What to do? Stereo or 5.1??

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Pezerinno, Feb 26, 2005.

  1. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    Hi, this is going to be quite a long post so bear with me please :)

    After going to the Bristol what hi-fi show on Friday it led me thinking what I was going to do next year, I'm a student, so when I say next year I actually mean September. In September I will be moving into my own apartment - I will no longer be sharing which means I will have a lot more space etc. Currently I have a Sharp Aquos LC26GA4E TV with Denon 1910 DVD player and Thomson DHD-4000 freeview PVR - I will be keeping that lot. I listen to all my music through my computer via an audigy 2 ZS sound card, optical toslink cable to some logitech Z-5500 speakers. Because I have an iPod I tend to listen to my music straight from iTunes (128kbps AAC files). I listen to a lot of music - more than I watch TV and DVD's however I tend to listen to it while doing other things - mostly when I'm working on the computer (which is a lot of the time).

    Come September I will have my own lounge etc where the TV, DVD and PVR will be placed. My computers will be in the study. I'm planning on spending about £1000 on either a 5.1 system for the movies or a standard stereo system (which I will also attatch to the TV but obviously just have stereo sound). Now as you probably guessed I'm no audiophile (always have a limited budget, listen to music from mp3s through computer speakers :rolleyes: ) so should I get a stereo system or a home cinema system? I was planning on probably buying my stuff second hand so I can get more 'bang for the buck' and I'm guessing I could prob get a pretty healthy stereo system for that number of pennies. I also know that you can't really get good stereo sound from a 5.1 system unless you spend huge amounts of money (of which I don't have).

    As I said, despite me listening to a lot more music than I do watch movies I never just listen to music on its own - I'm always doing other things so maybe it would be best to keep music listening through the pc? I should add, I'm more than happy with the sound quality I get through the computer although I know I could get much better sound (obviously). I'm also a fan of the whole 5.1 system for films, it heightens my viewing enjoyment. You are probably wondering why I'm even considering a stereo system then?

    It just always plays in the back of my mind that I could get pretty good sound from cd's with my budget with a stereo system. Also a stereo system would look a lot neater in the room* and be easier to transport (after the year I'll have to move all my stuff out during summer holidays). This also leads me to say that I can't have big floorstanding speakers. If I went with a stereo setup then the speaker size would be about wharfedale evo 10 size etc. If I went for a 5.1 setup then small, KEF 2005.2 style would be better.

    *how would I go about hiding wires with 5.1 setup as I'm only renting the apartment I can't do any DIY (so no hiding behind walls etc) perhaps just buy a cheap rug and stick em under there?

    Anyway please advice me on what you think would be best in my situation. Perhaps give me a few rough guides to what I can get; whether it be a stereo system or 5.1; second hand for around £1000. By the way I don't really need a radio tuner.

    Sorry for all the waffle. Thanks, Nick.
     
  2. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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  3. Pickledcreeky

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    Your best bet would be to go down to your local hifi shop and ask to demo a 5.1 system and a stereo hifi system so you can hear the difference between the two and judge for yourself what to get
     
  4. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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  5. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    CJROSS - I see where you are coming from however I can't see me listening to a lot of music in the lounge.. If I went with a 5.1 system I would never listen to cd's just occasionally the music channels or digital radio. However it still plays in my mind that I can get good stereo sound with my budget (especially if I go secondhand/ex-dem).

    If I get a good Stereo system I would listen to cd's in the lounge but I'm often on the computer so I would continue to listen to the majority of my music in the study. Also I do like the immersion you get from 5.1 sound when watching a movie, however the flip side to this is how often do I watch a good movie :rolleyes:

    Hmm, I'm finding this really difficult...
     
  6. tom_nieto

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    At tbe end of the day, if you're not going to be listening to music seriously in the lounge, then a surround sound system is probably the way to go.
     
  7. clouseau

    clouseau
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    I suggest a budget split as follows

    £999.50 for the Stereo and 50p to make it 5.1

    well I exaggerate slightly..

    try Good 2nd Hand CD player £250
    Good 2nd Hand Stereo Amp £250
    Good 2nd Hand Stereo Speakers £250 ( ideally floorstanders)

    will sound excellent

    rear speakers 2nd hand £50 ( anything will do)
    Centre speaker £100 should do it.
    and a 2nd hand 5.1 amp £150 to make it surround...

