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post #1 of 42 Old 06-15-2012, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Need advice on what combo to get. I have about 10K to spend on this. Requirements are 5.1 and 3D. What combo would you choose? Rotel, McIntosh, Marantz?

I am going to be powering a set of Triad's InWall Gold 6 LCR and a pair of InWall Gold/4 Surrounds.
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post #2 of 42 Old 06-15-2012, 06:01 PM
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The Marantz and Rotel combos will come in way under your budget, which I think is a good thing, because electronics don't make that much difference, assuming they have the features you seek and adequate amplifier power. All three brands have their attributes, though:

> The Marantz combo will get you just about every feature you can name, including balanced connections. About the only reservation I have is that the pieces are big, so you have to like big boxes and have plenty of rack space. (Make no mistake, though, these are elegant-looking boxes.)

> The Rotel preamp/processor lacks automated room correction, but it has classic style, and the accompanying amp gets you a whopping 250 watts of power in a tidy, cool-running package. But that might depend on how you feel about Class D. (For full disclosure, this is what I own, and the amp sounds like ... well ... any other amp I've owned.)

> McIntosh will be very expensive, and I don't think it'll sound any different from the other two. But McIntosh has a look and feel like nothing else. If that's really in your budget, hell, I'd go for it.

In a world of mid-grade AVRs, you can't miss with any of these.
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post #3 of 42 Old 06-16-2012, 01:39 PM
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I'd avoid Rotel. I always have WANTED to like Rotel, but the sound and features....ehh.

I'd avoid all the Mainstream Jap brands. The SQ just isn't there. Not for the money you're spending. GET great SQ!!!!

I tried Marantz (another brand I "want" to like) and was disappointed by the SQ. Just flat, no life.

For 10K, I'd be leaning towards Cary audio, especially for the PrePro. Check out some reviews. In fact, I'm thinking of going Cary Cimena 12 and an Anthem AMP.

Try to avoid drinking the RC Kool-Aid. I'm not "against" RC, but it's SO overblown right now. Ask all the Anthem ARC fans "ARC made my system sooooo much better" then they find out ARC hasn't been working right in the last FW for 2 1/2 months. How embarrassing....can you delete your old posts???? LOL!!!

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post #4 of 42 Old 06-16-2012, 02:16 PM
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If I were in your situation, with the stated budget, here is what I would do. Go with the Integra 80.3. It has every bell and whistle imaginable, and for home theater, I seriously doubt any of the megabuck pre-pros would out perform it. For the amplifier, I would go with the highly regarded Outlaw 7900. I just put together an antire new home theater for a friend, and based it around one of these, and the unit is absolutely rock solid, with excellent sound. That leaves you with about $4000.00 left, which I would put into a quality projector and a 110-120 inch screen, depending on the size of your room.

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http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/7900.html
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post #5 of 42 Old 06-16-2012, 03:30 PM
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I believe there are sonic differences between electronic pieces especially in the analog section. You need to decide for yourself.

I had the original NAD Masters series before current HDMI specs. The original was HDMI 1.0 but it was a fantastic amp and pre/pro combo. when I upgraded I could have easily gone with the latest series but the ole "try something different" kicked in just because.

I really suggest the pair for your budget. But there is also Arcam but I have not heard their latest. I have owned other Arcam pieces and they are very nice but I still prefer Masters from NAD.

http://nadelectronics.com/products/masters-series

Good luck! It's a lot of fun with a nice budget. Send me a message if you have any questions.

Rick

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post #6 of 42 Old 06-16-2012, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Great suggestions guys. So I heard a set of Martin Logan Ethos and Depth i sub powered by a mcintosh amp/pro and I have to say this sounded much better then any of the B&W + rotel stuff I heard in another shop and I really like the look of the speakers. I would love to do mcintosh + ML all around but its slightly out of my budget. This will be mainly for movies BTW. I have not heard the Triad's in walls and I dont think I will be able to (just going by word of mouth) but I think I'm starting to lean towards the ML stuff. However my budget for the entire project is 20-25K so if I go with ML then my budget for the amp/pro goes down a tad.

That being said I checked out the Carey Cinema 12 and the Integra. They both look nice. I'm leaning towards the Cinema 12 although the reviews are saying that there is no room correction? I should have mentioned this as one of my requirments but not a deal breaker. Asthestics is also going to be an important factor in deciding as I am building a showroom type experience as well and I really like the silver look over black.

