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New System - Intergrated, Amp or Reciever?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by ChrisOfTheOT, Aug 8, 2002.

  1. ChrisOfTheOT

    ChrisOfTheOT
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    At the risk of appearing profoundly stupid (!), can someone please explain what the difference is between an 'intergrated AV amp' an 'AV Reciever'?

    They all seem to offer 5.1 sound (at least), they both cost from a few hundered pounds to a few thousand and both seem to offer similar input/output options... (at least to me!)

    I'm planning a new system but have now got totally confused! I was aiming at big, sexy telly (even a rear projection set) with either an all-in-one system like the Sony DAV-S550 or the Toshiba SD-510E DVD player and speakers.

    But would that player need an amp (or reciever or intergrated thingy - or would a surround telly suffice?), bearing in mind that I really want Pro-Logic II for Sky+ and existing stereo stuff (like VCR and CDs).

    I now have a head-ache, and eye balls like sand-paper from all the trawling and reading. (I'm beginging to think it may just be easier to drink very heavily just before I watch TV every time...)

    Can any kindly soul help me?

    Cheers,

    Chris
     
  2. Zef

    Zef
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    Chris - Im no where near as compitent as the others on here but in the simplest terms

    AV amp - amp with relevant encoding for "surround sound"

    AV reciever - same as above with built in radio tuner/reciever

    you will have to add a DVD player to the above

    All in ones like the DAVS have the lot but there are many threads about these - good or bad.

    It seems like you need a DVD player that plays SVCD's too plus a amp (or reciver if you want radio) that caters for pro-logicII. Like i said the others on this forum can spec for you - just specify how much you are willing to spend.

    I think you will find that once you have learned what each bits of kit do you will be hooked into the world of home cinema.

    :)
     
  3. ChrisOfTheOT

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    Okay... A reciever is an amp with a tuner, soopa.

    So what's an intergrated amp? (What's it been intergrated with?)

    I've never actually heard of SVCD but it sounds lovely (not the same as SACD I suppose)! I can't imagine why I'd need either fromat though, and I don't need a tuner either but if it was all in the same box I could live with it.

    As for budget - I'll have £2500 to spend and not a penny more! (This obviously means I'm perfectly willing to spend £200 or £300 more if needs be...)

    Still got that head-ache - but thanks for the pointer Zef,

    Chris
     
  4. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Amplifiers consist of a power amp which does at it says and amplifies the signal plus a pre amp which handles all of the decoding. There are a few expensive set ups where these two are separated but most are integrated together into the same case.

    In terms of quality the surround sound TV comes bottom. It will shift the noises around the room but they tend to have poor amplifiers and speakers.

    Next up is the "all in one" which has receiver and dvd in one unit plus a set of small speakers. The quality tends to be better than the stand alone TV but they have connectivity problems when you want to connect up loads of different things, eg Digibox, VCR, Playstation.

    Best quality is available from seperates and pricewise the sky is the limit. If your budget excludes a TV you can buy a system for £2,500 that will have most of your neighbours green with envy.

    Before everyone piles in with suggestions on how to spend your money for you we need to know how big your room is, whether you share a thin party wall with 20 stone neighbours and whether the other half will insist on speakers the size of a match box.
     
  5. ChrisOfTheOT

    ChrisOfTheOT
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    Do I gather from that then, the 'intergrated' part of intergrated amplifier is the combination of 'power amp' and 'pre-amp' (as opposed to amp & tuner)?

    If so, that does help a lot!

    My budget - £2500 - will include the TV as well and I wanted a monster - projection - but my wife (Anna) wants quality. It's difficult to argue against that so I may have to concede. Currently I'm looking at the new Toshiba 36" set with componet video etc. It's seems to be getting excellent reviews all round (including here). That will take care of about £1500 (with a few cables) so I'm really looking at about a grand for the rest.

    The lounge we will (hopefully!) shortly be moving into is about 20ft x 13ft with a working fire place in the far (short) wall. I will not be able to put the screen in the centre of any wall but I imagine few people really can, regardless of the demands of surround sound.

    Anna will certainly prefer smaller, prettier speakers - and so will I! - but it's not all that important. From what I've read though, small, modern speakers offer a surprisingly good sound. That'll do for me.

    Although the house is a semi, the wall is low-density block with a cavity so the neighbours being bothered by our surround sound (or visa-versa) should not be too much of a problem.

