B&K Components Ref 30 A/V Preamplifier

B&K Components Ref 30 A/V Preamplifier 

DESCRIPTION

  • Surround Sound Processing: Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Digital, Dolby DTS, THX
  • Audio Inputs (Stereo): 7
  • Digital Inputs (Coax/Optical): 6/5
  • Digital Outputs (Coax/Optical):
       1/1 Zone A
       1/0 Zone B
  • Surround Outputs: 8
  • Composite Video Inputs/Outputs: 7/5
  • S-Video Inputs/Outputs: 7/5
  • Component Video Inputs/Outputs: 2/1

  • USER REVIEWS

    Showing 1-10 of 47  
    [Mar 03, 2007]
    Richard
    Audio Enthusiast

    Strength:

    Crystal clear sound, excellent surround characteristics, plus it looks good too.

    Weakness:

    Firmware updates required to manage HDTV pcm signals. It is flexible in that you can get the update but I didn't need this for my Parasound before.

    If you haven't heard this preamp yet for two-channel or home theater then you are missing out. Now that they are available on the secondary market for a much lower price then original retail, you really can afford some astonishing sound. In comparison to the Parasound Preamp I was replacing, this unit is extremely accurate sounding, warm but not muddy, and when appropriate it provided the punch. I was really thinking that it was a combination of issues in my system - mediocre processor and underpowered 140Wpc Parasound HCA1205A with my Paradigm Studio 100s. What I found was by getting rid of my Parasound AVC1800 processor and putting in the inexpensive Ref30 that my system has come to life. The surround modes from the Motorola DSP in this unit are excellent and sound transitioning between channels was seamless. Even my wife commented on how much better it made the system sound. While the remote is a bit quirky, it didn't take long to get this unit running in my existing setup. You will not find anything comparable at the roughly $600 you can buy one of these for on the secondary market now. Note that you need to get to firmware version 2.11 to be compatible with your HDTV DVR digital output. I called B&K about this and spoke with George who is an asset to their organization. I am waiting on the returned unit so I can have my high-def feed running through the processor. Keep this in mind when looking for one of these on the street.

    Customer Service

    So far, they've been good to me.

    Similar Products Used:

    None really. Parasound AVC1800 is not comparable. I believe you'd need to use an Aragon, Sunfire, or Lexicon to have a real comparison.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    [Jun 09, 2005]
    lwhitefl
    AudioPhile

    Strength:

    good directional surround sound.

    Weakness:

    Too hot, too many connectors in too small an area.

    I use the B&K Ref. 30 for HD/DVR playback and NetFlix rented movies almost every weekend. I've been generally been satisfied with the sound although I've always felt the dialog could be better. Recently I began having problems during playback with my HD/DVR. After fast forwarding I would lose the sound. Turning the Ref. 30 off, then back on would restore the sound. Occasionally the sound would also be missing when I started a movie. Same solution. I called B&K and described the above problems. They advised my unit needed software updates and provided an RA#. Three weeks later the Ref. 30 was return shipped. The Ref. 30 refused to even power on! I called B&K and requested some sort of accomodation while I waited for another repair trip to complete. B&K C/S theorized they unit must have been damaged in shipment because in their words "it was working when it left B&K service". They told me the best they could offer was to pay UPS freight charges (3 day select) and give the service priority when they received the unit. This may well be the beginning of the end for my Ref. 30. I'm not going to continue to use piece of audio equipment that is unreliable, and whose manufacturer is not willing to do everything possible to satisfy a customer when something like this happens. I'm very dissatisfied with B&K service at this moment. I told the B&K C/S supervisor B&K had most likely lost a customer.

    Similar Products Used:

    Chiro

    OVERALL
    RATING
    2
    VALUE
    RATING
    2
    [Sep 10, 2003]
    Catznjamma
    AudioPhile

    Strength:

    The only premap that sounded good with my B&W Nautilus speakers. Bought Proceed and was not satisfied

    Weakness:

    optical outputs..

    The B&K Ref 50 was very good!!! Talk about simplicity Very Warm.. Great for music and excellent for Home Theater.. Buy one!!! Save money rather than buying a bryson, krell or mark levinson...

    Similar Products Used:

    B&K Ref 30

    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    [Aug 23, 2003]
    ZoSo
    Audio Enthusiast

    Strength:

    Build quality, processing control, sound quality, inputs, upgradeability and psyical size.

    Weakness:

    quality of some of the internal parts used.

    I've had this unit for a year and a half. I don't have any commplaints with it's performance. It sounds great in two channel as well in 5.1, music and video. I thought I found my holy grail. Then,,,,, I had a problem with the OSD. It stopped working back in July '02 and so back to B&K it went. The tech said when he received it and hooked it up it was working but he'd replace the video board anyway for good measure (hmmm). B&K shipped it back to me in Baltimore by way of Spokane Washington. Somehow B&K addressed it incorrectly. They didn't admit they screwed up but had it overnighted from there back to me in time for a listening party. Last evening I had some guests over for another listening party. When I went to power the unit up, nothing. Checked everything and can't find a reason for the failure. This unit in my setup sounds wounderful and I'd be hard pressed to find something better for price. I do however now question the reliability of it. For 3G's it should be worry free for many many years. BTW, the pre/pro I used before the Ref.30, Carver CT29v. Never had any problems what so ever with it, and it cost a third of the price of the B&K. So back to B&k for a second time it'll go. Hope it's the last time,,,

    Similar Products Used:

    Auditioned many,,,

    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    2
    [Apr 01, 2003]
    musicguy
    Audio Enthusiast

    Strength:

    Excellent build. Very flexible.

    Weakness:

    Very annoying audible buzz, mainly in the subwoofer output.

    I purchased this unit to replace a separate preamp, tuner and surround processor. These units which were getting a little long in the tooth. The processor was a Sony ES unit which, while very usable, did not offer Dolby 5.1. The tuner was an inexpensive Pioneer component and half the pre-sets didn't work. It also was not very sensitive. The premamp was a Hafler DH-110 which I had modified by Musical Concepts. This was a superb piece and was the heart of a system used primarily for a two channel, bi-amped system. The B&K, although very flexible with many inputs and control over just about any function you would want to adjust, has a very poor AM tuning section and a mediocre FM section. The surround capabilities are excellent. If you are interested in the B&K Reference 30 for basic listening to music in its stereo mode however, this is where it just doesn't measure up. There is an audible buzz in the sub-woofer output which I attempted to rectify by switching cables, re-dressing cabling, adding filters and line conditioners and all to no avail. I sent the unit to B&K and was told it passed all their tests and meets all of their specifications. I went so far as to remove the component from the system and connect it on a bench with only the preamp, two power amps, two main (left and right) speaker systems and a subwoofer. No other components or other electrical devices of any type were on the same electrical circut. Buzz will not go away. The buzz is very evident when listening at moderate to high volume levels and there is a very low level spot or a silent segment between tracks. It is extremely annoying and is not what I would expect from a component in this price range.

    Similar Products Used:

    B&K power amp, Carver power amp, Hafler power amp, Sony surround processor.

    OVERALL
    RATING
    2
    VALUE
    RATING
    2
    [Oct 12, 2002]
    Randy Young
    Audio Enthusiast

    Strength:

    pass thru circuit

    Weakness:

    Company will not answer any e-mails or send any information. I quess that need more employees.

    The Ref. 30 is a nice sounding piece maining because it has a pass thru circuit that let's you use an outboard dac. It does a little of everything that makes it nice. It has plenty of connections but no balanced and that is too bad. Better than average in its price range.

    Similar Products Used:

    Marantz, Proceed AVP

    OVERALL
    RATING
    3
    VALUE
    RATING
    3
    [Aug 21, 2002]
    bobo1030
    Audio Enthusiast

    Strength:

    POWER build clarity detail soundstage notch filter presets look quality options

    Weakness:

    Not always suitable for average recordings. where's my damn set-up cd? this should come with the pre for the price i paid. how much does a cd really cost?

