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Upgrading my aging Kenwood HTB-501

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by David Siroky, Feb 2, 2004.

  1. David Siroky

    David Siroky Auditioning

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    I bought a Kenwood HTB-501 back in 1999 back when 5.1 was starting to be affordable for the home. Back then I think I paid about $600 for the whole package.. it was a long time ago. The system came with 5.1 speakers including an 100W powered 8" amp.

    Anyway, I've outgrown the system and have decided to purchase a Yamaha RX-V1400 to replace the Kenwood VR-309 amp. Now I need to decide what to do with my old speakers. The new amp supports 6.1 so I'm thinking of adding a rear center speaker.

    I wonder whether I should re-use any of the old speakers, or whether to simply start from scratch.

    I listen to music & DVDs, and I also have a Digital Stage Piano (Roland RD700) hooked up to it, so having some speakers that do a good job with classical music and piano, as well as making Matrix and Lord of the Rings shine is important to me.

    The room is quite small (less than 300 square feet), with the couch backing up to within 2 feet of the rear wall (not sure if adding a rear center would make it too close to the couch). Also I already get existing complaints from my neighbors in my condo about bass bleed through, so while I do want some good bass quality, I'm not looking for something that's going to upset my neighbors further.

    I've been looking at the following speaker options.:

    I don't want to spend more than about $1000 so the aperions/nhts are a little more than what I want to spend..

    NHT SB2 (x6)
    Aperion 522Ds (x6)
    Athena AS-B2 (x5)/AS-C1
    Axiom M3Ti (x6)

    Perhaps you can offer some suggestions?

    Maybe I should go with more expensive main speakers(perhaps even full height rather than bookshelf) if any of the old kenwood speakers are worth keeping as rear speakers.

    I was also planning on re-using the old Kenwood sub to save some money.

    What are your thoughts?
     
  2. John S

    John S Producer

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    If you have a grand to spend, I would surely get new speakers all around, or a majorly mean arsed sub.

    You could probably do both.

    Look at the Velodyne 15" Powered subs, they can be found for $499, with the money left over look at JBL s26II's, you should be able to get 3 pair and the Velodyne sub for under $1000....


    That setup would kick some serious music and ht butt....
     
  3. Mike^C

    Mike^C Stunt Coordinator

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    Is that $1000 including the sub? If not, the Rocket ELT package can be had for $1000 plus shipping without a sub. This is a wonderful system.

    Otherwise, I would get something like a Hsu Research sub or Dayton DIY sub for about $350 and spend the rest on speakers. That would leave about $600 or so for speakers. The JBL Northridge series and Athena Point 5 systems can be had at retail outlets for about this price point. Both are pretty good systems. If you want full bookshelves, the Performance Line of Paradigm could net you some nice towers like the Phantoms for $400 a pair. Get a CC-170 center for $200 and then use your kenwoods for a rear until you can afford something else.
     
  4. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Hi David, I was in the same situation as you: I owned a Kenwood HTB-506 for about 4-5 months, was satisfied with the sound quality, but had a case of upgradatitis. I sold the Kenwood HTiB and recently purchased all of the following:
    - Yamaha RX-V2400
    - HSU STF-2 sub
    - JBL S310II floorstanding fronts
    - JBL S-CenterII center
    - JBL S36II (x 3) surrounds and single surround back

    I don't have all my speakers set up yet, only the S310IIs and I'm temporarily using an S36II as my center speaker. At the moment, I still have my little Kenwood surround speakers hooked up to the Yamaha and although they don't match with the high-quality JBL fronts, the overall improvement in sound quality is incredible! I performed a quick SPL calibration of the Yamaha (didn't try YPAO yet) and after the tweak, everything sounds 100 times better than my Kenwood HTiB. My Yamaha's REF volume in my room is -2.5 dB, and even at that volume the receiver and JBL fronts and center are super clean, little to no distortion at all.

    You won't regret your choice of receiver one bit, its an awesome machine and I am extremely glad I chose it over the Harman Kardon AVR430 and Denon 3803! I suggest you check out the JBL Studio Series speakers as they match very well with the Yamaha. I've also auditioned the Yamaha RX-V1400 and RX-V2400 on Paradigm Studio and Monitor series speakers and they also sound very good with the Yamaha.
     
  5. BryanZ

    BryanZ Screenwriter

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    The first thing I would do is upgrade the sub. Look at the SVS 25-31CS. Should be able to be had for around $410 delivered. Use your current Kenwood to power it.

