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Surroundsound/Home Theatre Amplifiers?

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Surroundsound/Home Theatre Amplifiers?

Postby daveyspen » Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:48 am

I know there are many purists who may be horrified at my suggestion- but whilst browsing some internet Hi-Fi dealers for a new amplifier for my Hauptwerk system, I noticed that there are many devices aimed at Home Theatre systems. Has anybody tried any of these on Virtual Organs, and if so with any success?

Of course a real organ sound would only come from the direction of the pipe chambers, and there has been much talk on this forum of 1 rank per speaker, then allowing the sound to "mix" in the room.

I just wondered how useable it would be if a single amplifier process's a stereo source into 5.1 or even 7.1 "synthetic" channels. Yes there may be intermodulation issues, but the trade off could be a wider sound with some properties which could only be aquired by a much larger acoustic space than most peoples living rooms could allow.

I have noted on recent trips to the Cinema that "Surround Sound" technologies have come a long way, although I do concede that many movie sountrack sources are made with this reproduction method in mind, so optimised accordingly.

Is this a non-starter?

Over to you- fellow forum members!
Davey
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Postby Stefanussen » Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:41 pm

Hi Davey, I've been looking at a lot of the same stuff recently. I've found (even online) that it's difficult to find power amplifiers for use with something like our typical audio interfaces, as far as I can tell, it's much easier to find a 5.1 or 7.1 receiver. Yes, I know that's might not go over well with the purists, but I'm probably in a similar boat as you; a home user with a limited budget. I know I've already spent thousands on my HW setup, recently I've been seriously looking at expanding my audio system, and have discovered that the sky is the limit, and one must make informed decisions/purchases with the audio system to get good results without shelling out thousands more.

I have decided that having a single receiver process a stereo signal and sending it to a 2.1 - 7.1 system is going to provide best results, I'm in a tiny room, and I don't have much to work with in terms of acoustics, I have to let the original organ acoustics be the way to go for me. I've also been dissatisfied with the speaker setups I've been looking at recently, even the high end definitive speakers seem to be inadequate, I brought home a pair of their nicest bookshelf speakers + sub, ended up returning them because the 5-1/4" drivers in the bookshelf speakers weren't enough to give a satisfying sound that filled the room, and the sub was way too much (pro series, 10" 300W) for my room. I have an appointment with a audio place here in Salt Lake that deals 'Triad speakers' today. I continue to use an old set of Cerwin-Vega D4, they have 1" tweeter, 5-1/4" driver, 12" driver. I have found that I need that big driver to give a nice sound. I'd stay away from just any 5.1 system, I'd be surprised if those little speakers gave you the sound you wanted. Perhaps a set of the top end definitive super towers sold at Best Buy... but I'm still convinced I can get a satisfactory sound for less than $2,000.
Last edited by Stefanussen on Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Surround sound

Postby CHRIS 037 » Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:48 pm

And then add the Zwolle organ which can be ordered with surround sound output.

I wonder what that would sound like! Very fine, I'll bet!

Leo Chris.
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Re: Surround sound

Postby Stefanussen » Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:52 pm

CHRIS 037 wrote:And then add the Zwolle organ which can be ordered with surround sound output.

I wonder what that would sound like! Very fine, I'll bet!

Leo Chris.


Indeed, that would sound very fine on a good 5.1 - 7.1 setup!
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Postby gingercat » Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:36 pm

Probably the best route to take would be to use the discrete inputs on the amp, supplied by a multiple-line-out soundcard, that way, you can forget that it is a surround amp and treat it as a 5/7 channel amplifier, then place your speakers where you want them.
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Postby PeterD » Sat Mar 01, 2008 6:31 am

I've been using a Yamaha DSP-AX1 for my Milan 3-31 with really pleasing effects ( and for Litomysl and Groton). The manual defines all the reverberant space qualitatively and I find the European Concert hall A & B most worthwhile particularly for the VTPO. Quite a short Reverb time but importantly not too much reflected sound. The various Church models in the device produce far too deep a reverb to make playing enjoyable.

