Requesting Thoughts and Ideas

Have been off Audiogon for quite some time and need some help/suggestions on updating my home theater system. Over the last few months I have read everything possible on the newest options available for a pre-processor and blue ray player. At this moment this is my two areas that need immediate updates.

My current system:

Classe SSP 60 pre-processor
Nuforce Ref 8B amps
Sonus Faber Grand Piano Homes, Solo & Wall speakers
Samsung BDP 2550 Blu Ray Player
Dual Velodyne FSR 12 Subs
Sony 55 inch rear projection TV

System is 5.1 with no thoughts of adding any other speakers. Usage is 95% home theater.

Room is 16 X 16 that has been treated with GIK panels recommended by manufacturer.Room has an opening to the kitchen that will either be treated with heavy drapes or acoustical accordion doors.

The Classe pre processor has been a flawless unit but lacks HDMI as well the latest codecs, Audyssey XT 32 or similar room correction and 3D capabilities.

The upgrade on the Blu Ray player will probably be the new OPPO 103 at this point which seems like a no brainer.

So I need some help on defining the best options on the pre processor upgrade first and foremost. It is not in the budget to upgrade to the Classe SSP 800. From what I have read here are some affordable choices:

Integra 80.3 /Onkyo 5509
Marantz 7005 or latest with XT32
Denon 4311CI receiver
Anthem 700 series receiver

In any case will use the Nuforce amps to drive the system.Also contemplating either upgrading the amps to V3 status or moving in another direction like the 5 channel Butler amps since Sonus Faber speakers do well with tube amps.

Last upgrade will be to an 80 inch TV but not many choices at the moment.

Any help or suggestions will be appreciated.
Nice current system. I have been doing some very similar shopping but since I am a lousy typist here are a few thoughts to consider:
Oppo 95/105 and let the oppo decode the hi rez codecs and send the signals to your Classe via rca.
Marantz newest models do not have the XT32 room correction.
The integra/Dennon and Anthem are on my short list. I think I've decided on the anthem for one main reason, it gives you room correction up to 5,000 hz but you can limit the high frequency down as low as needed. I like my main speakers (carolina audio SM3) and do not feel compelled to eq them. My passive subs (Fried SM) need to be eqd and the anthem allows this to happen while letting my mains do their thing virtually unadulterated with eq. Nice.
I LOVE my Butler TDB-5150, truly a good-sounding amp. It drives my Gallo Ref. Series HT system to very satisfying levels.

Emotiva are due to release their XMC-1 preprocessor in a few months, this could be a giant-killer pre-pro with TacT room correction built-in...

Thanks RW. I have followed much that you have said about this amp. The Nuforce amps tend to be a little dry and analytical and would like to add some warmth to the system.Did you get a chance to listen to it before purchasing or just take a chance?
Personally, I would go with a new plasma display and 7.1 which would mean an updated processor.

No, your room isn't too small for 7.1.
I'm not an expert with theater but can't you do HDMI outside of the processor somehow? Taking sound quality into consideration, moving from your Classe to one of the other choices you list will, most likely be a downgrade.
A while back, I bought the Onkyo for use in a 2 channel system (music only) that includes subwoofers.

Before that purchase, I spent about a year auditioning the options:

Onkyo, Integra, and Denon pre-pros (XT32), as well as Marantz and Anthem (room correction, but not XT32) and several traditional high end models from McIntosh, Meridian and Classe, among others. I tried to find a 2 channel HK 990 for audition, but failed.

My take away was "Find the least expensive XT32 equipped model and call it a day." Hence, the Onkyo.

I know that others will disagree, but IMO, XT32 pretty much dominates the listening experience (in a stunningly good way) when there are subwoofers involved.

Caveat: If you're using analog sources, the equation may change.


Which plasma would you suggest? Would like a larger screen up to 80"

Thanks for the complement.I really think that the option to add room correction will offset the difference in processors.I do like the Anthem D2V but is beyond my price point at this time.

Yes I can do what you suggest but would like to add room correction with XT32 to dial in my dual subs.

Agreed. This is where I am at currently. Not opposed to buying a receiver like the Denon 4311CI and running it as a preamp only.
Thanks to everyone that has helped so far. The Oppo 103 and a pre or reciever that has XT32 are on my short list. Seems like every day I look new models are being released. Thoughts so far are to get an Onkyo 5509/80.3 or Denon 4311CI.

