Home Theater Bypass , why am I hearing this now.

I have a Home Theater and when I upgraded my Onkyo to a Marantz it was a true Upgrade I was impressed, anyway like any other hobby I wanted to make improvements on top of what I just gained. The more I read the more I realize AVR HT receivers will never get you a tru HIFI experience because of the processing that takes place and a dedicated 2 ch is the only way to go ask Millercarbon he will surly be all over this one. I only have one room in my house that doubles as a home theater and listening room. I was ready to pick up a Prisma NP5 streamer (to move to my rack and network ) and a Denafrips ares Dac thinking I would get an upgrade to my source that is Tidal over my phone over the air currently( anything is better than this method). Im wondering if its a waste of time and money since I plan on using it with my AVR, then I stumbled onto guys talking about HT bypass for this reason. I haven't read or herd HT bypass yet on this Forum and wanted to know what you all thought, at some point i wanted to get a 8k marantz Processor and dedicated Amp but before I drop $7k I want to make sure I figure out this HT bypass because I want better High Rez audio from my HT system. 
It is a complex topic.
Are you a ´´ music lover ´´  or a ´´ movie lover ´´  ?
If you are 25% two channels  listening and 75% video watching  ; do not bother.

Even if HT processors , are not made for 2 channels music listening,
some people will be satisfied . And there are HT processors that are better at 2 channels listening
than others.

There are speakers that are better for music listening and speakers
that are better fo movie listening.
Same thing for amplifiers.

On teather bypass, there is two possibilities :
Preamplifier with a HT bypass . An dedicated amplifier is needed.
Integrated amplifier with a HT bypass.
You will need highend cables ( power cords , interconnects )

And if you are the only one who will listen to 2 channels music,
a very good headphone amp. with a very good headphones might
be the best solution for high resolution listening. Nothing else.
I think I’m like allot of people , I want my system to do both , it has to. Would getting the stand alone streamer and a stand alone DAC make a big difference in an HT for music or would those upgrades only be worthy of being audible in a 2 ch setup ?
@auxinput should be the right member to give an opinion.

I think , most of HT processors will add ´´ coloration ´´ in 2 channels
mode. And this is not what you want.
A integrated amp. with HT bypass , will be more neutral . IMO  . 
 On  the other hand , HT processors have ´´ auto room correction ´´ that may be good in a multi purpose room .

A preamp or integrated with HTBP will allow you to get the most from your music listening (assuming a quality preamp or integrated) than you'll get from a home theater receiver or processor.  

When listening in two channel, the home theater processor is not used at all.  When watching movies, engage the HTBP and your front two channels are powered by whatever you're using for two channel amplification, and your home theater processor manages the signal processing for all channels.

Opinions about whether a two channel or multi-channel home theater system are "better" are just that - opinions, not facts.
"When listening in two channel, the home theater processor is not used at all. When watching movies, engage the HTBP and your front two channels are powered by whatever you're using for two channel amplification, and your home theater processor manages the signal processing for all channels.

Opinions about whether a two channel or multi-channel home theater system are "better" are just that - opinions, not facts."

Totally agree. 
I think "Home Theater Bypass", almost by definition, refers to a 2-channel preamp or integrated with a pass through feature in which the signals from a HT system pass through the 2-channel system directly to the amplifiers/amplifier section without modification.

If you do not have a 2-channel unit in you system, HT Bypass is irrelevant.

If your priority is 2-channel sound quality (which only YOU can determine), my opinion would be to build a 2-channel system with a preamp/integrated that has a HT Bypass <http://www.audiophile.no/en/articles-tests-reviews/item/426-amplifiers-with-processor-input>.

Your 2-channel sources would be run through this unit.

Your HT sources would be run through your HT unit. Left and Right front outputs from your HT unit would be fed into the Left and Right HT Inputs of your 2-channel unit.

With respect to your comment, "AVR HT receivers will never get you a tru HIFI experience because of the processing that takes place and a dedicated 2 ch is the only way to go"--I don't think that's a fair statement.

