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New guy: Lifelong 2-channeler trying 7.1.2? (1 Viewer)

almico

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Hello...New to HTF. I think I had an account here several years ago and lurked for a while, but it might have been "inactivitied" out.

As the title says, I've been a long-time, (poor man's), 2-channel audio enthusiast. Not being one to spend $18K on a tone arm or $1200/ft on speaker cables, I've managed to put together a very satisfying system on what I consider to be a reasonable budget. I've built some tube amplifiers, built some speakers and spent years chasing the typical audio rabbits down their respective audio rabbit holes.

My last project of several years ago was converting a pair of Altec Lansing A5s into a more audio friendly speaker system. They were a bit "shouty" at first, but after building a passive crossover network that I found during another late-night internet deep dive, my audio hobby ended.

Suddenly, there was the sound I had in my head since I was a teen in the 70s. The hobby of daily scanning the net and forums looking for the next best thing to fix what was wrong in my system just stopped on a dime and I began my journey of just enjoying what was right about it. It's been years since I've moved even a wire.

But over the years I've found myself spending more time watching movies than listening to music. The tube amplifiers I had in this system were being overused and I started looking around for a solid state alternative. I discovered Nelson Pass and built a few of his designs. Nice. Then I found a 90s Adcom system nearby for stupid cheap and put it in the system.

IMG_2097.jpeg

Although the Altecs are 102dB efficient, and the 3W/ch tube amp comfortably provided 100dB+ SPL in my small room, the 300W/ch Adcom monoblocks were a nice change of pace. Though the Altecs can only handle 50W/ch, the extra power in reserve made a difference.

Then, several weeks ago, one of the amps developed a little 60-cycle hum. I pulled the amp out of the system, opened it up, but couldn't find anything obvious. While the amp was in for service, I started shopping...and found an Adcom GFA-7805 (300W x 5ch) in nice shape and recently serviced for $1000. And so began my exploration into the next rabbit hole...Dolby Atmos and a multi speaker system.
 

almico

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My next need was for a processor. Again, not wanting to spend multiple thousands of dollars, I did a little research (should have come here first) and found an Anthem AVM60 in tip-top shape for another $1000. It came from the dealer that originally installed it into a customer's system a few years ago and recently pulled it out for an upgrade. It hadn't been registered yet and he said he could warranty it for year. Coming from a very old-school system, I thought the features of the AVM60 were still light years beyond what I was used to. The AVM70 and 90s were going for much higher prices.

The Adcom 7805 and GFA565 monoblocks both have XLR inputs and the Anthem has XLR outs, so I now have 300W x 7ch of available sound. I also have a Crown XLS2500 and an XLS1500 amp for the subs. Both also have XLR inputs along with built in lowpass crossovers and volume controls.

For speakers I have a pair of Altec 604Cs in Stonehenge cabinets that were used in another system and facing another part of the house. I was thinking about just turning them around and using them as rear speakers.


IMG_1831.JPG

I also have a pair of HiVi 3.1 Swan DIY speakers that I was going to use as surround left and right. They are smaller, but sound amazing.

That brings us up to the present...
 

almico

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This was the disaster that was my old system. I should mention that I live alone...with Leo, the border collie in the last post. WAF is not an issue in this house!

IMG_1834.JPG

I had a few days off during the Thanksgiving holiday and dismantled the old and built a new rack system with Ikea Lack tables.


IMG_1883.JPG

And replaced the 60" TV with a 75"


IMG_1889.JPG
 

JohnRice

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The AVM 60 is a good choice. The 70 and 90 are actually a little glitchy.
 

almico

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I envy the systems I have seen here and the rooms that they occupy. I wish I had that available to me. My house is a ranch built on a slab. No basement, but at least the area where the system is located is built on a raised wooden riser.

This was the space many years ago before I moved in:



IMG_1728.JPG



My listening chair is on the other side of the fireplace and the system is on the back wall. It is 20' wide and 10' deep. I know, not ideal.

This is the clutter now:


IMG_1919.JPG
 
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almico

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The AVM 60 is a good choice. The 70 and 90 are actually a little glitchy.
Thanks, John. I was concerned. I'm getting ready to get this all hooked up today and I have never worked with a surround sound processor. I like simple things.


