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Help with complete AV system (£8K to £10K)

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by cmoore, Oct 27, 2003.

  1. cmoore

    cmoore
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    Hello all,

    your opinions and guidance please... I am looking into buying a completely new system for both home cinema and music. I have read all of the magazines I could find, been to the various local hifi shops, spoken to friends and read this forum. As you can imagine I am now very confused. I know this is all personal preference but the collective experience here might be able to distil some of this into viable packages that work well together and I can test further.

    So requirements:
    I want to take a relatively large step up from what I have today (will come on to that in a moment). The main purpose is HC but it would be nice if music sounded good too. Ideally after spending the kind of money that this is going to cost I don't want to visit my friends houses and then come home and want to throw my new kit away. So I am up against Arcam DAVE/PAM, Dynaudio audience speakers and arcam 88 plus dvd player (plus some £1000 dedicated cd player - but thats not for my world).
    Overall budget is a bit flexible but trying to get as much change as possible from £10K (was 8K when I first looked but seems to be creeping).

    So I am after a plasma screen (I will add a projector sometime later).
    A DVD player to drive this that can also give me good results with CDs and maybe DVD Audio when it is worth it.
    An amp to drive it all - ideally a receiver rather than separates for the sake of space, simplicity and functionality, but would consider separates if worth while.
    Then of course the seemingly hardest of the lot, speakers.

    What I have today:
    Denon AVR3300 Receiver.
    B&W 600 series speakers (602 front 601 rear matching centre - I forget the number)
    Rel Strata II sub
    Pioneer 525 DVD
    Sony 41 rear projection tv (it really is quite good before you all cast dispersions on it)

    What I have been pointed towards:
    Plasmas seem come down to Panasonic PW6 vs the Pioneer 434. I went to see them both in the same shop on Saturday but only had 15 minutes left before closing. I will have to go back for a longer look. They were using Lord of the Rings and my impression was the that Pioneer had better colour but the black and overall contrast of the Pannywas better. There was also a slight flicker on the PW6 whereas the 434 was rock solid. Both with DV88 plus via component. This view was brief so I am going back with the 5th Element as it has a variety of conditions for testing them. Bonus for the 434 is higher res and media box.

    DVD seems to come down to Denon 2900, Pioneer 757i and the Arcam DV88 plus. Everything points at the Arcam being the winner in quality for both DVD and CD. This is of course all ruined now with the impending arrival of the Pioneer 868 with HDMI.

    Amps start getting a little harder with contenders being the Pioneer 5axi or 10axi, Denon 11 or 1, Rotel receiver 1075?? or Rotel separates, Hardon Karmon receiver and of course the Arcam avr300. There is obviously two price points going on here and if I can get away with the £1500 one the great otherwise its a jump up to the £2500 one. Much difference? Only one person has had anything good to say about the Arcam AVR200 so mixed opinions about hopes for the AVR300. Main hope there is that with such poor sales of the AVR200 Arcam will make sure the 300 is right. If I go down the route of Pioneer screen and the 868 then the amp would look good and share the ilink connection but just read a thread that inferred that the denon a1 is clearer and has the slight edge over the 10axi. Is the 10axi worth it from the 5axi which in itself seems to be a 3axi with ilink.

    Speakers... how hard is this bit?? Almost ready to give up now! Obviously shops recommend their brands but this is what I found: Dynaudio audience could be a good bet clear and good range. M&K are the av speaker maker and nothing would be better. Now the man who doesn't sell them almost spat on me for mentioning them saying they are dreadful for hifi and I should choose hifi speakers and then add the matching surround speakers. He suggested I hear PMC FB1 and associated (transmission line – mixed thoughts here too) and some Ruark speakers for around £2K as well. Now I also note that many people posting here seem to have Kef Reference or Mission something or other. Very confused in this area as to what to even test. The PMC sub is £1500 and all other speakers are recommended with a Rel sub. Also they say mine is not that different to bother replacing. Oh this all started because I saw the B&W CM6 package - looked very nice, but alas I am told that they do not sound as good as they look.

    Of course another requirement is that it must all look good in my lounge!

    I know there is a lot here, but if you could even point me in the right direction for a few bits that would be very much appreciated.
    If I have missed something that would help shout and I will add the info. If you read this far then thanks for taking the time with this.

