Assume you are ony wanting to discuss home theater sound?
I have one Denon receiver 4806 and run it five channel no subwoofer. (it has seven equal channels of amplification available)
I use Canton CD300/CD360 speakers.
No sub as i live in an apartment in an 'over 55' building.
So any noise bothering anyone else would be unwanted by ME as much as by others.
Both the receiver and speakers were bought at a dealer 'garage blowout' sale at a really low price.
They are the last home theater setup i will ever buy unless the receiver breaks...) They sound great, have wonderful clarity and are all i want.
My two channel on the other hand is one Bryston 4B-SST2 amp biwired to my Magnepan 3.6 speakers.
Home stereo. 5.1 Arcam avr handles all but sub jl audio fathom f113
Main 2 channel rig
Tweeters/mids. Atmasphere ma-1. Output transformer less tube mono blocks
Woofers. Qsc bluelight 360. Volume adjusted
i used to run all separates for HT but have downgraded to a receiver. either way i would always want to power all my speakers with the SAME amp/receiver to insure proper timbre matching. sub powers itself.
however, it does boil down to your level of pickiness.
Far from "prevailing wisdom," my 7 channel system evolved from my 2 channel stereo.
I started with 2 speakers driven by 2 monoblocks. Each speaker had its own subwoofer to fill out their low ends.
When I added a screen, I routed the 2 front channel outputs of the HT processor to be one of the inputs to the preamp of my stereo. And I added a center channel and 2 rear speakers driven by three other monoblocks, all sourced directly from my HT processor. These monoblocks are powerful and accurate but do not have the same class of sound as my main front channel monoblocks.
More recently, I added 2 more channels for a 7 channel HT. The 2 added speakers became the rears and the former rears became the surrounds on the sides. My rears are more efficient than the surrounds so I used a lower power stereo amp that I had bought some time ago. Fortunately, it is made by the same designer as my main front channel monoblocks, so at least it does share the same character of sound, although this is of minor importance given the sonic material usually sent to the rears.
Since my main fronts both have subwoofers and all my speakers are close to full range, I don't feel the lack of not having a dedicated subwoofer channel. When I set up my system in my HT processor, I input that there was no subwoofer for the ".1" channel.
HT set up via my trusty Acurus ACT 3 processor and ACT 5 amplifier. The ACT 5 powers all five channels with 200 watts. The sub is a powered Velodyne.
Should I not have equal power for all speakers I would then have my highest quality to power primary L & R followed by center and then surrounds.
I have a dedicated analog tube powered two channel system so I'm quite satisfied with a receiver based 7.1 home theater.
I wanted the HT to be as simple as possible. Since there was no substitute for the Pioneer Kuro plasma I went with all Pioneer Elite, matched Triangle Comets, and an Earthquake subwoofer.
I have all Von Schweikert speakers, and all Electron Kinetics Eagle amps. Fronts are VR4 Gen III's vertically biamped using Eagle 4's, Center is a LCR15 driven from one channel (the other idles) of a Eagle 2C, and rears are CR3's driven by an Eagle 2C. Sub is a VRS Tower of Power which has a Carver amp built in IIRC.
This is a dual purpose system - most listening is 2 channel analog using the mains only, no sub.
Sorry, yes, I was referring to HT.
I am building a system as I go. I have a new AVR and an old 2-channel amp I was using for..you guessed it...2 channel.
I have bought a ULS15 sub that is on the way. I have Synchrony S's used in 7.1 mode, powered by the AVR. The 2-channel amp is powering my inefficient mains. Once the sub is here and integrated into the system, I'll turn my attention to a center speaker, powered inititally by the AVR. The AVR is a Yamaha RXA3010. It is listed at 150RMS per channel, but that of course is divided up by the number of channels used, so right now I have ~75 for each of the surrounds, and that will go down again when I add a center.
So, the decision is, one 7 channel amp for all?
A 3 channel for LCR, and 2 stereos or one 4 channel (do they even make one?) for surrounds?
