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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm someone who now has the interest and means to invest in some serious audio/video equipment without as much knowledge as I'd like about the subject. I'd like a quick, down & dirty explanation of the benefits of a pre/pro VS receiver in an AV set-up. I've read lots & lots on here and I haven't found any definitive "newbie" sections that define alot of the more "simplistic" subjects for us beginners. Any audio/video for dummies suggestions would be helpful
 

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Benefit of seperates as opposed to recievers is simple really.

A reciever has to box a multi channel amp, share power supplies, provide all decoding, and do it in limited space. ( theres more, but this is the crash course)


Seperates, Pre-Pros, are designed to limit internal noise, provide all the decoding etc, but with much better technology, and performance. (once again the short version)


The biggest difference between the two will be how you power your speakers. The pre-pro offers no power, and will utilize seperate amplification, which lets you decide how much power you need for what you are trying to accomplish, plus, since different amplifiers will sound different, you are able to choose from many different amplifier models to suit your specific needs.

Recievers (all in one) can have up to ( I believe there are 9 or 10 channel ones available) and are pretty user friendly, easy to hook up, and dont take up as much space by not having to have seperate amps etc. BUT, if a reciever says 100 wpc, it will not be 100 wpc. More likely it will only put out about 50-65 wpc when all channels are driven. (this can be a bit confusing, so I'll keep it at that)


Your "best" option, if that is what you are really looking to do, is to head out to your local dealer, and let them show you the difference in seperates, as opposed to all in one recievers. You will find that although some receivers have lots of options built in, they cannot compete with seperates, as far as complete performance is concerned, although some perform quite well for what they are.


Ive only given a small portion of what all the differences are, and there are numerous differences, but if your looking to build a quality system, it starts with seperates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks alot Davidpa! I appreciate the time & effort in answering my question. I've come to basically the same conclusion after reading a bit more I just wanted to verify "the basics" of what I'll first be looking at and you explained it perfectly for the lay-man. Now comes the time to wade through the counless many systems to find what I'm looking for...

As of now I've allocated a budget of approx. $3000 for the system I'd like to build. 50/50 music/HT listening. So I'd like to be able to run 2 channel for music and then a 5.1 system for the HT. By reviews & appearance alone I'm interested in Cary, Sherwood Newcastle, Rotel & Marantz for pre/pro or possibly receiver. Aperion & Axiom both get good reviews and are priced very competitively for speakers. The Paradigms, Klipsch, KEF, etc. get great reviews but are a bit more expensive... countless many options!!!

A bit confusing just getting started... maybe start with a 2 channel pre/pro and expand from there? Any ideas or suggestions are welcome & appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Are you starting from scratch or do you already have some components?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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Originally Posted by rnrgagne /forum/post/0


Are you starting from scratch or do you already have some components?

Basically, bare bones from scratch... unless you include my TEAC bookshelf system!


The Cary Cinema 11 looks really enticing to me...
 

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Rotel seperates=good value for the money.

NHT and paradigm=good value for the money, plus they are two totally different sounding speaker systems, which I prefer the NHT line, but that would be my preference.

Boston Acoustics is another speaker worth at least taking a listen.

So many more, and sound varies so much, my best advise is to shop around and see what you really like, and keep your eye open on audiogon so you know whats there, and you may find something for a great deal. Good luck, and have fun!
 

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Basically, the best bang for your buck is used equipment if you can come up with the cash. For the most part you can get near new stuff at half price thanks to guys like me that keep on messing around and changing things in and out. If you're the credit card buyer like most of us then you've got to find best bang for the buck new stuff.


The two most important parts required for quality sound are the "room" and speakers and specifically how the two interact. (A $3k system in a "good" room, more often than not, will sound better than a $20k system in a bad room.) Do some reading in the "system set up" section on acoustic room treatments. I also believe that a good quality, and properly integrated sub is a must as part of the speakers package.


Once you've got that part of the equation down, then there's a foundation to appreciate the difference between pre-pro's and receivers. I don't think that one automatically sounds better than the other, let's just say they might sound different. Which is "better" will depend on your tastes.


I don't think you can go wrong starting out with good speakers and inexpensive electronics. I like the Panasonic digital receivers for those starting out because they've got very good sound quality for cheap which allows you to spend more money on the speakers.

You could do something like the Oppo DVD player and an XR57 for under $700 and have $2300 left for a speaker system. IMO that would yield better results than reversing the ratio unless the system is going into a really small room.


