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Need help picking out HT audio equipment...


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#1 of 11 Ralphie_B

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Posted January 05 2006 - 08:25 AM

Hello, all – I’ve just recently joined this forum, because my wife and I are weighing the home theater options for our den. I’m hoping that some of you more experienced folks will be able to help me make informed decisions on what to buy and how to configure it. I’ll give some background info before I start jumping into questions. Posted Image

The room is a lower-level/”sunken” den. I would guess it is somewhere around 13’ x 15’ in size, or a bit smaller (I’ll have to do some measuring for a more accurate number). The only planned addition will be a home theater audio system. Existing furniture, TV armoire, television, and DVD player will remain as-is. The main use of the audio system will be for DVDs and digital cable TV. I’d like to keep the budget under $800 if possible.

As for room layout: the television, a 32” Sony Wega, is in a TV armoire, located in a recess at the southeast corner of the room. The main seating location is a couch placed about midway along the west wall, with secondary seating being a loveseat about midway along the north wall. A couple of unique features of the room: daylight windows occupy much of the upper portion of the west wall, and the upper 3’ or so along much of the north wall is open to the kitchen above. Also, the floor is carpeted (berber). I’ll post sketches/pictures of this once I take some measurements.

Why am I doing this? Please don’t laugh… up until now, we’ve been using a pair of (very nice) Klipsch bookshelf speakers and a Klipsch subwoofer hooked up to a Pioneer receiver (not sure of the models of any, I can check on this as well). But for over a year, the speakers and sub have sat ‘hidden’ on the floor near the armoire, because I haven’t been able to come up with a ‘satisfactory’ way to install them. My wife is very insistent upon not having any visible wiring, and no ‘obtrusive’ speakers or sub. She thinks the Klipsch speakers look too big, so I can’t mount them on the wall, on stands, or anywhere visible; and when we tried to hide the (non-shielded) sub behind the TV, it played havoc with the picture. Since our pets have started to take an ‘interest’ in the speakers/sub lately, they’re not really safe out in the open on the floor anymore. So I was told that the Klipsch stuff has to go – fortunately, I get to keep it for my basement rec room. Posted Image

We have done a little shopping for a replacement setup. I was thinking that a 5.1 system could be cool, although I’m not sure how well that would work in this room, due to the TV location and seating layout – plus, I was shot down due to the ‘no visible wires or obtrusive speakers’ rule. So we checked out a couple of ‘simulated surround’ 2.1 setups – the Bose 3-2-1 and the Sony DAV-X1. The Bose’s size was nice, but the sound (and price) didn’t appeal to me – from what I’ve read on here, it would seem I’m not alone in this. The Sony was also small and sounded a bit better (and had a MUCH better DVD player), but I think it’s basically trying to do the same thing sonically. I think the same goes for similar systems I’ve read about (Denon S-301, Niro 1.1 Pro II). I’m afraid a setup like this just wouldn’t work right in my den, because our seating is up against walls, rather than out in the middle of the room.

Well, that’s enough background, I think – sorry for giving you my whole life story. Posted Image On to the questions:
1. Am I wrong about the ‘simulated surround’ systems – might they actually stand a chance in my den?
2. Are there any other ways to simulate surround (i.e. using normal speakers) that sound decent? I’m not so much concerned with rear imaging, but at least something that spreads out the front soundstage well?
3. Going along with #2, does a 3.1 system seem like a good idea? If so, are there any speaker recommendations that will allow me to keep the speaker size to a minimum and still get good sound? Magnetic shielding is desired if possible. Black finish is a plus.
4. Any suggestions for relatively small receivers? Again, black finish is a plus.
5. Any subwoofer recommendations? Again, compactness and magnetic shielding are desired if possible. Finish isn’t so important here, since the sub will be behind the armoire, totally obscured from view.

You guys have a great forum here, and I look forward to more discussion with you. Thanks in advance!

#2 of 11 SethH

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Posted January 05 2006 - 08:41 AM

For speakers, you might check out the Athena Micra-6 package. They're small -- which will hopefully please your wife -- and they've gotten great reviews.

#3 of 11 ColinM

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Posted January 05 2006 - 09:01 AM

1. Am I wrong about the ‘simulated surround’ systems – might they actually stand a chance in my den?

You need to try one in your home to know that.

2. Are there any other ways to simulate surround (i.e. using normal speakers) that sound decent? I’m not so much concerned with rear imaging, but at least something that spreads out the front soundstage well?

No, not in my experience. Excellent stereo speakers (in stereo) are hard to beat.

3. Going along with #2, does a 3.1 system seem like a good idea? If so, are there any speaker recommendations that will allow me to keep the speaker size to a minimum and still get good sound? Magnetic shielding is desired if possible. Black finish is a plus.

