Do I absolutely need a receiver? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 27 Old 12-24-2013, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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The setup will be a 2.0 (eventually, maybe a 2.1) channel stereo system for both home theater and music. I have not purchased anything but the TV yet (Panasonic 65VT60), but I have the speakers narrowed down to a shortlist. One of them has a max power handling of 175W, the other 200W.

 

Talked to an associate at the store I was considering purchasing one of the speakers from, and he said that since an amplifier does not have an HDMI port that I would need to purchase a receiver. He suggested a 7.1 channel that ran $1,200 as the minimum for these speakers (a higher end receiver ran $2k).

 

My question is, wtf? Do I really need to purchase a 7.1 channel receiver simply because it has an HDMI port for the HDTV? It has 5 amplifiers I'm not even going to use. And, the max power rating for each channel was just 115W, which isn't even enough to fully power the speakers I'm considering. Some googling led me to "professional" amplifiers, and I'm seeing amps that can push 7,000W for under $400. I gotta think there's a cheaper and better way I can make this happen if this $1,200 receiver has 5 extra channels I don't need and it's not even pushing my speakers all the way.

 

Sorry if this is a really easy and basic question, I've never set up a stereo before.

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post #2 of 27 Old 12-24-2013, 01:34 PM
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You can do what you want without a HDMI port. You can get AVR's with HDMI ports that can do what you need for much lower than the price sales rep quoted also. For a good stereo receiver with plenty of power and digital connections give a look at the H/K 3490. It has some digital connections and also connections for sub(s) if you want to add subs in the future. There are also many AVR's that do 5.1 starting at prices much lower than quoted. What is your budget and what speakers and room size will this system be set up in? These are questions that need answers in order to get more help.
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post #3 of 27 Old 12-24-2013, 01:44 PM
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Just because your speakers have a max power handling of 175W or 200W it doesn't mean you need a receiver that powerful. Not even close.

My speakers have a max power handling of 250W and I'm using a 55W receiver with them and have no problems whatsoever.

What speakers are you considering?

If you never plan to have more than a 2.0 or 2.1 setup then that HK recommended above would be just fine.

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post #4 of 27 Old 12-24-2013, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phantom52 View Post

You can do what you want without a HDMI port. You can get AVR's with HDMI ports that can do what you need for much lower than the price sales rep quoted also. For a good stereo receiver with plenty of power and digital connections give a look at the H/K 3490. It has some digital connections and also connections for sub(s) if you want to add subs in the future. There are also many AVR's that do 5.1 starting at prices much lower than quoted. What is your budget and what speakers and room size will this system be set up in? These are questions that need answers in order to get more help.

 

Thanks for the recommendation. There's just so much to consider when putting a system together it can make your head spin.

 

Budget:  Cheaper the better (as long as it works well). I am certainly willing to stretch the budget if it will yield a good increase in sound quality for the money. Say, $1,000 for the (non-source) electronics, but willing to go a bit higher if it's really worth it.

 

Room size: 14' x 18' (x 8' ceilings). Also there's an entryway + open kitchen attached to the room that adds about 8'. So an irregular 14' x 26' may be a better approximation.

 

[Edit -- Speakers: Focal Profile 918 and KEF XQ40 are my top two right now. Open to others. Missed that part of your question the first time.]

 

Sorry for the noob question, but do amps with digital connections perform as well as HDMI connections for this type of thing? I realize HDMI is a type of digital connection, but beyond that I don't know much.

 

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Just because your speakers have a max power handling of 175W or 200W it doesn't mean you need a receiver that powerful. Not even close.

My speakers have a max power handling of 250W and I'm using a 55W receiver with them and have no problems whatsoever.

What speakers are you considering?

If you never plan to have more than a 2.0 or 2.1 setup then that HK recommended above would be just fine.

 

Sorry, I thought you wanted an amp that had at least an equal power rating to the speaker or you could damage the speaker? This could be the newbie in me talking though. I don't necessarily need to crank it to 11 but there may be situations when I want to turn things up loud.

