Recs for HT upgrade?

Greeting everyone. I am glad to be back from a long hiatus here. Much to my own amazement, I am finally breaking down and improving my HT system. I have decided to leave it separate from my 2 channel system and will be getting a new processor, DVD, and, RP HDTV. One step at a time due to obvious financial reasons. I am a 2 channel person primarily and know much less about HT. Curently I am running

Acurus ACT-3
Pass X-5
B&W Matrix 804s, 805s, Matrix HTM
REL Strata II

I will be using my separate 2 channel for music listening but would like to be able to get a DVD and processor with good audio reproduction. I have been doing a fair amount of research, but live in an area with little to no audio or video stores, so business trips are my only first hand chances and at least my experience with audio stores is I can rarely find a system better than what I have at home and it's too hard to sift out the variables of what's good and bad in the store system. I am trying to figure out both components to look at on my next rip out of town and the order of things to buy.
I would like a processor that is upgradeable and has balanced outs. The lines I have seen that do this are Aragon, CAL, and Krell. I am reticent to consider Krell due to my past experience with Krell and it's sonic signature. I do not know if this carries true any more. Haven't heard the CAL or Aragon. I am open to any processor that has balanced outs, as the Pass runs best in balanced mode.
As far as DVD I want a progressive scan DVD that is good for music. I am considering the Arcam DV-88 and FMJ?-23. I was disappointed with my CAL which was supposed to be upgradeable, but is not upgradeable to DTS or anything else for that matter. It sounds wonderful for music though for the price.
TV's I am considering are in the 60-65" range and liked the Toshiba 65" Cinema Series above Pioneer (not Elite). I have had little exposure to TVs. I am a CNN, ESPN, and History channel person. DVD movies will be the primary use. Any ideas in the $4000-5000 range? Thanks for any input in advance.

Happy listening,

I love my Proceed AVP processor, which is upgradable. It is 8 channels, all 24/96 and programmable for any format. The L,R,and C are balanced. The companion piece is the Proceed MDT transport which offers a very special progressive scan upsampler, which when used with the AVP enhances all sources.

BtW: I've seen Pioneer Elite HDTV sets offered here on AudiogoN for wholesale prices, in the $4-5K range. Ask anybody, they are still considered the best RPTV made today.
I'd look into Theta. They are modular, so SHOULD be upgradeable (as of course they promise to be). The DaVid-II is a very nice DVD player, which will run balanced, and sounds fantastic for CD playback as well. Their processors are also truly top-notch. I demo'ed the current CAL and ended up buying a Theta DVD transport.
Hello Todd:

Glad to see you re-join us. I am also sorry to see that there aren't any "high-end" audio/video dealers in your area. But on the other hand, I am glad to see that you tend to utilize your time wisely when you are out of town on business trips. So, I take it that you always put aside extra time to visit "high-end" shops to audition gear when you are travelling?? That's good. At least, you are making the most of your time just like I said.

But now, anyway, on to the equipment.

As for a processor that is upgradable, and has balanced outputs and sounds great with movies as well as with music, then I would look processors such as the Sonic Frontiers Anthlem, the Proceed AVP, Theta CassaNova, and the NAD S170 (a "music first" A/V Processor that is part of their "high-end" Silver Series). Check out those four if and when you can. I am sure you will find something that will tickle your fancy out of those four magnificent machines.

And as for the DVD Player?? Exactly, how much are you willing to spend?? Because I am thinking though, your California Labs CL-20 DVD Player may not be upgradable, you could still keep your CAL Labs player and use it as an audio CD Player only if it sounds as wonderful as you say that it does, and then I would just go ahead and just get me a good, dedicated DVD Player with progressive scan capablilty instead. The Arcam DV-88 and FMJ DV27 sound like wonderful choices and as such, I think they should remain on your shortlist, but I would also like to suggest a Camelot Roundtable (if it is not too much out of your budget), as it will also sound great for CD playback, is upgradable (I think, but I am not THAT sure though), and is a top flight DVD Player (better than my Pioneer Elite DV-37 according to "The Perfect Vision"). I don't know if it has any balanced outputs however. But I would have to think that if a machine such as a Camelot Roundtable costs as much mint that it does, then I would think that it would. Let us know what you finally decide on in that department as well.

And now, the TV. If you are looking for something in the 60-Inch to 65-Inch range for around $4,000.00 to $5,000.00, then you should find candidates aplenty. If a 60-Inch to 65-Inch RP HDTV is what you are really looking for, then surely, you can get Toshiba for under $4K. According to the latest offerings on their website, for well UNDER $4K at that. You can get a 61H71 for $3,000.00 (which is a 4:3 aspect ratio set with 16:9 aspect ratio capability), a 65H81 (which is a 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen set) for $3,800.00, and a 65HX81 (which is their top of the line "Cinema Series" RP HDTV, which is also a 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen set) for $4,000.00. But if I am going to spend $4,000.00 to $5,000.00 for a RP HDTV, then I would also have to look at Pioneer Elite as well. Aside for going for a plasma set, if I am going to consider a "high-end" RP HDTV, then I think Pioneer Elite is the way to go. For that kind of money, I think that they're still the best sets money can buy.

I hope this can help you a little bit.

Good Luck.


I just checked the Camelot website. And the Roundtable does NOT have balanced outputs. I'm sorry.

I second (or third?) the recommendation for the Proceed AVP. I own one and love it. Balanced outputs (only front 3 channels) and inputs (1 set)--even provides for a balanced digital input. Upgrade is set for early next year, and its supposed to be big, hardware and software. 2ch music sound is very good. Never heard the Aragon Soundstage, but have heard good things about it. Check out the Bryston SP-1. For your TV viewing I see that you watch History channel and ESPN. Unless you can get that broadcast in widescreen then I don't think a projection TV will be good for you. I own a Mitsubishi 55" Diamond series 16:9 set and a 27" Proscan. When I watch movies I use the Mitsubishi, when I watch TV I use the Proscan. Others may disagree, but I feel that satallite TV just looks terrible on large projection TVs. If you are set on getting an RPTV, check out the Mitsubishi Diamond series. They are nearly as good a the Pioneer Elite for about $1500 less.

I would caution you on the Theta CasaNova. I helped a friend buy one here on AudiogoN since he could not afford and AVP. It sounds great, but is very difficult to program and use, including a very poor remote control. It is a very complex unit.