AV Upgrade Journey (Part 2)

Wanted to update on this journey started way back last year (link).

Since then, the REL subwoofer has been replaced with a B&W DB3D sub, the (24 year old) B&W CDM1 rear speakers have been replaced by B&W 705S2 speakers (still on Kudos S100 stands), the centre B&W CDM CSE speaker has been replaced with a B&W HTM71S2.

The system is also joined by a Naim NDX2 streamer for music duties in the living room and for using with the ND555 in the music room in multi room mode.

There’s a few compromises in how the system is set up (no dedicated ‘proper’ rack for the NDX2, the HTM71S2 isn’t in the ‘centre‘ of the sound field, etc.), but it all works really well and is a huge uplift in SQ compared with the previous components.

My dealer & I have had quite a few issues with the Arcam AVR850, and are now on our second brand new unit (that now works well). Apparently Arcam are having quite a few quality control issues, and my Hi-Fi dealer has had to send back multiple AVR30 units (successor to the AVR850) as the firmware still hasn’t been fixed (e.g. Dirac room correction still not working properly).

Anyway, the system is working flawlessly and we’re enjoying music and films during the lockdown. We’re not ‘Netflixers’ or ‘Amazon Primers’, but are doing our best to keep HMV alive with BluRay and 4K disc purchases. We do have the free Apple TV+ subscription that we are trying out as well.

The keen eyed will also notice that the carpet is different (cream instead of green) and the coffee table has gone for good (to the local hospice shop)!


How do you find not having the screen between the front L-R speakers when watching 5.1/3.1 material?

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Excellent question, and it was a concern that my dealer and I had, however following Dirac calibration, we find that somehow “it just works”. We’ve watched many films since, and at no times have found the centre channel (& screen) being to the left of the left speaker sounding odd. I was watching John Wick 3 over the holidays, and the action sounded very real, and you could place the gun shots, breaking bones, etc. quite well.

Having said all that, we recognise that it is a compromise though, and ideally we’d have liked to have the screen and centre speaker located between the L & R speakers, however for practical reasons have to accept this. Either removal of the fireplace (& we’ve just had a new one fitted) or turning the whole setup 90’ (anticlockwise) would be required, and both these solutions have bigger consequences. Having the screen above the fireplace won’t work as we’d both end up with neck-ache (looking up to see the action). Likewise, turning 90’ would mean that we’d need the sofa in front of the patio door, blocking out a lot of light and causing a physical obstruction. We spent a lot of time with bits of graph paper, planning out different arrangements before ending up with the compromise that you see.

Another solution would be to move house to one better suited for a home cinema, however we have finally got the rest of the house to a good condition (new garden, bathrooms, kitchen) and really have no desire to move. It’s also great that we are also able to have a separate, dedicated music room that sounds awesome.

Thanks for your interest in this thread Rackit - it’s nice to have at least one reply!


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I know that feeling of having a thread ignored :smiley:

Your separate music room is a great trade off. We don’t have the space for that so I made sure the room where the system is was able to handle AV and music. It did need a lot of work, the main one was removing the chimney breast so the av unit and tv had the best spot in the room for placement. The room isn’t huge and it’s 2 knocked into one as individually they were way too small which was another bonus to taking the fireplaces out as they ate into the limited space too.

Good to hear that your AV works well though. It’s all needed during this lockdown period and strange times.

Take care and stay safe.

Cheers, Rack.

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