Preamp w/ xlrs in the ht-bypass loop

Hello, I'm looking for a two channel preamplifier with a pair of balanced inputs that are included in the home theater bypass loop. I've done a little bit of research and there isn't that many that do this or they're a little over my budget. Mark Levinson has a few but I'd be looking at about $4000 used which is a little more than I was looking to spend and I'd rather buy new anyway. The one that would fit the bill perfectly is the Ayre K-5xe. However, I read the manual and I would need to pull the plug every time to engage the bypass. And the way my rack is set up, that's apples to apples as it would be the same, if I went back there to switch the cables myself. Anyway, if some of you guys could lists some models to check out, I'd appreciate it. The features that I need are simple, with the first three being mandatory, and I'll list them below.

1) Two balanced inputs included in the ht bypass loop- as mentioned above.

2) Has to be fully balanced- I'm not looking to sacrifice anything for the convenience of home theater bypass.

3) Has to be SS- I'm not running tube gear and I do not want to mix and match. I realize this limits the field.

4) I'd like to spend $3000, hopefully less- I'd like to buy new but I'm open to used

5) Less is more- I'm only running a CD player and the amplifiers for my fronts. So that's one pair of balanced outputs and two pairs of balanced inputs. I'll take another set of balanced inputs for a computer DAC, down the road, but it's not a priority. Staying with "less is more," I'd really prefer it to be completely analog. I'm trying to avoid anything that may introduce noise; even those big florescent displays are a concern.

6) Remote- a remote would be nice but not a must

I'm willing to audition anything that includes the first three features on this list; the rest is a bonus. I appreciate the help.
Preamp with proper HT bypass is pretty rare. Many of them that claims processor loop or tape loop are not suitable to the topology where you want to use the same set of power amps and speakers for both 2ch preamp and processor. Parasound P7 supports true HT bypass, but it has only one pair of balanced input. If you recognize the balanced connection is mainly to provide common node noise rejection, maybe one pair of balanced input is sufficient. I'm not sure if there is a preamp that matches all the criteria you have listed. Maybe there is. Good luck with your search.
McIntosh c2300---@$4k used
Thanks for the response, Jylee. Yes, originally I did believe that HT bypass was just about unity gain. I guess, depending on the design, the signal may still be processed and include the preamp's signature sound. Whether or not that's a bad thing; I do not know. I am aware that some do have a true bypass circuit and the preamp can actually be turned off. I know Cary has tube preamps that do this and I wonder if their CPA1 does as well. I admit that maybe I should more concerned with that instead of running fully balanced to the SSP.

I also admit that I probably have a phobia about introducing noise. I have all my analog, digital, and video gear all in one room, between two racks, with wires galore. It's less than ideal. When I eventually build my new home, I can have a dedicated music room. But, you know, until then...

It's funny that you mention the Parasound P7. I've been waiting on the Halo C3 to come out, which replaces the C2. I thought that I'd try an all-in-one solution, with the option of adding the preamp, down the road. It keeps getting delayed though and I even have my doubts for 2010 CES. So I can't depend on that option either.
I'm running an Ayre K5xe, utilizing the home theater by pass loop. You don't need to turn the unit off to use the loop (unless I'm missing something), I leave the unit on all the time, and when watching home theater, the loop works fine. Good digital sound from my Integra DTC 9.8, and awesome 2 channel analog sound from the Ayre.
PS Audio PCA-2 has bypass and XLR connections, not sure if it is truely balanced, they sell quickly for 750 used
Hello Larryski2, if you're able to bypass the preamp without needing to disconnect and then reconnect the power, that's great news. When you're using the Integra 9.8, do you see the letters "PP," for processor pass-through, on the Ayre?

I think I may have read the manual wrong. It looks like you only need to do this once to program the unit. This is from page 12 of the manual on Ayre's website.

To activate the “Processor Pass-Through” mode for
that input, remove the AC power from the K-5xeMP
for at least 10 seconds. Then, while pressing the
input selector button corresponding to the chosen
surround-sound processor input, re-connect the AC
The chosen input is now programmed for “Processor
Pass-Through” operation, disabling the now
redundant volume control of the K-5xeMP. When
that input is selected, the preamplifier section of the
K-5xeMP is set to unity gain (0 dB), and the volume
is controlled directly from the surround-sound
processor. The volume indicator of the K-5xeMP will
display “PP” to show that the “Processor
Pass-Through” mode has been selected for that
To clear the “Processor Pass-Through” mode from
an input and restore normal operation, remove the
AC power from the K-5xeMP for at least 10 seconds.
Then, while pressing the “Mute” button, re-connect
the AC power.

Is that what you needed to do to assign an input? Did you do anything else differently? Thanks
Thanks Somec59, I'll make sure to look at PS Audio too.
My ARC Ref3 has balanced HT passthrough. It is unity gain but I think it sounds better going thruogh the Ref3 than a direct connection from my Meridian G68AXV.

In answer to your question:

if you're able to bypass the preamp without needing to disconnect and then reconnect the power, that's great news. When you're using the Integra 9.8, do you see the letters "PP," for processor pass-through, on the Ayre?

Yes. With the power on, and when using the pass through input (which is assignable to any of the four inputs as you have described) you do see the PP on the Ayre.

My understanding is that the unit was designed to be left in the on position all the time. The only draw back that I encountered with this is that my amp does not have a power on/power off remote setting, and the Ayre has no trigger output.

To overcome this without leaving the amp "on" 24/7 I have to turn on the Integra to utilize it's trigger, to turn on the amp (which I can do with my remote). I then have the Integra set to an open/unutilized input, so there aren't duplicated sound signals being transmitted. It was a minor workout, and I love the Ayre.