First, only you can determine what a "tru HIFI experience" is.

Second, can you say with 100% certainty that all HT units "process" all input signals the same way?

For example, and this is just a hypothetical: Marantz has been well respected in the 2-channel world since the stone age. Marantz makes HT units with traditional 2-channel inputs (analog, phono, maybe even tape). Why would Marantz "process" these signals instead of just sending them to the outputs or amplifier section?
Why would Marantz take a phono signal input (most likely in stereo) and try to convert it 7.1 HT?

It seems to me that they would want to do the exact opposite, and let you know about it! They want to appeal to the widest possible audience so they are going to emphasize the HT and 2-channel capabilities.

Now, as with everything else in this hobby, it's up to you to determine if the sound is "tru HIFI".
Did I hear my name mentioned? lol.  Just kidding.

I will disagree with maxwave here in the idea that most HT processors will add "coloration" to the system.  There are some that may add some coloration, but for the most part HT Processors are engineered to be as fast responding and transparent as possible (this is really needed for movies). 

The Marantz processors are actually quite excellent for the money.  Large power supplies and good full bass / midbass.  Good overall impact on sound.  However, like all Marantz, they are voiced just a tiny bit warm and will soften/roll-off the high frequencies.  If you are looking for better high frequency resolution, you can do one of two things:

1. Change to a different HT Processor (possibly spending upwards of $8-10k even on a used one).  This will get you better resolution for your stereo hi-res than what the Marantz offers.

2. Put in a preamp and use HTBP mode when watching movies.  This is just a preamp connected between your HT Processor and your amps for left/right speakers.  When the preamp activates the "home theater bypass mode", it essentially just makes a direct connection between that input and the output of the preamp.  This is almost the same as a direct wire connection as if the preamp wasn't there at all (the audio signal does not go through the preamp audio stages at all).  When you want to listen to a hi-res DAC or streaming source, just switch the preamp to that source and it "takes over" the sound duties for left/right channel.

Make sense?

If you go the preamp with HTBP route, also be aware that many preamps are much more colored than HT Processors.  And just because you get a preamp doesn't mean that it's actually going to sound better than some processors.  For example, the Parasound P6 (or even superior P7) will not match the sound of some HT Processors such as Bryston SP3, Krell S1200 - or even the Krell Foundation and McIntosh processors.  The Bryston SP3 and Krell S1200 actually have discrete analog stages which are at the high-end 2-channel preamp level.  The only way to beat those would be to get a dedicated Bryston/Krell preamp.  The Krell Foundation 4K processor would beat the Parasound P6 preamp.  But then again, there are still higher end preamps out there that would definitely beat Krell Foundation.

So, in the end, if you are happy with the TV/movie sound of your Marantz HT Processor, then you may want to consider the preamp / HTBP route to really give you a boost on 2-channel audio sources (i.e. Denafrips DAC).

If you want a better TV/movie experience as well as better 2-channel audio, you may want to consider a higher resolution HT Processor instead.  If you are willing to consider used, I would go for the Krell Foundation 4K at a bare minimum.  But if you are willing to spend upwards of $8-10k, I would look at a used McIntosh MX160 maybe.
I knew your were the right guy :-)

By coloration , I included the averadge quality electrical isolation and vibration control of a HT processor compared to highend integrated amplifier or preamp with HT bypass.
There may be a difference in these matters between a 10k HT processor and a 10k integrated amplifier or preamp.
When using analog inputs of a HT processor , the DAC of the HT processor will not be used.
The sound quality will depend on the other components of the HT processor

But I have been wrong before ……
Oh, just re-read and figured out that you don't have a processor/amp setup yet.  You only have a AV Receiver (which is okay, but leaves a huge area for upgrade).  So, my comments:

You can't really use a "preamp HTBP" with your current receiver unless you get a separate amp for this scenario.  If you want to upgrade your entire HT, I would go with the Krell Foundation 4K at a minimum.  When you are ready to support 4K HDR video sources, you can always get the Krell 4K HDR switcher to handle this (it works with the Foundation 4K).

