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Wanna keep a newbie from buying Bose?


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20 replies to this topic

#1 of 21 OFFLINE   MarissaH

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Posted March 01 2003 - 03:36 PM

Then let's give the newbie some suggestions.

My mother and I are complete newbies at this sort of thing. In the past, we haven't had a lot of money for anything but the essentials, in fact, we did not even own a cheap cassette player until about 8 years ago. But now my mother has graduated from school and we have much more disposable income now. We were in Best Buy today picking up a DVD player (Sony DVP-NS715P in case you're wondering, I figured a nice place to start), and we wandered over to the home theater section. Of course, the Bose Lifestyle 28 system is featured front and center, so that's where we went. I must admit, that was the best-sounding thing I've ever heard. My mother leaned in to me and said if we saved up, we should be able to get one in a few months, and then get a better TV.

Now from reading this forum, I understand that many consider Bose to be of rather poor sound quality, and much too expensive. If I can save us some money and have a better sounding system, I'd be happy. But I have no idea where to start. I'm pretty sure what would be most convenient for us would be a subwoofer+speaker set, since obviously I don't know enough to mix and match these things. A DVD/CD player would be really nice, as well, but since we did just pick one up, perhaps not essential.

I'd really like a list of systems to look at and listen to in the stores around here, as a starting point. I don't want to be completely clueless and end up getting something we will regret later. I would say that if my mother is willing to pay $2500 for the Bose, she will be willing to pay up to that amount for anything else, if it sounds good to her. Another thing I should mention is that we live in small town hours away from a city (nearest are St. Louis and Memphis) and therefore it may be a bit hard to find the more elite systems, but I think we may have a small home theater store around somewhere.

I would very much appreciate your help. Thank you.

#2 of 21 OFFLINE   Mat_M

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Posted March 01 2003 - 05:05 PM

A while back there was a post that pretty much listed everyone's speakers. I'm not saying that the pure numbers mean quality here, but it's a decent idea. Here's the summary to that post. Hope it helps:

http://www.hometheat....hreadid=123205

#3 of 21 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted March 02 2003 - 05:05 AM

It's no surprise Paradigm is a VERY popular brand here, and is #1 in that post, and for good reason. Since, as you mentioned, you are more in the country, you may need to take a little drive to go listen to better stuff, as Best Buy, IMO sells garbage for speakers. You can go to (http://www.paradigm....rs/Dealers.html) and try to find a dealer near you. They make a variety of speakers, that are very hard to beat for the money. Not saying if you look really hard that there aren't better bargains, but something that you would need to order online, etc, which without hearing, is probably risky for someone without a lot of experience, etc. If you were willing to spend 2500, that could get you QUITE a nice system, and you could get a system that would demolish the Bose system for siginificantly less, so if you want to spend less money, that's a good thing too. Now, the Lifestyle 28 comes with their little "media center," and all the voodoo mystery processing they are doing to the sound is taken care of, so keep in mind that you will need to get a receiver also. I don't patronize Best Buy, so I've long since forgotten what electronics they carry, but I'm guessing you could get an average cheapie receiver there. I would suggest you find a better dealer for that too, maybe look at Onkyo/Integra, Marantz, Denon, Harman Kardon, Pioneer Elite and also Sony ES and Yamaha, although those last two might be a little outclassed.

And for a sub, paradigm makes some nice subs too, but I think if you get your total down below 2500 significantly, you might just be able to talk your Mom into getting an SVS.

So for specific suggestions, I'd try to find a Paradigm dealer, and take a listen to the following:

Atoms: 189/pr (USD)
Titans: 220-229ish /pr (Matching centers for these first two vary in price)
Mini-Monitors: 350/pr (Matching center (cc370)is like 350ish i think)
Reference Studio 20s: 650-900 depending on fake or real veneer (matching center is 500ish)

The studios are probably wishful thinking, and a you'd be going all-out in terms of budget, but you never know. I think it'd be better to spend that elsewhere anyway, in a cd player for instance, if you're into music, or just into more movies/music.