 

Speakers that are on my short list are the Focal Profile 918 and the KEF XQ40. Completely willing to consider others though. If I ever go beyond a 2.0 or 2.1 setup, it will be some time as I don't want to deal with more than 2 speakers (plus sub) in the current room. When/if that happens I'll probably purchase a separate receiver when that time comes (several years at least).

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post #5 of 27 Old 12-24-2013, 02:16 PM
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In that case then I would look into a good 2 channel receiver for the time being. The 3490 suggested will do what you need. There are others out there from NAD,Cambridge, and "shelf" brands. Check out www.audioadvisor.com for detailed specs on brands they sell and also Crutchfield gives very good details on their products. Google for best prices and also give the guys here at the AVS store a call for advice and prices. Good luck. Nice speakers on your list.
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post #6 of 27 Old 12-24-2013, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Sweet, thanks! That 3490 seems to be what I'm looking for. I'll scope out audioadvisor.com and Crutchfield.

 

Do you have a preference on the Focal Profile 918 vs. the KEF XQ40? Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to listen to them so I have to go by reviews :(. I'm sure I'd be happy with either but if I had an expert opinion nudge me in one way or the other it would make me feel more confident in my decision.

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post #7 of 27 Old 12-24-2013, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TownsendAvalnch View Post

Sweet, thanks! That 3490 seems to be what I'm looking for. I'll scope out audioadvisor.com and Crutchfield.

Do you have a preference on the Focal Profile 918 vs. the KEF XQ40? Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to listen to them so I have to go by reviews frown.gif . I'm sure I'd be happy with either but if I had an expert opinion nudge me in one way or the other it would make me feel more confident in my decision.

I heard the Focals and they are nice to me. Haven't heard the KEF's. Be sure and listen to these and other brands of speakers. Do not purchase speakers from reviews!!!! Not a way to do it. What sounds good to reviewers may sound like ca-ca to you. Too much associated with reviewers and equipment used has a lot to do with it. We all hear them differently. Go somewhere that has the speakers you are considering and others and hear them for yourself.
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post #8 of 27 Old 12-24-2013, 03:07 PM
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Below is one site that reviews speakers and other equipment that I like to use. Again these are only ideas for your use and in no way should determine what equipment and speakers you purchase.

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/floor-standing-speakers/floor-standing-speakers-reviews.html
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post #9 of 27 Old 12-24-2013, 04:30 PM
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If it's for home theater, you want an AVR that does at least 5.1, you can get 7.1 for reasonable prices. If your AVR has less power than your speakers are rated for, that's fine. I doubt you'll ever listen at full or even reference volume. HDMI switching should be a requirement.

You don't have to spend $1k+ on the AVR, you can get a Denon X2000 (very nice 7.1 AVR) for $650 or less. There are even less expensive ones that might meet your needs.

You also don't have to spend a ton of money on speakers for good sound unless you're an "audiophile" (music is REALLY important). If you are, you might want to go higher end on the AVR.

Be careful of clueless sales clones, Some of them are on commission and most of them (not all) are just plain stupid.

You need to do a lot more reading in here before you make these decisions. People here are really helpful. But read as much stuff as you can before asking questions. Caution, you WILL suffer from information overload.
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post #10 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 12:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Jim,

Thanks for your input.

 

I certainly wouldn't consider myself an "audiophile", but I definitely want to put a high premium on sound quality for music in my setup. I'd say I'm an audiophile at heart, without the experience (or money, lol) to make judgement calls between pieces of gear right now.

 

Is there a technical reason to go with a 5.1 or 7.1 AVR over something like the H/K 3490 for home theater if I am planning on only using a front left/right channel stereo plus sub setup? Like does it process movie information for home theater differently or have better quality connections for high definition video? Essentially what I'm going for is the best music setup I can afford (great stereo speakers and an amp that can push them) that is still adequate/good for movies. I don't really crave surround sound at the moment, and I don't want to deal with the rear speakers and wiring in the room these are going in.

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post #11 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 03:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TownsendAvalnch View Post

Jim,
Thanks for your input.

