Secrets Q & A

Integrating High-End Two-Channel Audio into Home Theater without Compromise



For the setup, I used an OPPO BDP-95 universal player, Classé CP-800 stereo preamplifier, Classé CA-5200 five-channel (5 x 200 watts) power amplifier, Classé SSP-800 surround sound processor, Threshold ES-500 electrostatic speakers (front main left/right), Paradigm Signature C5 center channel speaker, and Final Sound electrostatic speakers (surrounds).

I worked on this for several weeks, using various connections, and below is shown a schematic of the setup that gave me the most flexibility, allowing me to use the system to play two-channel discs, including CDs and stereo SACDs, as well as music stored on my iPod (*.wav files, not compressed), with only the player, the Classé CP-800 and Classé CA-5200 in the signal path, or as an alternative, playing surround sound SACDs, DVD-A multi-channel discs, and of course, watch movies, with the Classé SSP-800 surround sound processor in the loop along with the other power amplifier channels in the CA-5200.

Click on the schematic to see the full-sized version, then put the mouse cursor on the schematic, hold down the left mouse key and move the schematic to the side, so you can read the description here while you look at the diagram.

The OPPO BDP-95 is connected to the Classé CP-800 preamplifier, using a pair of XLR cables. I utilized the OPPO's XLR analog outputs because of the Sabre 32 bit DACs that it has, in differential configuration, but you could also use the coax digital output from the OPPO to the CP-800. Just try them both out and see which sounds best to you.

The OPPO also has an HDMI cable that is connected to the Classé SSP-800. From the CP-800, there is a pair of XLR cables that go to two of the five channels in the CA-5200. The center channel and rear surround XLR outputs on the SSP-800 are connected, via XLR cables, to the other three channels of the CA-5200. The front left and right pre-outs of the SSP-800 (RCA jacks) are connected to the line-in RCA jacks on the CP-800.

I have the CP-800 configured for using stereo subwoofers, with a crossover frequency of 60 Hz. This eliminates the membrane in the ES-500 electrostatic speakers from touching the stators, which they tend to do when playing low frequencies at high volume level. The respective two subwoofers are situated next to the ES-500s, so the directionality (being able to detect where the sound is coming from) that occurs above about 50 Hz is not noticeable.