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post #1 of 6 Old 01-19-2019, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Red face Confused: AVR vs Integrated Amp

I have been considering buying Focal Chorus 726 speakers, but I listened to a pair of Paradigm Prestige 75F Tower Speakers at a nearby HI-FI store today. They sounded great initially hooked up to an Anthem Amplifier.

I want a setup for Music and Movies (50/50), but music is very important to me. Most music will be streamed either from Spotify or my NAS. My plan was to buy a Denon AVR-X3500 receiver for my system, along with a centre channel speaker - perhaps the matching Prestige 45C, although that would entail somewhat more than I was hoping to spend.

At that point, the salesman suggested that I would get better performance (for less money) by leaving out the centre channel and substituting the Denon receiver for an Audiolab stereo amplifier (6000A). He hooked the Audiolab amp up to the 2 Prestige towers and the sound was great! I would, however, have to hook up my tv to the amp via optical cable and would obviously lose many of the features of the AVR.

Questions:
1. Is there any major advantage with this 2 channel option? From what I can tell the Audiolab amp has a better DAC than the Denon AVR, but the Audiolab is only rated at 60W? Power did not seem to be an issue when listening at the store.
2. Would relying on a phantom center channel be good enough for movies? I'm thinking probably not?
3. I was only planning to go with a 3 channel setup (possibly 3.1 later on) originally, as I want to eliminate the need for dedicated rear surround speakers. I was hoping to take advantage of the virtual DTS for movies though.
4. If I decide to go with a centre channel speaker with the AVR, could I substitute the Prestige centre for the less expensive Premier centre by Paradigm? Is this asking for problems?

Would really appreciate any advice / suggestions you may have. Thx!
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-20-2019, 05:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Carey View Post
1. Is there any major advantage with this 2 channel option?
beside the price here are disadvantages only

Quote:
From what I can tell the Audiolab amp has a better DAC than the Denon AVR
how can you tell?

Quote:
but the Audiolab is only rated at 60W? Power did not seem to be an issue when listening at the store.
power is almost never an issue

Quote:
2. Would relying on a phantom center channel be good enough for movies? I'm thinking probably not?
that depends on your setup and room acoustics!
why do you think you need a center for the movies but for example a solo flute or clarinet sounds great without it?
if you have a "perfect" setup (acoustic, distances, stereo triangle etc.) you shouldn't hear any difference between real and phantom center. And if you need a center for movies, it's a simple proof for poor stereo/music performance, that simple!

so if you have a setup "suitable for serious music reproduction" you need a center just in case you watch movies with a wider audience outside the ideal listening area.

Quote:
3. I was only planning to go with a 3 channel setup (possibly 3.1 later on) originally, as I want to eliminate the need for dedicated rear surround speakers. I was hoping to take advantage of the virtual DTS for movies though.
I've never heard a 3.x setup which sounded "good". If you use such virtual tricks for music it destroys anything what makes the difference between a good and a lousy music reproduction.

Quote:
4. If I decide to go with a centre channel speaker with the AVR, could I substitute the Prestige centre for the less expensive Premier centre by Paradigm? Is this asking for problems?
IF you use a center it becomes the most important speaker in the system!
1) the center must match the front speakers (not necessarily the same line or brand but from the sound)
2) if you use different models it's worth to spend MORE for the center instead of less!

from my experience a 4.0 system with simple (cheap) rear speakers (ideally they should match the front speakers as well, of course) still sounds much better with movies than a 3.0 with center.
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-20-2019, 08:37 AM
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50/50 Movies and Music is going to make for a tough call. It could also make a difference what kind of movies. For example, older movies don't need surround or center speakers as much. You can watch movies with phantom center but if you have a great center speaker as soon as you switch from stereo/direct to any surround mode you realize what you were missing. The question is really- does the Denon AVS really do acceptable stereo for when you are listening to music.
I know Marantz does (and quite well) and I would hope that that Denon does.

Music, more music.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-20-2019, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Mickey for your input!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Carey View Post
1. Is there any major advantage with this 2 channel option?
beside the price here are disadvantages only

Quote:
From what I can tell the Audiolab amp has a better DAC than the Denon AVR
how can you tell?

I think you make an excellent point here. I personally have a very hard time hearing a difference between DAC's. I use a Dragonfly Red for my Mac and headphones and haven't heard anything else (although I have not auditioned many others) that I could clearly define as better sounding.
Do you think the DAC in the Denon should be fine?


Quote:
but the Audiolab is only rated at 60W? Power did not seem to be an issue when listening at the store.
power is almost never an issue
I understand. I had heard, however, that speakers run into problems when underpowered rather than over powered. Not an issue here?


