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  1. #1
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    If you need a 5.1 receiver are you wasting your money on 6.1 & 7.1 Receivers

    In case I eventually get a new receiver, and I only want to listen to 5.1 sound, am I then spending and wasting my money on 6.1 & 7.1 receivers and wasting endless dollars for a feature I don't need. Again, music & 5.1 sound quality is my only concern

  2. #2
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    That depends.

    There are fewer and fewer 5.1 channels receivers being made every day. You limit your options greatly by discounting 6.1 and above receivers. If you cannot get the features/power/inputs and optputs or whatever else you need you need in 5.1 receivers, then you should not discount the 6.1 and 7.1 receivers. They can be run in 5.1 mode.

  3. #3
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    It's always nice to have the flexiblity...as markw said, you'll have a hard time finding a decent "5.1" only receiver these days. The addition of an extra speaker channel or two won't adversely affect the sound quality of the receiver as long as it's driven within design parameters (ie: not to bleeding loud).

    Herson, have you decided what you're going to do yet?

  4. #4
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    I'm now thinking maybe I've approached this slightly wrong and may just add instead an Onkyo DX-C390 CD player & see if that produces better sound quality for CD's then my built in integrated progressive scan DVD player that is part of my JVC RX-DV31 SL receiver. Don't get me wrong, I am happy with the sound I get from CD's but if this improves sound quality even more, great. The Onkyo which is less than $200 seems to be the highest rated CD player in terms of sound quality and has an oversampling rate of 128.
    I figure if this doesn't noticeably improve the sound quality I can return it right away to Circuit City and get my money back.

    What do you think? Good bad or indifferent. If I get this should I use a digital cable to connect it to my receiver or an analogue one? Thanks



    DVD
    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    It's always nice to have the flexiblity...as markw said, you'll have a hard time finding a decent "5.1" only receiver these days. The addition of an extra speaker channel or two won't adversely affect the sound quality of the receiver as long as it's driven within design parameters (ie: not to bleeding loud).

    Herson, have you decided what you're going to do yet?

  5. #5
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Hershon, to be honest, I don't know what to expect.
    I think the integrated unit you have is probably very good at what it does, and I'm not sure that you'll hear a drastic improvement by adding a CD player.
    If I had to rank the importance of items in the audio chain for achieving good sound quality,it would be:
    1) Speakers
    2) Room acoustics
    3) Pre-Amp/Processing
    4) Amplification
    5) Source player
    6) Choice of beer
    7) Cables

    I do believe that there are difference in performance across CD players etc, but I find that they are almost always small compared to the differences you'd have switching other components, and you often have to spend a pile of money.
    That being said, I can't help but wonder if JVC has made any shortcuts in your unit to keep it inexpensive? I would certainly question its pre-amp/amp section.
    In your situation, the CD player might not be the best way to improve your system.
    But if you can return it, it might be a worthwhile experiment...try a receiver out too if you can, you may find that your expectations are just too high for your budget (a sad reality that most of us face).
    Then you start to appreciate the gear you do have more.

  6. #6
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    You're probably right about expectations exceeding your budget. Another factor to add which is driving me nuts but is something I can't control, is the actual recording and mastering of the CD and as most of my CD's are albums that were originally recorded in the 60's & 70's, there is quite a variance in sound quality with recordings made in the 1990's and onwards. For example, if I put on a Beales Cd like "Revolver" or "Rubber Soul" while it sounds pretty good it doesn't sound unbelievable if that makes sense & I'm trying to figure if one or more of my components other than my Orb Speakers was different, would the sound quality when I played those albums be significantly better?

