Thread: Multichannel systems in Europe/UK

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Post by bonzo75 November 5, 2014 (1 of 11)
Hi, is there anyone in Europe, especially Western Europe, who uses Mch systems for listening to music, especially classical music? Even better if you are in the UK. What are your systems? I am interested in listening to a few well set up Mch systems for music, and apart from Datasat Dirac RS20i Auro 3d systems, haven't found any in the UK (most are the Denon/Marantz types made for hime cinema).

Interested if anyone has something like an exasound e28 or Mch player and plays Mch CDs/downloads

I have mostly been a high end 2-ch guy but want to investigate this more due to positive experiences with a Datsat 13.4 Auro.

Post by bonzo75 November 5, 2014 (2 of 11)
As a background I have been active on Whatsbestforum, and UK forums like hifiwigwam and Pinkfish. In 2-channel I am a lover of Stats and Planar speakers (Like Logans, Apogees, soundlabs, and high quality horns). Had audio research reference amps.

What I am trying to find out is if a good Mch system can beat a good 2-ch system. I haven't liked the Meridian before

Post by Fitzcaraldo215 November 5, 2014 (3 of 11)
I am here in Philadelphia, not in Europe, unfortunately. As a long time classical music lover and audiophile for many decades going back to vinyl, there is no question in my mind. Mch, which I discovered 7 years ago, is a huge leap forward over stereo toward better reproducing the realism of a live concert. That and DSP room EQ are two of the very biggest audio advances I have ever by far heard over those decades.

The first time I heard them together in my music room, it was the biggest and most life changing audio experience ever for me. I played the Philadelphia Orchestra Mahler 6th with Eschenbach. I had been there when it was recorded live. In about 30 seconds, I was smitten. I will never forget it. The degree of concert hall realism was suddenly so much more like I had only dreamed about and searched for in vain over many decades. My stereo front end at the time was no slouch: Levinson and Theta Digital. And, the rest of my system was very revealing: Martin Logan 'stat hybrids and Krell Class A amplification. Mch plus EQ ran circles around stereo.

That experience was through an Integra(Onkyo) HT prepro from a $169 Oppo player, a real and unexpected eye opener as to price/performance. The Mch front end was so much less expensive than my stereo front end had been. I had been happy with newer, upgraded Integras with Audyssey MultEQ XT/32 with an Audyssey Pro calibration plus newer Oppo players until this year. I have 7 Martin Logan 'stat hybrids with amplification by Spectron Audio, Bryston and Parasound Halo and a beautiful JL Audio f113 sub. No stereo I have heard since, including some highly praised multi hundreds of thousand $ systems, comes even satisfyingly close to my now jaundiced ears and considerable live concert experience.

Then this year, I ventured into Mch PC playback via Dirac Live EQ and the ExaSound e28. Now, this is really, really outstanding reproduction elevated quite a few unmistakable notches above my previous setup. I love it. It is way beyond my wildest dreams. The PC sounds better than any player I know of, Dirac is better sounding than Audyssey, and the e28 is extraordinary, the biggest single contributor to my sonic improvement.

I have not heard the Datasat, and it is beyond any price I would be willing to pay. It is difficult to envision it sounding better than what I have. And, I expect its sonics might be somewhat limited by audio over HDMI. That is I think a major plus for the e28, as it uses asynchronous USB into a chassis free from any other potential electronic interference and interactions, video and DSP circuits, etc., during the critical d-a.

There is Auro, and I have high hopes for it, if it can survive the format war with Dolby Atmos, DTS, etc., or at least coexist with them. I prefer avoiding any artificial Mch processing with music, so it has little appeal to me now. And, it might take some considerable time before there are sufficient discrete 3D music recordings in Auro to make the jump worthwhile. But, I am keeping my eye on it. Time will tell.

I correspond with a very nice bloke in Bournemouth. He has the top Denon prepro and DLink player, Audyssey with a Pro calibration, and Quad 'stats. He loves Mch. I have not heard his setup, but I expect it is a very good example of high quality Mch sound. I could put you in touch with him. I am quite sure he would welcome you. Please PM me via the email address in my profile here (link below), if interested.

Fitzcaraldo215

Post by Iain November 5, 2014 (4 of 11)
bonzo75 said:

Hi, is there anyone in Europe, especially Western Europe, who uses Mch systems for listening to music, especially classical music? Even better if you are in the UK. What are your systems? I am interested in listening to a few well set up Mch systems for music, and apart from Datasat Dirac RS20i Auro 3d systems, haven't found any in the UK (most are the Denon/Marantz types made for hime cinema).

...

It would be a serious mistake to dismiss Denon altogether based solely on the perception of average sound quality through the complete line. That may be true for the mid-range and below offerings, but their top two models are marvellous and have great multi-channel sound quality.

