Ditching my avr for a preamp and two mono blocks in a 2.1 setup. Will my movies suffer?

ryms

Member
Made a similar thread earlier but I am just about to bite the bullet and am trying to check in once more

I have a htpc connected to a Panasonic 55cx800 via hdmi which is in turn connected to a Denon 1910 via toslink. I have two monitor audio bronze br-2's and an active sub

I am looking to replace this with a minidsp shd connected to two mono blocks. I know this DAC won't be able to do anything with multi channel audio so it will be PCM over toslink from the TV to the SHD.

My usage is about 50/50 music and movies. I do not care for surround and will probably never go to more than 2.1 (heck, might go to 2.0 if I get decent tower speakers)

Right now watching movies is more than fine for me, I do not miss the center channel and I do not have issues that voices are too soft and sound effects too loud (is this the avr doing its work?)

I am wondering if by moving to effectively a stereo amplifier I will be gaining a lot of quality music wise but getting myself into issues when it comes to movies? Or will the difference be small enough as I do not have a center speaker anyway? From what I see now at worst I will lose the dedicated lfe channel with Dolby digital


edit: This might sound stupid but my current setup was configured at a point in time that I was done with having to switch between TV and PC input (thus i just connected my pc to my TV and TV to AVR) and was less knowledagble on the subject but..

Just now started to run some tests and the first thing I notice is that when playing movies from my PC the Dolby Digital stream does not even arrive to my AVR, it indicates that it is receiving a PCM signal. So the current pc->tv via hdmi -> avr via toslink never actually made use of the decoding functionalities of my AVR! This plus the fact that I am actually already happy with the sound quality at the moment puts my mind at ease when it comes to replacing the AVR with the SHD and two monoblocks!

This is if understand correctly that my TV most lileky passes through 2 channel PCM, but this is not something I can easily test.

TV(+netflix) direct to AVR does make use of dolby digital but we have never noticed issues with watching movies on netflix or directly via the HTPC so I guess I should be ok.
 
Last edited:

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
A decent stereo or 2.1 system will sound better than equivalent priced 5.1 system

However you will lose lfe soundtrack

Your TV may not pass DD/DTS over optical. My LG c9 does but I know some don't.

I wouldn't ditch multi channel system to 2.1 even if it was high end stereo you miss a lot from surround, ie in a audio mix door knock on rear right and that is where the door was onscreen, off screen behind the camera. On rocky fight scene cheering from surround so feels you're in the crowd.

Fly bus in plane action scene etc.
 

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
Stereo speakers won't be able to reproduce entire movie soundtrack, my mains go down to 34hz and even then the sub really kicks harder, lower, and with more guts than the speakers. And using 300w amps, not a avr.

Unless your mains have dedicated subs 10" then get a subwoofer


Sure if you watch old movies like seven samurai playback in stereo (I use mono logic 7) but playing back modern multi channel movie in stereo? NOPE.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Either 5.1 or 2.1 you need to ensure that you are using the highest sound format, one of the lossless formats.

The way you have hooked it up at the moment suggests you probably aren't. Certainly optical won't do lossless 5.1 but can't remember whether it will do stereo pcm at a high bit rate.
 

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
Either 5.1 or 2.1 you need to ensure that you are using the highest sound format, one of the lossless formats.

The way you have hooked it up at the moment suggests you probably aren't. Certainly optical won't do lossless 5.1 but can't remember whether it will do stereo pcm at a high bit rate.
Playing back regular DD/DTS on my 7.1 it sounds fantastic..don't have modern av pre
 

ryms

Member
Thing is I want to get rid of my bulky avr. I have a 2.1 system now and will stick to that. I just wonder what moving from an avr to stereo Amp will do. Especially knowing now that in my current setup I send pcm to my avr. Given my current situation, how much better / worse are the audio țracks in movies going to sound.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Thing is I want to get rid of my bulky avr. I have a 2.1 system now and will stick to that. I just wonder what moving from an avr to stereo Amp will do. Especially knowing now that in my current setup I send pcm to my avr. Given my current situation, how much better / worse are the audio țracks in movies going to sound.
The main trap is if the TV can't handle audio delay over its TosLink output, as then you get lipsync issues. I don't know if the miniDSP SHD can address this with its delay feature.

Otherwise a decent stereo amplifier will be fine, and the audio performance will be better for the same cost. PCM stereo over optical is lossless.
 

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
Another guy on forum wanted to do what you want to do, also mentioned audio delay. He ignored them advices bought a stereo amp, then found he needed audio delay. Lol.

How is a avr bulky? It's one box.

