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General Home Theater & Media/Game Rooms > Speaker / Receiver / Other recommendations for unique/complicated home theater situation; help badly needed!
metsallica's Avatar metsallica 09:36 PM 11-15-2012
Hi all! I've been a lurker and extremely-occasional poster on the AVS forums for years, but have always found the community a little too overwhelming to actively participate in. You guys are into this stuff at a level I could only dream of, but I'm now in the position to make that dream come true for myself in at least some small way... so I turn here for some thoughts and much-needed help.

First, let me give a little back-story. I moved into my current apartment a little over two years ago, with the intention of building my first real home theater soon after I was settled. I started working with a custom installer I met through these very boards, and ended up with a TV that I love very much (an Elite Kuro 101FD). I hemmed and hawed for a bit regarding the rest of the setup, and eventually jury-rigged an embarrassing audio solution out of necessity, as the TV has no built-in sound. This temporary solution turned into a two-year one, and I've had enough of it.

I mentioned the situation was complicated, and while I don't want to get too deep into why that is, a cursory understanding of these complications is extremely relevant to the build:

1. I have a ton of old video game consoles I'd like to use with my Kuro, or at least try to use with it. If this proves to be more trouble than it's worth, I have a backup 20" CRT collecting dust that will likely be happy to live again!
2. I have a ton of newer, HDMI-based components as well and want room to expand.
3. I have upstairs neighbors that complain when I drop a pin (slight exaggeration, but here's one that isn't: they've banged on their floor / my ceiling when I've been playing with my Nintendo DS... through its speakers).

So, I want a system I can drive effectively at low volumes powered by a receiver with legacy connectors PLUS room to grow on a budget of anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 (or lower!). I'd intended to get this done by the time the Wii U launches on Sunday, but that seems to be an impossibility. That said, I've been doing a ton of research and met with clerks at various electronics stores (from specialty to big box) this week but honestly, after all of that, I'm more confused than ever... I guess the main issue is I'd like a receiver and 5.1 (no soundbars here, please, and yes I realize one would probably be better for me given the sound issue) setup that meets all of my needs, but I feel like it simply might not exist.

Here's what I've learned in the past week or so regarding receivers:

Most receiver manufacturers have dropped legacy connectors from their current models. I've found a receiver or two that still support things like S-Video; I'd like to send a signal to my receiver from each console / component in the best quality I can if possible. That means:

NES - Composite
SNES - S-Video
N64 - S-Video
GameCube - Component
Saturn - S-Video
Dreamcast - VGA (this would likely go directly into the TV)
Wii - Component
PS2 - Component
360 - HDMI

(Wii U - HDMI - coming soon)
(Neo Geo X - HDMI - coming soon)
(Ouya - HDMI - coming soon)

(Genesis - Composite - if I can dig it up)

Cable Box - HDMI
Roku - HDMI

7 HDMI inputs though I know I'll be adding more pieces this year, so let's be conservative and say 8
1 confirmed Composite input
3 confirmed S-Video inputs
3 confirmed Component inputs

Note: this list isn't exhaustive, but is close enough for the purposes of this thread

One of the only receivers I've found that seemingly meets my connector-based needs is the YAMAHA Aventage RX-A1020. I've also been considering its big brother, the RX-A2020, as it adds the HQV Vida scaler which is apparently quite impressive for older video sources, though I have no idea as to whether that equates to success with older video game consoles in HD environments. If anyone has experience I'd love to hear it! I am, of course, aware of things like the Micomsoft XRGB-mini Framemeister, but am not sure how that would slot in. I guess it has limited inputs so it wouldn't negate the need for a receiver, but it would sit between the receiver and my TV? So, using S-Video as an example, I'd plug all the S-Video devices into the receiver, then either pass through the signal (or upconvert to something like component or whatever the Framemeister prefers) to the Framemeister then HDMI to the TV? I've never had a separate video processor so the workflow is new to me. I am EXTREMELY open to suggestion on this part and would welcome it; not sure if this is the right place to be asking but I had so many over-arching questions I figured I'd start here and drill-down to sub-boards if members think I'd benefit.

