Question Upgrade options for 2.0 stereo system

rigger123

Standard Member
Hi all, long time lurker here. I'm after your combined expertise if it's okay as I'm a bit confused as to what direction I should be heading to improve my system.

I'll start with the current setup, okay so I have a fairly small living room 13'x10' with hard wood flooring. speakers are a pair of stand mounted monitor audio bx2's placed either side of a 42" telly. And they are driven by a demon DM38.

The system is used for 60% music of various genres but biased towards rock/metal and 40% films. (The films have always been the weakest area as I can never seem to get the volume right, I have to have it fairly loud to hear the voices but then action parts can seem deafening, and the bass in explosions etc never seems 'full' but I guess that's the sacrifice for not having a sub) but I'm hoping that after the upgrade it will be swayed even more in favour of music! Also I feel I should add the big bug bear I have with the Demon is it's volume control. It works in 'steps' which is frustrating as I often want the volume between the predetermined increments, so if any suggestions could include stepless volume control I would very much appreciate it.

The reason for the upgrade? Well partly an itch, and partly I feel as if I'm missing out on newer ways of listening to music. For example my current system seems to get nearly no fm or dab signal so I'm stuck with my CD collection and don't get to experience new music. Also my partner uses spotify premium, so she would love to be able to take advantage of this on the hifi rather than headphones. Therefore I was wondering if a new amp would be the best route? One that could connect via WiFi so that I could benefit from internet radio stations and possibly spotify as well if this is possible? (most of these new features seem to be geared towards Apple products, which I don't have unfortunately)

Also do I upgrade to some floorstanding speakers to improve bass for films? Or do I stick with what I have?

Budget? Well that's a hard one, I'd prefer to pay no more than £500ish for the amp, and maybe the same again for the speakers (if they are worth it for such a small room?) But would pay more if it meant I had a system which was futureproofed for as long as possible.

Sorry I realise I've just bombarded everyone with all this info, if there's anything I've missed feel free to ask! Hopefully someone will have more of an idea than me, as looking at specs etc on amps I'm just getting lost! Thanks all in advance especially if you made it this far!!
 
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TomScrut

Well-known Member
What are you feeding into the Denon to get the film sound into it? See if your blu ray player has dynamic range compression on it that will help with your volume issues
 

rigger123

Standard Member
Hi Tom, I am feeding the Denon via a PS4. The sound goes via hdmi to my TV and then from the TV's 3.5mm jack to RCA at the Denon. I will check the PS4's settings and see what I can come up with. Thanks for your help regarding this issue. Do you have any thoughts on upgrading? Or am I too early in terms of WiFi amps/receivers? Should I wait for the tech to improve and be happy with what I have for now?
 
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TomScrut

Well-known Member
I aren't familiar with amps around that price range so I don't really want to advise, but I have far bigger speakers than you in a 12 foot by 13 foot room. I can put the speakers where I like though which makes a massive difference and is possibly more important than the size of room within reason
 

rigger123

Standard Member
Hi Tom, thanks once again for your reply. It is good to know that I won't be limited by room size alone, as this was a fear of mine.

I don't mind spending more if it's worth it (im normally quite a frugal person, but it seems that speakers/amps etc are at least built to last) and I don't mind paying for quality if it will last. If I have to upgrade piece by piece then that's okay with me. I guess it's just finding the sweet spot between good sound/performance and diminishing returns?
 

Don Dadda

Distinguished Member
Hi rigger

Are you looking for separates this time around or more of the same but better?

If more of the same then the Marantz MCR610 which can be had for just over £300 at RS down from £450
Marantz MCR610 MELODY MEDIA Black | Streaming Mini System EXC Speakers | Richer Sounds.

All round better than the DM38 and if your tv has an optical audio output, can use the digital inputs of the MCR610. You can use your existing speakers which those and the 610 are a popular pairing but the mcr610 can also drive suitably match floorstanders. Or you could add a sub.

if you want floorstanders, the following are worth consideration
Epic Home Cinema Projectors
At £675 a pair, more than the speakers budget but what you get from the sale of the bx2's could add to the budget

It has CD, FM, DAB and Internet radio but if the dab/FM signal is weak in your house then it or any other system with DAB/FM could suffer the same fate which would mean the need for an outdoor aerial. You've probably have a weak signal to your house or that part of the house. Or a dead spot

Another aternative could be the Cambridge audio minx Xi.
Cambridge Audio MINX Xi Black | Streaming Mini System - EXC Speakers | Richer Sounds £399

Its more of a streamer with an inbuilt amp as it does not have DAB/FM or cd but has digital inputs for TV /ps4 and is pretty good at what it does. Its control app leaves a lot to be desired but there are others that works better.

