Need multi-channel that's great on 2 channel

I'm looking for a multi-channel receiver that's GREAT for two-channel listening. I'm thinking of upgrading what I have, given the space I have to play with. Most of the time I listen to music, not watch movies.

Arcam's AVR600 keeps getting mentioned; are there others that are very good musically?

Any input would be most welcome,
Good luck with that search Jeff. I tried for several years to find a high end SSP that sounded great with music, until I finally gave up and bought a stereo preamp with a HT throughput.
I'm with Jmcgrogan2. I gave up and now use a mid level receiver for movies and multichannel music, and a Modwright pre-amp with HT pass through. The cost of a top shelf receiver to match what I have is prohibitive for me, the processing for room analysis is frequently upgraded and improving, and I spent my money on the front speakers and amps since I am 90% music/ 10% movies and DVD-A and SACD. Onkyo makes very reliable units at all price ranges and include the best current iterations of room correction, ease of use, and amplification good enough for surround.
Thanks for your responses; most helpful; I've been reading this forum, and this seems to be a recurring theme.
I currently own a Marantz SR7005, which I bi-amp my front B&W805's. For the money, the Marantz has been very good with my source components...Arcam Alpha 9 CD, Arcam MCD Multi disc changer, and a Marantz UD7006 SACD/BD.

So why change?

Well, basically I'm a two-channel guy; in my closet, just back from a trip to an Arcam authorized service vintage Alpha 9 integrated and power amps...all tuned-up and ready to come back into service. In order to do that, I need to reconfigure my living area to fit in a second system...; before I jump through that hoop....I just wanted to check out my options.

That's the deal; anyone else, feel free to jump in,
frankly, i think you'll get more significant improvement by adding an power amp to your marantz (which is a well-regarded piece) than by replacing it with another avr (should be cheaper, too).
The Arcam 600 is great on 2 channel. I had one in my own room for quite some time. I reluctantly sold it to a customer that kept asking me for it. I ended up with Arcam separates to replace it cause that's what I had available. I could have lived with the 600 for a loooong time. I honestly think its that good. Don't take my word for it, go listen to one. You will be surprised, but not disappointed.

***dealer disclaimer***
Yes Jeff, it is a recurring theme everytime the question is asked. The majority of responses will be to use a 2 channel preamp with an HT Bypass feature. I am also firmly in this camp finding the 2 channel pure direct modes of most AVR's sadly lacking.

If your adament about a one box solution though, The Arcam 600 you mention is about the best out there for 2 channel reproduction from an AVR. But if you can consider adding 1 or 2 more boxes in your installation you will find that at the 600's price, it can be bettered for a lot less by using a 2 channel integrated w HT bypass or a 2 channel preamp & power amp. Again, the preamp must have a HT Bypass feature. And there are many, many quality models available to get the job done right and blow away even the Arcam 600.

Your Marantz 7005 is a fine AVR and can still be used to power the center and surrounds when listening to multi-channel sources along with its room correction facilities for multi-channel. No need to replace it for it. I use a mid level AVR as a pre/pro also but for my 2 channel listening, I have a 2 channel preamp w HT Bypass and a power amp. The best of both worlds in one clean installation. Good luck.
What would be some a good options for me if I wanted to add something to my Marantz? Your suggestion about amp/preamp, paired with what I have, may be the way to go. (Zydo....also still thinking about AVR600, too.)

Have any amps you'd recommend?

Looking for something that would really improve the two-channel sound I'm already getting; as I said earlier, the 7005 allows me to bi-amp the front channels....sounds very good.....looking to improve, if possible.

Thanks for the info,
Jeff, just in case you are not aware, you can use the extra channels to your front speakers for biamping on the Arcam 600.
There are so many different ways to go Jeff. Since we don't know budget, I'll assume up to 5K, the price of an Arcam 600.

Here are just a few solid state preamp/power amp combos you can look at starting in price low to high. All the preamps have HT Bypass and will provide plenty of power to drive your B&W 805's. I am sure others can give their recommendations too:

Parasound 2100/Parasound 2250
Parasound HALO P5/A21
Atoll PR100SE/AM200
Primare PRE30/A30.2

Interested in tubes? Look at the Rogue Audio Perseus preamp and couple it with a Rogue Stereo 90 power amp or Rogue M150 mono blocks.

Want to bi-amp? Since you like Arcam, you can also consider their A38 integrated (has HT bypass) and a P38 Power amp.