Now, as someone who has only a tangential interest in receivers, it seems as if Yamaha has sort of fallen out of favor with enthusiasts. Am I correct in that assumption? I've been a Pioneer or Denon person myself, but they simply don't seem to make something that fits my extremely-specific needs, and I'd rather not buy older models or used if I can avoid it. Perhaps some of you Yamaha fans can assuage my fears or simply tell me I'm wrong / crazy!

I've also looked into the Rotel RSX1550 which gets me some of the way there, but has a very small amount of HDMI inputs (the same amount as my TV, actually; 4). A store had one just-returned for half-price, so it was slightly tempting. I believe Integra still supports legacy connectors too on their highest-end stuff, but that might be overkill.

So please, thoughts, suggestions, comments, criticisms, etc!

With the receiver predicament discussed, now to the other half of the equation... speakers.

I'm a big gamer but also a passionate music, film, and television fan. I mostly listen to rock / metal, but my tastes range from jazz to hip-hop; they're eclectic. In the past week I've auditioned the following speakers:

(note: all are bookshelf models, as the space is 25-feet-long by 12-feet-wide; not too large. Also, that elephant in the room that is the noise issue mentioned above and looming ever-overhead... Floors are also hardwood if that helps / matters. Realize they'll be quite reflective and transfer a lot of bass, which is why I've only looked into subs that side-fire)

B&W 600 series: 685 fronts, 686 rears, HTM62 center, ASW608 / 610 subwoofer - was my frontrunner until I heard the CMs
B&W CM series: CM5 fronts, CM1 rears, CM centre, ASW10CM subwoofer - not sure how to describe the audio difference from the 600s other than to say it felt more enveloping. Double the price more enveloping? Well... that may be a different story.
B&W M-1 - these were simply tinny

Lots of clerks pushing B&W hard at both specialty stores and big-box (Magnolia), was kind of surprised.

Martin Logan Motion 4 - these sounded great with certain types of music, and not-so-great with others. They came off as, overall, disappointing as I had the highest hopes for them.

Have also gotten recommendations for bookshelf components from Golden Ears, Monitor Audio, Definitive Technology, and Energy (I have a Klipsch setup on my computer that I enjoy but is SUPER bass-heavy which I'd like to avoid) but haven't had a chance to audition any.

So, audio thoughts very much welcome; really any thoughts whether they positive/negative/helpful/spiteful would be appreciated more than anyone will realize.

I'm sorry for this ridiculously long, rambling opening post, but I'm feeling pretty intimidated by this entire situation -- every time I go to speak with a clerk I feel like I'm being fed an agenda, so that's why I turned here. At the very least, thanks for reading! I'm hoping the intimidation I felt reading through these forums was in my head! All I've ever wanted was to fit in with this type of community.
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jautor's Avatar jautor 11:39 PM 11-15-2012

Use an outboard composite/S-video switch (there's one around that was an 8-way with some conversion and digital audio switching, IIRC) for all the legacy consoles, which will then use only one analog video input on your chosen AVR...

And maybe a good pair of headphones if you're got ultra-sensitive upstairs neighbors.

metsallica's Avatar metsallica 08:44 PM 11-16-2012
Thanks for the reply, Jeff! Any idea what model switch you're referencing? Will that have a detrimental effect on the signal quality? Seems like my all-in-one solution is a pipe-dream...

As for cans, I actually do have a nice pair of Sennheisers I use all the time, but I'm done letting my neighbors dictate my entertainment. They're the reason I let this build stall for 2 years.

