What Pre/Pro do you recommend?


I am currently using a Rotel 1066 which has actually served me very well. However I'm considering upgrading to a more modern Pre/Pro with the latest and greatest amenities. My budget would probably max out at 3-4K used. My needs are bass management capabilities...I am using a VPI Scout 1.1 and a PS Audio phono preamp that I need to run through the new pre/pro...I also want the latest HDMI inputs and processing. I would also like to have balanced outs.

Any and all suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
krelldog
in your price range i'm familiar with the integra 80.3; the marantz 8801 also gets raves, though i haven't heard it. to be frank, however, i'd only buy used--these pre/pros depreciate very steeply very quickly as the latest-and-greatest codecs and such rapidly become obsolete.
Have you considered using an Oppo 105 as processor and bass manager along with a high quality analog preamp? Analog preamps tend to be stable, whereas, as the previous post suggests, processors become outdated with technical developments. I'd put my money into an analog preamp and economize on the processor. I've had good experience buying used equipment, mostly from Audiogon listings. If you go the Oppo route, be sure to use the analog stereo output; you can pass that through a preamp for source control. I use a Parasound JC-2 BP preamp. I think you might find both a used JC-2 and 105 within your expense limit.

db
How important is music vs ht?
Zd542....Music is way more important. Especially optimizing the sound for my TT. Although I do want at least 5.1 abilities for movies and concerts.

Dbphd....The Oppo 105 achieves processing and bass management?
Maybe thats worth exploring.

Any and all comments are appreciated. Thank You
I would suggest researching Bryston . SP 1.7 and SP2 pre / pro's . With them you get a high emphasis on the two channel aspect as well as the extra decoding for movies / tv .
"03-20-15: Krelldog
Zd542....Music is way more important. Especially optimizing the sound for my TT. Although I do want at least 5.1 abilities for movies and concerts."

Looking at the other components in your system, I think there's a better option for you. Keep your Rotel at least for now, and get a really good 2 channel preamp with a HT pass through. Your whole system will just open up like you've never heard it before. HT preamps are notorious for falling short when it comes to 2 channel. If you go that route, its an expensive, uphill battle. For comparison, I've had some pretty high end HT processors. The best ones were a Meridian 861 and a Classe SSP-75, and they were both easily outperformed by preamps in the $2000 to $3000 price range.
For comparison, I've had some pretty high end HT processors. The best ones were a Meridian 861 and a Classe SSP-75, and they were both easily outperformed by preamps in the $2000 to $3000 price range.

Zd542....Out of curiosity..which 2 channel pre-amps are you referring to?
"Zd542....Out of curiosity..which 2 channel pre-amps are you referring to?"

I'm not. That's a choice you have to make. Its too important to mess up.
The Parasound JC-2 gets an A rating in Stereophile's recommended components and dollar signs for exceptional value. If you bought a used one without bypass (JC-2 BP), Parasound can addd that capability for $500, IIRC, for unity gain through selected channels of the preamp. For surround and HT, the Oppo controls the volume.

The Oppo 105 does speaker and bass management, with an easy menu.

db
Emotiva XMC-1: $1995, Dirac room correction, fully balanced, 5 year warranty, 30 day in-home trial. Check it out...

-RW-
Guys, we all have recommendations, but like Z said, he has to figure it out. There are a ton of great options used that have pass throughs and sound great for what he wants to accomplish. I redid my system last year and was going to go the 5.2 route, but when I went to listen I couldn't find anything that even came close to a decent 2 channel set up and I just didn't want to go the separate processor route. Since you like to have that set up, going with a 2 channel pre with HT pass lets you save money when you want to upgrade your processor. Go give some pre amps a listen and let us know what you think sounds good to you.
Based on the picture of your room (fairly narrow and low ceiling), room modes will become an issue at higher frequencies than in larger rooms. So even with music you'll likely have problems. You can find room mode calculators online; there's an Excel spreadsheet at Harman's site. If I had your room, I'd consider products providing room mode correction.

In my opinion, the downside of an analog 2-channel system, even more so in your room, is not having bass management. Even the Oppo suggestion, which doesn't provide room mode correction, gets you bass management (which could help with room modes).
I suspect the idea of going out and listening to a bunch of processors is over-rated, unless you can take each home in install it in your setup for a good insitu evaluation.

db
Not so much overrated as impractical. The demos do not have to be in your own room/system but, to be informing, in the same room/system, as with any component.

As for the various roomEQ options, that can be assessed more objectively by reading reviews/measurements of their capabilities and usability.
"03-21-15: Bob_reynolds
Based on the picture of your room (fairly narrow and low ceiling), room modes will become an issue at higher frequencies than in larger rooms. So even with music you'll likely have problems. You can find room mode calculators online; there's an Excel spreadsheet at Harman's site. If I had your room, I'd consider products providing room mode correction.

