Anthem AVM-2 or 20, Sunfire II, III or IV, Sherbourn 7020A. Be careful with zone 2-many units have a fixed volume for zone 2 (ie sony), also most will not pass through a digital signal, analogue source only for zone 2.
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I don't agree with Elevick suggestions at all, those mentioned seems like an absolute downgrade. If HDMI is a none issue, then I say go with the AVP2, you already know how good AVP is.
You have to spend a lot more money to get better sound then AVP2, something like Meridian or Casablanca, but those almost cost twice as much. Look at the reviews for AVP2 before deciding to go with other processors.
First, you will not find a pre/pro that natively decodes DD TrueHD via anything BUT HDMI, so your $500-900 is out of the question without using analog inputs (5.1 or 7.1) and besting the older Proceed gear for audio is tough.
Proceed was made to 'experiment' in the Mark Levinson line without risking the ML name, so many thing made under Proceed were REALLY good for the money (IMHO the HPA 2/3 amps are still exceptional and rival the 400 series ML amps at a fraction of the cost.)
Even if you currently own an AVP, it won't bring much in resale value, so you are still likely under $2K for a pre/pro, which gives you older used (non HDMI) or the likes of the Marantz SR8003 or Integra pre/pro's.
You could get a used Classe SSP600 for about $2K which would do what you want and sound very good, different than the AVP, so you will need to see if its an improvement or not to you sonically but it would allow MC analog inputs, not sure about second zone but believe it does this too.
I don't think the older Anthems nor current Anthems will best the AVP for music, and as you said Maridian won't work for you. Older Krell's are a good choice, one you might look for is the old Audio Video Standard that come up some times for cheap and are really well made and sound quite good.
The PAV/PDSD from Proceed was a great piece but you'll need to modify the connector for MC Analog inputs and they are pretty old and many are reaching failure and they are expensive to fix so I would steer away from these, even though sonically they are better than your AVP.
Thanks for the info Kennyt. I have an AVP that I bought used a few years ago for a very great price. Recently I've noticed very quiet popping sounds from the center channel and occasional issues that require a power cycle to reset. So I was wondering if I could get something a little newer like the Marantz or Integra or different like the Krell.
Sounds like my options are still slim. I wonder if there are more options if I am willing to give up the multiroom.
I use a Proceed PAV/PDSD pair that has functioned flawlessly for years with never a hiss nor pop. I did have the power supply of the PAV repaired and many caps replaced at a local shop for $250.
I'd like to have MC DSD via HDMI 1.3 to use with my Sony XA5400ES source, along with the the latest codecs, but I've concluded the minimum cost is likely to be at least $2K -- if you can can buy a used Cary Cinema 11a from someone unhappy with its bugs.
An AVP2 would be a nice step up, until you get a few $K to spend on a processor. I Think you need to cut back on expectations or settle for lessor sound quality.
I thought you need 1.3 for DSD, but in fact I don't have any HDMI audio input. Right now both my HD-DRV and PS3-80 send video via HDMI to my DVDO Edge. The video is sent to the projector via HDMI, and the audio is stripped off and sent to the PDSD via optical or coax cable, if forget which. My XA5400ES outputs analog XLR directly to the PAV.
Someday I hope to have the XA5400ES send MC DSD via HDMI to a Cary Cinema 11a or sonic equivalent, and the Edge would send audio from the HD-DVR and PS3 via HDMI to the processor as well. Were the PDSD upgradable to future technology such as HDMI as it was intended to be, that's what I would do, but then we all know Harmon International is most definitely not Madrigal.
What you need is a processor that can decode the new codecs of Blu-ray, they are a HUGE step forward in movie soundtracks!
Unfortunately to match the sound of your PDSD/PAV you'll be spending ~$7K plus.
I feel your pain in the combo, Madrigal really screwed everyone who bought that piece, they just let that set die on the vine. Too bad it's a really good sounding piece, as it should be for the $10K it cost new (my buddy just sold his for $1,400 a few months back, several months after sending it inb for repairs that cost $1,500)
Michael Fremer's review of the audio only Cary Cinema 11a and the comments of even those dissatisfied with the bugs at least in the earlier versions of the firmware suggest it provides superb sound. It can process the new Blu-ray codecs. Although the MSRP is $4K, a number of units were listed at around $2K by owners unhappy about the bugs. But later versions of the firmware seem to have reduced the bugs, and I have not seen a Cinema 11a for sale recently. I keep looking.
