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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to add a nice 5.1 system to my (HT)PC setup and decided that i want a dedicated amplifier that is not integrated into the sound system/subwoofer.

It should be more on the cheap side (~200€). At the moment i'm not sure if i should get a HDMI connected on or an optical connected one ? (We are having problems with noise induced by the power net., hence optical decoupling sounds good)

Additionally, i would like to use my current speakers for music and a possibility to switch between this 2.0 music system and a 5.1 movie surround system. Dynamic Range Compression and Digital Runtime Correction are also more or less mandatory.


I'm happy about any advice or suggestions, as i'm pretty new to the world of sound systems.
 

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My opinion is:

 

A) It doesn't matter if you go optical or HDMI, really, if you're sticking with 5.1. (optical can only handle 5.1, HDMI can handle more). So if HDMI works and your HTPC supports that, might as well go with that since you'll be having one cable less. Or, if you're going for used, you can probably get a *very* good deal out of non-HDMI receiver and just stick with optical. I know around here you can get an used 5.1 receiver for way, way less than 200€ (more closer to 50-80€). You can probably get a HDMI-capable one used for 150-200€. 

 

B) with 5.1 system, you'll be having *PLENTY* to choose from, since virtually every AVR out there supports 5.1.

 

My advice would be to go to a local shop that deals with receivers (ideally browser two or more stores) and see if they have any special prices available. I just noted one local store here sold the Sony STR-DH540 for 170€ (new, not a display model), which would fit your requirements. 

 

At least now when there seems to be an influx of new (2014) models coming, some store are bound to have sales of last-year's models. Browse a few stores and ask around. Since you're looking for cheap (and not prioritizing sound quality above all), I'm willing to bet you can just get the cheapest receiver that has all the inputs you need and you'll be good to go. 

 

Just note that receivers do NOT have powered Subwoofer outputs. You need to have a separate sub amp, or an active subwoofer to take advantage of the receivers sub out.

 

I think I can safely say that every receiver out there supports 2CH stereo mode?

 

I know what Dynamic Range Compression is, and I think almost everybody does that, and has done for a long while now. (My -99 Sony has DRC...) But I've never heard about Digital Runtime Correction? What's that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your advice. We don't have many specialized HiFi Shops, but i will have a look. The Sony look interesting but as far as i can see, it is not possible to attach a second set of stereo speakers directly ? But it is probably possible to use the analog stereo out to bridge this to my old analog amp. ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnttiV  /t/1525474/looking-for-an-cheap-5-1...tch-between-a-secondary-2-0-set#post_24560366


But I've never heard about Digital Runtime Correction? What's that?
This is the term used for Car HiFi, maybe home HiFi is using another term. It means the timing correction of the audio signal for each speaker for dealing with imperfect positioning. The Sony seems to offer that under the term "Digital Cinema Automatic Calibration".
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyrionwarmage  /t/1525474/looking-for-an-cheap-5-1...tch-between-a-secondary-2-0-set#post_24563168


Thanks for your advice. We don't have many specialized HiFi Shops, but i will have a look. The Sony look interesting but as far as i can see, it is not possible to attach a second set of stereo speakers directly ? But it is probably possible to use the analog stereo out to bridge this to my old analog amp. ?

This is the term used for Car HiFi, maybe home HiFi is using another term. It means the timing correction of the audio signal for each speaker for dealing with imperfect positioning. The Sony seems to offer that under the term "Digital Cinema Automatic Calibration".
Ah, you meant to have a separate 2.0 system beside the 5.1. Sorry. I took it that you'd use the 2.0 as the front speakers in a 5.1 system and then just use the 2CH output to drive the "old" 2.0 speakers when needed. Then you actually need a 7.1 receiver (well, some older models, like my Sony, are still called 5.1, even though they can drive 7 speakers at a time, because the 2 "channels" are just for "Front B"). If you are able, check the back panel of the receiver you're interested in and check if it has 7 speaker connections (two of them might be of different type) and that either the panel itself, or the receiver's manual say that two of the connector can be used as "Front B" speakers. Then you can switch between multi-channel, 5.1 exclusive speakers and 2-channel, 2-speaker system by switching between multi-channel/2ch decoding and Front A/Front B speakers.

 

(Note that if you want, you can have the older two speakers connected as the front speakers in a 5.1 system, then just get a center, two surrounds and a subwoofer for a complete 5.1 setup. Then just use the receiver to switch between 2-channel/multi-channel decoding. I've used this a lot with my older Sony.)

 

AH! That one, yes, I know what you mean. Yamaha calls it "YPAO" and at least Denon and Onkyo use Audyssey -branded system for that. Pretty much every current receiver has some system like that. (except maybe the absolute low-end?) I haven't had personal experience with any of those (my Sony doesn't have one), but I've read and heard that the Audyssey is currently the "top dog". If that's something you value much, look for Denon/Onkyo receivers. (though they might not be in that under 200€ category, I'm afraid. 

 

If the prices are similar there to here, and excellent choice would be an used Denon/Onkyo receiver. I've seen Denon AVR-1910's go for as low as 150€ (which is a 7.1 with Front B in *addition* to the surround back channels. IMO, a VERY good value.)

 

Look for DCAC/MCACC/Audyssey/YPAO text/logo on the receiver for the room correction. (MCACC stands for Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System, used by Pioneer)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyrionwarmage  /t/1525474/looking-for-an-cheap-5-1...tch-between-a-secondary-2-0-set#post_24559276


I want to add a nice 5.1 system to my (HT)PC setup and decided that i want a dedicated amplifier that is not integrated into the sound system/subwoofer.

