Building a System
I'm building a 5.1 system with the following components:
- Anthem MRX 700 receiver
- Oppo BPD-93 universal player
- Two pairs of Paradigm Reference Studio 20 speakers (front L/R and surround L/R)
- Paradigm Reference Studio CC-490 center speaker
- Velodyne Optimum 10 subwoofer
- Transparent Audio Wave speaker cables
- AudioQuest Vodka HDMI cables
Since you have several questions, I'll answer them "in line":
1) Is this system well balanced?
I'd say so.
2) At first, I was interested in buying the Integra DTR-80.2 receiver, but after reading some reviews about the Anthem MRX 700, I changed my mind. Am I making the best decision? I'm going to use the system only to watch Blu-rays and listen to CDs and SACDs. My main concern is audio quality, and I don't care about HD radio, lots of connections, lots of surround modes, multi-zone, bi-amping, etc.
3) One dealer recommended that I step up to the Paradigm Studio 60s for the front channels. However, there shouldn't be any differences since I'll be using the Velodyne sub for the lower frequencies. Are there any benefits to replacing the Studio 20s with the Studio 60s in this scenario? Another option is to use the Studio 60s without any sub, but I guess this would be the worst alternative.
I agree that the Studio 60s are probably overkill for your system. Paradigm recommends using the Studio 20s with the CC-490 center-channel speaker, and as you say, the low frequencies will be handled by the sub, so you would set the main speakers to "small" in the AVR anyway. Plus, with Studio 20s in the front and surround positions, you have the best possible tonal matching.
On the other hand, many audiophiles prefer to listen to 2-channel music on two full-range speakers with no sub. If you fall into this camp, you could get the Studio 60s for 2-channel listeningthey go lower than the Studio 20s, but even they do not plumb the stygian depths of bassand they would serve the front L/R channels for surround sound very well. However, in the AVR, you'll have to set the speakers to "large" with no sub for 2-channel and "small" for surround sound with the sub.
4) What would be the best way to connect the Oppo BDP-93 to the Anthem receiver? The Anthem has two limitations in this regard: it doesn't decode DSD, and it doesn't have multichannel analog audio inputs. Therefore, I believe the best alternative is to use HDMI for both movies and stereo/multichannel CDs and SACDs. Is that correct? Will this alternative imply in lower quality compared to using multichannel analog audio inputs (unfortunately not available in the Anthem)?
I would definitely connect the Oppo to the Anthem via HDMI and set the player's SACD Output control to PCM, which will convert DSD to PCM. With the BDP-93, I believe the difference between HDMI and analog is minor at best. If we were talking about the BDP-95, there could be an advantage to using analog connections, in which case I might recommend the Integra AVR for its multichannel analog inputs; see the related discussions here and here.
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