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When I setup my HT room, I went from a 2.0 stereo setup (with an integrated stereo amp, the Cambridge CXA80 that has the Wolfson WM8740 DAC) which was in the living room and i moved it all to a dedicated HT room with a PJ and also upgraded to a 4.1 setup (added rear surrounds and a sub, no centre channel yet) with an AVR (Yamaha RX-A1080 which has the ESS 384 kHz / 32-bit SABRE Premier DAC ES9007S) and have since noticed the front stage SQ lacking. the front stage speakers are a pair of Klipsch RP-8000F towers. 

 

so I went ahead and connected the Front L/R Preouts on my AVR into my stereo amp and now I've got the SQ I liked back for my front stage (it is really a night and day difference). 

 

however , i want to add a centre channel speaker and before I do this, I'd like to have an AVR in place that has the level of SQ i get with my stereo amp. and do away with my stereo amp all together as i'll have all 3 channels (Front L/R + Centre) into the AVR. 

 

i'm open to either getting an upgraded AVR or moving to separates. and would like some recommendations /combinations that could work. 

 

it needs to supports dual independent sub pre outs as i plan to add another sub. 

 

my thought process so far has been that probably the closest i could get to having front stage SQ as good as what the cxa80 does is to invest in a top of the range AVR, any of these come to mind:

 

- yamaha rxa-3080 / cx-a5200 (not sure if these support dual independent sub pre outs though) 

- marantz sr8012/8015 or pre pro variants

- denon 6500h / 6700H / x8500h

 - cambridge cxr200 (if i can find one second hand, (not sure if these support dual independent sub pre outs though)

 

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avr's.. not sure your reason for looking at the high end avr's (other than the yammy 2080/3080 which excel hifi sell as refurbs at big price discounts) as a denon 3700 does independent sub EQ now and that is mid level, 9 internal amps and 11 channel processing... recently 3 marantz sr6013's have come up 2nd hand for around $1300 they have the same features as the 3700. many people with new tvs seem to be changing to the problematic 2.1 new avr's. this gives you a great chance to pick up a 2-3 y.o. avr cheap.

 

anyway you have a pj and a big screen and are trying to run a "phantom centre".. sorry but nope. you actually have things a bit around the wrong way imo.

 

the cambridge is powering the front 2 klipsch, not sure why as really if using an external i found it better to power the 3 front speakers with the same amp. (i have the original 8" woofered RF-3 fronts in my HT room) you have no centre THE most important speaker in a HT room (along with 2x subs).

 

klipsch have a rep of being easy to power but they are not as good as the stats say, but still i run a rotel 1066 bridged for my front stage, so each get around 120w from the same amp. the fronts dont do all that much, music parts of movie yes but the centre does 65%.  ypao has alwways been hit and miss from my use but if you like the "sound" of yammy and pricing stick with that.

 

look for a big centre, can be klipsch but not their small things but PSA MTM210 works well also.

 

how big is your room?

 

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its going to be a tough gig in finding av gear upto 2ch... that said the hybrid approach of using your integrated if it has a htbypass might be an option. its a damn shame cambridge dont make avrs anymore or could use one of them ? 

6 hours ago, krisk321 said:

 - cambridge cxr200 (if i can find one second hand, (not sure if these support dual independent sub pre outs though)

this would be a good option... but no i dont think the sub are indipendant or truly eq'd and managed as such.

 

6 hours ago, krisk321 said:

AVR (Yamaha RX-A1080 which has the ESS 384 kHz / 32-bit SABRE Premier DAC ES9007S) and have since noticed the front stage SQ lacking. the front stage speakers are a pair of Klipsch RP-8000F towers. 

 

the yam is pesky... so can understand a little underwhelming vs the cambridge...

 

the top end marantz or denon both have true dual sub capability will be best either those two brands have in 2ch stakes...2ch capability in both brands gets better as go up the range. the marantz has a more music focus with its music matters approach...

 

no need to go very latest in either ... unless chasing their latest bells whistles ? 

 

what is the centre channel speaker ? 

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6 hours ago, krisk321 said:

When I setup my HT room, I went from a 2.0 stereo setup (with an integrated stereo amp, the Cambridge CXA80 that has the Wolfson WM8740 DAC) which was in the living room and i moved it all to a dedicated HT room with a PJ and also upgraded to a 4.1 setup (added rear surrounds and a sub, no centre channel yet) with an AVR (Yamaha RX-A1080 which has the ESS 384 kHz / 32-bit SABRE Premier DAC ES9007S) and have since noticed the front stage SQ lacking. the front stage speakers are a pair of Klipsch RP-8000F towers. 

