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robert_kc

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  1. I believe that an important issue is how music “should” sound when reproduced via a hi-fi system in the home. (IMO, “should” is often a confusing/misleading word that doesn’t distinguish between fact (e.g., what is written in the stars) vs. personal preference.) It seems to me that the answer is fundamentally different for classical music (and other music involving natural instruments that perform live) vs. music that is produced or altered via electronics. What is your benchmark for how the music that you enjoy “should” sound? What are your goals for your hi-fi system? I attend more than two dozen classical concerts per season, including full season tickets to the symphony, opera, and ballet, plus several performances of chamber music. The sound that I hear in my local symphony hall when listening to classical music, and in my local opera house when listening to operas, is 100% natural - i.e., no electronics are employed - no sound reinforcement system. (OTOH, electronic amplification is employed when pop music is performed in these venues.) Both my local symphony hall and opera house were purpose-built, and feature world class acoustics – and 100% “natural” sound. For me, the “work of art” was the live performance - not the product of a DAW software plug-in. My seats are mid-hall, in the front row of the first elevated section, so that I can see the performers, and hear beautiful “balanced” sound. For some compositions this involves 100+ orchestral instruments - and in a few cases a chorus of 100+ singers (e.g., Beethoven Symphony 9, and Brahms German Requiem). My observation when attending live classical concerts is that when seated mid-hall there is no pinpoint localization of instruments. Rather, the hall blends the sound. (I’ve closed my eyes when attending the symphony when sitting in my mid-hall seat, and I was unable to localize instruments on the stage.) My goal for my hi-fi systems is to create the illusion that I’m attending a live performance, when seated in my usual mid-hall seats. (IOW - addressing the point that several others have made - my goal is NOT to put an orchestra involving 100+ musicians - and a chorus involving 100+singers - in my living room – but rather to create the illusion that I’m in the concert hall.) Natural timbre, dynamic range, and frequency range are important to me in creating that illusion that I’m in the classical music hall – not “imaging”. Therefore, I don’t expect my home hi-fi system to produce some “soundstage gimmick” (e.g., ping-pong effect) for the large-scale classical music that I love. (I’m very pleased with the in-home experience delivered via modern performances/recordings (i.e., recorded in the last 15 years or so) of classical music that were captured and mastered in multi-channel (e.g., 5.1) hi-res (e.g., 24bit/192kHz) digital audio, and delivered via Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track, or an SACD’s 5.1 track. I prefer 6L6GC tube amps and Klipsch speakers.) OTOH, for a recording of a live performance of a string quartet (or, e.g., a jazz trio), the recording’s localization of the instruments might seem natural if your reference point (i.e., your benchmark) is a front row seat at the live performance. I wonder if the pinpoint imaging that some audiophiles tout as an outstanding feature of their hi-fi system is often when listening to popular music recordings? My understanding is that for many pop recordings there never was a live performance. Rather, the producers and the engineers use software tools (e.g., DAW software) to cobble together sounds (from different sources, created at different times) that they assign to left, center, or right. In this case, the final master recording was the first time the music was heard. In this case, how does the consumer know how the music “should” sound? (Unless the consumer was sitting near the DAW workstation, listening through the same monitors that the producers and engineers listened to.) FWIW/IMO there’s nothing wrong with the consumer wanting their recordings of popular music to “sound good”. As others in this thread have pointed out - some lovers of popular music may regard their recordings as a completely different musical experience compared with a live performance by the same band. Therefore, they don’t expect the recording and live performance to sound similar. You have to decide what makes the music that you love special. My 2.5 cents: Whether “imaging” is important depends on the genre of music, and your preferences for what you hear in your home. For the classical music I love, there are quality criteria for in-home music reproduction that are MUCH more important than “imaging”, based on my goal of creating the illusion that I’m in the symphony hall or opera house.
  2. Tom: Welcome to the forum! What genres of music do you listen to? What is your goal for your hi-fi system? Create the illusion that you’re at a live concert? If so, for what genre(s) of music? Low-volume-level, unobtrusive background music? Ear-bleed high-frequency? Thunderous bass? Freakish, pinpoint spatial imaging? Other? Which of the following recording formats do you plan to use? LP CD (Stereo-only. No multi-channel (e.g., 5.1) capability.) DVD (stereo and 5.1) DVD-Audio (stereo and 5.1) SACD (stereo and 5.1) Pure Audio Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus stereo track, and sometimes additional audio tracks) Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus stereo track, and sometimes additional audio tracks) Ultra HD Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus stereo track, and sometimes additional audio tracks) Hi-res downloads? 24bit/192kHz PCM (IME, stereo)? Hi-res DSD (stereo and 5.1)? The reason that I ask is that there’s a big difference in playing an LP of a “little girl with a guitar” in a small listening room, vs. delivering in a large listening room an experience that approximates the live performance of Mahler Symphony 2 based on a modern recording that features uncompromised dynamic range and frequency range such as a Blu-ray disc featuring an uncompressed DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track. Following is a link to my post where I provide my opinions about power requirements in more detail: Of course, adequate power is only one decision criterion for an amp. Accurately reproducing the timbre of orchestral instruments is important for classical music. FWIW – IMO – Klipsch speakers are well-served by tube amps (I prefer 6L6GC) for playing recordings of classical music (i.e., music for which the natural timbre of instruments is known). Electronically produced music is a different can of worms. (What is the natural timber of a digital audio workstation (DAW) software plug-in?) IMO, for electronically produced music, go with what sounds good to you.