Anyone else have thoughts on the other things I mentioned above? Should I try other sub-forums?
jautor's Avatar jautor 02:08 AM 11-17-2012
metsallica's Avatar metsallica 02:19 PM 11-20-2012
At which point I can pretty much use any receiver and not feel limited to only the high-end Yamaha stuff. That would certainly be a more economical way to go! Does anyone have any thoughts on receivers for my build, given my budget?
metsallica's Avatar metsallica 03:01 PM 11-30-2012
Is there a better subforum I should shift my questions to? I'm fairly new to posting here and would appreciate any help.
jautor's Avatar jautor 04:52 PM 11-30-2012
For general opinions / advice on AVR's, yes, the "Receivers, Amps and Processors" subforum will yield more results - and honestly, reading a bunch of threads there may give you enough information without asking!

metsallica's Avatar metsallica 03:52 PM 12-05-2012
Thanks Jeff! I'll give it a shot. I'm still feeling overwhelmed by the whole thing which has caused all forward momentum to halt... which was exactly what I didn't want to happen.
RTROSE's Avatar RTROSE 04:01 PM 12-05-2012

I have the Yamaha 1010 and love it. I would be happy to answer any questions if you would like. Ask here or shoot me a PM.


metsallica's Avatar metsallica 03:35 PM 12-12-2012
Thanks, RTROSE! I'm sorry I missed your post as it seems like I have my notifications setup incorrectly; I haven't been getting any for this topic even though I started it. I guess my main question is: do you have it hooked up with any legacy components like old video game consoles (NES/SNES/N64/Saturn/etc) and if so, how does it handle them? Are you happy with the picture quality? Scaler?
RTROSE's Avatar RTROSE 07:07 PM 12-12-2012
Originally Posted by metsallica View Post

Thanks, RTROSE! I'm sorry I missed your post as it seems like I have my notifications setup incorrectly; I haven't been getting any for this topic even though I started it. I guess my main question is: do you have it hooked up with any legacy components like old video game consoles (NES/SNES/N64/Saturn/etc) and if so, how does it handle them? Are you happy with the picture quality? Scaler?

Unfortunately no, is the simple answer. All my sources are HD. I did try out the scaling, but really could not tell much of a difference as the source was already HD. Even with the best scaler you are going to have some issues as the legacy consoles are SD and probably the largest TV any one ever envisioned playing them on was an 32' Sony Trinitron. LOL. The 2XXX and the 3XXX are known to have the best scalers of the Aventage line, but still I think the best option is to try it out and see it for yourself. What one person might be happy with someone else might deem unwatchable.

Good luck, sorry there is not more I could help you out with.


metsallica's Avatar metsallica 10:43 AM 01-07-2013
That's OK, I appreciate the reply! I actually ended up purchasing an RX-1020 which I'm going to pair with a Micomsoft XRGB mini, the "gold" standard for console game scaling. Now I'm actively researching 5.1 setups to complete the theater. Recommendations quite welcome! Don't have a ton of space so can't go above bookshelf, and I won't be driving them at high volume. Looking for something that will pair nicely with the Yamaha, though not really sure what I need to be looking at tech-wise to make that happen.
RTROSE's Avatar RTROSE 06:20 PM 01-07-2013
As far as speakers go, what is your budget? That right there will dictate which direction you will go. I would suggest anything in the Ascend line, they make great speakers that outperform anything at or near their price point. But then again I'm kind of biased.


metsallica's Avatar metsallica 09:32 AM 01-08-2013
I guess around $2K (for 5.1), but I have a good deal of wiggle room in both directions. Just looking for options / compelling reasons at this point!
RTROSE's Avatar RTROSE 07:29 PM 01-08-2013
Originally Posted by metsallica View Post

I guess around $2K (for 5.1), but I have a good deal of wiggle room in both directions. Just looking for options / compelling reasons at this point!

Well as I said I'm partial to Ascend speakers and with your budget I would use the Ascend 340SE's across the front, HTM200SE for surrounds, and a Rythmik FV15HP. Total just under 2500.00. Clickie Of course speakers are a very personal purchase, but I have the towers, bought them sight unheard, and could not be happier.

My .02 worth.


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