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Old 10-25-2009, 12:00 AM   #1
ldgibson76 ldgibson76 is offline
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Default The often debated: Pre-pro/MC Amp or AVR/MC Amp or Just AVR

Hello fellow members.

I would like to pose my dilemma to the AVR/Pre-pro/Multi-Channel amp connaisseurs.
Initially, my plan was to replace my aging 50" Samsung 720P plasma with a 63" Samsung plasma, but, life intervened and money was diverted to other pressing issues. But the upgraditis symptoms never subsided. They have intensified! So next in line is the AVR/Pre-pro quandary. You must understand, I'm under tight fiscal restraints orchestrated by the wife. Purchasing anything electronic would be vetoed in an immediate fashion! followed by a tongue lashing
So the upgrade must be clandestine in nature. You see, purchasing a larger flat panel would be too obvious, but a new pre-pro or AVR, there's a good chance that she wouldn't know the difference.
Now, I'm currently using a legacy AVR as a pre-pro and multi-channel amp combo.
Marantz SR9300

Marantz MM9000 and Belkin PureAV 24502 3-in-1 HDMI switcher.


Room size: 18 x 11.6 x 8
Speakers: 6.1 Klipsch Reference RF35 Towers; RC35 Center; RS35 Surrounds; RS25 Rear; RSW10 Sub.
Seating position: Approximately 9 1/2 ft from the TV (dead center)
55% music listening, 45% movie viewing
Music preference: Jazz; Jazz vocals; R&B; Movie Musical Scores/soundtracks; Classical; Alternative
Movie Preferences: Action; Suspense; Family; Comedy.
Please view gallery to get a visual of the room and current setup.

Priorities are:

Smooth/seamless HDMI switching
Hi-Rez audio decoding
Quality 2 channel playback
Ability to accommodate 10 components
User Friendliness-easy adjustments and calibration (bass management)

Here's my choices:
1) Replace the Marantz SR9300 with the Marantz SR6003 and continue to use the Marantz MM9000 170W x 5 amp.
http://us.marantz.com/SR6003_Spec_sheet_11182008.pdf
Pros:
a) 3 HDMI inputs, all repeating
b) Decodes all lossless audio codecs
c) Audessey MultEQ
d) Easy integration because of existing Marantz macros in Universal Remote.
e) Currently on sale for $600.00 (very attractive)
Spouse Detectability: Very unlikely!

Cons:
a) May have to sacrifice some of my devices due to lack of inputs (ultimately, not a bad thing).
b) Known to have some HDMI handshake issues with gaming and some bluray products.
c) Only 3 HDMI inputs, I have 4 HDMI compatible devices.
d) Made in China! Say what you want, but I've seen and experienced the China-made products from marantz and I can tell you, there is a difference in the quality compared to the older Japan-made products. In particular, the attention to detail. Those who have had older Marantz products and then purchased new Marantz offerings will likely tell you the same.

2) The Onkyo SC-885 Pre-Pro w/the Rotel RMB-1095 200w x 5 amp.
http://www.onkyopro.com/model.cfm?m=...eamplifier&p=i
http://www.rotel.com/NA/Products/Pro...tails.htm?Id=2
Pros:
a) True separates combo! High quality components!
b) Plenty of inputs on the Onkyo to accomdate my component heavy system.
c) The RMB-1095 is an awesome amp, great buy! From what I've seen, the Rotel will maintain higher resale value over models from Outlaw or Emotiva because of price point and demand. Not knocking the Emotiva or Outlaw products at all. Both manufacturers make fantastic products.
d) The Onkyo sports the Reon-VX HQV chip.
e) With diligent research, the combo can be had for $1500-1800.00.
Spouse Detectability: Unlikely

Cons:
a) Discontinued models and most likely must purchase used or refurbished.
b) Known lip-sync issues with the Onkyo pre-amp. (too many variances to determine the reason)
c) Documented DSP/DTS-HDMA handling issues (subjective at best)
d) Popping issues during switching (rare occurances)
e) Must totally reprogram my MX850 remote
e) Unimpressive OSD. (when compared to other makes) Still functional though.

The AVR route: Pioneer Elite SC-27
http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PU...uro?tab=BPros:
a) ICE amps! All-in-one solution! Ice amps virtually eliminates concerns regarding the quality of the amp section.
b) Has more than enough inputs to accomodate my boxes.
c) Extremely good looking AVR. Love the tall profile
d) THX Ultra2 Plus certified.
e) 4 HDMI inputs and almost limitless versatility!
f) On sale for $1599.99!

