tube pre/amp with ss amp vs multi-channel ss amp

Hi all,

I posted an advice question in the analog forum and the guys there were great and helpful. Now I am here.

Short story (I try), I will introduce a turntable and stereo pre/amp into my combined stereo/ht set-up next month. I started looking at new HT pre/pros and auditioned the Classe SSP-800 and it was a great unit but I really think I want to invest my money into a better stereo quality set-up and work the HT pre/pro a few months down the road.

I think I have a pretty decent budget and have a couple of questions please if you don't mind.

My current set-up is the folowing:
Dynaudio Confidence C1
Confidence Center
Focus 110 surrounds
REL B1 and REL B2(the B2 will probably go on Audiogon)
Rega Saturn CDP
Simaudio Titan five channel amp
NAD Masters M15 pre/pro

As stated, I think I will stay with the NAD for just a few more months and introduce a stereo pre/amp with HT bypass and add a turntable.

My question is I have a planned audition of the Simaudio
P-7 but thinking further I think it would be best if I also add a tubed pre/amp into the equation as well. I am working with the dealer to get an audition of the Octave Audio HP300 MK2 with MC phono stage and they also carry Cary Audio and I will see if I can get the SLP-05 for an audition as well and this unit looks amazing by the way so I have three pretty solid candidates to start and I can hear them on the C1s as they are a Dynaudio Dealer.

Okay background over.

I have to use any pre/amp I purchase with a HT amp for now unless I crunch some numbers. I really like Simaudio and I really like their stereo amps but we are getting into the $8k to $9k range. I will most likely use the Simaudio Titan for now and see how things go. I guess do you think I may be cheating these pre/amps listed by using a multi-channel amp for now? I will request that they use a Simaudio stereo amp for audition and I know for certain they won't have a Titan on hand to use. They are more a stereo shop than HT as of late. In your experience, how much is gained from a quality stereo amp over a quality multi-channel amp?

How much is gained or not by using a seperate phono pre/amp verses an integrated one in the stereo pre/amp if available? Are the results typically that much better with a seperate unit?

Using a tubed pre/amp vs solid state? Do most of you that go with a tubed pre/amp and a SS amp notice quite the difference over an SS pre/amp? I would think it would be more obvious with a tubed amp.

This will be my first introduction to tubes and I have not had a turntable in over 20 years so this will be exciting.

I am just slightly concerned with the quality pre/amps I am looking at and using a HT multi-channel amp for now. Would like your opinions on the integrated phono stage vs seperate and tubed vs SS front end with a ss (multi-channel amp for now). And I guess while we are at it if you have any input on these three units I have listed good or bad would also be appreciated.

Thanks and have a nice day.
I have yet to hear a mutli-channel (3,5,7) HT amp sound as good as a comparable stereo or mono amp for music/stereo listening. I have owned a few multi-channel amps, in fact some of the more highly acclaimed ones. Theta Dreadnaught II, Krell, Conrad Johnson, . . .

While I don't blame you for starting with this approach, I think in the end you will find that the multi-channel amps cannot compete with the same brands two channel amp at the same power rating/comparable series level. I can tell you that some of the multi-channel amps I have owned were down right disappointing in 2-channel performance.

As to the quality of the phono section in a preamp, this is going to vary widely by mode/brand of preamp. Personally, I think you are better off finding the best line stage for your budget and adding the external phono amp. Insisting on including the phono section into the preamp will knock out a lot of really good line stages.

In the end, I suspect if you 2-channel is really important that you will end up with a good preamp, 2-channel (or mono) amp(s), etc. . .

FWIW, I wouldn't bother replacing the NAD with another pre/pro unless there are popular (movie) formats the NAD cannot process.

I appreciate the input. What started as a new HT processor has evolved into a full out asault on the stereo side of things. I really thought I would end up with a Classe HT piece I auditioned and was to demo the Arcam but as stated after getting out a bit and looking what I am after my priorities are changing.

Yes, I agree about the stereo amps. My life would be easier if I try the Simaudio amps as my multi-channel is a Sim Titan but I called today and can get an in-home audition of the Pass Labs XA-100.5 and try them out. Unless I am able to try with my own speakers etc these store auditions are moot. I listened to a Simaudio P7 pre/amp over the weekend but once again I don't have a solid opinion as I did not care for the speakers they were mated with at all. I can try the Simaudio with the C1s at a dealer and will do this but the Pass mono in class A has my interest and a home demo is available.

Now to get out and listen to more pre/amps and turntables. I am trying to research and listen the best I can but once again if I can't hear the equipment with my C1s it is difficult (at least the pre/amp and amp(s)).

Thanks again for the input. I am sure this will all come together nicely. The Octave pre/amp is proving a little harder to get a hold off for demo but we will see. A Dynaudio dealer is suggesting I come in and audition Audio Research pre/amps and I can also hit the Simaudio piece at the same time with the Confidence Speakers. I have not ruled out Sim as the Titan has been a fantastic HT amp.

Then turntables...
Hi,IF YOU WANT MULTI CHANNEL H,T.GO WITH A MULTI CHANNEL AMP PREAMP.Two channel go with a solid state amp or mono amps.And a tube preamp.Or use a separate set up for h.t. and one for two channel music.
Hi Energizer,

I already have a pretty kick ass HT set-up (to me-I listed my gear in the initial post). I am trying to bring my stereo side on par. I do not have room for two seperate set-ups. I do have room to throw in another amp or two.

Dynguy, I think you are in the right direction. One thing that you may consider is start by adding the preamp (but if you have a list of 2-channel amps, you would want to make sure the pre amp would match with those power amps on your list - output impedence to amp input impedence).

You can then run the preamp in unity gain or HT passthrough to your Titan but take full advantage of the preamp to two channels of the titan for stereo. This would give you a good reference to compare any amp you may end up trying out. That should be your reference point (IMO), how much better is a different 2-channel amp (ie. or monos) versus this performance.

I have my favorite and preferred two channel amps, but you may want to review what preamps mate best with the amps you are considering - factoring in your speakers. You are right, you have a very nice HT system.