For 2k you are pretty much out of luck on a new surround pre/pro/amp that is also OK for music. The only set I can think of is from Marantz, but runs $2.5k plus new. For you budget, you might look into 2 channel - lots of great choices if you go the integrated amp route.
There is the budget Emotiva stuff, and, while I have not heard it, I'd be inclined to think it's budget (you get what you pay for).
Alternatively, the NAD T765HD2 is priced right for you, (I have one for HT only) and is a very musical HT receiver.
Thanks Meiwan...I had a feeling this would be nearly an impossible task. I did look up the NAD you suggested and it certainly looks intriguing, thanks.
I thought the
was $1500 and Kal gave it a good review. Check the Stereophile reviews.
Another choice would be the Integra DHC-40.2
for $1200. Kal just gave the big brother, DHC-80.2, a good review.
Here's a review of the DHC-40.2
Thanks Bob. Is there pitfalls to running a solid state pre-amp with a tube power amp?
There is an editorial in one of the later editions of TAS that recommends using the two channel preamp of your choice which has a HT pass thru, and then buying the latest greatest throw-away surround sound receiver that will play your movies. That way you don't compromise the two channel experience and you're not married to cut rate electronics when you really want to listen.
Personally, Surround sound doesn't do a thing for me. I've heard only one home system that even mildy impressed me. Just run the TV through a high quality two channel and forget the surround sound part.
The biggest issue with going with an AV receiver and stereo integrated is that it takes about $800 to get into an HDMI receiver and that's nearly half of the stated budget.
I have an Integra 50.1 receiver that seems to be a much more solid unit that my friends Integra 40.2. Just the difference in weight gives a clue to how much difference there is. I think a new 50.2 would be about $1,500. I'm not sure what the prices are on the next models up.
My friends 40.2 is currently running a 2.1 setup and it's not nearly as good for home theater as my 4.1 setup. Having the rear channels is necessary even if they are not high quality speakers.
Keep in mind that everyone has a different opinion of what sounds good.
I don't think the speakers that you're considering are way outside the box for a AVR in your price range. My speakers are worth about $3k retail and they sound great. I've heard my speakers connected to a system in the store that was intended for the Focal Grande Utopia's and while they sounded much better, I still don't feel that mine are lacking in comparison.
Is your surround system going to consists of 5 or 7 speakers? If it's 5, then I suggests considering a used 5 channel reciever like a Marantz, Dennon or even a McIntosh. You won't have HDMI but you can just go direct with the wiring and probably get better results. The only thing your giving up in that scenario is a more convienant remote setup. Good ones which were top of the line in their day go for around $300.
I have a Marantz SR-18ex that sounds pretty decent. Very heavy with 140 watts/ch. Use the amps in the reciever for the surrounds and use the pre-out to your amps for your Maggies. Try it without a preamp for a while then experiment with a dedicated preamp (with AV pass through).
I would also recommend the AVR w/ separate int amp or preamp with HT bypass to build a hybrid rig for movies and music.
But, whoever said it has to be all at once? And who really thinks you will EVER be done once you start? :-)
Start with the most AVR with preouts you can get for your budget - then 'upgrade' later by incorporating some nice 2-channel gear that supports HT bypass.
There is no destination for this hobby - just be on the 'path' :-)
The idea that 2-channel music systems do not need the digital speaker/room management features in surround processors seems strange to me. As does the idea that competent electronics have a huge impact on the sonics of a playback system.
You can definitely "season" the flavor of your system by mixing various pieces of electronics and cables, but the largest contributor to the sound of your system will be how the speakers interact with the room. It's in this area that analog electronics are terribly inadequate.
I can't recommend using an AVR as a preamp, because part of the budget went towards amplification you don't need and that takes dollars away from the preamp section.
I understand that part of this hobby is experimenting -- been there, done that. If you haven't gotten that aspect out of your system yet, then by all means experiment. But, if you're done playing and just want to enjoy the music, address the speaker/room interface with competent digital electronics. Or build the perfect room for your speakers.
Lensteve, I don't believe there are any issues with running a solid state preamp into a tube amp. Solid state preamps typically have low output impedance and tube amps typically have high input impedance, so in that regard they're a good fit.
It's on the other end of the tube amp that you need to be aware of potential impedance issues with the speakers. It seems that the vast majority of speakers today are designed to be driven by solid state amps, i.e., they have wide fluctuations in their impedance across the audio band. Spend a view hours looking at the measurement sections of speaker reviews on the Stereophile web site and you'll see what I mean. Take a look at Vandersteen and Thiel speakers for contrast.
Just because avrs and pre/pros offer digital room management is no guarantee of any sonic superiority to good quality 2-channel components.
The notion of digital room correction is, imo, vastly puffed up in what it offers for sonic presentation into a room that has been properly treated and configured.
Most avrs and pre/pros are 'swiss army knives' which typically offer a plethora of features and do none of them as well as dedicated components.
If someone's 'unbelief' of the sonic difference in components of varying grades is unshakable, then this topic should end with an agreement to disagree.
I want to thank everyone for their help...this site rocks! I pulled the trigger today on the NAD 765 HD receiver. In my research, it kept popping up on various sites/forums with a lot of positive comments regarding its audio capabilities. I realize that it's not optimum, but I'm comfortable at least starting with this. I also was able to find it @ Audioadvisor.com for only $999 (retails for $2499) brand new. I noticed that Amazon and various other sites are sold out and Joe from Audioadvisor explained they are getting ready to come out with a new series/model. Since this does everything I need at present, I'm feeling pretty good about the purchase. Thanks again for everyone's help.
Erikt, I wasn't speaking of only digital room mode correction, but speaker setup in general -- bass management, level matching, etc. Even these basic setup features are missing in the majority of analog components. The purist attitude of less is more is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. It's unrealistic to expect dropping expensive speakers and electronics into a typical living room and having it out perform a system costing much less. I'm trying to say that speaker setup is just as important in the 2-channel world as in the multichannel world and that the analog 2-channel world doesn't provide the tools.
Of course, you are correct that the effect of room mode correction will be limited in properly treated rooms. The question is how many audiophiles are able to treat their listening rooms, which in many cases are their living rooms.
I certainly believe that electronics can sound different. It's just that I believe the speaker/room interface is the bigger contributor and should get a proportional amount of consideration. In general, it's easier to simply throw dollars at new speakers and electronics than consider the listening room.
I think you made a good choice in an AVR with your choice of the NAD 765HD. As many have expressed, it will not do as much justice to a 2-channel setup as a quality integrated or seperates but for an AVR it should sound pretty darn good. I have an older(2004) NAD T773 receiver that I picked up at a pawn shop for $350.00 about a year ago that sounds wonderful with 2-channel as well as HT. I am using it with a pair of B&K amps driving a Klipsch RF-63/RC-64 combo and letting the NAD handle the surrounds.
The NAD you bought should be a very good compromise.