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Speaker Advice... guide me away from Bose...


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#1 of 65 Johnal

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Posted March 15 2004 - 09:31 AM

Hi Everyone,

I’m new to these forums, and I’d like to take a moment to just say hi and sort of introduce myself before I ask away with my millions of questions. When it comes to music and sound quality in general I consider myself to be a relatively good judge. Throughout my life I have always been involved in music both instrumentally and vocally. In addition to my music fetish, I am also a DVD enthusiast with a collection of DVD’s I can’t believe I managed to afford over the years.

Over the past months I’ve been doing my best to educate myself on the different types of receivers and speakers that are available, and to be quite honest I feel almost as lost as when I started. I feel insecure about making any kind of investment due to the great variety of responses that people give. For example, up until extremely recently I was positive that I would be getting the Bose 301 speakers along with a harman/kardon 7200 receiver.

The reason I was sold on these speakers was because of the great feedback I have found all over the internet. However, I have always wondered exactly what knowledge and experience with sound equipment or even how truly musically knowledgeable these people are. As it seems, many people mistake loud and almost distorted noise with high quality speakers that have "awesome power." Thankfully, my constant search on the internet has lead me to these forums where I believe the ratio of people who know what they are talking about vs. those who wish to defend prior purchases regardless of true value will be in my favor.

As stated previously, I am seriously considering the Harman Kardon avr – 7200 receiver. I have owned this brand before and have always been satisfied with its quality and reliablity. I dare to say that my budget for speakers is in the range of $600 to $1000. Although, my budget can be stretched if the quality of sound is worth it.

A dilemma I am faced with is my inability to take the advise to "go hear for myself" what I like and what I don’t like. I have gone to Fry’s, Best Buy, Circuit City, and a number of other retailers and unfortunately they do not have a set up in which I can truly judge for myself. This is why I am coming here, to hear from those with actual in home experience. I understand that room size/shape plays a role in how well my music and videos will sound, but believe me when I say, any and all suggestions are welcome.

What I am looking for from this post is feedback regarding my wanting to go with the receiver previously mentioned, and with my budget for speakers, what will be the best I can do. Like, is there any handsdown winner for which speakers to go with?(I don’t need all 6 speakers at once. The budget mentioned was for just the two main speakers.)



-Johnal

#2 of 65 Chris Quinn

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Posted March 15 2004 - 10:00 AM

The reciever is a fine choice. I'll suggest a neutral(which means it doesn't color the sound) speaker known for its vocal reproduction based on your background. Ascend Acoustics seems like a good match for you with a sub it will be a bit more than $1K but under $1500. You can find more info at Ascend Forum.

You should be able to find the HK7200 under $800. The best price I've seen lately is at One Call.

DISCLAIMER: I own Ascends and a Hsu subwoofer.

#3 of 65 Johnal

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Posted March 15 2004 - 05:43 PM

Thank you for your prompt reply, and I apologize for my late response. In addition to trying to bump my post for more replies, I was wondering if the speakers you suggested would do just as well with watching movies for a good surround sound effect. (Do they sound multidirectional like the Bose ones managed to sound to me)I hate feeling like my only comparison is to Bose 301's but honestly, they were the only speakers I was successfully able to hear due to the Bose store layout. Also, let's pretend I was to get the HK 7200 and my budget of $1k for main speakers was taken care of...which speakers should I consider to go along with them? Ugh...i feel like I'm not making any sense...I guess what I'm asking is, if I was to get one brand for my main speakers (stereo) is it usually crucial to stick with one brand to get the best quality and consistency? Anyone else able to recommend a better receiver for the same amount as the HK7200? Should I wait for some newer technology? * sigh * I am so useless when it comes to this.

-Johnal

#4 of 65 Mike^C

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Posted March 15 2004 - 06:03 PM

Hey Johnal,

With your budget, you have quite a few options. The HK is a good receiver though I haven't personally heard it. Its a digital receiver much like the Panasonic XR-45 and there are very few receivers like these beasts. If you want something more traditional, you could get a number of good receivers in that same price range.

As for speakers, again it depends on your taste. For bang for the buck, online speakers can't be beat. Rocket, Ascend, Axiom, among others are all highly regarded. For speakers you can buy though more traditional channels you can get anything from B&W, Klipsch, JBL, Paradigm.. the list is rather long. Make sure that all your fronts are from the same brand and line. Some people also say the rears should also match, though personally I don't find this to be a problem with me. I have Paradigms front and Rockets for rears.

I would personally go for the Rocket RS550's version 1's that are on sale for about $600 or so a pair. Its a great deal for a great product thats being replaced by something nicer (and more expensive). I own the RS150's for rears and can't say enough about them.

