My system has moved into one system..I call it multichannel although it is also hometheater and two-channel.
I use a Sunfire pre-pro for movies/multi-channel music and have a tubed 2-channel pre-amp used in a pass-through setup for those two.
All dedicated two-channel listening is done the same as any dedicated two-channel system would do.
I do use a projector for movies so no large TV between my speakers...just as any dedicated two channel system would be.
I fail to see (or hear) any difference between my setup and a dedicated two-channel only setup...other than I have more choice to enjoy than they do.
Each case must be taken on it's own though...in my case, I feel that my system has reached it's point of sounding good enough for me as a two-channel system (other than cdp upgrades) not decided although not a lot of cash is involved there and the normal tweakes we never quit doing as audiophiles.
Anyone starting out would be better off IMO to first reach that good enough for me point rather than devert the much needed cash to other areas.
I own the Quad 99 CDP and run it direct into a pair of Channel Islands VMB-1 monoblock amps and run a pair of Reference 3A MM DeCapo monitors. In the same room and on the same lowboy audio rack I have a multi-channel HT system consisting of a Sony STR-DA4ES receiver, Panasonic DVD-XP 30 DVD player, a high end Sony VCR, hi-def cable box and an NHT subwoofer conroller. All of the Jamo HT speakers and my Plasma TV are mounted on the wall with the wires running in-wall. As you can see, my two systems are completely separate, but reside in the same physical space. There are no shared components.
In the past I tried to live with an HT receiver based system, but it did not "do it" for me and I gave up on the idea. However, I did successfully implement a "combo system" on a couple of occassions. This was done by building a quality 2-channel system using a pre-amp or integrated amp that had an HT bypass/processor loop and adding on an HT receiver to power the surrounds and center, to facilite the LFE subwoofer and process the HT and digital input signals. This setup can be very good for music as it is really just a 2 channel system when listing to music, but you can turn on the HT receiver, press/flip the HT bypass switch and have a multi-channel system using the 2-channel amp and speakers for the front L&R.
This may sound complicated, but it is really simple. The only things required are that your HT receiver have pre-outs for at least the front L&R channels and that the pre-amp or integrated amp for the 2-channel rig has an HT processor/bypass loop (actually, this isn't required, but it makes things more simple).
So, while I have never owned an HT based system that was good enough to replace my 2-channel music system, I have had successful combo systems. But, I prefer to keep them seperate.
On another note, have you tried connecting your DVD player to one of the digital inputs on your Quad 99 CDP? I used mine this way for a while and I could have easily lived without the rest of my HT rig. That Quad is an excellent CD player, has a very transparent built-in volume control and has an excellent 24bit/192khz DAC that can be used for your other digital sources. A great 2-channel music/HT system would be DVD player->Quad 99 CDP->Amp->speakers.
Last comment: I have read some outstanding reviews of the Sony STR-DA3000ES and DA5000ES HT receivers as both HT and 2-channel music centerpiece. One of the great sounding rooms at CES/THE show used a Sony DVD player and the Sony DA3000ES receiver powering a pair of the new Gallo speakers. It had a lot of power conditioning in front of it. Anyway, I heard great things about the sound. I also know of a few people that have replaced expensive separates with the Sony digital receiver. Supposedly Sony is working with one of the extreme gurus of digital processing and has come up with a system that is very good at a reasonable price. I haven't heard this setup yet, but I trust some of the comments I've heard and I intend to look into this setup. Heck, I would love to get rid of a couple of boxes if possible.
Not if you do this correctly.
You cannot achieve the same overall quality by having more of lesser quality equipment. Pick your 2-channel performance (and cost) level, and then find the money to do it 5 times instead of two. Skimping on center and rear channels, and downgrading the fronts, is why many audiophiles don't like multichannel.
