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Surround Speaker Help

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9 replies to this topic

#1 of 10 OFFLINE   shkgrad



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Posted May 14 2008 - 09:41 AM

Hi everyone,

My First day on this site! Posted Image

I’m going to put together my FIRST entertainment system and need some "sound" advise. Posted Image
I live in a small apt. so I’ve settled on these pieces:

TV- Sony BRAVIA KDL-32XBR6 1080p,
Receiver: Sony STR-DA5300ES,
DVD: Sony BDP-S500 HD Blu-Ray.
(Still considering the Sony PS3 for the dvd player but I’m not sure of what I’ll lose by it)

What I’m stuck on is a speaker system that will produce a nice phat True HD 7.1 sound without (1) Having to turn it up too loud (Apt living – what a joy Posted Image )
(2) That isn’t to bulky. (3) Won’t break the bank. (Okay… I’ll admit I’m cheap!)

Lastly, since I’m just starting and have a small place – Do I need a sub-woofer or can decent floor speakers work ok… I know that the best set up includes a sub-woofer, but I have limited space and won’t be going loud anyway – So would it “really” add enough?

Hope someone can offer some suggestions for a speaker set-up that interfaces well with the Sony receiver I’ve noted.

Lastly, as a start-up system, are the components I’ve selected a decent starting set-up? Your opinions count since I’m just starting.

Thanks to all –


#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Alon Goldberg

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Posted May 14 2008 - 11:18 AM

Hi Michael - welcome to HTF! A few questions to get you started: 1. What is your budget for speakers and possibly subwoofer? 2. Are you considering loudspeakers, bookshelf speakers, or satellite speakers? 3. What are the dimensions of your room? 4. Is your apartment building concrete or wood frame? As for the system you've selected, the Sony ES-Series receiver is certainly very capable in its own right, but there are many receivers for far less money that will outperform this model. For an apartment I would recommend building a 5.1 system instead of a 7.1 system. I highly recommend you include a universal remote in your budget. The Logitech Harmony 880 is by far the most popular remote on the market, and for good reason. Also be sure to budget for speaker cabling, Blue Jeans Cable online is very highly quality and great value. Cheers

#3 of 10 OFFLINE   shkgrad



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Posted May 14 2008 - 05:02 PM

Hi Alon, Thanks for responding. To answer the Q's - I'm budgeting about 400.00 to 500.00 (Give or take a little either way) for speakers. My Apt is wood framed. My room is about 12'x19' with my viewing going across the 12' portion. I'm bouncing between the type of speakers... right now I'm thinking two tall fronts, a center and two small rear - I'm avoiding the sub only because of space and having such a small room to work with. You're right I did forget to budget for cables thanks for the heads-up. I know the Sony receiver isn't the best and is pricy, but I wanted the "system" TV, DVD, Receiver to match/work well together feature/function wise. Given what I've mentioned what would you suggest... I'm open Thanks again for getting back to me so quick, Michael

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Alon Goldberg

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Posted May 14 2008 - 07:04 PM

Hi Michael, the system is well out of balance if you are spending $1,500+ on a receiver and $500 on speakers. A couple of strategies I would consider: 1. Build slowly, spend the $500 on a pair of tower loudspeakers, then later purchase a centre channel, followed by surrounds 2. Reverse your strategy, spend $500 on a quality receiver such as a Onkyo TX-SR605, and allocate the remaining $1,500 towards the speakers. This will blow away the the system you were originally building, and will fully match the Sony Blu-Ray player in terms of features and function As for the subwoofer, I would build the system without one for now, and eventually add one in only if you feel necessary. I also live in an apartment (albeit concrete), and decided to build my system slowly by first purchasing two front loudspeakers. I then purchased a small 10" subwoofer, which I eventually sold as I spent half my time worrying about the neighbours instead of enjoying my theater for what it is (and it sounds fantastic I can assure you) For the speakers, this is a very subjective purchase, I would spend an afternoon auditionning as many speakers as you can, with CD's you are very familiar with. First audition speakers from a wide variety of manufacturers such as Paradigm, B&W, Monitor Audio, KEF, PSB, Totem - there are dozens more in the price range, these are among my favorites. You'll quickly know what speakers win you over. Next, decide on a strategy, such as the two I mentionned above Cheers

#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Mendoza



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Posted May 14 2008 - 08:53 PM

Out of curiosity, from what distance do you plan on viewing the screen (within the previously mentioned 12')? A 32" screen is on the small side unless you're pretty close to it; and a small screen can sometimes seem a little out of balance in a proper full-surround system.

