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Amp/Surround sound help

darthgary

Novice Member
Been to'ing and fro'ing in regards to a setup.

I've decided for sure I'm going to get some Kef R3 speakers and the Rega Planar 6 with Ania MC, and have a Sony KD 55AF9. Now I want to use the speakers for both the turntable and for the TV/Xbox. I want to save money in regards to getting numerous devices to do this, and I'm a complete novice at knowing what's what on the market or which devices work with which.

So basic question - is there any device on the market that will connect the speakers, turntable and TV/Xbox so that it powers the table and speakers well and connects the speakers with the TV and Xbox, as I'm assuming I can just stream music from the Xbox or TV, like through spotify, from those devices, so wouln't really need a DAC or something similar as the Xbox/TV covers that area.

Thanks!
 

darthgary

Novice Member
Hmm, to add to this, I'm maybe rethinking the speakers as they'll probably be overkill for my room and perhaps go down to the KEF R300's as they're a lot cheaper at the moment, and with my room probably won't have too much of a difference to worry about the jump up.

But I'm at a complete loss and I have no knowledge with amps or AVR's, what would be the best way to go about getting maximum usage out of the Rega Planar 6 and R300's and also being able to use the TV/Xbox with the speakers and streaming music also. I literally have no ideas and looking for the most cost effective way along with making the best use of the speakers and turn table. Any help would be fully appreciated, assume I have very little knowledge of it all as I don't.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
The r3 is an update of the r300 so basically the same speaker updated in terms of size/output etc. So not a downgrade as you suggest.

To run this system you need an amplifier! The speakers are passive devices so you need an amplifier with a phono input and a digital input for the tv/xbox. If you go for the r300 they need a fairly meaty amp to get the best from them, some on here have used Rega but they are fairly basic in terms of features so will need an add on box. Have a look at the Yamaha RN803, this has digital inputs and a decent dac, phono stage that will do and has built in streaming if you want to give that a go and as a bonus room correction. However the Rega planar 6 does deserve a better phono stage so you may be better off with the Rega elex-r (or elicit if you can stretch to it) which has a good phono stage (will need to check it can take an mc input) plus adding a cheap dac for the tv, smsl m3 would do. If you go this route another to audition is the Yamaha AS1100 which has a switchable mm/mc input, this again will need a dac to connect the tv/Xbox

The alternative for similar £ is to keep the features of the RN803 and add a phono stage, something like the Rega Fono (mm or mc) depending on the cartridge to boost the turntable performance.

Couple of things to note, most built in phono connection in amps are mm and so if you are using an mc cartridge then you need to check this. Also, I would suggest using the optical toslink out of the tv for stereo sound.

There are loads of other option but I would budget on £1000-1500 for the amp/phono stage/streamer.

So I would audition -

Rega Elex-r (plus Fono mc if the inbuilt phono connection is only mm) plus dac
Yamaha AS1100 plus dac
Yamaha RN803 plus Fono MC
An outsider would be the Pro-Ject - MaiA DS which has digital inputs and mc input plus looks like hit has a bit of grunt as stated it can drive a 2ohm load. Small neat box too. All for around £700. All in one box well worth an audition plus if you need more power there is an alternative energy power supply which boosts output (£360). Review Pro-Ject MaiA DS Integrated Amplifier Review | Hifi Pig

Best thing is to get yourself down to a shop and let your ears decide.

Hope this helps.
 
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ShanePJ

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Are you going to create a surround sound system at a later date? If not you could use the optical output from the TV and so long as you set it to output everything in stereo, that should be enough for the amp to work with. If you miss this part, you could find that the amp hisses at you due to the audio output as the TV may try to output 5.1.

As you mentioned you have a turntable, this would just require you to choose an amp with a phono stage (be aware than some only have MM and if you upgrade your to a MC then you will also need an MC external phono stage)

Arcam and Onkyo do produce amps which fit the stereo output with HDMI inputs, but they are at opposite spectrum in both performance and price. Both will work for your requirements but will deliver a very different outcome in audio sound

Many people do use an AV Receiver and purely run them in stereo, but I would add that both the above models for the money will deliver more 2 channel grunt

If you choose the Optical option from the TV, also note that lip-sync could be an issue with certain broadcasts and without control, when people speak, what you hear and see maybe out of timing which can be annoying. With being the only down side to choosing a stereo amp with an optical input (Built in DAC) everything else about it will mean you have more choice to drive your speakers.

