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The Best Option On A 3.5k Budget

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by digisocialist, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    First of all, apologies for my tedious ramblings. If I don't voice my dilemma here, at least several times, in several way's, I'll have a breakdown.

    I'm in the 50/50 AV camp, largely because my children and wife enjoy video a lot... if it were just me, I think it would be 80/20 in favour of musicality.

    For some time I have hovered around the Denon/Castle Compact/Infocus combo.

    I have demo'd the 2805/Castles/SP4805 and loved the system. The desire to get 'The Best' has pushed me in the direction of the 3805; though I recognise the Holy Grail would be way beyond my means but you get the jist.

    As for DVD I have considered the 1910/2910 but recently been put off by bad press of the Denons. Would desire Arcam though consider them to be a bit pricey....

    I have a small room (see Digi's Home Cinema Progress Thread)... so I do have the fear that it will be sonically stifling.

    What do I really want...???

    Basically, I want the best of all worlds. I really want a good path to build in a great 2ch Stereo System or if I can't then the best AV system for the money. Consider the following:

    A) 3805/2910/Castle CC3's/SP4805 = 3,500
    B) 2805/2910/Castle CC3's/SP4805 = 3,270
    C) 2805/1910/Castle CC3's/SP4805 = 2,979
    D) 2805/DV89/Castle CC3's/SP4805 = 3,422
    E) 2805/DV79/Castle CC3's/SP4805 = 3,522
    F) AVR300/Castle CC3's/SP4805 = 3,600
    G) 2805/Castle CC3's/SP4805 = 2,822

    Do I go with something like option F or G where I don't buy a DVD player (make use of my £30 one from ASDA) and with the £500 - £700 saved I buy a decent 2ch stereo amp and a pair of bookshelf speakers for Stereo duties?

    Do I forget that route, stick with a decent AV system for now and go with options A-E? The only issue here is that I am not convinced I want to fork out £500 on a denon DVD. I would rather buy one of the Arcam's for the musical qualities i.e. I can double one of these up for CD duties also but would have to compromise on the AV if I have to buy a high quality DVD player. If this is my best route, which option of A-E?

    Rotel & Arcam Systems are way out of my league but it would seem that they would be the wise choice ultimately as (from what I have read) they deliver stunning quality for AV and Stereo duties all round :(

    Any suggestions please…. I'm ready to walk into my local dealers this week (if he can price match on the items mentioned) and do the deal.... if I have any more demo's though I feel I will never get anywhere...my patience is wearing thin because I have no music system at all at the moment and I am seriously missing something to listen to my Vinyl & CD's on!

    P.S. Sorry for the monster mail.
    P.P.S I'm sure 3.5K would get me a great 2ch Stereo System... and even though I have invested a bit of money in building my Cinema Room, should IO scrap the AV idea altogether? I think I'm having a crisis!
     
  2. Harry T2

    Harry T2
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    While I enjoy the pleasures of my 5.1 system, my wife and children wouldn't miss it a single bit. They would get the same sense of enjoyment from watching in either a stereo or 5.1 configuration.

    If it was me, I would scrap the AV idea, get a great stereo, and use this as the audio for your video.
     
  3. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    Thanks Harry... this does make things hard for me as it turns my whole research over the last 6 months on it's head and I would have to start from scratch if looking into straight forward Stereo. I like the idea but am scared to commit to it as I may miss the video side... I think I'm erring on the side of caution and wanting a good compromise. The 3.5K is banked, so in another month I may be up on that and so on... so if anyone has any great idea's for a good compromise then shout!

    Any more suggestions from anyone...??
     
  4. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    If you are willing to dip into the second-hand/ex-dem market you may get a lot more bang for your buck.

    If you are convinced on the Castle CC3's and Infocus 4805, thats approx £2k of your budget already taken. Maybe consider the Themescene H30A which may shave a few hundred off the 4805, and is meant to be as good or better.

    If you don't want to compromise on music then maybe consider an ex-dem Arcam DV27A dvd player and AVR200 receiver, you be able to get both for £1500.
     
  5. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    If you want a brand new Arcam receiver have you considered an Arcam AVR250?
     
  6. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    Tejstar - I haven't considered the AVR250. Can you enlighten me? How would it say compare to the Denon 2805 or 3805? I know the AVR300 is the choice AV from Arcam (or should I say, the one that's in vogue anyway)...