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted May 15 2008 - 01:16 AM

Welcome to the forum Michael. Buying the same brand of electronic components so that they all match and work well together is not necessary. For each component buy what gives you the features at a price point that meets your budget. Alton has given you some good advice, as to considering other receivers than the pricy Sony and starting with a 5.1 system instead of 7.1 (considering the size of your apartment). Universal remotes are certainly handy, but I’d use money to get a subwoofer before spending on a remote. If you are short of money, beginning with 2 front speakers, adding a center, then surrounds and then a sub is a reasonable way to go (just make sure that all your speakers match when you are finished).
¡Time is not my master!

#7 of 10 OFFLINE   shkgrad



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Posted May 15 2008 - 05:05 AM

Hi, The 12' was wall to wall - I'm about 7'-8' away from where the screen will be. I have a nice (old) maple wood book shelf that holds my current TV and I'll be replacing it with this new one. The 32" fits perfectly on the width and the height with stand gives me about a 1/4" from the top. So the entire space will be filled with screen. It will also be about 3.5' up so eye level when seated. Is this too small?

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   shkgrad



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Posted May 15 2008 - 05:20 AM


Ya know - when you're right... you're right. Posted Image I'll take your advise and get only the two towers speakers for now and add on later.

I'll check out the Onkyo too.

I knew I came to the right place to ask my Q's.

Many thanks to you Alon and everybody for helping me.

Michael -

PS. I'll likely be back asking more q's - now that I found a knowledge pool... Posted Image

#9 of 10 OFFLINE   shkgrad



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Posted May 15 2008 - 05:33 AM

Hi Lew,

Thanks for the advise. I guess from the distance I'll be sitting from the stuff -I can get my lazy behind up to flip a few buttons or deal with two remotes... Posted Image

The Sony stuff had this link through the HDMI cable that will let me control the receiver - tv - and DVD all with one remote, also the ability to decode (I think that's what it's called) the HD uncompressed audio of blu-ray.

I also liked the 7.1 discrete channel surround capability verses the matrixed surround or 5.1 limit. I know for my current place it may be overkill, but I would rather have the ability to expand rather than not. Plus, I was thinking the higher end features would keep the receiver from becoming out dated as quickly.

But, I see I have allot to learn and I should do that... learn.

Thanks for your time and help,

#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Mark M. Smith

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Posted May 21 2008 - 12:15 PM

Don't worry about the remote. I bought a Logitech Harmony 676 off the forum for about $70 a few years back and it's been a truly universal remote that even satisfied someone as picky as myself. For the 880 you can get it new for $150 or the new top-of-the-line One model for $230. I wouldn't budget for it, but I certainly wouldn't buy all Sony either. The amount you'd pay extra to get a remote that will handle anything you ever buy is much less than what you'd end up overpaying and what you could buy for a better price.

As for 7.1 discrete I don't see why the Sony would do anything there that any other receiver with 7.1 output wouldn't. The only matrixed audio format is Dolby Digital EX with DTS ES having both a matrixed and a discrete option. All of the newer high def formats are discrete on any receiver AFAIK.

Likewise while I like the idea of future-proofing by providing TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio I'm not aware that any players are passing bitstreams yet. They all do the decoding of these formats themselves and then pass the audio as PCM (yes, they just "unzip" a lossless format, but it still feels wrong to me).

Although I didn't spend a lot of time looking into each receiver and I haven't auditioned either it looks to me like the only real difference between the two is that one costs about $1,000 more and says "Sony" on it.

As others have stated going the upgrade route is definitely a good one. Speakers also tend to be the best bang for your buck in that the money spent on speakers will generally translate into better sound much more rapidly than money spent on electronics. So look to buying a good set of main speakers to begin with. You'll be getting great sound for a while until you're able to add in that center, surrounds, and sub.

As for a particular receiver well... I'm a fan of Outlaw Audio and at present they don't have a model that I'd recommend. The 1070 I own has been discontinued because it's becoming quickly more out-of-date for high def sources (e.g. it doesn't handle HDMI at all, just DVI). They'll be coming out with a new line in the future, but they tend to take their time in producing a really good product so it could very well be a while. I would say to be certain that whatever receiver you get that it has pre-outs on it. That way as you upgrade your system you'll always have the option of moving to separates. You might not want to, but it's always nicer to have the option and not use it than have to buy a lot more equipment all at once because you don't have it.

I also live in a small apartment (that I pay way too much for). Not only is it not concrete, but it's an in-law (i.e. a sub-divided house). I can hear my neighbor walking around upstairs and occasionally carrying on conversations. So I certainly understand the problems. Since I'm in San Francisco and I don't ever plan on leaving the city I'm not even considering the possibility of ever owning a house. Still even when you're so constrained you shouldn't let it get you down. You just have to deal with a few more problems in room design and learn to be ok with demoing your system to your neighbors a bit more often than they might care for. It's not a problem, just think of it as a charitable mission showing what a good system can do to the unwashed masses Posted Image.

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