Finally, don't forget a wide variety of integrated amps with HT Bypass that will do the same as the above combos but with only one box. Some good ones that come to mind are the Marantz Reference PM15S2 and the PM11S3, Creek Destiny 2 and the Music Fidelity M6i.

All above combos and integrateds should be well below the cost of an Arcam 600 with the exception of the Rogue tube mono-blocks that would be about $5500 for preamp and amps.

Good luck and have fun!
I always argue that there are (at least) two different answers to this question, depending on the answer to two questions regarding your listening practices:

1) Do you use your subs for two channel listening?
2) Is your source material exclusively digital?

If the answer to both of the above is "yes", IME you're best off with a great sounding AVR/pre-pro for 2 channel music listening. There's no ADC to consider and IMHO sub integration in the digital domain usually gets much better results than analog bass management. In this case, IMHO you should look for the best room correction/bass management software. I prefer Audyssey XT 32 pro, but many others like Anthem ARC, Meridien, etc.

If the answer to either (or both) of the questions is "no", you might want to think about the 2 channel preamp with pass thru as recommended by Jmcgrogan.

Thank you.....great advice. I will take it seriously.....
Another vote here for using a 2 channel preamp with HT bypass connected to the AVR pre-outs. Here's a thread with a list of preamps with a HT bypass:
I run a Dared DV-6C multichannel analogue integrated amp. It is a Hybrid Integrated tube pre/ solid state 65x6. It's quality way surpassed my Parasound HCA 2205AT 220x5 power amp and my Onkyo Pro SC-885 prep processor priced at $4500 list. The Dared was $425 shipped to my door. A no-brainer...Sounds excellent for movies and music. ..Check it out.....
Hello everyone,
Again, I've really appreciated everyone's feedback; it's been most helpful.

What I've decided to do is go with two separate systems: my home theater system, based around my Marantz SR 7005; and then my two-channel system, based around my old Arcam Alpha 9 integrated and power amps, which I will bi-amp with my B&W 805's.

The Arcams returned from a trip to Audio Doctor in Phoenix, which is an authorized Arcam service center (Cornell Smith was most helpful); he replaced the capacitors, but otherwise found the units in perfect shape. He also cleaned/checked-up my Arcam Alpha 9 CD and Arcam MCD players; both are in great shape.

This is a work in progress; I will be upgrading the amplifiers...but in the meantime, I am buying a Furman reference 15i power conditioner; I've also purchased some beautiful racks from Timbernation; I plan to buy a better interconnect for the Alpha's; I have Kimber 8tc speaker wire....and Kimber PBJ interconnects for my CD sources.

I also have a Marantz 6300 turntable,which is my restoration project.

As for my home theater, the Marantz has been wonderful. My speakers are Mirage Nanosats; I plan to upgrade them, too....but for what I use that system for...they're perfectly fine for now. My main source will be a Marantz UD/7006 BD/SACD.

So...mid-fi, with some high-end flourishes. Both systems will improve with time.

Please feel free with chime-in with suggestions; always open to that, and thanks, again, for taking the time to read my thread.

Sounds like you have a good solution in the works. Even without the pre-amp having a HT bypass you can use it in that mode by connecting the L/R pre-outs of the receiver as a input to the pre-amp and setting the volume levels on the pre at a reproducible level. That would allow you to use your B&Ws for movies also. If you want to match the front 3 speakers you could then upgrade the center to a B&W center and continue to drive it with the receiver.
Thanks for the feedback; looking forward to getting everything up-and-running.'s a work-in-progess; saving up for a McIntosh.
Not trying to hijack the thread, but do you guys consider the NAD-T757 as a good contender? It has a modular design for future-proofing, and you could just add a 2-channel power amp in addition if more mains power is needed.

I too think NAD AVR's do very well with 2-channel. I own a NAD T773 receiver(2004 flagship) and a NAD T175HD prepro and both IMO hold their own with 2-channel music.