Cons:
a) Must reprogram my remote.
b) Because of the SC-27's tall profile, it may have to be relocated in the current configuration and require repositioning of my components which means a total rewire/cable management project! (the horror!)
c) Because the All-in-one solution, if anything new comes down the line that is considered a "must-have", and it will, may require replacing the AVR. With a pre-amp/MC amp combo, replacing the pre-pro will most likely be the solution and least costly.
d) Matching the SC-27 Ice amp section with Klipsch Reference speakers.
I've yet to here ICE amps with Klipsch Reference speakers. Not sure if the two are a good match.
e) Out of the three choices, because of the Pioneer's tall profile and glossy front panel (she's always notices shiney things) maybe the one upgrade that could be recognized by the wife, and then the gig is up! I would be made! I'd be in the dog house for the rest of the year, or until she too, received something very shiny ! If you know what I mean!
Spouse Detectability: 10-25%

So now you guys have the three scenarios. Based on my current system, room and circumstances, what would be the best move.

And if anyone has a better solution, then by all means, share!

Please forgive the usage of smiley faces! Just tryin' to convey the emotion of the mission!

Last edited by ldgibson76; 12-09-2009 at 03:28 AM. Reason: More information about the room and entertainment preferences
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Old 10-25-2009, 04:38 AM   #2
ldgibson76 ldgibson76 is offline
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29 views and not one response. Am I asking the wrong question?
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Old 10-25-2009, 04:46 AM   #3
SeanMF SeanMF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldgibson76 View Post
29 views and not one response. Am I asking the wrong question?
Give it time...it's a saturday night. My vote is for the marantz/amp or the pioneer. Really can't go wrong with the pioneer though and its a magnificient receiver. You go the marantz route...you be interested in a 5003 or you sold on the 6003?
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Old 10-25-2009, 12:59 PM   #4
Johnny Vinyl Johnny Vinyl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanfarley2 View Post
Give it time...it's a saturday night. My vote is for the marantz/amp or the pioneer. Really can't go wrong with the pioneer though and its a magnificient receiver. You go the marantz route...you be interested in a 5003 or you sold on the 6003?
Also, it's a long post with a lot of information. Great that you provided it, but it'll take some time to digest.

John
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Old 10-25-2009, 01:12 PM   #5
rded rded is offline
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Ldgibson76:
I would like to ask you a question: Have you considered upgrading your speakers? Those Marantz pieces that you have are very musical and the biggest difference will be heard by a speaker upgrade But that's just my opinion. I do find the Pioneer receivers to have a sterile sound and believe it or not, I prefer the Marantz sound over Rotel pieces.
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Old 10-25-2009, 03:33 PM   #6
Blu-Dog Blu-Dog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldgibson76 View Post
29 views and not one response. Am I asking the wrong question?
I think the fact that you have to hide this from your spouse just has everyone shaking their head.

Go the SC-07 route, it's the best way.
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Old 10-25-2009, 03:59 PM   #7
ManUtd ManUtd is offline
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I have a Pioneer Elite as pre/pro and Rotel as power amp (different than what you're looking at though) and love it but in your case I would go with the Marantz receiver + Marantz power amp. I assume you are happy with your current amp so adding the receiver is the best-choice for you IMO. Least financial impact and it should integrate well with your amp. And since you stressed this in your post, it is the most clandestine! Good luck!
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Old 10-25-2009, 04:07 PM   #8
ldgibson76 ldgibson76 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rded View Post
Ldgibson76:
I would like to ask you a question: Have you considered upgrading your speakers? Those Marantz pieces that you have are very musical and the biggest difference will be heard by a speaker upgrade But that's just my opinion. I do find the Pioneer receivers to have a sterile sound and believe it or not, I prefer the Marantz sound over Rotel pieces.
Hello rded.

Thank you for your response to my lengthy inquiry.
I do agree that the Marantz combo is very musical. That's why I'm considering the Marantz SR6003.

In regards to the speaker upgrade. Without a doubt, other than room treatments, changing the speakers would have the most influence on the sound quality. But right now, to quell my need to upgrade, the AVR/Pre Pro/Amp replacement is the only financially feasible move I can make. My main priority is to get my system hi rez audio via HDMI ready and doing so not sacrificing quality. My speaker upgrade will most likely be a higher level Klipsch reference (RF63 Pkg) but that's early next year, hopefully.
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Old 10-25-2009, 04:15 PM   #9
SeanMF SeanMF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldgibson76 View Post
Hello rded.

Thank you for your response to my lengthy inquiry.
I do agree that the Marantz combo is very musical. That's why I'm considering the Marantz SR6003.

