Question £5k Budget - Pre Pro + Power or AVR suggestions..

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by eddiewww, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. eddiewww

    eddiewww
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    Hi All,

    An imminent change in venue will allow me to change my ageing, but still mighty, Meridian kit with something that will handle HD audio natively (currently use Meridian HD261 to manage a bitstream feed) and now of course, Atmos and 4K/HDR.

    Before i bought my Meridian kit the only piece of kit i bought that did surround was a Yamaha DSP something or other that decoded Dolby PL 2!! The all digital Meridian was like getting on a rocket ship and costed the same, but that it has lasted almost 15 years is testament to the kit that it is. So, i understand you gets what you pays for, which is why my budget is "around" 5K.....

    I do listen to music and music based video a lot, but movies are of course the main purpose of this system so would take priority over things like spotify and airplay etc.

    I do have a 4K HDR capable TV, and would like to add a PJ, although that wont be 4K/HDR any time soon.

    I don't yet have Atmos speakers ( i don't yet have 5 main speakers!) so those can wait and be in line with the PJ, so just looking for steerage on amplification / processing in this thread. I am going to supplement my existing PMC twenty 21's and KK sub with some additional PMC speakers and a possible second KK sub, but wanted some suggestions to get me thinking about what to seek out.

    As i see it i could go for:

    1: AVR, i get a new one and i could get full HDMI 2.2 and 11 channels of amplification, but i really don't think having 11 channels of grunt in one box is going to get the best out of the power supply...having said that i'm tempted by the Arcam AVR850, it is a proven audio company, only pushing the channels to 7 (which is all i need for now) adding additional amplification and speakers when ready....and of course it has DIRAC.. Of all the AVR's i have looked at i think this is what grabs me most, any others out there of similar ilk?

    2: PrePro + Power: I think this is where i am heading... I have the flexibility of swapping and upgrading individual units and maybe best of all, i can get a 5 channel amp for now, a decent PrePro and then add another amp when i go to Atmos. There are some excellent units out there new which would give me HDR and Atmos etc, but also i could pick up a really good almost new unit that would give me some of the newer stuff and put the rest on a second power amp and overhead speakers.

    The Yamaha CX-A5100 and MX-A5000 has a really good write up and i'll go give it a listen, but my bias on thinking that 11 channels of ampage out of a single unit puts me off a little.

    Bryston amps and PMC speakers are a marriage made in heaven that i have heard many times and am kinda thinking that is what i want (making much of the above pointless waffle!) and therefore just need steerage on the PrePro...but i guess that's the point of the post...what else is there that is worth a listen that i have'nt thought about?

    Any suggestions, most welcome!

    Ed
     
  2. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes
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    If it were my money I'd get the Arcam. Solid company with good pedigree for music and AV and it has Dirac. Do not underestimate the significance of those 5 letters!

    They haven't tried to cram too many channels into one box and you have a number of options in adding amplification if you want to go Atmos, or like I do just use the Receiver as a Preamp only.

    :)
     
  3. indus

    indus
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    The Arcam is a good call but the lack of full assignability of the internal amps could be an issue for the OP. It certainly put me off.

    I'd consider the new Anthem pro and the Marantz 8802. The latter has been around for some time and so it might be possible to get a lightly used one and save some dosh.

    However as you said don't underestimate dirac! But he could do what I've done and buy a standalone dirac unit. One more box to deal with but not the end of the world.
     
  4. stevos

    stevos
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    For me, it is better to invest the money on what you have now rather (or very likely to have) than what you might have in the future.

    If you went AVR, i would go Arcam for that price range, the AV850 is a stunning amp. I was really impressed with it when i heard it and it really seemed to walks the floor with my current setup when it comes to 2 channel.

    The main reason for getting medium priced (hardly budget at £5k :) ) pro/power used to allow you to change out the processor as new tech came out. You could invest in a decent power amp that you knew would last forever and then switch the processor as upgrades hit. However it seems that things have stabalised now that UHD BD is with us, so I would just go AVR.

    On the pro/power

    If you don't currently have 5.1 but plan to, there is no point spending money on 7+ channels of amplification. Spend the money on a really decent 5 channel power amp and should you want at some point in the future to go 7 or atmos buy a 2nd power amp. So i wouldn't go down the route of the Yamaha, your paying for almost twice as many channels as you need.

    The Yamaha room EQ has received some pretty mixed reviews/opinions, so if you wanted go down that route you should probably budget in a miniDSP (around £1k)

    What i have noticed about processors, is they all sound pretty darn good with movies, but most not so with 2 channels. As such i would go down the Marantz route, as they appear to be the best for music. 2 channel being the biggest issue with my current setup and why the Onkyo will be going for a walk soonish, surround sound wise it is great.

    The issue with Marantz is your budget, which is basically somewhere between the 7702mk2 (£1700) and the 8802a (£3200). With the 8802a you will be skimping on the power amplification, but it depends on your speakers, i don't know how much power the PMC's need, in my case the Monitor Audio's are really power hungry (i tried with a cyrus smartpower, and then 2 in mono and still they wanted more). However 2nd hand amplification could be something to consider as the tech hasn't really changed much over the years unlike the processors. You could get it reconditioned by the manufacturer to sound as new.