I have a question about sources. I still have a cable box (don't judge), a Mac Mini and the Samsung app built into the TV. I have the cable box and Mac going through an SMLS SU9 DAC. The SU9 works as a preamp-like input switcher and volume control as well as a DAC for USB music and video sound. I'm not sure I'm going to need it with the Anthem. But I don't think the Anthem has USB inputs. I do not have a modern blu-ray player (yet).

For now I'm finding that the sound quality when streaming Netflix through a browser on the Mac Mini is far superior to the sound coming out of both the cable box as well as the optical port on the TV. The TV is not Dolby Atmos enabled. I can still return it.
 

JohnRice

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Thanks, John. I was concerned. I'm getting ready to get this all hooked up today and I have never worked with a surround sound processor. I like simple things.


I have a question about sources. I still have a cable box (don't judge), a Mac Mini and the Samsung app built into the TV. I have the cable box and Mac going through an SMLS SU9 DAC. The SU9 works as a preamp-like input switcher and volume control as well as a DAC for USB music and video sound. I'm not sure I'm going to need it with the Anthem. But I don't think the Anthem has USB inputs. I do not have a modern blu-ray player (yet).

For now I'm finding that the sound quality when streaming Netflix through a browser on the Mac Mini is far superior to the sound coming out of both the cable box as well as the optical port on the TV. The TV is not Dolby Atmos enabled. I can still return it.
When processors have a USB input, it's usually for software updates, or just as a power source, not as an audio source. there are options for that.

My guess is, just for functionality, you'll probably end up using the AVM 60 in place of the DAC. With some changes to how stuff works.

I wouldn't worry about the streaming or audio capabilities of the TV. The best solution is usually to get a dedicated streaming device (Roku or Apple TV) and connect that to the receiver. It's a much better solution than using a TV's apps or a web browser.
 

JohnRice

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Yeah, it's all about determining the best compromises. Because there are always compromises.
 

almico

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Speaking of compromises...if I was ever going to cut the cable, now would be the time.

I like convenience, the DVR and SNY for Met games. I can get Hulu +Live TV and get SNY, but it's $90 a month and I might as well keep cable.

Help!
 
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Dave Moritz

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Nice to come across a fellow Altec A-7 owner. My A-7's belonged to my father who used them for mobile DJ'ing and at the time he had two pair plus a pair of 18" subs which I do not remember the brand. Around 1987 I purchased a pair of A-7's from my father as he had already sold his Yamaha power amps and one pair of A-7's. But I purchased them for $400 cash and I guess the power handling when up and so did the efficiency later on. I have seen my Altec's handle a 300 watt amplifier with a Soundcraftman EQ between the amp and a Pioneer Spec1 preamp. A friend of mine who is into speakers in a big way and used to work for a speaker reconning business. Insisted that my Altec A-7's where 114db efficient and if I sold them he would hurt me, lol.

View attachment old 2 channel.jpg
Then


Now

IMG_2428a.jpg




IMG_2430a.jpg



I love the A-7's as both music and movies sound great with them but music sounds like a rock concert when loud but they have so much detail at low volume. What center channel did you go with for your surround system? I am using a Klipsch RC-64 lll center channel and Klipsch RP-600M bookshelf speakers for my four surrounds. I have a 200 watt / channel Emotiva 3 channel power amp driving the Altecs and the center channel. And yes I need to get these repainted.
 

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Speaking of compromises...if I was ever going to cut the cable, now would be the time.

I like convenience, the DVR and SNY for Met games. I can get Hulu +Live TV and get SNY, but it's $90 a month and I might as well keep cable.

Help!
Streaming has a lot of options and flexibility you don't get with regular cable.
 

almico

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What center channel did you go with for your surround system?
I had a pair of Tang Band W8-1772s in some DIY cabs. One blew and the price on then has almost doubled to $359 a piece. I put the good one in a little cabinet and we'll see how it sounds. The driver is 96dB efficient so it should match OK. You can see it in the middle of the rack.

Yeah, once you experience a good compression driver there is no going back. I have 515Bs for LF and 288s for HF. My listening chair is 9' away. Heaven.

I took the whole room apart today.


IMG_1920.JPG

Here's my 5.1 surround speakers:

Some vintage 604Cs. What could be bad.
 

