Help needed to make processor decision.

There are no dealers in my area that carry any of these processors:

Meridian 568
Classe SSP 75
Bryston SP-1
California Audio Labs CL 2500 SSP

I have read many good reviews about each but, since I can't audition any of them I need your help to decide which one would work best in my system. I am hoping to reduce the brightness I hear from the tweeters on my NHT 3.3s. Here are the components in my system to consider:

Classe 25 two channel amp (250 watts)
Wadia 20 CD transport
Wadia 25 DAC
NHT 3.3s
Cardas Golden Cross XLR Interconnect (DAC to Classe amp)
Cardas Golden Cross bi-wire speaker cable

I plan on removing the Wadia 25 DAC and routing the Wadia 20 CD transport to the new processor.
The video inputs on the Classe 75 would be nice but, not necessary.

Thanks for your input.
You should consider Lexicon and perhaps Acuurus ACTIII which is much cheaper then your other choices but an amazing unit for the money. Though if you want good home theatre look into Lexicon gear its suppose to be amazing.

Thanks for the advice but, I am looking for a unit that has balanced outputs for the L & R mains.

You have yourself a great list of components there. You are talking about a significant investmemt in the ever changing HT processor market. I strongly suggest you somehow fine an dealer close to you to audition some of components you listed even if you have to drive a distance. Or one that will allow a home audtion if you pay for shipping. The list of processors you have there are quite good. You could add the likes of EAD or Lexicon to that list as well. I am sure many others on this site could argue each of the benefits of each component, but you must please yourself no matter what anyone suggests.

I am responding to your question because I have a full NHT set up including the 2.9's not quite the 3.3, but I do not have the room for larger speakers. None the less I do not have the problem you have with auditioning equipment. I have found the new Sunfire II processor works very well with NHT as well as the Classe SSP75 which is better in two channel then Sunfire. In HT the Lexicon MC-1 was great , but for two channel it lack the finesse in my system. I ended up with the EAD TM signature. Fantastic in two channel which is what I do most and very good in HT. You can get these at very good prices used. That was another reason for going that route.

I did not see you 5 channel amp option, but depending on the size of your room I'd seriously consider EAD PM500 or PM1000 for surrounds. Your two channel amp is fine although more current is always better for NHT's. Or bi-amp them with two of the PM1000 channels and your Classe.

Just a thought.

Why don't you try a B&K REF 30? I own a B&K 3090, I purchased it from a fried who has NHT 3.3s front & rear, also their latest center channel. It is definitely not a bright sounding processor. It also has excellent bass-management...

I agree, Lexicon should be considered seriously as well as Theta Digital Casanova. Both are available pre-owned at great prices. I had a Lexicon DC-1 then moved to the Casanova.
6 years ago I tried a Lexicon and although it was good
for surround sound it sucked for 2 channel music.
I just got a classe spp 25 3 days ago and I am amazed.
Brand new, half price on ebay.
As for your brightness problems I took care of all that and more by putting a z-systems rdq-1 in between the transport and preamp.
This is a great music preamp, and it does sorround sound.
The 75 is suppost to be better yet.
If multi channel is more important to you than music, your mileage may very.,Preamplifier/Class%C3%A9,SSP25/PRD_118239_2719crx.aspx

Thats my 2 cents.
Hope this helps.

Thanks for the input. I probably need to consider the EAD Signature 8 since it has the Burr Brown PCM 1702 24 bit DACs. I have a cheap NHT SA-3 amp which I use with the Classe 25 to bi-amp the mains. I run my center channel and rear surrounds with an inexpensive Acurus Three Channel Amp 200 x 3.


Thanks for the input but, I want balanced outs which the B & K Ref 30 doesn't have.


The only Lexicon unit that has balanced outs is the MC 12 Balanced which is way above my budget. The Theta Digital Casanova only has 20 bit DACs and the Casablanca is way above my budget.


Thanks for the info. I have been leaning all along toward the Classe SSP 75 because of my main amplifier but, I hear so many good things about the other pieces it is hard to decide. I'll have to check out the z-systems Rdq-1 you suggested. Maybe I really need to check out Jimmy's suggestion and narrow my choices down to a couple of units and see if the dealer will ship them for me to demo.

I just got this response from JS Audio. I have also asked the same question of many other dealers that carry the products I am looking for. I will post them when received.

