I think that in that price range you may be better off with a good used integrated amp with a HT bypass. I just recently posted a thread asking for the best used integrated for my B&W cdm1nt's (88db efficient compared with your Soliloquy's 90db rating) Most of the people seemed to be leaning towards the Classe, Electrocompaniet, Plinius (a little pricier), Krell 300i and I think a few others. I chickened out and ended up with a Bryston because I like the 20 year transferrable warranty and the fact that Bryston has a great reputation and is used in alot of major studios around the world. I am very happy with the Bryston B-60. For $825 delivered with 18 years warranty left to me it is a no brainer. It sounds better (to me) than the Denon avr5800 that I had originally listened to the CDMnt 7's with. You may also want to let people here know what kinds of music you listen to as some of the integrateds suggested to me seemed to be more commonly suggested to others for classical and jazz and others seemed to be recommended more for pop & rock. Anyhow, I'm just a beginner here but that's my 2 cents.
Interesting situation: I would definitely separate HT system from 2ch stereo:
Use for 2ch stereo your main Soliloquy 5.3.
Get for HT some cheap and descent monitors.
Try to mate used passive McCormack line drive($325) with used Bryston 3b-st($900).
If you cannot separate HT from music it'll still work with two sets of speaker wires running from your HT receiver and from your power amp. Make sure that receiver and amps are not on both at the same time.
With your budget your money would be beter spent on an high quality integrated piece such as a Classe CAP 100 or 150, This unit allows you to separate the amp/preamp sections for HT use. I'm not familiar with the Soliolquy but this particular piece is very musical and can deliver high current. I am sure that there are other integrateds out there that can do the same thing. I believe that they would be much better that the separates available at that price.
As mentioned above, it's relatively easy to do assuming you've got preouts for the main channels on the receiver and get a preamp or integrated amp with a processor loop. (However, I don't think that it's necessary -- or necessarily recomended? -- to run two seperate runs of speaker cables, from two seperate amps, into the same pair of speakers (forgive me if I misinterpreted)).
When set up, it will essentially be a 2 channel system with a parallel add-on for processing and 3 extra channels (or more, if you want) of amplification when doing HT. It's vaguely counter-intuitive at first, so forgive me if I am overly simplistic, but it works like this. The two-channel system is essentially stand-alone when in use: CD (or source of choice) to preamp to amp to mains, season to taste and go. Next to it, or at least next to it on my rack, is the DVD (runing digital into the processor section on the receiver) the reciever and, for good measure, a VCR. The amp section on the receiver powers the center and surrounds, while the mains run from the preouts on the receiver into the processor loop in on the preamp (which then sends the signal to the main amp and onto the speakers, of course). This way, the mains never see anything other than the tubed preamp and the Bryston and, when listening to music, the HT gear is turned off and minding its own business. As far as I am concerned, it's the best of both worlds -- you can have a reletively high end (as high-end as you want, really) two channel system mated with a relatively cheap HT receiver for all of the 5.1 channel whistles and bells without having to worry about trying to find a HT processor that can do both movies AND music well.
Down the road, you could even add on seperate amps for the surround and center channels (again, assuming that you've got preouts on the receiver for them). That said, if and when you get that far down the road, you'll likely be looking at ditching the reciever anyway and going full seperates for HT as well, which, for my money and usage, seems entirely unnecessary. But that's me.
Finally, if you're in the mood for consolidating even more,
if you've got a DVD player with both digital and analog outs (which you almost certainly do) you could run the digital into the reciever and the analog into the preamp CD input and have the DVD do double duty. I tried this just for fun and found that, for music, the onboard DAC on the DVD was far superior to the DAC on the reciever. (I run the DVD analog feed into the AUX input on the preamp). Sure, I prefer the CD player to the DVD, but what the hell, I had to try it....
As for recomendations (yea, I hadn't forgotten) I'd have to agree that you could probably find a nicer intergrated than seperates in your price range. There was a Classe CAP 101 posted just today for $1,195. I don't know integrateds well enough to offer any pointers (or even whether the Classe indeed has a processor loop) but, as with anything audio, would encourage you to try to listen to as much as you can first. The recomendations above are an eccellent start, and you can rest assured, as long as there's a processor loop, that it will mate with the HT gear. Focus on the music, and just pick the one you like the sound of most. Best of luck.
Thanks, I think the route I would like to take would be the one Mezmo just talked about. As far as seperates or integrated I haven't made up my mind. Probably depend on what deal I run across. I've been thinking of a tube pre-amp and a SS power amp.
Yes, my Yamaha RXV-995 receiver has pre-outs.