Quote:
2. Would relying on a phantom center channel be good enough for movies? I'm thinking probably not?
that depends on your setup and room acoustics!
why do you think you need a center for the movies but for example a solo flute or clarinet sounds great without it?
if you have a "perfect" setup (acoustic, distances, stereo triangle etc.) you shouldn't hear any difference between real and phantom center. And if you need a center for movies, it's a simple proof for poor stereo/music performance, that simple!

My new room will definitely not be perfect. Given the limitations of the room though, wouldn't having a centre channel make dialogue much clearer with movies and tv? I am not concerned with a centre for music reproduction.

so if you have a setup "suitable for serious music reproduction" you need a center just in case you watch movies with a wider audience outside the ideal listening area.

Most watching will be done from a two seat couch in the best, if not ideal, listening area. I am less concerned with off axis listening.

Quote:
3. I was only planning to go with a 3 channel setup (possibly 3.1 later on) originally, as I want to eliminate the need for dedicated rear surround speakers. I was hoping to take advantage of the virtual DTS for movies though.
I've never heard a 3.x setup which sounded "good". If you use such virtual tricks for music it destroys anything what makes the difference between a good and a lousy music reproduction.

Could I not simply use the AVR in the stereo mode (Pure Direct or equivalent) for music listening, while using other modes DTS, etc for movies? I'm not looking for fancy effects for music listening.

Quote:
4. If I decide to go with a centre channel speaker with the AVR, could I substitute the Prestige centre for the less expensive Premier centre by Paradigm? Is this asking for problems?
IF you use a center it becomes the most important speaker in the system!

I understand. So worth the added investment then?

1) the center must match the front speakers (not necessarily the same line or brand but from the sound)

Any guidelines for matching the centre to the front if I look into another brand or line?


2) if you use different models it's worth to spend MORE for the center instead of less!

from my experience a 4.0 system with simple (cheap) rear speakers (ideally they should match the front speakers as well, of course) still sounds much better with movies than a 3.0 with center.

I had not considered that. So here you get actual physical "surround" sound. This would have to be an add-on at a later time, but makes sense.

Once again, thank you for your help! Much appreciated.
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-20-2019, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altpensacola View Post
You can watch movies with phantom center but if you have a great center speaker as soon as you switch from stereo/direct to any surround mode you realize what you were missing.
no, that's wrong!
as I mentioned before, IF there is a big difference (in your example: it sounds much better with center at the MLP) it doesn't proof you need a center, it proofs your stereo setup is very poor and THAT is the first thing you should fix because it negatively affects movie and even more music sound quality.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-20-2019, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Thanks! Denon AVR X3500 for music too

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey Mouse View Post
beside the price here are disadvantages only


how can you tell?


power is almost never an issue


that depends on your setup and room acoustics!
why do you think you need a center for the movies but for example a solo flute or clarinet sounds great without it?
if you have a "perfect" setup (acoustic, distances, stereo triangle etc.) you shouldn't hear any difference between real and phantom center. And if you need a center for movies, it's a simple proof for poor stereo/music performance, that simple!

so if you have a setup "suitable for serious music reproduction" you need a center just in case you watch movies with a wider audience outside the ideal listening area.


I've never heard a 3.x setup which sounded "good". If you use such virtual tricks for music it destroys anything what makes the difference between a good and a lousy music reproduction.


IF you use a center it becomes the most important speaker in the system!
1) the center must match the front speakers (not necessarily the same line or brand but from the sound)
2) if you use different models it's worth to spend MORE for the center instead of less!

from my experience a 4.0 system with simple (cheap) rear speakers (ideally they should match the front speakers as well, of course) still sounds much better with movies than a 3.0 with center.
Quote:
Originally Posted by altpensacola View Post
50/50 Movies and Music is going to make for a tough call. It could also make a difference what kind of movies. For example, older movies don't need surround or center speakers as much. You can watch movies with phantom center but if you have a great center speaker as soon as you switch from stereo/direct to any surround mode you realize what you were missing. The question is really- does the Denon AVS really do acceptable stereo for when you are listening to music.
I know Marantz does (and quite well) and I would hope that that Denon does.

I guess overall more tv/movies will be watched by my family, so that is important, but I personally don't want to sacrifice when it comes to listening to music. I looked at Denon and Marantz given that they are sister companies, but just preferred the overall Denon AVR. It received 5 stars at WHAT Hi-FI, where they complimented the sound for music specifically.

I think I will lose too much functionality going without an AVR.

I appreciate your input!
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