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Thoughts on a new planed system

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Vietor, Jul 15, 2001.

  1. Vietor

    Vietor Stunt Coordinator

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    This is my first post here so don't hurt me. . .
    I know this post is perhaps a bit long winded, but I wanted to provide complete information so that you guys and gals could make useful recommendations. If you suggest any changes please tell me why, this is a quest for knowledge as much as for a sound system.
    I have been researching the topic of getting a new home theater/general sound system for quite some time and think I have come up with a good system. Knowing my own relative lack of knowledge in this subject however I decided that it would be best to run it by some more knowledgeable folks first. So here it is. .
    4 Paradigm Titan speakers - For use as the fronts and surrounds.
    1 Paradigm CC-170 center - To match with the Titans well
    1 Sony SA-WM40 - Because it seemed like a very cost effective sub
    1 Onkyo TX-DS595 Receiver - Because it had all the features I need now, and all the features I can see needing for the next 10 years.
    The final price I can get this all for seems to be right around $1100, so I guess you could call that my price point, I would like to stay within $100 either way if I could.
    The system is going to be used for most everything. It is going to be a HT system when I watch movies or TV. It is going to be a good stereo system for when I listen to music. And it is going to be used to provide audio for my computer, including surround sound for games, and good audio capabilities for winamp and such.
    Currently the system is going to be housed in a farily small room, something along the lines of 12x14 however as I plan to have it around for a while the room size is going to be subject to change.
    My questions are this,
    Onkyo TX-DS595 or Denon AVS-2801?
    I am going with the onkyo at the moment because it seems to fit my needs better, it is rated 75 watts, and my speakers ask for either 60 watts or 80 watts for the center. Keep in mind that I do not plan on upgrading this system in any major way (such as getting new speakers). However That might change if I had the full channel pre-outs that the Denon has. But it is doubtful. I do intend to make use of Pro-Logic II, quite extensive use probably, so that is a consideration. And I am aware that the denon is going to be a slightly cleaner amp (looking at THD specs, 0.08% and 0.05%) And will better be able to provide any power that my speakers would desire because I would not be right up against the max output of the amp in terms of wattage. However the difference, especialy considering my input sources will probably not be noticable.
    So let me know what you think, my key concerns are that I want this system to sound good, be able to play firly loud, and last a long time without comming to feel like it is lacking.
    I know that output from a mid lvl computer sound card (Philips Acoustic Edge) is far from the cleanest source, and might just bring many of you purists to tears, but that is only one of the uses for this system, even if it is going to be the main one for a few years.
    Thanks for reading through that all and please do make some suggestions.
     
  2. Evan H

    Evan H Stunt Coordinator

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    Vietor, I think that for the price you're looking to spend, you've picked out a great system... I don't have any first hand knowledge on the receivers you mentioned, but I am a fan of paradigm's products, and feel that for the money, they're the best speakers in any price point.
     
  3. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Vietor: Welcome to HTF! [​IMG]
    Please dont be afraid to ask questions here. We like newbies.
    For a newbie, your equipment sounds very well thought out. You have either been lurking here, or have a good friend/sales person.
    You have a concern about it handling the room. Well HT is a bit different from music. With a HT system, you surround yourself with speakers. (It's all about you).
    So you do not put the speakers on the walls. You draw a circle around your central listening position and arrange the speakers on the edge.
    This same system will sound good for music, but it will not sound good in other rooms, or if you wander to far corners. It is NOT a PA system.
    I would also strongly suggest you budget real soon for a $200 DVD player. Let me put it this way: You are tying up a $1200 computer to save $200 on a DVD/CD player....kind of the "tail wagging the dog".
    And you will have lots of fun when the new equipment arrives playing with levels, speaker positions, etc.
    Good Luck.
     