If you're not set on the tiny bosae cube thing, those should be killer speakers for both music and HT, and are WAY better sounding than ANYTHING that Bose puts out, for significantly cheaper. They are still small bookshelf speakers, and you didn't mention size as being a major factor. I think if you stay in the performance series, with titans, you could keep the total cost, including a sub and receiver to under 2 grand, and have a system in a whole other universe of quality and sound than the Bose, and for cheaper. You could probably cut down the budget from there too, or go all out and be looking at a similar 2500 or so.

As for receivers, i'd be looking at about 500-600 range from any of those I mentioned, they all have good units at thse price points. I personally would take the Marantz 5300, or an HK, but the others are quite nice also. Since you already have a DVD player, then that's not an issue you have to deal with.

The other benefit of spending the effort and time putting together a system like this, is that not only do you learn what's actually going on and how to run it, but you can also build it in steps. For instance you can get two speakers and a receiver now, and use it for music and movies just in stereo, and then add more over time. You might also, for instance, have a dealer that has a trade-in policy, and you can get a basic system now, and trade-in your speakers a year from now to upgrade, and not have to wait with nothing in the interim, or spend that cash on a TV in the meantime. Again, the options are many, so read up all you can, try to find a couple good dealers nearby, and if necessary, take a day-trip or something, have a picnic, I dunno, it's worth it. Posted Image

#4 of 21 OFFLINE   MarissaH

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Posted March 02 2003 - 06:57 AM

Thank you, Chris, that's very helpful. I noticed Paradigm was very popular, but of course, I'd never heard of them before. I looked up a dealer, and there's one about 40 miles away, so that is completely doable for a listen. I also noticed a brand new car and home audio store has opened up here, so I should probably check that out, as well.

I was very surprised at the prices of these speakers in the Paradigm performance series. Obviously looking at Bose, one gets the impression that high quality means very high prices. The Paradigms are much more budget friendly and we probably are going to need a new TV, since our current one is a 27 inch Sanyo that was bought on sale for $130. It's nice to know we can get a good sound system and still have room for a decent TV. I think after your explaining things a bit, it would be better to buy the speakers individually. Even stereo sound would be an improvement over that Sanyo's muddy-sounding speakers, and we'd be able to have something now and wait later for the rest of it. I assume if you're going to get a pair of speakers, you need a receiver to hook them up to, right?

I will keep all this in mind, and in the meantime, I don't feel as completely clueless and lost about this as I did before.

#5 of 21 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 02 2003 - 07:26 AM

Marissa,

I am the co-owner of this forum, and I wanted to
personally welcome you here.

My staff noticed your post, thought it was very
well written, and something that warranted the
attention of the membership.

I wish I could personally help you with your
decision, but there are far more people who are
better educated in these things than I am.

I am going to stick your post at the top of this
area for a day or so in hopes that you receive the
advice you came seeking for.

Your post really struck the right chord with us
and we want to see both you and your Mother get the
best system for your money.

Good Luck!

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#6 of 21 OFFLINE   Craig Aguiar

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Posted March 02 2003 - 08:13 AM

No highs, no lows, must be BOSE. Tee hee. Just kidding. One thing I have learned about audio is that you allready come equiped with an excellent tool. Your ears. Get a CD that you are very familliar with, take it to a store with a good listening room and listen to a few sets of speakers. The ones that sound good are good, the ones that don't aren't. Don't let a salesman tell you what sounds good, only you can do that. Good luck.

P.S I doubt I'm alone when I say that home theater is like a drug. One more speaker, amp, cable, special chair, etc., is never enough. You always need one more hit. So strap you self in becaus eit an awsome ride. Welcome to the club.

#7 of 21 OFFLINE   Craig Aguiar

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Posted March 02 2003 - 08:16 AM

Sorry about my spelling and grammar in the end of that last post. I must be comming down. I better go get a new DVD player.

