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How would you marry hifi musical reproduction and home cinema worlds?

cribeiro

Novice Member
Hi!
I am getting more and more interested in the above question... More in detail, the point is how would you get, spending as little as possible, an audio reproduction system that gives all required when playing music, in the good audiophile sense, and makes you dive into a movie when watching your preferred dvd's.
As far as I have learnt, many approaches are possible, and the point is which will balance better the "price to performance" relation. Of course, we are talking about some good thousands of euros, which can be invested in several ways: AV all-round very good receiver plus a very good good all-round multiplayer, plus 5.1 (say we limit to 5.1 speakers, which is the most common today) speakers; or a cheaper AV amp and DVD player, and a good Stereo amp and cd player, with same 5.1? Or Two completely separate stereo and AV systems? Do you have any other combination? Of course, any of them in the same budget!

My experience is that movies do not require a great level of accuracy, just a "fair" reproduction is enough, but when it comes to music, then it is another story... I feel I could live with my present entry level home hifi/home cinema* for movies (and all needed improvement would be a big screen... maybe a better dvd player, also, if the big screen shows my present limitations), but I am willing to get something better for stereo. Actually, I am tempted to get complete separate stereo and av systems... But that is so uncomfortable!
What would be, then, your solution?


edit: didn't know where to post this... Moderators, sorry if you have to bother moving it to the right forum!

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* sony cdp530,yamaha rx-v530, cheapish dvd player, 4 magnat entry hifi floorstanders, magnat average sub, magnat center. This last one a little better than the floorstanders, but with good tonal matching.
 
S

SKA.face

Guest
I guess it depends on someones circumstances,the budget and space,so for many it would be a compromise.

I'm lucky enough to be able to keep the two seperate,my main intrest is in 2-Channel Hi-Fi,so my budget is spent there,and I keep it in a second room,Then on the weekends when I like to relax to see a DVD, I will use the very modest A/V system downstairs.
 

General Skanky

Well-known Member
I've just been through the same thing.

Separate kit for both wondering how to merge.

My hifi used to be based around a Densen Beat amp, Celestion A1 speakers and various CD players.

AV was integrated amps to pre/power, including Yamaha, Harman Kardan and Primare with various speakers up to a KEF Ref system.

In the end I sold the lot once I'd heard active speakers.

I now have ATC 20s and 10s for surround, subwoofer to come. An Arcam DV27 which is an awesome DVD/CD player and temporarily a Yamaha E800 AV processor. I aim to eventually add a good sub and upgrade the Yamaha to either an Arcam AV8 or Naim AV2. Both are superlative units in their own way imho, and it'd give me the best of both worlds considering cost vrs sound vrs hifi vrs AV.

I've been through a lot of changes, expense and frustration to get to this point.

My only advice if you go down the same road is demo like mad and do it properly! Otherwise you'll never be quite happy and will be changing/upgrading again.

Spending the money now rather than skirting round the problem will absolutely save you money in the long run. And one or two grey hairs.:)
 

alexs2

Well-known Member
I know the system I'd have to do both properly,but I also know that affording it would be another matter.

I'm quite sure you can put together a system that will do both to reference quality levels,but as I said,price will be the problem!
 

MartinImber

Active Member
For joint systems - spend the money on the stereo pair speakers
 

Hawklord

Well-known Member
After getting my av set up sorted I did the following to integrate a good hifi system for music listening:-

1) Bought a good deignated cd player for music rather than using a dvdp. The difference was considerable even with a budget cdp over a fairly expensive dvdp.
2) Bought a good pair of Floorstanding/standmount speakers and matching centre.
3) Bought an integrated amp with an av in so the reciever can control the gain during listening to movie sound tracks and improve stereo performance whilst listening to music.
4) Added a power amp to bi-wire the floorstanding speakers to give better stereo performance.

Obviously what you buy is dependant on what your prepared to spend, size of room and sound character you prefer but you can get very good results with a limited budget. You just have to find the best sound to your ear at the price your prepared to spend.
 

Daneel

Active Member
cribeiro you have pretty much described exactly how I feel. My film performance is just fine apart from the sub but music is another matter. I think by buying good fronts I've taken a big step towards good hi-fi sound but at this point I think my Pionner is the limiting factor. The thing is I get the feeling I need to spend a hell of a lot on an pre/pro to get it to do good 2 channel. Until I get a dedicated room for the system, which is some years off, I feel that EQ is nessesary. That adds another big chunk on to the price of the pre/pro.

