Venturing Into 2 Channel...I've Hit Analysis Paralysis - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-23-2013, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello All,

I recently decided to go to a 2 channel setup upstairs and replaced the Sony soundbar I was using. I started listening to a lot more music, and want something that would really make it sound better. This is what I have setup so far:

Speakers: GoldenEar SuperSat 3s, Mirage MM-8 Subwoofter
Processor: Emotiva UMC-1
Amp: Onkyo M-282
Sources: Panasonic Plasma TV (TC-P42G10), PS3 (the big one), Apple TV (3rd Gen)

The UMC-1 has been working very well as a processor. I adjusted the crossovers to 150Hz on the L/R, and 225Hz on the sub. I like the blend of sound very much at that point so far. However, I have been wondering if there is a better way within my budget of $1k-$1.5.

I am very intrigued by the XSP-1.... and a few other options as it appears. I have a few questions/thoughts you knowledgeable folks might be able to help me with:

1) The XSP-1 can handle unbalanced interconnects as well as balanced interconnects and it fully differential. However, since I do not have the space for some XPA-1s (too deep) which are the cheapest true differential amps I have found, is there any sonic benefit to having a differential pre-amp like the XSP-1? Are there smaller differential amps out there I could use? Has anyone been blown away by a fully differential system??

2) Might I be better off purchasing an XDA-2 and USP-1 combo since my system won't be able to fully utilize balanced interconnects? Have people noticed an SQ difference between the USP-1 and the XSP-1 using unbalance interconnects between the amp and sources? I know I will have to purchase a DAC anyway too with the XSP-1. Can the volume in this combo be controlled by the XDA-2? I hear there are some volume issues with the USP-1.

3) Another option I have been very interested in for a while is the Outlaw RR2150 retro receiver. I still listen to the radio, and I really like the vintage look, I can add an optical adapter for the Apple TV, but the selectable bass management worries me since my crossover for my sub right now is higher than what the highest option on the RR2150 is capable of. I do not want to change the speakers. Maybe this isn't a big deal? Anyone have experience with sats on the Outlaw? I guess too I can experiment with the UMC-1 I have in my setup right now to see what the 100Hz crossover sounds like.

4) Of course, yet another option is getting something like a Marantz SR 5007 for an all in one radio, DAC, bass management, amp, and I still really like the look of the receiver, but not as much as the XSP-1 or the RR2150. I like buttons and knobs!

5) Bel Canto makes equipment that would fit great in the side cabinets, but their amps are not fully differential, and there does not appear to be any bass management from the processors. It's also quite a bit $$$ for me. I might be interested in one of their DACs though...

I will attempt to attach a pic of my current setup. It's one of those electric fireplaces, so the storage shelfs on either side of the fireplace are only about 9 inches wide. The UMC-1 sits right above the fireplace. The XSP-1 would just barely fit height-wise.

Can anyone tell I'm in analysis paralysis? I would love to hear what you all think. Suggestions supported by facts or opinions is welcome!

Thanks for reading!

"In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences."Robert Green Ingersoll


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post #2 of 10 Old 03-24-2013, 08:25 AM
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It sounds like you have a problem; or as my old man used to say..."as confused as the milkman who wandered into a crematorium".

I would just like to make a few comments for you to consider.

One; running a subwoofer above 80 Hz is a mistake IMO. It is not designed to do it well, and who wants monaural sound at those higher frequencies anyway? I have found that the best system sound is not possible unless the main speakers go down to at least 60 Hz and the subwoofer is only used below that.

If your main L/R speakers don't go below 80 Hz (they do not), then get some that DO go lower than 80Hz..

The supersat 3 is rated to go to 80 hz, but that may be marginal; they are no doubt limited below 100 Hz. I would suggest that with those you at least set the subwoofer's filter no higher than 100 Hz, and set the main speakers to go as low as they will go.

Second; I have found through many many years of audio system experience that balanced connections are always preferable, and usually deliver better sound quality (but not always).

The best-sounding HT receivers are Cambridge, such as the 551R, and Harman-Kardon, which is not quite as good, but still pretty good.

The Onkyo amp is fair, but a GOOD amplifier from Vincent or Bryston or Audio Research will make a huge improvement.

All the rest sound more or less like crap to me; very mediocre sound quality. I am a bit spoiled, since my main system has the best gear you can buy for $20K or so, but that is what my ears tell me.

Bryston has a new processor that you might be interested in, the SP-3, but of course it is a bit expensive. It would be the one to get if you can afford it.
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-25-2013, 11:33 PM
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some additional info:

its VERY unlikely you can tell the difference between balanced and unbalanced connections...I use balanced cause i like the little locks...but if you switched them out I would not know.

For music I would follow this guideline:

speakers flat to 60 or 40 and a good sub to match
acoustic room treatments and room setup (put speakers in good spots)

the rest is pretty much useless until you break something

REW...most expensive freeware ever...

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post #4 of 10 Old 03-28-2013, 08:13 PM
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Speakers makes the most audible improvement. If it were me I would change your fronts and subwoofers. Ideally the main speakers should at least do 40 HZ. Check out Rythmik Subwoofers, Some of their models provide an 80hz cut for the main speakers to protect them from being overdriven, this is very useful when watching blockbuster movies since you mentioned that you have plasma TV
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post #5 of 10 Old 09-03-2013, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, I have done a super bad job of keeping this thread updated frown.gif

Changes made:
Purchased a referb Peachtree Nova to replace the onkyo amp and Emotiva UMC-1.
Purchased a GoldenEar Forcefield 3 for the sub.