In regards to the speaker upgrade. Without a doubt, other than room treatments, changing the speakers would have the most influence on the sound quality. But right now, to quell my need to upgrade, the AVR/Pre Pro/Amp replacement is the only financially feasible move I can make. My main priority is to get my system hi rez audio via HDMI ready and doing so not sacrificing quality. My speaker upgrade will most likely be a higher level Klipsch reference (RF63 Pkg) but that's early next year, hopefully.
Your upgrading in the Klipsch speaker line so idk if you'd notice much of a change between the pioneer...marantz options. With hamp and his emo amp/klipsch speakers there was a big discussion on how effective it would be given the efficiency of klipsch speakers. Personally I thought it was a matter of not much wattage difference between what his amp was putting out and his receiver. Also had f-2s which I think in his case upgrading speakers would've benefited more than an amp. My vote is still for the pioneer and you have the option of adding amps (marantz ones even..could keep what you have possibly??) to give you that 'musical' feel if you so desire.
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Old 10-25-2009, 04:27 PM   #10
ldgibson76 ldgibson76 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blu-Dog View Post
I think the fact that you have to hide this from your spouse just has everyone shaking their head.

Go the SC-07 route, it's the best way.
Oh really! I'm sure I'm not the only one on this forum that has or will make a purchase unbeknownst to the spouse only to later reveal the purchase. It's not that critical. She knows that this is my hobby. But there are times when she can't justify my purchasing another electronic device, just like I can't justify her buying another pair of shoes or a purse. As long as it does not effect the overall family finances, we're cool.

By the way, I do like the idea of the Pioneer SC-07. But I'm afraid of premature obsolesence. Technology is progressing at such a rapid pace. If a new technology hit the market that required a new audio/video processor I would have to replace the 07 as a whole. With a Pre/pro, power amp combo, only the pre/pro would need to be replaced. The stand-a-alone amp is infinite.

Thanks again for the input.

Last edited by ldgibson76; 10-26-2009 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 10-25-2009, 04:35 PM   #11
ldgibson76 ldgibson76 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John72953 View Post
Also, it's a long post with a lot of information. Great that you provided it, but it'll take some time to digest.

John

Hello John.

You are right, it is a lot of info. Patience is a virtue.

Thanks for chilling me out!
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Old 10-25-2009, 11:06 PM   #12
^Lestat^ ^Lestat^ is offline
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Well if budget was the concern then marantz 6003 wins there. I have heard good things about the pio elites and i bet they would sound lovely paired with a power amp. But i would agree with rded here the best upgrade would be go for the 6003 and try to audition speakers. I chose klipsch reference for my HT but for music listening they dont really give me what im looking for. I am not sure how to put it but i feel that they lack soul. Anyway best of luck on whichever you do decide.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:00 AM   #13
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My $.02 would be to keep your current amp and either pick up the Marantz AV 8003 (can be found used should you go that route for 1800) or for a few hundred off retail from a dealer or pick up the cheaper Integra 9.9 or a 9.8 if you can still find one (they've been popping up used at or under 1k). I doubt you'll notice a difference by switching to a new amp, be it Rotel or the new Marantz, so I think your money would be better off saved and put towards a processor. One other processor to look at would be the NAD T175HD which is also in the 2k range. I feel like with the other options you won't really gain anything sonically and all that would be gained is convenience of having HDMI.

All said though, and I know it's already been mentioned, speakers would be my first upgrade if possible, but I know that is out of the question right now.
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:24 AM   #14
ldgibson76 ldgibson76 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ^Lestat^ View Post
Well if budget was the concern then marantz 6003 wins there. I have heard good things about the pio elites and i bet they would sound lovely paired with a power amp. But i would agree with rded here the best upgrade would be go for the 6003 and try to audition speakers. I chose klipsch reference for my HT but for music listening they dont really give me what im looking for. I am not sure how to put it but i feel that they lack soul. Anyway best of luck on whichever you do decide.
Hello Lestat.

Thanks for the response and input. I also like the idea of the 6003 because it allows for the least in modifications to the rest of the configuration. Integration would surely be the easiest when compared to the other scenarios. Due to the number of digital devices in my system, it can not accommodate all of the them. Like I say before, that's actually not a bad thing. But, I do prefer to keep all of the disc players in place for the time being.

In regards to the sound of the Klipsch, it is an acquired taste. When you say they seem to lack soul, are your referring to the lack of warmth? No doubt, it is a dynamic speaker, but at the same time, they are very revealing speakers and I like the fact that they are efficient and very detailed. Another trait I like about the Klipsch Reference is at lower volume levels, they are still very clear and revealing. I do believe that the Marantz warmth and the Klipsch's dynamic character serve as a perfect blend. IMO of course.

It's a hard choice, that's for sure.

Last edited by ldgibson76; 10-28-2009 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:22 AM   #15
Riff Magnum Riff Magnum is offline
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Originally Posted by Blu-Dog View Post
I think the fact that you have to hide this from your spouse just has everyone shaking their head.

