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New receiver advice needed, Bridging the gap between HTPC/components and speakers
post Apr 9 2012, 08:15
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Hi, first post but long time lurker (generally on the foobar side of things though). I was given a nice set of audio components a while back (along with 2 great speakers) with a minor catch: there was no receiver, and each component had at least one sizable problem. I've slowly been fixing these issues, and built a HTPC from which virtually all of my sound is being supplied. In the meantime I also put in a cheap receiver my grandparents had rotting in their attic, it did it's job and worked for a while but it appears to be on it's last legs. I'm looking to replace it with a newer receiver that can handle HDMI (currently I'm using the 3.5mm mobo jack - receiver rca), can drive my speakers (Kef 104s), and take a decent number of inputs (phono, tape, cd, + at least a couple HDMI). This is where I get totally lost. I have absolutely no idea which brands or models I should be looking at, if I am thinking about anything arse backwards, or just generally not being too bright. My price range is fairly low (broke student here), but I'd like to have an idea of what the options are across the board. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks.
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post Apr 9 2012, 23:09
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Apr 9 2012, 10:09) *
QUOTE (Adiventure @ Apr 9 2012, 09:46) *
Space is no issue as long as we are talking smaller than a mini fridge.

The dimension of your listening room is needed to make a raw estimation of the power the amplifier needs to output to drive your speakers (which, Googleing a bit, seem to be quite efficient) to adequate listening level (*). If you are on a budget, this could make some difference, together with the presence of a tuner and a phono input...

(*) which, in the end, depends on you: do you like it loud or quiet? wink.gif

Major derp moment. I was searching (incredible, isn't it) and was reading a thread where the size of the receiver was a major pressing point. Somehow tired me conflated that with your question to make it about how much room I had for the receiver >.< .

So, the room, sonically will suck probably no matter what. It's a 10x14 box on one side, speakers are setup about 7' apart, and then across from them and off to one side it's another 10x8 box (two rectangles of different sizes stacked on top of each other. It's also under the gables so roughly 7' into the 14' wall the ceiling starts sloping down from about 8' to about 5'.

That's probably too much information. In short it's a big, oddly shaped room.

QUOTE (mzil @ Apr 9 2012, 16:36) *
QUOTE (Adiventure @ Apr 9 2012, 02:15) *
my speakers (Kef 104s),.... My price range is fairly low (broke student here), but I'd like to have an idea of what the options are across the board. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks.
Some KEF 104s came with (or at least recommended you buy) a small, customized, outboard EQ box called a "KUBE" [maybe "KEF Universal Bass Equalizer", I'd guess]. If yours do, or you intend to get one to add on, I highly recommend looking for a receiver with a "tape monitor loop", aka "record out monitor loop" or "EPL" ("external processor loop", the KUBE being a classic example of external processor). [The KUBE is not 100% necessary, however if you have one it would seem a shame to not use it.]

This EPL feature used to be almost impossible to not find on a receiver, even introductory designs, but many if not most modern "A/V" receivers have dropped it. Audio only designs are more likely to have it, but they may be lacking the HDMI jacks you requested and of course will be stereo only, no surround sound.

Receivers are a good category to consider buying used or when discontinued by the maker since they don't really get better year after year, like computers do, they just get more features and are fairly reliable and not prone to decay or "wear and tear", even if the owner before you used it heavily.

Mine at least no longer have a KUBE. I will keep an eye out for one for sure. I've only recently started caring about HDMI, and that may be based in a lack of understanding. Most of my music comes, and will be coming from the HTPC I made, the rest largely from the components, beyond that I do want my cable and the occasional game to play through the speakers too. My assumption is that for the HTPC, cable, and games (wii, playstation, xbox) HDMI was the best option. If I can hook them up in some other simple reasonable manner I would. Sound wise I want the HTPC output as nice as can be, but the TV games can be whatever is practical.
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post Apr 10 2012, 08:20
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QUOTE (Adiventure @ Apr 10 2012, 00:09) *
In short it's a big, oddly shaped room.

Which is a good starting point to have a great sound.
Because it's big, you should avoid lesser powered amplifier. An amplifier with specificied power rating of 80-100W should be enough to avoid clipping in the loudest passages of recordings with great dynamic, like symphonic, organ, choruses etc... (if well recorded and mixed! wink.gif)

I second mzil's advice about making good bargains with used or discontinued.

... I live by long distance.
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