I'm getting there, one step at a time. My original budget for the system has been blown many times over already. This has become way more expensive than I anticipated.
 

suzywong

Standard Member
we don't compromise, look at the profile below, we have two separate systems in the lounge. The Linn stereo system is for absolute sound quality, the Meridian surround is for bangs & slams for the movies.

The upside: superb sound for both applications.

The downside: 7 speakers, 20 electronics boxes, and the lounge looks like a hifi dealer's shop!!!

All this is feasible as I'm married to a lady who is as passionate about sound/video quality as I am (she buys Linn Isobariks for fun!). I don't think that there are many partners who would put up with the clutter (note: I'm in no way denigrading the ladies with this last statement!).
 

Hawklord

Well-known Member
Originally posted by suzywong
we don't compromise
Very nice if you can afford it;)

it'll be some time before I'll be able to even think about upgrading my system any time soon. I've just about reached the level I'm prepared to spend and you can too easily get carried away with upgraditis taking a hold:(
I've spent a few pennies getting to where I am currently with my last purchase only being a couple of weeks ago.
Now's the time to sit back and ENJOY what I've got I feel. You can sometimes lose sight of what you have got when looking at what you Would like:devil:

It certainly is an enjoyable hobby though:thumbsup:
 

suzywong

Standard Member
Originally posted by Hawklord
Very nice if you can afford it;)
It certainly is an enjoyable hobby though:thumbsup:
It's taken Sue & me twenty years to get here!!!!

but, as you say, enjoyable
 

Hawklord

Well-known Member
Originally posted by suzywong
It's taken Sue & me twenty years to get here!!!!

but, as you say, enjoyable
I don't suppose you've got a Linn Tune box lying around collecting dust:kisses:

I will eventually get around to trying to make my Ninka's active and one would come in handy:D

worth a try:blush:
 

suzywong

Standard Member
Afraid not...but, my boy. . I can do you a nice pair of old Isobariks, lovely runners, two careful owners (last owners: much loved for 16 years and replaced by the only existing speakers that are better....Active Isobariks *), and taking up space in the front conservatory.....and I've been given permission to use the proceeds from the sale of said items to.....buy more HIFI! Yes!!

< very big grin> (coz I don't know how to insert those smilies that all the other "cleverer b**gers than me" on this most excellent forum can do!)


* OK, I admit to a slight bias in this statement <grin>
 

Hawklord

Well-known Member
If you hit the post reply button instead of writing in the box at the bottom of the page all the smiles are available. Just click the one you want:)
 

buns

Banned
I pretty much started out with this same idea. I came from hifi and moved into cinema so i started out by adding odds and ends, integrated amps and using preouts for fronts. A real hash of bits and bobs to get it to work.

At that time, really the only thing of substance was the celestion A1 speakers at the front 2 and an exotic high end korato pre/power amp. So from there really only 2 choices, stick with it, or do as General Skanky and change it all. I went the opposite route to him and now I have 5 main channels, all celestion A1 speaker (given these were on clearance, i got them just over half price for most part, this speaker system will kill anything else i could have got with the money) and as I could afford, I upgraded the power to them, so now I have the gorgeous koratos powering all channels. So the result, serously good stereo from high end speakers and possibly the best partner to them I can possibly imagine in the korato amps. Then to cinema, a totally uniform sound field. Tonally, everything is perfect (which very very few people here can boast :p) and it is all one, in other words the stereo pair 100% blend with the other channels. They are not stronger, nor are they weaker. On speaker and amp front, I can think of few better ways to get marriage of hifi and cinema. To the point now, they will never split up. If they are ever to be sold, it will be a package.

Unfortunately the source sonic havent been so hot! Im son to be moving to an arcam dv27 to hopefully start making amends

all the best

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cribeiro

Novice Member
Ok, let's sum up...

First, if you have the money and the room, the best is to have two dedicated systems in separate rooms. Period.

Second, if you don have the room, then keep them in the same room, but separated hifi and av stuff.

