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choosing first home theater speaker/sub setup


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#1 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted December 27 2013 - 07:27 AM

Hi guys and girls. 

 

I'm looking to building  my first decent quality home theater setup. At this point I'm looking to build a 2.1 or 3.1 if I can find the right center. I'm still trying to learn, what to look for and what to avoid. The concept of 'british sound' is still very confusing. I'll be visiting a store today to try and get a better idea what the sound difference is. The setup will be used for movies and music in a small room. I do have a list of legacy equipment I'll be hooking up to it as well which is what made the 525 fit the bill nicely. In terms of what I want from my sound system I'm looking for clarity over wall shattering volume levels. I'll be buying the speakers and sub used so I am limited by market availability in Canada.

 

TV: LG 50PM6700

Bluray: LG BP620

AVR: Onkyo TX-NR525 (soon to be purchased)

 



#2 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 27 2013 - 08:29 AM

Read...BBC Monitors and beyond. And Technology.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KEF

 

Every British brand has its origins in the BBC requirements way back yore.

 

The LS3/5A is THE MOST COPIED speaker design in the world. I count(last time I cared to figure it out) 68 different manufacturers, today, that make that exact speaker. Granted...they all don't use the same tweeter/woofer.



#3 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 27 2013 - 08:43 AM

Here is just one modern take on it...

 

http://www.salksound...nuum - home.htm



#4 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted December 27 2013 - 09:27 AM

Interesting read for sure, doesn't quite answer the difference between american and british sound to me though. I understand now what you meant by "nobody would ever kick  a KEF out of their living room" When you have heritage like that with the ability to tweak and test your product to a degree not everyone could risk doing it greatly improves your quality. 



#5 of 20 OFFLINE   Picture_Shooter

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Posted December 27 2013 - 09:33 AM

First few questions:

 

 

Size of your room?

 

What is you total budget for 2.1 or 3.1?

 

Do you prefer satellites, bookshelf or tower speakers?



#6 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 27 2013 - 09:35 AM

British Sound(like Canadian Sound) comes from the fact the BBC was involved in getting a "normalized marketplace". The BBC created an anechoic chamber. KEF, Wharfedale, Tannoy, BIC and everybody else used it. 

 

Canada created one a while back(forget the actual name) and when they did...Energy, Paradigm, Totem and "everybody else up there" used it. Paradigm has since built their own. Totem and Energy(how long Energy will keep using it is anyone's guess with Klipsch ownership) still use it.

 

I would assume Fluance has used it.

 

Basically yes "all anechoic chambers are created the same"...yeah right. 

 

Within reason you can tell a Canadian speaker from a British speaker.



#7 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 27 2013 - 09:38 AM

Here it is on Axiom's website...

 

http://www.axiomaudio.com/NRC



#8 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted December 27 2013 - 09:47 AM

First few questions:

 

 

Size of your room?

 

What is you total budget for 2.1 or 3.1?

 

Do you prefer satellites, bookshelf or tower speakers?

 

Current size 13'x14' but that will change in 4-5months.

 

Budget is about $400cdn

 

I would say bookshelf or towers as I don't intend to mount the speakers on a wall. I would want free standing speakers. I don't know what the sound difference would be between them though.

 

British Sound(like Canadian Sound) comes from the fact the BBC was involved in getting a "normalized marketplace". The BBC created an anechoic chamber. KEF, Wharfedale, Tannoy, BIC and everybody else used it. 

 

Canada created one a while back(forget the actual name) and when they did...Energy, Paradigm, Totem and "everybody else up there" used it. Paradigm has since built their own. Totem and Energy(how long Energy will keep using it is anyone's guess with Klipsch ownership) still use it.

 

I would assume Fluance has used it.

 

Basically yes "all anechoic chambers are created the same"...yeah right. 

 

Within reason you can tell a Canadian speaker from a British speaker.

Okay that makes more sense, they are based of slightly different technology in design thus creating a different sound. I'll need to visit a store today to hear what the difference is in the real world. 



#9 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted December 27 2013 - 01:55 PM

Okay I made a trip to a local audio video store. I knew they had a showing theater room set up so seemed like a good place to get an idea what different sets sound like. It was a few minutes of the movie hunger games followed by a live band performance. 

 

The first set I listened to was KEF satellite set it is 5.1 but it was only set up for 3.1 due to it being on the floor. I found the sound to be very raspy and not a pleasant listening experience. 

