Amp Advice for a 2 Channel System - Primary Sources are Turntable and HTPC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 11-25-2012, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone,

I am looking on some advice on upgrading my system. As it stands, right now I have:

Sansui 881 Amp
B&W DM603 Speakers
Thorens TD-160 Turntable
Xbox/Blu-ray (that functions as my CD players as well)/Cable Box

I'm in the process of building a HTPC with HDMI output. The plan is to rip all of my CDs onto the HTPC and use it as a music server and a Netflix box.

The Sansui recently developed a hum, and so it's been out of service of late and I've been using an old Kenwood KR-A5070 receiver that I have kicking around. I was originally planning on having the Sansui fixed, but now I'm wondering if it might be better to spend my money elsewhere to upgrade. Specifically, I was thinking it might be a good idea to invest in a decent HT Receiver that has the inputs that I need for HDMI (I was looking at the Denon 1713).

My system is overwhelmingly used for music, which is why I'm comfortable keeping it 2 channel. For music listening, I'm guessing that I'll fairly evenly split the use of the turntable and the HTPC. That said, it is used for an occasional movie or tv show (mostly sports). If possible, obviously I'd like to improve sound quality. I live in an apartment, so the system isn't generally pushed to high volumes. I'm hoping to keep any upgrade under $500 Canadian if possible, cheaper the better obviously.

What I'm deciding between:

1) Fix the Sansui and buy an inexpensive DAC for the HTPC so that I can connect it directly to the amp. I'm guessing this will be the cheaper option.
2) Buy an inexpensive receiver and a phono pre-amp so that I can use the turntable with it.
3) Something else that I haven't thought of?

I'm not the most technically inclined, so I may have overlooked something obvious that won't allow one of these options to work. Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 6 Old 11-25-2012, 05:25 PM
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An AVR is an excellent idea for what you want to do. It gives you bass control if you decide to add a sub later - switches all your HDMI sources and gives you good quality HDMI audio. It has digital inputs - something that most stereo receivers don't. And since you are in an apartment you don't need gobs of power.

When all else fails - RTFM!

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post #3 of 6 Old 11-25-2012, 05:43 PM
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Quote:
1) Fix the Sansui and buy an inexpensive DAC for the HTPC so that I can connect it directly to the amp. I'm guessing this will be the cheaper option.
DACs with HDMI inputs are rather rare. Or maybe extremely rare. Of course, you could use USB for music. I think you'd want HDMI for any video, however.
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2) Buy an inexpensive receiver and a phono pre-amp so that I can use the turntable with it.
Probably the better option. $50 will buy you a phono preamp at www.phonopreamps.com, and an AVR with HDMI inputs can certainly be had for well under your budget.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #4 of 6 Old 11-25-2012, 05:54 PM
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How well does the Sansui amp play with your speakers compared to the Kenwood?

If this is a system that is "overwhelmingly used for music" then I'd stick with a receiver or integrated amp. New, it is a touch above your budget, but the Rega Brio-R got the Product of the Year award from Tone Audio magazine. That could work if it has enough power for your speakers, and you can find it in your price range. The Outlaw Audio RR2150 receiver also got a good deal of praise a while back. Peachtree Decco or Nova may also work (again, depending on the power your speakers need, and you'd need to find a good deal on the higher priced Nova to stay close to your budget). See review links below:

http://www.tonepublications.com/spotlight/rega-brio-r-worlds-first-review/

http://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/306outlaw/

http://www.stereophile.com/thefifthelement/the_fifth_element_55/index.html
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post #5 of 6 Old 11-25-2012, 08:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies thus far.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

DACs with HDMI inputs are rather rare. Or maybe extremely rare. Of course, you could use USB for music. I think you'd want HDMI for any video, however.

Yeah, I realize that. I was thinking of going USB into the DAC with HDMI going into the TV if I went that route. I already have an HDMI switcher that can sort out all of the cables. I wasn't sure if that would cause problems though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by roscoeiii View Post

How well does the Sansui amp play with your speakers compared to the Kenwood?

I seem to prefer the sound out of the Sansui than the Kenwood. Music seems to have more clarity with it.
Quote:
If this is a system that is "overwhelmingly used for music" then I'd stick with a receiver or integrated amp. New, it is a touch above your budget, but the Rega Brio-R got the Product of the Year award from Tone Audio magazine. That could work if it has enough power for your speakers, and you can find it in your price range. The Outlaw Audio RR2150 receiver also got a good deal of praise a while back. Peachtree Decco or Nova may also work (again, depending on the power your speakers need, and you'd need to find a good deal on the higher priced Nova to stay close to your budget). See review links below:
http://www.tonepublications.com/spotlight/rega-brio-r-worlds-first-review/
http://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/306outlaw/

Thanks for the options. I'll look into them.
http://www.stereophile.com/thefifthelement/the_fifth_element_55/index.html[/quote]
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post #6 of 6 Old 11-27-2012, 08:33 AM
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I suggest that you consider the Music Hall A15.2 integrated amplifier. It is only $499 at Music Direct, and I think it is the best-sounding amplifier you can buy for under $1000.

The improvement in sound quality over your Sansui will be rather dramatic!

It also has a fairly good built-in phono stage, so there is no need to buy a separate one.

I would forget trying to use HDMI.

If your TV does not have analog audio outputs (so few do have them now), then you can buy an analog-to-digital converter to connect between the TVs digital audio output jack and the amplifier; they are not expensive.

Another option, if you wanted to consider a good NAD amplifier, is the C326BEE I have for sale for only $225 plus shipping. It is as good as new and a very good amplifier. It does not have a phono stage. See the classified section.
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