Suggestions-$200 upgrade/tweek

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John_P, Aug 28, 2001.

  1. John_P

    John_P Agent

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    OK, believe it or not but summer is comming to a close and Christmas is around the corner. With a new house, baby and such my wife and I have put a $200 limit per person this year. You know it has to go to my setup, but I don't know what to get - need help ! Here is my current setup:
    Main Speakers: Klipsch Chorus II
    Center Speaker: Klipsch Academy
    Surround Speakers: Klipsch SS1
    Subs: Dual 16/46cs with sampson700
    Receiver: Onkyo DTR7
    DVD: Panasonic A310
    Laser Disc: Pioneer M301 (I think thats the model)
    VCR: JVC SVHS (I don't remember the model)
    TV: Mitsubishi 70" RPT
    Thanks for any input.
     
  2. Scott-C

    Scott-C Supporting Actor

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    John,
    How about a Pronto to tie it all together? This puppy has been more fun to play with than almost any other part of my HT setup. I think the list is a little more than your limit ($299), but you might be able to find one on ebay, especially since many Pronto TSU2000 owners may be considering upgrading to the ProntoPro.
    Good luck!
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    Scott
     
  3. John_P

    John_P Agent

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    Scott,
    Great suggestion, I forgot to put that in my post, got one last year. At first I thought it was a ridiculous amount to spend on a remote - but man I was wrong ! Thanks for the suggestion though.
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    John, how about a CD player or a new DVD player? Your 'A310 is an older model. Does it pass a DTS bitstream? Even if it does, you might consider a newer model that could yield a better picture and/or more features. I am eagerly anticipating the release of the Pioneer DV-440. For $200, you get CD-R and CD-RW compatibility, a Burr-Brown DAC, and the ability to play MP3-encoded CDs. In addition, the '440 is only 2.25" tall. I like the sleek look. For a little more, you could get a progressive-scan player for down the road. However, I think the '440 might be a good way to spend $200. Check www.crutchfield.com for more information on the '440.
    On the other hand, you could get a dedicated CD changer for music, if you are so inclined. Now, you might have to spend a bit more than $200, but not much more. For $250, you could get the Denon DCM-370 carousel CD changer. I own one and find that it sounds great using the analog outputs (i.e., using its DAC) for the money. The build quality is also good for the price. The '370 has a Burr-Brown DAC and HDCD decoding chip. I have not experienced a real benefit from HDCD, but others have. Your mileage may vary in that area.
    In any event, I feel these are two solid suggestions in the $200-250 price range.
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    [Edited last by KeithH on August 28, 2001 at 08:39 AM]
     
  5. John_P

    John_P Agent

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    Keith,
    The A310 is an older DVD player and is still working (fingers crossed, praying to the A/V gods !). But a new DVD player may be a good idea. I could put the Panny in the master bedroom (aka A/V grave yard), and get the Pioneer for the main setup. I currently use either the Pioneer LD player for CD's (it's a 5 CD carousel) or the DVD player, I also have an older Denon CD player that I didn't think worth mentioning. I will check out the Pioneer. Any information on the release date ? Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    John, I don't know when the '440 will be out, but since it is up on Crutchfield's web site, I would expect it to be available within the next couple of weeks. You might also try J&R Music World (1-800-221-8180). They are generally cheaper than Crutchfield, and Crutchfield is sometimes slow to get in new products.
    By the way, you said:
     
  7. John_P

    John_P Agent

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    Keith,
    Thanks for the suggestion. Went to Crutchfield and checked it out, looks great. I will check out J&R as well.
     
  8. Doug_H

    Doug_H Supporting Actor

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    Single greatest upgrade I have found are bass shakers. They take the movie to a new level. They run around $100 a pair including amps on Ebay.
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    The Mischievous Rogue Strikes Again! The Humble Hanson Theater
     
  9. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    One thing to consider is new speaker cables. I spent a bit over $200 for a pair of bi-wired Nordost Superflat cables for my main speakers and noticed a tremendous difference in the sound of my CD's. Some think this is a debatable tweak, but it sure made a difference for me.
    Another thing to consider is a CD recorder or CD burner for your computer. As soon as we can get our other house sold, this is what my next upgrade will be. Plextor makes a nice CD burner that has gotten good reviews for users.
     
