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  1. #1

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    Default Pioneer SC-25 vs Parasound New Classic 2100, upgrade or lateral move?

    So I've got the Maggies and Parasound A23 in the mix, wondering what my next step should be. Here's my current setup as it's being used:

    I've got both an Airport Express and an Oppo 83 running into a Pioneer SC-25 which then feeds the Parasound Halo A23 driving my Magnepan 1.6QR. I'm using the optical out of the Airport feeding the AVR DACs and have both analog and digital out of my Oppo so that I can toggle between the DACs in the AVR and the Oppo. I have decent cables all around, and am getting a couple really good Wireworld cables (Electra for the amp and HDMI for Oppo to AVR). My interconnects and speaker cables could be better, but they're not horrible either.

    So the question is, which piece(s) to upgrade next. I"m looking most seriously at a preamp or a DAC to be the next upgrade. I"m leaning towards the preamp, depending on the feedback I get here.

    I absolutely must have HT Bypass, remote control, and tone controls (sorry to the purists out there but in my room the Maggies need a little bump on the low end). Right now I'm looking at the Parasound New Classic 2100. The Halo matching P3 doesn't have HT Bypass and the P7 is above budget. The 2100 has all the features I need and is within my budget.

    The problem I'm having is I've never really compared the SC directly against a 2 channel preamp, so I have no baseline for how good the preamp section in the Pioneer may or may not be, and therefore have no way of knowing if and how much an improvement the 2100 may give me in that area. I don't like all the Auto-EQ crap for music, so I have all that turned off for music on the Pioneer and am using Pure Direct mode with a 3db bump in the lowest frequency. So theoretically the SC shouldn't be doing too much to that signal, but again I don't know for sure.

    The 2100 doesn't have any DACs obviously, so if I go that route I'll have to get one to put in line between the Airport and the preamp. I likely won't do anything really special there, just something inexpensive to hold me over until I can go all in on a very nice DAC.

    I'll go ahead and get the obligatory "Let your ears be the judge" comment to myself out of the way now. Obviously I know that applies, but figured I'd see if anyone here has any experience directly comparing the gear I've mentioned (not likely I know) or has any experience with either piece to give me a frame of reference.

    If there's a preamp that meets my criteria below $800 or so let me know, I'm not married to the 2100 or anything.

    So, thoughts???
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  2. #2

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    Default

    I should probably add that if I can't get a real preamp upgrade with my requiremts for under a grand or so then I'll probably look at a DAC upgrade and probably specifically the Oppo 105 player

  3. #3

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    Well to annoy you further, until John got his Dodd Audio pre, he burned through a BUNCH of pre's in the 800-1k range and kept going back to his Pio SC as a pre and found it to just sound better with his Maggies....

    So maybe PM him or wait for him to give you his thoughts, but you may find that getting that right synergy with a pre for those Maggies is a PITA and want to stick with the Pio as from my discussions with him it just was hard to beat.

    I would say you may want to steer toward a DAC myself but thats going SOLELY off what John has mentioned to me in our conversations. I have no real world experience with Maggies besides hearing his MMG's a year or two back.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Main HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse DVR | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office Rig: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Pro-ject Debut III | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

    Bedroom: Uverse DVR | Roku 2 | Samsung LCD | SurroundBar 2000

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  4. #4

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    Good info, I'll ping John

    It's been my impression as well that the SC is a very good preamp, but without a frame of reference it's hard to know.
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  5. #5

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    I'd hold onto that SC until the new Oppo comes out. You know you want to see what it has, and if you're already looking seriously at the 105...
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Douglas IC's, AQ cv-8 SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  6. #6

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    I agree with the SC recommendation. I don't c are what anyone says about using a Receiver as a preamp, the SC's are just special that way. At this point, going with a new DAC is going to get you better results than just a pre would. I flat out got luck with the Dodd, and anything else would be way above what I can afford to spend. I found that running the MCAAC or whatever it's called and then running stereo yielded the best results in my room with the Maggies, but it is just personal preference.

    I don't think I could recommend anything better that the Parasound in your price range if you decide to go that route. I went through seven preamps, all rather quickly, before settling in on the Dodd. Two Sunfires, a Carver C4000, Moon P7, Rogue Perseus, and a couple others could not keep up.
    Last edited by nooshinjohn; 05-17-2013 at 03:26 PM.
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
    Two Channel... Carver Statement 450~1 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks, Dodd Mid-line Tube Linestage with Psvane 12Ax7 tubes, Pioneer Pdd 9Mk II SACD Player, Yamaha PX-3 Turntable with Sumiko BPS EvoIII, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TLs.


    "Everything we have fought for has been lost, and everything we fought against, we have become...."

  7. #7
    pepster
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    What did you try against the SC?
    Audiosource?

    I have difficulty swallowing the idea, but I guess it is a synergy thing like anything else, and your ears are the judge.
    I have an old HK AVR that does pretty good as a pre, just not as good as other dedicated pre's I have tried.

    Happiness is a rare thing in this hobby, so I am glad you are happy with it.
    I may have to try one latter on down the line, I love a product that can do multiple tasks well, so it sounds like it is right down my alley.
    Last edited by pepster; 05-17-2013 at 03:33 PM.

