Roger, I think you are looking at speakers that outclass your HT receiver, by a lot.
Personally, I'd be inclined to upgrade your HT receiver first, then decide on a speaker upgrade if necessary. Speaker choice is a personal thing, but whatever you choose, you need good electronics to drive them.
The Arcam is a nice piece, but has had a lot of quality issues - make sure you have decent warranty service near by. Also look at the higher end NAD - T775HD2 - modular design and more reliable.
Consider going with a two channel amplifier with a home theater bypass to better match your main speakers then your choice of receivers isn't nearly as critical. I believe this combination is the best of both worlds.
As far as the confusion, you can always find something you like as well or better IF you're actively looking, but it doesn't mean that you'd be unhappy with a different product. When I purchased my current system I listened to several different brands and very much preferred my Focals, but also knew that I'd love to own almost any of the speakers that I heard. It sounds like you really like the Totems, so try to get an at home demo and see if you like them as well as you think. If not, keep looking.
I agree with Mceljo, the receiver will always hold you back. IMO it is almost not worth upgrading speakers if you are just going to use a receiver. It is a fine way to get started but if you really want to upgrade your system move on. Buy new speakers first if you want but keep some money around for a new front-end too.
You should look into getting a good (but stay in budget) two channel preamp and amp. You can just bypass the receiver to the preamp for home theater (works very well for me). The preamp does not even need to have a bypass, you can use any analog input and just set the volume at 12:00 on the preamp etc.
For what it is worth I currently own a Marantz SR5005 that replace my broken Rotel 1056 about a month ago... They both sound terrible with music and are very similar in sound quality. I bypass them to my two channel equipment and only use them for home theater. The loss in detail and bass extension, is so great (compared to my two channel preamp) I am thinking about dumping the receiver all together and running a blu ray player straight to my amps.
I bought my first pair of decent speakers in college (B&W 703) and ran them of a $800 Onkyo receiver for a little while. When I moved onto a moderately price set of separates the 703s sounded like a different pair of speakers. Much more bass, detail and soundstage.
Thank you so much for your responses, the concensus from you guys is definitly weighing towards separates which I can understand, but thats why I picked the Arcam avr600 which is 120w per channel of real power not fudged and as I understand it has very good components that made it an alternative choice to separates(maybe not?)
Yes you're all right about my present avr being outclassed by the b&w, so I will take your advice and try a new avr with my existing speakers before I decide on other makes.
OK, so my budget is about 10k or so for three front, surround sub and amp also will use proceed from sale of my present components and I'm flexible on budget but not looking to spend alot more, I'm retiring (63) and just want a good system to enjoy movies and music in that order.
I'm finding it hard to say "avr" you guys gave me a complex lol.
so what separates should I consider for my room size (20x19 approx open floor plan)? If I was to go that route.
Thank you so much to all for your advice what do you think about the Totems, Merlins vs b&w?
IMO,always start with speakers and then build system around that..not what is suggested..Secondly, having a bro in law that was an ex Arcam dealer who dropped the line because of too many returns,there are alot of building issues with their integ amps so I would be leary of Arcam power.
Typically it makes sense to go with speakers first - agreed.
However, depending on your situation (ie., when your amp is already outclassed), might make sense to deviate from the rule, especially if you are not planning on starting over from scratch.
In my view no HT receiver is satisfactory for serious 2 channel listening, however your $10k budget will likely not cover a quality pre/pro/power combo (new at least), never mind new speakers on top of that. Anything from Cary/Bryston/Anthem runs $10-12K, and forget the lower priced separates. It's cheaper to go for a decent HT receiver (I suggest NAD), and add a good 2 channel integrated with HT bypass for half the price.
Don't know the Merlins but have heard good things. Totems are OK (the Mani 2's are very nice), not a big B&W fan these days. Speakers are a personal preference - you have to listen to them and decide for yourself.
I think it would help a great deal to address the question of priorities first: which is more important to you, music listening or home theater? Given the site you are posting on, most here expect you to prefer music first, and therefore a lot of the advise above has been about dumping the receiver and go to separates-and meaning two-channel separates, not pre-theater processor and 7 channel amp.
I got it Arni, I am dumping my receiver, that was a decision I made before posting here, I am considering separates but right now I am still leaning towards the Arcam avr600.
First and foremost I measure quality of sound with my favorite music, regardless of what anybody else expects, if I like what I hear in music it will be good enough for HT.
My nephew just got a Rotel amp 1575(250w)and 1570 sound processor, for approx 5k (not expensive) sounds pretty good with his b&w 802D, I will listen to it next week at the dealers.
Tesseract86 - My philosophy is a little outside of the norm for home theater compared to most, but here's what I do.
I choose to run a 4.1 channel setup skilling the center channel. I know that having a center channel would be better, but I don't feel that I'm missing anything when watching a moving on my system.
I put the majority of my budget into a new Integra receiver and Focal main speakers and just use inexpensive rear channel speakers. I also use an, in my opinion, great but reletively affordable subwoofer. My point is that I put a large chunk of my money towards my main speakers in an effort to focus on two channel and purchased a nice receiver realizing that it was a compromise. My old receiver didn't have any pre-outs or I would have strongly considered getting a stereo integrated. When I'm distracted by a picture the overall sound quality isn't nearly as critical for me, but I think my system sounds good enough that any non-audiophile would be blown away.
