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  1. #1
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    Surround preamp / processors choice?

    Anyone have an opinion of surround preamp / processors?

    My current system includes M&K speakers driven with a 6x100W McIntosh 7106 Amp. Id like to replace a dated Adcom GSP-560 processor, Dolby Pro-Logic. I am kind of narrowing down to the following options:
    1. Used McIntosh MX-132 or so (5.1), hopefully around $2k
    2. Used Krell Showcase 2 (5.1), maybe a little under $2k
    3. Used B&K Reference 50.2 (7.1), $1.2k to $1.8k
    4. New Adcom GTP-870, out in a few weeks, $2k

    Music is my primary driver followed by Home Theater.

    Ive always liked McIntosh sound. Never heard a Krell. Ive seen a number of systems pairing Mc, B&K, and Adcom with M&Ks. In the end, I know I will have to do some serious listening to decide, but I thought Id ask for opinions here first. Any others I should consider?

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    My choice without hesitation would be the Krell. My 2nd choice might be the Mac, these 2 are head and shoulders over your other choices. Krell is very revealing and dynamic. I know you seem to like a warm presentation, Krell isn't warm, the highs are very extended without being harsh and the bass will be tight and controlled.

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    Follow Up

    Thanks Mr. Peabody!

    One thing I wonder about here is...to get an equivalent price point, I have to look for an older Krell or Mac. Probably a minimum of 5.1 vs the current 7.1 with enhanced bass management, etc and video switching. I would lean towards pure sound quality over functionality every day, especially if it made for a more transparent music mode signature.

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    What is your budget? I saw a Krell Showcase "refurb" at www.spearitsound.com for $2,999.00. That should have a warranty and they are authorized dealer. Used market may be cheaper but for an authorized sale and warranty it may be worth the extra money. I believe this one was 7.1.

    Another way you could go is to buy a stereo preamp with a HT bypass and either use a receiver for HT or a cheaper HT preamp. You can find some very good stereo preamps in the $2,500.00 range. The Conrad-Johnson PV14-ls2 comes to mind. It's a tube preamp with bypass and pretty versatile for a stereo preamp. The draw back with using a tube preamp though is tube wear while watching HT.

  5. #5
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    I would have to agree with MR PEABODY that the Krell has the best sound dynamically but, it is only an analog pre/pro if that doesn't matter to you don't worry about that. The second choice that has a warm and a not hit you in the face sound is, is the Parasound New Classic Model 7100. It might be a slight step down from the Krell but, it all depends on what kind and the quality of the components you have you will not notice the difference. Plus it is HDMI upgradeable. The next choice is the best of all of them I have found out by research, personal salesman for 11 years and sound comparing is the Audio Control Maestro M2. It gives Krell a run for it's money and with great equipment you'll say Audio Control. It also has HDMI, 7.1 and balanced or un. This Pre/Pro/Tuner is one I'm leaning towards purchasing. This unit has such smoothness nothing harsh about it. Perfect sound, perfect price $2400. Finally like MR PEABODY suggested is a HT receiver and use it strictly as a processor/tuner. I would suggest which I'm using right now and completely happy with is the Denon AVR-3806. I found out it has one of the best processors in it along with my Denon DVD-2930CI single disc multi format player is the AL24 Processing Plus priced at $1300. If you go that route I've experienced most of the other receivers and Denon is the leader hands down. You also have the choice of hooking up additional speakers ran with a little less power.

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    I didn't realize Audio Control built a surround processor. I'd be interested to see what they have for bass management. I used to be in sales around late 80's and we sold Audio Control. People bought those Phase Coupled Activators not realizing exactly what they do and blow there cones off the basket. It created low bass, not thump.

  7. #7
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    McIntosh: retro cool

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisgwd
    Anyone have an opinion of surround preamp / processors?

    My current system includes M&K speakers driven with a 6x100W McIntosh 7106 Amp. Id like to replace a dated Adcom GSP-560 processor, Dolby Pro-Logic. I am kind of narrowing down to the following options:
    1. Used McIntosh MX-132 or so (5.1), hopefully around $2k
    2. Used Krell Showcase 2 (5.1), maybe a little under $2k
    ...
    Ive always liked McIntosh sound....
    I'm not all sure that the Mac would be the best sound. But it's gorgeous to look at, IMO, and has plenty of functionality.