  3. LOL. 😀 My bedroom hi-fi system exists to play one hi-res multi-channel SACD at low volume in the wee hours if I’m at the end of my rope because I’m in pain and I can’t sleep: Rachmaninoff’s “All Night Vigil”: This SACD sounds very good via my bedroom system’s 3.1 configuration and vintage Fisher tube amps. I can turn on both amps by saying “Hey Google, turn on Fisher 500.” (Fisher 500C drives the left & right speakers. Fisher TA 500 (AM/FM mono receiver) drives the center speaker. Powered subwoofer is connected to the Oppo universal player via RCA line-level connection.) When I press the “Power On” button for my Oppo player, the SACD starts playing automatically. I don’t have to turn on the lights or get out of bed to start the music. Obviously, the heat from the tube amps is more welcome during the winter. Here’s two excerpts from this recording via YouTube (i.e., lower quality than the SACD): Here’s a photo of my bedroom system: For low volume listening in the wee hours, it sounds great. And, these slender Klipsch speakers have beautiful wood veneer.
  4. Here's a link to my thoughts about amp power requirements:
  5. OP: FWIW, IMO you need to build a system that excels at playing the music you love, and do double-duty for Hollywood movies. This may sound simple – but the task varies based on genre of music. Recorded music will sound only as good as the quality of the recording. I strongly encourage you to try hi-res multi-channel music recordings. It might open a door to a whole new way for you to enjoy recorded music. Following are just a few examples of resources for hi-res recordings. (FWIW, I often buy Blu-ray and SACD discs from amazon.) On amazon.com, search for: "<genre> Blu-ray" and "<genre> SACD" https://concertsondvd.com/ https://www.hdtracks.com/ https://hraudio.net/ https://www.nativedsd.com/ https://www.highresaudio.com/en https://www.prestomusic.com Etc. A decades-old recording will not have state-of-the-art audio quality – even if it has been remastered. If you want to fully experience what hi-res digital can offer, you need to listen to a modern top-quality recording – not a decades old recording that has been remastered (particularly an old digital recording). A poor-quality (or low-bandwidth) recording can’t be magically transformed just by delivering it in a “hi-res” container. (If you pour a gallon of milk into a 55-gallon drum, it’s still only a gallon of milk.) Garbage-in/garbage-out. You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. I suggest searching amazon.com and concertsondvd.com for Blu-rays and SACDs for music you like, or would like to try. For any classical music fans reading this thread, IME Blu-ray delivers multiple benefits relative to the Redbook CD format: Multi-channel (e.g., 5.1) audio excels at delivering the full impact of large-scale classical music. Blu-ray can deliver hi-res audio up to 24bit/192kHz (vs. CD’s 16bit/44.1kHz). Blu-ray excels at delivering the natural timbre of orchestral instruments. (Classical music aficionados know how natural orchestral instruments sound.) I prefer audio/video classical music recordings to audio-only. Video is particularly relevant for visual art forms such as ballet and opera. Additionally, for orchestral concerts I enjoy seeing the conductor and musicians. And Blu-ray enables me to see beautiful concert halls all over the world that I otherwise would have never seen. Blu-ray is extremely valuable in delivering the libretto of an opera on the HDTV screen. (For example, providing an on-screen English translation of an opera sung in Italian.) Blu-ray can deliver richer on-screen menus, such as titles for each track. Blu-ray can provide “bonus materials”, including video interviews, documentaries, and still images. IME, modern Blu-ray recordings (played via my favorite tube amps, and large Klipsch speakers) do an excellent job of creating the illusion that I’m in the symphony hall or opera house – particularly compared with CDs. For anyone interested in Blu-ray audio/video recordings of classical music, following is a link to my thread on talkclassical.com: https://www.talkclassical.com/54011-blu-ray-videos-classical.html OP: Sorry if I’ve veered off topic by discussing classical music, but that’s what I’m knowledgeable about. I strongly encourage you to research state-of-the-art recordings for the music you’re interested in, and learn if multi-channel recordings (and Blu-ray audio/video concert recordings) are relevant to you. Even if the music you like is only available in stereo-only and audio-only, I encourage you to search hdtracks.com for hi-res stereo downloads. IMO – it would be a mistake to feed your La Scala with anything but the best quality recordings available.
