How my recent Home Cinema upgrade/downgrade went...

jon smith

Prominent Member
Not sure which forum to put this in (plumped for this one as most of the umming and aahing and looking for equipment was done in the amp forum)...

The thing that started me off was the thought to go back to basics and get away from all the different formats. Been meaning to write this review for a while, but never got round to it. Have written it in a rush today, even though I’m not in a particularly lucid mood. Hopefully it will make sense.

What I had…
Marantz 7200 (sold for £350)
Mission FS2 AV (sold for £250)
Pioneer 737 (sold for £300)

I loved the look and ease of use of the Marantz, but always though my system lacked bite. So, starting toying with the idea of selling my stuff and getting an older flagship amp, a Yamaha DSPA1 or a big Denon. It was Bapapapa who put me on the trail of a power amp, an idea I initially dismissed. Saw a Rotel 985MK2 for £350 on ebay and then decided to give it a try, despite some reservations.

For the decoding side of things, I thought of the Yamaha DSPE800 (to keep DTS), but kept coming back to the Sony 9ES DD decoder which I remember getting rave review when it came out. Can only do digital sources, so I’ll need an analogue to digital converter for connecting TV, but I can live with that. Flimber managed to track a near mint one of these for me. Not as user friendly as the Marantz (there’s no standby button for starters).

The speaker change was a difficult one. I live in a flat and considered the Mission FS2AV perfect for my needs. I had an agreement with my lady that I would go for speakers that can go on the wall. Thought about the Gallo balls, but eventually decided on the old favourite Kef Eggs. Bought a cheapie sub off the AV Forums for £90 (an old Yamaha upright model as it suits the room more) and everything was set. I’m glad I went with the Eggs as they had been a possible at the time I bought the Missions. The Mission package is good for what it does, but the Eggs are much better. The FS2 sound does grow on you, but the dispersion of all 5 speakers always bugged me, when DD came out it was supposed to offer pinpoint sounds and I agree with that, I like to know where sounds are coming from.

Then saw an Arcam DV88 on the forums for £390 and got that as well. Had upgraded everything else, so thought why not. Is much better than my beloved Pioneer for CD and is an excellent DVD player. Am hoping to get a projector when I move (currently have the 43 inch Tosh forum favourite)

What I have now…
Rotel 985MK2 - £350 (off ebay, mint condition)
Sony 9ES Dolby Digital decoder - £100 off a dealer (again, mint condition).
Kef Eggs (without sub) - £450
Yamaha Sub - £90 (2nd hand off the AV Forums)
Arcam DV 88 - £390 (2nd hand off dvdforums)

In the end, I pretty much changed every component on the audio side. I lost DTS, DPL2 & DD EX - I can do stereo, pro logic and Dolby Digital and that's it. I sold my older stuff for £900 (plus got £90 for an old CD player) and bought the new system for under £1400, so wasn’t much of a burden financially.

The quality of Dolby Digital is sensational, significantly better than my old Marantz. I really don’t even miss DTS or DLP2 (I thought I would miss DLP2 especially). I’ve made many upgrades over the last 5 years, most of them particular pointless – to gain an extra format here or there or to simply buy new stuff. Going back to basics has taught me a valuable lesson about what I want out of Home Cinema. This is the happiest I’ve been with my system since I first had an AC3 decoder.

Ian J

Ex Member
I also sold my all singing all dancing Marantz amp for an older but much better Denon AVC10SE without amplification for the centre rears or PL2 for a net investment of £200

I can live without PL2 and although I still have DTS I could live without that as well.


You also have a more flexible, (upgradable), system now, the weakest piece beeing the sub, then the AV when you feel the need for DTS, or DPLII, or more convinience, or whatever...


Established Member
I wonder what your Marantz would have sounded like with the Rotel amp. Did you try this?That way you could have kept all the new formats, or does the Sony have much better DD decoder(s)?

I shan't be upgrading to 6.1/7.1/10.1 but I'd find it hard to go without DPL2

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