Marantz would be my first choice even though I wouldn't use this with the R300/R3 as I feel they require something better like the Arcam HDA SA20, but your budget will dictate that one
 

darthgary

Novice Member
The r3 is an update of the r300 so basically the same speaker updated in terms of size/output etc. So not a downgrade as you suggest.

To run this system you need an amplifier! The speakers are passive devices so you need an amplifier with a phono input and a digital input for the tv/xbox. If you go for the r300 they need a fairly meaty amp to get the best from them, some on here have used Rega but they are fairly basic in terms of features so will need an add on box. Have a look at the Yamaha RN803, this has digital inputs and a decent dac, phono stage that will do and has built in streaming if you want to give that a go and as a bonus room correction. However the Rega planar 6 does deserve a better phono stage so you may be better off with the Rega elex-r (or elicit if you can stretch to it) which has a good phono stage (will need to check it can take an mc input) plus adding a cheap dac for the tv, smsl m3 would do. If you go this route another to audition is the Yamaha AS1100 which has a switchable mm/mc input, this again will need a dac to connect the tv/Xbox

The alternative for similar £ is to keep the features of the RN803 and add a phono stage, something like the Rega Fono (mm or mc) depending on the cartridge to boost the turntable performance.

Couple of things to note, most built in phono connection in amps are mm and so if you are using an mc cartridge then you need to check this. Also, I would suggest using the optical toslink out of the tv for stereo sound.

There are loads of other option but I would budget on £1000-1500 for the amp/phono stage/streamer.

So I would audition -

Rega Elex-r (plus Fono mc if the inbuilt phono connection is only mm) plus dac
Yamaha AS1100 plus dac
Yamaha RN803 plus Fono MC
An outsider would be the Pro-Ject - MaiA DS which has digital inputs and mc input plus looks like hit has a bit of grunt as stated it can drive a 2ohm load. Small neat box too. All for around £700. All in one box well worth an audition plus if you need more power there is an alternative energy power supply which boosts output (£360). Review Pro-Ject MaiA DS Integrated Amplifier Review | Hifi Pig

Best thing is to get yourself down to a shop and let your ears decide.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the response, trying to understand everything here.

In that case I might switch the cartridge to a MM, to cheapen the price as well as I'm sure the detail it provides form the vinyl won't be heard unless every part of the system matches it. So that would be £1259.

I was looking at the Rega Elex-R as it's supposed to work well with KEF and Rega TT's. By needing an add on box what did you mean by this, something additional that will connect the Rega Elex-R amp with the Speakers, TT and TV? Would this be the cheapest option?

On the auditions you're suggesting, would the Elex-R and dac (changing cartridge to mm for now so no need for phono as the Elex-R is definitely MM) allow me to have everything connected together? So I could have the speakers connected to the TT, as well as the TV/Xbox and Dac? And I'd be able to play vinyl and stream music as well as films and games without needing anything else? This seems the best cost route if so?

I wouldn't need an AVR with the Elex-R? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding with this one

Vice versa with either of those yamaha's - that would be sufficient to run the xbox/tv through the speakers as well as power the turntable and run through speakers as well? And in this case would a DAC be needed as surely I could run spotify and media through the Xbox/TV?

Thnaks for both replies!
 

darthgary

Novice Member
Marantz would be my first choice even though I wouldn't use this with the R300/R3 as I feel they require something better like the Arcam HDA SA20, but your budget will dictate that one

Would any of these power all things together? ie, run the Rega Planar 6 MM, R300's + TV/Xbox through R300's?

Just looking for the most cost effective way ideally. I want to get the higher end TT so I don't need to upgrade it, so just looking for stuff that will run everything to a good degree for a good solid decade or so.

So I've read up and the Elex-r should power the Planar 6 (Elicit would be better but with the price difference and my room size/shared house the Elex-R should be more than enough for the volume I'll listen at) and should power the R300's to a level I'd listen to well enough also.

