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Hi Fi Guy new to home theatre -- What to get?

 

CanukInAPickle
Unregistered guest
Dear eCoustics.com forum folk,

I'm hoping to jump into the home theatre world and I'm hoping some of you would be able to give me some advice. I've been into Hi-Fi gear for a while now but am only just learning the nuances of Home Theatre. Currently my system contains a NAD 2 Channel Integrated AMP (C370) with two Energy C-5 Speakers and the rest of my components being NAD also (I'm a serious NAD fan).

My problem is this -- It seems like one has to have a lot more money to spend to get an equal level of quality in the home theatre world than in the two channel world which I suppose is fair due to, well the extra channels.

I'm on a budget of about $1000 CDN and I'm wondering what you all suggest I buy to start into this market. Would it be stupid to buy a centre channel and a reciever and just run with 3 channels untill I have more money in my budget to buy the sub/surrounds or would that be pointless? Also, I'd like to continue using my C370 to power my Left and Right C-5s. If I got a reciever I'd want one with pre-outs so that I could connect the Left and Right Pre outs to the NAD C370 L+R Main ins. Also, can I do this with a Y cable so as to connect both the C370 Pre outs AND the theatre reciever L+R pre outs to the C370 Main ins or is this a bad Idea? I'd like to keep using the C370 for my 2 channel components you see.

Anyway, $1000CDN -- what should I do with it. Help!

P.S. I found eCoustics.com a while back and browse but have not yet posted. It's a wonderful forum!
 

Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 221
Registered: Oct-04
Buy a receiver. I'm in Canada too and the prices are terrible compared to the States. If you can drive across the border and pick one up the US/CDN exchange isn't bad right now, just leave the spare tire at home if you hate taxes, wink, wink.

The NAD T763 or 773 if you want to exceed your budget. First make sure you get one with a Ver. 2 sticker on the box. Second, while the NAD line holds up their great musical presentation from their 2 channel line, their A/V receivers have been plagued with faulty units with hissing, humming noises, and loss of channel output. If you buy in the US, test your unit in the store with all channels driven to at least make sure it doesn't have any QC issues, even if it's Ver. 2.

As an alternative to NAD, I'd also recommend Harman Kardon, and Pioneer Elite, which both mate well with your speakers.

In terms of buying order, I tend to recommend:

1) Fronts
2) Sub
3) Surrounds
4) Centre
5) Rear Surrounds for 7.1, or centre for 6.1

While the centre is important, the others are more important IMO. Just make sure if you don't have a centre to turn off that channel output in the receiver's menus. This will send all dialogue and centre channel output to the fronts.

For centre speaker I'd recommend the CC-3 over the CC-1, while it's expensive it's equally impresive. Energy makes great subs, especially with their top 12 inch model. SVS and Hsu are more competetive at the price point unless you can get a good deal. The drivers in SVS are very hard to beat without spending $2000. If you can save up enough, you could buy C-7 or C-9s (Make sure you have lots of amp power for the C-9s) for the fronts and move the C-5s to the surrounds, or better yet to the surround back L/R positions eventually and buy Energy's surround speakers.
 

CanukInAPickle
Unregistered guest
Thanks Kano,

Your post was very valuable -- especially the order in which to buy items as well as the options to propose for receivers. Any thoughts on the NAD C370 and 'Y' Cable issue I mention in my first post? .. or anyone else for that matter? :-)

Thanks again!
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 2689
Registered: Dec-03
Canukin,

"Also, can I do this with a Y cable so as to connect both the C370 Pre outs AND the theatre reciever L+R pre outs to the C370 Main ins or is this a bad Idea?"

I don't quite follow, but am not familiar with the C370 - is it not an integrated amp? Generally it is a OK to split outputs but a bad idea to join two inputs.

For an "upgrade" from stereo, I think you can get three-channel amps (Naim does one) to add to the two channels you are pleased with, but these items are rare and usually expensive.

I would agree with Kano about getting an NAD A/V receiver. The newer ones have a "Stereo direct" feature which really means there is no trade-off of sound quality from putting the stereo signal through a pre-amp-surround-processor stage. You can also do that be using the pre-amp stage of your existing amp to feed the "Ext 5.1" input on the receiver. I do that with an NAD 1000 stereo pre-amp and a T760 receiver. It also means you have a phono input; these are missing from NAD A/V receivers.

If you are mostly into listening to music, and then playing DVDs, would change the order of priorities for the upgrade.

1. The source. You do not mention if you have a player. If not, consider the NAD T533 with six-channel analogue out from a hi-res DAC. It also brings you DVD-Audio. I give my L and R channels from that to the stereo pre-amp, then take the tape output to the "Ext 5.1" on the receiver. It improves CD sound, as well as giving six-channel DVD-A and DVD-V. You could do the same with the C370.

