Getting back in the game

So I’ve been out of the hobby for about ten years……kids divorce business……you get it. However, my new wife and I just bought a house and I got a room all to myself. Was going to turn it into a theater room. Got a laser tv bought a brand new denon receiver plugged in my old B&W 804’s that I hadn’t heard in forever and hell I’m hooked again now

my question is this. I am currently using the denon and streaming over my tv using tidal. Lol I know this is not anywhere close to what I can get from these speakers so I would love a couple suggestions 

im gonna need either a great integrated and a streamer or maybe separates?  I will probably also get a TT as I love vinyl. 

i love vocals and rock but if you pushed me.. I tend want a really emotional connection to the music rather than be mistified by the incredibly etched out accurate sound….. does that make sense?  

room is 13 by 15 by 9. Getting room tx as we speak. All suggestions are appreciated on how make this room sing. Can spend around 8k


thank you


@asmithkash , welcome back to the game! If you want a theater room you will want a 5.1 system minimum with a Denon receiver.

Step 1- Check out the dolby specs on speaker placement and follow the angles recommended to a T.

2) Decide if you want an atmos based theater and get B&W surround and height channels that are timber matched.

3) Get the Audyssey Multi-X upgrade for the Denon and calibrated mike after you finish treating your room and calibrate.

4) Get a good streamer, there are many threads here on that topic.

Post some pics of your room in the virtual system area and you will be rocking soon. Do NOT buy any additional amps until you do the above. The system will sound different after setup and calibration than it does now, best to wait.

You can see my system and measurements on the virtual system page in my profile.


The Audyssey upgrade will make it sound like a whole different ball game:


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on it boys!  because of my room, Ill post pics.  Im gonna add a sub and two in ceiling speakers.  But, if i'm listening just two channel and want better gear to listen to that with I can use the pass through on my reciever correct?


also any suggestions on a sub for a room that size that is musical as well as good for movies.  I would say music is more important to me.  should I get 2 smaller ones?

For atmos speakers try to avoid in ceiling as the sweet spot will be the floor. Better to use B&W M1 speakers where you can mount on or near the ceiling and aim them. Get two smaller subs, much better than one. As for the pass through feature what receiver do you have?:

one other question, because of the laser tv a center channel is tough.  Could I add more speakers into the ceiling?

Your center channel should NOT go near the ceiling. If you can't use a center channel use a phantom center from your L and R speakers. When you post pics we can discuss.

With the 3700H I recommend an atmos setup with 5 bed channels and 4 height channels, NOT 7 bed channels and 2 height channels.

This receiver might sound amazing in stereo, you won't know until everything is setup. Get everything setup with the speakers, finish room treatments, get the audyssey upgrade and calibrated mic. Once you set it up THEN think about adding additonal components (streamer, blueray player, integrated amp, etc)

okay thank you so much for the advice, stupid question what is a bed channel vs. a height channel


“ bye (ex)-wife , hello stereo” …. LOL


Why are divorces so expensive?

Because they're worth it.



This is a good time to take this real slow. Give a lot of thought to how to do this.


It is very difficult to get high end audio sound from an AVR / home theater. By combining functions both can be severely compromised. The best is to have them completely separated. 

They can be combined using a pass through so your stereo speakers are connected to audio equipment to your speakers. You want separate audio preamp / amp of audio quality for stereo listening and then use the AVR for home theater and all the other speakers. I was able to separate my HT from my stereo system thirty years ago… so, I’ll let some of the folks here that have done it advise you. But a few things.


HT does not require the same high quality as stereo to be enjoyable (you are distracted by the video)… and as a consequence you are not going to get it. 

Combining multi functions in one box significantly reduces sound quality. AVR is a real problem, but these days integrated amps can be really good. I was listening to a Luxman (509), Pass (INT-60), and Audio Research (I-50) this weekend. I can recommend any of them… but I am much fonder of the latter two because of the more natural musical presentation.

‘Anyway, think, research, think some more. There are so many ways to do this these days it can boggle the mind. It is really easy to do this simply and end up with a mediocre system.






This is really where I wanted to head in this conversation, To those who gave the excellent advice on Home Theatre....thank you so much!  However, I would like to attack the stereo system first now.  After hearing my speakers with just the reciever and streaming through a stupid tv, I can't wait to hear what this room can sound like!

So you thought the musicality of the Pass and AR were better in terms of musicality?  I have always heard that the B&W's are a tough load, and I absolutely don't mind an integrated.  

Also DAC streamer combined? or seperate?

In that small of room  I would put my money into a 2 channel system. If the B&W speakers are working well in that room for youI would purchase a DAC with optical (forTV), coax and USB (possibly AES or I2S) connections, an integrated amplifier or separate pre and amp, and a streamer. 

I find a 2 channel system quite satisfactory for movie viewing in a room very similar  to yours. 


