Actually I guess if there is no processing, all the amps and speakers should be the same?
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With HT, the center channel needs to be the "best" speaker, or equal to the other two main speakers. At least 70% of the front sound, especially dialogue, comes from it. With some of my DD and DTS music videos, the lead singer comes out of the center speaker. Don't skimp on the center channel amp, interconnects, or speaker.
You have a decision with the rear speakers. I have a $450 pair of Mirage rears. With music or movies in which only ambient sound is used in the rears, they do find. However, when I was testing DVD-A players, many of the DVD-As did strange things with the music. For example, with Aaron Nevelle's Devotion, the backup singers and cymbals came from the rears. My Mirages do not produce as clean, open sound as my front speakers. The backup singers and cymbals sounded contrained.
So, if you're mainly interested in accurate recordings in which the rears provide ambiant sound, you can save on them. I would get a speakers like the Mirages or THX design that have the woofer/mid pointing straight and the tweeters pointing 30 degrees to the right and left.
If you plan to listen to music in which "you're in the middle of the band", you'll need to get quality rears. It appears many DVD-As will require this.
I believe that most SACD recordings will go with accuracy rather than gimickry, but only time will tell. Is so, you can save on the rears.
By the way, I have a $5400 pair of Legacy Focus front speakers and a $750 Mirage center. The Mirage center was the best I could find for the money, but I should have spent more. Fortunately, right now with my S9000ES SACD player, I don't use the center when playing SACDs. Someday, however, I plan to have a multichannel SACD player. I'll need to upgrade my center. I plan to keep my Mirage rears forever.
kevin halverson/muse electronics ran a discreet 6-channel dvd-based system at ces 2001. i have been told (tho i don't have the ee background to verify) that both sacd and dvd-a can be configured in a number of ways, allowing, 2- 4 or 6 channel discreet, as well as the 5.1 ht standard. with dual-layering, i'm also told, it is possible to configure discs in any combination of these formats. (please feel free to correct this if i've been given bogus info.) lots of possibilities that motivate me to stick to good ol' 2-channel 'til it all gets sorted out, if it ever does. -kelly
You will need a good "multi-input" pre-amp for multi-channel SACD or DVD-A. I tried the Toshiba 9200 with a multi-channel DVD-A and even with built-in volume control, the level was too loud. However, the multi-channel sound was very promising and it beat the current multi-channel DTS standard. The only issue is there aren't many software available and no high-end multi-input preamp except for Jadis.