#5 of 65 Johnal

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Posted March 15 2004 - 06:18 PM

I can't thank you all enough for all the quick responses. It's such a relief to get responses from people that are not simply biased due to their own purchases made in the past. (although I can always understand a bit of favortism as long as it can be backed up. Posted Image ) Here is my ultimate newbie question for the day. What should be my bare minimum when it comes to the stats on speakers in my price range. Like what frequency range and db and other stuff like that. Just so I can help myself search a little better. Thanks

-Johnal

#6 of 65 Chris Quinn

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Posted March 16 2004 - 03:11 AM

Johnal,

You really can't judge a speaker by specs alone. Cabinet size, driver size, driver quality, crossover, porting, etc. will all contribute to how a speaker sounds and the specs don't tell you how those thing contribute to the sound. Since you have a background in music, listening is going to be important. Take my Ascend suggestion, comparing its specs to another speaker isn't going to tell the story as to how it is "voiced." Did the speaker designer emphasize the the highs, the mid-range, or the mid-bass? Which do you prefer? A response graph may be of some help. For example here is the response graph for the Ascend CBM-170. How flat it is shows that it is very neutral no favoring highs or lows.

The Panasonic Digitals(SA-XR series) are part of the leading edge of the newest technology. In these receivers the amps are digital and when you use digital connections the signal stays in the digital domain. When in other amps the signal may undergo several digital to analog, analog to digital conversions each time possibly distorting or coloring the sound. I too thought of recommending this receiver/amp to you but you seem to have an affinity for HK so I didn't.

Whether you need "multi-directional" for movies is a matter of personal taste. The di-poles came about during the Pro-Logic days when the the processor was creating the surround effect and the diffusion enhanced the the effect. Movies are now recorded in 5.1 so the surround is no longer created by the processor. THX standards no longer require di-poles for the surrounds. Some argue that direct radiators are better since recording engineers now intend the sound to come from one particular location. So you can see how it is a matter of you personal listening preference. For movies the center channel is the most important because carries better than 80% of the sound track.

#7 of 65 Johnal

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Posted March 16 2004 - 04:03 AM

Chris,
Thank you again for your help. The ascend speakers seem like they may end up being the right choice for me. My only concern is the db ratings or values (I lack technical terminology and I can't look it up since I'm at work). I may be going a bit far by practically asking for you to do my homework for me, but which Panasonic would be most comparable when it comes to features and number of connections? (again...please excuse my noobiness) Since this is the leading edge of technology, I'm sure the price of these will be much higher than my HK7200 i was lookin' into, but there is no price on beautiful realistic sound. I guess, in short, which of the Panasonic receivers will be as good or better than the HK. I have a bit of a Tim Allen in me because I'm a bit power hungry. I will probably never really blast my speakers and test the limits of my receiver...but I'd like to know that if I did...i would be satisfied with my purchase. (If this post was a bit scatter brained, i apologize as i wrote it in about 30 intervals while switching back and forth on screens at work)

-Johnal

#8 of 65 CurtisSC

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Posted March 16 2004 - 04:58 AM

Quote:
The HK is a good receiver though I haven't personally heard it. Its a digital receiver much like the Panasonic XR-45 and there are very few receivers like these beasts.

The HK 7200 is not a digital receiver like the XR-45. The 7200 has analog amps, the XR-45 has digital amps.

Johnal,

You are in Costa Mesa. If you would like to hear the Ascends that Chris is speaking of, you are more than welcome at my place in Manhattan Beach.
curtis
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#9 of 65 Charles Gurganus

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Posted March 16 2004 - 05:26 AM

I could not imagine a better set of speakers for $900 (used).
http://cls.audiogon.....ull

Only thing is no feedback on seller.

These NHT VT2's would impress for $850. I can vouch for the VT2's and HK is great with NHT in general.

http://cls.audiogon.....ull
Charles

#10 of 65 Chris Quinn

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Posted March 16 2004 - 05:38 AM

Johnal,

The Pannys are under $300. It a whole new thing with digital amps.

If you can get to Curtis' he has the HK7200.

It appears the Ascend Forum is down right now. There is a thread there with the thoughts of someone who has the Panny XR25 and Ascends.

Those NHTs are nice but they are 6 and 4ohm. They need a lots of clean power to reach their capabilities.

#11 of 65 Johnal

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Posted March 16 2004 - 05:49 AM

Wow, i think i may have to take you up on your offer. Just lemme know when and where a good time to meet with you would be and I'll do my best to work around your schedule. By chance do you have the panasonic receiver? And just a general question...is there a noticeable difference between the digital and analog amps? Thanks! I work 7-4 in irvine.

-Johnal

#12 of 65 Mitch G

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Posted March 16 2004 - 06:05 AM

FWIW, I did a dealer locator at the Paradigm website for Costa Mesa (zipcode 92626) and found Pacific Coast Audio and Video in Corona Del Mar as a dealer. If they are a reputable dealer then they should have decent auditioning spaces for you to listen in. And, they might carry other brands in addition to Paradigm.

