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Thread: Opinions Wanted

  1. #1
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    Opinions Wanted

    I'm seeking opinions on how well a passive preamp, such as the OBH line from Creek, would match up with an SACD player to get the very most out of two channel SACD playback. My gut tells me that this would be a good pairing, but perhaps I'm overlooking something or there is some technical reason why these components wouldn't work well together? Any thoughts on this guys? Please do expound.

    Q

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    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Just think of two-channel SACD like you would any other two-channel analog source. There are no digital outputs for SACD (except the proprietary schemes that companies like Pioneer, Denon, and Yamaha have created), so what you're getting out the back end is no different than any other analog source. If you see benefit to using the preamp with other analog sources, then it would stand to reason that two-channel SACD would benefit the same way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Just think of two-channel SACD like you would any other two-channel analog source. There are no digital outputs for SACD (except the proprietary schemes that companies like Pioneer, Denon, and Yamaha have created), so what you're getting out the back end is no different than any other analog source. If you see benefit to using the preamp with other analog sources, then it would stand to reason that two-channel SACD would benefit the same way.
    Thanks Wooch. That's kinda what I was thinking too: With their reputation for being a very transparent window on the source, imparting very little to no sonic signature of their own, it seemed to me that one of these passive preamps might be just the ticket for SACD playback purposes. Any other suggestions for preamps which would be better in your opinion?

    Q

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    Q,

    If you're looking at passive preamps, you might try investigating PS Audio's new GCP preamp which you can read about here. This is a different way to increase volume without using normal attenuators which impart a form of distortion on the signal. Many people think PS Audio got started with their famous power conditioners, but the reality is that Paul made a name for himself (and his company) by engineering some of the best pre-amps in hi-fi way back in the late '70's and early '80's. They discovered the benefits of huge power supplies and pioneered their use for pre-amps waaaay before anybody else figured that one out. I used a passive PS Audio 4.6 for 15 years without a hitch and am absolutely kicking myself for selling that thing when I moved into HT. Dumbdumbdumbdumb !

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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Q,

    If you're looking at passive preamps, you might try investigating PS Audio's new GCP preamp which you can read about here. This is a different way to increase volume without using normal attenuators which impart a form of distortion on the signal. Many people think PS Audio got started with their famous power conditioners, but the reality is that Paul made a name for himself (and his company) by engineering some of the best pre-amps in hi-fi way back in the late '70's and early '80's. They discovered the benefits of huge power supplies and pioneered their use for pre-amps waaaay before anybody else figured that one out. I used a passive PS Audio 4.6 for 15 years without a hitch and am absolutely kicking myself for selling that thing when I moved into HT. Dumbdumbdumbdumb !
    Wow, thanks for the recommendation, Topspeed. I'll definitely check this preamp out. So I take it from your comments that you approved of the fidelity of your old PS Audio preamp? Kicking yourself for selling it is usually a pretty good indication that you were pleased with said component -- been there, done that! Hehe The passive design is what appeals to me and leads me to believe it would be a good match for SACD playback in particular. Do you concur or have some other thought on this? Thanks again for the feedback and recommendation.

    Q

  6. #6
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Topspeed found out the hard way

    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    Wow, thanks for the recommendation, Topspeed. I'll definitely check this preamp out. So I take it from your comments that you approved of the fidelity of your old PS Audio preamp? Kicking yourself for selling it is usually a pretty good indication that you were pleased with said component -- been there, done that! Hehe The passive design is what appeals to me and leads me to believe it would be a good match for SACD playback in particular. Do you concur or have some other thought on this? Thanks again for the feedback and recommendation.

