My forthcoming HT journey... navigation required!

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Buying & Building' started by masopa, Jul 14, 2015.

  1. masopa

    masopa
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2003
    Messages:
    94
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Ratings:
    +17
    I've posted a couple of other threads over recent weeks about upgrading my current HT setup. The reason for posting this thread is that my thinking has evolved very considerably and rather than update one of my old (and quite hidden) threads, it seemed more sensible to start something fresh, without the baggage of what I thought I wanted to do...

    tl;dr - am I crazy (yes) ... and what part of the craziness should I do first/next?!

    To start: for what I want in its current location, my current setup does fine for movies (especially having now replaced a VERY flappy cheap sub with an SVS SB-2000). It's not high (or even mid) end by any stretch, but it's in a family living room (usually containing two young kids) and it cannot be too conspicuous.

    The immediate issue I've faced is that whilst being "ok" for HT, it's frankly a bit rubbish for proper music appreciation. However, I've improved it a fair bit by getting the far better sub and setting the speakers up more accurately, including lowpass crossover/phase etc. I also have a proper stereo amp on its way, which will connect to my preamp out of the AV receiver... I'm expecting this to significantly improve the fidelity of 2 channel music, but then that's also part of the journey - it might not have such a marked impact. So, what do I have (once my stereo amp arrives)?

    Sources: Sky, Bluray, Amazon Fire TV, Kodi (all digital audio) inc flacs locally stored
    AV amp: Yamaha DSP A2
    Stereo amp: Cyrus 8xpd QX (connected to Yam through pre-out / direct pre-in) - I will be testing whether stereo-only sources sound better connected directly to the Cyrus, albeit will require lots of constant fiddling to ensure I don't get weird crossover effects / bass doubling when switching from stereo to AV... I reckon I'll end up sticking with all sources going via AV amp and then onto Cyrus?
    Sub: SVS SB-2000
    Mains: pair of B&W 601 s2
    Centre: B&W CC6 s2
    Rears: pair of B&W 601 s2

    The first big change will be moving house, to one where we have a combined family room and AV/HT room. It'll be a decent size (7m x 6m) and offer far greater flexibility to add acoustic dampening/treatment as well as proper hardwiring of speakers and kit. Kids will still be present but I have ways of protecting my lovely AV kit in mind.

    First thoughts: the speakers are WAY underspecced for the amp configuration, focusing in particular on the mains. This is clearly something I want to and will (at the right time) upgrade... most likely to any of 685/CM1/CM5/CM6/805(s/h) depending on budget at the time (likely to be nearer the front of that list than the back but really don't mind going s/h). I'm sticking with B&W as I want to try to keep the nature of the sound consistent with what I'm used to and compatible with the existing (and remaining) speakers. I don't want floorstanders - I am happy to be told I'm wrong, but I genuinely feel bass sub 80Hz is best left to one or more subs, so I simply don't see the merit in spending more on a bigger speaker which is capable of going sub 50Hz, say. I'd rather go for higher fidelity bookshelf and maybe add a second sub when I need to (or maybe even a crazy IB setup as the garage will be through the back wall, next to the AV room).

    But that's not all I want to upgrade. I have a sudden and admittedly crazy passion to build a pair of Hypex NC400 (NCore) monoblocks, most likely in stereo (dual mono) config. For maybe around £1k I can get one of the cleanest stereo power amp solutions this side of £5k. I know it's stupid but it's something I just want to do for some reason. I'm a gadget freak...

    This upgrade would also give me a small benefit in allowing me to use the Sub's internal highpass crossover (it has line out terminals which pass through a fixed 80Hz highpass) to feed the power amps, which then drive the front mains. So Cyrus->pre-out->Sub line-in->Sub line-out (poss xover)->NCore->mains... and this would then give me a consistent subwoofer signal and filtered main signal irrespective of whether the source is AV (via Yamaha) or stereo (straight into Cyrus, bypassing Yamaha) - meaning the speakers (and power amp) are only ever getting the frequency range they need. I know I'm adding another link into the chain and possibly not the cleanest by using the Sub's highpass filter, but I think it would work and hopefully the audio benefits of restricting the power amp and mains to only having to work on the >80Hz signal would outweigh any signal degredation from the sub's highpass filter.

