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musicality: upgrade AV amp or add stereo amp?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by ditton15, Dec 17, 2002.

  1. ditton15

    ditton15
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    I am pleased with my entry-level 5.1 amp (denon 1602) for HC (and I am still learning HC) but would like more on the musicality front.

    Consider two possible ways to spend £250 - £400 (or even more):

    a) Rotel A01 stereo amp or better
    b) Marantz 7300 (for £457, less the £200 ono I could get selling denon 1602) or equivalent

    Details may not be quite right, but which way do you advise: better AV amp or additional stereo amp?

    I have been sniffing about for an 'old model' stereo amp instead - and would welcome suggestions in that direction also.

    ditton

    ps I also want a 'learning remote', and wonder whether getting one with an expensive AV amp is any way comparable with the Pronto route?

    Comments please.
     
  2. GaryG

    GaryG
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    You will get a better sound quality for music by using a normal stereo amplifier, look for a good used stereo amp and have a direct connection from your CD/DVD player to the stereo amp. The proviso is that your AV amp supports line-level outputs for the L/R channels so that you can bypass your AV amp and use your stereo amp for the L/R channels.
     
  3. ditton15

    ditton15
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    Many thanks for the general advice - go for a stereo amp - which seems be in agreement with what I have read on other threads.

    As to the specifics, I will have to check whether my AV amp has that feature - I suspect that being an entry-level it may not. Other than that, I either switch phono plugs back and forth (I confess that I have 'cascaded' my CD player to another room along with its older AV (ProLogic only) receiver so I am using the Tosh SD510 as my music source), or run two systems.

    I seem to be in an up-grade muddle!! That said, I'm begining to enjoy the 5.1 and the ProLogicII for DVD and TV, respectively. And the relocation in the room and the better interconnects already mean musicality is improving - I just know from listening to others' that it could get better.

    And priority at present is being put on increasing musicality. If getting better AV was going to deliver that as by-product (and dealers have suggested the HK 5500) then all to the good. But if the value for money route is the addition of a dedicated stereo amp, then I will try to negotiate that, WAF-wise.

    ditton

    ps Know of any good used stereo amp? :p
     
  4. GaryG

    GaryG
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    You really need to listen for yourself to see what suites your particular taste.

    Have a look in the classifieds ads on Hi-Fi World.

    www.hi-fiworld.co.uk

    Also have a search on www.loot.com there's some stuff on there as well.
     
  5. Xantia

    Xantia
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    Ditton,
    Can you please give some details on how you use phono plugs to substitute the absent preouts of the AV receiver?
    Thanks
    Rui
     
  6. daninthemix

    daninthemix
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    An analogue amp will provide a purer musical experience, because no digital circuits chucking junk bank onto the power suppy...
     
  7. Guest

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    As a side note, i heard a 2 channel pro studio power amp the other day, which sounded fantastic.
    Cost:

    £325.00

    Balanced XLR inputs & Speakon outputs.
    Mono, Stereo or Bridged selection.
    Protection circuits...with tremendous build quality

    A total, total, total bargain...if you dont mind a slice of grey metal over a cosmetically friendly version...

    Slightly bad news is it has a fan.....although not audible when watching films & listening to CD's...


    Adzman
     
  8. ditton15

    ditton15
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    Am back from hard day at the office, and from a few bevvies after work.

    So let me just thank all for the attention, and promise I will be more attentive tomorrow - or maybe even later tonight.

    GaryG, I had a look at loot.com and saw a couple of interesting offers. thx.

    Xantia, I need a clearer head. ;)

    daninthemix, its all Greek to me :confused: Though i reckon I would just feed it the analogue phono leads, and put the digital to the AV 5.1 amp.

    Adzman, that begins to sound interesting. pl expand here or in a PM.

    ditton15

    - off to eat something sensible ...
     
  9. micb3rd

    micb3rd
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    If you want to add additional amp for music plug it into your pre outs on your Denon AVR 1602.

    Pre outs that is what they are there for.
     
  10. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Avoiding the pre-amp section of the AV amp is one of the objectives.
     
  11. dood

    dood
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    pronto is in another league altogether, but you have to pay! You have already decided on the stereo amp route (good decision), so the option of a better remote with av amp falls away. Start saving for the pronto!
     
  12. ditton15

    ditton15
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    I seem to be accumulating pieces of AV wisdom - many thanks, I will try a summary of where I am at.