    Q
    Trying to get a PRE that sounds better than a well made passive pre is going to be a lesson in futility. My venerable PS Audio IV preamp has held it's own against the likes of mega-buck Classe DR6 (SS) & Audio Research LS-25(tubed of course) preamps. I feel so bad for Topspeed that I might just have to send him my preamp in trade. NOTE; I'm only asking for his M3 in trade. ;o)

    In my opinion; If your looking for the sound that's closest to the truth, a passive preamp is the way to go.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  7. #7
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    I feel so bad for Topspeed that I might just have to send him my preamp in trade. NOTE; I'm only asking for his M3 in trade. ;o)
    Sorry, the M3 came with a "No Trade" clause in the contract. You'll have to wait until it's a free agent.

    In my opinion; If your looking for the sound that's closest to the truth, a passive preamp is the way to go.
    I couldn't agree more. A passive pre is what you're looking for Q.

    BTW, Geoff. Why don't you list the Gallo's in your equipment list?

  8. #8
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Sorry, the M3 came with a "No Trade" clause in the contract. You'll have to wait until it's a free agent.
    How about if I throw in a PS Audio Power cord? These suckers are as stiff as a sports suspension!
    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    BTW, Geoff. Why don't you list the Gallo's in your equipment list?
    Good question. I consider the Gallo's part of my HT system, along with the DVD-Audio player. Surprisingly the system that gets the most use is the Von Schweikert FPS I have hooked up to my computer. When I think about it, if I listed all the equipment around here people would think I'm running an audio store!

    A change is in the wind for my Audio setup soon. I've got my eye on another piece of gear, and it's just a couple weeks away now. Still keeping the passive pre though!
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    How about if I throw in a PS Audio Power cord? These suckers are as stiff as a sports suspension!


    Good question. I consider the Gallo's part of my HT system, along with the DVD-Audio player. Surprisingly the system that gets the most use is the Von Schweikert FPS I have hooked up to my computer. When I think about it, if I listed all the equipment around here people would think I'm running an audio store!

    A change is in the wind for my Audio setup soon. I've got my eye on another piece of gear, and it's just a couple weeks away now. Still keeping the passive pre though!
    Thanks for all of the info guys. Yes, it definitely sounds as though a passive pre is just the ticket for this application. I'll keep you both posted.

    On a related topic, either of you discouraged with the foothold that SACD and/or DVD-A has gotten thus far? I'm very much sold on the sound benefits that these new formats afford (especially SACD), but I'm disappointed that there isn't more availability of software. I know when players for these formats were first released, my local CC and BB stores had prominent displays for the players and the discs, but now that the initial introduction is over, it's as if these formats never existed. CC doesn't have a display for the players or discs and although BB has a special section for the discs, it's a very small selection which is always a disorganized mess -- it's obvious this is a very low priority for both stores. With so little interest shown and so little support for these formats in the stores I am concerned that both may eventually fail. Pesonally, I think they blew it when they didn't introduce SACD as a Hybrid format with a bigger emphasis on surround mixes from the very beginning. If they had done these things, I think SACD would have emerged as a clear winner over DVD-A and would have gained much greater acceptance from those who already buy Redbook CD's. These guys just can't seem to keep from shooting themselves in the foot.

    I know you can find many titles online, but I just happen to be one of those guys who likes to shop in the store and browse for awhile -- see what's new -- all that kind of stuff; maybe I'm just a dying breed?!

    Q

  10. #10
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Hi Q,

    While I do like some passives, they won't fit well into every system. Take a look at your entire system (room, cdp,amp,speakers, listening preferences) It's still likely that you won't encounter any problems. But know would be the time to ensure that a passive will fit well into your system.

    That said...while I like some passives...the creek isn't one of the passives I like (I've had one on my DIY table for "testing" amps and speakers for some time now. It serves the purpose as a passive amp...but the darn thing muddies up the sound pretty good. Don't get me wrong...it's a neat little unit. But it isn't the best sounding.

    Just because a preamp is passive doesn't mean it's good...and just becuase another is active doesn't mean it won't match well...and sound good in a particular system.

    Some other good choices to look into would be the P.L.C.Lam Consulting Inc's little wonder preamp. Also the S&B Tx102 based preamps and sowter based preamps are worth a look among others.

