Hi-Fi or Home Theatre?

Flip3seven

Novice Member
I’m torn between wanting a good stereo hi-fi for music and a 3.1 home theatre system. I understand I can have both if I buy an AVR with pre-outs for a stereo amp but I'd be paying for twice the number of channels than I actually want/need. Alternatively, I could just buy a good stereo amp and do away with the centre channel for TV audio but I’m not sure if I could live with that compromise or maybe it won’t be as bad as I think?….

Is there a good AVR that will do both or will a dedicated stereo amp always be better than a multi channel AVR for music?
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Something like Yamaha RX-A4A should sound very enjoyable both music and movies if you have quality speakers. It`s a 7.2 receiver so can do 5.1.2 but also 3.2.2 to my knowledge so front three, dual subs, overhead/upfiring/front height channels for atmos if you can`t add surround l/r. Naturally you need hefty budget for all as the unit costs 1300£ lowest.

Another alternative is to buy cheaper receiver like Yamaha RX-V6A and later add integrated stereo amp like popular Audiolab 6000A (with HT Bypass) as this Yamaha model has preouts for fronts. It`s on par with Denon X2700H. Build the system slowly without compromising the speaker/sub side too much. It´s not like the RX-V6A would sound horrible with music. Take those comments with grain of salt as people are often comparing them to expensive stereo amps.


Read the A2A review as it`s almost identical to RX-V6A. Steve W. said:

"The two channel delivery is particularly strong with some excellent stereo imaging and placement of instruments. The detail retrieval is impressive, and the overall soundstage is especially well defined. When you combine this musicality with both MusicCast and Hi-Res audio support, the result is a very effective network audio player.".

Naturally there will be enough power for your usage so don`t worry about those comments. Steve is testing the Yamaha in dedicated room at higher levels and is used to 4000-5000£ components so it´s not suprising this lacks bit of horsepower to those.

 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
Home cinema really needs surround sound. 3.1 isn't bad and for TV and series where not fussed about surround say friends it's fine. But for movies you nreally need at least 4.1
 

gibbsy

Moderator
For a better stereo music performance an integrated stereo amp is going to be far better than an AV amp of the same price. Home cinema really does need a minimum of 5.1 to give you more enjoyable and enveloping audio experience. With 3.1 your really just adding a centre speaker when a stereo front soundstage will really do just as well.
 

Marshall Mike

Well-known Member
I’m torn between wanting a good stereo hi-fi for music and a 3.1 home theatre system. I understand I can have both if I buy an AVR with pre-outs for a stereo amp but I'd be paying for twice the number of channels than I actually want/need. Alternatively, I could just buy a good stereo amp and do away with the centre channel for TV audio but I’m not sure if I could live with that compromise or maybe it won’t be as bad as I think?….

Is there a good AVR that will do both or will a dedicated stereo amp always be better than a multi channel AVR for music?
I have a NAD AVR which is very enjoyable with music, but they aren’t cheap unfortunately and if you aren’t interested in anything beyond 3.1, I would invest the money in the best stereo amp and speakers I could get my hands on. The stereo speakers will give a phantom centre speaker effect which will not be as bad as you think.

If you give an idea of budget the guys will be able to give you some good options.
 

Hoku

Active Member
Personally I think with that budget you’d be better sticking to a solid stereo amp, albeit one with a subwoofer output and ideally some sort of bass management so you can set the crossover. That’ll give you the extra welly for movies and will take a little of the strain from your amp and main speakers.

If you want good music performance from an AV receiver, it is possible, but the most renowned brands for music (Anthem, Arcam & NAD) are pretty expensive.

Each option has its own pros and cons, so you whichever you choose, you just need to have your eyes open.

2 channel won’t typically have the flexibility of an AVR, so you won’t be able to tweak the settings for the dialogue for example. My own AVR can flip between 2.0, 2.1 & 5.1 on the fly so I can squeeze the best from whatever source I’m watching/listening to. But a solid 2 channel system can sound great for TV viewing, especially the BBC which only broadcasts in 2 channel anyway.

