My first post in this community.
I initially posted this in error in the UK forum, that post contains the equipment links.
I'm taking my time to plan a new home audio system and I'm at a point where I would enjoy knowledgeable advice / critics about my choices so far... So I'm inviting feedback: would there be better alternatives to some or all of the choices made below? Approx budget is $10K.
The starting point: I already have a Niles SI-1260 and I'm leaving TV's out of the planning (already have it). I want to enjoy home cinema 5.1 in the living room, powerful and musical audio in the basement and solid quality music outdoors, therefore 3 zones. I also wish to minimize the need for in-wall wiring so I would consider wireless only if convinced that it would not be too detrimental to the quality of the music.
Most of the music played will be from an iTunes Library (which currently resides on my PC) and Pandora. I now understand the value of encoding lossless so I plan to re-rip my CD's in Apple lossless and do same in the future! Unfortunately that will leave out a lot of my music that is encoded in mp3...
So... choices follow. All prices are approx.
Rack: need to keep it all tidy, tucked away and cool so it seems a rack would work and with all the equipment 36U gets used up quickly... I was thinking Sanus CFR2136 ($1,200 for the basic rack) plus rack accessories (rack power & thermostat supply $250 / temperature display $120 / about three fans each $120 - 1U or 3U - total $360 / power conditioner Belkin Power Console PF60 $200 and I know there is lots of debate whether power conditioners are useful or not)
Amp: Niles SI-1260 (already have it no purchase needed so this unit does not count towards the $10K budget). This amp (12 channels 60W each / 2 channels can be bridged to obtain 120W) can accept two distinct pre-amp bus inputs and/or a per-channel distinct preamp input
AV Receiver: Denon AVR-3313Cl ($1,300) - I like: Zone 1 powered 7:2 outputs even if I only want a 5.1 speaker system; assignable zone 2 and 3 pre-amp outputs (which nicely corresponds to the Niles two pre-amp bus inputs); Audyssey Speaker calibration with included setup microphone; Denon iPhone Remote control app; lots of HDMI inputs; reasonably future-proof as in 4D video upscaling etc.
iTunes Server and NAS: thinking that by adding a Network Attached Storage (NAS) to the mix I can achieve many goals in one shot: iTunes server on the home network and backup solution for all houseold members. So... I'm thinking Synology RS812 ($620) which has an iTunes server solution, NAS in a RAID5 configuration with 4 hard disks ($520) because it will also serve as a home office / household backup solution. Since I need an iTunes client to control what music I'm listening to and I don't want to use my own laptop for this, I think I need a dedicated PC for this, I was thinking to use a basic rack mount PC for this (like the SuperLogics SL-1U-2500HN-GC only criteria here is rack form factor ideally 1U) and I can control that iTunes client with the "Remote" iPhone app. Assuming I'm playing Apple lossless music from that computer, from what I've crash-learned in the last two weeks it seems a quality Digital to Audio Converter (DAC) is also needed?
DAC: Meridien Explorer ($300) seems to fit my needs. I understand I will need to get a third party USB Class 2 audio driver for the PC iTunes client (I think?). One thing I don't understand is what concerns should I have, if any, if I have lots of music in the iTunes library that is encoded differently?
Blu-Ray Player: I like LG BP620 ($180) because it can do many different things that I want to do: stream internet content (I assume including Pandora), access photos / videos on USB storage devices, access files on PC / smartphone via wifi, etc.
Now... for speakers. I am looking for hifi musical experience in a reasonable price range. Bass / looks matter. So... choices so far follow.
Home Theatre 5.1: Fluance ESTHB System ($750) - a 5.0 system -- I prefer to buy the sub separately: Hsu VTF-1 MK2 ($507). The criticism I heard about Fluance ES1 speakers is their lack of bass below 150 Hz but since I have that sub I'm not too worried.
Basement Audio: 2 pairs of Fluance ES1 ($900) (4 speakers that I would each bi-amp needing a total of 8 channels from the Niles Amp) + 1 mid bass sub Hsu MBM-12 MK2 ($500) + 1 true sub Hsu VTF-15H ($880). To bring the signal to the subs, I was thinking of using a quality, metal only RCA splitter on the pre-amp Zone 2 output, 1 for a high-pass filter ($100) onwards to the Niles Amp Bus 1 input (servicing the 4 speakers in the basement) and the other to a wireless transmitter Nyrius 5.8 GHz ($85). The wireless receiver, in the basement, would have RCA quality metal splitters allowing the signal to get to both subs (mid-bass and true bass)
Outdoor Audio: I hesitate between using powered speakers with a wireless transmitter (similar to above) but haven't found a good quality / price ratio for such outdoor speakers... But am open to suggestions! I don't like the idea (and the work) of going through the outside wall to run speaker wires. If I have to, the other option is passive speakers: Pyle Audio PDWR63 ($185) (pair powered by 4 bridged Amp channel total 120W per bridged channel each speaker). Now... If I want to really annoy the neighbours I could add an outdoor sub SpeakerCraft BoomTomb ($550) which means I have to add a dedicated amp in my rack SpeakerCraft Bass Power 250 ($955). This means the Preamp Zone 3 output would be to a quality metal only RCA splitter, 1 output to the Niles Amp Bus 2 input (servicing the outdoor speaker pair) and the other to the outdoor sub amp.
There remains cabling. I don't mind terminating the speaker wires (buying direct from Jeans Cable for example) myself with banana plugs (Sewell Silverback). I understand that a distinct cable is better for subwoofers. To choose the AWG, I read an article that lead me to think a lot of people appear to be overestimating their AWG requirements..?!
From the numerous articles I read on topic, it does not appear that bi-wiring is worth it. I understand the theory behind it, but real life tests are far from conclusive...
Incidentally I plan to use raceways instead of inwall wiring, such as these.
Thoughts... Suggestions... Ideas? Anything else I should consider so that this sytem has increased "future-proof" potential?
Random thoughts: I do not have a separate CD player because I thought the Blu-Ray player could handle the occasional CD. I really like that the receiver and iTunes have iPhone apps to control them (a must for me - I don't want to get into IR receivers etc.). I am wondering if it is better to ask an electrician to have a separate, powerful enough circuit in the house to service clean noiseless power outlets dedicated to all AV and speaker equipment (better than buying this Belkin power conditioner). I wonder if my lesser mp3 quality in iTunes will still play ok with this setup. And most of all... I wonder if there is some kind of cat/dog repellant spray I can use on my speakers so they don't get chewed off or scratched by my cat and my dog!!
For those that made it here... thanks