Okay, here's my situation. I've grown tired of the home theater surround sound deal. I have a Rotel amp, Rotel pre pro, paradigm speakers (20 v.3 fronts, cc470 center, atom rears, pdr10 sub, audioquest, Wadia i170, Cambridge DACmagic, etc. For me, it's about 80-90% music and 10-20% movies. My real love is the music. Where do I do from here? I would like a recommendation on a new amp, pre pro, and speakers. My budget is reasonable, but not necessarily cheap if you know what I mean. Thanks
There is no reason your two-channel sound from an HT system should be inferior to any equivalent 2 channel system. There is no fundamental difference at all.
The only problem with HT is that you have five speakers and a sub - six speakers in all - and if you want equivalent high quality sound to a good two speaker system then you must plan to spend THREE times as much for HT. (If a good 2 channel to your ears can be achieved for 10K then you need 30K for just the audio part of your HT in order to achieve the same)
Cost is the big difference but quality can be found in both.
If you don't like what you're getting change what you can...
I'm seldom big on wholesale changes and feel Shatern is onto something... so I'd suggest perhaps a really nice tube int. amp with HT bypass or without it for that matter and your current level of HT remains... and the stereo/music improves perhaps substatially without the marked expense of a complete swapout of the HT.
I fully appreciate your sityation. I've found too, that to have separated the music from the TV/DVD arena is best, and way less money in the end.
Put it this way.. if you drop say $3 to $4K on a tube int or SS int, for that matter, I bet you come out way ahead musically than if the same amount is fed into all 5 channels instead.
Does the sound coming from the surrounds and rears really matter that much to you, OR is the majority of your musical interests ALL multi ch?
It's interesting to see how many people struggle with this audio/video balance question. I basically have two systems that can be connected. While my video experience is quite good I don't consider it SOTA. I compare it to the advent of the CD which although compromised elevated the listening experience for the masses. Using my audio experience I've carefully selected video equipment and have tried to learn the "tweeks" to keep the cost in line. I connect the main front channel outputs of my Pioneer Elite AV/Receiver to my GAS Theadra pre which drives a Classe amp and Maggie 1.6QR's. The key I think is having a good large center channel speaker which approaches the quailty of the Maggies.This set-up is evolving as I'm evaluating the best way to integrate my sub. If I were you I'd think about speakers,preamp and amp for music, and connect your prepro to an aux input on the pre to maintain your video HT system. There is alot of great equipment for sale here which could accomplish this for a reasonable cost. A good pre with a phono section, a Threshold amp or something else vintage and reliable. It could be fun. Choose speakers first and build around them.
If you like your speakers (and you still want surround for movies), you could sell off your amp and pre/pro and replace them with a HT capable receiver (decent ones for $500 or even less), then save/spend on a capable 2-ch amp and preamp. Integrating a 2-ch preamp into HT is easy even w/o HT bypass as long as you have an extra input on your preamp for the mains out on your receiver to plug into. After level adjusting, your mains always run through your preamp whether watching movies or listening to 2-ch music.
I only have room and money for one system, it's a 2 channel system all the way with HT integrated into it. Best of both worlds and works seamlessly.
To further amplify what Tholt has said, start by placing the front speakers in the most perfect position relative to the room, irrespective of the TV or HT. Then, place your seat accordingly, use a pre-amp with bypass, keep your amp if you like it, and then place the other speakers where you like as long as they don't interfere with the reflections of the main speakers. This is what I ended up with. Two channel is always great and multi-channel is good enough. It takes a whole lot of money and the perfect room to do both.
If you value music more than sound effects, and it sounds like you do, then dispense with the entire HT hoax and apply your resources to a nice two channel music system. Home theater is car stereo brought indoors.
Congratulations to you for recognizing as much. And good luck in your quest. Tubes are not necessary.
To clarify if it wasn't clear before, my suggestion is to transform your current surround sound setup into a competent 2 channel setup via a good 2 ch amp and preamp. The receiver would be used for movies only (powering the center and rear channels) or if you wish to hook up some sort of surround music capability. this would have both an HT set up and a 2 strictly 2 channel set up in one system.
Home theater is car stereo brought indoors.
What to say to that? what the hell are you talking about?
HT Hoax is only a hoax if you expect to get the same two channel sound (when playing just two channels) from a similarly priced HT system as you get if you poured ALL your money simply into Source pre-amp amp and two speakers.
