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Understanding what my AV receiver requirements are

hollymcr

Novice Member
I need to replace an aging Sherwood AV receiver with something more current. This is being driven by the purchase of a new TV without RCA plug audio outputs.

The TV is Samsung 4k 3D (40", it's not a big room). The vast majority of video content will come from the TV (eg via its Netflix, Amazon or Plex apps), although I also have a Samsung 4k 3D BluRay player which won't see a lot of use but I want to take advantage of when I do. I have a Virgin cable box but rarely use it.

I am really confused about what I actually need in AV functionality.

4k upscaling: both my TV and my BluRay offer this. Why would I want that in my AV? Out of a £800 TV, a £80 BluRay player and (say) a £200 AV receiver, surely I should expect the TV to do the best upscaling?

The TV likely has sufficient HDMI ports for my immediate requirements, so surely I only actually need to process the TV's audio output? If so, optical or ARC? Do I care how many HDMI ports the AV receiver has, or even whether they support 4k?

From an audio only point of view, I'd like to bring in my old turntable and probably other audio only sources (Bluetooth if the receiver doesn't support it directly, DAB at some point, etc.) (Why isn't DAB routinely provided alongside FM/AM these days?)

I'm not an audiophile, but I'd like to do better than the TV speakers. I currently have a 2.1 setup, so 5.1 would easily suffice although I'm not sure I'd ever get around to cabling rear speakers.

The TV is wall mounted with a stack underneath of separates, a bass speaker and two floor standing front speakers either side of the stack (ie only about 20" apart). There doesn't seem an obvious way to mount a soundbar which might otherwise be an obvious option.

Where do I start?
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
I've got a Samsung TV in the bedroom and the smart hub plain refuses to send audio via arc so I'm forced to use an optical cable to the receiver. This limits audio output to Dolby digital. That TV is three years old so things might have improved.

You are best connecting your bluray player to your new receiver directly via hdmi then you will get the benefit of full HD audio.

The tv is likely to be the best upscaler so that for me wouldn't even be a consideration in choice of receiver. I immediately switch those options off on any receiver.

Most network receivers have internet radio built in so no need for Dab.

For a degree of future proofing look for a receiver that has hdcp 2.2 compatibility.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
I've got a Samsung TV in the bedroom and the smart hub plain refuses to send audio via arc so I'm forced to use an optical cable to the receiver. This limits audio output to Dolby digital. That TV is three years old so things might have improved.

ARC has the exact same audio capabilities as those associated with S/PDIF optical so you'd be restricted to SD stereo PCM, DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 even if using ARC. Your TV wouldn't include the ability to handle or passthrough multichannel HD formats anyway. Only Sony facilitate passing through multichannel formats from external sources. You simply get stereo output from most TVs if the source is an external device connected to a TV via HDMI.

Try to have sources connected to the AV receiver and passthrough the video signal to a TV as opposed to having them connected to the TV and passing through the audio to the receiver. Audio will be compromised and limited to the TV's own audio capabilities otherwise. Use the AV receiver as the source switch and not the TV.

If you've a 4K TV then you'd not need to use the video processing onboard an AV receiver. Such processing more often than not causes deterioration in video quality so leave the TV to scale content to fit its panel rather than using the AV receiver.

Start by deciding exactly what your room will accomodate and then use this to determine whether or not you can use an AV receiver and 5.1, 7.1 or more cnfiguration rather than a soundbar? Also note that the centre speaker will ideally need to match your left and right front speakers and the sub has to be an active model with its own onboard amplification and power supply. Your front speakers is far too close together for even a stereo setup and if your room is this small then floorstanders wouldn't be the best choice. Floorstanders need breathing space around them in order to help prevent bass boom. You'd ordinarilly want to be spacing the stereo pair 1 - 2m apart and you be wanting to be sat 2.5 - 3m in front of them and central tp them.
 
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Hixs

Distinguished Member

mtenga

Distinguished Member
ARC has the exact same audio capabilities as those associated with S/PDIF optical so you'd be restricted to SD stereo PCM, DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 even if using ARC.

For whatever reason the old Samsung Smarthub won't work with arc. It was a known issue back then and I don't know if it is solved for whatever Samsung has as their internet platform these days. I've recently started using the Smarthub again for Amazon and am forced to use the extra optical cable which works as per normal. But as I said my TV is from 2012 and things might have changed with more modern Samsung TVs.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Can't cpmment for everyone and their setup, but I'm using a Samsung F7000 and a DEnon AVRX3313 together and no issues relating to ARC. Samsung seem to fair better than other brands when it comes to ARC and compatability with other brands. LG have the worst reputation.It is really a case of suck it and see and you can't assume it will or wont work without actually trying it.
 
