Connecting a dedicated 2 channel stereo amp to a AV receiver

Discussion in 'Amps, Pre-Pros & Receivers' started by El Duderino, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. El Duderino Audiophyte

    El Duderino
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    Hello,

    I've searched the forums for advice on how best to tackle the issue of integrating a decent 2 channel setup into a home theater system.

    Presently, I have a NAD C320BEE stereo amplifier and an Onkyo TX-SR805 7.1 channel AV receiver. I'm fairly particular about 2 channel sound quality. Initially, the plan was to connect the pre-outs of the 805 into the main-in on the NAD. Using the NAD main-in means removing a jumper which basically decouples the pre-amp and power amp stages so I'm using the NAD strictly as a power amp. I then have the L + R front speakers (Aperion towers) hooked up to the NAD and all other speakers attached to the 805.

    The main problem with this setup is that by decoupling the pre- and power-amp stages on the NAD, I can no longer connect music sources (CD player, Squeezebox) directly into the NAD...you hear nothing.

    Reviewing the forums here, it seems that I have a few choices while keeping in mind that I want to maintain as high a quality of 2 channel music as possible:
    1) Sell the NAD and get a stereo amp with a HT bypass feature...an option I would rather avoid considering the costs.

    2) Connect all 2 channel sources to the NAD and then connect the NAD pre-out to the 805 main-in effectively using the NAD pre-amplifier and the Onkyo as a power amplifier. This might work but I don't really know how detrimental an effect Onkyo power amplification will have on 2 channel sound quality. Any thoughts?

    3) Connect all 2 channel sources to the Onkyo and then connect the 805 pre-out to the NAD main-in using the 805 as a pre-amp and the NAD as a power-amp. Again, I thought the vast majority of the "sound quality" in the NAD was from the pre-amp stage so it seems this option would be detrimental to music? Just how bad is the Onkyo pre-amp stage and its Burr Brown DACS in reproducing 2 channel music to the same quality as a budget separates stereo receiver like the NAD?

    If anyone has any thoughts on the above or any suggestions that I haven't thought about, I'm all ears and will be forever grateful!

    Regards,
    El Duderino
  2. EJ1 Audioholic Chief

    EJ1
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    Option #1 would be costly. I believe certain Musical Fidelity pieces have the bypass option for home theatre. Personally, I would do option #2. You can at least try it and see if you hear a difference. Keep in mind you are going from 50wpc to ~130wpc (when only driving 2 channels) when using the 805 as a power amp. To me, I wouldn't be able to hear a difference but you might.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2008
    EJ1,
  3. El Duderino Audiophyte

    El Duderino
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    Thanks for the reply! Option two does sound like the least expensive, time-consuming way to go. I've noticed that the 805 does not actually have main in / pre in labelled sockets. It does, however, have multichannel inputs (like many other AV receivers). Am I correct in assuming that these bypass the pre-amp stage and will allow me to use the 805 as a power amp essentially?

    If not then I may be out of luck since I definitely do not want to run the signal from the NAD through 2 pre-amps (the one on the NAD and then the 805).

    Additionally, through further reading, it seems that there may be option 4. If I plug the 805 pre-out into a line level input (eg Aux in) on the NAD and then all 2 channel sources into the NAD, I will effectively be able to use the NAD as a separate 2 channel system. The issue is with 5.1 where the front speakers would be driven by the NAD....would I gain any benefit driving the front speakers with a dedicated 50 wpc from the NAD versus the 120 wpc of the Onkyo (split across multiple channels)? And secondly, would pre-amping the front channel signal twice (Onkyo pre-amp then NAD pre-amp) introduce deterioration in sound quality?

    Is there a way, perhaps, of using the tape loop on the NAD to accomplish my goals. I read on another thread that the tape loop is essentially the same as the "processor/HT bypass" feature marketed on other amps...

    Thanks,

    El Duderino
  4. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    Firstly if you use the 805 for 2 channel music and use pure/direct listening mode you may find that you could achieve the same level of sound quality that your NAD offers. Secondly, I am not so sure the preamp contributes more to sound quality than the power amp. That may be the case if you are using low output phono cartridges but sources like tuners, CD, DVD, BD payers typically provides high enough output such that the preamp does more controls than to amplify their signals.

    In 2 channel mode, the Onkyo's huge power supply only have to feed two amplifiers. I believe the Onkyo actually has more power reserve than the NAD C320. I suggest you try all 3 options, but in each case ask someone to help you do enough A/B comparison listening tests before picking the best optio
    PENG,
  5. mtrycrafts Audioholic Slumlord

    mtrycrafts
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    Not sure I follow you on this.
  6. EJ1 Audioholic Chief

    EJ1
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    I was saying if he used the NAD as a pre and the Onkyo as the amp, the power output would increase from 50wpc (what the NAD puts out and what he was originally using) to 130 (what the Onkyo puts out). Is that not correct?
    EJ1,

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