Lexicon MC-12, Anthem AVM-20, B &K Ref 30?

I'm confused. Will I hear a difference on these three pieces? I mean a "real world" difference that a novice or a non audiophile could hear? Which one has the most flexibilty, sound quality & bang for the buck? I will purchase a Theta Dreadnaught or a Krell (5 channel) amp. I do 80/20 Home Theater v. music. My head is spinning with all the choices. Lastly, do I really need balanced outputs?
Stay away from the B&K Ref 30.
I own the mc12 and before I bought it I tried and heard every high end home theater proccesor with the exception of the Levinson 40, it wasn't out yet and over my budget, which by the way uses the logic7 proccesor from Lexicon. The Levinson is $30,000usd. The lexicon is by far better than the Classe ,Krell , Proceed, Sunfire ,B&k, etc... But only the mc 12, not the mc1. The d to a converter is very good it is extremely good for 2 channel music also. If I had a second choice I would choose the Krell.
Hope I have been some help
Ciao, Joey
I would go with a Meridian 561 or 568 then the Proceed AVP or AVP2.

On the balanced outputs it is best when the pre-amp is fully balanced but results do vary so you should try for yourself. If your interconnect runs are going to be long then you will benefit more from balanced outputs.

You should really try and audition A/V pre-amps in your home since it is a sizable investment. It is the only way to be sure you made the choice that is right for you.

Good Luck
Sorry to inform you on the wrong information you just got about the sound quaiity of the Lexicon MC12, over the likes of the Classe (any of em, including SSP25/30/50/75, etc), Krell(HTS or Ref standard), or Proceed (AVP)....THIS IS TOTOALLY BACKWARDS! I've worked around ultra high end audio for almost 10 years now, and worked in several high end audio salons, and can say without hessitation that the Lexicon is no the better, SONICALLY, of the others I just menitoned!!! The truth is, unless you neeed some specific features that the Lex MC12 has(EQ's/inputs/logic 7/etc), and even though you're 80/20 HT to music, THE CLASSE'S, kRELL'S, AND PROCEED'S, ARE ALL BETTER IN EITHER 2 CHANNEL OR MULTI CHANNEL DIGITAL FOR SONICS!!!!...infact it's really not that close. The truth be told, even the likes of Acurus, Thule, EAD, Aragon, etc, all are better sounding units for just about any material you put through them over the Lexicon's! And I say this with absolutely no bias what soever.
good luck
See my reply to "Need advice...Used Aragon, etc (post date 4/30)". My soundstage drives a Mac 7270 thru RCA (unbal, because 7270 too old to have balanced inputs) and oth4er channel it drives a Mac 7300 thru 25 feet of bal XLR's cause 7300 is newer, so accepts balanced. I also drive a 60' run of balanced cable thru surrounds outlets (tried unbal RCA's, but terrible hum becasue of long run) soundstage bal outs to bal in on Pre1-perfect remote system. Incidentally, the Mac's are nice because of separate channel volume controls I use L for lows and R for highs on Snell XA90's, speakers are pointed differently (wife problem) and I can individaully adjust all levels (needed for difference it HT vs CD audio).
I have owned the classe ssp 75, lex mc 12,and the krell 7.1, the classe sounded very good but had some quality issues, the lex sounded artificial and kept locking up, IMO, I think the lex is the most overhyped and overpriced prepro on the market, the krell 7.1 that I now own is just pure enjoyment, stunning on music, and just as good or better on ht as the lex, IMO, if you want state of the art go with the krell, but you can come very close with less expensive prepro's like the interga or the tag, as I said I have owned these prepro's, so I am speaking from experience, good luck
There's probably a difference between "real" and "real world". There are many sonic differences that are "real" to almost anybody who sits and listens for a moment, but far fewer are "real world", meaning that it would be worth the $$$ to have that difference in their own system. So, yes, there are differences between those units and several others mentioned that are "real", but may not be justified in terms of cost for the non-audiophile or casual user.

The MC-12 is considerably higher priced than the others you mention. It's a fabulous piece of gear, IMO. It's absolutely killer on HT, with the Logic-7 decoding being the best on the market, both in my opinion and in many others'. For two-channel sound it's a big step up from the MC-1 though, again, I'm not sure that the differences you hear would be worth the money to a non-audiophile.

While many focus on just the sonic qualities (which are clearly most important), there are other factors that make the Lexicon a great buy. Lexicon products have always been very user friendly, while still being very tweaky if you decide you want to get more adventurous. Lexicon has always had a great trade-in program, which is the only form of true infinite upgrade-ability. The MC-12 is a brand new architecture, and has a load of capability yet to be incorporated, but very possible given the architecture.

