Depends on your definition of "high end" stereo sound. This is a pricey pre/pro and my experience with pre/pro (in this general range, ie. pretty expensive) is that they can do a very admiral job with 2-channel, but not to the degree that a good to very good 2-channel preamp can do. This being said, I am strongly considering selling my existing (very good) preamp and sticking with the direct pass through analog preamp in my pre/pro (which is a new Krell HTS 7.1 which takes its preamp design from the Krell KCT - the reason I bought it in the first place). I did find after buying it, that it was not quite to the level of a good 2-channel preamp, but have now decided that it is, hopefully, good enough for me.
Theta offers three different levels of DAC's. Check out their web site for details. I've used the CB3 with their top of the line DAC's for years. This is one of the few Prepro's that can pull off sounding excellent in two channel. Just make sure you go with the higher end DAC's. Might also want to looking into a prepro with a Theater pass thru allowing for a seperate higher end 2ch Dac/preamp for your music. Just a thought.
isnt DAC is for CDP? Does theta built in DAC card only benefit to CD?
Theta builds higher end DACs right into the CB3. Goto Theta's web site for all of the details. Or search here and AVS forum for details.
The benefit of the built-in DACs on the Theta is a matter of opinion in terms of the benefits delivered. Obviously, the better the quality of your CDP, the less benefit the built-in DACs will deliver. However, if one has a mid level CDP or already just has a transport, then the built-in DACs can be a real benefit. This is all based on 2-channel listening. Having them can increase flexibility, no doubt (adding digital sources with either no internal DAC or a poorer internal DAC) or possibly doing away with CDP's in favor of straight transports (nice if one already has a 2-piece transport/DAC and they find that the DACs in the Theta are as good as their existing stand alone DAC???).
Pre/pro don't have HT passthrough in the sense that a 2-channel preamp does. What I believe stick is refering to is either a full analog bypass that allows the 2-channel signal to pass through the pre/pro without any processing (outside of gain in the analog domain) for the cleanest/least compromised affect on the signal.
Typically, HT passthrough refers to a feature on a 2-channel preamp that allows the prepro to deliver its front left and right output signal (that would typically go to the associated amps) for a movie (for example) to pass through the 2-channel preamp without requiring the user to adjust the volume from the preamp, but performing all volume control via that of the pre/pro. This allows one to connect their higher quality 2-channel analog signals directly to the 2-channel preamp, leaving the pre/pro completely out of the 2-channel chain for optimal performance. In essense, this allows one to maximize performance for 2-channel and also for surround sound all in the same system!
Yes, that may seem the may to go. Im just surmising that something that costs as much as that cb3 does...i want it close to the holy grail of doing everything right!!!..lol..wishful thinking?....i currently use a yamaha rxv 3800...it does have a 'pure direct' mode which slips past video circ into clean 2 channel...i am using a theta dreadnaught ii and dali hellicon 400 mkii spkers...and tho the sound is very good..i really feel at times i need to play it loud to really feel it..wondering if a better start point would be replacing the yammy..as my other gear is higher end..hence...cb3
Yes! Thanks Ckoffend that's what I meant to say. The CB3 is a very interesting HT Processor because of it's flexibility. If you have a really good all around CDP with good dacs and good transport than save the $$ and just use that. With the CB3 and it's extreme Dacs this allows you to really use any DVD/CDP as a transport(being in the digital domain) using the coax or toslink connection. One can get a much higher level of Sonics than they could by using any basic CDP's DAC's IMO. Also, if you have any other sources hooked up to the CB3 through the digital connection, again you'll be using Theta's DAC's, (Cable, MP3 ect) youll benefit from greater Sonics as well. Also The Casablanca has one of the best volume controls on the market. It also has a great analog section for those sources as well.
I'm sure some will disagree with parts of what I've said but just trying to give you my opinion based on your question. I really like Theta products. I own a CB3, Dreadnaught, Gen 8DAC.v2 and Enterprise Mono's.
