Help with Upgrade path

Medders

Novice Member
Hi All,

Ive had a good search around for help but I'm still a little unsure of the right path to take so I'm looking for some advice please.

I built myself a dedicated cinema room (approx 8m x 7m) and am looking to upgrade and improve the audio side
The AV kit was put together on a budget and a mish mash of kit I already had which consists of a Denon AVR-x2400 receiver, kef Q fronts, a boston centre and mission surrounds (with a BK monolith sub). I'm running 7.1 currently .
I'm having to run the amp volume pretty hard to get reasonable volume and I'm sure that not right? (80 - 85 on the display depending upon source)
I also want to go to 7.1.4 in the near future.

I've been looking at Denon AVC-6700 and 8500 but have been investigating something like a denon 3700 coupled with a 3 channel power amp (Emotiva 3 channel for LCR or similar and let the AVC control everything else)

I plan to upgrade my LCR very soon to but I'm interested in the path. 90% movies and 10% music.

Would appreciate your insight into my path and options (amp or speakers first upgrade and amp choice?) Part of my problem is that I'm not sure what impact of amp upgrade will have on my current setup. If I go to a avc-x6700 will I get substantially higher sound levels? Power comparisons in specs seem to be a numbers game from what I read, and I'm worried that I'm going to be disappointed after spending £1500+ on an amp!

Thanks in advance
 

gibbsy

Moderator
There is a fair difference in performance and components used in the X6700 over the X3700 sibling. The price reflects that difference and with film the X6700 (I have the X6500) is a very good performer. Depending on the size of your room and the speakers of choice you may not need a power amp unless you are wanting to drive a full thirteen speaker set up.

If you are going to use the Denon for a fair amount of music then again the X6700 is the better performer stereo wise, but not stella. The X6700 is acceptable depending on your expectations. In a case like this then, certainly true of the X3700, an integrated stereo amp with HT by-pass would be the choice for music whilst also acting as a front pair power amp for film and TV.

Looking at your front three you certainly need to improve the soundstage, mixing and matching is never going to sound great. Nothing wrong with the KEFs and you could stick with KEF and move the old(?) Q series to surround duties.

If you're going to get the X6700 then don't skimp on that front soundstage, you'll regret it. I'd spend the budget for a power amp or integrated amp on those speakers and then decide on a power amp in the future should you find out you need one.

Post up a diagram, with dimensions of your room, that would be most helpful. If you're talking about amps and speakers then this question may be better of in the home cinema building threads and I can move it to there is you wish.
 

Mr Wolf

Well-known Member
That's a very large room - assuming 2.4m ceilings that's just over 4700Ft3. Most people on this forum have rooms less than half that size.

IMO, in a room like that (I had an even larger one in my last home in Australia) the most critical thing to get right is the speakers, especially those on the front sound stage. Whatever you use to power them you will need efficient speakers that can produce a lot of sound energy. In my situation I was strongly recommended by my dealer to go with towers with multiple 6.5" drivers and a twin 6.5" driver centre. You cannot just go by speaker sensitivity ratings as they only represent SPL output on axis based on a fixed voltage (not watts) and do not consider all radiated sound energy.

Going from a X2400 to a X6700 (or Emotiva BasX A3) might get you an extra 2dB at most in SPL whereas choosing the right speakers could get you over 6dB more, plus they will likely sound better.

Which specific KEF Q and Boston models are your current LCR speakers?

EDIT: I just realised that your 80dB volume is equivalent to 1dB below reference. If your system is calibrated by Audyssey to 0dB volume being reference then you are likely to be overdriving that AVR. I suggest you switch to the relative (to reference) volume scale in the AVR and, if you have one, check with an SPL meter that the test tones read 75dB at 0dB volume. That way, we can start to know what you're actually listening at.
 
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Medders

Novice Member
That's a very large room - assuming 2.4m ceilings that's just over 4700Ft3. Most people on this forum have rooms less than half that size.

IMO, in a room like that (I had an even larger one in my last home in Australia) the most critical thing to get right is the speakers, especially those on the front sound stage. Whatever you use to power them you will need efficient speakers that can produce a lot of sound energy. In my situation I was strongly recommended by my dealer to go with towers with multiple 6.5" drivers and a twin 6.5" driver centre. You cannot just go by speaker sensitivity ratings as they only represent SPL output on axis based on a fixed voltage (not watts) and do not consider all radiated sound energy.

Going from a X2400 to a X6700 (or Emotiva BasX A3) might get you an extra 2dB at most in SPL whereas choosing the right speakers could get you over 6dB more, plus they will likely sound better.

Which specific KEF Q and Boston models are your current LCR speakers?

EDIT: I just realised that your 80dB volume is equivalent to 1dB below reference. If your system is calibrated by Audyssey to 0dB volume being reference then you are likely to be overdriving that AVR. I suggest you switch to the relative (to reference) volume scale in the AVR and, if you have one, check with an SPL meter that the test tones read 75dB at 0dB volume. That way, we can start to know what you're actually listening at.
Thanks for the reply - I have some old Kef Q55.2 and the boston VR12. I was looking at replacing them with something like the Q950 and a 650c centre. I don't have an SPL meter I'm afraid!
Are you thinking I should upgrade my speakers first?
 

Medders

Novice Member
There is a fair difference in performance and components used in the X6700 over the X3700 sibling. The price reflects that difference and with film the X6700 (I have the X6500) is a very good performer. Depending on the size of your room and the speakers of choice you may not need a power amp unless you are wanting to drive a full thirteen speaker set up.

