Upgrading Speakers - Need help

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Andy_Bu, Mar 30, 2004.

  1. Andy_Bu

    Andy_Bu Supporting Actor

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    I have read the primers but I am still boggled by the amount of choices out there.

    The primer suggested I answer some basic questions, so let me attempt to do that.

    1) I want to have a 5.1 system (two floor standing fronts, one center channel, two rears and a sub)

    2) My room is ~350 sq feet

    3) My budget is ~$2000-$2500

    4) My current system is a cheap Onkyo AV receiver and a very basic home theater speaker package from Cambridge Soundworks


    Here are some problems I am having

    1) Is my budget reasonable to upgrade my current system for the specs I have?

    2) Do I buy the receiver first and then the speaker, or vice versa or together? It seems like the specs from the receiver may drive what speakers I can choose.

    3) I am not by any means an audiophile but I would like a nicer setup than I have now. Can anyone recommend a starting point for me? Having 15 different speaker brands to choose from is very difficult for a relative newbie to pick through.


    Thank you for any help you could give me

    Andy
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Andy, since you're requesting specific advice about speakers I've moved your post here in the Speakers/Subwoofers section. The Basics area is for general discussion at the beginner level, not specific model advice. Thanks.
     
  3. Andy_Bu

    Andy_Bu Supporting Actor

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    Hi Jack,

    Thanx!

    I thought some of my issues (like not know whether to buy the receiver or the speakers first) would be considered safe for the basics area. Sorry about that.

    Andy
     
  4. Robert Hoffman

    Robert Hoffman Stunt Coordinator

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    I think a good place to start would be a high-end audio stores in your area. Grab a few CD's that you like and that can test different qualities of a speaker (bass response, imaging, soundstage etc). Listen to as much as you can, and figure out what you like.

    Hope this helps,

    Rob
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I normally recommend considering some of the Internet-Direct companies. There are several that are quite reputable, provide good to outstanding customer service, and supply high quality speakers at an attractive price point.

    ACI is a very fine company, but their floor standing models are probably out of your price range. You might squeeze in their bookshelves and a sub, however. The cabinets from this company are furniture-grade and available in a variety of wood veneers.

    AV123 (Rocket speakers) has an outstanding deal on their packages that include the 550 floor standing speakers right now, as a new model is due soon. For example you can get
    this package for $1,650 plus this sub for another $600 (which they might discount further as a part of the package—you can ask).

    There are other combinations available. This would give you two very fine floor standing models up front, combined with one of the best centers you will find at any price (be warned it is very big and heavy) and two dipole surrounds for the rear. You can substitute a direct radiator if you don’t care for the dispersed sound of the dipoles.

    This company, like ACI, has very fine cabinets. If you don’t like dark, strongly grained woods, you are out of luck, as the Rocket models only come in rosewood and ebony.

    I normally also recommend Ascend speakers, but don’t have floor standing models. The cabinets are only available in black.

    A forum sponsor, Axiom also makes very fine speakers—you can find the links on this site. They are good values, so long as you don’t mind that the cabinets are wood-grained vinyl, rather than real wood veneer.

    SVS another forum sponsor makes subwoofers at great price points—if the above companies don’t meet your sub needs, this one will.

    Hsu also makes a great line of subs, although the looks do not appeal to me, except for the VTF-3R in rosewood (made in the same factory as the Rockets)

    All of these companies have very generous return policies, though you will be out the shipping if you decide to return. There are lots of people who will be happy to demonstrate them in their homes, so if I were you I’d check them out.

    After all it is your ears and listening preferences that are important. Any of these speakers might be right for you, even if not for some others.
     
  6. Andy_Bu

    Andy_Bu Supporting Actor

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    Thank you Lew and Robert for your answers, they were helpful.

    Andy
     
  7. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Are you committed to the floorstanders? I just bought a 5.1 setup (Boston Acoustics VR-M60s fronts, VR-M50s rears, VRC centre, PV900 sub). When I began my search, I was almost entirely focused on floorstanders for my mains and after extensive listening of many brands, I ended up with an all standmount setup.