Keep the monoblocs, use them for mains, hey a decent avr that supplies stable voltage on pre outs.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Playing back regular DD/DTS on my 7.1 it sounds fantastic..don't have modern av pre

Not saying it won't sound great, however, if you go for Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS Master HD it will be better again. It's like going from SD -> HD -> 4K but with sound, it is like Dolby Prologic -> Dolby Digital TrueHD. All are improvements but the jump from SD to HD was bigger than HD to 4K especially based on how far back you were (HDR aside). Dolby Digital TrueHD is a lossless audio format so if you can start with that you are starting from the strongest position.

Your chain is only as good as the weakest link, feed it with crap and you get crap out. In order to get to a PCM signal you have to convert sound from the Dolby Digital (or True HD) bitstream to PCM at some point. This could be done via the TV, the player\computer or the AV amp, all of which might sound subtly different. They could also apply additional processing or room correction. The resulting PCM signal is lossless at a given bit depth and sampling frequency.

It's the same way though if you convert a low bit rate MP3 to PCM your PCM is lossless it just you are "guessing" parts of the track. The fewer parts you need to guess the better the sound (in theory) :)

PCM stereo over optical is lossless.

Yes agree, but it also comes in many different bit depths and sampling rates. It also depends on the original source and what converts it as to how good it will be.

To the OP, agree with the others about stereo vs AVR at the same price point. However, in your position I would want to run HDMI from PC to AVR as that will give you the ability to have HD audio, additional processing and room correction. That assumes you have more than one HDMI on your HTPC and that your source files have HD audio though :)
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Another guy on forum wanted to do what you want to do, also mentioned audio delay. He ignored them advices bought a stereo amp, then found he needed audio delay. Lol.

Yes, agree that is the other thing audio delay or audio advance can be a PITA. At least with Kodi you can do it both ways if necessary.
 

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
Not saying it won't sound great, however, if you go for Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS Master HD it will be better again. It's like going from SD -> HD -> 4K but with sound, it is like Dolby Prologic -> Dolby Digital TrueHD. All are improvements but the jump from SD to HD was bigger than HD to 4K especially based on how far back you were (HDR aside). Dolby Digital TrueHD is a lossless audio format so if you can start with that you are starting from the strongest position.

Your chain is only as good as the weakest link, feed it with crap and you get crap out. In order to get to a PCM signal you have to convert sound from the Dolby Digital (or True HD) bitstream to PCM at some point. This could be done via the TV, the player\computer or the AV amp, all of which might sound subtly different. They could also apply additional processing or room correction. The resulting PCM signal is lossless at a given bit depth and sampling frequency.

It's the same way though if you convert a low bit rate MP3 to PCM your PCM is lossless it just you are "guessing" parts of the track. The fewer parts you need to guess the better the sound (in theory) :)



Yes agree, but it also comes in many different bit depths and sampling rates. It also depends on the original source and what converts it as to how good it will be.

To the OP, agree with the others about stereo vs AVR at the same price point. However, in your position I would want to run HDMI from PC to AVR as that will give you the ability to have HD audio, additional processing and room correction. That assumes you have more than one HDMI on your HTPC and that your source files have HD audio though :)

Older processor,.non hdmi, no room correction except for antimode. Like the logic 7 expansion. 7.2 system
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Older processor,.non hdmi, no room correction except for antimode. Like the logic 7 expansion. 7.2 system

Doh :)

So what is the output format of the PC to the TV?

List of TVs here that pass 5.1 through but it doesn't mention any Panasonic ones.

 

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
LG c9. So av pre amp receives DD/DTS. Not getting hd master . Also like logic 7 on the lexicon
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
LG c9. So av pre amp receives DD/DTS. Not getting hd master . Also like logic 7 on the lexicon

Sorry meant the OP. In your case the bitstream sound should be getting intact as DD\DTS to the amp to decode. The OP isn't the TV or something is doing the decoding.
 

ryms

Member
Hi all,

The TV is connected to the PC via HDMI over my soundcard. I will have to look into the settings w/regard to what exactly is sent to the TV but if it is for example DD then that is certainly not ending up at my receiver from what I can see. But (to me) this is not the issue right now. I am happy (enough) with the audio quality with movies at the moment, even though i believe it could be improved by for example doing PC->toslink->receiver->speakers.

Lipsync issues would be a big issue indeed but agreed solveable with Kodi, the question is whether i would also notice lip sync issues from TV->DAC->power amp, there i do not think I can set audio delay.

From what I read about the DSP I cannot add more than 30ms delay which most likely is not enough to cover lip sync issues.