In my opinion, the downside of an analog 2-channel system, even more so in your room, is not having bass management. Even the Oppo suggestion, which doesn't provide room mode correction, gets you bass management (which could help with room modes)."

Yes, but like all your other posts, you're just guessing. The thought of not getting a 2 channel preamp because it doesn't have bass management is absurd. Why don't you bring up all that you will be missing if you use a HT processor over a stereo preamp?

We've been down this road now a few times and you always say that I have something against you personally. That's not true. You just don't know what you're doing. You can't look at a spec sheet and tell how something is going to sound. To be fair, the last time we got into this I took your quote and started a thread to keep my personal opinion out of it. Out of all the people that responded, I don't think anyone sided with your point of view. Is that no clear enough for you? What is it that you think you know that no one else here knows?
I agree with Z on this. It's not even about anyones ear being different.
Clarification: I already have bass management through the Rotel 1066. I'm very happy with the sound using my Martin Logan Depth Sub...thats the reason I wanted my next pre-amp to have bass management....it would be a bonus if the next pre-amp/pre pro had balanced outs since the Mono's I'm using now have balanced in's.

I'm curious..is high end 2 channel achievable using a high end sub with bass management through a pre-pro? I know this is subjective...but what are the opinions regarding this?
Marantz, Onkyo and Integra have models that provide balanced outputs and with Audyssey MultEQ XT32.

Krelldog, you have a nice sub. It'd be a shame to not take advantage of it with music; thus, my previous post. Just my opinion, but I think room mode correction outweighs any negatives regarding pre/pros in general. I've been satisfied with the switch from analog 2-channel to digital 2.2 channel via Integra and Marantz pre/pros.
"I'm curious..is high end 2 channel achievable using a high end sub with bass management through a pre-pro? I know this is subjective...but what are the opinions regarding this?
Krelldog (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)"

It's not the sub that's the problem, its the preamp. You need to consider everything that a high quality 2 channel preamp can do for the sound that a HT processor can't. It's an almost impossible task. In my other post, I mentioned my Meridian 861 processor. That's a $20,000 HT preamp, and is considered one of the best on the market. My CJ Premiere 18 ($4,000) and my Ayre K-5 ($3500), made that thing look like a joke on music. And that was with the matching 800 $20,000 DVD player. I didn't even use that with the 2 channel setup. I used a Rotel 1072 ($700), an Arcam 33 ($2500) and 2 Wadia's that were more expensive, but no where near 20k. Not even close.

So can you use a sub in a high end 2 channel system? Yes you can. Use a preamp that doesn't have bass management. Set it up yourself and you'll get better results. And that's even if you want it. If you make the move to 2 channel correctly, the SQ will improve so much, you may not have the desire to even use a sub in the system.
So you are happy with your system for video however want to improve it for audio. I agree with Zd, a 2 channel pre with HT would serve you well. Also as Zd stated, you might find that for music you don’t need the sub.
The thread starter wanted something with HDMI inputs and modern processing as well as 2 channel audio. Just because one poster owns a $20,000 processor that sucks, that's no reason to give up on one's goals.
Runnin.....Your observation is spot on. I'm hoping to upgrade the pre/pro and add HDMI inputs...

Does anyone have any experience with the Cary Cinema 12?
" Just because one poster owns a $20,000 processor that sucks, that's no reason to give up on one's goals.
Runnin (Threads | Answers | This Thread)"

How is comparing multiple options giving up on one's goals? The silly part is, had you read my post, you would see that I used a 20k processor for comparison between products that cost less than 1/4 of my Meridian. Just to be clear, I'll try to say the same thing in simpler terms.

20k HT preamp not worth the money. 2 channel preamp will give better sound for much less. If you don't understand that, I no idea what else I can say.
Sorry Krelldog, Runnin remained focused on your needs. That said, the 2-channel Pre with HT remains a viable option for someone trying to improve a HT system for music purposed one the HT system is positioned to satisfy.
The Cary Cinema 11a combined fine sound quality with some digital bugs, namely noisy HDMI link-ups and an automated setup that gave spurious results -- the manual recommended a tape measure and SPL meter. It permits setting crossovers for speakers individually and the bass management seems a bit superior to that of the Oppo 105. The owners' panel at AVS was very vociferous about its foibles, so I'd check there to see if there's Cary Cinema 12 owners' thread.

FWIW, I sold my original 11a and recently bought another.

db
You might find it worthwhile to read through Kal's Stereophile column. He has evaluated many of the available pre/pros and accumulated a wealth of information regarding room correction systems.

http://www.stereophile.com/taxonomy/term-p/154
I still think your best option is a pre with pass through so you can get the best of both worlds. Just a thought.
Ctsooner.....I appreciate the response....can you give me a couple examples of the preamps your talking about?

