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Any recievers noted for creating large, deep soundstages?


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#1 of 28 Paul_Scott

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Posted July 31 2002 - 11:22 PM

or is this mostly the province of the speakers,
or a combo of both?

i'm trying out some fairly high end speakers now (rather not say which brand, 'cause i want to keep this general), and they are being driven by my Kenwood 407, (it came with my old HTIB).
the new speakers (bookshelfs) are clearly better speakers, but the soundstage at this point, i don't find to be all that impressive.
i realize i've only had them on about 12 hrs so far, and that breaking-in will change this a bit, but i wonder how much i'll have to spend on a new reciever to make these 'sing', if at all.
are there any specific brands noted for contributing to large, expansive soundstages?
Denons seem to get mentioned a lot to me, but what about Yamaha, Onkyo, HK, etc.

i'm surprised with how well the Kenwood performs with these so far, and i am not entirely sure if this is really the weak link i've been told it is. its not a 5802, but it seems decent enough.

also, do centers need as much breaking in as the mains?

stupid questions probably, but i'm kind of new to the audio side.

thanks

#2 of 28 Chu Gai

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Posted July 31 2002 - 11:36 PM

Assuming that what you're wondering about is if we compare two arbitrary receivers, neither of which is set in a mode that processes the signal (concert hall, jazz club, whatever), the answer is no. Simply taking the signal from your device, whatever it is, and amplifying it to drive your speakers will not result do what you're thinking. The soundstage is affected by:
the recording
the speaker
the speaker/room/listener interactions

You can take the most wondrous of speakers and put it in the most god awful of rooms and then sit in a bizarre location and turn your system into "i spent money on this?"

If you're presently having issues right now and its your intent on keeping your existing speakers, working first on improving their location and positioning then possibly working a bit on the room will have positive benefits.

No reason to think a center channel would take any longer to break-in than any other speaker. Playing with it's position though (tilting it slightly to point towards you for example) can likely improve your overall listening experience.

#3 of 28 Bob Marker

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Posted August 01 2002 - 02:34 AM

Paul:
I agree with Chu Gai. In my experience, the speakers and how you position them in the room can have a major impact on the soundstage presentation.
On the other hand I've owned several 2 channel amps (of widely ranging prices) and have been able to distinguish no difference in their sound stage presentation.
While I am not familiar with the Kenwood model you own, it may not be a "weak link" in the sonics of your system. I own a very inexpensive ($100) Pioneer receiver that, when inserted into my main music playback system, sounds just as good, to me, as my more expensive amps.
Bob

#4 of 28 John F. Palacio

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Posted August 01 2002 - 02:48 AM

I will add my $.02 by agreeing with Mr. Gai and Mr. Marker.
Best regards.

John
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#5 of 28 Chu Gai

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Posted August 01 2002 - 05:06 AM

Speakers are such a personal thing. If these are something that you're considering purchacing I can offer only this practical advice.

You likely have a grace period when you can return them. If you can't get them to sound the way you like despite anything you do then likely, high end or not, they're not for you. If you tell your salesperson as much, he/she will do one of several things.

Offer to gladly take them back and refund your money, even if it means blowing a sale.

Suggest the speakers need to broken in more....bull...he's gambling you're going to either find the problem (if there is one) or you'll get used to them.

Suggest you need to buy a new source of amplification. How convenient...for him Posted Image

Suggest the wires are your problem and show you these wonderfully reviewed considerably more whatevers.

Intimate that they've been highly reviewed which will subconciously make you think that you're just not good enough to appreciate them.

If its #1, take him up on his offer. See if there's something else in that store or move on.

If its any of the others, firmly and politely state you're returning them and ask when you can expect a refund. Then go buy somewhere else.

That's my take on things. How much time you got left?

#6 of 28 John F. Palacio

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Posted August 01 2002 - 07:02 AM

"If its any of the others, firmly and politely state you're returning them and ask when you can expect a refund. Then go buy somewhere else."