The situation with me mostly is that I find myself listening to music more and more in my livingroom and I want to upgrade my music listening experience. All the bells and whistles (well, clearly not ALL) with the denon 1910 are not really required for me, so I figured a DAC + stereo amp would also function fine. As bitstream is not reaching my AVR at the moment and video does not even pass the AVR, I wonder how the situation can possibly get any "worse" than it is now?

I understand I might sound as if I am set in stone in doing what I want to do, but I honestly just wonder what would change, given the current situation where i KNOW the amp gets PCM input from the TV?

Thanks all for taking the time to reply btw!
 
Last edited:

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Do you mean video card for HDMI out? Do you have any spare HDMI outs on your PC?

PC's can be a pain in the proverbial for getting sound in the original format? It very much depends on the software though.

I don't think you have connected your system in an optimal way and you have are limiting it. It's a bit like having a real high-end system but then playing MP3 rather than lossless audio through it. Address that first before moving on.

You shouldn't be using optical for movies, stick with HDMI direct from source to amp.

Lipsync works both ways and if your video gets ahead of the audio then only the player can fix this and not all of them do so.

Sounds like you use Kodi for Movies, but what do you use for music playback?

If you go with the miniDSP + mono blocks then box size aside I would consider keeping the Denon for the time being.

  • Plugging PC directly via HDMI into the Denon, then analog pre-out into MiniDSP for movie playback (retains benefits of lossless HD Audio e.g. DTS Master HD even downmixed to 2.1
  • Optical into the MiniDSPHD from TV for Freeview/TV Apps playback
  • Listen to music directly from MiniDSP (don't have to worry about your PC)

This is all on the proviso that you have listened to the new components and are happy with them. I wouldn't want to spend that much without at least a good demo of it with your speakers if you could.
 

ryms

Member
Yeah I am indeed using my video card to transfer both audio and video to my TV which then is connected to my AVR via toslink. I have both spare toslink and hdmi outs available on my PC but I do not know if I will be able to set it up to only output audio to my AVR via HDMI, this is something I'll have to look into.

My future state would indeed be to listen to music directly on the MiniDSP. Now I am either streaming via a chromecast Audio + Spotify (Which I can ditch as this is integrated on the SHD) or playing FLAC files from my pc->tv->avr in the setup described above.

I agree with you that the current setup is most likely not optimal. I do not have to ditch the denon immediately but this was my end-goal in getting the miniDSP + monoblocks. Of course when I have everything available I can also do A/B testing to see what issues would arise with/without the Denon.

Kodi is indeed used for Movies but not for music. In the current setup there is no issue with lipsync. I do wonder though, with the AVR getting PCM from the TV, isn't this more or less what my proposed setup is?

You make a good comment on that this is all assuming that the components sound good in my current setup. In this case I will take a risk as I will be unable to listen to it due to it residing in a different country. In this case I will most likely take the gamble with the chance that I might have to sell them on later on (Though the price is so competitive this should be doable without too much loss, a risk I am willing to take)

One question though: Why would my PC not be able to properly downmix the audiostream to PC and directly provide that to the MiniDSP when it is connected via USB (or whatever other method).

I'm going to take a look at my current setup over the weekend and see what differences I notice. Thanks for your replies so far!
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
I have both spare toslink and hdmi outs available on my PC but I do not know if I will be able to set it up to only output audio to my AVR via HDMI, this is something I'll have to look into.

Yes then assuming its a relatively new one GPU (last 5 years) and running Windows then you can hook up two HDMIs one direct to TV, one to amp. A lot of people use this setup if their amp does not pass 4K because it is older but have upgraded their TV, without having to buy anything other than another HDMI lead. That way you can have 4K\HDR and DTS Master HD giving you the best picture and sound quality.

One question though: Why would my PC not be able to properly downmix the audiostream to PC and directly provide that to the MiniDSP when it is connected via USB (or whatever other method).

It could do but most decoding is done in software now regardless of the platform so downmixing a DTS Master HD track to 2 channel involves a number of steps. Some people notice the difference between different software for example on a PC. It can also do various EQ including room correction on it that you might or might not find desirable.

One major reason why you might want to do it on the Denon is to retain the LFE feed to the subwoofer.

Either way, if you can hook it up either way and compare it is down to your hearing and preferences. We can advise the theoretical best way to hook it up. But only you know what sounds best to your ears, just don't spend too much time doing it as opposed to enjoying music and movies :D
 

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: Panasonic JZ2000 Final Thoughts - TV Calibration: Should you? And More...
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom