I highly recommend the Integra 9.8/9.9 processor.
See my comments on the current thread Integra any good and this link www.stereophile.com/hirezplaye...
In a nutshell: supports all the SOTA standards and is likely to meet all your needs for quite awhile since the industry has not caught up on the software side.
Audyssey EQ is fast, EZ to use and sounds amazing. Can't imagine doing HT without it.
GUI is well thought out and the manual is a model of clarity which is unusual in the genre - especially given the flexibility of the unit.
It is solidly built and impeccably finished in that very special Japanese hi-end receiver way (Integra is Onkyos flagship high end brand.) And my personal bias is that no one handles integrating all this technology like the best Japanese companies - certainly nowhere near the price point.
Most important it works really well. It sounds and video looks very good - nothing I am aware of comes close for the money.
Try my links:
Integra makes really, really good amplification. A few years ago, it surprisingly drove my CS5's about as well as I could want, without spending mega bucks. I compared it to many other pieces. They were hard to drive, dropping to below 2 ohms at about 70Hz as I recall.
As to processors, the Lexicon is very good, and the Receiver is good, as it's a Bryston design. I like the Lexicon, as their home products are a small portion of their efforts, with most of their focus being on studio work, at least it has been. They create the algorythms for delays, echo, etc, so I was told, and therefore know how to pull that apart very well.
B&K made, don't know if they still do, an excellent receiver.
Also, just wondering...given the price of labor in China, are the Japanese shifting any of their mfg to China these days. I don't know...
Wouldn't that be odd? Or, maybe not.
I've had the Integra 9.8, the Anthem D2 and the newly released Cary 11a which retails for $3500. The former two have integrated video sections for scaling and distribution of the video signal and are somewhat more feature rich.
The Cary 11a, however imo, sounds the best of the 3 in terms of 2 channel by-pass and HT. Again, imo, the other two were somewhat sterile although very clear sounding.
The Cary 11a is just the audio pre/pro and does not contain video processing; it will pass a HDMI signal to your TV and of course accept HDMI for lossless decoding by the unit. It had some initial issues upon release but I belive those have been resolved with the recent software update.
My 2 cents.
Hi Nick, since cary 11a does not contain video processing, does it mean I need a video processor like cary 11v? Is interested in cary 11a but isnt sure of the configuration I needed. thks
No. The Cary Cinema 11a will pull off the audio and output the video without further processing. Whether you need an external video processor (as provided with the Cinema 11v) will depend on your video needs. For example, I would not bother.
Kal, depending on my video needs ? Currently gears are as such: multichannel amp Halcro mc50 for centre and surround and rear speakers, CJ350 amp for the front channel speakers thru CJ ACT 2.2 preamp HT bypass. Probably will use PS3 bluray simply because none of the bluray play which can decode DTS MA and dolby trueHD is available in Malaysia. So if I use cary 11a as my processor is it fine or would I be better off buying onkyo processor or the highly acclaimed integra 9.8 ? Feedback appreciated. thanks
Depends on your video needs. The Cary will pass the video to your display just fine. However, for non-BluRay materials, i.e., DVD, TV, etc, many people prefer to have a video processor to enhance/optimize video performance. If you are one of these, you would have to add a video processor to the Cary 11a or, alternatively, buy a pre/pro that incorporates video processing, like the Onkyo/Integra.
I am sure that the Cary is a fine unit. But there is no comparison in functionality to the Integra. Essentially the only reason to buy the Cary is because you value sound quality above a carefully integrated tool for creating a home theater experience.
Here is my personal hierarchy of HT needs
It must be SOTA so it must support HDMI 1.3 (ideally 1.3b) The current Cary does some form of 1.3 - an older Cary may not as this is a new (2007-8) standard.
The first function of a pre/pro is to serve as the central signal switcher so that you are switching audio and video together in the digital domain.
In this regard, the Cary is also a bit limited. It has two (2) HDMI inputs which I consider to be a significant limitation since any source you buy going forward will most likely be HDMI. The Cary has one HDMI output which may or may not be workable in your situation.
Next you need to make sure that the pre/pro can decode all the newest audio formats which the Cary certainly can.
I agree with Kr4 - given the current state of technology, the video processing is not that important because on the whole there is nothing the pre/pro can do that an HDMI source and HDMI/HD monitor can't do.
BUT The video processing becomes much more important if you have legacy sources like laser disc, VHS and it being Malaysia (dunno) 480 television sources. Then the ability to uprez (scale) in the processor becomes important.
The Cary has zero capabilities in this regard - it is audio only. This also means that you are giving up the option to adjust the video output (if you choose or need to) to optimize the picture on your big Mits.