Thanks
Your in luck to be looking for a pre/pro with the release of the Marantz 8802 and seeing its right in your budget , I would hesitate to get one. I have had it in my setup for a week , it replaced an oppo 105 and Marantz 8801 and the sound is extremely pure ,dynamic and it has an incredibly low noise floor, its only been a week but this thing is beginning to sound great and not many will like what I'm about to say here but Marantz tweaked the inputs for digital and jitter is a non issue and the sound is better than my Oppo 105 direct to my Halo A21 for 2/ch!
@Jdub39, I had a Emotiva UMC200 that sounded killer compared to my old oppo 105. I did sell them both and bought a 103 strictly for video HDMI.
Marantz made a point on emphasizing what they did concerning jitter , I really can't believe how good it sounds, I sold my Oppo 105 as well and replaced it with a Marantz UD5007 to use as a transport. I did plan to get the 103D but didn't need the additional features and price, plus it makes nosense to spend that much when the new 4k players are around the corner. I must say though that the UD5007 is a fantastic player with picture quality on par with the 105 a has solid construction and good looks!
Krelldog,

I know that I said in my other post that I wouldn't give you any recommendations because choosing a preamp is a personal choice. That said, it looks like you are about to jump off a cliff here and get stuck with some HT processor that may be a little better than what you have now. But I wouldn't even assume that. Rotel makes some very respectable gear, and for music it will probably sound just as good, if not better than most of the processors discussed here so far.

Here's 2 recommendations for you. The first is a Wyerd 4 Sound STP-SE. Its a fully balanced preamp that operates in both passive and active modes. Having the option to run passive is a feature that, in most cases, allows a relatively inexpensive preamp to compete sonically with active units that cost far more. It also has a HT bypass mode that allows you to put into your system without altering it in any way. You'll be under budget also, because it goes for $2000. The other unit is a Rogue RP-5. This preamp uses tubes. I don't know if you are open to that but some people will only listen to tubes. It also has a HT bypass feature. It costs more than my first recommendation, but tube products, as a general rule, usually cost more than equivalent solid state. It goes for %3500.

There are many more preamp choices out there for you as well, but I selected these 2 based on how well they will sound for the money, and how well they will integrate in your system.

Just to be clear, the main reason I'm recommending these 2 preamps, is to get better sound quality for 2 channel music. If you go with a new processor, it could sound a little better than what you have now, or maybe a little worse. But I would expect the SQ to be close to what you currently have. If you go with one of the preamps I recommended above, or something similar from another brand, the sound of your system will be completely transformed. It won't be a subtle change. Also, I'm basing my comments on real experiences. I don't get my listening experience by reading magazine articles. I do this for real.

I hope this info can help you out.
As a followup to the post of Zd542: The sound quality with Cary Cinema 11a is very fine. But when I moved the analog XLR output of a Sony XA5400ES from the Cary to the Parasound JC-2 BP, it was as though a veil had been lifted when playing DSD. Currently I'm running the Sony via HDMI to the Cary for surround DSD, but it doesn't sound quite as good as it did in stereo through the JC-2 BP.

db
Dbphd.....Thanks for such a thorough explanation. I appreciate your perspective.
Woops...My last post was directed at Zd542...although I do appreciate everyones input.
I know the Ayre AX 7e I'm selling has pass through and I think their pre's do also. You can always find a good one on AG. If you just go to a few of the well known manufacturer sites they will put it in their info.

I know that many are in love with the Marantz or NAD's of the world and I own both brands and have for years, however not for my 2 channel listening. they just aren't made for the highest quality sound and that's what you said you are after.

I just spent a ton of money on a new 2 channel system and my friends who listen to it feel that it sounds much better than their own multi channel systems and they spent even more than I did. The more things you add to a component the more difficult and expensive it is to implement. I think I said that correctly.
"03-26-15: Ctsooner
I know the Ayre AX 7e I'm selling has pass through and I think their pre's do also. You can always find a good one on AG. If you just go to a few of the well known manufacturer sites they will put it in their info. "

Someone must have spiked my froot loops. How I missed recommending the Ayre K-5 is beyond belief.
Thanks Z, I was in shock when I didn't see you mention it. Personally with what a used one is going for, I think it's the best bet for what he wants to do. K-5xe fits everything he's looking for, plus to many of us, it sounds incredible and is a very serious component.
Wow, how convenient, maybe krelldog can buy the Ayre you're trying to sell on this thread.
Yea, or maybe they can find something else they like that they can hear first. I'll have no problems selling the the Ayre once I get serious about doing so.
Or maybe better Krelldog can just go get a great pass through preamp as that's where his head seems to be at.

Runnin, sorry if I ruffled your feathers. I don't really have a filter and just post on here for fun. When I'm ready I'll buy an ad, promise.
Ruffle my feathers? Do as you please, big C, just sometimes you'll have to try a little harder.
Krell, when I was looking at preamps I noticed that a few of the good ones have the pass through now. You should have no problems finding one you really like the sound of for your system. Most folks have no idea how important a great preamp really is. I asked a dealer friend of mine who sells a ton of HT including Meridian if he ever heard a pre/pro that he likes. He laughed and said no way.