I've only used it in stereo using the Minidisc input- if you feed the 8 channels direct from the 1010LT you lose the DSP effects of the amp, which is why I bought it pending HW3's own reverb engine being released.
It ought to be possible to use the SPDIF out from the sound card and thus have a multi channel output but I've seen various references to Sound Card SPDIF output from the 1010LT isn't always compatible with Home Cinema Amps??
Anyway at least for the VTPO I'm very happy - a simple if not entirely scientific method - as there seems to be a "must have this years amp" culture among Home Cinema enthusiasts- the corollory of that is that there are some real bargains for last year's models about.
Plenty of bang for your buck- eight channels at 150W per channel for about £300.

I'd love to have the time, space and the money to set up a multi speaker output - but for now this route is a good solution with the potential for true multichannel output - and who knows others might go down Jiri's route of Surround sound.

On other VTPO sites this seems also to be the preferred route for many

Best to all

Peter
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Re: Surroundsound/Home Theatre Amplifiers?

Postby Vladimir Ratkovsky » Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:06 pm

I was asking myself (and PeterD and Uwe) the same question and then looked at the user's guide of my Marantz SR7500 surround amplifier.
I found that there are special analogue multichannel inputs (named AUX2) that can receive 7+1 signal from an interface = device = music card that divides signal into 7+1 channels, converts it to an analogue signal and sends to these 7+1 inputs (front left/right, centre L/R, surroud L/R, center and a subwoofer).
It means that in my case the digital signal (from HW) is converted to an analogue one in the card itself (in my case E-MU 1616) and then sent to the amplifier.

Additionally, the amplifier has 2 more 'multiroom' inputs that can receive a signal from the different source than previously mentioned inputs for 7+1.

It means that in total I can have 9+1 speakers' set up.

But:

E-MU has only 6 analogue outputs, which I connected to the analogue inputs on the amplifier - thus creating 5+1 setup....

but I can connect a digital output (ADAT or SPIF) on EMU to a digital input for a multiroom - but for this I need additional 2 speakers, which I dont have at the moment...

So, it is possible to use home theatre amplifier - but look at the possibility of 'multichannel input' and a card that converts digital signal to an analogue one and has 7+1 analogue outputs... and you can easily have 7+1 set up...
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Postby daveyspen » Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:34 pm

Some interesting and informative answers. Thankyou forum members.
I think I will buy a surround sound amplifier, and if it does not live up to my expectations, I can still use it as a two channel amplifier. I was not aware of the DSP function, and this is good news, as it seems I can add reverb to the output without increasing the processor load on the PC.
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Postby mightywurlitzer » Fri Mar 07, 2008 10:50 am

I had a number of home theatre amplifiers and speakers on hand as a result of years of experimentattion with home theatre setups. Good stuff is expensive, but it's virtually bullet-proof! I am using many home theatre speakers, mostly Klipsch Premiere and VMPS, along with Allen speakers in my VTPO setup. One of the most satisfying experimental setups involved using multiple DSP-equipped Yamaha home theatre receivers, divided into four main divisions (Main I & II, Solo I & II) with speakers set up for surround sound and organ simultaneously. Each division has two Allen speakers facing the wall, along with home theatre speakers facing into the room for left, center, right, subs, front EFX and rear EFX. As others have noted above, the surround effects are quite satisfying. The sound resembles that of a real instrument speaking into a large space. One of the benefits of using home theatre receivers is the ease of switching speakers into or out of the mix, for example, using "speaker A" outputs fof all of the main channels and "speaker B" for subs, so that the subs can easily and quickly be omitted for quiet practice, or switched in for the full effect.
Regards, Bill
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Postby daveyspen » Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:50 am