I certainly wouldn't consider myself an "audiophile", but I definitely want to put a high premium on sound quality for music in my setup. I'd say I'm an audiophile at heart, without the experience (or money, lol) to make judgement calls between pieces of gear right now.

Is there a technical reason to go with a 5.1 or 7.1 AVR over something like the H/K 3490 for home theater if I am planning on only using a front left/right channel stereo plus sub setup? Like does it process movie information for home theater differently or have better quality connections for high definition video? Essentially what I'm going for is the best music setup I can afford (great stereo speakers and an amp that can push them) that is still adequate/good for movies. I don't really crave surround sound at the moment, and I don't want to deal with the rear speakers and wiring in the room these are going in.
bass management and auto-calibration are the two big things you will be missing out on by going with a stereo only receiver.since you are wanting to add a sub i'd look real hard at avr bass management abilities before diving into the 3490.

room calibration when well implemented can do wonders to the listening experience. not everyone likes every type available, but f you find one you like and optimized it to the best of its abilities in your room it will likely surpass anything you hear coming from the 3490.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #12 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 04:30 AM
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I have a set of xq30 and a xq50 and they sound great. The xq40 should sound similar to the xq30 with more bass. I have the mahogany finish and it looks great.

I suggest getting a 5 or 7 channel AVR. The cost difference between these and a 2 channel receiver is very small and in a few years, you may decide you want rear and/or center channel sound. Plus, as mentioned above, the HT receivers typically have room correction software that can make a big difference. It's also a lot more convenient using HDMI than component or optical.

I just purchased a refurbished 7.1 yamaha receiver from accessories4less for around $270 and a new sony 7.2 receiver for $220 from amazon.
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post #13 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 07:11 AM
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Below is full review of the H/K 3490. Will easily power 4 or 8 ohm speakers as stated by reviewer. Has analog and digital inputs, 2 outputs for subs if wanted. Very few if any AVR's will do this in this price range. OP has stated in opening post that he is not interested in 5 or 7 channel AVR at this time. If he chooses 4 ohm speakers what AVR will drive those easily in a price range he is looking for? Back to the $1200+ range or much higher as suggested by the salesman. Sure he can get a pre-amp and amp with plenty of power but then again out of the budget he has set for a 2.0 or 2.1 setup. Hope the review will help.

http://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/hk-3490
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post #14 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 07:13 AM
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I'm using a 55W receiver with them and have no problems whatsoever.

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post #15 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
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So I take it the main advantage in going with a 5 channel or 7 channel AVR over the 2 channel receiver is in the signal processing capabilities, assuming I'm only going to use the front L/R channel? Would a unit like the Marantz SR6008 have the room calibration and bass management features you guys are talking about? How would the overall sound quality for music alone be with the Marantz SR6008 vs. the H/K 3490, and is there a better option than the SR6008 in the $1,200 price range?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by phantom52 View Post

Below is full review of the H/K 3490. Will easily power 4 or 8 ohm speakers as stated by reviewer. Has analog and digital inputs, 2 outputs for subs if wanted. Very few if any AVR's will do this in this price range. OP has stated in opening post that he is not interested in 5 or 7 channel AVR at this time. If he chooses 4 ohm speakers what AVR will drive those easily in a price range he is looking for? Back to the $1200+ range or much higher as suggested by the salesman. Sure he can get a pre-amp and amp with plenty of power but then again out of the budget he has set for a 2.0 or 2.1 setup. Hope the review will help.

http://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/hk-3490

 

phantom52,

Do you have an opinion on if the auto-calibration and bass management features on a 5 or 7 channel AVR would be worth the extra $800 or so dollars? I realize value is relative, but say you were reviewing these units, do you think this extra money would be worth the increase in sound quality?

 

Trying to figure out if this is a situation where I want to stretch the budget, as I don't want to limit my speakers too much for <$1,000. Unfortunately I don't have any dealers within any sort of reasonable driving distance where I can listen to these things.

 

My room is shaped irregularly, and it is a normal living area so it's not optimized for acoustics, so I have a feeling these auto calibration features may have a good benefit for me.

