Advice needed on new surround sound setup - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 08-30-2013, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
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I've finally gotten the blessing to start a surround sound system setup in our basement, many years coming. I'm definitely a novice when it comes to all this, so bear with me a bit. I've been a lurker on the forums for a while, but speakers/AVR come and go so quick, I'm not sure what way to go. For a lot of this, I rely on reviews and the community on AVS since my options to 'hear setups' in the real world are limited to the likes of Best Buy and American.

I have a $1,500 budget, but could expand that up to $2,000.

Initially, looking for a simple 2.1 with the purchase of a receiver. Maybe I would add a center channel in the near future especially if I'm in the lower end of my budget. I also plan on purchasing a rear pair and possible second sub. Maybe I'd get to 7.2, but that's not my desire at this point. This would ONLY occur when we move (which may happen in the next couple years). I don't want to customize my setup for my current home, but make sure it has the power for a larger space in the future.



To start, the room I'm dealing with is oddly shaped, dropped ~9ft ceilings and poured concrete walls (made to look like bricks). Per the drawing, the green boxed area is laminate flooring. It has our exercise equipment/kid play area. The rest of the basement is carpeted. The TV resides on the south end, couch on the north end (approx 9ft viewing distance), another couch along the laminate flooring to the left and a chair on the right. The entertainment center houses a 54" Panny Plasma. I have a slight concern that a receiver may not fit well as the cubbys are a bit short, but I won't limit my options there.

The equipment I have: HTPC, PS3, XBOX 360, DVR, Apple TV (the only 3 that stay connected are DVR, PS3 and HTPC)

Years ago, I had my ideas of going with Paradigm Monitor 9 Towers - I'd probably be patient for a set on craigslist or something as I've seen used pairs go for $800, then I wanted to go with an Epik Legend at $500, but can't get those anymore and would have to find a used one too. I really am at a loss for a receiver other than probably making sure it had 7.2, not sure on what bells and whistles are good to have.

This would pretty much be exclusive for HT, not saying I wouldn't listen to music but I wouldn't cater to it.

Whatever I decide, I would like it to last a while. It was hard enough to let my wife let me spend some money on it smile.gif

Any thoughts or suggestions?
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post #2 of 21 Old 08-31-2013, 12:47 PM
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(1) Which end is South? Trying to determine the volume of space that the sound needs to occupy.

(2) Most of your listening with the 2.1 setup is video games and movies? Trying to determine the % split between music and movies/games. Like 50/50 or 25/75 (music/movies). This split will determine the amount of amplifier power you will need and the type of speakers.

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #3 of 21 Old 09-03-2013, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by monkiboy48 View Post

(1) Which end is South? Trying to determine the volume of space that the sound needs to occupy.

(2) Most of your listening with the 2.1 setup is video games and movies? Trying to determine the % split between music and movies/games. Like 50/50 or 25/75 (music/movies). This split will determine the amount of amplifier power you will need and the type of speakers.

1) The 20' wall is south - essentially the area right in the middle is my 'sitting' area.

2) I'd say 90/10 ratio movie/music.
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post #4 of 21 Old 09-03-2013, 10:50 AM
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I would go for the following:

(1) Sherbourn PT-7020A Preamp/Processor ($400)
http://www.sherbourn.com/products/pt7020-1
Pros: Enough capability to future proof (with the excecption of 3D)
Cons: No 3D, additional cost with amp, taller (may not fit in cabinet)

Emotiva UPA-200 Amplifier ($350)
http://shop.emotiva.com/collections/amplifiers/products/upa200
Pros: Power
Cons: None

Total: $750


(2) Sherbourn SR-8100 Receiver ($550)
http://www.sherbourn.com/products/sr8100
Pros: Cheap, 3D, 80 watts with all channels driven
Cons: Only video inputs are via HDMI so no analoge video inputs, only four HDMI inputs

Total: $550

Or receiver at Best Buy.


I would highly recommend option (1), especially since Emotiva has a 10% sale that ends today, so you would need to order ASAP. This option provides the most flexibility and value in the long run.