If you just want to do the HTBP route, you'll need to get a either a preamp/amp setup or a really good "integrated amp" such as the Kinki Studio EX-M1+ and use the pre-outs on your receiver to drive any HT movies.  Then you can go your direction with Denafrips / Prisma NP5.

I wouldn't really consider the Marantz 7706 just for "8K" support.  In my opinion, we really didn't need 4K unless you had a seriously large screen (such as 70" diagonal or higher).  What really improved things was "4K HDR" which expanded the color and brightness range.  At this point, 8K becomes almost nonsensical (but it's the next big thing so consumers will glom onto that).

If you do the Prism NP5, I would seriously consider a linear power supply upgrade (I'd recommend Farad Super 3 or even a lower cost Teddy Pardo).  This will significantly improve your sound quality for that Denafrips.
By coloration , I included the averadge quality electrical isolation and vibration control of a HT processor compared to highend integrated amplifier or preamp with HT bypass.
Ah okay. In my mind, "coloration" is a purposeful design of an audio circuit that causes a certain type of behavior or sound. This can be described as audio equipment that is purposely engineered to sound laid back or tube like or boomy or sharp or textured or lush or warm (etc., etc.). The entire 2-channel industry is geared towards many of these direction.

I think what you are talking about is compromises in the electrical parts of a HT Processor, and there are several. Pretty much most of these have to do with power supply type and design. There is a large amount of HT Processors that will use linear power supply for analog stage, but will still use a small switching power supply for digital sections (including DAC). This causes problems such as power supply jitter and lack of current that impacts sound quality. Many processors such as Onkyo / Marantz use switching power for digital sections. This is seen even on high end processors, such as Lyngdorf MP50 which uses switching power supply for everthying. The seriously expensive Trinnov Altitude also use switching power supplies (it’s essentially a computer motherboard), but they -might- use a linear power supply for audio.

One reason I like Krell processors is that they use linear power supply stages for everything (including digital). I think McIntosh processors use linear for everything as well.

The Bryston SP3 uses linear power for everything, but I think this is one of those where design of the circuit impacts sound result. Don’t get me wrong, this processor sounds very good. However, it has one big honking main power supply for analog, but then all those discrete analog circuits do not have any local power supply filter caps. This combined with what I think is a very high bias Class A analog circuit results in a sound that has probably the strongest and fullest bass I have ever heard from a processor. However, the upper mids and high lack speed and impact and it makes this seem like a very laid back sound. I just never was happy with this one (it also had an effect like I wanted to keep turning up the volume but the impact never got there).
Trying to set up one system for movies and music is difficult at best because of the tradeoffs involved but it can be very good if done well but for music a strictly two channel system with two channel components will always win the sound prize.
I just went through this. But I had processor and amps.  I added streaming DAC and Parasound p7 which has pass through. I get a big improvement for two channel listening. Well worth it. In your case go with integrated amp that is Roon comparable and had good DACs. You won’t look back. 
Any decent AVR should have a stereo direct option so processing is removed for critical listening.

Two limiting factors are manufacturers cram too much electronics into their cases without any consideration of how EMI can ruin sound quality and they use mediocre DACs. After all, x number of channels require x number of DACs, so cost is a consideration and space a concern.

The forthcoming Anthem AVM-90 uses audiophile DACs so it will be interesting to see what improvement it makes.

So would your turntable, streamer, etc. be connected to the integrated instead of the AVR?
You know the answer. I have explained many times. HT processors are so bad that even bypass costs you sound quality. Took me roughly two full years trying everything I could to have quality stereo and HT in the same room.

Bottom line, like everything else, it is a compromise. You can have true SOTA stereo, giving up only a tiny little bit you will hardly even notice by having a screen where it would be optimal to have a diffuser. With stereo you will also give up gimmicky surround effects - but this will be more than compensated for by the incredible realism of your enveloping stereo sound stage.