  6. OP: What genres of music do you listen to? What types of music recordings? FWIW, for the classical music that I love, I MUCH prefer modern hi-res multi-channel recordings (e.g., Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1, SACD 5.1), and tube amps. I use my solid-state amps only for movies and when playing background music (vs. serious listening). If you listen to multi-channel music recordings, and you’re concerned about the sound from the center channel matching the main L&R, and you’ll use your stereo tube amp to drive the main L&R speakers for music, then I suggest using a tube amp to drive a La Scala center speaker (and possibly a single rear speaker). My use cases and installed systems may not be relevant to you, but I’ll share information about my system, for what it’s worth to you. Of my five hi-fi systems, four are multi-channel (4.2, 4.1 x 2, 3.1). For the classical music that I love, there are countless modern performances/recordings (i.e., performances recorded in the last 15 years or so) that were captured and mastered in multi-channel hi-res digital (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD), and delivered on a disc featuring DTS-HD MA 5.1 (e.g., Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray), or an SACD disc that features multi-channel DSD. I employ my Oppo UDP-205 (x2), BDP-105, and BDP-95 universal players’ internal audiophile-grade DACS and 5.1 analog audio outputs. Because the rear channels in classical recordings have little content (mostly audience applause), in my 4.1 and 4.2 systems I combine the Oppo’s rear channel outputs via an RCA Y-cable. (Oppo has verified that this is OK.) One vintage stereo tube amp drives the main left & right speakers. Another vintage stereo tube amp drives the center and single rear speaker. My approach may be unorthodox, but it works great. And – most important – it sounds fabulous for the classical music and opera that I love. Two of my systems have matching front, center, and left speakers: Basement (4.2): Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch RF-7 II. A single rear speaker is a Klipsch RF-7. Subwoofers: SVS SB16-Ultra and Klipsch R-115SW (connected via Y-adaptor). Source: Oppo UDP-205 for playing Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings. Amps: Scott 272, Inspire “Fire Bottle” SE Stereo Tube Amplifier HO, Scott 222C, Fisher KX-200, Scott 296, Pilot SA-260, Scott LK150, Altec 353A, Kenwood KR-9050. (This system also has a Schiit Loki tone-control. I can connect the power amps direct to the Oppo, or insert the Loki.) A patch panel allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and F/F RCA cables enable me to connect an amp to the Oppo (and a power amp to the Loki if I choose to do so). Chromecast Audio is connected via TOSLINK to the UDP-205 for internet radio. Bedroom (3.1): Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch WF-35. SVS SB-2000 Pro subwoofer. Source is an Oppo BDP-95 for playing Pure Audio Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings. (No TV.) Fisher 500C drives the left & right speakers. Fisher TA 500 (AM/FM mono receiver) drives the center speaker. Chromecast Audio for internet radio. Two of my systems each employ a Klipsch RC-64III center channel: TV room (4.1): Main front left & right speakers are Klipsch Palladium P-37F. Center: Klipsch RC-64III. Single rear: Klipsch RP-502S. Subwoofer: Klipsch P-312W. The source is an Oppo UDP-205 for playing Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings. I generally use vintage tube amps for music: Scott 399, Fisher X-1000, Scott 299C, McIntosh MX110Z / McIntosh MC240 or McIntosh MC225. I use solid-state amps for movies (and summertime): NAD C375BEE, and an NAD D 3045. A patch panel (banana plugs) allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and Niles AXP-1 RCA selector switches connect the Oppo to the amp. HDTV is connected via TOSLINK to the UDP-205 to play audio from broadcast TV via the hi-fi. Chromecast connected to the HDMI input of my UDP-205 for streaming video. Chromecast Audio is connected via analog audio to the NAD C375BEE for internet radio. Living room (4.1): Stereo speakers are Snell Type CV. Center: Klipsch RC-64III. Single rear: RP-502S. Subwoofer: Klipsch P-312W. The source components are Oppo BDP-105 for playing Blu-ray and SACDs (and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings), and Dual 1249 with Stanton 681EE equipped with a new Shibata stylus. Amps include a pair of McIntosh MC30s, Scott 296, McIntosh MX110Z / McIntosh MC275, a pair of Pilot HF-56 mono receivers, an NAD pre-amp and Acurus A250 power-amp for movies, and a McIntosh 2155 that can drive the center channel and single rear speaker or JBL L830s in the kitchen / dining room. A patch panel (banana plugs) allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and a F/F RCA cables enable me to connect an amp to the Oppo. Chromecast Audio is connected via analog audio to the NAD pre-amp for internet radio. Considering that you can accommodate a La Scala for center, that would undoubtedly be your best bet. You could implement 3.1, 4.1, or 5.1. If you decide on 3.1, and want to listen to multi-channel music via tube amps, then I suggest getting a mono tube amp to drive the center speaker. (Preferably with the same output tubes as your stereo amp.) If you decide on 4.1, I suggest installing whatever rear speaker fits you space. If your budget and space will accommodate two more La Scala (i.e., center and rear), that would be an excellent set-up. OTOH, a Heresy would undoubtedly be adequate for a rear speaker. Ideally, get a stereo tube amp for the center and rear speaker that is identical to your existing tube amp. IMO, the $64k question is your use cases. As I said earlier, for the classical music I love, I MUCH prefer modern hi-res multi-channel recordings (e.g., Blu-ray, SACD), and tube amps. (For movies, I use solid state amps.) Based on the genres of music that you prefer, your needs may vary. I hope this helps.
  7. Your Marantz SR5007 appears to be a relatively modern AVR. If you’ll connect a Blu-ray player to your AVR via HDMI for both audio and video, then you do not need a Blu-ray player with analog audio outputs. What types of discs and downloads do you want to play? CD (stereo only) DVD (stereo and 5.1) DVD-Audio (stereo and 5.1) SACD (stereo and 5.1) Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus stereo track, and sometimes additional audio tracks) Pure Audio Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus stereo track, and sometimes additional audio tracks) Ultra HD Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus stereo track, and sometimes additional audio tracks) Hi-res downloads: 24bit/192kHz PCM (stereo and 5.1), hi-res DSD (stereo and 5.1) If you do not need analog audio outputs, but you want a “universal player” (i.e., a player that will play all digital formats listed above), have you considered a Sony UBP-X800M2? The Sony UBP-X800M2 is a “universal player” with only an HDMI connection (i.e., no analog audio connections), supporting: Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, 3D and standard Blu-ray discs, SACDs, DVD-Audio, DVDs, CDs and rewriteable discs high-resolution digital music files via USB storage device; PCM files up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, and 2.8 MHz DSD files AAC, AIFF, ALAC, DSD (.dff and .dfs files), FLAC, MP3, WMA, and WAV audio file formats I don’t own a Sony UBP-X800M2. I own Oppo UDP-205 (x2), BDP-105, and BDP-95, because I need their support for multi-channel (e.g., 5.1, 7.1) analog audio connections, and support for all of the digital formats listed above. If you don’t need a Blu-ray player that provides analog audio outputs, and you don’t need support for any disc formats other than Blu-ray, (e.g., no SACD support), then it seems to me that there are many run-of-the-mill HDMI-only Blu-ray players (or Ultra HD Blu-ray player) that will meet your needs. Am I off track?