Good luck with whatever you decide on.
..that doesn't sound right BostonGeorge34... I have an Ayre K1xe that has a balanced monitor loop that you don't have to pull the plug to reset. I would call Ayre...they are very nice and will provide the right answer for you.
I admit not reading the above responses thoroughly but the passive/active Wyred 4 Sound STP preamp fits the bill.

Very, very transparent but with body, overly built, active after 63db of gain (passive up to it) and assignable inputs, one of which can be HT bypass. I believe it has 2 sets of balanced ins/outs, but surely at least one.

I auditioned one and for around $1700 it's very, very good. Seems like there's nothing that hasn't been thought of. Had it not been for other circumstances I'd own it and be happy, which I can't say often at all.
Hello Larry, thanks for confirming that for me. I definitely had read the manual wrong as I thought I would need to "rinse and repeat" every time that I switched between the two. The Ayre is probably at the top of my short list now. Anyway, could you tell me about your experience with the K5xe? What made the Ayre stand out to you, coming from other demos and previous equipment?

Hi Stringreen, I think I have it figured out now but I'll still give Arye a call to discuss their HT bypass loop in greater detail. I imagine that you programmed your K1xe the same way.

If anyone knows anything else I should check out, please let me know. Thanks again
HT bypass is not something I actively been searching, but if my memory is not playing tricks on me, then the Rowland Capri meets your criteria. Actually I think it meets all of your criteria, including the less is more.

Haven't heard it, though, but have seen very good comments around here.

My two cents. I hope it helps.

Lewinskih01 is correct about the Capri, and it is one that I also considered, along with a couple of ARC pre-amps. I chose the Ayre because:

1. I wanted sold state, as I didn't want to be bothered by the following that I associated with tubes:
a. Warm up time.
b. Tube replacements over extended times.
c. Heat - it gets hot enough in Dallas.
2. An excellent support group from both Ayre and my local Ayre dealer.
3. I believe that Ayre offers an excellent full spectrum line of quality equiipment, and that will allow me to ultimatey fill my rack with an entire Ayre lineup. The exception being a video processor.
4. Most importantly, I just liked the Ayre better with my speakers than any of the others that I looked at.

No disclosure necessary, I'm not associated with Ayre in any way.

Good luck
Larry, you pretty much echo my reasons for preferring a solid state preamp. Well, that and I'm hoping for good synergy from the front end on down. I'm glad to hear that the Ayre worked best with your speakers than the rest.

Hello Lewinskih01, I fully admit that I had ruled out the Capri, at first, because I thought the design would be based off their Class D ICEpowered amplifiers. Then I read a lot of reviews, which are all glowing, and saw that was not the case. Unfortunately, I would need to run it unbalanced for HT Bypass so I am looking elsewhere, for now.
I have the Pass X0.2 and it fits the bill. Reno HiFi sells used units with warranty for around $3,000. Both fully balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs for each channel. I used balanced out to my Gallo Ref 3.1 and the unbalanced out to a second amp driving the Gallos second sub voice coil. This was an Absolute Sound top choice.
Hello Dave, wow...I could own that mountain for only 3K? The power supply is separated and two chassis for left and right outputs/inputs. Yeah, I'm interested. And that would be a perfect match for my amps. I'm surprised I had not seen the X0.2 because I did look at the X1 and the X2.5. I was also interested in the new XP-10 but it's a little out of my price range. I need read up on what changes or upgrades, if any, they made on the XP-10 and XP-20, coming from the previous models. If you could tell me about your experience with the X0.2, I'd appreciate it. Thanks
IIRC, any of the inputs on recent Sim-Moon preamps can be programmed as by-passes. These are out of your range as new but, perhaps, a used one will pop up.

Hi Kal, yeah you are correct. It would be pretty tough to find a P7 used for less than three grand though. I could afford the older models but they would not work in my system. I do like Simaudio though, having heard them before.
How about a Krell KCT? I have one that I connect to a Lexicon MC12B. The KCT goes for around $3,500 for a good unit on the used market these days. It is a class A, fully balanced solid state preamp.

The Krell KCT has two sets of balanced inputs and two sets of rca inputs. I use one set of balanced inputs to connect to the balanced outputs of my Lexicon MC12B, and the second set of the balanced inputs for my Krell KPS28c CD player.

Great thing about the KCT, other than the fact that it sounds fantastic, is that you can set home theater bypass by selecting which ever type of input you want. So, in the future, you want to change to a rca input for bypass, it can easily be reset to that.

I currently connect both the KCT to and MC12B to a pair of Krell Evolution 400 monoblocks and a Krell KAV3250 three channel amp. The integration is very seamless, and I'm quite happy with the results!!!

Hope that helps!
A used Classe CP-65 would fit the bill for less than $2,000 and usually closer to $1,500. It was $5,000 when new. It has a separate power supply and 3 balanced and 3 single ended inputs, and a balanced and single ended tape loop. It has 2 balanced and 2 single ended outputs per channel It does have a remote. It is a tradional, minimalist design, in contrast to the new Delta series with its touch screen feature. It has unity gain HT bypass mode that can be used on any input. Unfortunately, they only come up for sale occassional. The previous model CP-60 comes up more often and is pretty similar. I use my CP-65 with my HT receiver, although I use the engle ended inputs for that. This model got somewhat overshadowed when the Delta servies came out but it is a great pre-amp. If you are in the Boston area, I would be happy to show it to you.

What HT receiver are you using that has balanced pre-outs?
Check out the Bel Canto pre-amps. I'm using a Pre1 which I believe meets most of your requirements.

Just checked back on the thread. I'm satisfied with the X0.2 setup. It is very accurate and has a nice soundstage. If you go to they have links to reviews. For the money the only other contender was the Rowland pre. I frind the input/output flexibility of the Pass unit ideal. Mark at Reno offers a 30 day return policy. What speakers are you using?