newbie - budget dorm theater help (tough)

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Bhavesh P, Apr 2, 2003.

  1. Bhavesh P

    Bhavesh P Extra

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    I'm looking to upgrade what I have so that I can get better clarity and more bass. It'll be primarily used for music and weekly movie watching. However, I have a really tight budget so this may be a tough setup to tackle.

    Here's what I'm starting with:
    - generic stereo soundcard, one output with ~1W/channel internal amp, the input is split with a headphone splitter
    -unpowered 1"x3" Polk Audio full range computer speakers (came with the PC)
    -a pair of old Optimus cube speakers with a 4" paper cone driver (paralleled with the polks) -- free from friend
    -10" Kenwood Tornado (car audio sub), it had crack in the cone so I got it for free (which I taped up), in a 3/4" mdf 0.5 cubic foot sealed box, homemade ($7).
    -a 250W plate amp powers the sub

    Here are the restrictions:
    -I can't clutter my desk/room with tower/bookshelf speakers
    -University policy says any speaker box can't exceed 14" in any dimension
    -There are no power outlets available near my listening area
    -I have $40

    What can I do? I know, I know...if I save my money..blah blah...I can buy a $2,000 stereo that will sound great. Hoever I'm a student with $40 and no source of income.

    What I was thinking is...
    -replace the 4" optimus's with some high effiency tweeters for $10 from partsexpress, or replace it with a car-audio coaxial set from ebay
    -get a 2way crossover and use the polk's as midranges
    -replace the kenwood with a $11 car or home sub that can handle 250watts from ebay

    Or

    Just buy a $30 sub from ebay and forget fixing the mains altogether.

    Well? Can you guys offer some helpful suggestions?
     
  2. Jeremy Scott

    Jeremy Scott Second Unit

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    save your $40 for more important things
     
  3. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Jeremy,

    That's basically a thread fart.
    Frowned upon here!

    Cees
     
  4. Sathyan

    Sathyan Second Unit

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    For $40 you could upgrade your soundcard or get some headphones (Grado SR-40). Is this just for your personal listening or will you need to entertain others? Speakers will be difficult. You may be able to find some used speakers at a thrift store (Goodwill, Salvation Army) for that but I'm not sure of the quality. I used to have a Midiland 4.1 PC speaker system (retail price $30) which was OK
     
  5. Bhavesh P

    Bhavesh P Extra

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    Sathyan,
    It will be for myself but with the capacity to entertain others. I already have a pair of cheap headphones that I use when it's best to keep to myself. But for this application, I feel that speakers are in my best interest. However a soundcard is also a good investment so I'll keep my options open and do some research for one.

    Jeremey, I know that already, I addressed it in the original post. I want to go past that.

    Thank you Mr. Alons.

    Anybody else?
     
  6. Jeremy Scott

    Jeremy Scott Second Unit

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    all i am saying is if you only have $40 , and dont have no source of income. Dont you think there are more important things to spend money on, like food??

    NECESSATIES!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  7. Bhavesh P

    Bhavesh P Extra

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    That's a fair argument Jeremey, I didn't realize that was your intention. But I'm at college where food/electricity/water/laundry have been paid for. Clubs and dinner's are way too expensive in Boston to be somewhat satisfied for one night. So I decided that $40 is much better spent longterm on a stereo.

    What's worse is that in high school, I had a full DIY competition stereo with CSW components, older PPI and fosgate amps, 2x10 JLw3's (midbass), 1x15" eclipse titanium (low bass) and complete sound damping. I sold everything to pay for school and it's VERY frusterating to go from everything, to for non-amped sissy speakers and a cheap sub that has a crack in the cone.

    Anybody else?
     
  8. David_Sietsema

    David_Sietsema Auditioning

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    I would say that your best bet is to go to compusa, best buy, or some other computer store and buy a 3 peice set of computer speakers.

    I can't beleive that your college has a limitation on speaker sizes. That is completely rediculous. I currently have a set of bookshelf speakers that are probably 2 feet tall, and a 12" HT sub to go along with it. My old room was prety big, and the sub would rattle stuff all the way down the hallway when I cranked it (I didn't crank it often). In my new room which is about 1/3 of the size of my old room, the sub does not get nearly as loud, obviously because I do not have it pointed in quite the right direction, but still, we have no limitation on that sort of stuff. We can ceratinly get noise violations if it is too loud at the wrong hour.