OR you can have crappy stereo with lots of channels of crappy components, because no magic HT wand can change the fact you only have so much money and so divided by two is higher quality than divided by 7.1. Your stereo will suck, and so will your movie soundtracks- only the effects will be better.

But not the bass, since with the stereo the money you didn’t throw away on center and surrounds will buy you a SOTA DBA.

It really is no contest, and this is even before factoring in that let’s face it, you watch movies with your eyes and so are far less critical of sound quality. You listen to music best with your eyes closed, your hearing is ten times better than with movies.

So HT is asking you to spend a fortune on a lot of crap that will never make movies sound good (can’t!) and WILL make music sound worse.

This decision to nix multichannel is the easiest most obvious decision out there- except for the fact all the advertising world has herded all the sheeple into the same pen. Which is close to penitentiary. Where you go for penance. Which is what it feels like listening to music on a system with HT.

How’s that?
I had a highly rated Denon AVR, also McIntosh and Lexicon HT systems, and even at that level of price/quality and the ability to do a 'clean' 2-channel mode, the 2-channel never sounded good compared to a dedicated 2-channel. I agree with Fittebd9, if you can't have separate 2-channel and surround-sound systems. Also, as someone else suggested, having the the two front Left-Right speakers of a much higher quality will also help. I did that which did help a bit.

i went through this a little while ago. listening room is in living area...

bottom line everything matters. 

for me i got a intergrated amp with ht bypass. 
vitus sia 025. i started with audia flight fl3s.

marantz 7011 avr.

vitus made a huge difference to both movies and music. dac streamer is a ayon s10 signature.

front speakers make a huge difference to both music and HT especially music scores in movies. 

cables made a difference to. i went from canare 4311 and basic rca to purist audio and i will never go back. 

my advice if you are certain your going to chase the best you can afford.

save and replace your weakest link with the best you can afford. rinse a repeat.


I have a Vivaldi stack playing the front 2 speakers via my own made preamp
I have a Bryston sp3 playing simultaneously into the sides and rears (the front L&R are muted). The sp3 splits various signals very well (it is not just surround sound) so I have a whole room experience. 
The phono stage goes into the preamp so it goes both into the L&R (as per normal) but then the line in/out goes into the sp3 for signal splitting around the room - as per digital
Sounds great - any knockers will comment with ignorance as they have not heard it
You will never attain a true awesome 2 channel experience when you are starting out of the box with a handi-cap, that being HT system. It should be left to just that, reproduction of dvd/blu ray etc sound. Why anyone would want to go this route is beyond me. 
I've been going through this dilemma as well (new guy, one year deep in this hobby. Although I've loved music forever).  I separated the two entirely, yesterday, so I am delighted to see your post this morning.  And I agree with that millercabon dude... he speaks the truth. 

I have a Denon x4500 AVR (similar to your Marantz I think, and had great reviews for music listening) and bought speakers last year thinking I'd get the best of both worlds... However, after setting up dedicated 2-channel listening in the den with with suggestions from audiophile forums like this for a year, my super awesome HT setup did not sound so awesome anymore for music, and that was becoming my priority.  I upgraded power cords, RCA cables, separate amp for the 2 front towers... it all helped but it was still missing something truly musical (not sure how else to describe it). 

To confess, I was trying to force 2-channel perfection through a pair of Def Tech BP9060 towers.  I know, NOT great speakers for what I want from music... I lived and learned. But for HT... THEY ROCK with the Denon. 

So, as of yesterday, I am now sitting in front of a new pair of Wharfedale EVO 4.4's, connected to a new, separate 100 wpc Yamaha integrated amp, with a CD player and music streamer hooked up to that.  I still have the entire Def Tech/Denon set up as well, but only my Blu-ray and TV are connected. (And if I want, I can hook up the TV via optical to the integrated amp for Christmas morning fire place jazz on youtube :))

NIGHT and DAY difference.  I couldn't be happier and I did not spend all that much money, comparatively speaking, to get the best of both worlds. 