If you haven't heard a properly set-up multi-channel system with either the AVR-X4100, the AVR-4520 or it's successor, the AVR-X5200, you don't know what you're missing.

http://www.sevenoakssoundandvision.co.uk/

Post by Marpow November 5, 2014 (5 of 11)
Fitzcaraldo215 said:

I am here in Philadelphia, not in Europe.

I am here in San Francisco, not in Europe. My MCH is expanding weekly, can't seem to get enough. I will be venturing into classical SACD MCH very shortly.
I have just this last weekend upgraded from my older A/V receiver McIntosh MX132 to my brand new McIntosh MX121. The biggest difference going to all HDMI and the Audyssey MultEQ® XT which will calibrate to compensate for your home theaterís unique acoustical properties, delivering the clearest and most balanced sound possible.

I tried analogue inputs during set up and I preferred the HDMI input/output as I seemed to get more bass and depth.

I currently feel some tweaking needs to be done either with EQ set up within the main menu or something else. Sounds perfect for TV, Movies and multi channel, but I am not quite satisfied for stereo. Lots of bells and whistles just haven't had time to press them all.

Post by ArTourter November 5, 2014 (6 of 11)
I would tend to agree with the previous comments regarding Denon/Marrantz. I have the X4000 with the dbt-3313 and really enjoy it for music ( sacd, Blu-Ray Audio and DVD-audio - even RBCDs can sound rather nice). From the listening sessions I made before going for my system, the Marrantz are a bit more musical than the Denon but a bit more expensive and I wanted to spend the difference on nicer speakers. I would have loved to be able to afford the x4520 as the sound from it is amazing.

I haven't listened to this years crop of receivers but from what I have read, with added support for DSD file streaming D&M are definitely still thinking about music when building their high end receivers.

Post by bonzo75 November 6, 2014 (7 of 11)
Fitzcaraldo215 said:

I am here in Philadelphia, not in Europe, unfortunately. I correspond with a very nice bloke in Bournemouth. He has the top Denon prepro and DLink player, Audyssey with a Pro calibration, and Quad 'stats. He loves Mch. I have not heard his setup, but I expect it is a very good example of high quality Mch sound. I could put you in touch with him. I am quite sure he would welcome you. Please PM me via the email address in my profile here (link below), if interested.

Fitzcaraldo215

Hi Fitzcaraldo, Great to hear your experience. I am a Martin Logan lover, and active on the ML forum.

So are you saying your current speakers are still MLs?

Can you please explain to me your set up, you run files into exasound, what is your pre and power? Also, how do you set up the surround hybrids, do they need to be close to the wall?

Do you think front two as MLs, paired up with cheaper box speakers for surrounds will work?

Thanks all, I will try the Denon/Marantz out

Post by Iain November 6, 2014 (8 of 11)
ArTourter said:

I would tend to agree with the previous comments regarding Denon/Marrantz. I have the X4000 with the dbt-3313 and really enjoy it for music ( sacd, Blu-Ray Audio and DVD-audio - even RBCDs can sound rather nice). From the listening sessions I made before going for my system, the Marrantz are a bit more musical than the Denon but a bit more expensive and I wanted to spend the difference on nicer speakers. I would have loved to be able to afford the x4520 as the sound from it is amazing.

I haven't listened to this years crop of receivers but from what I have read, with added support for DSD file streaming D&M are definitely still thinking about music when building their high end receivers.

Thanks for the information as implementation of DSD file playback is my top priority.

I've been doing a bit of reading here on the American forum:
http://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-receivers-amps-processors/1616010-official-2014-denon-atmos-xt32-model-thread-x4100-x5200-x7200.html

... and this item stands out among the rest under "What Else is New This Year" heading:
"...
* Networking and WiFi built in, with support for DSD and hi-rez (192kHZ) FLAC and WAV files via network stream or USB
... "

Maybe it's time to upgrade my AVR-3313 (the immediate predecessor to your machine), to the AVR-X4100.

Now my final issue is will it do gapless and multi-channel playback of FLAC or DSD files via USB or LAN?

EDIT: IIRC, gapless playback via USB was the problem of the DBT-3313. Multi-channel playback via USB is definitely the problem of AVR-3313 as it has no problems with gapless playback. Let's hope Denon have this sorted by now. : )

Post by Fitzcaraldo215 November 6, 2014 (9 of 11)
bonzo75 said:

Hi Fitzcaraldo, Great to hear your experience. I am a Martin Logan lover, and active on the ML forum.

So are you saying your current speakers are still MLs?

Can you please explain to me your set up, you run files into exasound, what is your pre and power? Also, how do you set up the surround hybrids, do they need to be close to the wall?

Do you think front two as MLs, paired up with cheaper box speakers for surrounds will work?

