• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Upgrade/Consolidation Path

Epos7

Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
63
Likes
16
Location
WA, USA
Hi all - happy to have found this excellent community. I've been reading for the last few days and the reviews and discussion here are top notch. I'm nearing some new audio purchases for the first time in a while, and I'm hoping to get some input on my best path forward.

I currently have two systems in separate rooms, but I'd like to move them into the same room and combine them where I can.

Stereo:
  • Rega Apollo CDP
  • VPI Traveller v2 turntable
  • Rega Mira 3 integrated amp
  • Epos M15.2 floorstanding speakers
Media:
  • LG C8 OLED TV using optical audio out
  • Marantz SR5004
  • Energy RC-30 floorstanding speakers
The Marantz AVR doesn't support 4K over HDMI, and I only have a couple video sources currently, so I've just been using it as an amp. This week the optical connector failed, and the Marantz is now retired.

A few years back I built a O2 headphone amp with an ODAC in it and have been enjoying that with my Sennheiser HD600s. I've had the idea for a while that my next project would be building power amps, and this seems like a good time to do it. After some research, I think I want to use the Purifi 1ET400A modules. I'd likely start by building a stereo amp (or two monoblocks).

My first thought was to look for a pre/pro to pair with the power amps, but I soon learned the pre/pro selection is rather small these days, especially if your budget isn't over 3k. I did read the review here of the Denon AVR-3700H, and have considered it for its pre/pro abilities, but buying a massive AVR and not using the power amp section seems wasteful and less than ideal. I'm attracted to the smaller size and cool temperatures of Class-D amplifiers, so I'd like to keep my pre/pro section on the smaller & cooler side too, if possible. I'd have no issues feeding HDMI directly into my TV, but that would leave me with no way to output uncompressed audio as only optical out is available and I'd like to start using uncompressed audio on this system.

The best option I've found so far may be the Evolve II-4K HDMI v2.0 / Multi-Channel DAC. I could connect this to the HDMI out of my Roku (I rip Blu Ray discs to a media server and play through the Roku) and pass the analog out to whatever pre-amp I decide to go with. The disadvantage is I'd need one for any additional video sources and would max out at the number of HDMI inputs on my TV. It's also not HDMI 2.1. I do have a PC with HDMI 2.1 connected to the TV, but as the TV itself only supports HDMI 2.0, this isn't an issue for me currently.

From there I could continue to use the optical output from my TV for sources that only use compressed audio (eg satellite receiver) into a DAC of some sort.

The system I'm imaging would look like this:
  • Evolve II-4K for HDMI source with uncompressed audio
  • Second DAC for TV optical out
  • Pre-amp with input switching
  • Purefi 1ET400A power amp
  • 2 channels to start, with the possibility of adding a center channel and subwoofer
Does this sound like a reasonable plan, or are there better options I'm not considering? I'm looking forward to building some power amps, but first I need to figure out how I'm going to get them a signal :D
 
OP
Epos7

Epos7

Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
63
Likes
16
Location
WA, USA
After typing the above, I realized the Roku doesn't output uncompressed audio, so I'd need to look into a different source player for my network Blu-Ray library if I wanted uncompressed audio.

Rather than the Evolve II-4K, I wonder if I'd be better off continuing to use the TV's optical output and getting a miniDSP SHD. I'd be limited to compressed audio for video sources, and would not have the option to add a center channel. On the other hand, I'd gain Dirac through all inputs and the ability to stream uncompressed two channel music.
 
Last edited:
OP
Epos7

Epos7

Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
63
Likes
16
Location
WA, USA
After some more research it seems all but impossible to avoid using an AVR as a pre/pro. I could downmix into 3.1 using a miniDSP 10x10, but then I'd need to find a three channel pre with input switching, and those don't exist.

It seems like my only approach is going to be getting one of the Denon AVRs and using its pre-outs. Given the lack of 3 channel pre amplifiers, I think I'd use the power amp in the Denon for the center channel if I were to get one, and feed the L and R channel pre-outs into a stereo preamp. My music sources could also be connected to the stereo pre, which would feed a Purifi stereo power amp. How to control volume between AVR-powered speakers and Purifi-powered speakers is the remaining question.

It seems my dream of avoiding the big black box is for naught.
 
OP
Epos7

Epos7

Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
63
Likes
16
Location
WA, USA
Well I resigned myself to the big black box and ordered a Denon 3700H. No real other way to get around the HDMI switching and audio processing that I could figure out. As far as big black boxes go to Denon seems well reviewed, and I can use its power amps until I build some Purifi amps.

I also ordered an Nvidia Shield TV Pro to replace the Roku. The Shield TV will let me stream uncompressed TrueHD from my media server.

I think I'll move my Epos speakers over to the Denon and retire the Energy RC-30s. I'll use the Epos M15.2s for home theater and music. Eventually I'd like to get a pre-amp for my turntable as well as get a miniDSP streaming player and feed those into a Purifi amp. I'm not sure yet if I'll end up using my Mira 3 integrated for anything.

Next up I'm looking at getting one or two subwoofers and a center channel. If I could find a used Epos M8 center that would be ideal, though production stopped well over 10 years ago now so they're hard to come by. For subwoofers the Rythmik F12SE might be the ticket. Price wise something like an SVS sub is more attractive, though anecdotally the Rythmik seems better regarded. For this reason I'm thinking one or two F12SEs might better accommodate a speaker upgrade a few years down the road.

Finally, I need to figure out how to tackle room correction. It's not something I'm familiar with as it was far less mainstream last time I was purchasing audio gear.
 
OP
Epos7

Epos7

Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
63
Likes
16
Location
WA, USA
I realize my original question(s) may have been too broad to merit a response, and I'm just talking to myself here. Hopefully nobody minds if I keep chronicling my modest upgrades here.

Room Treatments
I bought my current Epos speakers when I was a freshman in college. When I was 17 and in high school, I build a whole pile of room treatments using Owens Corning rigid fiberglass. I purchased a few bundles of 2' x 4' x 2" sheets, and wrapped them in burgundy burlap. I made some 2" panels and some 4" panels. In my junior year of college I took a physics of music class and wrote my final paper on these panels. They do work quite well and I continue to use them to this day (16 years of service so far). The only improvements I might make is an attractive walnut or maple frame, or I may change out the color of the burlap when I settle into a more permanent AV room. I have a few of these in each corner of my current 14' x 21' x 8' room. A quirk of this room is the ceilings are angled about 45 degrees to 4' off the floor. There's a roughly 7' horizontal ceiling between the sloped parts. I might add some treatments to the intersection of the sloped and horizontal ceilings.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom