Upgrading 3.0 to 5.1 - Anthem, Dynaudio, Kef - need advice

dolofsson

Active Member
Hello,

I’m about to move to a new place, and now I’m considering upgrading my AV-equipment.

My current gear:

Onkyo 809, Dynaudio X16 fronts, DLS RC55 center (!)

ATV2 JB XBMC

Sony bd-player


The new living room is about 3.5m x 5 m and open to hallway and kitchen + stairway to hallway second floor. Fronts, center placed at 3.5m-wall.

I’m about 60% movie 40% music.


Currently I’m quite satisfied with the sound but I do find music a bit flat and “boring”, especially at higher volumes. (Listening to FLAC via Onkyo DLNA client in NET-mode (Direct).) My current room isn’t exactly optimized for music listening but still I would prefer som more “attack” and higher detail.

Considering the circumstances I’m happy with the movie sound but I feel it’s time to upgrade. (Center not matched, no sub, no rear speakers.)


My list of upgrade candidates:

Music streaming – Bluesound Node (Wimp hifi + flacs)

Sub – SVS SB2000

BD-player – Oppo 103D (better picture, silent operation, media capabilities)

Reciever - Anthem MRX510/710 (great for music, ARC)


Speakers:

Dynaudio X34 fronts, X24 center

Monitor Audio Silver 8, Silver center

Kef r700, r600c center (or r200c)

Kef r500, r200c center

Monitor Audio Apex A40, A40

Monitor Audio Radius R270, R200


Rear speakers will initially be small satellites like MA r90, KEF e301, MA A10 or similar.


I have earlier demoed Dynaudio X32 and Monitor audio RX-speakers. Haven’t demoed anything close to Kef R-series or Apex/Radius though.

My impression is that all packages above would be more than satisfying when it comes to movies. Thus the choice is mostly about their abilities playing music. My plan is to demo all the sets again, but I do want as much input as possible before that since the store is quite remotely located.

What order would be wise to upgrade - what would probably be the biggest upgrade? Is it viable to stay with Onkyo 809? Is MRX510 enough to drive all the sets above or would it be a waste of good speakers when it comes to i.e. r700?

KefR700/r600c – are they too/unnecessarily big/bassy to be used in the living room I’ve described? I’ve also noticed that kef r-series centers are rear ported, are they still ok to put close to a wall beneath the TV?

Comments and thoughts of the choices? What would you go for? All input is highly appreciated!
 

dolofsson

Active Member
Hmm.. 81 views and no replies. Too much of wall of text?! :thumbsdow
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
I suppose the problem is that unless soemone has listened to all the options you mention with the receiver you have or plan on getting then hard to make a lot of sensible comments especially since you intend to demo anyway which is by far the best way to find the best speakers for you.
I suspect the radius will be a bit of a dissappointment compared to the others you have picked so if there is one demo to drop then that could be the one. What is your overall budget for the upgrade/ each element of the upgrade?
Why the need for small rears?
Where do you plan to position the speakers? i.e. do you plan ot wall mount the centre? Will the apex be wall mounted around TV or on stands?
If you plan on geting a sub then getting a very large speaker up front may not really be required especially if you use the suggested 80Hz crossover point. That said you may prefer the look of a larger speaker and at least you know it will be well within its capabilities.
 

Andrew K

Banned
I'd recommend :-
Kef r500, r200c center
Anthem MRX510
Paradigm Siesmic 110 Subwoofer

510 is enough to drive the R700 as well but you may find the 710 cleaner.
 

dolofsson

Active Member
I suppose the problem is that unless soemone has listened to all the options you mention with the receiver you have or plan on getting then hard to make a lot of sensible comments especially since you intend to demo anyway which is by far the best way to find the best speakers for you.
I suspect the radius will be a bit of a dissappointment compared to the others you have picked so if there is one demo to drop then that could be the one. What is your overall budget for the upgrade/ each element of the upgrade?
Why the need for small rears?
Where do you plan to position the speakers? i.e. do you plan ot wall mount the centre? Will the apex be wall mounted around TV or on stands?
If you plan on geting a sub then getting a very large speaker up front may not really be required especially if you use the suggested 80Hz crossover point. That said you may prefer the look of a larger speaker and at least you know it will be well within its capabilities.

I guess I'm just interested in any comparison between any combination of the mentioned speakers.

When it comes to budget, I might upgrade in steps, and thereby the numbers aren't that important, end result is more important. If I have to wait a few months buying center, rears or sub, that's ok. But the total budget is around the packages I've mentioned, maximum.

If I go small sats (Apex A40 front + center) - I'm planning wall mount of all speakers.
Rears will be wall mounted regardless of speakerchoice - that together with space limitations is also the answer to why I need small rears.
If I go for floorstanders I've been thinking of putting center on a bench(housing receiver etc.) underneath wall mounted TV.

About the sub - sub isn't necessary, I'm just buying it I feel the need of deeper bass. I will choose fronts first. If I go for sats I will buy a sub. If I go for standmounters I think I need to test te setup first to check if sub is really needed. (Also takes up a lot o space together with floorstanders..)

I'd recommend :-
Kef r500, r200c center
Anthem MRX510
Paradigm Siesmic 110 Subwoofer

510 is enough to drive the R700 as well but you may find the 710 cleaner.

How to decide between 510 and 710.. If 510 - one can always add amp afterwards, but guess that gets a lot more expensive than difference 510-710.

Paradigm seems to be a bit over budget and isn't available here in Sweden. I've been aiming for svs sb-2000 (or sb 13 plus but that is also a bit over budget - almost same price as two sb-2000).

R700 instead of R500 - could that at all justify skipping the sub? It is a small room - even if it opens up to the rest of the house.

Would R700 at all sound mispaired with r200c center compared to the r600c?
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
As a general statement a floorstander will not give you the same authority of bass as as sub will give you. Also by having a sub you can take some of the load of the fronts which will clear up the mid range and hence give sound quality improvements. So I would say you would still really want a sub for movies as floorstanders will not give the same experience.
A centre speaker is not going to sound its best on or in a cabinet so I would advice against that kind of placement if at all possible.
As for speakers, have you considered XTZ?
 

dolofsson

Active Member
As a general statement a floorstander will not give you the same authority of bass as as sub will give you. Also by having a sub you can take some of the load of the fronts which will clear up the mid range and hence give sound quality improvements. So I would say you would still really want a sub for movies as floorstanders will not give the same experience.
A centre speaker is not going to sound its best on or in a cabinet so I would advice against that kind of placement if at all possible.
As for speakers, have you considered XTZ?
Ok - I will aim for a sub.

Why is it not recommended to put the center on a bench?

Since Kef r-series is ported on the back side - is it a waste/at all possible to put it on the wall (using bungs)?

Putting the center on a separate stand separated from the wall isn't an option beacuse of my better half and space restrictions. So it's either wall mounted or on a bench underneath tv.

XTZ isn't an option becuse of looks..!
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
Speakers are desinged to be used in free space and emit a fair bit of sound from the back and sides of the cabinet. This sound will interact with the surface it is resting on (the bench) and will interact even more if inside a cabinet. These interacts will adversely affect the sound coming from the speaker.
If sat on a bench then you can improve the situation by having the front of the speaker proud of the front of the unit and using isolation pads but it does not fully solve the problem. This thread may be of interest:

Centre speaker on cabinet? A solution! | AVForums
 

Iain42

Well-known Member
Hi there,

Going by your 40% music, have you considered a separate stereo amp driving the front stereo speakers for music duties? That's what I've done with the Naim Nait XS-2, and I'm very happy with it. When I listen to music, generally flac files via my OPPO analogue outputs to the Naim, my Kef R700's sound great. Then when I watch tv or blu-ray, I select the av option on the Naim, and the Yamaha receiver controls the volume to all the speakers. The pre-outs fro front left and right are connected to the relevant input on the Naim, which performs power amp duties thus taking some workload off the Yamaha.
 

dolofsson

Active Member
Hi there,

Going by your 40% music, have you considered a separate stereo amp driving the front stereo speakers for music duties? That's what I've done with the Naim Nait XS-2, and I'm very happy with it. When I listen to music, generally flac files via my OPPO analogue outputs to the Naim, my Kef R700's sound great. Then when I watch tv or blu-ray, I select the av option on the Naim, and the Yamaha receiver controls the volume to all the speakers. The pre-outs fro front left and right are connected to the relevant input on the Naim, which performs power amp duties thus taking some workload off the Yamaha.

That seems like a great idea. This has crossed my mind earlier. It's a lot more expensive though...! But then - I maybe could stay with my Onkyo 809 which IMO delivers when it comes to movies.

I'm haven't fully understood how this works though.
1) The fronts - are they only connected to the stereo amp? When using surround sound - will the stereo amp have to be turned on? And/or in a certain "mode" as you state to just let through signals from AV-receiver?
2) How is the volume controlled to fronts when using AV as preamp? I guess volume is supposed to be the same - but sound is somehow enhanced by the amp anyway? (More detail, authoirty?)
3) All soundprocessing (when surround sound) is made by AV-reciever - but is sound charasteristics (to fronts) affected by the stereo amp? Are there any settings affecting this on the stereo amp?
4) Is it possible to use sub (2.1) with both stereo amp and av-reciever in a convenient way? (Guess that depends on the amp..?!)
 

Iain42

Well-known Member
I'm haven't fully understood how this works though.
1) The fronts - are they only connected to the stereo amp? When using surround sound - will the stereo amp have to be turned on? And/or in a certain "mode" as you state to just let through signals from AV-receiver?