    Right now...I'd just take a step back...slow down...and find out what avenue you would like to go toward. Find out if anyone who lives in your area owns a preamp that you interested in.


    have fun!

    dan
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  11. #11
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    Thanks for all of the info guys. Yes, it definitely sounds as though a passive pre is just the ticket for this application. I'll keep you both posted.

    On a related topic, either of you discouraged with the foothold that SACD and/or DVD-A has gotten thus far? I'm very much sold on the sound benefits that these new formats afford (especially SACD), but I'm disappointed that there isn't more availability of software. I know when players for these formats were first released, my local CC and BB stores had prominent displays for the players and the discs, but now that the initial introduction is over, it's as if these formats never existed. CC doesn't have a display for the players or discs and although BB has a special section for the discs, it's a very small selection which is always a disorganized mess -- it's obvious this is a very low priority for both stores. With so little interest shown and so little support for these formats in the stores I am concerned that both may eventually fail. Pesonally, I think they blew it when they didn't introduce SACD as a Hybrid format with a bigger emphasis on surround mixes from the very beginning. If they had done these things, I think SACD would have emerged as a clear winner over DVD-A and would have gained much greater acceptance from those who already buy Redbook CD's. These guys just can't seem to keep from shooting themselves in the foot.

    I know you can find many titles online, but I just happen to be one of those guys who likes to shop in the store and browse for awhile -- see what's new -- all that kind of stuff; maybe I'm just a dying breed?!

    Q
    Your not a dying breed, your a living breed with ancient habits!! LOL

    Well Q,
    The record companies this year cut new release funds by about 25% on the average. With income from the studio's cash cow slightly down(CD sales slipped majorly last year), and the slowing down of new releases, the record companies are not in the mood to release product to a niche set of formats.

    SACD has several problems that Sony has done nothing to deal with. There are still no alignment tools for DSD bitstreams. No delay, no bass management, no level settings, nothing. Everything still has to be converted to PCM to do these functions, and that trip definately degrades the DSD signal. If you do not have large speakers, then you must use bass management. If your speakers are not equidistant, then you must use delay.

    I have gone to the extreme and set all of my speakers to large, and have all of my speakers equidistant to the listening position. That way I do not have to use delay or bass management, and be forced to make the conversion for these processes.
    Sir Terrence

    Titan Reference 3D 1080p projector
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    Datastat RS20I audio/video processor 12.4 audio setup
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonefishin
    Hi Q,

    While I do like some passives, they won't fit well into every system. Take a look at your entire system (room, cdp,amp,speakers, listening preferences) It's still likely that you won't encounter any problems. But know would be the time to ensure that a passive will fit well into your system.

    That said...while I like some passives...the creek isn't one of the passives I like (I've had one on my DIY table for "testing" amps and speakers for some time now. It serves the purpose as a passive amp...but the darn thing muddies up the sound pretty good. Don't get me wrong...it's a neat little unit. But it isn't the best sounding.

    Just because a preamp is passive doesn't mean it's good...and just becuase another is active doesn't mean it won't match well...and sound good in a particular system.

    Some other good choices to look into would be the P.L.C.Lam Consulting Inc's little wonder preamp. Also the S&B Tx102 based preamps and sowter based preamps are worth a look among others.

    Right now...I'd just take a step back...slow down...and find out what avenue you would like to go toward. Find out if anyone who lives in your area owns a preamp that you interested in.


    have fun!

    dan
    Thanks for the added info, Gonefishin. I appreciate it. First let me assure you, I am NEVER fast off of the mark: I don't get into a rush to do ANYTHING related to audio purchases. In fact, I am notoriously sloooow when it comes to such matters. I am definitely of the "measure twice, cut once" mentality and in fact, taking my time and doing the research is part of the hobby that I enjoy the most.

    My thoughts on the passive preamp were that it would be very transparent to the source, and while some might not see that as being an advantage with Redbook CD playback, preferring a pre that conceals the formats shortcomings or alters the signal in some "favorable" way, this seemed an ideal attribute for SACD playback. From what you said about your experience with Creek, "transparency" isn't a word that you'd use to describe their preamp. Am I misstating your position?

