Is dedicated PreAmp with Oppo 105 needed?

I think I've a decent HT setup but still feel there's something missing. I watch movies 70% & listen to music 30%.

Since Oppo provides pretty clean sound, wondering if upgrading to a dedicated PreAmp will make any difference. If it does, what would you recommend in say $1000-$2000 range? I intend to bypass the Video & connect straight to my Plasma on HDMI 1.4a.

Thank you!
LRC Speakers: Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System II
Surround Speakers: JBL S312
Amplifier: Parasound Halo A51
BD:Oppo 105
Tape Deck: Nakamichi RX-505
Room: 16x18+ with some open area, so sound can bleed
Look at the NuForce AVP-18.
If you want to inject real tonal beauty,great dynamics and weight into your system give this pre amp a try. It is a tube based preamp. ModWright SWL 9.0 SE with tube power supply, they are around $1500 used.
The ModWright SWL 9.0 SE is only two channel.
I want atleast 2 XLR i/p & preferably 5 XLR o/p if possible. I'm also open to used & refurbed.

I've been doing a bit of research on various forums. How is Classe 600 or Anthem D2? I've also heard good things about Onkyo PR-SC5508/09, Herron Audio VTSP-1, Integra DHC-80.3, Theta Casablanca, etc.

How do they compare to the NuForce AVP-18 & ModWright SWL 9.0 SE?
That's a mixed bag. The Classe 600 is ancient by prepro standards. The same can be said of any Theta CB that would fit your budget. The Onkyo/Integras are OK. The Herron is stereo only. Of the pack, I would go with the Anthem D2 if it is a somewhat later version or a D2V.

You need to define your needs a little better.
Audio Advisors was selling NuForce MCP18s for $599. A steal. I bought one and never looked back. it is very very quiet and does nothing wrong.
Look at the Emotiva XMC-1, this is a VERY capable multi-channel preprocessor and offers the XLR connections you seek. It's only $1995 with 30 day in-home trial and a 5 year warranty - w00t!!

Kr4: You need to define your needs a little better.

I'm not sure what additional info I can provide. I need it for HT 5.1 setup with atleast 2 XLR i/p & preferably 5 XLR o/p.

Thank you!

I'm a little confused about your system and desires:

1. Do you currently have no preamp in your system and exclusively use the Oppo 105 as a preamp?

2. If so, and you use your tape deck for music playback, how is it connected to the Oppo?

I currently use an Oppo 105 in my system and know it has very limited inputs. This works for me since for music I only use 2 sources: the Oppo's internal player for optical discs and a NAS that contains ripped files of all my CDs and a handful of hi-res FLAC files. I use the Oppo's wireless USB connection for all NAS file playback. But I don't understand how an analog tape deck could even be connected to the Oppo.

In my opinion, the only reason to use a separate dedicated preamp with an Oppo 105 is if your system requires additional analog inputs. The preamp section really does, as advertised and reviewed, perform at a high-end audiophile level.

I originally used a quite good dedicated tube preamp, a VTL 2.5 unit with 4 NOS Mullard tubes inserted for the standard issued Russian or Chinese tubes, when I first inserted the Oppo 105 in my system. A new VTL is slightly above your stated budget with an MRSP of $2,500 (add $200+ for 4 NOS tubes of your choice) but it has plenty of analog inputs and a HT bypass switch/inputs. This preamp, combined with my class D amp, performed beautifully for 2-channel music playback and I never thought I'd not include it in my system. Also, I had just inserted a 'new' set of NOS Mullards about a month prior when I purchased and inserted the Oppo 105 in my system. Needless to say, I was not planning on not using it.

However, just to be fair and objective, I compared the sound of my system with and without the VTL playing several very familiar CDs. Letting my ears decide, and with an admitted bias toward using the VTL, I reluctantly was forced to conclude that all tracks sounded just as good without the VTL in the audio chain. The sound was a touch warmer and more dimensional through the VTL but it became clear that these qualities were added to the sound. The Oppo was very neutral but had no trouble portraying warmth and dimensionality (think 3D and very real) when the recordings had these qualities.

So, I removed and sold my beloved preamp about 6 months ago. I can honestly state I haven't missed it since.

You certainly don't need a preamp/processor, such as an Anthem or Emotiva, since the Oppo's line stage is likely better and also has a very good internal surround processor that utilizes the highly regarded Saber DAC chips; separate chip sets for up to 7.1 decoding of DTS/Dolby Digital surround and another pair for 2-ch music digital-to-analog conversion.

My point is that a $1-2k dedicated preamp really won't result in better 2-ch music performance. Each will add its own qualities to your music but that's a lot of money for basically a buffer stage. I'd only suggest a dedicated preamp if you required additional analog inputs or listen to vinyl. I decided to adopt the most direct approach and eliminate all unneeded components and cabling.

The above is just my impressions on my system and your mileage may vary.


Hi Tim,

I do not have any preamp and exclusively use the Oppo 105 as a preamp.

Currently, the tape deck has been disconnected but I've lots of rare tapes that I would like to listen.