One step down is to start mixing both... First of all, using the same speakers. If you have two reference stereo speakers, they should also be good enough for movies (since a lower level of performance is enough...). So the step would be to find a proper center and surrounds. Sub would also be nice. Now, reproduction and amplification must be kept separate, so the stereo amp and av gear share same speakers... Pre-outs in the av are needed, unless you have separate amps for the various channels (and this would be overkill if we agree that the sound doesn't require SOOO much for a movie session [unless you have not golden, but platinum ears :) ]). This way we saved the money of a couple of speakers... or spent more to match the quality of the stereo speakers in the whole surround set :)

A more integrated solution (the most, unless you play cds with the dvd player, and that won't be considered by any audiophile, I think...) would be to share amplification. This solution would be no compromise if we have separate amps for the various channels. Now, all amplification in a box is more confortable... Can you get the same quality for the money, than if you buy an av with pre-outs and a dedicated stereo amp? That, I don't know...

Any other combination, including using cd player as a transport, valve amps, and so on, I don't consider, since I think these people don't really have concerns about money :) At least, not in the same level as the rest of us... Now seriously, I think that one in that range, you don't compromise... You are in any case into reference.

So, I think that the third option is here the most favoured from the money to performance point of view... Unless someone answers "yes" to my question in the fourth paragraph... And that is what I will try to go for, as a long term project :)

Just off topic... My first appoach to serious music reproduction will be Triangle bookshelf speakers (Espace Titus or Horizon Sathis, that I don't know yet...) and Cambridge Audio electronics. For the movie part, I will keep what I have, and later on I'll complete with Triangle speakers, a proper dvd player and av amp (with pre-outs! :) ).
Thank you all! this is a very interesting thing, and your opinions are unvaluable (not that they have no value at all, but it is so high that can't be put in numbers...)
 

avanzato

Active Member
Originally posted by cribeiro
My experience is that movies do not require a great level of accuracy, just a "fair" reproduction is enough, but when it comes to music, then it is another story...
Not answering your question but I can't say I agree with movies being inferior. Even an average movie soundtrack will probably have more effort put into it than most music production. I see no difference between going for a good HT system or going for a good HiFi system, except that the movie one will cost you more with all those extra speakers etc.
 

cribeiro

Novice Member
Sorry, didn't mean the soundtrack to be inferior. By no means! You are completely right. What I meant is that usually an inferior reproduction (as compared to hifi/hi-end) satisfies the movie fan (edit: even the pickiest ones, I think). Pretty much in the way Daneel said before.

edit: I think this has some psycological background, because you pay more attention to the images. But of course some minima are required.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
I tried to intergrate once with no lasting success. I simply did not have the budget to allow for a pre/pow combination that is the concrete minimum for flexibility to both ends. This weeks AV amp at home is a Sony STRDA3000ES (in utterly revolting champagne) and I'm not unimpressed with it sonically but it is still left floundering by my 2 channel stuff upstairs. It is possible to maximise the stereo performance of a multichannel rig (external power amp, seperate CD player etc) but by then you have added so many boxes you have rather defeated the original premise of slimming down to one system.
At mortal money it still cannot be done properly IMHO.
 

Branxx

Standard Member
suzywong,

"The Linn stereo system is for absolute sound quality, the Meridian surround is for bangs & slams for the movies."

Can you please expand on this point. In which areas are your Linn system deficient when a movie audio tracks are reproduced through it?
 

Daneel

Active Member
Originally posted by Branxx

Can you please expand on this point. In which areas are your Linn system deficient when a movie audio tracks are reproduced through it?
I would guess it to be the lack of centre and rear speakers and sub. :)

I think most of this revolves around the premis that when you change a stereo amp for multi-channel and probably more importantly a stereo preamp for a pre/pro, you lose stereo music quality. Therefore you can have one or other, but not both within one system. If that premis proves to be false then you can have both within the one system. From the experiences related here, it appears to be no go for all-in-one for most people.
 

Nimby

Distinguished Member
I'm still sneaking up on AV from a pure stereo music point of view.

Using Naim pre/power with floorstanders for general TV watching made me hungry for more bass on films & music.

Enter a serious subwoofer (SVS) thanks to the advice of enthusiastic people here. I was going for a small box until I discovered SVS here.

I now know that DVD will give me better of everything on film compared with video. My first approach would be using the DVD player as just another source for my evolving stereo + sub + TV system.

It will be a long way down the road before I go multichannel. I get so much fun from my "enhanced stereo" even on video & satellite TV that I am in no rush to get involved in surround.

