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  1. #1
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    2.0 home theatre, good idea?

    my buddy is looking for a ~$50k setup for movies/music, about 50% each, a pair of MBL or B&W 800D is at the top of his list, but how well would 2.0 work for movies? will he be feeling like he's missing a center channel/sub/rears? or will high end speakers "make up the difference"

    i'm helping him buy components, am i thinking about this correctly? cd/dvd transport -> pre/pro -> amp -> speakers

    or should i go transport -> dac -> pre -> amp -> speakers

    any recommendations for a high end audio & video transport?

  2. #2
    Lurker Hyfi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koven
    my buddy is looking for a ~$50k setup for movies/music, about 50% each, a pair of MBL or B&W 800D is at the top of his list, but how well would 2.0 work for movies? will he be feeling like he's missing a center channel/sub/rears? or will high end speakers "make up the difference"

    i'm helping him buy components, am i thinking about this correctly? cd/dvd transport -> pre/pro -> amp -> speakers

    or should i go transport -> dac -> pre -> amp -> speakers

    any recommendations for a high end audio & video transport?
    Is he spending 50k just to pay 50k or does he just want to put something nice together?
    I'd be willing to bet he could spend $35k and have a system that sounds every bit as good as a $50k system if put together properly.

    Does he expect to hear the center/sub/rears out of the mains? If yes to this one, then NO, he won't be happy. Why doesn't he want to get a $47k system and spend 3k for center/sub/rears so he won't be missing anything. Even the cheapest of HT setups provide way more enjoyment of movies than 2 mains will ever do no matter how much they cost.
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  3. #3
    Forum Regular pixelthis's Avatar
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    Cool

    Two channel would be great for two channel audio(stereo).
    For HT forget it.
    THE POSITIVELY worst system for HT is Bose of any sort, especially their
    set for 999 that has two sats and a "bass module", and relies on tricks to create the illusion of surround sound. As bad as that is, as far as HT goes it would be better than trying
    it in two channel.
    I went two channel for years, because I had an audiophile grade two channel system.
    But I sadly gave that up for HT. Unless its for the bedroom or den or something, you need at least 5.1 channels. SIMPLY NO COMPARISON.
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  4. #4
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    This is a matter of expectations.

    Two hi-grade speakers may or not do a great many things better than a good deal of their competition if fed the stuff from downstream. What they will never do is replicate the sound of six speakers or accurately reform or rearticulate a signal intended for a multi-channel system.

    There are ways to integrate an excellent two-channel system into multi-channel system and, with a $50k budget, it can be done very well. The particular speakers listed may not lend themselves to this project but it can be done.

    More questions must be asked...

    What kind of music does your friend listen to a majority of the time?
    Does $50k include video?
    What's the size of the room?
    What percentage of movies to music will the system be expected to accomodate?
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  5. #5
    Forum Regular BadAssJazz's Avatar
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    Wow. Mindboggling that anyone would allocate $50K to this project, yet hamstring themselves with a two channel set up when they fully intend to use a multichannel format (video) at least 50% of the time.

    Please tell me that this person does not work for the Federal government or hold public office.
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  6. #6
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    yeah, if really wanting the home theater experience you have to get the set up. If wanting high end HT I'd look at the Anthem Statement processor. Arcam had some good ones as well but I'm not up to date on their latest gear accept for the new $5k receiver. I would hope the internal DAC on that level would provide the quality sound for music as well.

    But $50k to blow in, my hands, I'd be looking at the Conrad Johnson GAT pre and top monoblocks. If anything left after good speakers I'd get a decent HT receiver
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  7. #7
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    I gotta wonder what the goals are here. IMO, you don't have a home theater with only two speakers.

    All of the major movie releases use multichannel soundtracks nowadays. Listening to them using two speakers means that they'll only get a downmixed playback. In my experience, a 5.1 soundtrack downmixed to two channels can give you seriously degraded sound, with the sounds in the surround channels drowning out the dialog and other front-anchored elements.