 

Second was PSB AINTROHT1 5.1 satellite system, the sound was very smooth and clear. Watching the movie was enjoyable, with vocals being clear and lifelike and sound effects being good. With music is didn't have quite enough low end power for music listening. Something that could be fixed using book shelf or towers. The sound was smooth just needed a bit more power but the sub was not set at full power and the system may not be set up complete either.

 

Third was a paradigm 5.1 satellite system, it sounded slightly distorted at points in both the movie and music. The worst part was almost a lisp on Ss during the music part. A problem I've been trying to fix in my truck audio system. It isn't something I wanted to hear from 5.1 system. A style note was the vertical orientation of the center speaker to be ridiculous when they are commonly placed infront of your TV.

 

Fourth was another KEF 5.1 system, it was a higher end unit MSRP $1800. I found the bass to be almost non existent, I question whether the system was balanced due to the center speaker dominating the rest easily even while standing 10ft away from it. It was not an impressive set up for sure.

 

Fifth was a Mirage 5.1 wireless set up with a 10" sub. The sound was okay but nothing special, the disc also stopped functioning before I could see the music part on this set. 

 

Overall I found the PSB set MSRP of $599 to sound far more pleasing to the ear of all the setups I heard. It was a smooth, clear delivery and very life like vocals without needing to be driven to ridiculous levels. The viewing room was larger than my bedroom where this setup will currently be used. I was standing a reasonable distance away similar as if I was watching the movie on a couch. I tried to position myself as real life distance to get a better idea of how it sounds.



#10 of 20 OFFLINE   Dave Moritz

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Posted January 03 2014 - 08:52 PM

Dont be surprised that the way the speakers sounded in the retailer ends up sounding different once you get them home.  Especially in open areas retailers which tend to be horible in the acoustic area.  While some speakers seem to highlight highs and some accent mids and you will find some that might have muddy base.  Not all sound the same and even then once you get them home there is a good chance they will sound a little different.  What size is the room, what type of material is the walls made of?  Do you have a concrete slab or a wood floor?  Are the main speakers aimed at solid walls or a large slidding glass window?  All of this can change the sound and yes the amount of padded furniture can affect the sound.  Take the to 5-6 cd's that are your favorite, the ones you know really well.  Listen to these same songs on every set of speakers you listen to but go into it realizing that there will be suttle changes once you get them in your home.  You have to ask yourself questions like how much will I be listening to your investment and how important is it for it to sound good?  Do you want to buy once and not have to upgrade for many years or are you willing to buy something for now that will do the job then upgrade later?  Don't rush into anything and ask lots of questions and do alot of listening, you will thank yourself later and be happier which your choices for a longer period of time.  I do however recomend that you match your speakers for even sound all the way around the room.  It is important to have what they call matched timber 360 deg, speakers that have similar sounding drivers for a more even sound from side to side and front to back.  Let us know how things go.


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#11 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted January 04 2014 - 09:40 AM

Yes the units in the open show room sounded very poor. A few sets were in their theater showing room with the high end tvs which is more realistic environment. I went back 2 days later with a blu ray and a cd. I chose movie scenes with action, nature, background music and explosions to see how real it sounded. I confirmed the return policy and selected the PSB set and a pair of bookshelf speakers for front left and right for music listening. It took awhile to decide between bookshelf and towers, I understand towers are technically better for music. About $200 between the two so considering I could return them if I didn't like it I tried the bookshelf first. Right now they are used in a bedroom. Carpet floors, drywall and one window behind a padded loveseat and a bed. So far after watching multiple movies on DVD and blu ray of different genres, I've been playing with the different listening modes, sub power volume. For movie watching I'm very pleased with this current set up. For music I'm not quite as certain, I'm not sure if this makes sense but you can tell the speakers are 'small'. I'm not sure if it's because the bookshelf speakers are on the floor tilted towards me and not on stands. Would stands make more of a difference? Is it worth returning the bookshelf and going with towers instead?

 

I don't intend to replace the setup for a number of years. If I can set this system up to the point I am very pleased with then I won't be replacing it until I have an actual need too, not just because. The receiver is already 4k pass through and I have no desire to set up a 7.1 system either. The only part of my system I'd replace in the future is the TV but even that is many years away. I'm happy with my 50" plasma. The speakers were the one thing that was really lacking followed by a non hdmi receiver. I now have a setup I'm very happy with so for me it's perfect. The systems that high light hi's to the point they start to lisp Ss bug me a lot, I can't stand it at all. 

