Choices choices choices (budget £3000)

HugoFJH

Active Member
dear AVF readers

I posted this question in the reciever section and only got about 3 replies - compared to 50 views or something, so maybe I will have more luck in here.:)

Currently I have an Pioneer LX5090, SVS sub, Onkyo 805 reciever, Acoustic Energy *5 bookshelfs/centre

With a max budget of £3000 at the end of Jan I intend to replace the reciever and the front three speakers

In the long run I want to try and get a decent pre / power setup but the budget wont allow for that anywhere near imo (my way of thinking, and I may not be correct, is that the current speakers will completely waste any pre/power equipment I buy straight away - which means I HAVE TO upgrade the speakers, and most of the decent power amps are £3k+ which lead me to think of a multiple upgrade path):

Stage 1

Upgrade reciever to a top range reciever with pre-outs (maybe the Pioneer LX82) , and from a speaker perspective Monitor Audio Silver RX8's and centre

Stage 2

This time next year I get a decent power amp like an Arcam and use the LX82 as a processor

Stage 3

Replace the Pio in 2 - 3 years with (matching) Arcam processor or whatever suits stage 2

What do people think about this plan and will I get a decernable upgrade during each phase?

Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated :)
 

pragmatic

Distinguished Member
Buy second hand or ex demo, a decent although older processor can be had for 1k mark, 2k for a power amp or set of power amps will go a long way. All depends what features and functions you need, e.g. HDMI, multichannel analogue input, video switching/upscaling ect .... (most of which can be compressively beaten by a video scaler).

Demo if you can though, if your going pre/pro I wouldn't bother with av recievers, the pre amp section will let down the expensive power amp, especialy for music, for films it'll be great though and the extra power from a good power amp will have you feeling the action :).

Oh and on the speaker side, you might be surprised what they can do when fed properly ;)

Example an arcam AV8/9 for arround 1k mark from here a bit more from dealer, might get lucky with ebay and get cheaper (just avoid getting carried away bidding at the end, bid once at about 15 second mark with what you think is a fair amount, don't accept second chance offer unless your certain most are scams).
Could get a couple of Parasound's (A51/52), a Bryston(9B), a Chord (lower end one but its all class at this level) or any number of great complementary amps. Upgrade the speakers to something really special when you get the cash.

Also in 2/3 years the receiver will be worth almost nowt, think of them like luxury cars. Good amps keep their value relatively, processors less so.
 

IWC Dopplel

Distinguished Member
Having spent an evening with an AVR600 using this in comparison to an AV8 for HD. The audio quality of the AV8 with my Denon 3800 against HDMI and the AVR600 as a processor only was frankly eye opening.........

The AV8 with the 3800 was way ahead. I was considering spending £5k to 'move' to a HDMI processed solution. The 600 was far enough behind for me to no longer consider seriously demoing the AV888.

For a £3k budget I would have no hesitation recommending an AV8/9 and a P7 driven by something like the Denon 3800. You will pay £750 new (denon) £1.5-2k Av8 or 9 /P7 second hand. Leaving you time to upgrade speakers, value for money would be frankly astonishing.......
 

Mr_Orange

Well-known Member
As the others have said, it does depend on your requirements, but £2,500 gets you the Audiolab 8000AP processor (£1,000) and the 8000X7 (£1,500) 7 channel power amp new.

The amp is the TAG 700:7R with an Audiolab badge on the outside, and you could do a lot worse for the money.

The processor is very good with both 2 channel and surround duties, but it only accepts LPCM over HDMI, however given the comments above you'd be using the 5.1 analogue bypass anyway. Check the owners thread below if you can face all 150 odd pages of it.

I appreciate that only leaves £500 for your speakers, however I suspect that there are deals to be had on the Audiolab pairing which will bolster you budget a bit. In any case, you may find your speakers will suffice for now. You would hear a huge improvement on the Onk receiver.
 