    If they care about the movie soundtrack playback, they need a discrete multichannel setup. It's that simple. High end speakers won't make up for it.

    If they want to optimize their system for two-channel music playback, then that's fine. But, they need to accept the compromises that would accompany movie playback. A two-channel setup is less than optimal for movies simply because the original 5.1/7.1 mix gets gimped at the source when it's downmixed to two-channels. This applies to any two-channel "home theater" setup, regardless of whether or not it uses high end equipment.
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  8. #8
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Make sure he gets a 2ch preamp with a home theater bypass switch so he can run a multichannel processor (then he can add a separate 5ch amp for HT) and then he can run a 3.1, 5.1 or 7.1 one system. At minimum he should run a 3.1 system for Home Theater- 2 fronts, center and sub.
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  9. #9
    Feel the Tempo eisforelectronic's Avatar
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    My system was strictly 2.0 for a long time. Basically as far as movies and tv go, sometimes it was really really good and others it was pretty horrible. Adding a center speaker made a gigantic difference in my enjoyment of video.
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  10. #10
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    Make sure he gets a 2ch preamp with a home theater bypass switch so he can run a multichannel processor (then he can add a separate 5ch amp for HT) and then he can run a 3.1, 5.1 or 7.1 one system. At minimum he should run a 3.1 system for Home Theater- 2 fronts, center and sub.
    I would actually opt for the surround speakers before the center speaker.

    When downmixing a 5.1 soundtrack into two channels, the standard ratios specify that the sound from the surround channels get funneled into the mains at about a 0.67 level. This means that if you have a soundtrack with very active surround channels, about 2/3 of that sound gets redirected to the fronts -- easily enough to drown out a lot of what's going on in the mains, or at least make it less intelligible. With ambient cues, you don't want too much of it in the mains, especially with a lot of newer 5.1 soundtracks already mixing ambient sounds into the mains -- more getting redirected from the surround channels would let these ambient sounds overpower everything else.

    Also, the center channel is already part of the front soundstage. Two speakers can do a reasonably good job of reproducing the front soundstage via the phantom center effect. Two speakers cannot reproduce the surround soundfield.

    Obviously, it's ideal to have a matching center speaker, since there is a discrete center channel in a 5.1 soundtrack. (And I make the distinction here because a mismatched center speaker can actually make things sound worse) But, given a choice, the surround speakers perform a more irreplaceable function.
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
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  11. #11
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Out of curiosity, I must wonder if the B&W and MBL have been auditioned or are coveted for other non-performance based reasons. They are two distinctly different speakers.

    Frankly, on this budget I'd probably look much closer at Dynaudio who offers IMO a better speaker (the Saphire) and would be just as easy to timbre or at least "house sound" match. The Danes could be matched with Rotel, Krell, or McIntosh and still leaving enough for optimized video.
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  12. #12
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Pesonally, I would like to have this Salk system for HT and 2ch-

    http://www.salksound.com/veracity%20home%20theater.htm
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  13. #13
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Yep...Salk makes some fine equipment; second to none in build quality. I just can't help thinking of some sweet sounds coming from a T+A/Krell/Dynaudio Saphire setup, and with guy's budget he's in the ballpark.
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  14. #14
    Lurker Hyfi's Avatar
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    So what happened to the OP?
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  15. #15
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    Bobsticks, the Sapphires, which I agree are an excellent value and great speaker, are all but gone, they were a limited edition, and to my knowledge does not have a matching center. I was told by a Dynaudio rep that the Focus 360 was Sapphires on a budget but I haven't heard the 360 enough to know if I agree. The Contour or Confidence series have dedicated centers, as well as Focus. In my opinion Dynaudio does give much more bang for the same buck over brands like B&W. I got to hear an all T+A system with their $30k hybrid monoblocks and it was incredible. The store was only driving Dynaudio C1's so I think the system could have been better but even with the C1's I was really impressed. If I ever went back to solid state at this point it would be T+A. T+A's tube and hybrid gear brings a sizeable price tag though. T+A's integrated amp, the "Power Plant" priced USD under $3k is a gem. It cosmetically matches my CDP. For around $9k T+A has a new All-In-One Blu-ray home theater unit that could be worth looking into for the person in question. I personally believe it's more wise to have an integrated system where the most money is spent on two channel, I feel technology moves too fast in home theater to spend major dollars like that on HT, unless money is never an object. With the permitting budget though I prefer a HT processor over a receiver. My Marantz does a good job for HT and adding a good subwoofer to the HT I found is more essential than one might think. My SVS is the best performing sub I've used, vastly superior to the Velodyne it replaced. I have to admit I fell for HT more than I thought I might in the beginning. My first processor way back was Arcam, then Primare & now Marantz so I'm spoiled to good HT. As a side note the Marantz was technically superior to the former Primare but a bit of a step back in sound quality.