The Golden Rule must be to invest most heavily in the music side if that interests you. Buying an AV system primarily to listen to music is a waste of money IMHO. You'd be better off building a seperate hifi system using a modest but decent CD player, amp and speakers.

I have read many times on other fora, in articles and on AV enthusiasts websites that the sound quality requirements for film are much lower than middle of the road hifi stereo. I would agree. The moving image attracts the attention away from the sound quality.

I like to think my own slow approach towards AV gives me far better sound quality than anything available on AV. It just doesn't give me the surround effects of course.

My own advice to others (if I dared to be so bold) would be to decide how much you like to listen to music compared with enjoying films.

Then invest your funds in the media that you enjoy most. And do buy second hand, high quality, well reviewed products that you couldn't otherwise afford from those upgrading. This will get you more performance for your hard-earned cash.

Make every purchase count towards your intended goal. Don't waste money on expensive esoterica for rarity's sake and stay away from expensive cables and valves. Things are only rare because they can't sell them!

Buy every item as if you needed to sell it tomorrow. That means buying quality & popular products. Not something nobody else has heard of. You will lose less money on upgrading if you follow these basic rules.

Nimby
 
H

HiFiFan

Guest
A very Interesting Thread

Having only one room at my disposal to do double duty for stereo and HT/AV, I've tried the merge technique between my Naim system, and some Sony ES gear (DVD, AV pre-power) and it works well up to a point.

The difficulty arises in getting a matched set of center and rear speakers for the AV/HT side of it that will match the high end front pair, without taking out another mortage...:nono:

And as a newbie to HT, also coming from considerable experience in 2 channel, I also agree with the opinion that spending large amounts on the sound side of things for HT is a bit of a lost cause given that the picture takes up so much of ones attention, and of course away from the finer ponts of the sound reproduction

Personally I could only contemplate the sort of funds required to build up the HT sound side of things to the same level of performance as the 2 channel side of it if I could be sure that high resolution multi-channel music was here to stay, and that it offered more re musical involvement over 2 channel, as against just enhancing the presentation, which to my ears it does not do for the most part.

Consequently I will most likely put up with some of my present compromises unti. the multi-channel music question becomes a little clearer, and/or separate the two by adding a matched set of cheapers speakers all round, and having two systems in the same room.

Just my 2c worth...:hiya:

Cheers

John...:)
 

cribeiro

Novice Member
Originally posted by buns
valves arent just for the super rich :p

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Of course not, also the rich ones can afford them... when they are not interested on owning a BMW or Mercedes :-D

I like the attention that this thread is drawing! I also find it interesting, HiFiFan. About multichannel music... I hope it is here to stay! When I listened to "Princes of the Universe" of Queen, in the remastered multichannel, it was like rediscovering the song... That song was born to be like that!
Actually, I'd propose a poll, to see which way of blending is the preferred one, from the ones that popped up already, and any that you may suggest... Unfortunately, I don't know how to do it :-(

Thinking a little further, my idea is now that, for the money of a very expensive AV separates to do both music and movie excelling in both (kind of 2000 euro av amp + cd player+ dvd player + speaker package in the same quality range=?? any proposal??), it might be possible to get a THX certified system for movies, and a decent stereo completely separate. What do you think? I mean, if it is THX, what else can you ask for? That is what many directors consider as watching "their view" of the movie... (otherwise, why should they use it??).

Nimby, I agree with you, specially on the "bold" advices (always welcome!)... But how do you marry second hand with auditioning? I know what I like thanks to a dealer, and I don't think it is fair to go now and get it second hand somewhere else...

I hope this keeps on going!
 

General Skanky

Well-known Member
I believe that to say the audio in AV isn't as critical as in hifi is fundamentally flawed.

It is just as important if not more so.

There is so much going on in a good sound track, it helps to immerse you further into a film. A good picture is naturally important, but it goes hand in hand with the sound.

Most AV fans would notice an inferior sound just as you would in music. Just read the reiviews of films on this website!

I believe it would be a false economy, 'not' to invest proportional amounts of money into an AV rig as a hifi rig if like me, it is a dual purpose system.

I want maximum enjoyment from both music and film.

If you want to merge but with hifi as the priority, I think you'll find yourself upgrading the rest of your av kit at some point, as it'll be 'letting down' the rest of your kit. Eventually, top quality audio on AV will grip you just like in hifi.

I really don't believe there are any shotcuts or compromises if you want quality.

Expensive, but that's the way it is.
 

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