OK, not Bose -- tell me what to buy instead!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Peter>Rei, Jan 2, 2003.

  1. Peter>Rei

    Peter>Rei Auditioning

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    [I was planning to append this to a Bose thread I saw yesterday, but by the time I signed up, I couldn't find the thread anymore--maybe I'm going nuts. Anyway...]
    I'm not an audiophile, I want to buy a receiver and a set of speakers, I've considered Bose, a friend who reads this forum told me "everyone knows Bose sucks", and now I need help. I spent several hours over the last few days reading up and while I've learned a bit, I don't really know what I should buy yet. I accept that while Bose is an "easy" choice, it is likely not a great buy for the money. No need to convince me on that. Here are some details about my situation/preferences.
    - My only component currently is a DVD player (and TV). My immediate plans are to get a receiver, a DVR, and speakers. For speakers, I want a 5x1 system.
    - The room dimensions are 15' x 20', but part of that is an alcove, so the main listening viewing area is really 15' x 12', and the TV viewing distance is 6-9').
    - I have space constraints and so definitely want rather small, wall-mountable speakers. Looks matter (almost as much as sound).
    - The room is not optimal for audio and I prefer not to have to do a lot of tweaking to get the perfect sound (so if there are "simpler" or more generic speakers that are easier for ignorant folk like myself, that might not be a bad idea.
    - The main use (say 80%) is for DVD rather than CD (I'm a movie buff).
    As for price, I don't have a specific number is mind. I don't want cheap junk, but I don't think my situation warrants buying very expensive stuff (small apartment). I was thinking of something like $300-$400 for a receiver and $300-600 for the speaker set (a large range, but I don't really know what is best yet).
    I did some searching (http://members.accesswave.ca/~valuec...omeTheater.htm was helpful) and came up with a few possible hits on speakers (various prices, roughly in order of increasing cost):
    Energy Take 5.1
    JBL SCS135SI
    Harmon Kardon HKTS 12
    Paradigm Cinema 70
    On the receiver side, I really have no idea how to choose, except to pick a brand I recognize and look for lots of inputs (and maybe based on looks).
    HELP! Getting back to the topic at hand, I accept the idea that Bose may not be a good choice, but I want someone to say "I know exactly what you are getting at and I think you'd be happy with either this or this." Specific suggestions on receivers or especially speakers would be very helpful. I'd also like ideas on how much I really should spend (i.e. I imagine spending $300-$400 on speakers would be an obvious win over spending $100, but do I want to spend $700?)
    Also, if there is a FAQ somewhere on what I need to know about speaker and component wiring, I'd appreciate a pointer to it. For example: Is it a problem/hassle that some of my components will be 6-8' from others? What kind of speaker wire do I need? etc.)
    I understand that speaker sound is largely subjective, but I like getting advice from experts (you guys) when possible. I really don't want to put a lot more time into this in an attempt to become an expert--I basically just want something that sounds good and the idea that I wasn't a chump. In a perfect world I know I should go listen to a whole bunch of systems, but I'd prefer to do this the lazy way if I can get some solid advice. In any case, I've learned a lot by reading the FAQs on this site and following links.
    Somewhat off-topic, I'm also looking for a small stero rack (not more than 32" tall) that can hold 3-4 components (no TV). Looks are the key though, not price. If you have any favorites, please let me know.
    Advice greatly appreciated. Thanks,
    Peter
     
  2. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Well, Ted, I wouldn't call speaker sound "totally subjective," as accuracy to the program source is an objective goal (linear response across the audible frequency range with minimal amplitude variation and distortion). But I know what you're saying! [​IMG]
    Peter, I'm thrilled with the results I'm getting in my bedroom system with a Denon AVR 1803 running an Acoustic Research HC6 speaker suite. The Denon MSRPs for $500 and can be had for a little less, while the AR speakers MSRP at $800 and can be purchased for significantly less at an authorized online retailer (I bought mine from J&R Music).
    There's a lot you can do with not very much money when it comes to home theater (a surprisingly affordable hobby if you know what you're doing).
     
  4. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    You do know that the Energy Take 5 + 1 made Stereophiles recomended list?
    There IS a Beginners Primer and FAQ that should answer all your questions. Look at the Contents and jump to the areas that concern you. (We invited our members to post what they thought was important/mis-understood) so it's not a start-from-the-begining read.
    When in doubt, a set of 6 identical monitor-style speakers and a external subwoofer can give an outstanding HT experience. Dont let the big, shiny towers seduce you. While sexy/impressive, let the sound be your guide.
    My advice: Pick 1-2 of your favorite DVD movies and find complex chapters of male/female voices, special effects and music. Start carrying these around with you for auditions.
    But .. DVD sound is easier to reproduce than 2-channel music. So also carry a CD of your favorite music for auditions. When different speakers sound the same with a DVD, let the music show you the differences.
    Eventually you will narrow your search and buy. Then you will have lots of fun setting it up, adjusting, etc.
    Another note: the Kenwood HTB's like the 509 system are great starter sets. They contain all the box's (except the TV) to give a great HT experience. And then you can later upgrade the pieces. All for about $700. It's something to consider even if it would give you another DVD player. (The player with the Kenwood system is a 5 disk changer and has Progressive Scan for when you eventually buy a HDTV.) So it would be a step up.
     