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  16. #16
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Well my friend...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I personally believe it's more wise to have an integrated system where the most money is spent on two channel, I feel technology moves too fast in home theater to spend major dollars like that on HT, unless money is never an object. With the permitting budget though I prefer a HT processor over a receiver...
    Maybe yes, maybe no...

    I too would opt to focus on two channel reproduction but $50k comes up pretty quick if video, monitor, cabling and accoutrements are within that amount.

    For me, I'd rather have an over-the-top two-channel system with lesser components for the SS applications. That's just my reasoning and it's based on the fact that I agree with your assessment that technology "moves too fast" to invest a disproportionate amount on products that will soon be obsolete.
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  17. #17
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I personally believe it's more wise to have an integrated system where the most money is spent on two channel, I feel technology moves too fast in home theater to spend major dollars like that on HT, unless money is never an object. With the permitting budget though I prefer a HT processor over a receiver.
    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    For me, I'd rather have an over-the-top two-channel system with lesser components for the SS applications. That's just my reasoning and it's based on the fact that I agree with your assessment that technology "moves too fast" to invest a disproportionate amount on products that will soon be obsolete.
    Gonna disagree with you two here about how quickly the technology actually moves. Indeed, you see new features getting added onto home theater components in rapid succession. After all, manufacturers come out with new models all the time and need something new to add.

    But, the technologies that make previous standards truly obsolete are actually few and far between. And my definition of obsolescence is something that's at a technological dead end and no longer supported. And to end, you need to focus on what's essential, not just the latest bullet point on a feature checklist.

    If you look at the major formats that underlie home theater -- everything introduced within the last 20 years is still universally supported, even 2.0 Dolby Surround. Dolby Digital is built into the HDTV broadcast standard, and any 5.1 decoder dating back to the first discrete decoders from the mid-90s will support it. DTS remains a current standard, and since it's a scalable format even the newer DTS-HD format is compatible with all existing DTS processors.

    On the video side, HDMI will be the de facto standard connector for some time to come. The only area of potential obsolescence would be with analog video, where indeed TVs have begun phasing the composite and S-vid connectors out, and Blu-ray will stop supporting component video outputs by 2013. But, even here, any receiver/processor that you buy right now will support the industry standard formats.

    And this is where I make the distinction between standards and features. Standards are essential, but they also make up a far shorter list than features. Features fill out a checklist, and manufacturers keep up with the Joneses to avoid getting left behind. But, typical features used to differentiate receivers/processors like DSP modes, calibration setups, and video processors are not essential simply because leaving those features out does not make a receiver/processor obsolete.

    Consider that I use a 10-year old receiver with multiple HD video sources. Any "missing feature" has a relatively simple workaround. The receiver lacks HDMI video switching, so I simply added an auto-detecting HDMI switch. It lacks support for lossless audio, but if I really wanted it, I would simply add a Blu-ray player with internal audio decoding. (As it stands, Blu-ray already improves the audio quite a bit by using higher bitrate versions of DD and DTS, both of which are fully compatible with older decoders)
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
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    Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
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    Yamaha RX-V800
    Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
    Denon DVD-758 (DVD-1940ci)
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  18. #18
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    (Lotsa good stuff)
    Fair 'nuff, Wooch...