I think knowing what I know now, I'd have gone this route from the beginning.   Playing music is easy. Less buttons and settings to press/adjust, and one less interconnect from music source to speakers. 

I'd look into separating the two "experiences" as much as you can. 

Pink Floyd's "The Wall" sounds more beautiful and alive this morning than I've ever heard in my life.   Mission accomplished!  And everything is just getting warmed up. 

Have fun with it.

OP - you can have great HT and 2 channel listening in the same room sharing some of the same gear.  I started out really into HT and 2 channel was an afterthought. 
I have tweaked, swapped equipment more than my better half would like!  I’ve settled on an integrated amp for 2 channel with HT bypass, Lumin D2 Streamer / DAC for 2 channel.  The majority of speakers out there will work for both 2 channel and HT.  Focus on their 2 channel performance, the need to match / voice the entire HT system is never something I found to be true in my HT set ups, meaning if you swap your fronts and they aren’t the same brand / model but you love them for 2 channel, the impact on tour HT set up should be minimal.  I’ve experimented quite a bit.  The notion that the Home Theater experience is baloney, garbage is absurd.  A nice AVR HT receiver with room correction and proper speaker set up will blow you away while you watch movies and no 2 channel will take the place of that experience, period.  Same way you can’t get the same 2 channel performance out of the AVR receiver and made for HT front speakers.  Many, many people have a set up that does both, don’t listen to the noise that your set up has to be dedicated to one or the other.  A great set up that does both extremely well is very attainable.  
My system

HT processor :  Acurus ACT4  20  channels ( 2 channels mode  sounds good )
Power amp. McIntosh MC8207 ,   ATI class D , 
Bed speakers : Monitor Audio Silver 300 , Focal CC1008be
Atmos speakers  : Kef , PSB .
integrated with HT bypass : Soulution 330 INT
front speakers  : Audiovector R6 Arreté
DAC Streamer :Lumin X1
Cables : XLO , Furutech , Nordost, Puritan 

Power conditionner : PI Audio Uberbuss

So  integtated amp. with HT bypass for  two channels listening

What is your budget?
It is easy to get mad with this hobby…

From what I've read, millercarbon is right for the most part. Unless you buy an extremely good processor.
I've had the Classe SSP-800 for a long time and its 2 channel bypass is great. There is no digital anything in the stream. Analog signal gets sent to my Rowland Model 12 monoblocks unadulterated.

I just bought a PI Audio UberBuss so that should clean up any 'tricity noise very nicely. And it has a power factor correction of 1 which is great.
Lots of opinions, lots of ways to go..... Here is what I did and maybe you are willing to spend more than me, but here is MY setup. Yamaha Aventage 7.2 AV receiver. Ok, perfect for movies.... done. Now, 2 channel stereo running into my Legacy Focus XD speakers, what to do. I looked at rotel that has HTBP functions but ended up with Emotiva pre-amp with HTBP into Emotiva power amp. This setup is perfect. Streamer runs into the pre amp and has nothing to do with the AV receiver and I am in 2 channel heaven. Then engage HT bypass and now in movie heaven. Emotiva makes nice equipment to accomodate all of this...... works for me!
I would rather ignore bypass and separate HT track from music audio track. It’s not big deal to get another set of speakers for HT. I don’t know about movies but music audio will definitely benefits from the separation. 
How is treating an AV receiver as a separate input (through HTBP) in a pre amp and a streamer in input 2 of a pre-amp NOT separation. In this case, the streamer has nothing to do with the AV receiver. It is truly just a streamer going to pre amp, going to power amp, going to speakers. You could disconnectthe AV receiver completely or leave it all hooked up.... no difference in listening to the 2 channel stereo in either case. Ridiculous and unecessary to have another set of mains in this case
Stating an opinion often and emphatically doesn't magically transform it into a fact, other than perhaps to the person stating it. 