But for really satisfying musical performance, AVR’s will be around £2.5k and up. And as AV receivers are pretty expensive right now, they’re not particularly good value.

So at your budget, I’d stick to 2-channel. Just be content with the things it won’t be able to do, but revel in its 2-channel performance.

Can I ask, what’s the size of your room?

So you have a preference for standmounted speakers or floorstanders?

Have you heard any systems yet that you like the sound of?

Please don’t pull the trigger based on our recommendations. Please make sure you demo first.
 

Jester1066

Well-known Member
Hi

I've read both this and your "Home Theatre" thread. Is there a particular reason for appearing to not what to have a full 5.1 speaker set? Is placement of rears a factor in the decision for example.

I note you say your listening split is 70 too 30 (favouring music). If that's the case, as other have said a good stereo amp, speakers and sub ,(eg 2.1) would probably suit better.

Thanks for all your advice so far. My budget is about £1800 and I’d like a stereo amp with Airplay 2
Is this for amp and speakers or just the amp?

Edit: I also echo everything @Hoku says above. We were cross posting at the same time 😂😉
 

Flip3seven

Novice Member
The room isn’t really suited to a 5.1 setup for positioning and routing cables and I don’t watch many movies to warrant surround. The room is about 5m width x 5.5m length but is open plan with the kitchen, so about 9.3m total length.

I don’t have any audio yet other than the wall mounted TV, so the £1.8k budget would be for receiver/amp, front speakers and sub. I would prefer floor standing speakers but haven’t heard anything yet.

Hopefully once I’ve decided what I need/want, I’ll get a demo arranged
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
What about wall mount speakers like dali Oberon for surround
 

ShanePJ

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
I feel, moving to a stereo amp and looking at one which offers you a future option if you change your mind with adding an avr for 5.1 (as you are aware it's HTBYPASS). Also ensure the stereo amp you are looking at has its own built in DAC with a couple of optical inputs enable you to connect a TV and anything else

I would point you in the direction of AudioLab, something like the 6000A. I know it doesn't have airplay, but you can bluetooth or maybe look at adding another solution to the amp.

The other thing I would say is when choosing your speakers, make sure they offer both good stereo ability (for your ears) plus a surround sound speaker options to keeping that avenue open to you

Universal speakers which work well in both areas

Speakers like Acoustic Energy AE120 where you could add a AE107 which would then keep all options on the table

With your TV hookup, just ensure it has an optical output plus it can run PCM Stereo via that connection. After that, the AudioLab would take care of the speakers to create a convincing soundstage and if you did feel that you wanted to run down the cinema sound experience, you simply have to add the right toys in the future and in reality as you already own the main parts for musical ability, swallowing the hit on a cinema avr and additional speakers shouldn't be as hard to pallet
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
There are two trains of thought, or really 2.5

1) AV system with avr, AV pre, or those plus stereo integrated or stereo pre
2) hifi system, analogue pre or integrated. No dac, no optical, no hdmi
2.5) as above but with dac, hdmi built in

If you only plan on audio sources like tape, cd, records then 2) is fine however if you plan to have a stereo video system then you want a stereo integrated/stereo pre with dac/optical/hdmi inputs. It won't have DD/DTS/hd decoding and downsizing to stereo nor bass management but it'll allow you to connect BD player via hdmi to Pass video and receive audio.


Best think what you want because if you want good sound from hdmi sources in 2.5) then a lot of hassle and also impractical because if you split hdmi video your source may not have legacy digital out coaxial/optical so you're stuffed.

Ignoring sound quality a avr is better option when it comes to stereo or 2.1 video system.

Adding hdmi to the hifi isn't that simple..i
 

ShanePJ

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Adding hdmi to the hifi isn't that simple..i
Or that important either, so don't get beaten up by HDMI as it's just not important enough in the 2 channel world. All it offers is convenience in my opinion
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
Or that important either, so don't get beaten up by HDMI as it's just not important enough in the 2 channel world. All it offers is convenience in my opinion

I mean hdmi into a hifi system, due to sources or Panasonic 450. It has hdmi out but no optical/coaxial. So you couldn't wire it to regularly dac to get better sound..and in hifi with no hdmi then stuck.

