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The Fresh Prince

3-channel advice

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I'm pretty familiar with 2 channel audio, but have no experience with home theatre.

I want to have a 3 channel set up (L, R and Centre).

I download most of my movies from ITunes or watch DVDs.

I'm thinking about using my Shaninian Arc as the L and R channels and then having a centre speaker (brand, as yet, unknown)

Basically, what do I need in terms of a preamp or integrated? Happy to have a recommendation. Must be family friendly (ie. easy to use remote control with minimal faffing around).

Willing to spend upto 5K.

Thanks in advance

Ted

Edited by teddyboy

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just add an avr to your existing 2ch setup and use the avr to drive your centre and surrounds. probably easiest step forward and simplest in configuration. in combining 2ch and ht systems it helps if your 2ch pre or integrated you might be using has a htbypass.

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Thanks Al,

Therefore, I assume I could use a Surround processor into my 2 channel integrated (with HT bypass) and add a monoblock to drive the centre speaker?

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Yes you could add a surround processor and a mono block amp - cost?

AVR's now are so cheap and have so many functions that it may be an option (but sound quality normally not as good as dedicated music equipment.)

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I have a Cyrus 8XPD (dac integrated) in the lounge room. I also, however, have a spare Cyrus X Power (2 channel poweramp which can also be run as a monoblock).

None of my other amps have home theatre bypass.

I agree, dedicated processors seem very expensive (for someone who isn't really into movies). I suppose a Bryston SP2 could be an option, but then I would feel obliged to get a 6SST2. I'm not really prepared to spend that kind of money at this stage.

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JMHO but stay with 2 channel. If you aren't intending to run the surround speakers you will gain practically nothing by adding the centre. Films' stereo mix soundtracks are generally excellent with some semblance of the surround effects thrown out to the wider reaches of the stereo pair.

 

Going HT the whole hog is more expensive than benefit in my calculations - YMMV - but I don't really think that 3 channel would give you more than stereo. It is possible, although I am guessing here, that things may be taken away. My logic is as follows: there are generally two soundtracks at least on DVDs - a stereo mix and a 5.1. If you have a receiver to decode the 5.1 you get those channels out of the sound, but you only put out 3/5 of the sound (two speakers are not there). A stereo track will, at least, contain all of the sound in the two channels.

 

I could be wrong about this, and it is possible that you may not notice much missing (the front three channels are far and away the busiest of any multi-channel system) but a decent stereo system will at least be putting out all of the soundtrack to be heard.

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JMHO but stay with 2 channel. If you aren't intending to run the surround speakers you will gain practically nothing by adding the centre. Films' stereo mix soundtracks are generally excellent with some semblance of the surround effects thrown out to the wider reaches of the stereo pair.

 

Going HT the whole hog is more expensive than benefit in my calculations - YMMV - but I don't really think that 3 channel would give you more than stereo. It is possible, although I am guessing here, that things may be taken away. My logic is as follows: there are generally two soundtracks at least on DVDs - a stereo mix and a 5.1. If you have a receiver to decode the 5.1 you get those channels out of the sound, but you only put out 3/5 of the sound (two speakers are not there). A stereo track will, at least, contain all of the sound in the two channels.

 

I could be wrong about this, and it is possible that you may not notice much missing (the front three channels are far and away the busiest of any multi-channel system) but a decent stereo system will at least be putting out all of the soundtrack to be heard.

Excellent point. This is the exact reason I haven't ever entertained the idea of more than 2 channels. I really don't like the sound of 5 or 7 channel, but figured 3 channel would fit my listening tastes and give better performance than 2-channel, with movies. As you've pointed out, though, I may be wrong, and better of sticking with 2 channel?

BTW. This system won't be used for listening to music

Edited by teddyboy

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as has been suggested am not sure the benefits of just 3 channels. if going surround really its the whole hog ie 5.1 or 7.1 etc. otherwise probably best to stick with 2ch.

 

check with cyrus re your current dac pre's ability re htbypass I recall one of their pre's / integrateds being able to be configured as such but dont know with regard the model you have. otherwise not so easy and can get a bit messy and especially since you mention family friendly becomes really hard to do.

 

there are processors / avrs that are good 2ch wise but they are all very expensive unfortunately. the current bryston av pre amp I think is around $16-20k ! 

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as has been suggested am not sure the benefits of just 3 channels. if going surround really its the whole hog ie 5.1 or 7.1 etc. otherwise probably best to stick with 2ch.

 

check with cyrus re your current dac pre's ability re htbypass I recall one of their pre's / integrateds being able to be configured as such but dont know with regard the model you have. otherwise not so easy and can get a bit messy and especially since you mention family friendly becomes really hard to do.

 

there are processors / avrs that are good 2ch wise but they are all very expensive unfortunately. the current bryston av pre amp I think is around $16-20k ! 