Hi Michael,
You have a very nice music system. Classe' 25 is great, I'm a big advocate of Cardas, and Wadia products are excellent .This is easy, the Meridian 568 is the finest processor on the Planet. This is the benchmark by which all others are judged. You will be able to upsample 24/88.2 in stereo and Meridian's propriety Trifield ( 3 front speakers ) and by late summer a new hardware upgrade will be available that will allow multi channel upsampling at 96/24, and dolby digital AC-3 & DVD-A. This unit as it stands has no competition-------strong statement but very accurate. I have the Classe' the Bryston in my store , all are very good. Meridian is the Best. If you can work with computers and follow there set up procedures the 568 will tonally taylor your system to the balance you desire. Please call me tomorrow and I'll be happy to provide any additional information you require. We just set up the New 800.3 / 861.3 system with all the new processors and upsampling capabilities, amazing.
Thank you,
Joseph Stromick
PS. check out the Meridan website link from my site, JSAUDIO.COM
PSS. Don't do any video input switching unless necessary------it degrade the picture.
Ok, have you considered the new Anthem processor? Balanced outputs and inputs, seems to be reasonably priced. Cannot comment on the sound quality however.

Forgive me if I go out on a limb here, but I feel your brightness problem is coming from your Classe 25. That whole series had a glare in the top end. Before I started swapping in processors, my suggestion would be to try the Gamut D200 amplifier. I bet you would solve the "tweeter problem" in an instant. I've heard both your 25, and the Gamut, and the Gamut makes the 25 sound ill.

Good Luck!


You may very well be right about the Classe 25. Unfortunately, I will have to live with it for a while. That's why I'm hoping one of the processors will partially solve the problem. Isn't the Anthem a tube preamplifier made by Sonic Frontiers? Thanks for your help!

I belive the Anthem reference is the AVM2 / or the newer AVM20. Both of these are tuner/processors/ both have the 6 inputs for DVD-A-- and the 6 Balanced XLR's out,for analg,as well.

I finally found them at Sonic Frontiers' web site. If the sound compares to some of the other units I am interested in,the AVM20 looks promising.


Mike - perhaps you have already considered and rejected the Aragon Soundstage as a possibility, but if not, I would recommend it. I suggested this unit to a fella the other day who thought it too pricey, but there is one currently available here on AudiogoN at a very fair price (no, I have no connection to this party). I could be all wet behind the ears in my personal appreciation of this piece, and I would welcome any comments from the more experienced folks here to point out any shortcomings of the Soundstage. Aside from its rather utilitarian appearance, it offers all the features you are seeking, and provides (IMHO) excellent sound in both 2ch and HT mode. Just a thought...

Best regards,

Just to show how stubborn I am! If I were in your place, I'd consider a fully balanced 2 channel pre-amp like an Adcom GFP750. It has a throughput to incorporate into a video processor when in multi-channel mode. If you only need 2 channels of balanced, you won't be buying the other 3, you can use a non-balanced processor for them.

I think the big-name processors are:
1. Overpriced.
2. A BIG rip-off when it comes to the promised
I've seen friends buy early generation Proceed & Lexicon processors. They were completely superseded by another model. They're like 2 year old computers.... You just about have to give them away..

You may be correct but, since I have limited opportunity to audition any of the units, I lean toward assuming that a pre/pro that has an incorporated tuner will have less advanced DACs and higher THD at the price point I am considering. I already have a very good Rotel tuner for those limited times that I tune into FM. I wish there was a web site that would compare DACs: Crystal vs Burr-Brown, etc.

Thanks for your input.


Sorry, I only responded to part of your post. I may be assuming incorrectly but, I think I am going to better myself by removing the Wadia 25 from my system which if I remember correctly is a 21 bit processor. It sounds great but, if I upgrade to any of the surround pre/pros I have listed which have 24 bit processing I will get excellent home theater as well as better processing for the CDs I play on my Wadia 20 transport and I am assuming I will get better sound from the CDs as a result. Am I all wet on this?

let me muddy the waters even further; check out the cinepro processor, no i haven' heard it, but it certainly contains everything you want in a processor and the president of cinepro, Eric Abraham is a great guy and very reacheable; you owe it to yourself to try the cinepro. At the Cedia show, Eric was going to let me be a beta tester against my Meridian 568, but i never got around to it. I do use the Cinepro 3k6se gold for amplification which by the way is terrific. Now, I have owned a Meridian processor since 1997 when i purchased the 565 and upgraded through J.S. Audio to the 568. they have been very helpful. Several caveats i have about the 568. Its a little pricey, but not by much, and Meridian the company has a bit of an attitude. very class conscious. The upgrade on the 568 is going to be priced around $2500 which i think is outrageous. But the sound is impeccable and if your goal is to have the best sounding processor, then go with the 568 and forget about the negatives.