  8. The Panasonic DP-UB820 and DP-UB9000P1K specs list 7.1 analog audio outputs, which is useful to audiophiles who want to use traditional hi-fi amps (vs. an AVR connected via HDMI). However, the Panasonic DP-UB820 and DP-UB9000P1K do NOT support SACD or DVD-Audio, and it therefore does not provide 100% of the functionality of the Oppo universal players.
  9. This recording of “Concierto de Aranjuez” is from the following Blu-ray box set: Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting the Danish NSO Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1–9 Joaquín Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony), Op. 64, TrV 233 Excellent DTS-HD MA 5.0/5.1 audio, and 1080p video. IMO this box set is an excellent value – i.e., a lot of music for the money.
  10. My Oppo universal players are capable of pseudo-surround-sound (DTS Neo:6 Mode) generated via DSP from stereo recordings, however I don't use this feature. My Blu-ray and SACD classical recordings were recorded and mastered in hi-res-multi-channel, and the discs include a multi-channel (e.g. 5.1) audio track (in addition to a stereo track). I much prefer modern hi-res-multi-channel Blu-ray and SACD discs to CDs or LPs. I can play these modern hi-res-multi-channel recordings via traditional tube or solid-state hi-fi amps (as you can see in my earlier post) - no AVR involved.
  11. Thanks for your kind words about my hi-fi set-ups. Following is a description of my current systems that are capable of multi-channel (i.e., 4.2, 4.1, and 3.1). (I could implement 5.1 or 5.2 with tube amps, but I’m satisfied with a single rear channel, or none.) I don’t claim that these are the best systems in the world, but I’m happy with them, and with 3 of the systems I can tinker around with trying different amps. TV room: Main front left & right speakers are Klipsch Palladium P-37F. Center: Klipsch RC-64III. Single rear: Klipsch RP-502S. Subwoofer: Klipsch P-312W. The source is an Oppo UDP-205 for playing Blu-ray and SACD, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings. I generally use vintage tube amps for music: Scott 399, Fisher X-1000, Scott 299C, McIntosh MX110Z / McIntosh MC240 or McIntosh MC225. I use solid-state amps for movies (and summertime): NAD C375BEE, and an NAD D 3045. A patch panel (banana plugs) allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and Niles AXP-1 RCA selector switches connect the Oppo to the amp. HDTV is connected via TOSLINK to the UDP-205 to play audio from broadcast TV via the hi-fi. Chromecast connected to the HDMI input of my UDP-205 for streaming video. Chromecast Audio is connected via analog audio to the NAD C375BEE for internet radio. Basement: Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch RF-7 II. A single rear speaker is a Klipsch RF-7. Subwoofers: SVS SB16-Ultra and Klipsch R-115SW (connected via Y-adaptor). Source: Oppo UDP-205 for playing Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings. Amps: Scott 272, Inspire “Fire Bottle” SE Stereo Tube Amplifier HO, Scott 222C, Fisher KX-200, Scott 296, Pilot SA-260, Scott LK150, Altec 353A, Kenwood KR-9050. (This system also has a Schiit Loki tone-control. I can connect the power amps direct to the Oppo, or insert the Loki.) A patch panel allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and F/F RCA cables enable me to connect an amp to the Oppo, and a power amp to the Loki if I choose to do so. Chromecast Audio is connected via TOSLINK to the UDP-205 for internet radio. Living room: Stereo speakers are Snell Type CV. Center: Klipsch RC-64III. Single rear: RP-502S. Subwoofer: Klipsch P-312W. The source components are Oppo BDP-105 for playing Blu-ray and SACDs (and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings), and Dual 1249 with Stanton 681EE equipped with a new Shibata stylus. Amps include a pair of McIntosh MC30s, Scott 296, McIntosh MX110Z / McIntosh MC275, a pair of Pilot HF-56 mono receivers, an NAD pre-amp and Acurus A250 power-amp for movies, and a McIntosh 2155 that can drive the center channel and single rear speaker or JBL L830s in the kitchen / dining room. A patch panel (banana plugs) allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and a F/F RCA cables enable me to connect an amp to the Oppo. Chromecast Audio is connected via analog audio to the NAD pre-amp for internet radio. Bedroom: Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch WF-35. SVS SB-2000 Pro subwoofer. Source is an Oppo BDP-95 for playing Pure Audio Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings. (No TV.) Fisher 500C drives the left & right speakers. Fisher TA 500 (AM/FM mono receiver) drives the center speaker. Chromecast Audio for internet radio. I know that my taste in music differs from most members of this forum (though we do have a few other classical music lovers), so I’ll post just 2 YouTube excerpts from Blu-rays that I own. (Of course, the Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio and high-definition video is much better quality than the YouTube video.) For anyone who wasn’t aware of Blu-ray classical music recordings, these excerpts may serve as an introduction. In the following recording of Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” performed by Pepe Romero, I particularly like the Adagio that starts at 6:47. Here’s Elīna Garanča performing "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix".
