combining amp and receiver for HT

Hi, I probably spend more time on straight music (80%) to HT (20%). I have BW Nautilus 804's driven with a Classe 300 amp. I use a Harmon Kardon 500 as the pre-amp/receiver. When in HT surround mode, I use some BW 602s2 for the rear speakers and let the amp drive the fronts. This seems to work ok, but I don't really get much of a Kick out of HT. Of course I don't have a center or sub which may make all the difference. Question is, whats the best next tweak to "get the best of both worlds"?
What you are doing is fine. Is the HK a Home Theater receiver?? If so, a good sub like a REL would be a great addition. The High Pass connection can be connected to the speaker terminals of the Classe Amp for 2 channel audio, and the low-pass connection can be connected to a HT Receiver Sub output for movies. There are separate volume controls for both connections, so you can set both and forget it. The RELs also switch automatically to the low-pass HT connection when a signal is received from the HT receiver.
If you want to add a center, the B&W CC-3 is cheap and works great.
If you get to sit in the sweet spot all the time, I'd continue to run the center in phantom mode, and get a sub. If not, I'd get the center first. RELs are great subs, but if you don't intend to integrate the sub for 2-ch music, you can get more HT bang-for-the-buck (no pun) than the REL. I'd particularly look at SVS products. The company was started by two enthusiasts/addicts, and they offer a lot of value and performance. And if you are handy at all, a sub is not a terribly difficult DIY, and the result can easily compete with anything at 2 or 3 times the cost.
I highly recommend a good center channel. The center channel see's more information then any other channel when running in 5.1. (I've upgraded this speaker 3 times) The sub is also a must have item. Your missing out on the LFE frequency's with out it. I here Rel is great for quality music mixing. I personnaly went with a Velodyne HGS series. Lot of bang. Can be had for 50% off retail at this web-site if you keep your eyes open.
REL makes two kinds of Subs. They both work great with both HT and music. The ST subs (Stratus, Storm, Stadium, etc.) are design primarily for audiophiles for music. The Q subs (Q100E, Q201E) are designed for HT as the primary use. The Q100E has a handy Slam/Depth switch it you want more slam for movies and back to depth for music. REL subs will not shake the house like some subs, they are more accurate. The choice for movies then is do you want an explosion to shack the room or sound more real. I have two systems; the Storm III with my audio setup and the Q100E in the family room for movies.
Joeb,I have the B&W 805's with the matching center channel speaker, and a REL Strata III. I would get the center channel first, then a sub. You need both for great HT sound, but the addition of a center channel speaker makes the bigger difference in my opinion. I got along just fine before getting the sub. Don't cheap out on the center, get the HTM I or II, as they are voice matched, and up to the task of carrying the majority of movie dialogue, after all, when mixing for 5.1 engineers plan on your having a center channel speaker, and gear their mixes with that in mind.
Definately start with a v. good center but add a sub ASAP.
OK, thanks for all the feedback. It basically confirms what I thought, I really need both a center and a sub for the real deal on HT. But, can those also be used to augment stereo music using the receiver in Logic7music mode?
Or, if I had a decent pre-amp, can you use it to run a sub? The BW N804's are great highs and mids but really lack in the bass department so it would be nice to enhance that with a sub.
absolutely and a "nice pre-amp" will do the crossover for you. You can have one setting for H/T (higher crossover) giving you more BANGGGG and another setting (lower cross over) for added bass to stereo. I do this in my H/T system with positive results.