How to switch stereo and a/v preamps


This posting is seeking information in order to achieve two things:

1) to retain the integrity of the signal coming from the preamp
2) to make switching between two preamps (one for stereo, on for home theater) more convenient, as my current setup requires that I fumble behind an amplifier that is hard to get behind.

Here's the situation:

I am using one 5-channel amplifier for both music and home theater listening. Because I am bi-amping my speakers (each speaker gets two channels from the 5-channel amp, with the 5th channel powering the center channel), and both of my preamps have only one set of L/R preouts, I have attached one Y adapter (two males on one end, female on the other end) on the left two channels and right two channels of my amplifier. Thus, when using my stereo preamp, I run the L/R RCA outs into the two female ends of the Y adapters, giving me four input signals (2 L, 2 R) for use in the biamp configuration. When using the A/V preamp, I disconnect the stereo L/R RCA preouts from the Y adapters and plug in the A/V L/R RCA preouts. Fine.

The problem is that the Y adapters that I've been plugging into and unplugging aren't very long, my 5-channel amp is in a rack that is difficult to access, and I must struggle and fumble behind the amp to change connections between the two preamps.

I was thinking that to avoid this problem, I might incorporate a pair of female-female connectors as follows: put the female-female connectors on the end of my A/V preout cable (which is long, and easily accessible). When I want to use the A/V preamp, I simply unplug the RCA cables that run from my stereo preamp to the Y adapters on the amp (unplugging the RCA's at the back of the preamp, which is easily accessible), and connect these to the female-female adapter that I put on my A/V preouts (which are easily accessible).

I know this sounds confusing, but I think it will make things more convenient. My concern, however, is that all the extra connections (each signal will be subjected to a female-female coupling and then to a Y splitter) may degrade the original signal.

I've heard that long runs of line-level information are okay, and my runs are quite short, but they will be "interrupted" in the sense that there will be two RCA's joined together with the coupling and then to a splitter. I don't know if these interruptions incorporate distortion, or just lower the voltage of the signal. If it were just the latter, then wouldn't I just be able to compensate with some extra gain?

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I might more easily accomplish the use of two preamps with one amp? I guess the Y splitters are a necessity due to the biamp configuration, but it is the other connections that I am most concerned with.

I'm sure they may be splitter boxes with switching mechanisms I could use instead, but I don't know if this is worse than using cables/adapters. I want to degrade the original signal as little as possible.

Thanks!
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Have you thought of having two separate systems, one for home theater and put the audio system in another room? Combining systems is always a pain. I did it for a while, but I finally got fed up with the interference all video equipment and the TV caused. Not sure what your situation is, but I highly recommend two systems if you can afford it. And, yes, switching mechanisms do not help the quality of sound any more than Y-adapters do. The key is to have as little in the signal path as possible, that way the signal remains as unchanged as possible. Good luck to you.
OK BUDDY, HERE'S WHAT YOU DO. RUN LEFT/RIGHT ANALOG OUT OF THE "PRE-OUT" OF THE THEATER PREAMP TO A LEFT/RIGHT "LINE-IN" OF THE STEREO PREAMP. NOW, GO LEFT/RIGHT OUT OF THE STEREO PREAMP TO THE POWER AMP INPUT. RUN REMAINING CENTER OUT OF THEATER PREAMP TO THE CENTER IN ON THE POWER AMP. TO LISTEN TO STEREO ONLY, JUST DON'T TURN ON THE THEATER PREAMP. TO LISTEN TO THEATER, SELECT THE INPUT ON THE STEREO PREAMP YOU CONNECTED THE THEATER PREAMP TO AND NOW YOU'VE GOT THE THEATER WORKING. YOU MAY HAVE THE FOLLOWING PROBLEMS WITH THIS HOOK-UP. YOU MAY END UP DRIVING THE VOLUME CONTROL OF THE STEREO PREAMP WITH THE VOLUME CONTROL OF THE THEATER PREAMP WHEN YOU ARE IN "THEATER MODE". MY SUGGESTION TO ALL OF THIS MADNESS IS NOT TO HAVE SEPARATE SYSTEMS, BUT TO PURCHASE A PREAMP WITH A TRUE "THROUGH-PUT" LIKE SONIC FRONTIERS, SIM AUDIO AND QUITE A FEW OTHER MANUFACTURERS. BECAUSE THIS INPUT IS PASSIVE, YOU WON'T HAVE THE PROBLEM OF DRIVING A VOLUME CONTROL WITH ANOTHER VOLUME CONTROL. I APOLOGIZE FOR THE COMPLICATED HOOK-UP EXPLANATION, BUT SOME THINGS ARE NOT SO EASY TO EXPLAIN.
GOOD LUCK AND LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES.
Thanks Patmatt. Perfect explanation; totally clear. I figured this out yesterday and I am now doing exactly as you've suggested. I agree that the way to go is with a passive through-put, but for now, this will do just fine.