Calling all stereo sound experts !!!!!!!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Randal, Dec 6, 2001.

  1. Randal

    Randal Extra

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    Ok folks, sorry for the long winded post but this is my first one and I feel a little background is needed for you to understand where I'm coming from. I've had the same stereo system for many years. Technics SA-202 receiver,(30 watts RMS per channel with 0.04% THD) and Technics SB-L32 speakers,( two way,8 ohm, input 100w, music 50w, din). Now this system has served it's purpose for many years but I've always realized that it certainly was not the best and I had always figured that "someday", when I upgraded, that the sound would be dramatically better. Ok, so I finally loose the tweeter on the left speaker and the 8" driver on the right is starting to fart on me and I figure the time has come to upgrade. Exciting right?

    So I go to Tweeter and try out some speakers. I end up thinking the Mirage FRX-7's sound pretty good "in the showroom" and end up buying those. I bring them home, hook 'em up and man, WHAT A DISSAPOINTMENT !!. First of all, I have to dip the bass substantially and crank the treble the entire way up on the old trusty Technics receiver in order to approximate the sound that I want. Now I had to do a similar set-up with the old speakers but not quite as drastically. Also, I notice that when I even begin to crank the volume to a good rockin' level, (I like the hard stuff), I'm hearing distortion and loosing seperation. Nothing mind numbing but quite noticeable, even to this audio newbie. I always figured that when I upgraded to a decent pair of speakers, that I'd be able to really crank the suckers and still have crystal clear sound and seperation. Doesn't seem to be the case.

    So, what do you guys think the problem/problems may be?

    1. Am I just listening to critically now that I've layed out some cash?

    2. I haven't upgraded from my thin speaker cables yet. Does this really make all THAT much of a difference?

    3. The Mirage's have the capability to be bi-wired but I have them set up in the traditional way and have left the bridge in. Would bi-wiring them really make all THAT much of a difference?

    4. Do you think that my poor old receiver is just no match for these supposedly "better" speakers? Is there just not enough watts in the the old Technics to keep up,(even though I've never really needed to crank it much past 3 or 4 for quite a loud sound)?

    Now, my wife and I, at this point, aren't necessarily all that interested in the surround sound thing. We just want to improve our CD, tape, TV audio experiences. Any and all opinions on this would be greatly appreciated. So what do you guys think? What should be our next move in our new audio adventure. Thank you very much, a head of time, for any and all suggestions.
     
  2. SamRoza

    SamRoza Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, a couple things are most likely going on here...

    1- Technics speakers aren't really known for accuracy or quality, especially an older pair.

    2- Yes cables will make a difference. Try some 12Ga. cabling, and you'll be impressed, I'm sure.

    3- Now that you've bought some newer speakers, I think you may be clipping your amp playing loudly. Remembering that your little receiver is only good for about 30 watts, and now you're trying to drive a speaker of up to 200 watts, real hard.

    I recommend a new receiver, or an outboard amp.

    Sam
     
  3. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    Yup, I agree with Sam.

    You need more power to drive those, and most other, speakers well. And you'll want 12 ga speaker cables too. No need right now to buy expensive cables though. Home Depot carries decent 12 ga speaker cable for not alot of money.
     
  4. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    I see three in agreement here.

    The distortion you are hearing is distortion from your reciever, it has nothing to do with the speakers. With that low wattage, when you try to crank it, the receiver is having a tough time driving the Mirage's. It's getting close to clipping and the speakers are letting you hear the byproduct of that.

    You need to get a higher powered amp and soon otherwise you risk damaging the speakers if you keep driving them at those volume levels with that inferior processor.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but that's what the problem is.
     
  5. AndrewJ

    AndrewJ Auditioning

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    Randal, the cables are the least of your problems. The main culprit is likely to be the amplifier. 30W is not very much, particularly when the treble control is cranked all the way up. Under these circumstances you are very likely to be clipping the amp on transients, leading to the sounds you describe. I think a new receiver is in order. Also, the new speakers could be lower efficiency than your old ones, so need more power to reach the same sound levels that you achieved with your old speakers. This would explain why you need to turn the volume control up further than with the old speakers and again indicates a new amp is in order. However, there is a caveat to this. With a new more powerful amp, and with the treble control cranked up, you are in great danger of frying the tweeters if you play too loud for too long. Be very careful.
     
  6. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    my first thought is that you have lived with the sound from the technics for a long time and grown accustomed to it. You made mention of the fact that you've adjusted the bass and treble on the technics receiver to further adjust the sound you are getting from the mirages to try and get the mirages to sound like the old speakers. IMO this isn't a good way to go about getting better sound. Imagine if you will that you drive an old beater of a car ...now suppose you bought a brand new car that didn't smell like the old one would you spray some gas on the seats and rub in a little dirt to make it smell like the old car or would you enjoy the fact that its new and should smell different?

