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Need help choosing speakers (1 Viewer)

vpulipati

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Jul 28, 2008
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vasu
Hi all,
I'm getting a 5.1 system setup in our home, and am looking for some help choosing speakers. Talked to a home theater installation specialist who highly recommends Atlantic Technology or Niles speakers.
I'm no audiophile but I think I can tell the difference between good and bad/cheap speakers. I listened to a few different brands at local retailers (paradigm, psb, kef), I liked all of them and really couldn't tell which one was better. I checked out a 5.1 system at someone's place and I really didn't like the sound from his speakers. Don't remember the brand, but they must be some cheap ones. May be he didn't set them up right.
I've decided to go with this HT guy because he's going to do complete system delivered, installed, and optimized. He also retails AT and Niles speakers (apart from a bunch of other brands), and the Denon receiver he recommends. I'm kinda confused between different choices and I'm hoping to get some direction from this forum. So, here are my questions-

The various speakers combinations he's recommending are-
a. AT FS 3200 fronts and AT in-ceiling surrounds (8.2e)
b. AT FS 4200 fronts and 8.2e surrounds
c. AT FS 4200 left/right, FS 3200 center, and 8.2e surrounds
d. Niles PHD fronts matched with HD in-ceiling surrounds

Velodyne 10" minivee sub. I have not listened to any of these (not possible). These various combinations differ only by 100-200$. Although its a 5.1 setup, I want to make sure that it sounds great for music as well (we listen to music a lot).

1. How are AT speakers compared to Niles?

2. Which ones are better for music/movies- FS 3200 (flat panel) or FS 4200 (deep book shelf)?

3. Any drawbacks in using FS 3200 for center and FS 4200 for left/right? He says that AT makes all their speakers (including surrounds) with 1" tweater so they can be mix n matched. The reason I'm considering this combo is that I don't have room for a deep center channel and I may not be able to make room for it because there's a fire chute behind the wall. (tv is above the fire place).

4. He recommends two 8" subs instead of one 10" sub. Is that going to sound much better?

5. How do in-ceing speakers sound for surrounds?

6. Lot of people on this forum seem to like SVS speakers. How are they compared to AT or Niles? Not sure if SVS makes in-ceiling surrounds, but my wife only likes in-ceiling speakers for surrounds.

7. I'm kinda considering PSB as well (depends on how much room I can make for center channel). How are they compared to AT or Niles or SVS?

8. How does Denon 3808 CI receiver work with any of these speakers?

9. The guy is recommending a component rack with power conditioner. Is that very useful?

10. The guys is also recommending an RTI remote control system that sounds very expensive. Is that so much better compared to universal remotes like MX 500/650 or Logitech ones?

I appreciate any advice you can offer. Thanks much in advance.

Vas
 

Robert_J

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Speakers are a very personal selection because everyone hears differently. "Crisp" highs to me may be "harsh" to you. Keep listening to different speakers.

1. Never heard either. I have no opinion on this.

2. See #1

3. From his description, it sounds like they are timbre matched so that should work. And the TV above the fireplace is a terrible location. Divide the TV screen into thirds. The line separating the middle third from the bottom third of the screen should be at eye level. Otherwise you will have neck fatigue.

4. Subs are a unique situation. If he mentions that 8" subs are "faster" and will sound better with music, then he is not as home theater eduated as he thinks. You need to match the sub with your goals. If you are primarily a music listener then a pair of 8's or a 10 will work fine (assuming they are a quality brand). If you want to recreate explosions during action movies at reference levels in a very large room, then you need to step up to the big boys - SVS, Epik Subwoofers, Hsu, Elemental Designs, AV123 or DIY.

Since your wife is dictating in-ceiling surrounds, maybe she would like an in-ceiling sub? Here is an example - link. Look at the pictures from the living room. Nothing but a simple square hole that can be covered by a color matched grill. This type of sub will crush any retail sub in both output as well as quality.

5. I've used them as a last resort in my last 2 living rooms. I much prefer direct radiating surrounds that I have in my theater room.

6. As I mentioned earlier, I have never listed to the brands that you mention nor have I heard the SVS speakers. But I do know the reputation of Tom and Ron from the days at this forum where they were just two guys who helped people build subs. I also know the reputation of their driver designer (Stephen Ponte) as well as having four 15" subs that were hand built by him when he worked for TC Sounds. If I weren't a DIY guy, I would buy SVS based on reputation alone.

As for the in-ceiling, you don't need those to match the fronts. I would look at the in-wall and in-ceiling models from Dayton (Parts Express).

7. See above.

8. Don't base this desion on matching a receiver brand to speakers. Does it have the features and inputs that you need? Look at the number of inputs. Does it decode surround sound via the HDMI inputs? Does it have an auto calibration function?

9. I assume he sells component racks. I bought my rack from Office Max for $75. I liked it so much I bought 2 more. I have two complete systems (theater room and living room) sharing the 3 racks. I also assume he sells power conditioners. I use multiple UPSs from APC to keep my DVR's running during brown and blackouts. I also use one on my projector so that it can be shut down and have the fan keep cooling the bulb.

10. I use the Logitech Harmony 880. It is one of the best purchases I have ever made. My wife doesn't need to know that to listen to surround sound on one DVR requires that the receiver be set to the CD digital input. He presses the "Watch HD Tivo" button and the remote configures 5 different pieces of equipment and it works. She is only interested in the end result. As long as she is happy with my video and sound systems, I am able to upgrade when I want.

