Will these HT amp/pre/pro's give me 2 chnl bliss?

I continue in my search for the best combined HT and 2 channel set-up. In previous posts, in response to how best to maximize 2 channel sound (better 2-3 chnl amp or use parallel integrated) many of you thought I should go with a separate integrated amp side-by-side with my Pioneer 49tx rvcr and B&W N803's/HTM1/DS7 set-up . I almost did it. Then I started to think about the possible family confusion with multiple equipment. Here's my new question: if I up my budget to $5k used, can I get excellent 2 channel performance similar to a stand alone integrated in the same price range? My choices (at least what I think I can get used within my budget):

Amp: Bryston 9B, Parasound A51, McIntosh 7205 (possibly 205), Theta Dreadnaught, Simaudio Aurora, Bel Canto evo6

Preamp: Bryston SP2, Classe SSP300, Parasound C1/C2, Cary Cinema 11, Simaudio Stargate, McIntosh 132 (or a steal on a Lexicon or meridian).

Basically, will these combinations get close to where I will be with a standalone Plinius 9200, Bryston B100, Mac 6900, Simaudio Moon I7, etc, or at least a Krell 400xi or BelCanto s300i???

Eager to hear your opinions. Am I getting close to 2 channel bliss with these HT pieces, or am I still MUCH better off with an integrated?

Thanks much...Jeff
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Bob, thanks for reply. I've heard mixed things about Integra as respects analogue audio, although this seems to be somewhat overcome by room correction. Otherwise I hear it's a great piece and quite a bargain. I just don't think it's the right one for me.

Would love to hear more suggestions and especially more comments on my choices in my OP. thanks all...Jeff
I have an integrated and ht receiver in my system and it is not much of a challenge for family members because when I am not listening to music I flip the knob to home theater setting and that is all there is to it. Whoever wants to watch tv or a dvd, they just select the right input on the receiver and they are good to go.

I am a true believer in this type of set-up if you REALLY care about 2 channel music.
Maineiac, I hear you. What I've decided is I want to give this single-source approach a chance first, if for nothing else than to improve multi-channel sound with the possibility of acheiving close to audiophile 2 chnl SQ. If it doesn't get me where I want to go, I can add the side-car integrated later.

I'd like to get responses from those who have gotten close with some of the equipment I've identified, and which might be the best choices.
Jeff, you have a good approach - you are taking a similar path to one I started a few years ago. I started out biased to HT and multi-channel music but kept getting drawn into the fun of good 2 channel music. I am sure that you will be able to acheive very nice results for both. Keep us posted and good hunting.

I am using a Theta Dreadnaught combined with a Meridian 568.2. The combination sounds very good together. I have since added a Aesthetix Calypso preamp which makes the 2 channel music that much better.

The point is you can start out with a decent processor and multi channel amp and then add a quality preamp later on to make the two channel sound substantially better. The Calypso is left in home theater bypass for my family. When I listen to 2 channel I take it out of home theater. All they have to do is turn it on and off.

Good Luck


For your budget and based on if I understand you correctly, you have the Pioneer surround sound receiver (with 5 or 7 channels of built in amplification) and speakers and your source equipment already and a expanded budget of $5,000.

You should be looking at a good preamp and a good 2-channel amplifier. Use the center and rear channels of your surround system amplification from the Pioneer receiver and your main two/front channels from the new amplifier.

You have a lot of choices with 2-channel power amps and there are a lot of fairly good 2-channel preamps that will work well within this frame with HT passthrough or Unity Gain. Brands: Aesthetix Calypso (which I have, but factoring in NOS tubes will be too much money for your budget), BAT VK models (I have owned the 5i), Cary models (I owned the SLP 2002 with HT passthrough) and several others. All of these are going to give you very, very good 2-channel performance and not create a problem for your family (assuming all the kids are about 7 or older).

As for a two channel amplifier, again there are many and at very good prices from Krell, Mark Levinson, Classe, Bryston and others.

Avoid buying a 5+ channel amplifier if you are going to use any part of it for a goal of good 2-channel listening. I have owned many from the Dreadnaught II, Krell, Conrad Johnson and others and not a single one could deliver passable 2-channel performance. For the most part, they were all fine for my much lower demanding surround sound needs.

In the end, you should be able to achieve excellent 2-channel performance via this approach well under your budget (assuming the Pioneer is a surround sound receiver and has pre-outs for the front two speakers). $3,500 for used equipment should definately get you were you want to be, including cables.