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post #16 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 04:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TownsendAvalnch View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by phantom52 View Post

Below is full review of the H/K 3490.

http://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/hk-3490

Will easily power 4 or 8 ohm speakers as stated by reviewer. Has analog and digital inputs, 2 outputs for subs if wanted.


Very few if any AVR's will do this in this price range

False.

Any good AVR will drive any good ohm speaker no sweat.

The HK 3940 user manual on page 9 says that both subwoofer jacks have "the same signal". IOW it is just a Y adapter whose function is perfectly duplicated by an inexpensive cable.
Quote:
OP has stated in opening post that he is not interested in 5 or 7 channel AVR at this time.

There seem to be some misapprehensions in evidence here.
Quote:
If he chooses 4 ohm speakers what AVR will drive those easily in a price range he is looking for?

Any good one, even mid-priced ones that cost less than the 3940.
Quote:
Do you have an opinion on if the auto-calibration and bass management features on a 5 or 7 channel AVR would be worth the extra $800 or so dollars?

There need not be an additional expenditure at all.
Quote:
I realize value is relative, but say you were reviewing these units, do you think this extra money would be worth the increase in sound quality?

The additional sound quality that can be obtained through more effective bass management and good automated system optimization (e.g. Audyssey) revery non trivial. They are measurable as large differences and they are generally clearly audible even if the system was reasonably well optimized by manual means.
Quote:
Trying to figure out if this is a situation where I want to stretch the budget, as I don't want to limit my speakers too much for <$1,000. Unfortunately I don't have any dealers within any sort of reasonable driving distance where I can listen to these things.

Forget demos in stores. The sound quality of speakers is profoundly affected by the room that you are listening to them in. Even more so if your listening room is atypical.

Quote:
My room is shaped irregularly, and it is a normal living area so it's not optimized for acoustics, so I have a feeling these auto calibration features may have a good benefit for me.

Hold that thought!
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post #17 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Any good one, even mid-priced ones that cost less than the 3940.
...
There need not be an additional expenditure at all.
...
The additional sound quality that can be obtained through more effective bass management and good automated system optimization (e.g. Audyssey) revery non trivial.

 

arnyk,

Do you have a specific AVR unit in mind? This is the first I've read about the room calibration stuff.

 

The unit recommended to me by the salesman was the Marantz SR6008, for reference. Can I get equal (or better) sound performance out of something cheaper?

 

 

Also, general question for everyone -- is there a way to calculate how much power you need out of an amp or receiver for a given set of speakers? I realize part of the equation is how loud you want to listen to your system. But it also has to do with impedances and speaker power rating. But the impedance and power varies with frequency (??), and some estimates I have seen suggest amplifier power ratings that are higher than those suggested in this thread, so it's pretty confusing (one source suggested 1.6x to 2.5x above continuous power rating iirc, depending on music type, which seems really high). I also can't find this "continuous power rating/handling" in the speaker documentation (it seems to list peak wherever I look). So I don't really know what's going on. I assume this is RMS power. But I dunno how to use this to make a decision on amp/receiver wattage. So.... basically I don't know where to go with this except to guess what receiver/amp power is adequate and go from there. Right now I'm simply assuming ~100+ watts should be adequate based on this thread and a few other things I've read, but that seems like a really bad way of going about buying (potentially) $1k+ worth of electronics.

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post #18 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TownsendAvalnch View Post

Also, general question for everyone -- is there a way to calculate how much power you need out of an amp or receiver for a given set of speakers? I realize part of the equation is how loud you want to listen to your system. But it also has to do with impedances and speaker power rating. But the impedance and power varies with frequency (??), and some estimates I have seen suggest amplifier power ratings that are higher than those suggested in this thread, so it's pretty confusing (one source suggested 1.6x to 2.5x above continuous power rating iirc, depending on music type, which seems really high). I also can't find this "continuous power rating/handling" in the speaker documentation (it seems to list peak wherever I look). So I don't really know what's going on. I assume this is RMS power. But I dunno how to use this to make a decision on amp/receiver wattage. So.... basically I don't know where to go with this except to guess what receiver/amp power is adequate and go from there. Right now I'm simply assuming ~100+ watts should be adequate based on this thread and a few other things I've read, but that seems like a really bad way of going about buying (potentially) $1k+ worth of electronics.