Regarding option (2), I will post back with other receivers from Yamaha, Onkyo, etc if you do not like option (1).

The remaining money can be spent on full range speakers and a cheap sub. I will post some ideas later, I just wanted to give you a heads up on the Emotiva sale that expires today.

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #5 of 21 Old 09-03-2013, 11:24 AM
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If you wanted more power, you could get an XPA-200 ($500) instead of the UPA-200 ($350).

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #6 of 21 Old 09-03-2013, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info - I wouldn't pull the trigger on anything until I have a good game plan on how to allocate the funds.

Not saying I need to buy something at Best Buy - I'm OK not seeing anything if the reviews are positive. That said, I understand more of what the Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer etc. receivers bring than Sherbourn and Emotiva.
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post #7 of 21 Old 09-03-2013, 03:03 PM
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I only brought up Sherbourn as they have a really good deal right now (while supplies last).

What particular consumer receiver feature or capability are you concerned that the Sherbourn/Emotiva cannot provide? Maybe I can help.

The PT-7020A will provide all of the same functions as consumer receivers (with the exception of 3D).

Receivers handle all video/audio switching, decoding and amplification in one box.

Preamp/Processors only handle the video/audio switching and decoding. You would then need an amplifier to power your speakers. This results in two boxes vice one receiver.

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #8 of 21 Old 09-03-2013, 03:30 PM
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Here's a quick review on the SR-8100:
http://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/sherbourn-sr-8100-receiver

Here's a receiver that is price friendly and has all the bells and whistles:
http://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/sony-str-dn1040-receiver-review
The only downside is the lack of multichannel preouts and the amplifier stage will be weaker than the Sherbourn.

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #9 of 21 Old 09-03-2013, 04:01 PM
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You need to decide which features could allow your system to expand in the future like 7.1 external inputs, preamp outputs, and assignable amp channels to 2nd room. In my opinion other bells and whistles like networking, on-line music and movie services, etc could be added via external devices like a new DVR or Bluray player. If you are leaning toward an AVR that you want to last, check out the lower powered models from Denon:

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-g4Iu4ZBlD3j/shopsearch/denon_receivers.html

If you are looking for a lot of sound, don't have the budget for a sub at this time, and have the floor space, floorstanding speakers from Polk are hard to beat in their price range (Polk TSi400 or better yet the Polk RTi A7). Nothing wrong with reading the reviews, but try to audition them yourself to see if you like their sound. Some say they are neutral and others say slightly bright.

http://www.crutchfield.com/fg_12000_FFBrand%7cPolk%20Audio/Polk-Audio-Floor-standing-Speakers.html

With a $600 AVR and $450 to $850 in mains you should have enough for a good center speaker. If you are doing mostly movies, get the best center channel speaker you can - maybe a Polk Audio CSi A6 with the RTi mains:

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_107CSIA6B/Polk-Audio-CSi-A6-Black.html

Throw in a pair of surround speakers for Christmas and you will be sporting a 5.1 surround setup before year end!

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2 / Paradigm Signature S4 v.2 (L/R), (2) SVS SB12-NSD (Subs)
Home Theater: Bryston 4BSST2 amp / Paradigm CC-590 (C), Outlaw 7700 amp / (4) Def Tech UIW-RSSII (LS/RS/LB/RB), Samsung 46” 3D LCD
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post #10 of 21 Old 09-03-2013, 05:25 PM
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I totally agree that the bells and whistles should be added via external devices and not bundled in the receiver. Performing a quick comparison between Sherbourn and Denon.

Sherbourn receiver amplifier section is rated at 80 watts with all channels driven.

Denon's ratings are higher but only with two channels driven. To get a receiver with the same power as the Sherbourn will cost more than the SR-8100. In fact it gets you mighty close to the PT-7020A and UPA-200 combined cost.