#8 of 21 OFFLINE   Mike Matheson

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Posted March 02 2003 - 08:25 AM

Hi Marissa,

Here are some past threads at HTF that might give you some ideas:

If not Bose, than what?????
http://www.hometheat....hreadid=113108

Is there any competition to bose AC 15?
http://www.hometheat....hreadid=117229

OK, not Bose -- tell me what to buy instead!
http://www.hometheat....hreadid=115846

Help--Have Bose but want more?
http://www.hometheat....hreadid=117083

JBL SCS150SI vs. Bose AM-10
http://www.hometheat....hreadid=117387

Once again - Alternatives to Bose?
http://www.hometheat....hreadid=122880

why does everybody hate BOSE?
http://www.hometheat....hreadid=121411

(hope I didn't overload you with threads here) Posted Image

As you start narrowing down your thoughts/choices, you could try playing with the "Search" link here at HTF. You can find it at the right edge of the links/buttons sitting above thread or forum listings (or just go here). For instance, if you decided you'd like more info on the JBL SCS150 speakers, you could use "JBL SCS150" as your keywords--but here's the trick--in the lower left-hand portion of the search screen is the option "Fast Search", "Normal", "Slow", and "Slowest"--try "Slow" or "Slowest" to dig up more hits.

Anyway, plenty of options out there that are good alternatives to Bose, and for less money.

Regards,

Mike

#9 of 21 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted March 02 2003 - 12:35 PM

those posts should definitely get you started, so i'll just babble some.

one very important thing to remember is that sound is subjective. just because i say something sounds great doesn't mean you'll agree. obviously neither of us are wrong...it's just personal preference. after all is said and done, you are the one who will be listening to the speakers so choose a pair that appeals to you.

i highly recommend you listen to as many speakers as you can...regardless of price range. listen to some really expensive speakers, listen to some really cheap ones, etc. try to get a feel for what sounds good to you. do you like sharp highs? or do you prefer lots of bass?

it is critical that you bring music you're familiar with. that way you'll know what to listen for and you'll probably catch something if it doesn't sound "quite right". i actually made my own test cd - it has songs that i know really well, plus some songs that will help me determine if i like the way the speaker performs.

as already mentioned, paradigms are very well liked. another very popular (and quite inexpensive) speaker set is the Energy Take 5.2 System. this system continually garners awards from the industry. i think the complete system is only around $1000.00.

best of luck...i can definitely say you're starting this hobby the correct way and i'm sure you'll have a solid system by the time we're done with you! Posted Image
 

#10 of 21 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted March 02 2003 - 12:55 PM

Ah good call ted. I'd forgotten about the Take 5. I haven't heard it myself, and for a good entry system it seems to be well-regarded around here. I will hold my recommendation of it though, because I've not heard it. I forgot to mention brands other that Paradigm (i still can't get over the value), but mainly because the brands that compete tend to be hard to listen to, e.g. Axiom, and Rockets, which are internet-only (well axiom has dealers in Canada, but that's a ways away), so you can't hear them first. I think B&W 600 series might be a little over-budget, more in line with the studio series, and IMO, not as good as the studios, but worth mentioning, as they are very popular in the Magazines anyway, and they are pretty nice.

I think we've successfully gotten you away from Bose, which is good, so your task is to go listen, and listen to as much as you can, don't worry about spending a few hours, and listening to things well below and over your budget. You can really get an idea of what you like. And bring a good variety of music that you are familiar with. I know 40 miles isn't exactly just around the block (I'm lucky), but I always think it's a good idea to go listen, then sit on it for a while before you buy unless the deal is just too good to pass up.

one gets the impression that high quality means very high prices.


Yep. One gets that a lot. Generally, as in ANY category of products, the more you pay, you have a a better chance of getting better stuff. But do a little research, talk to some people who actually know what they're talking about, and you can have a system far cheaper, and far better than person x who walks in with a wad of cash and says: "I want a complete home theater, and I don't want to know how it works." They're just asking to get scammed.

I assume if you're going to get a pair of speakers, you need a receiver to hook them up to, right?


Yes. You do need a receiver to hook up speakers to. Don't be afraid to ask for all kinds of info from a dealer, good ones are usually very knowledgeable, experienced, and helpful. Not all are though, so be wary, some are quite dubious indeed. Usually the higher-end (not higher priced always) dealers will be better.

Oh yeah, I'd forgotten my whole point of posting again. :b I should also mention the HTF Primer we have here. It's located at the top of the HT Basics page, or just click .

here

That should help you a little bit in terms of understanding all the nomenclature that can get VERY confusing indeed, i.e. Dolby Surround/Pro-Logic, and Pro-Logic II, Dolby Digital(DD), DTS, and the 6.1 varietions of DD and DTS. So whenever it is do your listening/learning marathon come back with the info. Posted Image

#11 of 21 OFFLINE   Greg Kolinski

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Posted March 02 2003 - 10:57 PM

Welcome!!!! Also,at whatever dealer/store you decide to use,dont be afraid to try to haggle and drop the price a little using authorized dealer prices from online.Shoot ,I even got Circuit City to drop $150+ on my HK 520 when I walked in with a handfull of internet prices.

