Advice needed on upgrades to my home cinema setup

Geonet

Standard Member
Hi all.

My current setup consists of a Samsung UE65JU7000 TV, 3 pairs of Tannoy Revolution R3's, a Tannoy Revolution centre speaker, a BK XXLS400 Sub, an Oppo UDP-205 (upgraded by Russ Andrews), a Marantz SR7011, my old Pioneer VSX-AX5i and a Beresford TC-7220 MKIII 2 way Audio router. All speakers are bi-wired using QED Silver Anniversary speaker cable.

I live in a detached house and my room is carpeted. The room measures 6 metres long by 3.3 metres wide. I have a three seater couch which is 1.8 meters from my wall mounted TV and the front/centre speakers. My surround speakers are at either end of the couch (within arms length if seated at either end) and my rear surrounds are in line with the surrounds, but 1 metre back and towed in at a 45 degree angle. I would like my rear surrounds further back but my wife insisted that a dining table was needed to complete my cinema experience ! :)

I have decided to completely change my speakers and amps. I have owned the Pioneer and Tannoy's since new and i can't help but feel that I can get a much better sound. I use my Marantz to listen films, i like how dynamic it is, but i really don't like it for listening to music, that is why I am using my old Pioneer amp (and the Beresford Audio Splitter) for 2 channel listening. I would ideally like an amp that is as good with music as it is with movies (wouldn't we all !!!) so I am toying with the idea of the Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3. Does anyone have any experience with this amp, and how does it perform in 2 or 7 channel mode? Or would I be better off sticking with the Marantz and buying a decent stereo amp as well?

Also, would i benefit from, or do I really need another Sub ??

My shortlist for speakers is as follows :-

Focal Chora 826/Aria 926
Dali Oberon 7
Wharfdale Evo 4.3/4.4
Triangle Bora BR09/Esprit Antal EZ
B&W 603 S2 Anniversary Edition
Klipsch RP-6000F/8000F

I haven't auditioned any of these speakers yet, I just wanted ask the opinion of people that know a lot more about this that I do :)

Any advice or recommendations for different speakers or amps will be greatly received.

Thanks.
 
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Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
I would keep the Marantz for movies if it has all the features/connections you need as it`s fairly capable receiver with the XT32, should drive most speakers comfortably for high volumes without issues. New receiver doing everything incl. 2ch music satisfying would likely cost ~3000-5000£ which is probably too much. Better to look good integrated stereo amp with HT-bypass around 1k£ class or more, preferably something you can try at home before making the decision.

Quick question about the Marantz though. Have you listened it in Pure Direct mode (2.0) typically with music or do you use the stereo mode? If the latter have you tried setting Audussey to "Bypass L/R" for this stereo mode? I`m not sure does it default the "Reference" target curve for stereo mode too which is on use when you watch movies if you have Audussey enabled. This does high frequency roll off and also adds the "bbc dip" in 2kHz range. The Flat target curve doesn´t do either and generally could be better for movies too unless you have bright sounding speakers, but people still don`t like the "Flat" for music so that is why i would want you to try the "ByPass L/R" which can be found on same XT32 menu, this would be specifically for stereo mode only so it doesn´t do any correction for your front mains, but does keep it for subwoofer so 2.1 in mind this should be good! I also checked and your receiver actually supports the Audussey editor app (20€) which can be beneficial even for music listening as you can limit the correction to battle room modes, not correct the sound of your speakers too much in the critical region. However first try the "free" tweaks if you haven`t yet.

