reference quality processor. Mine is going nowhere anytime soon.

That said, from a value stand point you could sell the SSP-800 for say $5,500 and buy a new AVM 60 for $2,999 and bank or re-invest $2,500 or so. The emotional vs economic quandry.

Cheers!

Thanks gocubs999

I have kx-5 twenty and vx-5 twenty for two channel and absolutely love them.  No  plans to replace those.

I certainly love the Classe but am interested in Atmos and some of the new formats coming out.   Plus it would be nice to switch 4k video through the processor.

I've been checking out the top of the line Arcam lately.   We'll see what happens.  Not sure yet.



I highly suspect that you would be losing sound quality if you moved from SSP-800 to an AVM 60.  Sure, you would be getting the new sound formats, but I think there is a distinct difference in what's put into the analog audio stages.

You might look into the Krell foundation.  With that, you would get 4K and Krell's ARES room correction.  I think it may be somewhat of a lateral move in sound quality from the SSP-800 (or maybe a little bit different signature).  Of course, you would not get Atmos and DTS:X.  Honestly, to me, the new Atmos/DTS:X modes wouldn't really make a difference unless you had the extra speakers (such as height/ceiling).  Even so (and I've said this before), I would rather have an ultra-realistic sounding 5.1 system than a decent sounding 9+ channel system.  :)

If you had your heart set on Atmos and DTS:X, I would look hard at the Marantz AV8802a to get the most out of sound quality.

Thanks Auxinput
I appreciate the advice.   Sounds like I would be better off using the extra money on continuing to improve my 2 channel system rather than change out the Classe.

I was not sure how much improvement I would get with a new processor using the new formats.


Just for your information, for many years I continued to use a Krell HTS 7.1 until about a year and half ago when it finally died. Keep in mind this is a product that was released in 2002 (much older than your SSP-800). I had tried several other home theater processors that used HDMI and bluray hi-res audio (including a couple that were very expensive). None of them could reproduce what the HTS 7.1 did in sound quality!! Ya know what, I ended up putting in a new Krell S-1200U (which is about the same generation as your SSP-800).

I did try out the Emotiva XMC-1, which is --probably-- on the same par as the AVM 60. I would say that it gives you an excellent amount of performance for what you are paying. However, even the HDMI audio could not compete with the HTS 7.1 down-converted digital COAX audio! The resolution and separation-of-instruments just wasn’t there and the Emotiva sounded a bit closed in.

I have had my SSP-800 in a Stereo / HT setup for 7 years.  The continuing changes to the HDMI standards makes for some difficult and expensive decisions trying to find the right time and product to make a configuration change in higher end systems.  For me, the only reason to change is to get 4K HD video thru a one box solution.  I remain happy with the Stereo and Home Theatre processing capabilities of the SSP-800.  I am looking for a quality HDMI video switch that supports the current HDMI standards and all audio processing modes.  With that approach, I could bypass all video switching in the SSP-800 yet retain the audio quality - at a fraction of the price to upgrade.  Can anybody offer an HDMI switch recommendation?  

@denny001 - I think what you are looking for is to have an HDMI switcher that will switch/process 4K video and send it to your display, while at the same time being able to send your digital audio to your SSP-800 processor. The problem with HDMI switcher/splitter (or matrix) is that an HDMI switcher device will query for every possible display device connected (EDID) and then select the minimum capable resolution. In this case, everything will be downconverted to 1080p even though your hdmi switcher and source are 4K capable. This is because the SSP-800 is not 4K capable and is a target device in the HDMI chain.

On product that -might- be able to do what you are looking for is the Lumagen Radiance Pro. This supports 4K UHD sources and 4K UHD displays. The Lumagen has 2 HDMI outputs. The HDMI 2 output is usually connected to the display. The HDMI 1 output can be connected to an AV Receiver (your Classe SSP-800 in this case) for audio only. In addition, the video for HDMI 1 can be disabled in the Radiance so it might ignore the 1080p limitation of the SSP-800. However, the big advantage of the Radiance is that it has a 21-point greyscale and a 4913 point color cube calibration. You can have an AV engineer calibrate it for your display (this is a significant improvement in color accuracy and impact). The downside of this is that the Radiance Pro is very expensive, starting at $4500.

http://www.curtpalme.com/Radiance.shtm

You can investigate HDMI Matrix switchers. I don’t know if they will do what you want, but they are also expensive. Gefen has a 4K UHD 8x8 Matrix switcher (GTB-HD4K2K-848-BLK) for $2,699.