    I'm not saying that you shouldn't take the sound you're getting from the mirages as been perfect but I'd rather you tried to appreciate the new speakers sound instead of trying to colour them to sound like the old speakers.

    You might try new speaker cable but its not going to make that big a difference...at least not to the level that you're doing with the bass and treble adjustments. Try moving the speakers a little towards the back wall for more bass or toe them in a little to help imaging etc. You might find that a little movement can have a pretty significant effect.
     
  7. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Randal, welcome to the Forum. Make that four in agreement. I'd get a new stereo amp. For one thing, the Technics receiver is underpowered, so distortion is going to result at higher volumes when trying to drive the Mirage speakers. By the way, what is the sensitivity rating for your Mirage speakers? If it is low (e.g., 87 dB), you will definitely need significantly more power to drive them at higher volumes. Even if they carry a sensitivity rating of 91 dB, the Technics receiver is underpowered. A second point is that I seriously doubt that a Technics receiver will be a good match for the Mirage speakers from a quality standpoint.
    Although you haven't asked for suggestions yet, I will suggest integrated stereo amps from NAD. As integrated amps, they don't have built-in tuners, but if you want better stereo sound, you are better off having an integrated amp than a receiver, in general. You could always add a separate tuner if you needed it. Two NAD integrated amps you should consider are the C 350 and C 370. NAD rates the C 350 at 60W x 2 (continuous power, both channels driven into 8 ohms from 20 Hz to 20 kHz), but two British magazines independently measured the continuous power at 95W x 2. The NAD C 370 is rated by NAD at 120W x 2. I haven't seen a magazine measure the power out for it.
    Both the C 350 and C 370 have garnered excellent reviews. What Hi*Fi? has named the C 370 the stereo amp of the year for two years running. Also, Hi-Fi Choice recently reported the C 370 as the European stereo amp of the year for 2001. I own both the C 350 and C 370 and couldn't be happier with them.
    The C 350 retails for $430, but I got it from Sound City (authorized dealer; 1-800-370-3156) for $325. The retail price of the C 370 is $700, but I got mine from Sound City for $525. See www.nadelectronics.com for more on these amps.
    That's probably more information than you wanted, but I hope it helps you.
     
  8. Scott Pagac

    Scott Pagac Stunt Coordinator

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    The "tweaks" offered are great places to begin. The wiring can be fairly inexpensive (since you are just running a single pair of speakers) and biwiring can not hurt at all (and usually helps a bit). Don't forget about speaker placement. Every speaker has its own special placement where it will sound the best.

    A couple more things to consider...

    When did you buy the new speakers and when did you begin turning them up to a high volume? Brand new speakers really do need some break in time at moderate levels (I left mine run for about 48 hours straight before I put them through their paces). This will help even out the tonal response (you may not need to crank the treble as high as time goes on) as well as loosen everything up before you really let loose on them (the speakers will be a bit stiff at first). I think you run a good risk of shortening the lifespan of the speakers by seeing what they can do before they are ready.

    The other thing I found is that your ears need a break in period as well. If you have become used to the sound of your old speakers, it will take a little while for you to hear (and appreciate) the characteristics of the new ones. In fact, there may be times certain things sound terrible because you will be hearing a truer sound. If the source material was recorded poorly to begin with, you will begin to hear the flaws (garbage in, garbage out).

    Bassically, upgrade the wiring, biwire the speakers if possible, play around with speaker placement, and above all, give it time. A new amp will also do wonders (especially at high volumes) for the sound as well as peace of mind.
     
