Vantas DPA-S50 A/V Preamplifier

DPA-S50

Surround Sound Processor Amplifier

User Reviews (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9  
Toby Stevens   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 21, 2008]
Strength:

Sound quality, ease of use. Excellent user manual.

Weakness:

Lack of remote (not as big a deal as one might think), setup is lengthy/difficult.

I may have purchased the last factory-sealed unit available! I'm a little late in the DD game, but when I saw the ridiculously low price for a brand new unit at Panacer, I jumped. What an improvement over pro-logic! This unit was mated with an exceptional receiver, the Denon AVR3000 and I couldn't be happier with the results. I love the fact that once set up, the Vantas unit essentially disappears. I also love the fact that I get LFE bass management for non-DD digital streams (must be PCM) - no monkeying around with my subwoofer or bass management if I want to listen to a CD. Just throw in a CD and the Vantas sets itself to 2-channel playback with LFE bass management; it sounds perfect. The Burr-Brown DA decoders do a very good job and the unit sounds every bit as good as my highly-acclaimed Oppo DVD player's decoder - only the Oppo is almost eight years newer. Sweet unit that will be with me for a long time, as it can be used as a stand-alone decoder or may be mated with only a 2-channel integrated amplifier for 5.1 (pro-logic receiver is not needed, unless, of course, that’s what you have). Nice unit.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
AJCalhoun   AudioPhile [Jan 11, 2005]
Strength:

Build quality, clean power x 3, extremely clever, thoughtful design, "search" mode, cosmetics, pretty much everything.

Weakness:

Cluttered rear apron (worth the trouble to me), orphan machine. Still, well worth whatever one has to pay. Vantas' misfortune may be your redemtion.

I got caught this train at the last stop. With the unfortunate demise of Vantas the D50 has become an incredible bargain (its original MSRP was $649) for those of us who don't want to degrade our stereo listening but would like to enjoy Dolby Dig. 5.1 as well. The window for such a product was only open for a year or two before the market caught up with technology, but I am fortunate to have grabbed one of these, new in the box, at such a ridiculous price. It is truly a high-end item. I would otherwise agree with just about all the other reviewers as to its grand utility, its build quality, its few annoying quirks (I really don't mind taking the 4 steps over to the rack to change a setting, and it does most of it on its own anyway). I suppose if it ever goes down I'm in trouble, since the makers have folded their tent, but while it lasts I will be able to enjoy 5.1 when I want, and great stereo at all other times, something I'd have had to spend a ton to achieve otherwise.

Similar Products Used: AudioSource SS6 surround processor, Sony STR-GX67ES ProLogic receiver, AudioSource Preamp/Tuner Two, Yamaha M-40 amp
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Peter   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 20, 2000]
Strength:

Design
construction

Weakness:

none

I really did not want to degrade my audio system just so that I could improve the sound of videos, nor did I wish to break the bank with a Krell or Proceed. The unit behaves just as advertised- you get surround that is quite good and otherwise the unit is asleep. The setup requires some time as there are many connections, two more than the usual surround system. My wife can operate the thing which is a plus. The surround using audio only from the Sony DvD player with 5 channels is inferior to the stereo sound produced by my Meridian cd player, but that should not be unexpected. For me, the Vantas was just what the doctor ordered decent video sound and integration without emptying my bank account.

Similar Products Used: B&W 802, LCR6, DS6, Audio Research SP9, Perreaux 2150
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
John De Feo   Audiophile [Feb 05, 2000]
Strength:

flexibility, performance, solid construction

Weakness:

motor which creates line noise in stereo channels

Picked up a DPA-P87 for a Pro-Logic THX system. Basically flawless, but it could use a remote, and slighty better bass-management. All in all, not bad for the money.

Similar Products Used: none
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Tom   Audiophile [Apr 20, 2000]
Strength:

For $299, I feel like I bought a new $1000 receiver.