    Anyways, your best bet is probably just some computer speakers. I got by on a $20 set that had a little tiny "sub" and it worked well enough.

    - David
     
  9. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    I will second the recommendations for headphones. If what you already has functions ok, you're really not gonna be able to beat that with $40. If your headphones are enough also, I'd save the $40, or go yard-sale hunting. Some grados would be pretty sweet for you, for music, and i really doubt you're gonna impress your friends, or entertain them any more with speakers that are marginally better than what you have already. If you're that strapped for cash, keep the cash. YOu've got speakers that function, you've got headphones that function. Lord knows i've bought two pairs of $20 headphones for gaming that have gone out on me. They probably sound worse than what you've got already, so the smartest thing is to save the money, or buy headphones. I am not quite in college yet, so I'm not strapped for cash yet either. I decided to get the stereo instead of the car, and have that finished before i had $0 during college. I REALLY am happy with the investment and the music it provides me, and the best way for you to get that kind of return is with some good headphones. Unless you can find some nice speakers, some used paradigms from a friend with pity and an amp... which is far-fetched, i think headphones are the best bet.

    As for recommendations, I've heard the Grado SR-60s, which are like... $60. The SR 40s i've not heard, and I don't know the price, but the 60s were very nice, and lots of bass. I personally don't listen to any music with headphones (rarely) because i get fatigued with them, they just annoying for me, especially the boominess of most. It seems though, that this would provide the best sound, and the best investment for you. No need for amps and all that, they don't bother the other people, and you get much better value. And they're cheap.
     
  10. Sathyan

    Sathyan Second Unit

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    Chris,

    Grado SR-60 vs SR-40:

    I've been able to A/B these as I have SR-40 and my brother has SR-60. (System for testing: Santana Abraxas (original) LP, Project 1.2 turntable, Grado Gold cartridge, Roksan Kandy integrated amp, Panamax line filter)

    SR-40's cost $40. I found SR-60 sounds better (I really have problems describing sound quality using words - bigger sound stage, not as bright) but less confortable to wear than SR-40 (YMMV this is of course a personal matter). SR-40 uses the same drivers as the SR-60 but is put together in China with mass-market everything else. I got headphone primarily for portable use (with my iRiver CD/MP3 player & Grundig shortwave radio) and the SR-60 seemed a bit fragile for that knock-about use. With SR-40 I do get fatigued but only after about 3 hours at relatively high volume. I take a CD player and the SR-40's to work (in an closed office) and listen that way there. Both of these Grado's are very clear (much better than my speakers - HTD Level 1 & KLH 900B) and rather forward (which I like for serious listening but may be relatively more fatiguing). Both have good bass definition - the boominess is likely attributable to low-grade headphone amps in portable devices. Of course I've never tried the Sein Orpheus.

    In general I think open air - which both these Grado's are - sounds better but it will leak sound to those around you so don't listen at high-levels in the library.

    Sathyan
     
  11. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    DO NOT BUY NEW! Go around to various yard sales and keep checking the classifieds in various college newspapers. You're in Boston... there has to be some college student somewhere that is upgrading his/her speakers. You should be able to pick up a nice set of computer speakers or a pair of headphones for $40.
     
  12. Tim_Stonesifer

    Tim_Stonesifer Stunt Coordinator

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    It sounds like you've got the same problem as I do with having no money in college (don't we all have that though?). By the way, what college do you go to? I'm at BU, so I can completely understand not going out to eat - the prices are ridiculous.

    Anyway, back to your problem. If you know that you're going to be getting some form of income in a few months, check out Best Buy's no interest financing. I think it's something like 12 months for all audio gear $300 and up. The deal is definitely worth it. I just picked up a $500 Sony TV which I wouldn't have been able to pay for otherwise and I'm loving it. Good luck
     
  13. Bhavesh P

    Bhavesh P Extra

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    Refresher, for reading after I make my new post update.
     

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