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2ch to 5.1 and back to 2ch again...

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by music1st, Aug 28, 2005.

  1. music1st

    music1st
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    Fellow music lovers,

    Once upon fell into the trap of ditching my seperates for an all-in-one Linn box as I wanted to experiment in 5.1 AV but had very little cash. :oops: Three years and a million movies later, I now find myself moving back to music, spending less time watching DVDs and more time surfing iTunes for bands I've never heard of. So despite wanting to move house AND get married next year I'm going to expand my CD collection and treat myself to a new system geared towards 2 channel quality again. I'm now on a mission and need your advice. :)

    I've given this lots of thought, and realistically my priorities are:

    1. Something I'll love listening to all my music on.
    2. A solution that's enjoyable to use so ideally from a single manufacturer.
    3. Good at doing the movie stuff too.

    Mind my current listeneing room is 15ft square. I listen to anything from Classical, through accoustic folk to dance and rap, so it's got to be good at the lot. I've set myself a budget of no more than £15k for the whole system.

    Here's what I've tried so far:

    * Cyrus 8vs and CD8 plus PSX-R with Dynaudio, Linn Ninka and Spendor s5e floorstanders. The Dynaudio I found precise but a bit uninvolving compared to the Ninkas. I also found the spendors a bit unentertaining.

    * Meridian G91 and DSP speakers. Very fine. Lots of smooth power there but lacking sparkle.

    * Arcam Diva and FMJ range with Spendor s5e. Also lacking something compaired to the Cyrus and Ninka setup.

    * Linn Unidisk SC and a Chakra 2100 with Ninka non-aktiv. Still not sure.

    I seem to be swaying towards the multi-box aproach of Cyrus 8. This is the only system that has really got my feet tapping and apparently using CD8 with DAX-XP, DVD8 with AV8, linking the two pre's via line level aux and adding a combination of monobloc and xpower power amps and multiple PSX-R boxes would give me everthing I'm after. I'm getting a demo of this next week along with the Spendor s8e, which based on my experiments to date I'm told I will probably like. I'm a bit worried by the number of boxes here, but for now I'm going to go with it.

    So any suggestions? What else should I try and listen to and why? :lease:
     
  2. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Of those,the Linn is probably the most expensive in terms of each item,but does also offer you the possibility of upgrading to a full active system at some stage,plus the UniDisk will play anything in silver disc form.

    I'd strongly advise you to find a Linn dealer who can demonstrate an active system to you,as you will find the difference is striking,as well as offering you the single make solution you require.
    In that way you can upgrade as funds permit....I did this with 2 previous Linn based systems,and did find the active upgrade is very worthwhile.

    In the end though,it's your own ears that will tell you what's right,and if the Cyrus is the one that gets your feet tapping...it may well be right....just try an active Linn system first!
     
  3. music1st

    music1st
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    Thanks for taking the time to read and reply, Alexs2. I hear what you're saying here. Interestingly my friend did just this actually. He now has Unidisk 1.1 with some new Linn pre amp and two five channel power amps with aktiv cards to Ninkas. This is where a lot of my inspiration has come from recently, but I still have to say there's something missing for me. Maybe it's his listening room, but I find it quite boomy and not as intimate as the Cyrus 8 and Ninka combination.

    That said, I also attended a demo hosted by Linn. This was the first of four nights. It demonstrated the benefits of the 'source first' ideology. The fourth night will demonstrate differenced in aktiv and non-aktiv sound. I'm really impressed with the Unidisk 1.1 and you couldn't fail to be impressed with the power and dynamics of the the Akurat speakers. But as you're talking 13k alone for the CD and speakers its a bit out of my pricerange.
     
  4. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Music, Im a hifi user first and foremost, but Ive always had a DVD player at the heart of my music systems, never felt the need to go 5.1, always stereo based, firstly with DACs onto my old DVD player, but now Im using a standalone DVD player for use through a nice stereo rig.

    I would reccomend keeping it simple, ie a good proportion of your budget on going for some nice DVD spinner into a decent stereo amp, then into a pair of speakers. You can even consider a DAC onto a DVD player too.

    But you can for example have a Primare DVD-30 Universal, Into a Primare I30 and choose some speakers. Or a FMJ 29 DVD-V/A FMJ A32 amp. Theres loads about TBH, I recently heard a £500 Sony DVD deck through £3500 worth of BAT ampage, £4000 of Revel speakers.

    Also consider a decent DVD player towards a TAG AV32R or Linn 5103 then to Power amps.
     
