Looking for a good amp and speaker combo


I currently own an old Marantz AVR that is flaky on overheating and shutting down. It was pushing Paradigm LCR speakers.
So am looking for an better solution. Want to replace the entire sound and speaker ensemble. Decided on the Denon - AVR3700H as the AV system. But want another separate amp to drive the front speakers and maybe the center as well. Any suggestions on a separate amp that may meet my needs? I plan on using my B&W 602's as front speakers to replace the paradigm, but not sure what center will work best. The Paradigm surrounds with be replaced with Ascend bookshelf's. So welcome suggestions and if I should look at other options. Thanks 
dennis041992
I don't think that you'll ever get to stereo heaven using an AVR for a preamp. The amp hardly matters.
Changing gears, I do use a Sierra-2 for my center channel with great success.
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What you want to do is the best way to have one setup for video and high quality 2 channel audio.

Here's a lot of yap about it for you and others thinking about doing this.

I see the AVR has a full set of pre-outs, you probably know you need front pre-out to use a separate amp for the front speakers.

and you probably know you need HT Bypass INPUT on the 'front stereo system' you will use. I learned about it late in this thread

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/avr-internal-2-channel-audio-mode-or-ht-bypass-external-equip...

That let's your AVR control the front volume along with the center and surround speaker's volume when using it for video.

You will need to make pre-adjustments in each speaker's level in the AVR's menu to get them working together (adjust's all the avr's  individual channel pre-amp's for each speaker's efficiency). Then every thing goes up/dn together from that base 'matched levels'.

Once you get what you like, write those settings down, if for any reason you need to re-set, you will need to do it again.

Meanwhile, for Audio only, the front system will be a 2 channel Stereo Music System for Audio only.

You don't want that driving the center channel, I have not seen HT Bypass that allows front and center, has anyone?
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Speakers; my experiences

How much bass?

Of course you want the bass when listening to front 2 channel only, (if thru the AVR, when the AVR is OFF, the sub(s) are off).

Your B&W 902's make enough bass for you I expect.

For other's thinking about this:

The front speakers need to either produce the bass, or the two channel system needs to send the low bass to the subs via a crossover (separate or built-in the sub(s). Then the subs are always on for video or audio.This removes the bass load from the front stereo's job, thus is the best way to use a lower powered front amp.

IF the front amp does not have pre-out/main in, you can use the front system's speaker wires, go to sub, then everything except low bass passes to the mains. That adds the bass, gives the smaller front mains a break from trying to make bass they cannot do, but the front system is amplifying all frequencies.
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Center channel speaker:

Physical considerations are paramount as well as sound quality. My experience: directly below the TV for proper imaging, so it depends how much height, then how much width you have.

If TV is not wall mounted, the base/legs of the TV are critical for center speaker location. Downstairs, center stand, I had matching wood, so I was able to build a 7" riser to fit on my cabinet: both to get the TV at proper viewing height (we used stacks of books to find the best compromise for us, I'm 6ft tall, Donna's 5 feet tall (if the sun warms her up).

And to allow the sub to fit under any TV I put on top of the riser's top glass shelf. Upstairs, I purposely picked a TV with legs at the far ends, left room for cable box and dvd player between the legs.

Then, sound quality, efficiency, looks to go with the front speakers. I avoided rear ports,

had the little Bose for many years, blended well

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/291864-REG/Bose_19158_VCS_10_Center_Channel_Speaker.html?gcli...

recently changed to this Klipsch (no rear ports)

https://www.klipsch.com/products/r-34c-center-speaker

fits under the riser shelf, looks terrific, we use it with the grille off. It is far more efficient (96db) than my front mains, I had to cut the center channel a good bit to match levels. It blends very nicely.

Surrounds

Rear surrounds (I only do 5.1 surround): I have always simply used small speakers, laying on their back, shooting up using the space between the back of the sofa and the wall 5" behind as a kind of horn. I had small energys, then some paradigms, now a pair of Klipsch (rear ports stuffed). 
 


Budget?  Is stereo important or is this primarily a HT system?
Primarily HT, which is why I chose the Denon 3700h. But I like my music and haven't listened to my old vinyl in a while. I like the idea of using a used Adcom for music. I have a SVS for bass and love it. I have another Definitive Tech bass that I'm not using but really think using it to compliment the SVS will work. I've looked at the Klipsch for center (very efficient) but want something that compliments my 602's. Do you think that will be the case?
My budget, minus the Denon AVR 3700H, will be about $3000. That's for the 2-channel amp and center speaker
Oh, and a turntable as well. Mine is 40 years old... Direct drive MCS with a Shure cartridge
Ok, here’s what I’d do. @fuzztone is right that the preamp section of the Denon will compromise your stereo performance so adding an amp will only get you so far. Because this is mainly an HT setup, rather than getting into separates I’d go for a better AVR like one from Anthem that’ll get you both better stereo and HT performance. If you don’t need the latest bells & whistles you can get a previous generation Anthem AVR at a relative bargain price and sink the rest into a better center speaker (which is critical IME) and a decent TT. Here’s an MRX720 that’d probably work great for your situation...
https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649773664-anthem-mrx-720/

For a center channel speaker I think a good used B&W (one with the tweeter located above the mid) would work well — something like this...
https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649742814-bampw-htm2-center-speaker-black/

Just a couple ideas FWIW, and best of luck.
Always been impressed with Anthem amps and have owned the B&W center before but found it difficult to mount  below the TV. It belongs in a different environment that is different from my perception
I'm pretty much set on the Denon 3700H to dive my center and surrounds and outside speakers. Really looking for suggestions for an amp to push my B&W 602's and a suggestion for a center speaker. My hearing is lost in the midrange (too many concerts in the 70"s) so looking for an efficient center to compliment my B&W fronts and a good amp to drive them. I will consider a three channel amp to drive the LCR but all pre-amp will be through the Denon 3700H
You may want to consider some room correction software, particularly with your hearing issues.  I have used Anthem RC (with their AVR) and Dirac (as a separate add on in my 2 channel) and they are pretty similar.  You can make a zillion different listening  curves, and since you have a bit of a Rube Goldberg setup going on, and you have hearing issues, you might like experimenting and find some tweaks that work best for you.
  The center channel placement is critical.  I have two 5.1 systems in my home and in one of them I am forced to put the center above the TV.  Dialog was difficult in that system, much better in the other where the Center is directly below the TV.  However, the RC in the Anthem virtually eliminated these issues and improved the dialog significantly.
  As to what 3 channel amp, I haven’t looked at 3 channel amps for a while. Parasound used to have a decent one.  My recommendation is get a decent 5 channel and just don’t use two of them.
  I think matching the make of the Center is important with the fronts.  So I would confine my search there to B&W Center.