AV upgrade in Covid-19 times

Upgrading my mixed Ruark speakers/Yamaha 3020 AV system: given listening in places is hard right now I may just plunge in, so input from others helpful.

Room is 5m x 4m, vaulted ceiling (ridge across the room as you look forwards). No need for music - separate stereo system - so just AV performance, from Sky Q/Netflix/Blu-ray, with wired internet.

Thinking the Denon AVC6500H is a step up.

Speakers - currently looking at Monitor Audio Silver AV package (Silver 200, Silver C150 Centre, Silver FX Rears and Silver W12 Subwoofer), the B&W 603 package (603 fronts, 607 rears, HTM6 centre and ASW608 sub), possibly Fyne (F501 Floorstanding Speakers, F500 Bookshelf Speakers, F500C Centre Speaker with F3-12 Subwoofer).

Experiences with these welcomed, as are alternatives in similar price range.

Some comments from me:

  • not overly a fan of the looks of the MA rears, but looks are not critical c./f. sound. Narrow fronts are helpful
  • previous b&w speakers I’ve heard in hi-fi have been overly bright to my ears
  • am likely to move to atmos at some point in next year or two - will have to have in-ceiling speakers as the ceiling is angles and it’s the only way to get correct positioning, will be a .4 setup for that. Could do it now with time on my hands I suppose…

Do any of these work better with Atmos than others? and finally, what in-ceiling speakers would people recommend for their choice of 5.1 setup?


A couple of years ago we had some building work done in our lounge and I took the opportunity to install Atmos speakers in the ceiling (along with cabling, etc). I started a thread (on the old forum, I think) and got some great advice.

My system was 5.1 using PMC speakers. 20.23 fronts, Centre C and 20.21 rear surrounds. Plus an REL Q400E sub which I bought about 20 years ago.
The AVR is the Denon AVR X7200WA which was their just discontinued top of the range AVR.

The advice I received was that you don’t really need to match the Atmos speakers to your main speakers and don’t spend silly money on the cabling. I went to a local installer and bought 2 pairs of Q-Install (from Q Acoustics) ceiling speakers (£200/pr) plus a reel of cable (£3/m, IIRC). I got the wall plates from eBay or Amazon for about £50. My builders did the install.

We have ended up with a really well sorted system. The 5.1.4 system is much better than the 5.1 that preceded it. Much more immersive sound and for a relatively small outlay.

In conclusion, I would say choose your 5 main speakers according to what you like and you don’t need to go for same brand ceiling speakers. As always, YMMV, but I hope that helps.

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Ruarks are Preludes front left/right (roughly £900 a pair when new about 15 years ago) , vita centre and sub (no idea but prob about £1k for 5.1 package), rears are Epilogues.

Are current Monitor Audio silver series a likely step up from this?

Now I understand that just alright ceiling speakers are fine (~£100 each) and don’t have to match, and a sub from a sub brand is better - and possible 2 subs better still.

But the key q is whether I’ll get clearer more depth sound from the MAs than the Ruarks…

Hi Andrew,

I decided to go in another direction. My room is not huge, 12’x11’. Rather than bother with yet MORE speakers and amps to my 5.3 system I have just bought a Lexicon MC-10 with Dirac & Logic7. I am expecting the processing to result in a more cohesive saound field than the already good Oppo 105D I am using.

Unfortuneatly, a current event will delay the proper calibration of the system once the MC-10 arrives.

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Thanks, that’s interesting, I look forward to hearing how it sounds. Delay, unfortunately, is a fact of life nowadays!
We are certainly enjoying ours at the moment - seem to have so much time on our hands for some reason.


current plan - stick with the Ruarks, got 2 x SVS PC2000 pro’s on order, a relocation of the Vita’s to the side and repurposing others for the rear. Going with the Deon 6500H, and will redo sides and LCR if needed.

Hi xcentric,

I would recommend looking at the Home Theatre Gurus channel on YT. He goes into detail on setup.

Problem with ANY speakers is that they are room dependent. BUT, with Dirac et al you get to tune them in using DSP. My gut feel is that you are best getting something that works well natively before dialing in the electronic magic.

One thing my dealer definitely recommends is to run all your speakers as LARGE is possible, removing the need for managing sub frequencies where many AV boxes give limited ability to manage, e.g. one xo frequency etc. In my case this means I run three subs.

One advantage of the Lexicon is that it can tonally tweak the output removing tonal differneces between speaker makes …or so I am told, I will report back. This has become more of an issue as sound mixers are using the none front three channel speakers more imaginatively.

