Yur Bryston 9B is not balanced internally.
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A little over a year ago, I did the same comparison between Onkyo/Integra, NAD, Denon, etc., that you're now doing. My system is 2 channel, music only - so no comments from here on the video side of the equation.
I went with the Onkyo (in part) because my ARC VT130SE power amp lacks a phase splitter and requires a true balanced signal and (in part) because Stereophile was so enthusiastic about XT32.
Even when using other power amps - and I have several - I am delighted with the choice I made. The system sounds great. I suspect that it would sound really good with the NAD, too, but I have no complaints and can recommend the Onkyo for 2 channel music without reservation.
I came very close to pulling the trigger on an Integra DHC-80.2(Onkyo PR-5508) but happened upon an incredibly priced used NAD T175HD that I had been waiting to pop up at a price I could afford. I am totally satisfied with the musicality and HT processing of this pre/pro. Yes the Integra has XT32, balanced connections and networking capabilities but the NAD sound was more important to me after my experience with my NAD T773 receiver.
Spearit Sound has their refurbished T175HD's for $1599.00. You could replace the VM200 module with the VM150(1.4 3D) and get virtually the same thing as the T187. Not sure which route would be more cost effective. 3D for now, is not important to me so I won't be switching modules for some time if ever.
Thanks everyone for the responses. Elizabeth im not sure what is the basis of your statement that the bryston is NOT balanced. Im pretty sure runs Discrete Class A operational. Thus the question i guess is, is whether the onkyo 5508 is actually balanced as to take advantage of this input.
decisions.....nad v. onkyo
My understanding is that at that price point, the Onkyo is not a true balanced design. As another example, my current Anthem is not either--even though it has balanced connectors.
The only truly "balanced" unit I've had was a Proceed PAV years ago. If your runs are short, the conventional wisdom is that you won't notice a difference. You will notice an audible difference more in the build quality of the product than you will with balanced vs. unbalanced assuming you don't have long runs and noise pickup. To my point, there are many, many very high end preamps and amp units without balanced inputs. You will also certainly notice more of a difference with good roomEQ. What the Anthem AVM50v does in my room is very noticeable and the more transparent the speakers, the more you will notice the effects.
I can't say that I've personally noticed the difference with a truly balanced system vs. one that simply has balanced/XLR connectors.
Glean what you will from the posts. Sometimes looking at minutia can be maddening and sometimes it helps to look at the forest instead of the tree to get perspective. Perspective always helps.
"Willland - have you experienced any clicks or pops that seem to be a major concern with NAD pre-pros on another forum?"
The only time I ever hear pops is when I power down my Acurus amps and then immediately power down the NAD. Without muting circuitry, Acurus amps have a tendency to bleed out the energy stored in the capacitors and it is audible. If I don't let that energy bleed out, it also sometimes causes speaker pops. Only clicking I ever hear is not loud and sounds a little like my Onkyo receiver. From my understanding, firmware updates have eliminated these annoyances.
Based on what I have read, the new T187 is completely void of either of these problems due to different circuitry.