If you are going to use the Denon for a fair amount of music then again the X6700 is the better performer stereo wise, but not stella. The X6700 is acceptable depending on your expectations. In a case like this then, certainly true of the X3700, an integrated stereo amp with HT by-pass would be the choice for music whilst also acting as a front pair power amp for film and TV.

Looking at your front three you certainly need to improve the soundstage, mixing and matching is never going to sound great. Nothing wrong with the KEFs and you could stick with KEF and move the old(?) Q series to surround duties.

If you're going to get the X6700 then don't skimp on that front soundstage, you'll regret it. I'd spend the budget for a power amp or integrated amp on those speakers and then decide on a power amp in the future should you find out you need one.

Post up a diagram, with dimensions of your room, that would be most helpful. If you're talking about amps and speakers then this question may be better of in the home cinema building threads and I can move it to there is you wish.
Thanks for replying - I'm looking at the newer KEF's for LCR (Q950 + 650c)
Not knowing the real world difference between my 2400 and a 6700 is worrying me though. If the 6700 wasnt 'loud enough' (whatever that means!) and I added the amp afterwards - its a big cash jump over a 3700 and an amp. Equally though, if a 6700 is sufficient, I dont need the power amp!

The room in question is 6m x 7m rectangle. Screen on one 6m wall, seating 1m off the the back wall.
 

Mr Wolf

Well-known Member
Thanks for the reply - I have some old Kef Q55.2 and the boston VR12. I was looking at replacing them with something like the Q950 and a 650c centre. I don't have an SPL meter I'm afraid!
Are you thinking I should upgrade my speakers first?
Actually those speakers should be fine to be going on with as they all use 6.5" drivers, are 91dB sensitivity and 8-Ohm rated so they should be easy to drive for your AVR.

With these speakers I really can't work out why you would be at -1dB below reference and suspect that in practice you will not be, most people listen below -10dB and that's still very loud. You can download an SPL meter app and use your phone (or a tablet) to measure the 75dB test tones. It won't be as accurate but it's better than nothing.

How far is the listening seat from the front three speakers?

Your X2400 outputs 95W/channel. This table shows you what additional amplifier power might bring you. X6700 is 140W/channel so 1.7dB more which is a 12% increase in perceived loudness. BasX A3 is 150W/channel so still only 3dB more and 15% louder.


1642266366500.png
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
I'll always defer to @Mr Wolf when it comes to power need to fill a room. Your X2400 is going to struggle somewhat and it would be interesting if you could say at what level you comfortably listen to by changing from the absolute scale to the dB scale. You'll find that under Settings>Audio>Volume>Scale. You'll need to change it from the default 0-98.

I think we both suspect that you are running somewhere above the reference 75dB. An X6700 will give you some more headroom and the new Q Series have a sensitivity of 87dB across the range, that's mid territory when it comes to sensitivity. With the X6700 it does have a very good power supply and will rarely run out of puff even with all 13 channels being driven in an average sized room, which yours is certainly above.

You certainly have the room for a more than adequate 7.2.4. Most important thing is getting the speakers right. All Denon amps from the X3700 upwards can easily have power amps added and this will make no difference to the wiring of the speakers per se.
 

Medders

Novice Member
Actually those speakers should be fine to be going on with as they all use 6.5" drivers, are 91dB sensitivity and 8-Ohm rated so they should be easy to drive for your AVR.

With these speakers I really can't work out why you would be at -1dB below reference and suspect that in practice you will not be, most people listen below -10dB and that's still very loud. You can download an SPL meter app and use your phone (or a tablet) to measure the 75dB test tones. It won't be as accurate but it's better than nothing.

How far is the listening seat from the front three speakers?

Your X2400 outputs 95W/channel. This table shows you what additional amplifier power might bring you. X6700 is 140W/channel so 1.7dB more which is a 12% increase in perceived loudness. BasX A3 is 150W/channel so still only 3dB more and 15% louder.


View attachment 1637088
That table is very interesting thank you. I’ve changed the volume setting and loaded bladerunner 2049. Turned the volume up to -1.5db which seemed about right. No idea what this scale means though? Is that driving the amp too hard?

Thanks again for helping
 

Mr Wolf

Well-known Member
The volume scale is supposed to depict the playback level relative to cinema reference, at level at which you might experience 105dB dynamic peaks from the LCR speakers when watching movies. This however only works if your AVR has been calibrated properly and you're playing a source which outputs reference level. In the home, reference sources are usually only disc media, not streaming or broadcast TV. For example, the highest volume I might use with a reference mastered source (e.g. a TrueHD Blu-ray) is -15dB but to get some streaming sources to sound as loud as that I might have to push it to -9dB.

Back to your system, listening at -1dB would be unbearably loud for most people if their systems were calibrated correctly and playing a reference source - the maximum dynamic peaks from the movies would be >114dB from the sub and >104dB from the speakers. A Denon X2400 is unlikely to have enough power to support this listening level other than in a tiny room. This is why I think something is out here.

A clue to having the speakers mis-calibrated in this way would be that the channels trim levels are all negative - what are they?

So, as I said above, I would check the speaker calibration with the AVR's test tones and an SPL meter (use phone App if necessary). I would also check in the AVR's set-up menu that the digital volume trim level for your audio source is at a neutral (0db) position - if it's negative this could also cause this issue.

Unless and until you you know the volume level you're actually listening at it's hard to say what you might gain from adding more amplifier power. You may need a lot more or you may need none. If you're really at -1dB (which I doubt highly) you will need more power in your sized room and more than an X6700 could deliver.
 

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