Preamp vs Av receiver preouts

So I have a pretty good setup going on for myself, but my weak point is still my receiver on the music side of things (I use it for HT but I'm talking stereo right now). I have the Martin Logan ESLs, a 15" rythmik sub, yamaha aventage rxa-1060, Anthem mca225 hooked to the preouts of the yamaha (and a splitter to connect the sub L/R), and a schiit modi+. Would a separate preamp make much difference instead of the preouts on the receiver even though I use the yamaha in pure direct mode or is it not worth the addition? And if so what ballpark preamp are we talking to make said difference? Something like the parasound zpre3 looked interesting to me, but I haven't heard a separate preamp in a system before and don't know what difference it would make. I can't do much more in terms of room treatment in my room either. Thanks in advance! 


yes a separate preamp would make a very good improvement with the right preamp


i would look to spend 2 to 3k and look at a tube preamp a used cj vtl or vac would amaze you

think of it this way your 800 receiver contains 7.2 preamplifiers 7.2 channels of dacs a video switcher a digital processor this means the piece cost 200-300 to manufacturer so your parts quality can not be very high

and then all of this circuitry will affect your sound quality

so yes you will be amazed especially with a good tube preamp

Dave and Troy

audio Intellect NJ

40 year audio veterans

You are lucky.  Your anthem has two inputs.

So get a dedicated 2 channel preamp and hook it to the balanced inputs.   When listening to 2 channel sound your yamaha isn't involved.

For AV, run pre out from your Yamaha front channels to the Anthem RCA inputs so all you ahve to do is switch inputs on the anthem.  

You will have to figure out volume on the Anthem.  You'll want to set it pretty high, perhaps 1200 or choose something easy to return to, and then adjust the volume balance for the speakers like you do with the Yamaha driving all channels.


@carlsbad2 - Jerry, you’re on the right track, but I’m not sure the Anthem will like, or work correctly, using two inputs from different sources.

The correct way of doing things, and I have extensive and recent experience of doing this, as I wanted to find the same solution as the OP; is to get a pre-amp with a ’Pass Through’ input arrangement. Sometimes named as a ’Processor’ input. That will be your challenge; to find one, and within your budget.

The 'Pass Through' is just as it says, it will pass through the signals coming out of your Rx's (Rx = Receiver btw) main L/R pre outs to the input of the pass through section of the pre, at FULL Volume, so the Rx will be controlling the final volume, so you must use the Rx's speakers output level section to get the volume correct on all 5, or more, channels. If you don't use a pre with a pass through facility, and use any 'normal' input for your Rx's L/R pre outs, every time you alter the volume on the Rx, you will then have to adjust the volume on the pre to match = a PitA! (I know, I've done it, as I used an ARC LS3b for a time)

Before I go on - OP, you will get a MASSIVE improvement in SQ by ditching the poor quality pre-amp section in your Rx . I’ve used the pre-amp sections of a TotR Denon and TotR Onky Rx, each costing over £3k and earlier this year I decided to try what the OP is asking, and, what a revalation, going into my Threshold Stasis 3 S300II/Magneplanar 1.7i’s (previously JBL L-100 Century, so no comments about the 220wpc Rx into a difficult 4Ω load of the 1.7i). I didn’t have a great amount of cash, so the cheapest ’half decent’ Pre with the aforementioned pass through was a NAIM 122x. This killed the Pre section of my Onkyo TX-NR5010 and proved I was on the right track, but I thought; this could be better, so I swopped the 122x for the next model up the range, the NAIM 202 - another improvement, which I stayed with for c2 Months.

Then a friend brought round an Audio Research LS3b, and although no pass through, it was an OMG moment; the NAIM went up for sale and an ARC pre was hunted for, not as easy as you may think. I contacted almost every ’high end’ Hi-Fi dealer in the UK (including the UK ARC importers) asking if they get offered an ARC LS17/26/27 or if the price was right a Ref 3, to contact me and I would buy it. After 3 Months, nothing! Nothing even on the bay! Finally, I found a Ref 3 at the right price and it was bought, and I’m now in 7th heaven.

The Processor input is used when watching movies as it takes the input from the Tx L/R Pre Outs, but then I use the CD input, or whatever, to listen to Stereo - perfect.

Apologies for the long reply, but I thought it may give the OP a road to follow which WILL give him, and maybe others, a pronounced SQ improvement over the poor quality of Rx pre-amp sections, and all the associated garbage that’s contained within those signals from the Rx’s innards.

Rogue RP1 tube preamp would be a very nice addition. You can find it around $1000 on a used market. The home theater input on the RP1 doesn’t require the preamp to be on so you don’t impact tube life while you’re war good a movie. 

Thanks for all the responses guys. I agree that I do want a home theater bypass input if I can get one. I don't want by mistake for different signals to feed the Anthem and I don't realize it. Not sure if anything bad would happen or not, but I'd rather not find out. I'm pretty limited on space of where I can keep it (height more than anything) , but I did see a Parasound zpre3 would be small enough in size and has a HT bypass. I'm not sure if the sound quality would a marked improvement at that price point. Im also not sure if I would want the tube sound or not. I'd probably need to good to a store and hear some stuff with SS vs Tube. I listen to a lot of funk/jammy/rock music, but also electronic music which I don't think would be great with a tube preamp but I also haven't listened before