Building 3.1 system -- need advice!

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by ChrisS13, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. ChrisS13

    ChrisS13 Auditioning

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    I'm due for an overhaul...finally ditching the Bose 3-2-1!! It served it's purpose, but I'm ready to send that thing to Craigslist. After doing some research, listening to speakers, etc, I have decided to go 3.1. I don't particularly care for rear surrounds, nor do I want to drag cables through my walls, so 3.1 it is. My main gripe with the Bose setup I have is that I am apparently deaf and have serious issues hearing dialogue. TV/Movies 85%, Music 10%, Wii 5%. Budget up to $1300, but hopefully less. For my living room -- viewing area 13' x 14' with one end open to the dining room/kitchen. Yup, you guessed it...I'm female. I'm the "wife" who doesn't want wires all over the place :)

    I have: Sharp 37" 1080p LCD, DVD player, Wii, Western Digital TV, DirectTV -- so I need 3 hdmi plus my wii to be plugged into my receiver. I don't plan on getting a Blu-Ray anytime soon, and if I did, I would get a PS3 and ditch the Wii. I hookup my macbook sometimes too, but I can always plug that in directly to the TV, so I'm not too worried about it.

    Receiver: Looking to get either the Denon AVR1910 ($465) or the 1610 ($320). I found some open box deals. Do I really need the 1910? I'm never going to go 7.1 so I'm thinking the 1610 might work out just fine. Are there any serious deficiencies with the 1610? Any suggestions here? I'm open to any brand but I've never really been a fan of Sony.

    Sub: HSU has STF1 on sale for $259. Thought that would be good. Thoughts? I can't really shake my neighbors up, so I'm opting for the baby model.

    Speakers: Here's where I have serious issues. Too many options! I have listened to a couple different brands and I liked:
    1) Deftech Promonitor 1000 + Procenter 1000 (listened at BB, it will run me $660) -- sounded just fine to me, but I liked the size of the 2 fronts, since I can't fit stands due to the room and furniture.
    2) Paradigm Atom Monitors + Cinema CC (Not a matching set, I know, but the store didn't have the monitor series center. The set I heard would be $450) -- sounded good also, but those atoms are a little bulky for my furniture. I could live with it, but if I can find something smaller I would be happy.

    I was thinking maybe NHT (absolute zero + center, $497) OR PSB alpha B1 +C1 ($460). I hate to run to BB and buy the most expensive option without asking opinions. I must say that the size/shape of those were the easiest to throw into the furniture setup I currently have. I just don't want to buy really large speakers! I'm going to hear the PSBs hopefully today, but the NHTs will have to be bought blind, thank god for 30 day trials. Any other suggestions? I scoured the forums as best I could...now I need some help.
     
  2. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Well, kudos to you on your scouring abilities! Seems like you've taken just about everything into consideration and come up with a pretty well thought-out plan.

    On the receiver end, since you have the Wii in the mix, a critical feature for you will be analog to digital video conversion, so that you can hook the Wii up to the receiver with component cables, and still have only a single HDMI running to your TV. The Denon 1610 does have that feature (though only to 480p), so I don't think it's missing anything critical for you. Another alternative would be the Onkyo 607. Amazon currently has it available for about $40 more than the 1610, but the Onkyos have the Audyssey setup/calibration capability which is very highly regarded around here.

    On the speaker front, definitely give the PSBs a listen. I've had PSBs for years (started with alphas, now have their Image series) and I love them. Great value, and to me at least, a great sound. Way back when I auditioned speakers, the Paradigms were right up there with the PSBs - another great alternative.

    Whatever you do, I would DEFINITELY match the speakers - especially since you're only doing a 3.1 setup, it makes sense to maximize the quality of your soundstage. I would think any Paradigm dealer could get you a matching center (the CC-190), even if it had to be ordered.

    Good luck!
     
  3. ChrisS13

    ChrisS13 Auditioning

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    Thanks Jason. I will check out the Onkyo you mentioned. It was nice to hear that I could get away with a cheaper receiver! I think it's now just going to come down to what deals I can find.

    I have read many many threads on matching the front 3, so I will definitely do that. I tried hunting down a place where I could hear PSBs...no luck. Anyone know a place near Long Beach, CA?

    I did give a listen to the B & W 685 and 686s yesterday. Those were really nice, but I think I can find something fairly similar (maybe via HTD or SVS) online, for a lot less. I see rave reviews for those ID companies everywhere. I'm thinking about ordering level 2s from HTD since they have a gracious return policy, then buying another set i can return too :) THEN try them both out for a couple weeks??? I think that may be the best solution.

    Could you compare the alphas sound to anything I've already listened to?
     
  4. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    It's been a VERY long time since I auditioned any speakers, but I do remember the PSBs and Paradigms being very similar in tonal quality. In fact, I may have simply opted for the PSBs due to the price differential. I recall the frequency range of the alphas I had belied their small size. I find PSBs to be warm and very laid back (as opposed to the harshness I found when listening to Klipsch, for example). I thought their low end extension was pretty impressive considering their size, and it makes them that much easier and more flexible when blending with a subwoofer.
     
  5. ChrisS13

    ChrisS13 Auditioning

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    Got it. Thank you!!!

    I agree about the Klipsch vs Paradigm...I listened to one set of Klipschs and knew that they weren't for me.

    Thanks for all the insight.
     
  6. CB750

    CB750 Screenwriter

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    I really think you are making a mistake by not going to a 5.1 system. I say this because for years I used a Bose 901 system for the audio portion of my AV system. As good as those Bose speakers were for stereo music listening they could not deliver the surround sound found in the rear channels found in 5.1.
     
  7. Jasen Chandler

    Jasen Chandler Stunt Coordinator

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    I disagree with CB, I have installed several 3.1 systems with great success and think you are on the right track to meet your needs. I don't think you are looking to try and get simulated rear surrounds but just a good solid front sound stage. I recommend the pioneer VSX 1019, this is a great receiver with PAINLESS up-scaling and super easy setup and great sound quality (The Pioneer MCACC auto calibration does a great job with 3.1 and with dialog). This receiver is very flexible and doesn't suffer from random HDMI drops we see occasionaly with Denon. After reading through your speaker comments I'd recommend you listen to or just get the Jamo S602 Bookshelves and S60 Center Channel, these little guys will knock your socks off and are considered "sleeper" speakers by many in the industry. The S60 is especially great with dialog and with a decent sub you won't miss a word.

    Good Luck.
     
  8. ChrisS13

    ChrisS13 Auditioning

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm definitely sticking with my 3.1 plan, as I can always add on if I feel like I'm missing out on bullets whizzing by my head. It shouldn't be too hard to add on later (planning to do so if/when the housing market allows me to sell this condo and move into a house...but that's a separate conversation for a separate forum).

    I'll surely look into those Jamo speakers. I've got the HTDs setup and I'm happy so far with my purchase. They sound really nice! I was actually fairly surprised at how large the center channel is. I had to raise my tv 6". HSU sub also came in and I'm very happy with that as well. Decided on Denon 1610 and so far so good.
     

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