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Looking for advice on Atmos receiver or separates? (1 Viewer)

Gregory Pauswinski

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I am looking to set up a nice home theater room and upgrade my 5.1 system to a 7.1.4 system. The Denon AVR-X6700H looks like it could get the job done. Moving into the world of separates is intimidating and the costs seem like they can get out of control really quickly, but I'd love to hear some opinions on what might be possible. Is it possible to get a decent separates setup for under $6k?
 

Robert Crawford

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Greg,

You can do what I did some years ago by using a new receiver as a pre-amp and buying an amp to drive all of your channels or in my case, I just use my Yamaha 3060 as a pre-amp that also drives my four Atmos channels while using my Outlaw 7140 amp to drive the other 7 channels and my two subwoofers. I love my 7.2.4 setup!

Next year, I'm thinking of upgrading my main HT system again. Most likely I'll just replace the Yamaha 3060 to one of the new models that come out next year.
 

JohnRice

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Going full separates isn't for most people, but if you provide more info on the room, speakers, and what you envision it'll be easier to give advice. I do have a system with full separates, so I'm definitely not against it. And yes, you can do separates for under $6K, with very limited choices of processor, or by buying used. In many cases, the type of "hybrid" setup Roberts has tends to be a better solution.

You can go with a 6700... or maybe step down to a 4700 to open up $ for an amp or two. Then you can add a three channel amp for the front channels. The first reason to do that is to take power demands off the receiver. Look at the specs of receivers and you'll see they only drive the rated power into one or two channels. The problem is you want to drive eleven channels and you run out of power coming in to the receiver, which severely limits how much power can go out. So first, you take the most demanding channels (the front three) off the receiver and send it to an external amp that can provide more power, leaving the receiver to power the less demanding channels.

So, a really budget friendly option is to use an Emotiva A3 to drive the front three channels for $500. Or, if you want to supercharge the front channels, you can get an XPA-3 for $1,300 and get as much as 500 wpc into 4 Ohm. You can get a 5 channel amp like the Outlaw 5000x for the front three and side surround pair for $769 or the current version of Robert's amp, the 7000x for $1,000. If you're OK with more than one external amp, I recommend a more powerful one for the front three, like the XPA-3, and a less powerful one, like the A4 for $550, which can be added later, to power the surround channels, leaving the receiver to drive the overhead ones. It also depends on how difficult your speakers are to drive.
 

Gregory Pauswinski

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I had not even thought about the options that you guys are suggesting. Thank you for the ideas.

Our new house has a large bonus room approximately 20'x27' over the garage. I'm going to turn it into a dedicated home theater room with a pinball machine in the back. I am going to get a motorized screen that will come down in front of some windows on the 20' wall. We are in the process of installing shades that should block all or very close to all of the light in the room.

This is the equipment that I have now:
Speakers: B&W CDM 7SE
Center: B&W CDM CSE
Rear: B&W DM601
Sub: SVS 16-46PC with upgraded (ultra?) driver
BD Player: Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD

Definitely replacing:
Receiver: Marantz SR7005 - Gotta upgrade to Atmos.
Projector: Panasonic PT-AE1000U - I have not used this since we moved into the new house. The motor in the dynamic iris is sticking and I need 4k


I need two more speakers to go from 5.1 to make 7, so I'd love to use the opportunity to get some new B&W fronts rather than buying lower end models for the rear surrounds. I'm going to get 4 Atmos speakers for the ceiling too.
 

Gregory Pauswinski

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John, I think I hear you saying that this would be a good choice for amplifiers:
Emotiva XPA-3 $1,300 - amplifier for front 3 speakers
Emotiva BasX A4 - $550 - amplifier for 4 surround speakers

So this leaves a lot of room for an atmos speaker amplifier and should I be looking at a pre-processor instead of a receiver?

I have no experience with XLR cables and I see that the A4 does not have XLR inputs
 

Robert Crawford

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It really doesn't take much to power up the atmos speakers so if you go with a receiver to act as your pre, it would easily do that task.
 

JohnRice

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John, I think I hear you saying that this would be a good choice for amplifiers:
Emotiva XPA-3 $1,300 - amplifier for front 3 speakers
Emotiva BasX A4 - $550 - amplifier for 4 surround speakers

So this leaves a lot of room for an atmos speaker amplifier and should I be looking at a pre-processor instead of a receiver?

I have no experience with XLR cables and I see that the A4 does not have XLR inputs
If you go with a receiver, you could start with just something like the XPA-3 to power the front three channels and let the receiver power the surrounds and Atmos, which don't need nearly as much power, as Robert pointed out. Then, if you want to take it up a bit, add an A4 for the surround channels. You could start with just the three channel amp and decide later on the surround amp. If you go with a preamp, then you of course need amps to drive all the channels and, in my opinion, an XPA-3 and two A4s is kind of the ideal balance of investment and better than any of the single amp solutions.

XLR is nice, if you have it, but a receiver won't have those, except in very rare, expensive situations. They're good for longer runs. For example, I have them and put the amps close to the speakers, with a short speaker wire run from the amp. If you go with a preamp that has XLR outputs and the amp also has them, then go ahead and use them, but no reason to worry about the A4 not having them. FWIW, the Outlaw amps do have them.
 

Deanmad

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Going with a denon is the right choice. If you can find the 6500 it is close to the 6700 but will save you some cash.
 

Gregory Pauswinski

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I really appreciate the advice given here. I need to look at the differences between the various Denon receivers.

Should I be at all concerned about the fact that Denon uses Audyssey room correction when others like Dirac are supposed to be better?
 