Thanks for the suggestion. I checked out the specs on the DTC-10 at Cinepro's website. Unfortunately it does not have any balanced outputs.

Hmmmmm....this is an interesting thread but it began with a request for help in taming over-bright tweeters. Have you considered that the problem is with the speakers? I'm not an NHT fan and have never heard any of their models that didn't seem to me bright, glaring, and fatiguing on the top end.

Just something to think about.

It wasn't really a request to solve the problem. It was a request for advice on which processor might help the problem the most. I auditioned numerous speakers and liked the NHTs with the Classe amp better than any others I heard at that price point back in 1995. Most CDs do not sound bright but, some are a little forward. Posted below are some of the responses I have received from dealers.

Responses from dealers:

1. Greetings and well wishes. Where are you located ?
It's best to call as interactive conversations serve your interest better and are more efficient.
Best Wishes & Good Listening,
Ambrosia A/V

2. Response from Audionexus:
I regret that we cannot recommend one of our brands over the other in print. This could get us in a lot of trouble. Please phone if you wish to discuss this further. thank you.

3. Michael
If multi channel audio is your cup of tea then the 568 is the way to go. If you are a two channel guy then the Classe would be my choice. The CAL demo that I'm selling would be a great deal and probably the winner if your main preference is movies. I haven't heard the EAD and the Bryston did not impress me at all.
Best Regards
Paul Chambers
System Designer
Goodwins High End

4. Response from Audibleelegance:
You have some fine processors to chose from. We have chosen the Classe SSP-75 as our reference processor on our showroom store. The beauty of the SSP-75 is that you can play two channel music without compromise, then throw in your favorite movie for exceptional surround. We are using the Proceed PMDT as a transport into the SSP-75 and the digital section plays music like a high end stand alone D/A.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.


5. Response from Bay Area Audio:
The only of those processors that I have direct experience with are Cal and the Classe'.
Of those two the Classe was the smoother of the two althouh probably not quite as flexible as the Cal. I have never heard a smooth sounding piece of equipment from Bryston so I doubt they would be the solution you are looking for.
Good luck,

It wasn't so much a request to solve the problem as it was a request for help in picking a processor that would help the most in making the problem less noticeable. I purchased all the equipment in 1995. I listened to numerous speakers and amps in the $3,000 to $5,000 range and liked the NHT/Classe sound the best. With most CDs the sound is very smooth but, with a few CDs the upper ranges are sometimes a little forward. Definitely not fatiguing to me though.

Casa Nova Specifications

Conversion: A/D Conversion: 20-bit Delta-Sigma; D/A Conversion: 96kHz, 24 bit

from the Theta web site.

The Casanova has 24bit/96khz DACS.
The A to D converters are 20bit. This is typical for most all processors. A/D's are used to take analog input, convert to digital, process the signal and then D to A back out. Note, the Casanova does not process the volume controls in the digital domain, strictly analog volume control. Digital volume control can affect the signal. Check the other guys on this.
Thanks for all the help you guys have given me on this. I purchased an Aragon Sounstage and am debating on purchasing an Accuphase CD player vs a tube preamp.
Did you buy the new Stage One 7.1 Channel Pre/Pro? Does it have balanced outupts? How does it sounds?
Flavioleoni, No I purchased the Soundstage as I got it new for $2100.00. Check for specs on the Mondial Stage One.

There is not much available at klipsch web site on the new Aragon Stage One (there is no indication if it will have balanced outputs). Is it the successor of the Soundstage? How can I get more information on this unit? I'm also looking for a new Pre-Pro and the new Stage One together with the Integra Research RDC-7 are my favorites for the moment. How do you think the new Stage One will sound in stereo music playback?

I am no expert at this stereo business and since I have not received the Aragon Soundstage I ordered yet, I have no idea how the Aragon Stage One may sound. Your best bet if you can't audition the unit in person is to rely on the various review sites available on the internet or call the dealers directly that carry the units you are considering and inquire about their perceptions.


I am no expert at this stereo business and since I have not received the Aragon Soundstage I ordered yet, I have no idea how the Aragon Stage One may sound. Your best bet if you can't audition the unit in person is to rely on the various review sites available on the internet or call the dealers directly that carry the units you are considering and inquire about their perceptions.