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Hershon, to be honest, I don't know what to expect.
    I think the integrated unit you have is probably very good at what it does, and I'm not sure that you'll hear a drastic improvement by adding a CD player.
    If I had to rank the importance of items in the audio chain for achieving good sound quality,it would be:
    1) Speakers
    2) Room acoustics
    3) Pre-Amp/Processing
    4) Amplification
    5) Source player
    6) Choice of beer
    7) Cables

    I do believe that there are difference in performance across CD players etc, but I find that they are almost always small compared to the differences you'd have switching other components, and you often have to spend a pile of money.
    That being said, I can't help but wonder if JVC has made any shortcuts in your unit to keep it inexpensive? I would certainly question its pre-amp/amp section.
    In your situation, the CD player might not be the best way to improve your system.
    But if you can return it, it might be a worthwhile experiment...try a receiver out too if you can, you may find that your expectations are just too high for your budget (a sad reality that most of us face).
    Then you start to appreciate the gear you do have more.

  7. #7
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Hard to say, a lot of analog to digital (CD) mastering jobs were done really crappy IMO...My least favorite are the Led Zeppelin albums I-IV...the Remasters are a fair amount better though.
    I find alot of today's stuff is recorded and mixed with the gain cranked way up - louder is better and all...Except this often results in a one way ticket to Clip-city, or compressed dynamics. I think the problem is too many artists are doing this stuff themselves, or using hack studio engineers.

    The Rush remasters however were a huge improvement IMO, an were done quite well...Music has changed too, I find bands make sure the bass is cranked up to 10 today, were it was more of a secondary concern in the past quite often.
    If you're really concerned, you could probably get a nice Yamaha or Denon receiver, and a decent cd player on ebay or Audiogon for the price of the Onkyo. Just an option.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    In case I eventually get a new receiver, and I only want to listen to 5.1 sound, am I then spending and wasting my money on 6.1 & 7.1 receivers and wasting endless dollars for a feature I don't need. Again, music & 5.1 sound quality is my only concern
    Waste of time obsessing about whether 6.1 or "7.1" are needed or not. You're going to get those features on just about any receiver above the entry level price points, whether or not you intend to make use of that capability. If you want to stick only to 5.1, then you're stuck with either the bottom of the line models, which might be missing some other features that you might want such as component video switching or digital outputs or preouts, or separates where you attach only five channels of amplifcation onto a multichannel processor and pay at least 4x what a midlevel "7.1" receiver would cost.

    Just about any audio component that you buy will have some capability that you won't use, but that doesn't mean that other consumers won't find those same features useful and/or essential.

  9. #9
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Hard to say, a lot of analog to digital (CD) mastering jobs were done really crappy IMO...My least favorite are the Led Zeppelin albums I-IV...the Remasters are a fair amount better though.
    I think you've just stated the strongest argument in favor of supporting DVD-A and SACD (and 96/24 discs such as the one that comes with the Neil Young Greatest Hits DVD+CD package). A lot of CDs out there have not gotten any remastering touch ups since their initial release. With CDs, the transfer was often done directly from an analog master, and not by the original session and mastering engineers.

    The problem is if the intended medium was vinyl, then the master tape might have been tweaked so that it transfers well onto vinyl, but not for CD (which in the 70s hadn't been conceived of yet). When a multichannel 5.1 mix is prepared, they go back to the original multitrack master, not just the two-channel mixdown. This ensures that the sound is prepped with high resolution digital format playback in mind. A bonus is that sometimes a brand new two-track master tape also gets prepped, which eliminates the need to get around whatever flaws or processing that might have gotten mixed into the original stereo master.

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    I find alot of today's stuff is recorded and mixed with the gain cranked way up - louder is better and all...Except this often results in a one way ticket to Clip-city, or compressed dynamics. I think the problem is too many artists are doing this stuff themselves, or using hack studio engineers.
    Terrence went into this a few months ago as to why CDs are mixed the way that they are.

    SACD vs. CD - Unfair competition?

    I think a lot of it also has to do with the intended audience for a lot of the music and how they play it back. In the late-80s and through the 90s, the most popular studio monitor was the Yamaha NS10, because it was able to emulate the characteristics of mini systems and car audio rigs. This meant that a lot of mixes sounded optimal on a compact or mobile system, but had considerably more varied results with a larger higher resolution playback.
    Last edited by Woochifer; 01-31-2005 at 12:57 PM.

  10. #10
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    A good read, I tend to agree with Sir T and all...I really hope SACD and DVD-A don't die off...it seems like it's fashionable to jump on the "anti-hi-rez" bandwagon and predict their demise...if nothing else, maybe we can expect hi-rez DVD's or something more from the newer DVD-ish formats...

    Part of the problem is that mainstream music is just aweful these days too...short attention spans and all, most of my favorite artists still put out quality recordings.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    A good read, I tend to agree with Sir T and all...I really hope SACD and DVD-A don't die off...it seems like it's fashionable to jump on the "anti-hi-rez" bandwagon and predict their demise...if nothing else, maybe we can expect hi-rez DVD's or something more from the newer DVD-ish formats...
    I think that high res could've worked if the powers that be decided to make it an open format or try to create some other kind of encryption scheme aside from force feeding analog connections with DVD-A and SACD. Having a format war has hurt a lot not because of technical issues (universal players are easy enough to create), but because of the confusion it creates in the market and the need for retailers to maintain multiple inventories of discs.

    IMO, making high res digital work would have entailed creating a dual layer CD/DVD from the very beginning. Standardize all new CD releases around this dual layer format, and allow the format to use a normal digital connection. That would have been the simplest solution, and instantly created new value for the CD format. Unfortunately, at the time the DVD was getting developed, the music industry was still awash in CD profits and the developers were more interested in other agendas (the DVD-A camp was more about copy protection, while the SACD camp [Sony/Philips] was interested in both copy protection and finding a new revenue source to take over once their CD patents expired).

    As it stands, downloading took everyone by surprise, and the feature packed DVD format grabbed market share away from the comparatively dowdy CD format. My understanding is that newer recordings are first mixed to 5.1, and then downmixed to stereo from there. It would actually be fairly easy to do simultaneous releases of 5.1 and two-channel releases, but so long as the record companies operate in a way that forces retailers to create dual inventories to support DVD-A and SACD, then unfortunately it will remain a niche format. TWo years ago, I'd read that Sony Music and Universal were ready to standardize their new releases around SACD/CD hybrid discs once manufacturing capacity was sufficient, but that has yet to happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Part of the problem is that mainstream music is just aweful these days too...short attention spans and all, most of my favorite artists still put out quality recordings.
    I think the issue is that nothing has wrested the mantle away from hip hop and alternative, which both had their roots in the 80s. Those are the genres that the music industry has relied on for its growth, but you can't go to the well over and over without listeners getting tired of it. Disposable pop music is nothing new, the difference is that there's not much else out there right now to get excited about. There's no equivalent to "discovering" hip hop or hearing some of the alternative bands for the first time. People only have so much money to spend on entertainment, and with mainstream music seeming so stale, both artistically and technologically, compared to other types of entertainment, it's no wonder the industry's in trouble.

    To me, the music industry's in a similar situation now as they were in the early-80s. Music that had its artistic peak more than a decade ago getting stale, complaints about piracy, competition from video games, new technology in home video going mainstream, and a music industry in crisis. Sound familiar? That is the situation in 2005, but that was also the case in 1982.

    Rather than hip hop and alternative, you had album rock and funk/disco-based music running its course

    rather than downloading and CD burning, you had an industry panic about how cassette duping was going to ruin the music industry;

    rather than the "new" mainstream status of VHS and Beta and movie rentals, you now have the DVD

    rather than the Playstation, Xbox, and Gamecube, you had the Atari 2600/5200, Intellivision, and an explosion in coin-op games like PacMan and Donkey Kong.

  12. #12
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    My problems with some DVD-Audio Discs

    I agree with everything you guys say on paper but it has been my experience that a bunch of DVD-A's, not Yes's Fragile which is fantastic, at least the imported ones I got from England from the worst company in existence called Silverline Records, at best electronically reprocessed the CD's into 5 channels. So unless the DVD-A's were remixed I wouldn't bother. I also got the Who's "Tommy" which Pete Townshend remixed and to be honest it wasn't terrible but wasn't 4th of July Fireworks either.



    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    A good read, I tend to agree with Sir T and all...I really hope SACD and DVD-A don't die off...it seems like it's fashionable to jump on the "anti-hi-rez" bandwagon and predict their demise...if nothing else, maybe we can expect hi-rez DVD's or something more from the newer DVD-ish formats...

    Part of the problem is that mainstream music is just aweful these days too...short attention spans and all, most of my favorite artists still put out quality recordings.

  13. #13
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    I agree with everything you guys say on paper but it has been my experience that a bunch of DVD-A's, not Yes's Fragile which is fantastic, at least the imported ones I got from England from the worst company in existence called Silverline Records, at best electronically reprocessed the CD's into 5 channels. So unless the DVD-A's were remixed I wouldn't bother. I also got the Who's "Tommy" which Pete Townshend remixed and to be honest it wasn't terrible but wasn't 4th of July Fireworks either.
    The thing to compare is not just the 5.1 tracks, but the two-channel tracks as well. As I mentioned, a LOT of CDs out there got transferred with little to no attention paid to the sound quality. Doesn't matter if it's the "original master", often those masters were prepared with the limitations of the vinyl medium in mind (sometimes, the highs would get shot a bit higher for example). So, they would sound horrible if they just got transferred to CD without accounting for any processing or EQing that might have occurred.

    With these DVD-A and SACDs, it's a new opportunity to revisit the two-track version as well and take a bit more time to create a better sounding transfer. Whether or not you like the 5.1 version is basically a matter of preference. The two-track versions represent a more comparable comparison.

  14. #14
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    On a side note, my music/concert DVD selection is getting quite large...I find a good DD or DTS mix sounds pretty darn good, better than a few CD's I own.
    I still don't understand all the encoding process, but I do believe that DD and DTS are compressed compared to CD audio. Given this, why do they sound sooooo much better IMO than MP3's, WMA's, etc, and even some CD's?
    More efficient codec or something?

  15. #15
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    That's actually a good idea about just trying to listen to the 2 channels of the DVD-A which I think I'll try. The only problem in my case is and I may be the only person on this board with this preference, I like to listen to all my regular 2 channel CD's on all 5 of my speakers & sub through the All Channel Mode which isn't ProLogic or anything, just the natural unchanged sound going through all of my speakers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    The thing to compare is not just the 5.1 tracks, but the two-channel tracks as well. As I mentioned, a LOT of CDs out there got transferred with little to no attention paid to the sound quality. Doesn't matter if it's the "original master", often those masters were prepared with the limitations of the vinyl medium in mind (sometimes, the highs would get shot a bit higher for example). So, they would sound horrible if they just got transferred to CD without accounting for any processing or EQing that might have occurred.

    With these DVD-A and SACDs, it's a new opportunity to revisit the two-track version as well and take a bit more time to create a better sounding transfer. Whether or not you like the 5.1 version is basically a matter of preference. The two-track versions represent a more comparable comparison.

  16. #16
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    One thing you might be forgetting about receivers that have extra channels, Hershon, is that they give the user the ability play multiple zones at the same time. In other words, a 7.1 receiver would allow you to watch your movie in 5.1 while someone else listened to the radio (or whatever) in a separate 2 channel room via Zone 2. The new monster from Denon, the 5805, will actually play two separate 5.1 rigs at the same time! This is an installer's wet dream! While I agree that 5.1 is really all 99% of the population needs for a normal HT and that the software is a limiting factor, it's always better to have unused options than no options at all.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    On a side note, my music/concert DVD selection is getting quite large...I find a good DD or DTS mix sounds pretty darn good, better than a few CD's I own.
    I still don't understand all the encoding process, but I do believe that DD and DTS are compressed compared to CD audio. Given this, why do they sound sooooo much better IMO than MP3's, WMA's, etc, and even some CD's?
    More efficient codec or something?
    Well, consider that the bitrate for most downloaded MP3s is 120k, while DD starts at 384k/448k and DTS starts at 754k. Right off the bat, DD and DTS are working with higher bitrates overall, and higher bitrates per channel. Even though DD uses only slightly higher bits per channel compared to 120k MP3s, they also use a bit-saving trick by channel-joining the sounds above 15 kHz. In my listenings, DTS is already very close in audio quality to uncompressed PCM tracks. (below I linked to a listening test that I did a few years ago comparing DD, DTS, and PCM tracks that came with a concert DVD)