I recently took a similarly sized plunge and wanted to experience the speakers in person before buying. I'm happy I did. But, if I repeat the process in the future, I now wouldn't be afraid to try one of the on-line vendors recommended on these forums as long as they had a reasonable return policy.


Mitch

#13 of 65 CurtisSC

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Posted March 16 2004 - 06:18 AM

Quote:
If you can get to Curtis' he has the HK7200.


I actually have the 525, and use an external amp now.

Quote:
Just lemme know when and where a good time to meet with you would be and I'll do my best to work around your schedule.


Tomorrow evening is good...and then I will not have time again until next week. I am in Manhattan Beach. Any time after 5pm is fine. Shoot me a PM.

Quote:
And just a general question...is there a noticeable difference between the digital and analog amps?


I have not compared them. I am hoping Chris does one of these days. Posted Image
curtis
Manhattan Beach, California

#14 of 65 Chris Quinn

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Posted March 16 2004 - 06:41 AM

I have not compared them. I am hoping Chris does one of these days.


I just saw a XR25 refurb under $200. I am now trying to figure out to tell the boss I need another receiver.

#15 of 65 Charles Gurganus

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Posted March 16 2004 - 07:06 AM

Believe me, I know all about how the NHT's like power. I wouldn't have even mentioned them if Johnal said he was getting or had something like a HK 125 or something like that. Posted Image

The 7200 is in another league though and it would be fine with the $900 NHT setup, especially once a sub was added. The VT2's do LOVE power but I wouldn't totaly dismiss them as not being able to be driven by the 7200. Yeah, outboard amps would probably be in his future with the VT2's. Posted Image

STart talking digital amps and all bets are off with NHT's.
Charles

#16 of 65 Johnal

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Posted March 16 2004 - 07:23 AM

Charles,
I have to admit, you have me very intrigued. I haven't even begun to think about getting an outbard AMP...and to be honest it would be like starting all over again trying to learn about what to look for in one. Not to say that I have already been swayed from getting the HK 7200, but just for the sake of argument, would those VT2's be better off connected to one of those new Panasonic digital Receivers? So far I think I'm still leaning towards that HK7200 with a set of Ascends as Curtis has suggested. I need to do some research on those Panasonic Receivers... but for some reason my internet at work limits me to very specific sites... for some reason i lucked out with this one Posted Image

-Johnal

P.S. Thanks again for everyone's help... I'm takin' notes like a mad man. Posted Image

#17 of 65 Chris Quinn

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Posted March 16 2004 - 07:30 AM

Johnal,

You haven't gotten anything and you're considering upgrading to separates. LOL! You've got the disease already. Welcome to the club.

#18 of 65 Johnal

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Posted March 16 2004 - 08:27 AM

No kidding! I find myself not eating when I am doing my research online. Not because my mind strays away and I forget.. oh no... There are actually two reason... one because the thought of how much money I am going to spend on my future equipment makes me a little sick to my stomach. Second, I figure i shouldn't eat out because i need to save all the money i can get my hands on. I truly feel like a Tim Allen from Home Improvement... "needs more power". I guess that's why the HK7200 appealed to me so much... got some good power Posted Image

-Johnal

#19 of 65 Mike^C

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Posted March 16 2004 - 01:23 PM

Sorry I got the HK 7200 and 1001 mixed up! The HK 7200 is indeed a regular analog receiver as opposed to the HK 1001.

You should definately go audition as many speakers as possible. I know its tough to listen to speakers you can only buy online, but there is audioenvy.com that lists owners of Swans and Rockets that you could hook up with for a listen. I'm not sure how to do this with the other brands.

From the online world, here are some main speakers in the $1000 range. Anyones free to add to this list.

Towers: Swan 6.1 in vinyl or 5.2 in real wood, Onix Rocket RS550 and RS750 both in real wood, Axiom M60 and M80.

Bookshelves: Onix Rocket RS250, Ascend CBM-170, Axiom M22, Swan 2.1

From the Brick and mortar world:
I'm not going to even try to list how many speakers you can buy Posted Image

Its a personal decision whether you want towers or bookshelves. If you listen to music using just stereo, I would say get towers if you can. They have give a nicer mid-bass freq response generally so you can listen to music without a subwoofer. Of course, this depends alot on space and the Spousal Acceptance Factor Posted Image

#20 of 65 Johnal

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Posted March 16 2004 - 01:44 PM

So I'm finally taking a look into some of those digital path receivers like the HK's 1001... now I understand that it's information will be processed strictly digital and won't be converted into analog and back and forth.... It also seems like the watts would be a little on the weak side...especially in comparison to the avr-7200 i've been eyeing. Would the quality really be that much better simply by staying digital? Is this where one of those "outboard amps" would come into play? Ok...and I JUST NOW looked into the Panasonic receivers that are digital... and yeah...i finally realized that when Chris said the "Panny's" are under $300 that he was refering to Panasonic...God...I'm a noob. When would owning a digital receiver truly make a difference?


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