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Help finding a pre/pro or AVR with ATMOS

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ted_b

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As I unpause our efforts to complete the lower level living area and listening room, I am reaching out to you folks for some guidance. My room will be somewhat multi-use, although designed primarily for 5.1 surround music and, of course, 2 channel listening. But as I posted earlier elsewhere, I have decided that since it will also house a pj and pull down screen I have prewired the ceiling area with cabling for good full-range on-ceiling ATMOS speakers, to allow for a 5.1.4 full setup. This was prompted by Abbey Road, but I'm sure I'll use it for anything ATMOS that I'd like to listen to (or watch). I'm not sure of my ATMOS sources yet, as I typically don't buy physical media much anymore, and renting ATMOS blurays is a thing of the past (??). I'll certainly have a BD player, and a music server that could serve Kodi.

My 5.1 music sources will go to my exaSound multichannel dac (and be switched via Zektor with the 5.1 cabling coming from the AVR/pre/pro)

A few caveats:
1) my primary 5.1 will be powered externally (and I'd like to power the heights with similar sounding amps), so the candidates are pre/pros with, of course, enough analog outs to send 5.1.4...or a good AVR with 5.1 multichannel outs and also either analog height outputs or good internal assignable amp modules for the four height speakers (my secondary choice).
2) I assume ATMOS listening will be less than 20% of my room's use, so I am not gonna put huge $$ into it, but will spend enough to get good timbre (and processing) up there.
3) if needing to decide on great 5.1 movie sound processing and ok ATMOS vs the opposite, I'll tend to prioritize the more-used movie sound (if that makes sense). My surround and 2 channel music processing doesn't go through the AVR/pre/pro anyway.

I have no brand biases, but my last few AVRs (before the move) were Denon, and I was happy with them. Open to all ideas. Thanks in advance

Ted
 

MrSmithers

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I know Marantz have just launched a new pre-amplifier, the AV7706 that now has 8K passthrough, balanced outputs, Atmos, DTS-X, Auro 3D and all the bells and whistles.

Seeing as you like Denons you'd be matching up in that sense and it looks pretty cool (they usually have a silver option too). They also do a power Amp to go with it.

I doubt it's that cheap but in this area everything will be kinda in the upper scales. And there's always McIntosh, NAD, Yamaha that have options too...

Exciting times and I think/hope there's going to be quite a lot of Atmos music coming out so well worth it.

PS - thanks for the handy Computer Audiophile SACD ripping guide from a while back! That got me on the road with my trusty PS3. 😎
 

ted_b

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Also, I need 4k video capability, but assume all do that.

Anybody have feedback on Anthem AVM60?
 

marpow

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Well, I guess I feel compelled to comment.
I have the McIntosh MX122 which is the lowest of the three they offer. The highest has there own room correction built in, I’d like to upgrade but I am seriously tapped out.
I purchased there MI254 4 channel amp for my four height speakers. Beautiful.
I must say the MX122 is flawless in its ability to read different codec’s that get thrown at it. Plus the manual options are abundant.
If I didn’t have the one I think I would like the Marantz.
 

HomerJAU

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I have an Intel NUC8i3BEK running Kodi. I have all my MCH music (including several Atmos releases) ripped to my NAS and all my movies there too, many with Atmos (Incl. 4K). Using current released Kodi 18.8 everything plays with no issue, except Abbey Road Atmos (a known issue yet to be resolved. I play that as 7.1 ok.

The next Kodi release (19.0) can now play 4K with HDR (18 plays HDR tone mapped as SDR). I’m using a Windows alpha release. 19 can play m4A (MPEG Audio) file’s with Atmos streams. These can be tagged with most tagging apps.

I have 7.2.4 using a Denon AVR X7200WA as my surround processor. It drives only my 4 ceiling speakers and rears. I have 5 analog rca cables to my old Arcam AVR600 that drives my 3 fronts and 2 sides. So that’s an option, grab a new AVR with analog outs with Atmos/DTS:X to do your processing and use an old AVR or MCH amp to drive your floor speakers, if that AVR/Amo has better performance. (BTW: The Denon volume control is used to control all amp output).
 

Perpendicular

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I highly recommend you stick with a Denon AVR. To keep your price low, a AVR-X3700 or 4700. Also, the models from the last year or two. According to what I’ve seen on Audio Science Review where they test many AVR Brands/Models, they pale in comparison, including models by Marantz, which were found to be highly distorted (unless, you like that kind of sound). Plus, some of these brands claim they process high res audio but can’t even muster Redbook quality. Unless you can find something used, a pre-pro is likely out of your budget. Good luck in your search!
 

ted_b

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Unless you can find something used, a pre-pro is likely out of your budget. Good luck in your search!
My budget is not yet determined, but my purchase needs are (in somewhat order of importance): "find a best sounding ATMOS/movie processor" and likely five channels of amplification (heights and center) and a 4k projector and pull down screen. I expect to spend $10k-15k, but don't want to. :)

HomerJAU, thanks for all that; I expect to become more adept at Kodi (through these forum pages) and will make sure my music server has enough horsepower, although upsampling to DSD256 mch and DSD512 for 2 channel, via HQPlayer, will force me into some horsepower anyway. :)
 
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ted_b

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So Perp, thanks for the idea of the Denon AVR-X4700. I see it has Aura-3D as well (as ATMOS) but the user manual seems to say that my front and rear height channels for ATMOS are incompatible with it. I mention cuz the 2L label has many immersive Auro-3D blurays..and thought maybe I could kill two birds with one stone.

I plan on SVS Prime Elevations for my heights, but open to suggestions otherwise. My ceiling is not in yet, so I have flexibility, but currently wiring is set for classic proper ATMOS height positions (front and rear)
 
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Perpendicular

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Not sure. Are your height channels ceiling mounted? I’ve tried all speaker configurations with Atmos but it’s before I had my Denon with Auro. I refuse to mount ceiling speakers where I live now. So, I use front and side height speakers instead, per the Auro-3D recommendation. This works for Dolby Atmos too. I have a small enough room and it works just as well as having the ceiling configuration for me.
 

ted_b

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Not sure. Are your height channels ceiling mounted?
Perp, as I said above, I have no finished ceiling yet, so nothing is mounted. But my ceiling is 9.5 ft so I have the room (see avatar for layout).

Edit: I may have misspoken about my height channels and Auro-3D. In rereading about it, I think I may be ok with using ATMOS-positioned front and rear heights in an Auro-3D setup, just maybe not optimum for Auro.
 
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LuvMyQuad

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For Pre-Pros, have a look here.
 
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