Advice on the Holy Grail - a decent set up for 5.1 surround and stereo music

velcrocow

Standard Member
Hi all, let me start by saying I'm something of a hi-fi newbie so please be gentle. I've been doing a fair bit of research into building (from scratch) a 5.1 system for TV & Playstation, with the ability to also play CDs and USB files through the front L & R speakers. Basically, I want a silver bullet that delivers the best of both worlds!

I've read some excellent threads on here already - you lot seem to really know what you're talking about, so I'd appreciate some advice on the selections I've landed upon. I should state I'm already waaay over budget, but that's pretty much par for the course when you have such lofty requirements.

So, as I understand it, I need an AV amp that'll give me 5.1 connections plus eARC and, crucially, pre-outs. I believe the marantz nr1711 does the job.

Then, I need a stereo amp that's able to bypass volume controls. I've landed on the Audiolab 6000A, which seems to review very positively

I then need a CD player that can also play USB media. I've opted for the Marantz CD6007, again it reviews very well. (I'd have loved the Audiolab 6000CDT but sadly that doesn't give me the ability to play from USB sticks, which is crucial).

Finally, I need some speakers. I've been looking at the Q Acoustics 3050i Cinema Pack, which has very favourable reviews but I've not seen many people on the forum owning these, so am open to (similarly priced) suggestions.

My question for you learned folk is, does this look like a decent system? I know the crucial thing will be trying to get a demo of the speakers attached to the stereo amp and CD player, but on the face of it would you say this looks like a good starting point, or are there other options I ought to be looking at? I should say I definitely want to take the pre-outs/volume control bypass option as it seems a lot more convenient, and I'm aware this may limit my options, but generally I'm curious to get your thoughts on this set up.

Thanks in advance, and just to repeat, I'm a bit of a newbie so if you start talking about wattage and impedance my brain will just start trickling out of my ears.

 

gibbsy

Moderator
The AV and stereo amp is a good pick for what you want to achieve. The Marantz cd6007 is a good player, I enjoyed my time with a cd6006. Well built with a good sound. Speakers are a more personal choice so don't rule out other combinations within your budget. If you go for a deal from the same dealer then don't go for the QA sub, it's poor. Ask for a price minus the sub.

For a sub look at BK for excellent value and performance. May push you further over budget but worth it over the QA.

 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Hi all, let me start by saying I'm something of a hi-fi newbie so please be gentle. I've been doing a fair bit of research into building (from scratch) a 5.1 system for TV & Playstation, with the ability to also play CDs and USB files through the front L & R speakers. Basically, I want a silver bullet that delivers the best of both worlds!

I've read some excellent threads on here already - you lot seem to really know what you're talking about, so I'd appreciate some advice on the selections I've landed upon. I should state I'm already waaay over budget, but that's pretty much par for the course when you have such lofty requirements.

So, as I understand it, I need an AV amp that'll give me 5.1 connections plus eARC and, crucially, pre-outs. I believe the marantz nr1711 does the job.

Then, I need a stereo amp that's able to bypass volume controls. I've landed on the Audiolab 6000A, which seems to review very positively

I then need a CD player that can also play USB media. I've opted for the Marantz CD6007, again it reviews very well. (I'd have loved the Audiolab 6000CDT but sadly that doesn't give me the ability to play from USB sticks, which is crucial).

Finally, I need some speakers. I've been looking at the Q Acoustics 3050i Cinema Pack, which has very favourable reviews but I've not seen many people on the forum owning these, so am open to (similarly priced) suggestions.

My question for you learned folk is, does this look like a decent system? I know the crucial thing will be trying to get a demo of the speakers attached to the stereo amp and CD player, but on the face of it would you say this looks like a good starting point, or are there other options I ought to be looking at? I should say I definitely want to take the pre-outs/volume control bypass option as it seems a lot more convenient, and I'm aware this may limit my options, but generally I'm curious to get your thoughts on this set up.

Thanks in advance, and just to repeat, I'm a bit of a newbie so if you start talking about wattage and impedance my brain will just start trickling out of my ears.


What size room you have (dimensions), detached house or apartment?

Music/movie usage % ratio?

What is your max budget for everything audio related?

If this is your first decent system then chances are high that you would be more than happy with av-receiver route too (no stereo amp) if choosing something better like SR6015 over the slim NR1711. It doesn´t limit you any way for future and it would also give full set of preouts, over twice the power, better room correction etc. so movie side of things would definitely take step up. There is bundle deals which you should definitely ask around meaning don`t go buying them separate or pay list prices! Speaker stands for surround speakers will cost extra, speaker wires and hdmi cables you should buy from amazon uk we can check those later too.

