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Help Me Build My End Game System

solrage

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As luck would have it right when I finished selling off my old system a pair of Perlisten S7ts and Denon A1H came up for sale so I grabbed them. Now I have to put together the rest of my system and any advice would be appreciated. Besides the S7t and A1H nothing else is set in stone, but here's my thoughts:

Center: Perlisten S5m
-For the center, I plan to place the S5m vertically under my screen for movies and then set it on its stand for multi-channel music so its drivers will align with the S7ts. S7c is an option, but I hate not being able to use it vertically for multi-channel music.

Surrounds: Ascend CMT340SE2 (4)
-For the surrounds I'm open to suggestions, but the Ascends seem like a great combination of price, sensitivity (to keep up with the Perlistens), and good measurements. Concern here is being able to raise them up enough as I think the stands are pretty short and I don't really have the option of wall-mounting the rear speakers.

Subs: Rythmik F18 (2)
-Ditto for the subs.

Amps: Buckeye NCx500 (for S7t), Buckeye NC502MP (for center & surrounds)
-As for amps I'm pretty set on the NCx500 for the S7t as it's one of the few amps that measures spectacularly with that much power. For the surrounds/center I'm more ambivalent. The S5m can do 300w at 4ohm and the Ascends do 250w at 8ohm, so the The NC502 seem a decent match on that level.

Player: Magnetar UDP-800
-Player I have no strong feelings about. I'd like a universal player that could also serve as a great DAC like my old Oppo, and Magnetar and Reavon are the only brands I've seen trying to serve the niche market that Oppo used to. The UDP-800 looks nice, but is quite expensive and I could probably just get a Sony X800M2 to do the "universal player" thing and just buy a separate DAC.

Cables: GearIT 12AWG with banana plugs (speaker cables)
Component Stand: Monolith XL
-For the cables and component stands I just eyeballed what's available on Amazon. If there's any better options let me know.

Some info on my room/listening: Room is 15.5 x 13.5 x 8. Usage will be a mix of movies, music, and gaming, but I'm mostly concerned with audio quality for music (stereo & multi-channel). I'd like to "have it all" in terms of having a system that can achieve the dynamics and deep bass of a reference home theater will still having pristine quality for critical stereo/multi-channel music listening.
 
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solrage

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Why a separate DAC? There's already one in the Denon A1H.

I would also strongly recommend five equal speakers for surround to work properly.
Forgot to mention I also use headphones so I need a DAC with analog outs to the headphone amp. I'm pretty sure the A1H only has the one pair of RCA outs.

I think it's pretty common to have surrounds that are different from the mains/center, and I'm not spending the extra money to get all S5m for surrounds!
 

StigErik

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The Denon is equipped with a headphone output, so you could use that one.

I know it's common using different speakers in a surround setup. That does not mean it's a good solution. Think of it as trying to get good stereo using two different speakers for L and R.
 
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solrage

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The Denon is equipped with a headphone output, so you could use that one.

I know it's common using different speakers in a surround setup. That does not mean it's a good solution. Think of it as trying to get good stereo using two different speakers for L and R.
I seriously doubt the Denon HP amp would be as good as my Violectric V281. Most AVRs skimp on the headphone amp. section.

My literal "end game" setup would, indeed, be all Perlistens, but it's not feasible at their asking prices. Maybe if some R5m's came up for sale used I could do it, but I'm not spending ~$8k just to get matching surrounds. I think as long as I have speakers that measure reasonably well like the Ascends they won't be terribly mismatched with the Perlistens.
 

StigErik

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Make sure all speakers have the same frequency response and phase response at least. That's why five equal speakers would work best.

