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  1. #1

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    Default 5.1 surround upgrade advice

    After hating my center channel speaker of my 5.1 surround sound for quite some time, I'm finally considering upgrading. What put the nail in the coffin was hooking a Polk RC55i to the receiver as a center channel temporarily before putting it in to my existing in-wall system. I realized how terrible my center was and what I was missing.


    Media viewing:

    - Mostly DLNA serving of lossless MKV content via Ethernet to a Samsung UN50EH5300FXZA TV

    - Audio is then fed from the Samsung's optical out to the Sony receiver's optical input for Dolby Digital surround from the original source.

    - Media room has low ceilings and is maybe 12 x 20ft.



    Here's what I have presently:

    * Sony KTR-840P Receiver (a little confused by "both channels" driven vs "5 channels driven")
    - 40-20kHz, rated 100 watts per channel RMS power at 8 ohms, both channels driven with no more than 0.09% THD from 250 milliwatts to rated output.
    - 1kHz, THD 10% Front, center, and surround - 120W/channel


    * 4 Sony SS-MSP2 front and rear satelitte speakers
    - Speaker sensitivity - 85dB (yuck!) 160Hz - 20k Hz 100W

    * 1 Sony SS-CNP2 center
    - Speaker sensitivity - 85dB (yuck!) 160Hz - 20k Hz 100W


    * 1 Sony SA-WMSP4 sub (actually sounds pretty good)
    - 28-200 Hz 100w minimum RMS power w/ no more than 0.8% THD from 250 milliwatts to rated output.



    Options:

    * I plan to keep the sub regardless.

    Option 1) $499, Quick and easy, go with the Polk Blackstone TL250 set that has 4 satellite surrounds and the Blackstone TL2 center channel

    Option 2) $348, In-walls in front, Polk 65 RT (90 dB sens.) for the center, Polk RC65is (89 dB sens.) for the left/right, keep rear Sony SS-MSP2s (85 dB sens.) My receiver can compensate for speaker levels, but 5 dB is significant and I know timbre-matching is important, but maybe not as much with the rears.

    Option 3) $468, In-walls in front, Polk 65 RT (90 dB sens.) for the center, Polk RC65is (89 dB sens.) for the left/right, Polk Blackstone TL1 satellites for the rear (89 dB sens.)

    I like the in-wall idea as it looks cleaner, but only if it's going to give me better sound. My receiver basically has settings for big speaker or little speaker and I assume I'd set the in-walls to big speaker. It also allows bass cutovers at certain frequencies, compensates for speaker location and can adjust individual speaker volume levels. It's too old to have any HDMI stuff, I'll upgrade it sooner or later, but the speakers are the weak link now I think.
    Last edited by sspeed; 11-06-2013 at 11:25 AM.

  2. #2

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    All of it is the weak link. If going in-walls, get the best you can afford, don't cheap out on in-walls. The receiver isn't the greatest either, and that should be your control center for everything. Also, the way you have it hooked up, to the TV first, is horrible for audio. Tv's don't do audio very well, so your signal is compromised before it even hits the receiver. Then there's the question of the cables your using, which btw, what are you using ?

    At least get a converter to change the Ethernet to digital coax and run into the receiver and not the TV. That alone should provide some upticks in SQ. Aside from that, a budget thrown out for speakers may help the recommendations and for a receiver too.

  3. #3

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    Good points tonyb, so a question on that if I get a receiver that has DLNA capability, will I be able to have the movies go through the receiver first?

    I was hoping, but hadn't researched, that the optical output on the TV was pass-through and didn't do any decoding before sending it on to the receiver?

  4. #4

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    It's not necessarily a decoding that the tv does, it's a conversion from the Ethernet to digital. Tv's don't do conversion well when it comes to audio, video yeah....some do a fine job but audio....nope. Not what they are built for anyway. You always want the signal to go to the receiver first where any conversions and decoding takes place, then out to the TV. How far away from the receiver would the computer be ? Too long of an Ethernet cable can cause some problems too.....along with the quality and speed of your internet connection when playing movies.

  5. #5

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    It's Cat6 cable from the Gigabit switch to the TV, about 30 feet worth. The movies are stored on a Vortexbox with an Intel Gigabit Ethernet card that feeds to the TV (10/100) via minidlna. I've tested the link to >800Mbps, obviously the TV sees <100Mbps.

    So the TV decodes the audio out of the MKV file even though it's still sending digital? I haven't looked in to this much.

    So if I did a different receiver, to make it work, the receiver would have to be network-enabled and do DLNA? Will it pull up movie selections on the TV screen or would I be stuck looking at the tiny LED screen?

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