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  1. #1
    Joe
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    Next Step to Great Stereo System

    I've had an ok HT 6.1 setup in the basement for a few years. I'd like to now turn it more into a listening room with great stereo sound, and want to do this piece by piece over the next few years.

    What would be the few next best items (budget might be up to $1000 every 6 months) to buy to either replace or add to what I have currently so I get significantly improved music.

    My musical tastes are mainly all kinds of rock, but I would like the system to be fairly well-rounded.

    My current HT setup (related to audio):
    Marantz SR7002 Receiver
    Paradigm Monitor 7 v4 floors
    SVS PB10-NSD 10" Subwoofer
    (I also have the center, surrounds and one center rear)

    My room is about 32x20 (open concept basement).

    I don't need it to be super-loud, just significantly better than what I have at mid volumes.

    Thought about a quality pair of headphones, but thought I'd get more out of upgrading stereo.

  2. #2
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    What are you using for sources? Personally I think you will need a decent amp to start - your speakers aren't bad. You could stay with the H/T and upgrade to something like this... XPA-5 | 200W x 5 | Emotiva Audio | High-end audio components for audiophiles and videophiles, spanning 2-channel music systems, as well as 5.1 and 7.1 home theaters. Products include multichannel amplifiers, stereo amplifiers, and monoblock amplifier. From there you would probably want a better pro, but sources could be an issue too.

  3. #3
    Joe
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    My music sources are all FLAC files on my NAS played through a network streaming device.

    Would the XPA significantly improve the music sound from my Paradigm floors? There wouldn't be a bottleneck in the chain anywhere?

  4. #4
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    If you add a power amp it will not cause a "bottleneck", you will use the preamp outputs, assuming your receiver has them, directly to the power amp, this bypasses your receiver's internal amp, so in effect you upgrade your power amp to higher quality. Do your research on any Emotiva, there seems to be an increase in quality issues there. Marantz offers a decent multichannel amp for under $1k, or you could opt for just upgrading to a stereo amp to drive the main front speakers which may be all you use for music unless into multichannel recordings. $1k, give or take, can by a pretty decent power amp. Rotel has a stereo amp 200x2 I thought pretty good for around $1300.00, it's a digital amp.

    OK, now to my recommendation. For improvement in your sound look for a better DAC (digital to analog converter) to decode your music files. I am a source guy, obviously all components are important, weakest link etc. however, if you don't get the detail from the source nothing you do downstream will allow you to hear that lost detail. So get the best source you can, then do your best to maintain it throughout the system. There are so many DAC's out now that will accept streaming and all types of inputs and even upsampling. $1k is a nice budget for a DAC. I don't stream so can't give a recommendation of any certain brand, read some reviews and if deciding to try buy from a retailer that will allow a return if not happy. You might start with PS Audio and Benchmark.
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    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
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    PS Audio Quintet

  5. #5
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I agree with Mr. P. Start with a good source. The Bench Mark DAC is a nice piece and a good place to start. It can be used as a DAC and Preamp if needed. Then I would upgrade the amp then the preamp. A speaker upgrade would also make a huge difference.

    For an amp, I would take a look at this Parasound A52 multichannel amp over an Emotiva.

    Parasound - Halo A52 Five-Channel Amplifier-Audio Advisor

    Other options are to buy a nice 2ch amp for the 2 front speakers and use the Marantz amp for the other channels of your HT system.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp, Pass X-1 Preamp
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Hybrid Tube Preamp and Ultra Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  6. #6
    Joe
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    ...

    Other options are to buy a nice 2ch amp for the 2 front speakers and use the Marantz amp for the other channels of your HT system.
    What nice 2ch amps would be a good?

    Also, would I still be able to get full surround sound during movies setting it up this way?

  7. #7
    Joe
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    Also, how would I get the DAC to play my FLAC files that are across the network on a NAS server?

    Right now I use a Popcorn Hour networked media tank box and the interface for music really sucks, but it is great for serving up video files.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    To run a 2ch amp and continue your HT, you run the main 2ch preamp out from your marantz to a 2ch amp and the front speakers off of this. The center and rear speakers will continue to run off the Marantz.

    Here are a few nice 2ch amps to consider in the $1K price range

    Vincent Audio - SP-331 Hybrid Power Amplifier-Audio Advisor

    Parasound - Halo A23 Balanced Amplifier-Audio Advisor

    NAD - C-275 BEE- Stereo Power Amplifier-Audio Advisor

    Odyssey Audio: Stratos Stereo amplifiers. Call us (317) 299 5578. IN, USA.

    PEACHTREE 220 POWER AMP at Music Direct
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp, Pass X-1 Preamp
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Van Alstine Ultra Hybrid Tube Preamp and Ultra Hybrid Tube DAC
    Martin Logan Original Dynamo Sub
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  9. #9
    Joe
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    Here are a couple pics of the room where my HT is that I want to improve for better music stereo sound.


    Paradigms are on either side of screen and SVS sub is behind the couch in the corner.



    Any more suggestions on anything would be great.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Joe
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    I agree with Mr. P. Start with a good source. The Bench Mark DAC is a nice piece and a good place to start. It can be used as a DAC and Preamp if needed. Then I would upgrade the amp then the preamp. A speaker upgrade would also make a huge difference.

    For an amp, I would take a look at this Parasound A52 multichannel amp over an Emotiva.

    Parasound - Halo A52 Five-Channel Amplifier-Audio Advisor

    Other options are to buy a nice 2ch amp for the 2 front speakers and use the Marantz amp for the other channels of your HT system.
    Is the Arcam rSeries Sonlink any good for my purpose?
    Just thinking I'll likely pick up a Sonos Connect so I can easily play my music through a nice interface, but sure if I should save up a bit longer and invest in a better DAC as suggested.

  11. #11
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    I would second Blackravens suggestions for a two channel amp. I almost purchased the Vincent Audio SP 331 before coming across some used Vincent SP t100 monoblocks on the cheap. Your Marantz is a sweet A/V receiver for home theater. I would look at Outlaw if you are looking for a powerful multi channel amp at a reasonable price.

  12. #12
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    If you are looking for headphones, I have always loved Grado Labs cans, but they aren't for everybody. Demo if you can. Pros- detail, open, dynamic, soundstage. Cons- Not the most comfortable, not a headphone for on the go, lack a little bass unless you buy the PS 500 model or above.

  13. #13
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe View Post
    Also, how would I get the DAC to play my FLAC files that are across the network on a NAS server?

    Right now I use a Popcorn Hour networked media tank box and the interface for music really sucks, but it is great for serving up video files.
    I think this is the area that many have over looked. The start of the source is the transport and the OP said what he is using is not getting the job done. There are a few camps in this area that have quality delivery and not have you cash in your 401K. Squeezebox is a long time favorite for some, but Logictech has discontinued the product line late last year. You can still get one the models on Ebay and other online retailers. The Touch seems to be most popular as it lets you view album art as you listen. Sonos as emerged as the new front runner and deliver a good quality sound, but no album art. There are others and you could go with a computer with software, but then you need to get a good sound card. Remember it starts with the source, a FLAC file is nothing if it cannot be delivered in the same lossless form as it started. No DAC, AMP or processer can cover for a bad transport.
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