Upgrading to more efficient bookshelves

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Rokzi, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. Rokzi

    Rokzi Stunt Coordinator

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    I'll be upgrading to more efficient speakers sometime this year and I'm trying to narrow down my choices by looking at specs for one (there are other factors of course).
    I'm limited to bookshelves and since the couch is against rear the wall it'll be at least 14-15 ft away from the front speakers. I currently have 86db efficient speakers driven by a 70w/ch HK 525, however I do sometimes feel that the sound/speakers seem strained esp. when I have the volume turned up at -15 ~ -10db ref (my normal listening range).

    How much more efficient should the new speakers be? (will 88db speakers enought to eliminate the strain?).

    Is there a simple calculation to figure out the speaker's efficiency for a specific distance given the speaker's efficiency at 1wt @ 1meter?

    Does it even make sense to do that?

    BTW my room size is about 2500+ c.ft (family room) with 1 side wide open.
     
  2. JohnSmith

    JohnSmith Supporting Actor

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    If your speakers sound nice to you, why not just buy a poweramp?

    A second hand high powered two or three channel poweramp will upgrade your system, and also allow you to play at your level more cleanly.
     
  3. Rokzi

    Rokzi Stunt Coordinator

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    I do like my speakers but like I said, there are times that the sounds seems strained -- I assumed it's the speakers. my current speakers are JBL N24IIs with an SVS sub. Is it my receiver that is showing the strain then and not the speakers? or is it both?

    I am also planning to have a 2nd, more "dedicated" ht so I an amp is also something I'm considering. My current HT is in the family room (with kids running around) and that's why I'm limited to bookshelves/sats.

    my current speakers/receiver will go to the "other" room as I upgrade my equipment one at a time. The other room is somewhat smaller and can be arranged better than my family room where my current HT is.
     
  4. John S

    John S Producer

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    I'd seriously consider looking for a good deal on a separate power amp. Cheaper maybe, but your going to get a really nice performance boost from it.

    To achieve the accoustic level you desire, your amp starts to clip, then the speakers start to have problem with the clipped power. It is a viscous cycle, you will be amazed at how they perform given ultra clean power.

    I am assuming your not setting them to large? If set to small what are you running your cross over at? I would think you could get the deisred result by taxing the sub a little more and setting your x-over point higher.
     
  5. Rokzi

    Rokzi Stunt Coordinator

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    They're all set to small, x-over at 80hz, calibrated with Avia @ 85db / S&V @75 db (don't remember which one I used last).

    So it's not the speakers then?
    Two responses so far and you both recommend upgrading the 'amp'.

    Looks like I'm upgradding the amp first... How much 'real' watts do I need?the HKs are said to conservatively rate their receivers (70w/ch w/ all channels driven) unlike some.

    I checked the websites of some local dealers and the Rotel 1068 looks nice but it's a receiver. Since I'll slowly be moving my current equipment to another room while I upgrade my family room HT the HK will go to that new one.

    Any recommendations ? Outlaw? Rotel? Nad? I don't know the prices of these so i don't know how much my budget should be. < $1000 preferably. < $1500 will get me some serious questioning by wife. < $2000 will have to wait lot longer or opt for more powerfull receiver.

    If I can be so cheap... is there a good 5ch or 6ch amp for around 500 ~ 800?
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I have to disagree with both the other posters. It's not just that your speakers are less efficient, but they are also too small to move enough air in the room. Adding a power amp to N24s is absolutely ridiculous. There is NO WAY the 525 is straining with them, even if you have a large room. What is far more likely is that you are asking too much of these speakers as mains. They do not extend low enough (-3dB at 75Hz) to handle the frequencies they are being sent, especially if you are using a x-over lower than 100Hz. I would upgrade the speakers. If you like their sound, you might want to look into the JBL Northridge E series.

    I've installed the N24s with a lower receiver than that (Marantz 5200) and it did not strain at all. That was with a fixed 100hz x-over.
     
  7. John S

    John S Producer

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    Just to humor me, can you set the cross at 100hz?? does this help at all in obtainign the levels you desire? Maybe even 120hz just for diagnosis purposes?

    Man there was a Sherwood posted on here somewhere not to long ago, that sure has my attention, but just over $1k....


    It will be interesting to see how it pans out for you... One thing I know, is I am picky as heck about speakers and if I found some I truely liked. I'd opt to add power, just so much less of a drastic change than speakers would be is all. I think I am actually going to pickup a Pioneer 1014 / 1015 to try to bi-amp each channel for my massive performance gain.

    Any links or knowledge of a 7 channel electronic cross over out there??? Or should I just try to swing it with multiple stereo cross overs? Cost of course is always a factor. I would also need to figure out where I should cross to the mids/highs as well. Maybe 500hz as 1K seems to high, and 200hz to 250hz seems to low still.

    It will be my 1st time attempting true bi-amp with home audio. Any suggestions would be welcome. I am going to start a new thread on it. So post up on it, in that thread as not to hijaak this one.
     
  8. Rokzi

    Rokzi Stunt Coordinator

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    I have already tried the 100hz x-over sometime ago (out of curiosity) but didn't see (or hear) any difference. Now that there's an issue I'll try that again tonight if i hear any difference. I'll also try the 120Hz x-over. If I do that though, I'm a little concerned that the sub might suddenly by "visible" due to it having to put out higher, more directional frequencies... oh well I guess I'm getting ahead of myself.