  12. Yes, my enjoyment of recorded music has evolved from audio-only/stereo-only to hi-res-multi-channel-audio/high-definition-video. However, my enjoyment of music has NOT “evolved” from tube to solid-state. For details, read on. For the classical music that I love, there are countless modern performances/recordings (i.e., performances recorded in the last 15 years or so) that were captured and mastered in multi-channel hi-res digital (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD), and delivered on a disc featuring DTS-HD MA 5.1 (e.g., Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray), or an SACD disc that features multi-channel DSD. Moreover, Blu-ray classical music recordings often include high-definition video. High-definition video is particularly relevant for ballet and opera (i.e., seeing the actors, singers, dancers and scenery). Another major benefit of Blu-ray audio/video discs (Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray) is the ability to see the libretto of an opera on the HDTV screen. (For example, providing an on-screen English translation of an opera sung in Italian.) Additionally, I think that high-definition video is very enjoyable for classical symphonic concerts (i.e., seeing the conductor, musicians, and concert hall). I enjoy modern Blu-ray classical music recordings much more than vintage technologies such as CDs and LPs. IME, modern Blu-ray recordings do a better job of creating the illusion that I’m in the symphony hall or opera house. Here’s just a few examples of modern symphonic performances delivered on Blu-ray that feature DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, and high-definition video: There are many modern opera and ballet performances available on Blu-ray, and a few on Ultra HD Blu-ray. I employ my Oppo UDP-205 (x2), BDP-105, and BDP-95 universal players’ internal audiophile grade DACs and 5.1 analog audio outputs. Because the rear channels in classical recordings have little content (mostly audience applause), I combine them via a Y-cable. (Oppo has verified that this is OK.) One vintage stereo tube amp drives the main left & right speakers. Another vintage stereo tube amp drives the center and single rear speaker. My approach may be unorthodox, but it works great in 4 of my 5 hi-fi systems. And – most important – it sounds fabulous for the classical music and opera that I love. For me, the evolution of recorded music involves Blu-ray, but not AVRs.
  13. For folk/blues music (e.g., Eva Cassidy), my 8wpc single-ended pentode amp sounds great driving my Klipsch RF-7II speakers. For big-band music (e.g., Tony Bennett), my 8wpc single-ended pentode amp sounds great when powered subwoofers off-load the deep bass from my SEP amp and main RF-7II speakers. (My Oppo UDP-205 provides “bass management” which off-loads deep bass from the main amp and speakers.) For the music that I mostly listen to – i.e., large-scale orchestral music and opera, in my basement system I prefer a 6L6GC push/pull stereo tube amp driving the main front left & right Klipsch RF-7II speakers, and a second stereo push/pull amp driving the center (RF-7II) and single rear speaker (RF-7). My Oppo UDP-205 provides “bass management” which off-loads deep bass from the main amp and speakers to two powered subwoofers. In my living room system where the main left & right speakers are Snell Type CV (less sensitive than Klipsch), my Oppo universal player off-loads the deep bass to a powered subwoofer, and my McIntosh MC275 is able to deliver large-scale classical music via my Snell Type CV. Bottom line, speaker sensitivity and room size affect amplifier power requirements. And there’s a big difference in playing an LP of a “little girl with a guitar” (no disrespect to Eva Cassidy) in a small listening room, vs. delivering in a large listening room an experience that approximates the live performance of Mahler Symphony 2. This is particularly true for a recording that features uncompromised dynamic range and frequency range such as this modern Blu-ray that features an uncompressed DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track:
  14. My advice for anyone who wants the best audio quality for recorded music, is that they first focus on what types of recordings are available for the music they like. Only then can they make an informed decision about a hi-fi system that supports the best quality recordings that are available for the genres they’re interested in. Garbage-in/garbage-out – a hi-fi system will never sound better than the recordings. The technology of recorded music has come a long way since LPs and CDs. The genre(s) of music determines which of the following formats are relevant: CD (Stereo-only. No multi-channel (e.g., 5.1) capability.) DVD (stereo and 5.1) DVD-Audio (stereo and 5.1) SACD (stereo and 5.1) Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus stereo track, and sometimes additional audio tracks) Pure Audio Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus stereo track, and sometimes additional audio tracks) Ultra HD Blu-ray (DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus stereo track, and sometimes additional audio tracks) Hi-res downloads - 24bit/192kHz PCM (IME, stereo), and hi-res DSD (stereo and 5.1) For classical music I prefer modern performances/recordings (i.e., performances recorded in the last dozen years or so) that were captured and mastered in multi-channel hi-res digital (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD), and delivered on a disc featuring DTS-HD MA 5.1 (e.g., Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray), or an SACD disc that features multi-channel DSD. Following are just a few examples of resources for hi-res recordings. (FWIW, I often buy Blu-ray and SACD discs from amazon.) On amazon.com, search for: "<genre> Blu-ray", and "<genre> SACD" https://www.prestomusic.com/classical https://concertsondvd.com/ https://hraudio.net/ https://www.nativedsd.com/ https://www.highresaudio.com/en Etc. My advice is to first shop for recordings – and then build a system that supports the recordings you want. Another decision is whether you’re satisfied with stereo, or want multi-channel. (There are many modern hi-res multi-channel classical recordings available, and IMO/IME such recordings excel at recreating the live concert hall experience.) Some DACs are connected via coax or TOSLINK, which are not capable of uncompromised hi-res playback, or multi-channel playback. Uncompromised playback of hi-res multi-channel requires DACs built into a universal player, or an HDMI connected DAC (or AVR). Another possible solution is to stream music from a computer (or NAS) across a high-speed network (ethernet or wi-fi). (I have no experience with this, so I can’t attest to this.) The problem is copying SACDs and Blu-rays to a computer, which is not straightforward. (Copying the SACD layer (vs. CD layer) of a hybrid SACD disc requires arcane “hacking” procedures.) Bottom line: I recommend that an audiophile proceeds carefully when assessing whether an external DAC meets their needs.
