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Upgrading my budget mess

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by leng, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. leng


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    I've been buying bits of AV equipment piecemeal and now I need a bit of advice on how to sort out the resultant mess. (please excuse the long post, but I thought more info would allow more focused advice).

    Currently I have two "stacks" of equipment :

    video stack :
    Toshiba 32" picture-frame TV (3 scart, 1optical digital, 1 co-ax digital).
    Toshiba 210E (multiregion) DVD connected by scart & optical digital
    Sky Plus digibox connected by scart + rf. The optical digital out from this box is currently unused.
    VHS recorder connected by scart + rf
    There is no space for more equipment in this stack (I've run out of shelves). The TV is also used as my sound source (internal speakers plus 4 sats which came with the TV). This is orders of magnitude better than the stereo TV it replaced but I am sure I can improve on it.

    audio stack:
    TDL speakers
    Cyrus 1 amp (venerable but still doing sterling service)
    Turntable (now rarely used)
    Philips CD player (old but still producing good sounds)
    Cassette tape player
    There is room for one more device on this stack (2 if I dump the cassette player)

    The two stacks are far enough apart that I do not want to run too many cables between them.

    Now I have to slot my latest purchase (Philips DVD recorder, scart + co-ax digital audio) into this setup. I would prefer not to remove the Tosh DVD just yet as I am not sure how good the multi-region on the Phillips is (I know it is reported to dislike RCE disks which the Tosh plays without batting an eye).

    My aims are to improve the sound quality on the AV gear and maintain at least as good a playback for CDs. It would be nice to tidy up the mess of cables behind the video stack (the mess behind the audio stack is less obvious). If necessary the contents of the audio stack can be relocated to another room. I've identified a number of possible options generally revolving around the Pioneer C301-S or C501-S AV amps (receivers) as these offer switching between 3 RGB sources and have 3 optical & 1 co-ax digital inputs.

    1. Replace the VHS with the Phillips. Put the VHS into the audio stack and run rf connections back and forth.
    Pro : cheap and quick
    Con : no sound improvement. One of Sky+ or Tosh DVD would not have digital connection to the TV.

    2. Pioneer C301-S + Tannoy FX speaker set. Relocate sky+, Tosh, Phillips and AV Amp to audio stand, dumping Phillips CD & cassette. Play CD's on the Tosheba and take the line out to the Cyrus 1.
    Pro : Improved sound on all video sources. Cheapest new-hardware solution.
    Cons : Not sure how good the CD playback would be. I now have 7 speakers in the lounge. Cat will knit speaker wires into a new jumper. Audio stack very overcrowded (I am not really sure if I can really cram all the gear into the audio stack).

    3. As (2) above, but relocate contents of audio stack. Play CD's through the AV speakers.
    Pro : Improved sound on all video sources. Cheapest new-hardware solution.
    Con : I am pretty sure the CD playback would suffer considerably.

    4. Pioneer C501-S + Better speaker set. Relocation of kit as (3) above.
    Pro : Significantly simpler logistically. Hopefully CD sound quality would be maintained.
    Con : more expensive.

    For the "better speaker set" I had thought of Mordaunt Short Premiere or Monitor Audio Bronze B2 (or maybe even B4) on the basis that the front speakers on these two systems should be capable of carrying a stereo sound source more or less standalone. The latter combination (C501-S and MA B4) is pushing the pain threshold cost-wise unless the alternative is very significantly better.

    Comments and advice would be much appreciated. I am a novice with AV gear and I am not compulsively seeking to get the last iota of performance out of my system but I want to do the best I can within a reasonable budget.

    Many thanks
  2. Bassbin

    Active Member

    Mar 16, 2003
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    I've got a Pioneer 301 which I'm using with a 5.1 set made up from the Logitech featured in the special offers. I'd say it is a similar level set up to the tannoys and works very well. The receiver lets you set a higher bass crossover than usual so it works very well with sub/sat systems.

    Whether you go for the 301 or the 501 I wouldn't buy anything better than the Tannoys myself and would recommend trying the Logitechs if you can still get them. I hooked up the 301 to a pair of Wharfdale Diamonds to try it out in stereo and found it to be lacking compared to my old AV receiver (Sony STRDB940).

    So I would say the Pioneer is a good AV receiver but only in small-med rooms at well below reference listening levels.

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