    Might be tricky to find an MX-132 for $2k, though. Nothing on Audiogon or eBay at the moment. Audio Classics has one at $3499, Ouch!
    http://www.audioclassics.com/detail....=MX132&nav=cat
    But they're relatively price, of course.
    ...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Surround preamp / processors choice?-mcintosh_mx-132.jpg  

  8. #8
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisgwd
    Anyone have an opinion of surround preamp / processors?

    Ive always liked McIntosh sound. Never heard a Krell.
    Mac has always delivered a great light show. If, however, ultimate sound quality is important I would go for the Krell (having heard one in a very nice system).

    rw

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I didn't realize Audio Control built a surround processor. I'd be interested to see what they have for bass management. I used to be in sales around late 80's and we sold Audio Control. People bought those Phase Coupled Activators not realizing exactly what they do and blow there cones off the basket. It created low bass, not thump.

    I guess they changed some things but, it does sound almost perfect. It has I would say about the same sound as the Krell. I was listening between the 2 and they were too hard to tell the diffence in sound both using Definitive Technology BP 7000's. I'm not sure about the rear surrounds on the model but, I know they were also Definitive Technology's also along with the sub the Supercube I. I own all Definitive Tech's(8 speakers and 4 subs plus all of the BP towers have built in subs)and they sound phenominal. Anyway I'm looking for a pre/pro or I was but, I listened to the Denon AVR-3806 with the same speakers and there was no difference in sound between all 3. Which was amazing. I also own the Denon and I love it. I went home and researched like a maniac to see if I really needed to purchase a pre/pro. I found out that the new AL24 Processing Plus processor in the Denon which is also in my new Denon 2930CI is amongst one the best processors and I have the option of hooking up additional speakers and 2 other zones. I now use it as a processor since I wanted to bump up the wattage from 120w to 200w and it makes a world of difference especially since my Def Tech towers like all other tower speakers need MORE POWER! With my Denon POA-2400A and my Adcom GFA-555's The Denon's processor makes it sound like a hell of a high-end system for a portion of the cost. I wish I wasn't taking up so much space or I would tell you what equipment and hook-ups I have to make it sound like 10,000 bucks. Well I'm keeping the Denon because of the processor and the options to hook up additional speakers and have 2 additional zones. If it ain't broke don't fix it. The Audio Control sounds great but, for me a tad and I mean a tad too bright. The Denon's and Adcom's with Definitive Technology speakers sound like a million bucks and I'm surprised but, if that's what it is then that's what it is.

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    Hey guys, thanks for all the response and advice.

    I've listened to a few models in showrooms and am narrowing a little. It's hard to get all the way there. I'll have to do home demos with MY other stuff and My room. This will take a while as I have a remodel in planning.

    I did listen to the Krell HTS with a Krell amp. Nice sound, very revealing, but a bit harsh for my ears. The processing was top notch and seemed ahead of the current McIntosh processors. But man, I love that McIntosh amp sound. Very smooth and warm, much less fatiguing to my ears.

    So, now I am wondering what top notch Krell processesing would sound like through a smooth / warm McIntosh amp. Any thoughts or experience? How about that Audio Control processor?

    BTW, I have never heard an A/V receiver that I could live with. I've decided to keep my Adcom dolby pro-logic preamp / processor over an upgrade with a reciever until I can get the right separates. It doesn't have the channel image processing, but I like the 2-channel sound much better.

    Thanks,
    Chris

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    I saw on www.spearitsound.com they are selling a Classe SSP-30 for $1995.00 new. I don't know much about this processor except I heard that Classe don't include video switching in this unit. Them and Bryston feel it's better to separate video and audio. I don't know if that's changed recently.

    The Krell/Mac combo would be interesting, I'm not sure how that would go.

