You don't indicate your budget, but if you can afford one of the best pre/pros on the market, I strongly recommend the Bryston SP-1.7 (retail price is $4800, but can be purchased used for around $3200). I have the original SP1, and have been extremely pleased with it. The SP-1.7 has gotten a lot of good comments here on Audiogon, which you can access in the archives.
classe ssp-75 would be a good pick. if you don't need component inputs, there ssp-25 and ssp-30 units are also very nice. mcintosh mx-13x series are also very nice. Mcintosh also carries the mht series integrated 2 channel/ht amps. if you need more power, you can always use seperate amps to power your speakers. IMO, most of the pre/pros out there give up 2 channel performance for dd/dts capability. I feed my ht equipment into my 2 channel preamp. when i listen to music, i only use my 2 channel gear, when i watch movies, i feed the output of the ht processor/amp to the l/r channels into my audio gear and the center and surround speakers are driven from my ht gear. works well. good luck.
Listen to the Rotel RSP-1098.
Thanks for your responses.
I intentionally did not give a budget as it often restricts looking at the choices simply because of $$. However, I did indicate my other equipment just prevent us going overboard and beyond the capability of my current equipment.
I am a classe fan and therefore I like both SSP 25 and 30. I am afraid that SSP75 may be a overkill considering the rest of the system. What about SSP 50? Any thoughts on Proceed PAV/PDSD or Krell HTS?
Anthem avm-2 or 20 depending on budget. Will sound better, have better displays and be more flexible than the act 3 (in my opinion).
imo, the greatest bargain in the upper high end for a pre/dac is the boulder 1012 (plus, you get a very good phono stage). it's what i use for my digital side, which also includes an mbl transport and nagra vpa monoblocks.
I am very pleased with my Proceed PAV/PDSD. They serve as the preamp/processor for a Proceed Amp 2 and Amp 3 that drive a pair of KEF 104/2s, KEF C 200, and a pair of KEF 102/2 surrounds. All biwired. A Velodyne HGS-15 takes everything below 80 Hz.
The sound is open and transparent, with a large soundstage and precise imaging.
Reviews suggest a Krell HTS would be a good choice also. Either the Proceed or the Krell would be a cost effective solution to excellent stereo and 5.1 sound.
I will chime in with the B&K REF 50.
Thanks again for all your help. It is great to know that I have so many choices. I am familiar with all of the choices except boulder and Anthem. I will learn about them before making my choice.
Thanks for the specifics on Proceed/Krell. How would you compare PAV/PDSD with AVP? Do yuo think the D/A and Analog 2ch performance between PAV/PDSD and AVP are similar or is one significantly better than the other?
Also how do you compare Classe SSP50 with PAV/PDSD or HTS?
Based on the original prices I notice that PAV/PDSD is 1.5 to two times as much as the other two. HTS and SSP50 seem to be around same price range. Do you thing I should read more into the price difference or it is just an artifact of two box vs. one box solution?
I've never compared the Proceed PAV/PDSD side by side with the AVP, but I suspect the AVP is a bit inferior. The AVP2, OTOH, is probably at least equal and may be slightly superior, but it is more expensive used.
What I can say is that I've listened to many high-end systems, and, of course, they all sound a little different. People talk about warmth or coolness as their preferrred form of distortion, but I listen for openess and transparency, along with a large, well defined soundstage. The PAV/PDSD has not been wanting.
At one time, I thought I should try the convenience of a receiver, and it was OK for movies and HDTV, but that openess and transparency I look for in stereo was missing, so I went back to the Proceed stuff.
You should be aware, though, that the Proceed units do not handle component video, so if that is important to you, you might look elsewhere.
Thanks for sharing your findings. I do not need any video switching as I send all video digitally to my DLP TV (DVI/HDMI). When HDMI or DVI switching becomes a standard and we have digital HD recorders/players I am sure will be very tempted to switch to more current models. But I think it is a while to go and I can use something more along the line of PAV/PDSD until then.
No no no..Krell HTS 5.1 of old. Connected digitally, as good as can be had for digital PCM and dts/dd.
I am not sure I understand what you have said. Are you saying HTS 5.1 is as good as anything out there?, or do you mean it is not good because it is too old?
Your response might be useful if we knew what elicited the triple no, otherwise in a series of posts we have no idea of your intent.
I'm saying, for your likely sources/needs, the krell HTS is as good sonically as you'll find IME.
Don't overlook the Cary Cinema 6. In the $2.5K price range nothing can touch it for sonics in 2 channel, and its superb with multichannel as well.
My problem is, the Cinema 6 and 5 combination sounds so good, I've been spending the bucks upgrading cables, interconnects, pc's etc. But it's transparent enough to really benefit from system changes.
Is now a good time to upgrade?
I was very nearly about to upgrade my HT front end. However after much reading I'm not so sure now is the time. For the money we're talking about spending to not have the latest and greatest, is well, a waste of money IMO.
Not all unit have Pro Logic IIx.
Nor the various different input options hmdi, firewire, usb, nw2xstupid, etc.
I've decided to wait a year and see how things shake out.
I was going to buy the new Outlaw 990 pre/pro and some new Swedish amps.