Just curious. Which Anthem and what was wrong with it? I have the AVM 2 and it's been trouble free.
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I just bought a new pre/pro, I listen to 80/20 music/HT.
I auditioned Bryston Sp1.7, B & K ref50, Classe SSP30, Krell Showcase, and before my last pre/pro purchase(Rotel RSP-976) I had auditioned Sunfire, Rotel, Acurus, and Aragon.
In 2 channel Bryston easily bested all, Classe Second, Krell, Sunfire, and Aragon were a toss-up. Each good in its own right but not perfectly suiting my taste.
I would recommend you give Bryston a listen. Although Bryston doesnt have Video switching, it mucks up the audio by their philosphy, I agree. They do offer an outboard video switching unit if it is a must.
I havent listened to the Anthem, Adcom, or Parasound. I have only heard good things about Anthem though, sorry for your troubles. I have also heard good things about the Integra Pre/pro and a lot of folks really like the Sunfire TGs too.
In HT (DTS/DD) I really didnt noticed a huge difference between them, although each had its own presentation. ie some had more center or rear bias, some gave the impression of more forward vocals, etc. I chalk this up to setup, I feel that given time to tinker you can get all the good ones working to your own liking/tastes.
Go give 'em all a listen, and I hope you find the right one for you.
The Adcom GTP Series is downright terrible having poor (2) channel and a noisy background. The B&K Reference 50 is great for HT full of Bells & Whistles; however, it comes up short in (2) channel also. I have not listened to the specific Parasound Pre-Pro so I cannot comment on its performance.
I was in the market for a similar processor and decided on the EAD TheaterMaster 8000. Pared up with my Theta Dreadnought it excels in both (2) channel and HT. You may want to look into the Ovation if you wish to take it up to the next level. The three you mentioned are not known for great (2) by any stretch of the imagination.
EAD was my second choice as the Theta Casablanca II was just a little out of my reach at this time, having spent several thousand dollars on my HT this year already. It was hardly a compromise.
IMHO all surround processors are compromised when it comes to 2-channel audio. Since you state 2-channel is your priority, I think you will be better off buying a good preamp and a moderately priced receiver, like a Denon 3803, and only using the receiver when playing movies. (Run the front pre-outs of the receiver to a preamp input.) HT sound quality is not as demanding as 2-channel sound quality.
Do NOT go with the Adcom GTP series. I purchased a GTP-760 which was supposed to be a huge improvement in QC over the 740 and 750. Ha! Mine died 48 hrs later. I went with a Lexicon DC-2 and haven't looked back since. The quality issues with Adcom processors are WELL documented. Users who have units that perform well are exceptions! Beware!
I know you said new, but right now I think the only thing I'd be less inclined to buy new than a prepro is a projector. The depreciation curves of these two types of kit are very, very steep - far more so than for other things in which there is less active innovation.
Many vendors have long-lasting, transferrable warrantees. Classe and Bryston are both notable examples, and both produce excellent 2-ch sound even through their 5-ch products.
I'm biased, but a used or demo Classe SSP75 goes for about the same price as a new B&K Ref 50 and the sound is significantly better.
What is up with the Adcom comments? While I am not familiar with the GTP-7xx series, I have had a GTP-860 here for a short time (it went into my friend's aunt's home) and GTP-880. I just got in the GTP-880 and it replaced my Parasound AVC-2500u. I don't find it to have a background noise issue at all. It has full bypass direct lines for DVD-A, SACD and 2 channel analog on each input.
This unit is very clean sounding. I would recommend an Adcom GTP-880. I would stay away from the GTP-860 until they come out with the GTP-860 MkII at a later date. It will be upgraded to DD EX and DTS ES.
The GTP-860 only has 2 HD video inputs, but the GTP-880 has three. Both have 12V trigger relays. The GTP-860 is a multi-zone processor, which means it has outputs for each of its inputs for use with a matrix switcher for whole house audio/video. The GTP-880 is a two zone processor with stereo output to zone 2. Neither have balanced outputs.
The Adcom issues on QC were from a previous manufacturing plant that they are no longer using.
Try an EAD TheaterMaster (Ovation) you will get Six Burr Brown PCM1702 20-bit DACs (excellent for two (2) channel), HDCD®: processing, DD and DTS equally as good for 5.1. You can pick them up used from between $1800 to $2200. Upgrade it to an "8" series and you will really kick @#*! There newer stuff is even better but you then get in the $3,500 plus range. But these truly out do most of the supposed equal's like the Sunfires, B&K's and yes even the Krell Theater Standard's