    The AVR250 seems to have all the latest decoding capabilities, and a fair number of connections and is 7.1 capable... though doesn't seem to offer as much wattage pch (do I need it to?)..oh and for an idiot like me, it doesn't have an auto set up.. would I be mad to leave this AV out of the equation just because of that?

    One thing I still can't get my head around is... if your forking out a grand on a bit of kit like this for all the various decoding duties... why would you spend as much again on say a DVD79 if the AV were to take over all the bells n' whistles stuff?...

    Good shout regarding the PJ...but for now I'm sticking with the 4805 because I no longer have the mental energy to research other projectors!
     
  7. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    I made a typo in yesterdays post. I was suggesting buying an ex-dem DV27A and not DV79A (D’oh!) The reason for this is that the cd performance is meant to rival £500 dedicated players although I’ve not heard one myself. I have heard the DV29 and was very impressed with the stereo performance, although couldn’t afford one myself as it retails for £1600!

    Regarding the power of the AVR250, I haven’t heard it personally although don’t think it would have any problem running the Castles. I have heard the AVR300 and imo is better than the Denon 3805, especially with music.

    The auto setup feature is good for a guide, however given everyone has different rooms and furnishing the results aren’t always the most accurate. You’ll probably get the most accurate results with a spl meter.
     
  8. Kazman

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    I wouldn't dismiss the Marantz SR8500 (DVI switching too) either, more musical than the Denon and more features than both the Denon and Arcam.

    The castles are good, but floorstanders or good standmounts would give you better musicality. The projector you have selected is a good one, but this only leaves us with about £1000 to spend on speakers. Epos ELS 5.1 package springs to mind, as does the AE Evo 3b and the Monitor Audio Bronze package. Due to the room size limitations, I'd choose the Epos ELS 5.1 package, cracking speakers for the money!!

    DVD player, try the second hand market, although the Denon 2910 is a classy unit, it has had many reports of issues. I would go for a more reliable unit such as Pioneers 868, 757 or 668. Marantz do a cracking DVD player in the guise of the DV8400 or DV8500, can't remember the exact model number (a pioneer 868 I believe with nicer clothes :D ).
     
  9. oconnpad

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    Don't want to start another Canton rant off.

    However for stereo only CD300 + XLS200 Sub for under a grand

    For 5.1 you could get a combination CD100 and CD50 plus the XLS200 still for under a grand and if you felt the CD50 was a bit weak for centre you might be able to get a CD360F in under a grand, it would be close though.

    This is buying from Germany. There is a few threads and they are worth a look.
     
  10. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    Thanks for the comments guys. There have been many posts on the marantz being musical but I've just never had the opportunity to demo (a bit mad I guess). The SR8500 is pricey, though I do like that it's THX but don't like that it has no Phono Input. (OK I could buy a stage..but I'm lazy).

    I've now learnt the AVR250 has no pre outs so that's that dead in the water also. The AVR300 is just looking too expensive if I really think about it (especially as it leaves me no room to buy a DVD player)

    It may be a fair shout on the Canton's but I don't like their styling. The Epos look very much like the Castles but as they are the same price this is a no brainer, I'd stick with what I know.

    A friend of mine today made the argument that all audiophile debate largely concerned itself with step changes in performance that would be hardly noticeable to the majority. I'm inclined to agree..for now at least. Of course, anything is going to be better than my £15 Alba Portable CD/Radio Cassette Device (which is my only source of music...other than the car) so I will notice the performance change. I'm not sure I would however see the benefit just yet in a 1K amp and 1k DVD.

    Current thinking..... downgrade to 2805/1910/4805 combo and put the £600-£700 saving aside for a) the introduction of some bookshelf/floorstanders for stereo duties and a decent stereo amp to drive them. Any suggestions would be nice :)
     
  11. Harry T2

    Harry T2
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    Digi, I don't think the 2805/1910/4805 combo is much of a downgrade. Most would say it is pretty impressive. It is a much better balanced system.

    If you are thinking of getting a stereo amp as well, I would be inclined to audition both the Denon 2105 and 1905 instead of the 2805.

    If your heart is set on the 2805 (and it is a fine choice), I would suggest a CD player, then bookself speakers as your upgrade path for stereo duties. Possibly an entry level Arcam or Rotel and Castle Richmond speakers would be a likely candidate. Both nearly fit into your current budget. Downgrading to a NAD or Cambridge Audio CD and you would now be within budget.

