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NAD T778 vs Arcam AVR20 and/or how do I listen to an Atmos music stream on an AVR.

JoachimStrobel

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I have one serious question and one where there will be hardly an answer. That one first:

I want a new AVR. I do have a great 5.1 system, but I am the only one in the household who knows to turn it on, and I do struggle after a long vacation= An analog preamp, 3 amps, an Oppo 103, a NanoAvr with Dirac and one HDMI stripper pulling LPCM out of an 4K Stream, a Raspi as Roon endpoint feeding via HDMI.

So I like to buy a simple System plus an upgrade to Atmos. I accept to have less fidelity as I will retire my external amps but will want to make it as painless as possible.
As many I have narrowed down my choice between the NAD T778 and the Arcam AVR20.
I have read a lot. I believe that the Arcam may sound better (true?) but the NAD is simpler to use (?). I heard that the current NAD T778 generation has no more blobs and rattling vents - true?
So, please comment, I am not settled yet. Did I miss a great choice <3500€?

I will keep my 6 Canton RCL and a subwoofer, dump the control box (that goes between the preamp and the amp), hoping that Dirac does it and will get 4 Atmos ceiling speaker, probably B&W AM1, but any comment is welcome. Because of my screen I can not use add-on speakers onto my floorstanders as they will be stopped by the screen.

Atmos: I guess I own almost every Multichannel Jazz DVD or Sacd and as there is nothing more coming. So I hope for Atmos. But how can I stream Atmos Music into those Avrs, or any AVR? BlueOS is stereo only, Roon sees them only as Stereo-Endpoints, so is there only Apple TV via HDMI left? But then I have turn on a visual aid to navigate through the Apple menu. Or run Roon on an hdmi attached PC, but that defeat the goal of a simple system. Is there another smart solution?
 

Beershaun

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Hi,
Why those two AVR choices? I would humbly advocate for the Anthem MRX740 over the NADT778 on power and sound quality. And the Arcam amir measured did not perform well and had some problems. If you want the best music streaming options then the NAD with Blueos is the best choice.

Re Atmos. Tidal has a large and growing selection of Atmos music. You can stream it from any cheap streaming media stick that suppots Atmos via HDMI like a firetv stick or Roku.

Re: ease of use by others. HDMI eARC is your best friend. I have my anthem set up with my firetv cube so the kids just yell "Alexa, turn on the TV" and everything fires up automatically.
 
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JoachimStrobel

JoachimStrobel

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Hi,
I am kind of hooked to Dirac, so I dropped the Anthem stuff.
As for the sticks etc: I would still need a tv screen to operate those? I have a projector and a screen setup. Firing that up for selecting and operating an Atmos source seems complicated.
 

Golfx

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When purchasing any new NAD or Arcam new owners have had to run through a gauntlet of troubling bugs and glitches. The new Denons will likely be more bug free and will offer Dirac as an add on if you don‘t want audyssey.

The only way I’ve found to hear atmos was: 1. via tidal app on my TV then eARC back to my AVR/AVP or 2. tidal or Apple Music via an Apple TV 4K. All involved an HDMI cable. Of those choices none gave me trouble free listening. Atmos tracks were about 10db lower than other tracks and when using eARC I would sometimes get loud pops out of a surround or atmos speaker. Sigh.

As you know roon does not support atmos. Sigh again

So I just upscale roon stereo to Auro 3d using the auromatic upmixer. The seems to be a satisfactory solution for those tracks needing “surround” experience.
 

Dj7675

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The only way I’ve found to hear atmos was: 1. via tidal app on my TV then eARC back to my AVR/AVP or 2. tidal or Apple Music via an Apple TV 4K. All involved an HDMI cable. Of those choices none gave me trouble free listening. Atmos tracks were about 10db lower than other tracks and when using eARC I would sometimes get loud pops out of a surround or atmos speaker. Sigh.
Tidal app on AppleTV 4k works as well to get Atmos. However as you noted it is much quieter and 10dB less sounds about right. Not sure why ...
 
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JoachimStrobel

JoachimStrobel

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I guess I will bet an 11“ screen for Hdmi2-out to navigate through the Apple TV …
 
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JoachimStrobel

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Oh no, I just read that the AppleTV will stream Atmos only when connected to a 4K Screen…
 

voodooless

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Oh no, I just read that the AppleTV will stream Atmos only when connected to a 4K Screen…
Where did you read that? That doesn’t sound right.

On topic: note that Onkyo/Integra also have Dirac enabled receivers.
 

Beershaun

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Hi,
I am kind of hooked to Dirac, so I dropped the Anthem stuff.
As for the sticks etc: I would still need a tv screen to operate those? I have a projector and a screen setup. Firing that up for selecting and operating an Atmos source seems complicated.
Ah. As others have said if you want Dirac Denon just released their new line with Dirac as an optional add on. I think I would pick that over Arcam. Then it's a shootout between the NAD and Denon. The Denon Amp sections are better and more powerful (peak power-wise) than the T778 but the BlueOS system is far better than Denon's streaming solution in terms of features and user interface.