Yeah, I sold my stereo and tried to live the upscale HT for a while. I tried a couple high end processors and multi-channel amps (Proceed, Classe, Anthem, etc). I found myself not listening to music like I used to, I missed it. I sold all the HT gear and went back to two channel. I keep a Denon receiver for HT duties, and just use the HT processor loop in my stereo preamp to use my main speakers as front channels in HT. The Denon only drives the rear channels, phantom center.
I'm much happier now, I listen to music more, and I find I don't miss the high end HT since I'm visually distracted while watching movies anyway.
I used to have HT... Theta Casablanca feeding three big ARC stereo amps, speakers all over the place.
I recently decided that it wasn't lending a lot of enjoyment to my experience. Half the time, even watching movies, I never bothered to even turn on the amp controlling the rear speakers. Hell, half the time I'm watching a movie, I'm stretched out on the couch anyway. At the same time, all that HT stuff was taking up too much space in my limited area...
So, I ditched the Casablanca, the amp for the rears, a gazillion wires, a pair of speakers and stands, and bought dCS PCM rig and an ARC LS-16. Much happier now. All it does is redbook CD, but it does it well. Zero regrets.
Obviously, calculus is a lot different if hearing stuff whiz by to the back gets your motor running...
I'm an old-time 2 channel guy.
Back around '98 I fell into the HT trap. 2 subs, Lexicon, Martin Logans all over the place. Big amps, lots of wire.
2 channel sucked on the thing.
All gone now. I run my DVD player through the 2 channel system. My speakers image well, no need for a center channel, no need for sub(s). No need for a pile of wires all over the place.
I'm a happy guy now.
for myself...I considered for a long time getting into the 5.1 gig, but I realize that I listen to music more when I have a better 2 channel system and I really don't feel like I miss that much with regards to a movie soundtrack when watching in stereo. How much money etc etc etc worth just to hear a bullet whiz by or hear better special effects. I still feel like I get some of the surround experience out of a 2 channel setup just with proper speaker placement. I have found that what improves the soundstage with 2 channel music also improves my 2 channel HT experience.
so if it were me...and I were in your particular situation, I would ditch all the surround stuff and up the 2channel system. (just make sure your speakers are way infront of your t.v. or get a flatscreen/front projection system so the t.v. doesn't kill the sound)
just my 2c fwiw
You all got that right. We all fell into that trap.Music Meant more to us than HT. I also went back to 2 channel. Tube Amps, Tube Pre. what a difference. I listen to HT through my 2 channel rig and it sounds much better. But when I listen to Old blue eyes Im in a different world
If you buy bad hometheater equipment you will get bad results.
If you want a exact diagram of the equipment not to buy and exactly how not to put it together then all the post above should serve you well;
Lets cover some never do's
Never use Martin Logans for Home Theater
Never buy a Sony A/V receiver (will people ever learn)
Lexicon's Don't sound good, logic 7 is like Peanut Butter in your wine and the 2 channel performance is sub par.
Theta.....nice two channel stuff, don't you think?
Now exactly what you should do(Yes i'm being pushy :))and if you follow my instructions you'll have everything you want despite the Nay sayers.
Aragon 4004, its too bright and way too much power for your speakers
The PSB's, no longer needed
Sell that terrible quad CD player before it breaks, any reasonable pre pro outperforms that CD player by miles.
Get rid of that outlaw, will give you a headache
Sell all that fancy boy cables if you can get a good price because its pointless when you have tone controls on the pre/pro.
3 more Europa's or if the budget allows 3 Callistos'...you get the picture.
Pick an appropriate SVS subwoofer from their catalog
And then get the new processor in descending order of prefferability the New G series Meridian processor, An older Meridian processor ie 568, Anthem AVM-20.2, B&K Reference 50 Series II.
Get an Audio Refinement multi-5 amplifier (if you stick with the smaller GMA's)
and use Analysis Plus Blue Oval custom speaker cable and AP Oval One or your add to your current interconnect cables more of the same.
