• 08-23-2005, 06:06 AM
    Alternatives to the Arcam AVR300 at $2000- separates?
    Iíve begun my quest for a nice audio system, with help from many of you here. Iíve been auditioning speakers, many so far and many more to try. The price Iím willing to spend on the main speakers has been creeping up as I hear more and more. :) I think Iím at around $3,000/pair at the moment. And the speakers Iím favoring (Totem, Linn, ATC, B&W) seem to do much better with a lot of power. Which has me wondering about a good way to get decent power/electronics running the speakers.

    What Iím looking for: 95% 2 channel music listening, 5% movies. So I do need some way to watch movies (5.1 is fine). But sound quality is the highest priority. I donít need any fancy features. If I get a receiver, it needs to have pre-outs so that I can add amps (right away or later or both). And the ability to EQ it to the room would be nice, although I could maybe buy something else to compensate for that? FWIW, used and tubes are fine by me.

    At first I thought maybe just get, say, a Yamaha A/V receiver with preouts for $400-ish and start collecting amps for the mains, etc. Should be cheap, functional, and sound OK. But as the speaker budget increases, I wonder if a cheap receiver will diminish the quality of any sound put through it. I listened to equivalent Yamaha versus Denon receivers next to each other and could hear quite a difference (Yamaha being my preference). So if there is a sound quality difference at a given price, and Iím getting into expensive speakers, maybe I should up the budget. Around $1,000 gets you to the Rotel 1056 (hiss problems), Outlaw (never heard one), Integra 6.5, Cambridge Audio Azur 540R (various problems), etc. range. And if you go up to $2,000 you get to the very nice Arcam AVR300, which Iíve heard and liked. The Arcam has at least as many features as Iíd like plus a pretty good amp, preouts, etc. Iíd guess sound quality is pretty much as good as Iíll get with the Arcam and I wouldnít need to add any amps (for a while, at least). So maybe thatís a way to go. I have not yet decided to spend that much, but it could well happen.

    But if Iím in the $2,000 range, maybe I should think about alternatives to an all-in-one setup? I donít want the receiver to become something I have to replace down the road for, say, a pre-pro (which is not painful with a $400 receiver). Seperates?

    Related question: There are a zillion 2 channel amps (or 2 x monoblock) out there. How does one ever go about picking one?

    Just curious as to your thoughts and wisdom. Thanks folks.

  • 08-23-2005, 09:39 AM
    If your main thing is music don't buy a receiver. If a speaker needs lots of power it would not be one i've want to own because chances are it never needed lots of power in the first place but has several audible issues that make one keep feeling the eed to replace the amplifier.

    There are two kinds of upgrades: one to add insight into the music and two: To try and fix problems that are irritating you.

    I have over 200 DVD and I listen with two speakers - I had a surround system got rid of it - sounds better on two good channels. I bought a new marantz receiver which I am considering trading in - for get this a turntable. Yes if you're really into home theater and you have to hear the bullit coming from behind you properly you need the rear speakers. I don't. Movies are fundamentally story and character driven not special effects and sonics driven. For me I don't need those things to enjoy a movie and in fact when a movie comes on tv that I alreayd own I laugh that often i just watch it on the tube. That's just me - on the film forum it appears people will actually buy horrible horrible movies because it has a great 5.1 dolby whatever or whichever one they're blathering on about track while if a good film is medocre they'll pass on it.

    The integrated amp is fine most have a way to add on a power amp later if you desire but the preamp sectios can be very good.

    People will suggest all sorts of things and Arcam has a good background - I liked my Arcam Integreated - I don't feel they're still offerring the level of price performance they used to offer - but that's true for many. Really the most ideal thing would be to listen to complete stereo systems with amp/speaker/cd players and find one you really really are impressed with and then try and buy the system -- if it's too costly perhaps they have a junior model of a given part of it (say a smaller speaker from the same company or a lower amp in the line that you may also find acceptable. If it does music well it will do movies well. And if there is a wall behind you then on two speakers you will still hear bullits flying at you from wall do the mixes recording and room reflections. The terrible Mel Gibson movie the Patriot had excellent rear channel sound even if you have no rear channels. Two good speakers that are well matched and balanced tighly will create the center channel dialog just fine wiithout need of a center channel.