    To that I would add either the Rocket ELT center and mains or black marble nOrh 4.0 center and mains (used and do not have the speaker grills). Use three or four of your current Kenwood speakers for surround duty.

    Enjoy!
     
  6. David Siroky

    David Siroky Auditioning

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    Why are folks suggesting I upgrade the sub? I would have thought upgrading the main speakers would make more of an impact than upgrading the sub first.

    It seems to me spending $500 on a new sub is going to take a lot out of my budget - would I be better off keeping my existing sub and spending more on the speakers? or are they equally important?
     
  7. John S

    John S Producer

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    For HT, the sub has the most impact as long as the other speakers are all of decent quality.

    Certainly if you feel you have more than enough sub now, I would not upgrade it.
     
  8. David Siroky

    David Siroky Auditioning

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    So I went into a local store and listend to a few satelite/sub combo speakers and as I was listening I noticed how much better it sounded than what I have now. He ran some Boston Acoustices bookshelf speakers, some Definitive Tech speakers and M&K. I liked the M&K a lot.

    Anyway, at one point I asked the guy to switch to some of the floor standing speakers, and he put on the Boston VR1s and also a pair of the Definitive Technologies floor standing speakers.

    Now I must say I thought the sat/sub combos were good until I heard these, and realized how much of the midrange/lower frequencies were missing from the booksheld speakers.

    It's changed my whole plan - now I think I should bypass bookshelf speakers entirely. I'm now thinking that I should get maybe a pair of Athena FS2 for the front, and use the bookshelf speakers only in the rear.

    Is it typical to notice such a dramatic difference? Once I'd heard the floor standing speakers, I thought I was being cheated when he switched back to bookshelfs.
     
  9. John S

    John S Producer

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    yes, the differences can be drastic...
    I do not like Satalite type small speakers period myself.
    I don't like bookshelf speakers that typically have less than a 6" bass driver either.

    I bought bookshelfs that in every way will keep up with and/or surpass floor standers.

    JBL S38's, but they are very large for even bookshelf speakers.

    It is 100% fantastic you went out a listened, that is why we suggest it over anything else to make choices. An eye or is that an ear opening experience huh????
     
  10. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    David, I must agree that floorstanders make a huge difference! I used to have the Kenwood HTB-506 which has decent bookshelfs as front speakers, but once I got my JBL S310II 10" floorstanders, I realized that I was missing sooo much! They're the best part of my HT gear, second only to my receiver [​IMG]

    I was considering the S38IIs that John S has, but the S310IIs were so cheap that if I factored in the cost of the stands I would have to buy to hold the massive S38s, it would come up to the same price! I bought a pair of S310IIs from bhphotovideo.com for $320.
     
  11. John S

    John S Producer

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    MuneebM, you just need a subwoofer that more matches your system now!!!!!

    Time to go large with it my friend... lol
     
  12. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    True dat! I wanna go the SVS route, but considering all the money I've just spent on HT gear, I'm very reluctant about making the move. It actually all started when I got the HSU STF-2 to add to my Kenwood HTB-506. When I realized it didn't match, it was all a stream of unstoppable upgrades from there: fronts, center, surrounds, receiver! And now my HSU can't keep up [​IMG] I might just go dual and add the Dayton 10" to the mix. A friend of mine is getting one soon, so I'll ask him to bring it over some day and see if it adds more vibes
     
  13. David Siroky

    David Siroky Auditioning

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    Well I went to best buy today to listen to the Athena's and the yamaha's. Both sounded nice, but the listening environment was terrible - it was really hard to do a side by side comparison like I was able to do at the other store which had a dedicated listening room.

    Anyway, as much as I think the athena's sound great, I don't think they look that great - right next to them was a pair of Yamaha NS-555 and NS-777 for around the same price, and I must say I like the high gloss black piano finish on those.

    I know the Athena's have gotten some great reviews, but unfortunately given the listening environment, I couldn't really tell if I'd be giving up anything in sound quality by going with the good looking shiny black yamahas.

    Has anyone had a chance to audition the yamaha's side by side with the athenas?
     
  14. John S

    John S Producer

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    Just older models of Yamaha NS speakers.

    I listened to some of the NS-777's one day at Best Buy, the NS-777 was a lot better than older NS series speakers.
     

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