HugoFJH

Active Member
sorry I should have said it IS mainly for movies - and maybe background music at parties

Thats why I thought a reciever 1st would be best :)

Plus , because of all the hastle - weight wise and shipping etc - I prefer to buy brand new (I know like cars you lose 50% as soon as its out of the showroom but still), never entirely trusted the bay and similar sites

I need at least 4 HDMI inputs (PS3, HD DVD player, BR and streamer) , at the very least one HDMI output. Both TrueHD and DTS MA decoding - probably only need 5.1 but could experiment with 7.1 and biamping

I wasnt expecting any resale value after 3 years as it will be used else where anyway

I was also kind of expecting that a power amp now would be wasted by the REALLY cheap speakers I have (about £200/paiir plus less than that for the centre) (satellites too rather than full floor standers)
 
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Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Your plan looks expensive and inefficient. For the same total capital outlay, the exercise of a modicum of patience would yield considerably greater performance at the end of the targetted 2-3 years. I'd suggest:

Phase 1) sort out the speakers as best you can. They are your weak link, and will probably remain so. It is also the area where you can achieve the most, even keeping your current electronics. You have £3000 available for the three speakers; this should permit you to get something reasonable.

Phase 2) replace the receiver, either with a behemoth or with separate processor and power amp, in one fell swoop. Waiting is anyway a good idea here as quality HD processors are still quite rare.
 
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Mr_Sukebe

Member
From reading here, looks like the Denon 3800 plus a good legacy processor with multi-channel analogue inputs (e.g. Bryston SP1.6) would be a very good route to take. Should be possible to do that for £1500, leaving the other £1500 for a power amp and possibly speakers.
If it were me, I'd track down the 3800, Bryston and a good set of power amps, then worry about the speakers later.
 

HugoFJH

Active Member
I appreciate everyone's advice very much - even though it seems some are contradicting each other :)

I thought if I came into this area I woud get several completely different approaches

After a quick google Im only getting info on a Denon 3800 from mid 2000's and the Bryston 1.7 from the same period - so its a little confusing to say the least how these would be any use for HDMI and HD audio (even if either where available)


Im also not entirely convinced that paying £3000 for speakers (which seems a **** of a lot for 3 speakers even if they are the main ones) will get that kind of benefit out of them with the current reciever - Im probably wrong but I have a feeling I would be disappointed spending all that money just on speakers (and not really getting anything like the performance they are capable of for at least a year if not 2)
 
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Mr_Sukebe

Member
I appreciate everyone's advice very much - even though it seems some are contradicting each other :)

I thought if I came into this area I woud get several completely different approaches

After a quick google Im only getting info on a Denon 3800 from mid 2000's and the Bryston 1.7 from the same period - so its a little confusing to say the least how these would be any use for HDMI and HD audio (even if either where available)
Hugo>
The Denon we're refering to is the BD3800. Presently available for around £750 brand new if you look in the right place. The Denon has full multi-channel analogue outputs, meaning that it'll work very nicely for HD audio via multi-channel analogue outputs to any legacy processor (including the Bryston), as long as said processor supports multi-channel analogue inputs.
No, the Bryston doesn't support HDMI, but it doesn't need to.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
The point I was trying to make is not that you will achieve audio nirvana today by investing in a decent pair of speakers and keeping the receiver, but that you will be much closer to ecstasy after the second phase, whilst achieving significant benefits beforehand. By way of contrast, you could easily invest £10,000 in a processor + amplification and achieve what is known as a "rounded zero", the speakers' issues will swamp everything.

Given that your current speakers are the weak point, that speakers last a long time, that changes in electronics are very likely over the next couple of years (e.g. HDMI 1.4, 3D), and that your budget is not exactly high, I tried to recommend a path that will achieve the greatest yield at the end of path, whilst suggesting a modicum of patience whilst you save.
 

paulst10

Distinguished Member
Thread tidied as requested, back on topic please :lesson:
 
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HugoFJH

Active Member
The point I was trying to make is not that you will achieve audio nirvana today by investing in a decent pair of speakers and keeping the receiver, but that you will be much closer to ecstasy after the second phase, whilst achieving significant benefits beforehand. By way of contrast, you could easily invest £10,000 in a processor + amplification and achieve what is known as a "rounded zero", the speakers' issues will swamp everything.