    Go for it
     
  8. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    clouseau - sounds like a plan although I'm not really sure what I should be looking for and it seems unlikely I could get all that for my budget.. Also unfortunately floorstanders aren't really suitable for me but maybe thats not the be all and end all.

    EDIT: also how much should I be looking to spend on interconnects?
    EDIT2: is the sub not needed for movie watching? Even if I don't get floorstanders?
     
  9. Commited

    Commited
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    why not put a stereo amp and speakers in the study & 5.1 setup in the lounge
     
  10. superpixel

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    Like the others, I think a stereo setup is the way to go. The following is my personal opinion, but different people are going to advise different things:

    I'd use your DVD player as a CD player and wouldn't spend more than £50 on interconnects...QED's £30ish interconnects if they still do them will always be the best starting point but the beauty of cables is to use them as a tweaking device - leave that last.

    First, choose a pair of speakers. Then the amp (though this does go some way hand in hand with the speakers).

    What music do you listen to? At what kind of volumes? How well recorded and produced are these CDs? What aspects of sound are most important to you?

    A lot of people buy speakers that are completely wrong for them (I know because in my early hifi days I relied on reviews and was guilty of it): a £600 pair of polite minimonitors are going to be useless for someone who wants to rock out, for example...a long session at a friendly dealer is really essential when choosing speakers
     
  11. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    Haha - I was waiting for someone to suggest that! It's because I have a set of 5.1 speakers connected to the computer and am not sure if I have room for all this audio equipment! it's not so much room in the flat but more how I transport all this stuff at the end of the uni year (June) and then get it all back again (september). Also that would be even more expensive as I would have to purchase another set of speakers.

    Although while on the subject of expense I may up my budget to £2000 - this would need to include good stereo equipment as well as good 5.1 equipment and a nice looking tv cabinet to house everything (something like that £100 kenmark) and all the cables. I would be prepared to spend this much if it will last me. Being a student I wouldn't be able to upgrade that soon after buying all this stuff.

    Thanks, Nick.
     
  12. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    Superpixel your reply came while I was posting mine - so excuse the double post. I thought using a DVD player for cd's was a no-no? especially when using a budget player like the Denon 1910. I listen to pretty much all types of music however 50% of it would be along the lines of punk/rock and emo.
     
  13. whiteflyer

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    Go for Stereo
    You have a dvd player for the movies, so get a dedicated CD player it will sound far better than music form a dvd machine.

    I too never used to listen to music while sitting still UNTIL I got something that could play it properly. Now I do sit down with just the music playing. I'm sorry to all you podies but 128Kb it just not good enough for real music listening.

    Your budget of £1000 will get you a decent CD player / Stereo Amp / and a pair of speakers. Most will say spend a third of your budget on each item, but I suggest spending more on the CD player and a little less on the other items, (rubbish in = rubbish out).

    [​IMG]
     
  14. superpixel

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    I have to disagree with whiteflyer completely.

    Your DVD player through £500 amp and £500 speakers should sound a lot better than a £500 CD player, £250 amp and £250 speakers. The whole system would withstand a lot more upgrades, is better value and you've got one less box to lug around. A quick demo would verify this, I'm pretty sure - but I'm not going to be living with the system, you are - so it only matters what you think, really. At least youve got different ideas an opinions to go on :D

    I know of no CD player around the £500 mark that is worth the money over a budget CD player anyway (definitely so if your total budget is £1000).
     
  15. Eddy Boy

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    If you take a DVD player and CD player at the same price running the analogue outs from both with a decent stereo amp same cables etc. The CD player will sound more dynamic with warmth like vinyl, the DVD more detailed.
     
  16. BittenMailman

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    Keep the Logitechs for dvds and go for the stereo system...
     
  17. superkully

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    Am I the only one getting my problem?

    If I connect my DVD player to my 2-channel amp and listen to any 5.1 film, the dialogue is always pretty much indiscernible. I'm thinking this is because only the L & R channels are playing and the centre and rears are being ignored. My Toshiba 340 doesn't have an option saying mux the 5 channels into 2.

    Am I doing something wrong? Surely the DVD authors can't think everyone has 5.1?
     
