Splicing on a HT to 2channel system, best approach

On 8/18/05 I started a thread asking which center channel speaker should I use between my Vienna Acoustics Mahler speakers to begin putting together a 5.1 home theater system.

This is my current 2 channel system:

System components:
CD Player, Meridian 588
Preamp, Jeff Rowland synergy 2i
Poweramp, Classe CAM 350 monoblocks
Speakers, VA Mahlers
DVD Player, Sony DSP9000ES
Piano DLP Projector
Daylite 7' front screen

I am now asking a broader question and seek guidance as to what approach I should take in systematically "splicing on" the rest of the 5.1 HT equipment. I cannot afford to purchase everything at the same time. My 2 channel system will stay pure and not go through the processor.

Question: In what order should I buy the necessay equipment to get the best impact in the movie experience for the dollars spent?

For example I could buy a processor, then subwoofer, then center channel speaker, then L/R rear speakers.

Or I could...........any help would be most welcome.

I would say you would have to atleast buy a few things at once, a pro....front l&r and a center atleast, and if your mains are not full range then a sub may be needed, 3.1 can be good, then add your surrounds later. others will differ in thoughts..these are just mine.
"My 2 channel system will stay pure and not go through the processor."

Ok first of all, this is your biggest obstacle to a successful system. I'm not sure I see where the purity is or why so.....

Let me ask you a question , do you think that a JR Synergy and 588 CDplayer sound better than a G68 processor? Remember the G68 has a better DtoA process than the 88 and Synergy can't do much more than degrade the sound and the extra interconnects won't help much either. Might be that the G68 is the purer simpler system. Plus once you have trifield the thought of two channel playback of digital sources might give you mild amusement. maybe.

Once you answer that question above the rest is academic, get Vienna (bach's?) rears(official surround system), get the sub (boom!) and then the matching Vienna Center Center. Do yourself a favor and don't buy the "sort of" dissappointing multi-channel amps Classe makes, get Audio Refinement, Anthem, Arcam all will serve you very well and cost less as a bonus.

PS: I know how hard it is to shelve the Rowland its very good looking peice. But it is superfluous if you don't have a TT in this system.
Well Cinematic, I have not heard the Meridian G68 so I cannot say how it compares to my JR Synergy with the Meridian 588. You do offer an interesting option however. And your right about it being hard to give up the Rowland piece.

The first piece of equipment I would pursue would be a nice surround sound processor...you can tie your existing pre-amp to it via either your pre-amps pass thru function or if it does not have a pass through by setting it to unity gain when watching movies. After the processor I would go with the sub and you will be pleasently surprised how a nice sub can enhance your two channel listening as well. After the sub I'd do the surrounds and leave the center for last if ever. I had a center and have now opted to go phantom center and let the two fronts handle the task. My room is only 19 feet wide and the voices are staying centered even for those sitting off axis watching the film. You can find a center on Audiogon and test for yourself whether or not it brings a significant improvement to your movie watching..by the way the center channel I auditioned for six months was the Vienna Oratorio...a very nice center but at the end of the day I found that not having a center led to a more seamless integration with the Aerial 10T fronts. If you had fronts and a processor that do not image particularly well the center channel could well be more of a necessity...just my 2 cents worth...Enjoy the trip!
My opinion: pre-pro > center speaker and amp > subwoofer > rear speakers and amps. For the best bang for the buck I recommend Outlaw pre-pro and amps. There are better ones out there, but not for the money. Or you could go with used equipment and save alot of money. Do the VA Mahlers have a matching center channel? If not, it will be a challenge to match the sound of the center to the mains. Good Luck!
I'll second Mattkimb96's response. It depends on your music/HT listening is split and your bank account. I lean much more to music than HT, say a 90/10 split. I own Vienna Acoustics Strauss speakers with Haydn rears. I'm currently running with a phantom center, and prefer that to when I owned a VA Maestro center channel. I think the Strauss image so well that the center channel was unnecessary in my case. I've downgraded through the pre/pro's over the years, choosing to invest more $$$ into stereo, and less into HT. So I'm currently using a Denon receiver for my HT needs, with a Mirage BPS-400 subwoofer. The Denon receiver only provides the power to the rear speakers. I use the FR & FL preamp outputs from the Denon into an input on my BAT VK-51SE preamp, thus using my BAT VK-600SE to power the Strauss speakers as my FR & FL. Set the Denon receiver for 'no center' and the center info is passed through the FR & FL.

This does HT plenty well for me, and I don't miss all the fancy pre/pro's and multi-channel amps. Music however sounds MUCH better. That being said, if HT means more to you than to me, say more like a 50/50 split, you may want to spend more on the HT end.

My recommendation in order of importance, pre/pro and amp or reciever first, subwoofer second, rear speakers third, and center channel last.

As for matching center, I would go with at least a Maestro, should you decide you 'need' one, and if you're feeling extra wealthy, spring for the Oratorio.

Good luck, and have fun.

Hank, that order you you mentioned is how I would do it. Processor (need an outboard processor for DD/DTS, NOT decoding from the DVD player, etc!!!...I'd suggest inexpensive Acurus Act 3 used)). Then a subwoofer. (2 channels plus sub this way is very good still!), then maybe a center if you wish, then the rears, yes.
Good luck
Thank you all for the excellent input. I especially appreciate the Vienna Acoustics spin some of you included. This really helps me think through the upcoming purchases.