Complicated set of questions.
If you want to stay 2-channel focused, the Parasound Halo P7 is a great multi-channel pre. Paired with an Oppo 103/105 you would have all the decoding you need but no room correction.
Otherwise I also hear good recommendations for the Krell HTS processors.
Personally I haven't heard an AVR I really liked. I do like Arcam but I think they got out of the HT market? Not really sure.
Right now I’d decide which is my aim. Music or home Theater. The latter is gonna be far more involved and lots more ‘spensive..
Some feel music is the end all be all and will say go with an Integrated amp first. And that path is fine enough.
Given you want to improve upon the home entertainment experience as you noted the nice TV and blue ray player I’d opt for a different theme or plan.
just starting out I have always gone with a multichannel receiver. always. But, that's just me. Were I doing it all over again, I’d try hard to get one of the top tier receivers and having had a few, Onkyo is a very solid option with very good support, in or out of warranty. Well built and very reliable. Sony is another decent choice. My Onkyo has out lasted my Sony though. Performances are pretty much a toss up.
Ensure whichever way, the multi ch reciver is capable enough for 4K video, either HDR or now, Dolby Vision, if possible. Or look for HDMI 2.0 on the video side. I’d never buy one with less than 110 – 120 wpc either. Mo’ is better.
having a multi ch receiver enables one to add many things, as you are able. or, when you are able.
Speakers were first. I’d opt in for a 4.0 aray. Then likely add a sub. HT just ain’t HT without a sub. I can live without a center channel long before I can do without a sub woofer. Subs are a must for HT.
Then, I’d upgrade the mains. Usually moving them to the surrounds. If possible.
Once I had all four ch, and a sub better off, I’d add an amp for the mains. Either a multi ch amp or a nice two ch amp. Use the reciver to do the processing and run the surrounds.
Then its off to upgrade heaven. The world is your play pen. Where ever, what ever, when ever you have the dough for the upgrades.
Ultimately, you wind up with a bed room outfit and a very nice main HT rig. If you don’t have to sell off stuff to do your upgrades everytime.
I’ve even bought older speakers and sent them back to their maker for upgrades, essentially then having brand new speakers for much less than buying brand new units..
This is the idea for all of us. Many even enjoy the process. I’m more of a “Are we there yet sort though” and don’t care a ton for the crap in the interim. But yeah, even still, it is fun when new stuff comes into the house and you find out exactly what is what by ‘experiencing your plan’.
Either way, getting a sub as soon as possible will really add to the AV experience.
Be well, J
besides Parasound you might look at Marantz recievers
I would consider going with a 2 channel system for both music and video. Put your budget into a quality integrated and a pair of speakers. Integrated could have HT pass through should you wish to expand.
Thanks for the responses! My Dad never fully dissolved his previous HT setup and at least some of the components were Parasound. Not sure what is remaining, will give it a look today. I suppose the main drawback with an older receiver is the lack of HDMI inputs for HD monitors and devices.
If two-channel is your priority and don’t need the connections and the latest processing/features (e.g., Atmos, 4k passthrough, BT, etc.) from the AVR, I’d suggest an older Arcam. I use an Arcam 300 for the gym. To me, it is one of the better "regular" grade HT receivers for two-channel. Very solid power for an AVR.
Another older model, if you don’t need the latest, is a Newcastle r972. It is quirky as hell and no longer supported, but it sounds great for stereo with good power, for an AVR.
I’ve been out of the HT upgrade game for awhile, but, for stereo to my ears, these two outperform similarly-priced/optioned Marantz, Onkyo, and Denon. Either should come in at the bottom of your budget and leave room for an Oppo.
Just another $.02 option. Stretching the budget a tick, I really like the idea above for a Halo P7, Oppo, and separate amp(s).
So Pop has a Parasound A23 Amplifier that I've offered to buy for $500. We were both happy with that price. Now for the Preamp/AVR... The A23 has XLR so ideally what I'd like is something with, say 5.1 channels, XLR, HDMI, Phono, and a few more RCA inputs. Does that exist for around $500?
Are there better ways to spend my money than on the A23?
This is a cool community, thanks for the speedy replies and advice.
The A23’s XLR input is convenience only. It’s still an unbalanced input. :(
The A23 is a very good, modern sounding amp, I highly recommend it as a solid buy, especially at the price. Quiet, free of grain or glare or strain. Quite solid.
So I found an Integra DHC-80.3 PrePro/Preamp for sale on craigslist. Assuming it is in good, working condition, should I give this a go? It has HDMI, which is a must for connectivity with certain devices. Asking $500. Looks to be at least $2-300 below most asking. My understanding is that Integra is a sister company to Onkyo?
That price for the Integra pre/pro is great. Very neutral sounding and featre packed. Audyssey MultEQ XT32 onboard is also a plus.
For wireless connectivity when in the mood for laptop DJ mode, which are the better wireless audio adapters? Do you have to get applications with all of them? All I want to do is buy a device that I can plug into RCA/Optical input, and play from my Apple laptop's iTunes. Chromecast looks a bit too tied in to Google, but I could be wrong. Apple Airplay? If I am going to get an Apple TV anyway, maybe it is moot? But at least with the airplay, so far as I understand it, I won't have to have it "turned on" like I would the Apple TV, to allow for streaming. Also, I think blue tooth is out as the sound quality is not what I'd like to hear. I see there are clearly some audiophile grade devices, but which ones rise above the rest, in regards to quality of sound reproduction, ease of use, and cost?
Thanks, as always.
Here's a question:
What sort of AC Regenerator/Surge protector is needed for a set up like this? I know of the Panamax brand, but not which model would bode well for this system.
On the low end, I recommend Furman with SMP and LiFT. Really good bargains for the noise they remove.
Shop around and you can get them for real discounts.
After this, PS Audio has a nice range.
Furman, PS Audio Dectet, Torus, Audioquest
Furman PST-8D on it's way, and the Integra 80.3 has been purchased! Emails and evidence that it went back to Onkyo for the HDMI board replacement/fix, and it test drove just fine. Guy was a real mensch, through in all of the missing cables I needed to get the whole rig fired up - MIT EXP S2 speaker cables, among other things... Whoa, doggy!