Preamp or Surround Processor for Stereo?
I am looking for a preamp to go with my NHT Power2 amp and Monitor Audio RS6 speakers. I currently have an NAD 1600 preamp. I want to get the best preamp I can for the money and want to stay under $1,000. I definitely plan to buy used.
I have been perusing the ads here on AudioGon and there is just a plethora of pre’s available. Since I have a two-channel system I have been looking mostly at stereo preamps. Several older 5.1 surround processors have caught my eye.
Since most of these units are older, there is no way to audition them so I must rely on reviews and user opinions. Can a surround processor sound as good as a dedicated two channel preamp?
I have seen some very nice processors like the Classe SSP 30 MKII, B&K Ref. 20 and 30, Outlaw 990, Sunfire TGP 2 and 3, Proceed AVP-S, Anthem AVM 20, Arcam Avr300 Diva, Theta Casa Nova, etc., etc. listed here. Some of these were three and four grand new and are now selling for less than $1,000. Some are offered in the $6 to $7 hundred range.
There does not seem to be quite the selection of stereo preamps in my range, but there are some good buys listed. I’ve seen a Linn Kolektor, Musical Fidelity A3.2 CR, various Rotels, Bryston, Arcam, B&K, Anthem, etc. between $500 and $1,000.
I am looking for a preamp that will deliver pure, clean, good, musical sound. As I said, I would like to get a preamp I could keep for several years and would just get better as I added better components to it. I definitely want a remote. I would like tone controls because sometimes I just like messing around with the bass and treble, but it's not required. I would also like a phono input as I still listen to a lot of vinyl, but I could always add a phono preamp.
So, can an older surround processor match a stereo preamp? If so, which Processors would you recommend in my price range? If not, which preamps would you recommend?
Thanks in advance for all opinions and recommendations.