Suggestions for new AV Pre-Pro

I'm interested in purchasing a new AV pre-pro to replace my aging Outlaw 990. My speakers consist of the Focal 1027be, 1007be and cc1000be. My Simaudio I-7 is used for both 2 channel and also drives the front channels in 5.1. I have an Outlaw 7500 driving the center channel and rear speakers. I plan to use 5.1 analog outputs from the Oppo 95 into the processor and the hdmi directly into the tv so I'm not concerned about video processing. I also have the SB Touch with the W4S Dac 1 for 2 channel into the Sim, but I would also like to run a digital cable from the Touch into the AV processor for 5.1 sound. The processor should be comparable with the rest of the system.
Any of the standard recommendations will fit your needs:
Integra 80.2
Onkyo 5508
Marantz 7005
The Treta Casablanca and Casanova pre-pros are very good for 5.1 and are excellant on 2 channel.
KR4, Out of the 3 suggested, which would you say sounds the best.

Raks, Theta makes great products but it's over my budget.
Ronrags,Given ur existing equipment, I recommend a Cary Cinema 11a Pre/Pro (outgoing) or the new Cinema 12 if budget allows. The Cary will be more in line performance wise with ur speakers. Also, the Cary will take ur system to the next level and beyond. They are known for 2 channel audio...and now hometheater. You get the best (almost) of both worlds. Otherwise, I would recommend the Pre/Pro from Marantz. Solid home theater and 2 channel. Good luck!
The Cary 11a is a great sounding prepro (I have not heard the 12) but both are not as capable for HT, particularly with regard to roomEQ. I would sooner suggest the Marantz matched with a decent analog preamp that has an HD passthrough, like the Parasound P7. That's the (near) best of both worlds.

Sparks81, I was waiting for someone to recommend a pre/pro that's more in line with my speakers. As I stated, I was hoping to obtain the sound quality I get with the Sim I-7 in 2 channel. The Sim will still power the front speakers in 5.1 but controlled by a good pre-pro.
Kr4, You stated both the 11a and 12 are not as capable in HT with regards to room eq. I'm not so concerned with room eq as with total sound quality especially in 5.1. As I stated, I'm using the Sim I-7 for 2 channel and driving the fronts in 5.1. Is the Marantz SQ as good as Cary?
It ain't just roomEQ but other features such as bass management that are, well, quirky. Since you are using the Simaudio for 2 channel and mch L/R, I would go with the Marantz, even for sound quality with digital sources.


I didn't want the added complication of separate preamp and processor that Kal recommends, and I was influenced by Michael Framer's review of the 11a in Home Theater. Furthermore, I wanted surround DSD. So I bought an 11a to replace my Proceed PAV/PDSD. The Cary 11a manual recommends not using the room equalization available on the chip they use, and instead rely on tape measure and SPL meter. The 11a has adjustments for frequency equalization that you can do using the bands of noise the 11a can generate. I think those of us who own an 11a do so because of the audio quality despite the bugs.

Since you guys have either recommened the Marantz or the Cary, has anyone actually compared the two units?
Ronrags, I used to work for a Marantz dealer. I've heard all they have to offer. I, personally, use a Thetadigital Casablanca III with BAT VK-6200 (Balanced Audio amp) and Dynaudio speakers. I've heard what Cary can do. Believe me, if u are concerned with sound quality for both 2-channel and HT, the Cary will outperform Marantz anyday of the week. You don't need the gimmicks of the mass produced AVR's. They (Mass produced AVR's/Pre/Pro's)have their place in the market...and yes some do sound OK. However, given ur level of equipment that u already own, purchasing a Maranzt would be a step backwards. Also, Dbphd noteed that you still have audio perameter adjustment choices with the Cary 11a...if u really want utilize this adjustment. Sometimes, one can remove that "organic" sound quality from the system by using the EQ. This is what differentiates hi-end sound from Mid-fi. Make no mistake, I'm not saying EQ is a bad thing. U are waaay beyond a Maranzt Rcvr/Pre/Pro.
Sparks81,I appreciate your reply. I was also told by a dealer that going with a Marantz is a step backward. I'm wondering if I buy a pre-pro like the Cary, would it pay to replace both the Sim I-7 and the Outlaw amp with a 5 channel Cary amp or similar?
With the virtual disappearance of brick-and-mortar stores, it has become impossible (it used to be only difficult) for a prospective purchaser to compare products side-by-side. The remaining stores carry fewer lines, too.

