Try to audition equipment before you buy it. Trust your ears. You will be able to hear audible differences in source material, recordings, speakers, speaker placement, pre-amps, amps, receivers, and, not to mention, cables. These differences are not necessarliy better, but they are different. Try to tailor the sound to what you like.
It is not bad if you like the sound. I used my Anthem 7.1 HT receiver for 2 channel for a few months before buying a dedicated pre.
Not a receiver, but I use an Integra DTC-9.8 pre/pro with active speakers in a 2.1 music/HT system. Very happy with the results.
Any recommendations for a 60W + cheap integrated amp that has digital in (USB or optical)?
Just tried hi-end Rotel pre-amp (DSP) and amp.
The pre-amp is a DSP with no tuner. The amp is a 7x100W class-d implementation.
What works: high level SPL is not a problem. Sound is as good as sonic-impact 15 WPC, but honestly, not that much better. SI is a really good amp, and deserved the hype.
What does not work: Cannot get a direct pure signal to the speakers as if I use the Rotel DAC, it also goes through Rotel signal processing. I cannot use JUST the DAC.
If I send full range signal to the speakers, I cannot integrate a subwoofer (my subwoofer does not have jacks, just RCA inputs).
If I send a crossed over signal to the speakers, the lowest I can set it to is 40Hz. That's fine. I can send a full range signal to the subwoofer and use the crossover in the unit.
Sub is a decent B&W.
Configuring a surround system is a PITA! Better to just get stereo and run it as stereo. Incorporate dual subs by wiring them directly at the speaker posts (ie. in parallel). Everything gets full range signal.
the answer, unsurprisingly, is it depends on the avr. i was very pleased using a b&k avr 202 and 307 for two channel stereo; i believe an arcam avr (e.g. the 305) would sound even better. correspondingly, my quite pricy denon avrs just don't hack it; likewise various marantz i've cycled through.
i agree that if you don't need hdmi and other such foolishness, there's some vg values in high-quality used avrs; purists will argue that separates ultimately sound better, but there's some real advantages (budgetary, convenience and otherwise) in your proposed approach.
Loomisjohnson: I am inclined to believe that integrated amps are likely to do better at each pricepoint than separates. If you can match pre-amp to amp, then there must be some sonic or $ improvements, if not both.
Still, if you take processing out of the picture, I have yet to encounter a class-d implementation that I am 100% confident I can differentiate between in a true blind AB.
I will see what B&K options I can rummage up. Thanks to the long term loan of the Rotel, I can put this off for another 6 months.
Zanon, most people believe that (all things being equal) for a host of engineering reasons separates will sound better than comparable integrated components, although of course a high-quality integrated will outperform suppar seperates. The ultimate question, as you infer, is whether the sonic differences are cost-effective. Now, I often see older Arcam and B&K AVRs on Agon and Ebay for as little as $200. These AVRs not gonna sound as good as a system consisting of used Arcam or B&K componenents and an external DAC, but they'll probably sound 80% as good for, say, 25% of the price. Whether the improvement in sound is worth the extra $$ is, of course, the dilemna we all must face.
Loomisjohnson: Do you know what kind of amps B&K and Arcam use? I'm guessing SS A/B in the amp stage, and who knows what in the pre-amp stage.
i'm not a techie, but looks like depending on model they use class a or a/b designs; b&k appears to use class d on some separate amps. the more i read, the more i'm impressed with their engineering--these mfrs. absolutely blow away the asian crap in terms of design and build quality.
Loomisjohnson: Thank you for your info. Based on my hearing comparison of a $50 class-d implementation (almost certainly made in China) with a $2000 class-d implementation (ICE) I see NO advantage to the more expensive one, except for W, which I do need. Whatever wonders you feel they are working in design and build quality, and I have no doubt there are many, do not seem to impact sound, at least to me. Class-d is class-d, and even more specifically, ICE is ICE. If someone has a blind ABX between ICE implementations I would be very curious.
I am interested in hearing what class A and AB can offer, as well as tubes of course, both in pre-amp and amp stage.
Again, thanks for your help!