Mr. Gai your thoughtful insights are only surpassed by your witty sense of humor.

Enjoying you comments.

John Posted Image
Best regards.

John
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#7 of 28 Chris Tsutsui

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Posted August 01 2002 - 07:26 AM

Sad, but true...

Did anyone ever notice that when your demoing music with the sales rep they always close their eyes and nod their head.

It's as if they are pretending to enjoy the music even when they are far away from the sweet spot listening to a CD I provided. It's not like their nodding of the head makes the music any better.. it rather distracts from my experience. Posted Image


#8 of 28 Chu Gai

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Posted August 01 2002 - 08:40 AM

Thanks...if I make mistakes I tend to make them such that they hurt the consumer less. Insurance/car/audio salespeople didn't get their reputation for nothing. Not to say you don't find good ones. It's your money, your tastes that're important. Some people like relationships with salespeople....i say that's a great way to wind up on jerry springer.

#9 of 28 Phil Mays

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Posted August 01 2002 - 09:52 AM

Chu,

I always enjoy your posts, weather I agree or not. It's always good to see (or hear) both side and sometimes you really get into with cables.

However I must politely disagree with you on relationships. I have found through the years that building relationships is one of the most important things in business. Not to paint with a roller, I just feel more comforatable doing business with those who know me and I know them. It has paid off many times when I need help/favor with certain items/problems/opertunities.Posted Image

BTW, do you feel that one receiver is not as warm as another? Is warmth a deep soundstage? I've always been confussed with this as well.

#10 of 28 John F. Palacio

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Posted August 01 2002 - 09:58 AM

"Some people like relationships with salespeople....i say that's a great way to wind up on jerry springer." Posted Image
Best regards.

John
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#11 of 28 Phil Mays

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Posted August 01 2002 - 10:02 AM

I tend to not sleep with my sales people, actually never crossed my mindPosted Image Well excet that one........Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

#12 of 28 Chu Gai

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Posted August 01 2002 - 10:51 AM

The operative word is tend...look in your mailbox for something postmarked Chicago. Relationships...perhaps best discussed over several beers with someone else doing the driving. I do understand where you're coming from Phil but usually these relationships are predicated on things that aren't as obvious...there's the fact of money...maybe you two genuinely like each other...its better to have him on your side than against him...most happy customers are just that, happy. The pissed off ones, they tell everyone, even dead people. For other customers to see that salesperson joe is friendly with a person is a good thing for business. However, despite it all, and yes I've had amicable relationships with salepeople, I'm always reminded of the line from the movie the Natural, when at this dinner party Redford is speaking to this person (name escapes me) who's being particularly helpful with advice. Redford said something like, "you're standing awfully close to me, I can't tell whether its your toes I'm feeling or mine".

#13 of 28 Paul_Scott

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Posted August 01 2002 - 11:00 AM

Thanks Chu,
that seems like sound sensible advice. Frankly this particular business hasn't been too bad to deal with and i have several weeks to devote to listening and tweaking around until my schedule forces me on the road, so i probably have a little less than 3 weeks total.

i've been told, not just by that salesperson, but others on different forums, that until i upgrade the reciever, these won't really 'sing'.
i'm surprised with how well the Kenwood seems to keeping up its end, especially since the entire reciever, powered sub, 5 speaker package cost $200 less than this new center alone.

the Kenwood as a system has several deficencies.
the foremost being what i think now is a very compressed dynamic range.
it's terrible for any kind of music listening, but for HT i'm still thinking it is a remarkable value.
at least compared to the price/performance of everything i've looked at so far.

w/ these new speakers, i'm noticing a substantial increase in the dynamic range of HT. voices can be very quiet and almost a strain to here but two minutes later an explosion will rattle the house.
i'm actually not sure i like this better, as i tend to do a lot of listening at night and even with a nightmode, the gulf between quiet and loud can be unsettling.

i've heard various theroys on breaking-in speakers, with some claiming that when they leave the factory, they've been broken in as much as they'll ever be, and some who say theirs didn't start to sound 'true' until 100 hours in.
i believe i am hearing a difference after just 12 hours.
although i think there is still a ways to go.

of course it could just be my ears aclimatizing to the new sound.

we'll see.