    Any experience or opinions regarding pre's from Roksan? Thanks again for the suggestions.

    Q

  13. #13
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    Surprisingly the system that gets the most use is the Von Schweikert FPS I have hooked up to my computer...A change is in the wind for my Audio setup soon. I've got my eye on another piece of gear, and it's just a couple weeks away now. Still keeping the passive pre though!
    How does that FPS system sound anyway? Enquiring minds want to know !

    Spill the beans, what are you replacing now? C'mon, let's have it. Don't make me send over Guido the Killer Pimp!


    Q,
    After completely overspending for surround speakers, I was really hoping hi-rez multi-channel would be my saving grace, or at the very least give me an excuse for my stupidity. Alas, it looks like SACD and DVD-A aren't going to make it. I was planning on buying a nice little universal player later this year, but I'm not sure it's going to be necessary. The labels simply aren't releasing enough good music in hi-rez to make it worthwhile. Too bad, like you I really believe in the technology.

    Paul Lam used to frequent these boards quite a bit. Haven't heard from him in a while tho. Maybe he left with the Great Exodus? Hey Gonefishin', where do you get info on his pre-amp?

  14. #14
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    .

    Paul Lam used to frequent these boards quite a bit. Haven't heard from him in a while tho. Maybe he left with the Great Exodus? Hey Gonefishin', where do you get info on his pre-amp?

    Hi Topspeed,

    Paul can still be found over at AA talking about FT Audio products.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire

    My thoughts on the passive preamp were that it would be very transparent to the source, and while some might not see that as being an advantage with Redbook CD playback, preferring a pre that conceals the formats shortcomings or alters the signal in some "favorable" way, this seemed an ideal attribute for SACD playback. From what you said about your experience with Creek, "transparency" isn't a word that you'd use to describe their preamp. Am I misstating your position?

    Any experience or opinions regarding pre's from Roksan? Thanks again for the suggestions.

    Q
    No, I wouldn't say that the Creeks strength would be transparency. I suppose it's strength would be that it's a nice little portable passive in a small box (with a remote to boot )

    SACD can fall victim to the same shortcomings as redbooks largest criminal. Poor recordings.

    If your system and listening habits indicate a passive preamp would be a good choice, then it shouldn't matter if your using redbook or sacd.

    Myself, I've never heard the Roksan.


    Where do you live?


    dan
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  15. #15
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    "Your not a dying breed, your a living breed with ancient habits!! LOL "

    Somehow, this statement doesn't make me feel any better! LOL

    "With income from the studio's cash cow slightly down(CD sales slipped majorly last year), and the slowing down of new releases, the record companies are not in the mood to release product to a niche set of formats."

    How depressing. The trouble is, they have done everything they could to keep them as niche formats: Like I said in an earlier post, I think if the SACD camp had released their product as Hybrid and Multichannel from the very beginning, they would have captured a much larger market which would have helped to insure the success of the format. All they are accomplishing by limiting the availablity of their product now, is to piss off those who have supported them up to this point and made it even less likely to enlist new supporters.

    I, like you, have taken the time and effort to setup all my speakers equidistant to the listening position and have purchased speakers which are capable of being run "large" specifically to optimize my system for Hi Rez Multichannel Music. I've been very pleased with the results thus far, but I'm not pleased to find dwindling product with which to take advantage of this setup. My only saving grace was that I ventured into these formats with some thought and purchased an SACD player which is great for Redbook CD playback and a DVD player which supported DVD-A but most importantly, provides a great Progressively Scanned picture for my projection system. These are products that I needed anyway and will be happy with regardless of the success or failure of the Hi Rez Music formats -- but some are not so fortunate.

    So what's your view for the long term prognosis of these formats?