They are only connected to the stereo amp, which will have to be turned on. You need an amp which has an av bypass feature, (sometimes referred to as unity gain).

2) How is the volume controlled to fronts when using AV as preamp? I guess volume is supposed to be the same - but sound is somehow enhanced by the amp anyway? (More detail, authoirty?)

Volume is controlled by the av receiver in this mode. You need to check that your Onkyo has front left and right pre outs that can then connect to a stereo amp. You're likely to be using better amplification for the front speakers, depending on the stereo amp, so that will be a benefit for surround sound processing, and a big benefit for music.

3) All soundprocessing (when surround sound) is made by AV-reciever - but is sound charasteristics (to fronts) affected by the stereo amp? Are there any settings affecting this on the stereo amp?

Works seamlessly and very well on my setup.

4) Is it possible to use sub (2.1) with both stereo amp and av-reciever in a convenient way? (Guess that depends on the amp..?!)

Yes and yes. If you have a high level in on the sub, you can use that for music and the LFE for surround sound duties (I think from memory it's that way round).

I think if you search for unity gain on here you may get some info.

I use the whole system with a Harmony remote. For example, if I want to listen to music over the home network, I press that on the Harmony, then just select my music using my tablet.

If I want to watch telly, select that on the Harmony, telly, av receiver, skybox, and amp are on, amp is set to av and av receiver to Sky, and off I go.

The stereo amp was an addition to the existing system. Took about 10 minutes to connect up, including puling out and pushing back in the unit. Another 10 minutes to update the Harmony remote. Absolutely seamless, after weeks of research :).
 

dolofsson

Active Member
I'm haven't fully understood how this works though.
1) The fronts - are they only connected to the stereo amp? When using surround sound - will the stereo amp have to be turned on? And/or in a certain "mode" as you state to just let through signals from AV-receiver?

They are only connected to the stereo amp, which will have to be turned on. You need an amp which has an av bypass feature, (sometimes referred to as unity gain).

2) How is the volume controlled to fronts when using AV as preamp? I guess volume is supposed to be the same - but sound is somehow enhanced by the amp anyway? (More detail, authoirty?)

Volume is controlled by the av receiver in this mode. You need to check that your Onkyo has front left and right pre outs that can then connect to a stereo amp. You're likely to be using better amplification for the front speakers, depending on the stereo amp, so that will be a benefit for surround sound processing, and a big benefit for music.

3) All soundprocessing (when surround sound) is made by AV-reciever - but is sound charasteristics (to fronts) affected by the stereo amp? Are there any settings affecting this on the stereo amp?

Works seamlessly and very well on my setup.

4) Is it possible to use sub (2.1) with both stereo amp and av-reciever in a convenient way? (Guess that depends on the amp..?!)

Yes and yes. If you have a high level in on the sub, you can use that for music and the LFE for surround sound duties (I think from memory it's that way round).

I think if you search for unity gain on here you may get some info.

I use the whole system with a Harmony remote. For example, if I want to listen to music over the home network, I press that on the Harmony, then just select my music using my tablet.

If I want to watch telly, select that on the Harmony, telly, av receiver, skybox, and amp are on, amp is set to av and av receiver to Sky, and off I go.

The stereo amp was an addition to the existing system. Took about 10 minutes to connect up, including puling out and pushing back in the unit. Another 10 minutes to update the Harmony remote. Absolutely seamless, after weeks of research :).

Thank you for this valuable information.

I also have a Harmony remote.

How much of an upgrade was the addition of the stereo amp? A real WOW!!-experience or more of a niice...! ?!

So you're using the DAC in the Oppo? Have you compared it to the Dac of your stereo amp? Noticable? I've considered a 103 but getting a dedicated stereo amp maybe would be a reason to use 105 instead?

Or I'll just go with a dedicated streamer like the mentioned Bluesound Node and connect that to stereo amp and play FLACs/Wimp hifi that way.

When you play FLAC - are you using DLNA-client in Oppo? Is the interface/app smooth and easy to use? I find the DLNA in my Onkyo quite lousy - but maybe that is because of the limits of DLNA, I haven't experienced DLNA earlier.
 

Iain42

Well-known Member
The stereo amp was WOW upgrade.

Little story here. About a year back we inherited an old Linn Majik amp and Genki cd player. I connected them up to our old system, which is in the conservatory. I couldn't believe how much better it sounded, so got me thinking about the main system, which culminated in getting the Nait XS-2.

I use the DACs in the OPPO, I don't believe that the Nait XS-2 has DACs.

The interface in the OPPO is maybe a little bit cluncky, but it's not bad. What I generally do is use the OPPO app on the Nexus 7 to select music. I'm someone who would far rather have cluncky that produces the right quality rather than easy to use but at a lower quality, plus I already had the OPPO, so it was utilising what I had well.
 

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