You might consider getting some nice stereo seperates or integrated and only get a moderate receiver. If you have a home theater bypass option you'll only be using the processor in the AVR for home theater and the AVR amplifiers for the surround channels (and possibly the center) and this works great for me. This would allow you to put more money into equipment to match your B&W speakers.
I'd strongly consider keeping your existing Marantz SR5004 and matching it up with an integrated with a home theater bypass. Even the Krell S-300i would be well within your budget and would provide a nice improvement I would suspect. There are a lot of other options that might even be better.
Thank you, I appreciate your input,
For sure I've received some great advice here from the experts and I'm reassessing which way I want to go.
Thanks to all
The Arcam AVR600 has the best sound of any receiver I have ever heard. It could be because it plays in Class A up mto at least 20 watts. Hopefully Arcam has upgraded the HDMI from HDMI 3 to HDMI 4.a to allow 3D and the best hi-rez audio.
Thanks for your feedback, I was starting to think that no one uses AVR's anymore.
The avr600 uses class G amps.
Arcam did report that an upgrade to hdmi 1.4 (3D) will be available this year.
I was so impressed with the sound of the Totem Forest being driven by the Arcam avr400(90w) wether it was bass, mids great sound, I feel that Arcam avr600 will be way sufficient to drive most speakers, I will probably go with "Totem The ones" will have to hear them first there not cheap ($3,500)for the center I think the best they have is the signature one.
Article from Arcam website
For me the order of priorities goes like this. Room acoustics, followed by speakers, and proper amplification. The system can't be expected to sound good until the room does. Once you can hear the speakers at their best, it's quite a bit easier to get the proper amplification. Separates or receiver won't make nearly as much difference as room acoustics and speakers.
I totally agree with you, a friend of mine (sound expert) is coming friday to assess my family room because I have issues like the wall on my left is all glass its a decent size room in an open floor plan so I'm not sure that the room would be better off with towers or monitors. I will not do anything till he checks it out.
I just want to clarify that I am not comparing avr and separates there's no comparison obviously, I'm merely suggesting that a humble set up like mine may be fine with the Arcam.
As all of you have made it clear regarding receiver sound, I too agree that most AVR's played in two channel(stereo) sound pretty bad, but for my simple system I dont think that I would be loosing quality with my avr pick.
The arcam avr400 that I heard and liked has a big brother avr600 that has a very impressive review, it makes for a very interesting read to say the least.
10k will get you top of the line movie and music performance
Legacy Focus 20/20's $3200 shipped
Legacy Silver Screen $800 shipped
Legacy Classic $1600 shipped
Anthem avm 40 $1500 shipped
Anthem MCA 50 $1200 shipped
oppo blu ray $500 shipped
SVS Ultra 13 $1300 shipped
I believe the total is real close to $10k. Chances are you can beat this by a lot. Speacially if you score some local Focus 20/20's. I sold my 2 pair for just under 3k. I WISH I NEVER LET THEM GO. Nothing has comeclose to them IMO. This is a dream setup, believe me. If you can upgrade the MCA50 to a Bryston 9bsst you will really smile.
Let me preface my comments with the following: there are no absolutes with audio, one mans/women poison is medicine for someone else. I have done some serious upgrading over the past 2 years. I gone from Audio Physic Virgo IIIs to Wilson Sophia IIs and now own Sophia IIIs. I have changed every component in my system and everything makes a difference. I'm lucky to have a dealer that I've been buying from for 20 years. I trust him, because he will recommend products that he doesn't carry and he knows how to put a system together. I would start by purchasing speakers within your price range. Next I would by the best source that I could afford, then electronics and finally cables. I've listed the order that I feel had the most impact as I was upgrading. I recently added an Audio Research DAC-7 and it took my system to the next level. Take your time and enjoy the ride.
Sthomas12321, wow awsome stuff at great prices too
Its just too bad that here in Ft lauderdale there are very few dealers and so many speakers that I would love to hear.
Thank you for the suggestions.
Ricred1, I wish that I could find a dealer period, with the kind of money your spending on your gear you better trust your dealer lol, well with my budget I can maybe afford the grills of the wilson sophia's if there was such a thing.
I guess I better take my budget back to the drawing board, but the truth is I'm happy with my hearing level 10-15k.
Your sounds system must really be something to hear.
Thanks for sharing
I retired from the Air Force as an E-8 and work everyday. I have been doing this for many years. Buying, selling, and at one point had to sell everything that I had. I'm middle class not rich, but I've bought demo equipment and was willing to sell several items to get one. I saved money for months to afford what I wanted.
I love my system, but I'll repeat..."there aren't any absolutes in Audio, just preferences."
Ricred1, I was in the Air Force as well from 1966-70 Air defense command and SAC. Glad to know a fellow veteran.
I was a lead guitarists for the Jaguars a band in Forest Hills Queens, NY, I briefly got into sound system. Then went through a few commercial brand speakers and moved to b&w now the bug has got me again and dont know where it will take me but I want to start with decent sound.
I agree that sound preferences are individual.