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Looking for a decoder device for new Atmos Setup (1 Viewer)

Doug2000

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Never built a home theater system before so looking for some help finding the right hdmi decoding ”device”. So far I’ve only purchased the TV (TCL 75” Class 6 Roku TV. Model: 75R635). My plan is to run all powered speakers so I don’t need an amp (or a classic AVR). I will run audio (via the eARC HDMI port from the TV) to a decoder/DAC/preamp device and then balanced XLR line level to the powered speakers. Planning for at least 9 speakers + two subs to start, but want capacity to add additional surround/atmos speakers in the future. What device should I use for decoding? Looks like Trinnov makes something but really expensive/complicated. I‘m looking for something simple that’s set-and-forget.

I would not be opposed to running a separate DAC so a decoder device that takes in an HDMI and outputs separate lossless PCM channels for each speaker (in ADAT, AES or Dante) would also work.

New to home theater but I have a pro audio background.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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You're probably looking at something like this:
 

JohnRice

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Do you have a target budget? You basically need a surround preamp like the one linked above, or a surround receiver that has full preamp outputs. Ones that have XLR outputs will be in the higher price range, but you can always get a regular model and use RCA to XLR cables.
 

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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As others have noted, you will need a pre-pro like the Marantz Peter linked. But honestly, it’ll be much cheaper to get a mid-line receiver. It will have the same processing capabilities - you don’t have to use the built-in amplifiers.

I‘m looking for something simple that’s set-and-forget.
Home theater pre-pros or AVRs are “set and forget,” but there isn’t anything simple about any of them.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 

Doug2000

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Do you have a target budget? You basically need a surround preamp like the one linked above, or a surround receiver that has full preamp outputs. Ones that have XLR outputs will be in the higher price range, but you can always get a regular model and use RCA to XLR cables.
Budget? Not sure I know enough yet to set a budget. I did write down an preliminary list of the powered speakers I‘m considering and it totaled north of $12,000. But making a lists and plunking down the cash are two different things. We will see…
 

Doug2000

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Thanks for the replies. Searching ‘atmos preamps’ i see in addition to marantz an Trinnov (two names I’m familiar with) there are some others: anthem, rotel, arcam, nad (sure there are more still) - Any general advice on these brands? any ones to avoid? Inherent strengths/ weaknesses? Personal preferences? What should my research look for?

Generally speaking, Should i be worried about lip synch issues? I guess im concerned because if i have a problem i wont know till the end and I really won’t know how to fix it.

Do these preamps have auto calibration? thought i saw some include there own measurement mic. Can you do a manual override. What are most folks doing?

Last newb question (for now): What happens when you play 2 channel stereo music through these surround systems. Would prefer to just get signal from front left and right (+ subs)? As i plan to use bigger n better speakers in the FL & FR positions for 2 channel stereo playback.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Most of those brands are solid. You'll probably find a number of people here have a Marantz (I use a Denon receiver but hope to upgrade at some point soon).

No worries about lip sync - they should all have a setting to adjust it.

The ones with mics have some sort of auto calibration (Audyssey, etc.). You'll find opinions vary as to their usefulness but they can always be manually adjusted.

For 2-channel music, you would set the processor to something like "bypass" or "direct" (or whatever the particular manufacturer calls it) which would bypass the surround circuitry.
 

DanH1972

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Thanks for the replies. Searching ‘atmos preamps’ i see in addition to marantz an Trinnov (two names I’m familiar with) there are some others: anthem, rotel, arcam, nad (sure there are more still) - Any general advice on these brands? any ones to avoid? Inherent strengths/ weaknesses? Personal preferences? What should my research look for?

Generally speaking, Should i be worried about lip synch issues? I guess im concerned because if i have a problem i wont know till the end and I really won’t know how to fix it.

Do these preamps have auto calibration? thought i saw some include there own measurement mic. Can you do a manual override. What are most folks doing?

Last newb question (for now): What happens when you play 2 channel stereo music through these surround systems. Would prefer to just get signal from front left and right (+ subs)? As i plan to use bigger n better speakers in the FL & FR positions for 2 channel stereo playback.
I would consider the Monolith HTP-1 built by ATI. It has 9.1.6 Dolby Atmos processing, an upcoming DTS: X Pro update (to also allow 9.1.6 with DTS soundtracks), and even Auro3D that is channel-mapped by ATI to work within a Dolby Atmos speaker configuration (so you don't have to use two speaker layouts for a third immersive format that is barely surviving in the market). It uses Dirac auto calibration software. You only need to buy a Dirac friendly calibration mic, but they are not expensive and this allows you to choose the one that best fits your needs.