    Had this unit for one year now - matched with a 7250. definitely loving it. But you dont care. So...Here's what I've noticed: Good recordings, including cd's, dvd's, satelite audio, etc all sound damn good. it offers excellent clarity and detail and has a butt load of power. The pro-logic I is really good. Having the ability to preset how much volume goes to each speaker can really enahnce the standard 2 channel tv experience. The remote offers level control for sub, center and rears, so you can tweak as you surf. this is real nice...lemme tell ya. Plug n' play is no joke either. With my old yamaha, id have to check to see if my satelite was feeding me 5.1 or 2,0. this thing sees 5.1, 2.0 analog stereo and even 2.0 dolby digital which it will automatically detect and switch to pro-logic mode. THE NOTCH FILTER! It took me about 6 months to discover the right setting and i endde up finding it by accident. but when i did....jjoooyyyy! I finally removed that boomy sound that was often times killin me. especially when listening to cd's. The only thing i have to complain about with this thing is it's a little to clear and detailed. why is that a problem? because I listen to a lot of live recordings. Not the remastered-to-death live recordings you buy at the store but the ones you actually record with mics at a show. otherwise known as "bootlegging." however, this is a widely misused word because most live recordings out there weren't "bootlegged" illegally, they were allowed. So....the problem is, while an average recording will sound good on my old yamaha, the problems stand out a lot more when played through the 30. This is also the case when i run streaming audio to it. An average reciever will mask the problems where as the ref 30 exposes em. I cannot fault B&K for this as they were never intending for it to be used to play back below average quality recordings. Good audience recordings sound fantastic. but there's a line that is crossed where i cant listen to a show where once upon a time with my yamaha, i could. Live music enthusiats should understand what im saying. They will also understand how I had 15 freaks in my livingroom rocking out to widespread's "live at oak mountain" the night mikey died. set to +6 decibles and it was as close to being there as you could possibly get. thank you B&K!

    Similar Products Used:

    yamaha RXV 595 Denon

    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    [Aug 16, 2002]
    chacp
    Audio Enthusiast

    Strength:

    Easy to use. Great imaging and sound.

    Weakness:

    Front face a little plain. No balanced outputs. RCA's are a little too close.

    I've had the Ref 30 for almost 2 years now and couldn’t be happier. I have it hooked up to Simaudio's HT-200 Titan and B&W Nautilus 804's. The Ref 30 provides, excellent detail in HT and Stereo. I've tested it against Lexicon, Bryston and Krell and feel it provides equal performance in Stereo listening and even better performance in HT. Save your money and buy this unit.

    Similar Products Used:

    Lexicon, Bryston, Krell

    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    [May 09, 2002]
    mka
    Audio Enthusiast

    Strength:

    Sonic quality. Room EQ settings Lot''s of memory settings for modes of operation

    Weakness:

    No bass mix for stereo "direct" mode

    I recently had my B&K Ref10 upgraded to the Ref20+, which has pretty much the same guts as the Ref30 but without the component video switching, firewire interface, THX, and DVD-A analog inputs. Except for component video switching, I could care less about those features-- especially that miserable THX post-processing. The sonic improvements with the upgraded 96/24 A/D/A conversion circuitry were definitely noticeable. I actually did not expect any change, and was pleasantly surprised to hear a smoother, more detailed sound. This is true with DD5.1 as well as straight 2 channel PCM sources. With this upgrade, I now have an easier time arguing that the unit is in the realm of high-end audio. DTS is very nice. I''m becoming a believer that there''s generally an improvement in their soundtrack over the DD5.1 equivalent. Glad to finally have it on board. Relays clicking and popping? Yep. Whenever I switch sources, surround modes, and speaker configurations. It doesn''t bother me at all, since I really don''t switch sources/modes a whole lot. It''s the sound quality in between that''s important. I really like the software/firmware features and programmability of this piece. Lot''s of memory settings and all accessible through a PC interface. Love, absolutely LOVE, the room EQ settings. Was able to notch out an annoying bass hump quite easily. I''m amazed at all the features packed into this thing. Even though the on-screen video overlay lacks any graphical sexiness, it is very useful and allows access to a dizzying array of modes and options. Takes a few days to get a handle on it, but definitely will provide for whatever sonic configuration you can think of. Good job, B&K! One complaint: the Stereo "direct" mode does not provide a sum channel to the subwoofer output. Therefore, analog sources such as SACD will not have a subwoofer signal in this mode. Disapointing, but not a deal-breaker by any means. The work around is to keep the unit in 2-channel digital mode, which does A/D/A on the input and provides all the bass management features and room EQ. This is acceptable to me only because the quality of the conversion in this piece is so good. Very happy with the unit.

    Similar Products Used:

    Ref10

    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    4
    [Mar 18, 2002]
    David
    AudioPhile

    Strength:

    Great when working properly

    Weakness:

    Have had some problems with unit.

    I too have had problems with the unit seemingly overheat and all sound becomes very distorted and unlistenable. It seems to happen most after being on a long time but at low volume levels. (Like watching tv at night) It goes away after I turn the unit off for a while but this is not acceptable. I am waiting to take the unit in when I will be gone for a while to minimize my "down time". I have added a fan to my A/V rack which reduced the frequency of the problem but has not completely eliminated it. (Also creates fan noise which I hate) Does anyone know what is doing this and if permanent damage to the unit has been done?

    OVERALL
    RATING
    2
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Showing 1-10 of 47  

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