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Help me pick a reciever - stereo now, 5.1 later?

Otacon

Standard Member
Hi guys, typical noob looking for some help if anyone's willing to lend a hand :)

I have a Samsung 37" R88 and have been looking for a while to sort some decent sound out - decent to my ears is probably pretty average to some of your ears, having never really experienced a 'proper' several thousand pound audio system before! After toying with separates or all in ones, I've decided that investing in a decent separates system will serve me better for longer, and so here I am starting at the receiver.

I'm struggling to pick around the various units because I frankly have no idea what the differences are between all the various Pro-Logic/DTS/THX etc decoding gumph, so I'm hoping you guys can point me in the right direction if I list my requirements :)

In terms of usage, the main input of any substance is going to be an Xbox 360, which has an HDMI out, so I'd like a unit that will take a 5.1 audio signal straight off that rather than needing a separate optical connection. Although I do have a question here - currently I plug the 360 into HDMI 2 on my Samsung for 1:1 pixel mapping, so that I can output at the native panel resolution rather than just 720p. I have no idea how a receiver would handle this - am I likely to lose that?

Secondary input would be out BT Vision box - also HDMI. Nothing really special coming from this at the moment, we dont use the movie rental service but hopefully in future we'll be getting some HD/5.1 service from freeview and I'd like to be in a position to take advantage of that.

Bar a couple of other boxes (PS2/Wii (with component)) those 2 are the key, the 360 in particular. I'd like the receiver to pass analogue inputs out over the HDMI connection if possible, just for convenience. Ideally I'd like a spare HDMI in to cater for a PS3 or Blueray player in the future but neither are on the horizon.

At the start of this I was planning on looking at 2.1 systems, so in terms of speakers I wouldn't be against just having that for now and upgrading to 2.1 in the future but I guess that's for another thread.

Budget wise I'm looking at around £350 - but I dont know if I have pretty modest requirements and that's more than I'd need to spend, or I'm after cutting edge functionality and I need to put some more to it. Hoping you guys will set me straight :)

So yeah, any comments on my requirements and unit recommendations welcome. Thanks for reading and sorry for the rambly post!
 

The Atheist

Prominent Member
The closest amp (that I know of) that matches your requirements and budget would be the Onkyo 606, though its likely to cost you closer to £400. Sony do a similar model at £300, the STR-DG820, but this doesn't do video up-conversion (analogue to HDMI). Does your budget include speakers?

To clarify the audio types:

Dolby pro-logic(all varients)/DTS NEO:6 - these take a standard stereo audio track and convert it to surround sound.

Dolby Digital/DTS - These offer true 5.1 audio (5 speakers, 1 subwoofer) meaning you get dedicated audio for each speaker. This is a compressed format though (dolby digital more so than DTS), and has recently been superseded by HD audio formats.

Dolby TrueHD/DTS HD Master Audio - these HD audio formats are currently the best audio options but are only available on Blu-Ray (and the now dead HD-DVD). For these you will need an amp that can accept audio over HDMI and/or bitstreamed HD audio (the Onkyo and Sony cover both these bases).

As you don't currently need the HD audio requirements it may be a better option for you to go for a none HDMI amp (such as this http://www.richersounds.com/showproduct.php?cda=showproduct&pid=CAMB-540R-V2-SIL) which will cost you considerably less and many would argue will sound better with stereo music. You can then upgrade later when you need/want HD audio, this will allow for prices to drop and more models being available.
 

the ceeg

Standard Member
I would take a look at the Denon AVR-1909 its a fantastic receiver. It does HDMI audio, also it will upconvert most anything you plug into it to a 1080p resolution. It is a 7.1 speaker setup but you can go with just 2.1, 5.1 or 6.1. for the money its probably the best receiver you can buy. it will run ya about £350 - £400
 

Otacon

Standard Member
Thanks ceeg, I'll consider that Denon along with the Onkyo The Atheist mentioned. It's a good fit :)

The closest amp (that I know of) that matches your requirements and budget would be the Onkyo 606, though its likely to cost you closer to £400. Sony do a similar model at £300, the STR-DG820, but this doesn't do video up-conversion (analogue to HDMI).
Thanks for those :)

Does your budget include speakers?
It doesn't no, not even looked at speakers yet - trying to get my head around this lot for now!

