Help with processor decision

I've been using a Denon 3808 receiver as my processor ever since I purchased a Parasound A52 last year to power my system (B W 804d LR, htm62 center, M-1 LR surround, with b w 600 sub). I purchased an Oppo-105 a while back for the better video processing, DAC and multichannel out (for SACDs). I'm about 70% music, 30% ht/TV. I have started listening to a lot of vinyl recently, so I do need a more musical processor (and I don't really have room on my rack for a two channel preamp). I run a lot of music (usb) and video (hdmi) from my Mac mini server through the Oppo as well. I'm torn between the following processors:
-Parasound p7 (would lose the hdmi switching, but could use the Oppo)
-Marantz 8801
-Yamaha A5000
I currently use Audessey XT room correction with my 3808. My room is 14 w x 18 l x 9-10 h sloping ceiling with the LR speakers on the short wall, and it is untreated with suspended hardwood floors. I am a little indifferent regarding room correction, but given my room I think it's been helpful for HT. Between my cable box and a possible xbox purchase, I may need more hdmi switching than the Oppo provides...
Any advice would be greatly appreciated since I plan to follow-through with a purchase THIS WEEK!
P.S. This will probably be the first of several upgrades in the near future (adding 2 surrounds to get 7.1, adding more powerful amps for my LR, upgrading center and sub).
My vote goes to the Marantz 8801 since it seems to have all of the most current surround sound music formats and it's their top of the line processor. Having said that, just last year I went with my very first surround sound processor and due to my budget, chose the Integra DHC 40.2. Wanted the Rotel pre pro but that was a bit out of my budget. I couldn't be happier with the Integra and while it does contain the Audyssey room correction, I don't use it. Using an SPL meter and just working with all of the set up audio functions, I've got the system set up to where I want it trusting my own ears and gut. I then occassionaly tweak it here and there. The Intega does have 2 features within the Audyssey brand that I do use and absolutely love. Those are "Dyanmic EQ" & "Dynamic Volume". It's powered with a new Rotel RMB-1555 5 channel amp. While this Inegtra is not at the same price range and quality level as the Marantz, for the price it is an amazing unit. Hope this input helps somewhat.
You might replace the Denon receiver in your rack with a two channel preamp connected to your amp. You'd connect stereo from your Oppo 105 to the preamp, surround directly to the amps, SW directly to the sub. Using an SPL meter and the internal noise generator of the 105 (or a test disc) mark the volume control of the preamp where the levels of stereo, surround, and sub match (after trimming the outputs of the 105 channels to be equal). When the Oppo is the source, it controls he volume, otherwise the preamp controls the volume. The amp can sit between the main speakers for short leads.

That's the setup I use with my Oppo 105, Parasound JC-2 analog preamp, and Proceed HPA amps. A Sony XA5400ES and JC-3 phono stage share the preamp with the Oppo. The Oppo does most of the functions of a processor as well as surround sound and video. The result is very high quality sound from each source with high quality video from the Blu-ray and DirecTV HD-DVR. I use Velodyne SMS-1s for acoustic room correction for the HGS-15 subs.

Dbphd I never even thought about that option. I really am going to have to think about the high quality stereo preamp as a possibility. I think the only drawback to that is if I have more than two hdmi devices to connect, but I suppose a simple hdmi switch into the Oppo would work if I had three devices (dvr, Mac mini, and future xbox). Or I could just use the tv as an hdmi switch as well since my Mac mini is using the Oppo dac for sound anyways... The other drawback is that I need to invest in a SPL meter and learn how to use it...

Pdn the integra 80.3 was an option for me as well. I guess I'm spoiled with Audessey XT now. 40.2 was out because I wanted a processor with xlr outs--my amps have it so I figured why not.

Thank you both for the input-I'm going with the Marantz for now--I got a great deal on one. But I really like the stereo preamp option and may try that out in the future.

