Okay, Im going to sound crazy here...but I have come to the conclusion that

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Rich Wenzel, Oct 9, 2003.

  1. Rich Wenzel

    Rich Wenzel Supporting Actor

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    a series of upgrades for hometheater audio equipment is just not worth it...

    I find that the difference in sound quality when watching movies with top notch speakers (say $5k for the fronts) a top pre/pro (like an anthem or lexicon), and a great amp is not significantly better than lower end stuff like outlaw, rotel, adcom etc with good speakers...

    I have found, however, that a nice 2 channel system, using the cost difference from going to a lexicon system from a rotel system, really improves.

    Am I missing something?

    For me, I just think that my upgrades in the future are going to be 2 channel music oriented rather than 5-7 channel stuff. I have no room for 7 channels anyway, and i havent heard that much of a difference using $20k versus $7k of audio equipment when decoding DD and DTS signals...

    Am I alone in this? Are there steep dimishing returns curve in hometheater after you go to entry level separates or a flagship receiver and good speakers?

    I heard the sunfire, denon 5803, anthem, rotel 1098, and the lexicon (all using different amps) and in 2 channel it could compete with a $2k channel preamp...to my ears anyway. Don't get me wrong, the 2 channel sound is great with those pieces, but I was just amazed at how much better a dedicated 2 channel preamp did (was a Naim, didnt get to test out a naim av2 yet, also heard a Creek) did. I figured it would be better, but I didn't realize how much so.

    Rich
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Nope, you are not alone. I watched Gladiator on a $100K system, and while it sounded great, it just wasn't necessary (Aerial, Krell, Runco) Now for 2ch MUSIC, that system is going to sound SPECTACULAR, with the side benefit of being able to view movies as well, and that's my mentality too.

    If I were looking to drop $20K into a system, most of it would focus on the 2ch abilities, IMO, with movies as a fringe benefit. My system is under $6K and it still focuses more on 2ch, because that's what I listen to most. [​IMG]
     
  3. MikeRP

    MikeRP Supporting Actor

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    I think if you can imagine a curve with expense increasing exponentially and sound quality increasing 10 percent for the high end home theater stuff one might be approaching the difference.

    I'm not saying if I had the money I wouldn't do it - and I love to hear from the guys who do buy the really high end gear. But, I think once you get a good system for Home Theater, I'd put my money into better room setup, better picture technology and the like. Matter of fact, a great room setup, makes a lot of equipment sound good.

    Its a different case for 2 channel audio. I don't listen much any more and I'm 98% Home Theater.

    But, its really to each its own. I have many other hobbies besides HT and they all compete for resources.

    Mike
     
  4. Sonnie Parker

    Sonnie Parker Second Unit

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    I can agree to a point... that point being that I've never owned the super duper high end stuff that would compare to Krell pricing.

    I did own some very expensive McIntosh amps (~$4000), Snell B-Minors (~$3700), Snell surrounds (~$2000), Lexicon DC-1 (~$3000) back when.

    Now I have the Rotel 1066, PSB Image speakers, and a Sunfire Cinema Grand that cost several thousand less and I can honestly say it sounds as good, probably better than my previous system.
     
  5. Heath_E

    Heath_E Stunt Coordinator

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    The law of diminishing return definitely exists in my opinion. Same as trying to squeeze more and more horsepower out of an engine(my other expensive hobby). The argument is, at what point do the two lines start to curve dramatically in opposite directions. Much easier to figure out when dealing with horsepower, do to it's completely non-subjective nature. Unfortunately, there is no dyno machine for sound quality.

    BTW, I couldn't agree more with MikeRP about room setup. It is one of the most important elements of sound quality, and gets ignored far too often. I guarantee that crappy room acoustics will cause the cost/performance ratio to drop off sharply.
     
  6. Rich Wenzel

    Rich Wenzel Supporting Actor

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    I also agree that room setup is extremely important. but i live in an apartment in NYC, so i am fairly limited in what I can do...