My setup is dual duty, mostly TV/movies, but I like to listen to 2 channel as well. When I switch the AVR to 2 channel direct, does it then send full range to the mains even with a sub hooked up to sub-out? What are my configuration options for that as well?
I have my eye on Synchrony One's for mains to replace my old Infinity Kappas, and those are bi-ampable, and I'm open to that. I do like to crank it up, and I'm in a house where I can (sorry Elizabeth, been where you are as well). The room is 12 X 19 X 8. It will soon be opened up into the kitchen area behind the back wall, the one opposite the speakers and screen (TCP65ST50 Panasonic)
In my experience, the 4 surrounds+rears won't require a whole lot of power, while the two front mains will need the most support. And for some recordings/movies the front center channel does a lot of the work. (I believe your ULS15 sub has a built in amplifier?)
Accordingly, I would try keeping your 2 channel amp for the 2 front main speakers -- they must have been working pretty well together so far?
Can you use the Yamaha AVR to power the center and the 4 surrounds+rears? I figure the center will require the most power and the other 4 won't be very demanding. (By the way, I don't quite understand your description of how the Yamaha supplies power -- a spec page I glanced at identified the AVR as putting out 150W x 9. Are you saying that only 150 W is available to all speakers at any one time?)
If you find the Yamaha runs out of gas hooked up to 5 speakers, I would recommend getting a monoblock for the center channel and leaving the Yamaha supporting the 4 surround+rears.
Oops, Monday moment - it is a 9.2, this is on the factory website: 150W per Channel (8 ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.06 % THD, 2 ch driven).
My 2 channel @ 125 does run out of gas. When I'm in 'play mode', I have the volume up to 0.0db and up, with a max available of 16.5 on the AVR. Normal TV is about -22(+/-). These numbers are on the AVR screen when I adjust volume. At these levels, the sound just gets bad...detail goes away, stage collapses, etc. The Kappa Series was a power hungry series of speakers, though, but even so, I definitely need more.
Well, if your 2 channel amp doesn't give you enough and you are OK with biamping the Kappas, then perhaps adding another 2 channel amp and using it along with the old 2 channel amp in a biamp set up should get more volume out of your mains.
The Yamaha AVR would still be driving the center and 4 surrounds+rears. (Again, adding a monoblock for the center remains an option if the Yamaha can't handle your needs.)
The Kappas will be upgraded. One day...but they aren't biampable.
I've read about Parasound, ATI, Outlaw, Wyred, Emotiva....the options seem endless. There's even a used Krell KAV500 on eBay that isn't too far out of budget, and it's bridge able to 400wpc then when I add a center and upgrade to the PSBs which are biampable, then I could use two channels each main speaker with 100wpc and still have 100 for the center...or there's the 200wpc+ with a few other brands....
That's where I start to get lost, because of the amount of choices with no 'right' answer
Sounds like a plan.
As you say, there's no right answer.
I can only add that you may find yourself on an upgrade spiral that could involve buying and selling a lot of equipment. In the past I have found myself to be better off just jumping over a couple of go-rounds. (Less fun but less work and less expensive.)
I'm kind of thinking along those lines. I don't like the compromises my budget forces me into, and sometimes prefer to do nothing until I can afford what I want. I'm almost there now with the amp choice - thinking an ATI 2007 is where I should be, but don't have a spare $3K right now. Emotiva could still be an option, but is that compromising? If I go with (for example) an XPA5 and XPA3, leaving the one channel unused, and having 200W per speaker for $1700.00 list, would that be 'good enough', or would the extra $1300.00 up front eliminate the need for upgrading? It's the old question of would I be wondering if the ATI would have been a better choice? I know, there are no crystal balls, but that's where I am right now. Of course, that doesn't account for the option of a used older amp or two,....
I run 4.0, with the front L/R powered by McCormack DNA-1DeluxeRevA, and the surrounds powered by my Onkyo receiver. I probably will go 4.1 soon, with a powered sub.