Upgraditus!!! What to do on a budget?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Smith, Oct 24, 2001.

  1. David Smith

    David Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    I am in the process of upgrading my Paradigm Monitor 5’s to Studio 40’s through my local dealers 100% trade in on Paradigm upgrades. I have to say, the monitor 5’s are great, but the Studio 40’s are just amazing speakers, especially for 2-channel music! I’m perfectly happy with my CC-350 center and Mini-monitor rears, but 2-channel is just lacking a little and I love my music in 2-channel. Anyway, I would love to upgrade to separate components, but right now I’ll be running these with my Yamaha RX-V800.
    Would it make sense to get a good but inexpensive 2-channel amp and bi-amp the 40’s with my Yamaha taking the highs and the new amp taking the lows, or would I be just a well off to bi-wire the 40’s with just my Yamaha? Does anyone have the RX-V800 and the 40’s? What do you think?
    Also, if bi-amping is recommended, I would really like to find an amp for maybe $200. New or used but in good condition would be fine. Is this even possible? If I couldn’t get an amp for less than that, I may just sell my 800 and consider buying the $999 Harman Kardon 2.0 / 2.1 pre/pro/amp combo special to upgrade to seperates. Would this combo make the 40’s sing much better than my Yammy for 2-channel music? I know this is a lot to cover with one topic, but any help would be appreciated. Thanks! David
     
  2. David Smith

    David Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    One more thing...
    How would the DAC's in the HK seperates compare to those in my Yamaha receiver? Thanks! David
     
  3. Sean_B

    Sean_B Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi David,
    I too am upgrading to the Studio 40's. I have the 20's right now and moving them to the rears. You MUST get the Studio CC. Best center channel I've ever heard. My used 40's should come in tomorrow or Friday. I've never heard them before but thought they were worth it for $650 used and I needed to replace the atoms that I have in the rear anyways. What stands will you be using? I got a pair of ebay for $152.00. They are the J-50's by Premier. They look nice.
    I also pending on how my Yammy receiver sounds with the 40's am thinking of upgrading the amp either to 5 channel from rotel or outlaw or getting the Denon 4802/5800. Have you considered these amps? I once thought I would just get a 2 ch. amp for music listening like the Parasound HCA-1000a but figured I would just get a 5 channel. I've seen these parasounds run for as little as $250. I think they are rated 125w but not sure.
    Keep us updated on what you end up doing as I will too!
     
  4. David Smith

    David Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Man, if you’ve never heard the 40’s, you’re in for a treat. Personally, I think they are the best sounding speaker in the entire Paradigm lineup. You couldn’t have done better in picking a speaker without hearing them first.
    Anyway, my stands are Sanus reference, steel with a marble base. Excellent stands and I got them at a local bargain flea market type place for like $30! These things retail for $150 or so. I really lucked out on that deal. Thanks for the heads up on the Parasound. I’ll have to check them out. Let me know what you think of the 40’s when you get them. Any other suggestions? Thanks!
     
  5. Daryl Furkalo

    Daryl Furkalo Second Unit

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    Yes Studio 40's are great sounding speakers. I should now, I have them as my mains, and my sides. Studio CC up front, and ADP370 for rear effects. I am using a Pioneer Elite VSX36-TX for processing and the main 5 channels, and a Rotel RB951 Mk II for the rear effects. Definitely a good choice.
    If you are looking at bi-amping 40's, have you taken a look at the Active 40's? I am not sure of the price difference though.
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    My DVD Collection
     
  6. Guy Kuo

    Guy Kuo Supporting Actor

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    On a $100 budget, I think the smartest thing to do is to pick up something like the ETF5 package so you can systematically analyze and correct your sound system. That little investment could easily double how cleanly your present or new speakers sound. On larger budget, throw in the calibrated mic (total package $400) instead of using the RS SPL meter as a mic.
    Why is it that we'll think nothing of throwing a few thousand into speakers and then balk at getting a tool that helps us tune that speaker position and room so we get best frequency and phase response? Without a trained golden ear, we're just fooling ourselves in the absence of an accurate and easy measurement system. These days, a sound analysis package on your PC is affordable and gives you results which are specific to your room and equipment.
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    Guy Kuo
    www.ovationsw.com
    Ovation Software, the Home of AVIA DVD
     