    Thanks in advance,

    Chris.
     
  2. hornydragon

    hornydragon
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  3. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Chris

    It would be useful if you told use what is wrong with your current setup and what areas you would like to improve. You say you want to 'take a relatively large step up from what I have today' but then go on to say you ideally a receiver rather than seperates, I'm a little out of touch with receivers but I would expect you would need to change to a seperate processor and amplifier to make your investment worthwhile.

    With regard to your list of DVD players, I've seen the Pioneer 757i and the Arcam DV88 plus in a side by side comparison. Not much in it but the Arcam had the edge in picture and audio, don't know whether the improvement over your existing player is worth paying for, you might get better value by keeping your existing player and buying a CD player. If you don't mind buying used kit you can get a CD capable of outperforming the Arcam for significantly less.
     
  4. cmoore

    cmoore
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    Thanks for your speedy replies...

    THe projector route is on hold for the time being due to the increased effort and cost. Plus the plasma will look really good on the wall.
    For the pipcture I want to get improved clarity and colour richness. So most things will be better, but having seen the HT200 with progressive on and off over the weekend, progressive is essential.
    I seldom listen to CDs to be fair but my current setup does not provide much clarity. I am using the 525 via optical to the amp so I am told it doesn't get much worse than that. So I am fairly sure all of the above will be better than what I have. I won't be going down the route of separate CD player as I think the money would be better spent elsewhere on the system for my usage.

    AV wise the improvement is again on clarity and range of sound. The friends system that I mentioned has such a clear and detailed sound. That said mine is good compared to most people's that aren't obsessed by it - not going to get something better from Dixons!
    The biggest question mark is going to be around the Amp and speakers I guess.
     
  5. hornydragon

    hornydragon
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    I would say in that case loook at 50" plasma pio or panny (6 series Hi def on its way! Amp Harman AVR4550 possibly with a power amp fpr the fronts and a HK DVD30 excellent Pal Prog player with DVD audio (compares very well with the much more expensive Arcam! speakers if you like the B&W sound stick with it! perhaps 800 series fronts and centre and some smaller rears, is 6.1 7.1 DVD-A SACD of interest or just Stereo and 5.1?
     
  6. cmoore

    cmoore
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    The 50" will blow the budgets and would be more than I need based on a projector in the future. The high def Panny sounds interesting though.. I will go look for it now. It is nice that the Pioneer can be used by a computer too although still don't understand why they have a 4:3 res for a 16:9 screen.

    I will also go read about the AVR4550 then and DVD30. I must say that, whilst not the most important thing, the Harman range was not the prettiest in the world.

    Also I thought the B&W 800 series would be too expensive so off I go for that too to get some prices.

    Budget seems to be turning out like:
    4K plasma
    1K dvd
    2K receiver
    2K speakers (5)
    1K sub

    these might need to go up or down a little.

    5.1 to start with but ability to goto 7.1 as this system must last for a while. I guess I should also consider prologic IIx (Arcam avr300).
    I have been told to bi-amp the front speakers from a 7.1 receiver if only using it in a 5.1 setup.
     
  7. dunkyboy

    dunkyboy
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    Your budget breakdown seems reasonable.

    Speaker-wise, you should try to get a demo of the ATC SCM-12s at £1K per pair. Get five of them for £2500 and partner them with a decent sub (Velodyne CHT-15, SVS, or perhaps MJ Reference 1 or REL Storm III if you need a bootiful box......) and a meaty amp (your choices so far sound good - have some demos and see what you like ;) ) and you'll have a hell of a system.

    Cheers,

    Dunc
     
  8. hornydragon

    hornydragon
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    I would spend less on DVD and more on speakers. £1000 for a DVD is over kill at the moment, Av-sales have the Hi def panny ~(or have seen it try liam).
    Harman have some limited edition silver units out at the moment 507 receiver and 506 DVD worth a sniff!
    (very limited supply though!)
    If PJ was going for the same room think now about cabling!!!! and kit location!
    I would change budget to:
    £4000 Plasma
    £2800 Speakers
    £1200 AMP/DVD
    £1000 SUB
    As laong as the amp has preouts you can add stand alone power amps for Front pair.
     