I understand your concern on the complexity of having to use your projector and screen just to play Atmos music. Convenience is king. with HDMI and ARC you can certainly get things down to one remote but turning on a projector and lowering a screen is a whole other level of complexity that I wouldn't want to wait for and deal with just to play music. I would do a little research to see if the Tidal Connect integration with BlueOS or Denon's streaming music solution for Tidal supports Atmos music streaming natively. That might be the clincher for you. I definitely wouldn't assume that it does unless you find documentation that specifically says so though. Music streaming is such a broken ecosystem right now you can't assume anything about file format and bitrate support for any endpoint.:(
 
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JoachimStrobel

JoachimStrobel

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After the failure of DVD-A and SACD Mch music I am hoping that Atmos Music does it. But seeing that BlueOS is only Stereo and that none of the AVRs are seen as Roon Mch endpoint ( which would not help as Roon does not pass Atmos through) disappoints me. Investing into an AVR and ceiling speakers just for Atmos music may be not such a good idea after all…
I have seen the Denon announcements with „Dirac in March 2023“. Hmm. But no Mch stream option.
My take is, that the obsession with 5k€ a piece speakers cabled to 10k€ Amps leaves most people no option for an Mch upgrade path, so the industry shoots itself in the foot somehow.
 
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Alice of Old Vincennes

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Hi,
I am kind of hooked to Dirac, so I dropped the Anthem stuff.
As for the sticks etc: I would still need a tv screen to operate those? I have a projector and a screen setup. Firing that up for selecting and operating an Atmos source seems complicated.
You can become addicted to Anthem Room Correction. Read Audioholics review.
 
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JoachimStrobel

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So I bought a Nad T778, build in Jan 2022. I still have 2 weeks ahead mounting height speakers and setting up Dirac, but so far all is perfect. Fan never goes above 1000rpm and can hardly be heard. But the Nad needs to stand freely for that. No popping sound. I never bothered with the BlueOS dongle but used Ethernet. Sound is good. Would not be able to tell if my old 100kg of separates sounded better. Only can say that all my old setup needed a huge box full of cable and many power lines, whereas now all is slick and simple. That should be better.
I noticed that my vinyls do not sound as nice anymore and attribute to my NAD doing a better job than my old system which added sweet harmonics to that vinyl distortion
Getting Atmos to play via AppleTV with the Beamer switched off is still a struggle. The NAD does not downsample, so when set to 4K the hdmi 2 will be shut down and no second monitor be allowed.
There are 2 options now:
Use my old Chinese 4K-2k splitter and fork the Nad output. Complicated as once in a while this splitter’s setting will be messed up and forgot about it and wonder why all is blank.
Or buy a FireTV stick and fix that to 2K and run Tidal-Atmos on that. That I will do.
 
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JoachimStrobel

JoachimStrobel

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I am done setting stuff up. Playing Tidal Atmos via an Apple TV sucks as said before. I now use an FireTV 4K stick for Tidal Atmos and it works great. I can switch off the Monitor and it still plays.

Edit: with the FiteTV set to 2k, I can power on a screen on Hdmiout2 as only output and it will start displaying. That does not work with an AppleTV set to 4K as it will not see the 2k screen on hdmiout2 and hence not change its resolution. If it does so accidentally or by switching outputs, it will drop Atmos from Tidal and the Tidal app has to be reinstalled to get Atmos back.
 
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TahoeGator

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I am done setting stuff up. Playing Tidal Atmos via an Apple TV sucks as said before. I now use an FireTV 4K stick for Tidal Atmos and it works great. I can switch off the Monitor and it still plays.

Edit: with the FiteTV set to 2k, I can power on a screen on Hdmiout2 as only output and it will start displaying. That does not work with an AppleTV set to 4K as it will not see the 2k screen on hdmiout2 and hence not change its resolution. If it does so accidentally or by switching outputs, it will drop Atmos from Tidal and the Tidal app has to be reinstalled to get Atmos back.
If you were to start over would you opt for, for example, one of the new Denon with Dirac or you’d still go NAD?
 
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JoachimStrobel

JoachimStrobel

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The new Denon has not yet gotten Dirac, just announced. I would not get a Denon or Yamaha or Honda, rather a NAD or Rotel or Arcam…
 
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JoachimStrobel

JoachimStrobel

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I found out, that I can launch AppleMusic on the IPhone, play an Atmos tune and send that to an AppleTV 4K with no hdmi output switched on. At first it will use Airplay and play 2ch only. After 10 sec it will launch AppleTV’s version of AppleMusic and play my tune in Atmos. That is a perfect solution.
 
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