Weakness:

no remote, unit does not stay on DD when scanning DVD's

I can't believe the difference Dolby Digital makes when watching DVD's. It's night and day as far as the difference in sound. The Vantas has truly amazed me thus far, albeit it's been only one day. My Denon AVR3000 is supposed to be 110 watts per channel up front, yet I had to
lower the db's on the Vantas 100 watts per channel rear surrounds. The tonal match is dead on from what I can tell. For $299 plus shipping, I just avoided having to buy a new receiver.

The few gripes that I have are trivial in the grand scheme of things, but worth mentioning. I wish that the unit came with a remote. I'm one of those guys that constantly tweak the speakers, so a remote would have been nice. Speaker volume adjustments can only be done at the unit, although the master volume is controlled by the Denon receiver. Also, Vantas should allow DD to be always on. The unit switches on when a DD signal is noticed. But when you skip chapters the sound will clip in that the Vantas turns off when the DD signal stops, then turns right back on when the DD signal starts again when the movies starts at the chosen
chapter. This even happens during fast forward or rewind. This turning on and off will definitely discourage me from searching through a movie in fear of wearing out the unit.

But for $299, I could not be happier about this product gving me Dolby Digital. I feel as if my Denon AVR3000 is once again worth the what I paid back in its heyday. One of the main reasons I did not want to simply get a new receiver was the fact that for regular music, I thought
my AVR3000 was superior to most of what's out there (units selling for $500-$900). A Denon AVR3300 or Marantz 7000 may sound slightly better and have more bells and whistles, but I'm more than content with my setup.

P.S. I use Infinity RS4001 for fronts, Infinity RS3001 for rear surrounds, Infinity center (forget the model#), and Infinity SSW210 (300watts dual 10") sub.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Hank Kampf   Audiophile [Jan 14, 2000]
Strength:

Quality parts & manufacture, good seamless soud & integration. Dolby Digital is much better than DSS. Sound is sweet.

Weakness:

a bit of a pain to set up, but excellant customer service help. No remote

System:
Parasound 220 W AMP
Conrad Johnson PV10AL Tube Preamp
Vandersteen 2CE mains
PSB Gold6 CC
Mordaunt Shaut for rear (old fronts)
Toshiba 3109 DVD
HSU 12HN sub

I have been wanting to upgrade to DD but could't find a way to keep my tube preamp in the picture. I would have had to go for $2500 to $3000 minimum for a new preamp/processor & 3 ch. amp. to get equivalent sound. Then I read some reviews & finally saw the Vantas 50 build quality in a local dealer. Since it was'nt hooked up & I wanted to hear it, I ended up ordering from Audio Advisor ( who matched the dealers $50 discount from list), so I had a 30 day return option if the sound was not up to my liking.
The Vantas 50 puts out great DD sound. The sound is much sweater than my ADcom setup. I even watch TV through it & enjoy it more. It integrated well with my preamp & has ample power for my room setup. DVD's sound awesome!
They are adding a DTS board option in March.The only thing I miss is a remote control to turn up or down the volume. Great Value for the cost/quality/sound.

Similar Products Used: Adcom 560GSP
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Chad Gould   an Audio Enthusiast [Sep 11, 1999]

I, too, was in the market for a DD sound processor. My 2 channel system (based around a Lexicon DC-1 and Bryston Powerpac amps) was only a base unit with Dolby ProLogic; upgrading it AND also shopping around for a good amplifier for the processor was a bit expensive. Until Vantas came up with this solution, I didn't think I'd be able to get an affordable way to get Dolby Digital. When I first saw the Vantas, I decided to give it a shot.
Vantas has hit a nice niche with the DPA-S50, allowing people with quality stereo systems to get into the DD market seamlessly. With the DPA-S50, the Lexicon / Bryston can continue powering the main channels, sending only a little bit of signal to the Vantas so that volume matching occurs. The Vantas then can take care of the surrounds (I use a "phantom center" at this time).