Totally agree.  I want to keep the speakers and build around them.  Anyone with experience with these 804 pre diamond version?  I was looking at Lumin dac and streamer combined.  What do you guys think?

Unless you have a large collection of records, focus on digital only. If you pursue both the analog and digital, you’ll end up neither here nor there. Add a turntable after you’ve happy with your digital front end and you have achieved a good degree of synergy between your amplification, speakers and room.
Just a thought based on experience.

Do the 5.1 in the living room with your wife and the stereo in your allowed space. A happy wife is a happy life.

Things have come a Loong way in 10 years ,streaming QObuz and Roon is very good ,but requires some $$ to get high quality sound .

Don't spend on cables. Microphone cable like Canare Starquad is good at about $1 a foot or so. Switchcraft RCA's are available for not much. That gets you close to the big money stuff, so you can spend where it really counts.

Good luck!



I have B&W 805’s in my Home theater. They are not hard to drive compared with most planar and some others.

Typically, for a major upgrade one would start with speakers. They will have the biggest effect on the sound. If you are very happy with them, then let’s move on. You do not want to make this completely infeasible.

My rule of thumb is, generally all your components must be carefully chosen to be the best for the price and compatible with the rest of your system. That means streamer, DAC, Preamp and amp are roughly equal in cost. I have to say I was very impressed with the sound of the Pass INT-60. It is musical with great rhythm and pace (musicality… makes your foot tap… emotional connection), as well as a lot of power (do not judge by watts itself).

I would find it hard to think anyone would criticize this integrated. It puts you into the realm of audiophile. A unit you could be proud to own and would be a great sounding amp for 10, 20, or 30 years.This is the mark of really great components.. timelessness.

As far as streamer… I would recommend, first of all separate streamer and DAC. a Aurender N200 would fit and be consistent with a great system.

Hmm, DAC. I am just not that familiar with DACs in this price range. I own an Audio Research Reference CD9SE. It is so good, it completely threw me for a loop. I had a $22K well respected DAC in my system and honestly I found my ARC was better (given my values).

‘’Maybe someone else couple take the ball on a fantastic DAC in the $5K range.


If you can only afford the integrated for now, you would get such a huge improvement… you could enjoy that for a couple years before you could afford the DAC and Streamer…. Then you would have a huge jump in performance again. A few years later upgrade speakers.


Alright!  Now we are talking guys. I’ve always heard great things about pass but with 8k total right now?  Are you saying spend it all on a great amp then get some cheaper stuff to stream digital until later?  Just making sure that’s what you are saying


I will audition equipment, but would like some direction. I have to drive a minimum of 2.5 hours to Houston to hear anything. Everyone has been very nice. Thank you for the help

Hello asmithkash,

My room had to be a little bit of both, I chose the Marantz AV8805 for the processor, Rotel RB-1590 & RB-1585 for amplification, B&W 702's for mains, and same brand & line for associated speakers, a pair of SVS PB16 ultras for subs.   It is not where you are starting but similar........all things considered its been a great bang for the buck, probably a bit over your $8K price but close enough that you could draw some comparisons for your selections, you can spend much more & some less, in the end its you that has to be happy with it - Good Luck, personally I'm betting you will bust the budget but will be rewarded with smiles per hour with what comes out of it !    I did & everyone in the house is happy !

lol, im quickly learning that budget will be LOW..... too easy to spend money in this hobby!  I did see an Ayre vx-5.  thought that might be a good place to start this journey.  Anyone hear Ayre with b&w?

Not a McIntosh fanboy or hater. McIntosh has always worked well with B&W speakers. Since your budget is limited this is a safe way to go because MAC is easy to resell with little or no financial loss. I would start looking for a MC352 in the best condition you can find. 

My bias is towards good two-channel, so I like those suggestions the best. 😀

If it were me, keeping the speakers, I am auditioning the Audio by Van Alstine DVA digital preamp and DVA M225 monoblocks. And if I defer spending on better cables (hint: Iconoclast), I might have enough budget to snag a secondhand Lumin U1 Mini (streamer), maybe with the better sBooster LPS if I am lucky or patient.

There are a lot of interesting options to explore. This is one possible starting point that might be worth some homework. Good luck and have fun!

To take it a step further consider a McIntosh C46/47 SS preamp you will have no synergy or tube issues. When you get the electronics right future upgrading is much easier. If you ever decide to upgrade your speakers to a current or newer B&W speaker your electronics can stay. Focus your rotation/upgrading on source/s, cables and room treatment to get the sound desired. Keep in mind digital is less expensive then analog when regarding price/performance ratio.

well it looks like most are pushing for seperates.  I'm fine with that, but probably will go used to stay within budget.  No fans of the Ayre so far

Ayre is a great small company with top level customer service. It is the sonic signature that "could " be over the top with B&W speakers. Ayre would probably work better with more polite/laidback loudspeakers.

OK, I have a question. Does your budget include the TT or are you only considering the streamer  and amplification with that budget? Either way you well need amplification and this relates to allocation of budget towards digital vs. vinyl.

