Giving up on Bookshelves? (longish)

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by JerryMa, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. JerryMa

    JerryMa Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm looking to upgrade my speakers from 8-year old Bose 301's to go with my NAD T762. Up until yesterday I was dead set on going with another, albeit better, bookshelf model for my L/R mains. I previously tried Axiom and now have a pair of NHT M5's that I think I like, but I've started doubting them. And as a consequence, I'm doubting that I can find a bookshelf that I'll be happy with.

    I've auditioned a few other bookshelf models over the last few months but have started to realize that I might be better with towers. I prefer to listen to music in 2-channel stereo (no sub) but have yet to hear or read about a bookshelf that does this really well. But then I also wonder if I'm being too picky/anal about it.

    I've moved the M5s to positions at the sides of my entertainment center (previously on top). They sound a little better, but they don't jump out at me as "keepers". If I have to go with stands to support bookshelves, I might as well invest in a decent tower speaker; Paradigm and PSB models I've read up on have relatively small footprints and probably wouldn't be so bad in my room.

    Another thing I noticed is that the receiver got really hot after watching Matrix Revolutions (2+ hours, 2-channels). The NAD should be able to handle the power demands of the 6-ohm M5s, but then again I'd be adding a 3rd M5 for a center and a necessary sub, not to mention the surrounds. The cabinet housing the NAD is well ventilated, but I was surprised at how hot the unit got after the DVD finished.

    The funny thing is, the first time I heard an NAD receiver, it was in a dealer where a customer was auditioning PSB and Paradigm towers. Before purchasing, I auditioned the NAD at the same dealer using the same speakers! And now I'm thinking of going back and auditioning those very speakers for my HT.

    I realize I may have answered my own questions with this stream-of-thought rant, but any thoughts/opinions are appreciated.
     
  2. Fred_Krampits

    Fred_Krampits Stunt Coordinator

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    Jerry:

    Personally I like bookshelves only for small rooms and surrounds. I had a pair of old OHM C's when I was a kid that I used in my bedroom, but when I moved out on my own, they couldn't cut it.

    I really enjoy music (my old stereo CDs and LPs) in 2 channel stereo. I have JBL E100 towers with a Pioneer Elite receiver and I mostly listen to them in stereo mode. My living room is half of the downstairs so I need that extra umph in the sound! [​IMG]
     
  3. Rudi B

    Rudi B Stunt Coordinator

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    I have GR Research's AV2s in front (4 ohm MTM bookshelfs) and a NAD T762. The receiver doesn't get hot after movies, but if you *crank* concert DVDs (think Vai, NIN, LP), it does.

    AV2 + SVS PB2+ ... An exceptional price/performance combo.
     
  4. JerryMa

    JerryMa Stunt Coordinator

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    Fred:

    I think room size/shape is part of my problem. My living room is one half of a long rectangle, the other half of which is the dining room. There's no partition between the 2 and the dining room has a wood floor. The ceilings are about 9'.

    Rudi:

    I've got the NAD in the entertainment center, which has glass doors. I kept more than the recommended space above vacant, and I cut a fairly large hole into the back of the cabinet, behind the receiver. There's an inch or two on either side. I love the receiver and have no intentions of getting rid of it, but is my set-up not as well-ventilated as I think? Or do I need to adjust settings? I've had it for 6-9 months now and have not had a problem with it.
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I liked the M5s, and both are very good, but I felt the M6s were obviously the better speaker if you want to listen to them full range. Still not a ton of bass, but that's what the sub modules (making a T5 or T6) or a separate sub are for [​IMG]

    I have A/V2s across the front as well, and when doing more serious listening, I run them full range with no complaints. Bass is not low, but the sound is great.

    I would experiment with placement and setup. A properly setup system with a sub should still sound almost like there is no sub present.

    If you want to hear a great bookshelf, go listen to the Joseph Audio RM7Si Signature.
     
  6. Chris Quinn

    Chris Quinn Screenwriter

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    Have you tried them a little in front of the entertainment center? I'd always read that putting a tv or entertainment center in between your speakers is bad. My 36" tv went in the shop a little while ago and I was amazed at the difference no tv between the speakers made.

    Otherwise have you thought about listening to music in 2.1?
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I always try to place my main speakers at least 1 foot in front of the display (or entertainment center), it does make a big difference.
     
  8. Mark Hedges

    Mark Hedges Second Unit

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    If you can find them JBL's S38II speakers offered bass performance close to a floorstander (at least in a smaller room) in a bookshelf speaker. But they are very large for a bookshelf.
     
  9. Glen C

    Glen C Stunt Coordinator

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    If you have no sub, and home theatre is a lower priority then sure... get floor standing speakers. I think bookshelves are a no brainer for all but the largest rooms and for music your amp might allow you to lower the sub output if it feels abnormal (too aggressive.

    Depending on your budget, check out various B&W bookshelf (or floorstanding) speakers.
     
  10. JerryMa

    JerryMa Stunt Coordinator

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    I did pull the speakers out a bit in front of the entertainment center, but I can only pull them out so far because the entertainment center forms a right angle with the loveseat. The 18" gap in the corner of the angle is where the speaker is. If I pull it out too far, it'll be in front of the loveseat, making it inconvenient if I or a guest want to sit there.

    But the sound became more forgiving, although there's still a little fatigue that sets in on highs.

    I also toed them in and this was awful; the 3D image that became apparent to me when I took them down from the top of the entertainment center disappeared. Norah Jones' vocals sounded very agressive and a bit nasal no matter how the speakers were oriented. But they definitely sound better pointing straight out.

