Which Pre/Pro regardless of $$$

The more I read about, or shop for a Preamp/Processor, the longer the list is getting. I currently have
* Sony TA-E9000ES
* Parasound amps (220W x 5)
and want to upgrade the whole system:
I've started with speakers...

*** (1st part of upgrade) JM LAB 936 Electra Speakers w/matching center(c901) and surrounds (906).
Now I need my pre/pro.
Want to achieve a system that will shine for both Movies and Music.
However, since I already have a dedicated 2ch system; if I had to choose music vs. movie performance in this system, I would give the nod "slightly" towards movie performance .

On my list (so far)....
* Bryston SP1.7
* EAD TM 8000 (is their a sound benefit w/ the PRO version ?? will the new 8800 be worth wait/$$ ??)
* Krell HTS 7.1 (does this model still "pop" when locking onto a digital source ?, does it still miss the first few seconds of sound from cd/dvd while locking onto digital source? I ask only because the older HTS models had this problem)
* Tag Mclaren AV32R bp-192
* Lexicon MC-8B

I've already auditioned Sunfire, Anthem, and Aragon; and am working on the above. I would like (and appreciate)feedback and/or recommendations on any of the Pre/Pro's listed above.

I would like
* Analog pass-thru for SACD/DVD-A
* Bass Management (for the SACD/DVD-A as well; if possible)
* DPLII, DTS,DD, etc.., etc..
* The ability to listen to stereo sources with the Front L/R main speakers set to Large and still be able to use (or not use) the sub when I want.
**** MOST IMPORTANT - Excellent SOUND !!!!

Mark Levinson No. 40.
For reasons having to do with product support, you'll probably want to remove Tag Mclaren from your list of candidates. Sean
You may also wish to consider the Linn Kisto.
Remove the Tag, they've stopped developement of new products.

I have an EAD Signature, which is definitely one of the most natural sounding with dialog, and the easy setup with the microphone that is included sets phase, speaker distances (delay) and volume levels. Plus it stores multiple system setups (store/recall feature), Movies use a sub in my system, CD uses the left/right full range without a sub (you could use it with a sub). The sub crossover is adjustable and down to 50hz! but only one sub out on the older version. The other really key item is each speaker can be crossed over to the sub and/or rolled off (big/small)... ultimate in flexiblity, so many do not let you set these items. The EAD uses Vishay resisters and they do make physical noise periodically when ramping up volume but not big deal since the resulting quality from this design is outstanding! This is truely a very musical preamp.

Krell/Classe have always enhanced the harshness of soundtracks in my opinion.

Lexicon has always done a good job of doing multichannel music! The EAD just beat it in 2-channel mode and that is what was important to me when I had only one system for two functions.
I vote for EAD TM 8000.
I own the EAD TheaterMaster Ovation (older version of EAD TM 8000)and I love it.
It does best on home theater and 2 channels music.
Happy Hunting.
I have an EAD TM8000 pro. I actually added this to my 2 channel setup for home theater and preserved the 2 channel path which includes a Wadia Transport, digital Lens, TacT RCS 2.0s, dCS Purcell/Delius, and Placette dual mono preamp. The EAD TM8000 is so outstanding I'm beginning if I need to preserve the isolated path for 2channel. I'd definitely go with the EAD over the others you mentioned.
You should at least audition the Classe SSP-60. I have an SSP-75 and I don't have the harshness problem Cytocycle mentioned. The -75 is very good at sonics, and reportedly the -60 is in the same league - on the other hand the -60, being a much newer model, has the 7ch etc. (My 75 does not handle the sub as you desire, though. Not sure about a 60.)
Check out the review of the Parasound Halo c1 in Widescreen Review.
The c2 can be had new for around 3200.00 and offers the same sonics as the c1.
Widescreen Review is one rag that is not afraid to say what they think and they have had very negative comments about popular amplifiers from Canada as well as England that other rags praise.
They also have commented on Sacd's sonic advantage over dvd-a when other rags were/are fence sitting wimps.
In other words, you can take there reviews with 2 grains of salt instead of the usual 1.
i'm relatively new to this forum, but does the theta casablanca fit in this picture?
Yes, the Theta is a very good unit. So is the top-of-the-line Lexicon, although I wasn't too impressed with one of the lower models.
I had just sold my TAG AV32R and got the new Dual Processor, very good, but as they are going down, returned it and got a Krell Showcase instead, because it also has digital parametric equalization, a must for any room that is not fully treated acoustically...

No more "pops", and it sounds very dynamic, still no grain or harshness, the standard 7.1 has better pre-amp and is hardware upgradeable, but twice the price...

No processor that I know will do bass management for SACD, until they have digital links and processing...
ML NO.40 excellent A/V performance and very convenient to setup and adjust
I compared many pre/pros before settling on the Bryston. It easily beat Krell(showcase), Rotel(1066), Integra(RD7 I think), B & K (Ref30 and 50), Sunfire(TG3), and Acurus. The Classe SSP-30 was very close. My decision was based on 2 channel performance.

The big Krell and Classe were out of my price range, while I didnt check out the Classe, I have heard the Krell and it sounded very good.

The Bryston gives you the option to play 2 channel pure (analog w/ no sub) via its piggybacked analog preamp. Or, in stereo w/ sub via its DSP. It was this analog section that, I feel, gave it the advantage over the others.

You can easily see that my comparison was not "money no object," But nontheless, I hope the info helps.
Regardless of price? the Meridian 861 is certainly among the best available.
The Showcase has those options too, did you try an used unit, they sound lousy until they work at least 50 hours, even more...

The difference in sound quality to the "big" Krell, (they share the case, chips and much more), is not supposed to be that much...

Having said that, I have Bryston powers, and wanted to listen to the SP1.7, but the local distributor doesn´t have any demos...
I'm down with Meridian. Maybe not as many setup options for sacd etc.--but,for sound quality you don't have to spend for an 861 to beat anything listed above. (568, or 568.2)

I agree on the 568 (and .2) If you look at my system, you'll see that's what I have. Since the thread title said "regardless of price" I figued that Capnizzy had so much money, it didn't matter to him. (unlike us mere mortals). ;-)
Wowza !!!
Thanks for all of the input !!! It is very much appreciated!
I guess my title was a bit misleading. I am just a mere mortal when it comes to $$$ also (johnmcelfresh) : )
Out of the pre/pro's I was considering, I wanted input on performance only. The reason being; if the Krell HTS7.1 was the best of the pre/pro's performance wise... I wanted to know that. I didn't want feedback such as... "I was considering the Krell, but at more than twice the cost of "xyz" pre/pro... I am happy with what "xyz" does in it's price range "
Those type of posts, tell me nothing about the true performance of a piece of equipment. If the post said "xyz" gives you 95% of the Krell HTS7.1 performance with music & movies; such as it's imaging, tonality, etc,etc.. at 50% of the cost." Now that's a statement.
In short, I guess I just want to know what people have experienced with certain components in regards to performance first. Then I can decide if the money is worth the difference, or buy used vs. new, or take advantage of Krells $3k incentive towards an HTS7.1 (which puts that piece in my range, that otherwise (at 8K) would have been out of my reach. Or a used Lex MC-8B, or new Bryston...

Thanks again Audiogon'rs !!!!

DISTORTION: You said you heard both the Krell Showcase and HTS7.1. You decided on the Bryston because it "easily beat the Krell Showcase" among others. Do you feel the Bryston was still better than the HTS7.1 ???
I figured out how to add my system to the forum...
Capnizzy, 2 channel was my main consideration.

I only heard the HTS 7.1 instore. Clearly not the best place for a comparison. It was out of my price range as well. I set a limit at at about $3750.00 for a new unit. (The Bryston was 3500.00 Shipped with a CC payment)

From what I heard, the HTS7.1 was a fine unit.

Having compared more than a few processors and a few dedicated 2 channel preamps, I must say that I am quite impressed with the Bryston.

It does have that irritating pop when watching DVDs, especially if, in the beginning, when going from preview to menu and so forth, the sound engineer keeps swapping formats. Also at the layer change. I found all the more expensive units locked signal fast, and are just as quick to unlock, and so have a tendencey to pop. Not really a concern for me at 90% music to movies ratio.

Bryston has NO video switching, you have to buy a seperate video switcher for that. This I like, you may not.

I would definately give it a listen if you can, but to answer your question "is it better." Thats very relative, better to you may not be better for me. I would recommend you give Krell, Classe, Sunfire, and EAD among others a listen. I was quite impressed with all these makes. In home if you can.

I hope I have been helpful.
Distortion- which 2 ch preamps did you compare?

Re: HTS7.1, my dealer (who does not upsell AT ALL) says the 7.1 is light years better sounding than the showcase. It's all in the discrete output stages apparently, which are based on the KCT preamp.