I would start a thread asking for other thoughts on the power requirement of your speakers. In the post provide info on room size, room treatment, and  loudness levels desired. That info may help to narrow down the power needs of your amplifier.  With amplifiers lower powered ones offer greater sound quality/dollar.

Either way with your budget I would not be too quick to look away from an integrated amplifier. 

Another question, do you currently have a record collection? I am one who was not  quick to leave vinyl however found that I could not maximize my system trying to accommodate both a vinyl and a digital front end with my budget. I have kept my turntable however it is not in use at this time. I use a transport and a TV into a DAC. I am currently streaming via computer as a way to find music to purchase as CDs. I am somewhat 'old school'.

Take your time with this. It will come together. I am sure many will get back to you following the answers to my aforementioned questions.

Regards, Mike



I think I'll take you advice and just start another thread because I need to be more direct in my questioning.  I should have just said 8k for amplification and streaming into a pair of b&w 804 (pre diamond) with room specs.  I'll do that as I would like to concentrate on that, then add TT, then surround for movies.

thanks, and sorry to waste other peoples time by not being more concise.


Okay started another conversation!  sorry for being all over the place in this one

First welcome to the game. It will never stop, so be careful what you wish for:)

@ghdprentice gave you good advice.


This is a good time to take this real slow. Give a lot of thought to how to do this.

It is very difficult to get high end audio sound from an AVR / home theater. By combining functions both can be severely compromised. The best is to have them completely separated. 

I started almost exactly where you did (minus the divorce) but with a Yamaha RXA3080 which was at the time their top of the line AVR. I thought it was pretty good. (I have owned several Denon's prior)

I wanted more so I bought a $3K Line Magnetic Tube amp and was completely blown away (so was my wife). I've moved on since then (new everything on the 2 channel side), but I still use the Yamaha for 5.1. The front speakers are shared - 2 sets of speaker cables. I prefer this inconvenience to having the Yamaha anywhere in the 2 channel chain. 

As for subs, for sure get 2. I have 2 RELs that are seamlessly shared between the Raven and the Yamaha. 


If you have the long term desire to have a great system. Then audition these integrated amps… and maybe a couple more. Save a few more dollars. The “under $10K) for an integrated is a key price point (I think a lot of Boomers are downsizing and want really high performance) in a smaller footprint. I think this is the sweet spot for “affordable” high end.

Then wait whatever time you need to buy an appropriately matched streamer and DAC. You could take the intermediate step in getting a Schiit Yggdrasil ~$2.5K (often considered to compete with DACs at twice the cost) to hold you over. Then the next step would be a streamer (Aurender N200)… then later upgrade the DAC.


This way each step gives you significant sound quality improvement and at the end you have a synergistic system with all components at roughly the same quality level.







asmithkash's avatar

asmithkash OP

30 posts


well it looks like most are pushing for seperates.  I'm fine with that, but probably will go used to stay within budget.  No fans of the Ayre so far

Big Ayre fan here. Although I currently don’t own any Ayre. Which Ayre do you have in mind? I am very familiar, and can help


Vx-5 Twenty is an outstanding amp for sure. You cannot possibly go wrong with it. I used to own one. Yes, a little aged, has been around for several years, but still. Besides, Ayre stands up to their products, no matter when manufactured, and their customer service is parallel to none out of there

During the 10 Years of doing other things, there has been developments outside of the mainstream, but very attractive as a option in comparison to the Mainstream.

I strongly suggest a look at Neurochrome Amplifiers, they are produced on your side of the Pond, I have had demonstrations of these design in various Models and Build Guises.

They are a substantial Amp and the higher powered version will in my view not be surpassed for the money.

I heard one slotted into a £200K system, and the resident Soulution Power Amp' was not the better not the worse, they comparison offered something of each and a little difference of each designs sonic signature.

Additionally there are plenty of devices today, that are quite reputable performers and not adorned in oversized casing. The system does not need to dominate the Room anymore, a shelving or small cabinet can easily accommodate a High Quality HiFi System if certain devices are selected today.

The Room can quite easily be a multipurpose space, as the footprint that is to take the most space only need be the Speakers, if Large Boxes are the desirable designs. 

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Maybe a used Aesthetix Mimas with the optional DAC card and maybe their phono card. Usually integrated DACs are sonically an afterthought but these optional cards offer great sonics at their price point. Can save you some in cabling also.

The Hifi Rose RS520 integrated has a DAC and network streaming. It uses GaN FET which many have found sonically favorable like tubes but without the slow and frequency limitations. This brand garnishes many very positive reviews.

The MoFi Ultradeck turntable punches above its price point. Coupled with the Master Tracker cartridge (discounted if purchased w turntable) makes this a fantastic sonic deal.

Audio by Van Alstine brand is also offers high price/performance.  
if a separate amp, Odyssey amps are sonic bargains.