Advice on blank canvas music & home theatre setups

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by whand, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. whand

    whand
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    We're moving to a new build house and looking for 3 setups in different rooms.

    In our living room (no TV etc) we'd like a system thats optimised for quality music playback. We play all our music through AirPlay, so we're looking for a receiver with built-in AirPlay. Here we would like some quality loudspeakers with independent subwoofer.

    In our media room (TV, Sky, Bluray, Apple TV) we're looking for an AV receiver and whatever the best reasonable surround configuration is, 5.1, 7.1 etc so I can get some wall plates put in. I'm at a bit of a loss to surround speaker configurations, so any advice/experience is appreciated here.

    Some other smaller rooms will also contain either speaker wall plugs or concealed celling/wall speakers. Here we would like a relatively basic/value-for-money receiver that has AirPlay connectivity or ability for connection of an AirPort Express for example. These systems will be self contained.

    I'm also interested in what people believe are the best room layouts for a media room - aka: where to place equipment racks, where to have plate input/output, how to conceal cables, how to connect equipment and what grade of cables should I be looking at (for any of the rooms).

    One of our aims is to keep each setup relatively 'pure' and easy to use, while at the same time keeping each component independant and of high quality so it can be future proof and flexible.

    We have ethernet cabling built in so we would be aiming to connect the AirPort equipment via ethernet - if thats applicable?

    We have a relatively large budget for media equipment, and we're looking for medium-high range equipment - but exceptions can be made :laugh: We're moving in during January so I'm looking to brush up and get advice and recommendation on what equipment/techniques/configuration to use.

    Thanks
     
  2. MTech535

    MTech535
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    Regarding the media room, a room layout with dimensions would be useful in determining what us the best set up for you. Would you be looking for a projector or tv?

    Regarding you living room, I am not sure that Airplay and quality music playback really go together. What format is your digital music? Receivers with Airplay built in are generally multichannel AV receivers, but you will get better vfm from a stereo amp, so maybe an Airport Express would work here.

    Finally, a rough idea of budget would help. Different people have different ideas of what consists a large or small budget. Whatever budget you have people will no doubt recommend something suitable as well as an "for only this much more you can have..." option.
     
  3. whand

    whand
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    Thanks for the reply.

    The media room is based on a 5m by 4m square, with a door about 30cm from the corner of the 4m wall.

    We're not looking for a projector, unless there is a strong enough argument to consider one? My experience has been that projectors often cause unnecessary extra work/mess and for the best picture you require a good backdrop/screen which looks unsightly. We're looking at getting a large plasma TV for the best picture quality, and I'm really keen to get something with a great contrast ratio too so blacks are as true to life as possible, but I'm not sure how close I can get on a plasma model.

    Our music collection is ripped in Apple Lossless but for everyday listening enjoyment, anything coming in around 256kbps should still sound good? My experience is that if the AirPort Express is connected by Ethernet, you get a good quality of sound coming through. And yes in fact I have found it hard to find any stereo receivers with AirPlay so I was coming to the same conclusion.

    Maybe this isn't as big, but our idea was around 8/9k for all media equipment. The most important think is we're not looking to massively overkill or spend more than we really need to and any we have left over from that budget is obviously a bonus.
     
  4. MTech535

    MTech535
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    That budget is for the living room, media room and how many additional systems?

    Edit

    For your media room, I am assuming you will go for a wall mounted TV. How much space will be behind your primary seating position? Ideally you want at least a metre or so if you want 7.1, if you seat will be near the back wall, 5.1 would be better.
    Do you have any preference for small satellite, stand mount it floor standing speakers?
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  5. whand

    whand
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    Thats for the living room and media room + 3 additional stereo receivers for 2 bedrooms and a bathroom - doesn't include the speakers in other rooms as they're more specialist.
     
  6. MTech535

    MTech535
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    What sort of size TV are you after?

    I think I edited my post above while you were responding.
     
  7. whand

    whand
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    Sorry I see I missed that edit.

    We're looking at a 60" Samsung PS60F5500 Plasma HD. Although the conventional rule of thumb seems to have been optimum distance around 2.5 x [diagonal size], I believe its generally regarded as being anything down to about 1.5 for 1080p screens.

    If we take an even 2 x diagonal that would put me looking at around 120" or 3m away from the screen. We actually have a room on the opposite side of the house which measures 6 x 5 meters and was planned as the living room, but we always acknowledged the option of switching the layout around to provide more room for TV/films if necessary. We could look to switch the rooms (not ideal) if its going to work out better to have 3m distance between TV and primary viewing position and then a 1 meter gap after - totalling 5 meters.

    From what you've said this also looks like an ideal setup for 7.1 surround? In terms of speaker type, we've had a number of configurations in the past, with the 2 most recent (we don't change that often) being 2 floor standing tall cabinet loudspeakers, 2 small satellites and a custom bookshelf centre then 5 large satellites all wall mounted and corner sub.

