Improvement in Musicality for home theater system

As a first time poster I was hoping to get some feedback on improving the musical delivery, basically more refined sound from my hodgepodge of an old and new system. I have a smaller 16 by 12 room with heavy leather furniture and wood/ area rug, 1904 vintage. Due to the space and budget limitations, I purchased the Revel M126Be’s and had to ditch my 25 year old Proceed AVP for an Antham AVM 70 and had Audio Breakthroughs in Manhassett, NY come out and set it up. They hooked in a 20 year old Velodyne servo driven sub woofer. Now to my question: will replacing a 20 year old plus Adcom 5 channel amp with an Antham or Pass labs be a significant change? For source I mainly use a Blue Sound streamer. 


If the Adcom 5 channels , is used for surrounds speakers , keep it.

The front and center channels are the most important. They deserve a good

power amp.

This is my opinion.

@auxinput Is better than me for this matter.


But for 2 channels music , a home theater processor , will not give you the same musicality than a preamplifier or a integrated amplifier. 
They are not dedicated for the same use

That is a hard one. The problem is surround processors are dense digital electronics in a tiny box. Not a place to create a musical signal. Most musical systems are simple two channel tube based systems (or very carefully chosen solid state). The easiest way to do it would be to use good tube preamp and bypass the processor for music. I would think that another possibility would be a very high end (like $20K… really expensive) surround processor and warm musical amp. I have not been in the market for a while, so I can’t point to a solution. But obviously this wouldn’t be much help anyway.


I run a 2 channel tube pre with an XLR switch to bypass my processor (Trinnov AL16). The only time I use the tube is when playing vinyl or cassette tapes. The Trinnov does digital very well, the room correction is excellent. When setting up the system do your 2 ch system first, adjust the speakers to get the best sound, then do the room correction for the AV unit.

Hey there,

Before you buy anything, please look at my recommendations for configuring ARC correctly:  After this, then see which way you want to go. 



I think when people say musical it is often in the direction that @ghdprentice refers to, although it doesn't have to be with tubes. It often describes attributes that can be opposite what you want in a home theater setup (speech may become less clear during busy passages, for example). So something like what @adsell does gives you the both of best worlds.

With respect to your other question about the difference from a different amplifier, definitely depending on what you switched to the sound will change as well. If you pick a new amplifier that is designed similar to your existing Adcom, the difference will be minimal or inaudible.

Wow, this discussion went sideways really fast!!  so, based on this:

I was hoping to get some feedback on improving the musical delivery, basically more refined sound

I really think you do need to replace your Adcom amp.  I used to run these amps a long time ago.  While they were the "good for the money" amp and sounded nicer than the normal consumer electronics crap, they really are not that great.  Especially when you are pairing them with the Anthem AVM and the Revel M126Be (which is an excellent choice in my opinion).  The old Adcom amps were nice, but they were a bit warmer sounding and did not have good resolution at all.  Basically, the sound was a mess and you would not get good "separation of instruments" at all.

The new Anthem amps are not bad, but I think you can do better because they are not as engaging as other amps.  The Pass Labs amps are very nice, but they do have a unique sound.  Very smooth with excellent resolution, but have more of a "controlled" type of sound (i.e. they are not as dynamic as other amps).  If you like this type of sound, then great.  The "XA" Pass Labs models are "full Class A" and are even warmer and slower sounding.  Many love the sound of Pass Labs.  I would say if you wanted to keep the "type of sound" that you had with Adcom, but with much more resolution and refinement, Pass Labs is likely a good choice.

On the other hand, if you want a more revealing and transparent amp with a lot of dynamics, then I would recommend looking for a Luxman.  Maybe try to find a used Luxman M-700u amp.  There is a M-900u from The Music Room for $10.4k.  I don't know your budget.  Or you can go for a Luxman integrated for about $5-6k. 

There are a lot of Luxman products on ebay that are shipping from Japan.  I would be cautious of these because they are almost all wired for 100V  AC (Japan's standard) and will not work well with the 120V US standard.