  5. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    if your budget is a bit bigger, you might want to consider the Energy Encore package as well. they're even better than the Take 5.2, which is already very highly regarded.

    if style is really important, I understand Anthony Gallo has some pretty good speakers too, which look really intriguing -- small little spheres. I haven't heard those, though, but there are those on this forum that seem to like them.
     
  6. Peter>Rei

    Peter>Rei Auditioning

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    Thanks a lot for the advice!

    I have read the Beginners Primer and FAQ (most of it, anyway). It answered some questions, but my real goal was to get some more specific direction and these answers helped.

    Now to listen to a few systems and make a choice. The Anthony Gallo speakers look very cool--I couldn't find a price online, but I definitely plan to check them out.
     
  7. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Bob corrects himself with recommending also brining music to choose speakers, but I really find it hard to tell differences between speakers with movie material, its much easier with music to tell differences between speakers. It's a much more "demanding" thing to play, and for speakers to sound natural during music playback is the main importance. What sounds great for music will sound great for HT, although the converse is not always true. What will be marginally OK for HT can often really suck for music. Fortunately, though, that means that the cheesy speakers that come in HTIB style setups can still give a decent movie experience, while not worth the cardboard their packed in for music.
    The Paradigm setup is nice, although their cinema series is essentially identical to their performance series, except in a much smaller package. The prices are similar. IF you want some smaller bookshelf speakers, that really sing, look at the atoms ($180ish) and the titans ($220). Both very nice performers, and REAL speakers, not just satellites. The titans stand on their own easily, although you'd still want a sub for movies, and probably music too. Take a listen, I don't think theres a speaker on earth that can beat the value in those titans. Truly stunning for an entry level speaker.
    And I'm happy we saved another soul from the dark side. [​IMG]
     
  8. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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    Consider the Infinity Entra Point Five system. Excellent performance for the size and price.
     
  9. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

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    I have the JBL SCS135SI. I really think that they are great speakers for the money. I had those and a Bose Acoustimass-6 in the same room at one time, hooked up to my old and low-end HTiB system. I noticed that the JBLs completely beat the Bose at everything. Now that I have my new receiver, those speakers sound really good. Go take a listen to them.
     
  10. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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    Comparing just about anything to Bose with make Bose sound bad! Why do you think they are ALWAYS displayed in their own area, with nothing to compare them to?!
     
  11. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

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    Exactly. I mean, the differece is impressive. I saved $100 or so by going for the JBL. Those Bose speakers I had were even "factory renewed", and it was STILL more expensive than the JBL. The pathetic thing was that the wires hooked up to the "acoustimass module" (the equivilent of a sub), and it was a passive sub!! It did not even hook up the the sub/LFE output on the receiver. When I asked about that, their response was, "You can't have it hooked up to the LFE output. In order to do that, you have to go more expensive." About $600 to $800 more expensive. [​IMG]
    If you look at my first posts on HTF, you will hear about my "Bose Experience".
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Stunt Coordinator

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    You might look at stepping up your JBL option to the JBL NSP1-II/PB-10 package. List around $800, easily available for $500 and includes wall mount brackets for the 4 satelites. This has had some good reviews. It's the system I bought in November and am real happy with it, although I spent a few extra bucks and went with the PB-12 sub. Awesome sound. I can also recommend the Yamaha receiver.
     
  13. CalebC

    CalebC Extra

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    Atlantic Technology speakers are very good. You can get an entry level system that has wonderful quality to go along with great price tag. I love mine!!!

    Caleb
     
  14. Mark Hobbs

    Mark Hobbs Stunt Coordinator

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    We use Paradigm Titans and a Paradigm CC-170 center speaker paired with Paradigm Cinema rears. The Titans aren't invisible (about 12" tall), but even my wife agreed that they sounded good enough to overlook the fact that they aren't invisible. The price is a steal at $220 for the pair. As a compromise, using the Cinemas for rears means those are invisible. They are wall mounted and white in color. They don't sound anywhere near as good as the Titans, but for rears they aren't bad.

    We have the Sony SA-WM 40 sub ($150) and it works great for the price. The DSL sub is getting high praise lately for $99, however. Do a search for info on both. Subs are generally an eyesore (to some) but can be hidden from view while still serving their purpose.

    For receivers, I also recommend Denon. We paid $375 for the 1802 (unauthorized online retailer) and have been very pleased. The 1802/3 should be all the reciever you need until you decide to move to a 6.1 or 7.1 system or spend a lot more than $600 on speakers.

    Finally, you won't have any problem connecting your components, even if they are 6 or 8 feet apart. But do remember to save money for cables. Unfortunately your receiver and speakers won't come with the necessary cabling. I think Radio Shack Gold series and Acoustic Research cables work great. No need to spend lots of $$ on Monster cables. For speaker wire, I think many people get 12 gauge from Home Depot. We bought ours at Best Buy but it was overpriced IMO.
     
  15. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    I'm always on a tight budget and settled on Cambridge SoundWorks speakers. I'm very happy with them. It's a mail order place but you can audition them in your own home and return if you're not satisfied. They have a $500 surround system with a small subwoofer, 8", that you can upgrade if you want to spend more $$.
    I think they're good, solid speakers that tend to go unnoticed since they're rarely sold in stores.
    Jan
     
  16. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    I'd also recommend looking at the Cambridge Soundworks Newton series speakers. I had a pair of MC100s for my rear speakers before upgrading to the Newton S300s. They were nice for a compact speaker. You could also throw together your own package of Newton's.

    cheers,


    --tom
     

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