2. The 5.1 receiver OR another two-channel or three-channel amp. I am personally not convinced about 6.1, 7.1 etc, and there are almost no discs with more than 5.1, and, if you have one (e.g Return of the King Extended with DTS 6.1) your player/receiver will give the rear centre signal to the two surrounds, anyway.

3. Two more speakers for "surrounds". You can then set the channels on the player to give 4.0. Nothing is lost - the centre channel is distributed to the main L and R speakers, as is the "Sub" (LFE; ".1") channel. If your existing speaker are not full-range, consider using them as surrounds, and getting their big brothers for new front Left and Right. It is probably cheaper than getting two more "surround" speakers togther with an active sub., and is likely to sound better.

4. A centre speaker if you really feel something is missing. IMHO these can cause more problems than they solve for music; you have to change the balance for different discs.

5. If your main speakers are full-range or reasonable-range you do not really need an active sub at all. the active sub can add something to special effects in movies, but is usually, again, more of a headache that and asset for music, where, if you get everything right, its effect is usually marginal.

NAD receivers have all sorts of connection possibilities, including preamp outputs and inputs for all channels.

Having said that, it depends on what you are going to use your system for. The big step up, in my opinion, is from 2.0 (stereo) to 4.0, and to the high resolution you get on DVD-Audio discs.

That reflects my priorities. Others have others.
 

CanukInAPickle
Unregistered guest
This is a clarification regarding my Y Cable question:

The reason I wanted to do this is that the NAD C370 is a 120Wpc Preamp/Amp and I don't think if I get a receiver I'll be able to afford that kind of power across all channels -- nor do I expect to need it for the surrounds. Since the NAD c370 has, a Pre-Out and Main-in terminal for each channel I was wondering if, with 'Y' cables I could take both the Pre-Outs on the C370 AS WELL as the Pre-Outs for the Left and Right channels on a Surround receiver and connect them to the Main in on the C370. That way I can continue to use the 370 as always but for movies, SACD, or DVD-A I can just use the amp-section to power the Left and Right channels while using the receiver I might buy to run the rest.

John: In regards to my source I have an early Toshiba DVD with coaxial digital out for DTS and Dolby. The rest of my sources (My existing NAD CD Player, Tuner, etc. connect to my C370 and I'd like to continue doing that although perhaps that is not nessicary with the 'stereo direct' circuity you mention the NAD recievers have. In that case maybe it makes sense just to use the amp section of the C370)

John and Kano -- a big thank you for your advice.

Iain - Aka CanukInAPickle

-------
PS if anyone cares the specs for the 370 are hosted by NAD here: http://207.228.230.231/info/NAD_C370.pdf
 

Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 224
Registered: Oct-04
Hmmm... I think you're confused how it will work.

Pre-out on the receiver to the main in on the C370 (With RCAs). Speaker wire from the C370 to the front left and right channels. You're done, full 120WPC available to the fronts.
 

CanukInAPickle
Unregistered guest
Hey Kano,

Yes.. that's exactly what I want for the Receiver part -- but I still want the C370 to function as is... (currently the pre-out on the back of the C370 is connected directly to the Main-In on the C370. I'd like to still do this while also connecting the reciever L+R Pre Outs to the C370 Main in -- thus two sets of RCA connections from the L+R Preouts on BOTH devices going into the C370.

You see I'd like to continue using the preamp in that unit for my CD and Tuner playback as I've done in the past while using the amp section for DVDs and SACDs/DVD-As.

Maybe I"m just being overly confusing! Thanks anyway!
 

Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 225
Registered: Oct-04
"(currently the pre-out on the back of the C370 is connected directly to the Main-In on the C370."

I don't understand why you would do that but if it works now it will work with the receiver. Plug your CD player directly into the C370, and the DVD into the receiver.
 

CanukInAPickle
Unregistered guest
Hello All,

Just wanted to let you know that I picked up a NAD 753 -- Couldn't afford a bigger one -- as per Kano and John's suggestion. I havn't had it long but so far it rocks. I'm using my NAD C370 Amp section to give me 120W/chan for the main left and right speakers while using it for the surrounds (don't yet own a centre).

I HAVE noticed a faint hiss that I've never experienced with my old NAD stereo preamp/amp. The strange thing is it starts as soon as you turn the volume knob to -74db and doesn't actually get any louder as you turn it up -- it seems constant at least till you get up to -10 or so. Weird. I realize there is a long thread about this on this board so I'm off to do some reading. It's not horrible but I like to listen to music quietly sometimes and it is noticable.

Thanks again.

CanukInAPickle
 

matrix
Unregistered guest
Just bought the Toshiba 52" DLP with Sony surround sound. The salesman was really pushing the Power filter for the hefty price of 399. I read the specs on the TV and it has plenty of filters of its own. Any suggestions.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 233
Registered: Oct-04
Don't buy monster.
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