Help with Speaker Purchase!

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Blaine P, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. Blaine P

    Blaine P Agent

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    Alright, after much researching/reading on the web and sound tests, I have narrowed it down to the following choices for my 6.1 system and need help from you experts:

    1. Paradigm - Atoms in front, CC-70 center channel, PDR8 sub and matching Paradigm in-ceiling speakers or Cinema 90's for the 3 rears (still deciding between ceiling mount, if possible, or in-ceiling); or

    2. Athena - Micra 6 HT system and get a pair of AS-B1/B2 for my fronts; or

    3. Cambridge Soundworks - M50's for fronts, MC100's for surrounds, MC300 for center and BaseCube 8 or 12 for sub.

    Any opinions are greatly appreciated to solve this dilemma.

    Note: This will be run with Panny XR45 and the room is rather 'bright' with all tile floors.

    Thanks in advance for your help as I am hoping for real advice from those who know.
     
  2. Chester II

    Chester II Stunt Coordinator

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    Blaine P. dude,

    I'm VERY concerned about your floor. You need some kind of area rug at least 8 feet x 10 feet or your sound will be crappy no matter what system you install. Please consider this matter very carefully. Have you looked at the new Hsu Ventriloquist VT-12 6.1 home-theater-in-a-box system? I believe it's going to be one of those "big bang for the buck" products over the coming year. With a 10 inch subwoofer from Hsu in a package deal it'll cost you around $500 or so. I'm thinking about purchasing that system for some clients of mine that I'm doing a basement remodel for. There's also the Niro 1.1 and 1.1 pro systems that are receiving great reviews. Here are the links.

    http://nirostore.net/store/cgi-bin/cp-app.cgi

    http://www.hsuresearch.com/


    Good luck dude,

    Chester
     
  3. Blaine P

    Blaine P Agent

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    I know what you mean about the floors (wife's idea). I will have at least one large area rug, lots of furniture and wall-length drapes on 3 of the walls to help with the sound.

    I have researched the Ventriloquist, but my fear is that they would not be as good as the other choices for ordinary music purposes due the small size of their fronts.

    I will check out the Niro site you posted. Thanks.
     
  4. Chester II

    Chester II Stunt Coordinator

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  5. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Blaine, I have the Cambridge Soundworks M50s currently for my front and surround speakers along with a MC300 for the center. I would give them a listen - and CSW has a generous return policy of 45 days so you have plenty of time to determine if you like them or not. I tried the MC100s for surrounds and they were ok for movies but they don't extend much below 100Hz while the M50s go down to 55-60Hz or so in my room. With my crossover set to 100Hz on my receiver, I liked the fuller sound of M50s all around. I also have used the S300s for surrounds and I liked them better than the MC100s as well although they are more money. I would say though that I find the Newton bookshelf models to have a more laid back sound that I like while the MC300, MC200 (same as S300s in direct mode) seem brighter or more trebly to my ears. Like I said, you'll definitely want to audition them in your room.

    I also looked at the Paradigm Atoms and would say they were also very good for the price and size. Once again, especially if you listen to multi-channel music or 5 channel stereo, to look at just using another set of Atoms for the surrounds.

    good luck,


    --tom
     
  6. Blaine P

    Blaine P Agent

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    ThomasL: Thanks, that is exactly what I need to hear.

    Chester: I am still very interested in the Ventriloquist - especially at the price. The major problem with the VT-12 is future upgrades. I hope to gradually upgrade the various components in future years and would prefer a brand and system that offers more choices. However, Hsu is still an option. Thanks.
     
  7. GregBe

    GregBe Second Unit

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    ThomasL,

    I second your assesment. I have the M50's as well paired with an MC400 center. I absolutely love this combo for both music and movies. I did previously own 3 MC300's for my L/C/R. Many people like their detailed sound, but I upgraded (or downgraded, depending who you talk to). I really liked the fuller sound in the midrange of the M50's, and they integrate with my sub (P500) much better. Because the bookshelves were cheaper than the MC300's, I was able to get the MC400 as well for an even trade-in for all three speakers. The MC400 also has 5 1/4" drivers. In talking to the sales manager at CSW who has been with them for over 10 years, he said the M50 was designed to me more neutral and natural sounding. I liked this better than even their more expensive bookshelf speakers that I found too forward sounding.

