Entry level dedicated preamp vs. reciever preamp

Hi folks,

I have recently added a tube cd player and quicksilver mini-mite tube monoblocks to my two channel setup. My last decision is whether I should replace my denon avr-3803 receiver which is being used as a preamp in order to buy a parasound 2100 or emotiva usp-1. I've heard it argued that in order to get an obvious improvement in sound over the receiver preamp, I would have to spend over $1k for a dedicated preamp.

I cross over my paradigm signature S2 bookshelfs at 100hz to my rythmik sub and the sound is seamless. I intend continue using by behringer BFD to EQ the lows and an adjustable high pass crossover is important to me. My receiver, the parasound, and the denon all offer the adjustable crossover. There are not many preamps out there that offer the sub out and crossover unfortunately.

Thanks in advance.
those are some very serious, and excellent, speakers, I think you would see a huge improvement in sound from a dedicated 2 channel preamp. Why don't you just go with a 2.1 system for everything?

Look at Bryston, McIntosh, ARC used SS preamps, what a killer system.
Why not go with the Quicksilver line stage? I have often considerend buying this, as it is not too expensive and is a very well made tube preamp. It's not balance though and only has RCAs, so it won't work for me. If they ever do a balanced version, I would be interested. It is an excellent preamp from the same place that makes your amps. My dealer used one to demo amps from Wolcott, because W did not make a preamp and it sounded wounderfull.
I guess where I have a challenge is how to find a preamp which has a sub out and adjustable crossover. Because of room dimensions, I cross over at 100 hz, and as I mentioned, my rythmik sub is sealed servo and it is seamless. I sold my S8 towers because I could not manage the bass and added the EQ. My room response is now completely flat.

If I add a preamp which does not have the sub out and adjustable crossover, I will have the same room problems again. This is why I am interested in those particular units, but if anyone has experience with crossing over their speakers some other way, I am open for suggestions.

Would someone please comment if the parasound and the emotiva are a step up over the receiver unit? thanks
I think it's a mistake to use a traditional analog 2-channel preamp in a real room when there exists products today that acually address the room and speaker setup.

I would look at surround preamps from Integra, Marantz, Anthem. You have a serious system, so this piece will cost at least $2K.

What prompted the use of the Behringer instead of Audyssey in the receiver?
I tested the Audyssey in various high end receivers and the result was much less effective than the manual control I had over the BFD. Second, the Audyssey affected my tone in the mids and highs because of the additional analog to digital to analog conversion. My present denon receiver keeps everything in the analog domain (expect for the bass), which it sends to a digital crossover. Typically, most 2 channel purists like to keep things analog, hence the existance of analog preamps.
Get a good 2 channel preamp, it won't color the music like your reciever will (I had that same reciever, and now have the 3808ci), and you will be shocked at the sound.

I love the S2's, I think it's crazy to look at almost any other monitor, especially more expensive ones, once you had heard them. Just a great speaker.

I still like my original advice, if you need a crossover for your sub, get a Behringer, they are a great buy. Also, room correction software, and crossovers are great for movies, not music, in my experience. I finally bought a Rel sub so I could use it for both. It too forever to get the crossover set correctly for 2 channel, but it was well worth it.

Good luck.
Would you care to compare the sound between the 3803 and the 3808? Had denon really inproved the 2 channel that much? Have you compared any entry level preamps to the 3808, if so how do they compare? thanks
I seldom listen to my reciever in 2 channel. My preamp (Cary SLP98p F-1) has HT bypass, and when ever I use the reciever it's to watch video only, be it TV or Movies.

All music goes through the Cary preamp. That said, the only difference that I can tell between the Denon models is the set up program and graphical user interface is much better/easier in the newer model, and it has video switching for HDMI. They both sounded v good.

To let you know the difference in sound quality though, and this is very telling, my wife when I am not home, will actully turn on the Cary preamp when listening to music through AppleTV because of the improvment in sound.

good luck.
I think I understand Macadtexas. You are saying that the denons sound alike instead of the 3803 being better than the 3803.

That's an amazing cary preamp you have there. I am sure it cost over $3k at least.

So we know now that preamps at that price level will DRAMATICALLY outperform receivers.

Hopefully someone can comment on sub $1k preamps such as the parasound 2100.
You might find this comparison review interesting: http://www.avguide.com/review/playback-23-parasound-p7-multichannel-preamp-marantz-av8003-av-pre-tuner?src=Playback

Note that there's a difference in budget allotment between an AV pre/pro and an AV receiver -- no amplification. So my suggestion was for a preamp not a receiver used as a preamp. I replaced a Bryston BP-26 preamp (> $3K) with an Integra DTC-9.8 (< $2K) and I don't feel that I've lost anything.

Based on the impedance curve of your speakers: http://stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/705paradigm/index3.html it seems that they would be a relatively poor match for tube amps. The midrange should be tilted up in tonal balance compared to upper bass and lower treble. Could it be that Audyssey was correcting that region and you didn't like it being better balanced?
Thinks for the link for the preamp.

Regarding the match of S2 and tube amp, you wrote:

"Based on the impedance curve of your speakers: http://stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/705paradigm/index3.html it seems that they would be a relatively poor match for tube amps."

Funny, I actually ran that impedance chart past quicksilver and the owner said that it wouldn't be an issue. There are countless testimonials of S2 owners using low powered tube amps with success. Second, since I cross them over at 100hz, my reserves are huge. Third, there is a very brief dip below 4ohms but the majority is above 8 ohms. This amp plays effortlessly and loudly at my seating position 8 ft away. Granted the S2's are not as easy to drive as the ultra efficient 94db speakers, but I am confident that they are more balanced and offer advantages that the latter do not have, but that is another thread.

"Its impedance (fig.1) dips briefly below 4 ohms in the lower midrange, reaching a minimum of 3.6 ohms at 180Hz, but stays above 8 ohms for much of the audioband. Even with a combination of 5.2 ohms impedance and –40º capacitive phase angle in the upper bass at 112Hz, the Paradigm will not be too demanding a load for its partnering amplifier to drive."
My comment had nothing to do with power or the lack of it. It's the peak rising to 20 ohms between 200 Hz and 10 kHz that would be my concern.

Say you are using the 4 ohm tap. At 200 Hz (4 ohm load), 1/2 of the amp's voltage will be dropped across its output impedance and 1/2 will be left for the speaker; this delivers max power to the speaker. At 1500 Hz (20 ohm load), the current demand decreases and less voltage will be dropped across the amp's output impedance so a greater amount of voltage will make it to the speaker. Less power is consumed by the speaker, but it will produce a higher SPL because the voltage across its terminals is higher.

The problem is the highish output impedance of the amp interacting with the speaker's impedance.

See REG for more details: http://www.regonaudio.com/Why%20Amplifiers%20Don't%20Always%20Sound%20Right.html