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upgrade suggestions?


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#1 of 7 jonathan_paul

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Posted November 25 2003 - 12:53 AM

A couple years ago I bought a sony htib. I want to start upgrading parts now. What would you suggest to upgrade first speakers or the receiver, the sub is ok for now. IF it matters the receiver is a sony str-se501.

#2 of 7 ChrisLazarko

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Posted November 25 2003 - 03:33 AM

Well either one would be a huge step up, and I think the first thing to go with might be the reciever. Sony recievers aren't be best from my experience and alot of other peoples experiences. I would take a look at a Harman/Kardon AVR-125 reciever from www.soundcity.com

It is a refurbished unit but they are very good and still come with the full manufacturers warranty, so there is nothing to worry about. Also, HK has great customer care unlike alot of other companys and they really take alot of pride in there products. A guy on the forums had a reciever which was something like 2 yrs. out of warranty, he called them up and they offered him basically a trade-in credit for his old reciever. That is excellent if you ask me, and shows the company has alot of care.

Anyways, the reciever would be my first upgrade path, then after that I would look at speakers and subwoofer. The speakers are going to run you probably for a good set of satellies around $350 and at least $150 for an O.K. subwoofer.

For speakers my suggestions are the Klipsch Quintets and the Athena Micros. I currently own the Klipsch Quintets and love them.

As for a subwoofer, www.partsexpress.com offers some dayton subwoofers which most people say are very good for the price and sound good.

Good luck.

#3 of 7 Jack Briggs

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Posted November 25 2003 - 03:45 AM

In order for this to remain a Basics-type thread, let's advise Jonathan as to where he should first focus on his upgrades in general terms. If we are going to discuss specific model recommendations then the thread will have to be moved to the appropriate area.

If you're starting with an HTiB, my first consideration would be upgrading the speakers with units that are fairly efficient and able to run on the HTiB receiver's limited power output.

#4 of 7 Lew Crippen

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Posted November 25 2003 - 04:24 AM

I’m going to suggest a different approach.

I’d start with replacing the receiver first—with something like a less expensive H-K or Denon (an 1804 for example).

Now likely this won’t provide any real added value in terms of sound, but you will be able to (within reason) buy the speakers that you want. Now when you upgrade your speakers you will get the full benefit of that upgrade.
¡Time is not my master!

#5 of 7 jonathan_paul

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Posted November 25 2003 - 02:42 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. I just am not sure which would be better to upgrade first. I am trying to post a link to what I currently have, but I guess do not have enough posts, I need to do more posting rather than reading. Anyway here are the specs to the system I have,maybe it will help suggest what I should go with first:

A/V Receiver STR-SE501
Stereo Mode Power Output, both channels driven into 8 ohms, 20 -- 20,000 Hz: 100 w x 2
THD at rated output: 0.0009
Surround Mode Power Output, all channels driven, 8 ohms, 1000 Hz, 0.7% THD: 100 w x 5
Audio Inputs/Outputs (excluding Tuner): 3/1
A/V Inputs/Outputs: 3/1
S-Video Input: 1
Optical Digital Input: 2
Coaxial Digital Input: 1
Dolby Digital/dts decoding: Yes/Yes
5.1-Channel Input
Dolby Pro Logic decoding
Control A1 II
Sound Field Link
Subwoofer Out/Mix Out: Yes/1
DSP: 24-bit (Full)
Remote Commander® unit: Pre-programmed
Digital Satellite System/DVD Control: Yes (on RM)
DSP Programs: Cinema/Virtual 3D/Music/AFD: 4/2/4/1
Cinema Studio modes: A/B/C
Virtual 3D Modes
Effect Level
Balance (Front/Rear): Yes/Yes
Level (Center/Rear/Woofer): Y/Y/Y
Virtual Surround: DCS
Rear Channel Stereo
Headphone Out
Speaker Selector: A,B,A+B
Tuner: STR-SE501
Station Presets: 30
Station MemoTM Display
Auto Tuning
Direct Tuning



Speaker Package SA-VE230
Front Speakers SS-V230
Driver Size 2" x 3-1/2" (50 x 90 mm)
Enclosure Bass Reflex
Center Speaker SS-CN230
Driver Size Two 2" x 3-1/2" (Two 50 x 90 mm)
Surround Speakers SS-V230
Subwoofer SA-WMS230
Power Output, one channel, 8 ohms, 20 - 200 Hz, 0.8% THD 50 watts x 1
Driver Size 6-1/4" (16 cm)

Sorry its so long, but like I said it won't allow me to post the link.

#6 of 7 Jack Briggs

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Posted November 26 2003 - 03:31 AM

Lew's suggestion, by the way, is very logical. And I think better than mine, all told. You won't realize an immediate audible improvement, but you will lay the groundwork for all upgrading to follow. Good call, Lew.

#7 of 7 Chu Gai

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Posted November 26 2003 - 06:17 AM

Well I kind of liked your first thoughts there Jack since IMHO, speakers are the main idea here as their effect on the final sound is so compelling.

Along those lines, and realizing that everyone's got a budget, I'd keep the sub and simply buy two very good fronts and center channel. I'd consider directing my searches towards 8 ohm nominal speakers with something like a 90 dB sensitivity to get the most out of the present receiver. Then I'd try and figure out what other features or characteristics of the speakers are important to me. For example, is it floor standers that work or are bookshelfs a better choice? Do I want a wood finish and if so do I want veneer or will some synthetic work? I'd consider using my existing Sony's as rears for the time being so that more of my dollar could go into the fronts.

Online purchases are always an option here, such as those that sponsor HTF however, buying speakers that you've never heard is a recipe that can result in some unhappiness. While virtually all have some trial period, you're still responsible for s/h. Not a trivial figure. Hence, if you consider that route, then try posting in Speakers to see if anyone is in your local area that wouldn't mind you coming over (with some beer of course) for a listen.

I don't recommend any particular speakers but one brand, that should be available somewhere by you would be the JBL series. They are also available online, get a reasonable discout, and come from a company that has a solid understanding and investment in R&D.

Many people wind up doing their only shopping at Best Buy or Circuit City. You should certainly go there to listen (leave the damned credit card home...listening to speakers is a worthwhile endeavor) but you should also check out Tweeter and any other places that might carry different lines. Unfortunately, many places have seriously challenged listening rooms and the demos that are given are usually poor and poorly carried out by salespeople that have various axes to grind and commissions to make. If you can get a set to try out at home, that would be highly recommended.

Best of luck in whatever you do.