General discussion

Building a better monster

So, my 7.1 A/V center is toast. That's the bad news. The good news is the speakers (however pathetic they are) including the subwoofer are OK. More good news is that I am ready to build an upgraded AV center. That is where I need some advice. I am an avid music listener (no Mp3's for this guy) as well as a BluRay/DTS format junkie. I want to build the best multi purpose platform to create a personal masterbatorium. Unfortuantely, the surround sound piece will have to wait as I cant introduce the bowel shaking sound in my current environment.
My source of entertainment is my Dell XPS420 with BD, Radeon 3400 HD Graphics/7.1 Channel sound. Tons of Ram and a 2.33 Ghz processor. I have 300 gigs of music in FLAC format which represents my music library. My outputs are TOSLINK with integrated 7.1 AND of course HDMI 7.1 output.
For starters I'm just interested in getting my music playing again, but with that I want to buy something that I can build upon to create my surround system. More than brands or products, Im interested in understanding the best CONFIGURATION of Amps, PreAmps, and additional enhancements that I can purchase in stages, with the final stage being a new speaker platform.
Thanks for reading through this jibberish and thank you in advance for your feedback.



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What's your ultimate, total budget going to be?

IMHO, it's not worth getting into separate pre-amps, etc. (over a high end AV receiver) until we start to know about what your ultimate budget for each 'stage' might be. IOW, if you are only down the road going to by buying speakers that say 'meh', then why bother with audiophile grade separates when you can do quite well with a more integrated AV or HT receiver.

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Total budget

I'm looking at spending about $5K over the next year or two. Additionally, I'm not opposed to buying gently used components. I would be willing to spend up to $1K on this first phase of getting my music collection back in use.

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Thoughts, since you are a FLAC person ;)

Have you given any consideration to removing the PC from the equation? With that budget, I can start to see benefits from working with a dedicate player. Ideally, if your focus is on FLAC (something I can relate to with my own collection), you might start looking into some of the various digital media components that do a spectacular job playing back high end digital audio files. Here's one example from NAD-

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Phase one complete
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Why don't you first figure out what you *need*(?)

Then, after those deliberations, pull the trigger on a good deal in the marketplace, new or used.

What features on the newer receivers are you looking for? Maybe go into that a little more. Are you looking for features like ARC (audio return channel), AirPlay (for iOS devices), 3D, ethernet/USB ports, etc.? (The Sherwood does look nice, btw.)

samkh's advice to look at fry's (etc.) is useful. They do have a good stable of products. A new Yamaha for example would run approximately the same price with all the latest features.

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Like I said, Ill buy discounted stuff

Ran across this gem at a 70% discount off retail. NEW. Reviews seemed positive though it may be lacking some of the latest tech compatibility features, I have definitely stepped it up on product quality. Paid $500

Please let me know your thoughts.

This saves me an a$$load of money to put towards high quality speaker selection. I've got $4500 left in my budget. Suggestions?

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$500 for a 2 yr old model Sherwood!!!

You can do better, A LOT BETTER, shopping at Fry's which is clearing out many receivers. Check their website and availability.

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Couldn't disagree more

Frys offered no where near the chassis and foundation of the Sherwood. Call me old school because I remember Sherwood as an elite. They had more bells and whistles in other recievers, but I already have that in my bada$$ PC. You are defintely right that they are offering some great deals. I like my choice and like I said earlier, I'm looking forward to matching up a great set of speakers. Any suggestions?

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read this
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I seen similar products in the past but were always well out of my budget range. at 599 ea., these are doable.

Thanks for the lead!!

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A PC is not a real audio component

Nor, is it intended as such. Keep that in mind when you are building your whole system. W/ a 5K budget, you can certainly afford to remove the PC entirely.

That said, it might be useful for you to return to your frame of mind up top in the first post in this thread. You seemed more open minded and ready to learn instead of deciding what you wanted in 15 minutes because you saw a discounted brand.

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IF a PC is not real audio component then streaming is even less. I run FLAC for music through various codecs and I can assure you I get as good as CD quality on playback. I understand there are other implications with this. but if I have the choice to stream or run from my PC, I wont stream simply due to file compression and lossy performance.
BluRay playback is once again based on software and hardware.
Perhaps you can further enlighten me on the downfalls of both and offer some alternatives.
Thanks for your feedback.

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See my post above

The NAD unit I showed you as an example (and others) can outperform your Dell in the high quality audio streaming dept. Understand, while a PC is indeed a 'swiss army knife' and very useful, that's part of the problem. A dedicated streaming/playback unit does't have to multi-task and does not attempt to 'connect to the mothership' since it's mostly standalone device.

You are preaching to the choir <pointing to TB drives in corner w/ FLAC files>Wink. Getting CD quality (or greater!) is amazing to say the least. But what do you mean when you say you 'run FLAC for music through various codecs'(?) Could you elaborate on this a little? For example, I sometimes will use dbpoweramp to convert FLAC files to 320kbs MP3s in some circumstances for use on iOS devices. With a dedicated (component type, not) streamer, you can continue to use the high quality files (and worse MP3s) as you see fit. They simply access your network storage, or in some cases, have built in options depending on brand/model.

"BluRay playback is once again based on software and hardware."

Could you also elaborate on what you mean? The situation is the same for playing back Blu Ray discs as it would be for playing back audio files. A dedicated Oppo player can spank the crap out any Blu Ray drive for a PC. At your price point, that would be my suggestion if you are building your system gradually. Playback your BD content via PC for now, but once you discover Oppo, you won't go back Wink.

Find a good value on a feature driven receiver with the bells/whistles you need, add some good quality speakers you have tested with your own ears, then add dedicated devices later on as money becomes available.

Sites such as AVSforum to learn more about the intricacies of these devices.

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I see

After doing some research I see your points. My PC is merely at best a raw data receptical which doesn't have the expandability of enhancement and resource dedication to really create summary. Correct me if Im wrong. The OPPO BDP-93 would be a place to run my FLAC (through a dedicated resource) while being the source of BluRay play as well?
I still question streaming, compressed file protocol when it comes to music and video. My new receiver has upscaling to 1080p, but I havent grasped that piece.

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Indeed, the Oppo could handle FLAC (and many other) files too. It's admittedly the one piece of it that I haven't had much of a chance to experiment with. If you can wait a little longer, the next Oppo unit coming out is supposed to handle FLAC via a USB port instead of via disc. Where the Oppo units truly shine though is w/ Blu Ray.

Why the doubts of playing back MP3 files from a streaming device? You might be surprised at what the results really are in real world terms.

Keep in mind that upscaling can be a mixed bag. I am still of the mindset that it's hard to insert information that was never there in the first place and get it right. Some folks like it though.

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