I would highly recommend Krell HTS7.1. No HDMI and no high-rez audio, but as it does sound wonderful with legacy formats (DD, DTS, etc.) and will outperform many very high-end preamps
When I combined my stereo and HT (due to space limitations), I bought the Krell to serve both for HT, but most of the time, as a pure preamp. Previously, I connected my Wadia directly to my Krell amp to my Magnepan 1.6's. With the HTS7.1 now in the loop, I have lost nothing in terms of resolution.
I actually recommend the HTS2 over the HTS7.1 - always felt the 2-ch preamp mode of HTS2 was far superior. You still get your DD, DTS etc, only thing the HTS2 lacks is 7.1 outputs. Used ones can be had for $1000-1200, whereas the HTS7.1 is around $1500 approx (1300-1700 range).
On a lower level $$$ wise, I've had a Sony ES receiver, the 444, which was in the middle of their line up then.... for 9 years. Six months ago I had to have the main decoding chip replaced. $130. Other than that it has had no problems. The tech said this was common with the Sonys after six or seven years that chip tends to go out. Mine went almost nine.
Receivers too, if money is an issue, can be used as processors... I've done that for some time. I use an Onkyo as my main HT proc and the sony runs as a recievers still, in my bedroom system.
Many recent model receivers have very tgood 2ch audio, and are quite inexpensive as used items.
Thanks a lot. For the Krell I had exactly this type of question hts 7.1 or hts 2? You answered them before I had to ask.
Other suggestions, which have no video, but excellent audio, analog and digital are the Cary Cinema 11 (not 11a) and the Bryston 1.7 preamp-processors. I have not reviewed the Krell but I can personally vouch for these two.
I would also recommend the EAD Theatremaster line of pre/pro's. I own a Ovation-8 and it has worked flawlessly for almost ten years now. An even better recommendation for you though, seeing as you already have a Sim amp,is it multichannel, would be the Moon pre/pro's built by Sim and based on the EAD platform, either the Stargate or the Attraction. Both of these units along with the newer EAD pre/pro's are capable of very good two channel sound as well as handling all of your surround sound needs.The great thing about either of these processors is that Noble Electronics, who are manned by former employees of EAD ,are there to repair or update, or upgrade your processor whenever you want.
The moon pre/pro are also the possible choice, but the moon attraction 5.1 is not. Everything is digitized, even analog signal from a turntable.
Noble Electronics can install an extra 7.1 analogue pass-through that utilizes the RCA analogue inputs. They can also configure them to be four separate stereo analogue inputs that bypass all of the digital circuitry. These use a very high quality silver internal wiring harness and sound much better than the db-25 based analogue pass-through. Last time I checked this upgrade was only $250, but you would have to check with Noble for the latest pricing. They advertise that they can perform upgrades on both EAD and Moon pre/pro's.
The Cary 11 is stellar, as are the Anthem's, especially the D series. Used the Parasound C1 and C2 are great if you don't really want or need HDMI, although they do have a cool add on for that.
The McIntosh processors sound stellar too.
There's really a lot of good ones.
One more thing,
I prefer to stick with North American made products, Canadian or American.
p.s. There's quite a lot of tempting products right here among your suggestions.
So how would an older higher end processor like the Cary, Anthem or HTS2 compare to a new model like the Integra DTC 9.8/9.9?
Is decoding the high res formats and room correction software mostly an advantage for movies and not music?
I am also looking for a processor to go with a Sony 9100ES, Linn multichannel amp and Ninka/Trikan speakers. The Linn offerings are either old (5103) or expensive (Kinos/Kisto).
I've also considered a multichannel analog preamp like a McCormack MAP-1 or Linn Exotic using the DVD player's multi channel output. Anyone going this route? It seems like this would be a trade-off between the DACs in my Sony and the DACs in a processor.
My concern is mostly 2 channel performance.
just use the analog outputs from the disc players for decoding the new formats. Let the DAC in the disc player do it. The processors will still sound stellar.
Is your priority 2-channel or multi-channel? Music or movies? If it's the former in both cases you might consider buying a $300 A/V receiver for multi-channel processing duties and invest in a good stereo preamp that you can leave in place for serious 2-channel listening. Just another way to go depending on your priorities.
I have been using a Meridian processor for 8 years with no problems. Also would recommend EAD for very high quality and low price plus Noble electronics can do any repairs. Or you could go with a low cost denon surround receiver.
Outlaw had the Onkyo PR SC886 for under 1500. I going to use this with a Rotel 1075 amp. Room is under construction so I will be a few weeks before I can enjoy listening to them.
Acurus Act 3, great sounding in two channel or surround. Simple to use and has been bullet proof in my system.
You probably won't like the answer, but I haven't found a processor that really sounds good in 2 channel audio and I have tried several of those listed above. My thoughts are to purchase a processor that you like for its features, codecs and ability with theater and has a pass through for a good 2 channel preamp.
I am currently using the Onkyo Integra 9.9 which does what I need in a theater processor. It also has a pair of balanced inputs on the rear that can be set as a simple pass through with no processing.
My Analog goes into an Audio Research tube preamp which again does what I need there. I then feed the output of the ARC preamp into the pass through of the Integra.
Everything even works with the Integra remote control. Push "Receiver" for theater and push "Phono" and you have the ARC preamp. Set the volume control about half way on the ARC and then the volume is controlled with the Integra remote as well.
I'm sure there are other ways to do it, but keeping the Analog and Theater separate but still in the same system makes for really great sound.
I have a Krell HTS2. It was at least 5 years old when I bought it in July of 2008 (eBay). It blew a fuse just this September. I sent it back to Krell and it took about 4 weeks to get it back. They are quite proprietary which is both good and bad. Good: they want to fix their own stuff. Good: they loaded more recent software into it. Bad: it takes forever to get back. Bad: I called their tech support for help in setting it up. Person was sort of impatient, didn't understand my question, and told me to RTFM (see Urban Dictionary). Bad: shipping from CA to CT is not cheap. Bad: $1 for the fuse, $120 for the labor, and about$60 for shipping.
Still I like it a lot and it is plenty for my needs. I would buy it again.
I use it with a 5.1 setup. As for your current needs, you won't need to upgrade the processor since it already has some great features that you may need to use in the future.
I have a blue ray and a HDMI which feeds directly into the tv. The audio is through a coax digital audio cable into one of the digital inputs. I don't have any HDMI going into the processor but am very happy nonetheless. I use my system very often just for CD, iTunes, and phono. For that, I most often use Music Mode which provides afaint reverb from the back speakers giving it a theatre stage feeling. If you want purity, you can choose stereo mode or preamp mode which is probably all you will need for now.
Oh, and well priced. It dropped since I bought it.
I basically do the same thing as Pkubica does, run my system thru a Calypso Preamp. The meridian processor sounds better with the gain up and sent thru the calypso for 2 channel.
I'd like to add a question to this forum. How many ANALOG multi-channel preamps are out there? I'd like to add 5.1 surround for DVD watching, but my main priority is playing records.
Not many, but the former head of Simm Audio has a newer line out and in that line there is an integrated six ch amp that is without digital processing... and all analog. It was well reviewed by Stereophile and one orther online mag. If I think of the name I'll post it here. 120wpc into 8o, I think.
Saw one here for sale a while back too.
I finally bought a Classe ssp-600.
I have a Cary Cinema 11. Issues like remote failure, LOUD popping sounds through the speakers when switching between digital inputs, volume control sticking, and headphone inpute malfunction all within the first 2.5 years add up to total buzz kill. Cary service failed to recognize any of the problems and refuses so far)to exchange the unit.
Despite all those issues, the official word from them (Cary service) after I sent it in for repair was "it tests fine...no problems." Got it back - same problems. BUT when it works, the 2ch analog clarity is outstanding. Given the incompetence of the service dept, I will not buy more Cary.
I have had the pleasure of owning quite a few higher end pre/pro's - as well as other hi-end gear - in my systems over the years. And I feel very fortunate as not to have run into any major problems, for the most part. with my own gear! (Knock onm wood)
However I have also sold lots of high end products through retail outlets during the same time and, while having to deal with custom service issues with clients products, and can say that many many hi-end companies producing the more essoteric products often tend to have customer service issues, to say the least! At least that's been my recollection.
My best guess is that many of these companies are likely started and run by more pationate audio/video techies, engineers, and creative - if reclusive - types. And, while they make some of the best performing and ambitious products in the market place for audio/videophiles, when it comes to CS, they can often tend to be a little "short" with customers, a little lacking in social graces, even putting service as a second priority!
I can remember many occasions, while dealing with customer's prieces and their issues, where the companies involved seemed to default this way! Of course it varies from company to company. But I can remember these scenarios like they were yesterday - thinking I'm sure glad my pieces aren't broken from these companies, because I would hate to have to deal with the "attitudes", the long delays in turn around for services issues, and even companies going out of business, etc, from these small "mom and pop" companies! - who otherwise make excellent technical products.
Yeah, the underlying tone and stance I can remember getting from many of these companies tended towards "we are better than you, and our products are beyond reproach...so don't question us!". Also, they general lack a bit of caring and putting CS as a priority, on a large scale. However, they did, for the record, at least have a strong passionate conviction for building superior products, who's performance parameters excelled over the mass marketed producs. And, in some instances, you got a more intimate and immediate customer service experience from these smaller companies. And when you did, it was great from some, sure! So, I guess it can be a mixed bag.
I suppose you take your compromises, and hope for the best.
I built a 7 channel stepped ladder attenuator with transformer volume control
for the front two channels. I now have complete volume control for my Oppo
83se. Very easy to DIY and very cheep compared to a processor. Works great
on my corner horns. I lose a little dynamics,but everything else you get with
passive attenuation is as good or better.