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I have been bit by the upgrade bug, and it just so happens that a local gentleman is selling his entire theater setup for about ¼ of it’s original price. I am very tempted to pull the trigger but have some reservations. I am, of course, going to audition the entire setup before making my decision, but another part of the decision is the practicality of integrating it into my current setup.

Here is what he has for sale: Rotel RSP 1066 surround processor. Rotel RMB-1095 amp. Rotel RDV 1060 DVD player, B&W CDM 7NT towers, B&W ASW CDM sub, B&W CDM CNT center channel, and B&W CDM SNT surrounds.

This system is nicely mated. There are five 200w channels in the amp driving five speakers and a 1000w amp on the sub. The problem is, the pre-pro is very old. It’s so old that it does not have HDMI inputs/outputs. It has three COAX in and two optical inputs plus a bunch of analog inputs.

My current setup is a bit more advanced, but not terribly so. I have a Denon 3310ci driving seven Mirage speakers and one sub. I have a PS4 and cable box connected via HDMI to the AVR, and one HDMI cable going out to the TV (older Samsung 1080p TV). My other source is an Apple TV4k and Bluesound Node 2i that I use for streaming. I use analog outputs from the Node, using the Node’s internal DAC instead of the Denon’s.

My #1 priority is sound quality for 2.1 listening, but I also recognize that I have some waste if I choose a 5.1-only setup. Here are my options as I see them.


  • Trash the Rotel and use my Denon as a pre-pro.
    • I can drive all seven speakers: five channels from the Rotel amp and the surround backs from the Denon.
    • I can keep my current input configuration.
    • Will the sound be compromised? I can’t imagine the Denon’s circuitry is as good as the Rotel’s. I would love your thoughts on this option.
  • Disconnect the Denon and run the Rotel
    • Preserve the matched components and presumably better sound of the Rotel.
    • Would I go HDMI from my PS4, cable box, and Apple TV 4k into my TV and use the TV's optical output to route sound back to the Rotel pre-pro, effectively using the TV as my video switcher? What compromises would I be making with this setup?
  • Crazy complex setup: Run the Rotel as a pre-pro and use the Denon as an external amplifier for my surround back channels.
    • The Rotel seems to support 7.1 Dolby formats, but I don’t have seven amplifier channels in the Rotel amp.
    • Can I somehow use the Denon’s EXT IN. to power my two surround back channels? If so, how do I set that up? Would that even work given I won’t be feeding an HDMI signal into the Rotel? Won’t optical only support 5.1?
 

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Go for option 1, I can't imagine a 17 year old Rotel will be any better than an 11 year old Denon. Also the Rotel doesn't do 7.1 as we know it since it can't input any 7.1 signals.
 
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