Thanks Bill.Now I'm really convinced this is the way to go.
My music room is a single car garage fitted out with carpet and wall coverings with a low ceiling- so acoustically it offers nothing. I am using the Milan Wurlitzer sample set- which is recorded close up- my soundcard is an EMU 0404 which does have DSP. Although the sound is very impressive, I cant quite get the exact feel of a theatre that I want- so hopefully the Surround Sound Route will move it more in that direction.
Some local HIFI dealers are selling last years models of Yamaha Surround sound for around £150 so its not much more than good stereo amplifier for the hardware. There is just the extra cost of two sets of speakers . But as Martin points out on his Hauptwerk page, there's no point spending good money on computers and sample sets, only to spoil the result with cheap soundcards and speakers!
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Postby PeterD » Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:27 am

Just a note of caution about "Surround Sound" - unless you have an input like SPDIF which has embedded 7.1 or whatever there is no channel separation. Your sample set producer must arrange to have a surround sound output - e.g Zwolle. Perhaps a route for other sample set producers to consider as you would have an "out of the box" multichannel output allbeit perhaps a maximum of eight.

If you simply feed a stereo output into the CD or Aux input all you get is stereo reproduced through multiple speakers. The advantage of the Cinema Amp with dry samples is mainly using the DSP engine on the Amp, and at a sensible price. Plenty of grunt as well,- my DSP-AX1 has three sub outlets.

However most amps have a direct input function - usually 6 channel, but for Yamaha at least that doesn't allow any DSP output. Once HW3's native reverb turns up - then of course you can separate the channels using the direct input method and still have Reverb. Or of course you can currently have a true multi - channel output with wet samples

Best regards

Peter
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Postby daveyspen » Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:44 pm

So to re-cap- you are telling me that the DSP function (in Yamahas case) will not work if the discrete seperate phono plug inputs are used for the channels, the DSP can only be applied in certain circumstances?
Also - you mention the Hauptwerk Reverb function- has any timetable been published for this upgrade?
Thanks. David.
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Postby PeterD » Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:31 pm

David
Yes as far as Yamaha is concerned that's the case ( at least for DSP-AX1) which was their flagship amp 5 years ago- and I guess that might well apply to other Yamaha's. DSP operates via any other input CD,DVD, Minidisk etc, and gives a very pleasing result- as it does when using the DSP function to playing other music - CD's etc. Stereo with a DSP addition sounds really quite different to straightforward vanilla stereo.

As to HW3's Native Reverb - I think it's high priority .......over to you Martin !

I still think it's the least expensive and effective way to go - get some really good speakers that can handle the the fairly hefty output of most top of the range multichannnel amps. I've got Goodmans Dimensions 8's - Bi-polar Eighties speakers for everday ( nine driver's apiece)- I think the idea was to produce a wider soundstage and the drivers are aimed 45 degrees off centre.If I really want to have some fun then I hook up a pair of Kef 105's as well ,( they don't die till 360 watts a channel). I will concede there isn't quite the science of a multichannel mono set-up but you can certainly move the air around the room. With 12 inch base units on the Kef's, the subs are somewhat redundant - at least within the usual domestic constraints.

Hope this helps

Best

Peter
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Postby mdyde » Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:49 am

Hello David,

Also - you mention the Hauptwerk Reverb function- has any timetable been published for this upgrade?


I'm afraid I can't offer any useful estimates at this stage for when that will be done, other than to say that it is a very high-priority enhancement.
Best regards,
Martin.

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Postby daveyspen » Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:54 pm

Just an update on this item for some feedback. I eventually purchased a surround sound unit- a Yamaha RV361 with the DSP function. Only cost me £120,( and has 5 channels all rated at 100w) and I also bought a set of additional speakers to take advantage of the extra channels- some JBL bookshelf speakers which can handle up to 100w.
All together running the DSP and the 5.1 Surround sound, the sound is much improved, and really adds a spacious and "all around" sound as I was looking for to get the best out of my Theatre Organ samples.

Thanks to all who took the time to advise me. I am now saving up for a sub woofer to add to the fifth output which is currently un-used from the amplifier. I was going to make my own sub woofer and searched the web for a supplier of amplifier modules and found "www.bkelec.com", but their prices seem really keen so I will probably just purchase a ready made unit. Anybody got any experience of using products from this company?

David
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