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Would this even be an upgrade?


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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Greg Racki

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Posted May 02 2005 - 03:09 AM

Quick Question,

I'm still undecided on whether or not I want to buy a new set of speakers this summer. Right now, I have a pair of JBL N38s (almost the same as the current E60s). Would I be upgrading by moving to an Ascend or Swan (2.1s, 5.1s, or maybe even 6.1s) 5 speaker package and adding a SVS sub? I'm about a 50/50 movie music split. I just don't want to spend $1000-1500 and actually be "side-grading" when it comes to music. All opinions welcome. Thanks

#2 of 19 OFFLINE   MikeLi

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Posted May 02 2005 - 09:31 AM

If your budget is only 1K to 1.5K more I don't know if your going to see that much of a great upgrade. I guess one exception would be the Rocket ELT line but I don't know how good your JBL's at present are doing. Also what size is your room for a sub. For impressive bass and within your budget your going to need a bigger one as your going to have to go with smaller speakers. Sorry but you may be better off waiting and saving for just a short bit longer... Just my opinion only!!!!!

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Stephen Hopkins

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Posted May 02 2005 - 10:11 AM

I went from JBL N28s, N Center and N24s to Swans 4.1 mains, 2.1 surrounds, and C3 center and feel it was a very noticable upgrade, especially for 2ch music. In my opinion the N series could be a bit strained/harsh on the high end at high SPL. The Swans are EXTREMELY smooth across the entire frequency spectrum w/ no harshness even at high SPL. They're a very neutral speaker and great for HT as well as music. If you listen to 2ch music w/out a sub then go for the 6.1s. The 2.1s have a suprising amount of bass too (they're large for a bookshelf speaker). If you always use your sub then the 5.2s or even 2.1s up front would do great with a good sub. If given the chance to do it again I would have went w/ 2.1s up front instead of 4.1s. The 4.1s are great but don't offer much over the 2.1s interms of output or extension (especially when paired w/ a good sub).

$1500 would be right about the cost of 2 pairs of Swans 2.1, a C3, and an SVS 25-31 PCi. I would say this would be a very noticable upgrade.


#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Chris Tsutsui

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Posted May 02 2005 - 10:22 AM

I used to listen to JBL Northridge series a lot, mostly the N26. I still have a pair of S38s which I believe, were a noticeable upgrade over the Northridge line. I remember other people saying the Studio series was a jump over the Northridge. This leads me to believe that you will probably hear a difference if you upgrade to even the higher JBL line...

Anyways, if you need 5 speakers for $1000-1500 then it might not be a big upgrade... If you are talking that much money for 2 speakers vs a pair of N38s then you're talking about a major upgrade...

It also has a lot to do with the speaker "build'. Silk dome tweeters are more laid back than the 3/4" titanium dome tweeter on your JBLs which have a brighter sound. Bigger speakers tend to be able to play "louder" easier, or produce more bass... etc.


#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Greg Racki

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Posted May 02 2005 - 11:11 AM

Thanks for the advice guys,

To answer your question Mike, I'll be putting the new speakers (if I get them) in a room about 1400-2000 cubic feet (choosing between 2 rooms). I'm definitely planning on going with one of the lower priced SVS subs, around the 429-600 dollar range.

I figure I can spend around 900-1300 on the other 5 speakers, the lower the better.

Here are my options, please cast your votes on what you think would actually sound the best and whether it would be worth it!

[Assume the SVS sub is a lock, and "sounds the best" means overall neutrality and clarity; I want it to sound closest to how it did to the sound engineer! Also, I don't want there to be a huge "gap" in sound between the sub and the rest.]

Option 1 MORE JBL - Keep the N38s and round the system out with more northridge stuff, an ec35 and two e10s (about $300)

Option 2 Ascend - Get an Ascend package for about $1050 (three 340s and two 170s)

Option 3 Swan - Two pairs of 2.1s and the C3 (about $900-1000, I think)

Option 4 Axiom - VP150, 2 M22ti's, and 2 m3i's (about $1000)

Option 5 Aperion - 4 522s and the VAC center (about $900)

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   MikeLi

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Posted May 02 2005 - 11:29 AM

I would definantly not rule out the Onix ELT's but call for a package price w/o the sub and go with the SVS sub. They have been getting super reviews and the build quality is super. You might be able to also get just a bit bigger sub that way... Just an idea... Also the options you have above are good as well. Another thing to look it too is go to the sites and check out the B stock. Most all of them are very minor things like a scratch or most are returns from demos or evals... Good luck.

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Stephen Hopkins

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Posted May 02 2005 - 12:45 PM

If you're looking for neutral i'd rule out JBL ans Axiom, both can be bright, Axiom more so than JBL. I've been hearing more and more about Ascend and would love to give them a listen. I know i'm extremely happy w/ my swans. Haven't heard Aperon and seems like you can go higher end than the ELTs in the price range.