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ManW_TheUncool

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Streaming has a lot of options and flexibility you don't get with regular cable.

That plus you'll probably get better quality A/V via at least some key streaming options than the old cable service. Maybe if you're doing Fios, the quality might be more competitive, but most likely not cable TV.

Speaking of compromises...if I was ever going to cut the cable, now would be the time.

I like convenience, the DVR and SNY for Met games. I can get Hulu +Live TV and get SNY, but it's $90 a month and I might as well keep cable.

Help!

Have you tried checking SlingTV to see if they offer what you want/need for less?

Also, your cable provider might offer a streaming app version of its TV service for less than the old traditional service (perhaps at least for a year or two)...

With these various options, you can also more easily cancel/deactivate service when you don't really need it, eg. if your main need w/ it is for the baseball season, then maybe you can deactivate and save $$$ during the offseason (like now)...

Me? I usually only subscribe to MLB.TV (usually wait til May for their 1st big discount for the whole rest of the season)... and then just do SlingTV for a month for the postseason.

MLB.TV will blackout your local home teams' games though... but if you're actually not living near NYC, then you won't be blacked out for (most) Mets games...

_Man_
 

almico

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Houston, we have a problem. I've been listening to this system for a few weeks and enjoying going through my movie favorites to see what they sound like in 5.1 (actually 5.4 as I have 4 subs). But I was going through some HT YT vids that were talking about the dreaded center speaker and it got me wondering. So when I got home tonight I started playing with settings and turning the center speaker on and off with the Anthem AVM60 and was stunned at how much sound was sucked out of the front Altec A5s when the center channel was turned on.

Yes, I am guilty of neglecting the significance of the center speaker and taking it for granted. The Altecs are 102dB efficient and I thought a single 8", full range, 96dB speaker in the middle would be good enough. To be honest, the sound coming out of the Tang Band is fine...it's the sound that gets diverted from the Altecs that is the problem. They sound totally anemic with the center channel turned and on heavenly with it turned off. I'm at a loss now to figure out a suitable center speaker that can hold its own dynamically with those 288 compression drivers and not block my TV. I might have to live with a phantom center channel and run 4.4 instead of 5.4. Or maybe there is a way to configure the Anthem to use the center speaker as just a fill instead of trying to carry the full weight.
 

JohnRice

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Houston, we have a problem. I've been listening to this system for a few weeks and enjoying going through my movie favorites to see what they sound like in 5.1 (actually 5.4 as I have 4 subs). But I was going through some HT YT vids that were talking about the dreaded center speaker and it got me wondering. So when I got home tonight I started playing with settings and turning the center speaker on and off with the Anthem AVM60 and was stunned at how much sound was sucked out of the front Altec A5s when the center channel was turned on.

Yes, I am guilty of neglecting the significance of the center speaker and taking it for granted. The Altecs are 102dB efficient and I thought a single 8", full range, 96dB speaker in the middle would be good enough. To be honest, the sound coming out of the Tang Band is fine...it's the sound that gets diverted from the Altecs that is the problem. They sound totally anemic with the center channel turned and on heavenly with it turned off. I'm at a loss now to figure out a suitable center speaker that can hold its own dynamically with those 288 compression drivers and not block my TV. I might have to live with a phantom center channel and run 4.4 instead of 5.4. Or maybe there is a way to configure the Anthem to use the center speaker as just a fill instead of trying to carry the full weight.
A couple things. Calibration is clearly a problem here. There shouldn't be that significant of a change when turning the center speaker on/off with proper surround media material, as opposed to music. Second, expecting a single, full range driver, even a relatively expensive one, to compete with the Altecs probably isn't realistic.

That type of full range driver tends to have all sorts of off-axis problems, which could be your first issue. I'm definitely not a fan of the mainstream Klipsch speakers. Their Heritage line is a lot better, though rather overpriced. However, a large Klipsch center speaker is probably a better match for your Altecs. First, trying to correct the calibration, to find out how close you can get with the Tang Band. I'm guessing that's a DIY enclosure, and it could be sorely wrong for the driver.
 

almico

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A couple things. Calibration is clearly a problem here. There shouldn't be that significant of a change when turning the center speaker on/off with proper surround media material, as opposed to music. Second, expecting a single, full range driver, even a relatively expensive one, to compete with the Altecs probably isn't realistic.

