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post #1 of 6 Old 12-14-2019, 09:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Recommendations Wanted

HI guys. New to the site and looking for recommendations on upgrading my home theater. Their are two goals. The first is to add Dolby Atmos support with ceiling speakers and rear surrounds into my 5.1 and the second is to improve audio quality.

First, a bit about the trouble with the current setup. My main speakers are Sentry III (yes!) which have always been paired with H/K amps and I previously (still have it) pushed the Sentry's with a PA2200. I then decided to go Dolby surround and Dolby Vision. The TV is Vizio m series and decent enough for the price. I have the LG 970 (?) blue ray with the dolby vision update. Surround speakers are Sony SSM-F600H (free) with a decent Boston Acoustics center. The AVR is cheap, a Sony DH770 with two of the 7.1 channels bi-amping the Sentry's. I picked up a powered Klipsch powered subwoofer (it was $20). The Sony doesn't have sub outs so the PA2200 sits in my closet and I have to say the Sony may be rated for more power, but that H/K is twice the amp that the Sony is. So, problem 1 is I want my PA2200 pushing the Sentry's again. They are a great match.

Next issue is that the Sony claims passive 4K pass-through. Well, if it's passive, then why does it refuse to pass-through Dolby Vision? Sony added a firmware fix to the more expensive amps to allow this, but not this model. So, I have to connect the BluRay directly to the TV, and only HDMI1 supports the full bandwidth and all the features, so I gotta use that one. HDMI1 is also the only port to support ARC! So, I run a TOSLINK cable from the TV to the Sony for audio. It can send Dolby 5.1 from the TV in this manner, and since almost everything is streamed and compressed anyway, that's a decent compromise. The LG has a second HDMI output for audio, so I can get all the high end audio (except Atmos, but I only jhjjave 5.1, so who cares???) via HDMI direct to the Sony. This kills most of the I integration, but I use Google Assistant and some other tricks so I almost never have a remote in my hand anyway. Other inputs are a couple servers ; (one does 4K/HDR and is a media server with Lodi), my laptop, etc ... all using the TV inputs."

So, without breaking the bank, I want Dolby Atmos decoding, Dolby Vision pass-through, pre-outs for the PA2200, maybe a little more power for the poor surrounds, and the ability to add both rear surrounds and height speakers.

Ajq1inything under $1000? Or is that dreaming? Recommendations?
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post #2 of 6 Old 12-14-2019, 12:39 PM
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How many Atmos speakers do you intend to add?

If I read your post correctly, you have a 5.1 system, and you intend to add 2 rear surrounds, which would take you to a 7.1 system. Adding 2 Atmos speakers would go to a 7.1.2 system. 4 Atmos speakers, 7.1.4. (I hope that the nomenclature is obvious.) https://www.dolby.com/us/en/guide/do...tup/index.html

For 9 channels (7.1.2) I'd recommend a Denon AVR-X3600H. Available, new, for less than $1k. For 11 channels (7.1.4), the same, but you'd have to add an external stereo amp, as the 3600 processes 11 channels but has only 9 onboard amps. Here's the least expensive one that I could recommend: https://www.parts-express.com/dayton...ifier--300-593

If you wish to stay with 9 channels, most prefer a 5.1.4 system to a 7.1.2 one.

The 3600 has pre-outs for all of its channels.

Incidentally, I'm fairly confident that Dolby Vision passthrough is not passive.
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post #3 of 6 Old 12-14-2019, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Bob and thanks for the reply. Yes, the goal was 7.1.2. I'm curious as to why 5.1.4 is preferred over 7.1.2. I'm guessing this is to allow height information to be surround rather than just stereo?

As for Dolby Vision, why can't the AVR pass the HDMI data from input to output unchanged (passive) while decoding the stream to get the audio data? That's kinda unclear to me and what I expected from a system that has a passive pass-through. Active would be decoding the stream and then re-encoding it, killing anything not supported like DV.

As for the AVR-3600, would it actually let me use an external amp for the main/front speakers and still have all 9 internal amps for surround channels? I want to make sure that there isn't a limitation where external amps can only be used on certain channels.

And it was actually the Denon stuff I'd been looking at, but sometimes marketing isn't specific about which models support which protocols. For example, there is a steal on EBay for the Denon AVRX 4100W, but it doesn't mention Dolby Vision, so I'm guessing that's why. Likewise, the 3500 model seems cheap, so I'm guessing that's the same of similar issue.

Perhaps if I wait a year the 3600 will be available used for extra cheap?
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post #4 of 6 Old 12-14-2019, 06:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Assuming I go with the 3600 ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobknavs View Post
Class D means it would be running the analog pre-out through another ADC! And total distortion is "under 1%" which is why I stayed away from surround systems for so many years. I'm now old enough to where I probably can't hear the difference anymore, but compare to the PA2200 I want to put back into service ...