Good luck and have fun
Greg
The more I learn about this stuff ,the dumber I get

#12 of 21 OFFLINE   GregLee

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Posted March 03 2003 - 12:08 AM

Save room in your budget for the following essential accessories: sound pressure meter from Radio Shack ($35),
calibration dvd ($18 at Border's book store and elsewhere, for "Home Theater Tuneup" from Sound and Vision magazine).
Greg

#13 of 21 OFFLINE   JeremyFr

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Posted March 05 2003 - 06:27 AM

I will 2nd the recommendation for the Take 5's, I've got the original Take 5+1 system which differs slighty from the newer take 2's but none the less are great soundind speakers and IMHO far superior in sonic quality to the Bose in every respect. I've been very happy with the 5+1's and at a $700 price tag including sub they really cant be beat. throw a decent reciever like a Yamaha RXV-630, 730 or even 1300 on there and you're still hundreds less than the Bose system with a much larger amount of available power,features, and sound quality.
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For those of you who dont know your job is to learn.

#14 of 21 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted March 05 2003 - 07:23 AM

Another inexpensive system that offers very good performance for the dollar is Acoustic Research's HC6 suite. Aesthetically, it's a knockout, what with its black-piano finish (the factory even supplies soft gloves for handling the units). Sonically, it's hard to imagine that this system retails for only $800 (and can be had for half that from some dealers).

I'd put these little boxes up there with the Energy Take 5.3 system.

#15 of 21 OFFLINE   Chris Clarno

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Posted March 05 2003 - 07:01 PM

If your shopping is limited to BestBuy, don't fret, despite their reputation as a less than stellar Joe-6-Pack outfit, you can build a respectable system with components from there (if you know what you are looking for). Currently, the best speakers they sell are from JBL. A compact sub-sat system such as the JBL SCS150SI sound quite good at $500. If space and budget permit, perhaps stepping up to JBL N-38II and JBL N-24 for mains and surrounds paired with the N-Center and PB-10 (or PB-12 ). This set-up would run in the neighborhood of around $850 ($950 with the PB-12). The JBLs carry a 5 yr warranty from the factory. BB will try to sell you an extra 4 yrs on them, I leave that to you. JBL is industry standard, next time you go to the local multi-plex theater, look at the speakers that are hanging on the wall, I'll bet you that they have "JBL" emblazened on them. The same would be said about mixing stages and recording studios. The point is that JBL is head and shoulders above BOSE! If JBL is not your bag, BB will soon be the first retailer to carry the new Synergy line from Klipsch! As most folks who know about speakers will tell you, Klipsch makes an excellent product! As for a reciever, the Yamaha line is the best you'll find there. The HTR-5560 is a good moderately priced unit that will be flexable enough for most folks. There are better units out there, but this one is a good balance of features and price. Yamaha offers a factory warranty of 2 yrs, BB will offer 4 yrs at $35, again the choice is yours. The DVD player you selected is a fine choice. Progressive scan will benifit you if you and your mother plan to go digital when you upgrade the TV. Be sure to get a good set of component video cables as that is the only way to take advantage of the better picture quality that progressive scan units offer. There is quite a bit of debate as to whether or not premium cables make a difference, I leave the choice to you. BB sells component cables from $29 and up. To pass the Dolby Digital or DTS signal from the DVD player, you will need a digital audio cable. Since the Sony has both types of connections, (Toslink Optical and Coaxial) you could go either way. My recomendation however is to use Optical. The reason is that optical cables send light information which is not suseptable to EMF and other interferance. Additionally you'll want a sub-woofer cable and speaker wire. Be sure to get enough length. It's better to have too much than not enough. As for the TV... well that'll have to wait for next time. The system I described above will come out to well under $2500. Even if you opt to allow them to do the installation for you at $500 (but where's the fun in that?) In fact you could get the system I described above plus a 48" HD-Ready TV for not much more than the price of the Lifestyle 28. I hope this helped.