    I am not familar with the configuration of the 2805, or how well the cc3 would integrate with the Richmonds, but the possibilities are:
    - use`the 2nd zone facilities of the 2805 as a dedicated stereo
    - incorporate the Richmonds with the CC3 for a 7.1 system.

    Just my 2c worth.
     
  12. Harry T2

    Harry T2
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    And I know you have dismissed the Marantz SR8500 because of the lack of a phono stage and you are lazy, but I do think you should give consideration to the Marantz SR7400 and a phono stage. There are posts here quoting a price of GBP350 delivered.
     
  13. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    HarryT..wise words. Your idea's regarding stereo are on my wavelength. I must admit even my Hi-Fi dealer today suggested the 3805 was too powerful and even the 2805 was more than enough... it's easy to loose perspective on the fourms!

    I certainly like the idea of another pair of Castles for stereo..but perhaps slightly bigger than the Richmonds..say the Durhams at least..but may prefer the Floorstanders e.g. Pembrokes.

    I haven't any sights on a CD player at the moment as I'd wish to use the 1910 for both DVD & CD duties (of course not a patch on Arcam... but for now I can live with that). I hadn't considered using the Zone 2 of the 2805 for dedicated stereo and that intrigues me...so I'd like to learn more!

    I do have an old NAD 302 stereo amp and wonder, could I run a pair of speakers off this for pure stereo duties but have it contcted to the 2805 so if possible use the additional pair though the NAD into an 7.1 configuration? I'm not sure how I would a) conect the NAD to the 2805, b) what role the NAD would play with both amps switched on...would it become a pre amp? c) whether using Pure Direct Stereo on Zone 2 would be better quality than driving the 2 additional fronts off the NAD anyway and therefore just not bother with that kind of set up...Any thoughts?
     
  14. Harry T2

    Harry T2
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    I briefly flirted with the stereo amp as part of the AV setup, but it didn’t last long. It did gain improved stereo performance but on a downside it just became too complicated for the rest of my family to watch a movie. I had the CD connected to the stereo amp and front L&R speakers, and the DVD connected to the AV amp and remaining speakers. The AV amp used the front left and right pre-outs connected to inputs on the stereo. Two amps to switch on, 2 volume controls. Oh, did I mention the 2 power amps in there as well. Sound scored 10/10, but functionality was 0. If it was for the whole family to use, rather than my plaything, then it had to be simplified.

    I wouldn't use the NAD for the usability concerns. I doubt the NAD would provide any better performance than the denon in Pure Direct Stereo.

    I know I am harping on about it, but the source :rolleyes: is the weak link in the chain if you are considering the Pembrokes. Spend anymore on the speakers, and then the amplification is also a concern.
     
  15. booktrunk

    booktrunk
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    Have you considered something like a Pioneer 575, at around £120 for your DVD Player and then just listen to it at home, if it's really below par for what you want out of CD, then just buy a DAC to plumb in between it and say an Arcam 250 or 300 amp :)

    Second hand you can get a lot of good deals on DACs, and new there is the MF X-Dac v3 that lots of people like at £400RRP, or things like the Cyrus DACX at £1000.


    Even with the small MF Dac, you would transfort the pioneer into a darn good CD Player, and still have pretty good DVD abilities all for only just £500 quid, and I bet you would find it hard to get a new £500 cd player to beat it for cd replay.

    Steff
     
  16. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    Thanks Harry. You said my 2805/1910/CC3/4805 combo was a better balanced system. I presume when you say the source is the weak link in the chain, you are either reffering to the 1910 or the fact I have no CD player or both. Would you suggest I upgraded the DVD player for improved musical qualities or introduced a CD player? I'd like to keep to one source unit if possible with good transport for both CD & DVD... I suppose then I should be considering the Arcams...but don't have the money... so I still have the dilema. Out of the 3.5K budget, and keeping to the 2805/CC3/4805.. this effectively leaves me with £700 for either a) cheap DVD like the 1910 but in with a chance of introducing an extra pair of fronts b) forgetting the extra fronts for now and spending the £700 on a DVD... though I'm a little reluctant to with all the problems reported around DVD players of late... and HDD/Blu-Ray around the corner...

    Decisions, Decisions..
     