Given that your current speakers are the weak point, that speakers last a long time, that changes in electronics are very likely over the next couple of years (e.g. HDMI 1.4, 3D), and that your budget is not exactly high, I tried to recommend a path that will achieve the greatest yield at the end of path, whilst suggesting a modicum of patience whilst you save.
I totally appreciate that and thank you :)

I was just concerned that I would still get a rounded zero by just upgrading the speakers, and although I know its relatively easy to do Im never going to be the type of person to spend a small fortune just on one set of speakers. I totally understand that not changing anything other than the speakers means the signal quality is identical to the end of the speaker cable, and therefore any upgrade in speaker will improve the sound - but for the 1st 12 - 18 months before any other upgrade takes place, I also feel I will be wasting the speakers on relatively old / cheap electonics

(would anyone really go out and spend 9/10 of their budget on speakers to leave 1/10 for the amp - not exactly the same but thats effectively what the Onkyo is worth now and it just feels REALLY mismatched)

Also £1000 - £1500 for the three main speakers is my psychological barrier I think :)
 

rdevarajan

Active Member

Sluggster

Active Member
Hi Hugo,

I have to agree with Mark. Get your speakers sorted. My speaker system retails, with sub, at over £10k. My Pioneer cost £1.9k retail. About a 5.1 ratio. I must admit my stereo has a more equal ratio! And music is important to me.

However, you should be looking at where you want to be in 5/10 years. Your speakers will probably last you a long, long time. The rest of your system less so. New formats, speaker configurations, 3D, set up options etc will impact your source and your amplifier (except maybe your power amp). Money invested in speakers will:
- define the final quality of your system (what is the point in a £1500 set of speakers an a 6k power amp)?
- have the biggest impact on sound in your room
- last the longest of any other item

Unless you intend spending lots on your speakers you might as well stick to an AV receiver.

Assuming you can't get yourself past £1500 then I would suggest:
£1500 on speakers
£800 to 1100 on an AV Receiver
£250 to 500 on a BR player.

To get the best output with music get an amp that uses something like PQLS to minimise jitter.

Good luck,
S
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
would anyone really go out and spend 9/10 of their budget on speakers to leave 1/10 for the amp
I ran Quad ESL-63s for many years on a Sansui AU-417 I'd bought when I was 21, so the ratio was probably 5:1, like Sluggster. Still, I'm a firm believer in the "speakers first" approach, since whilst I can easily hear the difference between various levels of speakers, I have more difficulties with amplifiers, once they have adequate power. A further consequence is that I have no problems with over £5,000 for stereo speakers, but wouldn't consider spending that sort of figure on, say, a CD player.

Incidentally, I wasn't suggesting a 90%-10% split. I was advocating an upgrade in stages, based on your post and its 3 stages spread over 2 - 3 years, and was trying to optimize where you'd be at the end, whilst maximizing the benefit of each individual step. Any imbalance was temporary.
 

SSB

Active Member
You could argue that every bit in the chain is important, but I would definitely second the point that good speakers and good power amps can last through many upgrades. In my case, those bits in my system have outlasted one processor and at least two source players.

I think you have to look hard at how important an expensive blu-ray player is (or isn't). It doesn't seem to me that when want to improve your speakers and the sound output, that spending £750 on a non-universal disc spinner is the way to go.
 

HugoFJH

Active Member
You could argue that every bit in the chain is important, but I would definitely second the point that good speakers and good power amps can last through many upgrades. In my case, those bits in my system have outlasted one processor and at least two source players.

I think you have to look hard at how important an expensive blu-ray player is (or isn't). It doesn't seem to me that when want to improve your speakers and the sound output, that spending £750 on a non-universal disc spinner is the way to go.
oohh I dont doubt that at all - my present speakers have lasted about 5 years (and at least a couple of upgrades) and they were cheap as chips speakers

So even spending £1500 on 3 speakers I would hope for them to last at least as long , if not alot longer (and of course majority of stuff that gets upgraded moves to my bedroom setup to extend the life further)

I wasnt the one who suggested spending £700 on a BR player (not that I remember anyway) - the only reason I would even contemplate this is on a multi-region Oppo, but Im more likely to go for the £300 MR Panasonic BD60/80 thats available from MRM :) (and it wasnt part of the initial budget outlined)
 

Sluggster

Active Member
I think the £700 player was proposed in a different type of system, where the player becomes responsible for decoding audio for a legacy system - which is a valid option too.

Regards,
S
 

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