Stepping up to the next level ? HT and Music


A little about the system.
I have a Onkyo 5509 Pre pro , 2 Emotiva Xpr 2 amps bi amped powering Tyler Acoustics D1x speakers . 1 Tyler center channel speaker and 4 tower speakers for surrounds and back powered by a Rotel 5 channel amp . 2 Chase 18.2 subs powered by a Suntron M 600 amp. the room is 17 x17 and I can seal it off with a door .

No problems with the system for movies and no glaring problems for music . I would just like it to sound more musical but still run my subs at the same time .

I know music lovers say no to subs but I really like the layer they add to music . So what are my options ?
1. Add a pre amp for music ? But what about the subs ?
2. Better Pre pro like a Classe ssp 800 but loose room correction .

I have had a tube amp in the mix and really liked it . The sound wrapped around my speakers but was not loud enough when I wanted to turn it up . Also cant justify running tubes always when watching movies and tv and the associated heat that comes from them .

Im looking for suggestions that I may have overlooked or advice from those who have had similar problems .
Like I said , it sounds good but would like to take it to the next level musically . I mainly listen to cd,s but am looking at a music server and or computer audio . No vinyl at this time but may add at some time later .

Thanks , Lambeau
lambeau
The biggest contributors to the sound are the speakers (I
am unfamiliar with yours) and the room and you should
examine those items first. What is lacking now?

As for a better prepro, note that the SP800 and the newer
Sigma-SSP do have room correction but just not automatic
room correction.

As for adding a preamp, look at the Parasound P7 and P5
which play nicely with mch systems.
You already have very nice speakers and amps. Why not consider getting the Emotiva XMC-1 preprocessor/preamp? This will give you a *very* nice surround sound setup and will also gove you the benefit of Dirac Room Correction - among the best in the world.

The XMC-1 is considered one of the better multichannel pramps and from what I'm reading it is also a *very* good 2-channel preamp. Emotiva will give you 30 days in-home trial (and a 5 year warranty should you keep it), why not give it a go and see what you think???

-RW-
Kr4 ,Does the sound improvement using a pre pro such as the Classe ssp 800 over ride the improvement using audyssey in the 5509 . Im quite pleased with the movie experience, I just don't get the goose bump feeling listening to music .
I like the added layer to music using my subs but do not listen to multi channel music . I don't know if I can incorporate my subs with the Parasound Pre's that you mentioned .Maybe with a good enough pre I wont miss the subs . My Speakers play down to 22 hrz but playing stereo with subs and switching back to direct with no subs I always prefer stereo with subs .
Rw , I have thought about the XMC 1 pre pro and thought it would be a vertical move . No experience with it , just my thought . Have they added Dirac yet or is it still on the back burner .I Have not read any reviews yet, but am not opposed to go in this direction . Just too new and want something to go on besides a 30 day trial . I love my XPR 2 amps and know I have all the power I need and then some . I want music to sound awesome and give me the wow feeling .
1. You can get equal/better results with the Classe PEQ
but you have to work much harder for it. You would have
to buy a measurement/analysis system (REW, XTZ, etc.) and
a calibrated microphone, hook them up to a PC and learn
how to measure and calibrate. Then you can transfer the
EQ filters to the Classe.
2. I cannot in any way account for your goose bumps or
lack thereof. Different folks like different stuff. I
think both my systems sound "awesome" and
"wow" with music but who knows if we would
agree. You just need to be happy with yours.
3. Both the Parasounds will accommodate subs albeit in
slightly different ways.
4. I cannot recall a published review of the Emotiva
with Dirac yet but I do not scan all the mags. I do have
one in house which I will set up in a week or so,
depending on the weather. What I can say about
Diracn(running on my PC/streamer) is that it is as easy
as Audyssey and is superior in outcome.
I think you are going in the right direction by getting a new preamp. A good preamp is absolutely critical if you want good sounding music. Its not optional, so you might as well get it now and be done with it. If you go for a Classe HT preamp, you most likely will get better sound, but at a much higher cost. If you just focus on a good 2 channel preamp, you won't be wasting money by spending on features that won't be relevant for music. I had a Classe HT preamp. I don't remember if it was the same model you mention, but it was a good one. It won't give you the sound quality of a good 2 channel preamp. You also mention tubes, but are not sure if they are right for your system. You can go solid state and have no problems at all. That wasn't always the case, but new SS gear has come a long way and is now competitive.
Kr4, Basically the same thing I would have to do with a Preamp . Tune with some sort of after market device.
My subs are run with a Pro style amp and only have xlr connections .How can I use a preamp and prepro with my sub connections with out a hastle of moving cables ,ect.