As for the QAs i would rather look the Concept range as there is good deals going for it. This package comes with better sub although we don`t generally recommend the package subs here cause speakers and sub doesn´t need to match. The QB12 should be miles better still than the slim one that comes with 3050 cinema pack.

 

velcrocow

Standard Member
What size room you have (dimensions), detached house or apartment?

Music/movie usage % ratio?

What is your max budget for everything audio related?

If this is your first decent system then chances are high that you would be more than happy with av-receiver route too (no stereo amp) if choosing something better like SR6015 over the slim NR1711. It doesn´t limit you any way for future and it would also give full set of preouts, over twice the power, better room correction etc. so movie side of things would definitely take step up. There is bundle deals which you should definitely ask around meaning don`t go buying them separate or pay list prices! Speaker stands for surround speakers will cost extra, speaker wires and hdmi cables you should buy from amazon uk we can check those later too.

As for the QAs i would rather look the Concept range as there is good deals going for it. This package comes with better sub although we don`t generally recommend the package subs here cause speakers and sub doesn´t need to match. The QB12 should be miles better still than the slim one that comes with 3050 cinema pack.

Hey, thanks both for your considered replies.

We have a detached house, and this is in a 3x6m lounge.

In terms of usage I'd say it's probably a 50/50 split between TV and music, but I'm much more interested in the music sounding as good as possible. I currently have a 10 year old Sony all in one mini Hi fi which sounds great to my ears, but I'm really keen to hear what 'the next level' sounds like.

I'm not particularly wedded to the QAs - I've seen loads of 5-star reviews but not many people who own them in these kinds of forums, so am definitely open to similarly priced suggestions. Budget-wise I need to try and keep it all around £2500 otherwise I'll likely be murdered by my wife.
 

Yorkshire AV

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hello!

If music is your interest - I would definitely look at Marantz or Yamaha AV receiver packages.

For example, the Marantz SR6015 as others have mentioned above comes with a LOT of additional features and power over entry level packages including pre-outs and additional channels for features such as ATMOS etc.

Q Acoustics, the old Concept range mentioned above is 6-7 year old now. There have been newer products released that feature more innovation into cabinet and driver design, I'd steer clear of the older Concept series personally. The new Concept 50 5.1 system is truly spectacular but it'll go over your £2500 budget considerably.


Take a look at the DALI Oberon 5 5.1 package I linked below.
We offer options to change out the subwoofer for better performing units such as the SVS SB-1000 Pro.




Your room size is in the sweet spot for systems in this size range.
You may wish to consider changing out the bookshelf speakers for the on-wall speakers however if you want the rears "out of the way" and not on stands.


Feel free to drop me a DM or give us a call if I can help at all :D
 

velcrocow

Standard Member
Thanks, yep with our current room set up having the rears on the wall would be much more convenient.

On the amp side of things, I've seen quite a few people say that even the best AV amps don't do music as well as a specialist stereo amp, but maybe that'll come out when I come to listening to the speakers. I've seen a few people mention the Dalis, so I think I ought to listen to them vs the QAs.
 

Yorkshire AV

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
It's true - music is never the strong point (as it's not the purpose!) of any AVR.
But having pre-outs means you can then, at some stage - connect into a stereo amplifier that has support for HT bypass (i.e. on an input, it becomes a power amp, on other inputs, it becomes a stereo amplifier) which gives you the best solution for music and AV.

If going on-wall - Monitor Audio so some great FX speakers which are wall mountable but the DALI system is very good performance for the value :)

Happy shopping!
 

velcrocow

Standard Member
Thanks, yes my plan is to buy the stereo amp at the same time, hence opting for the smaller and cheaper AV amp. I'd better do some more research...
 

pressure

Well-known Member
I agree with @gibbsy ’s suggestions. I too would go for a hi fi amp with home theatre bypass and the 6000a is a good shout for that. I personally did not get on with Marantz receivers for stereo play back, although others were ok with it.

Your room is the most important factor in sound. A 3 x 6 meter room is a good size. But arranging your seating position in relation to the speakers is important, preferably an equilateral triangle with the seat at the apex. And putting the speakers on decent stands and not too close to the wall makes a massive difference. A couple of acoustic panels will also help a lot, if you can get away with it. The room is more important than the kit, in the end, but your choices are pretty good.