    Perhaps I articulated that poorly. It also occurs to me that I engaged in some unnecessary hyperbole by using the phrase "obsolete".

    That said, implementation of newer codecs, connections, etc., takes place at a much more rapid pace than has been seen throughout the overall history of audio reproduction. Further, it's clear that due to R&D budgeting that boutique builders will always be playing follow-the-leader. Why spend $6 to $10k on an Arcam or Krell processor when a year from now Onkyo or Denon or Yamaha or Marantz will introduce the newest doohickie with (questionably) necessary gadgetry or ability and the investment plummets.

    If the OP (or anyone looking at similar goals with a similar budget) can invest in a solid two-channel system that will provide joy for possibly decades to come and allocate a lesser percentage of the overall budget to the more-likely-to-be-upgraded components...well, that just makes sense in between these twisted ears...YMMV...
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  19. #19
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    Wooch, there is a difference between making do or work arounds and optimum performance. Sure one could still use Pro Logic or basic DTS or 480p video but most of us here want the best performance and leading edge technology, 1080p and original master equivalent audio. Even with a BDP with analog out and built in decoder, if there is one that even offers decent speaker set up it still falls short of a receiver or processor. Also, as Bobsticks touched on even if the gear isn't totally obsolete the value, or resale, goes way down because not many are willing to buy older technology. Ask those who were trying to sell there HT receiver that didn't have HDMI. On the other hand if I had a huge amount of money in a processor it would give some incentive to milk it a couple years more.
    Mark Levinson #512
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    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
    Revel Performa F52 main/center & S30's
    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
    PS Audio Quintet

  20. #20
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    He may want to consider an NAD AVRr that has exchangeable modular circuit boards so that it can be constantly upgraded. You could use the preamp outs or an amp switcher. An NAD my be in my future for HT because of this.

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    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

  21. #21
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobsticks
    That said, implementation of newer codecs, connections, etc., takes place at a much more rapid pace than has been seen throughout the overall history of audio reproduction. Further, it's clear that due to R&D budgeting that boutique builders will always be playing follow-the-leader. Why spend $6 to $10k on an Arcam or Krell processor when a year from now Onkyo or Denon or Yamaha or Marantz will introduce the newest doohickie with (questionably) necessary gadgetry or ability and the investment plummets.
    And my point is simply that few those doohickies are truly transformative or essential. Most of the time, they're just another check to add to long list. Even though codecs continue to proliferate, only a handful of them gain widespread acceptance.

    When you spend the bigger bucks on an Arcam or Krell processor, you're paying for the higher quality and higher performing components and more discrete functions under the hood (i.e., rather than multifunction processors and integrated DACs, you have more specialized circuitry for each individual function). You're also paying for the higher quality analog components. High end processors are typically not updated on an annual basis because they don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Wooch, there is a difference between making do or work arounds and optimum performance. Sure one could still use Pro Logic or basic DTS or 480p video but most of us here want the best performance and leading edge technology, 1080p and original master equivalent audio. Even with a BDP with analog out and built in decoder, if there is one that even offers decent speaker set up it still falls short of a receiver or processor. Also, as Bobsticks touched on even if the gear isn't totally obsolete the value, or resale, goes way down because not many are willing to buy older technology. Ask those who were trying to sell there HT receiver that didn't have HDMI. On the other hand if I had a huge amount of money in a processor it would give some incentive to milk it a couple years more.
    Yes, but my point was addressing the rapidity of technological changes. I draw the distinction between standards and features. Features constantly get added and might be "leading edge technology," but few of them are truly essential and a lot of them are marginally or even totally useless. Even fewer of them make prior technologies obsolete, which is what I was responding to.