    I'm just trying to figure out which path I'm going to take as I upgrade my family room HT so for sure I am getting new speakers and a new receiver (also considering separates -- have to save $$ though [​IMG] )

    As for speakers, I'm sure there are better ones out there (looking at axioms, paradigm, monitor audio). But chances are -- due to WAF, I am also considering Ominsats & anthony gallos.

    So I think I'm back to my original question (I suppose): How much efficient (sensitive) speakers should I get? 87? 88? 91db?

    Note: Amazing... am I the only one who's not John? [​IMG]
    Cheers (and thanks)!
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I would probably look at something that is around 90dB or better in efficiency. Klipsch are generally up around 95dB, though their sound is a love it or hate it sort of thing (I'm not a fan of them).
     
  10. Rokzi

    Rokzi Stunt Coordinator

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    --and so I did. I think it did made some difference-- I don't think that much, a little. Between 80hz, 100hz, 120hz-- 100hz made the best sound.
    at 80Hz it sounded strained at loud volume. @120Hz the low freq became pronounced and midtones started sounding boomy.
    Surprising though that even with the higher bass freq being sent to the subwoofer, it still blended well and did not distract from the front soundstage (at the LP). From the LP facing the fronts, my sub is to the right.

    I'll be trying out your suggestions more over the weekend as I will have more time to try out my diff. DVDs and CDs.
     
  11. John S

    John S Producer

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    I think either may work for you.. It really didn't tell us to much, because by doing so, you actually took strain off of both the speakers and the amp. So your still at the same point. Do I upgrade my speakers? Or do I upgrade my amplification.

    I actually think either path may work well for you, to tell you the truth of the matter. Maybe you should do both?? [​IMG]

    Just kididng, well sort of.. [​IMG] Maybe your current speakers can't take the heat, especially considering others are posting your amp should be more than fine. So you could be right. 9 times out of 10, the amp clipping is what makes speakers start to break up. But then again, better speakers could probably handle a little clip much better than the one's you are currently using.
     
  12. Rokzi

    Rokzi Stunt Coordinator

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    I will be doing both. I'm just deciding which one to do first as doing both at the same time is not economically feasible at the moment. So, in time, hopefully a short time.

    I sure do wish I have $$$ to drop in one splurge for a whole new set!
    [​IMG]
     
  13. John S

    John S Producer

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    yes, by adjusting the x-over higher, you take low frequency load out of the picture for both the Woof and the amp. Low frequency actually makes up the bulk of the load so to speak.
     
  14. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The tweeters are protected by the x-over.

    Unless one of the drivers in your speakers is fried (have you checked for this at all?), with them being -3dB at 70Hz, they probably don't even draw enough current to clip with that receivre until you are at ridiculous levels (well above ref). With an 80Hz x-over, the midrange driver is getting frequencies it cannot reproduce (potentially 40Hz), and that is most likely where the "bad" sound comes from - when the driver receives sound below what it is capable of, you will hear distortion - and the higher the volume, the worse it will be. There is no low frequency load to relieve because these speakers cannot even play those frequencies.

    As you said also, the sub, when crossed over too high, becomes boomy and easy to locate; so too high of a x-over isn't a good thing either. So I'd try out new speakers first, and if the problem persists, some investigation at the receiver or source may be needed.

    Other questions that weren't asked - does it do this in every mode with every source? Have you calibrated your system with an SPL meter?
     
  15. Rokzi

    Rokzi Stunt Coordinator

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    Sort of. I normally like playing techno music (Deep Forest, Blue Man Group, D.J. Tiesto... etc) at loud volumes. With DVDs well I love it even louder. There are portions that are supposedly loud by it just won't play louder. I know this because I listened to the same music w/ headphones.

    Yes they're calibrated with Avia/S&V and the RS meter.

    One thing I forgot to mention earlier... I bought my wife a karaoke (singalong) player last christmas and had it connected to the receiver... now I know this kind of source stresses on the midrange... we never can turn the volume up that much when she and her friends use it because the strain is very noticeable. (I feel like it's an abomination to connect the karaoke to my HT!)

    It's very much decided then... speakers first. Before I forget, I'd like to thank you all for your help and responses. Lots of things to learn here.
     
  16. Chris Quinn

    Chris Quinn Screenwriter

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    Get better speakers. You're asking for a lot out of 4" drivers in a room of that size. Your receiver is not the problem. For every 3dB increase in volume you need twice the power. A 89dB efficient speaker would use half the power.
     
  17. Louis_Cipher

    Louis_Cipher Auditioning

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    Get some Athena AS-B2s
     
  18. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Yes and no. "Leaking" is sort of the idea. A x-over has a slope, and your speaker will receive sound 1 octave or more below the x-over point, depending on the slope. The speaker will still likely have a fair amount of output at 60Hz, and even a little bit as low as 40Hz. As you get further from the x-over point, the sound levels decrease, but there will still be some sound. Rule of thumb would be that your speaker should be capable of 1 octave below the x-over point, ideally.

    For Tiesto and Deep Forest, you need better speakers. I listen to this type of music too. There's a good thread in the music area on this genre. I often use In My Memory for auditioning speakers.
     

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