Current system: Arcam Alpha 7R stereo amplifier, Yamaha DSP-E800 home cinema processor/amplifier, Mordaunt Short MS817 stereo speakers, MS824D dipole rear speakers, MS304 centre speaker, MS308 subwoofer, Pioneer DV575A DVD/SACD/CD player, Limit DJ2000SQ turntable, JVC AV28T25 28” CRT television. Plus various other items such as a set top box, a (wired) network mp3 player, as well as old media players that I barely use like Mini Disc, Video and Cassette.
Room: 4m x 4m (very approximately) with hard wood floor (& rug to suppress vertical flutter echo), near full height curtains can be drawn on both sides.
Questions: I’m getting fed up with the plethora of different separates taking up half my living room and the miles of cables connecting them! I’d like to rationalise without compromising my music listening. I’ll be starting by throwing out at least some of the old media players mentioned above.
Amplifiers: Would I be able to replace the two amps with a single home cinema amp that improves (or at least maintains) the quality of my stereo audio listening experience? If so, how much would I need to spend? If that’s impossible, inadvisable or simply too expensive, I’ll probably upgrade to a better stereo amp instead and keep the DSP-E800 as the surround processor/amp.
CD/DVD player: I’m looking to upgrade the player. My collection currently includes CD’s, SACD’s, Audio DVD’s and Video DVD’s so the new player would need to be able to handle all of those. It would also be nice if it could play some of the new formats such as Blu-Ray. I’d like to consider using a games console as the player, particularly if it had an Ethernet port with network media server software compatibility (because then it would play all my discs and my networked mp3’s, as well as games). However I’m concerned about the potential for a loss in audio quality with a games console compared with my present player. Also, as an alternative to upgrading my present player should I consider a separate DAC?
Turntable: My present model is a hangover from the days when I was into mixing with two (or more!) turntables, which I no longer am. I’d therefore like to replace mine with one more suitable for the living room environment and which I hope will sound much better. Budget: up to £500 including cartridge (and phono stage if I replace my current amp with one that doesn’t include a preamp on the phono input). I guess it would be the Pro-ject RPM5?
Speakers: My centre speaker leaves a little to be desired. Can you recommend any that would be a good match for the MS800 series? (Possibly difficult!)
Rack: I currently don’t have a decent rack. Could you please recommend one that preferably has at least 4 tiers, of which one will accommodate a cinema amp if possible? Budget: up to £400.
Mains power: I’m interested in a mains filter and I noticed you recommend the Isotek Gemini 6-way on page 87 of the September issue. However it doesn’t appear in the listings at the back – has it been reviewed?