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Receiver as preamp / av processor

dnyvdm

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Jan 11, 2022
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Currently, I am using a NAD T777 v3 for a 5.1 surround setup. Although the measurements, were not the best the sound is good, and it has a Bluesound streamer build in that I use for Tidal and/or Spotify and FLAC playback. Also has Dirac but I am not using that.

Recently, I have added a Audiophonics Hypex Ncore amp (based on the NC502MP) for my two front channels. This sound really great and I am planning on adding another Ncore amp for the center channel and maybe also for the 2 surround channels. I have no plans for 7.1 or Atmos, beside stereo listening 5.1 is enough for me to enjoy Netflix, Prime etc.

This might be a waste of the T777 build in amps so I have looked at separate AV preamps/processors but the prices for these (Emotiva, Anthem, Arcam, NAD masters, Marantz etc.) are ridiculous compared to a receiver that does the same. Most likely, these AV processors do not have better DAC's and DSP's than their receiver siblings. Possibly balanced outputs could be a benefit, but I am also not planning on using those. Typical AV processor has a small power supply, HDMI board and a DAC/DSP board with digital inputs and outputs for all the channels for $2000 or more.

So I could keep the NAD T777 as my preamp, or would it be better (and cheaper) to sell the NAD and buy a Denon/Marantz with 7.2 external outputs and the new pre-amp mode that was introduced in 2020 with some models.

Also, is the streaming/DAC that Denon or Marantz provide as good as the Bluesound streamer in the NAD with Tidal?

Any recommendations?
 

SuicideSquid

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Jan 20, 2022
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IMO the only significant advantage you're going to get in selling your NAD and going to a Denon 3700 or 4700 with that setup is going to be 8k or 4k/120Hz video and a couple extra HDMI ports.

Unfortunately the home theatre pre/pro market isn't in a great place right now. Hopefully post-pandemic we'll get some new models that incorporate modern DACs and video processing, but right now, it looks to me like you have to spend a lot to get something that gives you marginally better performance than what you have already.

The other thing to consider is that something like a Denon 4700 gives you a decent amount more oomph to your surround/centre channels than the NAD - you might be happy with the Denon powering your centre and rears and the Hypex on your mains (this is exactly what I'm building right now, FWIW) rather than buying more Hypex modules.
 

dlaloum

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Oct 4, 2021
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I have been using my AVR's as pre-pro's for L/C/R for years, while using internal amps for surrounds....

I needed more current for my L/C/R speakers (difficult, low impedance, load) - which meant that external amps appropriate to the speakers, improved things

The surrounds are an easy load, made even easier for the AVR given it does not need to drive the fronts... (ie: lots of power supply capacity!)

The DAC's tend to perform within the same overall performance zone as many stereo only products.... and often perform best when the power supply is not under load (so an advantage with using external amps).
 
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