I just bought two extra surround speakers so now I can try 7.1 but I've got to look at stereo or mono amps for my mains... This really is a great obsession. This was my first posting ever, so I really thank you both for the input!
Try the inexpensive Radio Shack SPL meter. It comes with simple instructions and is totally adequate for the job. I assume you use the excellent analog output of the Oppo 105, because that's what distinguishes it from a 103. Many posters on the Oppo 105 owners' thread at AVS would argue that a direct connection to the amps will be superior than through any of the processors you are considering. The analog processing of the 105 really is good, so even if you use a Marantz 8801 you might want to go around it for stereo.

Bebopmecha5: You're quite welcome and glad to be of assistance. Your first post was a good one and well stated. Yes I agree with Dbphd that the Radio Shack Sound Level Meter is more than adequate & very affordable. Let us know how you like the Marantz surround sound processor. I wish I could afford that but with a 20 year old son in college....well that explains it !! Keep posting.
Thanks again for the input, and I've got the Radio Shack sound level meter on my short list in the near future. I'll definitely play around with the setup with my Oppo and will try to compare directly connecting it to my amp. I definitely use the Oppo dacs and analog outs for music (2 and multi channel), and use the hdmi for tv/movies. The Marantz should arrive next week so I'll circle back and let you know my thoughts. I just received my xlr cables from Blue Jeans Cables (talk about fast shipping!) so there will be some significant upgrades to my system soon!

Here's what i've found to be the best method of getting outstanding performance between the 8801 and Oppo 105. Assign the 8801's Cd input to the XLR's for the Oppo's XLR outs for stereo and use the Pure Direct mode for 2/ch this way you can hear the outstanding 2/ch preamp abilities of the 8801 ( I find it a hidden gem) Also set the Oppo to bitstream for hdmi ( using the hdmi 2 out as hdmi 1 will not send DSD) and set to DSD as the 8801 will accept a native bitstream over hdmi after that and a good run of Audyssey you have a killer 2/ch preamp and multi/ch processor setup to die for !

Enjoy your new setup
Thanks for the advice Jdub39. I'm definitely using the xlr out on the Oppo so I can take advantage of the Oppo's dacs. I'm actually also using the multichannel analog outs on the Oppo for SACDs. I will definitely plan to try out the hdmi out for SACDs as well to compare the 8801 dacs with the Oppo's. I just figured I already had the analog cables from my previous setup and thought I'd just connect them all at once... I just ran the full Audessey setup and I've tried out a few bluerays (star wars 2, Dave Matthews at radio city music hall) at reference levels as well as an SACD (holst planets) and some vinyl (police, Chet Baker). I'm still getting used to the sound of the 8801 but so far I'm definitely getting the sense that there's a lot more definition in the sound and more control in the decay of notes. I've still got to figure out all the detailed settings for viewing and audessey, but so far so good! Any experience with burn in time for the 8801? I've noticed the 8801 gets pretty hot, even on my open rack, so I figure burn in time should be short... Will report more soon!
It took about as long as the 105 for burn in about 100hrs or so to gain its refinement, I found in comparing the two that it comes down to mood as you will have two very capable playback dac's to choose from and even via hdmi for stereo the 8801 will amaze at its handling of jitter when compared to rca or xlr for stereo, the 8801 does indeed have a nice rytm and pace that will have one's toe tapping, while the 105 will have that extra something you will like indeed. I will say a reference sacd via hdmi w/Audyssey for multi/ch is quite breathtaking and with the setup you now have you can enjoy playback option glore at the touch of a button.
Bebop, you don't need to use XLR to use the Oppo DACs. Consult the manual about optimizing stereo. At the bottom of the Audio Processing menu set Stereo Signal to Front Left/Right. Use the LR stereo outputs, either XLR or SE, and take the surround outputs to an amp or your processor. I suggest you visit the Oppo 105 owners' thread at AVS. I doubt the 8801 DACs are superior, but you may prefer acoustic room correction, and that would suggest HDMI-2 from the Oppo to the 8801.