Many of today's movies are made to be both a visual and sonic experience and a nice home theater system will allow you to enjoy the movie the same way, or in my experience, better than the theater experience.  How many theaters have you been to lately that only have two channels? 

If throwing away all of the location context you get from a well implemented surround system is "better" to you, cool.  If you personally don't have the budget or desire to put together a system that combines both home theater and two channel that doesn't mean it can't be done or shouldn't be done.  You can have both and you don't have to spend a fortune.

Before surround sound came out, I enjoyed watching movies with the sound coming out of two speakers.  That was better than the one little speaker in the TV.  But technology has marched on and I know for myself, after seeing and hearing Apocalypse Now and experiencing the Ride of the Valkyries scene in surround sound, I was sold and have never looked back.
@8044drussell  @auxinput  @big_greg

About getting a pre in line after my Classe processor. I was in correspondence with Dave Nauber, the president of Classe and he suggested I look into getting their Delta pre to connect to my Classe processor for strict 2 channel. That I'd get "the best of both worlds" with it and my Classe processor.

He also wrote -

"The Delta PRE, sitting between the SSP-800 and the Model 12 amplifiers becomes your preamp for two channel audio. It is indeed additional circuitry for the front L&R when in multichannel mode, but it is so neutral that it’s not considered a real compromise compared to the benefits it offers for stereo sources. It’s a dedicated stereo preamp and a lot newer than the SSP-800 and more expensive as far as the stereo path is concerned, so it’s a step up for stereo sources."

I then asked him- If I leave things as they are now with phono pass through with my SSP-800, am I foolish to spend big money on a new turntable/tonearm and phono amp upgrade as it won't sound as good as it is supposed to because of the Classe?

"The limiting factor would likely be the phono stage but with both the phono stage and the SSP-800 you will be able to hear improvements made on the turntable without additional investment in the preamp. You’d just hear a bit more of the improvements going directly through the Delta PRE."

I just upgraded to a Rogue Ares Magnum tube phono drive with 2 table inputs and a mono switch for my mono table.....The Classe Delta is $10K. Is that investment worth "a bit more" of the improvements to 2 channel from the SSP-800?


A rhetorical question for the ages!


I had the same dilemma one room to serve dual purpose. I tried the ht being the mothership and thought it sounded good until i heard a dedicated two channel system. Jump forward i have two systems in my single room and they both sound fantastic. When you try to multi task you will always have a compromise some where. Either ht will suffer or two channel will suffer. Example my mono blocks are class A and sound great but class A is not a wise choice for ht. My ht pioneer elite is class D and for two channel digital, it is needles in the ears and fast listener fatigue. I know not everyone has the option for two systems but if you have to go with one you need to decide where you will compromise. For me music always has and will come first.
HT processor/receiver  is for sound effects  (movies)
Two channels gears  are  for sound ecstasy (music)

In a lifetime , I may listen a thousand time , an album .
I will not watch a thousand time the same movie.

Bottom line: 3 pieces needed

AV Receiver - all surround speakers hooked up as normal, main front L and R come from main pre out

HTBP pre amp - HTBP main L and R in from AV receiver pre out

Power amp to main L and R

Result 1 = 7.2, 9.2, 11.2 or whatever you have for movies works as it should, total movie theater equivelent as to sound

Result 2 = 2 channel streaming to L and R mains, perfect stereo listening

No compromise at all to each. PERFECT integration of theater and 2 channel stereo listening through the same set of main L, R tower speakers. Love it!

 Yes. This is what I have done.
With an integrated amplifier , a Processor , Power amplifiers.
No compromises , perfect integration. But it is expensive.