You might be able to make this transition for <$3000 if you bought all new gear but many items as you know can be had used, a used 568.2 would be a super pickup, same with the amplifier.
But the point is, your 2 channel setup will be preserved with a much improved DAC and with the load divided over 5 Green mountain speakers and a sub. Great home theater and great 2 channel if you want it. And if you get a Meridian, you 2 channel days are over, especially if you listen to classical music.
Keep in mind if you can tweak 2 speakers to make a big difference imagine the difference you can make when you have 6 speakers to tweak. If you have questions about the setup email me if you like.
I am not a dealer for any of the products I listed to buy but I am selling surround sound as a solution.
I slowly moved from 2channel to HT and although I, at one point (and sometimes still), have had the thought of moving back to HT floating about, I quite enjoy the full cinema experience and I also have a great room for the setup so I have stayed the course on HT and really don't regret it. I'm with CinematicSystems on several points. I can't really voice opinions on some of the gear he is suggesting you dump, I would follow his lead on the suggestion that a balanced speaker set up of 5 Europas (or other GMA) and an appropriate sub (my suggestion being a REL) would be quite nice. I'm not sure if GMA makes a dedicated center channel, but matching the front and center goes a long way towards creating a balanced sound. I'd also advise that a nice processor may go a long way towards beefing up your sound. I have a Primare processor that I feel is quite 'musical' and I've also compared it's 2-channel digital processing to that of the Camelot DVD/CD player w/ Swiss Anagram DAC's and it's not that far off. On that note, I think you might find a processor that serves nicely as a 2-channel DAC as well. At the very least, make sure it has an analog bypass to accomodate not HT gear. You could probably finish off your cabling with Signal Cable and even sell off the Audience cables and replace with Signal in order to apply the cash elsewhere. If you felt like justifying the extra expense, pick up Audience cables on A'Gon to round out the package. With regards to amps, there's obviously lots of choices and even more opinions, but I think the Audio Refinement is a solid recommendation. You could probably pick up a really nice three-channel amp and relegate your Aragon to rear channel duty as well. I did this initially, and feel it's a decent way to go. A single 5 channel amp does, however, balance the sound and does reduce the number of 'boxes' in the rack and this isn't a bad thing at all. Speaker placement is of course, mucho important once everything is settled. I'd also suggest that your choice of DVD player can go a long way towards improving picture quality. I have a projector, so these improvements are magnified, but even with a smaller screen it is quite relevant. One of the newer Denon or Rotel players would be a good choice and may even provide you with good 2-channel audio, at the very least serving as decent transports for a HT processor. Good luck and enjoy!
you are correct in a sense, but you seem to be unwilling to recognize that some of us *WILL* pay the extra to have multichannel done right. i optimized my system for multichannel music, and then added a DD/DTS decoder so i can run movies through it as well. it can be done without compromise. it's all about doing it properly. i still consider my setup to be a music-first setup, despite the dvd player, ld player, cable-box, projector, etc. because that's how i designed it. i just happen to play movies through it as well.
i can't agree with anybody who says they get more enjoyment out of two channel and that's the end-of-the-story for them. to me, a *properly* done multichannel setup with a *properly* done multichannel recording brings forth very substantial improvements in experience and realism.
i'm not talking about applying pro-logic decoding to cd's, either, i mean SACDs and DVD-As that were specifically recorded for multichannel. some are poorly done, true, but when it's done right, two-channel simoly cannot capture the experience as well. much like mono cannot capture depth like stereo can, having more channels expands the possibilities and realism of music. classical recordings take on a realism and sense of space that boggles the mind and more experimental-rock/pop recordings have amazing new options.
i'm sure that there are some out there, but i cannot fathom anybody listening to DSOTM, Avalon, Up, or the Downward Spiral in multichannel being able to listen to the stereo recording of it afterward and proclaiming it better. the same goes for the MLP and Living Stereo 3-channel recordings i have. they sound more real in the multichannel mode.
so, in short - multichannel is more expensive and is harder to properly set-up. this is true. there is a relative dearth of recordings available that truly ulitize the format to its fullest potential. this is also true. but to state that nobody is willing to do it properly is false. and to state that it can't be better than 2-channel is (IMHO) false.
to state that it's not worth the money/effort to you is very well your choice. but i implore you to seek out and hear a setup done well so you know what's possible before you dismiss it entirely.
