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Old 07-08-2016, 10:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Upgrade options - which one?

Hi all,

Firstly, this is my current system:

AVR - Marantz SR7008 (runs the center)
Amp - Anthem MCA20 (runs the mains)
Source - Sonos ZP90, Cable, PS4, WDTV, Apple TV
Main Spkr - Focal 836vw (special edition, uses the "w" series drivers)
Center Sprk - Focal CC1008be
Sub - Sunfire HRS12
Cables - Analysis Plus Chocolate Interconnect
Analysis Plus Chocolate speaker cable
Analysis Plus super sub
Analysis Plus digital oval (coax)

I am happy with the system, but there are a few issues/opportunities I am trying to rectify:

- Sound stage is good, but not great. Height and depth is the biggest weakness
- Dynamics - I would like some increased bottom end (80hz-200hz sort of area)
- Fatigue - at high volume the system gets quite harsh and a bit fatiguing
- Dialogue - the center is good, but dialogue doesn't seem as clear and distinguished as it should.

So I have about 10k available and have decided to make an upgrade. I have to decide to either upgrade the source/amplification or the speakers. At this stage I cant afford to do both. I am leaning more towards source/amps as I really enjoy the sound of my speakers and believe they aren't performing to their potential. They don't seem like the weakest link, but I could be wrong.

Upgrade Option 1:

Upgrade SR7008 > AV7702m2/AV8003/M17/AVM060 (basically a better pre/pro)
Upgrade MCA20 > Parasound Halo A31 (a better amp, and 3 channel so center can enjoy amplification)
Upgrade Sonos ZP90 > Bluesound Node 2 (by all accounts a big step up in SQ)

Upgrade Option 2:

Upgrade 836VW to Focal 1028be/1038be. My local hifi shop also has a second hand set of Focal Scala Utopia which would sit within budget


As I said I am leaning towards option 1 as I believe it will really bring out the best in my current speakers, and even if I did change speakers, I would have to make the source/amp upgrades down the track anyway. With that said, I haven't heard the 1038be or the Scala Utopia and I imagine they are very impressive. More impressive then my current speakers (keep in mind they share the same drivers) I don't know.

I should also add that either way, I will also be adding a set of Focal SR700v to finish off my 5.1ch. I would rather get the rest right though before adding the surrounds. Home theatre is important, but so is 2ch listening. Probably about 50/50 usage actually.

Would really appreciate opinions, I want to make sure I make the right decision and get the best value for my hard earned cash

I have also attached a picture of current setup.
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Old 07-09-2016, 07:34 AM
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If you like your speakers then I say keep them and first put some funds towards room treatments as they can go a long way to bring out masked details in your setup and tame some of the fatigue on the other end . Then I would look at pre/pro and amps and a second sub (or two new ones altogether, try PSA,Rythmik etc..) , the A31 and the Anthem on the rears would be a tick upwards indeed. I 'm assuming its a 5.1 setup of course!

BTW nice setup
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:04 AM
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Don't make the mistake I did by going with the AV7702Mkii, get the AVM 60. Processor is the most important piece of your set-up.

B&W/Theta Digital/MartinLogan/SVS/Sony ES/Anthem
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinlg View Post
Don't make the mistake I did by going with the AV7702Mkii, get the AVM 60. Processor is the most important piece of your set-up.


Care to shed some light as to how its a mistake.
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiofan1 View Post


Care to shed some light as to how its a mistake.
I purchased the AV7702mkii due to everyone raving about it being the best processor and when I had it all hooked up and calibrated I thought it sounded great too. I moved states and learned about Anthem here and took a AVM 60 home and without calibration or running ARC and the clarity increased right off the bat. Things seemed more defined and I didn't have to constantly turn up and turn down the volume. Sure anthem seems pretty bare in features like no airplay or bluetooth but I don't care for any of that but it does have a ton of settings and profiles that I like that the Marantz lacked.

The sound the Marantz has was so 2 dimensional too.

B&W/Theta Digital/MartinLogan/SVS/Sony ES/Anthem
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Old 07-09-2016, 10:45 AM
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In general, the greatest impact on audio will come from the speakers. That's where you should upgrade. I sincerely doubt you will hear any difference in audio by upgrading the amp (other than the placebo effect).
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Old 07-09-2016, 10:59 AM
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I have a similar setup and the system sounds awesome with the only problem being if I play music that is poorly recorded it can sound like crap. have you ensured your avr settings are tweaked for best sound? have you experimented with REW?

If I was to spend that kind of money for an upgrade, it would definitely be on speakers. but I love the focal sound, maybe its your room.

Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
Speakers: Focal aria 948, Focal cc800v, Klipsch synergy KSF 10.5 Subs: Velodyne HGS 12, VA 1512, Rythmik FV15HP
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Old 07-09-2016, 11:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinlg View Post
I purchased the AV7702mkii due to everyone raving about it being the best processor and when I had it all hooked up and calibrated I thought it sounded great too. I moved states and learned about Anthem here and took a AVM 60 home and without calibration or running ARC and the clarity increased right off the bat. Things seemed more defined and I didn't have to constantly turn up and turn down the volume. Sure anthem seems pretty bare in features like no airplay or bluetooth but I don't care for any of that but it does have a ton of settings and profiles that I like that the Marantz lacked.

The sound the Marantz has was so 2 dimensional too.
Might want to say in my setup My previous pre/pro was an Anthem avm20v2 which had from 2004 to 2012 (testament to build) and loved it's sound and have no doubt they've continued with the AVM60. The good thing is you found what works for your taste and in your setup
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Old 07-09-2016, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your advise so far, gotta love this forum!

In response to a couple of questions:
- room treatment is definitely on the want list. It is a dedicated listening room with thick carpets, soft furnishings etc but having a hard time convincing the wife for panels and proper diffusers.
- when listening to music, I switch off audyssey and use the graphic eq. It sounds so much better than audyssey for music- much more natural and with that big midrange boost levelled out its a lot smoother.

I am going to swap my sonos for bluesound tomorrow - have done a lot of reading up and seems like the Sq will immediately benefit from a better transport. As they say junk in junk out.

Lastly, any recommendations on great pre/pro? I'm pretty sold on the a31 so something that matches with that would be great. I've read mixed things about the 7702 (including the comment on this thread) so will likely avoid.
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Old 07-09-2016, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by torii View Post
I have a similar setup and the system sounds awesome with the only problem being if I play music that is poorly recorded it can sound like crap. have you ensured your avr settings are tweaked for best sound? have you experimented with REW?

If I was to spend that kind of money for an upgrade, it would definitely be on speakers. but I love the focal sound, maybe its your room.
Hi - I'm interested to know what your settings are? Also what is REW? Here are mine:

MDax - off
Audyssey - graphic eq
Dynamic eq - off
Dynamic volume - off
Tone control - off
Front spkr - large
Center spkr- small
Crossover- front 40hz center 80
Sub - lfe + main
Sub lpf- 80hz
Distance - as set my audyssey
Levels - as set by audyssey

I have experimented a lot with having the fronts set at small/large but large just seems to sound fuller and more natural in the bottom end. When using small there feels like a "gap" in the bottom end.. midbass is much improved when set to large. Also audyssey sets speakers to large when doing its thing.
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