The Marantz 8801 and an Oppo 105 via XLR has put an end to my search for the best of both! Its nothing short of outstanding as a 2/ch pre and was not at all what I was expecting from it. If your looking for a processor to handle multich codecs including DSD direct coupled along with Audyssey's XT32 all over hdmi while having no need to consider a bypass solution for 2/ch. It's the 88011!
I would go the Arcam AVR 600.There will be new models coming out soon and I have seen the AVR 600 go for as little as $2500 second hand.I too only listen to music only in a 5.3 system.I run the 3x Subs with surround (DVD-A SACD),turntable and CD stereo.I have looked long and hard to find a 2 channel AMP for Turntable and stereo CD playback that will integrate the Subs with the front speakers set to small but NO LUCK.Now that my turntable is going HIEnd I have been searching for a AVR for music that is better then the Arcam AVR 600.I am more then happy with the results of the Arcam AVR 600 but looking at my next upgrade.
Go "hybrid", i have the best of A/V now with the PR-SC5509's great HQV Vida VP (uprezzing those DVDs) and a CP-700 in SSP bypass mode, the stereo balanced A1UDCI (stellar DSD decoder but an inferior BD player, PS3 takes care of that and 3D)directly linked, and couldn't be happier.

The CP-700 make me realize more and more how ignorant i had been thinking an A/V box could do everything for all these years, everything is opening up, I am reauditioning my extensive SACD collection and finding amazing details never heard before in favorite recordings. All of a sudden Roxie's Avalon, Beck's Seachange, and Kraftwerk MCH showpieces take a step back and now I am demonstrating my system to visitors using MoFi and Universal Japan 2 channel remasters.
This weekend got everything hooked up; built the Timbernation racks...the old Arcam Alphas never looked, or sounded so good; good to have them paired up with the Furman Reference 15i, which does make a dfference: I'm getting more detail and more "bottom" to my sound. The whole system sounds better, aided by some Kimber Hero and PBJ interconnects, and 8TC speaker cable. My 2 channel is set, for now; I plan to save up for better amplifiers.

My HT system is also doing well: the Marantz SR7005 sounds great, paired with another Furman conditioner and Mirage Nanosat speakers and sub; long-range: improve the speakers; getting good sound currently from my Marantz UD7006 SACD/BD player.

Thanks again for all your suggestions; keep them coming...
CAL MCA 2500 or Theta dreanaught
Get a neutral MCh preamp like the Bel Canto Pre6 and a good MCh amp like the Cary Cinema 5 (I owned this combo at one time) or many other quality amps. I'm not sure that the A/V receivers built for 101 uses can compete with this sort of basic technology built for simply amplifying a signal.
It depends also what for speakers you use. The Arcam and Marantz have both a musical sound. But......they both have one other thing in common. They are both almost 2-dimensional in image. How do I know this. I sold them for many years and I Always test them what they can and what the properties are. Onkyo and Integra ( more expensive Primare) both can give a wide and deep stage. Wenn you use speakers with exeptional good cross over filters you get depth and a wider stage. But wenn you use a Arcam or Marantz amp you will loose a lot of the wide and deep stage. Wenn you compare an Integra/Onkyo with Arcam/Marantz amp to the same speakers ( Monitor Audio is a brand which is very good in making crossover filters and give you a deep an wide stage)you will hear how much smaller the stage will be with the Arcam and Marantz. Depth is the most stunning part in highend audio. This gives you the 3-dimensional image in both stereo and Multi channel. These days I use shows and demo's to teach people the difference between 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional sound. 3-dimensional sound is superior over 2-dimensional sound. Wenn I let people hear my system they directly understand what 3-dimensional sound is and does. It is that simple!
The Marantz 8801 and an Oppo 105 via XLR has put an end to my search for the best of both! Its nothing short of outstanding as a 2/ch pre and was not at all what I was expecting from it. If your looking for a processor to handle multich codecs including DSD direct coupled along with Audyssey's XT32 all over hdmi while having no need to consider a bypass solution for 2/ch. It's the 88011!

I have the AV8801 on order (showing up Friday) and can't wait to hook up my Oppo 95 to it. Do you run the direct mode for 2 channel, bypassing the XT32? My room is so odd that I'm not sure I want to bypass the XT32 (especially, the bass management), but your thoughts are compelling me to give it a try. Now to go look for some nice, pre-owned or demo XLRs...
The way I measure even XT32 is superior in drive and resolution than without. Also for stereo use. I measure at different places and hights. Audyssey uses it wrong. There way you will loose dynamics. I use Audyssey at a perspective from highend audio in mind. So the end results are superior to the way Audyssey advices it. I have done hundreds of tests with it in 3 years of time. And no I never will give info how I do it. Because I know I have gold in my hands. At this moment I am very sucessfull with it. I never had such a big advantage to my competitors in my life. I love audio!!