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #11 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post

You need to decide which features could allow your system to expand in the future like 7.1 external inputs, preamp outputs, and assignable amp channels to 2nd room. In my opinion other bells and whistles like networking, on-line music and movie services, etc could be added via external devices like a new DVR or Bluray player. If you are leaning toward an AVR that you want to last, check out the lower powered models from Denon:

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-g4Iu4ZBlD3j/shopsearch/denon_receivers.html

If you are looking for a lot of sound, don't have the budget for a sub at this time, and have the floor space, floorstanding speakers from Polk are hard to beat in their price range (Polk TSi400 or better yet the Polk RTi A7). Nothing wrong with reading the reviews, but try to audition them yourself to see if you like their sound. Some say they are neutral and others say slightly bright.

http://www.crutchfield.com/fg_12000_FFBrand%7cPolk%20Audio/Polk-Audio-Floor-standing-Speakers.html

With a $600 AVR and $450 to $850 in mains you should have enough for a good center speaker. If you are doing mostly movies, get the best center channel speaker you can - maybe a Polk Audio CSi A6 with the RTi mains:

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_107CSIA6B/Polk-Audio-CSi-A6-Black.html

Throw in a pair of surround speakers for Christmas and you will be sporting a 5.1 surround setup before year end!

How does the Polk Monitor 75T Series compare? From what I read it seems to be similar to the TSi series (The 75T have been as low as $169 each)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290272&ignorebbr=1

I suppose saving money on the fronts would at least open the door to getting a beast of a sub and receiver. The matching center channel is pretty inexpensive as well. I guess I have to see where I can demo the TSi series.
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post #12 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by monkiboy48 View Post

I only brought up Sherbourn as they have a really good deal right now (while supplies last).

What particular consumer receiver feature or capability are you concerned that the Sherbourn/Emotiva cannot provide? Maybe I can help.

The PT-7020A will provide all of the same functions as consumer receivers (with the exception of 3D).

Receivers handle all video/audio switching, decoding and amplification in one box.

Preamp/Processors only handle the video/audio switching and decoding. You would then need an amplifier to power your speakers. This results in two boxes vice one receiver.

Looking for future proof type stuff - at least as much as possible. While not immediately important, I'd like it to be 4K ready, 7.2 ready, all the nice EQ options, some sort of wifi capability to stream music (yes, not important, but a nicety for guests). I understand I can add additional components, but that all comes out of my budget really. Again, I don't want to shell out $500-600 on a 'receiver' (pre-amp/amp), if I need to buy again in 3-4 years. I'd hope if I'm spending a decent amount should give me a good ROI.

Why are the Sherourns so heavily discounted? I seriously know nothing about them.
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post #13 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 12:59 PM
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It is never possible to future proof, which is why myself and previous posts have mentioned that we purchase external devices for those functions. This provides upgrade paths so that we don't have to replace the entire receiver or processor when the next thing comes. We normally buy quality products that are built for a specific role.

In your case, it seems like you are looking for a receiver that has all the bells and whistles and has the capability to future proof. I think I found what you are looking for, I just had to move up in price range to get it.

Check out the Yamaha RX-A830. It retails for $900 and supports everything you need and more: 7.2, 4K, music streaming, AND PRE-OUTS! The pre-outs allow you to hook up an external amplifier later down the line. All other receivers at this price range had all the bells and whistles you are looking for but no pre-outs. I think this Yamaha is THE ONE for you.

http://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/yamaha-rx-a830-pre

Sherbourn caters to custom installers which is probably why you have never heard of them before. It is heavily discounted as these products are old (lack of HDMI 1.4, 3D, 4K upscaling, no streaming, etc). Although they lack the bells and whistles, the make up for it in sound quality and amplifier performance.

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #14 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 01:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkiboy48 View Post

It is never possible to future proof, which is why myself and previous posts have mentioned that we purchase external devices for those functions. This provides upgrade paths so that we don't have to replace the entire receiver or processor when the next thing comes. We normally buy quality products that are built for a specific role.

In your case, it seems like you are looking for a receiver that has all the bells and whistles and has the capability to future proof. I think I found what you are looking for, I just had to move up in price range to get it.