    1. Stick with entry-level AV amp (until upgrade bug kicks in later) as this delivers required 5.1/DPLII functionality.

    2. Acquire stereo amp for musicality (see below for how to deploy)

    3. Save up for Pronto.

    4. Work out how to use stereo amp:

    - examining back of DenonAVR1602 (book of Operating Instructions only good for learning multiple languages!), I find that I have only one pre-out and that is for the sub-woofer).

    I also have a set of EXT In:

    FR FL
    SW C
    SR SL

    I take these to be the 5.1 analogue feeds (were I to use the Tosh SD 510 to split the digital signal).

    GaryG, you seem to be suggesting that I connect the CD/DVD analogue to the 'new' (used, probably) stereo amp, and then take an analogue/phono out from that amp and feed that into the FR & FL, and that therefore the speakers remain connected to the DenonAVR1602.

    I therefore seek two bits of information:

    a) is the paragraph above correct?
    b) how can I be assured that

    "your AV amp supports line-level outputs for the L/R channels so that you can bypass your AV amp and use your stereo amp for the L/R channels"?

    As I said 'the book of words' is not helpful on that.

    much thanks

    ditton15

    ps I do have a venerable Pioneer SX4500 Receiver, circa 1975, capable of delivering 15 W per channel. This has a phono pair out for the tape deck. Is that worth trying to check (a) & (b)?
     
  13. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Here's some of the things that an AV amp does (not all of them do all of the things).

    Take a digital signal, muck about with it using DSP (Digital Signal Processing) then pass is through a DAC (Digital-Analogue Converter) to get it into the analogue world to pass onto the amplifer circuits.

    Take an analogue signal, pass it through a ADC (Analogue-Digital Converter) to get it into the digital domain. Muck about with it using a DSP then pass it through a DAC to pass onto the amp.

    Take an analogue signal bypass all the DSP stuff and pass it onto the amp section.

    There is a lot going on in an AV processor, and a lot of it is using high speed digital circuits which play havoc with analogue signals. Go and stick an AM radio next to computer and you'll see what I mean. In addition to this, the amplifier section tends to use a common power supply shared among multiple channels. The whole thing is a compromise, not consistent with getting the best quality possible for music.

    One of the things we can do is use a completely separate system for music. The downside to this of course is we need another CD player, another amplifier and another set of speakers. If this isn't an issue then that's it, job done. However, for most of us an extra CD player or an extra amplifer isn't too much of a problem as we probably started with a music system in the first instance. However, an extra pair of speakers is generally not an option, we've already got a room full of them, and usually, the two speaker we want to use for music are the best ones in the system and we would also like to use them for the AV system playing movies.

    So, what to do?

    Well, a compromise that's possible with some AV amps is to have pre-amp outputs which, at a minimum route the L/R signals out of the AV amp before feeding them to the main power amp section. Not all amps support this feature, and it would appear that your amp is one that doesn't support this feature, but for those that do it's now possible to feed the AV L/R signals to the music system, thus allowing us to use the same speakers for the L/R channels because the stereo amp now replaces the power amp section of the AV amp for the L/R channels.

    Using this technique, we have now grafted the two systems together, however, another compromise is that for people who don't have a separate CD player they can still take advantage of an improvement in sound quality by feeding the analogue outputs of thier DVD player to the CD inputs on the stereo amp and leave the digital connection to the AV amp, assuming of course that the built-in DAC's in the DVD player are of a better quality that the DAC's in the AV amp.

    To recap, if you only have a sub pre-out on the back of your amp then with your current setup you would need two pairs of front speakers OR some kind of switching mechanism to switch a single pair of speakers between two amps, not a recommended solution because you could easily damage either of the two amplifiers if you were not careful. An alternative to the switching mechanism is to manually swap the speaker connections over between the two amps but you will probably soon get fed up of doing that.
     
  14. dood

    dood
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    how about a tape loop? Eg, tape out from AV amp to a spare input on the stereo amp, CD and music sources into stereo amp, video sources into av amp. ie I'm proposing tape out to replace pre-out for L/R. Gains would have to be adjusted accordingly, perhaps an attenuating interconnect may be necessary.
     
  15. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    If you don´t have pre-outs for the front channels in your receiver, you cannot integrate a stereo amp for your front channels, sorry, you have to get a better receiver... :rolleyes:
     
  16. ditton15

    ditton15
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    International advice of the first order.

