I am a Focal guy and love my 836v speakers and almost got the 816v. I also do home theater and stereo in the same room. I personally would get a stereo integrated with a home theater bypass to power the mains so you can hook you stereo sources directly to the integrated. The Krell S300i would be my dream toy for this scenario and would be a fantastic match with the Focals. I was recently blown away by the 807v speakers using this amplifier.
The rest depends on your budget. You could do a surround receiver with pre-outs to process and handle the other channels. I think anything beyond 5.1 is overkill unless you have a dedicated theater room.
I think that you need to think of everything as a true system. How will the products integrate with each other? I have owned Focals and Proacs (selling off a couple of pairs), but fell in love with the Vandy Treo's after auditioning a ton of speakers. I noticed how different they all sounded depending on what the other components were. There were so many differences. I'm a tube guy, but wanted a SS integrate. I ended up with the Ayre as it sounds best with the Vandy's. I also thought it sounded best with the Paradigms, B&W's, all Focals, Dali, Dynaudio, Totem, Theils, Sonus and so many others. The Krell sounded pretty good to me (I have owned Krell and am even selling off a Krell Stealth), but it lacked midrange bloom when I heard them in the same situation that I heard the Ayre or a couple of others. For home theater, it's a GREAT amp to use as it has power to spare, like it always has.
There are so many great choices out there. I am not a home theater guy as it has to be set up perfectly and it costs too much to get great sound for me. That's why I stuck to two channel so that I could afford to get a great system, instead of just a really good one. I'm in the minority here I know.
I'm selling my Proac Supertowers AND Proac Studio's that are voiced identically. If you have interest in them as a package you can then add a new/used Proac center channel or even get another set of used Studio's. To me, that would be a better sounding system as they soundstaging, imaging would be much better than the Focal's that I could have gotten a few years ago, but the Proacs sounded better to me. The mids would also be more accurate and musical, but those are my ears, lol. Let me know if you have interest and we can talk.
The Krell sounds like a good idea, but it's still considerably more expensive than the Emotiva XSP-1 Gen 2 Pre Amp and an XPA-2 Gen 2 300W x2 or an XPA-5 Gen 2 200W x5, which I have in mind. I know some audiophiles like to bash Emotiva as mid-fi, but the reviews I have been reading state otherwise their products are very highly regarded and are at a much more reasonable price point than anything even approaching similar quality/features. As far as the Proac Supertowers/Studios are concerned, I like the idea, but I am loathe to purchase speakers i have not heard and I am unlikely to find a dealer that carries the Proacs. I would like your opinions on Emotiva - for those that have experience with them. Should I go the Emotive route, I would save ~ $,1500.00, when compared to the Anthem system I was considering, and have separates! I could then purchase a great separate tuner (FM, AM, HD, XM) and an Oppo BDP-103 and still have a good chunk of change left over to allocate to the Focal speaker system. I was also considering Paradigm speakers or possibly Snell, but Snell is too expensive... I am not adverse to purchasing used components either. I am also not certain if I should get a 5 channel amp or just a 2 channel amp for the mains I understand that I would need a 5 channel for the speaker suite I have in mind, but I could start with a 2 channel Emotiva for the mains, & when I have additional funds, I could purchase a center channel, sub and surrounds & another Emotiva 3 channel amp. I am also a bit confused regarding 5.1 systems: 2 mains, 2 surrounds, a center channel and a sub = 6 speakers how does this work on a 5.1 system? Also, when listening to music, does the system automatically revert to 2-channel or would I need a separate home theater bypass? Also, on the Emotiva pre amp are there controls for treble, bass, balance, etc... Please forgive my ignorance, but I am fairly new to Hi-Fi as my last new system was purchased ~ 20 years ago...
Where do you live? If you are close enough, you can come over and listen. These Towers have upgraded midbass drivers and are better than much of what is out there. They are more revealing and stage much better than any of the Paradigm Studio series I've heard to date. That's just my ear though. The Krell will blow away the Emotiva's. THey aren't in the same league. Forget reviews on things as many really are tainted. When you know the inside stuff in the industry you will realize that as well. Heck good old Sam Tellig is Tom Gillet (see what he did there with the last name?). That's not a bad thing, but to me I know how reviews are often done. Richard at Proac won't even give his speakers up for review as you have to hear them to understand how good they really are. Not everyone's cup of tea as they aren't etchy detailed and they don't use the most expensive driver, but they work with so many electronics. Since you like reviews, I figured I'd post one from a guy who just got a pair (in 2009) and decided to share.
Just scored a Proac Super Tower and Bryston 4b NRB, and WOW.....
I have recently scored a pair of passive Proac Super Tower (floor stand speakers) and a Bryston 4b, all of a sudden the world (of sound) clears up.
These are the bigger brothers of the Proac Studio 100s, they were the flagship of the studio series back in 1990s'. They have been discountinued.
The first word that came to my mind when I listen through them is "effortless". These speakers are very detailed, much more detailed than my trusted Focal Solo 6 BE. But listening through them does not feel like being overwhelmed by details; it's more like the details are right there, you can just grab it if you want to, just like real world, nothing needs to strike you for attention (I don't know if this makes any sense).
