What would you do? - existing 5.1 system with dead preamp

  • 17 March 2019
  • 2 replies

I have a 5.1 system from 15+ years ago that worked great until the pre-amp died. I've been trying to decide what to do and the wife bought some Sonos gear for my birthday - we're trying (soundbar + sub + 1s I haven't connected yet). The compactness is great as is the app, whole home sound, etc.

My wife doesn't like the size and wires we have today and really likes the compactness of a Sonos setup. I do feel like the soundbar has a less wide field than I got with 3 front speakers (this doesn't surprise me). If I didn't have all the existing gear I'd be pretty happy with a Sonos 5.1 setup though would be happier if Sonos supported 3 front speakers I think. Part of my issue is potentially parting with a sizable past investment (classic sunk cost 🙂 ) and the fact the gear is high quality. I've read a bunch of posts but the fact I have a dead pre makes my situation a bit different.

Sony E9000ES pre (had a flawed power supply design and died after many good years)
Rotel RB985 THX amp (5x100w)
M&K 3xS125 front speakers
M&K 2xMX150THX for rears
M&K MX150THX Sub

I see a few options:
- Buy new pre-amp and a connect (and other units for additional rooms)
- Buy 1 or 2 Sonos Amps and connect to the existing speakers
(not sure I like losing the center - wish there was a "real" solution for 3 existing fronts)
- Buy 1 amp for fronts and replace rears with 1s
- Sell what I have and go all in on Sonos with Soundbar + sub + 1s for rears
- I'd be way happier with the above option if I could use my current sub with the bar (as others have posted)

Other options or thoughts?


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2 replies

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Whew, this question has potentially some big underlying issues. I'll preface this with the following. I'm looking at your questions from my perspective, and "If I were you, I wouldn't be me."

Starting off. You've had your setup for 15+ years, and by all accounts your "aesthetics committee" (aka your wife) has never liked it. Has she lived with it all these years, or did you get married more recently, and this is a "legacy" setup you brought over that she dislikes? (And are the wires exposed - like laying along the floor and visible on the walls - in your existing setup?)

Also, for your birthday, she purchased a relatively high cost replacement that is at a basic level at least functionally a direct replacement for your existing 5.1 setup but with smaller (less obvious) speakers and less wires. We're not talking a cheap soundbar setup here. And I bet it cost more than getting a new preamp It certainly cost more than a decent 5.1 receiver that would use your existing speakers.

Based on this, it reads like she respects your want for a 5.1 speaker setup, and is knowledgeable about such - or at least talked with someone - to get a nice setup that would give you the basics of what you want but would meet her aesthetic wants.

Sooo……., being an old married man who lives by the credo "happy wife, happy life" my initial response would be to say thank you dear, and get this all set up 😃. That's slightly tongue in cheek, but only slightly. More broadly, I get wanting to keep your existing kit, but I'm guessing you'd have to go the extra mile to make that acceptable. At the very least, you'd probably have to work at hiding the wiring (if it's not already) and simplifying things.

However, without understanding your situation fully, I'd consider that a third option to be considered after the first two. For these, I'd approach it like this. First, embrace the Sonos setup and sell your existing kit; use the money to do something nice (jewelry, a vacation, etc.) Or use the Sonos setup for the current room, and use your other gear (along with a pre-amp or receiver and use your amp for Atmos) and set up a man cave. 😃
Thanks smurph - We've been married almost as long as I've had the gear 🙂 I may have given a sense that's a bigger issue than it is. My wife and I have enjoyed the sound from the system - it's been down longer than I'd like so is a lot of space without sound coming from it. I mentioned it because space and neatness are definitely attributes of Sonos. She liked the idea of blending sound throughout the house and any of the options let us do that so that made her happy once I explained.

I'm going to try a Sonos amp on the front speakers and sub I have and see how it compares to the sound bar. I'm hoping I'll get a good blend of the options this way. I can then decide if I want to buy another amp for the rears or stick with all Sonos gear.