  15. OP: Do you attend live performances of large-scale classical music performed in a world-class symphony hall where there is no use of a sound reinforcement system? The reason I’m asking is that I’m curious if you’ve experienced the incredible power of a large orchestra when performing in a purpose-built hall. If you are familiar with the potential power of large-scale classical music, is it your goal to come as close as possible to recreating this concert hall experience in your home? Or, is your goal for your in-home experience to be a “small-scale simulacrum” of the live music (i.e., pleasant sounding, but not reproducing the full dynamic range, or deep bass)? FWIW/IMO – the most important first step is to define your goals for your hi-fi system. Only then can you make an informed decision about the equipment required.
  16. Here’s my thoughts about whether single-ended tube amps are “up to the job”: https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/193845-why-flea-power-is-often-enough/&do=findComment&comment=2529684 Regarding imaging, IME when I’m seated mid-hall in the symphony hall, there is no localization of instruments. Rather, the sound from the orchestra is blended by the hall. Therefore, “localization” is not a criterion for me when assessing the sound quality of my hi-fi systems. I care about reproducing the natural timbre of orchestral instruments, and reproducing the full dynamic range and frequency range of large-scale classical music.
  17. OP: I’ll offer a different perspective. Your hi-fi system will never sound better than the recordings. I suggest that you consider state-of-the-art recordings. For classical music I prefer modern performances/recordings (i.e., performances recorded in the last dozen years or so) that were captured and mastered in multi-channel hi-res digital (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD), and delivered on a disc featuring DTS-HD MA 5.1 (e.g., Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray), or an SACD disc that features multi-channel DSD. Here’s one of my posts that provides examples of modern hi-res classical recordings: https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/202102-classical-recordings/&do=findComment&comment=2658804 For classical music, I enjoy RF-7 II driven by tube amps, and augmented by large subwoofers. I suggest that you consider the newer RF-7 III for a speaker capable of delivering large-scale orchestral music, while occupying a relatively small footprint. I also suggest that you consider multi-channel. If you’re interested, I can explain my 4.1 configurations that employ tube amps (i.e., no AVR or pre-processor).
  18. P.S. In case you weren't aware, you can administer the Oppo BDP-103's parameters as follows: Output Volume: Variable Power On Volume: Last, or set a Custom value. (I choose a low Custom value.) You can also adjust trim levels for each channel, if needed.
  19. I’m not sure if I completely understand the Luxman F-114’s inputs and outputs. (Your explanation and a diagram of the back panel helped, but I’m not sure if I understand 100%.) Have you considered the following simple idea? FWIW, in several of my systems that involve multiple amps, and pre-amps, where there are many combinations of connections possible, I employ a very simple solution. For each source, I have short male/female RCA cables (labeled appropriately) that make the outputs more easily accessible at the front of the unit. For each amp I have suitable length male/male cables (appropriately labeled) that are easily accessible at the front of the unit. Simply plug whichever amps’ male cable into whichever source’s female cable. Am I correct that for you, there would be two sources, and one pair of amps that collectively provide 5 channels? Pull the rear and center jumpers on the Luxman F-114 and install cables as follows: • Source 1: Oppo M/F cables labeled: o Oppo right front out o Oppo left front out o Oppo center out o Oppo right rear out o Oppo left rear out • Source 2: Luxman F-114 M/F cables labeled: o Luxman F-114 right front out o Luxman F-114 left front out o Luxman F-114 center out o Luxman F-114 right rear out o Luxman F-114 left rear out • Amp input M/M cables labeled: o Luxman R-115 right front in o Luxman R-115 left front in o Luxman F-114 center main in o Luxman F-114 right rear main in o Luxman F-114 left rear main in Would this work with your Luxman R-115, Luxman F-114, and Oppo BDP-103? Have you tried cabling the Oppo with the Luxman R-115 and F-114 in this manner? If this will work, but the idea of cables hanging loose isn’t appealing, you could employ RCA patch panels, such as this: https://www.vadcon.com/pp/ppd12-rcabgis.html (This company offers many varieties of patch panels. I use their banana plug patch panels for speakers.) Your thoughts?
  20. If I’m understanding the OP’s situation correctly, I tend to agree with this elegantly concise statement. OTOH, following is my long-winded commentary … based largely on my ignorance … OP: I downloaded the User Manual for your Luxman F-114. Am I correct that the F-114 does not have line-level inputs for 3 channels – i.e., it cannot be used as a 3-channel amp? Am I correct that the F-114 decodes a 1980s era surround-sound format called Dolby Pro Logic? I know nothing about this. (I use Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track, which is decoded by the Oppo players. I also use the Oppo players to decode multi-channel SACD.) Am I correct that Dolby Pro Logic is an antiquated attempt at pseudo-surround-sound? Do you have a library of old recordings that employ Dolby Pro Logic that you want to play? Are these VHS tapes? Laser disc? Other? Can these recordings be replaced with more modern versions (e.g., Blu-ray)? Or, do you want to play modern Blu-ray and SACD recordings? My earlier post explains how the Oppo universal players can be used with traditional hi-fi amps that have line-level analog audio inputs to play modern Blu-ray and SACD discs, and support anywhere from stereo to 7.1. It seems to me that you have several options: If you have enough traditional hi-fi amps (i.e., RCA line-level audio inputs) to connect to the Oppo’s 5.1 analog audio outputs, then implement one of the configurations I described earlier. If your Luxman R-115 stereo receiver is your only traditional amplifier (i.e., RCA line-level audio inputs), and you want to use your