My recommendation is get a sub 2k pre/pro (B&K, whatever), and a dynamite 2 ch preamp for the best of everything.

Only a few direct comparisons. I admit that I decided previously, on a one box solution. I feel that we will better serve Capnizzy by keeping our discussions to Processors. But to satisfy your curiosity, Adcom, Conrad Johnson, Bryston, B & K, Krell, Aragon, Audio Research, Rowland, Marsh, Pass, and some others, were all available for demo.

Ultimately it was the Processors that went home for evaluation. I had shortened my list, before I started getting serious. I wouldnt want to burden a dealer by toting home Preamps knowing that I am looking for a Processor. Although it would have been fun.

I agree about the Krell HTS, it sounded really nice, but only in passing. I wasnt going torture myself. I knew I couldnt afford it, and that was that.

I also agree that piggybacking a preamp is a great solution and probably has the greatest chance for the best sound, in 2 channel at least.
I guess the dealer has to say that, otherwise how could he justify twice the price with same chips, etc... ;)
I talked to a Parasound halo c2 owner on the avs forums that had both the Bryston and the c2 for in home evaluation.
He said the Bryston was a very good pre/pro but that the c2 was superior in dd/dts, whith more extention of the extremes and a slightly better sounding analog bypass.

I will have mine in a week or so for 3098.00 delivered and will do my own comparison with a friends sp 1.7.

A better place to get pre/pro info than a-gon is www.avsforum.com
There is a c2 thread with 90+ posts for instance with comparisons to EAD,Bryston,Proceed,classe,Sunfire,Anthem ect, and in every comparison, the c2 is the winner.
The Bryston 1.7,Classe 60 and Parasound halo c2 were the last on my list with the best looking by far, being the c2.

The dealer I am buying from, says the c1 and 2 which are identical sonically,compete with the Krells, which they also sell.
Capnizzy, I forgot to ask in my earlier post. How do you like the EAD so far? I have heard all good things about them.
I didnt audition the Parasounds. I found once I read up on them that I had a few nitpicks. That and I dont have a dealer nearby.

My first nitpick was S/N ratio in analog mode, only 98db. Second was, all inputs flow through the DSP. Its a fine DSP, as a matter of fact the same as mine. A Motorola 56367. But a DSP is a DSP and I dont want my bypassed analog going through it. Finally, I dont much like tone controls. I know I know...I said nitpicks and thats all they are.

I have heard a ton of good things about these units. Maybe I should have given one a try.

Please let us know how you like it.
The parasound c2 has analog pass thru via the 7.1 inputs or balanced inputs for stereo.
The multi channel analog is 107 db s/n and even the volume control is analog.
This is the connection I would use.

Beleive me I have researched this and there is no re-digitzing in the analog bypass in the Bryston or c2.

This is the first question I have asked many owners.

Turns out the guy that gave me the latest comparison between the Bryston and the c2 is a dealer for both as he offered to beat any price on either hmmmm.
Pre/pro decisions are a lot of work imho.
I have owned the Aragon Soundstage and Stage One and now the Krell HTS 7.1.(Which I purchased with the help of the special offer.) There is a definite improvement in all aspects of 2 channel and HT with the Krell. I would say that the Aragon gives 80-85% of the performance of the Krell at half the price. It is also a little bit easier to set up.
Ears, I have multiple sources, so being limited to one input was not an option. I found on a previous Rotel Processor that I liked the analog pass of the 5.1 input, and from that rose the conundrum, CD player? DAC? SACD 5.1? or SACD 2 channel? I didnt want to be limited again.

Research or not, passing a signal through the DSP absolutely effects the sound. It was as night and day switching from a DSP processor to an inexpensive BP-20 preamp. Dynamics in particular were severely effected at low volumes.

Seriously though, their your ears , let them decide. Every one has different taste so what works for me may not for someone else, of course that obvious. Not to mention synergy of components and cabling. I did really like the balanced inputs on the C2.
I just wanted to clear up the re-digitizing of the pass thru.
The trim controls and analog volume only, are in the chain.
The 2 and multi channel sacd are run through the 7.1 inputs so there taken care of.
A stand alone cd player could be plugged into the balanced inputs.
The Bryston and most other pre/pros have the same problem [not for me] with limited ic's.
As far as the sonics on any pre/pro comparing to a quality 2 channel pre, I have my doubts,this is why I will only spend around 3k for a pre/pro to begin with.
Ears, the parasound manual, which is at my house so I cant reference it at the moment, explains that only one input bypasses the DSP and that was Multichannel. All other inputs, balanced or SE, pass through the DSP. Tone(trim) adjustsments are handled by the DSP. Thus eliminating analog only. I can offer this however, the Motorola 56367 is an awesome chip, and offers the cleanest DSP I have heard to date.

