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AV amp or AV + stereo amp?


Standard Member
I've been thinking on getting a real 5.1/7.1 setup and have managed to get myself a budget of £400, I'd like to be able to tie in my current speakers, a pair of Sony SS-E30s floor standers.

I listen to music most of the time and plan on using the 5.1 for movies and games. I read this thread about AV amps for music use which has made me wonder what is the best way of going about things. As I say I have a budget of £400 for AV amp and speakers however could/should I spend some of that on a dedicated stereo amp and work that into things as described in the thread? Or should I stick to the AV amp and in a few years time when I can scrape the money together get a dedicated stereo amp? Any other options available to me?

Any recommendations on how to split my money between speakers/amp? From what I can see on Richer Sounds for example an almost 50/50 split is common. Finally any suggestions on things within my price range?



Distinguished Member
You have a very tight budget and will struggle to get an AVR and speakers for that especially since you will need an AVR with preouts if you want to integrate a stereo amp into the system. Trying to get a stereo amp in as well is just going to be stretching things too far. As above going secondhand will get you more for your money.
The issue with the Sony speakers will be getting a centre to match.
Have you considered just getting the AVR now and using the full budget on that and then using your Sony speakers as a 2.0 system. Then you could save up for speakers a bit later. That way ou could get something like the Yamaha 667 (currently £350 since has £100 off). This way it will take longer to get to a full system but it will sound a lot better once built up.
The other option would be to get something like the Sony 2400 (currently £250).
The general guide would be to spend 2 to 3 times the price of the reciever on the speakers to get the best from a given reciever. However, with your low budget a split closer to 1:1 would probably be more appropriate.


Standard Member
My first post seemed a bit sparse, I think it might be an idea to provide a bit of extra info...

First off you probably figured already but I don't know all that much to do with high quality audio as I've mainly had cheap(ish) PC speakers, cheap earphones, etc. I kind of inherited these speakers and the amp I had was given to me (apparently they forgot to mention its list of faults...). The few months that I managed to use these speakers is what has prompted me to get some better audio equipment, the difference between these and what I had was absolutely stunning.

The aim is to link everything to my PC which works as my gaming centre and HTPC. I'm using a relatively cheap sound card (Xonar DG) so was originally hoping to link things via optical/HDMI and thus avoid having to buy a DAC for my PC which was one of the reasons I was thinking of getting an AV amp originally. I'm also likely to lose my job in the new year so £400 is the most I can ideally stretch to and prospects for work are a little thin around here so it could be a while until I can afford anything better.

I'd be happy to buy second hand with guidance, I'm aware that my budget could stretch quite a lot more doing so. I've also read most of your thread (on page 3 now), it's good to see someone else with the same questions as me, even if with a significantly larger budget.

As above, saving for something more expensive is probably out of the question as nice as it would be.

Would I be best off to cut my losses now, buy a quality stereo amp for my music and stick with my PC speakers which albeit are poor in comparison will allow me to save and hopefully afford something better in a few years?

Sorry if I'm rambling, I'm just slightly overwhelmed with everything I'm reading.


Prominent Member
Ok, given your budget and/or situation going forward in the foreseeable future...If it was me I would...

Buy the Harmon Kardon HK3490 Stereo receiver.

This option means abandoning 5.1 in favour of stereo…IMO it's far better to have quality stereo as opposed to inferior surround.

The HK3490 is one of those rare stereo amps with optical input capability. (And 120WPC too:eek:)

You can buy this new for £300 and use it with your PC and floorstanders…Job done.

Down the line you could most likely sell this amp quite easily as it's a popular amp..(A wanted add is the classifieds right now I see)

Just to be clear, I have not heard the HK3490 in action. I have just read good things about it generally...it is much lauded on here too. My ultimate advice is arrange demo's where at all possible.

Also, buying used is great, however,… if your on a tight budget already and something went wrong with a used unit you're done-for. In other words buying used is great if you can afford to gamble a little..IMO anyway.

Of course there are used kit dealers that offer some guarantees, however these concerns invariably add a healtly margin well beyond some of the wonderful bargains that can be had by buying direct from private sales…Again, this is just my personal view…Other's opinions my differ.
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