Another downside of putting an HDMI matrix switcher before your SSP-800 is that you will not be able to see any on-screen menus from the SSP-800, since it is no longer in the direct video chain.

@auxinput - excellent advice re the HDMI switcher.  I was not aware that a lower resolution component would impact all switch device outputs.  In lieu of a HDMI switcher, could I send all video sources direct to the 4k TV and use the HDMI out from the tv as the SSP-800 audio input?  Would  I have an audio delay using this configuration?

Denny001,

I'm looking at doing the same thing, but my plan/hope is that the new oppo 205 with 4k output has two hdmi outs.  That way i can run one to my projector and the other to the ssp800 (for audio only).   I already do something similar now with the oppo105 and 3D movies.   I send all video out of the 105 direct to the projector and the audio to the ssp800 since my ssp800 will not process 3D.
I have no idea.  If you have a 4k source, you'll just have to try it.  It is possible that there might be an audio delay.  It depends on how the 4K TV processes the HDMI signal.  It could be a "store-and-forward" process or it could be a "passthrough" process.
I'm in the same boat. Have had my ssp800 since 2009 and it has worked flawlessly. Bought the Aurender A10 music server a month ago and it sounds better with the classe bypassed. The classe is a tough sell now and I have one eye on the new Lyngdorf pre/pro. 

Looking at the Aurender:

https://cdn3.volusion.com/zfaej.gfcbd/v/vspfiles/photos/04DD-AURXA10-7.jpg?1470856254

4 completely independent power supplies, each with its own transformer. One for digital transport, one for each of the analog output stages and one for digital/dac. Looks like a fully balanced/differential configuration. I can totally see where the Classe bypassed would work better because the Classe doesn’t have as much into its audio stages. Classe is a very good HT processor, but like all processors, shared power supply for 8 analog channels.  Shared transformer for everything.  Switched power supply for digital.

I highly doubt that the Lyngdorf will do better than either the Classe or the Aurender, since it now has 16 analog channels to deal with (twice as many as the Classe). Unless your just looking for a higher end HT processor that will support all the new standards and 4K. Also, the Lyngdorf has no analog inputs.

Thanks for the input, auxinput.
Yeah I suppose you're 100% correct. The lyngdorf's dac won't even process full MQA and I would most likely end up bypassing just like the Classe. 
@rshad0000  - Please advise how the Oppo 205 experiment went.  Did you find any audio  delay or other issues?  I am trying to keep the investment and quality of the SSP-800 while finding a 4K video solution.  There's very good advice in this stream re HDMI switchers, but I've elected to not go that route.

Re AVM60 comments, I am now using that in a second home theatre system and am very happy with the sound, features and value.  Too many variables for me to try and compare to SSP-800, but I do like tha AVM60!
@rshad0000 

Lots of good advise here, I backed 'auxinput' recommendation for Marantz 8802A. The Marantz sound is superb on both HT and 2ch.  

If you chose not to upgrade your processor then your plan to use Oppo 205 4K HDMI output to a 4K projector and 2nd audio output to SSP is spot on. I am using the similar setup with my Krell 707 processor / Oppo 203. 

I am afraid SSP is now severely outdated and probably going to fetch you around $3K on a used market. With the news of Classe closing down their doors, the resale value of Classe gear is expected to take a serious hit. 

I am very saddened by the Classe demise, It was my first high-end brand. I once treasured my SSP-800, CA-2200 and CA-5200 setup for 7 wonderful years before moving on to my current setup. 

Contrary to rumors, Classé has not closed. I'm not sure how they started, and I apologize for any confusion they may have caused.
We have stopped development on the Delta Series to ensure that the products deliver the experience people have come to expect from Classé Audio and Bowers & Wilkins. We will continue to sell Sigma Series products, and our customer service and support have not been effected. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Regards,

Patrick Butler
B&W Group North America
Very glad to hear that Patrick. Godspeed to you and to Classe'/B&W.

Dave
Patrick,

Please accept my apologies for the false rumor. I have read about Classe shutting down on another thread. I am very glad to hear that Classe remains open for business.

I hope to see many more great products from B&W group.
Hey lalitk,

Yes, I decided not to upgrade my processor and just stick with running the video direct from the OPPO 205 and getting a new 4k projector.   Also, I'm looking at buying some new speakers at some point and would like to use the money on those instead of the processor.   At some point I am sure I will upgrade though.