    I really don't have much of a preference, what is generally regarded as the best configuration?
     
  8. windhoek

    windhoek
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    As a fan of vinyl and multi-channel, I found it difficult to integrate stereo and surround sound into the same system without excessively compromising the sound quality of either, but after years of trying this and that, I've finally found a satisfactory solution. Hopefully something of what I'm about to say will be of use to you.

    I've got a 4.0 system and used to send audio from my OPPO 105 into a Yamaha AVR and from there, to a Naim Nait XS (integrated amp) which powered the front speakers and a Naim Nap 150 (poweramp) which powered the rear speakers. I recently removed the AVR however, and now send audio direct from the OPPO to the Naim amps, which is possible because the OPPO has a digital pre-amp. So whenever I want to play multi-channel content, I simply set the Nait XS' volume to 12 o'clock and use the OPPO's volume control to adjust overall volume and when I want to play a record, I simply select the appropriate input on the Nait XS and use its volume control accordingly.

    So for all things digital (CD, DVD-A, SACD and audio from my HTPC), the OPPO does the processing and volume adjustment while the Nait XS, when not being used as a poweramp for the OPPO, performs as a regular integrated amp when I want to play vinyl. Although I've got fewer boxes than before, I don't feel I've compromised the overall audio quality. Below is the audio flow in my system:

    Stereo: Project 6 Perspex (vinyl)/ OPPO 105>Naim Nait XS>Linn Kans
    Surround (front): OPPO 105>Naim Nait XS>Linn Kans
    Surround (rear): OPPO 105>Naim Nap 150>Linn Kans

    I chose to limit my setup to a 4.0 configuration because I live in a smallish flat and I'm inclined to think that it's easier to get two pairs of speakers to work more cohesively than two pairs plus a centre speaker. If you wanted to replicate something similar, you could do so and easily add an active sub if you prefer as that won't require an addition amp and if setup correctly, should blend in well enough, making a nice sounding 4.1 setup. This approach could mean you don't need to keep music and AV in separate rooms which gives you a room for something else and could save some pennies.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  9. whand

    whand
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    Thanks for your very detailed reply.

    As someone that is relatively new to this level of complexity, I hope you don't mind if I ask you to explain to me why you choose to break up the front and rear speaks and why this was done with different types of amp. I'm keen to take on this advice and examine if something similar may be able to work for me - but first I want to make sure I understand your setup and scenario.

    And am I right in assuming you're working with a 4.0 setup as opposed to a 4.1 setup because your font speakers deliver enough bass for your setup? Apologies if I'm mistaken here :)
     
  10. windhoek

    windhoek
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    My scenario is that I've got limited space in which to accommodate stereo (analogue and digital) and multi-channel (digital) systems, so have integrated both into one that's as simple and enjoyable as possible. I chose a 4.0 system because my front speakers are too close together to require a centre speaker and I don't use a sub because doing so might affect the good relationships I have my neighbours and besides, as I said earlier, I'm inclined to think twp pairs of speakers can produce a more cohesive sound than two pairs plus a centre speaker (and possibly a sub too). The caveat here is that a good AVR will be able to produce a cohesive sound as part of a 5.1 or 7.1 system, but from my experience, even though AVRs are great with film soundtracks, they tend not to be great with music, so using an integrated amp to power the front speakers ensures music is more enjoyable.

    My front speakers are powered by an integrated amp because the OPPO doesn't have an analogue input or analogue preamp and I can't connect my turntable directly to a poweramp because it doesn't have a preamp (for source selection and volume control), so have to use an integrated amp if I want to continue to use analogue and digital sources. My rear speakers are powered by a poweramp because I use the OPPO's digital preamp to adjust volume when listening to multi-channel audio, which negates the need for a separate preamp between the OPPO and poweramp. I suppose if I never had a record player, I could also use a poweramp to power the front speakers, but as it is, I need an integrated amp for the front speakers and poweramp for the rear speakers.

    I posted in this thread because I was curious as to whether you intended on having music and AV systems in separate rooms because you wanted it that way or didn't know how to have them as part of one system. I also wonder whether you understand what preamps and poweramp do. I hope all this makes sense because it's well past my bedtime and I can feel my brain losing the ability to make sense.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  11. whand

    whand
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    Thanks for the reply.

    I think I understand a bit better now. Well we have 2 rooms because we wanted to split the functions up between somewhere for entertaining guests and somewhere for enjoying media, so I almost think we have the luxury of not having to combine. I like the idea of your setup though, and perhaps this will be a good idea for one of the bedrooms. We intend to have have some wall mounted TV screens in these bedrooms but also want to make sure there will be sensible setups for music playback. My main concern has been with having all this equipment in somewhere like a bedroom where it doesn't naturally reside, but maybe it could be a way to go if the setup is sufficiently uncomplicated/uncluttered.
     

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