    At this stage, I'm pretty much sold on the Toshiba SD-510E DVD as I must have componet video and everyone seems to rate the Tosh. That and Pro-Logic II - and the largest, QUALITY (!) screen within the buget, are the most important things. (I really want to get more out of our Sky+ box.)

    Any insights would be much appreciated - many thanks Ian,

    Chris
     
  6. Dr Cheese

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    Ok, my tiny insight is to reassure you on the Toshiba 510 - lovely piece of kit that recieves virtually non-stop attention in our household. Fine choice sir!
     
  7. ChrisOfTheOT

    ChrisOfTheOT
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    Why, thank you Dr Cheese! (I thought so too...)

    With Zef & Ian's help in getting to grips with this amp-thing, I have now 'reached understanding' (Grasshopper). It's amazing how confused the 'intergrated' bit was getting me. But now - Oh baby! (I didn't realise that 'pre-amp' means 'decoder'.)

    I (re)read an article in this months Home Cinema Choice magazine (avaliable in all good newsagents now, folks!) called 'The Knowledge'. Marvelous stuff. It's a dozen pages of everything home cinema - amps, speakers,DVDs,plasma... the works. Having read the amplifier section again (pages 37 & 39) I see an interesting point:

    "DSP (digital sound processing)... claims to ape the acoustic environment of a jazz club, stadium or concert hall. It's highly reverberant effects are inteneded to enhance non-Dolby software." (page 39 - no author credited)

    Well, I've never heard of this before. Although it seems that purists may frown on this technology, I think it sounds wonderful. My question is this: does 'non-Dolby' include good old mono? (I have a lot of old VHS tapes recorded on a mono VCR.) Or would the source have to have stereo channels to start with? Would twin mono channels do anything? Or are you all laughing at me now...?

    Stop it!

    Just one more thing for now (have you stopped laughing yet?), I was thinking of using SCART/RGB from Sky+ to TV and the opticle connection to an amp. I take it that this would give me Pro-Logic II functionality when viewing satalite programs?

    Cheers,

    Chris
     
  8. Dr Cheese

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    'kay, as far as i know (much back covering here, just in case i get shouted down) -

    1) DSP modes (as far as i know) are simply equaliser settings. Someone feel free to correct me on this, but the "jazz club" and "concert hall" etc DSP modes just change the levels to make the sound reminiscent of the acoustic environment selected. Apparently some of these are quite good, while some sound awful. Mono recodings won't magically be made stereo, but you could make them sound different at least, maybe even better.

    2) As far as pro logic decoding goes - from flicking through some of the info at Dolby.com it seems that if you have a mono signal, it can't do a great deal with it. I think. Actually i can't see how it could do anything with a point source. My guess is it will just bung the same thing out of each speaker.

    3) On the other hand, virtaully all broadcasts (Terrestrial or Sky/cable) are now stereo. So Pro Logic II will make these sound lovely by derving 5 channel surround from the original material. Oh, and i believe that Sky (on certain broadcasts, mostly movies) is broadcasting 5.1 endcoded audio tracks, so if you connect your optical out from your Sky+ box up to your 5.1 capable amp - you should get proper 5.1 sound.


    Hope some of this helps

    :D
     
  9. Jase

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    If you have a mono signal and engage Pro-Logic all sound comes out of the centre channel.

    Yamaha might get a tad annoyed with you for calling their DSP modes "simply equaliser settings"!!:D They go to great lengths taking measurements of actual places and then feed those into the DSP chips (how, I dont know!). Most are still crap though!:eek: ;)
     
  10. Dr Cheese

    Dr Cheese
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    On my system i have a bunch of pro-logic modes (errr... Phantom, Wide, Normal... i think theres one called 3-stereo or something) which i can engage and get the signal to come out of more than one speaker. I'm not absolutley sure that the signal i'm playing around with is mono though.

    Oh, and don't tell Yamaha i'm ragging on there DSP modes. I hear they have big men with bats to "persuade" you to like them :( - anyway, i do kinda like "jazz" on my system.....
     
  11. Jase

    Jase
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    I won´t tell Yamaha.:D

    If I remember rightly, Phantom mode assumes you have no centre speaker, Wide spreads the sound out of the front three speakers (though can´t remember if this works with a Mono signal) and Normal is bog standard. 3 Stereo only allows for the front three speakers and no surrounds.