I read the same thing about Classe and I am very glad to hear from Patrick that this is not the case.   I personally love the looks and lines of the Delta Series.
👍👍
rshad 

i was in a similar but different situation 18 months ago. I redid my HT and went with Marantz processor and Bel Canto monos for power. To cut a long story short i finally ended up with a Cary processor. Does way less compared to the Marantz but sounds way way better. 

i fear your classe will simply blow everything else into the weeds from a sound perspective but may not have all the new gadgets .....
pweg,

Yes, I agree, I've listened to several mid priced Processors and it surprises me the difference in sounds quality; particularly in musicality.   Cary, Bryston, Classe, McIntosh, Theta, just to name a few are very nice sounding.   Expensive, of course, but nice.
OP, I'm using the same Ayre preamp and amp as you with an Oppo 205 in a stereo setup with a 4K Sony XBR.  I always take HDMI-1 from Oppos directly to the monitor or projector.  In the stereo setup, I use analog from the 205 to the Ayre, and for SACDs it's pretty close to the Ayre C-5xeMP.

In a surround/HT setup, I use HDMI from a 105D to a Bryston SP3, with front LR passed through a Parasound JC 2 BP to JC 1 monoblocks.

BTW, I'm using an $50 4K HDMI switch from Monoprice to select between DirecTV and FireTV in the stereo setup, and it works well

db
You definitely have a similar set up to mine.   I recently bought a Ayre QX-5 and basically have the Oppo act as a digital player for the new DAC when I'm listening to music--have a solid state hard drive connected to the Oppo as well as stream Tidal.   Works really well.
Has anyone compared the sound of the Aurender A10 (XLR outs) to that of the CP-800? Flexibility issues aside (e.g. the A10 has only one digital input), which one would you prefer for 2ch listening? Is using the A10 only as a streamer (to the CP-800 via USB, for example) a waste of its DAC capabilities? Both units are similarly priced, but which one would you say is more `musical`? (Sorry, I know I am asking for very subjective information, but I would like to hear some opinions.)
Thanks.
So many choices in surround processors, but I think it's a good idea to bypass the processor for video...go direct from source to TV via HDMI due to all this HDR/4k/blah blah stuff.  With regards to room correction, boy, that's where stuff gets complicated.  Bryston doesn't even bother with it.  Anthem uses ARC, Krell uses ARES, Emotiva uses Dirac, NAD/Marantz/McIntosh(122) uses Audessey, Lyngdorf/McIntosh(160) uses Room Perfect...

I would argue that for a movie, audio quality isn't super important, right?  So regardless of how much processing "changes" the sound, the reality is, you just need the sound to work and be in the right spatially located area.  That means that ease of setup is probably the most important feature.  

I've used the AVM-60's ARC and Emotiva's Dirac (free and paid).  Personally, I think the SQ is all the same.  No big difference.  For me, at this point, for home theater, I want convenience and features at the right price.  I want a system that boots up quickly and is easy to set up.  My speaker/amp system uses RCA, so I don't really need balanced outputs.  I don't have more than 5 speakers so I don't care about Atmos X and whatnot.  I actually started with the AVM-60 but swapped it out (and saved a thousand bucks) by going with the emotiva XMC-1.  The only issue I have with it is the boot time.  I'm hard pressed to find a better processor with *some* room correction for a thousand, though. 
I replaced my Classe SSP800 in August with an Anthem AVM60 PrePro and a Hegel P30 Preamp with home theater bypass and it has worked out very well. I found the Anthem AVM60 has superior steering to the Classe and the ARC2 Room EQ is much better than the Classe SSP800 manual EQ. Surround sound movies sound fantastic. And it is nice that Anthem can pass 4k HDR through The HDMI versus running a separate hdmi cable for the video to the 4k tv. Two channel music sounds fantastic played through the Hegel. This was my solution and it has worked out very very well. 
Thanks jrn.   What do you mean by, "superior steering to the Classe"?
I have an ssp-800 with a Levinson 433 and 2x 431 amps in my HT. Stereo listening makes me warm and fuzzy but admittedly, from the HT standpoint I’ve looked high and low for a replacement and it’s all because of U4K video resolutions. From a purely sonic standpoint I couldn’t part with the Classe. In the end, I ended up with an outboard HDMI switcher, Crestron HD-MD6X2-4K-E 6x2.  They do have smaller ones.  I couldn’t be happier with the decision. In a perfect world, I’d forego golden convergence (audio, video and IP networking) for discrete components but manufacturers don’t seems to want to embrace such an old school line of thinking. The challenges of delay can be a real pain but where there’s a will there’s a way.