Matching AVR and amp for B&W speakers - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-16-2015, 02:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Matching AVR and amp for B&W speakers

Hi,

I’m new to hi-end hi fi and joined this forum to get some advice, as selecting the right system can get pretty confusing. I’ve been shopping around and have narrowed down some choices, but am still a bit confused and hope I can benefit from some expert opinion.

I want to essentially replace a standard Sony home theatre setup with a new TV and, more importantly, a better sound system. The Sony, of course, was barely adequate for movies, but it was torture using it for audio recordings, so I’m looking for an entirely different set up now: good speakers, with high-end hi fi and AV components. Will upgrade to a 65” flat panel LED or OLED (willing to wait for this year’s models), but want to go ahead with the rest of the purchases now.

First, a word about my room layout, since it is peculiar (about 24 x 26 ft). I have a long couch facing a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf which houses the TV and stereo components, along with the front and center speakers, which are about 16-17 ft from my normal watching position on the couch. The couch is about 5-6 ft away from the back wall, so there’s room to put rear speakers against the wall, about 13-14 ft apart. However, I only have space for bookshelf front speakers, although can have floor standing ones at the rear. The room also has other seating in front facing the other way, about 18 ft from the rear wall, which I use when listening to music. So I would like to use the floor standing speakers mainly for music (connected to Sonos, an Oppo BD 95 BluRay/CD player and other source inputs), but as rear speakers in a 5.1 ch home theatre environment when watching movies. I can place the sub wherever it works best in this configuration (am advised on a front corner location).

Now in terms of the equipment options, I’m pretty much sold on the B&W for the speakers: a pair of CM10 S2s for music and as rear HT speakers; a CMC and ASW10CM center and sub; and either a pair of CM5 S2 or PM1 for the front HT speakers. For the record, the other rear floor/front bookshelf/center/sub speaker combos I considered were Focus Aria 948/906/CC900/REL218 and Martin Logan Theos/Motion 35XT/Motif X/Dynamo 1000. Where I live, I will not be able to demo each combination, so am essentially making what I think is a safe choice based on brand reputation and reviews, plus I really prefer the B&W aesthetically over the rest (I know this should not be a deciding factor, but in my living room, it is!).

So, given these speakers, I’m now in a bit of a conundrum regarding the remaining components. Initially, the B&W vendor had suggested the following Rotel components (same parent company as B&W) in a package deal that at the time I thought was wholly adequate: RSX1562 7.1 ch HT AV receiver, RC 1570 stereo preamp, and RB 1582 200W 2 ch power amp. However, I now think the AV receiver is a bit dated (no Dolby Atmos, no HDMI 2.0, no HDCP 2.2, etc.), and the amp could also be upgraded. For the receiver, I’m now looking at the Denon AVR x7200W (which has all the bells and whistles missing in the Rotel, so is forward compliant with my proposed 4k TV). For the amp, I’m leaning towards the Quad Elite QMP mono blocks, with 260W per channel. I also could go for the Anthem A5 (5x225W), PVA7 (7x125W), or PVA 8 (8x125W) power amplifiers.

Here’s where I need help: I was thinking of using the AVR pre-outs to drive the power amp connected to the main music CM10 speakers, and using its built-in amp for the front, center and sub. Is this a workable solution, specially without a separate preamp for the main speakers, or would I be compromising both the home theatre and the music experience in the process (I’m getting conflicting views on this from salespersons I’ve spoken to)?

In terms of the amps, I’m sure the Quad mono blocks would be the best choice, although I would have a problem with their non-standard form factor (the 17"-wide Rotel components would have stacked very neatly on my shelf). However, this is not a deal breaker in case the QMPs are definitely a better choice over the Rotel and Anthem alternatives. I know matching the amps with the speakers is critical, so would really need some assistance here. If a separate preamp is imperative, will the RC 1570/RB 1582 combination do or should I pair a different preamp with the QMP (possibly a matched Quad Elite Pre?).

Finally, would it be worth splurging a little extra on the PM1s instead of the CM5s as the front speakers? Would the former sound good driven by the AVR, or should they be hooked up to the power amp as well? I’m not sure if I’ll ever listen to music simultaneously from all four speakers, but now it could be a possibility!

Thanks so much for any help on offer. Please bear in mind that the choices above are, of course dictated by an overall budget, but I’m willing to fork an extra grand if that makes a huge difference.
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-16-2015, 11:09 AM
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That's way too long for me to read all of it. Are the speakers high sensitivity 8 ohm speakers? If so, you don't need the expensive amplification. It would let the speakers be a little bit more loud. That's it. If they're not 8ohm high sensitivity, then you would benefit from the fancy amplification. OF course, you're probably better off putting that money into better speakers that aren't a pain to deal with.