On my opinion

Stereo sources- cd, tape, squeezebox, records, day, tuner, minidisc - ok to have hifi with stereo pre or stereo integrated.

AV system- once add video sources, hdmi, with DD/DTS/hd/4k/Atmos/HDR/dtx, bass management,.room correction, then get avr or similar, even if only having stereo speakers
 

ShanePJ

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
I mean hdmi into a hifi system, due to sources or Panasonic 450. It has hdmi out but no optical/coaxial. So you couldn't wire it to regularly dac to get better sound..and in hifi with no hdmi then stuck.
This needs to go into the TV and then the TV will output it via the optical connection. Again, the setting need to be set within it to make it work correctly as you don't want the TV having its pennies worth

If the OP is looking to double it up as a CD player to, then I really suggest upgrading it in truth and getting one with more connections for this usage to make it fit
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
This needs to go into the TV and then the TV will output it via the optical connection. Again, the setting need to be set within it to make it work correctly as you don't want the TV having its pennies worth

If the OP is looking to double it up as a CD player to, then I really suggest upgrading it in truth and getting one with more connections for this usage to make it

That's if the TV has optical out. I've used avr in system upstairs that had stereo speakers, I had consoles, pc, so avr helped far easier...before I had stereo integrated so had to mess around with hdmi switch, then use a dac.... it was over complicated
Like I said stick with pure 2ch hifi if sources will always be stereo audio only devices but if any chance using video sources then get avr.
 

ShanePJ

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
There are many ways round it. I use a PC for music and movies. I use an external DAC with a USB cable for the stereo side and HDMI for the films into my AVR

If you want to make it work, you will always find a way that best suits yourself

In reality, nothing is that hard with the exception of wanting the latest HDMI connections within a stereo product that in reality can produce fine musical abilities. The only product that comes close is the Marantz NR1200 which is in truth is an avr trimmed down NR1711
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
You would at least need latest 2.0 hdmi switch with legacy optical/coaxial out in hifi system.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
The majority of modern TV's have Optical Out allowing you to use an AV Source(s) > TV via HDMI then Optical Out of the TV to a Stereo Amp with Digital Input and connect any 'HiFi' Sources direct to the analogue Inputs on the Stereo Amp.

I use a variation on that theme with a Yamaha WXC-50 Pre-amp/Streamer feeding a couple of small power amps which then drive the Loudspeakers.

Joe
 

Flip3seven

Novice Member
The TV does have an optical output to run stereo PCM. The only audio source at present would ideally be via Airplay and it would be useful if I could add a sub……
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Many Stereo Amps with a Digital Input will have a dedicated Sub Output - for any Stereo Amp which lacks a Sub Output you can add a Sub with High Level (Speaker) level connections such as those provided by BK Electronics.

Joe
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
But if you just want to listen to video source with audio only your TV needs to be on

Lol.
 

kenshingintoki

Distinguished Member
2 channel vs 3 channel is hugely dependant on if your main listening position is in the middle of the two speakers or if any of your seating is skewed far more towards one speaker than the other.

If you're bang in the middle, you can get away with stereo for films. If you're not, a centre channel is great at anchoring the sound where it should be.

However if you have 4 seats and 2 of them are quite close to the L/R more than the other, then a 3 channel is better.
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
2 channel vs 3 channel is hugely dependant on if your main listening position is in the middle of the two speakers or if any of your seating is skewed far more towards one speaker than the other.

If you're bang in the middle, you can get away with stereo for films. If you're not, a centre channel is great at anchoring the sound where it should be.

However if you have 4 seats and 2 of them are quite close to the L/R more than the other, then a 3 channel is better.

Bass managment is useful also, integrating subwoofer into hifi is far more difficult plus issue with full range speaker signal, whether or not speaker are or not, time alignment etc.

And lfe signal will be lost.

Useful if Stereo amp has high pass some do like outlaw. Not common though, or get outlaw ICBM
 

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