Might sound great, but without the back 2, you will certainly be missing something.
You call that a knife?

#4 of 11 Ralphie_B

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Posted January 06 2006 - 07:09 AM

Thanks for the comments so far!

Here is some additional info:

1. The speakers I'm replacing are Klipsch KG 1.5s (sized 9.25" w x 9.25" d x 13" h). Replacements must be significantly smaller.
2. The (powered) sub I'm replacing is a Klipsch SWV (sized 13.5" w x 13.25" d x 18.75" H). Replacement can be taller, but not wider/deeper.
3. Sony DVD player has a "simulated surround" function -- do these modes typically work well with a 3.1 setup, or 2.1 only?
4. Floor plan: I was off in my original size estimate; the room is actually 14' x 19'.
Attached are links to AutoCAD sketches of the den's floorplan -- one with dimensions, one without (for clarity). Since I haven't posted enough times yet, I'm not able to post the URLs or IMGs themselves... hopefully it's okay to just give them as text, and they can be cut-and-pasted into the address bar.

i14.photobucket.com/albums/a322/tlniec/Misc/DenFloorPlan_Export.jpg

i14.photobucket.com/albums/a322/tlniec/Misc/DenFloorPlan_Export2.jpg

Thanks!

#5 of 11 Jeff Gatie

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Posted January 06 2006 - 07:55 AM

Quote:
‘simulated surround’ 2.1 setups – the Bose 3-2-1 and the Sony DAV-X1.
. . .

1. Am I wrong about the ‘simulated surround’ systems – might they actually stand a chance in my den?


They are called "simulated" for a reason. If you want true 5.1 sound, a "simulation" is just that, simulated.

Quote:
fortunately, I get to keep it for my basement rec room.
. . .

plus, I was shot down due to the ‘no visible wires or obtrusive speakers’ rule.


Uhhh, if it is your room, why do her rules still apply?

Wait...don't answer. Whatever answer you come up with would not make sense to this decidedly single male.Posted Image

#6 of 11 Ralphie_B

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Posted January 06 2006 - 08:44 AM

The no-wires rule applies in the Den, where the new stuff will go, but not to the basement. I can set the basement rec room up however I want (so that one's easy). Posted Image

#7 of 11 Yong Chan

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Posted January 06 2006 - 02:44 PM

Even if you get very small speakers (very feasible), the difficulty with your situation is the no wires rule. Unless you are a really good do-it-yourself kinda guy, you may consult an professional installer. I would take your wife to an installer that has a nice showroom with one set up vs the multi speaker set up of most consumer electronics stores. She may see that and appreciate the beauty of a nice HT. Of course, this is probably going to be very expensive.

Good luck

YC

#8 of 11 Jason J G

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Posted January 07 2006 - 12:35 AM

If your room is relatively square, and has very little acoustically deadening materials on the walls, try the Yamaha YSP-1000, it's in the right price range, and use the sub that you have now.

You will be amazed at the surround capabilities considering that it is a single speaker (with 42 individuals!). It is relatively easy to set up, and is an all in one sound processsor.

#9 of 11 Jason J G

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Posted January 07 2006 - 12:49 AM

Yeah, after seeing your CAD drawing, go and find a Yamaha dealer, try that unit. It has 3 wires, a power cord, an optical input for audio, and a subwoofer output, all you'll need. It's only one speaker, so your wife shouldn't object.

It produces an amazing surround effect, the only problem is it won't work if there is no solid surface to reflect sound off of. I tried this unit, it filled the room from the center through the left side of the room, even the ceiling had sound coming from it! My only problem was I had no reflective wall on the right side, and there was only direct sound on that side no "surround" effect.

It's very easy to set up. It's plain and attractive. Less clutter than even what you have now, if you put the YSP-1000 in the armoire, above the TV if possible, and the sub behind the armoire, you would see nothing at all with the doors closed, and no visible wires at all.

#10 of 11 Ralphie_B

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Posted January 07 2006 - 05:55 PM

Jason,

Thanks for the suggestion! I've heard of that Yamaha speaker array, I will see if I can find one locally to demo. It does seem like my best bet for a clean install.

The other option I'm considering is to buy a 5.1-capable receiver with a simulated surround mode, a sub, and two (or three) speakers, and do a front-only setup for now. If and when I get the guts to try running rear speaker wires through the ceiling (or another good hidden location), then I could add in rear speakers and go 5.1.

#11 of 11 MikeLi

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Posted January 08 2006 - 05:35 AM

What about the new speaker packages from SVS that includes a sub? Just a thought.




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