Luxman R-115 stereo receiver to drive the Front Left and Front Right speakers in a 5.1 implementation to play modern Blu-ray and SACD discs, then buy a modern AVR that has line-level audio outputs so that you can use your existing Luxman R-115 stereo receiver for the front speakers, while the AVR drives the center and rear speakers. (The Luxman F-114 and Technics SH-AC500D wouldn’t be in play.) If your Luxman R-115 stereo receiver is your only traditional amplifier and you don’t want to buy an AVR, then buy more traditional hi-fi amps to connect to the Oppo’s analog outputs, depending on if you want 5.1 or 4.1 (combined rear channels) audio. (The Luxman F-114 and Technics SH-AC500D wouldn’t be in play.) Buy an AVR to do everything. (FWIW, this is not my recommended solution …) The following is ignorance on my part: I don’t know what role the Luxman F-114 would play, unless you have a large library of vintage recordings that employ Dolby Pro Logic (presumably 1980s era), and these recordings aren’t available in modern surround-sound formats. I also don’t understand what role the Technics SH-AC500D Processor would play. Again, ignorance on my part. OTOH, apparently your Luxman R-115 is a traditional stereo receiver that could play a role in a modern audio/video hi-fi system, if you’re enamored with it. There are hobbyists who invest their time and money to play vintage technologies such as 8-track tapes, VHS tapes, Laser Discs, etc. However, that’s a very specialized hobby that isn’t focused on the best audio or video quality. FWIW/IMO, some vintage technologies such as 1950s era McIntosh MC30 tube amps are timeless (i.e., they’ve never been bettered). OTOH/IMO, early surround-sound audio formats, not so much … FWIW, I suggest that you focus on what recordings you want to play (music and movies), and/or what streaming services you want to consume. I also suggest that you be willing to consider newer formats such as Blu-ray (and Ultra HD Blu-ray). $64k question: What genres of music do you like? What movies do you like? I suggest that you focus on building a system that will deliver the art that you love into your home. $64k question #2: How much time and money do you want to invest into being able to play vintage (1980s era?) surround-sound formats, vs. investing in modern (e.g., Blu-ray or SACD) recordings and playback equipment? I’m intrigued by this, but I’m not sure if I’m contributing anything …
  21. I’ll explain my configurations involving Oppo universal players, in case you can glean anything from my experience. I don’t have cable TV. I use an antenna for OTA HDTV broadcasts. In my TV room, I use TOSLINK from my HDTV into my Oppo UDP-205 for the rare occasion when I want to play OTA TV audio (multi-channel) through my hi-fi system. (I don’t think that your BDP-103 has a TOSLINK input.) I have a Chromecast connected to the HDMI input of my UDP-205 that can be used for streaming video. (I seldom stream video. I like Blu-ray discs.) As I said earlier, I own Oppo UDP-205 (x2), BDP-105, and BDP-95, installed in 4 different multi-channel systems (i.e., 4 different listening rooms). No AVR, multi-channel pre-processor, or multi-channel pre-amp is involved in any of these systems. The Oppo units provide the “multi-channel pre-processor functionality” that I need. (The UDP-205 is the most versatile of the Oppo players.) I can connect any combination of traditional hi-fi tube amps, or traditional solid-state hi-fi amps, for configurations that range from 5.1, 4.1 (i.e., combine the Oppo’s surround-left and surround-right analog RCA connections via a Y-cable to form a single rear channel), 4.2 (i.e., 2 subs connected to the Oppo via Y-connector), or 3.1 (no rear channels). I like 4.1 (and 4.2) configurations, because IME there is little content in the rear channels of classical music (mostly audience applause). Therefore – for me - not much is lost by combining the rear channels. One vintage stereo tube amp plays the main L&R channels - i.e., the Oppo’s Front Left and Front Right analog audio outputs are connected to analog line-level audio inputs on the stereo amp (e.g., AUX input). A second vintage stereo tube amp plays the center-channel and single rear-channel. The powered subwoofer(s) connect to the Oppo, and Oppo’s bass management feature (e.g., configurable crossover) is employed. You can support 5.1 (or 7.1) with enough traditional hi-fi amps (i.e., amps that have RCA line-level inputs). (The Oppos provide analog audio connections for up to 7.1.) On occasion I directly drive power amps from my Oppo units. (The Oppo’s set-up allows you to adjust the relative volume level of each channel.) The only downside to directly driving power amps from an Oppo is the lack of tone controls. If you want the ability to adjust tonal balance, then connect traditional integrated amps (or receivers) that are equipped with tone controls to the Oppo’s analog outputs. (BTW, the newer Oppos have a parameter that can activate DTS Neo:6 pseudo-surround sound for stereo recordings, but I don’t use it.) I’m very satisfied with the configurations described above. Multi-channel classical recordings sound great, and Hollywood movies sound great. These systems can play Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, SACD, hi-res downloads, DVDs, and CDs. (The UDP-205 additionally can play Ultra HD Blu-ray.) In one of my systems, a turntable is directly connected to an integrated amp’s turntable input, in addition to the front L&R audio channels from the Oppo connected to the amp’s AUX input. In this system, I can therefore play LPs, in addition to any digital format. (The subwoofer isn’t employed when LPs are played.) Here’s descriptions of my 4 systems that are capable of multi-channel playback by using Oppo universal players, and traditional hi-fi amps: TV room: Main front left & right speakers are Klipsch Palladium P-37F. Center: Klipsch RC-64III. Single rear: Klipsch RP-502S. Subwoofer: Klipsch P-312W. The source is an Oppo UDP-205 for playing Blu-ray and SACD, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings. I generally use vintage tube amps for music: Scott 399, McIntosh MC225, Fisher X-1000, Scott 299C, McIntosh MX110Z / McIntosh MC240. I use solid-state amps for movies (and summertime): NAD C375BEE, and an NAD D 3045. A patch panel (banana plugs) allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and Niles AXP-1 RCA selector