  17. booktrunk

    booktrunk
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    Or £120 on a dvd player which you can dump when bluray / Hi-Def comes along and a DAC which you can keep for as long as it beats the sound from a DVD Player :)

    Steff
     
  18. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    How much are the Rotel AV recievers these days? Can't seem to find much.... are ther any of comparative value to the 2805?
     
  19. Tejstar

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    If you don't need the tuner, why don't you consider a Yamaha 750SE amp. It's nearly as good as the Denon 2805 (better in stereo imo) and will save you £200! :)
     
  20. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    I have the wrong mindset basically. I was told many moons ago, by more than one source, that Yamaha AV's were not musical... ever since I have ruled them out.

    I don't need a tuner at all. In fact I am annoyed that I'm having to pay for something with one in. For me I only want the amp and the video processing/decoding bits. Most, if not all, AV's seem to have tuners though...slightly annoying.

    The obvious thing would be to suggest a really good old fashioned stereo amp and some kind of seperate processor....but I would have no idea where to start and wouldn't trust myself. In addition, when I get upgradeitis, which I will, I would not see the market being as open to me for selling on seperates as it is for an integrated amp. So many newbs like me see the integrated option as the least daunting.
     
  21. Kazman

    Kazman
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    The new Yamahas have come a long way with music.
     
  22. Harry T2

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    Hi Digi, sorry for confusing you.

    I am referring to the 1910 as a CD player as the weak link. It probably wouldn’t be noticeable initially, but will be a limiting factor when the quality of the speakers is improved.

    If it was me, I would choose option c). None of the above.

    I think the options are:
    1. Accept that the improvement of the stereo is a work in progress, and another GBP100 or 200 is needed to upgrade the source and speakers – I really don’t think one should be done without the other. If a preference is for one box, then the DAC option may be acceptable, using the 1910 as just a transport. But if a phono stage is too much trouble, I suspect that the DAC would be as well.

    2. Accept that this whole AV/Stereo thing costs too much money. Downgrade the amp to the 2105. I am sure that you would still find a lot of enjoyment out of the listening to music out of this system. Spend the money saved on DVD’s and CD.

    Just a thought. Never heard or seen it (I don’t think it is available here). Is there a DVD player by Limit that is tuned by Cyrus as a replacement for the 1910. I think it is priced around GBP150 and no idea of the model number. It may have the ability to do the better speakers justice.
     
  23. Harry T2

    Harry T2
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    I wouldn't add anymore variables at the moment. When you do, you will realise that the projector is not up to the job.
     
  24. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    Harry - You worry me! You seem to be suggesting thatmy speaker choice is not good as you suggest that the limitations of the 1910 as a CD player will only be noticeable when I upgrade the speaker, inferring that the Castles are not of sufficient quality to pick out detail which would magnify the 1910's flaws.

    You are also suggesting that the Projector choice I have is too a poor one; the inference again that 'it would not be up to the job' when paired with a decent source.

    I thought that the SP4805 was a highly rated DLP and especially for it's price tag...also, whilst the Castles are not the most popular sub/sat system, they are a highly regarded speaker manufacturer and the CC3 has had many good reviews.

    Is there something in either of these choices I am missing?

    To clarify, I reckon even with a 2805/1910/4805/CC3 System, I could still afford to spend a grand on introducing Stereo by March. The above system is not finalised yet and I may downgrade the 2805 yet... and by no means am I convinced on a DVD player yet.

    I am intrigued to know what issues specifically you have with the products mentioned as your previous post was a little vague. I'd also appreciate your thoughts on what Stereo system I could get for a grand, to sit alongside the Cinema system.
     
  25. Harry T2

    Harry T2
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    Digi, sorry. There is nothing wrong with what you have chosen. I need to do some work (it is currently 10am here) and will post a reply in an 1 hour or 2.
    Cheers.
     
  26. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    Thanks Harry :)
     
  27. Harry T2

    Harry T2
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    My comment regarding the 4805 was in reference to your Blu-ray/Hi-Def comment. With its native resolution of 480X854 it would not to a 720p or 1080i justice. To me it just seemed like a logical extension on dismissing spending GBP600+ (I really must find out how to insert a “pound” symbol) on a DVD player when a new technology is not far away. Buy the 4805 with confidence.

    Now this is where I am creating doubts in your mind. What am I trying to help you do is balance your requirements of stereo and multi-channel. I am not implying that the speakers are not of sufficient quality, what I am trying to say is that you will not receive the full benefit of upgrading one component without the other. Will you here a difference – yes. Will you here the full potential of the upgrade – No, because it is being held back by another component.

