Quantcast

Help with 2 channel

MartinLogan Owners (MLO)

Help Support MartinLogan Owners (MLO):

G

greggara

Guest
I just registered to this site but have been lurking for some time. Great site by the way. I have a pair of Ascent I's, cinema center and some cheap surrounds for now. I am using a B&K reference 50 with a Sunfire cinema grand signature 425X5 I believe. My cd and dvd player is a Pioneer dV59. I am looking to improve my 2 channel but dont know where to start. I find the sound to be a little harsh. I have been reading that a preamp would be the place to start but maybe I should change the amp or even try an integrated. Then I have read that a good cd player will do wonders. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

DTB300

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
2,146
Reaction score
0
Location
Fallout 3 Land
"Usually" the source is a great place to start, but you may like the sound of your Pioneer player. Changing your Pre from the B&K to a dedicated Pre could be a big difference. There are some of us here, who view the B&K as bright, thin, or whatever you want to call it. Then there are some here who absolutely love their B&K stuff. If you do get a pre, make sure to have a HT Pass-Through, so you can Pre Out from the B&K back through the new Pre to your mains. This way you can still use the B&K for movies/HT stuff, but use the Pre for 2 Channel. This is what I do, so I get the best of 2 Channel, but can also do the HT things and some MCH Audio.

Best thing to do it audition some stuff, bring it home and see what difference it makes. Some stores will let you demo at home without a purchase (credit card hold), some require a purchase and will allow returns within "X" number of days for full refund.

You will get a lot of advice here on what to do, but you need to decide what sounds best to you as we each have our own preferences - Tubes, Solid State, Player types and models, etc. etc.

Dan
 

MarkNewbie

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
376
Reaction score
0
Location
Indiana
greggara said:
I just registered to this site but have been lurking for some time. Great site by the way. I have a pair of Ascent I's, cinema center and some cheap surrounds for now. I am using a B&K reference 50 with a Sunfire cinema grand signature 425X5 I believe. My cd and dvd player is a Pioneer dV59. I am looking to improve my 2 channel but dont know where to start. I find the sound to be a little harsh. I have been reading that a preamp would be the place to start but maybe I should change the amp or even try an integrated. Then I have read that a good cd player will do wonders. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
Welcome on board Greg!

Dan probably just gave you the best advice you're going to find. Home audition. :D

IMHO, I blended tube and SS as I think all SS is harsh and the tubes take out some of the harshness and add warmth. My pre has the HT Pass-through as I was thinking of the future. I am only two channel right now but HT is in the future.

Have fun with it!
 

jjqiv

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
355
Reaction score
0
Location
Los Gatos, CA
DTB300 said:
"If you do get a pre, make sure to have a HT Pass-Through, so you can Pre Out from the B&K back through the new Pre to your mains. This way you can still use the B&K for movies/HT stuff, but use the Pre for 2 Channel.
Dan
No, a HT Pass-Through is not required. No need to limit yourself to two channel preamps with HT pass through. Just go from the pre-outs of the processor to an used set of inputs on the two channel pre. You just need to adjust the two channel preamps volume to the same setting each time use the processor.
 

DTB300

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
2,146
Reaction score
0
Location
Fallout 3 Land
jjqiv said:
No, a HT Pass-Through is not required. No need to limit yourself to two channel preamps with HT pass through. Just go from the pre-outs of the processor to an used set of inputs on the two channel pre. You just need to adjust the two channel preamps volume to the same setting each time use the processor.
The Pass Through makes life very easy....no volume matching required...all controlled by the HT unit. As I sit and watch a movie, and I turn up the HT unit volume, I do not want to get up and try to match the level of the mains with the pre amp control. Once you have had volume matching, going back is terrible, like having a remote, it is something you will always be glad you had.

Being that he asked about 2 Channel, that is the reply and advice I gave. They can also go with a MCH Pre Amp if they wish.
 
R

rynopr

Guest
"Changing your Pre from the B&K to a dedicated Pre could be a big difference."

The ref. 50 is a dedicated pre.
 

DTB300

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
2,146
Reaction score
0
Location
Fallout 3 Land
rynopr said:
"Changing your Pre from the B&K to a dedicated Pre could be a big difference."

The ref. 50 is a dedicated pre.
The Ref 50 is a PreAmp, Tuner, & Processor.

I was talking about Pre Amp only...no other components to it, but still use the 50 for HT Processing. They may like the sound of another Pre Amp only compared to the B&K - maybe not.
 

