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How to combine stereo and surround sound in one AV system

Piet Steyn

Member
Apr 29, 2020
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Hi Tom...interesting article. This is an issue that gets more and more important as houses and apartments are getting smaller and not a lot of people can have a dedicated hifi room anymore...so hifi and movies must share the lounge.
Question I have is.... what about the option of using a processor and outboard power amplifier(s)? Most freestanding AV processors have a pure-direct mode (or similar). One can then use (as an example) a 5 channel power amp for surround duties, paired with a stereo amp of higher quality for front L & R.... achieving similar results? Or not?
 

HomeFi

Member
May 1, 2020
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Thanks very much for this article. I've read it with interest because I'd like to upgrade my home theater equipment. I have a Yamaha 2005 AVR that's bottom end and an old receiver with a 200watt amp that I could bridge to. The receiver still sounds excellent to my aging ears (a Carver). I'd like to be able to build out a 5.4 Atmos configuration. The Yamaha is too old if I'm not mistaken so I'm thinking of buying a 7.1 AVR and bridging to the Carver to drive the main front speakers and to free up two amps in the new AVR to achieve the .4. I'm not confidant of being able to do this with say a Marantz 5014 even though it has pre outs. Is it possible to give more specific details like photos of setups and menu screens that would make this configuration possible? I'd like to save some money and buy a 7.1 AVR instead of a 9.1 and have money left over for new speakers, a streamer, etc.
 

ryhaigh

Well-known member
Jul 2, 2014
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10,520
Thank you for writing on this. I have a related issue that I was hoping someone could give me some insight on.

The good news is my system is 2.0 but you will see the concepts in this article are still on point.

My primary audio setup in one room is my PC server to Arcam IrDAC to Arcam FMJ A19 integrated audio amplifier to 2 KEF LS50s (2.0 only)

Recently we have had to consolidate space and I am now trying to combine AVR and Audio into one media setup.

I have a Marantz NR1609 Integrated that I use for AVR (which also has the pre-outs like those mentioned in the article)

My plan is to run all AV sources into the Marantz, set it on pure direct, and then send audio via the Pre-out to the A19 and then to the speakers for all audio (AV and my original music purposes).

Obviously, I will be bypassing the Amp stage of the Marantz, but my concern is getting another Preamp stage that I don't need from the A19, as the A19 does not have fixed audio for the AV input like those in the article.

My general concern is adding more noise to the signal when playing content originating from the AVR. Any way to bypass the A19 preamp in this context.

Soo.. 2 questions:
1) How should I balance the volume between amplifiers? (ie. keep one fixed and use other to change listening volume etc)
2) Assuming I am inserted additional noise in the chain, in terms of sound quality, am I better off running all video signals through the Marantz AVR and then just using RCA connectors for audio from each device directly to the Arcam Stereo Amp? (Note: I guess I will also have to change TV from toslink to RCA with an adapter as it doesn't have RCA out)

Thanks in advance!
 
Jun 11, 2020
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Connecting a stereo amplifier to an AV receiver for an all-conquering music and movie system isn't as hard as you might expect.

How to combine stereo and surround sound in one AV system : Read more
Nice description. Right now I am in the process the reset my equipment.
Coming from an Studio DAC environment with 4 active loudspeakers (2 front, 2 back) , a sub connected to a center bar connected via HDMI to my TV, I am considering an AV receiver like Denon AVR 3600. I have a MacMini as an iTunes music server connected to the DAC (firewire) and an AppleTV connected to the TV (HDMI). I also like the idea of Apple Airplay and to use a proper Headset to listen to Hifi and not to disturb anyone watching TV.
Now my question.