    I can´t select the different modes on my current amp it does it itself depending on what you have selected in the Speaker Setup mode. Couple of my previous systems gave you the option though.
     
  12. Ian J

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    When you've played with them for a week you will get bored and probably never use them again.

    I am no purist but I haven't even tested the dsp modes on my last couple of amps.

    Your choice of TV and DVD player are sound but you are cutting it a bit fine for the amp and speakers with the remainder of your budget
     
  13. Dr Cheese

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    Totally agree with the last two posts - I played with them for a week (4 years ago) and haven't touched them since (until today). I just stick with "normal" and occasionally adjust my surround/centre levels.

    All this will change when i finally have enough for a new amp and speakers though....:D
     
  14. ChrisOfTheOT

    ChrisOfTheOT
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    DSP not up to much then... Makes you wonder why the AV companies spend so much developing and deploying it. (Fancy Yamaha actually measuring halls and stuff! I wonder if that much attention to detail goes into the XJR 1300 motorcyle...)

    Budget so far:

    Toshiba 36" W/S TV (can't remember the model no.!) £1500

    Toshiba SD-510E DVD £300

    Whafedale 8 Cinema Spkrs. £350

    I just bought (yet another) mag - What Video & TV. They reviewed a new Yamaha amp - DSP-AX630SE. Looks ace! (I want plenty of connections 'cos this lot will have to last a MINIMUM of 5 years.) £390.

    Total: £2540 (ish)... leads extra, I imagine.

    Workable set-up? (We already have Sky+ and an old VCR.)

    Chris




    (What Video & TV. "...for stereo or mono sources the DSP modes can be fun." ...not for long I 'spose...)
     
  15. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Workable system yes, but the speakers are the weak link. If you can find any more cash the Kef Eggs at £600 are far better and Nic Rhodes (one of the wise old sages on the forum) says that the new Gallo speakers are even better.

    Hopefully Anna will like not only the sound that they produce but also their aesthetics.
     
  16. ChrisOfTheOT

    ChrisOfTheOT
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    Oooo... Doubling the amount spent on speakers wasn't what I'd envisaged - but I've seen ads for the Kef Eggs and they look good for sure.

    I'll accept your wisdom on the quality and maybe I can find a discounted price on the net somewhere. I've never heard of Nic Rhodes' Gallo speakers but I imagine a quick Google-ising will sort that out.

    I may be able to save on the above prices though as pricerunner.com found me Hi-Way HiFi (.com) who are selling the beautiful, gorgeous Yamaha amp at £320 inc. delivery. So few more like that might do it...

    Thanks for help (and it's not over yet!),

    Chris
     
  17. MikeK

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    Workable system yes, but the speakers are the weak link. If you can find any more cash the Kef Eggs at £600 are far better and Nic Rhodes (one of the wise old sages on the forum) says that the new Gallo speakers are even better.

    Hopefully Anna will like not only the sound that they produce but also their aesthetics.



    I'd go and get a listen for yourself first.
    I don't agree with Ian here - while the Kefs are very good for the type of product they are (small and aesthetically pleasing), they won't match a set of Wharfedale Diamond 8 Cinema speakers and a reasonable budget subwoofer IMO.
    Different types of product really - but judged purely on a sound per pound basis, the eggs would lose out to many setups costing a lot less (to be fair though, they aren't sold simply on that basis
    ).
    Not heard the Gallo speakers, so can't really comment on them.

    The Diamond 8 Cinema 3 package (8.3/8C/8.1) can be bought for £300 from QED, the Cinema 1 and 2, progressively less.
    This leaves you at least £700 for an AV amp/recv'r and a subwoofer.
    If you like the 630 Yamaha, that leaves you £380 for a subwoofer and cables.
    There are many available to choose from - you aren't going to get state of the art designs and extreme volume levels for that, but you can get what most would class as reasonable performance.
    The Paradigm PDR10 at £150 from Richer Sounds, may not be the last word in subwoofers by any means, but it adequately fills thousands of living rooms across the UK with deepish bass.
    (the subwoofer which comes with the Kef eggs isn't exactly state of the art either, even if it is finished quite nicely)
    Just watch out for humming - it's common with many budget subs, and varies from there but insignificant, to a bit annoying.
     
  18. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Chris,

    Two contributors with two different suggestions. In a way you are lucky that another 30 didn't contribute with 30 more different suggestions. If that was the case I doubt whether any would be wrong, just different opinions.

