You had Theta in the past, what did you move onto?

Just a question I’ve been thinking about. I once stumbled across a well equipped Theta Casanova and really loved the sound for 2 channel as well as HT use. Real shame that Theta never released a follow on processor, and the Casablanca units have always been too expensive for me, not to mention, really slow in coming out.

Eventually I’ve settled with Anthem for HT. I’ve certainly had a couple of brands which were a lot worse.

So for any of you who, like me, have beebig Theta Digital fans but have had to move on, what did you do?


PS - Here's a pic of the Theta Supernova, a never released successor to the Casanova:


I never really understood plowing $$$ into a pre pro to be able to get good 2-channel sound.  IMHO most AVRs do an acceptable job of performing surround processing and amplification, so choosing one with preouts to feed stereo separates or an integrated to handle 2-channel duties seems like a much more cost-effective way to get great stereo and HT in one system.  But that’s me. 


In my case it comes from experience. The older, pre HDMI Theta was just superb sounding in all formats compared to modern, HDMI equipped Onkyo and Emotiva models which I owned briefly. Even using the Onkyo as a preamp there was absolutely no comparison. The Theta was a far more musical and pleasant experience, especially from the mid to bass range.

The closest I got for DVD/BueRay with HDMI was an Oppo to a Halo P7. That also sounded really good. It was a long time until I had a processor (Anthem) which could compare in sound quality to the Oppo’s analog outputs.

The closest I got for DVD/BueRay with HDMI was an Oppo to a Halo P7. That also sounded really good. It was a long time until I had a processor (Anthem) which could compare in sound quality to the Oppo’s analog outputs.

Not sure I understand.  I’d say running a good-quality 2-channel source/DAC into an good-quality stereo pre/amp combo or integrated would be superior to running it through the Anthem and probably comparable or even better than the Theta as there are dedicated power supplies, less noise, etc. that the stereo signal gets subjected to.  Anyway, that was my point and not sure where you were going with HDMI. 

Hey @soix ,

HDMI only comes into the picture as a marker of time. The Casanova was pre-HDMI so I was looking for a processor which sounded at least as good but with modern connectivity and support for hi definition DVD/BD audio.

I thought that with technological progress all modern HDMI processors would at least be the equal of the much older Casanova. They were not.

@bdp24 - Please elaborate! What Theta gear did you have and why was Esoteric a logical step for you?


I've never experienced a Theta pre/pro, but I have talked in depth with several owners that moved from the Casablanca V on to the Trinnov. Per "their" ownership experience, the move to a Trinnov Altitude provided better if not equal sound quality; this using two channel audio as a reference. Many use Roon which the altitude is set up for.

Maybe I’m just a purist snob, but if 2-channel is very important to me I’m gonna use a stereo amp/pre or integrated and supplement with a good AVR to power the center and do the processing (I assume people here know how easily that’s doable).  Put the $$$ where it matters most and let the AVR handle the rest.  Unless your absolute priority is HT I don’t see spending huge $$$ on surround channels/processing as they’re just such a relatively small portion of the overall experience and decent AVRs can handle that pretty damn well.  I’m sure I’ll get flamed by the HT crowd, but I could live very happily with a separate stereo setup and seamlessly integrate an Anthem AVR handling my HT duties unless I’m HUGE into HT, at which point I’d go another route.  But that’s me. 

Your opinion is justified and I can appreciate your position. To me, purity is equally important for movies. Some of the best musical soundtracks are incorporated into movies that are experienced in a home theater. Personally, I appreciate the higher fidelity and resolution that my Trinnov provides, as compared to what I experienced when I owned a mid-fi marantz HT prepro. Also, I've come to appreciate multi-channel music. My former two channel purist mindset has been expanded to now prefer multichannel. Just my personal experience that I hope you can respect as we obviously differ in what we prefer.

Hey @soix  That actually is what I'm doing right now.  I use my system about 50/50, but that's really not the question I was asking.  I just have very fond memories of the Theta digital preamps/processors, which were just excellent for music and movies, and wondering what is out there that is comparable.

Even if I got a Trinnov today I'm very likely to simply substitute it for the Anthem and stick to my Luxman for 2 channel.

Trinnov is hugely expensive without the performance to show. With Theta, to say that someone switched and prefers the new processor is not as straight forward a statement as you might think. Many guys who owned the processors with the Premium dacs, felt Trinnov was an upgrade. Few, I only know of ONE, with the Xtreme D3 dacs that found Trinnov even the equal.

I could have gotten a Trinnov at a large discount if I were willing to say that it was the best sounding processor. Some did do exactly that and that was the ONE. Man, I was offered "at dealer cost" several time to say things. I just couldn’t do it. I love the hobby more than to stoop to that. It’s just too much fun to share and gain honest knowledge from others.

If Denon had digital outs, I would switch to that brand after hearing to separate rooms at a dealer in Houston, TX. The Denon room was considerably better than the room with Trinnov processor and amps. The one area where the Trinnov room was better was bass and that was only because it employed JL Audio subs and the Denon room had an inferior B&W sub.

I don’t use my Casablanca for music, or any prepro. I just think all prepros are mediocre for music. I have 4 Theta Gen 8s3 dacs that I use for music. I agree 100% with soix.

I used a B&K Ref 20 and Ref 5 channel amp for a while and the sound was very good for stereo and HT. I sold that and moved to audio only (SET amps), then got out of audio for about 10 years.

Came back via HT with a Onkyo mid range AVR and now with an Anthem AVR. Took a small step back as far options (no ATMOS, Bluetooth, etc.), but better build quality, simpler interface and love the room correction.

Compared Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer, Marantz AVRs and they all pretty much sounded the same. Which I guess is to be somewhat expected in the $800 - $1,000 range. None were as smooth or engaging as the B&K

Looked at older/better/used separates, but really like the HDMI interface and ability to leverage modern DTS/Dolby signals. The Anthem has pre-outs and that's prolly my next step is to power the fronts with a seperate amp. 

I have never moved on. I started with a CBIII and have upgraded it continually over the past 15+ years. In terms of audio quality, no other preamp processor comes close -- provided the new Extreme D3 DACs are used. It is just my opinion, but I think that the current Casablanca V is in the class of comparably priced Constellation, D'Agostino, and Pass Labs preamplifiers.

The catch with the Casablanca is the mounting cost of one's investment in it to keep it at a state-of-the-art level. Taking into account the costs of all of the upgrades as well as the cost of the Casablanca's original purchase, I must now have close to $50K invested in mine. That amount of money is hard to walk away from.

One other thing, Theta Digital's customer service is extraordinary. I have a fair bit of high-end equipment, and their providers (dealers and manufacturers) are generally quite good. However, with the Theta Digital Casablanca, one gets actual concierge service.