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Buying new HT rig - need advice!

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  • Buying new HT rig - need advice!

    I'm being relocated and I'm going to use some of my relo cash to get a new HT rig. I currently have a 1st gen Sony Blu-Ray player and a cheap Pioneer receiver with some DIY Dayton-8 speakers, and I want to chuck the whole thing and start from the ground up. Listening duties are about 60-40 HT-music with concert vids and music files from a HTPC via coax and/or optical links. A lot of the video and almost all of the audio will come from the HTPC. My budget is ~$2K (not including HTPC, TV, etc. - just audio & Blu-Ray player), possibly a bit more if needed. Of course, I'd like to get the most bang for my bucks :T (don't we all!)

    I will likely build Paul C's "Swopes" at some point, but it will be a while before I can get that (maybe a long while - I'm not very good with wood - wires, yes; wood, not so much) so I'm looking at some Wharfedale Diamond 9 speakers to "tide me over" until I can buy/build better. Total 5.1 cost is < $800 from TSO. Unf. I can't find any dealers in SoCal (or Denver, or Chicago, which I travel to frequently) so I can audition them, but for the small money it may be worth the gamble. Thoughts? Alternatives? How about some of the 30-day-in-home-trial Internet vendors like Aperion Audio?

    Blu-Ray (/CD/DVD) player:
    Is a high-end BRP from (say) Oppo, Cambridge Audio, etc. worth the premium price? A PS3 or an OEM BR drive in the HTPC would be LOTS cheaper, but video and audio quality is the real goal here (within budget contraints, of course).

    Integrated Amplifier:
    Onkyo TX-NR708, Marantz SR6005, etc. (any other recommendations?) Given my budget, I can't really pop for a CA Azur 650R or the Emotiva separates, but if it's a huge step up, maybe I can find the extra cash, or upgrade later. I've poked around on Audiogon, but things have changed a lot recently, so I think I'd rather buy new than do the research to make a good used buy (but feel free to help me out here! ). I am limiting my Integrated choices to those with pre- outs so I have the option to add an external amp later.

    Now here's where I get a bit puzzled: there seems to be a lot of overlap between the digital DAC/vid processing in the player, and that done in the pre/processor/integrated amp. If the -amp has the processing goodies, why pay the premium price tag for a BR/CD/DVD player that has the same functionality? I've been eying the Twisted Pear Buffalo II DAC - would a DIY/outboard DAC such as that reduce the need for a high-end BR player?

    I've been lurking over in Mission Possible for a while now, but I never had the fundage to actually BUY something until now. I know it's a very limited budget, but I'd like to get something decent now, that will also be a good foundation for later upgrades. Any links, explanations, advice, comments, etc. are MOST appreciated. ;x( Thanks!!

  • #2
    Hi Netman.....your budget is tight!. I would go with the Marantz amp over the Onkyo. Just make sure it has HDMI and decodes the DTS-HD hi rez style sound formats. Get the Oppo BDP-93 for a BD/CD/ DVD player. The PS3 will give you great BD video performance but that's it. As a CD/DVD player it kinda' sucks!.

    As for speakers, that's a personal thing. I've heard that Wharfdale's are good but have never actually auditioned any. At your budget, you would be looking at the likes of Energy, Polk, KEF, PSB etc. All relatively good speakers but the choice is yours in the end based on your sound preferences. Remember though, any speaker you choose is going to sound VERY different in your listening area as opposed to where you heard it at the store.

    Good luck!
    Dan Madden :T


    • #3
      Almost all of my music will be coming from my HTPC (via SPDIF). I rip all my CDs to either FLAC or Apple Lossless and will stream them, so audio performance from the BRP is not a huge deal.

      Yes, this is a tight budget, but if I go 50/50 on the speakers vs. the BRP/amp I hope to be able to get some decent stuff. The Onkyo receiver I mentioned is $569 at Newegg and the Marantz SR5005 is about the same, which leaves me ~$400 for the Oppo BRP (for example). I'd rather spend a bit less on speakers, but stilll decent - planning to upgrade later, and get better gear on the electronic side of things.

      Thanks for the help! :T


      • #4
        If you're streaming your music from an HTPC, then store your movies there too, buy a PS3 and forget buying the Oppo. A PS3 does a great job, and you don't really need both.

        I'd also go the Marantz over the Onkyo. Generally, its better to spend more on speakers than the amp, one tends to keep speakers longer, and they don't get outdated as fast.
        - Mike

        Main System:
        B&W 802D, HTM2D, SCMS
        Classé SSP-800, CA-2200, CA-5100


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