Lost & Confused: Building from scratch, could use some advice

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by SharpieDecker, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. SharpieDecker

    SharpieDecker Auditioning

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    I am planning on building a home theatre system and I have budgeted approx $8000 for all things included (display, speakers, reciever|preamp,amps, cables, etc). Up until now I've never owned anything more than a 29" Sony Trinitron, my XBOX for DVD playing, and a new set of Logitech Z-5500 5.1 surround speakers.

    I realize that's a real starter's setup, and I'm looking to kick it up several notches. I am confused about where to start but here are my essentials requirements:

    - I would like this to be 90% for Movies and 10% Music.

    - The room I have available for this is about 14' 8" by 11' 5", with ceilings that are roughly 8' and a few inches high.

    - Because its a coop apartment, I believe I'm required to have roughly 75% of the floor covered by rugs, but I could a little less, but not much more because I like my wood floors.

    - I already have allotted roughly $2k of that $8k to a Sony KD-XBR34960 flat screen CRT.

    Now I am not sure about getting a receiver or getting seperates. I have heard a lot of good stuff about the Rotel 1066, which drives 100W to 7 channels continuously. Is that enough for the size of room I am using? I was unable to determine if the 1066 had either DVI or HDMI video input, which seemed odd to be lacking.

    The other quality receiver I read about was a NAD, but I forget which one.

    I guess I am not only looking for suggestions on what models to consider, but also what power I need for a room that big, keeping in mind that I have to consider neighbor's. The building is brick and has concrete walls, so its very solid and private, but still I can't go crazy. I would be willing to add material in certain areas of the room to help isolate the sound to that room, provided my wife approves of the way it looks.

    Other questions I have are do I need 7.1 support, or is 5.1 enough? Will a room this size benefit from 7.1 at least from a future proofing perspective?

    I'd be greatful for any and all suggestions and information. I realize this post is somewhat multi topic, but I figured I'd post it in here.
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Great choice on the display.

    That Rotel should fit in perfectly. I would probably choose it over the NAD, though NAD is a good choice also. You'd probably want to look at the 763. The 1066 is the better part of a year old, and very few receivers inlude HDMI/DVI currently. Often with a CRT display, DVI/HDMI is not a dramatic improvement anyway, and you really wouldn't need to loop the video through the receiver if you have enough inputs. IMO, give the DVD player the best input, then HD box, then everything else.

    Your room is kind of small for 7.1, but it should still work fine with everything properly located and setup. For a room that size, separates is probably overkill, but it would be much more future proof also (and a lot more expensive). For 90% movies, I wouldn't say separates is a necessity, unless you are looking for ear blistering levels.

    What speakers are you considering? That may be a factor in which receiver would be a better choice.
     
  3. JimMIT

    JimMIT Stunt Coordinator

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    First, it's evident that you are interested in further educating yourself about HT and audio, otherwise you wouldn't be asking questions on an HT forum. That's a good start. Continue to pore over these forums, reading audio/HT mags, etc. At the same time, begin going out to audio stores and listening to speakers. Opinions vary on this, but I believe that of all of the things that amplify and emit your signal, speakers are most important. So, spend a fair amount of time listening and deciding what kind of sound you're looking for. For a start, I'd give a listen to B&W, Definitive Technology, Dynaudio, JMLabs, KEF, Monitor Audio, Paradigm, Polk and PSB. All make good speakers. I'm partial to Paradigm because they are noted for giving alot of speaker for the money. I have their Reference Studio 20's in a room that's almost three times the cubic feet of your room and they sound great.

    Also, as you are learning more, you should begin to formulate a vision of what you want to end up with, i.e., do you want floorstanding speakers, bookshelves, in-walls, do you want 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, etc.

    Given the size of your room (relatively speaking, it's not that big) coupled with the dearth of 6.1 and 7.1 material out there, I think that 5.1 would be more than sufficient. Separates are ideal, but most of them are expensive, particularly the surround sound processors. One notable exception that comes to mind are separates made by Outlaw Audio. They are probably the most reasonably priced separates that are consistently highly rated. A compromise might be using the pre-outs on a decent receiver and couple it with a good amplifier. You could even begin with a receiver and add an amplifier later. You just have to be sure that the receiver you choose has pre-outs for all your speakers.