 

Nevermind on this part. Just saw the amplifier FAQ. Going through the calculations now.

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post #19 of 27 Old 12-25-2013, 11:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

False.

Any good AVR will drive any good ohm speaker no sweat.

The HK 3940 user manual on page 9 says that both subwoofer jacks have "the same signal". IOW it is just a Y adapter whose function is perfectly duplicated by an inexpensive cable.
There seem to be some misapprehensions in evidence here.
Any good one, even mid-priced ones that cost less than the 3940.
There need not be an additional expenditure at all.
The additional sound quality that can be obtained through more effective bass management and good automated system optimization (e.g. Audyssey) revery non trivial. They are measurable as large differences and they are generally clearly audible even if the system was reasonably well optimized by manual means.
Forget demos in stores. The sound quality of speakers is profoundly affected by the room that you are listening to them in. Even more so if your listening room is atypical.
Hold that thought!

Okay give the OP that good AVR that will make 4 ohm speakers sing with no sweat. Not even the mighty X4000 that is highly touted is not rated by Denon to do that and it's $1200. The 3940(as you call it) can be purchased for <$400. The OP asked initially for a 2.0 or maybe 2.1. Others then brought up 7.1 systems. Yes I agree that some sort of room EQ may be good for whatever he gets. But then again OP may run one of these programs and think it sounds like crap. Not everyone likes room eq programs as you seem to assume. Hold that thought.
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post #20 of 27 Old 12-26-2013, 12:28 AM
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Quote:
The unit recommended to me by the salesman was the Marantz SR6008, for reference. Can I get equal (or better) sound performance out of something cheaper?

you can get a refurb Marantz 5007 or 6007 with 1 year warranty from accessories4less.com

http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/MARSR6007/MARANTZ-SR6007-4K-3D-110w-x7-Networking-Home-Theater-Receiver/1.html

http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/MARSR5007/MARANTZ-SR5007-100w-x7-NetworkingTheater-Receiver-w/AirPlay-3D-4K/1.html

Afro GT
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post #21 of 27 Old 12-26-2013, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Is there a reason why there are no 2 channel stereo receivers that offer the room calibration and bass management of the 5 and 7 channel AVRs?

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post #22 of 27 Old 12-26-2013, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TownsendAvalnch View Post

Is there a reason why there are no 2 channel stereo receivers that offer the room calibration and bass management of the 5 and 7 channel AVRs?

probably because most people "'in to" 2 channel stuff would consider it blasphemous.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #23 of 27 Old 12-26-2013, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TownsendAvalnch View Post

Is there a reason why there are no 2 channel stereo receivers that offer the room calibration and bass management of the 5 and 7 channel AVRs?

I don't of any that do this. Maybe someone else can help with this question. You may have to get an AVR in order to get these programs. That's where the search really begins due to the different types and versions of programs. The favorite seems to be Audyssey and its versions. The 6008 uses a version of this one. Yamaha uses its own and it's called YPAO. Pioneer uses MCACC. There are other brands that use lesser known room eq programs. All brand and models use different versions and depending on version cost of AVR goes up.
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post #24 of 27 Old 12-26-2013, 03:10 PM
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The Outlaw Audio RR2150 includes bass management, but no room correction system. IMO bass management for a sub+satellite system is nearly mandatory to achieve proper integration between the three speakers. OTOH I think a room correction system is nice to have but not essential.
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post #25 of 27 Old 12-26-2013, 03:32 PM - Thread Starter
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One thing I'm curious about, as there seems to be a lot of misinformation around the internet on stereo setups and thus a lot of conflicting views.

 

Does power in an amplifier/AVR simply = volume? More specifically, assuming all else is equal between the two amps except for the power it produces, will the amp with the higher power allow you to turn the speakers up louder without clipping, and that's it? Or are there other advantages as well, such as sound clarity or better response at all frequencies, etc.?