  4. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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  5. Vietor

    Vietor Stunt Coordinator

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    The system is going to be centered arouynd my computer for a number of reasons.
    For the immediate future the system is going to be more of a music system than home theater, and any movies that are listened to on it are going to have to be watched on the computer anyway, regardless of a DVD player or not. Reasons for this are many.
    I listen to music whenever I am at my computer, probably 8 hours a day. All of the music I listen to is on my computer in one format or another (commit me not to the land of 128 kbps MP3s! I demand better than that).
    I have a 13 inch TV, and a 19 inch computer monitor, I can tell you what I would rather watch.
    The point is this,
    For the next few years the primary input to my system is going to be digital coaxial from my computer soundcard. However I want the flexability to move the system right along to full home theater capability centered around a larger TV and DVD player at some point. Just not right now.
    On another note, yeah I put quite a bit of research into this before I bothered to ask for opinions. I don't like it when people want others to go and do all the work for them and just show up asking, vauge questions about 'whats the best'. I tried to come up with what I thought was the best system for general purpose use, music/HT and that fell withing the price range of $1000 to $1200. Having thought I found that system I ran accross this forum, proceded to search, lurk, and read archives for a while. Then when I thought that I had made up my mind on what I wanted, I thought it would be wise to run it by some people who knew what they were talking about when it come to putting togethor a sound system.
    So thankyou for your input, and well 'that sounds like a nice system' is a nice thing to hear, I am really looking for someone to make an informed suggestion about how 'maybe it would be a little better if I did it this way. . '
    But that is just because I don't quite think that me, a compleate newbie to the area of mid level and up sound equipment can pick out a system that noone can think to make any improvements to. But hey, maybe I did my research right and managed to do just that.
    Please let me know if I am wrong, once again any input would be greatly appreciated so long as it has some rational backing.
    Thankyou for your time.
     
  6. Jonathan Lofgren

    Jonathan Lofgren Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Vietor,
    This is my first post too and I am in a similar situation as you. I am considering my first purchase of speakers, receiver, etc. I am also thinking about the Onkyo receiver, but was wondering about the Paradigm speakers. I've been reading some reviews and am considering PSB minis, Paradigm Titans, the entry level Axioms( I think they're called M40s), or possibly the Norh 3.0s. From what I've read they're all good speakers and I'm wondering what made you decide to go with the Paradigms? Thank you.
     
  7. Vietor

    Vietor Stunt Coordinator

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    Prejudice I guess, they were the first speakers in that price range that I heard of in detail, and I could find very little bad about them or the rest of the Paradigm line of speakers. But after further investigation I came up with the following things. Keep in mind that to date I have not actualy had a cnance to hear any of this equipment, and that I am no expert at all in this field, but I will share my thoughts on the matter.
    Please, more knowedgable types come untwist my conveluted logic.
    The Paradigms had a few things going for them in my mind, the CMC tweeters, and the more solid cast chasis. I spent some time working in a small recording studio and the guy in charge was always talking about this equipment or that, didn't get involved with the talk much because I was the computer guy, and that was all I did, but the point that stuck was that plastic tweeters were crap. Keep in mind that this is all 2nd hand from a source with no scientific proof, but being the boss he seemed fairly knowledgable to me.
    The PSB minis had a smaller Tweeter than the Paradims, and it was plastic, so I sorta counted those out.
    I didn't find much on the Axioms, I somehow must have missed them in my research (oops) From the bit of a look I have just taken I may have to reconsider things. because they look awful nice to me, but I need to take a much deeper look at them first, I was looking at the Axiom M3, because I need smaller type speakers. This requires further investigation that I don;t have the time to do right now.
    The Norh's lok a bit to odd for my tastes, I find it hard to believe that they can outdo a dual driver speaker (woofer and tweeter) in terms of sound quality.
    Those were my thoughts, more later.
     