Thanks for all the really great suggestions. What are your thoughts on getting a good $ 5k amp like Mac, Parasound or Luxman as one choice and compare in home with my second choice being the Pass Labs integrated? 

When setting up the system do your 2 ch system first

Absolutely first.

What are your thoughts on getting a good $ 5k amp like Mac, Parasound or Luxman

A Parasound A21+ would work very well with your current system. 

I have an Anthem MRX 540 with a Luxman 507, fantastic combination.  I went from an AVM 50 with monoblocks and the Luxman to this and I'm very very happy to have gotten rid of the extra amps.

Among your list, Parasound would be second, but warm, syrupy by comparison.

Pass and Mc after that. Honestly this makes a good triad. Listen to Luxman, Pass and Mc for yourself, they are different, so different I would never recommend you buy either based on anyone elses recommendation. You’ll develop a very strong opinion of your own.




Thanks folks, I listened to the speakers and made the choice of the Revels over the B&W’s bookshelf and happy I made the choice that was right for me. and believe me the B&W’s are very good. Well it seems as though I have to go listen again to the amps all you guys recommended. Not a big fan of Mac, but thru it out just to see what stocked. Parasound, Luxman, and Pass Labs will be my final team, trying to keep it around $5k? I’ll get back to you in a little bit. Thanks for all the help and great suggestions. BRW when I listened to the Pass with the Revels, it sounded real good, but like some folks have said, I missed the engagement. 

Erik is right that all these amps sound radically different.  If you can find somewhere to listen to them, that would be best.  My thoughts:

McIntosh - if you want an engaging and dynamic sounding amp, this is the wrong choice.  The McIntosh amps are very laid back and mild.  If you pair them with a fast speaker, such as Wilson, they can sound pretty special, but in my opinion, it is still a tad laid back.  I walked into the Mac room at RMAF and they had the big monoblocks attached to Mac speakers and it was the most boring and dull sound I have heard.

Pass Labs - like I stated, these have a unique signature/texture.  Very refined and a lot of resolution, but the sound is very "controlled" (best way I can describe it), like it's on the edge of being exciting/dynamic, but just can't quite get there.  The XA amps sound a bit warmer/slower.

Parasound - I would not describe this as "syrupy" like Eric, but they are voiced just slightly on the warm side of neutral.  I have only heard tube equipment sound "syrupy" in the way it puts a glaze type of effect on the sound.  Also, the high frequencies have a dry type of sound (not my preference).  If you compare to Pass, the Parasound is a much more dynamic sounding amp, but lacks the high frequency resolution of the Pass Labs.  Parasound has incredibly clean sounding midrange.

Luxman - is a very high resolution/transparent and very neutral uncolored amp with lots of dynamics.  It really depends on what type of sound you're looking for.  There is a used Luxman L-507ux II integrated amp on usaudiomart for $5500.

For musicality you have another option that I think is better.  Buy an integrated 2 channel amp (almost always better than an AV reciever) that has pre in.  keep your current AV amp for watching movies.

Run a preamp out signal from your AV amp to the Pre-in input on your 2 channel amp.  When listening to music the AV amp isn't even turned on.  When watching a movie, run both amps with your 2 channel amp on Prep-in.  Pre in is also called direct or ht-bypass.  --Jerry

Keep you AVR and buy the musical fidelity M6 500i this one has a 

hometheatre pass through. The best option you can do!!

@maxwave I have disagree with you on the AV Preamp philosophy. I used to run a BAT VK50-SE Preamp into my Orchard Audio Ultra Amplifiers (currently only for L & R duty). Will be buying more modules soon for the C, LS, RS soon.

With the modifications I did to the Analog output stage of my Sony UBP-X1000ES and feeding it into my Onkyo PR-SC5530 in “Pure Direct” mode, the difference is so subtle, the BAT most likely will be up for sale soon.

“Audiophools” (in general - not targeting you Sir), have this Stigma that any A/V related does not belong in 2 Channel sound reproduction. This includes me.