Another which at £1.2k is way over the budget is the Naim unitiqute 2, but the Unitique 1 can be had for around £500 s/h. No Cdp but has everything else, is a quality unit and built like a Sherman tank

Movie vocals can be a bit hit and miss on stereo amps but thats not the fault of the amp. Most of time its better than good but you are at the mercy of the broadcaster if sky, bbc, etc and what they are broadcasting. DVD/BR's , as suggested above by Tom, can be configured to make the vocals more clearer though a stereo amp.

For separates, the £500 budget is a bit lean for cdp, amp, streamer and dab/fm radio and will eat into the speaker budget. However, a bit of searching and mixing and matching and something very nice can be created

Marantz PM6005 & Dali ZENSOR 5 Black | Hi-Fi Separates System | Richer Sounds £649
Yamaha CDN301 Black | CD Player with Music Streamer | Richer Sounds £239
Total £888 plus the price of a DAB/FM tuner which you may be better off looking on the bay for one

Or a Yamaha RN301 which is a stereo receiver with onboard streaming/internet radio £219-£250.

all the above amps have digital input which the tv can connect to if it has an optical audio output
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
The Denon, while nice with lot of features, is a very low powered amp. Even the Marantz 610 does not have quite as much power as it claims. I believe I determined that it has at best 30w/ch by a standard rating. The Denon 38 has at best 20w/ch by any reasonable standard.

Your speakers, if they really are the Monitor Audio BX2, are fine speakers with pretty deep bass for a bookshelf. Given your stated budget, I really don't see any need to upgrade them, unless you are moving to Floorstanding speakers.Or, alternately, unless you want to move one model line up to the Monitor Audio Silver 1 (£500/pr) speakers -

http://www.superfi.co.uk/p-14029-monitor-audio-silver-1-speakers-pair.aspx

In an amp, it is hard to beat the one-amp-does-it-all Yamaha RN500 Network Receiver with 80w/ch, AM/FM, Phono In, Sub Out, DAC-Optical/Coaxial/USB-Media, PLUS Network Streaming (DLNA, Apple Airplay) of Audio from local storage and from the Internet, with direct connect to Spotify. Currently significantly discounted at £349 -

http://www.superfi.co.uk/p-13779-yamaha-rn500-networked-receiver.aspx

Yamaha does have a reasonably low cost Wireless Network adapter for their amps, though you would have to be sure it would work with the RN500.

http://www.superfi.co.uk/p-10972-yamaha-ywa10-wireless-network-adaptor.aspx

http://www.reidys.com/pr/keyboard-and-piano-accessories/yamaha-ud-wl01-wireless-adaptor-19184

Though a search of Google-Shopping finds the RN500 for even less (£309)-

http://www.petertyson.co.uk/ebuttonz/ebz_product_pages/yamaha_r-n500.shtml

High power, reasonably priced, and with just about every feature you could possible want in a Stereo amp.

Depending on where you want to go with the speakers. If we assume the Yamaha Amp above and a £500 budget, that leaves you a bit lean for speakers. I still say the Monitor Audio BX2 are fine speakers with decent bass response. I would try them with the new amp and see if that is sufficient improvement.

If you feel you want more with out going down in quality then the Monitor Audio BX5 would be a consideration, but they are not cheap at £500/pr.

http://www.superfi.co.uk/p-3615-monitor-audio-bronze-bx5-floorstanding-speakers-pair.aspx

Though it has sold for less, the now discontinued Wharfedale Diamond 155 (Retail £499/pr) floorstanding can now be had for £379/pr -

http://www.audioaffair.co.uk/wharfedale-diamond-155-speakers-pair?gclid=CK6S9pqtjcUCFVKAaQodcRUAuw

As an alternative, you could consider adding a Subwoofer. While the Yamaha has a Sub Out, it doesn't not have electronic bass management for the Front Speakers, as a consequence, you would have to blend the Sub to the natural roll-off of the Monitor Audio BX2, which would be about 40hz, or very near that range.

A good Sub, is not cheap. Probably the best is the BK Electronics XXLS400 in FF (front firing) or DF (down firing) for about £425 -

http://www.bkelec.com/HiFi/Sub_Woofers/XXLS400.htm

One step down from there would be the BK Electronics XLS200 (DF & FF) (£325)-

http://www.bkelec.com/HiFi/Sub_Woofers/XLS200-DFandFF.htm

At either link, select the photo to see the model you want to view. Performance wise, I'm told there is little difference between DF and FF, however, with DF (down firing) you don't see the grill cloth, just the wood of the cabinet, that can make the DF Subs physically more attractive.