  8. Vietor

    Vietor Stunt Coordinator

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    After taking a look at the Axiom set of speakers, the M3Ti in particular, because that is what fits my needs, I have decided the following.
    They are most likely better than the Paradigm Titans in terms of most things acoustic. They are also about 50% more expensive when you factor in things other than MSRP, such as most places sell the Titan for below MSRP cost(in the $150-200 range), whereas in the US anyway, the only place to get the Axioms is direct, and thus full MSRP price ($275).
    Also I am sort of leary because I can't find to much information on the Axiom speakers, where as the Paradigm speakers are all over the net.
    Bottom line is this, If the M3Ti's sounded 50% better than the Titans, I would probable go for it, or if I could get the M3Ti's for somewhere near $200 new, I might go for it, but because I can't actualy go and listen to the speakers in person, I do not feel like risking my $$$ on a product that may be only a little bit better rather than a lot better.
    Also I feel that I would have to probably get the VP-100 center to make everything go togethor nicely. All told this will add about $250 to the price of my system, putting it abouve what I am willing to spend. But thats just a personal choice.
    Plus if I got them I would feal like I had to do something about my choice of reciver, if the speaker is rated 175 watts max, and the reciver is only 75 watts, I feel as if things are not being used ot thier full potential. Meaning I would have to get a reciver with a little more punch, which adds more $$$.
    If only I could get a nice solid comparason, from an unbiased, educated source. But alas I don't see it happening. . .
    Looks like a good brand to keep an eye on for many years down the road, when its time for that inevitable upgrade.
    Lofgren, to my uneducated eyes they look like a very nice piece of work, specs and review wise. Definantly worth a look, a close look (and share what you find).
     
  9. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hello Scott. You picked a very polite way to disagree with me. [​IMG]
    (New Members take note: here is how we fight at this site).
    If I might argue back:
    Pulling speakers INTO the room and toeing them in has long been a recommended placement for music systems. The reasons are:
    - The toe-in reduces side-wall reflections
    - The toe-in is used to create a "image" for 2-channel music systems
    - Pulling speakers into the room away from walls helps them sound better because the side & rear reflections now have more room to travel, giving you more of a delay which can give the sound 'spaciousness'.
    So I am curious why you object to this advice? Do you have planer speakers which follow different rules?
    Even modest systems sound better with this. But this exactly matches my "..draw a circle around the listener" suggestion. It pushes the center speaker back, and brings the L/R speakers into the room. (But eariler you seemed to argue for putting your speakers near a wall.)
     
  10. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Bob,
    I most certainly don't object to the advice put forth in your last post, but I simply would not apply it to all conventional driver speakers (not dipole or electrostatic) for two reasons: speaker design, and individual room acoustics.
    Regarding the toeing in of speakers. I can cite numerous examples of conventional driver systems that are designed and usually placed not toed-in, for example the venerable Vandersteen 2C model. Richard Vandersteen's time and phase aligned, and remarkably accurate, speakers are best tilted for the vertically narrow though horizontally wide sweet spot, not panned, according to him. Do others find that they sound better in their spaces toed in slightly, sure, but that is indicative of my point - experimentation usually yields the best results.
    You may also note that many rear surrounds are placed just behind the seating position and firing directly at each other from the sides to great imaging effect. I believe perusing B&W's site you will find images showing that setup.
    Regarding placement near boundaries such as walls... Many models specifically do recommend close proximity to linear walls for their ideal bass. My observations are that it is mostly two way monitors that this applies to. In various reviews in Stereophile over the years placement near the wall has proved to be the reviewers preferred position for low end accuracy. I believe the PSB Alpha is recommended as a near wall placement. It may certainly sound better to any of us away from on though... I would no place a rear ported speaker near a wall though, such as many Tannoy monitors.
    So, my point is only that drawing a circle and placing the speakers along the circumference is likely not ideal, and neither is placing them nearer to a wall - though either may work well in certain situations. But experimenting with placement, with a basic understanding of acoustics or general guidelines, will definitely yield the best results to your ears. I would add that in the majority of case I much prefer the speaks away from walls and, though never toed in to converge on the listening position. Directly angled at the listener in almost always advised against for music as it actually limits the sound stage. Slightly toeing in can be of benefit though. When you look at high-end setups, perhaps as pictured in mags and on the net, you will very rarely see the front mains directed at the listening position.
    quote: Even modest systems sound better with this. But this exactly matches my "..draw a circle around the listener" suggestion. It pushes the center speaker back, and brings the L/R speakers into the room. (But earlier you seemed to argue for putting your speakers near a wall.)[/quote]
    Even modest systems may sound better that way [​IMG]
    No sir, your circle suggestion does not match my recommendation for trying to place the center channel further away than the mains. If you place the center and the mains on the circumference of a circle around the listener, you have placed all the speakers the exact same distance from the listener. Though you are closer to what I suggested, as conventionally placing the front three channels along a line in front actually puts the center at a closer position to the listener than the mains.
    I didn't argue for placing speakers near walls, but that it shouldn't be off-handedly dismissed, and is actually the recommended placement for some conventional driver speakers [​IMG]
    Regards
    ------------------
    My DVD Library
    Runaway production? No thanks. Where I've filmed, benefiting local economies: AL, CA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, NV, OH, OR, TX, WA, WY.
    [Edited last by Scott H on July 17, 2001 at 05:18 PM]
     