    Rich
     
  7. Cary P

    Cary P Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree 100% - putting more money into the 2 channel signal chain is definitely a better investment in the long run.

    Of course, this approach depends greatly on one's priorities - most of the people I know spend very little time to sit down and intently listen to music - they are using their systems mainly for TV, DVD's, and gaming.

    But in my case, I routinely spend hours just sitting and listening to music, and have found that I've gotten way more bang for the buck spending money on the 2 channel signal chain. I bought a 2 channel tube-based preamplifier with a HT bypass about two years ago, and it has allowed me to really enjoy my system to it's fullest without constantly worrying about having the latest and greatest home theater receiver or processor.

    I've been through quite a few mid-level home theater receivers and processors over the last three or four years, eventually returning them all. It always seems that it would be best to just wait for the next model with all of the latest processing, or perhaps a new pre/pro coming out that might finally get it right in terms of connection options, system operation/bass management, useable remote, upgradeability, etc., etc. I'm still waiting for that perfect home theater product to come along, but am always left with a vaguely unsatisfied feeling.

    The whole process has left me quite reluctant to drop a lot of money on a home theater receiver or processor, so instead I've gradually put a bit of money into my 2 channel signal chain - power cords, conditioners, interconnects, upgrading the vinyl rig, various other tweaks - and have been a lot more satisfied with the results.

    Lately, I've been researching products such as the Anthem AVM20, Rotel 1098, Parasound Halo C2, B&K Ref 50, Integra DTC-9.4, and they all seem like fine products which I'm sure sound really great. But for my priorities and needs, I can't help but believe that I would get perhaps 90% of the home theater sound quality, and in some cases, MORE system functionality by going with a product such as the Pioneer Elite VSX-55TXi or Marantz SR-8300 at one half to one third the price.

    So I've concluded that, when strictly considering home theater applications, a $500-$1500 receiver/processor will likely give almost all of the functionality and sound quality needed for the vast majority of users.

    Some of those $2500 and up flagship receivers and processors are mighty tempting - and I will probably spring for one some day - but I agree that the law of diminishing returns definitely applies at that price point.
     
  8. Craig_Kg

    Craig_Kg Supporting Actor

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    I agree with you 100% as well. This is why I keep advising people to only buy a mid range receiver (basically the cheapest one with the format feature set, connnections + preouts) and use it has a prepro or semi prepro with a stereo setup for the front channels.

    Plus a really good sub.
     
  9. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

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    An off topic question Rich, how is the sound insulation of the apartment you live in? I used to live in a flat in a converted house and then in an apartment in both of which I was never able to listen to music at high volumes. I hear that apartments in NY are built with very thin interior walls. I'm really surprised to see people living in apartments with beefy systems and curious if you guys can justify the capabilities of your components ?
     
  10. Rich Wenzel

    Rich Wenzel Supporting Actor

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    i find if i turn it up, i can't hear them complain....

    actually, the last few buildings i have lived in have been less than 5 years old, they have much better sound insulation than older buildings...so its not too bad...its rare i play at reference levels, but i have fairly sensitive speakers and at times i turn my rotel up to 3/4ths....

    Rich
     
  11. Ricky T

    Ricky T Supporting Actor

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    My thoughts.....I think sound quality does exist between prepros/receivers...but this is brand and model dependent. A great combo for both HT and 2 channel has always been: a midpriced receiver, a 2 channel preamp with HT bypass, and a 2-3 channel amp (or monoblocks). This approach essentially keeps all three pieces separate from each other (hence, one can easily upgrade one without any impact to the other two).