  8. #8

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    I tried my SC37 against all the other pre's I have listed. Every one of them exhibited flaws with my amps that left me wanting something. Some had way to much gain, others too much white noise( some heard at the listening position with the volume off), and still others were too bright or completely flat. The room correction of the SC does a nice job of correcting things within the room, and if your room sucks like mine does, can be pretty tough to beat. To me it's almost like having an external crossover connected to the speakers(I understand it's two very different things).
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
    Two Channel... Carver Statement 450~1 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks, Dodd Mid-line Tube Linestage with Psvane 12Ax7 tubes, Pioneer Pdd 9Mk II SACD Player, Yamaha PX-3 Turntable with Sumiko BPS EvoIII, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TLs.


    "Everything we have fought for has been lost, and everything we fought against, we have become...."

  9. #9
    pepster
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    if your room sucks
    Tell me, I use horns!

    You may consider using some software for your room, or living were you do have someone come out.
    Treating that room would be a bigger upgrade than swapping pre's.
    Just my .02.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by pepster View Post
    Tell me, I use horns!

    You may consider using some software for your room, or living were you do have someone come out.
    Treating that room would be a bigger upgrade than swapping pre's.
    Just my .02.
    Agreed. I am currently building a new space that will take those things into account.
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
    Two Channel... Carver Statement 450~1 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks, Dodd Mid-line Tube Linestage with Psvane 12Ax7 tubes, Pioneer Pdd 9Mk II SACD Player, Yamaha PX-3 Turntable with Sumiko BPS EvoIII, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TLs.


    "Everything we have fought for has been lost, and everything we fought against, we have become...."

  11. #11
    pepster
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    Cool.
    With the quality of gear you have John, I would say your listening room would certainly deserve a very good quality fabrication.
    In fact, I would venture to say, a higher cost ratio for the room as opposed to buying anymore gear.
    Do the room, then ponder the equipment swaps.

    Sounds like you are right on the verge of Audio Nirvana!

    Keep us updated how the room build goes, we may learn something out of the deal!
    Last edited by pepster; 05-17-2013 at 04:05 PM.

  12. #12

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    Thanks for your input John. Based on that and what I'm reading elsewhere I'm going to hold off on a preamp for now, to get something better with the features I need is going to cost more than I have right now.

    Sooooo....I went in another direction instead.

    I just bought an Oppo 105. It is supposed to have a great DAC section, can actually act as a preamp with volume control, has HDMI inputs so I can run the Apple TV through the video scaler, and has all the connections and media support I need. It's all gonna boil down to sound quality of the DAC section, but if that's good I'll have everything I need in the one box.

    I can't wait to get home and set it up!

  13. #13
    pepster
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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    Thanks for your input John. Based on that and what I'm reading elsewhere I'm going to hold off on a preamp for now, to get something better with the features I need is going to cost more than I have right now.

    Sooooo....I went in another direction instead.

    I just bought an Oppo 105. It is supposed to have a great DAC section, can actually act as a preamp with volume control, has HDMI inputs so I can run the Apple TV through the video scaler, and has all the connections and media support I need. It's all gonna boil down to sound quality of the DAC section, but if that's good I'll have everything I need in the one box.

    I can't wait to get home and set it up!
    can actually act as a preamp with volume control
    I have that feature on an Adcom I have, and you'll like it!

    I cannot tell you how many times I have read the 105 compares to $3k-$5k digital front ends.
    I had first dibs on Brgman's extra, but I am wanting a tube integrated so bad it hurts (ARC VSi 60 or Rogue).

    I think you made a wise decision in the 105.
    Already a classic/legendary universal player, and is pretty new to the market.
    That speaks volumes.
    Last edited by pepster; 05-17-2013 at 04:39 PM.

  14. #14

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    Well I'm glad I decided to hold off on the preamp and got the 105. 12 hours in, and the Oppo 105 is VERY good. I'm surprised there's not more talk or hype about this product. This could seriously be the last DAC or player I'll ever need, even though I know better than to say that.

    It was very good out of the box, but a little harsh on some tracks. It's already smoothed out quite a bit and I imagine it'll end up right where I like the sound.

    I'll do some critical listening after a few days of burn in and report back, but this thing is damn spectacular!

    I also got the SC dialed in a little better and am still tweaking, I'm confident that I'll get what I want out of it.

  15. #15
    pepster
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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    Well I'm glad I decided to hold off on the preamp and got the 105. 12 hours in, and the Oppo 105 is VERY good. I'm surprised there's not more talk or hype about this product. This could seriously be the last DAC or player I'll ever need, even though I know better than to say that.

    It was very good out of the box, but a little harsh on some tracks. It's already smoothed out quite a bit and I imagine it'll end up right where I like the sound.

    I'll do some critical listening after a few days of burn in and report back, but this thing is damn spectacular!

    I also got the SC dialed in a little better and am still tweaking, I'm confident that I'll get what I want out of it.
    I can only imagine it will get better with age, like a fine wine!

  16. #16

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    A good DAC will have a bigger imediate improvement in your system than the other pieces mentioned.imho.a very good pre can have impact as well just at a higjer investment level after all it can only sound as good as what you put into it!
    Main Rig:
    Krell KAV 250a
    McIntosh MC 2120 bi-amped
    Into JBL L123 drivers
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    MIT exp 1 ic's
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    ADCOM GDA 700 DAC ( MODDED)
    YAMMY CDC-665
    Marantz 6100 tt w/pickering XV-15/625E cart.
    Monster HTS 3600 power conditioner
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    MIT exps2 speaker cable

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