To clarify the audio types:

Dolby pro-logic(all varients)/DTS NEO:6 - these take a standard stereo audio track and convert it to surround sound.

Dolby Digital/DTS - These offer true 5.1 audio (5 speakers, 1 subwoofer) meaning you get dedicated audio for each speaker. This is a compressed format though (dolby digital more so than DTS), and has recently been superseded by HD audio formats.

Dolby TrueHD/DTS HD Master Audio - these HD audio formats are currently the best audio options but are only available on Blu-Ray (and the now dead HD-DVD). For these you will need an amp that can accept audio over HDMI and/or bitstreamed HD audio (the Onkyo and Sony cover both these bases).
That's very helpful, thanks for posting - I have a much better idea of what I'm looking at now :)

As you don't currently need the HD audio requirements it may be a better option for you to go for a none HDMI amp (such as this http://www.richersounds.com/showproduct.php?cda=showproduct&pid=CAMB-540R-V2-SIL) which will cost you considerably less and many would argue will sound better with stereo music. You can then upgrade later when you need/want HD audio, this will allow for prices to drop and more models being available.
I think I'd rather go for HDMI as I certainly use it a lot now and cant see that changing for some time. Richer Sounds have the STR-DG820 you mentioned for £250, so I'll consider that the 'bottom' end of the scale - though as you say it's pretty close on paper. How would I view the analog inputs on the TV, will it bring them all out through 1 analog output? What are Sony like as a brand in this space? I'm guessing it's relatively cheap because it's a consumer brand.

Also, do you have any idea about my 360 resolution conundrum?
 

eaglemmoomin

Prominent Member
Thanks ceeg, I'll consider that Denon along with the Onkyo The Atheist mentioned. It's a good fit :)

Thanks for those :)


It doesn't no, not even looked at speakers yet - trying to get my head around this lot for now!

That's very helpful, thanks for posting - I have a much better idea of what I'm looking at now :)


I think I'd rather go for HDMI as I certainly use it a lot now and cant see that changing for some time. Richer Sounds have the STR-DG820 you mentioned for £250, so I'll consider that the 'bottom' end of the scale - though as you say it's pretty close on paper. How would I view the analog inputs on the TV, will it bring them all out through 1 analog output? What are Sony like as a brand in this space? I'm guessing it's relatively cheap because it's a consumer brand.

Also, do you have any idea about my 360 resolution conundrum?

Yeah you are basically right the 820 is more of a budget job so they'll have scrimped on the power supply, and probably the analogue sections of the amp. It won't have lots of connectivity for awkward bits of kit. It will probably have cheapy speaker binding posts (if at all). Basically the more money you pay the better the quality of bits that go in the amp (natch) and the easier it will be able to drive big sets of demanding speakers at ASBO volumes. People will argue that the more powerful amps can provide greater dynamic swings and more punch and ermmm body to your films/games etc. If you have £350 to spend that will get you a nice slightly older model amp. If you buy a brand new model you'll be paying for the 'newness'.
 

McPhee

Prominent Member
This Yamaha seems to tick all your boxes;

YAMAHA DSPAX763 AMPLIFIER BLACK £349.00 at hifix.co.uk

I believe there's some sort of PC input problem, but other than that it's a mighty fine amp! £50 cheaper than the Onkyo and £100 cheaper than the Denon (i can't find it at the prices 'the ceeg' mentioned)
 

The Atheist

Prominent Member
I would take a look at the Denon AVR-1909 its a fantastic receiver. It does HDMI audio, also it will upconvert most anything you plug into it to a 1080p resolution. It is a 7.1 speaker setup but you can go with just 2.1, 5.1 or 6.1. for the money its probably the best receiver you can buy. it will run ya about £350 - £400

The Denon is very likely an excellent receiver, however I doubt you'll find it for under £400. The onkyo is also an award winning amp and offers just as much connectivity as the Denon, so IMO the Onkyo offers better value for money.

Richer Sounds have the STR-DG820 you mentioned for £250, so I'll consider that the 'bottom' end of the scale - though as you say it's pretty close on paper.

This was recently reviewed by what hi-fi and received 5 stars, sound quality apparently challenges that of the pricier amps (onkyo and denon) so def worth a demo. It is likely to offer inferior build to the Onkyo and Denon though, but connectivity should be similar if memory serves.

