Should I Upgrade My Amplifier or AV Processor?

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Q I was planning to replace my 225Wpc Anthem Statement A2 amplifier with a 300Wpc McIntosh MC302 amp to improve my system. It was suggested that I would get more bang-for-the-buck by instead replacing my Integra DHC 80.3 surround preamp/processor with a new McIntosh MX122 surround preamp/processor. The reason given was that upgrading to a marginally more powerful amp wouldn’t result in a significant difference in my system, but a state-of-the-art processor would. Do you agree with that viewpoint? The speakers I am using are Definitive Technology Mythos STS Super Towers with a Mythos center channel and surrounds. — KJ King

A I agree with the suggestion that a new surround preamp/processor would do more to improve your system than an amplifier upgrade. Why? The Definitive Technology Mythos STS Super Tower speaker you’re using is a model spec’d for 8-ohm impedance and 93dB sensitivity that incorporates a 300-watt powered subwoofer. In other words, it can easily be driven by most amplifiers, let alone a 225Wpc one. In your situation, upgrading to a 300Wpc amp would be overkill.

Your Integra DHC 80.3, on the other hand, is a 2011 model that lacks many key features found in newer surround preamp/processors. The main one is support for object-based audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Its HDMI 1.4 ports are also incapable of passing Ultra HD video signals with a 60 Hz refresh rate, as well as high-dynamic range (HDR) format programs. Finally, its HDMI connections don’t support HDCP 2.2 copy protection, which is necessary for switching HDCP 2.2-encrypted 4K-resolution content like that found on Ultra HD Blu-ray disc.

The McIntosh MX122 surround preamp/processor, in contrast, is a 2016 model with the HDMI 2.0a connections required for pass-through of both 4K/60Hz video and HDR, and it also has HDCP 2.2 support. Furthermore, it decodes the Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D object-based audio formats, is Control4-certified, and features onboard Audyssey MultEQ® XT32 room correction. Bottom line: amplifiers are something you buy for the long haul, while a surround preamp/processor is something you should expect to upgrade every few years to keep pace with advances in AV technology.

pw's picture

Ditch all that and run a pair of MC452's , one per speaker in a horizontal Bi amp config..
Sell all that TV sound junk to finance this move..