#14 of 28 Phil Mays

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Posted August 01 2002 - 11:33 AM

Chu,

I agree with you to a point. However in my business, hospitality, relationships are everything.

How many times do you frequent a business because of the people and your relationship with them. If there's a problem it will be fixed, you know it because you have built that relationship with that person. Yes it is a function of a well operated business, but that is a function of relationships exhibited by successful management with their customers, suppliers, and employees.

In the hotel industry you could remove all printed material from a guest room and the guest would have a difficult time distinguishing what "flag" is flying outside. The difference is the employees of the hotel and the relationships they have built with their guests. We are obviously not always perfect, however, when a relationship exhists a guest will be more forgiving as they know the problem was the exception and not the rule. BTW, hotel managers I hire who have "relationship" skills are always personally more successful financially, the hotel is more profitable and they are more stable.

Really one could use this analogy in any business be it fast food or telecommunication services.

Sorry, didn't mean to swerve "way" out of the realm of this thead.

By the way, what is your take when people say "warm" sounding or "bright" sounding. Would certain components within a system create more or different resistance that would "curve" the flow of current in some way. Sorry for the extreme laymans terms but that is what I am in this field.

#15 of 28 Greg_R

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Posted August 01 2002 - 11:59 AM

Some speaker placement tips for good imaging:

- Never sit near the rear wall of the room. Ideally the distance to your mains should be less than the distance to the rear wall (from your seating position).
- Pull the mains at least 3 ft. off the front wall (more would be better).
- The distance between mains should be less than the distance between mains and the listener.
- Toe in should be minimal (i.e. don't point the speaker right at the listener).
- Mains should be away from the side walls. Diffusion and/or absorption material on the side wall may help.

A better receiver will improve the sound but properly placing your speakers (and tuning your room) will make a large difference as well.

#16 of 28 Chu Gai

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Posted August 01 2002 - 02:24 PM

Paul: First let me begin by saying I'm not familiar with the receiver you've got. In particular I don't know what its RMS power is with all channels being driven. Nor do I know the efficiency of your speakers, your room size, your listening habits (although you've given a bit of insight into this). So what I offer to you are some general guidelines and just a bit of insight. Seeing as how the advice is free you can discard it if you wish. First of all, having a powerful amplication system is not a bad thing. It'll cost you and if we're talking about receivers it'll generally also provide you other features for that price besides power. More outputs/inputs...more sound processing capabilities, perhaps variable switchover frequencies for the sub, the list goes on. Whether that's important is for you to decide. Now let us say that you're operating your system within its design limits. With respect to the receiver that explicitly means that you're not driving it into clipping. In fact, judging by some of your statements you're well under that. Nor do I get the impression that you really have a desire to blast your music. You've defined your comfort zone. If I substitute another more powerful and of course expensive receiver, forgetting about the features for a moment, if you're not about to listen any louder than you are now your system will not be singing, moaning, wailing, cruising, stick your favorite adjective here. The operative word here is that you're operating your current receiver within its design limits.
Now people offer advice generally to be helpful. Some of it is based on their own experiences as they perceive them, some is based upon hearsay or something they read, some is based upon "now if it were my system this is what I'd do" or "if I had X amount of dollars this is what I'd get". Some is based on honest misconceptions and lord knows the magazines certainly help in that regard. I see a lot of people 'upgrading' on HTF. Sometimes the upgrade is with a long range bona-fide sensible and practical plan. Other times, at least in my opinion, they're largely lateral upgrades. In a few months, maybe a year, the process starts again. Some people upgrade because they want the latest features. I consider much of it an aspect of 'audio-nervosa'. For me and mind you this is only my opinion, I want an upgrade to be felt...really felt. I want there to be no question whatsoever I've made a major improvement. Now I've seen people with $1,500 in speakers and they've got maybe 5K or more in amplification. They're running a 4K receiver (maybe 100 watts/channel) as a pre-pro and have just tacked on $2.5K in separate amps. To me there's something wrong with this picture. My way of doing things would be to drop as much money as I can into speakers...shoot as much money as I can get together to really get the speakers I want. Then if I had to, I'd gladly settle for a mid-fi receiver or even consider refurbished (but buy the extra warranty!) and get a more 'capable' receiver. But that's me.