    You mentioned Rotel. Rotel makes great audio products. Their $699 RMB-1066 would be an ideal amplifier for your room. But their least expensive surround sound processor would be an additional $1699. As I said previously, you could get a receiver and use it as a pre-pro with the Rotel RMB-1066.

    You also mentioned NAD -- another maker of excellent but not inexpensive (for most folks) equipment. But, with your budget of $6,000 that would go toward amp/receiver, speakers, cables, wiring, etc., there are a number of other receivers you could consider -- Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, Yamaha, etc.

    Also, given the size of your room, I think that most receivers that are advertised at 80 - 100 watts per channel with two channels driven would be fine. For others that advertise their power with all channels driven simultaneously, 50 - 75 watts per channel would suffice.

    One final caveat -- don't rely on my advice alone. There are plenty of folks on this and other forums that have much more HT/audio experience than I do. Hopefully a few of them will chime in.

    Good luck!
     
  4. SharpieDecker

    SharpieDecker Auditioning

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    That's good to hear. My left ear is a little sensitive to loud noises so I am not looking for earth shattering volume. I am more looking to reduce distortion at reasonably loud volumes during film sequences.

    Thanks for all the help, I guess the more answers I get, the more questions I have. I hope I'm not being greedy with the volume of my questions. I appreciate your time.
     
  5. John S

    John S Producer

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    All I will say is.. "If $8k is involved no way I could deal with a screen that small myself"
     
  6. JimMIT

    JimMIT Stunt Coordinator

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    "Seeing as how 7.1 is supported by the 1066. . . "

    Rotel's RMB-1066 is a 60 watts x 6 amplifier; I'm not sure how it supports 7.1 without additional amplification.
     
  7. Chris Dias

    Chris Dias Stunt Coordinator

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    I tend to agree. Have you considered going with a front projector? For the 2K that you plan to spend on that TV you could get some really nice projectors, like the Sanyo Z3 or that Panasonic AE-700. Last summer I bought the Sanyo Z2 (the Z3's predecessor) and I couln't be happier with it.

    So have you thought about Projectors?

    Chris
     
  8. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I think you might have meant the 1056, which is a receiver, rather than the 1066, which is an amplifier. Neither of which are 7.1 out of the box. In both cases, you would need additional amplification for 7.1 (the two rear channels are playing the same thing in most cases). The fact that there are no 7.1 titles means little, as just about anything can be matrixed to 7.1 and there ARE a lot of 6.1 titles available. For a room that size, I'd say 7.1 is a bit of overkill.

    I'll take the nice image quality of a CRT and not complain. Oh, I DID, but that's just me [​IMG] I sit about 8ft from my Sony and it is plenty. I'm more interested in the sound than having a giant screen. With that budget, a decent projector and screen are well within reason though (dpending on the speakers). The AE-700 looks like a winner; a friend of mine is thinking of getting one too.


    Highest quality input on the display in that order. I'd give priority to the DVD player, then an HD box, etc... and not run them through the receiver.
     
  9. SharpieDecker

    SharpieDecker Auditioning

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    Jim, thanks for all of that advice.

    I am curious, you mentioned a lot of well known brands for speakers. How do people feel about the Internet direct brands, like Ascend, AV123, Axiom, etc? Would they make good fits with the receivers and amps we're talking about?

    Also, you suggested that 50-75 watts continuous for all 5 channels would suffice for my room. I guess then that the 100w continuous from Rotel is more than plenty. I didn't realize I was over reaching on the wattage.
     
  10. SharpieDecker

    SharpieDecker Auditioning

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    Sorry, I was thinking of getting the 1067, which supports 7.1 if I understand right.
     
  11. SharpieDecker

    SharpieDecker Auditioning

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    To be honest I never considered it. Several reasons, 1 being that I live in a 2BR apartment with a wife [​IMG] The room that houses my HT system has to double as an office for her desk and usage, as well as our bookshelves.. Even if I moved the HT to the LR instead of the 2nd BR, she would not be cool with a big screen hanging down from the ceiling. Besides, this is supposed to double as our TV as well, so we don't have that kind of option.

