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First off, I'm sorry if it doesn't belong here, but I'm mainly going to be asking about amps.


I'm currently in the middle of making my first "big" audio purchase - I started out with a rather limited budget, but have since raised it to £1000. (about $1800) Initially I had planned on buying a 5.1 separates system, but have since decided that, due to my room size/shape and the fact that it's primarily for music listening, it would be better to go with a 2.1 system. So far I've spent £425 on a subwoofer and transport/player. I've got a BK XSL200-DF , and an "Oppo" DVD player on its way to use as a CD player/transport. (I just bought myself a HD LCD Screen, so it's killing two birds with one stone)


I had planned on getting speakers and an amp tomorrow, but am now a bit unsure on what to do. The speakers I'm thinking about are JBL XTi20's. I've had a bit of a hard time finding opinions/reviews on these, so if anyone knows anything about them, I'd appreciate it. They did get 5/5 here though - they're £500 speakers, and the shop has one pair left to clear, at £175; so I'm pretty sure I'll be getting a good deal, I doubt anything in that price range will be comparable.


Now onto my main question/concern; an amp.


The same store that's doing the speakers has a Cyrus 7 stereo amp which seems to be quite highly regarded, at half-price, £350 - which fits into my budget perfectly, and I have read elsewhere that you won't get anything close to that quality in that price range.


However, as I said, I'm new to separates and am a bit unsure about whether I'm making the right decision going with this amp. £350 (about $635) is the absolute most I can spend on an amp, but I'm not sure if it's a stereo amp I should be buying. As far as I'm aware, what I should be doing is connecting the sub up to the "tape" out on the amp, setting the crossover on the sub to the lowest these speakers can handle.


However, an AV amp lets me set a crossover on it that affects the speakers as well as the sub - it seems to make more sense this way, cutting off the speakers before they go too low, and then sending the lower frequencies to the sub, instead of sending the full range to both.


The other thing is that an AV amp/receiver will have a DAC in it, and I can connect up things like my games consoles to it for improved sound quality. The Oppo player has a 192kHz/24-bit DAC with phono outs on the back of it, and I had planned on using that for music, but I don't know if I'm wasting my money spending all this money on equipment to just use the analogue-outs on everything, or if I'm better to do this, as I won't get a good stereo system out of a "cheap" AV amp, possibly adding a DAC in a few months time.


I hope that makes sense - it's 3:15am here, and I'm just a bit worried before I make a big purchase like this.


The reason I ask is because I can't go and demo this stuff. I'm sure the store would let me if I asked, but I am disabled, and in my condition I am unable to go and demo them.
 

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Typically the tape outs provide a constant signal level, not related to the position of the volume control. That would make keeping the balance between the mains and the sub very difficult. I'm not familiar with the Cyrus 7...does it have any preamp outs? If so, that is where you will want to connect the sub. Lacking that, you will need to connect the sub to the amp via speaker level outputs and use the crossover built into the sub.


You've already mentioned many of the advantages of buying an A/V receiver...it will have all of the decoding built into it. Also, they typically have 6 or 7 or more analogue inputs that will accept the output of your Oppo player and take advantage of its high resolution DAC.


In addition, if at some point you want to move to a higher powered amp than what is built into the receiver, most of them have pre-outs that will allow you to do that...using the receiver as a preamp/processor.
 

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If you can swing the Arcam AVR300 receiver I would go with that. From everything I have read it is an exceptionally good unit, and gives you all the options you need.
 
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