    With all the interest in Dirac, i would be tempted to budget a minidsp in, but i still haven't heard one to really know how much better it is to Audyssey XT32

    I haven't been tracking power amps very closely, as i am very happy with my Arcam P777, but you would need to go down the 2nd hand route to get one (I paid £1500).
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
  5. stevos

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    p.s. a bit of an obvious thing, but think about your rack also, as pro/powers both get extremely hot and so you need 2 decent sized spaces for them rather than 1 for an AVR. It seems silly but the last thing you want is to overheat your pricey toys.
     
  6. Seriously Ltd

    Seriously Ltd
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    If you would like a listen to the Marantz 7702mk2 with Lyngdorf SDA2400 power amplification, which run completely cool @400Wpc 4ohms, feel free to drop me an email/pm
    Regards
    [email protected]
     
  7. indus

    indus
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    If he uses the Lyngdorf SDA2400 he'll need three of those just to achieve 5.1. I'm sure that amp is very good but complete over kill for 99.9% of set ups.

    Not the best way to appropriate funds by spending £4.5k on amplification for 5.1 imho.
     
  8. Seriously Ltd

    Seriously Ltd
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    Not at all. Why is it overkill? This will create the foundation of a superb cinema system with years of use.
    It depends on the OP's budget but these are the amps of choice that I use on installations. Even if used to power LCR.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
  9. eddiewww

    eddiewww
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    Thanks for all your input guys...glad to hear people have similar thoughts to me and i wasn't that far out.

    I am demoing the Arcam this week, and then take it from there.

    All and any other suggestions welcome!
     
  10. Mark.Yudkin

    Mark.Yudkin
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    Your initial Yamaha CX-A5100 pre-processor suggestion would have been my recommendation; it's the best processor with the full HDMI 2.0 + HDCP 2.2 implementation plus all the current technologiesat your price range. For power amplification I'd have said "go elsewhere", but I don't see how you can get Bryston within your budget.

    The Arcam AVR850 is well-liked here (and I have a variety of Arcam kit - see sig), but I remain unconvinced by the wisdom of an "everything but the kitchen sink one big box" approach for high end sound. Unfortunately Arcam have pulled out of the separate high end pre-processor + power amplifier world.
     
  11. Seriously Ltd

    Seriously Ltd
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    Agree with you Mark. The Yamaha is fantastic. My view is get good amplification in place and then add processing. The amplifiers will last for many many years. The processing side of things is subject to change every X amount of years. The likes of Yamaha, Denon and Marantz are now nipping at the heals of Anthem.

    Investing all in a one box solution is not the way forward imo either. In this ever changing technology it isn't money wisely spent.
     
  12. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes
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    I think a one box solution is the best value for money in a rapidly changing AVworld. Processors cost more than Receivers most of the time and I am not convinced the hardware differences (if there are any) between Pre/Pro and Receiver are even audible.

    The Denon Receiver I purchased 2nd hand recently on a bit of a whim delivers the best Home Cinema experience I have had in my room and I have had several Pre/Pros over the years.

    Mark whilst I respect your opinion, and it is one I shared for a long time, I think 10 years ago maybe Receivers were seriously impeded by sharing a load of extra stuff in one box but things have moved on. I think the differences now are negligible (audibly) and where we should be focusing more is room correction.

    Room correction deals with distortion several orders of magnitude greater than electronics which is why I think Dirac is so important. Sure you could go separate like I have done with the miniDSP but its only 8 channels and a load of extra cables and faff. A one box solution like the Arcam covering all channels is way more appealing and you have a decent upgrade path with separate power amps if you ever really need them.

    I do feel Arcam have missed a trick with channel assign-ability though, something Denon is surprisingly flexible with.

    My current system is cheap as chips relatively speaking but is the best sounding I have owned to date. I think some of this is down to DTS:X/Atmos upmixing (I only have front heights atm and it still sounds amazing) and part of it is down to Dirac.

    I have no experience with Yamaha it may be great but I can't see YPAO (or whatever it is called?) being a patch on Dirac and I would not have another system right now that didn't include it.

    I hope the OP enjoys the demo, it will be interesting to hear what you think.

    Adam :)
     
  13. Seriously Ltd

    Seriously Ltd
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    Agree Adam but I'm talking about £4K plus receivers etc
     
  14. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes
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    You do have a point, that is a LOT of money for a receiver.
     
  15. Seriously Ltd

    Seriously Ltd
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    Exactly. I have heard it and it's good but you them limit yourself as technology changes. Your stuck with the expansive amps in the receiver. My view point is get one of the latest Japanese receivers/processors from Denon, Marantz etc and add power amps if you wish.
    The Japanese have caught up with Anthem and their reliability is fantastic.
     
