Questions about surround speakers

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Stephen Gladwin, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. Stephen Gladwin

    Stephen Gladwin Stunt Coordinator

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    OK--I've been beefing up my HT lately (adding an SVS PB10--yessss!--, a JBL EC35 center speaker, and two JBL E80s for L/R), and now it looks like I need to upgrade my surround speakers. It seems like the general consensus around here is that the surround speakers are the least important speakers in a HT setup, b/c they are used the least. Right now I am using my two front speakers from my old $200 Sony HTIB for the surrounds. They do the job--but I'm wondering if I could get far better sound with upgraded speakers? Or would it not make much of a difference? Is it critical to match the surround speakers with the same brand/model as the fronts? Which surround speakers do you guys recommend? Thanks!
     
  2. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    I feel that matched surrounds (same series from the same maker) are more important for music than movies, and even then I don't know if the sound would be "far better". But you have gone a long way towards a complete matched setup so why stop two blocks short of the winners circle? For mostly movies, the E10's would do nicely. For music, the E30's, and the E20's would be a good compromise 'tween the two. All can be had for $100-$150 per pair on-line. I switched from a mis-matched setup in a secondary room a while ago and even though the sound was better, I also felt better knowing I finally did it right. You will to.
     
  3. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    I remember what I once heard a home theater salesman tell a customer about this very question: “You don’t want that jet airplane to sound like a Piper cub by the time it gets to the back of the room.”

    So yes, the rear speakers are important. The consensus you talked about has some truth, in so far as if you have to compromise somewhere, it’s best to do it with the rear speakers.

    As such I suggest getting a pair of the E10, 20 or 30s when finances permit. You probably won’t get “far better sound,” but it should be a significant improvement.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  4. Stephen Gladwin

    Stephen Gladwin Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the help everyone! I think I'm going to take Wayne's advice and pick up a pair of E30s when I have the $$.
     
  5. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    My rear speakers used to be a pair of Radio Shack Minimus 7s with a 5.25" woofer in a sealed aluminum enclosure with a 1" soft dome tweeter. Fronts are Boston Acoustics CR9s with an 8" woofer in a ported enclosure w/1" soft dome tweeter. Center is a Infinity SL30 (6.5" ported with a 3/4" polycarbonate dome tweeter). I run my system full-range, i.e. no bass management for any channel.

    The Minimus speakers sounded good by themselves and seemingly, also when used as surrounds. They were a little softer sounding than the three front channels and of course, had much less bass. But hey, they're just handling subtle surround signals, so no big deal....right? But when I started buying more dvd-audio discs that had full-range bass in the rear channels*, I finally replaced them with some basic Pioneers, bookshelf models with an 8" ported woofer.

    Holy crap, what a difference.

    And not just with music but with all surround uses. Previously (exactly like Wayne mentioned) when things sailed overhead, they would change noticeably in tone--usually transforming into something with a nasal quality [​IMG] --as they reached the rears. Also, better DSP modes like the hall and theater choices on my Technics SA-DA8 didn't sound too convincing. But with the Pioneers**, inexpensive as they are, this all changed and for the better. All sounds around me are now a lot more cohesive and form a smooth acoustic "bubble" around me. Moving objects finally stay (nearly) the same as they move around--now I no longer know when the rear channels are being used to handle an effect. [​IMG] The DSP modes sound a lot better and not nearly so artificial. Even subtle ambient effects used in forest scenes where animals or wind are heard or restaurant scenes with people softly talking around the main characters sound noticeably improved. Because both scenes--whether wind or male voices in the backgorund--can contain lower bass than you think they would.

    And of course surround music reproduction definitely improved.

    I honestly didn't expect this much of a change when contemplating this system upgrade.

    So Stephen to sum up, because I upgraded those rear channels my system as a whole now has a much fuller and more realistic quality than before. Just another reason I like to stay with "satellites" that use nothing smaller than a 6.5" woofer (or, a very good 5"). BTW: I experimented with the SL30s and they produced the same effect as the Pioneers.

    * Beach Boys Pet Sounds, but especially: Crystal Method Legion Of Boom, Martin/Medeski/Wood Uninvisible and recently, Beck's Guero and LTJ Bukem's 5.1 DTS Planet Earth dvd-video.

    ** they have a rather bright sound (treble control will get rid of that problem) but other than that, they are quite listenable with bass that is very surprising--smooth and deep--for such a basic speaker (hint: Pioneer manufactures their own drivers); they also look better in person.
     
  6. Ronn.W

    Ronn.W Second Unit

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    Stephen,

    I was in your situation about a month ago, and had almost the exact same setup. I went with the JBL E10's, and it has made a huge difference. I went with the 10's over the 30's mainly because they were easier to wall mount, but now that I have them; I think I like them a lot better.

    The E30's are good speakers, don't get me wrong, but having had bookshelf speakers in the past as surrounds, I do notice a big difference with the way the E10's disperse the sound. Much more natural sounding in that it's a less isolated sound, if that makes sense. They're also on sale very cheap with free shipping at jr.com
     

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