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Other unit to consider would be a new Krell HTS ($3700 on closeout), a used Classe ssp-75 (around 3300 on EBAY), or the Anthem AV 20 (email me, I have a potential for $2200). The MC-1 is very good on surround but no so hot on stereo. I upgraded to a Krell HTS for the new dedicated theater and left the Lexicon in the other room.
As you may be aware, Bryston builds the Lexicon pre/pro, so in a sense, it's all in the family. I own the SP-1, and give it a solid recommendation. The primary issue for you to consider is whether you are primarily interested in audio or HT. If your objective is to get a high-end audio preamp that also does an excellent job with HT, then I'd suggest the SP-1. On the other hand, if you are mainly looking for a HT surround processor that offers video switching capability (which the SP-1 does not), then you will probably want the Lexicon.
Bryston's objective in building the SP-1 was to meet the needs of audiophiles who also want to enjoy high quality HT sound. From my own experience, I'd say they met their goal and then some. Further, Bryston will make upgrades for the SP-1 as digital audio and HT formats change. Sometime early this year, Bryston is supposed to be offering a modification to the SP-1 that will add either DVD-A or SACD inputs.
Bryston's Web site has a good discussion of the design objectives of the SP-1 which I suggest you read. Here's the link: http://www.bryston.ca/sp1memo.html
If you'd like more specific input about the SP-1, please feel free to send me a personal E-mail. In addition, if you decide to buy the SP-1, I can provide you with the name and E-mail address for a dealer that discounts Bryston.
I think some people got the info incorrect. Lexicon builds Bryston's pre/pros and Bryston build Lexicon's NT and newer amplifiers. With regard to stereo performance in stereo mode, the Lexicon may have the disdvange as already stated, however the Home Theater performance, flexibility, ergonomics, etc of the MC-1 is arguably the best complete processor under $3500.
I have total respect for the brains at Lexicon. But.. I did a side by side comparisin of the Lexicon and the Theater Grand 2 from Sunfire and could not detect any difference in sound quality (although I was looking forward to owning the Lexicon!). I went with the Sunfire, and I've been very happy with the performance and versatility. Mind you, I was looking for a combination of stereo and Theater. I expect that I will be blasted by many out there for putting Sunfire in the same class as Lexicon... but this is what I found to be true.
DON'T pay $3500 for a used MC-1! They can be had much cheaper than that. Even from a dealer, I wouldn't pay more than about $2500. Keep in mind, however, that Lexicon offers generous upgrade programs on their pre/pros, but each unit can only be traded in once in it's lifetime - it would be worth some extra $$$ to buy one that could be traded in in the future. My guess is that your dealer would be selling you one he rec'd on trade, so then it's really way too much
I owned / loved the MC-1 for 2 years before trading mine in on the new MC-12. It's awesome for movies (which I watch a lot of) and I found it to be excellent for music. I haven't compared it to a lot of other units, but it was extremely well reviewed even for music listening. I don't know if it's better or worse that the SP-1, but I think that at $2500 (esp. if it remains eligible to trade in later), it's a great piece and I would highly recommend it. -Kirk