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  1. #1

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    Default Review - Onkyo SC5509 pre-amp for home theater

    I recently purchased an Onkyo SC5509 pre-amp for my home theater. Before, I had been using a Sony DA7100ES AVR as a pre-amp, and it worked fine over the last 5-7 years. However, I wanted to bring the sound quality of the HT up a notch after replacing my front LSi15 speakers with PSB Synchrony One towers. Along with the PSB Synchrony One center, and the LSi15 rears, the HT is fine now with speakers, and the Onkyo is bringing out the best in the speakers.

    First, the Onkyo allows a much better sound calibration than did the Sony. You can adjust speaker distance by inches versus feet for the Sony. Plus you can set the DB level of each speaker. With the Sony, you could only adjust the balance of the front speakers, and adjust the level on the center and rears.

    Anyway, the sound is much better with the Onkyo. It is clearer, more precise, better defined, and is great for both movies and music. My reference disk is Terminator 3, and all the scenes I use have better audio. For example, when the Terminatrix arrives the sound of her bare feet on the sidewalk is more distinct and audible. When John Conner drops the beer bottle off the bridge, the sound of it bouncing off the bridge, and landing on the skull is very clear and distinct. The chase scene and graveyard shootout is much improved.

    As I said, this also applies to music. I have my iPod Classic and Wadia 171 iTransport attached to the digital in, via an MIT Magnum cable, and the music is great. It lets me use my HT as an escape when the neighbors in the front are making noise that interferes with using the two-channel system in the living room.

    It has plenty of HDMI inputs, but I only need two at this time; one for the Oppo 95, and the other for the Xbox.

    Now I expected the audio to be better since the Sony new was around $1700, and the Onkyo is $2600. Plus the Onkyo is just a pre-amp, and money is not wasted on amps compared to an AVR. However, I was not expecting this to occur.

    The Blu-ray picture is a lot better!! I just had the video pass through the Sony, and it just passes through the Onkyo, but now it is clearer, and brighter. I had to turn the brightness and contrast down, and I certainly was not expecting that.

    I had my TV calibrated using the Sony, and now I will be getting it recalibrated once the Onkyo burns in, and I modify the TV to accept power cables. I bought a Furman audiophile IEC connector, and once I install it on the TV, and add a Shunyata power cable, it will be ready to recalibrate. But for now, the picture looks great.

    Speaking of Shunyata, a few months ago I had two dedicated 20 amp lines added. One for the two-channel, and one for the HT. After the Onkyo had been in use for a week, I replaced the Pangea AC9 cable going from the dedicated line to the Panamax with a Shunyata Ztron Cobra. The Onkyo is using a Shunyata Venom cable. Anyway, I know some people hate hearing the truth, but adding the Shunyata Cobra bought the picture and sound up another notch. I cannot put in words how good this thing now looks and sounds.

    For example, I am watching the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival on BR, and it looks and sounds fantastic. The picture is so clear and detailed while the sound is so pristine, I just start laughing because the video and audio is making me so happy.

    After my recent experience with two bad NAD T187 HT pre-amps, the Onkyo is a blessing, and it is $400 dollars less expensive. Where the NADs had a buzz from every speaker, the Onkyo is dead silent. In my mind, unnecessary noise from a preamp is a deal breaker, and the Onkyo is a keeper.

    While I would like to try the Bryston SP3 for its audio, at $9K it will be a while before I go there. This Onkyo is going to keep me happy for a long time.

    HT Gear

    Electronics:

    Hitachi 57" digital monitor
    Onkyo SC5509 pre-amp
    Sunfire TGA-5400 amp
    Oppo 95 Blu-ray
    Sony 5400ES SACD
    Wadia 171 iTransport
    iPod Classic
    Xbox 360
    Panamax M5300-PM power conditioner

    Speakers:
    PSB Synchrony One towers front
    PSB Synchrony One Center
    LSi15s rear (surround)

    Cables:
    MIT CVT Terminator 1 (5) interconnect between Onkyo and Sunfire
    MIT Magnum digital
    Shunyata Venom on all electronics, except TV
    Shunyata Ztron Cobra on Panamax
    Mapleshade Clearview Golden Helix with Plus option for all speakers

  2. #2

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    Congrats on your new purchase. A nearby HIFI shop has both the 5010 AVR and 5509 pre/pro on sale for $1699 which is a steal. Were you able to try out the XT32 sub eq?

    Nice setup!
    Last edited by leroyjr1; 02-23-2013 at 10:14 PM.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by leroyjr1 View Post
    Congrats on your new purchase. A nearby HIFI shop got both the 5010 AVR and 5509 pre/pro on sale for $1699 which is a steal. Were you able to try out the XT32 sub eq?
    That is a good price. I didn't even see that online. I manually adjusted the sound with my SPL meter. Maybe someday I will play with XT32.