    Yes, I realise it still doesn't sound any less crazy despite all my desperate protestations.

    The final (possibly quite distant) add-on would be to build a lower-spec 5 channel Hypex amp using a UCD400 module (for centre) and 4xUCD180s (for surrounds) and then swap out the whole amp section (Yamaha + Cyrus) for a single Marantz AV7702 or similar. The cost of doing this wouldn't be that much more than the investment in building the 5 channel power amp (considerably less than £1k) since the Cyrus isn't a cheap bit of kit and should hold its value reasonably over the next 12 months... maybe I'd be looking at another £1.5k or thereabouts all in, netting of the resale value of the Cyrus.

    So - quite a lengthy journey but hopefully you can see my vision. I haven't embellished the end any further: obviously with a processor like the Marantz, I could add ceiling speakers (power amp required, though) and a second sub. I also haven't touched on the video side of things, but I really want to focus on audio here. Likewise, the whole AV distribution to the rest of the house will be catered for thanks to one of the sponsors/advertisers on this forum (I've kind of promised him the gig when we go for it).

    Big question: what order should I do things in? My head says main fronts first. They are the biggest and most obvious weak link in my sound reproduction pathway, for both stereo and AV.

    If anything, I've probably jumped the gun getting the Cyrus at all, but I want to see for myself whether using a dedicated stereo amp improves my stereo listening experience over the Yamaha with all effects off. I hope it will, but I want to see. Eventually, I'm expecting the Cyrus to become somewhat redundant - quite possibly when I add the Hypex NCore power amp? But having bought it second hand, I am hoping not to lose too much while I own it and it will have given me a useful experience.

    The final stage of upgrading to the Marantz pre/pro (for its incredibly low THD and clean signal) and additional Hypex power amp channels is really just gratuitous, but why not? Who knows when a second sub (or IB) would come in, if ever. I also haven't spent time talking about the type of acoustic room treatment I'm thinking about: basically absorption panels and some huge insulating wool/beanbag contraptions in each corner (a cunning design I've thought of where I mix insulating wool pieces with conventional closed cell foam beans inside an ordinary beanbag cover - working as both a beanbag and a bass trap).

    So many plans, so many choices! Help...
     
  2. masopa

    masopa
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2003
    Messages:
    94
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Ratings:
    +17
    Anybody? Any suggestions on whether this is the "right" order to do things?
     
  3. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
    Distinguished Member AVForums Sponsor

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2002
    Messages:
    28,913
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    The Borders
    Ratings:
    +3,568
    Can't help thinking you need to create a fully functioning family TV/viewing room in the New house plus find your own dedicated space for DIY HT!

    Joe
     
  4. masopa

    masopa
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2003
    Messages:
    94
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Ratings:
    +17
    You're not wrong... although my study/office will also be doubling as a photo studio for my other hobby :) Not sure I could get it past the boss to commandeer another room as a man cave!

    Still struggling with how much to spend on speakers - even second-hand a pair of 805 bookshelfs (non-Diamond) are still looking at £1k. But gut feel is they'd be better speakers than the CM5/CM6 for similar money.
     
  5. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
    Distinguished Member AVForums Sponsor

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2002
    Messages:
    28,913
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    The Borders
    Ratings:
    +3,568
    Man Shed's are all the rage :)

    Budget needs to be allocated as a balance across the system - high quality loudspeakers usually demand higher quality electronics to drive them.

    Room/room layout is key to any system - you can spend a fortune on kit, place it in a room and wonder why you bothered.

    Joe
     

Share This Page

Loading...