Hybrid system - experimenting and learning

I'm slowly building my "dedicated" stereo rig that also happens to function as a 5.1 HT, and learned something this weekend. The HT is run by a slimline Marantz AVR that has front pre-outs only. The pre-outs run to a Marantz integrated amp that had been set to power amp direct mode (aka home theater bypass), so in that configuration, my Squeezebox Touch feeds the AVR a digital stereo signal, and the AVR is a preamp with DAC, sending an analog signal to the amp.

Yesterday, I changed things up a little by turning off power amp direct mode and using the full function of the integrated amp for stereo listening. In this configuration, the SBT, using its own DAC, feeds an analog signal directly to the integrated amp. Wow, the difference was not slight! What I once thought sounded pretty decent (using the AVR as a pre), is no longer palatable. Even though the SBT DAC is probably inferior to the much newer Marantz AVR DAC, it seems the preamp stage of the integrated is considerably improved. More punch, more dynamics, more stereo separation - just plain better.

The next step will likely be the HD-DAC1, to improve on the SBT DAC. There will have to be some experimentation with this configuration, too, because the HD-DAC1 can also function as a preamp. So... I'll see about that when I get there.

Anyhow, I'm very pleased so far with this arrangement. The default plan is to leave the integrated in power amp direct mode for me and the fam to enjoy TV with surround, but when I really want to enjoy my music, I can easily switch over at the touch of a button.

Comments

  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 20,825
    edited April 2018
    ...
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, TriangleArt Reference SE with Pass Labs Xono Phono Preamp, Walker Precision Motor Drive, ClearAudio Goldfinger Diamond v2 cartridge and Origin Conquerer Mk3c tonearm, Polk Audio "Signature" Reference Series 1.2TL with complete mods, Pass Labs X0.2 three chassis preamp, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Pioneer Elite SC-65, Oppo UDP-205 4K Blu-ray player, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB700/800 "in-wall" surrounds.

    Saying that it's "too hard" to pursue your dreams is no different than admitting to yourself that you are too lazy to achieve them.

    “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
  • mlistens03mlistens03 Posts: 2,589
    Very interesting. I’ve never seen a “power amp mode” on a integrated before. Very nice, and keep us posted with updates!
    Not Tom or Trey or Jim just Micah
    KEF Q150s, NAD 1152 preamp and 4452 tuner courtesy of DaddyJT, NAD C352 playing power amp, BJC Belden cables, Technics SL3200, Marantz CD6004 courtesy of Clipdat, Salamander Archetype rack, Millenium Falcon :)
    I've always thought the goal of high-end audio was not to have your neighbors bang on the wall and say, 'Turn that darn music down' but to have your neighbors bang on the wall and say, 'Tell your friends to go home and you can practice later this week'.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,116
    once upon a time separable power & preamps in integrated (stereo) amplifiers was a fairly common feature, but the driver for including such a feature in those ancient times was somewhat different.

    Here's a somewhat random example - note the "pre-out"/"main-in" jumpers on this Superscope-era Marantz 1060 (borrowed photo).

    jz06cdtgyxf7.png
  • mpitogompitogo Posts: 305
    edited May 2018
    I think you got it right but check to see if you can use some sort of trigger for HT bypass on your Marantz integrated.

    HT bypass is fairly common on two channel integrated or pre-amplifiers. My Atmos 7.2.2 also doubles as a 2.0. In my case the AVR has a 12v trigger which goes into my integrated amps home theater bypass. The HT bypass trigger powers on the integrated amp and overrides the manual controls. The input is selectable between rca or balanced, since my AVR’s front left right only has RCA preouts I have it plugged into the RCA aux jack on the integrated. When the AVR powers on it puts the integrated amp in HT bypass much like a dedicated two channel amp with fixed gain. The benefits are, 1) the L/R have it’s own dedicated Amp relieving the AVR (but is fully integrated with Atmos and is also calibrated with Audyssey) 2) In two channel the integrated amp and accompanying speakers are unhindered by the superfluous audio and video processing in the AVR. Not to say that the AVR is not musical but, integrated is more suited to music.

    The 2.0 is in a way independent, the music source(s) are dedicated to it, while the video sources go into the AVR. Both can’t run at the same time.
    Living Room Music-2.0 Polk LSiM 707 | McIntosh C47 | Macintosh MC452 | Denon DP-2500A | Oppo BDP-103 | MacMini
    Living Room Music parallel system-2.0 Klipsch RP600-M | PASS ACA Class A Balanced Monoblocks fed by C47 XLR Out 2
    Family Room Home Theater-7.2.2 (Atmos) Polk LSi25, Martin Logan Motion 50xt, Dual DSW microPRO 3000, fx500, T15, RC65i | Marantz SR7009 | McIntosh MA5200 HT-passthrough & independent 2.0 | Sony UBP-X800 4K | Xbox One S 4K | AppleTV | HTPC | Sony 75” XBR X850D 4K
    Office Home Theater-5.1 Polk RT55, CS400, PSW450, T15 | Onkyo TX-SR705 | Xbox 360 MCE | AppleTV | Samsung 55”
    Office Music-2.0 KEF Q100 | Sansui AU-6900 | Sansui FR-1080
    Master Bedroom Music-2.0 Totem Hawk | Rotel RA-1570
    Patio Music-2.0 Polk Atrium8 | AMC 2445 bridged
    Airplay zones: Family Room (HDMI), Master Bedroom (Optical), Office (HDMI), Living Room (Optical), MA5200 (Optical), SR7009 (AVR direct) and Patio (analog). MacMini iTunes multi-stream to any, combo or all.
    Spares: Polk LSiC, CS300, T15, Martin Logan Motion 40, Dynamo 500, Rotel RB-1590, Denon AVR-4802R, Onkyo DX-C540, Sony CDP-491, STR DE715, DVP-S500D, PS HX-500
    Maintenance: Pro-Ject VC-S Record Cleaning Machine
  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 20,825
    I have been very happy with my setup. I also run a hybrid system, and I have found the key to pulling it off well is to invest in a preamp of exceptional quality. I also suggest excellent amplification for the mains, allowing the amp within the receiver do the work for the other speakers.

    Bad news in my setup is that I am using tube amps for my mains, and when watching a movie, they are being wasted. If you go solid state, that will be less if a problem. My rig is used 80% music and 20% movies/tv... though for tv, I do not bother turning on the mains most of the time.
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, TriangleArt Reference SE with Pass Labs Xono Phono Preamp, Walker Precision Motor Drive, ClearAudio Goldfinger Diamond v2 cartridge and Origin Conquerer Mk3c tonearm, Polk Audio "Signature" Reference Series 1.2TL with complete mods, Pass Labs X0.2 three chassis preamp, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Pioneer Elite SC-65, Oppo UDP-205 4K Blu-ray player, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB700/800 "in-wall" surrounds.

    Saying that it's "too hard" to pursue your dreams is no different than admitting to yourself that you are too lazy to achieve them.

    “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
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