I am glad to hear you have an XMC 1 for review and testing . That's the first I have heard of and I respect your style of reviews . I am patiently waiting for your results .
ZD542 , Can I use my style of subs and amp with a preamp along with keeping my pre pro . I have had a Cary v12r on the mains and also ran the mids and tweeter with the cary and ss amp on the woofers . Much better results with the mains bi amped but not enough when I turn it up . I really liked the sound of tubes on the mids but don't want the heat.The v12r cooked . Anyway , maybe a tube preamp but once again how to integrate my subs . That's why I am hear. Looking for a solution
Having experienced obsolescence with a Proceed PAV/PDSD, I'm leery of spend big bucks on another pre-pro. Instead I opted for using an Oppo 105 as a processor as well as a disc player, and using a Parasound JC-2 BP analog preamp for stereo. Analog preamp technology is stable, whereas processor technology evolves as codecs evolve. Stereo from the Oppo goes to the JC-2, surround directly to the amps, sub to a Velodyne SMS-1 bass manager (but could go directly to the pair of the HGS-15). An Ayre C-5xeMP and JC-3 phono stage share the JC-2 with the Oppo. The setup is flexible and the sound quality is excellent; it is used for both music and HT.

db
Kr4 , I have looked at the Emotive website and their tutorial videos about their XMC1 and have a better understanding of using Dirac and the filters now .
As stated earlier , I will be waiting for your results on the XMC 1

Also checked on the Parasound P5 and the unit looks very interesting . Bass management "analog" ,Dac , preamp ,xlr sub out along with a phono stage .Has plenty of output voltage and output specs look like a good match for my amps .How is the sound Quality compared to the Onkyo. Are their any other preamps like this , Maybe with tubes ?

Thank you everyone for your replies and Please keep them coming .
I was doing the same thing switching cables for two channel and HT.
Bought a Kramer switch box so no more pulling cables.
I use 2 XLR Y cables out of my Vac pre and have subs on one side of the Y's and then the other sides go to the Kramer SB.
My AV-8 processor has only rca in and out so I installed RCA-XLR adaptors.
For movies I can't tell if there is any degradation whatsoever.
Concert Blurays also are dead quiet.
The Kramer VS4X is a four channel pro balanced switcher and it's just one push of the button and I'm two channel or HT.
Works very good and stress free.
Whenever my AV-8 dies I will go to a Bryston Sp-3 processor which is all balanced and I won't have to use the RCA-XLR adaptors.
Hope that helps as it works great as it use to be a real pain pulling cables,let alone wear and tear on the inputs and outputs.
I know of no similar preamps, with or without tubes.
I use subs in my main 2 channel system, too. My suggestion would be to exercise great care before replacing the Onkyo (or at least replacing it with a unit that does not share the Audyssey software).

It's entirely possible that other software has a "higher ceiling" for room correction/subwoofer integration, but Audyssey xt 32 is awfully good and virtually goof proof. I've used an (older and more primitive) manual room correction system and it was both a royal PITA and tricky to dial in. I'd assume that the newer systems are better, but the process is likely similar - repetitive manual manipulation of interactive parameters.

My guess is that going that route is probably as likely to yield worse results than improvements - unless you bring a lot of time and determination to the table.

Unless you are a really dedicated soul, I'd look elsewhere for an upgrade. Main L & R speakers are usually a good place to start.
You can get a preamp with a HT bypass feature. That would allow you to switch back and forth between your setup for music and movies without having to swap cables.
+1 Zd542- Get a good tube pre-amp w HT pass through. I believe the DSP room correction/bass management device web site shows how to use it w subs in a variety of configurations. For the price of a high end pre/SSP like the Classe 800 you can get an excellent used pre-amp w HT pass through and multiple outputs so you can run your subs w music. VAC, BAT, Modwright, ARC, CJ. First Sound, etc, etc, etc. If you just need a line stage, you can go pretty high up the food chain to near SOTA preformance.
Once again Audiogon does not disappoint . Plenty of diverse answers and options to try .

I don't know if this will matter but my main amps have xlr and single ended connections and have a switch to toggle which one for use .

Martykl , I do like what xt 32 does and the simplicity of it. On the other hand I can be very persistant and like a good challenge. I don't think my weak link is my speakers.
I believe it is in my pre pro . The better equipment I put in front of my speakers , the more they continue to impress me .I am also researching acoustic panels and will install some time soon .
Lambeau,

Sounds like you've got your head around the issues and are going to switch out the pre-pro. It's cool that you willing to commit to a more difficult road that offers a potentially higher upside. Please keep folks here posted on your progress - IMO this is a story worth following.
Martykl , On the contrary. I don't know witch direction I am going to go . I have talked with a Parasound dealer about 2 hours from me and he wasn't sure the P5 would be able to run my subs on both units with out a switch . Maybe someone else will chime in that would know . Still searching .

Seems like their is an opportunity for a product to be made that would do this .

Thanks again for all the positive responses .

Lambeau
"02-23-15: Lambeau
Martykl , On the contrary. I don't know witch direction I am going to go . I have talked with a Parasound dealer about 2 hours from me and he wasn't sure the P5 would be able to run my subs on both units with out a switch . Maybe someone else will chime in that would know . Still searching."

Once you upgrade, you may find that you don't need or want the subs. But if you do, you can put an input selector in front of your amp that powers the subs, and switch back and forth between your HT preamp and your stereo preamp.
Lambeau. "Before" trying anything else-try a few good power conditioners in your system-for a dramatic upgrade and what you may come to realize is your best long term investment! Fuzz in-fuzz out. We are not going away from AC power anytime soon. Equitech 2Q will handle everything you've got and more!
We all got pleasure from gear in the 70's and 80's and everything has improved--EXCEPT--AC power is not allowing us to hear it. Audience, Shunyata,MIT,Sound Application,Equitech. Do some research and check out the 5 Star facilities including NSA and NASA and the US Navy are using. Do you think anyone puts crappy gas(read electricity) in their vehicle and expects it to perform well?
Yeah, I don't know much about those speakers, but I'd be likely trying solid state amps for HT /music system, especially passive lower/medium sensitivity speakers. If you need tubes to make the sound work, and need more power, I'd recommend a tube preamp for your 2 channel duties, which can easily be looping in the AV pre/pro to an auxilry input, bypass/passthrough, etc. No problem really.
So, I'd solid state beefy high end amps for all channels (obviously, main 3 up front are most important), good quality, clear, detailed, and dymamic sounding pre/pro for movies - DEFINITELY ONE WITH DSP ROOM CORRECTION! - and add the 2 channel high end analog preamp for the tube sound you like.
I see no problems, just try to taste, and keep what you like. Done this kind of combo for years. Then, of course your source components that work for you, high end dvd, cd, tunner, whatever..
(I would, however, still cross over the mains up higher to help power handling, and let active powered subs do bass in the HT system -just sounds better, ALA THX setup. See what you think)
Buy an Arcam AVR much more natural sound
re my 2/22/15 post:  I've since added a Bryston SP3 that takes HDMI from an Oppo BDP-105D and Sony XA5400ES, and passes front LR via its zone function to a Parasound JC 2 BP analog preamp.  It also sends LCR directly amps, so there can be separate stereo and surround setups in the same room.
You asked how to improve "musicality". Try auditioning a different digital cable to begin with. Make sure you can return it in 30 days if you don't like it. I think the other things people posted would help but too much $$$. You may want to look at cables by Mapleshade, Kimber, Cardas, etc. I would try Mapleshade first. Hope that helps. If you find the digital cable helps next try interconnects, speaker cables, power cord or power conditioner.