Sure it is.... at a minimum, you have to purchase the whip snappy AV Receiver 2K, 3k maybe. Then you get to purchase an expensive pre amp and an expensive power amp. BUT..... when you are done........ ooooh, so nice. Switch from Movie surround mode to pristine 2 channel stereo mode with the push of one button on the remote (htbp on; htbp off)...... so slick and perfect.
Wow when I first step seeing some of these responses I was lasting to myself this is what others talk about when they lol audiophiles snobs. Glad to see there are others feel the same as me. I know my setup is good but not as good many on this board. But I believe I did a good job of setting up my 2 channel and then taking care of Home Theater.  Who ever said what is the difference in having a pre with HTBP than just a pre is right.  There really isn’t. Make that sound the best you can do/afford and then add rest.  
The important point is it’s more than doable and there are a lot of options depending on budget.  

I’ve had an a separate amp / pre with HT bypass in the chain with my HT receiver.  I’ve swapped Front speakers, streamers / Streamers around.  I’ve had a class D amplification in my HT receiver and paired it with a much more powerful class A/B amp that costs multiple times the receiver which was not a cheap receiver.  
Today I have an integrated Tube Amp - Primaluna Evo400 (2 Channel w/Hat Bypass) paired with an Anthem MRX-1140.  It pairs well for movies, no issues at all with integration of the Tube amp into my HT set up.  2 channel is the flip of a switch and I’m in 2 channel tube heaven.  
In every set up I have tried and combo the 3 constants I have had are no issues with the integration of the pieces - HT receivers auto calibration tools can work wonders on that front, that the separate amplification / pre for 2 channel always has sounded quite a bit better than the HT Receiver for 2 channel and adding a separate amp to the mix improved the surround sound of the receiver, opened up more power for the other channels.  Key that the HT receiver is totally out of the 2 channel chain, I’ve tried it as a Pre to separate amps and doesn’t deliver the same 2 channel performance, even with direct analogue pass through - unsure why.  
I 100 % agree with Big Greg on how awesome a Movie experience can be with a HT set up.  I watched John Wick 3 last night in Dolby Atmos and it was an experience.  You can’t get that without the HT set up, period.  I felt shot gun blast, felt like I was in the rain storm and that I needed to wipe off the broken glass that had sprayed in my direction.  And then I flipped a switch and enjoyed a little 2 channel listening before calling it an evening. 
What you can argue is that if I took all the money I have into the 2 channel gear over the years or vice versa, the HT gear, if I applied all those funds to one or the other I would have an even better set up for whichever I picked, as long as I selected the right gear.  I love HT and 2 Channel listening and I have 1 space for both and I still am quite happy with the results for both.  
I read that Classe is coming out with a processor that replaces the/my SSP-800. The ISP A/V.No info or ETA yet but I'm hoping it has the best of both worlds. A Delta Pre 2 channel digital bypass/pass through with a better than SSP-800 surround circuitry. Could be amazing.
I too wanted surround sound" for movies/tv audio and possibly occasional audio use. It's tricky and def a compromise when trying to keep your two channel audio system intact. After a lot of homework I managed to keep my main system and add surround. I have Harbeth SLH5 + as the main fronts and an REL s510 as an audio subwoofer, and a pair of SVS 3000for video subwoofer. I added a denon surrond series integrated amplifier. Took the TV audio out to th eDenon optical input, then the front channel out from the Denon to the Home Theater Bypass input on my Pass re-amp. Took an RCA output from the preamp to the RCA input on the Pass 250.8 amp- that gives me as clean a front channel audio for surround as I can get. Then I run center and rear speakers off of the Denon's powered speaker outputs. When I listen to a movie in surround sound I flip on the HT bypass inout (and turn on the Denon) on the Pass Pre-amp- the front channel audio is running thru my Harbeths and the other channels are coming from the Denon. When I want pure 2 channel audio I just select my normal audio input on the pre amp and it no longer is playing the source fed to it from the Denon. In my case I got lucky- the Pass amp has BOTH balanced and RCA inputs that are "live" at the same time- I run balanced outputs from the Pass pre-amp to the balanced inputs on the Pass amp (for my audio playback), leaving the RCA's coming from the Pass Pre-amp (it has both RCA and Balanced outputs) hardwired to the RCA inputs on the Pass Amp. It's take another paragraph to explain the three subwoofer set up too but it all works seamlessly. 
PS Audio Stellar integrated amp has HTBP, which would allow you to stream Tidal. It is great.   But I warn you, I have been down this exact same route.   I ended up just sticking with an upgrade to my power amp (ps audio S300) and I use the HT receiver more like a pre amp.  Apple TV is the main source for everything.  Works fine for now. 
I have tried all sorts of upgrades in the electronics and not been convinced that they are better.  My rule is if you have to squint real hard to hear a difference , it is not worth the money.  
 I have come to the conclusion that  for me, there is no point in upgrading my system until I get better  L/R speakers.  I currently use JBL 590’s and they are great for what they are.  But all these upgrades I tried cannot be heard through them.  

