Rather than mess with cheaper separate processors/amps, I’d go with an Anthem MRX 520 or 720 AVR. Very good sound quality and excellent ARC room correction. Best of luck.
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Monoprice Monolith amps. They have a 5 x 200 for $5100 or 7 x 200 for $1729.
Outlaw 976 processor ($1000). The Outlaw is possibly just a tiny bit light on bass power, but it's really a pretty decent sounding processor. I've tested it in my own system before modding it for a friend.
There's an Anthem AVM-60 "New" on ebay for $2499. It's a discount from retail. It's going to be significantly better than the Outlaw, but 2-1/2 times as expensive, lol.
You can always just buy an amp and use the pre-outs on your Pioneer receiver for a short-term upgrade.
Any thoughts on used items?
How about simplifying? You could sell your Pioneer receiver and your Panasonic Bluray player and replace them used for a total of under $3,300 with these:
Buy the Rotel 1585 amp used for $1,995 here:
Then buy the Oppo 203 used for $1,275 here:
The Oppo has a built-in 7.1 audio surround processor, a built-in video processor. built-in wi-fi, built-in audio and video streamer and plays DVDs, CDs, DVD-Audio and SACDs. The Oppo 203 is a jack of all trades, like a Swiss army knife.
Just connect the Oppo's audio outputs directly to the Rotel amp, the Oppo's HDMI video output to your Sony hdtv and control everything with the Oppo's remote.
Thanks for these suggestions, these hit my price point perfectly and seem generally well regarded. As per my setup above I only need 5 channels, but would it be worth buying the 7 channel and bi-amping the front speakers and is the Outlaw 976 even capable of bi-amping setups?
I’m open to used items also, particularly on the amp side, in fact I’ve looked a few times for the rotel gear I mentioned but they seem hard to find second hand, but ultimately I’d prefer to buy new with such large expenses.
The rotel amp was already sold by the time I clicked in the clink, hot item I guess, but thanks for sharing the link
Unfortunately I have too many other items to connect (tivo dvr, mac mini, apple tv) for the oppo option. The death of Oppo was surprising a few years back given how well regarded their gear is.
Yes it's true that the Oppo is basically a self-contained HT processor. However, it's great that you caught that "single HDMI input" limitation. I was going to mention that.
The Outlaw does not have bi-amping. I wouldn't normally bi-amp unless you had an out-board analog crossover. That's really the only true benefit to bi-amping (but you would need to modify internal speaker crossovers). Also, bi-amping in processors can frequently degrade sound quality because of the way they automatically try to do bi-amping signal differences.
You could always do a Y-Cable, but then you are affecting the amplifier input impedance. The Monolith has more than enough power to drive your B&W speakers without bi-amping.
As far as the 5-channel vs. 7-channel. The 7-channel has bigger transformers, so it's possible that it would give you slightly more power in the bass/midbass area, especially if you don't connect the last 2 channels. It's up to you. It's basically a $230 price option, so it depends on your budget.
I don't know if you noticed, but I typoed the price for the 5-channel. It should be $1500. NOT $5100, lol.
One thing about the Outlaw is that the menu/setup is somewhat cumbersome. It takes about 3-5 seconds to bring up the menu and it blanks out the audio/video. It pretty much treats the menu system as a completely separate source. It doesn't have OSD overlay like every other processor. But you can configure it and the performance is quite good.
Scratching bi-amping, then the X5 model makes sense to me. With thanksgiving round the corner is it worth waiting for some discount or do these items rarely get discounted?
Point taken on the Outlaw useability, other reviews have similar comments, but once setup it should be fine.
Monoprice also have a good reputation for cables so I was thinking of these:
Thanks again for all the help.
Those Monoprice Monolith cables look to be pretty good for the price ($60 for 1 meter pair).
Other candidates I would recommend would be a couple from Audio Advisor (www.audioadvisor.com):
- Pangea TrueBalanced XLR-to-XLR ($99 for 1 meter pair).
- Kimber PBJ ($132 for 1 meter pair).
