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Yes and no. Digital technology is still evolving; so that part of the preamp may be obsolete in a couple years, regardless of how good it is today. A great 2 channel preamp that can accomodate a external digital decoder that can be upgraded or replaced with something else as digital evolves, may be a better route.
Which Lexicon do you have? Everything before the MC-12 will NOT be a good choice for the new formats, as Lexicon has pretty much stated that they won't be upgraded in the future. The MC-12 is the first Lex. to have 2-channel analog pass-through (in fact, it has 6-channel analog pass-through). It also has a lot of upgrade capability to support digital inputs for the new formats if / when that is a possibility.
Many Lexicon owners like the Music 7 mode for multi-channel music out of whatever source. I assume it can be applied to a six-channel input, but have never looked into it myself. I'm not sure I'd want to go with a synthesized 7-channel mode when I could have 6 discrete channels from the source. So, for two-channel sources played back in multi-channel, yes, the Lexicon is great choice. For the new formats, I don't see where the Lexicon's processing power is any real advantage because I wouldn't want to employ it on a true multichannel SACD or DVD-A.
I've owned the DC-1, MC-1 and now MC-12, so I'm definitely a Lexicon advocate. They have a great record of offering their customers aggressive trade in values on new models. I find the MC-12 to be a very nice step towards "true" high-end, although I greatly enjoyed the MC-1 for music playback as well. If you have a system where you like both music and movies, and you want to keep the system as "simple" as possible, it's a fabulous choice IMO. -Kirk
I am using the DC-1 v.4 and am looking to upgrade. I love Lexicon stuff, but I'll be honest, when I bought it, I merely spent the money based on their reputation, and the recommendation of my salesman. I am now asking myself if there is a better preamp that will do 2 channel, as well as pull off HT. When I upgrade, I am thinking the MC1...the 12 series is WAY out of my price range, but I would buy it if I could. So for >$3000 (which is what I can buy a used MC1 for), what else is there that performs well, or IS Lexicon the sh*t in this price range?
I have a DC-1, v4. Had it for a while now, and love it for movies. Can't say the same for 2 channel. I use a BAT tubed preamp and it's unity gain pass-thru for two-channel listening on that system. Many folks may be satisfied with the DC-1's 2 channel performance, I'm an old-time 2 channel guy, so it doesn't cut it for me.....on movies, the lex is great though.
I wouldn't pay anywhere close to $3K for an MC-1 - they seem readily attainable for $2500, even less if you're willing to buy one that has already been traded in (meaning it won't be eligible for trade-in allowance later).
Other pre/pros that do 2-channel exceedingly well (according to reputation, not my personal experience) are the Classe SSP-30, the new Tag-McLaren (not sure of model #) and Bryston's offering (again, not sure of the model #). All of them will do fine on HT as long as you're not addicted to Logic 7. If you value 2-channel music over HT, but want both, you'll probably be more satisfied with one of these other manufacturers. I found the MC-1 to be a decided improvement over the DC-1 for 2-channel, but these other models have a strong reputation at outperforming the MC-1. -Kirk
Many threads on using the dual setup - I'll let you search for those as opposed to repeating them here. Short answer is definitely yes, though - get yourself a used Krell KRC-3 for $1200-1300 and you can use the Krell for 2-channel music, the DC-1 for movies and have both be great experiences. -Kirk
No one mentioned Sunfire. How does it compare to those mentioned above, and to Meridian's 500 series pre/pros.
I had a Sunfire Theatre Grand II in my system for about a month, and was very impressed with the processor, and analogue pass through. It even has a pretty decent phono stage -- not quite the warmth of tubes, but quite as black night. I don't know this unit compares with the Lexicon, Bryston and others mentioned above, and would love to hear comments. I do know there is a significant difference between teh Sunfire I and II, and that the II new can be had most anytime on ebay and elsewhere for around $2400, and used for as much as $600 less. That seems a bargin for the money. The remote and set up were very user friendly.
I've not bought a Sunfire, or any other pre/processor yet since I've been considering Meridian, and have been for a number of months testing a mid level HT receiver (by Luxman, remember them? -- the Luxman's pre/process section is not the equal of the Sunfire, but it also does analogue pass through, and has 120 watts, I think, and others have said the little Luxman beats the sound of the Denon 4800, but I've not had the Denon in my sytems for a direct comparison).
I can't commnet on Sunfire as I have not heard any of it. I think Bob Carver is a dedicated audiophile and I respect him as a designer (however I did own a Carver amp, TFM35X, which wasn't musical at all, but I'm not sure Bob was affiliated with Carver at the time of production). I would like to hear Sunfire, as it has gotten good reviews, but I would also check out Anthem AVM20 and the Tag Pre/Pro. I wish to God I could sit down with all these pre/pros and do A/B testing. Anyone A/B demo-ed some of these things? I may scrap Lexicon in favor of Anthem or Tag. Just too many decisions to make:/
To answer your second question, yes you can use two preamps in a combined HT/Stereo system very easily. The easiest solution is to buy a stereo preamp that has a home theater passthrough feature, which allows you to only use the stereo components for 2-channel listening but also lets you seamlessly switch to a pre/pro(your Lexicon) for surround music/movies by pushing one button. You never have to worry about volume matching and in stereo listening the Lexicon is totally out of the loop. Personally I think this is the least costly and most sonically pure way to go. Here's a partial list of companies that make stereo preamps with HT passthroughs:
Adcom, McCormack, Sonic Frontiers, Rogue, Levinson/Proceed, VAC, AR, Conrad-Johnson, PSE, and probably a few others I've forgotten.
You can do this with any stereo preamp, but if it doesn't have an HT passthrough feature you'll have to set the stereo preamp to a pre-determined reference volume level every time you switch to surround music/movies. Not a big deal, just a little bit of a pain and definitely more of a problem if other people(i.e. non-audiophiles) use your system. Hope this helps and best of luck.