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i currently have a Hi Fi system that my wife and myself use for both  the pleasure of listening to music(mostly streaming) and home theatre and I now wish to buy a vastly better system . My problem is how  do you set up for both.I am doing this almost exclusively for listening to music.Your input is appreciated

 

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I've found that home theatre AVR's are generally quite rubbish for music however I've found a very simple solution to this. Basically I run a Beresford TC7210 speaker switch box to switch my main/front speakers between the AVR and my source components + amp for music. Because I went down the relatively high efficiency speaker path (97db efficient) I have no need to ever worry about exceeding the wattage limits of the speaker switch. I've found none of them usually handle more than about 50WRMS. I'm likely only running a watt or two.

 

I'm using a Tascam PA-R100 for movies, and a little 5WPC Pass Amp Camp Amp (Chinese copy) for music. Sounds fantastic with both.

 

Basically it's an approach which means you don't have to make any compromises.  :)

Edited by MattyW
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Hi Ian,

 

I would recommend you consider purchasing an AVR with pre-outs (for you front left and front right speaker) and then connect the pre-outs on your AVR to an integrated amplifier with home theatre bypass (or a pre-amplifier with home theatre bypass plus a power amplifier - as per diagram below).  I found that adding a quality integrated amplifier really lifted the performance of my main front speakers and allows for a TT and other inputs but retains ability for 5.1 (or more) surround sound with TV, DVD and 5.1 audio. 

 

As to an amp there are lots of great ones to choose from at various price points and some will match your speakers better than others.  I use a Musical Fidelity M6si with Paradigm Studio 100s and the results are excellent.  Second hand through SNA can be a great way to buy for value.
 

Remember you want pre-outs in your AVR and home theatre bypass ability in the amp. 
 

Good luck and enjoy the search. I look forward to a post and pictures of what you end up with. 

85DFAF2F-3C72-4EFD-B8F1-D80B67EC96B3.png
 

Photo of our main system below.
FL and FR floorstanding speakers driven by the M6si integrated amp (slimmer silver box on right). Centre speaker,  2 rear speakers and sub (and outside speaker) driven by the AVR (big silver box on left).

Oppo (DVD, CD and SACD) (black box above M6si) connected to AVR and M6si so can play movies and surround sound music in 5.1 as well as 2 channel. Roon Nucleus (Ripped CDs, hi-res downloads and streaming) (smaller black box to lest of Oppo) connected to AVR and Schiit Brooklyn DAC+ (Silver box in middle) so can play surround sound (5.1) or 2 channel music from those sources. Clearaudio turntable connected to M6si so can play records 2 channel. Smart TV and Nintendo Switch (for our youngest son) connected to AVR so surround sound. Oh, and Oppo, Nucleus and Brooklyn connect to the Oppo Headphone amp and headphones. 
 

 

image.jpg

Edited by KRSDarwin
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Hi Ian,

It sounds like your first love is music but also want decent sound for theatre duty. If that is the case, I would set up a 2 channel system that really satisfies your music demands - this is the most stringent of your requirements.  As you mainly stream music, the system will obviously have a digital front end and so take the digital output from your video source (TV) and feed it into the music system.  You would be surprised at just how good the results can be when listening to concerts and movies through an excellent stereo system.

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My main objective is/was always a good stereo Hifi system, so having this I built a surround system sound around it, brought a nice Parasound audio/video processor and added additional amps, powered subs and speakers and ran this for many years with a projector and cinema screen.  It was fine, though balancing the sound was always an art and lots of heat output to manage.

 

Eventually I built a new house 6 years ago, and designed a dedicated theatre room.  I had also had enough of switching different amps on so decided to simplify my system into separate systems.  Brought and updated my surround to 7.2 with a single and powerful AVR unit and installed a large TV, which was recently up-sized again a few months back, so no more projectors.   My stereo share the same space but each system now is fully optimised for what it does best, Home Theatre viewing and listening to stereo hifi, the beauty is I now upgrade each independently, no more balancing and switching.   Apart from the subs, all my theatre speakers are mounted on the walls.   I am a lot happier with this model and luv' both systems. 

 

So obviously my recommendation is keep them separate.

Edited by Rosco8
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image.png.4c96412af6602938f4b6ab5518ccfd1f.png

If you want the best of both worlds, you can do the above setup and share both the mains and subs between the stereo and home theatre systems.

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I had a similar situation, the room I used had to remain viable for movies but also 2ch capable.  I only had x1 set of speaker and using another room for 2ch was not an option.

As mentioned above the HT bypass option was one but my my equipment did not have that option.  I decided a slightly different route which allowed me to switch between my Integrated Amp and my AVR depending on which duty I required/desired.

 

I found the Beresford TC7220mkII online, I think the mkIII is out now...cost me a couple of hundred dollars but allowed me to safely choose between amps.

 

Have a bit of a look at the Beresford, its a small compact box, does not degregate sound as its passive and simply works as a switch to your speakers from whichever amp you are wanting to use.  All your sources just run to your amps as they do now. 

 

No right or wrong either way, just options but it can be done and done successfully to allow you to enjoy HT via the AVR and 2ch using a good IA too.

cheers

 

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On 01/11/2020 at 3:24 PM, Ian Lyons said:

i currently have a Hi Fi system that my wife and myself use for both  the pleasure of listening to music(mostly streaming) and home theatre and I now wish to buy a vastly better system . My problem is how  do you set up for both.I am doing this almost exclusively for listening to music.Your input is appreciated

 

 

Hi mate

So a vastly better system is required, I assume that request comes with a vast budget too eh..

 

Get a stereo amp of your choice with HT bypass. Marantz amps for example have one. 

 

Then add a Marantz AVR with preouts - a minimum will be preouts for the front two channels. But a SR 5014 will be fine. Get an outgoing model to save some money or go second hand since it's less important. The remote will turn on both stereo and the AVR at the same time.

 

Speakers:

I'm partial to Dynaudio and the Contour series is a fine place to start. 

KEF LS50s will also make decent stereo and HT speakers. 5 or 7 of them.

 

Add a couple of good subs. The JL F112 will be a good place to start.

 

Remember to budget 10% for cables minimum and another 10% for someone to calibrate the lot for you.

 

As for the screen, well, get the best you can or a 77" OLED or the Sony Master series LED. 

 

All the best mate! 

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I’m in a similar situation to you Ian. 
when I’m by myself, I love high quality music but after dinner and during the weekends, we all like a movie or two. 
 

i’d been down the two system road before but had the rooms for them then. when we moved to a unit I wanted to combine systems but only have one set of speakers for the front. 
 

I have two preamps (an AV one for home theatre - top right in pic, and the other for stereo only - top centre) and a bunch of power amps now. If I’d gone integrated amps, the box count would have been less but I like a good power amp. 
 

6CA61183-0E28-42D8-BA3A-4688DE060136.thumb.jpeg.c463745931de5c7cbf379d9e0871fa65.jpeg
 

I just hit the “AV” input button on the stereo pre and I’m good to go for a movie. 

Edited by Winno
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Those speakers  are impressive  winno ,what are they.Excuse my ignorance  but I am learning that I am a real babe in the woods with all this,but whats the hook up.Those 5 other silver units that look identical have got me too

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3 hours ago, Ian Lyons said:

Those speakers  are impressive  winno ,what are they.Excuse my ignorance  but I am learning that I am a real babe in the woods with all this,but whats the hook up.Those 5 other silver units that look identical have got me too


They’re Mission Elegante e83 speakers. I have the matching centre there too. Old models now. 
the electronics are all Cyrus Audio from the UK. There’s a matching FM tuner, a PSX-R power supply for the stereo preamp, a bridged stereo power amp for my centre speaker, another power amp for the back speakers and a couple of monoblock power amps for the main speakers. I’ll add another power amp (for side surrounds) and PSX-R eventually. 
Not seen are my Apple TV for movies and my Apple Mac Mini and power supply for music streaming. 

 

it doesn’t have to get this involved though. 
 

There are actually some brands to do a very decent job of two channel hifi through a home theatre receiver. Lexicon make a superb receiver and Primare from Sweden is easier to find and is also definitely worth a look at. 

Edited by Winno
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i went the other direction with my HT / music system. instead of integrated amp with HT by pass we went with a Processor that is great for music first then HT second. less components sounds great. 

 

for us this was the ideal choice as we have now moved into our new home with a small dedicated ht room and a music room. 

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49 minutes ago, genkifd said:

i went the other direction with my HT / music system. instead of integrated amp with HT by pass we went with a Processor that is great for music first then HT second. less components sounds great. 

 

for us this was the ideal choice as we have now moved into our new home with a small dedicated ht room and a music room. 

What did you go with? The Krell? 

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2 hours ago, genkifd said:

i went the other direction with my HT / music system. instead of integrated amp with HT by pass we went with a Processor that is great for music first then HT second. less components sounds great. 

 

for us this was the ideal choice as we have now moved into our new home with a small dedicated ht room and a music room. 

Nice but isn't still two boxes?

The first suggestion was a AVR and a stereo amp with HT bypass, and your way, which is a processor and a power amp...

The advantage of your way is that you can retain the power amp when the processor gets outdated. 

But an AVR is easier to sell, not that it's vital.. 

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28 minutes ago, petetherock said:

Nice but isn't still two boxes?

The first suggestion was a AVR and a stereo amp with HT bypass, and your way, which is a processor and a power amp...

The advantage of your way is that you can retain the power amp when the processor gets outdated. 

But an AVR is easier to sell, not that it's vital.. 

 

so true still 2 boxes - dont know if an avr is easier to sell as i keep mine until they die. 

 

the other advantage of my method is that when you separate the HT system and hifi system - they will both sound great for music while AVR generally sound pretty bad for music

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I had this same dilemma. 

 

Some lessons learned were the following. 

 

Never rule out a great amp without HT bypass. It is just a matter of doing the AVR calibration at a known volume position on the stereo amp.

 

The AVR will always be the weakest link up front. Even for movies compared to good stereo digital front ends. 

 

A good stereo system will not need a centre channel, unless you have a wide spread of seating positions.

 

Analogue out on Oppo 205 and some other players (eg 12 year old Panasonic flagship) is much better than a $3k Yamaha AVR preout.

 

A stack of $200 20yo old Gumtree stereo amps can outperform an AVR and cost a lot less for amplification. You just need to decode the source, eg with a player or other digital decoder.

 

Good quality stereo set ups need an equally matched centre speaker, amps and digital to cut it. And you may find you don't need the centre speaker. 

 

You can play tricks on your mates when they comment how great your centre speaker is with your 2 or 4 channel set up by getting them to find your centre speaker isn't plugged in.

 

2.0 and 4.0 can out perform the usual HT set up for the same money. And if you like music, plenty of money has already gone into the stereo front and and right through, so use it. 

 

If you don't care about atmos etc and music is your focus. Running an Oppo as a pre with optical, HDMI, ARC etc inputs makes a good pre processor and has decoded analogue outputs for HT. Then for a leap over everything, take the digital coax output (which is down mixed stereo) and feed it to your stereo digital front end and whole stereo system. To stick it to the HT crowd, send your other channels to stereo integrateds and ditch the centre channel. I'm very happy with 4.0 and basically all the big money has gone on stereo which benefits music. 

Edited by DrSK
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Thanks DrSK you have gone into this at great depth for me.  I am a real newby and I basically understand what you are saying. 

I will certainly take onboard what you have said.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Ian,

 

A little late to the party here but I went through this recently so I thought I'd share what I ended up with. I wanted to upgrade my 14 year old denon AVR. I was looking at another denon (avr-x3600h). I asked similar questions to you on SNA, I wanted to know if a newer AVR would make a noticeable improvement to playing music. Maybe it was lockdown fever, but I got on a slippery slope. I found out about HT bypass, and it seemed to be the consensus that a stereo setup will give much better performance for music. In a moment of recklessness I bought an Audia Flight FL3S integrated stereo amp (it has HT bypass) via the classifieds here on SNA. I was using a very ordinary phono stage before for my rega P2, and the FL3S had a phono input, so tick! I followed that up with a NAD T758v3. I didn't go for the avr-x3600h because it has a phono input, and more surround channels than I would ever use. I wanted to put the money into things that would be used. Pre outs from the nad go into the FL3S for L & R. Then of course my speakers just weren't good enough any more, so I scored a demo pair of Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Baby Grand Symphony Edition (what a mouthful!). That was quite a bargain - 7.5K down to 3K. Then I found the matching maestro centre speaker on a clearance deal. My old front speakers ended up as surrounds. Then I had to upgrade the cartridge in my P2 (I just had to, y'know?), I went with the rega exact. Overkill? Maybe, but what a difference from the AT95! Last thing I splurged on was a new cdp - arcam cds50, I picked that because it's quite versatile - it's a cdp, dac, streamer. And streaming through the cds50 sounds very noticeably better than through the nad with it's bluos dongle. I am considering going into the world of dolby atmos, maybe with a pair of kef Q50a upfiring speakers. But that can wait until I move house early next year. (Ceiling speakers will not be possible in the new digs.)