Spike

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
754
Reaction score
16
Location
SF Bay Area
Pre-amp for 2-channel

Welcome aboard! Looking at your system, I think the "weakpoint" is the B&K Ref50 processor and this is where I would improve for 2-channel. The B&K is good for HT/surround application, but is lacking for pure 2-channel experience. The reason being that the B&K Ref50 is designed to be a surround sound processor first and pulling double duty for 2-channel. The typical characteristics for the pre-pro unit is that it produces "over-processed" or electronic signature instead of keeping the signal as pure as possible. In your case, I would add a good preamp for 2-channel listenning, and hook up the B&K to the preamp as a processor unit. If you do look at pre-amp, you might as well look for one with a home-theater bypass mode (sometimes call processor loop) to simplify the initial setting up of balancing gains on all 5 channels, as well as foregoing the need to set the volume of the pre-amp to a set position everytime you want to sit down and watch a movie. There are lots of pre-amp choices and it all depends on your budget and preferences. You need to audition and figure out what works best for you. As Roberto always said "trust your ears". The rest of your system looks like they are up to the task so I would not make changes to them just yet. The Pioneer DV59 and the Sunfire are no slouch and they are good building blocks for your system so I would not consider an integrated amplifier at this point.
On the solid-state or tube debate, there are 2 camps (I'm on the tube side) but that is a personal choice. Even with solid-state pre-amps, there are some excellent transparent units, rivaling the tube offerings. The B&K Ref50 being lacking for 2-channel should not discourage you from auditioning other good solid-state pre-amps out there. Again, you need to...trust your ears on this one. Here's the link to a review of the B&K Ref50 on Perfect Vision where the reviewer found the similar characteristics that you already found:
http://www.theperfectvision.com/newsletter/tpv52/b&k_controller_amplifier.html

Good luck on your search
Spike
 

jjqiv

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
355
Reaction score
0
Location
Los Gatos, CA
DTB300 said:
The Pass Through makes life very easy....no volume matching required...all controlled by the HT unit. As I sit and watch a movie, and I turn up the HT unit volume, I do not want to get up and try to match the level of the mains with the pre amp control. Once you have had volume matching, going back is terrible, like having a remote, it is something you will always be glad you had.

Being that he asked about 2 Channel, that is the reply and advice I gave. They can also go with a MCH Pre Amp if they wish.
Not trying to step on your fingers or anything but, I would go for a preamp that sounds the best over a pre that offers convenience. With a pre with a stepped attenuator or numeric display, it is a very easy change. For the money, he may be able to find a better pre w/o a pass through.
 

jjqiv

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
355
Reaction score
0
Location
Los Gatos, CA
DTB300 said:
The Pass Through makes life very easy....no volume matching required...all controlled by the HT unit. As I sit and watch a movie, and I turn up the HT unit volume, I do not want to get up and try to match the level of the mains with the pre amp control. Once you have had volume matching, going back is terrible, like having a remote, it is something you will always be glad you had.

Being that he asked about 2 Channel, that is the reply and advice I gave. They can also go with a MCH Pre Amp if they wish.
Not trying to step on your fingers or anything but, I would go for a preamp that sounds the best over a pre that offers convenience. With a two channel pre with a stepped attenuator or numeric display, it is a very easy change when switcing over to watch movies. Once the two channel volume is set a specific point, there is no need to adjust its volume when you adjust the volume on HT processor. Specially when you consider the $$$$$, it may be much easier able to find a better pre w/o a pass through.
 
R

rynopr

Guest
DTB300,

My mistake--duh! I see what you are saying now. Thanks for the clarification.
 

DTB300

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
2,146
Reaction score
0
Location
Fallout 3 Land
rynopr said:
My mistake--duh! I see what you are saying now. Thanks for the clarification.
I knew what I what I wanted to say :) but I needed to be more clear too!!! That is the trouble with forums...we cannot talk face to face and sometimes we have to guess...

As a processor only, the B&K would be fine, just take the Pre Amp mode away from it buy adding a Pre of choice - Tube or Solid State. With the user already having a Solid State amp, a Tube Pre would be a good starting place, then audition a Solid State Pre and make the sonic preference choice from there.

Dan
 

DTB300

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
2,146
Reaction score
0
Location
Fallout 3 Land
jjqiv said:
Not trying to step on your fingers or anything
Not taken that way at all. And it is nice for the person asking questions to have other alternatives to know what they are getting into.

With a two channel pre with a stepped attenuator or numeric display, it is a very easy change when switcing over to watch movies.
Since I have the ability to do it both ways, I have tried both, and the HT Passthrough just makes life so much easier.....for me that is.

Once the two channel volume is set a specific point, there is no need to adjust its volume when you adjust the volume on HT processor. Specially when you consider the $$$$$, it may be much easier able to find a better pre w/o a pass through.........I would go for a preamp that sounds the best over a pre that offers convenience.
When I purchased my Pre Amp, it had the HT Passthrough, but I purchased it based on its sonics (as you stated) as I needed a new Pre Amp at the time as the old one just had too many problems. Just so happened when I bought my cheapo HT Receiver, I had the HT passthrough already on the Pre, and found the feature very nice to have.