    Not that you should give up on floorstanders, but my experience in my mega speaker hunt allowed me to climb one notch in speaker quality at the same price by going for standmounts instead of floormounts, leaving the sub to carry the lows. I initially favoured floorstanders as I listen to a lot of two channel music (my system is 70% music, 30% movies and tv) but, after auditioning several speaker pairs at home, I found the standmounts with a sub worked well (and the VR-M60s even worked well w/o a sub on many (though not all) of the cds I played during the audition). Of course, if my budget had allowed, I'd have gotten the VR-M90 floorstanders in front and the 60s in back, but one can just keep climbing the money ladder forever, it seems.

    All of this longwindedness to say that, IMO, if you're not married to the idea of floorstanders, there are some nice standmounts in your budget.

    Good luck with the search.
     
  8. Andy_Bu

    Andy_Bu Supporting Actor

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    >Are you committed to the floorstanders?


    Thanx Paul! No I am not committed per say but I guess my current experience with the Cambridge Soundworks standmounts have turned me off that style.

    I will try and audition some of these types as well.

    One thing I forgot to mention in my original email is that I will be listening to 0% music CD's on this setup. It will be 50% TV and 50% DVD's (movies and TV on DVD)

    Andy
     
  9. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    My preferences would be to go for similar speakers all around... my vote would be for 5 NHT SuperOnes (~$750-$800) for all channels, stands for the mains, and a sub of some sort.

    Then you'd need to add a reasonably powerful receiver - a decent Yamaha/Onkyo/Denon or something.

    $2500 should be able to do a dandy system... say $800 for speakers, $800 for amplifier, leaves you with $900 for subwoofer and speaker stands, and other assorted accessories.

    Leo Kerr
    [email protected]
     
  10. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Something you should take a look at it the B&W 600 series. You could get (2) 602.5 floorstanders (~$650/pair), (2) 602 bookshelf (~$550/pair), and the LCR600 center (~$450). Then pick up an Hsu or lower-end SVS for around $550 and pick up a Yamaha or refurb H/K for a little under $450. You can probably find the B&W's a little cheaper if you're willing to haggle.

    This is just something to look at. Certainly check out Klipsch, Paradigm, Polk and others to find what suits you best.
     
  11. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Until I came into some extra cash, I nearly went with four Paradigm Monitor 5s (standmounts, but quite large) with the CC370. Matched to a decent sub (see all the SVS and Hsu threads, they seem to be the most popular), this should still leave you with enough cash for a good mid-line receiver (Denon/Yamaha/Onkyo/HK). My preference was to spend about 2:1 speakers:receiver when I bought my stuff because the receiver will be obsolete long before your speakers.

    If you want floorstanders, the Monitor 7s are the 5s in a bigger box, and then you could go with 3s in the rear, or Mini Monitors or the ADP370s, if you'd like dipole speakers (I don't like them that much but a lot of people do).

    I know that you said there would be no music cds in this set up but if ever you go the DVD-Audio/SACD route, the Monitor 5 package would do the formats justice, IMO.
     
  12. Andy_Bu

    Andy_Bu Supporting Actor

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    Thank you to all for the helpful suggestions!

    Looks like I have some work to do in front of me to try and go in a certain direction.

    There seems to be a lot of good choices out there.

    Andy
     
  13. ChrisMcK

    ChrisMcK Stunt Coordinator

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    May I ask what cambridge soundworks speakers you have in your set up?
     
  14. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    In your price range I have V. 1 Paradigm Monitor 7s, CC-350 center, now the CC-370, and Mini-Monitors for surround. I really like the sound of this combination. I also have the PW 2200 sub, which I believe the PW 2100 is now closer to that model, now.
     
  15. Andy_Bu

    Andy_Bu Supporting Actor

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    Rears - Surround II 5.1
    Fronts - Ensamble III
    Center - Center Channel II
    Sub - BassCube 8 Powered

    Andy
     
  16. DerekF

    DerekF Stunt Coordinator

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    I second the Paradigm recommendations--though I would probably go with an SVS or HSU sub (over the Paradigm sub) if you are in the United States, since the price/performance of those products is reportedly excellent (unless you have to ship them to Canada [​IMG] ...).

    If I were in your shoes, I would do what I wish I would have done myself a couple of years ago...buy a decent receiver (Denon 38XX) and a trio of quality speakers (Paradigm Studio 40's and CC470/570), and use my old speakers for surround/sub duty until I could afford the next round of upgrades, which would include a +/-$1K SVS/HSU sub and, finally, a pair of Studio 100's.

    ...But that's just me. I'd rather have really nice stuff bit-by-bit than get a whole pile of "pretty good" stuff at once. YMMV!
     

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