This is a bit of a bias opinion on my part, but I think the Canadian speakers offer some of the best "value" in their respective price-points. PSB, Axiom, Energy (the new "RC" series is quite good.) and of course the Paradigms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnrgagne /forum/post/0


Basically, the best bang for your buck is used equipment if you can come up with the cash. For the most part you can get near new stuff at half price thanks to guys like me that keep on messing around and changing things in and out. If you're the credit card buyer like most of us then you've got to find best bang for the buck new stuff.


The two most important parts required for quality sound are the "room" and speakers and specifically how the two interact. (A $3k system in a "good" room, more often than not, will sound better than a $20k system in a bad room.) Do some reading in the "system set up" section on acoustic room treatments. I also believe that a good quality, and properly integrated sub is a must as part of the speakers package.


Once you've got that part of the equation down, then there's a foundation to appreciate the difference between pre-pro's and receivers. I don't think that one automatically sounds better than the other, let's just say they might sound different. Which is "better" will depend on your tastes.


I don't think you can go wrong starting out with good speakers and inexpensive electronics. I like the Panasonic digital receivers for those starting out because they've got very good sound quality for cheap which allows you to spend more money on the speakers.

You could do something like the Oppo DVD player and an XR57 for under $700 and have $2300 left for a speaker system. IMO that would yield better results than reversing the ratio unless the system is going into a really small room.


This is a bit of a bias opinion on my part, but I think the Canadian speakers offer some of the best "value" in their respective price-points. PSB, Axiom, Energy (the new "RC" series is quite good.) and of course the Paradigms.

Thanks for the recommendations "eh"!
I really do appreciate the advice and for me I'm fortunate to be able to go the cash or credit route. Being single/no kids helps things alot, just ask my buddies!

I'll definitely check out the system set up section immediately after this... so from everything I've gathered thus far it's best to go with the best speakers possible initially while possibly sacrificing a little on the receiver/prepro and upgrading that later.

Most HT setups I've seen use similar or same sized speakers all around. How difficult is it to set up a system to have your 2 front speakers larger to accomodate 2 channel stereo but also have them integrated into a 5.1 system?

Thank you to everyone for their advice & wisdom, it is appreciated!
 

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Getting good speakers is a great idea. I would avoid Energy speakers though. I had a set of RC-70s, LCR, and surround speakers. They are sub par at best. I was amazed how good my electronics sound when I switched to Triangle speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

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Since your going to go with the better speaker system first, and I dont disagree with that, if I were you, I would be SURE to get something you dont plan on upgrading for a long while. So that way when you do upgrade to better components, you dont have to upgrade your speakers at the same time. Ive seen it done a million times. The best option is to get the very best you can afford, and then, even jump the budget a bit, otherwise you will be in an endless cycle of "upgraditis", not that it wont happen anyways, but if you do it right the first time, it may just save you the trouble of continuous upgrades.

OR for now, get the seperates, and save up for the best speakers. Seperates with a good amp will make run of the mill speakers sound a bit better contrary to popular belief in this thread, the reason being they will be powered suffieciently to perform to the best of their ability, not to say they will outperform a quality speaker, but they WILL perform at THEIR best.

Either way, do the best you can for whichever route you decide, and upgrade, or swap the weakest link when the funds allow.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiterhino /forum/post/0


Most HT setups I've seen use similar or same sized speakers all around. How difficult is it to set up a system to have your 2 front speakers larger to accomodate 2 channel stereo but also have them integrated into a 5.1 system?

Thank you to everyone for their advice & wisdom, it is appreciated!

That's not difficult at all, in fact it's quite common. The only problem with big floor standers is placement becomes critical for accurate bass response, whereas with a monitor/sub set up you get the benefit of moving (or EQ'ing) the sub to a location that produces the best bass if you have limited placement options for your mains. Your flexibility of placement will depend on the room dimensions, size of display and and the layout of the room. For instance in my HT I've got an 8' wide screen in a 13.5' wide room so I've only got about one foot of play either side of the screen. Large multiple driver towers, by being too close to the side walls, could cause some serious room modes that would muddy the sound. In my case though, I had planned all along to build an "infinite baffle" sub with EQ so I went with monitors for the front with no regret. I prefer to listen to 2ch with the sub engaged, some 2ch purists might call that blasphemy, but in my system it sounds fantastic.


With no disrespect to the poster who said stay away from the Energys, take those opinions with a grain of salt. Audio is like art, beauty is in the ear of the beholder.