  9. Randal

    Randal Extra

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    Holy Mackeral Andy ! This place is hoppin' ! I post a thread, come back after 8 hours of work and I'm already three pages behind.
    Hey, you guys are great ! Thanks very much to everyone that responded !
    Andrew Pratt.........LOL ! Hey, as a matter of fact I DID just buy a new Corolla and I DID pour gas all over the seats. I also took a metal rake and scratched up the paint job real good. Was that so wrong ? [​IMG]
    Keith H............Hey thanks a lot ! That wasn't too much info at all. In fact it is the exact kind of info that I was lookin' for. Thanks for the amplifier suggestions. They sound like real winners. As I started talkin' about seperate pieces to my wife though, her eyes started to roll back into her head. Do you know if any of their "recievers" incorporate amplifiers that are as great as the 350 and 370 that you spoke of? If not, I'll go for the seprerates but I'd prefer to keep in all in one unit if possible. Also, here are the specks that you asked about on those Mirages.............
    FRx-SEVEN SPECIFICATIONS
    System Type Vented, floor standing tower.
    Frequency Response 35 Hz - 22 kHz +/- 3dB
    Tweeters 3/4" (19mm) Pure Metal Dome Hybrid.
    Mid/bass Drivers 2 x 5" (14cm) Injection Molded Polypropylene Cone, with Butyl Rubber Surround.
    Shielded? Yes.
    Crossover Point(s) 2.0 kHz
    Room Efficiency 91dB
    Impedance 8-Ohm Compatible
    Recommended Amplifier Power 15-200-watts RMS/Channel
    Inputs 2-Pairs of Gold Plated 5-way Binding Posts.
    Dimensions (H x W x D) 36" x 6 7/8" x 13" (91.4cm x 17.5cm x 33cm)
    Finishes Black Ash or Cherry
    Weight NA
    Scott Pagac..........You may have a good point about the source material. The first day I was listening to the new Ozzy album and I really started noticing the "harshness/distortion" quality during some of the vocals. Today, I had on the latest Kansas album and some Steely Dan and didn't notice it nearly as much.
    Evan.............I may have given the wrong impression before. So far I've only really listened at moderately cranked levels and I don't have to turn the old Technics receiver any higher than about 2 and a half or 3 in order to listen at that level. The level that I have to crank it is about the same as it was for the old speakers. So, given the specks above, particularly the recommended amplifier power, do you still think that I'm taking a major chance of harming the speakers if I keep them at moderate levels while I continue looking into new amps?
    Sam Rosa........Your tag line had me laughing out loud literally. Thanks, I needed that. That's really sick. I like that in audiophile. [​IMG]
    Again, thanks to everyone. You guys are alright in my book. As the kids are saying these days. You guys ROCK !,(No, not that kind Sam).
     
  10. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    If you want reasonably priced stereo receivers, here are my top choices (based on my limited research, and a few months spent owning one):
    Onkyo TX-8511 - 100 watts, should be about $250 in most reasonably priced stores, maybe less online
    Onkyo TX-8211 - the smaller brother of the 8511, 50 watts. I owned this for a few months and used it to drive small bookshelves. I replaced it with a NAD C340 (again, the smaller brother of the amps Keith listed), and while the NAD is better than the Onkyo in almost every department, I think the Onkyo sounds pretty good too.
    The thing is, not too many people are really making stereor eceivers any more, because anyone who would buy a receiver would probably want HT. Another option for you would be to consider buying used gear - your money will go much further, and amps etc. don't really deteriorate that much with age. Try www.audiogon.com - that is a site where lots of good gear is bought and sold, and for the most part the sellers there are pretty upright. I've bought a few things from there, and have had good experiences every time. eBay used to be a good place to buy stuff, but recently the prices on audio gear have been insane.
     
  11. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    Randal-

    I suggest upgrading your speakerwire to 14 or 12ga (12 may not fit in your technics).

    Then set your bass and treble to the flat position and listen to your new speakers like that for a few days. Your old speakers are probably way off from being "neutral" so your ears are used to that sound character. In a few days you should find the new speakers sound right and the old ones sound less accurate.

    Most people won't admit it but "speaker burn-in" is usually just "listener ear burn-in" as they get used to new equipment.

    One other thing, play around with the speaker placement. Are they on ear-level stands or jammed into a bookcase?

    Start with the cheapest and easiest things you can improve on. A new receiver may not be needed at all.
     
  12. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Randal, glad to help. The room efficiency for your Mirage speakers is rated at 91 dB, so they are not difficult to drive. Still, you need a much more powerful and, more importantly, better amp than your Technics unit to mate with your speakers for good results.

    Finding good-quality stereo receivers these days is pretty tough. Nowadays, most manufacturers are putting their efforts into home-theater receivers. I still say an integrated amp is the way to go. At a given price point, an integrated amp usually offers better sound than a receiver. This is because inclusion of a tuner into a receiver usually leads to certain compromises elsewhere in the design of the product. The integrated amp being a simpler component allows the designer to use better parts (power supply, etc.) to make a better product. Again, note that I am considering a common price point for the receiver and integrated amp.

    I just checked out the NAD C 730 and C 740 stereo receivers on NAD's web site and found them to be terribly underpowered. Now, NAD is known to be conservative with its specs., but the C 730 is only rated at 30W x 2 continuous power, while the C 740 is only rated at 35W x 2 continuous power. I thought NAD would offer a receiver with the power of the C 350 or C 370 integrated amps. NAD claims that the C 740 receiver represents a combination of their C 340 integrated amp (the predecessor to the C 350 and discontinued) and the C 440 tuner. So, NAD does not offer a stereo receiver that is similar to its current integrated amps from what I read.

    As Saurav said, Onkyo makes well-regarded stereo receivers, as does Harman/Kardon. With H/K, check out the HK 3370 and the HK 3470. Still, the NAD integrated amps are better if you can deal with a separate tuner.
     
  13. Mike_Ch

    Mike_Ch Stunt Coordinator

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    Another good quality brand still making stereo receivers these days are Nakamichi. Haven't heard them yet, but I know some dealers around my area swear by them.

    Mike
     

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