switches connect the Oppo to the amp. HDTV is connected via TOSLINK to the UDP-205 to play audio from broadcast TV via the hi-fi. Chromecast is connected to the HDMI input of my UDP-205 for streaming video. Chromecast Audio is connected via analog audio to the NAD C375BEE for internet radio. Basement: Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch RF-7 II. A single rear speaker is a Klipsch RF-7. Subwoofers: SVS SB16-Ultra, Klipsch R-115SW. Source: Oppo UDP-205 for playing Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings. Amps: Scott 272, Inspire “Fire Bottle” SE Stereo Tube Amplifier HO, Scott 222C, Fisher KX-200, Scott 296, Pilot SA-260, Scott LK150, Altec 353A, Kenwood KR-9050. (This system also has a Schiit Loki tone-control. I can connect the power amps direct to the Oppo, or insert the Loki.) A patch panel allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and F/F RCA cables enable me to connect an amp to the Oppo, and a power amp to the Loki if I choose to do so. Chromecast Audio is connected via TOSLINK to the UDP-205 for internet radio. Living room: Stereo speakers are Snell Type CV. Center: Klipsch RC-64III. Single rear: RP-502S. Subwoofer: Klipsch P-312W. The source components are Oppo BDP-95 for playing Blu-ray, SACDs, and CDs (and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings), and Dual 1249 with Stanton 681EE equipped with a new Shibata stylus. Amps include a pair of McIntosh MC30s, Scott 296, McIntosh MX110Z / McIntosh MC275, a pair of Pilot HF-56 mono receivers, an NAD pre-amp and Acurus A250 power-amp for movies, and a McIntosh 2155 driving JBL L830s in the kitchen / dining room. A patch panel (banana plugs) allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and a F/F RCA cables enable me to connect an amp to the Oppo. Chromecast Audio is connected via analog audio to the NAD pre-amp for internet radio. Bedroom: Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch WF-35. SVS SB-2000 Pro subwoofer. Source is an Oppo BDP-105 for playing Pure Audio Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings. (No TV.) Fisher 500C drives the left & right speakers. Fisher TA 500 (AM/FM mono receiver) drives the center speaker. Chromecast Audio is connected via TOSLINK to the BDP-105 for internet radio. (I also have a stereo-only system in my office.) These configurations involve no automatic software-based room correction. I tune my systems by hear, based on what I remember hearing when I attend live symphony concerts. While these systems work great for me, I’m not sure if these configurations are relevant to what you’re trying to do.
  22. OP: Do you need HDMI switching (e.g., switch between Blu-ray player, cable TV, etc.)? If so, have you considered an AVR with line-level audio outputs vs. a pre-processor? A complete list of your sources (e.g., turntable, Oppo BDP-103, HDMI interface from cable box, etc.) would be helpful in understanding your needs. Do you have a device that can deliver 5.1 analog audio RCA connections for your TV service? Do you own powered subwoofer(s)? FWIW, I own Oppo UDP-205 (x2), BDP-105, and BDP-95, installed in 4 different multi-channel systems (i.e., 4 different listening rooms). No AVR, multi-channel pre-processor, or multi-channel pre-amp is involved in any of these systems. I can provide a description of my implementations if you’d like, however, my use cases are probably different from yours.
  23. Every amp I’ve owned sounded different. I currently have 5 hi-fi systems, involving 28 amps. I currently own hi-fi amps from every decade from the 1950s to now. (Over the years I’ve owned approximately 10 other amps that I’ve sold.) I currently own solid state and tube (push/pull and single ended), including receivers, integrated amps, and separates. I listen mostly to classical music. My goal for the sound quality of recorded classical music played via my home hi-fi systems is to experience the illusion that I’m in the symphony hall or opera house where classical music was performed live, with no electronics involved (i.e., no sound reinforcement system), and for inevitable deviations to sound pleasant vs. unpleasant – to my ears. I believe that I have a clear benchmark for how the music that I love “should” sound. (I don’t rely on a technical definition of “accuracy”, or room correction software indicating “flat response”.) I mostly listen to modern hi-res classical recordings, and I greatly prefer multi-channel (i.e., Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1, or SACD). These excellent quality classical recordings make it apparent which recording/amp/speaker combination is doing the best job of reproducing the natural timbre of orchestral instruments. IME/IMO, tube amps generally do a better job of creating the illusion that I’m in the symphony hall. For me, tube amps generally sound more pleasant, and cause less listener fatigue. With that said, the solid-state amps that I’ve kept (including several Class A/B amps, and two NAD Class D amps) sound pretty good. I use the solid-state amps for movies, and sometimes during summertime for music.
  24. I agree – use your mono Fairchild to drive a center channel. I own many modern classical hi-res surround-sound recordings delivered on Blu-ray DTS-HD MA 5.0 (or 5.1), and SACD (5.1). In classical recordings, the rear channels contain little content (mostly audience applause). You could use your mono Fairchild tube amp to drive the center channel in a 3.0, or 3.1, or 3.2 system. For example, I use my Oppo UDP-205, BDP-105, and BDP-95 universal players’ internal audiophile grade DACS to provide 5.1 analog audio outputs. You could simply not connect the rear channels (because not much is lost). Have one vintage stereo tube amp drive the main left & right speakers. The vintage Fairchild mono amp could drive the center speaker. My approach may be unorthodox, but it works great in my bedroom system. (A Fisher 500C drives the main L&R speakers, and a Fisher 500 (mono) drives the center speaker.) And – most important – it sounds fabulous for the classical music and opera that I love. Or, one stereo amp driving the main left & right speakers, a second stereo amp driving the two rear surround speakers, and the mono amp driving the center channel. If I didn’t already own “more than enough” vintage tube amps, I’d be interested in a Fairchild 260 ...
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