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    Well guys, it looks like I might be zeroing in on a choice. My budget is roughly $2k for the pre/pro. I am now looking at the Arcam AVP700. The Krell was a liitle too detailed / revealing for me. I like the McIntosh sound better. The Arcam seems to be a reasonble comprimise in $ and performance. It also seems to be a bit better for 2-channel than many of the other pre-pros. Any comments? I haven't heard mention of the Arcams here much. Also, I cannot seem to find much on the Audio Refinement units sold at spearitsound. There don't seem to be any dealers in my area where I can try one out.

    Chris

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    Chris, the Arcam is an excellent choice. It is a great performer for the money and you have already observed that Arcam has always maintained good 2 channel reproduction. This is even true in their receivers, it's what set them apart. They didn't have all the bell & whistles but they did perform.

    Audio Refinement went out of business, that's why they aren't on many show floors. Spearitsound bought out their inventory and that's why they are offering such a discount. From what I understand the AR can't touch the Arcam performance wise.

  14. #14
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    The right choice with Denon and friends!

    I wouldn't be so concerned about the 5.1 as apposed to the 7.1. The 5.1 is perfect anyway since everything is recorded in 5.1 and will be for a while. It's like 1080i and 1080p. Think about how long it's going to take to rerecord all of those movies into 1080p and 7.1. Plus when you watch a movie in 7.1 you are somewhat dimminishing the main surround effects because those surround back speakers are stealing from the great effects you get from your main surrounds. I say stick with 5.1 but, get a 7.1 because all of the mid to high-end receivers, preamps, pre/processors have the back surround channel as an option to run an amp through it to use as another set of front speakers or in another room. I've said this before get the Denon AVR-3806 you can get it for under $1,000 on eBay from a dealer with a warranty. It has the AL24 Processor, which is one of the best, I wouldn't lie to you I have it and it sounds phenominal. You have an advantage if you cannot afford amps right now you have them in the receiver and they have a lot of power. Then just buy amps as you go along but, first I would if you decide to buy the Denon go out and get the Denon DVD-2930Ci because for a reasonable price, again look on eBay, and you will have the same processor built into that. It's HDMI and has the Denon Link for better sound and converts SACD/DVD-A multi channel into digital 5.1 and it does sound more detailed than in analog. Movies the same thing and it's all because both of those units have the same processor so, there's nothing trying to convert anything. It will be all the same. Now think about that you would have a great Receiver and a great multi-format player to start out with and have all the features you want. I would and I know they are a little older but, the Denon POA-2400A amps and the Adcom GFA-555 amps are a great addition to those peices of equipment. They have 200 watts a channel with A and B switches on them so, they are really like having a 4 channel amp and you can play around with the ohms and wattage if you'd like. Check it out but, in my opinion and according to all of the magazines, audio or video Definitive Technology speakers are the best performing speaker for the money. They are also rated #1 over all other speakers. People don't take the time to really listen to the sound they just buy because of the name and they are expensive. Anotherwards trying to show off? That's the kind of system I have and everyone says they've never heard anything that good and that it has such detail with perfect matching and not overpowering subs. By the way I have 8 subs, 4 floor and 4 that are built into the speakers with their own amps. Think about what kind of advice I'm giving you and maybe even try it out if you're interested. I have it and I'm perfectly satisfied and I will not change a thing. If anyone has any questions, wants to know model #'s, find out about any other equipment that I have or other brands, let me know.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisgwd
    Well guys, it looks like I might be zeroing in on a choice. My budget is roughly $2k for the pre/pro. I am now looking at the Arcam AVP700. The Krell was a liitle too detailed / revealing for me. I like the McIntosh sound better. The Arcam seems to be a reasonble comprimise in $ and performance. It also seems to be a bit better for 2-channel than many of the other pre-pros. Any comments? I haven't heard mention of the Arcams here much. Also, I cannot seem to find much on the Audio Refinement units sold at spearitsound. There don't seem to be any dealers in my area where I can try one out.