Anyone have experience with Denon products? Have owned Onkyo receivers in the past and familiar with their sound.
Except for room correction, I'd recommend letting the Oppo do the processing. I replaced a Proceed PAV/PDSD setup with a Cary Cinema 11a to get HDMI and the latest codecs before I got the BDP-95. Now I use analog stereo and 7.1 with the Cary in bypass mode. I could have done that with the Proceed setup. I use a Velodyne SMS-1 with a pair of HGS-15s to provide room correction in the critical LF range. Audio quality was paramount for me while still being able to use the same system for music and HT. Projection onto a 100" screen provides the video immersion I want.

"Yes I can do what you suggest but would like to add room correction with XT32 to dial in my dual subs."

If that's the case, you may want to consider another way to go about this. I have a digital EQ that I use sometimes to make bad recordings listenable. Its a Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496. If you put something like that between your SSP and the subs, the results should be far better than using the room correction feature of a mass market receiver. (And at a much lower cost)

That will allow you to keep your current preamp. The reason I keep suggesting you keep the one you already have, is quite often people don't realize how important a preamp is to good sound (Audio & Theater). I believe that if you go with one of the options that you list above, you will still like the SSP better, even though it doesn't have the room eq.

One thing that you can to is get a receiver from a place that offers a return policy. That way there is no risk of making a bad choice. You will be able to hear them both in your system at the same and then know, for sure, what you like better.
Your system is fine. I have a similar one and my Oppo 83 se Nuforce ed is doing a very good decoding job. If your concerning is room correction then I would suggested that you should take a look at minidsp with plug in or new antimode. But before you want to eq anything You should at least measure your room acoustic first. You already have 2 subs that will help to solve a lot of room acoustic problem. IMO, too much eq often do more bad than good. Anyway, a good and big plasma is the one that you should buy next.
Again thanks to everyone for thethoughts. Sounds like I might keep the Classe SSP 60 and add external correction for the subs. Will look at the Velodyne SMS-1 and Behringer suggestions. Which one is easier to use for a non techie? Or other alternatives?

Never had a plasma but will also investigate this tv option.
In order to get the SMS-1 to perform optimally, set-up is a GIANT pain in the ass. The "auto-correct" function is inexplicably crude and manual adjustment is 1000% better. Unfortunately, it's also a time consuming process of trial and error for many of the settings.

However, once it's dialed in, the SMS-1 sounds pretty damn good, although you may wish to bypass the high cut function which is both inflexible (fixed at 6db/octave, 80hz) and possibly audible thru your main speakers (YMMV on that one). I ended up using an NHT outboard crossover ahead of the SMS-1 to take that unit out of the main signal path, but some might conclude that this is overkill - hence the YMMV, above.

Been there, moved on to Audyssey.

I agree with Martykl in that you are better off doing your set up manually. It may be a little more work, but the results and experience you gain will be well worth the effort. You won't be at the mercy of using "What ever they give you in the box." I've owned Velodyne subs in the past but haven't used the SMS-1. As far as the Behringer goes, what I can tell you is that it is a little intimidating, at first, but if you sit with it for about 1/2hr to 1hr, it will all start to make sense. You have to learn how to use the menu system they give you. It doesn't take long because, for all the features, it surprisingly makes good sense in how everything is laid out. Another advantage is that its not designed for 1 specific task. In all likely hood, you will many other uses for it, as well (Especially in a theater setup).

Beyond that, its up to you. But I think most would agree that it would make sense to keep your SSP since its nowhere near your weakest component; probably just the opposite.
Sorry - my previous post should have read "bypass the low cut function". This reference was to the portion of the SMS x-over that filters the bass out of the main speakers. The SMS-1 high cut (filters out the top end of the sub's response) is enormously flexible, doesn't impact the main signal path, and is integral to the unit's performance.

Thanks everyone! My 55 inch Sony SXRD just got the green glob issue so just bought the 80 inch Sharp with 3D. Best Buy matched and actually beat the best internet price on this tv. Also did so on the Harmony 900. They are definitely trying their best to be competitive with the likes of Amazon and others. Since this is the case I will look at options to upgrade to Audyssey XT 32 soon.