This fact is self evident: 6 cheaper speakers and an amplifier that does 6 channels all at once cannot possibly equal what you can achieve with a similarly priced two channel setup.
06-27-09: Stringreen After much experimenting, I found that I needed 2 totally separate systems. The Surround sound is in one room, and the high end stereo in another.
That's how my systems have evolved too. The HT system is a 7.1 system that evolved out of a stereo I built up 12 years ago.
In the meantime I had a modest 2-channel system in the living room for quieter music--small group jazz, acoustic pop, and chamber music. When I switched this system to LP-based, the result was so much more musically satisfying that I upgraded the entire chain, making it a 2-channel music-only system that scales reasonably well from solo to orchestra and big band.
I use the 7.1 channel mostly for HT now except for the occasional multichannel SACD and DVD-A. I do almost all music listening on LP in the 2-ch. living room system.
I used to have two systems, then as Shardorne points out, I just ponied up and did the same level all the way around. Yep, it wasn't cheap, but I have phenomenal two channel, as well as multi-channel and HT in one system. Many two channel people don't really care about their HT, I personally want the best of both and can truly say you can get excellent two channel sound form a HT setup, it just will cost you!
What goal with the sound are you looking for;such as the magic of tubes or that solid bass that solid state is known for although tubes can do it also;maybe you might want to try tubes or a hybrid power amp.
I was using an HT Receiver for Movies and 2 Channel duties a couple of years ago. Like the original poster I listen to music much more frequently than I listen to music and I do not have the space for two separate systems.
The first decision you need to make is with the Left and Right Main Speakers for 2 channel. Many speakers are fine for HT but many will not cut it for quality 2 channel listening. If you like your current speakers great, if not you are in for a journey finding speakers you really like.
The efficiency of your speakers (L&R) will dictate the amount of power you need to properly drive them. I have mono bloc amps for my L&R Mains. I am using a tube preamp with HT Bypass and a Modified Transporter as a dedicated music source. A Denon AVR is used for HT duty to power the center channel and rear speakers. When I watch a movie I flip the switch on the Preamp to HT Bypass and the signal for the Left and Right Main Speakers are passed from the AVR through the preamp to the amps driving the L&R Mains. For me it is the best of both worlds.
I really appreciate the responses here! In most ways, they confirmed what I evetually came to think about home theater systems. Now believe me, I'm no audio snob but it's clear, that two systems are really necessary. A HT system in the living room for the family, and another two channel in a seperate music room. I appreciate the comments, I look forward to starting on the 2 channel system. Thanks again!
The use of a good integrated designed for 2-channel but with a pass-through circuit that can be used in conjunction with a HT system is a very high performing solution. It also makes listening to concert DVDs and concert shows much more enjoyable. The two room solution may be better but hardly necessary to get high level performance in both domains.
I have to agree with both Kennyt and Maineiac; combining systems can be acheived with proper selection of electronics and is extremely enjoyable;but I can see it both ways;don't know which is right or wrong but your ears will let you know.
An good integrated amp with home theatre bypass is a great way to keep the 2-channel quality high in a combined system. The trickiest situation for most is how to deal with the sub. For me, I prefer to have the prepro or receiver set to a "no sub" setting. This would then direct all bass information to L&R speakers. Then you'd have the front L&R preout of the prepro or receiver going to the home theatre bypass of the 2-channel integrated amp. Then, I'd take the preouts from the integrated amp and run them to the sub and use the crossover in the sub. The front speakers play full range and you set the sub to the crossover point and level you like best for music. If you really wanted to, for the times you're watching movies, you could turn up the level on the sub and even choose a higher crossover point if you wanted more bass impact. Alternatively, there are subs that would allow for connection from two different sources (ie. sub out on a prepro or receiver and low-level L&R inputs or high-level speaker inputs from the two channel system).
After all of the advice given the OP elected to go with 2 systems. His prerogative. One advantage of going with 2 systems may be that the 2 channel room and system is optimized for 2 channel listening. I wouldn't mind having a dedicated listening room, but my HT would suffer; all the money would go to the 2 channel rig.
With one system, component upgrades potentially benefit both uses. No reason why a 2 channel system and HT can't peacefully co-exist.
Everest, I have full range speakers so there is no need for a sub when listening in 2 channel mode. The sub is only connected to HT receiver and therefore only in play when watching movies, etc. Th answer to the sub question would depend on each specific application.