What next?


Excluding the front speakers(Monitor Audio PL500) what has the most impact on surround sound? The center, rears, or AV receiver. My center is a Monitor Audio Gold C350 and I'm thinking about going to the Monitor Audio PLC350, but won't have an opportunity to hear it. My rears are Monitor Audio Bronze and I could go to Monitor Audio Silver speakers. I have a Marantz SR5011 AV Receiver and could go to a better AV Receiver. What is my best option?
ricred1
By rears do you mean side surrounds?  It seems pretty obvious that side surrounds would have the most impact on surround sound.  Have you tried setting the center channel to none in your processor/AVR menu?  You might find you prefer the center image generated by your front LR speakers if you like their sound for stereo.

db

Are you using only the Marantz to drive your speakers?  If so this is a no brainier.  Your speakers at the very least deserve a separate power amp and high quality prepro.  Is this system 100% home theater or is stereo and/or surround music important as well?
Soix,
I have a 2-channel and surround set-up.The Marantz only drives the center and rear speakers. When I'm listening to 2-channel the Marantz is turned off. My two channel consists of the Jeff Rowland 625 S2 amp, JR Corus preamp, and JR Aeris DAC. I use my HT bypass on the Corus when I'm watching movies, so the 625 S2 is still driving my fronts. 
Since it is the consensus that speakers make the biggest difference in a system, and that the center channel gets 80% of the movies' audio soundtracks, it is easy to conclude that the center channel would have the biggest impact.
I think that having the same amp driving all front 3 speakers if vital.  It's the only way to get seamless sound across the soundstage.  To match your Rowland isn't easy or cheap but will make an amazing difference.

I know that for music, the Rowland will crush the Marantz but, how does theater sound when you use the marantz for all 3 front speakers?  Probably much better for movies?
elevick,
I don't use the Marantz to drive the front speakers. The Marantz drives the center and rears only. The Rowland drives the fronts rather I'm watching a movie or listening to 2-channel. 
It's too expensive to try to match my Rowland, so I opted for the AV Receiver.  
jdlynch,
I agree that speakers makes the biggest difference. It would be nice if there was someone on Audiogon that went from the MA Gold C350 to the PLC350 and would describe the differences they hear/
Yeah I figured with your speakers you were driving them with better electronics, but I had to ask.  Are you using any subs?  Unless you're unhappy with your current center speaker I'd seriously consider adding a couple good subwoofers first if you don't already have them.  Pretty amazing what they can add to both music and home theater, even with relatively full range speakers like yours. 

Yes, I  have an SVS PB2000 sub that I use for HT only 
Hi Ricred, as some one who has a mix of ring radiator and AMT based speakers in his HT I may be in a similar position. Based on my experience (some of it in motion picture auditorium sound) I’d say that matching your speakers isn’t your biggest need right now. Sometimes I also swap in some Monitor Audio Radius speakers as my surrounds, depending on living room re-organization.

Matching speakers has NOT proven to be the biggest improvement. Matching timbre AND the subwoofer have been. I just read you have a sub already, and your receiver has very good room EQ built in. I hope you are running your fronts as "small" with that receiver.

You have very nice front speakers, but with only 100 Watts, a killer subwoofer + running the fronts as "small" speakers will give you the most dynamic range. If you run the fronts as full-range the receiver will run out of steam VERY quickly with low Hz high dynamic range motion picture sound tracks. It will probably do just fine with most music though.

It’s also really important to note the receiver is rated at 100W/channel but only with 2 channels at a time!

So the real question is whether the receiver has enough juice for you to enjoy movies like you want to. :)

If it does, then your next step is matching speakers to your very nice mains. Otherwise, I’d suggest a power upgrade. Maybe not a lot, in terms of maximum wattage, but being able to put out 125 to 150W into at least 4 channels simultaneously would be an upgrade.

I do find that being able to run the main speakers as "full-range" is a real treat, which you may be just a little undersized for.

Best,


Erik
Erik,
My Jeff Rowland 625 S2 amp drives my main speakers through my preamp's HT bypass. The Marantz drives the rear and center channel. 
So it seems you have most things dealt with. :)

I would do room acoustics next, followed by speaker matching. 

Best,


Erik
I have GIK room treatment. My thoughts are another sub(2nd sub), center channel(PLC350 is 5K, I'm hesitant to pay 5K), or nothing and "try" to be happy. I'm not sure is spending money on better rears is worth it?
The question I'm left with, is there something that needs improving or are you just looking to spend money?  Perhaps supporting musical education or other charitable work to support culture is a better spend for you right now.

I mean, yes, you can get more dynamic range with another sub, or larger surrounds, but you can only listen so loudly, and distortion can only be lowered so much. If you make it your life's ambition to improve your hearing to the point where you hear every 0.001 of distortion you'll never be happy. :)

Otherwise, movie posters, a popcorn kiosk, books on old movies.... :) all sorts of other ways.

Best,


Erik
Erik,

You are correct and I'm going to take your advice. I will give some money to a charity.