Check out the Yamaha RX-A830. It retails for $900 and supports everything you need and more: 7.2, 4K, music streaming, AND PRE-OUTS! The pre-outs allow you to hook up an external amplifier later down the line. All other receivers at this price range had all the bells and whistles you are looking for but no pre-outs. I think this Yamaha is THE ONE for you.

http://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/yamaha-rx-a830-pre

Sherbourn caters to custom installers which is probably why you have never heard of them before. It is heavily discounted as these products are old (lack of HDMI 1.4, 3D, 4K upscaling, no streaming, etc). Although they lack the bells and whistles, the make up for it in sound quality and amplifier performance.

No, I understand that it's impossible to be 100% future proof, but what I'm saying is I don't want to spend a big chunk on something that is already 'behind'.

That Yamaha looks interesting. Looks like Newegg had a deal not too long ago for around $600.

Maybe not the right place to ask, but when it talks about zone 2 being able to bi-amp, does that mean put more power towards the fronts perhaps (making it 5.1 I understand).
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post #15 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 04:11 PM
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It means that the last pair of speaker terminals can be used to power your Zone 2 or Bi-amp you front left and right...let me explain further:

Zone 2: If you want another room to have independent stereo music, then all you would need to do is hook up those speakers directly to the receiver. If you go that route, you will be limited to 5.2 for your main room, as it uses the two amp channels for powering your 7.2 in your main room.

Bi-amp: You can bi-amp your front left and right speakers using those extra amp channels that normally power your 7.2. Again, bi-amping the front left and right will limit you to 5.2.

Assuming your speakers have two pairs of terminals...

Most speakers have two sets of terminals (one for high frequencies or tweeter and another for low frequencies or woofer). They usually come with a shorting plate that shorts both pairs together, this allows you to single amp your speakers. Another way to do it is to remove the the shorting plates and hook one amplifier channel to the tweeter and another amplifier channel to the woofer. It's not necessarily putting more power, but reducing the load on your amplifier which (in theory) can provide better sound.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bi-amping

Will you hear the difference? Probably not, in fact it will reduce the overal watts per channel going to your fronts as the amplifer has to work harder with four channels powering the fronts vice only two.

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #16 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 04:29 PM
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For example:

(1) A receiver that puts out 80 watts per channel with all channels driven will also have a rating of 100 watts per channel with 2 channels driven.

(2) The power hungry speakers are going to be your front three and not the rear surrounds, so running 5 amp channels (bi-amp) to your fronts is going to tax the amplifier more than 3 amp channels (single amp), which would result in slightly more power.

Again, purely theoretical. Something you should definetly experiment with though and see if you can hear the difference as most people cannot.

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #17 of 21 Old 09-05-2013, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by monkiboy48 View Post

I totally agree that the bells and whistles should be added via external devices and not bundled in the receiver.

On the one hand I don't care that much about bells and whistles, but on the other hand with modern digital technology almost all such features are just lines of code in a DSP program and if not used they are simply not executed and have very close to zero overhead.
Quote:
Performing a quick comparison between Sherbourn and Denon.

Almost like trying to compare apples and oranges. The Sherbourn is clearly designed for installation by a trained professional. If a skilled professional or talented and motivated anateur learns to exploit it, the Sherborn AVR I reviewed can be played like a Stradivarius. For the casual home user, its probably not the tool of choice, while Denons are clearly designed with the average home user in mind.
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Sherbourn receiver amplifier section is rated at 80 watts with all channels driven.

A feature with questionable utility at best. Music has a characteristic called crest factor that clearly separates it from the pure sine waves that commonly and arguably falsely dominate bench tests. The worst case crest factor of music allows as ,many as 8 channels to be well-powered by a power supply that can only power 2 channels in the typical bench test.
Quote:
Denon's ratings are higher but only with two channels driven. To get a receiver with the same power as the Sherbourn will cost more than the SR-8100. In fact it gets you mighty close to the PT-7020A and UPA-200 combined cost.