So I suggest thinking also about the speaker situation. 
PS Audio Stellar integrated amp has HTBP, which would allow you to stream Tidal. It is great.   But I warn you, I have been down this exact same route.   I ended up just sticking with an upgrade to my power amp (ps audio S300) and I use the HT receiver more like a pre amp.  Apple TV is the main source for everything.  Works fine for now. 
I have tried all sorts of upgrades in the electronics and not been convinced that they are better.  My rule is if you have to squint real hard to hear a difference , it is not worth the money.  
 I have come to the conclusion that  for me, there is no point in upgrading my system until I get better  L/R speakers.  I currently use JBL 590’s and they are great for what they are.  But all these upgrades I tried cannot be heard through them.  

So I suggest thinking also about the speaker situation. 
Am with the OP in saying i have heard in past but def moreso recently about HTBP. All of this info above is fantastic and a bit paralyzing not knowing what will be a good solution to my system. I am def in the camp of 60/40 music to HT.

I have a Anthem MRX 720 with Emotiva XPA-5 (250w/ch) paired to GoldenEar Ref Triton One.R and Supercenter Reference. Been reading that my One.R would benefit for music from a better setup likely including HTBP.  

Am all ears to any suggestions/recommendations to better improve my music listening with a budget up to $4K. TIA!!

Came across this thread as I was considering adding a preamp after my HT processor for the mains. My processor has a "pure direct" function (some call it HT bypass) where it disables all processing of the signal and even turns off the unit's front display and TV output signal to ensure the best pure audio. The unit is a McIntosh MX122, but still considering adding a Mc C53 preamp after it for feeding 2-channel-only audio. Tough choice as reading all the specs and reviews, it's hard to justify the outlay for a separate preamp when the specs seem to indicate that there would be no sonic benefit for human ears by doing this. Ith my current combo I think I've already got what most would recommend, for even critical listening, so maybe no benefit adding a preamp for the 2-channel-only stuff. Tough choice, but I think much of the opinions of 2-channel audio from a HT processor are based on low end and outdated gear. These days there are a lot of HT processors that are also fantastic for 2-channel listening.

My experience has been that there is a really broad difference in sound quality between processors, and I encourage listeners to keep both an open but skeptical mind about them.

Onkyo and Marantz are not my favorites. Onkyo worse by a lot, Marantz bright and hard. Emotiva same as Onkyo but haven’t listened in forever.

The current generation of Anthem does OK, but my very old Theta Casanova, which was a pure digital preamp, would still beat all of them for sound quality. Honestly even my low end Oppo BD player sounded great compared to most modern processors.  Shame I had to use a 6 channel preamp to hear it. 

Thread is a year and a help old.

And i've never heard Marantz described as bright and hard.


 Was talking about the processors, not the amps.  And some people love the Marantz HT processors and we'll just have to disagree.

For what they have done with the 8805 audio wise considering everything that is crammed in there for home theater is impressive. The dealer I bought from actually had design input and worked with the team developing it, he told me how they did everything they could to get the best audio out of it.

One of these days I will get a dedicated 2 channel but until then I am happy with the 8805 sound. If anything it is not quite bright enough but that could be due to alot of things.