Seeking advice on pre/pro options.
Howdy, I am new to these forums, and as such I have been searching and reading pretty heavily the last week or so. Great information all around. I have had the same setup for my HT and 2ch for about 7 years with exception of my main speakers which were added more recently, and the PS3 and HD DVD, which were obviously more recent.
PS3 as Blu-Ray with some gaming
Toshiba A1 HD-DVD player - got it about 6 months ago for 80 bucks
I will occasionally use my MacBook for the handiness of iTunes, but only when I have no intention of actually listening, ie cleaning or doing dishes.
B&K Ref20 Preamp.
Sunfire Theater Grand 5 channel 200/400 into 4 ohm
Pioneer PDP-5070 50" Plasma
Monitor Audio Silver 9i for mains
M&K S-125 for center and surrounds
M&K MX-200 Dual 12" w/200 watts
I got the MA Silver 9i's as Monitor was readying the new RS series and discontinuing production of the Silvers. They were a great price (a bit less than 1/2 off list) and I have been terribly happy with the efficiency and transparency. Quite nice with the MX as well, which is IMO a great sub for HT and music both. Now, on to the advice I am seeking. I have had this setup for awhile and I started off wanting to get something HDMI capable. I have read up on the Integra 9.8 and its Onkyo equivalent, but I haven't heard much praise for its stereo capabilities. I have no interest in upgrading without an improvement there. So, I read a little more and ended up way up the food chain with the Anthem Statement D2. It appears this unit is praised more for its video capabilities than anything, though I have also read the new ARC room-EQ makes it one of the best sounding pro's in its price range. Again, I am really not interested in spending 4.5K on a used D2 (even if it has ARC) if the 2-ch isn't *seriously* improved over my Ref20, which I hope it will be, but I really don't know. I plan on hitting up a dealer and auditioning one but that is dangerous territory.
I realized while reading reviews I was consistently looking for 2ch and MC music impressions left on reviewers when listening to pre/pros. So, reading here I have been pointed to Theta's product line, which of course in no way does the HDMI I wanted originally (funny how you can derail yourself), but according to everything I have read is sonically a couple of the best pieces available. Along with Theta of course there comes the Proceed AVP2, Classe, and others in a lesser price point than the Anthem D2.
I have also considered buying some used M&K Sourrounds and moving my MA 9i's to the living room for a dedicated music setup. In short, I am really open to suggestions at this point and I love to read up on all of this, so any advice will be appreciated.
So, here's what I am hoping to get help with. In the opinion of anyone who reads this post, how does the D2 stack up in terms of 2ch music quality? Are the DACs up to par to use an Oppo or my Toshiba as a transport or would I want a dedicated Universal Player? I have looked pretty closely at the NAD T585, and it is supposedly an M55 in utilitarian clothing. If the D2 doesn't cut it either way, am I better off sonically with a Casanova or something else entirely that was SOTA a few years ago (like the CB II/III or an Arcam) and still cheaper than a D2? I have a hard time believing an 8 yo SOTA processor could stand up to a brand new one, but I may be an idiot. Finally, would my smartest move be to get the Onkyo and a couple SS M&Ks and then pop for the 2ch at a later date? I could probably get the Onkyo and some M&K surrounds as well as 2ch stuff for my living room and still be under the price of a D2 or a used CB III. I am guessing most here would vote that way, though I would be as inclined to get a Casanova and sate my appetite for good music now and then wait to see what happens in the next year or two. I hope this didn't ramble too much and someone can provide some insight.
I never mentioned interconnects, because I know they need upgraded.