Since I will not be able to update the two main speakers (WAF), I purchased the Forcefield 3, and am making use of the 130 Hz high pass filter on the back. I know it could be better, and I lost the battle to replace the SuperSat 3's with my preference KEF R300's or even the R100's, but I am actually very happy with the sound.

It's funny, I read the options I was thinking of before, and now I have gone with something I hadn't even thought of lol.

Thanks everyone for your input!

"In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences."Robert Green Ingersoll


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post #6 of 10 Old 09-03-2013, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noman74656 View Post

Hello All,

I recently decided to go to a 2 channel setup upstairs and replaced the Sony soundbar I was using. I started listening to a lot more music, and want something that would really make it sound better. This is what I have setup so far:

Speakers: GoldenEar SuperSat 3s, Mirage MM-8 Subwoofer
Processor: Emotiva UMC-1
Amp: Onkyo M-282
Sources: Panasonic Plasma TV (TC-P42G10), PS3 (the big one), Apple TV (3rd Gen)

The UMC-1 has been working very well as a processor. I adjusted the crossovers to 150Hz on the L/R, and 225Hz on the sub. I like the blend of sound very much at that point so far. However, I have been wondering if there is a better way within my budget of $1k-$1.5.

Looks like the paralysis by analysis stage was hit long ago and continues strong to this day. Long story short you've gone long on electronics and short on speakers. Are you interested in sound quality or fancy decorations for your equipment cabinet?

Doesn't matter whether you are listening to music or video, what you've got in the way of speakers doesn't hack it. You could have far better sound for less than half the price of an XMC-1.

(1) Great L & R speakers that can actually go down to 60-80 Hz - it takes as little as a pair of Infinty Primus 163 @ about $160 each.
(2) A decent 12" subwoofer with built in matching power amp - BIC Acoustech PL-200 @ $369

Your next logical step could be improvement to room acoustics. Here is a good starting point for that: http://realtraps.com/

This can be a far longer discussion, but here is the logical starting point. What do you think?
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post #7 of 10 Old 09-03-2013, 02:18 PM
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If finances an issue but you want the absolute best sound sell everything except the sources and
get a headphone amplifier or a sophisticated DAC with headphone amp, and a set of top of line
Sennheiser, AKG, Grado, or Japan only JVC cans. The 101 on this is at:

www.head-fi.org

My system:
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post #8 of 10 Old 09-03-2013, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Looks like the paralysis by analysis stage was hit long ago and continues strong to this day. Long story short you've gone long on electronics and short on speakers. Are you interested in sound quality or fancy decorations for your equipment cabinet?

Doesn't matter whether you are listening to music or video, what you've got in the way of speakers doesn't hack it. You could have far better sound for less than half the price of an XMC-1.

(1) Great L & R speakers that can actually go down to 60-80 Hz - it takes as little as a pair of Infinty Primus 163 @ about $160 each.
(2) A decent 12" subwoofer with built in matching power amp - BIC Acoustech PL-200 @ $369

Your next logical step could be improvement to room acoustics. Here is a good starting point for that: http://realtraps.com/

This can be a far longer discussion, but here is the logical starting point. What do you think?


I definetely agree what you stated is a great starting point. A mistake I made is not mentioning in my first post that I am stuck with speakers that need to compliment the look of a flat plasma TV, hence, why I have not changed the speakers to something like the Infinty Primus 163. Honestly though, I listened to some Paradigm Atom Monitors, when I auditioned the SuperSat's, and I thought the SuperSat's sounded better. Not an opintion based on a measurement, but based on what my ears liked. I was very impressed!

Since this is the living room where I frequently entertain people, and WAF has priority, fancy decorations for the equipment cabinet are great cool.gif

"In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences."Robert Green Ingersoll


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post #9 of 10 Old 09-03-2013, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobpaule View Post

If finances an issue but you want the absolute best sound sell everything except the sources and
get a headphone amplifier or a sophisticated DAC with headphone amp, and a set of top of line
Sennheiser, AKG, Grado, or Japan only JVC cans. The 101 on this is at:

www.head-fi.org

Personally, I need to cut back after spending on a few other things, but another branch of the two channel experience I've been researching is a good set of headphones. I actually got the Monoprice noise-canceling ones, and quickly realized I should not have gone the cheap route frown.gif I am looking for ones that have a closed back so I can use them at work without driving everyone else nuts. One of my local dealers can give me a break on some B&W P5's, but I am very curious about the new KEF's and PSB's. What do you use at work?

Off topic, but the Integra DHC 80.3 you sold me last year bobpaule is still absolutely AWESOME! biggrin.gif

"In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences."Robert Green Ingersoll


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post #10 of 10 Old 09-04-2013, 12:41 PM
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I upgraded from a UMC-1 via Nvidia HDMI to HTPC, to a XSP1/Oppo 105 via USB to HTPC, the latter is like 10 times better sound quality; the 105 and XSP1 are just that much better, and it doesn't matter if it's RCA or XLR it's still 10x better (IMO).
Definitely a night and day difference.
I've documented all of this in my build thread in detail.

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