A denon AVR-X3600 does not need a separate Stereo amplifier to achieve a top hifi (2x 2 active loudspeakers for Stereo) or a Dolby Surround 5.1 (4 active speakers at front & rear plus center and sub) or what would be your recommendation for a setup and why?
 

soundtom

Member
Jun 29, 2020
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Hi,

I have a turntable, an emotiva a100 mini-x stereo amp, a phono preamp, an Onkyo HTR590 receiver, two Paradigm Titan v.3 speakers, a Paradigm sub, and two Onkyo surround speakers that came with the receiver. I see in the receiver’s manual (https://www.manualsdir.com/manuals/205976/onkyo-ht-r590.html?page=15) that there is a “CD IN,” input, and it mentions a phono preamp, but it does not say anything about bypassing the receiver’s built-in amplifier. There’s also an AUX IN on the front of the receiver. Can I use this receiver for this setup? I believe I have another receiver somewhere else, but I’m not sure of the model. It may be a Yahama. Thanks for any help!

Edit: I see this quote in the article, but I'm not sure what it means: :If you’re set on using an amp that doesn’t have a dedicated AV input, you can do so by setting the volume control at the same level whenever you want to use it in tandem with your surround amp. That’s a more fiddly and less precise way of doing things, but it works just fine." Does this mean I need to adjust both volume knobs at the same time exactly the same increment? Also, the Yamaha receiver is too old and doesn't have HDMI.

Edit: does it mean to leave the stereo volume set and only adjust the volume on the receiver?
 
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Beelzebobby

Member
Aug 10, 2020
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Thanks for this article, as I’m looking at moving from a 2.1 system to a 5.1 system. But one thing puzzles me about this setup: if I were to buy an AV receiver and plug my subwoofer into that, then won’t I lose the sub when listening to a stereo source on my 2.1 receiver?
 

soundtom

Member
Jun 29, 2020
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For anyone who’s curious, what I ended up doing is purchasing an amp switch. I could really only find one made by SPECIALTY-AV. Not sure if they have a patent on it or what. I do lose the sub with this setup, as I don’t have the sub plugged into the stereo amp. There is another rca output I could use for the sub, but I’m not sure if this would give me a true subwoofer level low output...
 

Beelzebobby

Member
Aug 10, 2020
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For anyone who’s curious, what I ended up doing is purchasing an amp switch. I could really only find one made by SPECIALTY-AV. Not sure if they have a patent on it or what. I do lose the sub with this setup, as I don’t have the sub plugged into the stereo amp. There is another rca output I could use for the sub, but I’m not sure if this would give me a true subwoofer level low output...
Good question. So you’re wondering if you can use the additional RCA connector on the switch to plug into the sub, and be able to use the sub with either amp. Is the switch powered? If it’s passive, I would think it will just pass through whatever signal is sent by the amp.
 

soundtom

Member
Jun 29, 2020
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Good question. So you’re wondering if you can use the additional RCA connector on the switch to plug into the sub, and be able to use the sub with either amp. Is the switch powered? If it’s passive, I would think it will just pass through whatever signal is sent by the amp.
So I actually meant that there’s an additional output on the stereo amp that I could use for the sub, not the switch. The switch is not powered.
 

Beelzebobby

Member
Aug 10, 2020
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So I actually meant that there’s an additional output on the stereo amp that I could use for the sub, not the switch. The switch is not powered.
Let me see if I understand this. Your sub is currently directly connected to your AV amp. And you have an available output on your stereo amp, but your not sure if it’s a low level output. But even if it is, I still don’t see how this helps you. From what I’ve read, even if you have multiple inputs on your sub, it’s dangerous to connect it to 2 amps. See this thread:

 

bmahe

Member
Aug 14, 2020
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Great article, really helpful, thanks.

I want to do exactly that, with either the Uniti Atom or the NAD M10, I checked both units and I see how I can do HT bypass with the atom but it's unclear how we can do that with the NAD. I see two line inputs in the back of the unit, but after reading the user manual I see no way of bypassing the volume control. So, I don't think there is a real HT bypass on the NAD.
Am I missing something?

Thanks
 

izmask

Member
Sep 21, 2020
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Hello, one question about Denon PMA-2500NE. Is possible switch direct input for HT bypass via remote control ? For example Marantz PM8006 have button on main unit only and this one must be pressed 3 seconds for switch ( ithink, I dont have this one). At this time I have Onkyo A-9150 and I can switch via RC + Enter button, also on RC. Im thinking about PMA-2500NE, but without possibility use HT bypass with RC, no.
 

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