 

2 Channel, it is, then. Wow, that was cheap, quick and easy!

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Excellent point. This is the exact reason I haven't ever entertained the idea of more than 2 channels. I really don't like the sound of 5 or 7 channel, but figured 3 channel would fit my listening tastes and give better performance than 2-channel, with movies. As you've pointed out, though, I may be wrong, and better of sticking with 2 channel?

BTW. This system won't be used for listening to music

 

Definitely stick to stereo if you have such doubts. You are not missing out on anything and you would save money by not doing anything. Even if your system will not be used for music (and, in fact, it will - how many films do you know without music?), using an external amp and speakers to your video set up gives almost infinite improvements on the sound out of TV speakers.

 

Meantime, enjoy your system with more of whatever software you run on it. Maybe time to indulge in music listening, even if only on DVD....?

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Definitely stick to stereo if you have such doubts. You are not missing out on anything and you would save money by not doing anything. Even if your system will not be used for music (and, in fact, it will - how many films do you know without music?), using an external amp and speakers to your video set up gives almost infinite improvements on the sound out of TV speakers.

 

Meantime, enjoy your system with more of whatever software you run on it. Maybe time to indulge in music listening, even if only on DVD....?

Now worries there. I have a dedicated music room also :)

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JMHO but stay with 2 channel. If you aren't intending to run the surround speakers you will gain practically nothing by adding the centre. Films' stereo mix soundtracks are generally excellent with some semblance of the surround effects thrown out to the wider reaches of the stereo pair.

 

Going HT the whole hog is more expensive than benefit in my calculations - YMMV - but I don't really think that 3 channel would give you more than stereo. It is possible, although I am guessing here, that things may be taken away. My logic is as follows: there are generally two soundtracks at least on DVDs - a stereo mix and a 5.1. If you have a receiver to decode the 5.1 you get those channels out of the sound, but you only put out 3/5 of the sound (two speakers are not there). A stereo track will, at least, contain all of the sound in the two channels.

 

I could be wrong about this, and it is possible that you may not notice much missing (the front three channels are far and away the busiest of any multi-channel system) but a decent stereo system will at least be putting out all of the soundtrack to be heard.

 

I disagree, yes the stereo mix has the other channels, however, I have always found you have to turn the volume way up to hear dialogue and then get blasted by all the effects, L, R and surround (which are heavily compressed in 2 channel).

I have lived with 3 channel setup for ages, I dont have the room to accomodate surround channels.

For movies, TV I run 3 channel and then for FM radio, CD I use stereo only - to me the is the best of both worlds.

If you have ever listened to a music DVD you will find up to 80% comes from the centre - it is THE most important speaker.

BTW I use Meridian gear and no it isnt that expensive, Im selling my older 561 (dolby digital, DTS) processor with remote for $500 if interested.

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I disagree, yes the stereo mix has the other channels, however, I have always found you have to turn the volume way up to hear dialogue and then get blasted by all the effects, L, R and surround (which are heavily compressed in 2 channel).

I have lived with 3 channel setup for ages, I dont have the room to accomodate surround channels.

For movies, TV I run 3 channel and then for FM radio, CD I use stereo only - to me the is the best of both worlds.

If you have ever listened to a music DVD you will find up to 80% comes from the centre - it is THE most important speaker.

BTW I use Meridian gear and no it isnt that expensive, Im selling my older 561 (dolby digital, DTS) processor with remote for $500 if interested.

 

Interesting that you prefer three channels. I have always run 2ch for A-V duties and never had the problems you describe in films either broadcast (mostly OK) or on DVD... and VHS for that matter. *Occasionally* on a commercial channel, the sound can be overpowering but this tends to be only on the advert's: they are so compressed it is unbelievable (and painful if you don't catch the volume or skip-ad button quickly enough). Certainly on DVD I have had no problems at all.

 

If there is a sound-effect vs soundtrack imbalance I would suspect a problem between bass and mid-range speakers. This would be more easily "achieved" if a sub is in use, of course - very easy to misconfigure; not entirely sure it is possible to manage with halfway decent standard speakers, 2- or 3-way. I suppose a true bi-amped system could be set up so that the bass drivers put out more than the mid-range, but it would take some doing and one would need to be an obsessive bass-head to justify the work.

 

Yes, I have lived with multi-channel systems on a couple of occasions; they had their moments of pleasure giving but never warranted the extra cost for my budget. Two channel works well for everything I use it for.

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Interesting comments, I wonder if room and speaker are coming in to play here?

I used to use 2 channel only for TV (valve pre and power amps), but when DVD came around I always had issues with volume. Adding a centre speaker helped greatly.

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Interesting comments, I wonder if room and speaker are coming in to play here?

I used to use 2 channel only for TV (valve pre and power amps), but when DVD came around I always had issues with volume. Adding a centre speaker helped greatly.

I could be wrong but I am not aware of many valve multichannel amps kicking around. Have you moved to solid state receiver since? If not, then how would the centre channel help?