Thanks all, I will try the Denon/Marantz out

Yes, all my speakers are ML hybrids, except the sub. I have aging Prodigy's up front, two Clarity's, two Script-i's and a Stage center. The fronts and center are about 5 ft. from the wall behind, the surrounds and backs within 0.5-1.5 ft. I would put the surrounds and backs further out from the wall if I could. I can't, but I might try absorbing treatments behind them. I think dipoles ideally need space behind where possible. Dirac Live displays impulse response, and the fronts and center impulses are beautiful with Dirac correction. The sides/rears are not due to the nearness of the walls, I believe. Adding absorption behind is really just tweaking, because the sound is really excellent as is.

I believe that identical speakers all around are ideal. Next best is similarly voiced speakers from the same manufacturer, which is what I used. Something like Dirac, Audyssey, etc. would, perhaps, help overcome issues with speakers that are more dissimilar - dipoles and monopoles mixed - as full range EQ voices all channels near identically according to the target curve. Incidentally, I very carefully compared the sound of the Clarity surrounds to my Prodigies in stereo when I got them. They did indeed sound virtually identical with EQ off, except for the deepest bass, which is handled by my sub anyway. With MLs, the dipole drive element is the same across models, except in size, and the xover to the bass driver is pushed downwards in the larger models. So, I believe ML stat hybrids are especially successful with mixing models of different size.

You might or might not need a sub if your main speakers already go very deep into the bass. But, it is usually a good idea because a sub can be positioned for optimum bass without compromising imaging from large main speakers. And, more subs provide more uniform bass. But, I cross everything over to my single sub at 60-100 Hz with very satisfying results. If I were to rebuild my system, I would likely use smaller speakers all around with multiple subs.

My amplification is a mix as described in my previous post. I do not believe in using Mch amps on a single chassis with the resulting long speaker cables. I prefer long balanced interconnects instead. So, all mine are within 8ft. or less, amp to speaker, using 3 stereo amps plus a Bryston monoblock for the center.

I use no prepro. My PC using JRiver and Dirac Live is my prepro. Only the DAC is external via USB. The amps are connected directly to the DAC. I use an iPad with JRemote for music-server-syle GUI selection from the hard drive, volume control, etc. However, there is no easy way to get the digital output of an external player into the PC via Mch HDMI or other means due to copy protection, licensing, etc. Playback can only occur from sources internal to the PC - hard drive, internal BD/DVD/CD drive (w. Software) - or via networked connections as I have done with a cable card tuner device for TV. So, this setup has its disadvantages in input flexibility compared to a prepro which would handle traditional external players, cable boxes, etc.

I am no PC hobbyist. It has been somewhat complex to set up and get working, and also it is less stable than a prepro. I am still tweaking it. It became a challenge and a labor of love over much of the past year. But, the payoff is the very best sound I have ever heard myself anywhere, and without breaking the bank, I might add. It did cost more than a basic prepro, like a Marantz or Integra, mainly because of the excellent e28.

I do not think there is a way to use the ExaSound without a PC. Also, Dirac Live needs a PC to be able to handle hi rez sampling rates > 48k, unless you have the Datasat. These two elements - e28 and Dirac - are, I think, the keys to better sound than most all available prepros, awesome sound, in fact. Incidentally, video quality is top notch, as well.

It is just not for everyone to assemble the PC platform and software to handle them. A few systems integrators are beginning to pop up here in the US who will create such an HT and music PC, but PC hardware is not a big issue. My PC is very ordinary, though powerful. Mine is not silent either. It is in the next room, as noisy as it wants to be. Silent PCs are much more expensive. A suitable non- silent PC could be bought from Dell, etc. with just a few things to watch out for in the configuration. It is software selection, integration, learning, etc. that is the far greater challenge.

Btw, my sound with my Integra prepro was indeed very good to start with. Many sophisticated listeners thought so in my home, even those with much bigger system budgets. But, it is now at a considerably higher level sonically, and then some. Some of those sophisticated listeners have been back, and they admit their jealousy. I have no thoughts whatsoever of going back.

I mentioned that Denon-based system in Bournemouth not because I think you should consider the Denon prepro or Quads. The Denon prepro is quite long in the tooth at this point, though it has had at least one major internal upgrade. It cannot be too much longer before Denon replaces it. I just thought you might want to further evaluate Mch vs. Stereo, EQ, etc. by audition on a very carefully set up system using dipoles and get the perspective of a very meticulous audiophile and classical music buff.

Long winded, I know. Perhaps you should PM me and we can continue the discussion privately.

Post by bonzo75 November 6, 2014 (10 of 11)
Hi Carl, I already PMed you afternoon my time on the email specified in your profile. This is an excellent post btw, kind of where I want to get to. You should also try the Janzen speakers, which are electrostats that can be pushed against the wall. May help in the rear/surrounds.

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