My attitude towards so called “High End” audio has changed made me a lot more skeptical than it was 20 to 30 years ago.


Some will argue different but IMO if you want good two channel you need it as a stand alone system. Any time you try to do both you are compromising some where!

BAT VK50-SE : production stop 2004. A bit old.

Orchard Audio Ultra Amplifiers : ´´No opinion on the amp as I haven’t heard it, but your post is rude and your grammar is bad.´´ @roxy54 08/11/2021 11.09am

I do not called anyone ´´ Audiophools ´´

According to you ;

@gerrie @carlsbad , and many others ,are wrong here , suggesting integrated amp. with home theater bypass for 2 channels music listening.

My understanding is that HT receiver and HT processor are targetting ´´ sound

effects ´´ . Their inner electronics are not as well insulated as integrated or preamp.

dedicated to quality music only.

I think than a 15000$ integrated or preamp-amp. will sound better for 2 channels

listening than a 15000$ HT processor-7 channels power amp. for the same 2 channels listening.

But I may be wrong, we are here to discuss and learn.




@maxwave You are strongly agreeing with my suggestion.  You just don't understand how HT bypass works. --Jerry

With a home theater bypass you only use the amp for the front. And if i play 2channel i used mine stereo that's have nothing todo with the receiver.

2channel amp with bypass is a pure high end amp. Take a look at the musical fidelity or the Hegel.


Excellent ideas folks thanks. Need to listen and then make sure I can use it in a manner fully described by Jerry and also one other gentlemen on the post. It’s getting we excited that I can actually upgrade the sound quality significantly from the present level. Getting on with it, thanks to all for the education 


yes I agree with your suggestion, which is in line with my first post.

@rajugsw does not agree.

And for your information, I run an integrated amplifier ( Soulution INT 330 )

for 2 channels music listening . I also used it ( home theater bypass )with my Acurus ACT4 20 channels  ( 9.5.6 speakers layout ) 

home theater processor for video watching.

I think , I understand how it works.

@maxwave Ok.  I guess we agree.  I just can't always follow your logic but you should end up with a good sounding system.  Enjoy.  --Jerry




The Soulution INT 330 is for sale.

I have an order for the new Vinnie Rossi Brama integrated : home theater bypass.

( 2 channels music quality is not negotiable fo me . I know I am in the extremes.)

And it is much better than listening 2 channels music using my McIntosh MC8207 power amp with the Acurus ACT4 processor.

Source for music : LuminX1

@maxwave I think we're mostly all in the same boat here.  2 channel comes first.  Most high end amp manufacturers, especially in the tube area where I shop, don't put HT bypass on their amps, thinking if you can afford a $35K amplifier you should by a home with a dedicated theatre room, I guess.  Good on Vinnie Rossi putting HT bypass in the Brama. --Jerry

Tube is a totally other story that's have nothing todo about the quality from the amplifier. A stereo amp with a home theater pass through is a normal stereo amp.

You only use the end amp a receiver is a weak point for stereo i try a lot that's why i put a stereo amp into the system. And talking about 35000 dollar amp, mine last set was only120.000dollar amps, 4x cello performance the suite the jadis cd player and the magnepan mg20. 

Guys, I’m not against better sounding equipment (tubes?) but I do have a family/budget. They are musicians and have a high standard for realistic music and a great home theater. That’s why I did some homework and bought the Antham AVM 70. To clarify, it is one of the best sounding duel use for stereo and home theater, it is not a receiver as some have reported. I do hold valuable the interest and also the sage advice given in this post. I look forward to continuing this journey. 

Luxman L-507ux II integrated amp
As @auxinput mentionned, is a very good choice in my opinion.

It is an integrated amplifier with a Home Theater Bypass feature :
´´ Separate switch (SEPARATE) ´´ . Look at the owner’s manual.

It is perfect for music listening quality and Home Theater video watching

The only question is : does Luxman pair well with your Revel speakers ?

And if you upgrade  your speakers in the futur, Luxman L-507ux II will accomodate bywired speakers


The Luxman L-507ux II  is for your front speakers only.

