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allstarmatt's picture
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New setup advice - AV receiver?

Hi there,

 

After what has turned out to be days of researching online and reading reviews on here, I thought it might be worth asking what people on the forums think!

 

I've recently moved house and now have a much larger living room than before. One of the first things I did was upgrade my 32" TV to 47" which fits the room nicely, but you guessed it, the sound is now terrible. As the room is so big, and the TV speakers so tiny, TV audio sounds really bad. Not helped by the fact that it's a stone floor and high celings. 

 

So I'm looking to upgrade the audio set up in my living room. Usage will be 90% TV/Films and 10% music.

 

What I have - 47" LCD TV, TiVo box, PS3, iPod

 

What I think I need - AV receiver, a pair of floorstanding speakers, ability to stream music via Airplay/Bluetooth

 

Was originally considering a Soundbar and wireless subwoofer but from reading around I don't think they'll be good enough for the room. But reading around has also made me question whether I need an AV receiver or whether I just need a stereo amp - but will this allow me to stream music wirelessly? 

 

I think I'll be happy with two good floorstanding speakers, but the AV receiver option means in the future I could add in a centre channel and subwoofer. I'm not that bothered about having surround sound due to the cables.

 

My budget is around £450/£500. I've been looking at the Pioneer VSX922  http://www.richersounds.com/product/av-receivers/pioneer/vsx922/pion-vsx922-blk maybe with a couple of Wharedale 10.3s, Cambridge S70s or Tannoy Mercury V4s.

 

Any suggestions / help / advice / recommendations would really be appreciated!

 

Thanks.

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

You will know that music from an av amp requires bigger bucks. It may suit you to get a hifi amp and when u decide to go 3.1 or 5.1 for movies then swap the amp for an av amp. Personnally I prefer the av solution with a 90%film//10%music mix and therefore the pioneer would be my preference. Maybe when choosing speakers select a pair which have available centre (and rears) for your later upgrade.
My old 32in TV had a subwoofer output. Adding a cheap 80w sub gave maybe the biggest improvement/buck ever.
I recon you will soon feel the need to go 5.1 though so ensure this is an easy upgrade path in anything you select now. Pioneer, Yamaha & Onkyo all make decent amps at any price point so get yourself a speaker/amp deal after listening if possible.
Probably no help whatsoever but just a few personal thoughts

Yamaha V2065. MS Mezzo 5.1 Panasonic 42. Sony BD. Garrard 86SB. WD Live TV. SkyHD.

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/home-cinema/lounge-hc-signature-update-bass-traps

 

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

Cheers for the reply Robin.

 

I'm thinking the AV receiver is the way to go long term, also for the ease of being able to hook all my devices up via HDMI. 

 

It's a shame AV receivers are so chunky - going to have to make some alterations to my TV stand if I get one!

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

allstarmatt wrote:

It's a shame AV receivers are so chunky - going to have to make some alterations to my TV stand if I get one!

Marantz make a couple of slim line receivers which might suit you better if size is an issue - the NR1604 and NR-1504.

If there's no way you're ever going to go surround sound, I would personally opt for a stereo amp rather than an AV receiver - you'll get more for your money. However, I can see the attraction of using the AV receiver to hook up all your devices if you're stand is going to be a distance away from the TV.

The owls are not what they seem...

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

If I did go for the stereo amp option, what would be the best way to hook up all my gear?

 

Would it be everything into the TV (as it is now) and then to the amp via phono cables? Would this provide the best sound quality? 

 

Is there a chance I'll lose some sound quality by not connecting digitally or via HDMI?

 

Do you know if there are any good stereo amps out there with the ability to wirelessly stream music for around the £200 mark?

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

An aside but finding a tv cabinet to house a largish centre is a nightmare. Just as u consider yr options. Good luck

Yamaha V2065. MS Mezzo 5.1 Panasonic 42. Sony BD. Garrard 86SB. WD Live TV. SkyHD.

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/home-cinema/lounge-hc-signature-update-bass-traps

 

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

professorhat wrote:

allstarmatt wrote:

It's a shame AV receivers are so chunky - going to have to make some alterations to my TV stand if I get one!

Marantz make a couple of slim line receivers which might suit you better if size is an issue - the NR1604 and NR-1504.

If there's no way you're ever going to go surround sound, I would personally opt for a stereo amp rather than an AV receiver - you'll get more for your money. However, I can see the attraction of using the AV receiver to hook up all your devices if you're stand is going to be a distance away from the TV.

 

Sorry Mr Professor Hat, but that comment ought to be qualified for the OP. My AV receiver has more HDMI inputs than I'll ever use, Internet Radio, Airplay & 7 channels of 120w and all beautifully controlled and tweaked from my ipad app.  Not many stereo amps have those features, even at many times my receiver's price bracket.  To boot, it also offers a more than satisfactory music sound, and I probably use it 70% music, 30% movies & TV.

I do know what you were trying to say...for the same amount of money you tend to get less gizmos (with a stereo amp) but higher quality components, but like-for-like comparisons (price-wise) of sound quality can have some surprising results. 

OP, if you went the stereo route only as I did about 8 years ago, you could find that the lack of ability to heighten the centre channel on many typical movie mixes will drive you nuts.  Eventually I gave into the AV receiver solution, and with your music listening only at 10%, this is the option I'd recommend.