    I am interested in your choice of the M50's for surrounds. I currently have the older Surround 5.1 which I was thinking of upgrading to the M50's. I like the idea of having matching 5 1/4" drivers all the way around. I am a little worried about giving up the dipole/bipole. I would appreciate your thoughts on your comparison of the M50's to the S300's for surrounds.
    Greg
     
  8. Joey^T

    Joey^T Extra

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    Coincidentally, I was just looking at the M50's and S100's to upgrade my current CSW Ensemble system. I will most probably drop by the showroom tomorrow to get a good listen. Thanks for the comments here.
     
  9. Chester II

    Chester II Stunt Coordinator

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    Blaine dude,

    I understand your concern with future upgrades. My understanding is that Hsu plans to upgrade the Ventriloquist system to provide better coverage in the rear channels which means a new center channel/controller. But that isn't exactly what you mean is it? Whatever you do...enjoy your future system.....

    Dude,

    Chester
     
  10. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Greg,

    I recently picked up a Pioneer 563A dvd player and decided to give the multichannel music capabilities a try. Well, 5 SACDs later [​IMG], I really like it. Because of that I decided to try the M50s that I had in another room as my surrounds instead of the S300s. I always used the S300s in direct mode so in essence I used them as a pair of MC200s. At the time I bought them a few year ago, I got the S300s for $300/pair and the MC200s were something like $280/pair - so I figured I might as well get the S300s since my wife liked their shape and how fit into the room. At that time, I didn't think she'd go for M50s all around and they did look a bit bulky on our shelf. Time travel up to the present and my wife had liked the idea of a pair of speakers in the dining room so I picked up another pair of M50s but decided to stick them in as my L/R surrounds and put the S300s into the dining room. At the same time, I did a number of listening tests swapping them in and out. Unfortunately, I did not have a speaker switch that could have allowed me to have someone swap them back and forth without me knowing - although I'm pretty sure I could tell the difference. The M50s definitely have a more pronounced midrange and lower extension while the S300s/MC200s have a bit more detail/emphasis in the upper ranges yet my ears seem to pick that up as a tinniness. My ears seem to dislike this. I believe this is why the more laidback neutral sounding M50s sound better to me than the MC200s. The other thing I did notice is that you need to re-adjust the volume about 3-4dbs to make sure that each pair of speakers is outputting the same level. The M50s seem to be more sensitive and require less power to output the same sound meter reading. I must admit once the volume was equalized, the differences were somewhat less but still there. I think for movies you probably wouldn't notice any difference but for me, anything musical sounds somewhat better through the M50s. Depending on how you're using the S300s (dipole/bipole, room size, etc), they may be a better choice. I can see why some have setup two pairs of l/r surrounds - one for music and one for movies.

    cheers,


    --tom
     
  11. Rick Lyon

    Rick Lyon Stunt Coordinator

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    I would highly recommend the Paradigm system with one exception. Watching movies I think some 80% of all sound comes thru the center channel (or at least the most important stuff does) and thus the center channel is VERY important for movies. I'd say move up the center channel to the CC-170.
     
  12. Joey^T

    Joey^T Extra

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    Since we're on the subject of center channels, would someone be able to provide their experiences with the Cambride Soundworks MC300 vs. Centerstage?

    Also, is it imperative that the cneter channel be always on top of the TV? If I were to place it on top of my entertainment system, let's say a foot and a half above the TV, would it still sound as good?

    Thanks!
     
  13. Tony Genovese

    Tony Genovese Supporting Actor

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    Joey:

    If the center's up too high, you're going to be missing some highs. The nice thing about the MC300 is that it comes with a little platform that allows you to angle it down. This should work well on top of your entertainment system. I have never heard the Centerstage, so I can't comment.
     
