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Home » Article » Processors and receivers » How it all began

How it all began

In 2006 I made up my mind to assemble a good multichannel and stereo system in one. By that time I already had a very good stereo system, but listening to the music in stereo, and then switching the hardware over for movies or multichannel audio was quite a boring thing to do.

I started thinking of how to create a quality universal system for audio and video. My market study showed lack of good multichannel devices. The only satisfactory six-channel preamplifier I managed to find was Accuphase CX-260 which cost over 10000USD. Then I decided to buy preamplifier/processor EAD Theatermaster Ovation on approbation. My impressions are outlined in a separate article. Shortly – I can say it is a wonderful device that sounded good both before upgrade and after it. By the way, as I said in my first article on multichannel devices, in 1997 this processor cost 4500 USD for a basic version and 7000 for an advanced one. far from cheap, I must admit.

EADTheatermaster Ovation EADTheatermaster Ovation inside

About 2008 DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD audio formats became widely distributed. In order to understand their value I needed to replace my hardware, as these formats did not work on spdif.

I analyzed the market and decided to use multichannel audio card as a source and preamplifier, because all then-current receivers failed to satisfy my demand in quality sound and price. After I tested 15 audio cards of different brands, I opted for RME 9632 card with an additional module. Later on I replaced it by Asus Xonar Essence ST.

RME9632 Asus Xonar Essence ST

After tough setup this combination worked somehow, but I was not completely satisfied. Unlike 2008 receivers, the sound was more or less decent, but there was no trace of usability offered even by the cheapest receivers. The multichannel variant was the most disappointing. It took constant readjustment of inputs-outputs and other workaround.

As I read multiple articles, I found Onkyo PR-SC886 preamplifier/processor rather appealing. It seemed to encourage optimism, like happiness was near. Great functionality and usability, expectation of good sound. When I purchased this wonder of engineering, I realized that it was premature to celebrate. Despite the good technical facilities as described in manufacturer’s specifications, it sounded much worse than Asus Xonar Essence ST audio card. Perplexed by this fact, I was willing to find the reason. Fortunately, I graduated from a technical university and was a handyman since my very childhood. I used to think that it’s impossible that major manufacturers of Hi-Fi hardware like Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha are dark on sound, but the facts speak for themselves.

Onkyo PR-SC886 Onkyo PR-SC886 inside

Well, I found a service manual, studied it and realized that everything is really implemented at a primitive level. I could with no hassle make it better and not any more expensive (just kidding). But there being no alternatives in the AV processor market at affordable prices, I resolved to upgrade this processor. It had a perfect preamplifier based on cs3318 and five decent PCM1796 D-to-A converters. These are the essential parts of any processor, and all the rest can be replaced.

So here we are now :) Read the articles.

Author: Timur Sheykhov

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Date: 07.01.2015 | Views: 1938 | Total comments: 0 | Rating: 5.0/2
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