 

I'm seeing some other things out there that suggest you need a bigger amp to get the full potential (and by potential, some people seem to mean sound quality, not just pure volume) out of these bigger floorstanding speakers. While others are saying <100 watts is plenty, and using that many watts at prolonged periods will just cause hearing damage.

 

My gut tells me that the claims that some speakers need "beefy" amps to produce the best sound quality are bs, but I'm not sure.

 

(I guess one way it makes sense to me is that sometimes you may need more watts to produce certain frequencies when the dBs spike, even if you don't need all that power on average throughout a song. Don't know how much this would matter though, and it would obviously depend on the track... Would this play a role at 'medium' listening volumes?)

 

Sorry for turning this into my personal FAQ, but there's a lot of good discussion here. You guys have a great forum.

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post #26 of 27 Old 12-26-2013, 03:41 PM
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Is there a reason why there are no 2 channel stereo receivers that offer the room calibration and bass management of the 5 and 7 channel AVRs?
Your assumption is wrong. Sorta. I have the Harman Kardon HK990 2.2 integrated stereo amp. It has the same EZ-Set EQ found in their top of the line 7550 AVR. It equalizes the front L/R speakers AND two subs. I only use one sub (12" sealed DIY). It is advertised as having the ability to drive most any speaker. I believe it! The only thing holding the HK990 back from being designated a receiver is lack of a tuner. I have an answer for that - a vintage Kenwood KT-7500.

IMO for what Harman is asking for the refurbished HK990 it is a steal. Anyone half as interested in 2 channel as I am should look into it. And FWIW the one I bought was brand new - still had the plastic on the display window and not a mark on it - and it came in a retail box. While there are cheaper alternatives I doubt they'll still be working in 10 years. I think this one will.

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post #27 of 27 Old 12-26-2013, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by TownsendAvalnch View Post

One thing I'm curious about, as there seems to be a lot of misinformation around the internet on stereo setups and thus a lot of conflicting views.

Does power in an amplifier/AVR simply = volume? More specifically, assuming all else is equal between the two amps except for the power it produces, will the amp with the higher power allow you to turn the speakers up louder without clipping, and that's it? Or are there other advantages as well, such as sound clarity or better response at all frequencies, etc.?

I'm seeing some other things out there that suggest you need a bigger amp to get the full potential (and by potential, some people seem to mean sound quality, not just pure volume) out of these bigger floorstanding speakers. While others are saying <100 watts is plenty, and using that many watts at prolonged periods will just cause hearing damage.

My gut tells me that the claims that some speakers need "beefy" amps to produce the best sound quality are bs, but I'm not sure.

(I guess one way it makes sense to me is that sometimes you may need more watts to produce certain frequencies when the dBs spike, even if you don't need all that power on average throughout a song. Don't know how much this would matter though, and it would obviously depend on the track... Would this play a role at 'medium' listening volumes?)

Sorry for turning this into my personal FAQ, but there's a lot of good discussion here. You guys have a great forum.

Power from an amp is like power from a 600hp engine. You can't tell its there until you step on the pedal - and if you never need the power then its wasted. The old saw about needing 300wpc so your music is crystal clear at low volumes is bunk. A speaker needing 20w in a dynamic nano-second will get what it needs just fine with a 50wpc amp as with a 300wpc amp. It sounds like you've been reading from the Emotiva Lounge. Every time someone asks "which amp do I need for my 101db efficient Klipsch speakers" it takes maybe four posts before someone says "well you gotta have the XPR-1 mono-block amps" - I have to laugh - the recommendations over there border on the ridiculous at times.

Most speakers are on average about 90db efficient. Some are less and some are more. Take that 90db at one meter - it takes 1 watt to produce. To get to 93db takes a doubling of power - 2 watts - 96db takes 4 watts - 99db takes 8 watts. 99db is very loud. Most people don't sit one meter from their speakers so take away 3db for each one meter you back up. With 90db efficient speakers its difficult to use as much as 50wpc without going deaf in short order. Just something to think about.

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