another "help me decide" thread

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by James Gumbart, Feb 23, 2005.

  1. James Gumbart

    James Gumbart Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm looking ahead about 2-4 months when I want to do some upgrading. One key point is that I want to get the Pioneer VSX-1015 receiver as it looks to be the best value in my price range. To complement that, I really need to upgrade my speakers which just don't cut it anymore.

    I've looked and looked, but still am not sure what I'm getting into. I have come up with a few criteria though; perhaps someone can suggest something that fits the bill.

    1) looking to spend about $1500 on fronts, center, and two rears (already have ceiling mounted speakers for 7.1). I could see possibly going a little higher but in all honesty, I'd rather go lower if I can.

    2) I want a sound that fills the room without focusing too much on one sweet spot (two reasons: people sit all around and I don't want to spend weeks moving them a degree at a time to determine optimum placement).

    3) could someone give a description of what warm means to them? I imagine it as this enveloping sound that's not too crisp (if that makes sense). I myself am having trouble objectifying words such as bright, warm, etc. However, I want to make sure dialogue is reasonably sharp; my center right now sounds awful for dialogue (either not the right relative volume or too muddy). Anyway, I think warm is what I'm looking for...

    4) I also want floorstanding fronts. Just something about the look...

    5) I don't mind getting matched rears but I can't see spending more than maybe $300 for them. They just aren't used enough for me to justify them taking up too much of the budget (I know this may sounds sacriligeous to some).

    As for trying out different ones, there is only one decent vendor in town that I'm aware of and they only carry B&W and Klipsch. I'm not opposed to either brand immediately but I also wish I could bring Axiom, Ascend, Paradigm, etc. into the mix. But trying out speakers constantly just isn't an option; I don't have time. So I'd like to get it right the first time.

    -I know this is a separate discussion but this is a basement theater so I have concrete floors. My current roommate has an SVS sub (forgot the wattage, maybe 5-600?) that we're using. However I haven't been able to get it sounding very good (but I haven't tried moving it much yet, although there are only so many places I can put it...). Is it hopeless with concrete? Should I not bother investing in an SVS myself and instead go with a cheap sub and some bass shakers?

    phew, thanks for reading all of this...it ended up longer than I expected it to be.
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    I think the B&W 600 series would certainly be worth auditioning. You could get the 603's or 602.5's for fronts, LCR600 for center, and 600's for rears. This would come out to right at about $1500 (a little more if you get the 603's).

    Klipsch is good, but I doubt you'd be able to go with their reference series in your budget and your local shop probably sells reference.

    About the sub, have you guys calibrated the room? If not, do so. The concrete slab will make a difference with vibrations, but shouldn't completely destroy the bass experience. Try doing some calibration and placement changes and see if you can correct things that way.
     
  3. Steve_L

    Steve_L Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a Pioneer 1014 and I bought it a BB when I bought a package of Klpisch F-3s, matching KSW-12 and C-2 and S-2 surrounds. The whole package is in a room with cathedral ceiling and 23 X 14 foot room.

    Sounds wonderful, not harsh or "bright" but very detailed and very seamless sound due to the MCACC of the Pioneer. Movies and music are fabulous. Especially DTS sound tracks!
    But anything really.

    See if BB will give you a package deal on the Klipsch and the Pioneer or they also had a Yamaha package. I got the whole package for much less than $2K just prior to X-mas. I need to go find the receipts, but it was a sweet deal. Thye Klipsch are copied after their reference series design, and the Pioneer is an Elite in consumer clothing.

    I also demoed a lot of speakers and I really liked the Paradigm's Monitor Series (11 I think) but the Klipsch were very similar. (Of course I never got to A/B them in the same room.)

    You'll love the features and sound of the Pioneer 1015!
     
  4. James Gumbart

    James Gumbart Stunt Coordinator

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    What are people's thoughts on Axiom (say the M50 or M60) in regards to what I said?
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    You could get an Ascend setup of 3 CMT-340s with 2 170s for the rear + shipping for less than $1500: S33-2000 - CMT-340 front pr + CMT-340 center + CBM-170 surround pr - $1,078.00 They will sound better than anything Best Buy will ever carry, especially if paired up with pretty much any SVS. They sell stands to basically make the 340s look like floorstanders at an additional $100/pr.
     
  6. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    Check out the Swan website that sponsors this forum. Good speakers, good prices, and good service. They are a neutral speaker. Just bought a pair of 4.1s - recommended at your budget.
     
  7. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    I would like to throw in my recommendation that you look into the Paradigm Monitor speakers. They are available locally at my favorite HT store, Champagne Audio. Bob and John are very knowledgeable salesmen.
     
  8. James Gumbart

    James Gumbart Stunt Coordinator

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    Ah, another Urbana-Champaign person!

    I've only been to Good Vibes actually. How are the prices at Champagne (Champaign?) Audio? I would almost prefer buying over the internet just because of generally lower prices but I realize that's not an option for Paradigm.

    Might I ask what setup you're using?
     
  9. JoeHard

    JoeHard Stunt Coordinator

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    If You want room filling sound listen to Definitive Tech. Since You already have a sub, You can get one of there non-power towers and stay well witin budget.
     
  10. James Gumbart

    James Gumbart Stunt Coordinator

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  11. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    From what I've read...axioms are a bright speaker. That's neither good or bad. It's more of a preference.



