Replace the Sunfire with a used Anthem D2 with ARC.
Thanks Kal. That's another good suggestion. I know you are a big fan of room correction, and rightfully so I'm sure. But are you saying that room correction with the D2's analogue section will trump any of the options/equipment I've mentioned above? Guess I would have to re-read your reviews, but I thought that, in your efforts to find the best multi-channel audio, you were a bigger fan of "better" sounding units like the Cary Cinema 11, the Bryston sp2 and the BelCanto Pre6, among others. Anyway, looking forward to more suggestions/opinions on my choices.
imhe, i found my b&w's to crave power, so i acquired the most powerful 2 channel sunfire amp to drive them. the results are stunning good, especially in stereo. i opted for active monitors for center and surrounds so as to eliminate a multichannel amp; would have loved to acquire b&w center & surrounds, but could not justify, since music 2 channel is 95 percent & ht is only 5 percent. i have sunfire pre/pro iv w/out hdmi - don't need it for now.
I have to say that the SQ out of my sunfire components is excellent. No question. But I would bet that I can improve further. However, right now I have a limited budget, so I'm looking for opinions on my various upgrade path choices as in my OP. I'm sure that many of you have gone through similar incremental upgrades. Given my existing components, what would make the biggest improvement: amp? preamp?
i would say the preamp would, generally speaking, make the biggest improvement. although i have a sunfire preamp with a characteristic sound i like, i have fed my sunfire power amp with several different sources including direct outputs of both ps audio phono and dac as well as presonus firestudio recording interface. all have differing characteristics and sq, whereas the poweramp has remained very stable and very powerful performing as called for depending on source. actually the aforementioned recording interface had the biggest improvement, but was not practical from an audiophile standpoint. still it was what i expected since it is pro audio recording gear.
Thanks Eric, that's kinda what I'm thinking. May go for a good used preamp like the Modwright 9.0 or 36.5, or the Dodd or Red Wine. Aesthetix has gotten great reviews, but seen on several boards a problem with noise, etc. I would love to hear more opinions though. Anyone...?
Was hoping I'd get a decent amount of responses, but the various boards I'm on, avs, agon, htguide, seem slow these days (at least for my questions,lol).
One other point for Kal's earlier response: rather than get the D2 with ARC, why not spend less money and get an outboard audessey or tact room correction system, and then go for a great preamp/amp? Regardless how good the room correction is, I'm still supposedly limited by the analogue section of the pre/pro (subscribing to the theory that pre/pros can't compete with dedicated 2 channel preamps).
The drawback to the external EQ is, precisely, the additional A/D/A conversions which confound any attempt to maintain a coherent analog signal path. Of course, that is just as much "theory" as the presumption that pre/pros can't compete with dedicated 2 channel preamps. In both cases, there is truth and untruth. It depends.
No doubt Kal. As much as I'd like to get a consensus, I do know that it's all in MY ears ultimately. And though sometimes you get a consensus and sometimes you don't, even a consensus allows for dissidents. If you look over at Zissou's thread at AVS, you see that the consensus is that the Proceed AVP2 pre/pro has about as good an analogue section as most good reasonably priced preamps. However, even so, there are those that bought the Proceed and wound up not liking it as much as they thought, and opted for a 2 channel preamp. In that thread, many claimed, as did Zissou, that the Bryston SP2 was not very good. Yet you and many other opinions I found on the web thought it was an outstanding pre/pro as respects analogue 2 channel playback. I would bet it is. Perhaps the D2 to a preamp is a better bet? Who knows. Guess I will have to try a few options to see how I fare.