PS - Here's a pic of the Theta Supernova, a never released successor to the Casanova:
I never really understood plowing $$$ into a pre pro to be able to get good 2-channel sound. IMHO most AVRs do an acceptable job of performing surround processing and amplification, so choosing one with preouts to feed stereo separates or an integrated to handle 2-channel duties seems like a much more cost-effective way to get great stereo and HT in one system. But that’s me.
In my case it comes from experience. The older, pre HDMI Theta was just superb sounding in all formats compared to modern, HDMI equipped Onkyo and Emotiva models which I owned briefly. Even using the Onkyo as a preamp there was absolutely no comparison. The Theta was a far more musical and pleasant experience, especially from the mid to bass range.
The closest I got for DVD/BueRay with HDMI was an Oppo to a Halo P7. That also sounded really good. It was a long time until I had a processor (Anthem) which could compare in sound quality to the Oppo’s analog outputs.
Not sure I understand. I’d say running a good-quality 2-channel source/DAC into an good-quality stereo pre/amp combo or integrated would be superior to running it through the Anthem and probably comparable or even better than the Theta as there are dedicated power supplies, less noise, etc. that the stereo signal gets subjected to. Anyway, that was my point and not sure where you were going with HDMI.