You are here

Log in or register to post comments
zx6rpete
zx6rpete's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jul 7 2007 - 7:43pm
Stereo vs Surround Sound?

After years of wanting to be an audiophile I'm finally in a financial position to do it and have started to research equipment. One thing I've noticed is that there currently seems to be a huge focus on home theaters. Everything at the big box stores is HT and all of the higher end stores in my area seem to have "theater" in their name. Personally I don't have time to sit down and watch a 2 hr movie very often so 95% of the time I'm listening to music. I can't see paying for 4 or 5 extra channels and speakers that will rarely get used since I mostly listen to music. Plus my house has an open floor plan so I'd have a hard time wiring one up. I wonder if anyone else has the same feeling?

So I've been contemplating buying an A/V receiver which has a ton of different I/O options such as ethernet, HDMI, and xm radio or go with a higher end two channel system which doesn't have alot of the extra I/O. The Rotel RX-1052 caught my eye as a starting point but I'm definitely a bit confused because everything seems to be HT focused. I definitely would want to be able to run TV, DVD, xm radio sound through any system I end up buying.

Anyhow any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm definitely leaning towards putting my money into two channels the more I think about it. Also any speaker recommendations with a wide soundstage for an open room would be helpful. I'll be starting from scratch on the system, except for my Onkyo CD player, and I'd like to keep things under $5k to start.

Thanks!

bobedaone
bobedaone's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:27am
Re: Stereo vs Surround Sound?

Ignore video processing and multi-channel features. Get an integrated amplifier from Rotel, for example, and pair it with something like the Polk XRt12 component XM tuner or Marantz ST7001 (which also is an AM/FM tuner). If you want to stream music, get a Slim Devices Squeezebox, maybe paired with a used DAC from Audiogon or someplace.

I don't know much about HDMI, but it might be possible to run HDMI to the TV from the player, then send the TV's analog output to your amplifier.

My point here is that you'll achieve the best results the furthest from home theater receiver-dom you're able to stretch. If music is 95% of your interest, get a stereo amplifier and treat the video stuff like the second priority that it is.

Good luck, welcome, and come back with any other questions! I hope I was able to help.

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 hours 55 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Re: Stereo vs Surround Sound?


Quote:
Ignore video processing and multi-channel features.

I would not dismiss multichannel for music until checking to see if the mch repertoire suits your taste. It does mine.


Quote:
I don't know much about HDMI, but it might be possible to run HDMI to the TV from the player, then send the TV's analog output to your amplifier.

I would suggest running the HDMI to the TV but routing the audio directly from the source to the preamp/processor/receiver. No good reason to have the TV electronics in the audio signal path.

Kal (Neuroscience, every year)

bobedaone
bobedaone's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:27am
Re: Stereo vs Surround Sound?


Quote:

Kal (Neuroscience, every year)

hahaha! I like it. I'm definitely saying that when I graduate.

I shot down multi-channel because I was trying to get him the highest-quality sound for his money. The extra channels that need to be amplified and supplied with speakers add a lot to the cost, and it's my opinion that he could do better with two-channel stereo.

On the HDMI front, your suggestion definitely makes a lot more sense. I guess I'm just very input-conscious and I was trying to have DVD/TV on the same input, although that's clearly not necessary. I spend so much time with audio that I've forgotten how to integrate a video source with my system. Actually, I don't think I've ever done it completely correctly. Give me a simple stereo amplifier and an all-music system, and I'm happy.

zx6rpete
zx6rpete's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jul 7 2007 - 7:43pm
Re: Stereo vs Surround Sound?

The more I think about it I think I'll be happier with a stereo only system. I currently have a big rear projection TV so running (and hiding) everything separately to it isn't a problem but when I get a flat panel wall mount it would be nice to run just one HDMI cable to it and let the receiver do the switching. I currently run all sound through my 15yr old Onkyo receiver and would do the same with the new system. I don't have a problem watching the occasional movie in stereo.

The thing I don't like about the separate xm receivers is you have to buy a second xm subscription. All of the mass market xm ready stuff can use the xm mini tuner which has a removeable card the size of a camera compact flash memory card to transfer the subscription to other devices. I'm currently using a home dock for the Skyfi 2 and the sound quality isn't very good.

I read on this site the review of the NAD M3 and Krell KAV-400 which looks pretty sweet (even though they're over twice the price of the Rotel). I'm thinking the integrated amp/receiver is the best place to start following closely behind with a good pair of speakers. I just need to find some places in the Houston area to check these brands out in person. Like I said the market seems to be dominated by HT at the moment. I'm just going to take my time, research, and wait a few months before pulling the trigger on something.

Any other suggestions would be welcome. Thanks

jkalman
jkalman's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 20 2005 - 7:04am
Re: Stereo vs Surround Sound?


Quote:
After years of wanting to be an audiophile I'm finally in a financial position to do it and have started to research equipment. One thing I've noticed is that there currently seems to be a huge focus on home theaters. Everything at the big box stores is HT and all of the higher end stores in my area seem to have "theater" in their name. Personally I don't have time to sit down and watch a 2 hr movie very often so 95% of the time I'm listening to music. I can't see paying for 4 or 5 extra channels and speakers that will rarely get used since I mostly listen to music. Plus my house has an open floor plan so I'd have a hard time wiring one up. I wonder if anyone else has the same feeling?

So I've been contemplating buying an A/V receiver which has a ton of different I/O options such as ethernet, HDMI, and xm radio or go with a higher end two channel system which doesn't have alot of the extra I/O. The Rotel RX-1052 caught my eye as a starting point but I'm definitely a bit confused because everything seems to be HT focused. I definitely would want to be able to run TV, DVD, xm radio sound through any system I end up buying.

Anyhow any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm definitely leaning towards putting my money into two channels the more I think about it. Also any speaker recommendations with a wide soundstage for an open room would be helpful. I'll be starting from scratch on the system, except for my Onkyo CD player, and I'd like to keep things under $5k to start.

Thanks!

If buying 5 speakers instead of just two means you can spend more money on better speakers for the two channel setup (it seems that way in this situation), I would get only two speakers. If it doesn't limit your speaker choices monetarily, then I would get surround sound as well, and you can always justify it as a business expense to yourself - think of all the clients/associates/partners you could entertain if it is both a theater room and a listening room. Good luck!

cyclebrain
cyclebrain's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
Joined: Jun 16 2006 - 11:40pm
Re: Stereo vs Surround Sound?

As soon as I have more than two ears, I'll get more than a two channel system.
Sorry, just being silly. I have a surround system also but didn't spend much on it compared to my 2 channel system because to me, movie surround is made up of a bunch of sounds that are completely unrealistic and so over done as to be stupid. Why waste money to reproduce something unaccurate?

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 hours 55 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Re: Stereo vs Surround Sound?


Quote:
As soon as I have more than two ears, I'll get more than a two channel system.
Sorry, just being silly. I have a surround system also but didn't spend much on it compared to my 2 channel system because to me, movie surround is made up of a bunch of sounds that are completely unrealistic and so over done as to be stupid. Why waste money to reproduce something unaccurate?

Straw man argument. On the 2ch system, you listen to music which, apparently, you care about. On the MCH system, you listen to movies which you do not find satisfying or accurate.

How about comparing them with the same source? I believe the OP was asking about music.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading