SOTA processors also bang for the buck

The boutique audio manufacturers certainly from all accounts make excellent processors. One can't help getting the impression that the giant electronic companies due to sheer economies of scale are able to package outstanding technologies at a significantly lower price eg Denon and Onkyo(Integra) to mention a couple.
Is there a OPPO BDP-95 equivalent out there in processors (amplification is optional).
I just bought an Onkyo PRSC 5509. It does just about everything a pre-pro can do, sounds great, and is available new for well under $2K. It includes Audyssey xt32 which AFAIK is the mother of all room EQ systems. I'd be reluctant to compare it with a SOTA pre-pro, because I don't really have any experience with such an animal.

My set up is 2.2 music only (2 x 12" Rythmik subs with either Ohm 100s or Maggie MMGs, depending on the moment), so I use none of the extensive array of included video features and, therefore, can't really speak to how well they work. The Onkyo replaced some high quality electronics (some combination of Theta Casablanca I, ARC LS-25 or Joule LA 100/III & NHT X-2, & Velodyne SMS-1, & Benchmark DAC-1 or Cambridge DacMagic) in my system. My goal was to streamlines boxes and the power-up sequence (which it did), without sacrificing too much SQ.

To my ear, it sounds notably better than the old set-up, which came as a very pleasant surprise.

I can confidently say the thing sounds pretty incredible.

The Onkyo PR-SC5509 (or 5508) and the Integra DHC-80.3 (or 80.2) are the equivalent high performance/value leaders, imho.

OTOH, there are huge values on the Denon AVR-4311CI these days. Use the built-in amps or use it as a prepro with an external amp. Fully competitive.

Hi Marty,

You purchased a PR SC5509 in the US?

Last time I spoke with the US distributor, they had no idea about the 5509.
Sorry, my mistake - the post should have read PR-SC5508. I think that continuously staring at computer screens during the +/- 18 months of research I did prior to this purchase have permanently damaged my ability to accurately recall model #s.


PS I haven't set-up my analog inputs yet,but on digital source material, the results continue to amaze and delight.
Thanks for the responses thusfar. How does the PR-SC5508 compare to the Denon as a preamp SQ wise. I have not had any experience with Onkyo/Integra products in the past but I gather there have been some reliability issues.
Thanks again
I suggest you consult the threads dedicated to these products on AVS forum. Lots of comment/info there.

I actually listened to both the Denon (with its internal amps - and also as a pre) and the Integra 80.2 (in the end, as an Onkyo stand-in), but couldn't offer a meaningful comparative judgement, because it was different dealers, rooms, systems, etc. I will say that both sounded very good in their respective systems.

I chose the Onkyo/Integra route because balanced XLR connectivity is important to me (I use an ARC VT130SE power amp that only accepts a balanced input). I ended up buying the Onkyo rather than the Integra based on the advice of a (trusted) local service tech who does warranty repairs on both brands. I concluded that he had more experience in direct comparison than I could ever achiveve thru auditioning both of these units at their respective dealers.

Very funny. There is a lot of evidence that, aside from the front door and firmware, Onkyo and Integra are physically identical. Of course, the Integra warranty is 3 years and the Onkyo's is only 2 years.


That is essentially the advice I got from a guy who spends his days wandering around inside both products.


PS - For my money, the Onkyo has a purtier face, too.
OTOH, refurbed 80.2 pre-pros are now available locally for $1300. It just might be worth learning to love that mug at that price.

Martykl: I would love to find out what differences there are between an 80.2 and a 5508 (or between an 80.3 and a 5509) besides what is obvious and acknowledged.


I'll ask for a more specific answer next time I speak to him, but the tech who advised me hinted at "substantially identical" as I recall. He never flat out said it, though.

I do remember that he mentioned a few small differences, and he kind of chucked at the notion that they would make a difference in performance. I'll follow up here after my next conversation with him (if I get anything worth posting.)

However, it is possible that Onkyo discourages specific disclosure from the dual authorized service shops - for obvious reasons. I'm not sure where you're located, but my guess is that there is such a repair company local to you. Since you are such a charming fellow, you might be able to get the answer for yourself with a carefully worded inquiry.

I am not really that interested but I thought the issue had been resolved for quite a while (in an AVS thread with pix) and that the two were identical except for "pure/direct" and the front door.

Hi Kal, do you feel that your highend choices that you stated in the Integra thread match or beat the current hi value products in picture quality, flexibility etc or is it mainly audio quality that seperates them from hi value for money Onkyo,Denon etc. One can't help but get the impression that these "smaller" companies just don't have economies of scale that say Onkyo has and therefore one has to pay substantially more for the same technology in these high end products.
I am not really concerned with video and, in fact, do not even have a display in my main system (except a 6"LED for Oppo menus). It is hard to be specific about flexibility/technology since, once set up, operations are pretty similar. So, I guess, the only issue is whether there are enough options to manage things and that is easy these days. Thus, it comes down to audio quality for me.

Hi Kal,

If memory serves me correctly and it sometimes "doesn't" I think there are three basic differences:

1) As you stated warrantee length
2) Equalizer band (Onkyo has fewer bands)
3) One of the Stereo/Direct or Pure 2 channel Audio functions is supposed to be different.

I don't think the equalizer bands affect the Audysee 32XT capability so that seems like a mute point for the most part.

And then of course the cosmetics.

I'm too busy to check each manual or spec sheet, but it seem to me those are it.
Yup. Inconsequential differences, imho.

Thanks Kal.