System upgrade advice and capabilities question

Convinced my wife that we need Focal Aria 936’s (wan’t hard once she heard them) but now I’m running them with a Marantz AVR SR7011 and know from what I read online that separates will make them sound even better. I want to get the Stellar GCD, M700’s, Stella Power Plant 3, and stream TIDAL with Bluesound node.

Here are my questions: Thoughts on that set up for Focal Aria 936 if you’re familiar with them (it’s been a hard decision for A/B or D amps/separates or integrated)? Does that Stella GCD have theater bypass if I want to run a center for movies with another receiver? My wife loves the convince of the heos app for Marantz, it will just power on everything and it’s easy to use. For her sake I want it to be simple. I assume a logitech harmony universal remote will do that with PSaudio equipment and the blue sound app is easy to use.

Have you considered using your AVR as a preamp for the M700s…

If you look at the specifications you will see the Focal Aria 936 are a fairly sensitive speaker at 92dB and the recommended power is 50-300w into 8 ohms. The M700 are 350w. So the amplifier section of your Marantz is is quite sufficient for the Focals. The PS Audio S300 stereo amplifier will give you a little more headroom probably, but again is likely to be more than sufficient.

The convenience of a good app that allows the family to use the system with ease is a major factor in my book. The Bluessound is meant to have top notch software and I’m considering one myself. It is also about the cheapest off-the-shelf Roon Ready server on the market.

Yeah I did consider the S300 due to the efficiency of the focal’s, maybe I should think about it some more. I just want to get the best performance out of the speakers and read about separate amps (due to independent power and amplification) produce the best sound.

I have (this may sound weird) but I like the idea of preamp and amp being same brand. I’ve heard things in reviews about how the stack is ‘natively balanced’ so use balanced cables, even though I don’t exactly understand what a natively balanced stack is I want to squeeze the best performance out so want to use the balanced out’s. I’m really focusing on 2 channel now

I have Focal 1027be speakers. They are rated at 91dB. In theory, my last amp (60 Watt tube amp - over 70 watts using KT-120s) should have driven them easily. However, they never really sounded like they were as open, rich, etc as they should have been. Once I got the SGCD/M700 package the Focals sounded much better. They finally opened up. Extra headroom is a wonderful thing.

Your results may vary - my experience with the 1027be speakers was that stats on paper did not correlate with real world sound. Focals can be harder to push than the stats imply.

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I don’t use the SGCD’s HT bypass. Some have had issues with using it. Their system generates a loud “thump” in the right channel speaker when engaging the HT bypass. I tried it on mine as an experiment. I heard a small “thump” but it was not something that affects me. A lot of SGCD owners apparently do not have the problem. You might want to search the forums to research the HT bypass feature since it is a big consideration.

Thanks for the info. I was debating either the s300 since the speakers have such a high sensitivity rating, but for some reason feel it won’t be as complete as a m700 set. Yeah I read the issues with the thump during bypass. I might just run 2 channels for everything.

I’m just learning how all this equipment links together. If I run Apple TV into my TV and an optical to the Sellar GCD it will play through the speakers right? May be a stupid question just want to confirm that

Most displays do not output anything on the optical, it’s only an input.

I’m glad I kept my old ATV3 with optical out

You can add a cheap hdmi to optical splitter with hdmi pass through from Amazon for $20

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We think along the same lines. Just thought based on your liking the HEOS functions for your wife.

I have a W4S preamp and W4S multichannel amp, and use Anthem MRX 720 as my AVR. All stereo channels (6) and center channel runs thru the W4S multichannel amp. The MRX 720 AVR powers the surround channels.

I never even heard of the brand W4S. It’s so hard to decide what to go with, brand, stereo/mono, A/B or D type of amp. I like making objective decisions but it’s hard to choose with limited experience in this game


If you’re not in a hurry, attend audio shows and learn about the different brands. You get what you pay for, but you don’t have to spend a mint to setup a nice system. The one thing about W4S, is the stuff is ultra reliable.

Agreed, I’ve owned four different pieces and never even the hint of an issue.