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jaydough
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AV or A?

I have been saving to buy my first legitimate audio system for a few years now and am finally ready to make a few purchases. Doing the research as to what to buy has been fun but intimidating to say the least.

A friend of mine is really into AV suggested that I veer from a pure audio route and purchase an AV processor. He swears that music through his Integra sounds great, including vinyl.

My budget could include the Integra 80.3, a pair of Vandersteen speakers, and the Emotiva XPA-2 amp.

Reading posts from other audiophiles though makes me nervous. There seems to be serous doubt that I can safely mix the two and many AV guys seems to focus more on the "V" than the "A". If I've always wanted an amazing audio setup, am I bastardizing this dream by bringing video into the mix?

Should I put my $ into a great analog pre instead of one that is devoted to video and audio?

I appreciate your help.

Demondog
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If you are an audio fanatic

I think I know the arguments. While it might be true that high end audio specific components will give the best sound, there are very nice sounding AV systems as well. My advice is that if you want an AV system, then get an AV system. If you spend enough, there will be little compromise.

In your example, Suppose you used a dedicated 2-channel audio pre-amp with similar cost as the Integra 80.3 to drive the Emotiva. Would a Parasound JC-3 for example sound better than the integra for a 2-channel system? I think it would. So you could very well end up with better sound, but you would forego the additional AV features of the Integra. It really boils down to whether you want those features, or do you want to strive for the the best sound for the buck. That is your decision. You can't get away from trade offs, given equal price. I only know what I'd do.

jaydough
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Is the Parasound JC-3 just a

Is the Parasound JC-3 just a pre amp for phono only?

Demondog
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Yes
jaydough wrote:

Is the Parasound JC-3 just a pre amp for phono only?

I think so. My mistake. I should have used another pre-amp in my example.

JoeE SP9
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AV?

In my experience no AV receiver has ever sounded as good as a two channel integrated or pre and power amp combination. I would suggest your buddie do some actual comparisons.

Have you actually gone out and listened to anything?

Using  Internet "research" to decide what to buy is like learning how to swim from a book and then trying out for the Olympics.

bierfeldt
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You will compromise sound quality by going AV

The question is two fold - do you want an AV system?  Second, is the quality in a mid to high AV system adequate for your needs. 

The addition of video processors is going to negatively impact the sound quality of any pre/pro or straight receiver.  That being said, do you want to take advantage of 7.1 capabilities and create a home theatre?  I have a room that is designed as an AV room.  Theatre seating, big TV and 7.1 sound.  I also have added a turntable, CD Player, etc... so that I can use it as a listening room.  It sounds great, but compared to a dedicated 2.1 system it does not hold up.  As a result, I am in process of building a dedicated 2.1 system in my living room. 

That being said, my 7.1 system was a dramatic improvement over the older Carver system I have and sounds better than any department store system you will get. 

I have a Marantz AV7005 and an MM8003 which are balanced.  If you were to compare to say Parasounds Halo P3 with a Halo A23 which is a blanced pre-amp and power-amp which is what I am saving up for, the audio quality is inferior.  The question then is, which is more important; A+ audio or A- to B+ Audio with all those video features. 

If you don't care about video, Parasound Halo, NADs C165BEE and the C-275 BEE Power Amp.  Depending on where your exact budget falls, Emotiva and Outlaw represent great value.  Adcom has great power amps though I have struggled to get feedback on the pre-amps they offer.  And if your budget is a touch bigger, Moon makes great equipment for the money. 

If you want video, the alternative to Integra/Onkyo is Marantz.  The AV7005 pre-pro is about $500 cheaper than the Integra.  The marantz features less sophisticated video processing but arguably better audio.  I like the sound of Marantz better than Integra but that is a personal choice.  In general, I seem to prefer D&M compared to Onkyo equipment even when you get down to the $500 and $600 units.  I know people who feel the exact opposite or claim there is no difference. Ultimately, personal preference.    

mrvco
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I went down the hybrid A+AV

I went down the hybrid A+AV system path for a while and just ended up with an overly complex system that rarely got used for audio.  It turned out that the fancy AV system with surround sound wasn't worth the bother for me and using it for audio was a hassle.  I sold almost everything, put a sound bar under the TV and am back to building a simple dedicated 2-channel system (integrated amp, turntable and DAC) nowhere near a television.

jherrera
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Same situation for me

I'm in the same situation, as far as choosing audio + video, or just audio. I've a limitied budget, so I was thinking of first starting off with a 2 or 2.1 system, and eventually upgrading to a surround sound.

The need for audio is due to the same reason most people are here (we like nice audio). I've used a nice DAC for a while, and used a portable amp for using with headphones and IEMs. I really really enjoy the nice sound that I get, but want to get the space, depth, and everything else associated with stereo speakers. So hence the want for a stereo system.

For video, I feel the need to augment my TV's sound and get something that can accompany the visuals when watching movies and shows. This is mainly the reason I was thinking of adding the .1 (sub). I thought this would be a nice solution until I can get surrounds.

As far as speakers go, I really like Dynaudio Excites (bookshelfs) that I've heard at a dealer. I also really like what they sounded like with the low end Simaudio integrateds (low end because that is what I can afford). These are what I would like to have for a stereo system. However, the want for video integration was making me think to instead get an AVR, like a Marantz. This way, I can be set up with a 2.1, and eventually use the pre-outs to feed an integrated (or power) amp (which I would buy when I get more money), and hence get nice sound.

However, the dealer made a good point about AVRs. Marantz, Denon, and all the other big name makers of AVRs push out new versions of AVRs relatively quickly. The AVR would be serving as a 2 channel amp until I get either surrounds or an integrated (or power) amp. Given my affinity for nice sound, I think the amp would come first, followed by the surrounds later. Because of this, by the time I start building anything past a 2 (or 2.1) channel set up, a new AVR with new features will have likely come out (and the old one's will have gotten cheaper, if there's no need for the new features).

Because of this, I've reverted to thinking I should get a normal stereo set up first, and hook that up to my TV. I can feed the digital out of my TV to my current DAC, feed the analog signal to my not-yet-purchased integrated, and that to my not-yet-purchased speakers. As far as the sub, I'm not sure if the integrateds I'm looking at will throw out both the amplified signal to the speakers AND a signal out of the pre-out to feed to the sub. Even if this is possible, the speakers will be throwing out sound that extends into the sub's territory (since there's no easy way to highpass the speaker's signal), so I will probably wait until I can add the surrounds, sub, and receiver in one go, all while integrating the integrated amplifier into the set-up. Given this, my only concern with this is whether the low powered integrateds I'm considering can fill a medium-sized living room adequately. There are cheaper higher-powered integrateds, but they don't sound as good (as far as I've heard).

I just wanted to share what my situation is like right now, since I'm in a similar spot. I'm still letting myself think things out, but I am leaning more towards the stereo set up first, and then going off of that.

Drtrey3
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my situation

I have a 7.1 set up with the best speakers up front. I mostly listen to 2 channel with music and much of the family tv watching. Now blurays and my sacds and dvd-as can give some great surround sound, and I get in the mood for that on occasion, but most is 2 channel. My next purchase will be a nice two channel Emotiva amp for the front two speakers because that is what I listen to most of all. I have a two channel only system that I listen to in the the den, but that equipment is not as nice as the family room setup, even if it is 7.1.

Trey

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