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Suggestion for AV receiver, pre-amp & power amp

von Rothbart

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I am shopping for an AV receiver or pre-amp/power-amp combo. I want something nicer than the usual Sony, and I have a budget of $2-3,000. What's the advantage of getting a pre- & power-amp vs. a receiver? Is the difference noticeable.

I am looking at the Adcom GFR-700HD receiver, GTP-870HD pre-amp plus GFA-7067 power-amp which fit right into my low and high end of my budget, respectively. What's you opinion? Do you have other suggestions?
 

Bouji

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I am no expert, and those who know better feel free to correct me, but as far as I know,

- A separate pre/power usually allows the individual components to concentrate on their own jobs, the pre to take care of the signal, and the power to drive the speakers. Separating the two should lead to a more transparent sound.
However, I was always under the impression that less links in the chain also leads to a better sound, so separating the two may not be beneficial.
In home cinema I can see one very big advantage of a pre/power combination rather than an integrated amplifier. It is always argued by audio buffs that home cinema can never match the quality of a good two channel system. As I see it, if you use a power amp like this http://www.rotel.com/NA/products/Pro...ils.htm?Id=468 to drive five of the speakers, and a power amp like this http://www.cyrusaudio.com/product.asp?ProductID=91 to drive your main two speakers, you should achieve good sound in both home cinema and stereo. I realize that this is over your budget, but you could start with a 5.1 system, and upgrade later.
The following are both decent processors
http://www.rotel.com/UK/products/Pro...ils.htm?Id=463
http://www.arcam.co.uk/prod_diva_AVP700_detail_001.cfm
Then if you really wanted to get the best out of stereo, you could add a dedicated pre section for stereo, such as http://www.arcam.co.uk/prod_fmj_C31_intro.cfm


... back to reality, in that price range, I'd make a no holds decision and go for the Primare SPA21 http://www.progressive-av.com/av_amp..._amplifier.htm
easily the best AV amplifier at that price point.
 

Bouji

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I am no expert, and those who know better feel free to correct me, but as far as I know, - A separate pre/power usually allows the individual components to concentrate on their own jobs, the pre to take care of the signal, and the power to drive the speakers. Separating the two should lead to a more transparent sound. However, I was always under the impression that less links in the chain also leads to a better sound, so separating the two may not be beneficial. In home cinema I can see one very big advantage of a pre/power combination rather than an integrated amplifier. It is always argued by audio buffs that home cinema can never match the quality of a good two channel system. As I see it, if you use a power amp like this http://www.rotel.com/NA/products/Pro...ils.htm?Id=468 to drive five of the speakers, and a power amp like this http://www.cyrusaudio.com/product.asp?ProductID=91 to drive your main two speakers, you should achieve good sound in both home cinema and stereo. I realize that this is over your budget, but you could start with a 5.1 system, and upgrade later. The following are both decent processors http://www.rotel.com/UK/products/Pro...ils.htm?Id=463 http://www.arcam.co.uk/prod_diva_AVP700_detail_001.cfm Then if you really wanted to get the best out of stereo, you could add a dedicated pre section for stereo, such as http://www.arcam.co.uk/prod_fmj_C31_intro.cfm ... back to reality, in that price range, I'd make a no holds decision and go for the Primare SPA21 http://www.progressive-av.com/av_amp..._amplifier.htm easily the best AV amplifier at that price point.
 

gamelan

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my dream setup (within reason) would have been an NAD receiver, Adcom power amp, and Paradigm speakers.

-Jeff
 

A Y

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I assume you're concerned with sound quality, and already know about the packaging issues (eg. receivers have fewer cables to deal with since it's all in one box, but you're stuck with what you've got). There is very little that separates receivers from separate prepros these days, and the differences in feature sets are bigger than most any traditional audiophile measure.

It's easier to match separates to your system than a receiver, since the amps are built into a receiver. What speakers do you have and what kind of room are they in? That will determine the amp you get. Once you know that, you can look at receivers that have adequate amounts of power, and see which (if any) of those have your desired surround processor features.

Surround processor features I'd look for: HDMI 1080p switching, HDMI able to accept and process 7.1 LPCM, room correction (Audyssey or the newest Harman stuff is good), some sort of 2-7 channel matrixing algorithm (Logic 7 or Dolby Pro Logic IIx), sufficient number of inputs plus some headroom (at least 6 HDMI inputs), individually adjustable levels and distance delays for each speaker, and a good history of software updates for new features that come out.

Some people will want the ability to decode DTS-HD MA and Dolby THD from a BluRay player that can bitstream those formats, but that's really not important if your BD player can decode and output 7.1 LPCM over HDMI. It's not important and almost detrimental to have video processing (like deinterlacing and scaling) in your surround processor as well.

--Andre
 

Artisan Fan

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A receiver is just an integrated amp with a tuner and an integrated amp is just a power amp with a source selector (and maybe other features) and volume control. A preamp is just a source selector and volume control which you couple with a power amp. The general feeling is that these separates usually sound better since they have separate power supplies, separate critical components from the power supplies, and offer usually better parts quality and reliability.

In your price range, I would look at this combo:

Cambridge Audio 840W power amp ($2,699) and 840E preamp ($1,800) or maybe a model down in each category but these two just got Product of the Year awards from The Absolute Sound.

You might also look at Rogue Audio's Metis Preamp for $1,100 and their power amps but that depends also on the sensitivity of your speakers and how much home theater functionality you need.

Adcom is an okay brand but the above two brands are better sonically in my experience. I might also look at Outlaw Audio and NAD.

What speakers do you intend to drive?

How big is your room in terms of dimensions?

Any issues in terms of look or wife acceptance factor?
 

Bouji

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One thing I do know, there is a hierarchy as far as brands go,

Top tier brands e.g.

Naim, Plinius, Boothroyd Stuart Meridian, Pathos, Myryad, Chord, Krell

Aspiring top tier brands e.g.

Mark Levinson, Musical Fidelity, Rega, Bryston, Quad

Good brands e.g.

Cyrus, Arcam, Roksan, higher end Cambridge Audio & Marantz pieces.

The Japanese stable e.g.

Yamaha, Denon, Sony, Pioneer, Onkyo

Decent stuff e.g.

Rotel, Cambridge Audio, Marantz, NAD,



Never heard of Adcom, although the above may be a very UK centric view.
 

von Rothbart

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Originally Posted by Bouji
I am no expert, and those who know better feel free to correct me, but as far as I know,

- A separate pre/power usually allows the individual components to concentrate on their own jobs, the pre to take care of the signal, and the power to drive the speakers. Separating the two should lead to a more transparent sound.
However, I was always under the impression that less links in the chain also leads to a better sound, so separating the two may not be beneficial.
In home cinema I can see one very big advantage of a pre/power combination rather than an integrated amplifier. It is always argued by audio buffs that home cinema can never match the quality of a good two channel system. As I see it, if you use a power amp like this http://www.rotel.com/NA/products/Pro...ils.htm?Id=468 to drive five of the speakers, and a power amp like this http://www.cyrusaudio.com/product.asp?ProductID=91 to drive your main two speakers, you should achieve good sound in both home cinema and stereo. I realize that this is over your budget, but you could start with a 5.1 system, and upgrade later.
The following are both decent processors
http://www.rotel.com/UK/products/Pro...ils.htm?Id=463
http://www.arcam.co.uk/prod_diva_AVP700_detail_001.cfm
Then if you really wanted to get the best out of stereo, you could add a dedicated pre section for stereo, such as http://www.arcam.co.uk/prod_fmj_C31_intro.cfm

... back to reality, in that price range, I'd make a no holds decision and go for the Primare SPA21 http://www.progressive-av.com/av_amp..._amplifier.htm
easily the best AV amplifier at that price point.


I like those Rotel, Arcam & Primare. But there's only one dealer for Rotel & Arcam in the entire US and the Primare SPA21 costs $4000, a bit over my budget.

Originally Posted by A Y
I assume you're concerned with sound quality, and already know about the packaging issues (eg. receivers have fewer cables to deal with since it's all in one box, but you're stuck with what you've got). There is very little that separates receivers from separate prepros these days, and the differences in feature sets are bigger than most any traditional audiophile measure.

It's easier to match separates to your system than a receiver, since the amps are built into a receiver. What speakers do you have and what kind of room are they in? That will determine the amp you get. Once you know that, you can look at receivers that have adequate amounts of power, and see which (if any) of those have your desired surround processor features.

Surround processor features I'd look for: HDMI 1080p switching, HDMI able to accept and process 7.1 LPCM, room correction (Audyssey or the newest Harman stuff is good), some sort of 2-7 channel matrixing algorithm (Logic 7 or Dolby Pro Logic IIx), sufficient number of inputs plus some headroom (at least 6 HDMI inputs), individually adjustable levels and distance delays for each speaker, and a good history of software updates for new features that come out.

Some people will want the ability to decode DTS-HD MA and Dolby THD from a BluRay player that can bitstream those formats, but that's really not important if your BD player can decode and output 7.1 LPCM over HDMI. It's not important and almost detrimental to have video processing (like deinterlacing and scaling) in your surround processor as well.

