Originally Posted by lwurn
Based on your rec's, I just ordered a Denon 4000 from AVS for the Living Room, to start. Do you suggest additional amplification beyond the Denon 4000 for the fronts, side and rear speakers?
First, I think you did a great job selecting your AVR. Denon, Onkyo, Integra, Anthem, etc are all great brands and have high quality power supplies and amplifiers in their flagship models. Additional amplification would be possible with that AVR since it has preamp outputs and the need would depend on what kind of speakers you get and how sensitive they are. There are many different sounding speakers so you will need to decide what kind you like – in my opinion (just my opinion, please don’t flame me) they can be grouped into three main categories:
Horn speakers with horn loaded compression drivers are usually “hot” in the high frequencies and are very sensitive / efficient – your AVR would almost certainly drive these to room filling / reference levels – look at Klipsch and JBL speakers. You either like these or you don’t – everyone loves how efficient they are but many (including me) find them to be very “fatiguing” even after a hour of listening – but that may be OK if you are only doing movie soundtracks.
Standard speakers / slightly bright speakers are less bright in the high frequency than horn speakers but are usually still fairly sensitive. These are the most common type of speakers and range from the low end bookshelf to the high end multi-driver towers and from mainstream to audiophile brands – Polk, Energy, Infinity, Definitive Technology, Paradigm, Focal – the prices climb from there.
Warm speakers are usually higher end “music only” and are out of my price range so I am definitely not the person to suggest brands. These tend to be less sensitive and would probably require external amplification especially if you want theater-like volume levels.
If I had that much to spend, I would make one room a reference room and spend 25%- 30% of the gear budget on some excellent speakers and put “good” speakers in the other room. Big floor standing towers can put out sound like you cannot believe and you could go from some modestly priced Polk towers to some outrageously powerful Paradigms. Spend at least as much on your center channel speaker as you do any other speaker – it is the primary speaker of your home theater and will be responsible for all dialog and much of the action.
Originally Posted by lwurn
I will power the subs separately, I gather, right?
Most modern subs are powered subwoofers where the amplifier (and more importantly its frequency response) are tailored to the subwoofer driver / cabinet to give you much flatter response. For simplicity alone, I would suggest using powered subs. One previous suggestion that I saw that I totally agree with is the use of SVS SB13-Ultra subs. You just need to decide if you want ported subs (lower frequency, louder) or sealed subs (supposedly more accurate, tighter bass) – both would be excellent choices here – they even sell them in pairs at a discount. If you can afford more for one of the rooms, JL Audio and Paradigm make world class subwoofers.
For electronics, I would suggest doing one room with your AVR and the other room (the one least likely to annoy your neighbors) with more powerful separates. Start with a preamp / surround processor (prepro) and add a big 7 channel amplifier. The best prepros have amazing performance but are are real budget killers which would easily swallow 25% - 50% of your budget (Anthem, Arcam, Bryston, etc). Look at the mid-fi brands like Integra, Onkyo, Marantz, Outlaw, etc. for great performance at much lower cost. The other plus here is if you ever have to upgrade the amp can be part of your new system. I really like the price / performance of Outlaw Audio amplifiers – they are made by ATI which is considered an “insider brand” as they are not very well known but used my many in the business – very beefy power supplies and amplifiers. The 7200 (or 7700 w/ balanced inputs) is a 90lb 7 x 200w beast of an amp and on sale this month.