    http://archive.audioreview.com/07/0EECE6CB.php

    From my listening, once you get up above the 192k bitrate with MP3s, then the sound quality is getting very close to the CD resolution. But, depending on the space available, a lot of listeners are willing to sacrifice sound quality to cram a few extra songs onto their portables; and downloaders are trying to grab as much as they can in a short time, so you don't see a lot of files on Kazaa et al encoded higher than about 160k.

    Another thing to consider is how much the quality of MP3 encoders varies. Just from listening to files created using the Real Player and Cakewalk Pyro, there's a very noticeable difference in how identical bitrate files created by each program sounds. (the Real Player sounds noticeably better) Whereas MP3 is an open format, DD and DTS are proprietary and with tighter control over how the encoders and decoders perform. Given that the DD and DTS encoders out there are generally directed to recording professionals, you can assume that the sound quality will be more consistent.

    Yet another variable is that the concert DVDs might simply work off of repurposed master tapes that were better prepped than the version used with the CD. Terrence has noted that by splitting the sounds out to 5.1 channels rather than trying to squeeze everything together onto two tracks, it gives the engineer an opportunity to better space out the different sounds without overprocessing the tracks. Getting a two-channel mix to create a strong phantom center effect is a challenge, whereas with a 5.1 mix, you have a discrete center channel to work with.

    Also consider that a lot of CDs were just poorly done. Creating a new 5.1 mix from any source is a great opportunity to fix audio problems from previous releases, because you're going back to the original sound elements.

  18. #18
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    Bi-Amp the extra channels

    The Arcam AVR300 actually allows you to Bi-Amp the two extra channels. This is a very expensiver receiver, but was designed by the manufacture to have this option for users that want more out of their 2 channel listening.

    http://www.arcam.co.uk/prod_diva_AVR300_intro.cfm

    Below are the instrutions from the manual, I'm not sure if this will work with other 7.1 receivers?

    Bi-amping your system
    Notes:
    1) In order to bi-amplify your speakers, your speakers will need to be bi-wirable (have positive and negative terminals for both high frequency (HF) and low frequency (LF) information). If your speakers are bi-wirable, ensure that the links between the HF and LF terminals are removed.

    WARNING: This step is essential or damage to your AVR300 may result which is not
    covered under warranty.

    2) If you wish to bi-amplify speakers using external power amplifi ers, you must use amplifi ers with the same gain as the AVR300 (31dB), otherwise the bass and the treble will become unbalanced. Please contact your dealer if you require more information on bi-amping your speakers. Bi-amping using the AVR300 If channels 6 and 7 of your system are not in use (i.e., you have a system comprised of a maximum of five speakers,
    excluding the subwoofer), these spare amplifi cation channels may be used to bi-amplify the front left and right speakers of your system.

    Follow these steps:

    1. Remove the terminal links on the rear of your loudspeakers.
    WARNING: This step is essential or damage to your AVR300 may result which is not covered under warranty.
    2. Connect the cables as shown in the diagram below, ensuring correct polarity at all times.
    3. Ensure that the USE CHANNELS 6+7 for setting in Basic menu 6 “EX Settings” is set to BIAMP L+R. (See page 13 for details of how to do this.)

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