You might want to consider doing the upgrade in steps starting with front three (LCR) so you get something that would be bigger upgrade not just sideway move at best. Dali Oberons are fairly cheap and i doubt they would be much of upgrade what you have now, for music listening in mind i would shoot at least toward Dali Opticon 6 Mk2 and Opticon Vokal centre which should be more balanced and detailed over Oberons. Some might be little underwhelmed do to having only one mid-bass drivers though in center channel which is the heart of the HT system! From the list Focal Arias would be most intresting for me as there is strong feedback (subjective & objective data) for them and they also have large center channel with dual 6,5" drivers, sadly not 3-way but if listeners aren`t too far horizontally from the speaker then should be good. Wharfedale EVO has some type ribbon AMT tweeters. If the towers follow the voicing of 4.1 model they are fairly bright sounding seeing the measurements, they went quite opposite direction with this range vs. Diamond. What is positive is the 4.C centre which uses identical drivers to 4.4 model in 3-way configuration. The finish is lovely looking aswell. There is mixed about the EVO serie on AVForums by folks who has heard em.

Talking about pronounced highs the B&W 603 follows that camp, although James L. mentioned in the 603 review at Audioholics that one shouldn´t toe in them much as that brightness can get overbearing. For me the deal breaker would be the fairly simple small 2-way center channel for high cost. Klipsch RP range is one of the most popular ones in US for home theater duties as they so easily available and generally are known from dynamics and the horn tweeter, they also have large center channels. However in UK the pricing is bit too high as they compete with cheaper speakers in reality. Triangle is bit special looking the Esprit Antal EZ measurements with some odd design flaws and the modest looking 2-way center channel (small drivers and far away from each other) for fairly high price i just don´t see much of hype with these. The Bora range would be more of sideway move being budget range.

You could look some ex-demo models from higher ranges = better speakers at least for the front three which is where the most money should go. Especially for 2ch listening i would bet that 703 S2 is going to sound noticeably better than 603 S2. Link below has pair for 1900£ vs. 3k£ new pair. One member tested week ago 600 vs 700 serie centre channel and heard right away the difference. Another member bought the HTM 71 S2 few months ago, while it sounds superb he also noticed it sounds very bright especially at high volumes. For some reason B&W has went with this direction more and more over the years after owner changed. They do have own type of house sound which certain people like and others hate. It´s also mentioned as showroom sound cause it can wow you in demo room tricking you hear ton of detail, but it comes tiring in long run. For movie system you can eq the highs more comfortable level, but for 2ch listening with stereo amp not so much.

Kef R serie must be on your list of speakers to listen! What is special with Kef is you get the same 3-way design with standmount model too, so if you aren´t fully sold on towers you could consider the R3 model for front mains with nice stands. You would save 500-600£ depending cost of stands.


Arendal 1723 S THX is very popular with AVF members, they must be one of the best speakers in this price range for home theater! We have feedback since 2015 and members comparisons to other brands, now Arendal is getting ton of hype at US as people are finding these sounding great. There is wise people behind this company the designer is same as for Perlisten. We have 1723 speaker and subwoofer owners threads in the "home cinema speakers" section of AVF. If you would be intrested there could be chance some owner living near you to give you listen of em. Arendal offers 60 day buy and try, but returning will cost some. Arendal has also 1723 S Monitors and Bookshelf as option for front mains, but finding suitable stands is bit trickier visually speaking.


PS. Do you have tv on the 3,3m wall and you sit exactly 1,8m away from front wall about middle point?
 
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Geonet

Standard Member
Hi Gasp. Thank you for your comprehensive reply. I will answer your questions are I read through your post.

Yes I do listen to the Marantz in pure Direct mode. Other than the initial setup I have never really ventured into what Audyssey can do. I've gone into the setup and changed the setting to "Bypass L/R" as you suggested, and it does sound much better. I've also moved my speakers away from the wall a little to reduce the booming bass. I still think I could get a better sound with a dedicated 2 channel amp as you said. I will also look into the Audyssey Editor App in the next week.

I take your point with the Dali Oberons, I'd consider the Opticons instead, even though I couldn't live with the Vokals looks, no matter how good it sounded !!! I think I'll also give the bright sounding B&W and Wharfdale's, and the overpriced Klipsch a miss then.