I don't really intend on building a surround sound system, I just think it's a waste to have the R300's only for a TT and not for films/games so would really only be having these speakers attached to the TV/Xbox. And from my understanding the Elex-R isn't able to just by itself stream music or connect a TV/Xbox to the speakers. It's pretty much by itself just for a TT and Speakers.

If there's an AMP with built in phono that will do justice to the Planar 6 MM, R300's and allow me to connect the TV/Xbox into the system then I'd be happy to know about it.

Also I really think I'm misunderstanding the need for a DAC - if I can get an amp that powers both TT and TV/Xbox through the R300's surely I can just play spotify form the TV and xbox and it'll run through the speakers?
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
So, the amplifier acts as a hub that everything connects to and take the low voltages out put by the source (turntable, cd etc) and increases it in order to drive the speakers. The dac is needed to convert the tv digital optical out into an analogue voltage that the amp can accept. The turntable put out a very low (mm) or very very low (mc) output that need an additional filtering and amplifying stage before it can be accepted by the amp, this can be integrated (dedicated phono input) or by a separate box.

Turntable connects to the amp phono input
Speakers connect to the amp.

Sound goes from the grooves in the vinyl, through the cartridge on the end of the arm to the amp where the signal is filtered and multiplied (amplified) and the sent to the speakers where the cones/tweeter move and the waves in the air are covered to what you perceive as sound by your ear/cochlea/brain.

Now for the tv, as your model does not have analogue audio out you need to connect as below -

Tv optical out to dac (digital to analogue converter) which then connects to the amp and then to the speakers. The dac can be built into the amp or separate. In the case of the elex-r it has no built in dac so you need an additional box to do this job. Note that if you connect the tv to the dac/amp then anything playing on the tv will play through the speakers connected to the amp, so connect the Xbox to the tv by the usual hdmi and you can play cd/dvd/blue ray, games and spotify through the tv to the amp and onto the speakers. The sound out of the speakers will obviously be stereo and you will probably have to turn the tv volume down to get the best sound (volume is now controlled by the amp).

So in your case for the elex-r, assuming you switch to a mm cartridge.

Planar output > amp phono input > speakers.
Tv optical output > dac optical input > dac analogue output > amp line input (cd, tuner, dvd etc. Any one will do) > speakers.

You then just need to select phono or line input to listen to turntable or tv.

As said, something like the smsl m3 dac would be fine for tv connection to amp and us about £70. You can pay a bit less for other or significantly more. Rega do a dac but is £600 and overkill for what you need. If you want to spend more the Arcam irdac II is a good mid range dac at £300.
 
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ShanePJ

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
If the TV has the ability to pass the sound via optical from it's HDMI input's then yes. The amp will just work like a 2 channel amp which can decode Stereo inputs from the TV via its optical output.

If however the TV cannot output via this option then no, a two channel amp will not work, but as far as I'm aware this is something that most major brand offer. To be on the best side though it might be wise to consult the manual (To see whether it does it and what you need to do to make it happen) before hand just in case the manufacturer in question has cheapened its features

The Onkyo will work for these requirements as it has both HDMI and a MM phono stage, my only concern is that it could add more brightness. The Arcam will also work although it will require a phono stage adding, which brings me back to a stereo amp with a built-in DAC scenario
 

darthgary

Novice Member
So, the amplifier acts as a hub that everything connects to.

Turntable connects to the amp phono input
Speakers connect to the amp.

Sound goes from the grooves in the vinyl, through the cartridge on the end of the arm to the amp where the signal is filtered and multiplied (amplified) and the sent to the speakers where the cones/tweeter move and the waves in the air are covered to what you perceive as sound by your ear/cochlea/brain.

Now for the tv, as your model does not have analogue audio out you need to connect as below -

Tv optical out to dac (digital to analogue converter) which then connects to the amp and then to the speakers. The dac can be built into the amp or separate. In the case of the elex-r it has no built in dac so you need an additional box to do this job. Note that if you connect the tv to the dac/amp then anything playing on the tv will play through the speakers connected to the amp, so connect the Xbox to the tv by the usual hdmi and you can play cd/dvd/blue ray, games and spotify through the tv to the amp and onto the speakers. The sound out of the speakers will obviously be stereo and you will probably have to turn the tv volume down to get the best sound (volume is now controlled by the amp).