So, the prospective purchaser relies on the comments of others, most of whom have also been denied the opportunity of a fair side-by-side comparison (and that includes the dealers).

Ronrags, That's exactly what I'd consider! By considering another amp by Cary, Bryston, Ayre, BAT and some others, not only are u raising the bar with regard to performance, u are creating a closer degree of synergy...especially with the Cary 5-channel amp. As a result, u will experience more refinement and detail from ur music and movies sountracks. The experience will bring u a little closer to the music and help suspend ur disbelief when watching movies...that's what it's all about, isn't it? And last, by upgrading ur amp to a Cary or another brand, u are simplifying ur set-up and removing the weakest link from the equation. It will also be like hearing all of ur music and movies for the first time...again!
Sparks, I plan on doing further research on the Cary plus these other brands you mentioned. Unfortunately as Kr4 stated, it's nearly impossible to perform an A/B comparison these days. The best advise is usually from forums like this. If these pre-pros sound that good in 2 channel, I'll probably sell the Wyred 4 Sound DAC 1 I just purchased 2 months ago.
"The best advise is usually from forums like this."

Perhaps but how can one distinguish it from the rest?

Ron, I think you know me from AVS :). I bought the Integra 80.2 a few months ago. I can recommend it very highly. Plus the 80.3 should be coming out probably in a few months. As you know I have the 1027's cc1000be, 705v's. I was told by some one that the Cary was not that reliable. I say go for the Integra.
I've been using a Cary Cinema 11a for some time now, and, regardless of what someone told mikeduke, it's been reliable. What he may have meant is that it's buggy, and can transmit pops when a disc starts or ends or an input is switched. Yet the sound has that sense of transparency and openness I demand. In my audition of an Integra 80.1, I found that lacking. But I was not able to do a side-by-side comparison in own my system. As noted earlier, I was most influenced to buy the Cary by Michael Fremer's rave (for its sound) review in Home Theater, and I was able to hear the Cary in my system before I wrote the check to a local private party -- but that is a rare opportunity indeed.

Back when someone told me about the Cary, he made it seem like the end of the world would happen. He was basically saying that they had a QC issue. Then I started to realize that people were saying the 80.2 was sooooooo bad. It was so noisy and it had a huge delay at so much other stuff. Well, I can say that there are many anal people in audio because I notice the clicks when you change inputs and there may be a delay, but I don't find it to be an issue. If the Cary is simply like that then I have no problem saying go with that. All of the reviews I have read about it have been stellar.
That being said, in my system with an OPPO 82SE connected with a Transparent Audio HDMI cable connected to the 80.2, I am very pleased with the sound. 2ch in bypass mode sounds really good. But like I said, all of the reviews I have read of the Cary were very good as well.
Mike, good to here from you again. I appreciate your suggestion, but since I purchased the Sim I-7 for 2 channel, I've become a little spoiled with the sound quality of the Sim thru the Focal speakers. What I was hoping for was a pre-pro that comes close to the Sim in SQ. I've considered the integra and marantz but I doubt they have the overall SQ as the Sim. I still listen to sacd, dvd-audio and especially dvd concerts. If I could get this SQ in both 5.1 and 2 channel from another pre-pro and 5 channel amp, I would sell my existing 5.1 set-up including the Sim and the DAC 1. As I stated in the beginning of this thread I'm not concerned about video processing. I prefer to manually set-up the 5.1 and I still use the same acoustic treatment as you. As some members have stated, the quirks in the Cary seem minor as compared to the overall sound. I'm open for suggestions if there are any other systems in the same price range as the Cary.
That's cool. I understand what you want. Like I said, the reviewes I read of the Cary were very positive. Besides being scared off by the bugs, there is not a dealer near me who carried the brand. So I took a chance on the Integra. I have been very satisfied and my system has never sounded better. I know your Sim kicks butt because I have heard them before. For me though, I am also into records now and the Integra does not even come into play for that. I have an Amadeus GTA table with a Dynavector preamp. It sounds simply fantastic. Good luck with your system :).
I was researching other pre-pros and I came across the Classe SSP-600. The reviews were excellent and I'm wondering if anyone has experience with this model.
Man, if you can get that I would pounce right away. I heard one a few years and thought it was fantasic. But at the time the price was too high. Fantastic for HT and 2ch. The only thing is it does not have all the latest connections and it won't decode the high def audio formats. At least that's what I remember. Since you will be using the analog outs it might be a great fit for you. It will be a great pre for you if you can make it work in your system, IE have the player do the decoding and if you don't need HDMI. I was going to recomend that to be honest but I was not sure it would fit your price range. It will be hard to beat that IMO.
Mike, I'm leaning towards the Classe and probably make a decision shortly. As I mentioned, I plan to use the Classe dacs for the SB Touch so I just listed the W4S DAC 1 for sale and I'll use the funds towards the pre-pro. I also plan to sell the Outlaw 990 once I receive the Classe.

I plan to compare the analog outs from the Oppo with the Classe internal dacs for both 2 channel and 5.1. I'll let you know the results.

When I was looking for a pre/pro to replace the Proceed PAV/PDSD our local dealer suggested the SP800 as having the sound quality I was looking for, but I didn't need nor want video processing. I think it has an MSRP around $8K, but then so would the Cary if you bought the Cinema 11a & 11v.

Sounds like a plan. As I said, I was very close to getting it but at the time $6,000 was a lot and the dealer I went too really did not move that much. I ended up with a Parasound Halo 2 and it served me well for many years. Now I have the Integra and I am again a happy camper and probably will be for a number of years.
I made an offer for the SSP-600 and it was accepted. I'm thinking of purchasing a 5 channel Classe amp to match and sell the Sim I-7 and the Outlaw 7500. The reviews for Classe amps were all good but I'm not so sure how they compare to the Sim amps. I wanted to buy the Classe 200w amp but it will not fit in my unit due to its height so I may have to go with their 100w amp. My only concern is the 100w per channel with the Focal speakers in my 13x18 room. I usually to 2 channel at low to moderate levels and I'm not concerned in 5.1 since I have to 2 subs and leave the fronts to small.

Does my idea of the buying the Classe amp seem reasonable or should I stick with the amps I have?
When I heard the 600 I also hear the classe amps. It was with B&W speakers though, not focal. Plus, it was in a big room with the bigger amps. But they did sound good. It will probably be a different sound then the Sim. I think though even with the Classe being 100 watts it won't be a problem as far as output goes. Yes the Focal's dip in impedence but the sensitivity is not that bad. The Classe probably outputs a bit more then 100 watts in the real world. Most amps do. My Brystons do and most other amps like Krell, and parasound do as well. The question is will it be better. That I can't say. I know from your posts that you like the sound. It will sound different for sure. Based on what you say about your listening habits I don't think the 100 watts would be an issue. The issue is if it is a good match.

I don't know how sneaky you want to be but there is a store in Delaware named Overture Audio.
They sell Classe and Focal. You could always ask them. Again, it may be sneaky if you plan on buying from some place else but it may be worth contacting them with a general type feeler question.
Ronrags, If sound quality is of prime concern, you may want to consider the larger amp because it will undoubtedly have more current to drive ur speakers. This translates to greater control of the drivers which in turn means greater authority and inner detail of sound...especially at lower volumes. The sound coming from the speakers driven by 200wpc will sound more effortless than with 100wpc. (Given the same brand of amps, which in this case is Classe) Consider the efficiency and load of ur speakers. i.e.,...87db/4ohm, etc. This in part should be ur guide as to which amp you choose. It's not so much about how loud ur speakers will go, but more of how effortless the information coming from ur speakers will sound at either low and/or high volumes. There's nothing worse than underpowering ur system. The higher current will allow u to hear the full potential of ur system upstream as well as ur speakers.
Mike, even though you heard the Classe thru B&W speakers, how would consider the sound? The Sim has great bass, the mids and highs are smooth. There is a review on the CA5100 in HTM and it basically states the same qualities, but it's hard to tell based on the other components used.

Sparks, I understand your concern with the power. The 1027be speakers have a sensitivity of 91db but do go down to 3 ohms. As I stated, I have limited height restriction in my unit. The 200w Classe is an inch too high. I could put off the purchase until I receive the SSP-600 and see how it sounds with the Outlaw 7500. Thanks
I could tell that the Classe gear was top shelf. That's why I wanted that pre :). I am not a huge B&W fan and they were using the top of line Diamond tweeter speakers. It sounded very clinical. When they put the regular 800's on the system it sounded better. For two channel the 600 really was very good. HT was very good as well. Like I said, even though I am not a B&W fan, the system still sounded very good. I think with the Focal speakers the 600 will be a great choice.