Here’s a possible kit list to work up to, with good quality QA towers for stereo speakers:

Marantz 1711 £800
Audiolab 6000 £600
Marantz cd6007 £400
Q acoustics concept 3050 left and right £500

Q acoustics concept centre £250
Q acoustics 3020 rears £130
Bk electronics sub xls 200 £350

= £3k ish

plus options:

Elac debut a4 atmos speakers £130
Stands: £200ish

To get the main system under £3k you could reuse your existing speakers as rears.
and a decent atmos avr with pre outs might well be found used in the forum classifieds for £400 ish.

Good luck and happy listening, a good hifi and surround set up is a joyful experience.
 

password1

Suspended
Mission LX mark 2 or the QA Concept 40/20 package over the old QA 3000i series. The older Concepts are better speakers than the 3000i speakers.

Don't rule out the Mission QX mark 1, substantially discounted due to the mark 2 now out.

There's also Fyne Audio F300 and Wharfedale Diamond 12 series within similar budget.
 

password1

Suspended
Bizarrely, why do the Dali Oberon 5 speakers in white have grey grilles but the white Dali Oberon on walls have white grilles. That would annoy the OCD in me to have mismatched grilles.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Bizarrely, why do the Dali Oberon 5 speakers in white have grey grilles but the white Dali Oberon on walls have white grilles. That would annoy the OCD in me to have mismatched grilles.

Yeah silly to put grey grilles, MA did the same with FX speakers. I would want full white too. Dali is offering the white grilles for extra cost though.

 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
I'd try and listen to a few EQ solutions. Won't be ideal as they won't be in your room but I've found that my Arcam AVR390 with DIRAC on has massively improved music performance for me in 2 channel. With the Marantz and Denon, I'd always bypass.

One EQ I'd avoid for music is definitely Audyssey. That is not very ideal for music.
However D&M do offer Auro3D which a lot of people swear by as being really useful for playing with stereo music.

But EQ solution are a bit room dependant. Audyssey or DIRAC might sound good in one room but pants in another.

You sound to be REALLY into your music. Have you thought about buying a good pair of towers first and then buying more speakers later? If you're new to the hobby, 2 good pair of towers with a centre channel for audio are going to be mindblowing.

Surround channels is more difficult and you'd be well versed listening to a tripole speaker first and seeing if you prefer them for your listening experience (I think you will as your room is narrow so you need the dispersion).


Really, don't rush into this and only go for a package deal if you're 100% set on it. When I started off on this hobby, I made a few mistakes including going for a package KEF Q system. In hindsight I wish I'd taken a bit more time and bought each component specific for its usage and built over time.

Alternatively buy a speaker line on clearance where you know if you sell it, you'll get 90% of your cash back (I made money selling my KEFs!).

If you live in a detached house (or any house), I'd reccomend a subwoofer too. The subwoofer is really going to massively help your SQ and make life easy for your speakers and amplifier as it will handle the lower more strenuous frequencies. At your budget, I'd be looking out for a sale/deal on some Monolith 10s/12s as they seem to undercut the competition in price by 30% across their entire range but maintain the sound quality.
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
For subs, I wouldn't go BK. Just go straight to Monoprice Monolith if you can. They're at the same sound quality as Arendal and SVS but they don't look anywhere near as pretty and don't have built in DSP.

I went BK and they are good for what they are but the sound is definitely more boom box level, whilst the other more expensive subwoofer lines from the US are really nuanced, tactile when they need to be but also very tight sounded and punchy.

At £2500-£3000, I think you can get a REALLY nice system.


Receiver wise (if you are willing to sacrifice bluetooth audio and a few codecs), the Arcam AVR390 on clearance is a bargain IMO as usually you need to pay £2-3k for an Arcam.
(OPTIONAL) You can probably buy a cheap power amplifier too second hand for £350-£500 if you keep an eye out on the classfieilds.
Subwoofer wise, grab a single or pair of Monolith subwoofers 10 or 12''. The 10s are £499 a piece but they go on sale regularly.

That gives you a top-tier audio solution with access to DIRAC, which is normally very expensive, and will have a better chance of providing high end stereo performance. The AVR390 does have a few bugs but IMO they're all ironed out now. It also has high pre-out voltage to be able to be paired with an external power amplifier.

Power amplification is a buy once-cry once purchase which will allow you to have the best possible power on tap for your speakers.

The monotlith subs are for many people end-game subs. You won't be wanting another one unless you need more output as they won't want for sound quality and you avoid the tax on paying for a pretty cabinet or DSP you don't need. You can then easily upgrade to duals or triples.