  9. YS-YS

    YS-YS
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    Plasma - Fujitsu 42" HHA £3700 from sevenoaks.
    DVD - Arcam DV88 +
    Amp - I dont like breaking up av systems untill you are spending a lot more than this, so I would go for a Denon A11 + Pure 701. or if you dont mind ex-display you could get the A1 for a little extra.
    Sub - Rel Q400 £1000
    Speakers -
    hmm speakers I personally like the sound of the Monitor Audio's
    so I would have S8, SLCR, S6 - £1650, push them a bit get it for £1500. or if you want more grab some G20's for the front.

    or dont :) but seriously check out the Fujitsu 42"HHA.
     
  10. Ian J

    Ian J
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    My suggestion is that having posted this question in Hifi systems it won't be reaching the widest of audiences.
     
  11. cmoore

    cmoore
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    So where would you suggest posting it?
     
  12. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Now that you have a rough idea of the budget split I would suggest that you ask for suggestions on each component from the respective forum. This specific forum was set up for two channel discussion and many plasma experts won't venture down this far.
     
  13. cmoore

    cmoore
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    ok thanks, I will do as you suggest and split it into smaller questions in the respective forums.

    Thanks,

    Chris.
     
  14. pwiles1968

    pwiles1968
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    You could always move your B&W 600's to back for rear and centre rear duties and look higher up the B&W range for the front and centre, the 700 or HTM series if you can find them, the tonal match front to rear should be close enough, may make budget go a bit further.

    CDM9 or 703 + HTM2 + ASW 700 or 750, this will come in around your budget and if you buy them together I'm sure you would get a bit off or at least some decent cable thrown in.
     
  15. CrispyXUK

    CrispyXUK
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    I would recommend the Ruark Contemperary II Series Speakers which can be had at around 2K which are excellent at Music & Movies, Skip M&K imho are way overpriced but admitadly good at movies.

    (Come January, I can complete my Ruark's by getting those rather lovely Prologues :))
     
  16. rags

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    With 10k at hand I would go for the following with the proviso that anything you choose should be demo'd first to ensure that you are happy with it -

    - Plasma - Pioneer 434 - GBP3,650

    - DVD player - Pioneer 668 with HDMI - for now just use your existing player - GBP700

    - Front speakers - BW Nautilus 805 for fronts and HTM2 Centre - GBP2000 with some discount

    - Rear speakers - some decent tripoles or dipoles - say GBP400 or if your into multichannel music get a pair of direct radiating speakers - maybe 601's.

    - Processor - a second hand one - Lexicon MC1, Meridian, TAG, AV8 - say GBP1600.

    - Power amp - New Rotel 1095 - GBP1550 with some discount.

    - Dont bother changing the sub as it's good enough for now.


    Well thats about 10K in all so you have no money left for cabling, stands etc :blush:

    If you dont care about music much try the MK 850 series or their pro range - imho better than the 805's for movies but not too great with stereo. I have also heard the kef ref standmount speakers running off a Lexicon MC8 and they are also very good but a tad more expensive. Oh I just reread your original post - movies is your main priority. Regarding DVD players dont spend any more money that GBP700 - even thats probably too much - sure the Arcam 88 plus or a DV27 will sound better with cd's but imho a GBP400 or less dedicated cd player will sound better than an DV88 and you can always add this later if the Pioneer or whatever does not satisfy your stereo needs.

    Demo anything you buy dont demo too many things - select a few items from each category and choose from them - if you listen to 15 sets of speakers it will just lead to confusion and given the likely time difference between your fist demo and the last it might end up being a pointless comparison. Also try and buy in steps rather than all in one go but this way you might lose some discount.

    Sorry about the GBP stuff but my shift and ctrl keys seem to have stopped working suddenly and I cant seem to being them back to life :confused: :mad:
     
  17. cmoore

    cmoore
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    Excellent information...

    thanks for your time on this. I am now considering keeping my 601 rears, centre and sub and maybe just getting the 603 or 604 for the front.

    Will wait for a couple of weeks to see the Pioneer 868 for the HDMI link to the 434. I can then compare that directly with the Panasonic pw6b as they have them both in my local shop.

    Interesting that people keep mentioning the Kefs... will have to go try some.

    thanks again,

    Chris.
     

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