That 100 watt amp will probably be fine. the specs say that it can give 190 watts into 40ohm's. To me that says it has very good power supply. Plus I just read that the first 30 watts of that amp are Class A. That is quite a lot and I know that Focal speaker just love Class A power. With 30 watts of Class A power you should be fine.
I have put together an HT system with both stereo and HT audio performance
as primary considerations because I also have a two-channel system that consists
of Audio Research amplification, Martin Logan reQuest speakers, a REL Storm III
subwoofer, and a Bryston BDA-1 DAC with a Simaudio Moon Nova CD player
performing as a transport. So for me, an AV pre-pro with exceptional video
processing capability was not an important requirement for the HT system.
My HT system had consisted of a Simaudio Moon Stargate AV pre-pro, an Aragon
five-channel power amplifier that was THX Ultra2 certified at delivering 200 WPC
with all channels driven, Focal-JMLab Cobalt front and surround speakers, a Martin Logan Fresco i center speaker, a Velodyne Optimum 12 subwoofer and a Marantz BD8002 Blu-ray player. Several months ago, I began looking into upgrading my HT system's AV pre-pro to one that decoded the current HD audio formats. I listened to a number of AV pre-pros including the Cary Cinema 11a and Marantz AV8003. I heard the Marantz AV8003 in a number of retail showrooms and was not immediately impressed with its audio performance when compared to the Cary Cinema 11a.
In those showrooms, the Marantz AV8003 was usually paired with an eight-channel Marantz MM8003 amplifier, a non-THX certified unit that lacks the detail, dynamics and power of the Aragon five-channel amplifier, and included speakers that I considered not as neutral, detailed and dynamic sounding as the Cobalt/Fresco i speaker combination. However, I purchased a Marantz AV8003 anyway because it was at the end of its production run, and I was able to purchase a brand new one from an authorized Marantz dealer for $1500--which was $1100 less than the list price. A posting at an online forum stated that the Marantz AV8003 audio performance could be influenced
by cables--particularly HDMI cables. I experimented with a number of various interconnects and HDMI cables and found that the Marantz AV8003 audio performance could indeed be altered by cable selection. I found that its audio performance was significantly improved in my HT system with interconnects from Siltech and HDMI cables from DH labs. As a result, the Marantz AV8003 audio performance in terms of detail, dynamics, transparency and soundstaging exceeded my expectations in my HT system--and sounded significantly superior to what I had heard in every retail showroom where I had listened previously. I also concluded that its audio performance was considerably better than that of the Simaudio Moon Stargate AV pre-pro that it replaced in my HT system—an AV pre-pro that retailed at $5K. Moreover, the Marantz AV8003 stereo performance in my system--particularly in the Pure Direct mode--was nothing short of stellar. I concluded that the Marantz AV8003 was a better match with the components in my particular system than with those that I had heard in previous systems--proving once again that the ultimate performance of any component in any particular system is highly depended on the synergistic relationship between that component and the rest of the system.
Malon, I also believe in synergy among components and with cables but the problem is trial and error. It gets quite expensive buying and selling components and hoping it will sound best in your system. I happen to like the sound of the Sim I-7 and the Focal speakers in 2 channel. Unfortunately the Sim av-pro and 5 channel amps are over my budget. That is why I looking for components that are comparable to the Sim but not the cost.
Due to an unexpected home repair this past weekend I was able to place the purchased of the SSP-600 on hold. In the mean time I wondering if anyone has played digital files thru the 600 and how it sounds in 2 channel.
Malon's comments on Marantz beign better than Cary is BS. he does not have high end enough of associated equipment to discern the difference. I have very high end system and using Cary Cinema 12 that i just took delivery of 12/9/11 and it blows away the Krell HTS 7.1 that I compared and sold. I haven't noticed any bugs many of which has been reported with Cinema 11a. See my comments on avsforum under Cary Cinema 12 processor that list my associated equipment.
To some of the previous points about comparison, I've been to many shops where they dealer dumps on another brand but doesn't and hasn't sold that brand. It's indeed getting difficult to make side by side. If you have a few dealers in your area, take home comparable models on a weekend and compare in your home setup. That's the best way.
Stereo_phile should read my comments regarding the Marantz AV8003 again. Where did I write that the Marantz AV8003 was superior to the sound of the Cary 11a?? In fact, I wrote earlier in my comment that in every showroom where I heard the Cary 11a, I thought that it sounded superior to the Marantz AV8003. What I wrote, and what was obviously missed by Stereo_phile, was that I was very satisfied with how the Marantz AV8003 sounded in "my" particular system and not in any showroom. By the way Stereo_phile have you actually heard the Marantz AV8003 in your "high-end" system??
Ronrags, just noticed you were looking at a Classe ssp600. I currently own one and am looking to upgrade / sell it from my system. did you even pick the one up that you found?