--Andre


Thanks for the surrond processor checklist. I like the idea of receiver because there're less wires to tangle with but know the advantage of separates. Those $21,000 cables will blow my entire budget many times over. Are separates really audibly better than receiver?

Originally Posted by Artisan Fan
A receiver is just an integrated amp with a tuner and an integrated amp is just a power amp with a source selector (and maybe other features) and volume control. A preamp is just a source selector and volume control which you couple with a power amp. The general feeling is that these separates usually sound better since they have separate power supplies, separate critical components from the power supplies, and offer usually better parts quality and reliability.

In your price range, I would look at this combo:

Cambridge Audio 840W power amp ($2,699) and 840E preamp ($1,800) or maybe a model down in each category but these two just got Product of the Year awards from The Absolute Sound.

You might also look at Rogue Audio's Metis Preamp for $1,100 and their power amps but that depends also on the sensitivity of your speakers and how much home theater functionality you need.

Adcom is an okay brand but the above two brands are better sonically in my experience. I might also look at Outlaw Audio and NAD.

What speakers do you intend to drive?

How big is your room in terms of dimensions?

Any issues in terms of look or wife acceptance factor?


Thanks for the suggestions, I'll look into those. I have a pair 2-way Genesis floor as the main speakers. I haven't decided on the surround satelites, sub-woofer...

Can I buy a 7.1 system and set it up as 5.1 for now, I have to figure out the placement of the the 7.1 middle speakers which is a kind of conspicuous in the room.

The room is 16X14 rectangle and will be dedicated as a media room, so decor is not a factor but I'd like the equipments consealed, so a RF remote would be nice. The equipments will be place against the wall along the long side of the room with a sofa opposite and a love seat prependicular to the equipments. Windows are along the short side of room with door on the opposite.
 

A Y

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Originally Posted by von Rothbart
Are separates really audibly better than receiver?

Sometimes. It really depends on the rest of the system. If you have a local dealer, the best thing to do is to take home a few things and try them out for yourself.

--Andre
 

dkzzzz

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Get ATC speakers first. Then get any receiver under $1000 with 100W or more power. End of story.
 

Artisan Fan

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Originally Posted by von Rothbart
Thanks for the suggestions, I'll look into those. I have a pair 2-way Genesis floor as the main speakers. I haven't decided on the surround satelites, sub-woofer...

Can I buy a 7.1 system and set it up as 5.1 for now, I have to figure out the placement of the the 7.1 middle speakers which is a kind of conspicuous in the room.

The room is 16X14 rectangle and will be dedicated as a media room, so decor is not a factor but I'd like the equipments consealed, so a RF remote would be nice. The equipments will be place against the wall along the long side of the room with a sofa opposite and a love seat prependicular to the equipments. Windows are along the short side of room with door on the opposite.


Put the speakers/TV at the narrow end of the rectangle and have the speakers a bit out from the back wall and side walls. Ideally you don't want too many windows or a glass coffee table.

7.1 is a bit overkill imho. Just do 5.1 right and you will be fine. If doing 5.1 then a receiver with HDMI capability and an Oppo universal player is probably the best bet.
 

A Y

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Originally Posted by von Rothbart
Can I buy a 7.1 system and set it up as 5.1 for now, I have to figure out the placement of the the 7.1 middle speakers which is a kind of conspicuous in the room.

I forgot to answer this. Yes, you can start with 5.1, and go to 7.1 later. Just make sure if you're going to permanently position your surround speakers in 5.1 (ie. it won't be easy to move them in the future), and you want to go to 7.1 in the future, place them directly to the sides. A 7.1 system has one set of surrounds directly to the sides, and the other set of surrounds +-120 degrees to the back.

I also disagree with AF on 7.1 vs. 5.1. 5 channels is fundamentally compromised for various reasons, and 7 is really the lowest number of channels to do surround sound correctly. Since you will have a dedicated room for your system, I'd suggest at least making provisions for 7.1 if you can't do 7.1 immediately. If you're going to do 7.1, you definitely need something with Logic 7 or Dolby Pro-Logic IIx (note the "x").

For placement, both the long orientation as suggested by AF, and the short orientation if you make the long walls your front and back are viable. It all depends on what else is happening in the room. A long orientation is very natural for 7.1. A short orientation can still work with 7.1, and the sidewalls are further away, which can only help with reducing sidewall reflections, and letting you put your surround speakers further away, which can make your surrounds less localizable. If you can play around with both orientations, you'll know which is best for your situation.

--Andre
 

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