#8 of 19 OFFLINE   BrianAe

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Posted May 03 2005 - 04:58 AM

Just a quick note. I am fairly familar with many of the speakers you are looking at and the JBLs and think the upgrade will be worth it.

I'd consider going with the Aperion's which I own but getting the 522-C center over the VACC. You'll save money and IMHO its a better speaker. Do a search for my detailed comparison on this forum. You also might want to consider going with the Ascends but with the 170s all around to save money. With the sub in play I think that would be a killer system and the 340s might be overkill.

#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Chris Quinn

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Posted May 03 2005 - 03:47 PM

The Ascend 170s have better sound quality than the ELT Cse from my personal experience. You can see if Craigsub's shootout between the 170 and ELT Cse from last summer is still availible at hometheaterspot.com for his thoughts.

I picked up a pair of JBL E30s on clearance to give to a friend with nothing(along with an old reciever and CDP). The Ascend 170s were clearly better to me.

Try the Ascend forum to see if someone in your area will let you come listen. You can do the same with ELTs at the AV123.com forum and decide for yourself which you like better.

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Eric:F

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Posted May 04 2005 - 01:07 AM

hi greg,
most of the brands you are considering are a "lateral" move at best. i suggest you upgrade your front soundstage and keep a couple of your current speakers as surrounds.
we chose these:
http://www.salksound.com/htshome.html
for just a little more $ you can step way up in class to a speaker custom built for your particular set up. jim salk uses world class components and offers a $ back promise.
fill in with the best svs or hsu sub you can afford and you won't be chasing the upgrade bug for quite a while.
best,
eric

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Tim Stumpf

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Posted May 04 2005 - 04:20 AM

I second Eric:F. I have a pair of salk ht1s. They are phenominal to hear and look at. If you get these, the only upgrades you'll need are the front end equipment to do these speakers justice (depending on what you have now of course.)

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Greg Racki

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Posted May 04 2005 - 05:41 AM

I'm interested in these Salks. If thats what it takes to actually "upgrade," then I might be willing.

Could you point me to any online reviews. Audioreview.com doesn't have much. Also, which speakers in the line do you recommend? And, why are ribbon tweeters better than silk or titanium?

Thanks for the help.

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Tim Stumpf

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Posted May 04 2005 - 06:54 AM

Sorry double post.

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Tim Stumpf

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Posted May 04 2005 - 06:55 AM

I recommend you look over the website in the link above. Read Jim's views on speaker parts, i.e. driver quality, crossovers, cabinets etc. Then just look at the quality of his cabinet work. Look here too. http://photobucket.c....rrent=tfs2.jpg

Then you can initiate a conversation with Jim, who will more than answer any questons you may have and help you through the process of choosing a speaker and "look" just for you. Totally customized process. You'll end up with a pair of speakers that sound fantastic and no one else on the planet will have but you. I love that idea.

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   BrianAe

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Posted May 04 2005 - 07:01 AM

I can't comment on the Salk's but I have heard the JBLs, Aperions, Swans, and Ascends (not the Axioms) and feel that they are all indeed upgrades. All of them offer full refund trial periods, with Aperion, they'll even pay for shipping. So, I say get a pair of one or more of these brands and decide for yourself before you go and spend much more on something else.

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Tim Stumpf

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Posted May 04 2005 - 07:35 AM

Brian has a good point as well. The Salks aren't cheap. But you're spending money on quality components and furniture grade wood work instead of dealer and manufacturer markup. I feel that I now have a pair of speakers that I'll be happy with for a long long time, maybe forever.

#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Eric:F

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Posted May 04 2005 - 04:03 PM

tim, those are awesome speakers!
what kind of burl is that finish?
we have the HTS-MTMs for our dedicated ht set up.
they sound superb, and the piano black finish disappears into our black av wall.
however, i hope to get a pair of jim's veracity series for a dedicated 2 channel music set up.
jim's woodwork is just incredible.
greg, ribbon tweeters have a characteristic transparency.
it's a light, liquid, ethereal sound quality. once you've heard good ribbons,electrostatic or planar drivers it's hard to go back to cones and domes.
best,
eric

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Tim Stumpf

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Posted May 05 2005 - 12:49 AM

I agree with Eric on the ribbon tweeters. The mid bass drivers Jim uses are as good as I've heard also. The front of mine are curly redwood and the rest of the cabinets are redwood burl. You can see them here on Jim's website. http://www.salksound...-votm-0404.html

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   BrianAe

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Posted May 05 2005 - 01:39 AM

Ribbons are great. They do have one issue however, they generally have poor vertical off-axis responses. Keep that in mind when choosing your speakers. If say, your center is going to be mounted on top of your RP TV then ribbons might not be the best way to go or at the very least you'll have to make sure it is angled down exactly right.