However, if you're keen on stereo despite these issues, check if your TV has analogue RCA stereo outputs.  Your TV can then take the HDMI inputs for each source you need.

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

Yes, fair enough. To be clear, my comment was based on getting more for your money in terms of things you'll use. Clearly you'll get far more features on an AV receiver (Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio decoding, HDMI switching, the ability to have 7 or more channels etc. etc.). 

But with a two channel setup, you'll likely only be using very few of them and, especially at the budget price point, I think you're better off going the stereo amp route, and definitely if your components are located close to the TV. Please note, this is just my opinion and what I would do - I'm not saying my way is right and other people's is wrong!

allstarmatt - you mention streaming music - can you let us know what you'd like to stream and from where? Is it music from your iPod and if so, what model do you have?

The owls are not what they seem...

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

Lots to think about...! Thanks.  :cheers:

 

I just called up Richer Sounds about the Pioneer VSX 922 which they're selling for £199 - turns out it's because it's ex-display, but I'm guessing that should still be ok...

 

In terms of steaming it would be music from an iPhone 4S and an iPad 3. But I'm now thinking I could look at a AV receiver without steaming capabilities and grab an Apple TV instead (could also do with it for other things).

 

What would be useful would be what you think are the best low cost AV receivers and floorstanding speakers as I THINK that's what I'm going to go with now... 

 

Still considering the Pioneer VSX 922. Speaker options are Wharfedale 10.3s, Tannoy Mercury V4s or Cambridge S70s. Any others worth looking at?

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

Appreciate that you may have your heart set on the VSX-922, but I do think there are significant differences in sound quality between that model & the next two models up the ladder.  I've seen the successor to mine, the SC-2022 at £400 ex-demo (also Yamaha Aventage A-810 & A820 for similar money).

there aren't a great deal of differences on the features lists, but most of the extra cost goes on the quality of components.

 

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

Sorry, just read your post properly...speakers.

before you commit to floorstanders, just ask yourself about speaker positioning in your room; specifically how far out from the back wall your domestic situation will permit.  Also check - are the speakers you're looking at ported? If they're rear ported and you need the speakers close to the wall, the resuts could be overwhelming flabby boomy bass.

I had a friend who was recently looking at spending a couple of hundred quid on '3-way floorstanders' he said.  I whinced, because at new prices at least, a 3-way speaker at that price will be pretty ropey.  I encouraged him to demo some 2-way standmounts at the same price.  He didn't seem convinced, but post-demo he came away with some Monitor Audio BX2's and Richers threw in free stands.

I know Wharfedale get good reviews, but my impression of them is that they're just screechy (this was in an Audiolab Cd pre/power combo) and not especially well made.  I'd recommend Q Acoustics 2000 series or Monitor Audio bronze, but as important as the actual speakers you choose is the synergy between amp & speakers and it's this that'll likely have the biggest impact on what you do and don't like.

Simply repeating the very valid comments of numerous contributors on this site previously: demo demo demo. Let us know how you get on.  No doubt your experiences will help others looking at similar options to you.

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

I'm not too pushed for space so might not have to have them too cramped.

 

Decided I'm going to have to take a trip into town and demo some equipment. 

 

Will keep you posted on what I decide to go for!

 

Thanks.

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

allstarmatt wrote:

Decided I'm going to have to take a trip into town and demo some equipment. 

Definitely the best way to decide  Smile

 

The owls are not what they seem...

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

 

Got the chance to call in to Richer Sounds today. 


The guy also recommended me the slimline  Marantz 1504 and a pair of Monitor Audio BX2s which sounded really good. It's pushing my budget up a bit high though, and it's bookshelf speakers rather that floor standers which I was thinking of originally.


What do you guys think to that set up? Has anyone got experience of using a Marantz 1504? Reckon its wrth £399? DO you know of any potentially cheaper speakers that might help lower my budget a bit?

 

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RE: New setup advice - AV receiver?

allstarmatt wrote:

 The guy also recommended me the slimline  Marantz 1504 and a pair of Monitor Audio BX2s which sounded really good. It's pushing my budget up a bit high though, and it's bookshelf speakers rather that floor standers which I was thinking of originally.

How big is the room?

The owls are not what they seem...

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RE: New setup advice

My room is 4m wide by 5m long with the TV, speakers and HC gear in the centre of the 4m wall.

Originally I was looking at the Pioneer VSX921 with a set of the Q Accoustics 2000i 5.1 cinema pack, but although I then went for the Onkyo 609 (which at the time was similar in price to the 921) I felt that I would regret in time purchasing the smaller and 'cheaper' Q Accoustics pack. So I decided on the Monitor Audio BX2 5.1 set up, but in the knowledge that I would have to purchase it in stages.

With hindsight I know I made the right choice - and got a 'decent' set of speakers that matched my receiver and the size of my room. Although I have a seperate HiFi system, I still enjoy listening to music using the receiver & BX2's (internet radio & some streaming using DNLA), 

If you are 90% TV and films, then you really need to consider getting a centre speaker at some point - it makes a big difference. In my opinion the 'front 3' are a must. 

For me, building a system in stages ultimately gave me a better system and I now don't feel the need to upgrade it. 

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