    Another thing I noticed is that whether I go with floorstanders or bookshelves, subwoofer placement could be more of a challenge. The only place that I can really put one is in the afforementioned corner where the entertainment center and loveseat meet. It would be under a window, between the loveseat and a radiator. Never having owned more than 2 speakers, let alone a sub, would the tightness of this corner affect sound dispersion from the sub? Do I assume correctly that proximity to the radiator can't be a good thing? A nice set of floorstanders is looking more and more attractive!
     
  11. DavidCooper

    DavidCooper Stunt Coordinator

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    Well..if you don't have a good sub......bookshelves are always going to sound kind of funny. A lot have pretty decent bass response but not usually enough to really fill the low end.

    An all bookshelf system properly set up with a good sub will rock just about any size room. Providing your using GOOD bookshelves! They will sound every bit as good as floorstanders.

    Also...if your having problems with placement and harsh highs along with poor imaging. It could be your room acoustics and or the actual speakers. All speakers will sound different from room to room.
     
  12. Jonathan Dagmar

    Jonathan Dagmar Supporting Actor

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    I have to second David's comments, good bookshelfs coupled with a good subwoofer will sound just as good as any towers, and with certain types of music, even better. I am not sure why you are aervse to using the sub for two channel, even with towers speakers a sub can enhance bass response.
     
  13. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The NHTs are on the bright side to me, so it may actually be a characteristic of the speaker that you don't like. Your ampllification should be sufficient for just two of them.

    What is the rest of your setup? (most notably, the sources, type of connection, etc...). Since you are two channel, are you using analog interconnects? These can play a large role in making a system sound harsh. How about the room? Carpet or hard floors?
     
  14. JerryMa

    JerryMa Stunt Coordinator

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    John:

    The room is actually a long rectangle, one half the dining room and the other the living room (where the system is located). Dining room is wood floor, living room is carpet. No partition between the two. The rectangle is about 25' long, about 12'-13' across. The ceiling is about 9'.

    While trying to orient the M5s to provide optimum sound, I would agree that they come across as bright. The sound has improved since I went with the vertical orientation, so I know I'm getting close to finding something that'll work in my room, tower or bookshelf. I'm angling for a "warm" sound, but not boomy. The M5s are doing OK with providing separation of instruments, but highs get a little bright for my tastes and things start to blend and sound muddy to me. Bass is adequate and I concede it'll improve with a sub, but will it improve clarity and imaging?

    My DVD and CD (5 disc) players are Sony, using analog connections. I'm using Monster Cable for the speaker wire. What's the half-life on speaker cable? How often (if at all) should it be changed?
     
  15. DavidCooper

    DavidCooper Stunt Coordinator

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    Will a sub improve clarity? Well in short it sure can...if your using your amps internal crossover and letting the sub handle the low end that your speakers can't. That will for sure improve clarity.

    My living room is very similar to yours. It is about 25' long by about 15.5' wide with a vaulted ceiling that goes from 8' to 12'. It also has an equally wide opening to the dinning area which is ceramic tile. The living room is carpet. I'm running a pair of Swan 2.1's as my mains (bookshelves) and I use an SVS 20-39PC+ and it fill the whole room with more sound than I can handle. I have tried the Swan bookshelves by themselves and they sounded pretty good...but no where near as good with the sub being used.
     
  16. Kenneth Harden

    Kenneth Harden Screenwriter

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    Even with my small speakers (JBL SVA1500's (for sale!)), they put out AMAZING midbass, a nice slap, and some bass to shake the floor (but not like big speakers) - they are so amazingly clean.

    However, I will upgrade to some larger floor speakers as I LOVE 2-channel listening without a sub. I like loud electronic music, and large floorstanders are amazing for that job.
     
  17. Jonathan Dagmar

    Jonathan Dagmar Supporting Actor

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    Your speaker wire should last for a LONG, LONG, time. If it starts to turn green, consider changing it, but even then you may not notice any difference in sound. Speaker wire is a highly overrated part of the chain, and if you've spent a bunch of money on mondter wire, you've already wasted a bunch of money. Next time go to home depot and buy it off a roll, it's the same thing.
     
  18. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Wire is not a waste of time, though it depends on a number of factors. If we're talking about a
     
  19. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    I must disagree with this. If you listen to music and you want to include your love of music in your home theater, towers are the way to go. I would only recommend bookshelf speakers if space is at a premium.

    IMHO, music, be it CDs or vinyl, sounds best in 2 channel, as it was recorded. When I listen to music, I put the receiver in direct mode to avoid additonal signal processing. This being the case, my subwoofer doesn't get used at all. My mains have a 10 inch powered sub woofer in each so I do get rich bass. I also think the sonic imaging is better on full range mains than with smaller speakers.

    Taking it a step farther, I also like to have full range towers for the rear (for movies). Small speakers/bookshelves were good in the days of simple pro-logic surround but DD and DTS now provide full range for the rears and once again, the imaging and richness is better for it. I know it's a more expensive route to go but I don't regret it... I just didn't buy everything at once.
     
  20. DavidCooper

    DavidCooper Stunt Coordinator

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    Full range for the rears? Not if your using your internal crossover and letting your sub do the low end. In that case there isn't much of a sonic difference between a high quality bookshelf and a floorstander. Not to mention placement issues.

    As far as 2 channel listening goes....well that is a matter of taste. Full range towers running with no sub does sound great, but a nice pair of bookshelves with a high quality sub will sound just a great no doubt about it. Plus..I'd love to hear a pair of full range towers drop down (cleanly) in the below 25hz range on SOME music.
     

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