One thing I found very interesting is that the Focals are very dry, even though they represents excellent space, mixing reverb on them still need a lot of work. The Proacs are much wetter (not in the wrong way), space sound extremely real, the depth is so deep it's eerie. I listened to a lot of Jazz and classical recordings through these, these speakers made the room disappear, although small recording space will sound small, and bad recordings sound just bad. And it's sooo easy to spot out the bad frequencies you have an urge to just grab an EQ and correct them.
The thing that amazes me most is even though each speaker has 2 woofers and 1 tweeter, my 60 Watt/channel Marantz amp is able to drive them with ease. Although I got the Bryston for the ultimate cleanliness. On the Bryston, I've heard so many contradicting review about it - too bright, too harsh, very clean and musical, very deep... and I found them all correct.
The first time I plugged the Bryston into the speakers it sounded so bright and thin I almost wanted to unplug and return it. There was no depth. However after about half an hour or so the machine was at about body temperature, the sound changed.
So now I have the Marantz amp just so I can listen to the speakers with color. Actually for the first time I realized the Marantz amp (1120, made in 1975, one of the original Marantz models) actually sounded pretty good. It did not fair well with any other speakers I paired with them, both as amp or preamp.
I used to think my Benchmark DAC1 sounded pretty close to the Prism Orpheus(while definetly not as good, but within 5%) on the Focals, now the difference is much more. I can hear so much more depth with the Orpheus than the Benchmark.
It's almost bizzar that I prefer listening to them at the ear level at about a foot above the tweeters.
Ctsooner, Thank you for the offer. I live in El Paso, TX. I did some research and the Proacs definitely seem to be awesome speakers. The Supertowers seem rather giant - what are the measurements? Do you have photos or can you point me to your posting for them? I'm not sure they would pass the spousal approval process, but the Studio's probably would. Would you consider splitting them up? I should have qualified my statement regarding the reviews I have read on Emotiva. Most of the reviews I relied on for my "decision" was from consumers. Yes, I did read professional reviews & I do understand how the review process works - I know what you mean about such reviews being tainted. Also, I have done a bit more research and have decided against the Emotiva XSP1 pre amp. From what I understand, for a system that will be split between music listening and home theater, there is really nothing to be gained by going with separate components. Apparently, separates really shine in music only systems; whereas, for movies (home theater) - a system using subs, a center channel and surrounds, an AVR like the Anthem MRX510 (with room correction) would be a better choice. I could then purchase an Emotiva XPA 2 for the mains and an XPA 3 when I am able to afford the center channel and surrounds... What say you? Any reason not to consider the Emotiva amps? I'm afraid the Ayre or the Krell amplifiers are out of my price range. Also I am not sure if there is a way for you to send me an e-mail directly through Audiogon, if not, let me know & I will post my e-mail address for you; although, I'd rather not make it public. Thanks again...
Yes I will split them up. the studios also were just redone and aren't broken in yet, lol. They have zero hours on them. Both are in Teak as that was a cool upgrade. I will take pics and get them to you. I haven't posted yet. I have an NAD integrated that sounded great with the Studios as well as two Onyx integrateds that are vintage and very rare and cheap, lol. I have the heavy target stands for the studios, but the spikes were broken. I'd just get a cheap pair of spikes to put into them and fill em with sand like I had them done.
Customer reviews are great, but look to see what they are used to hearing. Again, Krell isn't always a sweet amp, but they all pack power. How much is the Emotiva stuff going to cost you?
I personally like the best two channel I can afford and I dont' do subs. that's just me though. Get what you can afford, but separates are always best no matter what you listen to. That's not going to be affordable for you though, so you have to go another way. Try a good used separate processor for HT and use it with a great integrated. I believe that would work wouldn't it? I have an inexpensive NAD integrated that you could get and that would be a great sounding two channel system. Plenty of power for even a decent sized room.
I even have a Krell Stealth DAC if you will be doing digital audio or for you Bluray and Cable tv. You can email me directly, but I tried to send this to you, but it has you as a private member and won't let me. I think I can leave my email here. If not, I'll just delete it [email protected]
Emotiva amps: retail price for XPA-5 (200Wx5) is $999.00, XPA-2 (300Wx2) is $899.00 (both gen 2). Used is considerably cheaper. Your idea to use a separate processor and a great integrated is certainly a good thought, but you are correct - too expensive for me. I understand what you mean by having the best 2-channel you can afford, but the reality is that I will be watching TV and movies through the system as well... One day I will get such a 2 channel system for the bedroom. I currently use a vintage Marantz w/ vintage Snell speakers for the bedroom. I have really just started investigating all of this Hi-Fi stuff and I will need time to digest it all and decide what to do, which I am sure will take quite some time - knowing how I tend research everything to death before pulling the trigger on a major purchase. + I want this will be my last Hi-Fi purchase for many, many years. Right now I am leaning towards the Anthem AVR/Emotiva amp setup I described in my previous post, but I'm sure that will change. I will send you an e-mail shortly...
Cool, got the email. I too use my 2 channel for TV etc... I have never felt that I'm missing anything. So easy to set up too.