The prices have really fallen on the CB3 even with the top of the line DAC's. Theta has announced they will be doing an upgrade to HDMI and this will get the CB3 up to the current standard.
will superior dacs suffice
I think so. Certainly a great start. If your budget could get you to the Superior II DAC's I think that might be even better and very close to the Extremes at a much lower cost. Actually, most say the Superior II are your best bang for the buck. It really depends on what level your trying to achieve. I really can't believe the price drop of these CB3's over the last year. Once Theta comes out with the HMDI upgrade these will be one of the best HT Processors on the market hands down.
thanx for the feedback stick70..i guess my dilemna is..i dont care that much about ht..though i do have all the ht gear..i really want great stereo music sound..but..want the ht to fall back on as i already have it all set up..hence i was thinking the cb3..does it offer fantastic sound in stereo and ht
I am wondering the same thing Dan!!
I was struggling on what Dan001 asking as well. I was told no matter how good (claimed to be) and expensive a pre/pro is, it has no comparison to a 2-channel preamp provide both are in similar price or somewhat more $ in a pre/pro, due to manufacturing costs when dedicated to 2 channel instead of 5-7 channels. Especially when both has Balanced circuit which are costly. Correct me if I am wrong. For me, I would rather instead of spending the $ for upgrading to a Casablanca III for both music and HT, to a decent 2 channel preamp.
p.s. to be exact, I am saying like a Casablanca III/lexicon(extreme DAC) vs ARC ref.3 or Cary SLP-05....
You will get better two channel performance with the ARC Ref. 3 and the Cary SLP-05 than the Theta. However, you indicated (or perhaps somebody else did) that you are using the Dreadnaught amplifier. This will be your limiting factor with 2-channel performance. I have owned the Dreadnaught II, kept it for about a week due to its well below satisfactory performance in 2-channel operation. Sold it to a member in NY who wanted to replace his Halcro multi-channel amp with one that was reported to deliver better 2-channel performance. He kept the Dreadnaught II for less than a week and then sold it himself. He too indicated to me that it was weak with 2-channel performance. FWIW, my amp had three of the higher powered monoblock cards/amps and two stereo amps in it, so it shouldn't have been a power issue.
For absolute best two channel performance, you need either monoblock amps or a stereo amp. I have never heard a multi-channel amp do particularly well (I have owned several - Krell, Dreadnaught, Conrad Johnson, and others) with 2-channel performance. Of course everybody has different demands and considerations as to what is acceptable 2-channel performance.
For a 2-channel preamp, you have listed two very good and very different sounding preamps. The Cary can be purchased for much less used than the ARC. Another consideration could also be the Aesthetix Calypso and many others as well.
hhmm..thanx for the feedback guys..yes..as i have an ht sysytem already set up in my room..and i do watch movies..like i say..i was hoping for something that offered best of both worlds. I dont know about the dread 2 tho Ckoffend...funny..had some of the guys over last night...they, and i!!..lol..were blown away by this wall of sound this amp pushes out..we could hear every insturment playing away....plus, we had a few beers..so..it got pretty loud!!so at this stage in the growing process in this crazy expensive hobby..i cant agree..i love this dread...but i appct your input...and..i have yet to hear a krell, so, i am no expert, tho i know what i like..like i say, i am using a yamaha rxv 3800..and wondered if changing to something else could get me even better sound..and...all this with keeping ht!!..a large task i know
I used the Theta Dreadnaught as my two channel amp for a bit before I upgraded to Theta's Enterprise Mono's. I did not have the same experience as Ckoffend. It just goes to show that everyone's system and room are different. I still have the dreadnaught and use it to power my surrounds. Cool thing about the Dread is you can turn off some of the channels which for some may increase their dynamics. I would agree with Ckoffend on having stand alone 2 channel preamp for the highest level of stereo performance. Theta also makes a standalone Dac called Generation 8. Theyve justed updated it to the V2. I'm more of a two channel guy than HT these days so this is why I added this piece. Yes the CB with Extremes is much better than most HT prepro's and even some two channel processors but this Gen8 DAC takes things to the next level of dynamics, detail, imaging, bass and has an updated volume control and tweaks to the Dac that take it to the highest level out their right now IMO.