    So: -
    CC3 – Excellent speakers. Would I use them as speakers in a dedicated £1000 stereo system on sound alone– No. Would I use them in a dedicated AV system – Probably. Would I use them in a dedicated AV system where aesthetics is in issue – Definitely yes.

    Will I get an improved sound in using the 2805 instead of the 2105 – Yes. Is the improvement in sound a cost-effective upgrade – No, but if I am getting the benefit of (let’s say) an equivalent £350 stereo amp as well, then the upgrade is justified.

    Can the 1910 provide a video signal do the projector justice? Yes. Would the projector benefit from a better video source – Yes. A £700+ projector, Yes, but cannot justify on cost. And what about if I use it as a CD as well – Possibly, the Arcam DV78 comes to mind, but if I am spending that much, I would like a DVI or HDMI connection. Denon’s and Pioneers don’t have the CD qualities and the DV79 would put me over budget. What else is there in the sub £400 bracket that I could use as a video source. Nothing really that could justify the expense other than the likely candidates in the £150 bracket (Pioneer DV575A, Denon 1710, Toshiba 340, Samsung HD???, Limit SE???).

    I am happy with the AV side of my system, but I have a few dollars (oops, I mean pounds) in the bank and I would like to improve the stereo performance? Hmmmm, how can I answer this without putting alarm bells in your head. But these are my personal preferences on how I would improve the sound and stereo imaging. And as a benchmark, we are looking at a comparable standalone £1000 stereo system

    Speakers – As stated above, plus I will now add, from an AV perspective, they are musical and create excellent detail. From a stereo perspective, they can be bettered. They do not have the depth, control and presence I seek. I do not warm to ultra small speakers in a stereo system. I am no expert on the Castle range, but I would initially look at a pair of Richmond 3i’s, and depending on how well they integrate with the CC3, we could also upgrade (on the AV side) to a 7.1 system at no extra cost. Durham’s and Pembrokes are also possibilities to improve stereo imaging, but my concern is that they may affect the front sound stage for the worse.

    Source – I am astounded by the performance for price delivered by DVD players. Unfortunately, there are some sacrifices in the CD performance that possibly could be highlighted with additional/better speakers. There is just something missing in the detail, and I would use the term clinical. A dedicated CD or separate DAC, and a cheap DVD player provides the best performance for buck (sorry pound).

    So, what I am trying to say, is that you have selected a very musical AV system. This should not be confused with a stereo system.

    You can buy your chosen items with confidence. I am not trying to set the sirens off. There is nothing wrong with anything you have chosen.

    My 1000 system would be
    Speakers B&W DM602S3 (they would not pass the WAF)
    Amp – Cambridge Audio 640
    Source – Arcam CD73T

    But I would try and find 2nd hand Speakers and Amp.

    PS, I am not normally this long winded.
     
  28. digisocialist

    digisocialist
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    Harry - I think I see your point now. On your final point, I too tried the B&W's and they would not pass the WAF aesthetically and we also found them a little faiguing (though I could live with them).

    Will pontificate and come back later...rushing to work now!
     
  29. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    I agree, I have the Yamaha 750SE and think it's very good for the price. Stereo is great.

    Although, if you were really worried about the stereo performance buying the 750SE will leave you with enough change to buy a separate stereo amp and connect it to the 750SE using the preouts on the amp.
     
  30. gavp

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    Decisions, decisions!! If I recall you have a dedicated cinema room currently under construction (nice) which I presume you will use for movies therefore the above choice seems perfect. Assuming again that your stereo option for a grand will be in living room/dining room? you can easily get speakers, amp and cd player for a grand, £500 on amp and cd £500 on speakers. Marantz, Nad, Cambridge Audio, all have awards for there cd and amp combo's for around £500, as for speakers and the WAF standmounts on some decent stands can look very pleasing to the eye (bluerooms spring to mind), or if you prefer Mission, Acoustic Energy have some excellent floorstanders that the missus might like as well as sounding good.
    So to summarise the cinema kit looks good (sevenoaks have a sale that will knock 20%off £2000 spend at the moment www.ssav.com) If you can seperate your hi-fi and cinema needs, get the cinema set up, then in March go with your stereo needs, then you have the fun of two projects to amuse and entertain you!!
     

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