Also, do you have any idea about my 360 resolution conundrum?

I'm not 100% sure on this as I've never tried it but the Onkyo offers pass-through (the video output is the same as the input) of digital video (as I'm sure the denon does too) so I don't see why it would cause any problems passing through the resolution you mentioned.

Best piece of advise I can offer though is to demo any model you are considering. These models should all be available in the same shops so you should be able to test them all in the same environment. Richer Sounds, Superfi, Sevenoaks, etc all offer demo facilities.
 

Otacon

Standard Member
Thanks for the help guys :) Leaning towards the Sony at the moment I think, it'll still sound great to me, and the extra £150 could be put towards some nice speakers. They almost cover a set of Jamo A102 HCS5 5.1's entirely, and together that seems like a good set of kit for the price (~£400 all in).
 

Marky1973

Prominent Member
Have a look in the big thread on the 820 for some more info - there are a lot of satisfied customers!

If you can do without upscaling/upconversion and don't need analogue inputs and pre-outs, then it is a very nice amp -check out this months HCC magazine as well for a four way test with the 820 and the Denon included - the 820 did score very well with stereo too.....can't remember what the Denon scored overall, but it was third in the test - although I think this was largely based on the price in comparison to the other amps, the sony way second......have a look though as it might tip you one way or another, or even give you an alternative.

But don't be put off the detractors - yes the 820 would not work in a high end set-up, but if you are on a budget it is cheap (although not nasty), and covers all the HD sounds formats and has 4 HDMI inputs.

I was going to go with the Denon to start with but, for various reasons, hasd to lower my budget....but am very happy with the Sony....

I'll stop rambling now......:D
 

KRW

Prominent Member
I'm very happy with the 820 and am using it as a 3.1 thing at the moment, until I add surround speakers and it sounds fantastic.
 

Marky1973

Prominent Member
I am using Yamaha NSP-110s, which are okay, but need upgrading - although the amp still makes them sound pretty impressive - they were lst on my list for updating this year but have fallen by the wayside a little as the credit crunch tightens my pocket!:rotfl:
 

The Atheist

Prominent Member
Thanks guys, nice to hear votes of confidence :) May well end up 3.1 myself until I work out how to wire the back two :D

What speakers are you guys using with the 820? Got my eye on some Onkyo's:

ONKYO SKSHT518-BLK at Richer Sounds - HI-FI Separates, Home Cinema, Speakers, MP3 DVD Portables, Plasma LCD, etc.
don't know anything about the onkyo speakers but these tannoys are supposed to be very good:

TANNOY EFX5.1-SIL at Richer Sounds - HI-FI Separates, Home Cinema, Speakers, MP3 DVD Portables, Plasma LCD, etc.

and, if you can stretch your budget a bit, these Kef's are probably better still:

KEF KHT1005 at Richer Sounds - HI-FI Separates, Home Cinema, Speakers, MP3 DVD Portables, Plasma LCD, etc.
 

Otacon

Standard Member
Thanks Atheist :) I'd consider them if they were available in black.

Swinging back towards the Onkyo now. The more I think about it the more I figure I should make the investment and get an upscaling unit - it's what I set out for and I want this to last a few years so I shouldn't really compromise.

Trying to find it under £400, anyone know of a bargain?
 

The Atheist

Prominent Member
Thanks Atheist :) I'd consider them if they were available in black.

Swinging back towards the Onkyo now. The more I think about it the more I figure I should make the investment and get an upscaling unit - it's what I set out for and I want this to last a few years so I shouldn't really compromise.

Trying to find it under £400, anyone know of a bargain?
They can be had in black (richer sounds have the Tannoys in black) but they tend to be more expensive at the mo as Black's the in-colour! Here's a few more options:

Jamo A102HCS5 Cinema Speaker System, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
TANNOY SFX 5.1 SPEAKER SYSTEM - available from Superfi UK Visit http://www.superfi.co.uk/index.cfm/page/moreinfo.cfm/product_id/3804 for details
Onkyo TX-SR605 HD 7.1 Home Theatre Receiver (B-Stock) - Predecessor to the 606, only has 2 HDMI inputs but still offers video upconversion and HD audio formats.
*2007 AWARD WINNER* Jamo A102HCS 5 5.1 Speaker Pack
 

Paulus360

Standard Member
I've got an Onkyo 605 running Mordaunt Short Alumnis at the moment which sounds very good. The upconversion and upscaling is good (Nintendo Wii looks great). The alumnis look great too in piano black. The 606 is pretty much the same.
I'm upgrading soon to KEF 3005SEs with a Pioneer VSX-LX51 but that's because my overtime pay burned a hole in my pocket.
 
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Otacon

Standard Member
Thanks guys. The 605 would be a contender if it had another HDMI port - I already have 2 HDMI sources, and sooner or later I'll likely have a PS3 to hook up to it and then I'm stuck!

Atheist - I'm was serisouly considering the Jamo's, but am worried that with speakers that small they'd look a bit.... well, daft :D Though admittedly discreet :)
 

The Atheist

Prominent Member
Thanks guys. The 605 would be a contender if it had another HDMI port - I already have 2 HDMI sources, and sooner or later I'll likely have a PS3 to hook up to it and then I'm stuck!

Atheist - I'm was serisouly considering the Jamo's, but am worried that with speakers that small they'd look a bit.... well, daft :D Though admittedly discreet :)
If anything the size of them makes them more impressive. As you say they will be quite discreet, especially if you wall mount them, so people tend to be quite surprised by how good they sound (typical of most good sub/sat speaker systems). Alternatively if you want them to have a little more presence you can mount them on some decent speaker stands.
 

Otacon

Standard Member
Ok, figured I needed to start putting stakes in the ground, so I've ordered the Jamo's. Couldn't ignore all the good things said about them and they're in budget.

Just need to find an amp now. £350 is as far as I want to go cost wise but I'm a bit stuck as I've written the Sony off now (no upscaling), and the Yammy and 605 only have 2 HDMI inputs. Unless there's another contender to dig up I guess I've juts got to fnid a bargain on the Onkyo.

Thanks for all your help Atheist, it's very much appreciated :)
 

Otacon

Standard Member
Right, purchases made, and of course I spent more than I planned to :rotfl:

Onkyo 606 and Tannoy FX 5.1's sat in my front room, lots more setup to do but so far signs are that I'm going to be very happy. Thanks everyone for their help :)
 

The Atheist

Prominent Member
Right, purchases made, and of course I spent more than I planned to :rotfl:

Onkyo 606 and Tannoy FX 5.1's sat in my front room, lots more setup to do but so far signs are that I'm going to be very happy. Thanks everyone for their help :)
what happened to the Jamos? Did you manage to find a good deal on the 606?
 

Otacon

Standard Member
Place I ordered from called to say that didn't actually have stock, and that when they did they would be more expensive, so I cancelled the order :)

Paid full price on the Onkyo but they (Richer Sounds) matched the Tannoy's to what I would have paid for the Jamo's :)
 

The Atheist

Prominent Member
Place I ordered from called to say that didn't actually have stock, and that when they did they would be more expensive, so I cancelled the order :)

Paid full price on the Onkyo but they (Richer Sounds) matched the Tannoy's to what I would have paid for the Jamo's :)
are they the FX or EFX Tannoys? The EFX are the better model and Richer Sounds had the FX model on their website for £119.99 (I'm guessing you were lookin to pay about £200 for the Jamos?). Just thought I'd check to make sure they're not ripping you off on the cheaper model.

EDIT: From the Richer Sounds website:

http://www.richersounds.com/showproduct.php?cda=showproduct&pid=TANN-FX5.1-SIL - I know you want black but £80 is quite a saving!
http://www.richersounds.com/showproduct.php?cda=showproduct_clearancebargains&pid=TANN-EFX5.1 - only a few left in this colour but you might be able to knock them down to the price you've been quoted for the FX system (if you can get to one of the stores with some left).
 
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Otacon

Standard Member
They're the FX's :) I was paying about £150 for the Jamo's so that's what they did the Tannoy's for, and tbh I was happy to pay the extra for the black - they did mention the silver was cheaper. Aesthetics and all that, if it didnt match I'd have been told off :D
 

The Atheist

Prominent Member
That's ok then, £150 is a pretty good price for the FXs so they're not ripping you off :D

Where did you see the Jamos for £150?
 

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