 

If so, perhaps you had the receiver in multichannel mode but only the front pair of speakers connected - ie the vocal track was being processed but had nothing to output to. That would explain the helpfulness of the cenre speaker.

 

My experience with 2ch for everything has always been good to excellent and without too much messing around. But then I prefer a simple life ;-)

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i used to be on the "ghost centre" band-wagon. and then i invested money in a decent centre speaker. there's no comparison inmho, with a centre speaker in play dialogue is better imaged and sweeping voices (left, centre, right etc) are much better presented...  I'd never get rid of the centre.

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Yeh, I've been wrestling with these issues, on & off, for a while ...

The big plus for AV sources in recent times is DTS HD etc, the uncompressed hires audio available on BluRay. Brilliant, & goes with the often big kick-up in visual resolution. But, ... most movies here - new releases especially - are 5.1/ 7.1 only, with 2 channel as a player mixdown, losing quality. I do have a REL sub, but I just don't want to put another pair of speakers at the back. I also have a pair of Fostex running off the TV amp for TV sound only - can't figure out how to integrate these as a centre.

So, I just do the stereo mixdown - & I know I'm missing out!

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I might get flayed for suggesting this :) but here goes nothing:

I had a spare set of the AMG toppers since I sold my ML2Rs. With nothing to lose, I decided to put both of them them on top of my centre speaker. These are full range 3 way 4 driver (a coaxial one in the middle) speaker that is timbre matched to the main speakers.

I swear the dialog audibility has improved loads :) bass tautness too.

I was mucking about with my AVR settings and this lost the Audyssey EQ and it didn't bother me that I was running without room EQ. But this tweak made the dialog much more easily understood.

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I might get flayed for suggesting this :) but here goes nothing:

I had a spare set of the AMG toppers since I sold my ML2Rs. With nothing to lose, I decided to put both of them them on top of my centre speaker. These are full range 3 way 4 driver (a coaxial one in the middle) speaker that is timbre matched to the main speakers.

I swear the dialog audibility has improved loads :) bass tautness too.

I was mucking about with my AVR settings and this lost the Audyssey EQ and it didn't bother me that I was running without room EQ. But this tweak made the dialog much more easily understood.

if the improvements everyone swears by are applicable to the stereo speakers they use, i'd believe you for a centre speaker! wish i had a spare set of toppers. i want some! :)

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Ill leave the toppers argument alone but will say that a dialogue channel is very much worth going for. Why don't you get an affordable surround receiver, spend even more on a quality, large centre speaker and simply put some cheapish surrounds up front (if you don't want to bother with proper/accurate surround)?

Films/shows with a third channel are FAR superior IMO, i couldn't go back if the option was still there. Even regular tv viewing with Pro Logic II is more enjoyable, IMO you are missing out, particularly since you posed the query to begin with.

BTW, Decware make a valve multi channel surround pre with 6922 type tubes. You would still need power amps but if their stereo pres are anything to go by, it would sound amazing.

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Ill leave the toppers argument alone but will say that a dialogue channel is very much worth going for. Why don't you get an affordable surround receiver, spend even more on a quality, large centre speaker and simply put some cheapish surrounds up front (if you don't want to bother with proper/accurate surround)? Films/shows with a third channel are FAR superior IMO, i couldn't go back if the option was still there. Even regular tv viewing with Pro Logic II is more enjoyable, IMO you are missing out, particularly since you posed the query to begin with. BTW, Decware make a valve multi channel surround pre with 6922 type tubes. You would still need power amps but if their stereo pres are anything to go by, it would sound amazing.

 

Sounds like I'm going to have to give this a go. I think I'll borrow my friend's Denon 5420 and hook it up

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Something i meant to include is that a good receiver will allow you to change the level of each speaker independently.

Meaning if a surround title has a poor mix, you can adjust the level of the centre channel for dialogue, and even more conveniently if a stereo title has a poor mix (some disc titles/downloads and ALL Australian free to air main channels are stereo only, annoyingly!) you can again adjust accordingly if you choose to listen in Pro Logic. EQ too is adjustable.

Pro Logic II does a reasonable job of presenting surround from a stereo only source. The surrounds can be a bit patchy but the dialogue is quite good, not as discrete as proper 5.1 but more than adequate.

Edited by LuzArt

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I could be wrong but I am not aware of many valve multichannel amps kicking around. Have you moved to solid state receiver since? If not, then how would the centre channel help?

 

To be clear, I had two valve mono-blocks for mains and a separate surround processor and power amp for the centre.

Later, to reduce complexity I replaced both the processor (Sony) and pre with a Meridian pre/processor, then replaced the valve monos with a 4 channel power amp - this drives mains and a pair of speakers for the centre.

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To be clear, I had two valve mono-blocks for mains and a separate surround processor and power amp for the centre.

Later, to reduce complexity I replaced both the processor (Sony) and pre with a Meridian pre/processor, then replaced the valve monos with a 4 channel power amp - this drives mains and a pair of speakers for the centre.

Gotcha! :thumb:

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