I'm considering two different paths to upgrade my hybrid home theater - 2 channel system. Either get a higher-end pre-pro like the marantz av7005, or an Oppo 105.
Here's what I currently have: Marantz SR7001 receiver Sony BDP S550 bluray Marantz SA8004 sacd/dac Logitech Squeezebox touch Google chromecast Cambridge Audio 840a V2 integrated amp
Speakers are: Mains: B&W CM7 The rest are JBL Northridge series E250 sub, EC35 center, and E10 surrounds
The main LR speakers are connected to the Cambridge, which acts as the power amp while using the receiver. SA8004 is connected analog to the Cambridge, and the 8004 also acts as the dac for the Logitech. Bluray and chromecast go in HDMI to the receiver.
If I went with the oppo upgrade, it would replace the 8004 and the Sony, whereas replacing the receiver with the prepro I could potentially get rid of the 8004 also and update the bluray with a SACD-compatible one.
My goals: 2 channel (no subwoofer) listening at the same or higher quality than the current 8004-Cambridge chain. I should say that I am VERY HAPPY with my current 2-channel setup.
Higher quality HT audio, either from the improved processing of a prepro, or of the Oppo.
Get my feet wet in multichannel audio. Currently my SACD listening is done in stereo only.
I listen to stereo classical music, and watch bluray movies, and stream netlfix et al through the chromecast.
Of course going with a prepro would necessitate the purchase of a 3-channel amp, most likely something like an Acurus, or possibly a very modest 2-channel for the surrounds and a beefier mono for the center. Or maybe even ditching the Cambridge all together if the 2 channel performance of the prepro is on par with it.
The Oppo 105 is great! Once broken in it will sound very good. Was a tad lean out of the box, but after about 400 hours it really opened up. The xlr outs work best for me with music play back. The video side crushed any thing in its price range and then some.
You might not need a center channel or 3-channel amp if you get good imaging from stereo. I took down our center channel. IMO LR surrounds are important for enjoying some music and most HT.
An Oppo 105 can provide many of the functions of a processor such as speaker management and so forth as well as splendid audio and video from SACD and Blu-ray discs. Our DirecTV HD-DVR connects via HDMI to the Oppo as well, so it can use the superior video processing and DACs of the 105.
I purchased the Oppo Digital 105 for my two channel system and like it very much. The Oppo replaced my Ayre CX-7eMP CD player. I also purchased a small Samsung monitor (12" high) to connect to the Oppo. The Oppo 105 requires an external monitor so you can control it. The Oppo also automatically connects to the Gracenote database that displays your CD's album information. I am running it balanced into my integrated amplifier.
I also like to stream music from Pandora on my Oppo. I really like to enter the name of one of my CD albums into Pandora and it builds a music stream of similar music. Rhapsody is another streaming option but I am not using it (costs $10 per month).
Another option is to play music from a USB Flash drive.
The Oppo has many input and output options. I suggest you give the Oppo a listen. I highly recommended it.
68pete - Do you keep a written log of your equipment use? I have a new tube amplifier and I am in the 20+ hour range and really don't have much of an idea beyond that. Are you just estimating based on an average day or week of listening?
Also, when you say it really opened up, did it sound basically the same for the first 399ish hours and then something changed significanly in a short period of time or was it a gradual change over time?
Hello Mceljo For the Oppo I did keep a log for the use . kept track of the hours used. for the first 100 hours no notable change, then things started to slowly happen. Friends would come by and ask if I had made a change or tweak to the system.
Thanks everyone for the feedback so far. After doing more research on the receiver side I am thinking the biggest gain I can get is from improved room correction, namely Audyssey MultiEQ XT32, which is only available on a handful of receivers and prepros. I'm especially interested in the increase of subwoofer EQ from my current setup (MultiEQ).
The Marantz AV7005 only has MultiEQ XT, and I'd have to jump up to the AV8801 for the XT32. It seems that only Denon and Onkyo offer XT32.
I am not familiar with the other room correction software out there, so is there an equivalent that I'm missing?
Also, please question my premise that the improvement in room correction would be more significant than the improvement in D/A conversion in the Oppo. From what I know the Oppo doesn't do room EQ, right?
Thanks for the responses so far. After more and more reading, I am really drawn to the latest Audyssey:MultEQ XT32. Most receivers/prepros seem to have XT, and only the highest-end ones have XT32. My current Marantz has plain MultEQ. I am especially keen to have my subwoofer tamed with this improved room correction. So my question now is this XT32 worth it? I've found people online saying both ways, with some saying XT32 is the best thing ever and others saying XT is plenty good. I've found some amazing reviews of the AV7005, and now with it selling for $800 refurbished (accessories4less) it's hard to pass up.
For XT32, the cream of the crop seems to be Marantz AV8801, but at $2400, that's out of my budget. Unless....
Could something like that replace my 2-channel gear? Don't get me wrong, I love my 2-channel setup, but it has significant resale value that could go toward financing this move. Something like a pure digital chain going into the prepro, with it doing all the D/A conversion, room correction, etc. Or acting as an analog pre only?
Anyway, that may be pie-in-the-sky thinking. A more practical and easier solution would be the Denon 4311 receiver (which has XT32). It seems silly to buy a unit with a 9-channel amp when I only need three, but at $949 refurbished, that's quite a deal. And it has a "preamp only" mode where you can switch off all the amps for less noise. Not sure if you can switch off specific amps or not.
I don't think you need to give up 2-channel analog if you use an Oppo 105. I'll be replacing a Cary Cinema 11a processor with a Parasound Halo JC-2 2-channel analog preamp. Stereo from the 105 will go through the JC-2, surround channels directly to the amps. The 105 performs most of the functions of a processor such as speaker configuration and so forth and provides volume control for its output. A Sony 5400ES and JC-3 phono stage will use the two balanced inputs of the JC-2, and the JC-2 will control their volume. You match the volume of stereo through the preamp to the surround channels using the noise the 105 generates and an SPL meter, and mark it. (A BP mod for the JC-2 provides unity gain for selected channels if you prefer.)
Yesterday I installed a Parasound Halo JC-2 analog stereo preamp in place of a Cary Cinema 11a. After a bit of adjusting to match the volume of the surrounds that go straight to the amps with that of the stereo that goes throughout he JC-2, I enjoyed superb 4.1 sound -- I don't use a center channel anymore. I'm now convinced you don't need to take the leap of faith Bob wrote about in his 11-13-13 post.