  18. la gran siete

    la gran siete
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    Being greedy I have two setups in different rooms- one for audio and the other dvd -v. My audio setup consists mainly of vintage valve and grunge eqipment I bought comparitevely cheaply over the years I and I have to say I am quite pleased with. The video system is adequate and although I can play dvd a I would think I would need very much better and much more expensive equipment in order to get a decent sound.Its ok but not mind blowing( but then is it ever?)
     
  19. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Superskully when listening to a 5.1 > 2.0 Stereo downmix, the quality of the downmix processor is paramount and the typre of data signal it recieves, as its the main ability to set your DVD machine to get the best playback from stereo, not sure of your menu setting dude on your 340, but if sending to an offboard DAC you have to set the output mode (Bitstream/PCM) to PCM and set downmix to on. My Toshiba allows me to control both the digital output and the 2 channel anlg output by these menu toggles. Ive always used DVD-V players in this mode, ie even my old Pioneer 717 was set to PCM output (this automatically downmixes or combines the whole 5.1 signal to a single datastream). Then the signal was converted towards stereo in the DAC but the 717 was set to downmix the 5.1 DD mixes. This stage is what shapes the quality of what you hear TBH. Ie TAGs stereo conversion is stunning for downmixing IME, and I have been playing recently with the SD-9500s ability to downmix its also excellent.

    If your listening to a player on its own, then it boils down to 2 things for downmixing IMHO :

    The Menu setttings for downmixing either internally in the player, or the settings of the digital output that can be processed offboard by a unit like a stereo DAC.

    The quality of the DACs aboard a DVD player where your listening to the downmix from.

    If your player is outputting a Bitstream output to its 5.1 jacks, and your just using the Front L&Rs then yes you will miss a hefty batch of Centre dialogue. Thus its should allow you to set to PCM – worth checking.

    I would advise getting a decent DAC at some point, if you use a DVD player as your base for CD, DVD-Vs then it’s a no-brainer as they say. You have the best of both worlds a DAC processes CDs much better than a DVD player, and if your using a DVD player in a stereo setup then it help with DVD-V downmixes.

    Your last point above – Denon 1910 IIRC only has 2 channel anlg output – Denons thinking and a good thought IMHO, is that everyone buying this machine will be using it for digital streaming to a processor. Thus no 5.1 output.
     
  20. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    My budget may change completly as I may be getting a plasma plus a scaler. So depending on what I do with the visual side of things will determine how much I have to spend on the audio and whether I can afford a stereo system plus a 5.1 system.

    BittenMailman - that isn't an option - the logitechs are staying with the pc for 5.1 gaming.

    I won't ever be using the DVD player as a CD player. If I don't purchase a seperate stereo system I won't listen to music. I don't want to compromise.
     
  21. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Eh ? buy a DAC, send your DVD through that into a stereo system. Music is more imporatnt to me than AV or DVD-V and I still use a DVD-V as my transport. No need for an extreme of no music at all Nick.

    IMHO of course.
     
  22. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    Sorry CJROSS I'm a complete novice to all this - what is a Dac? how does it work, how much is one likely to cost? Thanks.
     
  23. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Nick read FAQ at start of this forum and use search facilty of the site.

    Lots of threads to read.
     
  24. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    Argh! the more I read the more confused I get :oops:

    So maybe the answer is to use my denon 1910 as a transport and add something like a Cambridge Audio DAC Magic II or Tag Dacv20 etc..
     
  25. The Duke

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    With a £1000 to part with, the 5.1 system is the best solution to all your problems.
    Get a quality 2nd hand dvd player (£150 - £200), amp (£350), and speakers (250 - £300), and then (£100 - £150) on cables and you're looking at £1000.
    It will cover all your bases, and when you upgrade, sell each item 2nd hand.
    Can't see a debate really.
    Slowly-slowly, catch the monkey!
    In time you'll fathom if you really want / need a stereo too.
    (preparing to be scorched alive for these comments!)
    Tim

    I have the luxury of 2x systems and the stereo side being the most £ by a factor of x5 and all 2nd hand as it takes time and money!
    The 7.1 was all new purchases.
    My dvd / 7.1 amp combo is great and I never tire of it - yet the speakers were less than £350 (sub not inc). The hifi............... well that's a passion and at this time of the year, all-consuming!
     
  26. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    I don't really want to sell my Denon 1910 DVD player.
     

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