    I don't know about projectors though. I guess they can equal a CRT in the category of PQ? I understand from researching that they beat the rest of the display techs in PQ right?

    Its still an interesting though, I'm not unhappy that you mentioned it [​IMG]
     
  12. JimMIT

    JimMIT Stunt Coordinator

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    Personally, I don't have any experience with speakers sold solely via Internet. However, from what I've read on forums such as this one, Ascend, AV123 and Axiom are all respected companies that make some well regarded speakers. My guess is that any of their speakers will sound fine with any of the receivers and/or amps mentioned so far. I believe all of those companies have 30 day return policies which would allow you to "demo" them. It's one route to take and it does give you the advantage of trying them out in the acoustical environment in which you will ultimately by listening to them in over time. My preference is to go the standard brick & mortar route which allows me to A/B several speakers at a time. To each his own, I guess.

    You will find that in the world of audio, there are those who strongly believe that it makes an important difference which speakers are matched with which amplification. I'm not one of those. My ears can't differentiate between two different amplifiers or receivers within the same general price range. At any rate, you may find some who will disagree when I say that any Ascend, Onix or Axiom speakers will sound good with any of those receivers/amps.

    As to the watts you will need, I think most audiophiles will agree that you can never have too much power -- within reason. Keep in mind that manufacturers publish watts differently. A few publish the watts per channel with "all channels driven simultaneously." Most publish the watts per channel with only two channels driven. So, if you are comparing two receivers which measure their watts differently, the one with numerically less watts per channel could very well be more powerful than one with more. Read the specs carefully. A fairly good indication of power is the weight of the receiver or amplifier. Rotel, I believe, publishes their specs with all channels driven.

    You keep mentioning Rotel, but I'm still a little confused about which unit you are referring to:

    a) RSX-1067 - 100 watt x 7 7.1 receiver with MSRP of $2200.

    b) RSX-1056 - 75 watt x 5 7.1 receiver (must have additional amp) with MSRP of $1300.

    c) RMB-1075 - 120 watts x 5 amplifier with MSRP of $999.

    d) RMB-1066 - 60 watts x 5 amplifier with MSRP of $699.

    The RSX-1067 is a little on the expensive and would eat up much of your audio budget. While the RMB-1075 is a very good amplifier, you'd still have to go out and get a processor or a receiver -- another several hundred at least. The RMB-1066 is a great little amplifier and very reasonably priced. Even though it is only 60 watts per channel, look at the weight of the thing -- almost 30 pounds. That is heavier than most receivers boasting 100 watts per channel. Again, you'd still have to add another several hundred dollars for a processor or receiver. Now, with the RSX-1056, you've got 75 honest watts per channel and a built-in processor that, with the addition of a two channel amp, will do 7.1. It's a gem at $1300. If you're strongly leaning toward Rotel, given the size of your room, your budget, and your desire to "kick it up several notches", the RSX-1056 might be a winner. The only thing is, I don't know if it has DVI or HDMI input; not many receivers at that price point have HDMI.
     
  13. SharpieDecker

    SharpieDecker Auditioning

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    I think it was the RSX-1067 I was thinking of. I guess I am still torn as to whether to go with a 6 or 7.1 setup. I think that I could probably get a better 5.1 setup since I'd be saving $$ here.

    I guess if I went with the RSX-1056 as you suggested and likewise with a 5.1 speaker setup (I was thinking of going with something like the Axiom Epic Grand Master - axiomaudio.com/epicgrandmaster.html#) I would be ending up with a nice sound and money left over for a high quality DVD player and possibly a DVHS player.
     
  14. JimMIT

    JimMIT Stunt Coordinator

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    I am suggesting a 5.1 system as I think it will more than fill you room and you will be quite happy with it. Regarding the RSX-1067, I'm not suggesting it per se -- it's just that it seems like that's the one you want. I'm merely saying that if you chose it, you would end up with a well built, beautiful and great sounding receiver that will serve you well.