So as I understand it, I'm looking for either an integrated with a processer loop or a pre with a processer loop and an 2-channel amp.
I was about to recomend the Rogue myself (and am personally longing for a 99 Magnum to replace my VTL preamp). Trick is, admittedly, the Rogues do not come stock with a HT processor loop (though I think they have a tape loop that could serve essentially the same purpose). However, I have it from Mr. Rogue himself (whose name escapes me at the moment) that it would be no problem to have them add one. Wish I had gotten a price quote from him on that... That said, a used VTL TL 2.5 is not a bad option either at around $7-800 used, and they do come with both a tape and a HT loop. I've got a Bryston 4b-st backing up the VTL and really can't say enought about the tube/solid state combo. Try it, I bet you'll like it.
I would love to get the Rogue, heard a 88 magnum with a McCormack amp hooked up to the same speakers I have. That's what sold me on the speakers.
However, with a Ski Trip and a wedding comming up, I would rather buy used. I'll spend $1500 or a little more if it's buying me an amp that went for $3000 new a couple of years ago, but $1200 for a new Rogue pre. Hell, I can get that anyday.
if you are willing to suffer w/two separate volume controls for the times you are doing the home-theatre thing, any preamp w/a tape loop will work - just plug the h-t receivers' outputs into the preamps' tape inputs.
i'd recommend a melos sha-1 preamp, and electrocompaniet amplification. both steals for the sonics, even when new, imo. when purchased used, it's *really* a steal! :>)
melos f/s for $425 on agon:
a *steal* on TWO electrocompaniet amps for $1300 the pair:
another decent ec amp deal - one for $800:
By far the best sonic combo that I can think of that you can get for anywhere near the price range you are talking is the Odyssey Stratos amp and perhaps their Tempest pre-amp. Check out the reviews on audioreview.com. Out of about 90 consumers, last time I checked the Stratos was rated a 5 out of a possible 5. Not one flaw. Website is Odysseyaudio.com I believe. They should have some reviews there also. Each component sells for $999 each. But again, they are some of the best made for anything under $5000 per component. Buy one now and one later or perhaps Odyssey can give you a bit of a deal.
If you must, must stay under $1200 and need both right now, you might want to look for a Sherwood Newcastle pre and amp used on audiogon or Perhaps a Sony TA9000ES pre which sells new for I think $700. The Sony TA90000Es is supposed to be pretty good, but the Sherwood Newcastle stuff, though decent looking, is supposedly a definite step down sonically.
With your 90db. sensitivity speakers,tubes should be the ticket! I'd consider a rogue 88 amp used($800.) and either a Audio Electronics Supply ae3 used pre($350.)or a rogue 66 used pre($750.). Rogue also makes a integrated amp that is called the "tempest", which might also suit you nicely. Good luck and keep us posted!
right now I'm thinking of finding a used Rogue pre-amp and matching it with a good amp a few months down the road. I called Rogue and they said could add a HT-passthrough for $100. Also said alot of people had matched thier pre-amps with Odyssey amps with good results.
Made an offer on a used Rogue 99 pre but guess it wasn't good enough because I never heard back.
I guess you can see the $1K budget isn't firm, but I'm looking for value here. I'm sure the Tempest is a great integrated but I think seperates may allow an easier upgrade path in the future.
The one thing in the back of mind though is I'm not sure of the difference in the various HT-passthrough/processer loop designs. I bet the Rogue would have better 2-channel sound but I'm wondering if I wouldn't be better off with a 5-channel pre like new Audio Refinement Outlaw Audio 950.
Far as I know, HT processor loops come in one of two varieties. One is just a simple wire when engaged, which is to say that it bypasses the guts of the preamp entirely and just flows straight on to the main amp. The second loops the feed through the preamp's innerds and then sends it out through the main outs. With this variety, you have to worry about the volume control on the preamp as well as the processor. The way to do this is to set the volume on the preamp to an easy mark (say 12 o-clock) and then use the processor to equalize all of the channels at that setting. Then, whenever you use the processor, you just have to remember to set the preamp's volume to your chosen benchmark.
Each method has its own benefits. The first is clearly easier. Just engage and go. VTL's loop is of the second variety. Personally, I'm not one to argue that the tubes in my preamp render a completely "colorless" sound, but I happen to like what they do "add," for lack of a better word. Thus, I don't mind that they are engaged (as opposed to completely bypassed) when the HT is going. That said, remembering to set the volume on the preamp is, without argument, just one more thing to remember. Each to his own, no? Anyone know how Rogue runs their HT loop?