Focal JM Lab Utopia - Need help with 7.1 system

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by Sanwar, Mar 16, 2006.

  1. Sanwar

    Sanwar
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    Hi

    I am thinking of having the following setup:

    Focal JM Lab Alto Utopias - Recently arrived but not set up yet.
    Center Utopia - Thinking of ordering these.
    Sub Utopia - As above.
    Micro Utopias - One pair. Thinking of ordering second pair.
    Arcam FMJ P7
    Arcam FMJ AV9 - About to arrive
    Naim CDX2 - Not installed
    Pioneer PDP 506XDE
    DVD Player - Old and cheap 3 or 4 year old model. Probably replace in next 12 months.
    Cables - Not sure. Heard good things about Black Rhodium

    Room: About 8 m long and 6m wide. In reality it is bigger than this as there is a medium size open plan kitchen next to the lounge and the large hallway is only partly separated from the lounge.

    Music: Mainly I watch TV and films. I like a variety of music including Mozart, Abba, and Jean Michel Jarre.

    Fortunately, budget is not that much of an issue. However, if I am buying high-end equipment I try and buy off eBay to save money.

    I would be grateful if any of you could help me with the following:

    1. Is it worth me buying the Center and Sub Utopia speakers? Is there a better alternative that will work with the Alto Utopia speakers that I have already bought.

    2. I was thinking of having two micro Utopias on the sides and two of the same in the back. However, these speakers are still quite big. I am going to have to replace some of the side lights if I have these speakers on the walls!
    Any suggestions?

    3. I have read in HiFi Choice that Black Rhodium cables are amongst the best. Does anyone have any experience in this?

    4. Is it worth it replacing the cables between the Pioneer 506XDE plasma display and the media box? I believe that Wireworld sell a kit for this.

    5. I am also going to have a multi-room system. Apart from say Denon (very limited for this purpose) does anyone know if there is a proper multi-room matrix with HDMI switching on the market? Somebody said to me recently that for technical reasons he did not think this would ever happen.

    Many thanks.

    Sanwar
     
  2. Mentally

    Mentally
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    It is best to buy the center from the same series in order to get the best vocal match from the front. Sub can be bought from the series but you can find matching subs from other companies too. If you can afford it I don't see a reason why you should continue searching.

    The Micros are pretty big and heavy. I recommend going for one pair only.

    BTW, if money is not a problem why don't you go for the Nova Utopia? Its a different level than the Alto and Diva.

    If you listen to a lot of music in stereo I recommend going for an integrated\power+pre setup. Of course you going to have to spend there quite a lot too but you will get a better outcome than the Arcam processor.
     
  3. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    The level you seem to be looking at for speakers doesn't really seem to be a good balance with the electronics. If money isn't an issue look to Chord, Linn, Meridian, and a few others for the sound processing. The utopia range warrant slightly better than your proposing.
    Can't imagine them sounding that hot with any Naim equipment either.
     
  4. jackal

    jackal
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    On just a few of your points:

    - Don't bother with the Wireworld DVI cable for your 506 - I have demoed this and it does not make any difference (the pioneer cable is already good quality).

    - Apparently the Utopia Sub does not integrate that well with the rest of the package.

    - I don't agree that the AV9 is not good enough for your set up. I may be getting one myself to replace my Tag.

    -You could perhaps do better than the P7 power amp (parasound are great) the utopias would be better with a high current amp and much improved by bi-amping (the fronts at least).

    -Chord company cables are excellent and good value (think reference range which I use)

    -that cheapo DVD had no place in your set up. Consider good quality upscaling player (pioneer 989)

    Good luck - should be a nice system!!!:clap:
     
  5. Sanwar

    Sanwar
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    Hi

    Thanks to everyone for going to so much trouble to respond to me. I have the following comments:

    1. I went for the Alto Utopia rather than the Nova Utopia as the Alto Utopia happened to be available on eBay at a good price. Also, my girlfriend was upset enough as it is with the size of the Alto Utopia. She would have been even more upset with the size of the Nova Utopia.

    2. Probably I am not as knowledgeable as I should be about AV systems. I wanted an AV processor with HDMI switching. The Arcam AV9 seems to be one of the few processors that offers this and offers more HDMI connections than anyone else (I think!). I got the P7 at a very good price on eBay. It is a good match for the AV9 and so I bought it. Perhaps I should have gone for another amplifier to go with the AV9. Perhaps I should have gone for different speakers!

    3. Is it really a good idea to buy an expensive DVD player now? HD DVD and Blue Ray will be widely available in the next twelve months. When these players are available high end DVD players currently on the market will presumably be much cheaper than they are now.

    4. I may be wrong. But I think for the size of the room it is best to have a 7.1 system. From your comments it appears that I should stick to the Micro utopias for the side and back speakers.

    5. Am I right in thinking that comments about Naim are actually about Naim amplifiers not being suitable for the Alto Utopia speakers rather than the Naim CDX2 not being suitable?

    Thanks again for all your help.

    Sanwar
     
  6. Pat Marcus

    Pat Marcus
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    You have the makings of a wonderful system which is being underdriven by the p7 amp. The utopia range deserve something much more capable. Keep the AV9 and sell the p7. Buy a 5 channel power amp from Meridian, Classe, Parasound, Bryston, Chord, Audionet or a.n.other high-end brand
    Yes, buy the same sides as rears
    Yes buy the matching centre
    yes buy the Pio 506XDE or a fujitsu XHA40US 50" if you dont need a TV
    The naim CDX2 is a fine machine with great sound quality but look at others including the meridian G08 and second hand Wadia and mark levinson.
    If your DVD player works and offers a decent component out, you wont be getting the benefit of the HDMI input on the plasma but it will tide you over until you buy an HD or BluRay DVD. Alternatively, buy something like a Denon 1920 which does everything. In spite of owning a comparatively expensive DVD player, I wouldnt buy one now.
    Chord company cables are excellent quality. You may find the signature series a bit too sharp, same goes for the new Nordost products. As an alternative look at similarly priced models from Atlas, Black Rhodium, Coherent and for a really "soft" sound, Van Den Hul. Consider speaker cables by Chord, Nordost, Coherent and Transparent
     
  7. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Just the overall sound of Naim is rather forward, matching that with Utopia range (again rather forward) and if you happen to have wooden floors you could have an expensive, possibly harsh sounding system.

    With regards the DVD player, I would bite the bullet and get a good one. It's like CD's, and vinyl, just because there's something new doesn't mean it'll take off and make everything else obsolete. However good the new formats are it will be a while before they match the really good high end players.
    Unidisc 1.1s can be had for £3000 these days. Half decent for music too.

    A good AV pre and stereo power amps or better still monoblocks and stick with 5.1. Save the money on the extra speakers and spend it on some good power amps. The last thing you want is the speakers underpowered. That'll have the potential to sound really bad.
    Thiel do an excellent sub that can be configured for your speakers. One of the few i've heard that integrate seemlessly.
     

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