 

I bought all this gear based on what I read online - reviews, opinions etc. Some would say you should never buy gear without listening to it first, but I decided to ignore that advice for 2 reasons - 1. it's never going to sound the same at home as it does in a well set up demo room, and 2. I'm convinced that it takes some considerable time to learn how to listen to a new piece of gear. If you're used to a certain flavour of sound, then anything different will initially just sound wrong. You've got to give yourself time to tune your ears to the nuances of what you're hearing. Let yourself relax and stop analysing, just allow the music and the emotion to envelop you. And fine-tuning speaker positions etc is a time-consuming and frustrating (but fun) process.  I love the way it sounds now, and I will get to go through it all again when I move house!

 

So good luck! I too wanted a vastly better system, and after spending a boatload more than I had anticipated, I think I got it!

 

Cheers,

Paul

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  • 2 weeks later...

At the end of the day, @Ian Lyons  you have to decide, with your ears,  whether you want the complexity of a stereo and HT setup or the simplicity of one setup, with compromise.  You have seen the diversity of opinion.  Let me try to sumarise the options:

 

For many people, including my better half, an AVR is good enough for music but for others, including myself, there is a big difference between the music production of an AVR compared with dedicated stereo.  I am music focused, which is reflected in the dollars spent on the stereo side.  Hence, you should judge whether an AVR is good enough for music.  Hint: an AVR with good room correction software (see old but still relevant article) such as Dirac Live or Anthem Room Correction can make music better.

 

If an AVR is not good enough for music, then maybe a HT preprocesor plus power amps (space permitting).  I have yet to hear a prepro which is as good as a dedicated stereo setup but maybe the new Anthem AVM 90 could fit the bill; see Audioholics review, but still too early to form a definitive opinion on stereo capability.

 

If neither AVR nor prepro meet the music sound quality requirements, then a stereo setup, especially with sub woofers, can make movies good enough.  For ultimate simplicity and excellent sound, you should consider the NAD M33 (see Darko review).  

 

If a stereo setup is not good enough for movies, then the hybrid stereo, HT setup should be the way to go.  You will get the best of both worlds at the cost of complexity.

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This may be sacrilege on this forum, but I was in a similar predicament and ended up going a Soundbar with rear surrounds. I get all the latest codecs, costs less than an AVR and hides away quite easily. Its simple and smart enough to turn on with the TV, one remote to rule them all etc etc.

 

Then i can keep the 2 channel system separate in the same room and use that for listening to music.

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Yeah, a speaker switchbox was the answer for me. Allows me to get the best possible sound quality with no compromises. Next year the little 5WPC Pass Amp Camp Amp copy will be replaced with a separate ARC LS22 based preamp and Pass Aleph Mini power amp which will be installed into the rack next to the left speaker along with the existing DAC and Tascam PA-R100 AVR. Should look neater again.

 

Since my speakers are 97db efficient it made it far easier to find a quality speaker switch box which could handle the wattage that will be used for playback. Less efficient drivers and higher wattage amps simply drive the cost up.

 

The biggest improvement I've had with sound for TV and movies has been the DIY centre speaker I've built into the entertainment unit, angled up at the listening position. Has a pair of 4 1/2" fullrange and a pair of 5 1/4" woofers. Has made me question why I even need a separate subwoofer.

 

20201121_170818.thumb.jpg.0feb7728c26c4c4cbb2f0e13a405da72.jpg

Edited by MattyW
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On 06/11/2020 at 2:29 PM, DrSK said:

I had this same dilemma. 

 

Some lessons learned were the following. 

 

Never rule out a great amp without HT bypass. It is just a matter of doing the AVR calibration at a known volume position on the stereo amp.

 

 

That's what I did quite a few years ago, with a Marantz SR6200 (which has pre-outs on all channels) and a Musical Fidelity E11 driving the front speakers (VAF DCXs). I actually bought the E11 first for stereo, then added the SR6200 and surround speakers about 2 or 3 years later. I calibrated the settings on the SR6200 with the volume knob on the E11 at the 12 O'clock position and it worked a treat. That was around 2002, and I still use that setup for watching movies.

 

That way I could easily switch between surround and stereo, just remembering to select the right input and volume level on the E11 when I do so.

 

Fast forward, and last year I bought a Musical Fidelity M5si from another SNA member, which I now use for music though a pair of VAF i-91's. The M5si does have home theatre bypass, and one day I might give it a try in the surround setup, but I'm fairly happy with things the way they are at the moment so that is not really a priority for me.

 

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