    If someone feels the need to keep up with every single feature that gets added every year, it's their money. Your value argument refers only to the exchange value, not the actual use value. If someone invests in a high end processor today, it will support all of the current formats and likely have higher performance audio and video components than what midlevel receivers contain. The functions in that unit are not going to suddenly decline in performance just because receivers jam more features into their newer models every year, and years from now, the analog output sections will likely still be of higher quality than those found in the latest receivers.

    I just don't buy into the feature creep mentality that prevails in consumer electronics. Separate out the essentials from the luxuries, differentiate performance from fluff, and focus on what meets one's needs at any given time. Those basic principles don't change just because the feature lists get longer.
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
    Panasonic VIERA TH-C50FD18 50" 1080p
    Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
    Adire Audio Rava (EQ: Behringer Feedback Destroyer DSP1124)
    Yamaha RX-V800
    Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
    Denon DVD-758 (DVD-1940ci)
    Sony Playstation 3 (MediaLink OS X Server)
    Sony ES SCD-C2000ES
    JVC HR-S3912U
    Directv HR22
    Oppo Digital HM-31
    Logitech Harmony 650
    iPad 3


    The Neverending DVD/BD Collection

    Subwoofer Setup and Parametric EQ Results *Dead Link*

  22. #22
    Forum Regular pixelthis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    And my point is simply that few those doohickies are truly transformative or essential. Most of the time, they're just another check to add to long list. Even though codecs continue to proliferate, only a handful of them gain widespread acceptance.

    When you spend the bigger bucks on an Arcam or Krell processor, you're paying for the higher quality and higher performing components and more discrete functions under the hood (i.e., rather than multifunction processors and integrated DACs, you have more specialized circuitry for each individual function). You're also paying for the higher quality analog components. High end processors are typically not updated on an annual basis because they don't have to be.



    Yes, but my point was addressing the rapidity of technological changes. I draw the distinction between standards and features. Features constantly get added and might be "leading edge technology," but few of them are truly essential and a lot of them are marginally or even totally useless. Even fewer of them make prior technologies obsolete, which is what I was responding to.

    If someone feels the need to keep up with every single feature that gets added every year, it's their money. Your value argument refers only to the exchange value, not the actual use value. If someone invests in a high end processor today, it will support all of the current formats and likely have higher performance audio and video components than what midlevel receivers contain. The functions in that unit are not going to suddenly decline in performance just because receivers jam more features into their newer models every year, and years from now, the analog output sections will likely still be of higher quality than those found in the latest receivers.

    I just don't buy into the feature creep mentality that prevails in consumer electronics. Separate out the essentials from the luxuries, differentiate performance from fluff, and focus on what meets one's needs at any given time. Those basic principles don't change just because the feature lists get longer.

    We have gone through a period of great change lately(I was one of the victims) but things have pretty much settled down right now. AND EVEN IF THEY HAVEN'T , the performance
    of current equipment is so high you really don't need any improvement much, basically just tweeks for the near future.
    I mean, 1080p, 24fps BLU, with lossless high q sound, with provisions for high q music.
    HIGH Q delivery systems. I mean, what more do you need?
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  23. #23
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    And my point is simply that few those doohickies are truly transformative or essential. Most of the time, they're just another check to add to long list. Even though codecs continue to proliferate, only a handful of them gain widespread acceptance.

    When you spend the bigger bucks on an Arcam or Krell processor, you're paying for the higher quality and higher performing components and more discrete functions under the hood (i.e., rather than multifunction processors and integrated DACs, you have more specialized circuitry for each individual function). You're also paying for the higher quality analog components. High end processors are typically not updated on an annual basis because they don't have to be.
    All this is true. It is also true that typically, if ever, high end processors don't do as good a job on two-channel processesing as a dedicated two-channel system. I've never heard one and, like you, I've heard most of the big boys...Arcam, Krell, Lexicon, McIntosh...
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

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