Clinton McClure

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I really appreciate the advice given here. I need to look at the differences between the various Denon receivers.

Should I be at all concerned about the fact that Denon uses Audyssey room correction when others like Dirac are supposed to be better?
I fretted over that as well as the different levels of Audyssey before buying my current receiver (Denon S750H). In the end, my budget dictated what I could afford and after setting up the receiver and running Audyssey, everything sounds fine.
 

Gregory Pauswinski

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Thanks. That's what I figured.

While I'm upgrading my equipment, I've gotten the bug to upgrade my 20+ year old speakers too. If I splurge on something crazy like the B&W 702 S2 or 702 Signature, will the Emotiva amplifiers work alright with them?

Emotiva's 20% off sale ends soon. It is tempting to bite on them sooner rather than later.
 

Clinton McClure

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While I'm upgrading my equipment, I've gotten the bug to upgrade my 20+ year old speakers too. If I splurge on something crazy like the B&W 702 S2 or 702 Signature, will the Emotiva amplifiers work alright with them?
I don’t see why they wouldn’t but I also haven’t looked up the specs for the Emotiva amps or the B&W speakers. Perhaps @JohnRice has some thoughts. He is one of our experts in the realm of separates and power handling.
 

John Dirk

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Should I be at all concerned about the fact that Denon uses Audyssey room correction when others like Dirac are supposed to be better?

Great question. If I were buying new at this point I would definitely avoid products built around Audyssey. I currently have the Marantz AV7702MKii and consider it the weak link in my system for that very reason. That said, solutions employing Dirac Live or Anthem's ARC Genesis are usually a good deal more expensive and so would likely not work within your stated budget.

Given the current state of the supply chain etc., you might actually be better off picking up some used gear to tide you over for a year or so until things [hopefully] normalize. That's partially why I haven't replaced my Marantz yet.
 

JohnRice

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Should I be at all concerned about the fact that Denon uses Audyssey room correction when others like Dirac are supposed to be better?
As John Dirk stated, Audyssey is significantly behind the curve, especially compared to Dirac and ARC. It's still probably better than YPAO. I've never heard what I consider to be good auto correction, so I remain skeptical until I do. I AM sold on the idea of using a MiniDSP for subs though.


While I'm upgrading my equipment, I've gotten the bug to upgrade my 20+ year old speakers too. If I splurge on something crazy like the B&W 702 S2 or 702 Signature, will the Emotiva amplifiers work alright with them?

Emotiva's 20% off sale ends soon. It is tempting to bite on them sooner rather than later.
My front speakers (Thiel CS 3.6) are significantly more difficult to drive than the 702s. The regular XPA amps drive them fine, but the XPA-DR2 I use now is the best sounding, overall, that I've used with them in the nearly 30 years I've had them. That includes a Threshold 200 WPC pure Class A that had better imaging, but lower dynamics. It was also many times more expensive than the XPA-DR2 is now, back in 1993.

Still, you're getting into the range of considering other options. Someone can chime in about D-Sonic, and you have plenty of other options, including the Class D stuff from PS Audio.
 

DaveF

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Audyssey is trying, finally. $200 software license per AVR. It’s brand new and early adopters are just starting to play with it. There are some encouraging early reports. My hope is that it closes the gap with ARC and Dirac, while keeping the $1000+ price benefit of Audyssey AVRs from Denon and Marantz and others compared to ARC or other solutions.

But TBD.

 

JohnRice

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Audyssey is trying, finally. $200 software license per AVR. It’s brand new and early adopters are just starting to play with it. There are some encouraging early reports. My hope is that it closes the gap with ARC and Dirac, while keeping the $1000+ price benefit of Audyssey AVRs from Denon and Marantz and others compared to ARC or other solutions.

But TBD.

Windows and Xbox ONLY.

Might as well not exist at all, as far as I’m concerned.
 

Gregory Pauswinski

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Thank you for all of the suggestions.


My front speakers (Thiel CS 3.6) are significantly more difficult to drive than the 702s. The regular XPA amps drive them fine, but the XPA-DR2 I use now is the best sounding, overall, that I've used with them in the nearly 30 years I've had them.

If I go with the XPA-DR2 for the mains, what would you recommend that I use for my center channel?
 

JohnRice

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Thank you for all of the suggestions.




If I go with the XPA-DR2 for the mains, what would you recommend that I use for my center channel?
You might just use a DR3 for all three. I have a DR1 for the center, but it’s probably overkill.
 

Clinton McClure

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Audyssey is trying, finally. $200 software license per AVR. It’s brand new and early adopters are just starting to play with it. There are some encouraging early reports. My hope is that it closes the gap with ARC and Dirac, while keeping the $1000+ price benefit of Audyssey AVRs from Denon and Marantz and others compared to ARC or other solutions.

But TBD.

Hard pass for $200.
 

DaveF

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Hard pass for $200.
If this iteration on Audyssey does a good job, it might be part of the value question of paying $3000 + $200 for a Marantz 7706 and MultEQ X versus $3800 for an Anthem AVM70.

Or at a lower-cost high-end AVR, getting a $1000 + $200 Denon 2700 with MultEQ X versus $1700 Anthem MRX 540.

I’m still waiting to hear if the new Audyssey software is any good, worth $200, how it compares to ARC, etc. I hope to replace my Marantz 7702 mkII next year or two. I’ve been thinking about Anthem with everyone extolling ARC. But maybe Audyssey is finally getting competitive again? Waiting and watching :)
 

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