  5. Londondecca

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    It might sound a little strange but I think your budget might stop you listening to some very good but cheaper equipment. In my experience the most expensive systems tend not to sound that great although there are exceptions.

    Take a decent amp such as Sugden or Audio Analogue Puccini match it with some Quad ELS's and you should have the basis for a great system. Throw in a decent CD player (or DVD) and for less than £5000 you could have a system which would hold its own against systems costing substantially more.

    Alternatively how about some horn speakers and a nice valve amps.

    I guess I am trying to say you can get a system which makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck for a lot less than your budget.

    Spend some money on fixing the acoustics in your room and getting the speaker placement perfect and your halfway there
     
  6. music1st

    music1st
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    Thanks CJ. My heading is a bit misleading, as I hope to stick with 5.1 but build it around a 2 channel system. I didn't think this was possible, but I'm told I can have a 5 channel amp only feeding the centre and rears, with a line out to my stereo preamp for the front left an rights. I did experiment with using only 2 channel for movies but personally I found it a bit lacking.

    However, you mentioned having the DVD player do the CD bit too. I'm told the Cyrus DVD player does not do 2 channel as well as their CD player so this is why I was going to push the boat out and get both. Sound reasonable?
     
  7. CJROSS

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    Hey Music there are a number of ways to fit a 5.1 system around a stereo one (search the forum above for stereo) all I can say is that a big part of using a DVD player in a stereo based system is actually down to the “downmix” abilities of the DVD player (or offboard DAC) from say a 5.1 mix towards a stereo rig, I have been very fortunate in that Ive had some excellent kit (TAG & now the Toshiba) to handle this task. This ability to downmix properly is a huge bonus in a DVD stereo based system. Like all things though – processing quality and anlg output quality need to be pretty high. It is managble though.

    Im also not the greatest fan on listening to dealers saying for example that a Cyrus DVD8 is going to be rubbish at CD replay, there are plenty of decent DVD players out there capable of decent CD playback. Depending on the system you create I would go for decent DVD player and simple pair with a relevant amp, Arcam as I mentioned earlier get great reviews for their DVD players (mor so than Cyrus) add a A32 amp and your off, I also believe Arcam do a module called a DAVE that is fitted to their stereo amps for rear & centre processing & pre-amping.

    As for pushing out the boat and getting both, I suppose you mean a DVD + CD player, well I would take the CDP out of the equation and buy a quality offboard DAC instead to run off the DVD player as your CD source. DACs should always be considered when a DVD player is in a system, rather than adding a CD source too, you get better VFM IMHO. Ie give me £800-1000 of Audio Sythensis / MF Trivista / Chord 64 / Per Pet – DACs than any equivalently priced CD player.
     
  8. Mr_Sukebe

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    Music,
    Interesting how you're comments on the equipment you tried reflect pretty much my own thoughts when I was doing some system testing about 3 years ago.
    The key difference is that the dealer I was seeing also dem'd me a full Naim system (not including their speakers, which I simply don't like). IMO it completely creamed the opposition, but that is mostly due to personal preference. As you views on other kit (eg. the meridian) was so close to mine, maybe checking out the Naim option is a good one, after all, it's a lot of dosh to make a bad decision on.
     
  9. music1st

    music1st
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    Well, I really feel I'm getting close now. After listening to £2000 offerings from Spendor and Art, I went back to the Linn Ninka, this time using higher quality Cyrus (CD 8x, DAC-XP, two Mono X and two PSX-R). I'm just stunned. The dealer then went and blew it and put on the Linn Espeks. What a combination. Even better. Ten CD's later and I just want to listen to my collection all over again. Hardly cheap but a real bargain to my ears. A friend with active Ninka, Katans and Unidisk 1.1 agreed - it's the best combination he's heard in ages. I love this system!
     
  10. stevos

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    I notice itunes is important, if so budget for a decent DAC, as that will bring itunes to life. PC sound cards just can't compete with a good hifi amp.

    on the 5.1 side, Arcam amps (A32 & A90 i believe) and cyrus amps (7 & 8) have processor modes that fix the level of one of the outputs. This makes using a dedected stereo amp along side a av amp much easier. A option that i use (A32) to very good effect.
     
  11. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Cj's hit the nail on the head here. This aspect is extremely important in my opinion. A lot of dvd players are disappointing in this regard and struggle to reproduce 5.1 mixes convincingly in stereo.

    The centre channel is usually mudered in the process, rendering speech uninteligible at times.

    DT
     

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