As I mentioned earlier, learn about this. Don't rely on a saleman to do all of the fun work for you. What will happen when your wife knocks the remote off of the couch into a glass of tea (it happens all of the time)? Are you going to call your home theater guy on a Friday night? You will be remoteless all weekend. I grabbed my Harmony 880 from the living room and re-programmed it in under 10 minutes. I enjoyed watching TV in the theater room all week while the replacement remote was being sent. When it arrived, I programmed it for the living room in 10 minutes and both rooms were back working. I am working on that waterlogged remote now. I have disassembled it 3 different times and should have all of the button contacts cleaned pretty soon. Then it will be my backup in case something happens again.

-Robert
 

JohnRice

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For me, there is one elementary question. Do you like to set up and understand stuff yourself? If you do, then don't hire the HT guy. If you'd rather let someone else sell you what he sells and set it all up, then hire te HT guy.
 

vpulipati

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vasu
Thanks so much for the responses. As much as I want to understand this stuff and do it myself, I just can't. Because we want all the wiring concealed and that involves making holes in the walls, running wires through the walls and cutting sheat rock for surrounds etc. I have never done that kinda work and don't even know what it takes to do that. May be I can get a handyman to do that but I really don't know what kinda wires/cables I should be buying. Any particular brands I should be considering for wires and cables?

Unfortunately, the only location where the TV can go in our room is above fireplace. The installation guy says that its not an uncommon situation and he actually setup TVs above fireplace for many of his clients. To make the situation worse, we have a 1 ft high hearth platform below the fireplace so the TV is going to be mounted awkwardly high on the wall.. can't help it.

I would like to know any opinions on flat/low profile speakers that are just 3 or 4" deep. How do they sound compared to regular book shelf speakers?

Yes, he sells everything he's recommending but isn't a power conditioner required for such a system?

For calibrating the system, is the receiver's auto calibration good enough? Isn't there something else that these professionals do for optimizing the system?

As for remotes, the guy says that with the Logitech types the components often go out of sync making you press more buttons which kinda beats the purpose. For example, pressing "watch dvd" button will usually turn on receiver, turn on dvd player, turn on tv and change the video input on tv etc. But if your dvd player is already on then pressing that button will actually turn off the player which means you have to know what state the components are in. Or, if someone walks across blocking the signal from remote then one or two components won't receive the signal so you'll end up turning them on explicitly again. With systems like RTI you won't have these problems, it seems.

Thanks again for your responses, and I'll appreciate your further advice.
 

Robert_J

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vpulipati said:
Because we want all the wiring concealed and that involves making holes in the walls, running wires through the walls and cutting sheat rock for surrounds etc. I have never done that kinda work and don't even know what it takes to do that. QUOTE] In-Wall Wiring for your Home Theater by our own Wayne A. Pflughaupt. I had no idea how to run wires in-wall either. But I did it long before Wayne had his great how-to put together. I found out that it cost about $100 per satellite cable to be installed in the wall. I'm a cheap SOB and decided that it was worth my time to learn this trick. In our new house, I have run more than 1/2 mile of cables (RG-6, speaker and CAT-5e) with all of it being in-wall.

I've been using my 880 in 2 room for almost two years now and NEVER has anything gotten out of sync like that. If it does, there is a help key to synch things back up. If you want to be 100% sure things don't get out of synch, then the Harmony 890 is a step above. It uses RF between the remote and the base station. The base station has IR emmitters that send the signals directly to the equipment with no chance of someone accidentally blocking it. How does RTI do this so it won't have the same problem? Everyone is coming out with activity based remotes but Harmony was the first. My mother-in-law not only knows how to use one, she actually programmed hers. I know you don't know her but if she can do it then anyone can.

I know it sounds like I am telling you to install everything yourself. I am. But if you are not a handyman type guy, then go with the installer. If you a handy guy but lack the home theater knowledge, then give it a try. We are here to help. You didn't put your location in your profile. If you are in the Memphis, TN area I will be glad to give you a hand with the installation.

-Robert
 

vpulipati

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Jul 28, 2008
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vasu
Robert,
Thats a great DIY site for in-wall wiring. I like DIY to some extent but I think this one is a bit too heavy lifting for me. I have a friend who is into all that, so I'm gonna check with him. Thanks for your offer, but I'm in bay area, California. After reading a few more posts and checking out online prices of all the equipment, now its very clear to me how expensive my installation guy is. He has fat markup on every item he's selling apart from installation charges.

I'm really shocked at the prices of HDMI cable and speaker wire on monoprice. They are less than 1/4 th of what my guy quoted. How is their quality though? I'm actually ok to spend a little more for better quality. And, how do I figure out what AWG I need? Does HDMI 1.3a work with 1.3? My TV is Sony 52" W4100, and the spec just says 1.3. How is optical or digital coaxial compared to HDMI?

Based on the reviews here, I've pretty much decided on the receiver- Denon 3808CI. The ipod connectivity and firmware update features are big plus. Where can I buy it for a good price? I was told that not all online stores are authorized dealers, and Denon doesn't honor the warranty if bought from a store thats not an authorized dealer.

The Dayton surrounds at partsexpress is just $50 a pair, how's their quality? I was actually prepared to spend about 2-2.5k on speakers so I would like to know if there's a recommendation for better quality surrounds? I was looking into SVS again for fronts, and wondering if I can find good in-wall surrounds for them (WAF). Will look into mythos, looks like there's a dealer nearby.

I looked into harmony 890, and that's pretty much how the RTI works. The price is triple the 890's price though.. may be it does lot more, don't know. You won't find them at any store, only the installation guys sell them.

Can you tell me the brand/model of the rack you got from OfficeMax? I'm gonna check it out.

Thanks a lot for all the pointers and advice.

Vasu
 

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