Do you use a preamp in your HT system to improve sound?

what preamp do u use in your ht system and is it helping ht SQ?

I like idea of enhancing ht sound with a preamp.  Even the hi end processors are limited in their SQ.

i use a low end tube preamp and like its influence on hq sound.  I am considering an upgraded preamp.




I use a McIntosh C8 with new DA2 DAC. It sounded so good I got rid of my Berkeley 2 MQA DAC. I had a McIntosh C1000/T1000 Preamp and the C8 is just as quiet for 1/4th of the price. Everything is getting better in quality every year and it’s hard to tell the difference anymore

A Bryston SP3 processor takes in HDMI and passes balanced analog front LR to a by-pass input of an Ayre KX-5 Twenty preamp.

First, get a good sounding processor. A lot of them are thin sounding, lack dynamics and bass. Anthem is not one of them. I’ve had bad luck with Onkyo and Emotiva, and find Marantz bright to harsh.

I also really llke Theta Digital, but it's hard to tell if they are even in business or not.

Second, they do make stand-alone tube buffers that can add the tube glow.

I have a mixed 2 channel / HT setup.  I use a Herron Audio VTSP-360 preamp for 2 channel.  None of the home theater components are engaged when I listen in 2 channel.  A home theater processor wouldn't hold a candle to the VTSP-360.

The VTSP-360 has home theater bypass, so I can use my main speakers and subwoofers and my monoblocks that I used for 2 channel in the home theater system also. 

Best of both worlds, unless you have room and budget for a dedicated home theater and a dedicated 2 channel system.

Not anymore. I got rid of my HT system and listen to everything in stereo now. Much more clarity.

Big greg

thx, but point here is to assess how preamps impact HT sound when preamp circuits are engaged when fed by processor preouts, and many do this.

To be honest I was having a hard time deciphering what your point was exactly. I'm still not sure. Maybe I need more caffeine.

Even the hi end processors are limited in their SQ.

i use a low end tube preamp and like its influence on hq sound. 

Yes, they are limited in their SQ. So limited even a low end tube preamp is an improvement.

What I been saying for years. A cheap stereo anything is an improvement on even the most high end multi-channel processor. The obvious solution to improved HT sound: ditch the multi-channel processor.

Simple. Logical. Affordable- and actually works.

The preamp (C8) in my HT system doesn’t effect the HT sound at all. I have a new McIntosh mx100 processor. The processor only offer balanced in/outs everything is super clean and natural. I think matching manufacturers helps too. 


i need to go both ways, 2 ch and multi. 

need center for voices when doing ht.  A good thing. Mains still do really well.  Any chance u could be more open?  

I use 2 preamps w/out HT pass through. W/my Bryston 3B Cubed I hook up my balanced connections from my amp to my Krell Showcase processor and w/the single ended connections I power my Luxman CL 38U SE tube preamp. All I do is flip the balanced and unbalanced switch on the amp.  

emergingsoul, much of HT is two channel, so by using the Ayre preamp I get the benefit of its superb sound. I use the Bryston SP3 more as an HDMI receptacle than surround processor -- I often set it to stereo for cable. I use KEF Reference 1s for front LR, KEF Reference 204/2C center, and LS50s for side and rear surrounds. Sources for HT are Cox Cable and an Ayre DX-5 DSD disc player, for music Roon via Ethernet to an Ayre QX-5 Twenty streamer and the disc player.


What components do you have in your system now? What is HT and what is 2-channel?

I don't currently have an HT system. However, several times in the past I had combined HT/2-channel systems and they worked well. If configured correctly, the HT setup has zero effect on 2-channel sound quality and actually the HT components don't even need to be turned-on when playing 2-channel music.

If I were looking to do a combo HT/2-Channel system today, I would have to look at the Backert Labs Rhumba 1.3 pre-amp. It is a tube-based pre-amp. One feature I really like about it is that it has HT bypass that is activated when the pre-amp is powered off. So, no tube wear when listening to HT.


I may have had a similar path as you.

I've used a solid state preamp in my HT chain (EMM Labs Switchman).

A friend suggested I try tubes, so I swapped with a Don Allen tube preamp I had lying around.  I liked the change in sound.

Last year, I decided to upgrade to something which has a remote control.  I use a Linear Tube Audio MZ3 as a preamp, and is more transparent, with better bass/treble than the initial Don Allen preamp.

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