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7.1: Just when I thought I had it all figured out... (long)


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#1 of 8 Eric_E

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Posted April 01 2003 - 09:05 AM

I had pretty much made up my mind about what kind of equipment I was going to purchase for my first home theater, but a visit to my local dealer yesterday left me more confused than ever.

My confusion stems from my inability to understand the various surround sound formats, and what kind of equipment is needed for each format. I thought I had my mind made up on purchasing a 7.1 speaker system (the original plan was for Paradigm Monitor 7's, CC-370, and two pairs of Atoms). But when I talked to my dealer yesterday, he advised against going 7.1 right now.

I was surprised, mostly because I thought since he is a salesman he would try to push the most merchandise possible on me. I don't know if he was trying to get me to buy a receiver there as well - he recommended a NAD T752, which as far as I know has only five channels of amplification, so maybe that was part of the sales push (trying to convince me I didn't need a 7.1 receiver).

Anyway, I am really confused now about everything, and I am questioning my need for 7.1, with the complete lack of 7.1 discrete source material right now. So, if you have a 7.1 capable receiver, with 6.1 source material, it sends the same signal to the two rear speakers? Is this all a 7.1 system can do right now?

I realize that there's no such thing as future-proofing a system, and inevitably everybody eventually wants to upgrade, but will today's 7.1 receivers even be able to handle 7.1 discrete material if and when it becomes available? Or are we going to be forced to upgrade yet again?

Finally, I am confused about receivers such as the T752 - if there are only five channels of amplification, does that mean you would have to add a two-channel amp later to go 7.1? And would the receiver even be usable with the different surround formats coming down the road? I'm so lost!

Thanks for your help, and patience.

P.S. The receivers I'm considering most seriously right now are the HK 525 and the Denon 2803.

#2 of 8 Garrett Adams

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Posted April 01 2003 - 10:29 AM

Eric, I have two Mini-Monitors and a CC-370 up front and two pair of Atoms for surrounds and back. You say there is a "complete lack of 7.1 discrete source material right now", and that's true, however there are a number of titles now encoded in 6.1 Dolby Surround EX or DTS-ES, and more is on the way. I think most folks who refer to 7.1 are probably referring to 6.1, especially if they are only using one back center speaker. Those with two back center speakers often refer to their setup as 7.1 to indicate the additional back speaker being used.

#3 of 8 Eric_E

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Posted April 01 2003 - 10:48 AM

Thanks, Garrett. I figured that this was what most people were doing with their "7.1" speaker setups. I guess I am just more concerned with whether today's receivers are going to be able to do anything with the future's surround formats.

#4 of 8 Shawn Fogg

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Posted April 01 2003 - 10:55 AM

Eric,

" Is this all a 7.1 system can do right now?"

No, the Logic 7 that is in the H/K will send different info to the side and rear speakers. That 525 only has L7 available for 2 channel sources though.

Shawn

#5 of 8 Jonathan M

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Posted April 01 2003 - 11:34 AM

Hi Eric,

I own a NAD T752, and it has an external input for 7.1. Thus, you can add an additional processor (ie. in a DVD player or whatever) if/when 7.1 source material becomes a reality.

It already supports 6.1 (DTS-ES and DD-EX) out of the box, but as you note, only has 5 internal amplifiers. It does however have pre-outs for all 7.1 channels, and an external amp will be needed for 6.1 or 7.1 sound. I'm not sure if NADs EARS ambience system creates 7.1 or not - It's not active on 5.1 or 6.1 sources, anyway.

The T752 is a good receiver. Solid power ratings (True 80x5) and can handle down to 4ohm speakers easily.

IMO I agree with your dealer, that's why I got a receiver with only 5 amps instead of more. I figured I could easily add one at a later date if 7.1 sources eventually become a reality. The T752 is not the be all and end all of receivers - it has shortcomings just like any other receiver. I'm happy to discuss these if you would like.

Hope this helps.
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#6 of 8 Eric_E

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Posted April 01 2003 - 12:03 PM

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for your input - I'm glad to hear from someone who owns a NAD. I hadn't really given much thought to them until just recently, but it looks like they have a pretty solid product.

So, if I'm understanding what you've said properly, you would have to add not only an external (2-channel) amplifier for 7.1, but you would also have to have something that could decode a 7.1 signal as well? I.e. The T752 would then be incapable of decoding a discrete 7.1 track, right?

Wouldn't this be true of ALL receivers on the market right now, then? I mean, even with 7 channels of amplification, none of them would be able to do anything with a 7.1 signal, would they? Would Logic 7 be capable of sending discrete material to seven channels? Sorry if I sound like a complete ignoramus here.

Anyway, have you been pretty happy with your NAD so far? I'm sure power would be more than sufficient, because I'm only planning on driving 8 ohm speakers. How loud is the fan? That's something that's giving me pause about the HK 525, too. Could you tell me some more about what you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the T752?

Right now I suppose the 3803 is in the lead, but I'm still weighing other options. Of course, the higher price at authorized vs. lack of warranty unauthorized for the 3803 is a debate still raging in my head. I wish there was just one clear-cut winner that had everything I wanted it to do at a reasonable price, authorized. But that's another rant that I'll spare you right now.

#7 of 8 Kevin C Brown

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Posted April 01 2003 - 12:09 PM

Eric- You might try to do a search for "7.1", although I think the HTF search engine has a problem with that phrase for some reason.

I had 5.1 for years, 6.1 for about 18 months, and now 7.1 for about 6 months. I like... Posted Image

If/when you do go 7.1, make sure that your receiver/pre pro has soundfields that support "expanding" 2.0 through 5.1 sources to a 7.1 speaker system. The 3803 has a nice soundfield called "wide screen" that does this, in addition to DD EX and DTS-ES.

Be aware, some *dealers* themselves might not know as much as the more knowledgeable members here. Posted Image
If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

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#8 of 8 Jonathan M

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Posted April 01 2003 - 12:38 PM

Hey Eric,

Yes, you are correct that no current receivers can decode a 7.1 signal, as there are no source material with 7.1 on it.

Some receivers, however, can process 2.0 signals and/or 5.1 or 6.1 signals in to 7.1. This is a form of matrix processing as described by Kevin in the post above. As far as the NAD T752 goes, it does not process 5.1 or 6.1 (ie DD or DTS) into 7.1. It does however have a processing mode that takes 2.0 (Stereo) and processes it into 7.1.

As for my feelings on the NAD T752, I am currently happy with it. There are a few issues with it, primarily that the bass management is performed solely in the digital domain. This is the same with the vast majority of receivers, however. The problem with this is that the NAD does not convert it's analog signals into digital ones unless it is applying one of it's DSP modes. Thus you get a pure signal through the analog inputs. This applies to both the stereo and external 7.1 inputs. If you apply a DSP mode (only to a stereo input) then bass management does take effect. If the only analog stereo signals you listen to are via VCR or TV, then applying Prologic 2 or EARS will allow you to use the bass management. If you have a CD player with only analog out, then you'll either have to live with no bass management on it, or apply a DSP to it.

The receiver is very solid, and has no trouble with power. I have yet to hear the fan come on, but then again, I have yet to drive more than 2 speakers, as my new speakers are still in the build/design phase. It sounds great.

The main advantage of the NAD is it has main ins for the front 3 channels, thus you can re-use 3 of the 5 power amps if you decide to add a power amp. (ie add a more powerful amp for the front left and right, and reroute the rear 2 channels through the NADs front amps that are now not being used.)

That's about it for now. If you need anymore info, just ask.

Cheers,
Jonathan
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