[URL]https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/harman-kardon/pa2200.shtml[\URL]

But, I found a comparison site between the 3500 and the 3600 that seems to imply I can only increase the number of channels by adding an amp for the height speakers. Any other use of an external amp would mean an internal amp goes unused. Am I reading that right? Putting that PA2200 on the main front means the internal amp would go unused and I'd have to buy another amp for the other 2 ceiling speakers? Seems wasteful.

That makes me wonder how the performance of the on-board amps would compare to the PA2200. It's basically a pro-audio MOSFET design without the rack-mount ears and gets amazing reviews. The Sony is just crap (hated it since the day I bought it). However, the Denon will likely be a significant upgrade from the Sony, so perhaps my aging ears would be fine with the Denon driving the fronts and the H/K PA2200 as the "extra" amp.
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post #5 of 6 Old 12-14-2019, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Langlois View Post
Hi Bob and thanks for the reply. Yes, the goal was 7.1.2. I'm curious as to why 5.1.4 is preferred over 7.1.2. I'm guessing this is to allow height information to be surround rather than just stereo?
Pretty much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Langlois View Post
As for Dolby Vision, why can't the AVR pass the HDMI data from input to output unchanged (passive) while decoding the stream to get the audio data? That's kinda unclear to me and what I expected from a system that has a passive pass-through. Active would be decoding the stream and then re-encoding it, killing anything not supported like DV.
I don't know. I'm pretty certain that "passthrough" isn't passive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Langlois View Post
As for the AVR-3600, would it actually let me use an external amp for the main/front speakers and still have all 9 internal amps for surround channels? I want to make sure that there isn't a limitation where external amps can only be used on certain channels.
I haven't studied the 3600. I have a 4300 (2016 model). With that, you get to choose which speakers do not use the internal amps. Your choices are the LR fronts or the rear heights. There are pre-outs for all 11 channels, though. You could run every speaker off an external amp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Langlois View Post
And it was actually the Denon stuff I'd been looking at, but sometimes marketing isn't specific about which models support which protocols. For example, there is a steal on EBay for the Denon AVRX 4100W, but it doesn't mention Dolby Vision, so I'm guessing that's why. Likewise, the 3500 model seems cheap, so I'm guessing that's the same of similar issue.
The 4100 is a 2014 model; I doubt that any of those did Dolby Vision, or could be updated to support it. The 3500 is a 2018 model. It's a 7.2 channel model, and can't be expanded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Langlois View Post
Perhaps if I wait a year the 3600 will be available used for extra cheap?
Maybe. It's a 2019 model.
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post #6 of 6 Old 12-14-2019, 08:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Langlois View Post
Assuming I go with the 3600 ...



Class D means it would be running the analog pre-out through another ADC! And total distortion is "under 1%" which is why I stayed away from surround systems for so many years. I'm now old enough to where I probably can't hear the difference anymore, but compare to the PA2200 I want to put back into service …
Class D is no more digital than Class A/B is. It's more properly called switching mode. An A/D converter is not part of its basic function.

You'd more likely encounter an ADC if you used an old receiver as an add-on amp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Langlois View Post
[URL]https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/harman-kardon/pa2200.shtml[\URL]

But, I found a comparison site between the 3500 and the 3600 that seems to imply I can only increase the number of channels by adding an amp for the height speakers. Any other use of an external amp would mean an internal amp goes unused. Am I reading that right? Putting that PA2200 on the main front means the internal amp would go unused and I'd have to buy another amp for the other 2 ceiling speakers? Seems wasteful.

That makes me wonder how the performance of the on-board amps would compare to the PA2200. It's basically a pro-audio MOSFET design without the rack-mount ears and gets amazing reviews. The Sony is just crap (hated it since the day I bought it). However, the Denon will likely be a significant upgrade from the Sony, so perhaps my aging ears would be fine with the Denon driving the fronts and the H/K PA2200 as the "extra" amp.
I've basically answered this in post 5. If the 3600 is like the 4300, you waste none of the 9 onboard amps if you add a stereo amp to drive the LR fronts. Or a stereo amp to drive the rear height speakers, which is the cheapest way to get 11 channels out of it. (The rear heights don't benefit from a high powered amp, usually.)

With the 4300, I'm running a 3 channel amp (Emotiva XPA3 Gen3) to drive the LCR fronts. (The center probably needs more power than LR for home theater use; it get most of the dialog.) In a 7.2.4 setup, I'm not using one of the 4300's amps.
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