I get a bit tired of all the opinions saying brand X is crap, you should buy brand Y. I love Krell gear, but to come away with the notion that Krell outperforms the MC-12 (or even the MC-1) on HT surround would just be unfortunate - review after review speaks of how the Lexicon product line (Logic 7) is the best decoding algorithm on the market. That the Krell outperforms the Lex in 2-channel mode is possible, given any given person's preferences, but to deduce that the Lex is an underperfomer in this area would be wrong. If you're interested in multi-channel synthesis from two-channel sources (many people are) there's no better than the MC-12 (with Meridian being the only real competition). If you like any of the other models (and there are many, many reasons to like the other models mentioned) more than the MC-12, great, but the MC-12 is a tremendous product.

Finally, The Perfect Vision has a review of the MC-12 by Anthony Cordesman in this month's issue. It would be worth getting a copy if you get serious about buying one. -Kirk

Wow, maybe this will stir up even more controversy. I've heard the latest Lexicon & Proceed. I have friends who own both of those & the latest Theta Casablanca (with the best DACS).
I'd try to demo any of the processors you mention, in YOUR system. I'm partial to the REF 30. I own a B & K AVP 3090 right now. You've already got a great amp - the Dreadnaught! Over time you'll notice owners of high dollar pieces on this site singing the praises of what they own.
Of course they will, that's human nature!
The REF 30 is so (relatively)inexpensive, you can get one for around the cost of an "Exteme" dac upgrade on the Theta. No matter how many manufacturers talk about the "permanent" upgradeability of their processors, Lexicon & Proceed have abandoned at least their first platforms.
B&K will come out with a new model every few years & make it software upgradeable for some time after it is superseded by a new model. I believe this is a rational & logical practice.
Richard Hardesty used to write for Widescreen Review. He recently left & now has his own website, (does anybody have the address? I misplaced it). He really took Lexicon to task for using cheap parts in their latest flagship processor...
This is the most dogmatic thread I've seen in a while. :)

I've never read any positive reviews on the sonics of the B&K Ref 30. Only negative. Check out The Perfect Vision's review on the Ref 30 about 6 months ago. They had good things to say about the Ref 30's features, but negative things to say about it's sonic capabilities. It is well known(I think) that B&K is pretty much good to excellent middle- of-the-road stuff, like a slew of other mfg's, but that's about it.

As for the other pre/pros?

If accuracy, detail, and musicality, or whatever are your top priorities, then strive to put those mfg's who focus on those same priorities at the top of your list. And work down from there.

McCormack has a new pre/pro that may be worth adding to your list of pre/pros to audition as they tout a music first approach with this unit in their ads.


I know I'm right about this otherwise I'd change my opinion.
I like my Ref 30. Now own 3 B&K pre.amps. Direct Bypass is the big deal for me. Volume knob and that is it. As far as movies and surround music is concerned,sounds just fine to me. If I were to change out the Ref 30 it would be for a EAD Ovation.
Front end electronics, that includes: media players, media recorders and A/V processors, is in a state of flux due to the plethora of competing recording standards used to produce digital based media. This situation is evidenced by the onslaught of upgrades that follow a year after a new product release.

As time progresses its is going to get more confusing as the media formats that creep into our libraries become more diverse. So for now, my advice is: spend more on the loudspeakers, where you can hear the most difference for the dollar spent and where planned obsolesce is not built into the design.

Plan to replace front end equipment every five years. Do not kill your pocketbook on tomorrows junk. In this setting, even the Anthem AVM-20 (my choice) may be overkill.

Divide the cost of the front end equipment by 60 (its useful life in months). When this amount exceeds that spent monthly for media, cable connection, Internet access and live entertainment, then ask yourself, is it worth it, just to get the latest, cleanest wiz in surround sound.