Speaker wise, its all taste really. Speakers are based on form factor, looks and sound which you have many suggestions above. I'd personally suggest going second hand. You get incredible value and you'll have left around 1500 which is a lot to shop with on the classfiields. Speakers have passive components so less likely to break. Buying new on the receiver and sub is a good shout because they have electronics in them.

Buying second hand is what most people with the best setups on the forum do TBH because someone else has paid the initial retailer tax.
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
AVR390 £699 (down from £1700 lol) https://www.richersounds.com/arcam-avr390-black.html
Monolith 10’’ £499 (wait for a discount code and it’ll probably drop it further down) Monolith 10in THX Select Certified 500-Watt Powered Subwoofer | EU plug


£1302 left for speakers. https://www.avforums.com/threads/kef-r5-aredal-1723-1v-bk-xls400-ff-bw-htm71-s2-kef-r50-all-gloss-black-and-mk-sound-k-4-tripole-surround.2406502/
Try and grab The KEF R5s, 2x Atmos KEFs and the M&K tripoles.

Then you’re just short a centre channel which you can pick up anytime. He is selling one too which looks quite good if you can stretch or negotiate it into the deals. I'd take the KEF atmos speakers over the M&K tripoles for timbre matching.

You can also grab this as a centre channel for now as it will timbre match-ish as its KEF. KEF Q600C Home Theatre Centre Speaker - Customer Trade-in - Black | eBay

Cables:
Amazon product

Amazon product

Amazon product

Amazon product

So you'll end up with:
Arcam AVR390 with DIRAC,
Monolith 10'' THX sub,
KEF R5 towers,
KEF R50 atmos,
M&K Tripole surrounds
and either a KEF Q650 centre OR the B&W HTM71 S2 .

I'd say that is a KILLER setup personally which most people who've been in this hobby for 2-5 years might not have had the chance to build. It'd be a 5.1.2 setup which means you have atmos too.


This setup gives you access to DIRAC (one of the higher tier room EQ solutions) with an Arcam (known for better stereo music playback by most enthusiasts).
It gives you a top-tier subwoofer for low end handling with warranty.
And the speakers I linked to second hand are pretty expensive RRP and definitely a step above what most would have during their first HT experience.
KEF are known for being hi-fi defo the R series, relaxing and very dynamic sound but still forgiving. you get tripoles for diffuse surround sound, and their atmos channels are top notch and do surround duties instead if u want them to.

Your next upgrades after that would be an external power amp, a second subwoofer, a mini DSP which you can do in a few years. 100% this setup will give you a much better SQ and its shoved full of premium brands. However going second hand and clearance is a bit like cheating in this hobby lol. ;)


Normal RRP for that setup is £1800 + £499 + £2000 + £799 + £300 + £999
which is £6397. I'd defo be happy to have that gear in my room.
 
Last edited:

velcrocow

Standard Member
Wow, thanks to all for your considered replies. I don't have much of an update just yet, other than having been recommended the Denon x4700 AV receiver. RS also recommended I listen to their Wharfdale Diamond 12.3s, which are slightly cheaper than the Oberons, so I plan to listen to both.

The disappointing thing about Richer Sounds, though, is the prices they quote for cables and banana plugs. The salesman told me that's because competitors usually just bung in cheap rubbish cables for free (which don't sound as good), but they seem to be really pricey (eg £96 for 12 banana plugs).

Do you find that cable quality has much of an impact?
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
Wow, thanks to all for your considered replies. I don't have much of an update just yet, other than having been recommended the Denon x4700 AV receiver. RS also recommended I listen to their Wharfdale Diamond 12.3s, which are slightly cheaper than the Oberons, so I plan to listen to both.

The disappointing thing about Richer Sounds, though, is the prices they quote for cables and banana plugs. The salesman told me that's because competitors usually just bung in cheap rubbish cables for free (which don't sound as good), but they seem to be really pricey (eg £96 for 12 banana plugs).

Do you find that cable quality has much of an impact?


Not really. Cable quality should be bottom of your priorities in initially designing a system. Every step of the chain is more important.

I'd just learn to DIY cables as invariably you'll need to end up doing it as cable runs change, rooms change and you need to buy new cables.

This is probably the area where dealers make a gigantic tonne of cash
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
Wow, thanks to all for your considered replies. I don't have much of an update just yet, other than having been recommended the Denon x4700 AV receiver. RS also recommended I listen to their Wharfdale Diamond 12.3s, which are slightly cheaper than the Oberons, so I plan to listen to both.

The disappointing thing about Richer Sounds, though, is the prices they quote for cables and banana plugs. The salesman told me that's because competitors usually just bung in cheap rubbish cables for free (which don't sound as good), but they seem to be really pricey (eg £96 for 12 banana plugs).