So in your case for the elex-r, assuming you switch to a mm cartridge.

Planar output > amp phono input > speakers.
Tv optical output > dac optical input > dac analogue output > amp line input (cd, tuner, dvd etc. Any one will do) > speakers.

You then just need to select phono or line input to listen to turntable or tv.

As said, something like the smsl m3 dac would be fine for tv connection to amp and us about £70. You can pay a bit less for other or significantly more. Rega do a dac but is £600 and overkill for what you need. If you want to spend more the Arcam irdac II is a good mid range dac at £300.

This is so helpful, thank you as well for explaining how it all works simplistically, bringing back old physics lessons back to me in regards to how it all works.

I'll probably repeat what you just said in my own way but it's the best way for me to comprehend it all.

So the Elex-R will be enough to power the R300's and Planar 6 with MM sufficiently?

If so, essentially the Elex-R has a built in MM phono stage which translates the vibrations of the needle on the tone arm from the grooves of the vinyl. The R300's will then connect only to the Elex-R which play the amplified vibrations. And from what I've read these speakers and TT are a good match, even with the MM instead of the MC. So that covers the Turntable system, I don't need anything extra with this, it comes with a PSU I understand also.

So then I connec tmy Xbox normally via HDMI to the AF9, I will then connect via TV optical output the AF9 to a DAC (literally know nothing about these or if higher price points are worth it, even the £300 seems too much for what it looks like), and the DAC will connect the TV to the Elex-R which will then also amplify the sound from the TV/Xbox to the R300's? You say the sounds out of the speakers (you mean R300's?) will be stereo, would it not be normally? What's the sound coming out of the speakers when it's playing from the Rega Planar? And from my understanding now sound will play form both the TV and the R300's connected through the DAC to the Elex-R? If that's the case can I just turn the TV on mute and just have them playing through the R300's which should, hopefully with what I want, be the far superior sound? And this way I now control volume of both the TT, TV and Xbox through the Elex-R? I'm assuming also I can switch whether the TV or Xbox is being used with the speakers as opposed to the TT directly from the Elex-R?

I had a look on the front of the Elex-R and there's no option on the face of it of phono or line input.

Thanks again for bearing with me guys and helping out.
 

darthgary

Novice Member
If the TV has the ability to pass the sound via optical from it's HDMI input's then yes. The amp will just work like a 2 channel amp which can decode Stereo inputs from the TV via its optical output.

If however the TV cannot output via this option then no, a two channel amp will not work, but as far as I'm aware this is something that most major brand offer. To be on the best side though it might be wise to consult the manual (To see whether it does it and what you need to do to make it happen) before hand just in case the manufacturer in question has cheapened its features

The Onkyo will work for these requirements as it has both HDMI and a MM phono stage, my only concern is that it could add more brightness. The Arcam will also work although it will require a phono stage adding, which brings me back to a stereo amp with a built-in DAC scenario

So if I got an ARCAM with a built in DAC this would be the hub and run well with the Rega TT, R300's and TV/Xbox? Essentially how Ugg10 explained it would be setup but this would have the DAC built in. I'm just unsure which would be good with it all as from what I've read the Elex-R is great for the speakers and TT, and if I just need a DAC and can run both TT system and TV system as a surround sound through the R300's and it runs both really well then this seems like the good choice.

But if there's a cheaper AMP with built in DAC rather than buying amp (Elex-R) plus a DAC that runs both systems well through the R300's I'm open to that also. Especially as from what Ugg described connecting the TV to the DAC then to the Amp means I would be able to stream spotify or my phone through the speakers and therefore not need a streamer or an AVR.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Sorry, I used stereo from the r300 connected to the tv via the dac and amp as the tv us capable of also outputting surround sound.

Looks like you have got it. Just to add, planar will plug into the wall via a usual 3 pin main plug to get its power, so will the elex amp and also the dac. Speakers do not need power, just cables to the amp. Looking at the elex amp, it has lights numbered 1-5 on the front, these refer to the inputs on the rear with 1 being the turn table phono input (google elex rear pictures, you will see five pair of inputs, no1 labelled phono (the rest are line ins), and two pair of bigger connection for the speakers).

