Basic Questions

I’m a long-time middle tier/value home theater consumer.   Recently I’ve moved toward trying to get more out of my 2 channel listening (vinyl, streaming, Hi-rez, etc).  I moved from my DefTech towers to Paradigm Persona 3F. Big 2 channel improvement, but not the level I heard while auditioning them (with a separate amp).    

My media room is 18’ wide x 24’ deep.   I listen at moderate volumes, only occasionally cranking it up.  Unfortunately, live about 4 hours from closest hi-end sound shop, so not easy to audition equipment.

Some basic questions:

1. Do I need a pre-amp and why?  I’m fairly happy with my AVR’s sound programs.

2. Will additional amp work solely with 2 front mains, or power to entire HT system?

3. Is it simple interconnect from AVR to Amp, then speaker cable to front speakers?

3. I have seen  strong recommendations for Anthem STR and Parasound A21.   Any affirmations or other recommendations (looking to keep things under $10K with interconnects.)


My Equipment:

7 speaker Home theater

- Paradigm Persona 3F mains (“suitable amp power range = 15-400 watts; “max input power 200 watts). Morrow Audio SP6 speaker cables

- Definitive Tech UIW RSS II sides (10-200 watts per channel)

- Definitive Tech UIW RLS III rears (10-325 watts per channel)

- Definitive Tech CS-9080 center (300w internal amp; “recommended input power” = 50-300 watts per channel). Morrow Audio Sp4 reference speaker cable. 


Yamaha RX-A3080 9.2 Channel AV Receiver

- Rated  output power 2-channel driven 20Hz-20kHz = 150 watts

-  Dynamic power = 175 watts


Marantz  turntable with Budgie pre-amp.  Morrow Audio PH5 interconnects

Oppo BDP-105


Thanks and be kind!


I was seriously considering the Persona lineup so I have demoed 3 versions of that line and know what it sounds like.

The gear you are considering (warm-ish) should be good with the 3F. Get a used A21+ for $2500. I had it for a bit and it was really good. I replaced that with a KRELL Duo 175XD amp which is a bit better and would be great with the 3F. 

The site has a very long article on setting up the STR preamp with DSP and subs (by Diego?). It is well worth reading if you are considering the unit.

Another unit that will be amazing with the 3F is the KRELL K-300i integrated amp. I owned it in the past, and it allows you to replace a preamp + amp + streamer + interconnect with 1 unit. It has gone up in price since it is in high demand. I think you can get it for 5K-6K used. I went with the KRELL Duo 175XD amp because the K-300i was so good and I wanted to use my Benchmark LA4 preamp. My setup sounds better to me than the K-300i but it has more pieces and cost. The K-300i is amazing and so versatile. I do not think I would take any other integrated amp over it.



Yamaha is my favorite mass market AVR for sound quality and reliability. Bad news it’s it’s still an AVR and thus its 2-channel performance is compromised and greatly holding back what your nice speakers are capable of. And, the only thing worse than the amps in your AVR is the critical preamp section, so both need to be replaced and as mentioned above the easiest and most cost-effective way to do that is with a good stereo integrated amp. And if you’re into vinyl you’ll likewise wanna upgrade your phono preamp as that makes a huge difference as well. Adding these two components into your HT system will absolutely transform your 2-channel performance and probably remind you a lot more of what you heard when you auditioned your speakers.

Before getting into how to hook this up, which is absurdly easy BTW and we can discuss that later, the most important thing now is to share what sound characteristics are most important to you and what improvements you’re looking for over what you have now. That’ll give us a much better idea of what to recommend for your particular goals/tastes/system. With your budget you’ll be in great shape, and you should be very excited for the significant improvements you’re in store for.

Just to maybe calm any fears/questions you may have about hookup, it only requires one additional interconnect if using and integrated amp (two if you get a separate amp/pre) and the stereo amp is hooked to your front L/R speakers. The beauty of this configuration is that you can switch between HT and stereo with the push of one button, and in stereo the AVR will be completely out of the signal path so it’ll be pure 2-channel audio as if you had a completely separate stereo system. Hope this helps.

Have you tried just optimizing the speaker placement in the room?  Moving them away from the wall,  putting them closer together and then further apart,  adjusting the angles.  It may not work within your lifestyle but until you have the best sound you can get with what you have you won't be able utilize what different components can offer.

Have you tried a sub?  It does a lot more than just add bass.

If you are happy with your present system you don't need to change anything.  The reason to add a pre/amp or integrated is for the HT passthrough feature.  You could then run your two channel sources through the new pre/amp equipment instead of the AVR.  For the HT front left and right you would need a pair of interconnects to run from the pre/out L&R of you AVR to the new two channel set up so you can watch movies.  Then you would connect your turntable, streamer/DAC etc to the analog "in" connections on the new equipment.  Not sure about Yamaha but some AVR's convert everything to digital.  So you could run HDMI from your Oppo to AVR for BlueRay movies and use the analog out on the Oppo to play CD/SACD on the new equipment.