Speaker breakin...truthfully, if done right, its over in minutes. I'll be writing something later but breaking in a speaker, meaning the change in sound has stabilized, simply involves issues with the spider. Like I said, this will be a separate thread (i'm gathering information and i've got some emails that I'm waiting for), but even if not done right, it takes maybe a day's worth of playing something at somewhat elevated sound levels. Your comment about becoming acclimated to the sound is completely valid. It takes some time to decide if this sound is what I'm really looking for. As you go through this process, please do what you can to work on positioning these speakers to get the most you can out of them (within whatever limits your significant other has decided, i.e. "they will go there over my dead body"). Some things just aren't worth it. If in another couple of weeks things still aren't right, just take them back and we can move to something else...maybe another thread.

Phil: We probably agree more than our respective posts have suggested about relationships. I expect, as a consumer, a knowledgeable, courteous, etc. employee to assist me when I need them. I don't necessarily expect them to be there next year, but if they are, and they were helpful and met my needs, I'll have no issues recommending them to someone else for consideration. I just like to keep things objective.
As far as your warm comment goes...generally I'd say I don't buy into it. If two units have razor flat frequency response curves, and the other relevant measurements are below the threshold of audibility, I can see no reason why one should be warmer than the other. Unless that is that the manufacturer has intentionally introduced some subtle frequency response shaping. This is not unknown. Now there's a group of people who hate the thought of tone controls (treble, equalizers, whatever) and object to them for a variety of reasons. I know damned well, if there's a particular recording where I detect some sibilance and its objectionable I'm going to tone down the top end. End of story...next musical piece or DVD. So if I wanted a warmer sound to begin with I'd have focussed my attention on the speakers. I don't know about if warmth is a deep soundstage although I could see someone using that interpretation to explain something that's hard to explain. But the Beatles said that happiness is a warm gun.
We all have that one story Phil...maybe someday I'll tell you mine.

#17 of 28 Holadem

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Posted August 01 2002 - 02:37 PM

A better receiver will make a HUGE difference, and I am a little surprised at how little support that idea is getting.

I moved from a Kenwood VR309 to an Onkyo 575x. The difference was night and day. My paradigms sounded absolutely crappy for 2Ch with the Kenwood. The difference was NOT subtle at all, and I am no audiophile. Actually, I upgraded the receiver the day after I got the Paradigms because it home it sounded nothing like at the dealer. My mini system sounded better that the Kenwood + Paradigm combo. This is not a knock agaisnt Kenwood, just that particular receiver.

Moving from and Onkyo 575x to a Denon 4802 also made a big difference. Now imaging and soundstage are things I can actually discuss.

COnclusion: Could I live without the Denon? Yes, I would loose imaging, detail, etc... but it would really matter only on certain types of music like Jazz etc... The Onkyo can still put out good music. But I cold never go back to the Kenwood. I never even used it in 2Ch anyway, that is how bad it was. I hope the 407 is a significant improvement, if not, no room placement will help you because there is no detail, imaging soundtage etc... to improve on.

--
Holadem

#18 of 28 Chu Gai

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Posted August 01 2002 - 03:43 PM

actually I really should've qualified my statements above as they're a bit too general. If your receiver is quite limited with respect to frequency response, distortion, things along those lines, very inadequate power (but you just don't know it yet) it wouldn't hurt to investigate something in the midfi area. I can only say that I once on a lark took a very very old sansui receiver...maybe 30 watts/channel over to a person's home who had a pair of avantgarde duos and we were both pretty impressed. we didn't have issues with the soundstage, in fact we were easily (they're quite efficient) able to drive them to annoyingly loud but clear levels.