Also this can be tricky, some SACD/DVD-A players have multiple outputs. When outputing a multichannel format they obviously use the multichannel outs, but, the same format may use the 2 channel outs for all 2 channel material. e.g. I have 8 SE cables from SACD to Processor, 6 for 5.1, and 2 for 2 channel. My unit will automatically send 2 channel SACD material down the 2 channel outs, not the 5.1 outs.

Since my primary concern was flexability with analog bypass, I wanted a Processor which allows me to "analog bypass" all the 2 channel inputs. Thus effectively becoming an analog 2 channel preamp, Bryston goes so far as to provide each section, analog and digital, their own dedicated toroidal power supplies. I suspect thats where the very black backgrounds and impressive dynamics arise.

Bryston literature is a little ambigious about "analog bypass" with the multichannel input. They do call it a "bypass" but, I suspect it doesnt "bypass" the DSP because you have sub control in multichannel. It gets a little fuzzy from here....you can attenuate the sub but not change its Xover, I bet that attenuation is handled via the DSP. This may be an advantage to Parasound(my old Rotel RSP-976 was the same as the Para in this respect). It's fine by me since I listen to most SACDs 2 channel layer regardless.

Anywho, we surely are getting into the details arent we? which I thoroughly enjoy =).
This could be the best pre/pro regardless of price.
If you are charitable and have a big budget, check this out.

Ebay auction 304 2895 736
I don't gennerally use e bay but this is special.
This discussion made me wonder, so I went and checked. The Classe SSP75 and SSP60 are basically two channel preamps built into the same box as an AV pre/pro. All of the 2-channel inputs (including the balanced 2-ch input), as well as the 5.1 bypass, go straight through and are affected by only the volume control. There are no A/D - D/A conversions in those paths. The digital inputs, of course, go through the whole circuit.
Capnizzy, how did you like the EAD? Dont leave us hanging =).
I recently had the pleasure of auditioning both the Krell HTS 7.1 and EAD TM8000Pro in my home. All I can say is "WOWZA" these are both terrific pre/pro's. However, I do believe they are different in many ways... which in the end is purely individual taste. Both are quality built with excellent sound. I found the EAD to be a bit smoother, and a tad less detailed than the Krell. Set-up is MUCH easier with the EAD because of the calibration mic. However, if you need to alter the sound in anyway, the Krell wins because of the EQ. Again, the Krell is fantastically detailed, huge soundstage, great imaging. The Krell has balanced outs for all channels where as the EAD only has balanced outs for the Front L&R channels. The Krell can be operated a bit easier from the front panel / The EAD is very limited in this category. If ergonomics/features are of no concern, the EAD is a warmer sounding, more forgiving of bad material type processor. The Krell is detailed, detailed, detailed. In no way harsh, but very revealing of source material. My choice in the end depended on the speakers I have.
With my Dynaudio Contour 3.3's I liked the Krell more.
With my JMLab Electra 936's (extremely detailed) I prefered the EAD.
Since I have a full 5.1 JMLab setup, I will try and purchase the EAD 8000Pro (I may wait to see what the new 8800 has to offer as well).
I have already purchased the Krell HTS7.1 and now have it up for sale. If nobody buys it... well, I will still be VERY happy with the Krell HTS7.1 as I do like all the details, features, and I can play with the EQ to get my desired sound. Like I said in the beginning, these are both AWESOME pre/pro's and anyone looking in this price range should keep these on their short list and should be VERY happy no matter what their choice is.
I have listened to Anthem, Sunfire, Parasound, Audio Refinement (awesome at it's price point) and found all of them to be very good BUT the Krell HTS 7.1 and EAD are in a whole other leauge. They did both music & movies with excellent results! I really think that everyone except for the extreme audiophile would find the Krell and EAD a one pre/pro solution for Music & Movies.

NOTE: The Krell $3K incentive for the HTS7.1 is no longer in affect, so I'm not sure how the EAD and Krell match up in regards to price.
That was a great review. I really need to give the EAD stuff a listen. Thanks Cap.