Finally, given the his and hers collection of gear you two are starting with (and the attendant questions about hyow resolving it really is), I have to ask if a slight improvement in audio is the best way to spend your money to upgrade your HT experience.
Well I was considering the Halcro SSP220 which came highly recommended from the guy I bought the Halcro MC50. However it doesnt decode the latest codec internally and I need to get a bluray player that decode it internally. I wonder whether its wise and whether it make any difference whether the latest codec is decode by the processor or the bluray. Thks the feedback thus far
It makes no difference if decoded in the player or the processor.
Kal is correct - theoretically the decoding should be identical wherever it takes place.
BUT - and this was huge for me - by decoding at the pre/pro you only need one (1) HDMI cable from the BD to the pre. And that cable carries both 7.1 audio and 1080p video
If you decode 7.1 at the BD you then need 10 cables, three component video and 7 audio. Now you are stuck with all the traditional painful choices about how good those cables have to be to preserve that pristine sound you just decoded...
A lot of people could easily spend more on the ten cables then the pre/pro. To say nothing of the mess if you have more then one multichannel source.
To me the elegance of HDMI cabling is a big part of the equation...
Sorry, Ckorody, what you are saying is not entirely true. If you decode from TrueHD/dtsMA to PCM, it does not matter where you do it. Either way, only one HDMI cable is needed since the data is still digital.
If we were speaking of doing the D/A conversion in the player, you would be correct in saying that multiple analog audio cables would be needed.
Kal - agreed - however Audioblazers questioned was do I decode in my BD player or do I replace my pre/pro so I can use it for decoding.
Given the decision he is trying to make and the fact that one can decode at either end (ie neither solution is "better"), I think that the cabling implications of this decision are important to consider.
Hi Kal and Ckorody thanks for your feedback. What is your opinion of using a processor like halcro ssp 220 who does not decode latest codec but combine it with bluray which decode the latest codec and output via PCM. Anybody has tried Marantz 8003? How do you like it?
I am sure that the Halcro will work fine.
Suggest you look at the Panasonic 30,35,50 and 55 or the Sony S550 for bang for the buck.
Haven't heard the Marantz but they have had an excellent rep for a long time. Looking at the spec sheet the main difference seems to be that the Marantz has an Anchor Bay video processor which is newer then the Reon in the Integra.
FWIW Oppo's highly acclaimed 583 also uses Anchor Bay technology. However as I have discussed elsewhere, unless you have legacy sources like a nonupsampling DVD, a VHS deck or a Laser Disc player you will probably never use the technology.
Other then that, I suspect that the Integra and the Marantz are probably close enough in performance and features that price is a reasonable deciding factor. Put another way its not at all clear to me what makes it worth twice as much as a 9.8
IMHO you would be better served to invest the difference in HDMI sources.
Integra had Audyssey MultEQ XT with the option of using the AudysseyPro software.
Marantz has the less potent MultEQ.
Looks like it will be integra 9.8 then. Got to source a 240v version online as integra is not available where I come from. Thks for the feedbacks thus far. Happy listening
Looks like it will be integra 9.8 then. Got to source a 240v version online as integra is not available where I come from.
Ckorody, definitely considering panasonic bd55. Waiting for it to crawl to Malaysia. We are at least 6-9months behind in selling such stuffs.
Thks for the feedbacks thus far. Happy listening
A bit more background on KR4s point -
AudysseyPro software can only be accessed and implemented by a certified Audyssey installer - think of it as an ISF calibration for your sound. Supposedly adds considerably to what one can accomplish with the built in device since it uses a better mike, takes more readings etc. But it is not inexpensive - I think about $350-450. Hope to do it someday just to see. I suspect it will be a long, long time until one of these guys get to Malaysia LOL
To KR4s point, not all Audyssey equipped devices are Pro capable.
This is because Audyssey is a third party technology that is licensed to the OEMs (original equipment manufacturer like Integra). Some buy more of the technology and pay a higher license fee per unit, some buy less. Depends on whether the OEM's strategy is to compete on bells and whistles or on price.
ALSO looking ahead - and sorry this is not the case with the 9.8 - some of the manufacturers are designed their gear so one can upgrade the Audyssey feature set as new capabilities are introduced.
All Audyssey implementations are also limited by the amount of DSP the OEM is willing to put in the device. Some high(er)-end products have lesser and limited versions because the OEM was not willing to pay for the hardware.
Also, since it is unlikely that trained Pro installers are available everywhere, Audyssey has seen fit to sell the Pro kit to end users, something that I would like to see made more common. I use the Pro kit and prefer that to having anyone come to my home every time I change something. Cost aside, of course.
(BTW, speaking only for me, the new add-ons for Audyssey are not of interest but others will differ.)