It should be more on the cheap side (~200€). At the moment i'm not sure if i should get a HDMI connected on or an optical connected one ? (We are having problems with noise induced by the power net., hence optical decoupling sounds good)

Additionally, i would like to use my current speakers for music and a possibility to switch between this 2.0 music system and a 5.1 movie surround system. Dynamic Range Compression and Digital Runtime Correction are also more or less mandatory.


I'm happy about any advice or suggestions, as i'm pretty new to the world of sound systems.

In general the cheapest way to obtain a multichannel amp is to buy an AVR.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman  /t/1525474/looking-for-an-cheap-5-1...tch-between-a-secondary-2-0-set#post_24563693


2000 Euros might be a good starting budget for what you say you want.
WHAT? No. Please note not everyone can afford (or even want!) a multi-hundred dollar/euro system right from the start. The guy asked for a decent amp (that's the name most people use when then mean a receiver) that can do 5.1 in a budget of under 200€. That's very well doable. You'll get much more bang out of your buck if you go used, but you really, REALLY don't need two THOUSAND dollars to START! 

Note: He already has a 2.0 system, so what he really only needs, is an AVR that can do 5.1 and has stereo pre-out connectors. This can be very well achieved inside his proposed budget, even new.

Then, if he doesn't have those, he needs a 5.1 speaker system. This, also, can be had much, much, MUCH lower than your proposed 2000€. For example, a local store here has a sale on "JAMO S426HCS3" 5.0 system, which is (if I recall correctly) a local brand that is highly rated and it costs 349€. And is rated somewhere in the 100W range, which should be more than enough. Then just get a (powered) sub, which can be had for 100-200€, I think. (a matched Jamo-branded sub is 199€ in that shop.)

 

So yes, even if you go brand new, you can get a whole system for under 1000€ easily. 

 

Say, Sony STR-DH740 (which is a 7.1 channel AVR that can do 5.1 + 2.0 easily enough) is 349€ here.

AVR+speakers+sub = 349+349+199 = 997€ 

And that's brand new and way more capable than actually asked for. If you go used you can probably get the whole shaboozie for under 500€ (but that depends highly on availability of used equipment.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm not really convinced using the current 2.0 system as front is the best idea. This are monitor speakers with three drivers, probably covering a broader sound spectrum than front speakers for a 5.1 system. I'm concerned they will dominate over the center speaker and one of the main reasons i want this system is that the software side downmix from 5.1 to 2.0 is underestimating the relevance of the center channel, resulting in high loudness differences between speech and effects/music. Together with distortion problems when using (software side) Dynamic Range Compression at high levels results in big problems when watching movies at night.

On the other hand, the monitors are powerful enough to render a sub-woofer obsolete, which means i could stick to 5.0.

Wouldn't it be best to buy a 5.1 (or 7.1) receiver, try out a 5.0 configuration with the current speakers and if i'm not satisfied i can still add two other fronts (+sub) and attach the old speakers via the analog out and the old amp ? (or directly as 2CH on a 7.1 receiver)

Also thanks for the speakers tip - the JAMOs are available here but it seems to be the remaining stock (very limited availability). Was considering Pioneers, as suggested in the budget top list/recommendation threads, but i haven't figured out which US model is equal to which EU model...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyrionwarmage  /t/1525474/looking-for-an-cheap-5-1...tch-between-a-secondary-2-0-set#post_24567102


I'm not really convinced using the current 2.0 system as front is the best idea. This are monitor speakers with three drivers, probably covering a broader sound spectrum than front speakers for a 5.1 system. I'm concerned they will dominate over the center speaker and one of the main reasons i want this system is that the software side downmix from 5.1 to 2.0 is underestimating the relevance of the center channel, resulting in high loudness differences between speech and effects/music. Together with distortion problems when using (software side) Dynamic Range Compression at high levels results in big problems when watching movies at night.

On the other hand, the monitors are powerful enough to render a sub-woofer obsolete, which means i could stick to 5.0.

Wouldn't it be best to buy a 5.1 (or 7.1) receiver, try out a 5.0 configuration with the current speakers and if i'm not satisfied i can still add two other fronts (+sub) and attach the old speakers via the analog out and the old amp ? (or directly as 2CH on a 7.1 receiver)

Also thanks for the speakers tip - the JAMOs are available here but it seems to be the remaining stock (very limited availability). Was considering Pioneers, as suggested in the budget top list/recommendation threads, but i haven't figured out which US model is equal to which EU model...
That *might* be the case (using 2.0 as fronts), but depending on the AVR in question, it might not. With that you don't have much more choice than to try it out. I didn't have any problems using old self-made 2.0 speakers as my 5.1 fronts with my Sony, but had real trouble fitting a pair of old AKAI's as fronts with my relative's AVR (Technics I believe it was?)

 

About downmixing, yes that might be a problem, but most receivers today have a "pure" setting somewhere that switch of most processing. Obviously it doesn't work with multi-channel sources, but if you feed it 2.0 audio in, it'll output (mostly) untouched 2.0 audio using the fronts. My old Sony has this as "2CH Input". To my ears, it's good. I can't detect any difference between using that, or attaching the fronts to an old analog amp and using that. But if you want to downmix 5.1 to 2.0, then that might be a problem, but you'll have that anyway, even if using a 5.1 matched speakers. (Might be even bigger difference, because the speakers might be matched with the sub so that you'll lose the entire low end of the sound using just the two fronts in a 5.1 system. This is VERY apparent in any "computer" speaker systems with small satellites.)

 

Anyway, if you think your fronts can handle it, going 5.0 (and settings fronts to "Large" in the AVR settings) is a valid choice and may even be a really good one. I haven't owned such a system, but I heard a similar setup used in a place I visited. That setup had (really) large old JBL fronts with 5-6 drivers each (I don't know really). With newer speakers as center and surround with no subwoofer. And it worked really well. 
 
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