WRT the Denon I would look at the sound management system and compare that to the top considered ones such as Dirac, ARC et al.

WRT Atmos:
This is one I keep playing with. There isn’t a plethora of material in the wild in terms of movies I BELIEVE. That which does exist runs from Mad Max Fury Road, where the overhead speakers get 12 minutes of material, to Ready Player One which apparently is excellent, althoug an abysmal film (IMO).

My understanding is that you are better off with speakers that are mounted on the ceiling, rather than recessed into it. To get the working in my setting would mean adding ANOTHER power amp, well I do have three spares in the loft - including a 250! But, to run the cable would mean: moving out my hifi; running the cables; lifting the floor in the bedroom upstairs; reorganising my HiFi for the extra power amp.

I have looked at using active speakers together with a WiFi, Bluetooth, etc transmitter. I am pretty sure I am going to decide this is a step too far.

But still playing the game of tempting myself!


My situation is slightly different from yours, because although I initially integrated my music playing and AV systems for a few years, I decided many years ago to have separate music and AV systems. However, my initial choice very many years ago was of a similar flavour to yours. My first AV system was a Yamaha DSP-A1 Gold 5:1 amplifier with Ruark Prologue Ones (front) Ruark Dialogue (centre) and Ruark Epilogue (rear) with a Rel Storm II sub-woofer. The Ruarks were chosen in competition with similarly priced options from B&W and Castle, and chosen primarily by listening to music over the front speakers. Although the B&W and Castle speakers sounded more ‘impressive’ in some ways, the Ruark sounded just more natural and ‘musical’ (a very subjective term, I know) when re-playing music.

If music is important to you, I would concentrate on comparing your current amplifier (playing music) with the alternatives you are considering, and keep the Ruarks for the time being. In my opinion, Ruark speakers are still very good indeed after all these years. You would have to pay quite a bit of money to outperform them.

Incidentally, the AV part of my home systems now consists of: Sky Q, Krell Showcase Pre & 5:1 power amps (a considerable improvement over the Yamaha for music replay in particular), a pretty massive pair of Ruark Solstice speakers (front), Ruark Dialogue (centre) and Ruark Prologue Ones (relegated from the front to rear). I still have the Rel sub-woofer but have no longer needed it since the arrival of the Solstices. I have also added a microRendu and Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ to this set up, and paradoxically spend almost as much time listening to music on this system as I do on my main ‘music only’ system.

My main bit of advice is to concentrate on the music playing ability of your amplifier in your integrated music/AV system & possibly stick with your Ruark speakers. The AV side of things will sort itself out.

EDIT: @xcentric - I have just spotted that I am about a month late in replying to your post. As a matter of interest what did you end up doing?

Ok, update:

Note that my AV system whilst in the same room as the hi-fi is separate…

I bought a Concert AVR-7 processor, and ATI 1804 power amp, for the heavy lifting duties.
Also got:

  • 3x GTL Soundlabs AE963 in wall speakers for LFR
  • 2x GTL AE653’s for LR surround
  • 2x Bay Audio JM40 II for rear LR,
  • 4x GTL AE653c in-ceiling speakers
    I found someone who had bought up the stock of a liquidated high-end AV installation company, so ended up spending what I’d looked at for Monitor Audio speakers and upgraded Denon amp.

However it’s all sitting in boxes as I need to finish building a garage outside first, and am auditioning hifi as well in the same room I now need to rip apart to install this lot! Garage should be done in a few days, hi fi choices mostly made, and so it’ll be a case of moving everything out and taking a saw to the walls…

But I also put in 2x SVS SC2000 Pro subwoofers, which are installed with the current system and make a world of difference in terms of impact and cinematic feel.

Hello–I have begun the addition of HT to the music system. (Nucleus+, Roon, TIDAL, Ultra Dac, Krell KSA 80B, and Apogee Scintilla One Ohm). I picked up an x-demo M G65 and 722 HDMI switch last week. Also picked up a pair of DSP3200’s for the rears, on the Bay for a great price. Currently pondering a Pair of M-6’s for the side surrounds. I need to add a shelf to my Fraim to do this. Being a woodworker and having a batch of Cherry, I might just fab it myself. I know the HDF is probably sonically better, but solid cherry just looks so nice and I can plane it to full 25 mm thickness, rather than 19 mm. Ordered the wall mount brackets for the rears, along with cables etc. Great project for the opening up phase here in the US. I plan to keep the Main 2 speaker system unmolested, and only run dvd and movies thru the HT. I have read that some classical music benefits from the HT setup.

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