Monoprice is touting this as HDMI 2.1 upgradeable with a future board swap.

Best bang for the buck if you have a few coins to spend on an upgrade friendly pre-amp/processor with high quality sound and many neat features for the money.
 

Doug2000

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Ended up getting a Marantz AV7705. The model is discontinued but I found a factory refurbished one for ~$1800. I've only had it for a week or so - but so far I'm pretty happy with it. Does anyone know the difference between the 7705 vs the current 7706 model?
 

JohnRice

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Ended up getting a Marantz AV7705. The model is discontinued but I found a factory refurbished one for ~$1800. I've only had it for a week or so - but so far I'm pretty happy with it. Does anyone know the difference between the 7705 vs the current 7706 model?
Without specifically looking it up, I believe it's just newer hdmi with 8K and VRR, plus as I recall, a THX processing mode. No benefit in the real world.
 

Doug2000

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Beginner question. My TV just came in yesterday (LG OLED 83"). It has eARC out and I thought I could just run that into one of the HDMI inputs on the Marantz to send the sound to the unit to play through the amps/speakers. So my thought was to use the WIFI and streaming apps built into the TV and play the sound through the eARC and the Marantz/Amps/Speakers. On the TV I set the sound to go out the eARC port. But I get no sound from the Marantz.

When I connect a Roku stick to one of the Marantz inputs it all works fine/sounds great. But I'd rather stream from the smart TV (and not use the Roku stick) if possible.

Do I have some fundamental misunderstanding or is there some 'technicality' in my way?
 

JohnRice

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You have to configure eARC in the Marantz and you have to connect the TV to the specified eARC output.

Personally, I’d use the Roku instead. Dedicated streaming devices are almost always superior to a TV’s apps, and ARC can be twitchy.
 

Doug2000

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Personally, I’d use the Roku instead. Dedicated streaming devices are almost always superior to a TV’s apps, and ARC can be twitchy.
Ok thanks - well it works great through the Roku stick. I'll just keep using it that way.
 

Doug2000

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I received a "Lurker" trophy? -- so I guess I need to be more "talkative". Here's a bit of my story...

I've wanted a home theater for a long time but never got it together. Numerous past attempts were scuttled due to lack of time and the challenge of open floor plans. I recently bought a new house with a dedicated Movie room (13 1/2' x 20 1/2' with 10' ceiling). And I'm retired now so I have plenty of time to figure it out. OMG - Having a dedicated/closed off room is just sooo much easier!!

I've got what I would call "Phase 1" of my HT in place now. No surrounds yet, just 2 fronts, a center speaker and two subs.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I have considerable experience in pro-audio (mixing records) and with that, a lot of knowledge of audio concepts and a lot of pro-audio gear - some of which I am redeploying for my home theater. But I'm a noob when it comes to Home Theater itself. Many of the concept transfer over but HT has many concepts I am not familiar with - yet.

So as indicated previously in the thread, I bought a Marantz AV7705 preamp (factory refurbished). Also picked up an LG Ultra HD (UBK90) Blue-Ray player. And for the TV - an LG OLED 83" TV (OLED83C2PUA). What a great picture. Still playing with the brightness and contrast a bit - but wow!

For fronts I repurposed a pair of Amphion One15 Studio Monitors with the Amphion 700 watt stereo amp. Plenty loud for us (although not ear bleeding loud), but extremely clean with great transient response (punchy).

For the center speaker I repurposed a Genelec 8010A 3" powered studio monitor (fantastic little speaker - (own several for various purposes). Unbelievable sound for such a small speaker with only 50 watts. In fact the Genelec was way too powerful for the center speaker (even with the center trimmed down to a max of -12dB in the Marantz) so i had to put an XLR 10dB inline pad on it to bring it into the proper range. With the pad I've got the trim (in the Marantz) set to about -3dB.

Dialog was a little boxy until I realized what the Large/Small setting in the Marantz was for (from reading a thread in this forum/thanks). Set them to 'small' with a cross-over at 80 Hz and the dialog opened up nicely. Did the same with the fronts - shifting the low end load to the subs yielded some more horsepower from the fronts.