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Hixs

Distinguished Member
Well I'm in no real position to give advice regarding speakers tbh I'm newbie to all this too! From advice I've been given by other members you need to spend 2 or 3 times the amount on speakers as you did on the AVR to get the best out of it. So for you 400-600 region.
 

hollymcr

Novice Member
Start by deciding exactly what your room will accomodate and then use this to determine whether or not you can use an AV receiver and 5.1, 7.1 or more cnfiguration rather than a soundbar?

The shape of the room (combined with fireplace, patio doors, interior doors, etc) means that the TV is wall mounted in the corner of the room to the left of the patio doors, at an angle into the room. A soundbar might work but it's not something I have any experience with; I'd have to start by taking the TV off the wall onto a floor stand (not a show stopper) but I'm happy to consider it. For a small setup are they better than AV receivers?

Would a soundbar fit into the setup in the same way (ie bring all HDMI sources into it instead of the TV) or does that change things?

Any soundbar recommendations?
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Havig a TV in a corner will not be conducive with a surround sound setup, be it using an AV receiver with multiple speakers placed around the room of via a soundbar located below or above a TV. The TV needs to be central to a wall so that you can fascilitate something relatively close to the following configuration:

OLw2Lb.jpg



Sounbars don't work as they shoulld unless walls are parallel to their placement because they use the walls to bounce the sound to the location you'd associate with conventional surround sound speaker positions.

Sound bars are limited when it comes to HDMI inputs. Even the higher tier bars have far fewer inputs that an entry level AV receiver.
 

hollymcr

Novice Member
Havig a TV in a corner will not be conducive with a surround sound setup, be it using an AV receiver with multiple speakers placed around the room of via a soundbar located below or above a TV.

Unfortunately there's not much I can do about the room layout without moving house so I have to make the best of what I have. That said, with the old Sherwood box we never complained, and I don't want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good here. It is one reason why I'm price sensitive though; the room layout isn't going to make the best of a high quality system, but on the other hand the TV speakers don't make the best of things either. After all it is only a 40" set (the biggest we can fit into the space available, which is only possible with the small bezels they have these days, the previous set was 32").

Given the Feng Sui limitations, what is the best I can do with a budget of (say) £400? What, realistically, would I gain from spending more?
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Contrary to popular belief, the receiver is not the most expensive element of a home theatre setupYou realistically need to be spending twice as much on the 5.1 speaker package simply to get a relatively well balanced setup. If £400 is your entire budget then the speakers you can afford are determined by the money you have remaining as opposed to the most suitable. An entry level receiver such as the RXV379 will cost you £250 or thereabouts so you've not really much option as to what speakers you can pair with it. I'd not seriously recommend any speaker package selling for £150.

I can only suggest you look at increasing your budget and consider one of the better quality satellite speaker packages such as the KEF E305 package, but this will cost you considerably more than your budget allows for. I'd begrudgingly suggest the Tannoy TFX5.1 as being a more affordable option closer to your budget.

Also note that you'll not be able to connect a turntable directly to any entry level AV receiver because only the higher tier receivers include integral phono stages and pre amps. You'd need an external phono stage if the turntable itself doesn;t include its own integral pre amp for the RCA outputs.
 
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hollymcr

Novice Member
I can only suggest you look at increasing your budget and consider one of the better quality satellite speaker packages such as the KEF E305 package, but this will cost you considerably more than your budget allows for. I'd begrudgingly suggest the Tannoy TFX5.1 as being a more affordable option closer to your budget.

I'm not against increasing the budget, I just need to justify it! So let's say I spend £200 on the RXV379, that suggests £400 on speakers. I don't think I can justify £800 on the KEF package (much as I'd like to!). The Tannoy set would probably suit me fine but if I wanted to go up to something more mid range any suggestions?

Or should I go for decent 2.1 now and add the rear speakers later?

Also note that you'll not be able to connect a turntable directly to any entry level AV receiver because only the higher tier receivers include integral phono stages and pre amps. You'd need an external phono stage if the turntable itself doesn;t include its own integral pre amp for the RCA outputs.

I'd be reluctant to loose the ability to play vinyl although I could always keep the existing gear for that. But if I want to keep it in the main setup, am I better spending the money on a better receiver, an external phono stage or a new turntable? (The existing turntable isn't anything special.)
 

dante01

Distinguished Member

hollymcr

Novice Member
You mentioned that you already have a sub. What model is it and is it an active model?

I don't know the make model and I'm not at home to check, but it certainly isn't active. My thinking at this point is that I am looking at a new 5.1 set and trying to incorporate the existing speakers in any form is going to be a compromise.

What's the best way to locate the cabling to rear speakers (short of chasing them into walls properly)?
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
What's the best way to locate the cabling to rear speakers (short of chasing them into walls properly)?

There are cable conduits that mimc skirting boards and architrave. Other than this, lay the speaker wires under the floor or in the ceiling space rather than channeling out the entire distance from the receiver to where the speakers are.
 

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