The Anthem MCA-50 comes in silver too I believe and would look great with the Cinema 12. Retail is about $2500. How would this compare to the Mcintosh MC205 that I heard which costs $3500 more?
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post #7 of 42 Old 06-16-2012, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.SoftDome View Post

I believe there are sonic differences between electronic pieces especially in the analog section. You need to decide for yourself.
I had the original NAD Masters series before current HDMI specs. The original was HDMI 1.0 but it was a fantastic amp and pre/pro combo. when I upgraded I could have easily gone with the latest series but the ole "try something different" kicked in just because.
I really suggest the pair for your budget. But there is also Arcam but I have not heard their latest. I have owned other Arcam pieces and they are very nice but I still prefer Masters from NAD.
http://nadelectronics.com/products/masters-series
Good luck! It's a lot of fun with a nice budget. Send me a message if you have any questions.
Rick

Wow the NAD M25 is a beast and would look great with the Cinema 12 as well. I am throwing this into the mix now. I dont understand how some amps weight twice as much and deliver the same power. Is there a benefit to weight?
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post #8 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 12:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dean-l View Post

...
I'd avoid all the Mainstream Jap brands. The SQ just isn't there. Not for the money you're spending. GET great SQ!!!!
I tried Marantz (another brand I "want" to like) and was disappointed by the SQ. Just flat, no life.
For 10K, I'd be leaning towards Cary audio, especially for the PrePro. Check out some reviews. In fact, I'm thinking of going Cary Cimena 12 and an Anthem AMP.
Try to avoid drinking the RC Kool-Aid. I'm not "against" RC, but it's SO overblown right now. Ask all the Anthem ARC fans "ARC made my system sooooo much better" then they find out ARC hasn't been working right in the last FW for 2 1/2 months. How embarrassing....can you delete your old posts???? LOL!!!

LOL is right. Just about on every point above.

Avoid the "Mainstream Jap" brands?! Why? Because they actually have the money to spend, if they want to, to implement new technology? Or because you think that Cary AD somehow gets better versions of Dolby, or DTS, or HDMI?

Amps are a commodity item nowadays, and when level-matched and not driven to distortion, those "Mainstream Jap brands" will sound as good as a Mcintosh (which is, BTW, owned by a "Mainstream Jap" holding company) in a blind test. If it wasn't so, Mcintosh, Rotel, Cary, etc. would be blind-testing their stuff against the competition and using the results in their promo pieces.

But they don't, because they know that between the shills in the "audiophile" press and the salesmen on the floor, they'll convince enough suckers to fork out large sums of $$$$$. Hell, I can make a cheap mainstream AVR sound better than a Mcintosh by jacking up the volume imperceptibly and there are a number of other ways an ignorant buyer can be steered to part with more money.

There is nothing wrong with buying a Rotel or a Macintosh for the design, but it's ignorant to think that it will have a better sound quality than a non-defective "Mainstream Jap" brand" driven within spec.

As to Room Equalization, it is perhaps the most significant differentiator among audio equipment today. But Room Eq does not seem to be cost-effective to implement well for smaller-volume brands, so they lean on claims of "purity" and other such nonsense.

No offense, but the OP appears to have more money than knowledge, so they are a prime target for this kind of marketing. We know nothing of the OPs room size, all we know is they they have 4 ohm, reasonably sensitive in-walls. This may (but more likely may not) require an AVR or an amp of greater than average power.

But the fact that the speakers are in-walls, would imply that interior design is reasonably high on the list, so it is more likely that the room has not been acoustically treated. Which normally would make Room Equalization far more important than any (imagined) sound quality improvement which something like Cary Cinema 12 may bring to the table.

My suggestion would be for the OP to read up a bit on Room Eq options, such as Trinnov, ARC, Audyssey, etc.. Well, there is also the Mcintosh MEN220, which is supposedly good, but it's 2-channel only.
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post #9 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 02:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dean-l View Post

Try to avoid drinking the RC Kool-Aid. I'm not "against" RC, but it's SO overblown right now. Ask all the Anthem ARC fans "ARC made my system sooooo much better" then they find out ARC hasn't been working right in the last FW for 2 1/2 months. How embarrassing....can you delete your old posts???? LOL!!!

