SR8015 + 2ch amp VS separates

Consider helping a separates noob please. Looking into options for a 9 channel home theater system. Tloprying to keep it to just 1 amp and 1 processor. The only 9 channel power amps are from yamaha, monolith, and emotiva. While looking into separates I read more into the SR8015 and it’s preamp mode. This can disengage the two front channels and so the preamp stage acts sort of like a separate.

So I thought that instead of buying separates I could use a 2 channel external amp (ie 250 wpc) to drive the fronts of the SR8015 in preamp mode and run the remaining 7 channels off the SR8015. I wonder how this would compare to a multichannel power amp and separate processor setup. Audioholics measured the SR8015 at 101 wpc (1%THD) with 7 channels driven.

Originally I thought about getting the yamaha mxa5200 (11 channels). This is rated for 150 wpc with the ability to bridge loads so that the front 2 channels can get 200 wpc. However at 7 channels driven audioholics measured at around 65 wpc.
If 2-channel audio is important to you, any part of the AVR in the chain will ruin it. Period. Preamps matter as much as, and many feel even more than, an amp, and the preamp section of the SR8015 is garbage compared to any decent dedicated stereo preamp and will be a significant bottleneck to achieving better stereo performance.

The easiest solution would be to buy a good stereo integrated amp because you can remove the AVR completely from the 2-channel signal path by adding only one box to your system. To do this you just plug the front L/R pre outs from the SR8015 into the HT bypass (if it has one) or any unused line-level input on the integrated and move the speaker cables for the front L/R speakers from the Marantz to the integrated and you’re done. With this setup the SR8015 is completely out of the loop for 2-channel listening and only the integrated is in the signal path, and to switch between stereo and multichannel you just change input selector on the integrated — that’s it. Anyway, hope this is helpful and best of luck moving forward.
Soix thank you. I didn't even think your suggestion was an option. It's yet another consideration to the whole problem. When you say the marantz has a garbage preamp vs a stereo integrated, what are you basing that off of? I know measurements are only one thing but the SR8015 did seem to measure really well in its preamp output (as per audioholics). Gene's opinion was that the preamp section on the SR is really good for an AVR. Of course he may be speaking relatively.

I started looking into separates placing a premium on the pre-pro side and then shifted to placing more importance on the amp side. Now I feel like I'm being shifted again to the pre-pro. I understand it's the hobby but it's painful to consider a higher end pre-pro (let's say anthem avm 70- not yet out) costing $3400. So tempting to stick with an avr and external amplification. 
When you say the marantz has a garbage preamp vs a stereo integrated, what are you basing that off of?
It’s an AVR, which means it’s a jack of all trades master of none design built to hit a desired price point that’ll be digestible to the general public. So corners need to be cut, and unfortunately parts that are most important to achieving better sound (like power supplies, capacitors, resistors, etc.) are costly and thus primed for cost cutting. Add to this that in an AVR the delicate stereo signal is embedded in a very electronically noisy environment with all the digital processing and other things going on and you can begin to see why an AVR not conducive to good 2-channel performance. And, to be honest, for the general public that’s probably not a big deal because to them it’ll still sound “good” because they have no idea of what good really is because they’ve only ever heard crap.

But I said specifically in my prior post “If 2-channel audio is important to you” because if it is and you’re truly looking for “better” sound the AVR can’t be in the signal path in any way for the reasons stated above. Your options then come down to your priorities.

If you’re huge into HT and want to max out that area then yeah, a $3000+ prepro will be in the equation. (BTW, notice how fast price goes up when you put higher quality parts in the multichannel signal path vs. the price of an AVR that also includes amplification, which gives you an idea of just how much they cut important corners to achieve their selling price). But if you find the amps and surround processing of the AVR to meet your needs for HT, then why not let it handle that and just replace the critical 2-channel pieces?

That’s why I suggested just adding a stereo integrated amp. If the rest of the AVR duties are “fine,” then the integrated is the most cost-effective way to bring your critical 2-channel performance to another level entirely. And in case you’re wondering, yes you will hear a very big and significant improvement — we’re not talking minor benefits here. I, and many others here, have implemented precisely this kind of setup when we didn’t have a dedicated listening room and stereo and HT systems had to coexist, and it works fantastically well. And yes, before you ask, using a good stereo integrated will likely outperform a $3500 prepro hooked to a multichannel amp and be much cheaper as a bonus.

Ok, I’m done preaching and hopefully you get the idea. Best of luck in whatever direction you decide to go.
Soix I've learned good tidbits from your responses and I appreciate that all. Helps me along in my audio journey! 

Hi.. i had the same issue and ended up buying the Little bear VU3 switch.. i have a 7.1.4 set up with my SR8015 and have all speakers except the fronts (B&W 702 S3) connected to the Marantz and the fronts and my NAD M10 V2 & Marantz connected to the switch… When i want to listen to music, i have the switch turned onto the NAD and 2 front speakers, and when home theater, i switch to the Marantz and all speakers… works well.. I know that adding a component can induce noise, but the sound is amazing for both…

@rudyc You could plug the front L/R preouts from the Marantz into an unused input on the NAD (if there is one) and get rid of the switch altogether — less is sometimes more.  Just a thought FWIW.