The Kef's look absolutely stunning, I look forward to having a listen to them. I do like the look of the Arendal, but I wonder if it would be overpowering to listen to them from 6 feet away !

To answer your last question, yes my TV is on the 3.3 metre wide wall, and I sit about 1.8 metres away from it.

What stereo amps would you suggest i audition at the £1000 to £1500 mark?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer me, it is really appreciated.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Hi Gasp. Thank you for your comprehensive reply. I will answer your questions are I read through your post.

Yes I do listen to the Marantz in pure Direct mode. Other than the initial setup I have never really ventured into what Audyssey can do. I've gone into the setup and changed the setting to "Bypass L/R" as you suggested, and it does sound much better. I've also moved my speakers away from the wall a little to reduce the booming bass. I still think I could get a better sound with a dedicated 2 channel amp as you said. I will also look into the Audyssey Editor App in the next week.

I take your point with the Dali Oberons, I'd consider the Opticons instead, even though I couldn't live with the Vokals looks, no matter how good it sounded !!! I think I'll also give the bright sounding B&W and Wharfdale's, and the overpriced Klipsch a miss then.

The Kef's look absolutely stunning, I look forward to having a listen to them. I do like the look of the Arendal, but I wonder if it would be overpowering to listen to them from 6 feet away !

To answer your last question, yes my TV is on the 3.3 metre wide wall, and I sit about 1.8 metres away from it.

What stereo amps would you suggest i audition at the £1000 to £1500 mark?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer me, it is really appreciated.

Nice to hear the ByPass L/R sounds better for 2ch listening, you are not the only one. If you buy the editor app i think you can benefit from it for both music/movie listening as one of the better stereo amps has room correction (Lyngdorf 1120 / Arcam SA30). In the app use the slider to limit each speaker to room transit frequency about ~300-500hz (listen/compare), turn midrange compensation Off (2kHz dip). You need to run Audussey through the app, do 3 mic positions if doing comparisons to save time. Listen the clip about 10min forward from 23:06 so you see what you need to do. Oh and there is other tweaks for the general settings for home theater in mind we can check later on as you need to manually change few things. Never trust that auto setup gets things correct, it won`t!



You are sitting very close and personally i would consider standmount speakers with two subs, place L/R 1,8m apart so you create equilateral triangle, however if you can push the couch further away you could spread the mains more which would be beneficial! If you going to demo Kef then ask to hear the R3s! Ideally you would have some other brand side by side to Kefs. Monitor Audio Gold 100 comes to mind as great alternative with luxury finish/looks. Not sure where you live but many hifi stores carries both brands. If you are intrested in B&W listen the 706 S2 still. People have different tastes and for 2ch listening it`s so personal choice that no one can really say what is best for you. I just wrote some findings of each but if you are intrested of them then by all means listen them still. It would really help to know when you put one of these type speakers side by side to Kef R3. Demoing is free and i would urge you to visit few stores spending time listening different brands so no "why i didnt listen that one" thoughts later on.

I used room eq wizard program with your room dimensions and sitting 1,8m away from front wall and middle width wise. You would get lift for the low end if you could place 2nd subwoofer diagonally opposite front/rear. So either front left and rear right or opposite. Also you probably have more than one listener so you should get smoother response for few seats and no bass localization so more room filling bass overall. You could add 2nd XXLS400 and be done with it. BK`s 2nd ebay site has black DF for 405£ and walnut FF for 452£. New and usually in mint condition with full warranty. See link below. However do you feel the sub is adequate for movies or would you be looking something that create more physical experience for latest action/scifi/horror/war flicks? You would still go with duals ideally so that would cost roughly 1400£ with the options that i have in mind. They are fairly large boxes though and would be placed like i mentioned. XXLS400 is fine sub especially for music oriented systems, but it`s bit soft below 30hz so missing some of that low end grunt for blockbuster flicks. However not everyone is after that type of thing and aren´t necessarily listening loud in first place. If you fall in this group then adding 2nd XXLS400 is fairly cheap route indeed.