Generally speaking separates have zero practical advantages and only disadvantages (added complexity) and unnecessary cost for home use,

After you cross into the realm of mid-priced AVRs (ca. $400 new and up, $250 and up refurbed) your money is better spent on L&R speakers, subwoofers, and room acoustics.

Virtually all mainstream speakers are efficient enough and have impedance curves suitable for reaching reference levels (darn loud!) with common AVRs if used with a good subwoofer.

Probably the best value speakers are Yamaha's "Famous designer" line or a notch up Infinity's Primus series. Selected speakers from the latter are arguably comparable in terms of smoothness and dynamic range with other speakers costing up to 5 times as much.
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post #18 of 21 Old 09-05-2013, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Almost like trying to compare apples and oranges. The Sherbourn is clearly designed for installation by a trained professional. If a skilled professional or talented and motivated anateur learns to exploit it, the Sherborn AVR I reviewed can be played like a Stradivarius. For the casual home user, its probably not the tool of choice, while Denons are clearly designed with the average home user in mind.

I would have to agree with you, which is why I think the Yamaha I mentioned earlier would be better suited for Digital Fool's needs and experience.
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

A feature with questionable utility at best. Music has a characteristic called crest factor that clearly separates it from the pure sine waves that commonly and arguably falsely dominate bench tests. The worst case crest factor of music allows as ,many as 8 channels to be well-powered by a power supply that can only power 2 channels in the typical bench test.

True, but either way, with the specs given we cannot acurately determine if the Yamaha or Denon can put out 80 watts per channel with all channels driven. So again, it is up to speculation, although from a purely numbers and specifications stand point you could still argue the faact that the manufacture who posts ratings with all channels driven then a manufacture that only posts 2 channels driven will be more powerfull.
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Generally speaking separates have zero practical advantages and only disadvantages (added complexity) and unnecessary cost for home use,

I have to agree with you, that a consumer receiver would be better suited for Digital Fool. I just wanted to put it out there that higher performance is acheivable for the same price if the enduser is willing to learn the small added complexities that come with separates. And I am sure that the forum can help Digital Fool set it up with ease.
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

After you cross into the realm of mid-priced AVRs (ca. $400 new and up, $250 and up refurbed) your money is better spent on L&R speakers, subwoofers, and room acoustics.

I agree, but with the price range given and with $800 speakers already in mind, I used the remaining funds from his budget to get the best possible electonics that he can afford.

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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post #19 of 21 Old 09-05-2013, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the thoughts - I realize that $1,500, while it seems like a lot, falls short of creating a very good mid-level experience. I personally thought I should get a decent receiver and an excellent sub. So, $500 or so for the fronts would be where I need to focus and on and Polk seems like a good option.
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post #20 of 21 Old 09-05-2013, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Digital Fool View Post

I personally thought I should get a decent receiver and an excellent sub.

I agree with that.
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So, $500 or so for the fronts would be where I need to focus and on and Polk seems like a good option.

You can go lower than that - about $320 for a pair of Infinity Primus P163s and still do very well. That leaves you more money for the sub, and perhaps a center channel.

I am doing well with the Primus PC 351 for my center channel. It is timbre matched with the P163s and P363s. In a HT system, the center channel is easily as important as the L & R.
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post #21 of 21 Old 09-05-2013, 01:33 PM
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In my honest opinion I would spend the most money in this order:

Full Range Front Left/Right

Center

Sub

Then in the settings:

(1) set the Front Left/Right to full range/Large

(2) Center to Small with the cross-over mixing the low frequencies to the front left/right

(3) Sub to LFE only

Experience with the following gear:
Cambridge Audio 640R
Cabmridge Audio 752BD
Rotel RCD-1072
Pioneer BDP-05FD
Emotiva UPA-7
Sherbourn PT-7020A
Manley Labs Stingray Integrated
Totem Acoustics Rainmaker Center
Totem Acoustics Hawks
Adams Audio MK3 Pencil
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