 

 

UPDATE

 

I was listening to rock, metal music trying different listening modes keeping mind what you said about emphasis on HIs, mids and low. I would say these speakers are focused on mid and lows, than HIs. The bass is tight and mids with guitars, drums etc sound clean. The sub has a volume control knob so you can tweak how much power you want out of it which is great for watching movies or listening to music. You can get it where sounds good for each use. With the crossover set up on the sub to be controlled in the AVR and volume knob on the sub adjusted I get a nice tight bass without being ridiculously over powered where it makes more noise shaking things in the room than adding to the listening experience of the music. I listened to Disturbed, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom and Dio. With songs chosen for guitar solos, bass, higher notes etc. I haven't yet gone through the EQ set up of the receiver for my room yet, I just input speaker distance to my seat. 



#12 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted January 04 2014 - 03:29 PM

How much difference is there for music between bookshelf and towers for music? I'm strongly considering returning my psb bookshelfs for the towers. For movies I'm very happy with my set up, for me it's great. When it comes to listening to music though even with my eyes closed I can tell the speakers are 'small'. The volume level is not an issue even at 50% of my AVR capability can fill the room and a few points over is too loud for a conversation.  It's the fullness of the sound in stereo mode what feels like it's missing. 

 

Upon further review the cost of stands for book shelves is the same price as the difference between the book shelf and towers. I'll be testing the towers tomorrow to see if the sound is better to my ears. I know the acoustics will be different. 



#13 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted January 04 2014 - 03:35 PM

There is no definitive answer to that.

Dec Tech makes the Monitor 800 that reaches into the 40hz range.

The "base" Fluance towers, with a larger driver, barely crack 70hz.

So, you have to figure out what brand/series you want first. Then choose tower vs bookshelf.

But...

Towers are "almost always" more efficient(meaning they actually use less power than their little brothers) and will fill larger rooms easier.

#14 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted January 04 2014 - 03:40 PM

Sorry I should have been more specific. These are the 2 speakers in question

 

What I have now.

http://www.psbspeake...ha-B1-Bookshelf

 

What I'm considering

http://www.psbspeake.../Alpha-T1-Tower

 

 

From the reading I've done on the T1s they are quite good for the price point as a speaker. I'm going to bring my laptop full of music I've been listening to for the past few hours on the speakers and see what I think. The sub on that set up is broken so it will be only the towers which will  give a more realistic performance of them. When I weigh in that bookshelf stands can cost $100 here each it's a no brainer. Thanks for the help though. I made a choice with confidence and haven't been disappointed. Have a question about my receiver but didn't get through to Onkyo tech support today. It was an hour wait so I hung up. I'll try again another day to find out. 



#15 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted January 04 2014 - 04:04 PM

Based on 6 ohm tower for the 4 ohm bookshelf, the tower is an easier load. To achieve the "higher minimum ohm" load, probably means the workers are ran in series.

What that means...if you want to rock, the towers are much easier on the AVR.

#16 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted January 04 2014 - 04:05 PM

Damn auto-correcting phone.

Woofers, not workers...(and woofers is a saved word)

#17 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted January 04 2014 - 04:15 PM

That's good to know, I'm not pushing the receiver hard as I only turn it up half of max and that is more then plenty loud enough to fill the room. Going more for better sound and lower volume levels but a fuller sound at the same time. I'll check out the tower performance with rock and metal music tomorrow.



#18 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted January 05 2014 - 02:13 PM

I went back and auditioned the T1 towers with a variety of songs, I had the EQ of the AVR set to stereo and the sub on that particular set up was broken so it gave a true idea what those two towers alone can do. Tested songs with guitars, high vocals, etc. Was certain that the sound was much better then the bookshelf speakers they are replacing. Have them home and gently warming them up. I believe my building of my first real home theater system is complete. Few odds and ends, a better surge bar and maybe upgrade wiring and cables. But the major components have been selected and I'm very pleased with the outcome. Spent a lot more then I intended but I'm happy. Thanks for the help everyone. 



#19 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted January 05 2014 - 02:17 PM

But, you ended up with speakers you'll be happy with for the next 15-20 years.

 

That is why you spend the most on them. How many player devices, TV and AVR are you going to have in the next 20 years?



#20 of 20 OFFLINE   trailblazer295

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Posted January 05 2014 - 02:40 PM

That is exactly why I didn't worry about blowing the budget out of the water. I have the money so not like it's debt. I'll be buying a new power bar to protect all my equipment in the near future. Have a surge bar now but want a better one now that I have more valuable equipment hooked up to it. 






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