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looking for prepro processor recommendations...


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If you can find an Onkyo 5509 for a good price grab it. I do 7.1 (.2 if that's really a thing) and honestly it's a fantastic machine. Since I have no interest is atmos I will run this thing until it dies. It really does sound very good. I just adjust the levels with an spl meter but I think it has the better room correction dealio that was available.

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The Emotiva XMC-1 and subsequent Emotiva pre/pros do have good SINAD performance as compared to even the Anthem pre/pros, and they come with Dirac (which is easily updated to Dirac Live Full for about $100).  A pre/pro is nothing but a glorified multichannel DAC with gain control, so SINAD performance is a reasonable way to grade the pre/pros.  I would pay attention to that, as that's about the only thing that I can even slightly tell the difference between pre/pros in terms of sound quality. 


I've also stated that the Emotiva XMC-1 firmware is less smooth and mature as compared to, say, Onkyos.  This is a minor annoyance in practice I've found, as I don't tend to jump around from source-to-source very much (I only use only two players and one computer--all on HDMI).  There are some transitions that still produce a bump in the audio stream, and things can get hung up on video switching of streams, but nothing that's serious.


However, as I've mentioned elsewhere, all of the "room correction software" packages do have consistent problems trying to take measurements too far away-- at the listening position(s) instead of nearfield, and in fact are trying to correct for non-minimum-phase response (something that you really can't do) below about 500 Hz.  I've documented this.  This is really annoying in that it would take very little for the folks at Dirac to provided a "move the mike' option between loudspeakers in order to first correct the EQ and phase response, then one more at the listening position to correct the time-of-arrival (distances) from each loudspeaker.  This would basically solve the EQ problems. All the room correction software packages are trying to ignore the fact that a listening room is not an anechoic chamber, and they are not paying attention to getting rid of the non-minimum phase reflections in their measurements by moving the microphone too far back away from each loudspeaker under test.


Klipsch has announced that it's acquired Onkyo this past summer, so that might be a consideration, too, in that newer pre/pros may come out that have settings more conducive to Klipsch branded loudspeakers.  Again, YMMV.



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I have had a Yamaha CX-A5200 for a couple of years but recently found a Marantz AV8805 for a decent price. It is a huge upgrade for my rather involved basement system. I was close to going with Anthem or Monoprice but availability and lots of reports of buggy software made me try the Marantz. I'm super glad I did, my basement system sounds so good I'm afraid to to mess with the settings. The Audessy room correction is not as good a Dirac (at least in what I read) but I use all active crossovers and have spent a lot of time and effort with REW so it didn't hace a lot to do.

Again, the sound is phenoninal in my systen (and the Yamaha was no slouch). 

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Count me as another vote to Yamaha's CX-A preamps.  I'm floored at the quality of build in my 5100 and it does all that I want and more.  I was able to get it on A4L for $1,500.  I don't use the YPAO, but most people that I know of that use it rave about it.  


At the risk of a few fans balking at me, I will share that I can't stay far enough away from Emotiva products.  Every single Emotiva pre or unit that I've owned that's had some kind of digital interface has had problems or failed in an unreasonably short amount of time. I don't know about their newer stuff, but at least as recently as their MC-700, their pre's and CD transports were abysmal (oops, it's a day out of warranty...guess you'll have to pay us $200 to look at it, plus shipping).  Oof.

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I would look at Lexicon, Arcam or Rotel.


The former 2 especially have all the DIRAC bells and whistles and will do all the current formats. In your case for 5.1 you'll be getting at best TrueHD 5.1/DTS-HD MA 5.1 layer embedded in Dolby Atmos and DTS:X streams.


What I like about Arcam is they offer better support than others for legacy lossy digital surround formats like DTS-ES.


Also keep an eye out for JBL Synthesis stuff which is mainly used in pro installs and mostly rebranded Lexicon, Bryston, Trinnov etc. you can sometimes get unbelievable deals on those pre-pros.


I personally don't like the Audyssey, DIRAC, Yamaha YPAO etc. stuff as I find that DSP to be invasive and muck up the sound. I'm more a believer in physical room treatment and a processor faithfully decoding and reproducing the source as pure as possible. But if you want DIRAC or similar, I'd basically look at the Harman family of brands for your pre-pro.


Good luck!

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