That type of full range driver tends to have all sorts of off-axis problems, which could be your first issue. I'm definitely not a fan of the mainstream Klipsch speakers. Their Heritage line is a lot better, though rather overpriced. However, a large Klipsch center speaker is probably a better match for your Altecs. First, trying to correct the calibration, to find out how close you can get with the Tang Band. I'm guessing that's a DIY enclosure, and it could be sorely wrong for the driver.
Yeah, I'm getting a crash course in surround sound processing. I started to try and run the ARC room correction that comes with the Anthem, but it only runs on windows and I won't allow it in my house. I had to manually crank up the center +12dB and lower the L&R Altecs -9dB in order to get the center on/off volume levels to match. But even with that there was still a huge loss in "punch". With the center "off" I have 2 15" Altec 515Bs thumping my chest and the horns bringing everything above to life. When I switch "on" the center I divert all that SPL to a single 8" driver. Honestly, I don't think there is anything that could keep up with them short of a third A5 or similar.

If I would have known that I would have moved the rack of components elsewhere and left space under the TV for a Valencia or LaScala or something. But as it is now, there isn't room for much. If I could just set the center up as a fill in that might work, but I don't see that option on the Anthem. I can change the crossover point on the center up to 250Hz, but it doesn't sound like that adds the lower frequencies back to the Altecs.

I ordered a Klipsch R-52C center speaker and will see how that works. It's the only thing I could find that would come close to fitting in my rack. It's also 95dB sensitive, but more LF drive might help. I can always return it.
 

JohnRice

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Yeah, I'm getting a crash course in surround sound processing. I started to try and run the ARC room correction that comes with the Anthem, but it only runs on windows and I won't allow it in my house. I had to manually crank up the center +12dB and lower the L&R Altecs -9dB in order to get the center on/off volume levels to match. But even with that there was still a huge loss in "punch". With the center "off" I have 2 15" Altec 515Bs thumping my chest and the horns bringing everything above to life. When I switch "on" the center I divert all that SPL to a single 8" driver. Honestly, I don't think there is anything that could keep up with them short of a third A5 or similar.

If I would have known that I would have moved the rack of components elsewhere and left space under the TV for a Valencia or LaScala or something. But as it is now, there isn't room for much. If I could just set the center up as a fill in that might work, but I don't see that option on the Anthem. I can change the crossover point on the center up to 250Hz, but it doesn't sound like that adds the lower frequencies back to the Altecs.

I ordered a Klipsch R-52C center speaker and will see how that works. It's the only thing I could find that would come close to fitting in my rack. It's also 95dB sensitive, but more LF drive might help. I can always return it.
Those, especially the LaScala might be a little overboard. LOL. If you could find a Heresy or Forte in good condition, and have room for it, that could be a good option. At least getting higher efficiency will make the balance easier to achieve.

Do you have a subwoofer? You want to be certain you get the speaker settings right. If there's no sub, then you need to be certain the L/R are set to "Large" and then any frequencies you take away from the center will go to them. You want to be certain the center is set to "Small' and crossover at no lower than 80Hz.
 

almico

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Those, especially the LaScala might be a little overboard. LOL. If you could find a Heresy or Forte in good condition, and have room for it, that could be a good option. At least getting higher efficiency will make the balance easier to achieve.

Do you have a subwoofer? You want to be certain you get the speaker settings right. If there's no sub, then you need to be certain the L/R are set to "Large" and then any frequencies you take away from the center will go to them. You want to be certain the center is set to "Small' and crossover at no lower than 80Hz.
I have 4 subs, one in each corner of the room. They do a lot of the heavy lifting. The Anthem doesn't have "small" or "large" speaker options. It lets you select the speakers in the system, seating distance from each, level of each and crossover point of each. I have them set at 80Hz since both my fronts and surrounds have 15" woofers.

I've been playing with it back and forth and it does not seem that taking frequencies away from the center get rerouted to the L&R. Maybe a phone call to Anthem on Monday is in order.
 
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JohnRice

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Well, the main issue is, it shouldn't make a huge difference in the overall audio and impact to turn on/off the center speaker. Something isn't right.
 

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