  16. eddiewww

    eddiewww
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    speaking of a lot of money...

    my dealer is sorting out the demo, but also has a Classe SSP to check out also... leaving very little for a decent power amp, i would go the second hand route for that, but still! Also, it isnt 4K/Atmos ready "yet"...so even more cash as that would be a hardware and not just firmware update.

    So i think it will be interesting to hear, but no more!
     
  17. pressure

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    Rich and Adam make good points.

    One thought: You could get the cheaper arcam, have the same preamp quality, still have Dirac, and then add some serious amplification to feed your PMCs.

    £2400 or less for your pre amp that happens to have lots of nice amps in it, upgrade to really serious amps at your leisure. I'd be tempted for a brace of Crown amps but £3k gets you near anthem a5 etc territory.
     
  18. stevos

    stevos
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    My feeling is that sound and visual we are now stable for 5+ years, considering it was 8-10 years between DTS-HD MA and Atmos/DTS-x.

    What my concern is, is that room setup hasn't advanced much with the advent of object based audio. You are still stuck with certain pre-set speaker positions.

    There is therefore a slight risk that dolby/dts will realise that immersive audio has been a complete flop in the home (I suspect this is going to be the truth) and try to do something 'interesting' with 5.1. I think one potential is to build on the object based audio and allow you to tell the processor exactly what your room looks like and where your speakers are, to get better placement.

    This might make me lean towards a cheaper processor and more expensive power amplification and see how things advance over the next year or 2.
     
  19. Seriously Ltd

    Seriously Ltd
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    Over the next few years we will see true object based rendering for speaker placement. I don't think Atmos/DTS:X will flop. We will see mainstream receivers offer more speaker locations i.e. 6 height channels etc. The DTS:X codec released isn't even the final signed off version from what industry sources have told me.
    Id like to think we will have a more advanced version of XT32 in the future as ARC, Dirac, RoomPerfect etc are better.

    We've got a couple of years use with the present receiver offerings I'm sure. This is why good amplification and speakers are a basis for a long term investment.
     
  20. eddiewww

    eddiewww
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    Thats a good shout...is the only difference the G class amps? That's all i could see.

    If that is the case, i could get a second hand Bryston 5 channel amp and use the Arcam to power the ceiling speakers...is that possible @indus? You mention a lack of full assignability
     
  21. Seriously Ltd

    Seriously Ltd
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    They are exactly the same bar the amp stage.
    You will not be able to assign 4 height channels as far as I know due to the inflexibility of the Arcam.
     
  22. stevos

    stevos
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    Worth checking the manual just in case, even if highly unlikely. The manual must be available on arcam's website.
     
  23. eddiewww

    eddiewww
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  24. stevos

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    Hmm a bit of a naff manual, and kind of short for a AVR one.

    It states this

    "Use Channels 6+7 for If not used in the main zone, it is possible to assign the Surround Back channels to Height 1, bi-amp the Front Left/Right channels or to provide an amplified output to Zone 2."

    So it seems you couldn't achieve what you want to do with it.

    and it doesn't have 9.1 pre-in's for you to cheat using the pre-outs, into the pre-ins.
     
  25. BobbyMac

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    He clearly states his budget is £5k for BOTH processor & amps
     
  26. Seriously Ltd

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    Yes I can read. Just putting other options out there as budgets can be moved up or down and deals struck.
     
  27. stevos

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    It is a good point, if your chucking £5k at a dealer, i am sure there would be a bit of give in the prices.

    I also assume the Meridian kit would have a resale value and a pretty decent one, as they are very highly rated.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
  28. Cyprio

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    OP, you mentioned in your first post that you were unsure about the 11 channel Yamaha amp. Well if it's of any help I swapped-out a 7 channel ATI amp for the Yamaha unit and have never felt that I have been short-changed on power, neither sound quality come to that. Had it not been up to the job it would have quickly been replaced.
     
  29. eddiewww

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    Thanks for all the input guys..

    This is where i am after more reading and digging about.

    The Arcam is tempting, all in one box, i can start with 5.1 and then build from there and it has Dirac build in. However, after reading the AVR550 thread, it isn't all sweetness and light, the integration of Dirac seems more of a bolt on solution, in which case a standalone 88a for £750 would give me the same benefits and i still have the flexibility of choosing a standalone Pre and Power.....and i can get the Bryston 9BST 5 channel power amp for £2k, leaving a healthy budget for a processor.

    Having said all that, i'm not a tinkerer, so if the foibles with Arcam are fixed in firmware releases i could just run Dirac and sit back and enjoy....assuming i like the sound in the demo of course.

    Ah, first world problems!
     
  30. markymiles

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    Well just to add another idea in the pot and as we all like to promote our own stuff. :)

    Have you considered an Emotiva XMC-1. Extremely well reviewed, Dirac built in what's not to like. Doesn't have HDMI 2.0 or atmos/ dts:x but they are coming later in the year with an upgrade.

    Does mean importing one from US but thought I would put it out there.

    Would love a Bryston to go with mine!
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016

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