  14. Tony Genovese

    Tony Genovese Supporting Actor

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    GregBe:

    Did you happen to hear the MC500 as well as the other two Newton centers? I find it inferior to the MC400 and not as good a match to the other Newton speakers. Given that it's their flagship center, I was a bit surprised.
     
  15. GregBe

    GregBe Second Unit

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    Joey,
    With CSW's upgrade policies, over the years I have actually owned the center channel plus (crap), the centerstage, MC300 and now the MC400. If you are comparing the centerstage to the mc300, it really depends what your front are, or will be. They sound very different. The Centerstage sounds much fuller and deeper, while the MC300 comes accross as more detailed. It depends on what you like. For me, the MC400 had both qualities so it was an easy upgrade for me (although it is $100 more than the MC300).
    Tony,
    I agree totally. What I had found was that the MC400 came after the MC500 and MC300. Similar to my comparison above, many people liked the detail of the MC300 and the deeper extension of the MC500, so they designed the MC400 to have the best of both worlds. I was told that many people are going with the MC400 over the MC500 even when size and money aren't an issue.
    Greg
     
  16. JeremyR

    JeremyR Supporting Actor

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    I would simply just like to echo what Rick Lyon said. I have a Paradigm setup that has the Atoms as surrounds, Titans as mains, and the CC-170. That center channel is the most important speaker along with the sub, I would seriously recommend upgrading to the cc-170 over the cc-70.
     
  17. Joey^T

    Joey^T Extra

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    Thanks for all your input, guys!

    After listening to the Centerstage, is has a deeper bass and is fuller which is not what I am looking for. The MC300 is crisp and clear, great for movies. The Centerstage was on clearance at $99 but I decided to go with the MC300. Would have gone with MC400 but budget constraints deny me that pleasure!

    How does the upgrade policy work? Can I bring back the speakers after one year and trade it in for the same value?

    Thanks!
    Joey
     
  18. GregBe

    GregBe Second Unit

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    Good choice Joey,

    CSW has a really strong upgrade policy. Within one year, you will get full credit. After that they will give you a % of your purchase price that declines each year. Whenever you make your upgrade, the clock starts over and you get another year.
    The guys at the store must think I am nuts. In the past year these have been my upgrades
    1)center channel = Center Channel Plus, Centerstage, MC300, MC400 (current)
    2) subwoofer = 8S, P200, now P500 (current)
    3) L/R = Ensemble II, MC200, MC300, now M50 (current)
    4) Surrounds = Surround II, now Surround 5.1 (current, but I am thinking of upgrading these to either 2 more M50's or the S300's) I may stick with what I have as well. (Yeah Right [​IMG] )
     
  19. Joey^T

    Joey^T Extra

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    Greg,

    I just upgraded my Ensemble IV system for:

    1. L/R : M60
    2. Center: MC300
    3. Surround: S100
    4. Subwoofer: 8S

    I should be all set for........a year!
     
  20. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Greg, thanks for the tip on the trade-ins. I was not aware that they would take trade-ins for products that were over a year old (purchase date).

    For the center speaker, I also prefer the MC300 and probably would like the MC400 as far as a better match for my M50s but I don't have the space for the bigger MC400.

    As for whether you want to try some M50s for the surrounds, I've been using that configuration now for a week and I'd have to say that it's created a fuller soundfield in the sweet spot. This may have to do with the fact that they match the fronts identically or just that my ears respond better to the M50 sound. As I mentioned, I only used the S300s in direct mode since my room is small and I didn't like the bipole/dipole sound - so I'm really comparing the MC200s to the M50s. For multichannel music, the M50s definitely seem to improve things for me. I'm intrigued by the trade-in because, and I'm sure they'll think I'm nuts [​IMG], I'm thinking of trading in the S300s I got about 20 months ago, for a pair of M50s, since the S300s are inferior to me for music so they don't really fit in as stereo bookshelf speakers in our dining room. I may give my local store a call and see what they'd give me for the S300s.

    cheers,


    --tom
     

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