Need some input HT purchase

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chad_Bean, Feb 7, 2002.

  1. Chad_Bean

    Chad_Bean Auditioning

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    I've been looking into getting my first HT setup, and would like some opinions from you guys (just found this board). Here is what I am thinking of getting:

    JBL NSP1 Speakers

    Sony WM40 Sub (eventually . . . going without a sub at first)

    Receiver: I was planning on getting a refurb Onkyo 494 from Ubid, but haven't seen one in a while. From what I read (still learning), the NSP1 speakers aren't as sensitive (not sure if this is the correct term), and need a receiver that will put out a decent amount of power. Will the Onkyo 494 drive these OK, or do I need to look at another receiver? If so, which one . . . Onkyo 595, Denon 1802, or wait until April for the new Onkyo's to come out?

    Also, what do you think of my speaker choice? Price is very important in my case, so I'm trying to get the best quality I can for the price. Would I be better off to just look at one of the HTIB like the Kenwood 504?

    Thanks in advance guys!

    BTW, I'm not sure if it matters or not, but the room I'll be using is my living room . . . it is not a closed room, and opens into the dining room and the hall. The room dimensions are approx. 20x12, with a 10x10 dining room making one wall approxx 30' long (this wall also has an 8' window). The walls are tongue and groove pine paneling (it's an older house) with hardwood floors. I don't know if any of this is important, but thought that I'd throw it out anyway.

    Thanks!

    Chad
     
  2. Thom B

    Thom B Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Chad,
    I'm not directly familiar with any of the specific models you've listed, but I can offer some advice on making the final decision.
    For any audio gear the best criteria is your ears. Don't purchase anything you haven't had a chance to listen to. This can be difficult if you're buying online. I'd head down to the local Circut City or Best Buy and give a listen to the components you're considering.
    Get a short list of recievers and speakers, then grab a couple of your favorite discs to demo with. Try to choose a title that will push the limits of the gear. I use the opening club scene in Blade to test subs. It's low loud and fast. Many subs can't keep up, and you'll hear the bass beat falling out of sync with the soundtrack.
    Demo with the gear you're planning to buy, or as close to it as you can get. If you're auditioning speakers, make sure the reciever you're running through is the same you'll be using at home, or as close as possible. That way you'll avoid any unpleasant surprises when you get it all home.
    Best of luck.
    T
     
  3. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hi Chad. Welcome to HTF!
    As a general rule, speakers that are "power hungry" are not in the budget catagory. So I'm sure nearly any receiver by a brand name (Dennon, Yamaha, Kenwood, Onkyo) will drive them.
    The Kenwood HTB504 is a fantastic value as it includes all the speakers and a self-powered sub. It has a very good reputation around here.
    The JBL system is also decent.
    My first advice is to just go with the Kenwood system. No decisions, nothing to agnoize over, no "It will sound better when..." type of issues.
    But if you really want choices, some other places to look is: www.cheaphometheater.com - This site specalizes in budget HT systems. They have a nice budget speaker review up right now.
    www.hometheaterdirect.com - Another Internet only retailer that offers good values for the price.
    Good Luck. And please, let us know what you decide and your thoughts as you setup and enjoy your new system.
     
  4. Chad_Bean

    Chad_Bean Auditioning

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    Well, I just ordered my speakers. Buy.com has a sale on the JBL NSP1 set for $229 with free shipping. I didn't figure that I could beat that as they are normally $299 online and much higher locally. I'm still debating on which receiver though. Thanks for the advice so far guys!
     
  5. John Chow

    John Chow Second Unit

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    What $$$ range are you looking for regarding the receiver? I know the Onkyo is commonly recommended as far as a budget receiver is concerned, and may very well be recommended on the website referenced by Bob. I don't think you really need to worry too much about receiver power. I don't know the sensitivity rating of the JBL speakers off hand, but I believe any of the receivers you listed should have enough power to drive them. The sub you chose is also generally considered the best budget sub there is, and with some self modification that involves stuffing the port with some kind of polyfill material, can be made even better.
     