All amplification sounds the same below clipping when volume equalized, so don't spend a ton of money on it.

By the way, of course people want to sell you Rotel. While it's good stuff, it's expensive and they want their cut.
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post #3 of 7 Unread 03-16-2015, 01:24 PM
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I have B&W CM2's.
Just my experience:
A few years ago I wanted to update my old Rotel Receiver to include HDMi, etc.
I took a shot at a Pioneer. More bells and whistles- but the sound was thin.
I tried to adjust- but I knew it was off.
I visited my local Rotel guy. He set me up with the 1550 to test.
As soon as I switched it on I knew.
There was no need for any A/B back and forth nonsense.
Rotel blew the Pioneer away.
Full Rich Sound you can really hear.
Rotel + B&W is very hard to beat.
If you can - give the Rotel a test.
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post #4 of 7 Unread 03-16-2015, 10:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry about the long post, but I wanted to provide full information on my setup options.

So I guess the Rotel pre and power amp combo should be adequate for me, specially as I will rarely use the speakers at very high volume. I can't spend more on speakers as the next step up in B&W are the 800 Diamonds, which are way too expensive for me. However, I could go for the PM1 instead of the CM5 as the fronts.

Any idea of when the new HDCP-compliant Rotel AVR will be out? If it's soon, I could wait for it and stick with the original all-Rotel separates, which in theory should be well-matched with the B&Ws and make for a cleaner-looking stack.
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post #5 of 7 Unread Yesterday, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bokes View Post
I have B&W CM2's.
Just my experience:
A few years ago I wanted to update my old Rotel Receiver to include HDMi, etc.
I took a shot at a Pioneer. More bells and whistles- but the sound was thin.
I tried to adjust- but I knew it was off.
I visited my local Rotel guy. He set me up with the 1550 to test.
As soon as I switched it on I knew.
There was no need for any A/B back and forth nonsense.
Rotel blew the Pioneer away.
Full Rich Sound you can really hear.
Rotel + B&W is very hard to beat.
If you can - give the Rotel a test.
AB isn't nonsense. When you're going into a sighted test with equipment you know as expensive, the opinion of anyone is already biased. Your local Rotel guy is showing speakers in a perfect room with great room treatments. Of course it sounded great. That's how AV stores sell things. It's like buying an LCD in a box store. It looks great, but unless you live in a box store, plasma or OLED look a lot better at home.
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post #6 of 7 Unread Yesterday, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zgeneral View Post
AB isn't nonsense. When you're going into a sighted test with equipment you know as expensive, the opinion of anyone is already biased. Your local Rotel guy is showing speakers in a perfect room with great room treatments. Of course it sounded great. That's how AV stores sell things. It's like buying an LCD in a box store. It looks great, but unless you live in a box store, plasma or OLED look a lot better at home.
I meant nonsense as in - I didn't have to waste too much time.
I have spent plenty of time performing A/B tests in the past only to keep going back and forth on which component sounds or looks better. Most cases it's a toss up.
In this case- the performance of the Rotel was clear.
Also- I did not test listen to the Rotel in the showroom.
I took it home to my system.
My dealer gave a 14 day trial.
I agree do not go by the showroom.
Most dealers will allow you a trial window.
If they don't- find one that will.
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post #7 of 7 Unread Today, 02:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, here's what I'm now gravitating towards:

HT front speakers: B&W CM6 s2
HT center: B&W CMC s2
HT sub: B&W ASW10CM s2
HT rear (and stereo front): B&W CM10 s2

Preamp: Rotel RC 1570
Power amp: Rotel RB 1582 Mk II
AVR: Denon x7200W
BluRay: Oppo BD95

The CM10s will double as HT rear and main music speakers (by connecting the HT rear preouts on the AVR to the preamp AUX in, so that I can power them through the Rotel amp for both purposes, while the other HT speakers will be fed directly by the AVR amp). I've explained above why I can't use the CM10s as HT front also.

Please advise if the configuration above makes sense, is properly matched and balanced, and will work as described. I've dropped the Quad QMP option as I think the Rotel amp is better matched with the B&W speakers, has sufficient oomph, and the right form factor.

Need final expert endorsement/advice before I take the plunge! Many thanks in advance for your feedback.
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