This blanket statement is simply not true for all models / configurations, etc. The main difference with room correction on / off in my system is in the correction of the bass. It is easy to tell on / off, so I can understand someone stating room correction makes a noticeable difference. And why did you quote against?

global_groove6, if you must spend around 10K I would check out McIntosh's new line up MX121, MC2507, MVP891. Marantz, NAND, Arcam, Cambridge Audio, and Anthem are some brands I would also consider. I prefer matching amps, but to each their own.
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post #10 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 10:05 AM
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If you go with the Triad Golds, they are very efficient and won't need much power. I'd go with a W4S Mini-MC 5, 360 Watts/channel into those 4 ohm speakers in a nice compact chassis would be more than enough. I personally don't think it's worth spending a lot for a processor, especially if you're mostly doing home theater. I'd get something like a Denon 4311 or Anthem MRX300 and just plan on replacing it in 4-5 years if the technology changes. If you're planning on any critical 2 channel listening, you could put the extra money left over into a nice DAC or other equipment to stream hi-rez digital and a pre-amp with HT bypass, or into better speakers or room treatment.
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post #11 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 10:16 AM
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Global_grooves6,
You have 10K to spend? Why do you feel you need to spend it all? Seriously…
How big is your room?
Can you, or are you willing to add some room treatments?
What do you have for a sub?

Domino's donÂt fall all at once, they fall one at a time...
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post #12 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 10:54 AM
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As others have mentioned, the Cary Cinema 12 would be a great choice. And I wouldn't let the lack of room correction detour you. I think room correction is really only practical when used with the lowest frequencies, and most quality Sub Woofers these days, have that built in. For dealing with the higher range of the spectrum, I prefer some well-placed room treatments.

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post #13 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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We are definately looking into treating the room. I am actually looking for a system integrator to help with this project but just wanted to get some unbiased and biased smile.gif opinions as alot of the consultants out there will also push their own (more expensive) products unecessarily.

As far as Sub, currently looking at a Martin Logan Descent i. Room size is about 17' X 16'. Definately dont need to spend the entire 10K on amp/pro. That was the top of the budget but like I said we want to build a showroom type experience as far as SQ and asthetics.
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post #14 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 12:39 PM
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Instead of a separate amplifier, you want want to consider something like the Seaton Catalysts, which are internally tri-amplified. They would offer great dynamics for a mainly HT set-up.
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post #15 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dean-l View Post

I'd avoid Rotel. I always have WANTED to like Rotel, but the sound and features....ehh.
I'd avoid all the Mainstream Jap brands. The SQ just isn't there. Not for the money you're spending. GET great SQ!!!!
I tried Marantz (another brand I "want" to like) and was disappointed by the SQ. Just flat, no life.

"Sound quality" ... what does that mean exactly, and how do you demonstrate it? Do you mean lower noise? Lower distortion? More accurate frequency response? Wider dynamic range? If not those attributes, then what? Vague references to "SQ" are meaningless.

"Audiophiles" dance around specifics because those criteria are all meaningful and measurable and (most important) potentially audible, and we know that high-end electronics don't measure any better than anything else. The rest is myth, because (ironically) high-end proponents are terrified of level-matched, double-blind testing when -- if half the crap they claimed were true -- they'd be the first to embrace it. They'd show us why and how their perceived "SQ" is actually better. The Absolute Sound (world's dumbest magazine?) doesn't even perform measurements; their self-proclaimed golden-earred reviewers simply make it all up. (At least Stereophile takes proper measurements; they just ignore the results most of the time.)

The two areas where the original poster might actually hear differences through electronics alone are in room correction (which delivers real, audible results, as equalization always has) and amplifier power (but only if one amp is a lot more powerful than the other). The rest has more to do with aesthetics, exclusivity and pride of ownership, which are all valid in their own ways. But let's keep brand-based "SQ" out of it, because there's no intellectually honest way to defend that, much less recommend it to a complete stranger.
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post #16 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 02:36 PM
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^^^^^

What Brownstone322 says.... No difference in sound quality (whatever this really means) between mainstream amps driven within spec.

Except that the OP's room is not large at all and the Triads are rather sensitive, so it does not appear that there is any need for more powerful than average amps to achieve reference SPL. Just get something that drives 4 ohm speakers.

If you want a ballpark SPL callculation, use this calculator. For example, with your speaker sensitivity, if you sit 14' away, you need 30WPC to achieve just over 98dB SPL at the seating position. 98dB is going to damage your hearing over a prolonged period of listening at full blast, but it will give you enough headroom over reference level (which is still too loud for most home theaters).

If the OP really needs to spend the money, go for something like the ADA TEQ products with Trinnov Optimizer. Trinnov is seriously amazing, IMO, and has provided easily the most significant sound quality improvement any electronic device has provided in my set up -- and I am using the cheap version in the R-972.

Also, the OP does not mention a sub -- if there isn't one, this should go to the top of the list in terms of potential sound improvement.
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post #17 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryan1 View Post

^^^^^
What Brownstone322 says.... No difference in sound quality (whatever this really means) between mainstream amps driven within spec.

If you don't know what it really means, then how can you state their is no difference? I also love all of the qualifiers you use; "mainstream", "driven within spec"...

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post #18 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 04:31 PM
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If you don't know what it really means, then how can you state their is no difference? I also love all of the qualifiers you use; "mainstream", "driven within spec"...

Actually, I do know what it means precisely: "open," "airy," "amazing stage" are all utter nonsense, not supported by the physics and not evident in blind tests. But they are very effective terms in the showroom, as well as in "audiophile" publications, which have to perpetuate such nonsense in order to get advertising dollars and stay in business.

And the reason I qualify my statements is because someone can always drag out some tube amp (often an expensive, high-end brand) which does not provide flat signal amplification, or force an otherwise fine amp into clipping, and claim that they can hear a difference.

But the bottom line is, I have not seen a single blind test, where listeners (trained or not) were able to tell a difference between relatively current mainstream amps, driven within spec. If you have seen any, please post them. Otherwise, without evidence, all of this "sound quality" cr@p is just nonsense.
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post #19 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

If you don't know what it really means, then how can you state their is no difference? I also love all of the qualifiers you use; "mainstream", "driven within spec"...

"Mainstream" is a reasonable term, and I think we all know what it means -- widely available, moderately priced and generally known to people interested in the segment. I think we'd agree that Honda and Chevrolet and Volkswagen are "mainstream" brands; we'd likewise agree that Maybach and Ferrari and McLaren aren't. (Well, either that or your ZIP code trounces mine.)

"Driven within spec" is hugely important in regard to amplifiers. A 10-watt boutique amplifier can sound perfectly fine (and louder than you might think), but it's no match for a pair of 600-watt monoblocks when you try to reproduce live-concert levels. That's 'cause the little amp would be driven out of spec (that is, way into clipping), and that's no basis for comparison. When I refer to amps, I try to use the phrase "modern solid-state amplifiers within their operating limits" -- I don't mean tubes (which produce certain distortions that certain people find pleasant), I don't mean old stuff (where performance problems were real, measurable and audible), and I don't mean amplifiers driven into clipping (meaning you'd need a bigger one). And keep in mind that any amp made by anybody at any price can be driven into clipping under the right circumstances.

"SQ" by itself means nothing. Does it refer to noise or distortion or frequency response? If so, then by all means say so. There was once a time when these were real problems. But if you mean "depth" or "warmth" or "presence" or "resolution of detail" or "sense of air" or "soundstage" (or any other wine-tasting term, none of which can be addressed through circuit design or demonstrated through measurements) then you should at least offer some basis for your claims. Never mind that Robert Harley doesn't offer any explanations -- he's a business man; he's a shill for his advertisers; his publication is necessarily corrupt. But the rest of here don't belong to anyone, and we're free to exercise a little intellectual honesty. Imagine that.
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post #20 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 07:28 PM
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For several years I've had Anthems driving a home theater system, but decided to setup 2-channel in another room, for which I bought a used Simaudio i.5

I rigged an informal SBT between an Anthem A2 vs the Simaudio. Speakers were Paradigm Studio 60v3. Because I knew I couldn't level match the sound, I made it considerably different for each test, but my "not audio-saavy" wife could signal for a higher or lower level during a test. She nailed the correct amp every time. I thought perhaps the A2 was not up to spec, so I substituted my A5 and retested…same result.

The reason she was able to do this was because of soundstage. With the Anthem/Paradigm combination, we heard clumps of sound coming directly from the left or right speaker. With the i.5, the clumps were replaced by the illusion of sound coming from all across the middle. It was something we hadn't heard before and obvious at all volume levels.

This shouldn't be taken necessarily as a recommendation for Simaudio…with the soundstage comes equivalent drawbacks. My advice to people is budget within their financial means, and not listen to equipment outside their budget.

My informal SBT's are not scientific, but are relevant to me. I believe professional DBT's are perfectly valid…for the specified equipment, for the specified acoustical space, for the specified set of listeners. Whenever any of these variables change, I believe a fresh test becomes necessary.

BTW, the next time I see audio terms related to automobiles, I'm gonna puke.
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post #21 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 07:42 PM
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Yes, "soundstage" is exactly the difference between amps that people so often fail to appreciate.

