Proceed PAV audio/video preamplifier Review System

Sidebar 2: Review System

I used the PAV with a variety of associated components. At the loudspeaker end were both the McIntosh and the B&W THX arrays, plus a combination of the two, consisting of McIntosh LCRs (left, center, right)—including their new HT-4 narrow-profile center channel—with B&W subwoofers and surrounds (footnote 1).

The Panasonic LD-1000 laserdisc player was at the front end, used either with its own internal D/A or connected to the Levinson No.35 D/A via a TosLink connector (the Panasonic, like all but a few laserdisc players, has only a TosLink digital output). Adding the No.35 provided improved performance over use of the LD-1000 alone. With laserdiscs as the source, the difference was not as dramatic as the added price would seem to require, but neither was it insignificant.

Amplification was a McIntosh 7106 six-channel amplifier, and I later used an NAD 208 to drive the B&W subwoofer pair (the PAV's mono subwoofer output drove both channels of the NAD in parallel, with one channel of the NAD driving each of the B&W subs). Substituting the NAD more than tripled the power available to drive each subwoofer, paying significant dividends in bass impact and solidity.

Interconnects were Monster M1500. At the loudspeaker end, the hookup was a bit of a hodgepodge, since I have in-wall cables running from the amplifier location to the LCR and surrounds (Monster's best in-wall as of one year ago—similar to Powerline II). In addition, short lengths of Kimber 4TC linked the power amps and the wall jacks at the source end of the in-wall cables. At the front-channel loudspeaker end, the wall jacks were linked to the LCR loudspeakers by 8' lengths of Monster M1.5. I later changed the L and R connections to Music Metre cable because I needed a slightly longer length than the Monsters, and I had a 10' pair of Music Metres on hand. The total lengths of the cabling to each surround was about 50', to each of the fronts about 30'. The cabling to the subwoofers was AudioQuest Jade 2 Hyperlitz.—Thomas J. Norton

Footnote 1: At present you should read nothing more into my use of the latter hybrid system than the fact that I was beginning an evaluation of the B&W THX loudspeakers, but wanted to retain the more familiar (to me) McIntosh fronts as a stable reference for the PAV review. The combination definitely worked well together, however.