Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated

I have not posted anything in many moons so here goes.

My current system consists of a Nuforce Oppo 93 extreme universal player, Pannie VT30 65 Plasma, Reimer speaker systems (2 Tetons, 3 McColloughs and powered Reimer sub), 2 Adcom amps (2 channel and 3 channel) modified by Stan Warren and an Audio Refinement Pre2 DSP. My habits tend to be 75% music and 25% movies. I also frequently use the hi res audio formats of SACD and DVD Audio as well as 2 channel listening (I am in the digital realm - no vinyl).

While I do love my modest little system, I know it is quite outdated along the lines of the amp and processor. I would like to spend around $5000.00 or less here at Audiogon and upgrade.

My only wish is to find a processor that allows me to include the sub when in direct mode for 2 channel listening. My current set up only does so when the Oppo has the speaker configuration set to small for the fronts which is annoying when you have front channels that can reach 14hz by themselves. I just like to have the option of adding the sub as the system is in a rather large room and depending on what I am listening to I might want a little extra push on the low end at times.

The problem is it is hard to know what to buy that would be an upgrade when you can't really audition different pieces in the system too easily. I like having a 2 channel and 3 channel amp rather than a single 5 channel amp as well. I think the system sounds really nice and has a warm analog quality but of course I wonder even how much better it could be. I am a musician and music teacher so I like to think I have good ears musically and can actually tell the difference in semblence of audio quality - depth, holography, placement, etc.

What would you all suggest for me given the parameters I have written? I appreciate your time and expertise. I know there is no better place to ask for suggestions than here at Audiogon where I buy my equipment as well.

Thanking you in advance...
Marantz 8801 great analog inputs for 2/ch and the ability to add a sub while running mains fullrange and you may be surprised how it handles multi/ch sacd via hdmi with Audyssey!I use it with my Oppo 105 for both analog and hdmi and can't say enough good things about its SQ and flexibility.
You will probably get 2 types of general answers on this. Some people will recommend 2 channel only gear to be merged into a multi channel setup like you now have, and others will recommend better multi channel gear. I have no idea why, but the debates usually deteriorate into insults back and forth. I'm hoping that dosen't happen here.

Heres my recommendation. I believe that your biggest improvement in SQ will come in the form of a new preamp. Its an incredibly important piece in an audio system and until you get it right, your system will be lacking. I would take your $5000 budget and buy the best 2 channel preamp you can afford. It should have a HT pass through so you can still use your multi channel system for movies and music whenever you want to. Upgrade your amps at a latter date. Some brands I like are Ayre, BAT, Aesthetix and CJ. There are many other great choices as well. Also, I'm not up on every single feature so just make sure any of these preamps have the HT pass through feature you will need.
You bought well in your YBA/ Audio Ref processor in its time.

As to goals leaning towards digital audio I'd say you need both a modern processor as well as a good preamp with HT bypass. Some of the best digital audio is on Blueray unfortunately there isn't much of it, yet. Multi channel DACs are only just becoming available and lack usable features.

I'd go cheap on an up to date HDMI processor and big on a tube preamp.

I'm in complete agreement with what Zed said (Zd542). I also 2nd what Vicdamone suggested: the new preamp with ht passthru should be a tube preamp.

Since you use your system 75% for music, 2-channel should be your priority for an upgrade. The ht passthru enables you to gain the benefits of a high quality tube preamp for music while maintaining the use of your processor for movie surround sound. Adcom amps can be a bit sterile and bright in the upper frequencies. Tubes will mitigate the brightness and your music will sound more liquid, textured, organic and realistic, especially on good recordings. I use a VTL 2.5 tube preamp, along with a Parasound processor, for this exact purpose and can verify it does what I described above very well. But I know there are several good quality tubed preamps with ht passthru that would also work well for you.

The keys are the tubes and the ht passthru. An added benefit is you can tailor the sound to your taste by substituting the supplied tubes with after-market ones. NOS (new old stock) Mullards in the VTL have matched my taste the best so far.

Good luck and let us know if you need help with hookup instructions.

I believe that the Theta prepros will allow this, but......

If you buy a current model prepro, there's a good chance you'll get Audyssey (or similar) for room correction and digital bass management. IME, using subs with Audyssey enabled provides amazing benefits in smooth bass response and seamless sub integration. Since your source material is all digital anyway (no ADC required for vinyl), I'd be surprised if you got better results in 2 channel using analog sub integration of the type you're seeking.

Good luck

Thank you for your responses. It has helped tremendously to the point where I think I will take your advice and buy a tube 2 channel pre with a pass through and a processor.