I would suggest, get a decent amp with some real power, of which the Yamaha RN500 is one good example at an attractive price, then see how that works with the Monitor Audio BX2 speakers. Once you have this new baseline, you can decide where to go from there.

As to the extreme dynamics of movie sound tracks ... welcome to reality. There is not much you can do about that ... sort of. And it is most likely the sound track and not your system that is the problem.

It sounds like your TV has Analog Audio Out that you connect to your amp. If so, check the TV Owner's Manual to see if it has any type of Dynamic Range Compress, Automatic Level control, or even Night Mode. These leave the moderate volumes unaffected, yet clamp down on loud volumes. This can moderate the extreme differences between people talking and the earth blowing up.

Definitely worth investigating.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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rigger123

Standard Member
Don dadda and Steve - Thank you both for such detailed and helpful replies! And sorry for not getting back to you both sooner, I have been on a long weekend to Cornwall and didn't feel I could give your replies the time they deserved!

I have had a look at the various amps suggested and whilst I like the convenience of the all-in-ones, they all seem to be fairly low on output power and as Steve has suggested maybe it would be best to upgrade the amp first and see where I stand once at a new baseline.

I have to say that the Yamaha RN500 Really does strike me as being almost perfect for my needs (On paper of course, I would definitely give it a demo before making a final decision) It has step-less volume (as far as I can tell) it would connect with my TV via optical which I assume would also be an upgrade from the RCA connection I currently have, and also leave me an optical input free for a separate CD player in the future. It also connects to the internet to provide vradio which helps as I seem to have a dead spot where my current system is concerned and supports spotify connect, all this and much more POWER! (I sound like Clarkson now) Aswell as a very good price, Its almost perfect!!

There are only 2 things that concern me with it, the fact it does not have wireless and a separate dongle is required (i don't think homeplugs are an option as my router is powered from an extension lead and my AV equipment is also powered with a surge protected 6 gang extension), I have also looked up the reviews of the dongle and they seem fairly poor with many complaining of dropouts and the fact that if the receiver tries to update itself over wifi, as part of the update process the unit restarts itself which drops the connection and causes the update to fail.

The second concern is breathing space for the amp, I currently have a shelf space set at its highest setting which gives ~154mm and the Yamaha is apparently 151mm tall, does anyone know whether 3mm breathing space on top of the unit is sufficient? If it helps the front and sides are open so would allow some airflow.

I guess my options are limited, I tried searching for alternatives but only really came up with the Onkyo 8050 which suffers the same (no wifi) problem. It does seem that stereo tech is advancing fairly fast though, so maybe I just need to be patient and wait for the next iteration of either of these devices to get wireless?

Regarding a sub, its something id rather not have if I don't need one. I just don't really have the space for one and i would rather get floorstanding speakers to improve bass if required.

In other news I have had a look and managed to find a night mode for my TV, so will give that a try next time I'm watching a film, many thanks for that tip! Hopefully that is one problem solved!
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Nothing ever gives you everything. But the Yamaha RN500 gives you a lot. There are other WiFi devices for amps, simply search them out and find one you like.

In all honesty, I would probably not buy the Yamaha Wireless adapter. I was simply pointing out the possibility, not making a recommendation. I suspect there are better ones out there, though my first choice would be to find a way to direct wire it. A wired connection is always superior, and is preferred for many reasons.

A subwoofer is a complication, but it does provide some gain. Myself, I would not have a Subwoofer unless I was able to build a dedicated Home Cinema room. I don't need it for music and I don't need it for movies. Though I recognize the value in having one.

As far as available space, you have two choices, get a smaller amp with less power, or find space for a larger amp. Don't get trapped into one way of thinking. Ingenuity will usually solve all problems.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Paul Selwood

Active Member
I too have the same problem, plus I think lot other people do to. My set up is PS4 with netflix, Arcam A19, Dynaudio Dm 2/6 Speakers and a cheap dac off amazon. I think problem lie in, that hifi is for music. EG a DAC can have a dynamics of up to 110 db. When you go to watch a movie, at a picture house. You will hear full dynamics volume. I think the way to go, is that some one bring out a low dynamic dac for tv.
 

Don Dadda

Distinguished Member
Re Homeplugs. The av and router on a extension will not be a problem if you can plug the Homeplugs directly into the wall socket or a standard non surge protected extension.

In saying that, I had solwise Homeplugs dotted around the house and I had 2 on 2 extension leads and both worked fine. One was a masterplug type entension where if the device on 1st socket is not on, the other devices on that extension will not be supplied power. This is used for my pc . The other was cheap surge protector extension ( or so it says) and as said, both Homeplugs worked fine.
 

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