#16 of 21 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted March 06 2003 - 08:55 AM

Those are some good suggestions in terms of Best Buy products, but I think you'd do much better if you keep looking around at specialty dealers. I for one don't patronize Best Buy, because they don't really sell electronics that is very good quality (JBL/klipsch are ok, but my taste for speakers is not jbl/klipsh, and IMO, they are a little over-rated), and I just generally don't like stores like that. Anyway, that's more political, and I'm getting off topic.

My recomendation however is to use Optical. The reason is that optical cables send light information which is not suseptable to EMF and other interferance.


I would, and most would probably recommend against this. Now, I'm very skeptical that one would ever tell a difference between optical/coax transmission, but those magazines and people who DO tend to prefer coax. I recoomed coax for a few reasons. One is that you're probably not gonna be tweaking hobbyists hunting for that "perfect sounding" interconnect, and really the digital connection either works great, or it doesn't work at all. There are a million other things that would matter before this. So coax is cheaper, easier to find, and has better/more sturdy connection. The RF interference argument is true, but any well-shielded coax will more than block that out, and it wouldn't cause many problems anyway. Over VERY long runs in very electronically noisy environments, I suppose coax might have some benefit, but you'd be talking huge cost, and making the cable yourself, as I've not seen any places selling custom-length, or extremely long optical cables. So I say just stick with coax. It's cheap, very effective, and easy to find. And don't get ripped off with cabling either, radio shack actually sells some pretty decent cables for cheap prices. Monster can be inflated in price, so that's a warning too. AR has some bargain cables too, harder to find that radio shacl (there's probably a radio shack 5 minutes from every place on earth Posted Image ). And keep us updated with your searching. I wanna hear how things are going. I live out my dream systems through other people Posted Image .

Also, Greg makes a good point about the SPL meter while you're at radio shack, and Avia disc. May seem a little overboard or overwhelming technically, but audio and video calibration is easy to do(probably easier than figuring out all your many connections and wires), takes just a little time, and is WELL worth it in terms or performance, AND in terms of video, the life of your TV. You may not realize it but all(well, all commercial tvs mostly) come set in "torch mode" as the factory setting. The tv is set way too bright, and will burn things into the screen, and just generally look bad (although 99% of people are used to these horribly adjusted TVs), and reduce the life of your TV drastically.

#17 of 21 OFFLINE   Pam W

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Posted March 07 2003 - 04:50 AM

MarissaH,

A lot of really good information here.

I second Ted Lee's idea of bringing your own music to listen to when you purchase your speakers. He's right - your ears make the final decision - know what you are listening to!

I have Klipsch (Sorry ChrisWiggles!)and love them! We were able to get a really good deal on them (end of season, end of year, last ones left, blah, blah, blah-you get my drift)and have really been pleased. We bought ours bit by bit. First the two towers, then the center, subwoofer, then rear surrounds. Took us a year and a half and it was well worth it.

Good luck on your search!

PamPosted Image

#18 of 21 OFFLINE   ChristopherBer

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Posted March 07 2003 - 06:45 AM

Let me start of by saying if you like music I don't think the Bose is for you. If you like movies the Bose is for you. I have a Bose and it doesn't sound well for music but for movies it's really good in my opinion though many people don't seem to think so. :P). It sounds diffrent compared to many speakers I wouldn't call it great neither bad. The Bose to me produces a unique sound that can get annoying in music listening but sounds good in movies. Even though people may bash Bose it sounds much better than my old system.

#19 of 21 OFFLINE   Craig Aguiar

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Posted March 07 2003 - 01:10 PM

Not to insult Chris Ber but, there is no such thing as a speaker that is good for one type of sound i.e. home theatre, and poor for another i.e. music.

A well built speaker is meant to reproduce sound the way the engineers intended you to hear it. Speakers shouldn't change the sound at all and if they do they are inaccurate.
Therefore, if a speaker has accurate response it will give you good sound for both home theatre and music.

Now that is just my personal opinion. You should enjoy your music and your home theatre the way you like it and not the way someone else tells you too.

#20 of 21 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted March 15 2003 - 04:36 AM

This thread is now unstuck again. Marissa, we hope this really helped you and your mom decide.

Cees