  4. #4

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    Blue, congrats! Usually when you run into problems things turn out better in the end. You'll have to owe Mantis a beer for the Onkyo recommendation and it saved you a couple of bucks. I know we're all crazy but there is a great satisfaction when you make a purchase, hook it up and it puts a smile on your face. Also, I love the Terminator series. Great selection for a nice HT set-up. Enjoy the system.
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Source: SONOS Music System, DAC: W4S DAC-2, Pre/Pro: Marantz AV8801, Amp: W4S MC5, Front: Polk RTIA9, Center: Polk CSIA6, Surrounds: Polk FXIA6, Sub EQ: DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033C, Subs: 2 - Polk DSW PRO660WI, IC & Speaker Cables: Signal Cable

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thorton View Post
    You'll have to owe Mantis a beer for the Onkyo recommendation and it saved you a couple of bucks.
    Yes. I bought him a 12 pack of Red Tail Ale yesterday. Unfortunately, I drank most of it last night, and the remainder tonight.

  6. #6

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    Nice Write up , I enjoyed the read. I'm still beat on the NAD being broken. Wish I could have trouble shot it with you. I'm wondering if the cards where seated properly as that could have been one of the issues or a bent tab. Either way I know how good the Onkyo is as we have one on the floor and I really like it. it's currently connected to a B&K REf200.7 and Revel speakers.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  7. #7

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    Glad to hear you're enjoying it. It's a shame that the NAD never worked correctly & you never got to hear it's capabilities. The Onkyo you have is a killer piece & will serve you well for some time to come.
    "2 Channel & 11.2 HT "
    Panny 65" 3D Plasma
    Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A3010 AVR
    D>SONIC M2-600M mono's / mains
    Rotel RMB-1095 / 5 channel amp
    Rotel RMB-1075 / 5 channel amp
    TEAC UD - 501 DAC
    Oppo BDP-93
    SONOS System
    KEF Q900 / mains
    KEF Q600 / center
    KEF Q800 / surrounds
    KEF Q100 / rear surr.
    Def Tech ProMonitor 1000 / front & rear presence
    Velodyne SPL-1200R subs / dual pair
    DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033 sub EQ
    Equitech Balanced Power Son of Q 1.5R
    Extensive room treatments

  8. #8

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    Very good review! Thank you for taking the time to write it up and share your observations with all of us.

    I have an Onkyo 3010, which I love and is a great receiver, but I'm sort of regretting not spending the additonal $400 to upgrade to the SC5509. Maybe a mistake on my part.
    Fronts:B&W 804 Diamonds, Center: B&W HTM2 Diamond, Surrounds: PolkAudio LSi F/X (4)
    Subwoofer: HSU VTK3-MK3
    Electronics: Onkyo TX-NR 3010 receiver, Parasound Halo A31 amp, NAD T975 amp

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by SugarmillMan View Post
    Very good review! Thank you for taking the time to write it up and share your observations with all of us.

    I have an Onkyo 3010, which I love and is a great receiver, but I'm sort of regretting not spending the additonal $400 to upgrade to the SC5509. Maybe a mistake on my part.
    Does your 3010 run hot?

  10. #10

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    Not too hot. However, I use a laptop cooler on top of it for additional security which runs off the rear USB.
    Last edited by SugarmillMan; 02-24-2013 at 01:29 PM.
    Fronts:B&W 804 Diamonds, Center: B&W HTM2 Diamond, Surrounds: PolkAudio LSi F/X (4)
    Subwoofer: HSU VTK3-MK3
    Electronics: Onkyo TX-NR 3010 receiver, Parasound Halo A31 amp, NAD T975 amp

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by pearsall001 View Post
    Glad to hear you're enjoying it. It's a shame that the NAD never worked correctly & you never got to hear it's capabilities. The Onkyo you have is a killer piece & will serve you well for some time to come.
    Thanks. The NAD business was bizarre, two bad pieces from two vendors. I wonder how they sound compared to the Onkyo? I can't imagine it being that much better.

    There are two things I should have mentioned in the review. First, the Onkyo is massive compared to the NAD. It is bigger and much heavier than the NAD. Second, the Onkyo also supports balanced outputs to the amp. The NAD only has RCA.

  12. #12

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    Thanks for the review. Enjoy!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    The NAD business was bizarre, two bad pieces from two vendors. I wonder how they sound compared to the Onkyo? I can't imagine it being that much better.
    That all depends...which one would have had the Shunyata Power Cable attached to it?

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