Dan
 
Last edited:

SteveInNC

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 3, 2005
Messages
480
Reaction score
0
Location
Research Triangle, NC
I had great improvement in the sound of my Ascents by changing the room layout. Reorienting everything such that I now have bookcases behind the speakers greatly smoothed out the sound. I originally felt that they sounded harsh too. The bookcases break up the reflections as compared to the original drywall surface.

A very quick and dirty test to see if room acoustics might be a factor is to drape a bath towel over the back side of the panels, thus canceling the front reflections.

I would say that messing with the room layout is the cheapest fix to this, but it caused me to end up buying a new DLP TV, component stand, and other furniture to fit the new living room layout... :)
 
G

greggara

Guest
Thank you for the warm welcome. I appreciate all of the replies, they are helpful. I am going to try out some preamps and would like to hear some opinions on brands and models. Either tube or SS. I am looking to spend between 1.5 and 2K. Thanks again
 

Spike

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
754
Reaction score
16
Location
SF Bay Area
Here are a few...

Marsh Sound Design (http://www.marshsounddesign.com) offers both tube and solid-state pre-amps. Ridiculously low price for their performance level.

Cary Audio (http://www.caryaudio.com) offers excellent tubed pre-amp with HT bypass.

ModWright (http://www.modwright.com) Tubed preamp with HT bypass and remote controlled. This is the one I got after lots of auditioning.

Pass Labs (http://www.passlabs.com) Excellent, transparent solid-state preamp.

Conrad Johnson (http://www.conradjohnson.com) Reputable tubed preamp with HT bypass.

There are more: BAT (http://www.balanced.com), ARC (http://www.audioresearch.com), etc... You probably noticed that there are lots of tubed preamp on my list and not too many solid-state ones. I did mentioned that I'm on the tube camp, didn't I?

Good luck
Spike
 

DTB300

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
2,146
Reaction score
0
Location
Fallout 3 Land
Spike said:
ModWright (http://www.modwright.com) Tubed preamp with HT bypass and remote controlled. This is the one I got after lots of auditioning.
At the latest Rocky Mtn Audio Festival, people were falling all over themselves concerning the Modwright Pre Amp. EVERYONE Loved it and wanted it in their room, if they already didn't.

Dan
 

MarkNewbie

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
376
Reaction score
0
Location
Indiana
greggara said:
Thank you for the warm welcome. I appreciate all of the replies, they are helpful. I am going to try out some preamps and would like to hear some opinions on brands and models. Either tube or SS. I am looking to spend between 1.5 and 2K. Thanks again
There are a ton to chose from. I would recommend that you go used and you can find some good deals on Audiogon. That is www.audiogon.com :cool:

Since I plan on doing the HT thingy in the future, the Pass-Through was one of the features I looked for. Take a look at the latest Sterophile magazine as they have some great recommendations in their 500 Recommended Components section. :D
 
G

greggara

Guest
I am going to audition some models from the list and go from there. Thanks again to everyone for their help.
 

Craig

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
1,463
Reaction score
1
Location
U.S.
I have an alternative recommendation to improve your 2-channel performance.

I wouldn't point the blame at the Ref 50 so fast. I use it in my system and find it does 2 channel as well as 5 channel very well when used in "Direct" mode. The "Direct" or "Analog" mode is just that..No processing is involved. My HT system consist of the B&K Ref 50, Sunfire Cinema Grand II, Cary DVD-6, Ascents, Cinema and Scripts.

1. Try a better dedicated 2-channel front-end component. However, you may find your Pioneer to work well after trying 2-5.
2. Experiment with speaker placement and room acoustics to smooth out any brightness or harshness.
3. Be sure to setup your Ref 50 to play your front-end component in "Direct" mode. It will sound much better if your front-end component is doing the digital-to-analog converting rather than the Ref 50. Your Ref 50 will sound its best when the source is received in the analog format with no processing. Don't use the digital input for 2-channel. You can also adjust the input level for each source to better match your source component.
4. Take advantage of the Ref 50's XLR inputs and outputs when possible.
5. The Sunfire amp is good match with the logans. For the 2 front main speakers I use a shotgun speakerwire setup with the "current output" speaker terminals driving the panels and "voltage output" terminals driving the woofers. If you use just one then use the "current output" terminals.

The Ref 50 is not the easiest Pre-Pro to setup but is no slouch when setup properly. I had to spend quite some time reading the manual to figure it all out but very pleased with it now. Also, the remote took a lot effort to learn how to program the computer software but it easily controls nearly all my equipment now.

Of course, I wouldn't knock a tube pre as a nice addition for 2-channel. But there are some nice tubed CD players you could use and therefore wouldn't really need to find a tube pre with HT bypass.

Hope this gives you a few more options to consider.

Your welcome to stop by and listen my system if you're ever in the Tampa Bay area.
 
Last edited:
Top