I am building a new apartment and want to upgrade my system at the same time. So I am seeking advice on a Hi-fi music and movie system. First component is the AVR or Pre/Processor. Speakers have been mostly decicded upon. I will likely have B&W 802D for Front L/R and then some B&W CI 700 series for the rear surround (in ceiling) and Front speaker (in wall).
so onto the AVR / processor questions
1. What is the difference between a pre/processor and AVR?
2. Is a 3D processor or AVR needed to play 3D DVDs and process the signal to pass through to the TV?
3. Upscaling. My current AVR (3 year old mid-range yamaha has an upscaler but I barely notice any real quality improvements when viewing standard TV). Is upscaling really just marketing or does it turn standard TV and downloaded movies into much better resolution with the right equipment?
4. The apartment is open plan (lving room, dining room and kitchen are all one room). It will be about 60m2. So would Audessy eq really help that in adjusting for room dynamics?
5. Which Pre/pro or AVR would you recommend for a good system (up to about $1500). I am not sure I would really notice the benefits of those horribly expensive pieces
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I have to be honest I'm a bit confused by your question. If you are planning on B&W 802 Diamonds for your fronts, spending only $1500 on processing and amplification is seriously underselling them :? (Unless you are going to use a seperate high end stereo amp for the front L/R, and the av amp is just for the surrounds?). Lets just clarify, these speakers are £11,500 (sterling) a pair, and the Ci 700 surrounds are £500-£1100 a piece depending on which model you go for!
I would have thought, with speakers at that level you most definately would "notice the benefits of those horribly expensive pieces". Indeed you have to make sure that a $1500 av amp can actually drive them?
If the av amp is to be your only amplification and processing for both music and movies, I think you either need to consider adding a zero to your processor/amp budget, or downgrading the speaker choice to utilise the budget in a more balanced system.
If you are dead set on the 802D's then you should be looking at something like an Anthem Statement D2 or Classe 800 for processing, and amplifiers to match, probably serperate two channel amps for each of the Front L/R so they can be bi-amped. With a seperate 3 or 5 channel amp for the centre and surrounds. Though that said, ideally you should get a centre speaker to match the fronts such as the HTM2 Diamond, and therefore a dedicated 2 channel amp for that also!
As to your other questions:
1. Others have answered this I think. Splitting the processing and amp produces better sound quality.
2. No not if you can get a blu-ray player with twin HDMI outputs to split the sound (to your av processor) and picture (to your 3D enabled TV). Indicentally 3D isn't availble on DVD as far as I am aware, just blu-ray.
3. It all depends on the size of your screen and your seating distance. If you have a 40 inch screen sitting 20 feet away, you won't notice a difference (in fact you probably might not notice a difference with HD). By contrast, if you are sitting 12ft away from a 100" screen, your will most definately notice a difference with good quality upscaling of SD material. That said, it is likely to be a close call whether the best upscaler will be in your TV/PJ or your $1500 av amp. If you can clarify what display you are using, I can answer this a bit better?
4. I would say almost definately yes. That is a large space, so depending on how you choose to furnish it, you could have significant dips and peaks in the frequency range. If you have wood floors, and not a lot of soft furnishings good sound calibration, combined with some acoustic treatment (if you are prepared to go down that route) is almost essential I would have thought. Again, back to the $1500 av amp, it might struggle to fill a room that large with sound, the speakers are certainly going to need a lot of juice to reach the necessary volume level.