    Chris
    Well Chrisgwd, I think and have had other audiophiles/HT guru's opinions and they have the same thoughts as I do. The Arcam's sound and 2 channel is a very good sounding pre/pro but, this is where it comes in. The Arcam AVP700 is a high-end piece but, is trying to perform a little above it's expectations like it is a $10,000 unit when it's not. If it was me I wouldn't consider it as an option. Just my opinion, go with what sounds best to you. You say you have M&K speakers but, what kind of amps? Anyway the amps will not really make a difference as long as they are good and have a wide frequency bandwith. I have become very partial to 3 different brands, ampwise that is. These I have demoed with a lot of different speakers, pre/pro's, and components, all high-end. They are Adcom my #1 choice because they are very warm sounding. They give the midrange a very detailed and not muddy or to bassey sound while giving the tweeter a sweet, soft detailed sound, where you hear exactly what you should hear as if you were there. It's frequency response goes down to 10htz which gives you great bass. You hear the bass guitar playing each note and the bass drum hit as it should. The Adcom amps have great seperation between tweeter,mid and, bass so this is where I would recomend their new pre/pro the GTP-870HD. You can play it in 2 channel, multi channel and, HT and it's all set for high-def. It has all the features you need and very user friendly with what you were talking about in the way of 2 channel mode it has Audiophile Bypass Mode. That quick access feature is not on any other pre/pro or receiver that I've seen and it runs brand new for $1500 but, you know how this field is you can haggle and get it a little cheaper. Be careful because if you like this one and buy it you might find yourself buying Adcom amps next and they do sound beautiful. Trust me I own a couple and they're awesome. Now I don't want to make this too long but, my #2 choice would be the Parasound New Classic 7100 which runs $3,000. It has a great sound but, I think that's a little too much especially compared to the Adcom which can be cheaper because they have become a very popular brand and sell so much more, they have a very low budget. That's the great thing you're getting a high-end piece at a mid-fi price. There's not too much I can say about the Parasound but, it does have a really great sound processor and I've heard no complaints. my #3 choice is the Audio Control Maestro M2. It I have cranked up in HT at my local dealer, hooked up to the speakers I have and love are the Definitive Technology and it sounded great. The only thing I was pissed off about is they wouldn't or couldn't play it in stereo so, that put that test to the crapper but, in HT it processed very well. I did catch one thing which is not by all means noticeable to most people but, I check out everything since I'm going to be having a store built from the ground up at a mall right at the entrance way so, people have to pass me going in and coming out, that should be some traffic huh. Anyway with the Audio Control I did notice that the highs were just a tad to high, very clear and detailed but, high. All in all I think and I'm not telling you to but, I would and I just might if I change my mind about my Denon AVR-3806 is go with the Adcom. I think you'll be very happy.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for all your advice guys. I've listened to the systems and considered my budget and have ordered an Arcam AVP700 through a local dealer.

    Denon - recievers just don't do it for me. I've heard enough of them and they just don't have the quality of soud that I am looking for.

    I currently have McIntosh amps and Adcom amps and pre/pros. I love the McIntosh sound and have enjoyed the Adcoms for a little over a decade now. I see that Adcom has a new pre/pro and have even communicated with the reps. They have a trade-in program where they will give me $500 for one of my GFA-545s against the $2500 for the GTP-870HD. But, they are definitely down businesswise. All the local dealers hae evaporated, so I can't even listen to one. And I am not so sure that they are up to speed with the competition with their latest offering. Also, I am not sure that I trust they will be arround to support a this product another decade in the future.

    Finally, I want a pre/pro that does good 2-channel sound first. I think that 2-channel and HT should not be so exclusive. If a product is well designed, it should be able to do 2-channel first and be very competitive at HT. I can't afford two systems. 2-channel performance is more important to me.

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    Be sure to let us know how you like the Arcam once you have it up and running. I think you will be happy with it. I believe you will find, and agree, that Arcam is a nice step up from Adcom. I've owned gear from both and still have some Adcom. Adcom is not bad at all in it's range. Arcam outperforms it in most every way i can think of. Arcam far exceeds Adcom in clarity and detail. Adcom may win out to those who like a thicker sound with a fatter bass response. If it was my main system I'd go with Arcam hands down.

    I have an Adcom gfp450 and gfa5400 driving Dynaudio A60's in my work out room. I don't find the highs smooth at all. In fact, I turn the treble down below 12 o'clock. You might get the impression of smooth if using a less honest speaker or really a number of ways from cables to source. I chose Adcom for this system because of it's price and it's bass hump is handy on Rock recordings and fun for Pop.

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