  6. Chad_Bean

    Chad_Bean Auditioning

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    Here are the sensitivity ratings on the speakers:
    N-Center
    Sensitivity (2.83V @ 1m): 90dB
    N24s:
    Sensitivity (2.83V @ 1m): 86dB
    I'm not sure exactly what these mean, the reason I have a question on how much power I need from the receiver comes from the review on www.cheaphometheater.com. Here is the quote:
    "I was a little surprised to see a sensitivity rating of only 86db on these speakers. Most bookshelf's feature a bit more sensitive of a speaker, so you can get by with a little less amplification."
    So; could someone explain to me what the sensivity rating means?
    Thanks!!
    Chad
     
  7. John Chow

    John Chow Second Unit

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    Ok, the sensitivity rating is the way they measure efficiency, and works as follows.

    Basically they measure the amount of volume they get 1 meter from the speaker when they give it 1 Watt of power. So in this case that means they measured 86dB when inputting 1 Watt of power 1 meter away.

    86dB is definitely on the lowside for sensitivity. I don't know how much that actually affects it, although that article seems to indicate that it makes a difference in the case of that speaker. There was another webpage that mentioned the relationship between power, sensitivity, and dB level, but i don't have it bookmarked.

    Since it sounds like this will be your first HT setup, I would guess that it wouldn't make that much of a difference to you, but you can always try it out first. What is your $$$ range for the receiver?
     
  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    like john said, 86db is a touch low. so, your receiver will have to work a little "harder" to get the same amount of sound out of the jbl's.
    onkyo's (which i also own) are pretty decent receivers. they usually have a good balance of power and features. if you're at all concerned about the receivers capability of driving the jbls'...you may want to consider denon. i've done some relatively decent comparison between denon, onkyo, and yamaha and feel that the denon usually has the most "oomph".
    bob m - i know you're the man [​IMG], but i'm a little surprised to hear you recommend the htb? i know it's a pretty decent system (which i've heard myself) but i still think a component system would be a better choice?
     
  9. Louis D

    Louis D Agent

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    Chad, you definitely need to go listen before you buy, and save a littel extra and do it right the first time. You can always upgrade, but why upgrade right away. Do the research first. It took me three months to pick out my fronts and center, and I am still not done. Hint: 6th Avenue electronics will bargain with you on price. Just beware when they say, "Uh, let me talk to the manager, cause there is this number that we are allowed to discount to, but he may be able to do more", which means, let me walk out of here and act like I am talking to the boss. Also, whatever you decide, you can probably find it on-line somewhere. I did. Saved a bundle on the fronts. Good luck! happy upgrading.
     
  10. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Ted: The Kenwood system is actually 5 speakers, a self-powered sub, and a full-fledged receiver - It is a component system, but sold as a set.
    About 18 months ago Sterophile Guide to Home Theater did a review of the Kenwood HTB-503 system and found it suprisingly good. They compared just the speakers to a "budget" speaker system of NHT speakers (SuperZeros) that retailed for over $1100, and the Kenwood speakers held their own. Even the sub impressed them. Sure, it could not handle the heaviest sounds without a bit of "chuffing", but they admitted that it took someone with lots of experience with speaker auditions to notice.
    About a year ago, one of this fourms administrators went to his in-laws to help them setup their new "Home Theater" system. He went home and listened to his system (about $12,000 worth) and was shocked. His system sounded better, but not 10 to 20 times better than the $500 Kenwood system.
    He reported on his experience and it caused several weeks of interest in budget, but good sounding HT systems.
    A few weeks ago a friend took my advice and bought the HTB-504 system and invited me over to hook it up. (He had an old ProLogic receiver before).
    I was expecting a budget, no-frills receiver (as reported in the SGHT review), but this thing had:
    - Dimmable front panel display
    - Little trap-doors over the optical inputs (no more plugs to loose)
    - DTS
    - SVideo Switching for every source
    - etc...
    It was rather nice to work with.
    I set it up, level adjusted, etc. My friend was very interested in the sub. But to try and focus on the speakers, I turned it off. He came into the room while I was playing the opening chapter of Toy Story 2 and was exclaiming how much better it sounded. "That sub really makes a difference" he exclaimed.
    I grinned at him and threw the scene into a A-B repeat loop. "Just wait till I turn it on" Then I walked over and flipped the sub from off to "auto". His jaw dropped.
    So the Kenwood system is actually a fantastic system for $500.
     
  11. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    well said bob...i definitely agree that it's a good system...even my casual listening tests revealed a really nice sound.
    i guess i was thinking more of a receiver / speaker manufacturer component setup???
    anyway...thanks for the response! [​IMG]
     

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