    With respect to the Axiom speakers, I have never heard them, but have never heard anything bad about them. Axiom owners seem quite smitten with them. Assuming you opted for the Rotel and the Axioms, there are those who would say that your cost ratio of speakers to receiver is too low -- too much on receiver, not enough on speakers. That is somewhat mitigated by the theory that on-line speaker companies like Axiom which sell direct to the public, don't have to factor in middlemen and some other costs and that their speakers are more comparable to higher priced speakers. That theory probably has some validity.

    All that being said, I still think you'd be doing yourself a favor by spending some time listening to other speakers as well. If you are inclined to do that, there are two speakers that I would listen to in particular: B&W and Paradigm. B&W and Rotel are both British companies that are, I believe, somehow affiliated with each other. In every audio showroom I've ever seen Rotel in, they invariably mated their Rotels with B&W speakers. Paradigm, like Axiom, is a Canadian company that designs and makes all of their own speaker drivers. They have a reputation of giving audio consumers high value for their cost. I've listened to several models within both brands and have been impressed. In fact, I have Paradigms. Listening is free and it would give you something to compare the sound of the Axioms to.

    Hopefully we'll see some opinions of more experienced folks regarding the Rotel/Axiom combo.
     
  15. SharpieDecker

    SharpieDecker Auditioning

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    Jim,

    Thanks for the further info. I will make the time to try out a handful of speaker makers, including the ones you mention.

    If the $~1700 Axioms are under investments to my potential RSX-1067 purchase (or even RSX-1056 purchase) then what is a good ration of pricerange for speakers to this quality level of receiver?

    I have some speaker questions but I guess they belong in the speaker forum, not the receiver/amps forum.

    I guess my last question regarding the 5.1 vs. 6.1 vs. 7.1 is that recently I ran across a DVD that only had DD 6.1, no 5.1. Because of this I had to run it with its DDPL2 mix instead on my Logitech Z5500 speakers. I wonder if that is rare or something I should be concerned about. I wish I remember the name of the DVD but I don't at the moment.

    Sharpie
     
  16. John S

    John S Producer

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    Ok, Now I am confused....

    There really isn't anything called DD6.1

    DD EX, should play flawless on a DD 5.1 only system.


    Or maybe I am behind the times, and now there really is DD6.1???
     
  17. SharpieDecker

    SharpieDecker Auditioning

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    Well I am new at this so please accept my apologies, I am probably butchering terminology.

    I had a DVD that I swear was Dolby Digital, but it said 6.1, not 5.1. Maybe that is DD EX? I didn't know that it would properly play on my 5.1, and I can't remember if I tried so you are probably right. I guess it just ignores the extra (rear?) channel?

    I had another question regarding the alphabet soup, does the fact that the RSX-1067 is missing DPLIIx a problem? Shouldn't a component at this level support something as trivial as that?
     
  18. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    DD EX is technically a 5.1 format that supports a matrixed rear center channel. The rear channel is not discrete. If you don't have a rear center configured, you get 5.1 with nothing missing. DTS ES has both matrix and discrete versions, and is the only FORMAT that has a discrete rear channel.

    DPLIIx is newer than the 1067. The 1067 is software upgradable, so perhaps they will release an update with IIx.
     
  19. JimMIT

    JimMIT Stunt Coordinator

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    What John said. He's referring to an RS-232 interface, which is a little port on the back of the unit to which you can connect your computer so that you can download software as it becomes available.
     
  20. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I would say the Axioms and the 1067 are going to sound quite good together as well. I wouldn't call them an underinvestment either, but you could go a step or two higher.

    You can check www.audioenvy.com for anyone local for auditions of Onyx Rockets (www.av123.com), also internet direct.

    If you haven't, I'd check the dealer locators for the manufacturers Jim mentioned earlier:


    My thoughts:

    B&W - CM or 700 series
    Paradigm - Reference Studio series
    Monitor Audio - Gold
    Polk - LSi
    KEF - Qx or Ref

    Also throw in the NHT Evolution series.
     

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