For the record, consider all of this as IMHO, in my room, with my ears, etc. Bottom line here is YMMV.
In November, the audio part of home theater consisted of a Denon AVR-3300 receiver, a Pioneer Elite DV-05 DVD player, Snell E-IV mains, a Snell E.5 center channel, Snell SR.5 surrounds, and a Velodyne FSR-12 sub. Cabling consisted of: a DIY â€œSilver Bit Transferâ€ digital cable (as described by Greg Weaver, Soundstage), MITerminator2 bi-wired speaker cable to the mains, MITerminator2 to the center, MITerminator5 to the surrounds, and an inexpensive Monster cable for the sub. This has been a pretty good system, but with most audio material and some DVDs, it quickly results in listening fatigue. Having fought this for too long, I finally lost my mind in December and started down the upgrade path, taking no prisoners!
The Denon was first to go. It was a decent receiver considering the price, but it was underpowered, a bit bright, and didnâ€™t do 7.1 or the newer surround formats. Also, a cold solder joint failed on this unit shortly out of warranty (of course). After getting it repaired, it performed as before, but the bloom as off the rose, so to speak, and I wanted something better. After evaluating lots of flagship receivers, it was replaced by the B&K AVR507 in early December.
The DV-05 was a decent DVD player for its time, but it doesnâ€™t do progressive scan, SACD, DVD-Audio, or the plethora of newer disk formats. I wanted a good universal disk player. This was a tougher upgrade and decision process. Late in December, it was replaced by the Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi.
The Snells are decent speakers for the price, but they also have some limitations. They tend to be a bit bright, and sound best at lower volumes with less complex material. At higher volumes, they sound crowded and a bit boxy. And lastly, there are parts of the mid-range that just donâ€™t sound accurate to me. After listening to a lot of speakers and spending time on the forums, I decided to give ACI a try. This is only a potential solution since I plan to use the 30-day trial period for a critical evaluation.
Now, there are people on this forum that have dropped a lot more money on a single upgrade than I will in my lifetime, but this is a big set of upgrades to me. As such, my expectations are very high. Iâ€™m very happy with the new receiver and DVD player, and I can comment on them for anyone interested, but the primary focus of this thread is on ACI.
As for the Velodyne sub, itâ€™ll stay for now. Itâ€™s on probation until the other speaker issues have been resolved.