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Audio system (2.2) for both stereo music and home theater ?

bud947

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Hi everyone!

I came across this forum looking for information for my new audio system and it has been a gold mine. I used to have a SMSL ad18 + a pair of monitor audio bronze (not corrected) that I liked because of the slam and good extended bass for bookshelf speakers. I gave them to someone else and now I'm trying to build a new affordable system for both music listening and movies watching.

The issue ?

This forum helped so much that now I have a very good understanding of formal speakers measurements, acoustics and audio treatment generally speaking. Initially I wanted to build a 5.1 system where I would disable surround and center channel when listening to stereo music. But I soon realised that AVR amplifying section where not that good in affordable home theater AVR. One would need a AVR with preamp out for L/R channels (Marantz NR1711/Denon X3700H were the cheapest option depending on amplifying needs), but then the need for a good amplifier for L/R channel arise. This doesn't take in account either the streaming part of the system, nor the subwoofer needed to cover the home theater needs.

I was sold on wharfedale denton 85th for L/R + jamo 803 for surround + polk S12 for subwoofer and Marantz NR1711 + 2 x SMSL DA9 (or sabaj a20a) to power the whole system. This was a 3.5kEUR system, not the cheapest but an affordable one. I started ordering the parts...

My new path ?

Then I "re-discovered" active monitors through several youtube video and ASR reviews and this changed everything.

The main problem with studio monitors is their ugly look. This was a strong bummer as the speakers are intended for the living room. After some researches (and approval from my wife), I was torn between Tannoy Gold, Presonus Eris XT and Adam Audio T line-ups. To have a decent room filling I decided to go with 8 inch woofers and picked a pair of presonus eris 8 XT mainly because of excellent directivity and relatively good look (tested here https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...is-e8-xt-spinorama-and-eq-design-inside.16689).

Well, these speakers sound gorgeous and their center image are exceptional. I paired the speakers with an Audient iD14 mkii and a headless mini pc with Equalizer APO (+correction file from REW). You can pinpoint where the sound come from and adding dolby atmos for headphone was shockingly great. Also the sound is balanced and extremely refined especially when considering the price. Though I do notice the low frequencies distortions and roll off below 50hz, therefore subwoofer is almost mandatory for good low frequencies outputs.

I plan to add 2 subwoofers to the presonus (probably the jbl lsr310s or the svs sb-1000) to have a full range system. REW measurements show strong distortions below 100-110hz at high SPL so crossover will likely be set at 120hz.

Price wise I went from 3.5kEUR to 2kEUR all-in and I don't think i'm missing anything at least for stereo music listening (up to 85-90db). I'll likely change the speakers in a few years when warranty ends (before they blows ;) ).

Bonus track ?

Having a PC as the central device provide a lot of flexibility :
- I installed AirServer and now I have a chromecast+airplay receiver function
- I installed Equalizer APO and therefore I have active correction for the speakers
- I installed Jellyfin as a DLNA and local streaming server (headless server for kodi)
- Dolby Atmos for headphone provide a virtual surround that works well with presonus E8 XT thanks to the excellent sound imaging (https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/dolby-atmos-with-stereo-speakers.3231/)

Is it enough for home theater ?

As there are more experienced people here, I would like to know how much I'm missing from my ongoing configuration vs classic 5.1 (or atmos-enabled) in a 30sqm living room for home theater ? I mainly watch movies from netflix/disney/amazon and few classics on my local streaming server (4k blu-ray).

PS: Any advice regarding subwoofers choice is welcomed!
 

eddantes

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I have 6.1 (phantom center) and 2.1. Both are satisfying, but 6.1 is more satisfying for movies. It's the spatial effects from rear n sides that make it. Can't recommend subs tho... I have a Revel, a Klipsch and a Polk and all are a bit meh, Revel being the least meh. SVS, are what lots of people "in the know" recommend.
 

audio2design

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My opinion is with current room / speaker correction even in tolerable cost AVRs that even an unmatched center channel is preferable to none at all most of the time. That is especially true if you have people sitting far off the center axis like in a living room with company. That adherence to tonally the same speakers mattered far more when you could not correct frequency response.

Again, even cheap rears make for a lot of enjoyment.

I like subs and it will really extend your mains. Given your 2 chan emphasis go for quality and live with not shaking the walls. Integration is everything so you have some work to do.