The Adcom 5 channel amp  may be kept for your 4 surrounds and center speakers ,  until you find a better multichannels power amp. on the used market.





I’ve heard the word "musical" as it applies to audio equipment 7 billion times.

I am still unsure of its meaning. "Very musical" means what and what makes a component that acts as a conduit for "music," a component that is not musical?



Primarily it is rhythm and pace. The attribute that connects you emotionally to the music… typically it makes your foot tap… or get emotionally consumed by the music. 

it is really easy to get side tracked into hearing more details or more slam and bass, these can lead you away from really natural and musical sound. It took me nearly forty years to be able to immediately sense rhythm and pace. Tonal balance, detail etc are much easier to sense and in many ways much less important.

Most people do not pay enough attention to their room acoustics.  I would focus there.

I’m really glad someone asked about the term, “musical.”

The word, in this application, seems almost comical, to say nothing of it being extremely vague.




So if 
"music" you hear thru an audio component begins to make you want to tap your feet, it is considered a "musical component"?

I have heard music at weddings that didn't make me want to do that although the band was considered "musical".

I would think it has more to do with "musical taste" no matter if played thru a $50,000 audio system or a transistor radio.

When a teenager, I guess transistor radios were considered "musical".

Who knew.

  1. I would try borrowing better speakers to compare your current speakers against -  using your AVR amp.
  2. And/or/then borrowing a different amp to power your speakers
  3. Alternatively you might be able to drag your speakers to a shop to compare them to other speakers… and that will also let you listen to their electronics through them.

With luck that should give some insight into things… More insightful IMO than just buying various gear… if you abide A/B comparisons.

I did just what Carlsbad described & it’s works well.  I have an Anthem 7 channel receiver & got a good tubed integrated amp & even new better main speakers. Sounds great watching movies ( everything on) or w/ 2 channel music , just mains & integrated amp. I didn’t find using dissimilar speaker brands an issue for movie watching & you can “correct” those differences with the ARC system in the receiver & has no effect on music listening. 

I would try borrowing better speakers to compare your current speakers against -  using your AVR amp.

The resolution and transparency of the Revel M126Be speakers that he has completely out-performs his current Adcom amp.  Putting a better speaker in the system is NOT going to improve anything or give him better refined sound.  The Adcom amp is the limiting factor here.



Typically, one’s foot is a good measure of the musical connection. This is an effect that I noticed in myself and have observed and discussed with many others over many years. Not everyone will necessary be moved the same way. Certainly it depends on the source music as well.… if the music is not compelling it’s reproduction is not. This is my generalization.

Also, some audio folks actually are not in it for the emotional connection / the music itself. I have known a bunch of folks over the years that are in it to experience analytical listening… to marvel at the details and sound space… they are not actually moved by music.

Here is more details on Rhythm, Pace, and Timing:



I’m really glad someone asked about the term, “musical.”The word, in this application, seems almost comical, to say nothing of it being extremely vague.

The opposite of clinical. If that helps.

The resolution and transparency of the Revel M126Be speakers that he has completely out-performs his current Adcom amp.  Putting a better speaker in the system is NOT going to improve anything or give him better refined sound.  The Adcom amp is the limiting factor here.

OK - I am not too familiar with the speaker so I’ll accept that as fact.

In any case it would be ideal to then try a loaner amp. It could be for instance the room and not the amp. How do we know before purchasing a new amp, if the amp is in fact the problem to be fixed?


Yeah, I fall into the "unmoved" toward music reproduction. Too much analytical mindset when listening considering my background in selling this stuff for 30 yrs.

What "moves me" is more about note cord structure with me being a sucker for minor sequences. It doesn't make difference to me from where hence the sound comes from.

I hear music constructed with minor intervals and I'm done whether on the car radio or a real nice sound system.

 Schubert often uses the technique of moving from major to minor and back to major to bring a sense of pathos, tension and story telling to his music so I guess it is that I appreciate and affects me more than "musicality".