 

so I went ahead and connected the Front L/R Preouts on my AVR into my stereo amp and now I've got the SQ I liked back for my front stage (it is really a night and day difference).

Not at all surprised there is a SQ difference between a dedicated stereo and an AVR.  By the way, looking the DAC chip is not enough. The AVR may have the newer chip, but it lacks good analogue outputs and likely has a noisy power supply.

 

Since you have already noticed the SQ difference, you will find that any AVR will not make the grade.  You should continue using your current configuration with the HT bypass.  However, if you want to compromise and get a single box, then AVR brands that are thought to be better with music are Arcam, NAD, Anthem and Marantz.   If you are using AVR for music, I consider Dirac Live or Anthem Room Correction essential. 

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Posted (edited)

@hopefullguy the room is 4.1m by 3.7. i think snapping up a used Marantz 6013 is actually a great idea. i did not think of this a year ago when i was looking at AVRs.  I am going to be selling the yammy rx-a1080 I have. how much max do you think I could ask for it?  given your knowledge of the second hand market . 

 

@betty boop the centre channel i will be looking to get is the klipsch rp-504c. i was thinking if i could source another cambridge cxa 80, and i run the centre pre out of the avr into it and just run one speaker out of it (the centre channel).  would that work ? then that way i could have my whole front stage SQ to how i like it. 

there's no HT bypass on it (something i really really wish it had) so  i manually set the dial to 12 and turned it up to a level i liked then left it as fixed volume when using the AVR . 

 

 

Edited by krisk321
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4 hours ago, Snoopy8 said:

Not at all surprised there is a SQ difference between a dedicated stereo and an AVR.  By the way, looking the DAC chip is not enough. The AVR may have the newer chip, but it lacks good analogue outputs and likely has a noisy power supply.

 

Since you have already noticed the SQ difference, you will find that any AVR will not make the grade.  You should continue using your current configuration with the HT bypass.  However, if you want to compromise and get a single box, then AVR brands that are thought to be better with music are Arcam, NAD, Anthem and Marantz.   If you are using AVR for music, I consider Dirac Live or Anthem Room Correction essential. 

yea, having heard the cambridge cx80 has really given me a reference point of what SQ i like, and i think im coming around to the realisation that i wont find an AVR with the same. 

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4 hours ago, betty boop said:

this would be a good option... but no i dont think the sub are indipendant or truly eq'd and managed as such.

any idea what these are going for these days? understand that it doesnt have room correction or HDR passthrough or atmos. but for my purpose (5.1) , i wouldn't mind grabbing hold of one and seeing how it goes in my room for SQ.

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2 hours ago, krisk321 said:

 the centre channel i will be looking to get is the klipsch rp-504c. i was thinking if i could source another cambridge cxa 80, and i run the centre pre out of the avr into it and just run one speaker out of it (the centre channel).  would that work ? then that way i could have my whole front stage SQ to how i like it. 

there's no HT bypass on it (something i really really wish it had) so  i manually set the dial to 12 and turned it up to a level i liked then left it as fixed volume when using the AVR . 

indeed how use an integrated with no htbypass. rather than another cxa80... maybe grab a power amp of theirs or an arcam power amp really come up cheaply ...

 

1 hour ago, krisk321 said:

any idea what these are going for these days? understand that it doesnt have room correction or HDR passthrough or atmos. but for my purpose (5.1) , i wouldn't mind grabbing hold of one and seeing how it goes in my room for SQ.

no idea... now superseded... its going to be down to supply demand... sometimes folks can struggle to sell something ... sometimes just happens someone there wanting to buy and gets snapped up... so can wary...given it doesnt support anything current ... its likely to go quite cheaply.... as AV gear once superseded drops in value quite fast. 

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21 minutes ago, betty boop said:

rather than another cxa80... maybe grab a power amp of theirs or an arcam power amp really come up cheaply ...

looking into it.......i've come across an arcam p90 as well as an audiolabs m-pwr. interested to know any feedback you have on these amps. 