I was also thinking of the same but was not sure if PreAmp had any impact on the sound quality.

Thank you!
I'm not sure what additional info I can provide. I need it for HT 5.1 setup with atleast 2 XLR i/p & preferably 5 XLR o/p.

I got that. What else do you want it to do?

Hitsofmisses hi.

Your Oppo has a digital domain volume control, are you using it's 5 channels direct into your Parasound Halo A51, and the sub output into your sub?
As this is the way I would use it, so long as the digital volume control is at or above 75% of full output, if lower you may run the risk of bit stripping, which is not harmful just robs a little definition the further down you go from 75% of full.

From What/hifi measurements
"Please ensure you enter the setup menu and set volume to “Variable”, then lower the volume control to an initial setting of 45-50 before powering on your amplifier or active speakers after factory reset. Volume setting is retained in memory when the player is put in standby. So volume at power on remains the same as volume at power off.

Output impedance 7.1 board L/R front channels 100Ω

Output impedance dedicated stereo board L/R channels 100Ω

Output impedance 7.1 board all channels except L/R front 200Ω

Recommended amplifier input impedance is 47KΩ (Industry standard)

Peak output level: 2.1 Vrms (RCA / Phono)"

All these output impedances and 2.1output volts are a perfect impedance match for the inputs of your Parasound Halo A51 and whatever sub you use.

Cheers George

Since you currently use your Oppo 105 as a preamp and it has no RCA audio inputs, you would require a stand alone separate preamp to be able to hook-up other components such as your Nakamichi cassette deck.

The preamp would be installed between the Oppo and your amp/amps. You have your choice of either RCA single-ended or XLR L+R outputs on the Oppo that you'd need to connect to the preamp's L+R inputs. The L+R outputs on the preamp would then be connected to your amp/amps.

If you do buy a preamp, remember to make sure it has the proper (RCA or XLR)input and output connections to match the Oppo and your amp/amps.

I’m not sure what additional info I can provide. I need it for HT 5.1 setup with atleast 2 XLR i/p & preferably 5 XLR o/p.

I got that. What else do you want it to do?

Sorry, I think this is what you’re asking. :)

I use primarily for HT (75%) & 25% for Music that are heavy on vocals. I’m leaning more towards Tube based Pre-Amps since I like the warm soundstage. From all I’ve read so far, Oppo’s video processing is very good so I can bypass video on Pre-Amp & connect directly to my 1080P Plasma TV. 
d@kr4: Did I answer your question correctly.

Since the Parasound has 5 XLR inputs, do I need a preamp with all XLR output or an RCA would do?
And does it make a big difference if I connect Oppo via XLR/RCA combo than the HDMI for audio?
If you want to play your tapes, just buy a decent analogue to digital converter, rip your tapes to your NAS, and then sell your Nakamichi. You do not need a separate pre amplifier - your Oppo is perfectly fine for that. If inserting a pre amplifier changes the sound, the pre amplifier is at fault. By definition it cannot improve the sound, and only degrade it.
@hitsofmisses - wow 2-1/2 years later! I think the only thing that will work for you is the Parasound P7 multi-channel preamp.  The P7 does have XLR outputs.  I would recommend using XLR if you can.  It does provide better sound quality and also has higher gain.  

The only alternative is to get some type of HT processor.

The idea that “if inserting a pre amplifier changes the sound, the pre amp is at fault”. This is totally incorrect and goes against all audiophile ideals, it is based on on ideal that if a piece of equipment is good than it will sound no different from any other piece. The truth is that almost every audio device out there sounds slightly different. One of the purposes of a preamp is to help “shape the sound”. It is a tool that can be used by an audiophile to help achieve their goals for the type of sound they want.

I have have heard the Oppo 105 straight to an amp. It sounds good, but it can be slightly dry. A tube or Class A preamp can help add richness and engaging sound.
Well, my audiophile ideal is a completely neutral system that does not get in between me and the music as recorded. I do not want to be a surrogate mastering engineer, or take the place of the musician. I know this is an impossible ideal, but I at least will not add anything that changes the sound.
@ Kr4: "I got that. What else do you want it to do?"
I want to connect my Nakamichi Cassette Deck & want to enjoy a richer, warmer sound of Tube.

@ Willemj: Ripping the cassettes to NAS is an option but I’m keen on spending that much time. Besides, I love how the cassette assembly of RX-505 comes out & to see some moving gears.

I am willing to stretch my budget a little bit. 1.) How is Classe SSP-800 or something from McIntosh MX series or  Krell ( Showcase 7.1/  S-1200/ HTS) or Bel Canto (Pre6/ 2-3 units of DAC 2.7/ DAC 3), etc. whichever sounds better & can process relatively current Dolby & DTS format?

A Tube PreAmp driving all the HT channels will be cost prohibitive. 2.) Instead, can I just insert a Stereo Tube PreAmp driving the front two speakers & connect remaining directly to the Parasound A51?
3.) Or how about Modwright or other similar upgrade to Oppo 105?

Thank you guys!