pro logic unit instead of 2 channel preamp?

Hi Folks,

I'm shopping for a pre-owned pre-amp to match a rotel 980bx I recently bought. Logic says to go with a matching rotel preamp, but maybe there are other ways to go? I'd like to spend around $300 if possible.

I'll be using the system for 2 channel listening, but my tv etc will also be playing through it. Inputs will be: cd, dvd, wireless itunes, vcr output. Currently I use a pro logic Denon receiver and run video through it as well. I don't mind losing video and only running audio if the quality is much better.

I only listen to 2 channel, but might choose to add a sub one day. My main goal is the best music reproduction I can afford for my budget. My speakers will be DIY MTM configured bookshelf speakers that I'm building.

-- what do you think about the older Rotel Pro Logic Surround Units as a dedicated 2 channel preamp? Can they compete sonically with older 2 channel pre-amps? (say, something made in the last 10 years?)

Any other pro logic preamps you'd recommend? I ask because it seems that there is no demand for a non digital processor, but if it reproduces great 2 channel stereo, then I'd be very happy.

-- what do you think of the Chinese tube preamps on ebay? (Ming Da etc?)

-- any other pre-amp suggestions for the $300 range used?

thanks so much for any suggestions

I find some of the old pre-pros can serve as excellent 2 channel preamps - and the prices normally are much lower than what you may have to spend - especially for a remote controllable linestage preamp. There are many available for <$300 - some I've used are below:

I had a Rotel RSP960ax which was very nice for the $100 or so you'll have to spend. I don't recall how many inputs it has but may not have enough for you.

I also like the old B&K pre-pros. I use a B&K AV3090 in a spare system I set up in my workshop. It has Dolby Digital and DTS which I don't use, since I'm using the Zone 2 sections which is pure analog and bypasses all of the digital circuitry. Plenty of inputs . . . I like the B&K better than the Rotel but they sell for more like $200.

Another one that I use in my livingroom system is the Sherwood AVP9080 - it has a built in tuner, phone stage (though a poor one), and digital bypass. They can be found for <$200. also plenty of inputs.

All of these will do 2 channel music nicely, but compared to many used $300 non-remote controllable linestage preamps probably won't stand up under critical listening. Of course you can use the $ savings for some music.

Thanks for the suggestions - I'm not familiar with B&K, so this will give me a great jumping off point. The 2 zone idea is a great one too - I'd never considered the second zone being a purer 2 channel design.

It seems that ebay has a constant trickle of pro logic preamps, so I'll research B&K and snoop around some Rotels and Parasounds

best wishes

One additional benefit of a pre/pro vs a 2 channel preamp is that the internal DAC would almost certainly improve the sound quality of your wireless music player. You mention wireless iTunes which leads me to believe that you are using an Airport Express or Apple TV. Both are great devices but their internal DACs aren't really great.
Yes, I'm sending itunes music wirelessly to the airport express and its a fun way to listen to music, but I've often wondered if the sound quality suffers.

I also like the convenience of the video and future subwoofer abilities of a pro logic preamp. My only real concern is if the "multi function" design of it significantly reduces the sound quality.
Hi Folks,

just a quick update. I got back from my trip last night and checked the local craigslist. A guy up the road was selling a Rotel RSP-960ax for $50 so I snapped it up today. This is the older Pro Logic processor with a 2 channel stereo option. I've wired it with the Rotel rb980bx that I bought off agon and the system really shines. It has brought much more detail and bass response out of my Boston bookshelf speakers.

Now onto the DIY speaker project.

thanks everyone for your response and guidance.

Although you have resolved your problem, I'll have to add that in my 2-channel mostly LP-based living room system, I'm using a previously sidelined Outlaw Audio 950 7.1 ch. pre/pro because of the 4 preamps I have available, the Outlaw in 2-channel all-analog bypass mode is the most transparent and fastest, brings out the best in the dynamics of the phono preamp feeding it, but never turns harsh or edgy. It's an awful lot of box and wasted circuitry to get a good 2-channel analog section, but it works really well, and of course it has remote which has spoiled me.

The others? Amber Model 17, Parasound ZPre (version 1), VSP Labs Straightwire II, and Hafler Series 915 Class A J-FET line stage (the preamp to match their later TransNova series amps). Only the Straightwire II equaled the Outlaw, but lost out because at 20 years it's getting a bit dodgy, occasionally dropping a channel when switching. And no remote.
Hi Johnny,

thanks for your suggestions and they certainly won't go in vain as you can imagine, I've caught the bug pretty bad and will likely be tweaking and trading for some time.

since my past post, I couldn't get past the 960ax's lack of bass (great reproduction other than that) so I traded it for an RSP980 (I can't believe how inexpensive these old pro logic processors are.) The RSP980 offers much better detail, better bass, better dynamics. Clearly a superior unit.

Meanwhile, I've finished my DIY kit. I went with GR Research kit speakers and I couldn't recommend them highly enough. They are really opening up and I'm loving the overall sound I'm getting.

I can see now that the 980 is very transparent, but a bit too bright. I'll keep it for quite a while, but my next move might possibly be a tube preamp and I'll also be snooping for the models you've suggested above. I've heard a lot of great things about outlaw and also heard about some reliability issues with them.

I'm researching interconnects and speaker wire and hearing massively different opinion. Currently my speaker wire is home depot and interconnects are one step up from wal mart. A friend of mine runs a commercial AV install company, so I can get wire and connects for cost, so I'll likely end up with DIY interconnects and speaker cable, in keeping with my budget audiophile ways.

I would recommend the Proceed PAV as a great processor and two channel pre-amp.It goes for $500-600.If you want the companion PDSD(it adds Dolby digital) the price is usually $1000-1100.They are great products.You can also look for a used Proceed PRE.