  11. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Scott: you name-dropper you. You have much nicer speakers than mine!
    TOE-IN ISSUE:
    I think the Vandersteen speakers you mentioned are an exception in that they have a very wide throw.
    My understanding is that most speakers "throw" a sound pattern like the beam from a D-cell flashlight. It is very bright in the center and has a sudden drop-off. Toeing them in is designed to put the listener somewhere in the "bright spot".
    Guys - when you setup your speakers, try this:
    - Get a cheap laser-pen and use it to check where your L/R speakers are pointing. Using MUSIC as a source, try 3 different ammounts of toe-in and decide which sounds best for your room:
    A) Intersect 2 feet behind the primary listening position
    B) Intersect exactly at the listening position
    C) Intersect 1-2 feet in front of the listening position
    This is a great test to do because it is cheap, easy, and really demonstrates how a little change in speaker position/angle can make a big difference in the sound.
    FWIY: A reviewer at "Stereophile Guide to Home Theater" always uses position C to review HT speakers. In my system, this is too much. My speakers are setup similar to position A.
    NEAR-WALL ISSUE:
    Now I understand your concern that the speakers be near a wall: bass response.
    For the new guys: some speakers are called "full-range" because they have a large driver called a "woofer". To get the best low-frequency, "hand of god reaching into your chest" explosions, you want to put the woofers near a wall. The wall will help reflect the sound into the room.
    A very popular trend has been to NOT use full-range speakers. Instead you use smaller speakers WITHOUT a woofer and you have a separate, self-powered sub woofer which you place next to the wall.
    This gives you the best of both worlds because you can place each type of speaker where it sounds best: woofers near the wall, the rest of the speakers around the listening position.
    So Scott and I are actually on the same page with many of these issues. We are just used to a different caliber of speakers.
    Good talking with you Scott! Thanks for being a gentleman. [​IMG]
     
  12. GregoriusM

    GregoriusM Second Unit

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    Just to put in my 2-cents.
    I have Paradigm Titans with a 105 W/ch Denon 3300, and the match is excellent. Speakers are better off getting more clean power, than less.
    My room is 14 x 22, and the Titans, using just them and the sub (a Paradigm PDR-10), can fill it to well above my threshold of listening levels for 2 channel music, and I like to listen to music loud! Home Theater would be that much better, with a good sub.
    I also use the CC 170 which is an excellent match to the Titans.
    The only thing I'm concerned about is the Sony sub. I'd go with one of the Paradigm subs as well. The SB-8 or preferably the PDR-8 or PDR10, but the ten would probably take you out of your price range.
    And $200 for a pair of Titans is too much! I can buy still buy mine for $239 Canadian!
    The Onkyo is a nice choice and will be more than able to power the Paradigms.
    I hope this helps.
    ... Greg :)
    ------------------
    .... "just me up on my pony on my boat".
    [Edited last by GregoriusM on July 17, 2001 at 06:57 PM]
     