#19 of 28 Paul_Scott

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Posted August 01 2002 - 04:55 PM

OK. after a few more hours of applied advice and some more listening, here are some more observations:

first off:
the Kenwood reciever-it's promoted as 100 watts/channel, but i remember reading somewhere that it was actually measured independantly at about 33.
the speakers that came with the system generally sound fine for movies (with a well mastered 5.1 or DTS track they can sound incredible...the system has faults but 'bang for the buck' is not one of them). there is however a little distortion that seems to creep in now and then.
lately, it's just seemed too shrill for me.

Greg R: just about every condition you mention is a no go for me.
i have a front pj system and the speakers need to be about 1'- 15" off the back wall (where there is a screen and velvet curtains covering the entire wall).
they also need to be about 7-9' apart since thats the screen width.
seating, for movies, is all off-axis and the two main seats are almost directly in line with the L & R speakers.
there is about 7' in a direct line from tweeter to ear.

tonight, just for the hell of it, i moved the speakers way out in front at the rec. 3'.
this did seem to expand the soundstage behind the speakers.
they also seem to fill in the center very nicely (almost like there is a phantom center), but this is dependant on being in the sweet spot, which is very limited.
shifting from one arm rest to another is enough to lose the sweet spot.
moving the speakers back wherre i would like to have them, collapses all that aural area percieved behind them, but isn't too objectionalble to listen to.

the thing that i don't hear, that i was hoping to, is extension around the speakers.
there seems to be decent enough (though not spectacular) imaging between the mains, but the stage really stops at the outer edges of where the speakers are.

my frame of reference (and i know sonic memeory is short), is a pair of Vienna Mozarts i heard at Tweeters.
the speaker itself was absolutley transparent, and the sound stage seem to open quite wide. (for instance, you could clearly hear a trinagle 20 feet away to your left, even though the actual room was only about 14' wide, etc) the physical boundaries of the room seemed to cease to exist.
now that i remember though, they were placed at least 4-5 feet away from the wall , on either side of a big rear projection unit, centered in the room with another 5-6' to each side wall (probably more).
they seemed to be magical speakers, but i suppose now that placement could have affected my impressions a lot.

the speakers i'm using now have a sensitivity rating of around 89, and are rear ported.

they seem to be good speakers, and solidly built, and i'm thinking now that i'd actually like to try floorstanders instead.
making stands is going to be a pain in the neck for these, and i'm thinking that if i'm going to be spending the money i am, if i shouldn't just get their top of the line now.
the only pause i would have, is that the bookshelfs seem to integrate with my cheap surrounds very well.

i'm getting a better feeling about them every time i go down to listen. to my (uneducated, sheltered) ears they seem to have a very pleasing,satisfying sound.

the only element lacking for me is a greater sense of depth & bredth for 2 channel music.
for HT they sound perfectly fine, but i was almost fully satisfied with my old cheap set-up until the shrillness.

i'll try to snag a reciever tomorrow and see how it sounds over the weekend.

#20 of 28 Phil Mays

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Posted August 01 2002 - 11:09 PM

Paul,

I'm not sure if I caught it. Do you have preouts that would allow for amping. I did this with my Onkyo TX-DS 797 using an AMC 150WPC x 5 channels and the difference was amazing. The cleaner power at reference levels actually brought out some of my "mismatched" speakers and livened up my mains a bit.

Chu,

I agree about receivers. I have really never been able to tell a major difference past the audible settings one places on the unit that they sound really any different. I have always thought that my "inexperienced ear" did not know what to look for. I can tell a difference between recievers at different price points but not within the same. I'm not clear on your thoughts on tone adjustments, but I am a huge fan of graphic equalizers. I simply want to hear a recording the way I want to hear it. In general I set it somewhat flat but recordings are different and I am not into this whole "enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed" thing. Hell I could see a band saying "God that sounded awful, but we ain't doing it again".