    A good speaker does both. It has solid imaging AND a wide sound stage. My paradigm studio HT setup is amazing at this. It has pinpoint imaging and there isn't a bad seat in the room. I often watch movies while laying on a couch that's probably 45degrees off axis of the center channel, and it still sounds great. A speaker that doesn't image well will draw the listeners attention to it. You really want a speaker that is hard to locate simply by listening.

    All of the speakers mentioned are good choices. I'm familiar with Paradigm Studios and Swain - can't go wrong with either. I've listened to Definitive Tech speakers several times, and they can really fill a room up with sound.
     
  12. James Gumbart

    James Gumbart Stunt Coordinator

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    Can you define what "bright" is supposed to mean?

    I'm really just guessing at what some of these terms are meant to denote...
     
  13. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    What makes a speaker bright - lots of detail, and the higher frequencies, for lack of a better term, receive an emphasis. On a frequency chart, the higher frequencies won't be downward sloping and possibly have a lot of peaks. With a good bright speaker you hear incredible detail in the music. It kind of lets you "see" into the music; however, this can be fatiguing to the ear especially at louder volumes and for long listening sessions. Bright speakers that come to mind - Klipsch, JM Labs. Both are great speakers if you like the sound.

    Neutral speakers are basically neutral. They don't emphasize any of the frequencies and all of them get the same attention. The frequency response is mostly flat lacking any significant peaks and dips. This is supposed to be the most accurate speaker where you, "Hear the recording exactly like it was recorded." Some complain that neutral speakers are also bright and have a sterile sound. Paradigm and Boston Acoustics are usually considered Neutral.

    Warm speakers tend to emphasize the midrange frequencies. They can have incredible detail but the highs don't stand out as much. These speakers are easy to listen to especially at louder volumes for long periods of time, but some complain they lack detail. I think of Vienna Acoustics and Definitive Tech speakers when I think of warm speakers.

    These terms are not absolute and there are no clear boundaries. They are terms used to give a general idea of a speakers categories. Each class has outstanding speakers with mega-buck to die for designs. It's what you want.

    I've own Klipsch and loved them in a smaller room. When I moved them into a larger room, with more reflective surfaces,and where I could turn up the volume, they were too bright. I sold them to a friend, so I get to hear them occasionally. Just like before in a smaller, less reflective room at low to normal listening levels the magic is still there. I currently own Paradigm Studios and a pair of Swans. Both are good speakers and considered neutral.
     
  14. Dong Rodriguez

    Dong Rodriguez Auditioning

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    mackie:

    what about b&w 600 series. how would you classify them. tnx
     
  15. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The Paradigm Monitors won't come close to the performance of the Ascends at that price, and even the Axioms will slightly outperform them while costing less (coming from a former Monitor series owner). The B&W 600 series are more musical to me than the Pardigm Monitors, but overall, pretty close to them and the Axioms.
     
  16. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    It's been so long since I've listened to the B&W 600s series that you really need to take what I write with a huge grain of salt. What I remember about them was that the highs were clear and detailed. Not as detailed as the Paradigm Studios but top notch anyway. Midrange was more of what I'd consider warm. If I had to classify it, I'd put it in that gray area between warm and neutral. It did everything basically right. I chose Paradigm over them because I liked the highs better, and I felt I got more speaker for the money. For people that like detailed but not bright, it's a good choice.

    I'd listen John's advice on the Monitor vs. Ascend comparison. He has a lot of experience with both.
     
  17. James Gumbart

    James Gumbart Stunt Coordinator

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    So now the B&W's are looking to be more what I want...

    What a tough decision. Given what I have now, just about anything will sound really good to me, but at the same time, I don't want to decide in two years that I wasted my money. [​IMG]
     
  18. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    You won't waste money on any of these speakers. They're all good. It's simply a matter of taste. Working off a similar budget as yours for a 2 channel system, I took a chance on Swan speakers. So far so good... Go to the forum section at the Swan website and you'll see them compared to B&W on a regular basis. The Ascends that John recommends look very good too. With the internet companies you seem to get more speaker for the money, but both B&W and Paradigm make excellent speakers. You're lucky in that your budget allows you to choose between quality speakers. Have fun and keep us posted on what you choose and your impressions of your choice.
     
  19. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    I have Paradigm Monitor 7s in front, CC-370, Center, and Mini-Monitors for surround. Champagne Audio is a better place to go for audio equipment. They are located in the same strip mall with Pickles on Neil Street between Green and Springfield.

    I have also had good experience at Premier Audio, now located on the corner of Bradley and Prospect. One of the brands they sell is PSB, which sounds very similar to Paradigms.

    Good luck and let me know what you decide on.
     
  20. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Go listen to the B&Ws. They have a different sound than the Paradigms; some prefer it, but many do not. I listen to a lot of music, and I liked the B&Ws (602s3), but I also went with the Paradigms.

    The Monitor 5s and Minis I had were great for movies, but never had the level of musical performance I was looking for. I ended up listening to speakers that were much more expensive to get the musical sound I was looking for, though in the end, I didn't spend as much as I expected to get what I wanted when upgrading from the Monitor line.

    I'd have to agree that you wouldn't really go wrong with basically any of the brands mentioned. 2 years down the road you wouldn't be kicking yourself for buying any of them, but you may be ready to upgrade [​IMG] It only took me 1yr with the Monitors...

    Many Paradigm dealers also tend to have the trade up policy where you can trade up (often pro-rated) to the next level (Studios) within 1 year. That was one of the reasons I went with them.
     

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