    There is a long thread about the Johnny Gallo speakers. I have never heard them (or seen them) but Nic Rhodes does know his stuff and for one who normally messes about with speakers far more expensive than these, his recommendation is worth a lot in my eyes.

    Have a read of http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=39284&highlight=gallo

    As Mike says, it is always best to have a listen first, especially to speakers.
     
  19. ChrisOfTheOT

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    Thanks Ian & Mike.

    I would like to audition all the kit before I get it but that's quite difficult in the wilds of West Somerset (unless you happen to know an accodadating sheep who's really into home cinema).

    My plan was to have my 'core' components and then hang speakers of those to see which I liked. The core was: first the SD-510 and after 'gaining understanding' (special thanks to Zef & you Ian) about amps, it now includes the awesome Yamaha DSP-AX630. For these components, I am dependent on reviews and customer comments like all yours.

    I will investigate the Kefs & Wharfedales anyway, but I doubt I will ever get to hear a set of these hallowed Gallo speakers... No matter really, there is still lots of choice.

    Anyway, I do appreciate all your comments here as the experience of a 'normal' (?!) user is invaluable.

    Cheers,

    Chris

    (We will be moving into the house with the 20" x 13" lounge - we finally, FINALLY!, exchanged contracts on Friday. Now I have to go and lug boxes...)
     
  20. ChrisOfTheOT

    ChrisOfTheOT
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    Just followed all the Gallo thread... Whoa! Sound fantastic in every respect - but out of my financial league...

    Amp question: One of the reasons for the Yamaha was the (two!)component video inputs and one output. Would there be any advantage to putting the Toshiba DVD through the amp or would a cleaner signal be transmitted if I connected the DVD directly to the TV. (And would progressive scanning be okay through the amp?)

    More general question: Cables can be stupid prices - I have never bought quality cabling before and, bearing in mind that my budget is already nearly maxed-out, which brands do you recomend?

    Cheers,

    Chris
     
  21. Whatts

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    Chris,

    The only advantage you get from routing the component video through the amp is the (debatable) convenience of video-switching with the amp. It won't improve the video-quality (but shouldn't degrade the signal too much either).
    Most members prefer to connect components directly when possible. As long as you only have one device with component output, connect directly to the TV for best picture quality.
    Progressive scan should be okay through the amp (the amp doesn't 'process' the signal, it just passes it on). Not 100% sure on that though...

    I like QED cables, they cater for differrent budgets so worth a look. But I'm sure you'll get other suggestions.

    - Tom -
     
  22. colinloves

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    Chris; shop around mate. I got my Yammy AX620 for £230 from Richer Sounds. They are one of the cheapest. If you can get half of your kit from there, then you should save ya self a nice sum and spend it on a bunch of DTS DVD's :)
     
  23. ChrisOfTheOT

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    For anyone who's interested, here's my new budget(!):

    Toshiba SD-510E £300.00
    Yamaha DSP-AX630SE £320.00
    Toshiba 36ZD26B £1,350.00
    unspecified speakers £750.00
    QED SQART (RGB) £42.50
    IXOS 126AV x2 £62.00
    IXOS 1713AV RGB £40.00
    QED Qunex OT £30.00
    QED AV 13 £50.00
    QED Micro (Spkr Cbl) £40.00

    Total £2,984.50

    Nowhere near my origonal £2500 but I was hopelessly in error on two fronts. First, I thought that most speaker packages came with a subwoofer. While some do, lots don't. And I didn't really think about cables at all...

    I looked at QED, Whatts, and they get top reviews mostly, but oh the prices! I've tried to mix and match with IXOS because they seem to be well recieved but some are cheaper. Not that it's done much good - £264.50 - for cables!!

    Colinloves, I've spent a good deal of time looking at Richer Sounds but all the best prices are for stuff out of stock! I'm also a bit nervous because I've read a lot of posts from people who've had problems with Richer. I might try them if they really can sell me an SD-510E for £250, but they can't yet.

    I've spoken to my dear Anna about the extra expense and she is making a full recovery. If I can keep the whole under £3000, I really believe I may gain a glorious home cinema system AND retain my lovely wife!

    My cup runneth over!

    Thanks to everyone for their help here. I have ordered the amp from Hi-Way HiFi although I have nothing to plug it into and nothing to plug it in with, I shall look lovingly at it for hours!

    Cheers people!