Some of this front end stuff is going for more than the total electronics cost of a small but fully equipped recording studio or about $300-400/mo. For me, that is the amortized cost of my entire entertainment system. So I will not be going there.
Ok, now that all of that is out of the way, what your decision should really come down to is simple...One, does it sound good?...two, does it have the features you think you want?...three, is it practical and dependable to use for you?...four, are you willing to spend the money? Cosmetics?...probably no biggie, right?
For me the sound quality has to be number one!...right next to price. Hearing the ultra clear, detailed, musical, dynamic sound that a lot of digital soundtracs and high quailty CD's out there posses is where it's at to me! I've personally gotten to the point in life that I would always rather hear even two channels of ultra high quaily sound, rather than hearing plain-Jane sounding multi channel from some average sounding pre/pro or speakers! If you want bells and whistles,and a lot of gadgets that won't get you anything remotely resembling chaility sound, then just buy a fully loaded receiver for cheap, and save a ton of money!!!! Alot of those pre/pro's mentioned previously above are really no better sonically than most any decent receivers preamps section!!!!....seriously! If you were going to end up buying the likes of the Lexicon, B&K, Sunfire, Parasound, Anthem, Sony's, or many there pre/pro's out there, sonically, you would get the same or better results by just using a receivers pre-out's into a better amp.
I would easily, EASILY, chose to listen to a high end audio rig in 2 channel only(using a digital processor for DD/DTS however), with all quality gear, rather than have mediocre, bland, boring sound from 5.1 or 7.1 set-up with some average sounding pre/pro!!! (everyone gets that kind of sound....yaaaaawwwwn....boring!) It's like eating a gallon of plain vanilla ice cream vs. eating a pint of Haggendas!!!...I'd pick the Haggendas ever time personaly.
If you want really special, blow your socks off, pretty, ultra refined, delicate, musically correct,clear, audophile grade ambitious sound quailty(once you get it, you'll never go back to mid-fi trust me..), that some of these pre/pro's offer in either 2 channel or 5+, you owe it to yourself to use better sounding gear. The likes of Krell, Proceed,Classe (ok, build is bettered elsewhere), Aragon, Thule, Ayre, Theta Casablanca, EAD and Macintosh perhaps, or even simple Acurus! This stuff all sounds really really good at any given price point. Heck, I use a modest little Acurus Act 3 pressently in my HT system, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in favor of some of these highly publcized/market pre/pro's like Lexicon, B&K, and sunfire!!!..no way!(unless I was going to sell it for profit or something). You may find something you like in another brand, but you sure won't get anything that special sounding in the ones I previously mentioned!
Every company makes a pre/pro that works...but only a select number are really really good sounding, that will keep pace with a good high end system that is.
I know you'd be much more pleased with some simple unit that sounds great, rather than a mega featured pre/pro that sounds like everything else that comes down the pike.
Give some of these overachievers I mentioned a try....your EARS and friends will all thank you for it, with a decided "WOW WOW WOW!!!!"
good luck

I've sat on my hands & bit my tongue long enough! Here's my vote for best budget surround & 2 channel pre amp. Try an Adcom GFP750 & mate it with a B&K REF 30. You'll have "Class A" 2 channel & a sophisticated "middle of the road" multi channel processor.
Perfect Vision is an offshoot of "The Absolute Sound".
Under Harry Pearson's guidlines, my Montana SPIIs, Pass Aleph P & Pass Aleph 2s are too "small, unsophisticated & underpowered (by 100 watts!) to take seriously. I live in Phoenix, AZ. I'm within 20 minutes of qualified, friendly dealers of Pass Labs, B&K, Mark Levinson, Proceed, Wilson, Rowland, Theta, Dynaudio, YBA, B&W & Revel, etc. My ears & my friends agree Harry Pearson is wrong. We vote with our pocketbooks & we don't get demo equipment for months at a
My chiropractor has a Lexicon. He thinks it's great! He'll buy something else if I show him a processor that's appreciably better.
This cracks me up! The B&K ref 30, and almost the Adcom GFP750 preamp, is sonically no better than ANY RECEIVERS PREAMP SECTION!!! It's pretty well bland, warm, digtal sounding, and just plain "regular" sounding! Infact, sonically, it reminds me greatly of the much overhyped/rated Sony SDPEP9es that was rated so high!...another "noisy" blandish sonic dissapointment!
Now, I know I'm being a bit harsh, but really, you could do better with even an old used Acurus Act 3 than the B&K! And, as for the GFP750 preamp this last genleman mentioned, yes it's ok, but it's not class A material really! SOME ONE WAS PAID BIG TIME TO RATE THAT UNIT THAT HIGH!!!....OR SMOKING SOMETHING. I've sold that unit for years, in two high end stores, and it doesn't come close to competing with better TRUE class A preamps!...not hardly!

If you want to call my opinion laughable, at least have the courtesy to mention by name the "TRUE class A preamps" you're referencing in your comment.
It's pretty hard to have a debate if your just going to say I'm wrong because you worked at two high end stores.
I will keep this short... IMO the Lexicon MC12 is the better choice. I have done a side by side comparison between the B&K, Krell and Lexicon. The Lexicon was the winner with Krell a close runner-up. For the price the B&K Ref 30 is not a bad choice, you may also want to listen to Parasound if you are trying to stay with in a certain budget.

Lexicon has a nice trade-in/up-grade policy (I am not sure of B&K or Anthem). Bottom line... listen to the processors you are comparison shopping for and purchase the one that sounds best to you. As I am sure you know what sounds good to me may not sound good to you or John Doe.

I purchased the Lexicon MC1 and six months later up-graded to the Lexicon MC12 balanced with no problems.

B&K does offer worthwhile features and is built well. You get high end sound at a mid-fi price tag.

Good Luck and happy listening.