Surprisingly, the match is quite good! The treble response is a little lower and grainier sounding than the Lexicon / Bryston combination. The integration is better than I expected, with no problems on background affects (only fully dynamic effects occasionally sound a little mismatched). For the cost, this was a terrific solution for me, and represents a much better way to go than selling the whole stereo system and getting new components. Except for a small amount of time when you first start the disc, the volume management is very well integrated and works nicely. The quality of using the Vantas's DACs (from a Toslink signal from my Sony DVD player) was quite a bit better than feeding the Sony's analog outputs into the Lexicon! This is much more "audiophile" than a typical $600 DD receiver.

Its quite complicated to set up, unfortunately, adding greatly to the wire mess behind the equipment rack. The speaker posts are (IMHO) too close together, furthermore, making wiring the system quite complicated. I also thought bass management was a little odd. But its definitely a nice piece of gear for what purpose it does. For those strapped for cash yet wanting to upgrade DD to stereo, definitely recommended.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
John Cardell   an Audio Enthusiast [Jun 06, 1999]

I have a nice preamp amp combo consisting of a Van Alstine Omega III preamp witha B&K ST-140 amp. My main spkrs are vandersteen 2ci's front left and right. The
Vandersteen VCC1 center spkr and a pair of Sound Dynamic RTS-3's in the rear. I was looking for a good quality yet somewhat inexpensive add on to a stereo system when I ran across the article from Vantas in hometheater magazine. It's a prologic dolby digital add-on with 24bit 96khz xovers. It is advertised having 3x100 watts a channel for the center and surrounds with their v-trak technology to change the volume of their built in amplifiers with when you change the volume control on your preamp. This process works seamlessly. I was initialy worried that the sound from the center spkr was not going to match the quality of the front left and right spkrs was happily surprised that the tonal quality comming from the voices was smooth and seamless. The prologic circuitry did an excellent job with surrounding me with music and sound effects. The built in analog to digital and digital to analog circuits were also of excellent quality. Always sounding smooth but never fatiguing. Virtually zero degradation in a recording from a hifi vcr wich is being converted from analog to digital and back to analog. Don't even notice it. The power from the amps are powerful but not as powerful as a good seperate 3x100 watt amp. The dynamics to tend to sound a little restricted at high volume. There was one other downfall to this processor. It's in the bass management. You cannot adjust the bass crossover frequency seperately for the center and surround channels. They must all be crossed over at the same frequency. Plus you cannot run the center spkr full range and also have their bass frequencies also passed on to the main left and right spkr at the same time. This was a big problem for me with my center channel spkr. Vandersteen xover his center channel spkr at 140hz. But he also recommends it to run full range to take advantage of his first order xovers. But when I did this I had absolutely no bass impact because there was no way I could send those bass frequencies to the main left and right spkrs also. I ended up setting the xover to 100hz for best overall compromise. In closing the sound quality is excellent. A suprising clean and smooth add-on with good power and reasonable dynamics. Plus their customer service over the phone or the internet is second to none. If you have any questions e-mail Robert Lee at the Vantas website and his answers are quick and accurate. One last footnote. I had a buzz with my original processor comming through my spkrs. They exchanged it within a week no questions asked. Highly recommended for anybody with a high quality stereo system who is in the market for a dolby-digital add-on. The reason I'm giving it four stars instead of five is because it didn't include DTS but it included an mpeg-2 decoder. Why? They say it's future upgradeable because they wanted to see how DTS was going to take off. Well it's going to take off before mpeg-2 surround ever will. Thanks John

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Bryon   an Audio Enthusiast [Oct 06, 1999]

I actually use the DPA-P87 and have been real happy with it. I'm currently running:
Nakamichi AV-1 Receiver
PA-5II Amp (front) 2 channels
B&W Matrix 3 Series 2 (front 2 channels)
B&W 805's center/rear
Velodyne sub
Nakamichi OMS-1 CD
RCA DVD (can't remember the model - shame!)

I had first looked around for a replacement for my old AV-1 but after listening to a bunch of receivers/lower priced processors I couldn't find one that sounded as good on 2 channel music. Until I move and I can upgrade I decided on the Vantas for a stop-gap. I was quite astonished at the quality of sound and am quite happy. Dolby Digital is excellent. One negative note as stated by others. Make sure you have some room behind your cabinet for all the wires!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-9 of 9  

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