Do you find that cable quality has much of an impact?
Listen to some KEF R series whilst you're there so you get an idea of what you can get second hand. Will be interesting.
 

password1

Suspended
No need to buy the cables or plugs from RS...you won't hear the difference by spending £96 on plugs or £40-£50 on decent plugs bought elsewhere..
 

Hoku

Active Member
No need to buy the cables or plugs from RS...you won't hear the difference by spending £96 on plugs or £40-£50 on decent plugs bought elsewhere..
You’re absolutely right of course password, but I must say after years of faffing around with bare wire cables into my stereo amps and AVR’s, and finally getting round to using banana plugs, I wish I’d done it long ago!

Especially on the AVR outputs, it’s so much tidier, but it’s also so much quicker each time you want to make a change to the set up, change speakers, or move house and set the whole jolly lot up again!

Agreed it won’t affect SQ at all, but there are some things where simplicity and convenience are worthy goals. And i have to say, Cambridge’s premium banana plugs were a joy to use and beautifully made. So I’ve got banana plugs everywhere now!
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
£10 for pair of banana is way too much I use these

and

also the expanding banana


Someone mentioned the Nak plugs being metal is a concern, I guess if one falls out and touches the other?
 

Kapkirk

Active Member
As far as banana plugs go -if you can solder then you can get a set of the excellent 16x Z type plugs for £18 with red/black heat shrink from compass audio and some monoprice speaker cable relatively cheap and make your own for a heck of a lot less than RS charge.
Makes things so much easier when connecting to the AVR.
Second hand speakers are always a bargain, you'll get most for nearly half price. If you don't want to take the chance with SH, then look for dealer clearance items, Sevenoaks HiFi do lots of bargains as well as Peter tyson.
e.g: These Focal Chora floorstanders are half price. Focal Chora 816 (Dark Wood) Speakers (Pair)
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Wow, thanks to all for your considered replies. I don't have much of an update just yet, other than having been recommended the Denon x4700 AV receiver. RS also recommended I listen to their Wharfdale Diamond 12.3s, which are slightly cheaper than the Oberons, so I plan to listen to both.

The disappointing thing about Richer Sounds, though, is the prices they quote for cables and banana plugs. The salesman told me that's because competitors usually just bung in cheap rubbish cables for free (which don't sound as good), but they seem to be really pricey (eg £96 for 12 banana plugs).

Do you find that cable quality has much of an impact?

Order speaker wire (Oxygen Free Copper = OFC AWG14), shielded subwoofer cable (Amazon Basics) and premium high speed hdmi cable (Amazon Premium cert hdmi) from Amazon UK. You save ton of of money and it will sound as good as some highly marketed exotic cable with latest NASA space technology. You can also search for Fisual banana plugs which are popular and affordable. I have Nakamichi`s which were linked, they fine too. These can be added later too, not a must have.

Listen both speakers and ask the salesman to bring third pair if possible, example if you like Dalis ask to bring Opticon 2 mk2 or Opticon 6 mk2. I would also listen the new Monitor Audio Silver 200 or 300 7G, cause if you like the sound then you can get the 6G version almost 50% cheaper. If you plan to listen music more then it would make sense to buy more expensive speakers and add the integrated amp when funds allow few month later rather than getting everything right away (avr+integrated amp) with cheaper speakers as this is not where you should save. As Ken said you could also build the system slower to get something better. If music is more important overall then even more reason to do this.

You are buying in the worst possible time as new av-receivers should be introduced late summer which usually means price reductions for current models. However if you still plan to buy NR1711 then the possible price drop is likely small vs. something like X4700H although we might not see anymore of big drops like couple years back..
 

Yorkshire AV

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
Any good retailer won't throw rubbish cable at you.

i.e. we offer QED HDMI 2.1 cables that are £30 for a 1.5m. Perfectly acceptable as a HDMI cable.
Similarly QED 79 strand is what we include as standard - though there are more exotic cables if necessary.

When going into a bigger speakers, that's when we look at the cabling for the LCR's.
Agree with the advice - definitely look at banana plugs. We terminate cables with cold weld (i.e. crimping) with either QED or ATLAS. They work out at £10 per pair - you only need to do the AVR side really.

I honestly wouldn't scrimp on plugs - just make sure that they have a really good, solid connection with the conductor.
 

pressure

Well-known Member
Monolith subs look good, but they don’t have a high level input. For a music oriented system, I think I’d want to have that option. Helps to blend sub and main speakers.

Great suggestions on this thread!
 

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