Advice on surround system for old Technics tuner

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Leah, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. Leah

    Leah Auditioning

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    I've got an old Technics SA-GX490 that I use as the center of my entertainment system. My turntable, CD, TV, VCR, DVD and iTunes (via Airport Express) are all hooked up to it. I also listen to AM and FM radio a lot.

    The tuner has inputs for four regular speakers, one center speaker and two surround speakers. Right now I have four *very* old Realistic bookshelf speakers hooked up to it, placed in the four corners of the room.

    I would very much like to treat myself to better sound and better speakers. I'd like to get a three speaker surround system, and perhaps two or four other new stero speakers. I'm not sure what would improve the sound the most, and don't really know how to select what is best.

    I live in a condo and have neighbors on two sides, as well as upstairs and downstairs. The construction is reasonably soundproof, but I can't get anything that makes too much bass, as that carries in my building.

    My maximum budget for this project is about $1,000, but I would rather spend less if I could.

    You advice would really be appreciated. If you need to know more specifics about my setup or my living room please let me know. Thanks.
     
  2. Steve Lucas

    Steve Lucas Stunt Coordinator

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    Leah,
    that reciever is a Pro-logic receiver. IMHO, it wouldn't be worth the price to upgrade speakers unless you upgrade the receiver to a Dolby Digital surround receiver. I have an old Pro-logic receiver in my family room and a DD receiver in my dedicated theater. There is just no comparison. The steering and imaging is so much better with DD it's amazing. That being said, there are some good DD receivers out there that won't bust the budget. If you are going to make the investment into better speakers, why not get a receiver than can get the most out of them.

    Steve
     
  3. Leah

    Leah Auditioning

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    Steve,

    thanks for your response. You are correct that it is a Dolby Pro-Logic receiver (although it also says on it "Digital Delayed Surround").

    I'm not in place right now where I can afford a new receiver as well as new speakers. At some point I do plan to upgrade the receiver, but planned to wait a couple more years on that one.

    Perhaps I should just get some better stereo speakers than I have now, replace two of the four of them or something like that. I'm sure that would improve the sound significantly. I'm not sure what to do, though.

    --Leah
     
  4. Max F

    Max F Second Unit

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    Replace the reciever and you won't regret it. Dolby pro-logic just plan sucks compared to Dolby Digital. You can buy a Panasonic reciever (same brand as Technics) for $250. I know from experience - I finally got rid of my old Technics prologic with a DD and that just started the home theater addiction, so beware.
     
  5. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    This post brought to you in part by a cafe americano recently purchased at a large Seattle-based chain store!

    Um, imaging and discrete sound effects won't matter much if the sound itself is of low quality. I know Realistic actually made some good speakers once but it sounds like they may be so old that the speaker's materials could have aged & affected their reproduction abilities.

    Technics/Panasonic receivers don't get much love on most audio forums, I guess because they aren't crammed with extra features & styling can be lacking sometimes. But I own one and feel no need to replace it until I move to a much larger listening room and need more power.

    I don't know exactly what your movie vs. music listening priorities are, but it looks like music might come first since you listed a turntable (& first in the list too--my amateur psychology at work here [​IMG] ), CD, iPod and FM/AM radio. And, the fact you don't have a center channel speaker.

    A condo? I would forget buying a sub--IMO you'll just be wasting your money. A pair of decent bookshelf speakers can reproduce some good feelable bass for movies/music but not the truly rumbly kind that pisses off the neighbors. And if you program your receiver for "no sub" that bass signal will not get thrown away but will instead be rerouted to your front mains.

    $1000 for five speakers? That gives you lots of choices. Just to start you off here's some JBLs I like that you can go check out without driving long distances (don't forget to bring along a CD you like!):

    The JBL E50s at J&R Music. These are the largest I would recommend in a condo with neighbors all around you. They can produce some pretty serious bass if you want; they don't cost that much for what you get; and they look nice. And some JBL E20s for the rear channels and a JBL EC25 center channel. A system like this should be able to reach quite loud levels if needed in a roughly 15X20ft room but not REALLY loud (i.e. the inside of a teenager's car [​IMG] ) .........because you don't need it to because of your location. But this is all just guesswork since we don't know how large your listening room actually is.

    This all adds up to only about $800 (I'm guessing because J&R isn't printing their actual prices) and I'm 98% sure this will sound much better than what you have now. Be prepared though to get used to these speakers' extra clarity & "crispiness" compared to your Realistics. JBL also makes these speakers in cherry and beech finishes.

    If you want: using that leftover $200 you could buy a basic 5.1 Dolby Digital/DTS receiver from Pioneer or Panasonic that should be able to power these speakers pretty well. But: be aware that receivers in this price range don't usually include a phono input. So you would have to buy an external phono preamp--a really basic one costs about $30.

    Another option: if you don't want the larger E50 bookshelfs, you could save a couple hundred dollars and buy the E30s. These are the smallest front mains I would reccommend because anything smaller will be unable to generate much of any bass in almost any size of room, especially for movies.

    BTW: until you buy a 5.1 Dolby/DTS receiver, to help your Pro-Logic receiver decode the rear channels most effectively, if the dvd has it choose the stereo audio mix (sometimes labeled "stereo surround", "Dolby Stereo" or "Dolby Surround"). Otherwise you might hear some weird and unintended sound effects from your rear channels--this can happen when a 5.1 discrete channel mix is smushed down into just two channels and released through your player's left/right audio outputs.
     
  6. DorianBryant

    DorianBryant Screenwriter

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    Get the speakers first. what good does a new receiver do you if you are still unhappy with your speakers? Check out the on-line sites for JBL. I believe these are the best deals to be had on-line. You can find them discounted regularly up to %60 off their list and what they sell for at Best Buy. Check out J&R, Deal-Stop, E-tronics, etc.
     
  7. Leah

    Leah Auditioning

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    Lance & Dorian,

    thanks both for your posts. Sorry I didn't respond sooner, I had a killer cold and was off-line for a few days.

    Lance, you are correct to assume that music is higher up on my listening priorities, but the sound for DVD movies also matters. You're also right that I had no plans for a subwoofer, my neighbors wouldn't be very happy about that. Your advice is really helpful. We've got a huge J&R not far from here, so I'm going to go in to the shop armed with your post and see what I can manage. Bookshelf speakers will work well, and the ones I have now are that size, too.

    --Leah
     

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