    Chris
     
  24. MikeK

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    QED SQART (RGB) £42.50
    IXOS 126AV x2 £62.00
    IXOS 1713AV RGB £40.00
    QED Qunex OT £30.00
    QED AV 13 £50.00
    QED Micro (Spkr Cbl) £40.00


    None of this stuff is bad, but it's still a waste of money - just as good is available at far less cost, but if you feel you have to buy based on magazine reviews then fair enough........

    Decent SCART cables are a good idea, but that doesn't mean you have to spend £40 or more to get one - that might buy you one with magazine reviews and plenty of adverts splashed about though.

    You could buy that lot for well under £100 and you'd never be able to tell the difference.
    But try it yourself - buy an IXOS 126 and a £10 lead from CPC, and see for yourself if you can tell the difference - you can always use the £10 lead on your VCR!

    If you can use a soldering iron, then you wouldn't have to spend more than £50 to buy all those leads, probably less.
     
  25. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Chris,

    Unless I am mistaken the QED Scart will be no good for you as you will be wiring the video output of the DVD player to the TV via the component outputs.

    You need component leads and not a scart. The QED scart could be used for the digibox but is overkill for Sky.
     
  26. ChrisOfTheOT

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    Okay then, here's the Mk II cable list:

    AV04376 Shielded, OFC, Gold Plated SCART x3 £31.89

    AV04398 Componet Video Cbl. £10.03

    AV04393 Opticle Cbl (TOS-TOS) x2 £14.12

    QED Micro (Speaker Cable £1.50/m) £40.00

    Total £96.04 (+VAT)

    As it happens Mike, I got my new CPC catalogue this weekend so I had a look. I see that CPC now do a line of cables called 'Home Cinema' (it must be fate!) so I will take your advice.

    I'm assuming in the above Ian, that a standard 'fully wired' SCART will be fine for Sky, set for RGB. (I thought I'd need a dedicated RGB SCART cable...) And to answer you second point, yes I am - and indeed was - using a component video cable to connect the DVD to the telly but I seem to have calculated on one too many SCARTS. (My head-ache is coming back...)

    I'm looking to two opticle cables because I'm hoping the VCR will have a digital audio out (it's my mum's old one but I haven't looked at it yet), if not I'll change it for a standard twin phono lead. (Again, I'm assuming this will give me access to the amplifier's Pro-Logic II capability when playing videos.)

    I must say that it's a very humbling experience to display one's own ignorance to the whole world - but you guys have been absolute gents. And, you've saved me a small fortune in the process...

    Again, I offer my thanks to you and the whole AV Forums setup. Damn fine show!

    Cheers,

    Chris
     
  27. Ian J

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    Chris,

    A fully wired scart will carry audio as well as video and one of the pins also carries the automatic widescreen switching signal.

    A dedicated RGB cable will not have any of the other pins connected except those required for the transmission of an RGB signal. This is in the interest of purity for connecting a DVD player.

    No VCR has a digital output but two phono cables will give you prologic from your tapes.
     
  28. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    The QED SQART (RGB) does include the widescreen switching signal along with the RGB. It's what I use for my DVD connection.

    Cheers,
    Liam
     
  29. MikeK

    MikeK
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    I haven't used those particular SCARTs - should be fine though!
    I made my own from some of their HD SCART plugs and some S-video cable (2 lengths to make an RGB SCART)

    As for optical leads, haven't used those either - have used AV03628 at a whopping £1.84, and AVO3603 at £5.59 (2002 catalogue). The dearer lead is better made, but bugger all difference in the sound.
    Personally I prefer digital coax - just because it's more robust, but there you go....


    Not sure I'd bother with the QED Micro cable either, unless it's size and looks appeal to you - CPC have similar stuff for less money, as do Richer Sounds (XL189 at 99p/m).

    You'll also need some stereo phono interconnects to connect up the Sky STB and VCR to the amp. The Puresonic 5010 are fine - about £5-6 in the CPC catalogue.
    If you want a laugh, check out the CPC prices against these (which, it seems, are pretty much the going rate at hifi dealers which stock them)

    http://www.pghifi.demon.co.uk/purecable.html
    http://www.cheshireaudio.co.uk/images/puresonic_prices.htm

    The 9020A is the best - £86 compared to £20 at CPC :) :) :)

    I know hifi dealers have to make a living, but blimey....... :rolleyes:
     
  30. Ian J

    Ian J
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    picky
     

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