Alternatively, keep your eye out for some used Audioquest XLR cables. There's a pair of King Cobra on ebay for $95.
I've tested the XMC-1 in my system. It's not bad per say, but the sound is rather closed in. It lacks dynamics/clarity. I kept trying to turn it up, but I felt like it was hard to understand the dialog and the impact just wasn't there. It's a well engineered processor and has Dirac room correction (if that's important). Really the only better thing that the XMC offers is automated Dirac room correction. The op amps are rather slow and don't have good power supply capacitance around them. It also uses switching power supply. However, the menu/usability is probably a lot better than Outlaw.
The Outlaw has linear power supplies for all analog and DAC sections. It has a lot of capacitors mounted right at the op amps and, in my opinion, uses better op amps. I think the midrange impact and clarity and "separation of instruments" is going to be better on the Outlaw.
Thats a great shopping tip, I’ve received a refund once from B&H by asking if they would honor the sales price for something I had recently bought, but I’ve never proactively requested this info.
Monoprice have a very well defined policy, they do honor post purchase sales prices from their own store, but it’s only within 7 days of purchase and excludes certain events like black Friday and cyber Monday.
Call me tight but I’m just gonna hold off till thanksgiving in the off chance something comes up on sale.
Ok, I’m back!
I was set on getting an Outlaw 976 and Monolith 5X, however I just had an unpleasant experience dealing with Outlaw and so back looking at other processor options including second hand options. Budget $1,000 to $1,500, must have’s are 4K HDR capabilities, balanced XLR output. Sound wise as I mainly use the system for TV and movies I’m looking for both clarity and a dynamic sound.
Comments on Emotiva XMC-1 above suggest it’s sound is a step down from an Outlaw, plus I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews regarding Emotiva?
Second hand, what about a Marantz AV 7705 or the older 7704?
Looking at Anthem AVM 60 second hand also, but I think I'll struggle to get on of those within budget.
Regarding the amp, still happy with the Monolith choice, hopping to get a refurbished item (5X or 7X), but also looking for a second hand Rotel RMB1585, but they seem quite scarce.
The Marantz processors are quite excellent, especially for the money you spend. It definitely is a "mass market" item, but it's engineered well with excellent power supplies and analog circuits. It's also the only "consumer level" item with discrete analog output stages. Marantz and Outlaw both have a slightly warm voicing with slightly rolled off high frequencies. The Marantz would have better bass however, because power supply is much bigger. You can also go back as far as AV 7702 MKII if you wanted. They all use the same power supply and analog circuits. The newer models only have additional bells & whistles plus maybe newer HDMI support. You might have trouble finding a used Marantz for as cheap as a "new" Outlaw. However, it's definitely going to be much less than $2k.
Ok, in doing a lot of digging around and looking at second hand prices I included Yamaha CX-5100 & 5200 in my searching (based on some other Audiogon threads) and stumbled upon a CX-A5000 for $550 (just over $600 including shipping), after looking at reviews and forum comments I pulled the trigger. Seems like a decent price to me, it doesn’t come with a setup microphone though so I need to find the right one as it seems there’s a few different versions out there. I’ll contact Yamaha but any advice on this and setup welcomed.
That's a really good price for the A5000, if it's in good condition. Since it's missing the microphone, it's likely missing several other pieces. Dod you get a remote control with it?
The Yamaha is likely not going to have bass/midbass that is as full sounding as the Marantz. However, it is going to have better high frequency resolution. It could come across a little bright/harsh, especially if you pair it with the Monoprice Monolith amp and your B&W speakers. You'll have to let us know how it works out. There are ways to help calm down the Yamaha if your sound is too bright/harsh (i.e. fuse upgrade and power cord).
It does come with a remote and power cord, and visually in the add it “looks” in good condition, but I bought a squaretrade protection plan for some additional comfort in case it’s a lemon.
In terms of bright sound, interesting point, but at least the Yamaha / Monolith combo should be less bright than my current amp, which is Pioneer, a brand known for being on the bright side generally I believe. There again I’ve never had separates before so this is new territory for me.