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i have always felt the yammy 1080 was a strange avr, just better than the 685 but i doubt in practice worth the money gap. the new v6a can be had for under $1000 every week so i feel you will be competing with that.

 

before the v6a came out i would have guessed $900+ but that would mean competing with Excel hifi refurbs at around $1100 with warranty. now that the new yammy's are out and they have been popping up as refurbs (rxv6a $899) i think you may have trouble getting more than $800.

 

but thats a guess as all you can do is stick it on and see.

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56 minutes ago, krisk321 said:

looking into it.......i've come across an arcam p90 as well as an audiolabs m-pwr. interested to know any feedback you have on these amps. 

arcam are solid amps... go forever literally :D good clean sound quality as well and a good match for your cambridge... id grab it :) 

 

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about 5 years or so ago (maybe longer) i went through the same dilemma. went to audition the top AVRs (at the time) and concluded they pretty much all Japanese AVRs sound the same. The euro brands sounded better but lack the latest tech.

 

Then i started researching into separates. auditioned a few and now concluded with the Primare SP33 with Elektra Power amp. sounds very nice for music but no fancy calibration of the jap AVRs. this is fine with me as i like calibration my system myself.

 

Since then i have a dedicated 2 channel system and seriously there is no comparison.   

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I am in a similar boat, but with a Cambridge 851a as my two channel amp which powers my front leakers for Home Theatre.  I am chasing a solution for my centre, but am considering adding a 5 channel power amp to power the centre and four surrounds.  I am just about to put a separate post up with a similar question, something like

does a power amp really make much difference, especially for centre and surrounds.

the Cambridge makes a massive difference to the fronts, for both music and for cinema, so I am guessing the power amp will have the same effect for the surrounds

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43 minutes ago, JkSpinner said:

I am in a similar boat, but with a Cambridge 851a as my two channel amp which powers my front leakers for Home Theatre.  I am chasing a solution for my centre, but am considering adding a 5 channel power amp to power the centre and four surrounds.  I am just about to put a separate post up with a similar question, something like

does a power amp really make much difference, especially for centre and surrounds.

the Cambridge makes a massive difference to the fronts, for both music and for cinema, so I am guessing the power amp will have the same effect for the surrounds

absolutely ..... do it and dont look back...

 

so many quite affordably priced multichannel amps tend to come along...

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15 minutes ago, betty boop said:

absolutely ..... do it and dont look back...

 

so many quite affordably priced multichannel amps tend to come along...

I will probably go for a Marantz as I will buy a Marantz 4K AVR in the future.  Also looking at Rotel and Elektra.  Then decide on my 2 channel upgrades after that

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13 minutes ago, JkSpinner said:

I will probably go for a Marantz as I will buy a Marantz 4K AVR in the future.  Also looking at Rotel and Elektra.  Then decide on my 2 channel upgrades after that

marantz make decent avr and processors but to be honest the marantz multichannel power amps dont look like much more than what you get in the AVRS... and are quite pricey for what they are... id suggest a much better option is rotel and elektra that considering ...

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2 hours ago, betty boop said:

marantz make decent avr and processors but to be honest the marantz multichannel power amps dont look like much more than what you get in the AVRS... and are quite pricey for what they are... id suggest a much better option is rotel and elektra that considering ...

Noted, thanks

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When I’m running my avr preouts into the cxa80 , am I using the preamp, dac and poweramp of the cxa80? Just wanted to try and pinpoint what is giving me the better SQ  

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And this is in manual ht bypass also interested to know whether this changes when using a stereo amp that has ht bypass. 

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10 hours ago, genkifd said:

about 5 years or so ago (maybe longer) i went through the same dilemma. went to audition the top AVRs (at the time) and concluded they pretty much all Japanese AVRs sound the same. The euro brands sounded better but lack the latest tech.

 

Then i started researching into separates. auditioned a few and now concluded with the Primare SP33 with Elektra Power amp. sounds very nice for music but no fancy calibration of the jap AVRs. this is fine with me as i like calibration my system myself.

 

Since then i have a dedicated 2 channel system and seriously there is no comparison.   