    Q

  16. #16
    Suspended Smokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    So what's your view for the long term prognosis of these formats?
    At the beginning of launching of these formats, I was like everybody else and thought the formats will be a dominate one in few years. But looks like the format is taking hold slower than expected, and might even faulter.

    I believe the convenience of newer technology such as Ipod, M3player, CD-RW and Satellite audio have made the mass movement to new audio format such as DVD-a/SACD less appealing. For example, since got satellite radio couple of years back, I have stopped buying CDs (price of 1 CD equal one month satellite radio service).

    Price of new formats might also be factor here. If price of DVD-A/SACD match the price of their CD counterpart-or lower, then these formats might have a chance in making it big with public, audiophiles...and even a living breed with ancient habits

  17. #17
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    "Your not a dying breed, your a living breed with ancient habits!! LOL "

    Somehow, this statement doesn't make me feel any better! LOL

    "With income from the studio's cash cow slightly down(CD sales slipped majorly last year), and the slowing down of new releases, the record companies are not in the mood to release product to a niche set of formats."

    How depressing. The trouble is, they have done everything they could to keep them as niche formats: Like I said in an earlier post, I think if the SACD camp had released their product as Hybrid and Multichannel from the very beginning, they would have captured a much larger market which would have helped to insure the success of the format. All they are accomplishing by limiting the availablity of their product now, is to piss off those who have supported them up to this point and made it even less likely to enlist new supporters.

    I, like you, have taken the time and effort to setup all my speakers equidistant to the listening position and have purchased speakers which are capable of being run "large" specifically to optimize my system for Hi Rez Multichannel Music. I've been very pleased with the results thus far, but I'm not pleased to find dwindling product with which to take advantage of this setup. My only saving grace was that I ventured into these formats with some thought and purchased an SACD player which is great for Redbook CD playback and a DVD player which supported DVD-A but most importantly, provides a great Progressively Scanned picture for my projection system. These are products that I needed anyway and will be happy with regardless of the success or failure of the Hi Rez Music formats -- but some are not so fortunate.

    So what's your view for the long term prognosis of these formats?

    Q
    My feeling is that until the record industry becomes more profitable, then we are not likely to see a rapid roll out of new product. That goes for both SACD and DVD-A. Because profits are lagging so badly, and what IS turned in terms of CD's are not selling, then all new product(speaking of CD) rollout is being slowed, and money spent to rollout these newer formats is greatly curtailed. I am truely dissappointed with Sony however, because they know good and well SACD will not sound its best without DSD based alignment tools. They have done absolutely nothing to develope and released these tools to bolster their products performances and visibility.

    In the last 18 months or so, I have worked on 6 live recordings destined for either SACD or DVD-A release, and none of them at this point is even in the release pipeline. That should tell you something about where they are at right now.
    Sir Terrence

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  18. #18
    Forum Regular edtyct's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, Rotel's latest components have an interesting option for SACD through small speakers and a sub without degrading the sound with typical bass-management and digital-delay processing. Retaining as much of a pure analog bypass as possible, the Rotel preamps take a duplicate mono snapshot of the multiple channels and send the result through a 100hz crossover to create a summed subwoofer signal. Thus, the basic speaker channels are left intact, but the subwoofer receives a synthesized composite feed to round out the sound. Not a bad compromise.

    It is too bad about DVD-A and SACD. I do think that the competition between the two formats, though probably not totally responsible for their individual difficulties in the marketplace, created just enough distraction, dissatisfaction, and complication to impede their popularity. The current universal players offer too little, too late. Given the drop in music revenue across the board, you'd think that a well-handled launch of high-resolution audio might have been just the pick-me-up that the industry needed, but not after such a long period of gross mismanagement during which the new low-fi formats were able to gain a foothold. After all, the video side is chomping at the bit for hi def to boost a DVD market that appears ready for a new cash cow. It remains to be seen what competing formats will do in this instance.

    By the way, Terrence, since you seem to be well-positioned, have you heard anything about the Byrds Fifth Dimension SACD, which has been rumored to emerge for at least six months?

    Ed

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