Lazarus28, I second your opinion. Glad you spoke up. I would have otherwise.
Trying to campare a two-channel high quality system to a multichannel high quality system is like trying to campare some cute little mini-monitors to a full-range speaker system...don't ya think? Of course many people are convinced that their mini's do compare, but...in the end and in a side by side comparison the truth would always be revealed, and is as sure as death and taxes.
By the way, I've owned many mini's (fine speakers), they just come up a little short against their bigger brothers...much like two-channel does.
You have a very sweet setup. I'm not sure everyone going the 2 channel route is saying "don't bother with multichannel"--or at least I didn't. If movies or SACD are your raison d'etre, or at least you get a big and continuing kick out of surround sound, by all means go to multichannel. I just wanted to say don't do it because you think it is the natural evolution of a system or inherently better. It is just different.
I had a good multichannel rig. CinemaSystems not withstanding, I think (and a lot of other people thought) the Casablanca was right up there in terms of high end multichannel. I went through several different kinds of amp and speaker combinations (I'm inclined to agree w/CinemaSystems that electrostats/hybrids are not the way to go) and I'm pretty sure I know what good multichannel sounds like. And, I did get a kick out of the whole surround thing.
[confession]I never did multichannel audio, largely due to my own obstinate nature. I think I was refusing to buy SACDs after having bought the album on vinyl, the album on CD, and the remastered album on CD. Paying for the same tunes the fourth time around seemed to break the camel's back.[/confession]
But, I took a look at my life and decided the calculus was wrong *FOR ME*. Multichannel is a *lot* harder to get right than stereo. Multichannel requires a lot more gear to be done right. Multichannel takes up more space on your rack and in your room. And, I found that while I did enjoy it, I didn't enjoy it enough. I think I ultimately decided that I'd spent a lot of money and made a lot of other compromises in terms of aesthetics and convenience--which weren't really justified--based on a perception that multichannel was a natural system evolution or somehow "better."
I am certainly not saying that other's balancing can't come out different. But, I'm offering up my $0.02 that you should, before jumping in, consider how much use its going to get, how much it means to you, and fully consider the financial/technical/aesthetic consequences. Maybe you have a seven digit checking account and the financial impact doesn't matter one whit. Maybe if you don't share my sparse decorating aesthetic, the incursions of HT won't bother you as much. Maybe if you have lots and lots of room, giving up living space isn't as much of an issue. Maybe if you aren't as lazy as me and actually get off your a** and turn on the tube amps for the surrounds you would enhance your enjoyment. Maybe if you don't lie down on the sofa to watch movies the surround has more impact. etc.
Frankly, I've still got my Casablanca. I'm building a weekend home, and probably will put a multichannel system in there, because the balancing in that environment is different. I will probably do things slightly differently, because it will be a dedicated HT setup--probably go solid state and err some on the side of convenience over absolute sound. Right now, however--even having experienced the glories of full blown multichannel HT in the living room--I'm happy as can be with a stereo that just does PCM really well.
Back to reality time. Trying to now figure out the aesthetics of dropping a 14U acoustic rack enclosure in my study. *sigh*
edesliva - you definitely made the right choice for yourself, then. good points and let me also reiterate one of my points (which you seemed to get): whatever decision you make is the right one, as long as you understand the decision you're making. ie - know the facts, use your *OWN* ears, and then decide. i'm not here to think for anybody, i'm just here to tell you when you're wrong.
(tongue pressed firmly against cheek)