Yep this is so true. The modern Rotels AVRs sound good for HT and music and have most if not all features. Pricey though

4 hours ago, JkSpinner said:

I will probably go for a Marantz as I will buy a Marantz 4K AVR in the future.  Also looking at Rotel and Elektra.  Then decide on my 2 channel upgrades after that

As above avoid the Marantz multichannel amps which is such a shame as they can make great amps (2 channel) and the aesthetic matches their AVRs

1 hour ago, krisk321 said:

When I’m running my avr preouts into the cxa80 , am I using the preamp, dac and poweramp of the cxa80? Just wanted to try and pinpoint what is giving me the better SQ  

Just the power amp. You would need to select a different input like the USB to get the full benefit of the CXA ie DAC. pre and amp so even with the preouts it will be dragged down by your AVR and future AVR/pre pros to some degree.

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I went through all this on an AVR, Yamaha RXA 2030.

 

I got an improvement too using the preouts, but they still were not up to proper stereo.

 

I've found no need for a centre channel running good stereo up front. I may if I need more seating positions.

 

I had a centre speaker for a while but didn't plug it in. People always commented how good it was. Then we're completely baffled that it wasn't plugged in. 

 

I'm also running my surrounds off a stereo amp as well. 

 

I running 4.0 with near to full range off two stereo amps. Clarity is better than sub $20k Krix and Anthem setups. 

 

Decoding to the front is by an Oppo which down mixes multi channel to 2.0 digital and outputs this via coax to a good DAC, preamp and then power amp. It does this while also sending multichannel to the analogue outputs. 

 

Decoding to the surrounds is via the Oppo analogue out to the rear stereo amp. 

 

Overall this gives down mixed multi channel to 4.0. Unlike many AVRs full LFE go to the fronts. I've set the Oppo so it knows it only has 4 speakers. 

 

I know the relative volume settings to balance front and rear amps.

 

For music I don't use the Oppo and have Roon sending to a streamer in the DAC via USB.

 

This has given me a music optimised setup that beats many home theatre setups and only needs four channels. 

 

If you think about it, it is possible to get at least 180 degrees wrap of sound full height in a room using just stereo. People don't need as many speakers in a home situation as they think with good gear. 

Edited by DrSK
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May I suggest you consider the Denon 6700 / Marantz equivalent for HT and use the change to get a good stereo amp with HT bypass.. 

Personally I won't choose an AVR based on the DAC inside.. a decent stereo amp will sound as good as an AVR costing about 3-4 times it's price.. 

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23 minutes ago, petetherock said:

May I suggest you consider the Denon 6700 / Marantz equivalent for HT and use the change to get a good stereo amp with HT bypass.. 

Personally I won't choose an AVR based on the DAC inside.. a decent stereo amp will sound as good as an AVR costing about 3-4 times it's price.. 

 

I've found some Gumtree $100 1970s integrated stereo amps from some not very great manufacturers can outclass $3000 AVRs. 

Edited by DrSK
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Posted (edited)

thanks everyone for your feedback, i've learnt a lot from this post and i like ALL your suggestions. 

 

i know now that its the power amp giving me the better SQ, then after that what leads to better SQ is the DAC and preamp (not sure its more the dac or more the preamp though). 

 

i've decided not to use the cambridge cxa80 in the setup and instead run the AVR straight into a power amp, i have got a hold of a used NAD C 272 power amp over the last week and this will run the front towers. 

 

i will still use the cxa80 to do A/B comparisons and see which way i like better. 

the A/B comparisons will involve using the oppo in a stereo imaging 4.1 setup  similar to what @DrSK has done and offloading DAC/Preamp duties to the CXA80 vs the AVR in both a 4.1 and 5.1. the 5.1 is because i just need to know what its like using a center channel  in my room.

 

i need some assistance choosing a stereo power amplifier for my rear surrounds which are Krix Cinema 1850s. 

 

i've spent time trying to research used amps and scoured the net for what's available and these have made it to my shortlist. 

 

would like any advice you can provide as to which one to lean towards and/or what order of preference should i sort this list out in. 

 

NAD C 275 BEE (150wpc into   8 ohms) 

Arcam p90 (90wpc into 8 ohms)

Rotel RB-991 (200wpc into 8ohms) 

Rotel RB-980BX (120wpc into 8 ohms)

Rotel RB-1050 (70wpc into 8 ohms)

 

there's a place in melbourne that i use that services Cambridge, NAD, Arcam amps so i do have a higher level of confidence buying those. 

I have not yet come across where i can get Rotels serviced if i ever need to, if anyone knows that would be great too. 

Edited by krisk321
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