If you like to listen to pop/rock or jazz music in surround, you'll probably find that there is a lot of instruments in the surround speakers. Do you want those to sound inferior to what you hear from the fronts? I agree it might seem like overkill to have five equal speakers, but I have it and am very happy that I do.
 

bodhi

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I seriously doubt the Denon HP amp would be as good as my Violectric V281. Most AVRs skimp on the headphone amp. section.
It won't be as good. But does it sound as good? It probably does.
 

bodhi

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AFAIK, nobody has measured the headphone output on any AVR.
There just aren't that many people interested in that. Especially with a top of the line model.

If I would have that kind of premium setup I wouldn't use the AVR headphone out, regardless if I could actually hear any difference. Same thing with having one of those cheap amps that might even measure better than your current one, which just oozes high quality.
 

Trdat

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The most important part of a sound system for music listening is hands down subwoofer and its integration. You have a list which prioritizes everything except the number of subs and what DSP you will use to integrate, time align and shape the frequency curve.

The Denon should manage to integrate them very well, my only concern is that you have your prioritize the wrong way around thats all. Why even think about cables, my suggestion would be concentrate on learning Audyssey on Denon, research decent subwoofers with the consideration of at least two if not three depending on the size and shape of your room.

Other miscellaneous issues, I used to also think that matching was not important for multichannel but I would agree with StigErik that all speakers should match at least to some extent, smaller is okay but the same.

Lastly, consider some light treatment. Usually you can get away with acoustic treatment but seeing that you have a large budget from what I can tell according to the price of the speakers and equipment allocating some finances towards bringing down the RT60 according to the type of music will also enhance your listening experience.

Often people get caught up with equipment but mastering the set up is just as important but I am sure you will get to that and is probably the next step after purchasing your desired hardware.
 

CapMan

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Sounds like you are building something special.

To me an end game system means also that the listener / owner is able to accept that it can’t be improved upon in their environment, they have no inclination to tweak or be swayed by the next favourable review or a deal online somewhere.

Just my 10c - I think ‘end game’ can be as much in the mind as the equipment :)
 
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StigErik

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Regarding Audyssey - I have a great deal of experience with it from when I had a Marantz AVR. It works pretty well when it comes to aligning speaker delays, bass management, subwoofer EQ and subwoofer integration. However - the resulting EQ curve will be flat, which sounds horrible - unless you use the MultEQ app to tweak it to whatever house curve you like (see link below). I also have very mixed feelings about doing multi-point calibration, and I ended up doing all calibration measurements with the mic in the sweetspot.


 
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solrage

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Make sure all speakers have the same frequency response and phase response at least. That's why five equal speakers would work best.

If you like to listen to pop/rock or jazz music in surround, you'll probably find that there is a lot of instruments in the surround speakers. Do you want those to sound inferior to what you hear from the fronts? I agree it might seem like overkill to have five equal speakers, but I have it and am very happy that I do.
I've checked the frequency responses and they are pretty close. The Perlistens are better, of course (they're one one of the best measuring towers out there now), but the Ascends are still +/- ~2dB on axis. They should be pretty neutral like the Perlistens.

Most of my surround listening is classical though I have a handful of jazz and rock music in surround. They might not sound as perfect in the surround speakers, but I'm guessing it would only be the kind of "not as perfect" I'd notice if I was doing very close, critical listening, but not the kind that would be so obvious as to be distracting. I could be wrong, and that's why I asked for alternatives. All Perlistens is ideal, but unless they come up for sale on the used market at a good price I can't swing that now.
 
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solrage

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It won't be as good. But does it sound as good? It probably does.
The big concern is the output capabilities into high impedance phones, which I own a few. The V281 outputs something like 3w into 300Ohms. I'd be surprised if any AVRs can do that, and that WILL make a difference on highly dynamic music that doesn't have brickwall mastering.
 

StigErik

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3W into 300 ohms? That's 30V, more than a 100W/8ohm power amp :cool:
 
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solrage

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The most important part of a sound system for music listening is hands down subwoofer and its integration. You have a list which prioritizes everything except the number of subs and what DSP you will use to integrate, time align and shape the frequency curve.