That brings me to the subs. Two so so old subs I had laying around the house for many years (circa 2006?) from past / failed attempts to build a home theater system. A Klipsch KSW12 and a Mirage LF100. I was surprised they even worked. Surprised again when I realized they sounded pretty good (although the Mirage has a lot of port noise).

Got a few 4K Blue-ray movies and the family watched the first one last night. OMG what a totally engaging and immersive experience compared to watching with TV speakers. All this and I still have no surround speakers!

Next of course, I'm adding surrounds. I'll probably use a couple of those little Genelec 8010's (X over at 80hz). Then after that I will likely upgrade the Subwoofers to something cleaner and deeper (either a sealed box or a passive radiator style). CLT (Current Leading Thought) is a pair of Eve Audio 9s studio subs.
 

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Doug2000

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I upgraded my Home Theater to near completion of what I am calling "Phase 1". Thought I'd post an update:

- I added a rear set of 3 theater-style motorized recliners on 7.75" risers forming the back row (2 rows total). The couch (which forms the front row) is a sleeper sofa. We use this room as an occasional spare bedroom and sometimes folks like to watch movies fully prone.

- Added surround speakers. Mounted the small Genelec powered speakers (8010A's) from the ceiling as you can see in the pics. The power cable and XLR cable run up threw the aluminum tube into the attic. (We happen to be adding a shower to the bathroom adjacent so when they had the wall open I was able to run cables up to the attic from the movie room.) Currently only using two of the XLR cables for two surround speakers but I ran 8 XLR cables total to support 8 channels up there. Can use them in the future to add addition pairs of Surround Back, Back Height and Front Height speakers -- or some another combination.

It took me & an electrician friend several hours to install the mounts, run the XLR cables for the two surrounds and install power outlets in the attic for all 8 speakers. As I said I'm only using two currently (Phase 1) but I wanted to run power for all 8 channels now (as its all one Romex run).

- Added a PC to the system. The Marantz preamp remains the hub of the system - the PC is just another AV source via HDMI. But to comfortably use the PC I purchased a wireless keyboard with integrated mouse pad. Also got a trackball.

- Replaced the old sub-woofers (Klipsch KSW12 and a Mirage LF100) with two new 9" Dynaudio 9S's (left & right). They are physically smaller then the subs I replaced but they go deeper (22Hz) and are much tighter. They also use all XRL balanced connections and have variable cross-overs for satellite speakers, and a variable low-pass filter for the sub itself - and a separate LFE channel among other settings. Right now I'm just running the Sub 1 and Sub 2 outs from the Marantz straight into into the LFE channel.

After a bit of time (a week or so), I'll switch the Fronts to go through the Sub-Woofer crossovers (and change the Marantz settings to "Large" for the Fronts) and see how that sounds.

Last bit on "Phase 1" I will install XLR wall plates for the runs into the attic for a more finished look.
 

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Doug2000

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There is a front row so technically the HT seats six humans. When all the human seats are full the dogs curl up on the floor.
 

Doug2000

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Also enjoying the room for listening to high resolution 2 channel music. Thought I would post this video I found about playing DSD files. He suggests the Audirvana player. I‘m going to give it a try.

 

Al.Anderson

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The video talks about a Audirvana player app, but when I googled I only found a player device; So I'm not which one you had in mind. But since your Marantz is already a great decoder, why bother with Audirvana at all?
If you a lot of music and a computer on a network you can easily set up a DLNA server (say Plex or Jellyfin). Since it's a DLNA server it won't be decoding, it'll use the Marantz for that. Jellyfin is free, so you can try it and see if you like the sound. FWIW, if you want a DSD player for a computer (say to sample music files), VLC works well and is also free, and I believe you can set it to passthrough audio if it comes to that.
If you don't want to bother with a server at all your Marantz can read from a USB. For reference, I have about 900 albums and generally use a server but just for grins/backup put everything on a 500 GB usb attached to my pre-amp.

After watching the video I can't help commenting that I've played with DSD, MQA, and high def flac (jazz and classical for my comparison tests) and I can't hear a difference. Granted, I'm older so I've lost some of the higher frequencies, and I only did the comparisons on two set-ups (Yamaha receiver and a Yamaha pre-amp Axiom amp); but I still don't thinks it's worth limiting yourself to one format.
 

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