  13. GregoriusM

    GregoriusM Second Unit

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    Another thought. I just looked at the Axiom site.
    The Axiom's may be rated for a MAXIMUM 175 watts of amplifier, whereas the TITAN'S are stated as a SUITABLE RANGE of 15 to 100 watts.
    Both speakers would benefit from the higher wattage.
    One thing to think about is the 93 db sensitivity rating on the Axioms. That is 4 db more than the Titans, which make them easier to push.
    Also, a 1 inch dome tweeter compared to the Titan's 3/4 in.
    So, it "appears" that the Axioms are a better speaker overall.
    However, Paradigm manufactures EVERYTHING in-house, so can provide a great speaker at a great price.
    The Titans should be able to be had for $100 less than the Axiom's $275 easily, and give you all the sound you need. I'd be more interested in the better subwoofer along with the Titans than the Axioms.
    Plus, the matching center for the Axiom M3Ti's is the AP100, which is also pricier than the CC 170 and only goes down to 95hz, whereas I'm sure the crossover for your Onkyo is probably at around 80 hz (maybe 100hz). The CC170 has 70 hz low frequency spec, which will better match your Onkyo receiver's bass crossover.
    Stay with the Titans, IMHO! And see if you can squeeze in the PDR-10 sub. It is a more "musical" sub than the Sony, and can still pump out a lot of bass.
    ... Greg :)
    P.S. There are some very good write-ups on the Titans and the M3Ti's on AudioReview.com. While a good deal of the reviews on audioreview.com should be taken with a grain of salt, I found some good reviews that actually said "WHY" they liked the speakers, rather than just "WOW! They're great!". I'd suggest checking the reviews out, if you already haven't.
    ------------------
    .... "just me up on my pony on my boat".
     
  14. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Bob,
    I didn't say I had Vandersteen speakers... I just used them as an example, or err, name drop. In fact, my current two-channel music system has B&W speaks. However, I may in fact be acquiring an older pair of Vandy 2C's for the music system.
    I am myself actually (eternally) mentally assembling what will hopefully be my great sounding, lower/reasonable cost HT system... Music is my prioirty, so I will maintain two separate systems. It's actually cheaper IMO to do that if you already have a high quality and satisfactory two-channel thing going on. Which also brings up what I believe to be a relative point, though others may well disagree, that some of the more esoteric stuff you and I have been discussing has a bit different application and relevance for primarily HT vs. primarily music setups. For instance, and in consideration of associated costs, it's more reasonable to go with full range seakers for a music configuration and monitors with a sub for an HT configuration. And a hundred other factors can play as well...
    ------------------
    My DVD Library
    Runaway production? No thanks. Where I've filmed, benefiting local economies: AL, CA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, NV, OH, OR, TX, WA, WY.
     
  15. Vietor

    Vietor Stunt Coordinator

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    Greg,
    Those were my thoughts exactly on the Axioms. That they were to expensive for my range, and that they were also going to be an unknown factor, Paradigms I can listen to before I shell out the $$$.
    About the sub.
    I have no doubt that the PDR-10 is a better sub, but I can get the Sony sub, all applicable fees included for $162. What I guess it comes down to is how low I can get the PDR-10 for. If its close, I will definantly go for it, but if its more than $100 more, I am afraid I will have to pass on it.
    It seems that there are some mods making the rounds to help get that sony sub sounding a good bit tighter than it does by default. And they are cheep mods.
    So I guess unless I am soundly told that the PDR-10 is worth the extra price (and % wise its quite a price) I am going to stick with the sony.
    Another reason for this is that the sub is the easiest component to upgrade at a later date. No need to fuss with any of the other ocmponents really, just exchange the subs, and recalibrate for best listening.
    SO I guess the question is this, is the PDR-10 going to be worth the extra money? Keep in mind its going to be quite a bit, I am getting the Sony for close to $200 less than the MSRP of the PDR-10.
     
  16. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    McBob, you use a lot of toe in with your 2000TL's? This is interesting...just recently I have found that my system sounds best when there is only a very slight toe in (to center the vocals). I have the subs firing outward, and the tweeters are offcentered (inward).
    How much space do you have in between your speakers? I only have four feet, so this could be one explanation...but if you have the subs firing outward, you may not need much toe in since Def Tech has offcentered the tweeter.
    Have you found the DT's to your liking with music yet? Interestingly, I went and heard some Dynaudio's (4500/pair) hooked up to some really expensive Meridian equipment, and I thought my 2000TL's sounded quite a bit better with music (IMHO).
    [Edited last by Bob_A on July 17, 2001 at 11:11 PM]
     

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