The Classe ssp-25 is better sounding for two channel. Has a deeper more transparent soundstage than my sonic frontiers line one. Sound is a little thin in mid base. Also limited base management.
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The Nakamichi CA-1 (with or without DTS option) is very nice. I spent a lot of time listening to the Classe SSP-25 and other units in the $2000-$5000 range and ultimately bought a CA-1. It has great bass management features, dull-zone option, tape loop, true 20-bit ladder D/A converters on all six channels, and a novel gain/balance control. And while the CA-1 has fewer processor bells and whistles (e.g., no "stadium" or ambiance effects) than some of the other units in the same price range, it still has the best overall performance of any of the units I auditioned. One nice feature of the CA-1 is that audio signals from 2-channel analog sources are passed straight through without processing. Nearly all other pre/pros convert 2-channel analog signals to digital through A/Ds then recovert to analog through the D/A converters before sending the signal to the amp. This degrades the sound. The pure analog pass-through helps makes the CA-1 a fine analog pre-amp and one of the best pre/pros ever made for listening to 2-channel music through your 5.1 DD/DTS surround system. It's also nice to look at and is built well. You can probably pick one up at a bargain price (e.g., $1000 or less) on internet auctions and classifieds. I've been told Nakamichi has stopped making the CA-1, following a shift in focus from high-end to the more lucrative midling market. So I don't know if brand new CA-1s are still available. My second choice was the Classe SSP-25. I thought the SSP-25's 2-channel ANALOG performance was not quite as good as that of the CA-1 -- I found the CA-1 to be smoother and warmer, and to have a little better bass performance. On the other hand, the SSP-25's DIGITAL/processed sound (using pseudo "24-bit" D/As was comparable to the CA-1's and even seemed to have slightly greater resolution of detail (though at the apparent expense of adding a little grain). I haven't auditioned any pre/pros that have come on the market in the past year, so there may be newer and better options out there in this rapidly evolving market.
If you don't want to spend much (less than $1,700 used mint) and don't need video switching I would look into the Meridian 565. It is not very user friendly and there is only 1 or 2 digital inputs but if it is the latest version, 6.1 or better I believe and has DTS than you cannot do any better for movies and stereo at this price. Compared to the Lexicon MC-1 (which is awesome for movies by the way but lacks in stereo) the Meridian 565 was just as good as the MC-1 in 7 channel mode but the bass was more robust and dynamic with the Meridian. It is a pain in the butt to use but the audio is still first class for the price. If you wanted to get something even nicer (around $3,500 used) get the Proceed AVP. The AVP is an great unit. The 5 year warranty is transferable, software/hardware upgradeable , extremely easy to use and built like a tank. Good Luck
I just sold my B&K Ref 20 for a cheaper Marantz AV9000 because the B&K does not a 5.1 analog input for my Toshiba SD-9200 DVD Audio. In terms of their performance I am surpriced a bit because I found the Marantz to be better than the B&K specially in DTS. But that maybe just in my set-up, so audition both of them if possible. One last thing the Marantz have a component video switching, but you can just consider that a bonus. Just my opinion, goodluck hunting.
Listened to Proceed AVP $5000, Classe SSP25 $3000, Rotel 976 $1200, and TagMclaren AV32R $4000 Today. Proceed is very nice but maybe a little too much money. Classe sounded excellent and is closer to my range. TagMclaren I had never heard of before today, sounded nice, looked nice, but I just dont know. Rotel did not compare I would prefer to listen to a little higher model before counting them out, maybe. I will check out the Nakamichi and the Meridian thanks for the great suggestions.
Wcj56, I own a B&K and it is awesome. I have listened and looked at most of the Pre/Pros mentioned plus others(including the Krell, Lexicon, Meridian). For the money(especially the used prices), the B&K is hard to beat. B&K's upgrade policy and service makes it a better value. Furthermore using a DVD with 24/96 out to the B&K D/A converters is amazing on the Master recordings. I would have to A/B a Pre/Pro in my system before I would conceed any of these will out perform mine. Not saying it is impossible, but I'm not ready to throw down the bucks for the highend hipe. Also, going from B&K to that Marantz??? Okay. Good luck......B&K Pre/Pros are great....LR
Took a look and listen to Sunfire, Krell, and Adcom yesterday. The Adcom surprisingly was blown away by the other two. The Krell was the better sounding but at $6000 is a little too much. Has anyone compared the Sunfire TG-II to any of the others? I do like that the Sunfire and the B&K have tuners, its not a big deal but a few less wires. The B&K Ref20 does not have video switching but the Ref30 does, again not a real big deal but every thing added is a plus. I do beleive I will set my limit around $3000 new and hopefully find a deal that is too good to be true. Thanks everyone for your input. Rich
I'd add the Bryston SP-1 to your short list. Bryston may not come to mind as a HT manufacturer, but they are the parent company for Lexicon, and the Lexicon and Bryston lines are virtually identical. The SP-1 has not been formally reviewed, to my knowledge, by the high-end audio mags, but the feedback I've gotten from owners sounds very encouraging.