    Some highend prepros do have the identical circuitry of their top-of-the-line 2 channel preamp *inside*. Two examples are the Aragon Soundstage (Aragon Aurum, retail 1900, inside) and Bryston SP1/SP1.7 (with Bryston's BP20 preamp inside). With these kinds of prepros, in 2 channel, you *are* using a 2k preamp. This excellent sound quality passes over to surround sound too [​IMG]

    Rich, if you don't care about 6.1/7.1 or 2.0 modes like DPL2/Logic7, then there are a few 5.1/DPL1 only prepros that sound fantastic in AC3, DTS, and 2 channel that can be had under $1200 used: EAD Ovation/Encore, Aragon Soundstage, Bryston SP1, Nakamichi CA1 (to name a few).
     
  12. Rich Wenzel

    Rich Wenzel Supporting Actor

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    dpl2 is nice on occasion, but i rarely watch tv, i listen to music or watch movies...

    im considering to look at some of the cheaper marsh and naim pre/pros, and getting a 2 channel amp, or i might just pony up $4k for the BAT integrated....

    but i havent decided anything yet...

    i need to get better speakers first...if i had the room, i wiould leave my ht set up alone and keep my speakers and just create a listening room, and start from scratch...
     
  13. RichardHOS

    RichardHOS Second Unit

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    I have a somewhat different opinion, since two channel source material is best created with a multichannel speaker and room setup. In that case, the expenditures for the center/surround speakers and quality multichannel processing isn't just a benefit to movies, but to traditional music as well.

    Just a different perspective.
     
  14. Rich Wenzel

    Rich Wenzel Supporting Actor

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    Richard, I am not sure what you are saying.

    Are you saying you use 2 channel material, like redbook cds, and use a dsp to make it 5 channel?

    Rich
     
  15. Mark Davenport

    Mark Davenport Stunt Coordinator

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    I think the issue reside in the source material. Movies soundtracks DTS, DD etc are actually low res formats and in general movies are not as complex as music. Movies may on average hit more extreme freq's but they are not nearly as complex.

    Bascially it's my opinion if you build a system from the ground up to play music it will do good in a HT mode the reverse is not true you can build your system to be great in HT but really suck for music.

    Personally as long as it's loud I could care less about movies I've built my system strickyl to play music as well as possible.
     
  16. Shawn Solar

    Shawn Solar Supporting Actor

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    I think it comes down to room acoustics. Two speakers I think may potentionaly have less problems in a room then five, six or seven playing. and more often then not are set up much more carefully than the rest of the speakers. So its easier to here differences when the room is less of an effect on the final sound. most people don't invest the necessary money in to taming the room and I think this might

    There is the law of diminishing and at certain price points its more a "features thing" but I think the difference between $500 vs $5,000 is much greater than the difference between $5,000 vs $50,000.
     
  17. KenK

    KenK Auditioning

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    Hey Cary P, thanks for the honest post. Of course, it is what I was hoping to hear since it matches my strategy for a (just ordered) receiver and (keeping) my separates.

    With digital music, I subscribe to the theory that you want an accurate, full-bodied reproduction/presentation, and after that you are debating a Bentley vs Mercedes (some might call it the snob factor).

    10.18.03 Now that my non-snob system is up and running (a VSX-D912K w/2 Denon sep amps & PS) I am convinced more than ever - a $300 "throw-away" receiver makes sense in today's tehnological environment.
    Cheers!
     
  18. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Mark D. said:

     
  19. Tom Grooms

    Tom Grooms Second Unit

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    I agree 100%!

    I'll go on to say that in an average size room you can build a KILLER DD/DTS movie system for $5K.

    A killer 2 channel system could easily cost 4 times that before you start running into serious diminishing returns.

    And OH MY, To think of the cost to create a nice multi-channel music system, let alone the room size required to get it done right.

    $0.02
     
  20. PhilBoy

    PhilBoy Second Unit

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    Good thread...

    There is obviously some high end gear represented here by some very knowledgable folks.

    At what level of equipment does DVD-A and SACD really shine ? $5K $10K $20K

    I know the answer is totally subjective.
     

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