Weak link

Hi all, I am relatively new to this world, and I have a question which, accordingly, might seem easy to answer to some. At least I hope.

My set-up is the following:
Onkyo HT-RC360
Carver A500x
Mirage M1
cables : from Carver to M1 : blue jean AWG10, biwired.

Onkyo -> Carver : this is a bit unorthodox, but I use a speaker to line level converter and generic cables to connect the converter to the carver.

While I really like the sound coming from this system, which is an improvement over having the Onkyo driving the M1 directly, I am found wanting in terms of high-frequency details coming from the speakers.

I read that the carvers deliver in general in terms of power, but not in terms of details, could it be the main culprit?

The other route is to get a preamplifier (any recommendations for this setup?) I am sure there are many weak links in this setup, but I am not quite sure which upgrade would yield the most audible improvement.

Thanks to all!
It's not the Carver's fault...My A-500 always sounded good.
Your Onkyo HT-RC360 is a receiver, right? You need the preamp voltage to drive the amp.
I looked at a pic of ur Onkyo and there is a RCA PRE OUT, SUBWOOFER OUT and a LINE OUT for zone 2. One of those should go to the amp INPUTS.
Are u using a subwoofer?
Is this ur Onkyo?
Why are you wiring the amp that way?
lowrider57: yes this is the correct link, it is a receiver.

The line 2 out only works for analog sources, which is not ideal but fine; but the main issue is that there is no volume control for line 2 out. The carver has no volume control either (only level knobs in the back). That's mostly what's driving me to wire this way.

So I found the line 2 out of the onkyo to be pretty useless, but I like everything else it offers (ipod connection, dolby decoding, etc)
I believe that if u use the PRE OUT L/R into the Carver there will be a significant increase in the performance of your system. (Use quality RCA cables). That Carver amp will then give clean, detailed sound with tons of power.
PREamp OUT would be the 2 purple RCA jacks.

I just looked at the diagram and read the manual. It appears that the 2 purple RCA jacks are intended only for subwoofers (2 of them). Surprisingly, there do not seem to be any pre-outs with a volume control. I would think it would be preferable to hook up the zone 2 output to another simple preamp or volume attenuator (unless you are willing to get rid of the Onkyo or replace the Carver with an integrated amp). Very strange.
yes, very strange there's no variable pre-out. maybe it's time to call Onkyo or the dealer.
Well, I owned the M1si version from 96-09. Very similar to the M1 I'm sure. They like lots of power due to the bipolar design. They fought me hard with the rear firing drivers compounding reflection issues but in the end they can be tamed. As for their strengths, big soundstage, large presence, pretty deep bass, and they sounded good at very loud levels. For pinpoint imagining and super sweet highs not as good. No doubt if the grill socks would come off I'm sure this could improve as whenever I'd vacuum the socks they would sound better. To improve your scenario I would get an actual preamp, not a reciever feeding your amp. I would surely make sure the room is'nt too echoey as this really kills the bipolar aspect. Good luck!
Thanks to all for you answers.

So I connected the Onkyo to the Carver via line-2 out, after turning the knobs on the back of the carver way down. I could only listen to radio in this setup, but it definitely feels like a veil has been lifted! It was the most striking when listening to a piano piece. Switching back and forth between the 2 setups (with or without speaker-to-line adapter) made clear that the adapter was the culprit.

Any recommendations for a good preamp to match the carver and the mirage? Ideally, I'd like it to have optical inputs. The budget would be up to 400. I mostly listen to 2 channels music. Thanks!
Good riddance to that spkr output/adapter setup.
With only a $400 preamp budget, start looking at the used stuff here and Audio Asylum Trader.
I think the Quicksilver line-stage used is a good value, but will cost a little more like $500/$600. I used one with with a Carver amp for a while with good results. No optical inputs though.

Good Luck!
Thanks all for your input. I have been looking around, and I see basically three ways I could go with this budget:

vintage tube gear: eg. arc sp2, or heathkit sp2 that are 25+ years old

new SS preamp : e.g. emotiva usp1

new chinese manufactured tube preamp: I had my eyes on the tubemagic d1 and tubedac11. (these also include a DAC, and have analog+digital inputs)

In terms of sound quality, is there an obvious winner among the three?
You could snag a brand new Emotiva USP-1 preamp for less than $400 delivered to your door:


This preamp has gotten very good reviews and Emo backs it up with a 30 day trial policy and a 5-year transferable warranty...

good advice from R1wainwright