The dac's in the 8801 may or maynot be superior but different in its overall implementation as a whole and after a comparison between the Oppo 105 direct to my Halo A21 ( xlr & rca connections) and with the 8801 in the chain as a pre and also against the 8801 doing the conversion for stereo I came to the conclusion I liked all three options and considered it just system flexibility, now having said that the end configuration and use has been the 105 via XLR assigned to 8801's cd input for 2/ch ( but when I want a sub its the 8801 doing the job)

Whilst all things multi/ch the 8801 with Audyssey my defacto standard. Regardless of how good the 105's dac's are I had to come to the conclusion the also good dac's in the 8801 + DRC is hard to touch for playback of reference material. great thing is I have all the connected methods above at the touch of a button (not counting the direct to Halo A21 from the Oppo but haven't tried it again since the comparison)
Best of both worlds!

Three? Analog from the Oppo direct to the amp and HDMI-2 from the Oppo to the 8801 would seem sufficient. I hope you don't take analog from the Oppo to the 8801 and digitize it again. Or do you take analog from the Oppo to an 8801 passthrough, and if so, what's the point given the 8801 can't process a signal if it doesn't digitize it? The Oppo has ample output level to drive the amp and has a fine volume control.


Three? Analog from the Oppo direct to the amp and HDMI-2 from the Oppo to the 8801 would seem sufficient. I hope you don't take analog from the Oppo to the 8801 and digitize it again. Or do you take analog from the Oppo to an 8801 passthrough, and if so, what's the point given the 8801 can't process a signal if it doesn't digitize it? The Oppo has ample output level to drive the amp and has a fine volume control.

While the method above is sufficient, it would bring into play the hassle of connecting and reconnecting the XLR's for different use and why I use the pass through option on the 8801 and the XLR's can be digitized if one wants to, as Marantz decided to send the XLR input signal through there HDAM, they did however leave the 7.1 inputs pure analog with no option to digitize at all , so if one wants the option it does exist which is why I have all three methods connected but use the one's I noted above. Trust me I know how good the 105 sounds direct to the amp but after the comparison I did, it would be splitting hairs to justify a more complex setup for little return and why I feel the 8801 as a preamp is transparent to the source. So the point is the 8801 does offer a non digitized path via its 7.1 analog inputs via rca but after considerable listening sessions for 2/ch the Oppo 105 via its XLR's to the 8801 assigned to the CD input in Pure direct gave me extremely close to that Oppo direct sound that I listen to daily.

I obviously don't understand what you're try to achieve. I'm pretty confident you don't need to use XLR unless the Oppo is distant from the 8801 and that the 8801 should not digitize analog from the Oppo. According to Oppo, there is no sonic-quality reason for using their XLR rather than RCA (SE).

I can envision three links:
1. XLR from Oppo to amp (analog stereo)
2. 7.1 from Oppo to 8801 pass-through using front LR RCA (analog)
3. HDMI-2 from Oppo to 8801 (digital)

If you want the Oppo to do the processing, use link 1 or 2; if you want the 8801 to do the processing, use link 3. If you really think the 8801 analog processing is the equal of the Oppo, then the simple single cable link 3 is the obvious choice, and it provides acoustic room correction for everything.

I pretty much tried to clarify the methods of connection and the reasons and uses for each and commented on each of there sonic merits to my ears at least. I'll state once more that I use the Sabre dac's via XLR to the 8801 in Pure Direct assigned to the CD input for 2/ch. I also use the 7.1 analog rca inputs but only the fR/FL but very very seldom as I prefer the sound of the XLR connection (regardless of what Oppo says)And lastly I use hdmi for all multi/ch material movies & sacd . What's achieved is playback options and flexibility that's not limited to analog connections and no room correction as I have both in conjunction with a well treated room. I know at the touch of a button what's being processed and what dac's are doing so and which path its taking as each has an audible difference however so slight.

Perhaps it's the writing style: "l also use the 7.1 analog rca inputs but only the fR/FL but very very seldom as I prefer the sound of the XLR connection (regardless of what Oppo says)And lastly I use hdmi for all multi/ch material movies & sacd. I still don't understand what your aim is, nor is it important that I do. Let's leave it at that. If you're happy with your setup, that's what counts.