  10. John-D

    John-D Stunt Coordinator

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    $200 might not buy you a lot of hardware to really improve your current setup, which is quite impressive.
    Invest in good quality recordings and film transfers on DVD. Best $200 you'd every spend.. remember your system is as good as the source material being used.
    Good Luck.
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    The things we own end up owning us
     
  11. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Marty,
    Glad to hear about your good experience with changing speaker wire. What were you using before? I just bought Totem Arro floorstanding speakers for music in my home theater and am still using standard Monster speaker wire. Many on Audio Asylum have suggested I replace them with Kimber Kable 4TC speaker cables, and I might do just that. Audio Advisor sells an 8-foot pair for $168. It would be interesting to see what improvement the 4TC cables yield over the Monster wire. The Totem Arros are quite revealing, so I might benefit significantly from the change. If the 4TC cables work well, I will consider bi-wiring the Arros.
    I am also looking to upgrade RCA interconnects for a couple components down the road. That will take a bit more work, and I'll probably go through a brick and mortar high-end dealer who can give me various cables to demo rather than buying online.
    To everyone,
    People on Audio Asylum have told me that one of the most beneficial inexpensive tweaks one can make is to upgrade jumper cables on an integrated amplifier. If you are not sure what I am speaking of, jumper cables in this context, are the black connectors that bridge the pre-amp RCA outputs (often labeled "Pre-Out") and amplifier RCA inputs(often labeled "Main In") on the back panel of an integrated amp. Jumper cables that the manufacturers supply are typically black plastic with two metal pins that span the pre-out and main in jacks. Many people say that these stock jumper cables are an obvious weak link in many systems because they are made so poorly. Audioquest, Tara Labs, and others make what are said to be quality jumper cables for around $40. People on Audio Asylum have suggested that I upgrade my jumper cables before the Monster RCA cables and speaker wire, and they claim that the upgrade will be significant. I am going to look into it.
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  12. Drew Eckhardt

    Drew Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    Assuming you have preamp outputs, you can find a used 100W stereo power amp (Adcom, B&K, Carver, NAD, Rotel in no particular order) for about that. Unlike audio cables, it will improve the sound if you pick an amp you like.
     
  13. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    I don't see anything in your setup that is woefully inadequate. Why don't you go to a used CD store and buy 40-50 CD's? Don't know about you, but that would give me much more enjoyment than a new component.
     
  14. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Drew, I assume you are not a believer in the sonic differences afforded by changing cables. Some have experienced the benefit.
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  15. John_P

    John_P Agent

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    Thanks for the suggestions guys.
    Doug,
    I have considered bass shakers but I'm not sure if they could create any more shake than the twin SV subs.
    Marty,
    The burner is also an interesting suggestion I have not thought of. It sure would make calibration (download test tones) alot easier, not to mention getting music and such off the web.
    Keith,
    Could you put into words the improvment you heard with the new cables. The Chorus's are rather dynamic and I don't seem to hear any "choking". but I'm not using $200 cables either, just monster wire.
     
  16. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    John, I have not upgraded any cables in either of my two systems as yet. I have some experience switching out RCA interconnects in stores and have heard differences. This is a planned upgrade for me. The plan is to upgrade the jumper cables on my NAD C 370 integrated amp. Then I will try the Kimber Kable 4TC speaker cables with my Totem Arro speakers in my main system. If the results are positive, as many say they will be, I will try new interconnects for my Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player and Sony SCD-777ES SACD/CD player (using Monster Interlink 400 mkII cables currently). Also, I would consider upgrading the Monster interconnects on my Sony MDS-JA555ES MD deck. I could then look into biwiring the Totem speakers.
    If the above changes yield positive results, I will work on my second system. I could replace jumper cables on the NAD C 350 integrated amp in there and replace the Monster speaker wire on my Energy e:XL 16 speakers with Kimber Kable 4TC cables. Then I would look into new interconnects for a Pioneer Elite PD-65 CD player and Sony SCD-C333ES SACD/CD changer.
    There is a lot I could do here, but it will take time. I will focus on the main system first. By the way, I might eventually upgrade the speakers in my second system too. Oh well. It's only money. [​IMG]
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  17. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    John,
    I will respond to the improvement from new speaker cables. My wife described it best when she said that the sound was "cleaner" when we listened to CD's. We were hearing details that we didn't know existed before. The bass was tighter, also. I have Paradigm Monitor 7's with a Yamaha RX-V795, which some think is a bit bright combination. I love the sound of this combination, and consider it an accurate sound and the cables made it more accurate.
    As some have warned, there is no guarantee you will experience as dramatic of a difference as I did. If you decide on new speaker cables you make sure the dealer will allow for some kind of refund.
    Good luck and happy shopping.
     

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