The Denon should manage to integrate them very well, my only concern is that you have your prioritize the wrong way around thats all. Why even think about cables, my suggestion would be concentrate on learning Audyssey on Denon, research decent subwoofers with the consideration of at least two if not three depending on the size and shape of your room.

Other miscellaneous issues, I used to also think that matching was not important for multichannel but I would agree with StigErik that all speakers should match at least to some extent, smaller is okay but the same.

Lastly, consider some light treatment. Usually you can get away with acoustic treatment but seeing that you have a large budget from what I can tell according to the price of the speakers and equipment allocating some finances towards bringing down the RT60 according to the type of music will also enhance your listening experience.

Often people get caught up with equipment but mastering the set up is just as important but I am sure you will get to that and is probably the next step after purchasing your desired hardware.
I did list the number of subs. I didn't mention the DSP because I didn't really need advice there. The Denon comes with Audyssey and I'll be purchasing Dirac Live Bass Control. I'm going to test both with music, movies, and games, and go with whichever one I think is best, perhaps with some measurements after. The reason I "thought about cables" is because... well, you kinda need them to get any sound at all! I wasn't asking about cables in a "recommend me some audiophile snake-oil" sense but in a "you know anything as good for cheaper" sense.

Anyway, I know how to use Audyssey and I'm getting two subs. I may end up getting three depending on the bass performance I get, but I didn't see a reason to jump to three or more without seeing how well two would do.

Treatment is a good mention. It's something I've been meaning to look into but don't really know where to start. I know there are some companies where you can give them your room/placement information and they can recommend what treatments to get, but I don't really know what fair prices are in this space compared to others in audio.
 

StigErik

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I've checked the frequency responses and they are pretty close. The Perlistens are better, of course (they're one one of the best measuring towers out there now), but the Ascends are still +/- ~2dB on axis. They should be pretty neutral like the Perlistens.

Most of my surround listening is classical though I have a handful of jazz and rock music in surround. They might not sound as perfect in the surround speakers, but I'm guessing it would only be the kind of "not as perfect" I'd notice if I was doing very close, critical listening, but not the kind that would be so obvious as to be distracting. I could be wrong, and that's why I asked for alternatives. All Perlistens is ideal, but unless they come up for sale on the used market at a good price I can't swing that now.

Anyway - it's good to have a plan to go there some time in the future. That's what I did. I got my preferred mains (L/R) first, then later on upgraded the center to the same speaker, and the surrounds last. I got them in pairs of course, and have one spare... For movies the center channel is the most important speaker, as most of the dialogue happens there.
 
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solrage

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Regarding Audyssey - I have a great deal of experience with it from when I had a Marantz AVR. It works pretty well when it comes to aligning speaker delays, bass management, subwoofer EQ and subwoofer integration. However - the resulting EQ curve will be flat, which sounds horrible - unless you use the MultEQ app to tweak it to whatever house curve you like (see link below). I also have very mixed feelings about doing multi-point calibration, and I ended up doing all calibration measurements with the mic in the sweetspot.


Yes, I had Audyssey with my last system as well. I thought it sounded great for movies but generally didn't like it much for music. I'm hoping Dirac will handle music better and perhaps I'll leave Audyssey for movies. I think the reason they recommend doing multi-point calibration is so the program can get a sense of what measurements are just anomalies at that specific position Vs which are major features of your room. You probably don't want these programs over correcting for just one spot because your brain probably filters out a lot of stuff that a mic will pick up at one specific spot.
 
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solrage

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Anyway - it's good to have a plan to go there some time in the future. That's what I did. I got my preferred mains (L/R) first, then later on upgraded the center to the same speaker, and the surrounds last. I got them in pairs of course, and have one spare... For movies the center channel is the most important speaker, as most of the dialogue happens there.
That is the plan if I ever find a deal on them. Yeah, center is definitely crucial for movies, TV, and gaming. I've even found a lot of multi-channel music makes a lot of use of it.
 
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