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Options for 3.1 Upgrade - Separates or All in One?

BigRichSG

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Jul 26, 2021
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I'm looking to update the amplification and music streaming in my small living room system, used for TV/Movies/Music.
Speakers: B&W: CM9 mains, CMC2 centre and PV1D Sub, 3.1 setup, no room for rear surrounds.
AVR: Pioneer LX-86 (ARC, 11.2ch, but can't handle recent sound formats, and its essentially wasted on my setup)
TV: LG 65C7T (4k with ARC)
Sources:
Roku Ultra 4k for Plex (movies and music), Netflix, Prime, Tidal etc
Nintendo Switch
PC

Usage is 70% Netflix/Plex movies, 20% music via Plex or Airplay Tidal/Spotify and 10% Gaming. Family friendliness is important. Due to lack of space, and my indifference, there are no surround speakers and no plan to add any. This small living room is part of a bigger open plan room.

I'd like to improve streaming music (Tidal) quality and do better than Roku via HDMI to my old AVR, and be able to direct-play movie files with modern audio formats from Plex. I have BluOS in the bedroom and office, which is easy to use so keen to use that ecosystem.

My options seem to be:

1) All in one streaming Amp + lower end AVR. E.g. NAD M10 + Denon X1700. clean and easy solution, but the M10 doesn't review especially well here and I don't want the screen. NAD is releasing a C399 + BluOS card, to similar spec as the M10 for slightly less money, but it's not available yet. The AVR would only be amplifying the centre channel.

2) All in one 2.1 NAD Amp with ARC/eARC that can decode HD Audio for movies. HDMI switching done by the TV. Wife friendly and removes a big ugly speaker. Options besides NAD / C399, M33 is way too expensive for me? In this arrangement, what happens to the other surround channels, are they mixed into stereo or dropped altogether?

3) Streaming Stereo Separates. This could be Bluesound Node 2i + Topping E30 DAC + 2ch AMP with HDMI eARC in for volume control from TV remote. Amp suggestions for $2k, preferably minimalist without a lot of buttons?. More boxes and wires, but complexity for family can be kept to a minimum using just a Roku remote to control TV volume and Netflix/Plex etc.

Rejected Options:
A) Modern AVR able to properly handle sound formats and 4k, e.g. Denon X4700. Simple, but won't impact music quality. Massively over specified with amps, connections and channels that I won't use given my simple system.

Am I thinking along the right lines above, and which option is best? With all the options/pitfalls/unknowns I'm increasingly confused!
 

tifune

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You may not be getting any replies because this is sort of hard to follow. It sounds like you already have everything you need, you just need to arrange it differently? Unless that Pioneer has some glaring design issue, you're unlikely to get any audible improvement simply from adding a streaming device (although your eyes will tell your ears that you are)
 

EdTice

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Aug 18, 2020
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You may not be getting any replies because this is sort of hard to follow. It sounds like you already have everything you need, you just need to arrange it differently? Unless that Pioneer has some glaring design issue, you're unlikely to get any audible improvement simply from adding a streaming device (although your eyes will tell your ears that you are)
I am guessing there aren't a lot of answers because a modern AVR really is the right answer but it's already been rejected. Your current AVR doesn't cut it (because it doesn't handle the formats you want). Everything else is good. A modern AVR would handle what you want and be a simple and easy solution. Who cares if there are extra amp sections? You can get the AVR-S650H refurbished direct from Denon for $329.
  • 75 watts per channel into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.08% THD with 2 channels driven
Include Audyssey calibration.
 
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