Go the SC-07 route, it's the best way.
Obviously, they have separate accounts. I know my wife might not notice a new receiver, but she'll notice that $1200 hole in our bank account.

I second the idea of speaker upgrades as well. Your current marantz is fine for those klipsch.
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Old 11-03-2009, 11:13 PM   #16
ldgibson76 ldgibson76 is offline
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Well so far, out of the responses to my so-called dilemma, the results have varied.

3 votes for the Pioneer Elite SC-07
3 votes for the Marantz SR6003
2 votes for new speakers!
0 votes for the Onkyo/Rotel combo Which is very surprising!
1 vote in the "Other" category: Marantz AV8003 or NAD T175HD pre/pro

As stated above, I'm surprised that the Onkyo/Rotel combo did not get a vote. Although the most expensive of the choices, sans the speaker pkg option, it is a very potent combination.

In regards to speaker upgrade..... I would love to upgrade my speakers to the RF63's, but the budget will not allow for such an hefty purchase.
And for all of you "Honest Bobs'" out there, the wife has been briefed and is in full support of the pre-amp upgrade initiative!

I must say that I am considering an option that has been brought to my attention by ManUtd, the Pioneer and Rotel combo. Very appealing! Expensive, but very appealing!

If anyone else has a suggestion, please do tell!

Regards.
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldgibson76 View Post
Hello Lestat.

Thanks for the response and input. I also like the idea of the 6003 because it allows for the least in modifications to the rest of the configuration. Integration would surely be the easiest when compared to the other scenarios. Due to the number of digital devices in my system, it can not accommodate all of the them. Like I say before, that's actually not a bad thing. But, I do prefer to keep all of the disc players in place for the time being.

In regards to the sound of the Klipsch, it is an acquired taste. When you say they seem to lack soul, are your referring to the lack of warmth? No doubt, it is a dynamic speaker, but at the same time, they are very revealing speakers and I like the fact that they are efficient and very detailed. Another trait I like about the Klipsch Reference is at lower volume levels, they are still very clear and revealing. I do believe that the Marantz warmth and the Klipsch's dynamic character serve as a perfect blend. IMO of course.

It's a hard choice, that's for sure.
I apologize for the late reply. When i say they lack soul i just feel that they are too clinical. Should do fine with rock metal trash when i listened to them for music. I could not remember the site but there was this graph on items best bang for your buck and with the reference line would be the RF-82. At the price point of the RF63 i think it would be best to try and audition speakers above the 1k price point.

Niq
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:50 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldgibson76 View Post
Well so far, out of the responses to my so-called dilemma, the results have varied.

3 votes for the Pioneer Elite SC-07
3 votes for the Marantz SR6003
2 votes for new speakers!
0 votes for the Onkyo/Rotel combo Which is very surprising!
1 vote in the "Other" category: Marantz AV8003 or NAD T175HD pre/pro

As stated above, I'm surprised that the Onkyo/Rotel combo did not get a vote. Although the most expensive of the choices, sans the speaker pkg option, it is a very potent combination.

In regards to speaker upgrade..... I would love to upgrade my speakers to the RF63's, but the budget will not allow for such an hefty purchase.
And for all of you "Honest Bobs'" out there, the wife has been briefed and is in full support of the pre-amp upgrade initiative!

I must say that I am considering an option that has been brought to my attention by ManUtd, the Pioneer and Rotel combo. Very appealing! Expensive, but very appealing!

If anyone else has a suggestion, please do tell!

Regards.

My only suggestion would be to audition brands beyond just Klipsch when you go for the speaker upgrade. I would lean toward upgrading the pre-pro to the 6003, and make speakers your next priority. As you and others have acknowledged, upgrading speakers will bring the biggest improvement to your system.
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Old 11-06-2009, 07:05 PM   #19
ldgibson76 ldgibson76 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofgrills View Post
As you and others have acknowledged, upgrading speakers will bring the biggest improvement to your system.

Ouch! I know Klipsch is not for everyone. That I can acknowledge. But, it's not a bad speaker either. Yes, changing manufacturers can change the sound, but it's not a lock that it will improve it! I have a 5.1 Polk Audio RTi70 speaker pkg in my family room. The RTi's were initially my main speakers and when I replaced them with the Klipsch Reference pkg, was the sound quality improved? I would say it was different. Depending on what I listened too, at times, it can be considered an upgrade and other times, just a lateral move. Bottom line, they just sound different. I've auditioned several different speaker makes, but not in my home. In due time, the speaker upgrade or swap out will happen, but again, HDMI/1080P and Hi-Rez audio solution is the virtue.

Thanks for the input and suggestions.

Last edited by ldgibson76; 11-25-2009 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 11-12-2009, 02:45 AM   #20
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The Rotel RMB 1095 would stick out like dogs b..ls.
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