The only thing is I cannot envision how this is wired? I would be totally new to this type of setup and I cannot picture how the wiring is configured in this fashion. Is it 'daisy chained' from the processor to the tube pre to the amp?

How confused do I sound now?

Thanks for helping me folks.


Connect the front left and right rca outputs of your processor to the 'surround' left and right rca inputs on your new tube preamp with ht pass thru. There will be a 'ht passthru' switch on the front of the preamp. When this switch is engaged, it will play your front left and right main surround channels from your processor. When it's not engaged, the preamp will play whatever the input selector knob/control is set to.

Let us know if you use a subwoofer for both 2-channel and home theater. If you do, I'll need to give you further setup instructions for this to work properly.
Also, you need to make sure that the 'input impedance' of your power amp is about 10 times greater than the 'output impedance' of the tube preamp you choose. This ensures your amp has enough voltage gain to do its job. If you let us know the make and model of your amp, we can let you know what output impedance to look for in your new (or used) preamp.

I think you made the right decision. I was stuggling with this, too, until I employed this solution. It has been working very well.
Hope this helped,
Tim - thank you so much for your assistance - incredibly helpful I assure you!!

I do use my powered sub for home theater and 2 channel. As previously stated, in order to use it now for 2 channel listening I must set the Oppo speaker configuration in the player to small for the 2 main channels. This to me is ridiculous as my Reimer Tetons can reach as 14 Hz. I use the sub as my room is large and sometimes can use the low end push to suit my tastes. Especially when the sub is not boomy at all.

The Adcom amps are a 2 channel 5500 and a 3 channel 5503 modified by Stan Warren back in the day ('90s).

Again, my sincere gratitude for your help. Suggestions on which tube pre and processor to look at? Looking at around $5000 for both and would be buying here at Audiogon. Keep in mind that I would want the sub to be able to be utilized all the time including in 2 channel direct pass.

Thank you all!!


The Adcom 5300 has an input impedance of 49,900 ohms. So, you need to look for a tube preamp with an output impedance of 4,900 ohms or less.

For the subwoofer connection, you'll need an rca y-adapter (2 female rca connectors feeding to one female rca connector). Run a single male-to-male rca cable from the subwoofer/LFE output on your processor to one of the female rca inputs on the y-adapter(the side of the y-adapter with dual female connections). Run another single male-to-male rca cable from the extra audio out on your tube preamp to the other female rca connection on the y-adapter(the side of the y-adapter with dual female connections). Lastly. run a singl male-to-male rca cable from the single female rca side of the y-adapter to the rca input on your subwoofer.
This set-up will feed the sub/LFE signal to your sub when using your processor for ht and it will send the signal from your new preamp to your sub when listening to 2-channel music through the preamp. You may need to adjust the sub's high pass filter to find a 'happy medium' cutoff frequency that works well for both ht and music. Or, you could change the sub cutoff frequency depending upon which you're listening to. I usually set my sub to about 35hz, which works well for music and ht for me. Since your left and right front channel speakers are very low frequency capable, you may also want to set your laft and right mains to 'large' on your processor settings to direct the full frequency range to your front speakers. 'Large' is the setting on my Parasound processor that sends a full range signal but your Audio Refinement Pre2 DSP may be called something else.

To summarize, I think a tube preamp with 'ht passthru', with an output impedance of 4,900 ohms or less and with an extra audio output for your sub should be a very good fit for your system. I know that the tube preamp I use (VTL 2.5tl) does meet all these criteria. However, I think there are probably several others that would work just as well and would sound as good or possibly better. I'd suggest seeing if a local dealer would let you try a couple out in your system.

I'm not exactly sure why you want to buy a new processor since the one you have is a very nice unit. The only reasons I can think of are either you don't like the sound of yours or you want to use one of the newer codecs.

But, if you have extra funds burning a hole in your pocket, I would suggest you consider replacing your Adcom amps with some newer class D ones (Wyred4 Sound, D-sonic, ClassD Audio, Channel Island Audio, etc.) This would give you a bigger bang for your buck, sound quality wise, as long as you're satisfied with your current surround sound capabilities.

If you're set on a new processor, You may want to check out the new Emotiva processor that has gotten very good reviews.

Good luck,


Just realized I listed your amp as an Adcom 5300 when it's actually a 5500. Sorry, but the good news is that both have the same input impedance: 49,900 ohms.

I agree that the VTL 2.5 that Noble100 recommends and owns is an excellent choice. Its very underrated.