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
PS3 - HDMI
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.