Dan001, in your situation I think the CB3 might be your best option. Otherwise look for a stand alone 2ch Preamp with a pass thru option like the one Ckoffend mentioned in is earlier post. ARC REF 3 would be my first choice and Krell my next. They can be pricy but well worth it.
Or you last option would be to drink more beer and forget the whole thing!! At times thats what I done!! Good Luck in your search
I have yet to hear a pre which comes anywhere close to top tier 2-channel pre's. I had a Meridian 861 and while phenomenal for a pre it was no match for my ARC LS26.
If your focus is 2-channel get a dedicated pre-amp with passthrough and save yourself the hassle and expense.
LOL...good call Stick!!!..u read my mind actually..i think i may do just that....and down the road look for a pre with ht bypass
I have a Meridian 800/861 combo. The 800 serves as a CD transport, the 861 is the DAC/Preamp in a 2-channel configuration. In my experience, it sounds terrific. It is difficult for me to comprehend how a high-quality 2-channel preamp could improve upon the sound of the 861. On the one hand, you have the 861 directly feeding an amplifier. On the other hand, you have the 861 serving only as a DAC, feeding another component through an additional set of interconnects. Given that the 861 is the CD output, how could the final sound product be improved by going through an additional set of interconnects and a preamp?
If you are using a standalone CD player, I could understand it. But if the processor is also serving as the DAC for a transport (and the 861 is a darn good DAC), something must be lost by forcing the signal to go through an additional component before it gets to the amplifier.
If I am wrong, I would appreciate an explanation. It might be that those who like a preamp in the chain find that the added coloration from the extra component is pleasurable.
One can certainly go back and fourth on this but for me I just don't know if my ears can hear that level of difference. What the hell is coloration anyway? Moreover, I think the point of this thread was getting the best of both worlds out of the CB3. It would make some sense that the less things you have in the chain the cleaner the sound but for the casual user I don't think they care or could even identify the differences. Just my .02.
BTW, Ive heard the Meridian equipment very nice stuff. They do a great job a matching their equipment being all in the digital domain. Also when you at these levels theres really not a bad one in the bunch, it boils down to choice and budget.
Stick, your comment that you and your friends were blown away by your current system. This being the case, and my impression that you are totally satisfied, then why change anything? Perhaps you are at the point where the improvements that you may see will not be sufficient enough to satisfy your multi thousand dollar additional investment. There is always "better" equipment to buy, but I find stopping when you are satisfied may be the best solution. Until there is something specific and annoying about your system, why not just keep it where it is? My comments/suggestions made on this site are always honest and straight to the point (at least this has been my intent) - but they are always my impressions and from my experiences (within my system/room). Like everybody else's opinions, they are just that - opinions. My comments and those of others should never replace what you personlly hear and/or like. If you find your system fully satisfying why change?
Are your referred to me Ckoffend? If so, I'm a bit confused by your last post. I never said anything regarding me or my friend being blow away by my system nor would I. That's not my style. Honestly, I have no others close to me interested in this hobby as much as me. Maybe you have me confused with another poster. I have posted my system on this forum as there are other enthusiasts that would appreciate the details but not to brag. I have made changes to my system for my own reason and desires Please explain your last post. Or if I'm not the one youre speaking of then my mistake.
Stick, my apologies, in my haste, I had attributed what Dan wrote about his and his buddies experience to you.
I'm biased admittedly, but even today the Vimak DS-1800mk2 dac from circa 1993 is in my view a better sounding dac than a Theta. The Vimak was an 18bit, 64x OS dac implemented in discrete logic. It used a massive 4 layer pcb board, a seperate/shielded power supply with 2 copper clad c-core transformers, and was designed in an incredibly detailed and complex way which manufacturers are not willing to do anymore..instead they just pump more 'bits' and higher rates of oversampling into their dacs. Probably the best audio engineer in Australia - Dallas Clarke remarked "The legendary Vimak Delta-Sigma 1800 is the largest, heaviest, most complex DAC I have ever seen. It's also one of the best-sounding Digital to Analog Converters ever made, IMHO"
Very hard to find 2nd hand on Audiogon i've noticed though, I can't believe I was lucky enough to find a perfect example!