  7. David Smith

    David Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Guy,
    What is the ETF5 and how can it help me? Also, what would a calibrated mic do that my RS meter won't, especially for 2-channel music? What about a sound analysis package for my PC? I'm sorry, but I just have no idea about this stuff. THanks! David
     
  8. David Smith

    David Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Bump...
     
  9. Guy Kuo

    Guy Kuo Supporting Actor

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    Basically, the ETF package does the following.
    It uses your computer to output a test signal which is played back through your speakers (one at time). The program also reads back the sound which is generated via a microphone. That mic can be the RS SPL meter for starters, but the measurements will be clouded by the RS SPL meter microphone and electronics having a limited range and non-uniform response to all frequencies. Measurements take with the RS SPL as a low cost mic are still useful for finding peaks and valleys but aren't reliable for evaluaing true flattness of response. The calibrated mic is one which has been measured in combination with the preamp to good response from 20 to 20 KHz. The mic also comes a calibration file (individual to each mic specimen) that gives the correction factors to make that mic's data flat in response from 20 to 20 KHz. It's a pricey option but gives the most accurate results.
    Where does this all lead? Well, basically you can make all those measurements you seen in magazine review articles on your own equipment and in your room. That means you actually see what you are getting out of the system. Armed with that information, you can experiment with speaker position, aim, and room treatments while measuring the effect in a systematic fashion. It takes a considerable bit of background knowledge to use the system, but you CAN pick that up on the forums or going through their example room projects.
    The program reads out frequency response for both bass and full range spectra. That lets you easily see how moving things creates peaks and valleys in the frequency response. You move the speakers until you find positions that are the flattest. Normally, you do this by guessing and by ear but never know if you are actually hitting things optimally. With the visual feedback from ETF you are no longer working blind. The program also lets you look at things like impulse response to check phasing of your drivers and how the room echoes smear the sound. Energy time curves and RT60 analyses also help you figure out if your room needs more treatments and at what frequencies you should add or subtract treatment.
    All in all, it is a tool with some pretty amazing possibilities. For the $100 entry fee you can already start using a mic you already own (the RS SPL meter's audio output). If you are really interested in getting really accurate data, then you move up to the calibrated mic package. Either way, I think it turns on a light in the otherwise dark and mystical world of audio setup.
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    Guy Kuo
    www.ovationsw.com
    Ovation Software, the Home of AVIA DVD
     
  10. David Smith

    David Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Guy,
    THanks for such a detailed response! Now, where can I get this ETF package? Also, due to WAF, I have very little option as to where I can place my speakers. Pretty much about 6" away and on each end of my 65" Mits HDTV.
    My stands make the tweeters at ear level when I'm seated in my listening position. Also, I've managed to pull the speakers out where the face is about 8" or so in front of the TV so they image much better (I don't think my wife has noticed this yet, I did it a little bit at a time over a few weeks).
    With my placement options so limited, would this ETF package still be beneficial?
    Thanks again! David
     
  11. Guy Kuo

    Guy Kuo Supporting Actor

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    www.etfacoustic.com is the site from which you can obtain the program. As to the spousal limitations vs speaker positioning, it's a tough situation. A little more placement freedom can mean a very large improvement in sound quality. Work on the wife a bit. Let her hear and see the results. Maybe you can get her involved in doing the measurements so it seems more her idea that the speakers are now a foot further from where they were. If you really have no room for change, then I don't know if knowing how to improve things is even worth going after. That would be for me a pretty awful fix.
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    Guy Kuo
    www.ovationsw.com
    Ovation Software, the Home of AVIA DVD
     

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