Even if you're going used, take some time to get out and listen to what's out there and get a feel for what type of sound you like and what manufacturers meet your tastes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

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Originally Posted by davidpa /forum/post/0


Since your going to go with the better speaker system first, and I dont disagree with that, if I were you, I would be SURE to get something you dont plan on upgrading for a long while. So that way when you do upgrade to better components, you dont have to upgrade your speakers at the same time. Ive seen it done a million times. The best option is to get the very best you can afford, and then, even jump the budget a bit, otherwise you will be in an endless cycle of "upgraditis", not that it wont happen anyways, but if you do it right the first time, it may just save you the trouble of continuous upgrades.

OR for now, get the seperates, and save up for the best speakers. Seperates with a good amp will make run of the mill speakers sound a bit better contrary to popular belief in this thread, the reason being they will be powered suffieciently to perform to the best of their ability, not to say they will outperform a quality speaker, but they WILL perform at THEIR best.

Either way, do the best you can for whichever route you decide, and upgrade, or swap the weakest link when the funds allow.

Excellent advice, thank you!

It all sums up to I'm very new to hi-end audio/HT gear and I don't know that I'd actually be able to tell that much difference between a $4k and $10k system as to all the subtle nuances everyone talks about in audiophile jargon.

Basically I want a kick ass system that will last me for a considerable amount of time and I don't mind paying for it... up to the point of "negligible returns" as I'm not a very critical listener, yet!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by rnrgagne /forum/post/0


That's not difficult at all, in fact it's quite common. The only problem with big floor standers is placement becomes critical for accurate bass response, whereas with a monitor/sub set up you get the benefit of moving (or EQ'ing) the sub to a location that produces the best bass if you have limited placement options for your mains. Your flexibility of placement will depend on the room dimensions, size of display and and the layout of the room.

With no disrespect to the poster who said stay away from the Energys, take those opinions with a grain of salt. Audio is like art, beauty is in the ear of the beholder.


Even if you're going used, take some time to get out and listen to what's out there and get a feel for what type of sound you like and what manufacturers meet your tastes.

Duly noted. I tend to take everyone's advice with a grain of salt as I'm a little hesitant to invest alot of money in something I've never actually heard with my own ears. Now I just need to dedicate the time to go audition some stuff! Thanks again for all the "sound" advice.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidpa /forum/post/0


Seperates with a good amp will make run of the mill speakers sound a bit better contrary to popular belief in this thread, the reason being they will be powered suffieciently to perform to the best of their ability, not to say they will outperform a quality speaker, but they WILL perform at THEIR best.

Either way, do the best you can for whichever route you decide, and upgrade, or swap the weakest link when the funds allow.

That theory is correct if, and that's a big IF, the speakers and room will allow that to come through.


I would say that the biggest factors in order of the amount difference they make to the quality of sound are;


1. room / speaker interaction


2. getting the bass right (this is can be addressed above but is one of the most significant improvements I've ever heard to the overall sound)


3. speaker quality


4. source (DAC's, ADC's and processors)


5. amplification
 

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great thread! i'm just starting out on all this too.. only have 1080p TV and source devices so far.. now researching AVRs vs separates myself. then off to do speaker research!


now, someone above said
Quote:
The two most important parts required for quality sound are the "room" and speakers and specifically how the two interact. (A $3k system in a "good" room, more often than not, will sound better than a $20k system in a bad room.) Do some reading in the "system set up" section on acoustic room treatments. I also believe that a good quality, and properly integrated sub is a must as part of the speakers package.

what if you have a "bad" room? whats the priority of AVR vs separates and speakers in that case. and to complicate the situation, we will be buying a house in the next 5 years that will have a dedicated media room (where i'll want to go all out and make it superb).


should i be asking this question in the "system setup" forum and putting together a diagram of my current room?
 

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Just thought I'd butt in here with a suggestion for all the "relative newbies" (like me) getting started. A great reference book (that's likely been mentioned before on other threads) is "The Complete Guide to High End Audio" by Robert Harley. Easy to understand with excellent advice on what he feels is most important (everything!) in a good audio system. He even breaks down what percentage of your budget should go to each component. It's just one opnion--but it's a good one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by leftheaded /forum/post/0


great thread! i'm just starting out on all this too.. only have 1080p TV and source devices so far.. now researching AVRs vs separates myself. then off to do speaker research!

The possibilities are endless... as long as your budget is
 
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