You can always get a lower cost AVR (used can be surprisingly cheap) and just add in a manual switch on the mains. Depends how you route signals.

People who say their 2.1 sounds great for movies just have not experienced even half decent full surround.
 

Beershaun

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IMHO you miss a lot for home theater with just a 2.1 or 2.2. In fact in Amirs video about differentiation between mono and stereo speaker listening there is a little nugget about how preference scores are higher for surround sound compared to stereo and people couldn't really tell the difference in a good and bad speaker as well in surround setups. but also there really isn't a good all in one solution that gives you the high fidelity you want for music and the Atmos home theater benefits. I suspect you will be better off and more affordable to just get a completely separate Denon AVR and run a home theater setup with the internal amps.
 

eddantes

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My opinion is with current room / speaker correction even in tolerable cost AVRs that even an unmatched center channel is preferable to none at all most of the time. That is especially true if you have people sitting far off the center axis like in a living room with company. That adherence to tonally the same speakers mattered far more when you could not correct frequency response.

Again, even cheap rears make for a lot of enjoyment.

I like subs and it will really extend your mains. Given your 2 chan emphasis go for quality and live with not shaking the walls. Integration is everything so you have some work to do.

You can always get a lower cost AVR (used can be surprisingly cheap) and just add in a manual switch on the mains. Depends how you route signals.

People who say their 2.1 sounds great for movies just have not experienced even half decent full surround.

To be honest - I have a center and removed it. Splitting the C between L/R just works better in my room. Lots of experimentation has led me to this. Having said that... maybe I just needed a better center... But at this point - I'm not even interested in looking. However, if I were to ever build another room, I'd start with a proper, matched LCR and two subs.
 

audio2design

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To be honest - I have a center and removed it. Splitting the C between L/R just works better in my room. Lots of experimentation has led me to this. Having said that... maybe I just needed a better center... But at this point - I'm not even interested in looking. However, if I were to ever build another room, I'd start with a proper, matched LCR and two subs.

When you had a center were you running an AVR or processor with somewhat modern surround processing, Dirac, ARC, or somewhat newer Audyssey? I can't say I have ever preferred 2 channel or somewhat proper 2.1. If you have a narrow seating position it's pretty good.
 

Chrispy

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I've generally preferred having a center to allow for more than sweet spot listening for a phantom center with many movie mixes at least. Multich audio often is 4.0 based so not always relevant there either. Generally for the rooms I have multich systems in I do prefer using a center vs phantom. My brother prefers phantom but he always grabs the prime seat and his wife/kids don't really care :)

ps And my sister has no idea where any channel speaker should be placed nor cares much, even happy with tv sound.
 

eddantes

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Its just a plain jane Denon with Audyssey that I have. We don't have a sweet spot as the room is long and narrow. We have couches that are along one side of the room or the other, and I tell you as God is my witness phantom works better.
 

audio2design

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The older Audyssey was not perfect. Newerish is quite good, but you have to be careful in the setup process. I don't doubt your results. The long narrow room helps. It could have to do with your previous center/Denon. I can't say I have ever found the same in the last 10 years.
 
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bud947

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@eddantes thanks for your feedback.

Regarding subwoofers, choice is limited here in France in my price range of 1kEUR [+/-20%]:
- Adam Audio T10S
- Fluid Audio FC10S
- JBL LSR 310S (currently out of stock)
- SVS Pro 1000 (a bit above the budget)

I lean toward Fluid Audio FC10S but there is no feedback on this subwoofer that promise [email protected] SPL. If it's true two of them should match the presonus in terms of SPL (104db) and provide a full range FR.
Adam Audio has better reputation and the T10S has been reviewed on youtube and also here https://estradaistudio.pl/testy/sprzet-studyjny/1539-t5v-i-t10s-monitory-z-subwooferem

@audio2design the problem with center channel is that they need to match or at least blend with the L/R channels otherwise you get 2 sounds and it's very disturbing. And there is no center channel active channel for the presonus :/
Also as I pointed out the image precision of the presonus is really exceptional, I'm afraid i'll lose that with a "not good enough" center channel.

If I understand correctly, there is no substitute for surround channels in home theater config. At some point, i'll have to add a least 2 or 4 channel + a proper AVR for real home theater experience.
 
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