To Philip Beaudette,
I read your review on the Amphion Argon3 loudspeakers and I am going to buy them. I decided a few seconds after I heard them in a showroom. I have a question as I was not able find the answer on the Internet.
I play movies only on my notebook computer (Asus G73J) through HDMI to a Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 display. The Argon3 is the only missing element to enjoy HD movies fully. I don’t listen to CD so much and stereo for movies is fine. With these speakers I do not need 5.1.
I am thinking about the amplifier and how to connect it. If I go only with one HDMI cable and add an A/V amplifier in between the notebook and TV, then I will lose some sound quality to my speakers. I do not expect that there is any good A/V receiver for these speakers. If I send HDMI directly to the TV, I need to send sound somehow else to some amplifier. And this is my question: What would be the best solution for this?
I was thinking of sending audio through USB to a Leema Pulse amplifier, which has very good reviews. But I am not sure what solution is the best. This solution seems to me quite complicated and I would like to see some amplifier with HDMI input, taking just sound and sending to speakers and video to TV.
Thanks for any advice you can give.
First off, I agree that you don't need a home-theater receiver. You'll end up with three to five additional amplifier channels that you won't use if you're running a purely stereo setup, and you'll pay for features that I don't think you'll need (at least not at this time).
I like the idea of running the video directly from your computer into your TV, keeping the signal path as short and simple as possible. As for the audio side of things, this is where it gets interesting. The Leema Pulse integrated seems like a very good option. In fact, any integrated amplifier with a digital USB input and onboard DAC should be OK, which is why the Stello Ai500 that I reviewed is another possibility. It is an outstanding unit.
Alternatively, you could buy an outboard DAC that has a USB input. The High Resolution Technologies Music Streamer II USB DAC that Howard Kneller reviewed last month is one option, and it costs a mere $149. Or you can go to something like the Ayre Acoustics QB-9 USB DAC that retails for a little over $2500, which I know some of the SoundStage! Network reviewers really like. Of course, there are numerous options in between those two. Using a separate outboard DAC is a nice solution because you can use it with any integrated amplifier you like. Then again, with the Leema Pulse or the Stello Ai500, you get everything in a single box.
Choices, choices choices -- there are many more besides these that I could suggest. But hopefully what I told you helped some. Please let me know if you have any other questions. . . . Philip Beaudette