In my application, the DVDO Edge acts as an HDMI switch between the HD-DVR and PS3-80, so would present a single HDMI output to the Cinema 11a. The XA5400ES would be the other HDMI output, so two HDMI inputs is not a limitation, nor is lack of video processing. The Cinema 11a and SSP800 are both reputed to provide excellent sound, and IIRC I've read very favorable reviews of the AV888. So it's the cost of a used unit that's likely to drive my decision. I do not intend to buy an 11v.
Now I am seriously considering the NAD M15, Classe ssp-300, or Cary 11 - most likely the NAD. I have seen all of these for at or just over $1k. Hopefully it will be reliable and I could pair it with a decent blueray player with a 7.1 analog out for <$500. The alternative is to hold out for another year or so and hope to get a good sounding HDMI-audio capable unit for ~$2k (used) which could be paired with any sony/samsung $150 bluray.
Are there no musical pre/pros out there on the used market that lack DTS-MA and TrueHD, but support LPCM over HDMI 1.1? Really too bad that the NAD m15 does not. Looking at my media options (DVD, blueray, DirectTV,...) it seems like there is AC3/DTS which the AVP already supports and then DTS-MA/TrueHD which the NAD M15, Classe ssp-300, Cary 11 do not. I don't see any media with the middle formats (e.g. DTS 24/93) that the NAD M15, Classe ssp-300, Cary 11 have over the AVP and I really don't care that much about DPL2.
thanks again for everyone's responses.
I don't see an advantage of replacing your AVP with any of the units you have listed. The Cary 11a was selling for around $2K in the past, and it does have two HDMI 1.3 inputs and can process the new codecs, but early versions of the firmware were buggy -- that's why they were being sold for $2K by disgusted owners. I haven't seen any for sale at that price recently, perhaps the latest firmware fixed most of the bugs.
I use the M15 mainly for two channel stereo via the analog bypass inputs (7.1 inputs). In this mode it sounds fantastic feeding my Rowland Model One. In my current setup I run my modified Kenwood Kt7550 into the 7.1 inputs using Morrow MA1s. The sound is heavenly! The M15 also does great on movies, but this is not of much importance to me as I listen to two channel 95% of the time.
Im not sure about better but i bet it hangs fairly close. Arcam AVP700. They are selling for dirt cheap here these days. Or if you can stretch it go for the AV9. I sold my Arcam C31 preamp because i felt my AV9 was coming so close for 2 channel duty that it didn't justify having the dedicated preamp.
I have had 2 AVP 700, great sound, especially the built-in DAC. But I question the reliability, you may want to reconsider, btw they run very warm-hot.
Unfortunately the first started to buzz in 1 channel growing louder & louder, then thru all 5.1 channels. A tech told me it was the computer processing unit commonly shared with an Onkyo AV/p that was the problem, but no longer available thru Arcam. Said it was fixed but it had more switching & noise problems afterward. Purchased a second (used, 3+ yrs old) one and the same thing started to happen in about 6 months. Then an electrical surge put the last nail in.
An Arcam staffer described the units complexity similar to today's laptops. "High performance, but built w so many computer type parts", "you cant expect them to last like audio of years gone by, after 3-4 years you figure its time to through it away" (my paraph)
Wow! I reread this stream and it was difficult to recall the setup I used when I wrote my posts. I still have a Proceed PAV/PDSD pair that I haven't been using.
Now processing is by an Oppo BDP-105. The stereo preamp is a Parasound JC-2 BP. The amps are Proceed HPA 2 & 3. I recently bought a Cary Cinema 11a that takes HDMI from the Oppo and a Sony XA5400ES for surround. Stereo from the Cary is passed through the JC-2 BP; surround goes directly to the amps. Before the Cary, surround from the Oppo went directly to the amps, stereo through the JC-2 BP.
The stereo sources are an Ayre C-5xeMP and Thorens TD124/SME III/Ortofon through a JC-3 phono stage. The mains are a pair of KEF Reference 107/2s with 102 surrounds. A pair of Velodyne HGS-15s managed by an SMS-1 provide LF supplement for HT.