The new amp would be a two channel amp and power the front left and right speakers unless you really changed things by getting an AV controller with a new multi channel amp like for example: McIntosh.  A very expensive solution.

Another option to try and improve the sound quality could be to get a more expensive AVR with an in home, risk free trial.  Hope I have answered some of your questions.

I think I'd look for an integrated stereo amplifier with a home theater bypass that would allow it to function as the power amplifier for your home theater setup while operating independently for stereo listening.

I tried to go that route with a Cambridge Audio Azur 840A (just didn't like the sound) and then Krell S-300i, but found my Pathos Classic One Mkiii to be superior to the Krell so am using a custom speaker switch that allows my speakers to be connected to either my home theater receiver or the Pathos.  It's not elegant, but it's functional.

I'll keep it simple. The levels of equipment performance are: Receivers, Integrateds, Separates with stereo amps, then Separates with mono amps. The better your preamp is the better your system will be. 

P.S. The Parasound A21 is a fine amp. 

There are a lot of questions there.

If you want high quality two channel sound the best way to get there is through a completely different 2 channel system. AVRs do not create high quality sound… too much stuff in a box. If this is not the route you want to take, then @mceljo +1 This would be the first step. Or better yet a separate preamp and amp.


While technically a preamp is sometimes not required, the reality in +98% of the time they are (especially without huge knowledge and carefull choices). They bring the magic. They take the really small line level signal and ever so carefully amplify it and very carefully enable you to control the volume and source.

Ideally you want carefully chosen high quality components… for instance:

$1K streamer, $1K DAC, $1K preamp, $1K amp, and $3K speakers.. Double the investment in each component (all) and you will get a strikingly better sounding and far more satisfying system. But, well chosen… they must be chosen to match your taste and be synergistic with the rest of your components.

I have been improving and enjoying high end 2 channel sound for fifty years. My components are now at the $22K, $17K, $17K, $34K, $32K respectively. You can see my systems… including my home theater system under my UserID. The most rewarding system I have heard.

I would rather separate my 2 channel system and build it in a large walk in closet, than combine with my home theater. Carefully building a system to your space is critical. They have completely different requirements and the compromises of the HT generally make it really difficult to achieve high quality sound. Movies need less quality and more bang because you are distracted by the video.

So, I guess, if you are interested in putting together a high end system. I would recommend Robert Harley’s book, the compete guide to high end audio to give you the lay of the land.

@ghdprentice +1, someone gave me that advice when I was looking at tube pres with HT bypass. The light bulb moment hit and I focused on the BEST MCH system I could have in my HT and moved my 2 CH to my desktop. More satisfying and less money that trying to have 1 system do both things well. I still listen to two CH in the HT but only about 10% of the time.

OP, if you want GREAT MCH SQ on music and movies I can post what worked for me, let me know. I found it much more rewarding to focus on power and front end components.

What six said, start over. Quality stereo starts without an AVR. I have one surround and two stereo systems in the same space.

You'll get there.



Soix nailed it! Very easy to have 2 channel sound separated out from your home theater using the same pair of main speakers w/ that scenario. I suggest you get a good integrated amp w/ a good phono amp & home theater bypass. You can connect your CD player, streamer /,DAC, turntable etc directly to the new amp & play music with your receiver & TV off & not in the signal path at all.  When you want to watch movies both the receiver & the new integrated are on. 

I do exactly this in a pretty high end system but chose to go with a tube integrated so to save tube life, I don’t bother turning on the integrated if just watching basic TV & not movies & just utilize the receiver w/ the center channel, 2 surrounds & sub on  . Works great. Then if I  want to watch a movie or show where sound matters, turn on the integrated & get the full effect. My turntable/ phono amp & my DAC ( w/ both my streamer & CD transport) are both directly connected to my integrated amp. Effectively, two systems in one. 

Home Theater Bypass is your friend. Use the AVR (or better yet separate processor and amps) for home theater and use an integrated as suggested or separate amps and preamp for two channel. HTBP allows you to divert the two mains to HT use and offers much better sound quality for two channel listening. There's a lot of electronics stuffed into an AVR and a lot of compromises to get all that stuff in one box. 

Thank you all for sharing your considerable knowledge and experience.

Having playing around with speaker placement, AVR sound programs, and having to take the AVR to 90% volume to start to get a little life from my new Personas, I know I need to start building a (relatively) separate 2ch system.

I’m going to start with the Anthem STR integrated and build my knowledge and system from there.

Gratitude to all for your help! 🙏



Congrats!  I’m sure you’re gonna hear significant improvements with the stereo integrated.  By all means, please report back once the Anthem is burned in. 

AV equipment normally does not have the audio quality of a 2 channel stereo system and many AV receivers do not have a phono amp. The Rega Brio R would outperform the best AV receivers and the Rega Elex R is the minimum quality SS amp I would use, Adcom.also makes great SS amps.

BTW- the Anthem STR outperforms the Rega products I mentioned. My post is for everyone to read.