You can do some research which amps are often used with R3s and try to get one for home trial so you can compare the 1-1,5k£ amp to 7011 with the editor app tweaks. Ideally you would use SPL meter (even phone app) and make sure both are playing same loudness as one playing louder could easily sound better. Trick which is often used in hifi shops by the sales men.

If you have favourite cd`s at home, bring them to hifi shop as you need to start there. I would book demo time by calling them so you get to compare few speakers thre and spend hour or so without rush listening. Companies also gives the speakers for home demo like Audio T and AV-Online so if you find something that is clearly step up from others you could bring that home for listening. You can´t have 2-3 pairs for home sadly. Did i say already that demoing is free, no need to buy anything first time so don`t feel that you are wasting their time. They are there to serve you.
 

Geonet

Standard Member
Thanks again for your help Gasp.

I have downloaded the Audyssey sound editor app, I'll sit through the video you have posted and have a go with that at the weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

I don't want to use stand mounted speakers with a sub, I much prefer floor standers. I'd happily try stand mounted speakers for my surrounds and rear surrounds though.

Regarding the sub, I would much prefer something that goes lower than my BK sub. I wonder if getting the BK Double Gem sub to compliment mine would work well, or do you think I should try another manufacturer altogether?

I do own a SPL meter though so I could use that as you suggested.

I'll have a tinker at the weekend and get back to you.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thanks again for your help Gasp.

I have downloaded the Audyssey sound editor app, I'll sit through the video you have posted and have a go with that at the weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

I don't want to use stand mounted speakers with a sub, I much prefer floor standers. I'd happily try stand mounted speakers for my surrounds and rear surrounds though.

Regarding the sub, I would much prefer something that goes lower than my BK sub. I wonder if getting the BK Double Gem sub to compliment mine would work well, or do you think I should try another manufacturer altogether?

I do own a SPL meter though so I could use that as you suggested.

I'll have a tinker at the weekend and get back to you.

Nice, play around with the app editor and watch few movies/series and listen music. Hopefully you feel it is well worth it like many does. Even some of those earlier Audussey haters have changed their mind... :)

If you want floorstanders then keep at it. They do look better, but then just have to swallow the price jump.

Don`t add Double Gem if you are looking more impact for lowest frequencies. From BK you would need to look Monolith / Monolith Plus.

There is something better and more modern for low cost still. Your best time to make the purchase would be around easter sale which Monoprice will surely do. Bookmark these links below and check them daily. You can google reviews there is plenty especially for 12" and we have monoprice subwoofer thread on the subwoofer section. The ported cabinets are fairly large so check dimensions carefully. My vote would be 2x 10" or 2x 12". For long term purchase the latter 12" route would be superb in your room if you can fit two of them! For comparison SVS PB2000 Pro costs 1169£ (minus 10% discount) and the Mono 12" THX Ultra is going to cost close to 700£ when the sale starts. You get similar/better build quality to SVS, also 5year amp warranty so bang for buck wise these can`t be beaten. They do go lower well below 20hz with the ability to play much louder with lower distortion compared to XXLS400. Different experience completely with certain type movies.


 

password1

Suspended
Dali are probably easier to position, no toe in required and in my experience with opticons and specktors, don't need a huge distance from the wall.

Other options you should shortlist are the Mission QX mark 2 (or even the ZX series) and Fyne audio F500 ranges.
 

Geonet

Standard Member
I have finally managed to find the time to run the Audyssey editor app. I now need to sit through a few videos so that I can start to understand all the data/graphs it has produced. This is going to one steep learning curve. Pun intended !

I will definitely add Dali to my listening list Password1, but I'm going to stick to floor standers. I don't think I can ever learn to love bookshelf speakers after having floor standers for so long.
 

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