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Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... #1885462 02/05/08 10:03 AM
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DanS Offline OP
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I was going to post this in the keyboard forum, but figured this would be a better place to start.

I'm going to finally be renovating my basement later this year, and plan on doing the home theatre/surround sound listening room.
I'm looking for suggestions on what types of gear you guys are using for 'listening' (I won't be doing any surround mixing) to music, concert dvd's, etc. My 2 channel stereo is a basic Rotel with Boston Acoustics VR2 speakers, and I have ADAM P22's in my studio. I use an OPPO up-converting DVD player for DVD's, SACD & DVD-a.
I'm not looking to do the high end audiophile thing, just a nice sounding system to listen to the steadily growing collection of surround music.
Is using 5 identical speakers the way to go for one of these setups? Even the center channel?

Thanks.


What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

MOXF8, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.
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Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: DanS] #1885775 02/05/08 04:52 PM
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Neil Wilkes Offline
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Hi Dan - you are indeed in the best place.
I assume that you will be using passive speakers, as you're going to need a reciever for decoding Dolby Digital, Dolby ProLogic II and DTS. A few things to look for in the amp:
1 - 6 analogue outputs for DVD-A/SACD. Much better than HDMI, which can be flaky. If you have both, great - but I prefer the analogue interconnects.
2 - DTS decoding to (ideally) DTS 96/24. It does make a difference. The thing with DTS though, is that even if you play back a 96/24 stream through a legacy decoder, the core audio will still be in the stream. DTS work by extensions, and the core of 24/48 is always supported no matter what the stream, even DTS-HD MAS has the core built in.
3 - if you want to use Active speakers, you need 6 channel pre-amp outputs.

Speakers.
DEFINITELY use all 5 main channels the same make & model of speaker. These should be as close to full-range as possible as well. DVD-A & SACD should be mixed with the 5 channels as full-range, and the dreadful bandwidth limited rear/centre speakers are a complete waste of time. Try to play an aggressive mix on these, and you are going to miss out on most of the sound, as this type of setup will only work where the rear channels are ambient & the centre carries dialogue only.
Also avoid any Sub/Satellite setup too. These are okay-ish for DVD-Video films, but are essentially unsuitable for music.
Your LFE is just that - an LFE. It should not be the sole thing carrying significant bass end.
The LFE should be one that will seam invisibly with your main setup. Depends on your budget really, but I am using Tannoy in my private room - these work well for me

I'm running a Denon 2910 & a 3910 (the 3910 is in the studio, the 2910 is in my private room) for DVD-A/SACD, and an upscaling player for film/DVD-Video discs. I keep the Denon players for music only. The reason to keep the 2 separate is because the setup is different for film compared to Audio.

PS - Love the Adams. You must have a large room for those puppies! I could not get them working in my mix room - too small - so I have the A7 (the P11 is not as fast to respond on the bass for me compared to the A7)

Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: Neil Wilkes] #1886059 02/06/08 12:09 AM
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DanS Offline OP
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Thanks Neil, good advice. Can you explain what you mean by HDMI flakiness? I've only started using it as a result of a new LCD tv.

My studio is 11x17x7, so not sure if this constitutes large to you? I had heard that the P11's were weaker in the bass, so I went for the 22's. The A7 wasn't out yet.

Any suggestions for amps?
Cheers.


What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

MOXF8, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.
https://www.abandoned-film.com
Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: DanS] #1886176 02/06/08 10:05 AM
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It warms my heart hearing the pros advocate matched systems. Too many people get suckered into buying those package deals with a great pair of towers up front, and garbage for the other 4 channels.

Granted, you can (by boosting channels out of whack completely) get solid surround out of the rear channels if they're tiny cubes, but you're better served with 5 or 6 identical speakers all the way around.

My basement HT is going to feature 4 Klipschorns and two Belle Klipsch (for f/r centers) with monoblock medium-watt tube amplifiers on all channels. Can you tell I'm more of a music guy than a movie guy? \:D

Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: Griffinator] #1886381 02/06/08 04:06 PM
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DanS Offline OP
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...and what's that going to set you back Griffinator?

What do you guys think of dipoles?


What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

MOXF8, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.
https://www.abandoned-film.com
Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: DanS] #1886812 02/07/08 09:51 AM
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Well, actually, with the Belle's now discontinued, I'm actually planning to go La Scalas in the front center and surround back positions. Depending on how many of these monsters I can grab on the used market, it will cost me somewhere between $7-20K in speakers. I still have a (dormant) dealership with a tube amp company up in Minnesota, so I'll be able to do the monoblocks brand new for around $4K for the set. Add in a processor for $2-3K, and the worst case scenario is $27,000 out the door.

Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: Griffinator] #1886841 02/07/08 11:08 AM
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DanS Offline OP
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That's what I figured. I'll probably go with a Totem or Paradigm package, a little easier on the mortgage.

Here's a couple of ignorant questions: Are all DTS cds mixed for 5.1 systems exclusively? Is anyone doing 6.1/7.1?
Most surround receivers seem to be doing 7.1 for marginally more than 5.1, so I wondering if I add dipoles to the equation, what happens to the 5.1 mixes? Do the dipoles get "dolby-pro logic'ed", or would I just turn them off when listening to 5.1 music?

Thanks.


What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

MOXF8, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.
https://www.abandoned-film.com
Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: DanS] #1886883 02/07/08 12:05 PM
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I am NOT a fan of dipoles for accurate surround listening. You're basically artificially spreading the channels via multiple-array speaker systems, which serves to cloud, not clarify, your resulting signal.

5 or 6 tower monopoles (full-range) with a strong sub is the best surround option.

Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: Griffinator] #1886900 02/07/08 12:36 PM
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DanS Offline OP
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So to your knowledge no one is doing 7.1 surround mixes...?


What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

MOXF8, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.
https://www.abandoned-film.com
Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: DanS] #1887042 02/07/08 03:42 PM
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I haven't seen much, although I admit I'm not quite up to speed on how the mixes are changing with the advent of blu-ray.

Plenty of processors do matrix 7.1, but that is what it is - a simulation.

Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: Griffinator] #1889311 02/11/08 01:43 PM
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Neil Wilkes Offline
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There are a few 7.1 mixes out there.
Blu Ray really is not going to do anything much at all for surround music. It's just too expensive with the mandatory AACS, and that is not going to change as it is the sole reason that these formats were introduced in the first place, as Hollywood wanted a more robust CP system than the appalling CSS.
They had to throw a bone, so we got the flawed implementations that are currently available. Replication requires the use of either Blu Print or Scenarist 4 for BD - nothing else can output anything except BD-R and BD-RE.
Packages will cost from $150,000 upwards.

Going back on-topic.
7.1 is best done using DTS-HD MAS. Since last week the long-awaited Desktop Streamplayer is now included in the MAS encoder suite. This works beautifully here.
DTS-HD MAS is true lossless, and best of all you can create 5.1 submix/downmix within the 7.1 stream as well as a "Legacy" or "Core" audio stream at the lower rates in 5.1 at either 24/48 or 24/96, even 6.1 ES streams - and finally there is an option for stereo downmix.
All in one .dtshd stream.
Plays back right off the desktop if you want, complete with a Quicktime video file.

HDMI will be at 1.3 soon, and the constant handshaking has been causing interference for lots of users, amongst other problems.

Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: Neil Wilkes] #1889358 02/11/08 02:51 PM
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Neil - I mentioned Blu-Ray because I figured sooner or later we'd have a full-bandwidth uncompressed surround mix coming off that format, what with the increased storage capacity.

Perhaps that's a pipe dream....

Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: Griffinator] #1890011 02/12/08 11:26 AM
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DanS Offline OP
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That's interesting, but a desktop won't be part of my surround system.
The reasoning behind my 7.1 query was whether it would be worth it to get a 7.1 system complete, or just go with a 7.1 receiver, and 5.1 speakers for now until 7.1 music is more widely available.


What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

MOXF8, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.
https://www.abandoned-film.com
Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: DanS] #1890096 02/12/08 12:57 PM
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 Originally Posted By: DanS
That's interesting, but a desktop won't be part of my surround system.
The reasoning behind my 7.1 query was whether it would be worth it to get a 7.1 system complete, or just go with a 7.1 receiver, and 5.1 speakers for now until 7.1 music is more widely available.


The Blu-Ray commentary wasn't relevant to desktops integrated into the surround system - I was expecting, when Blu-Ray and HD-DVD was announced, that an uncompressed audio stream would soon follow for movies produced on those two formats.

Last edited by Griffinator; 02/12/08 12:57 PM.
Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: Griffinator] #1890217 02/12/08 03:52 PM
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DanS Offline OP
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I wasn't aware DVD-a & SACD were a compressed format?
Enlighten me, what are the specs for uncompressed audio?
(In bits & khz please).


What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

MOXF8, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.
https://www.abandoned-film.com
Re: Gear recommendations for surround sound listening... [Re: DanS] #1890247 02/12/08 04:27 PM
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Neither of those support 7.1, and DVD-A is most commonly encoded as MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing - a compression algorhithm)

DVD-A, to make matters worse, only supports formats above 2.0 channels at 96Khz, not the full-bandwidth 192Khz.


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