    So, do I take it that I cannot/shouldn't connect Tosh SD 510 to StereoAmp (using analogue/phono) & then to FL & FR of the Denon AVR1602 (using analogue/phono) & hence to FL & FR speakers when playing in Stereo mode? Do I even try, or do I risk damage?

    If answer is to first question is no, then I now have to save/spend for/on

    1) pronto
    2) the very best of 'used' stereo amps
    3) an AV amp that allows me to use (b).

    I must therefore replace my entry-level Denon AVR1602. What candidates? There seem so many ..... Which has what is required to do the trick that GaryG recommends?

    I am a little confused about the role of pre-outs on the AV amp/receiver. There is mixed advice on which Model:

    Model 1: source -> StereoAmp -> AVamp -> speakers
    Model 2: source -> AVamp -> Stereo Amp -> speakers

    I take Model 1 to be preferred, bypassing AVamp pre-amp. So what AVamp has what is needed for Model 1?

    ditton
     
  17. Lowrider

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    Thats the advantage of Internet... :D

    Your model one wouldn´t use the power of the Stereo Amp...

    The way to integrate is:

    source (digital out) -> AVamp (pre outs) -> Stereo Amp -> front speakers

    toguether with:

    source (analog out, if it is good enough, and you want to listen to pure stereo) -> Stereo Amp

    IMHO
     
  18. ditton15

    ditton15
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    GaryG,

    where did that diagram of yours go to? One minute I was studying it, and the next someone had wiped it off the blackboard!! It appeared to be at odds with the one Lowrider put up. please re-post or PM

    ditton

    'Telford is good international advice'
     
  19. micb3rd

    micb3rd
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    Sorry my mistake,

    You are right the AVR 1602 does not have pre outs, opps the Denon AVR 1802 is the first to have them.....
     
  20. ditton15

    ditton15
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    Oh well, so I have the 1602; it cost me less than £200 though, so I'm not upset.

    [Having spent much more on Tosh 32ZD26 & Tosh SD510, I was looking to save a few bob ...]

    I guess I will have to postpone the musicality upgrade until I am ready to upgrade the AVbox.

    So, if I was to spend ££ ... ???

    :p

    ditton
     
  21. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Antonio beat me to the reply, so I deleted my diagram, it was something like this:


    Connection of Separate Stereo Amplifier using a CD and a DVD:

    CD --- Analogue Connection ------> Stereo Amp ---> L/R Speakers
    &nbsp&nbsp| &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp^
    &nbsp&nbsp|&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp| L/R AV Pre-out into Stereo Amp Aux/Tuner etc Input
    &nbsp&nbsp|&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|
    &nbsp&nbsp+ ----- Digital Connection ---------+&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspCD Input (Digital) |&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspV&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|
    DVD ------ Digital Connection -----> AV Amp ---> Center/Surround Speakers

    The digital connection from the CD to the AV amp is so that the DSP features of the AV amp can be used to 'enhance' the stereo sound with fill-in information from the Center and Surround channels.




    Connection of Separate Stereo Amplifier using a DVD only:

    &nbsp&nbsp+---- Analogue Connection ------> Stereo Amp ---> L/R Speakers
    &nbsp&nbsp| &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp^
    &nbsp&nbsp|&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp| L/R AV Pre-out into Stereo Amp Aux/Tuner etc Input
    &nbsp&nbsp|&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|
    &nbsp&nbsp|&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|
    &nbsp&nbsp|&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|
    &nbsp&nbsp|&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp|
    DVD ------ Digital Connection -----> AV Amp ---> Center/Surround Speakers
     
  22. ditton15

    ditton15
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    Thanks GaryG. I'll ponder ...

    & Thanks to Lowrider and other also.

    ditton
     
  23. michaelab

    michaelab
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    Thanks for the diagrams Gary - I've got pretty much the setup in your first diagram but I hadn't considered routing the digital out of the CD player (well, Tag DAC20 in my case :) ) also to the AV amp to use things like DSPII for music whilst still getting the best stereo sound out of the front speakers. I'll give it a try but won't the DAC and processing in the AV amp delay the signal with respect to the front channels?

    Michael.
     
  24. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Well there's the thing, whether your like the 'enhanced' sound is another matter. When we get into the area of Delay (and Jitter) I take a back seat to other forum members. It could be argued that both signals are being converted from Digital to Analogue just at different points in the chain so the delay may be the same, then again it may not. I've given up theorising on this type of stuff and just have a listen to things and make a judgement based on listening, that way I can tell what my ears are sensitive to. For example, I tried 4 or 5 different types of very expensive polypropylene capacitors in one of my old speaker cross-overs to replace the exisiting electrolytic capacitors only to find that I preferred the sound of the electrolytic capacitors, which I subsequently replaced with Black Gate capacitors. If you are into DIY or have access to someone who can do the job for you it's well worth upgrading the electrolytics in you DAC to Black Gates, the difference will astound you. On the BeeKeepers recommendation I had my Audio Synthesis DAC upgraded to Black Gates and was absolutely gobsmacked at the improvement, I've now arranged to have the same upgrade on my CD Transport.

    Anyway, back to the DSP processing, it's suprising how your brain interprets the sound from the surround channels, providing you don't overcook it you end up with a wider more open soundstage, although the effect is dependent on the source material and the DSP mode being used. Give us some feedback on your results.
     
  25. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I use a Pronto/Marantz remote.....very nice device,and almost inifinitely configurable.
    Only probs arise from the (undocumented)user configuration software that comes with it via a download from the Marantz/Philips websites.
    The software itself also contains NO online help.
    However,there are loads of downloads etc available from www.remotecentral.com ,incl.complete system configs.
     
  26. michaelab

    michaelab
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    alexs2 - aren't you in the wrong thread mate? :D

    Gary - I'll let you know what I hear. I'm just about modded out for the time being having just fitted a Trichord Digital Output Board & PSU to my Marantz CD50SE which I use as a transport. The difference there was amazing. Have considered 'black gating' all the caps in the CDP but can't be bothered for now. I don't want to mess with my DAC yet because it's still under warranty :)

    Will let u know what I find re adding surround to stereo.

    Michael.
     
  27. Lowrider

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    With the receiver I had previously I used mostly Direct for CDs, not that there where any problems with delays, just the DACs where not as good as Arcam´s...

    So Michael, you shouldn´t have any problem, other than quality...
     
  28. michaelab

    michaelab
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    I just tried it - pure stereo (without using the AV receiver) the normal way and the the 3 other channels added via the digital out of my DAC to the AV receiver and DPLII. Not conclusive yet, I'll have to listen some more however there did seem to be a noticeable delay between the front channels and the centre so things like a rimshot drum sounded quite weird - the centre was always a fraction of a second behind the fronts (I guess because the AVR is having to do both DAC and DSP which takes time). With the rears the delay is not so noticeable (because they're less audible I suppose).

    The worst problem of course is that is's almost impossible to balance the centre and surrounds with the fronts as they are operating on different volume controls :eek:

    I'll play around a bit more but I don't think I'll use it often - it's just too complicated!

    Michael.
     
  29. Lowrider

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    I didn´t mean using the two DACs toguether, just the receiver´s for DPLII...

    Did you dial the speakers distance in the receiver ? Because that would cause the difference you ear, as the DAC doesn´t have any delay setup...

    Or you could do as I do, set the front and center to 0 meters, and just set the difference for the surrounds, none in my case...
     
  30. michaelab

    michaelab
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    I can get DPLII through the AV receiver no problem but if I want to 'mix' the pure stereo sound (CDP -> DAC -> Stereo Amp -> Speakers) with DPLII for the other 3 channels then I have to use both DACS:

    Code:
    CDP ---- DAC ---- Arcam A22 ---- Tannoy mx3 (fronts)
                    |
                    | (can be anal. or dig.)
                    |
                    +------ Marantz SR4200 --- Tannoy mx2 (rears)
                                 (DPL II)       |
                                                  +----- Tannoy mxC (centre)
    
    That way I'm getting the same high quality stereo sound from my 'pure stereo' system and still getting the centre and rears mixed in. The other way:

    Code:
    CDP ---- DAC              Arcam A22 ---- Tannoy mx3 (fronts)
                    |                            | 
                    |                            | (pre-outs)
                    |                            |
                    +------ Marantz SR4200 --- Tannoy mx2 (rears)
                                 (DPL II)       |
                                                  +----- Tannoy mxC (centre)
    
    I'm getting proper DPLII but I lose the quality becauase of the SR4200 so I though the first way (which I had never thought of before) might be a way to get the best of both but it's tricky to get right.

    I have the speaker distances setup properly in the SR4200 but for method 1 above it wouldn't make any difference as the SR4200 is not in control of the front speakers.

    Michael.
     

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