So if planar is connected to no1 and dac/tv to no2 then if you want to listen to either you just select the appropriate input from the elex remote or front panel. Anything connected to the tv will play through no2 - Xbox, internal smart stuff, dvd/blue ray, memory stick etc. You just need to make sure the dac is also on to use the tv sound.

You can mute the tv but this sometimes leaves a mute symbol on the screen, alternative is to just turn the volume on the tv down to zero.

As said, DACs range from £20 to £20,000. The smsl m3 is a pretty good entry level one at around £70 and will be fine for what you need. If needed you can also connect into it via usb for a laptop or computer.

Worth noting the r300 has been superseded by the r3 and therefore if you want a pair then I would be quick because when the current, very limited stock is gone that will be it and you will need to go to the r3 at extra cost.

Finally, IMO I would be wary if you are buying the amp and speakers from a shop (smsl is only online, amazon stick them), they will probably try and sell you expensive cables. So, either get them thrown in for free (the planar comes with a cable to connect to the amp, so you need a toslink optical cable plus speaker cable), IMO a £5-10 optical cable from amazon will do plus (arguably) £2/m 2.5sq.mm copper cable will also do (e.g. amazon van damme). If you get the hard sell, fob them off and come back on here for recommendations. Note this is a highly debated area of hifi so expect very differing opinions.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
You mention streaming Spotify. Typically DACs do not do this, you would have to stream from your phone to the tv or use the app on the Xbox or tv if they have one.

If you want a cheaper option that will do everything then we are back to the Yamaha RN803 which has mm input, dac built in and has a streamer. It also has Spotify built in but you will need a premium account (£10 per month) to use it.

Are you able to get to a shop and audition - Sevenoaks sound and vision, audio T or others are national chains.

Edit - the Nad c368 with BluOS module is an alternative to the Yamaha with streamer, dac and mm integrated.

I would look to audition the elex-r, Yamaha RN803, Arcam sa20 and nad c368, concentrating on tt performance, tv can be sorted out for £70 after with the smsl later. Any more than 4 to audition will fry your brain quickly, at least you have the source and speakers decided.
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
First of all I know jack about streaming. I'll deal only with what I know and that involves Rega amps and their ability with the KEF R300s. The MM phono stage is built with Rega TTs in mind and they will work brilliantly together. There are selectors on the front of the Elex, it's a single repeat button press, but most will use the input selectors on the remote.

For anything from a digital source you would have to use a DAC to a line-in on the rear of the Rega. This has been well covered for you so pointless going over it.

The Regas are simplistic, it's a pure analogue amp plain and simple, not even a headphone socket or standby function. It does what it does very well indeed and will drive the R300s to great effect.

I have an Elicit-R driving my KEF R300s. Perfect, simply perfect.
 

darthgary

Novice Member
Cheers guys.

Right, so I'll stick with Planar 6 MM and KEF R300's. As I can keep these for probably 10+ years and serve me well.

In terms of the amp, where I live there's nowhere with the Rega amps, I can probably try the Yamaha, Arcam and nad. Would these all be sufficient to drive Kef R300's and the Planar 6? As the Yamama is very cheap so I'm just a bit umm'ing about it. Again the stores near me don't have the Rega turntables neither, I'd have to travel quite far to get it.

Gibbsy, would you know if any of these amps which would solve my whole system set up would work well with the speakers and TT? Or you'd still recommend getting the Elex-R with the 70 pound DAC?

I mean I'm not too fussed at the moment about minute differences, I'd just rather at the moment pay for some speakers and turn table that will list a long time and with which I don't need to upgrade.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I can't tell you what to buy, only you can make that decision. I can only reiterate on how well the Rega sits with my R300s. The heart of any system will be the amp and the speakers and it's important that you are sure in what you buy. I would make an effort to go and try and audition the Rega. There is the possibility of a home trial with AudioT, all it will take for you to find out is a phone call.

I use the DAC in my Marantz SACD player as this can also work as a DAC hub.

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