I know at the company I work for, the group of engineers responsible for the audio sections of our products puts a lot of effort into making sure the outputs meet the soundstage specs.
We even have test equipment that measures soundstage. Soundstage analyzers don't come cheap, and not every A/V consumer electronics company can afford such equipment,
but we feel it's vital to accurately access the soundstage properties.
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post #22 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talos4 View Post

BTW, the next time I see audio terms related to automobiles, I'm gonna puke.

Point taken, but most people like to make analogies about horsepower or acceleration that make no sense at all. This was about brand placement and (implicitly) economies of scale; it had nothing to do with audio performance. And I'm not the one who claimed the term "mainstream" was, somehow, an invalid qualifier, because it's perfectly relevant. There's always some guy in a basement making something the likes of which we've never seen.

So you think my analogy was inappropriate? How so? Overused? Maybe. What other segment might you suggest that's likely to be recognized and understood by an, er, mainstream audience? How many near-esoteric brand names do people really know that the rest of us can relate to? (OK, that's kind of a contradiction in terms, I guess.) Would you feel more comfortable had I referenced Budweiser and Miller versus a couple microbrews?

Puke if you must, but it was a reasonable sequitur. Bland, maybe, but on target. (I actually thought referencing McLaren was pretty hot.)
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post #23 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 08:20 PM
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When I think of mainstream audio, "Available at Best Buy" or "HTIB" comes to my mind.

I feel the analogy is overused...no offense. smile.gif
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post #24 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by beaveav View Post

Yes, "soundstage" is exactly the difference between amps that people so often fail to appreciate.
I know at the company I work for, the group of engineers responsible for the audio sections of our products puts a lot of effort into making sure the outputs meet the soundstage specs.
We even have test equipment that measures soundstage. Soundstage analyzers don't come cheap, and not every A/V consumer electronics company can afford such equipment,
but we feel it's vital to accurately access the soundstage properties.

I would love you to educate us how exactly the physics of this mythical soundstage parameter would work to create different auditory perception in the case of two amplifiers which simply amplify the signal, without audible distortion and without any DSP engaged.

I thinks it's absolute nonsense, since there is no particular reason I can think of for such difference, and every double-blind test I've seen confirms that it's nonsense and listeners can't tell a difference (wives in informal, non-level-matched, non-ABX tests, notwithstanding).

But hey, I am always happy to learn something new, so if you would elaborate, we are all ears (and eyes). rolleyes.gif
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post #25 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 09:00 PM
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I think I got a bite! biggrin.gif

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post #26 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by beaveav View Post

I think I got a bite! biggrin.gif

O.K., with so much nonsense floating around, I swallowed it whole.... biggrin.giftongue.gif
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post #27 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan1 View Post

But hey, I am always happy to learn something new, so if you would elaborate, we are all ears (and eyes). rolleyes.gif

I am fairly certain that beaveav was being facetious, particularly regarding the expensive "soundstage analyzer." But if his company really does have such a piece of equipment, I am very curious about the standard unit of measurement for soundstage? Is it Harleys or Fremers?

wink.gif

AJ
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post #28 of 42 Old 06-17-2012, 09:40 PM
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We use Harleys as the unit of measure of soundstage width, and we use Fremers as the unit of measure of soundstage depth.
Our soundstage analyzer is accurate to within 1/2 Harley and 1/2 Fremer. biggrin.gif

For every new thing I learn, I forget two things I used to know.
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post #29 of 42 Old 06-18-2012, 07:32 AM
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^^^

i'm assuming you got that fine piece of equipment from lirpa labs? wink.gif

"accurate to one half harley and one half fremer"... biggrin.gif i think i may steal that... tongue.gif

- chris

 

my build thread - updated 8-20-12 - new seating installed and projector isolation solution

 

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1332917/ccotenj-finally-gets-a-projector

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post #30 of 42 Old 06-18-2012, 08:30 AM
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The Cary Cinema 12 is a good product but I liked the Integra DHC-80.3 more. The Integra handles DSD directly as well as 176.4khz sample rates. The Cary is an audio only processor while the Integra can do video processing if required/desired. The room correction on the Integra made a big difference to me particularly with the ability to handle multiple subwoofers. The Cary does have a digital out for zone 2 which the Integra lacks and does come with HD Radio which is an option on the Integra. I find also, that the Integra comes with many more custom and control options to integrate better into my whole home system. I have the Integra paired right now with a Sherbourn PA 7-350 7-channel power amplifiier that does a great job in my large room with my 7 channels

The combination of the Integra with the Sherbourn is quite a bit under your $10k budget.
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