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what happened to quality 2 channel systems?

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by aroon, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. aroon

    aroon Auditioning

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    hey everyone, im fairly new to this board but have been "into" audio since i was a little kid with his tape player/alarm clock (that sounded like cr*p, btw). so i love audio and much like other audiophiles, my wallet doesnt get to enjoy the weight of the green for very long... =D

    i recently have been moving around the country a bit and had to sell off most of my audio gear just because it was too much to haul around everywhere but ive settled down again for my last 1.5 years of school and i need some speakers! im trying to build a 2 channel system primarily for listening to music from my deskop computer (with a prodigy 7.1 LT sound card if anyone cares).

    now, yes my sound card can do surround sound when im watching dvds and such but music is all two channel...so where have all the two channel systems gone?

    anyone have suggestions for good two channel set ups? all the products i see tend to be components for a 5.1+ system. im really looking for two well performing tower or bookshelf speakers with a modest subwoofer (i.e. i need clarity and quality, not super loudness so the SVS PB12-NSD is out...although im considering the PB10-NSD). i need a receiver as well and i know im probably not going to find a two channel only receiver which is fine so long as it performs well with only two channels in use. i dont /plan/ on extending the system to 5 or more channels anytime so emphasis for my design is really on getting some quality R and L speakers that will really complete the experience for me when coupled with a nice sub.

    im looking to spend between 800 and 1000 bucks including the receiver but the less the better! i already have plenty of wire sitting around so thats a non-issue. my room is 10x14x8 with solid concrete walls and carpet. what do yall think?
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    2ch systems didn't go anywhere.

    If you haven't heard the PB-12, loudness isn't it's only strong suit and the PB-10 sounds quite similar to it.

    There are plenty of stereo receivers out there (Harmon Kardon, Onkyo, Denon, etc...), as well as stereo integrated amps (no processing). I run a Marantz PM7200 in my bedroom and it sounds excellent. You can find tons of good integrateds pretty cheap used on www.audiogon.com NAD, Cambridge Audio and Marantz come to mind. CA can be found at www.audioadvisor.com and Marantz refurbs can be found at www.ac4l.com

    My room is the same size as yours and I run the 7200 with a Sony CA70ES changer and Mordaunt Short 902s (no sub) and it is more than capable of filling a room that size. The PB-10 should be plenty for that room as well.
     
  3. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

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    I actually wish more people with 2-channel systems would speak up in here. I think people underestimate just how enjoyable 2 channels can be for HT, not just with music. I've become friends with a guy who owns a high end audio dealership here in Atlanta, and he's totally changed my thinking on the "need" for surround sound. He has an absolutely sick system, but no subwoofer and no surround sound. When he played LOTR, though, I was floored. Nothing in audio is for everyone, but I think there are a lot of people who just don't realize how happy they'd be if they put their budget into a really good quality stereo system as opposed to worrying about 5.1+.
     
  4. Alon Goldberg

    Alon Goldberg Screenwriter

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    The Rotel RA-1062 integrated amp is wonderful though at $650 might be a bit pricey for your setup... I auditionned this amp with a pair of Monitor Audio Silver RS6 loudspeakers ($700/pair), and was simply blown away.
     
  5. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    There's lots of two channel stuff around. Just look at any Stereophile, Absolute Sound, or from the UK: Hi Fi News, or Hi Fi Choice, among many magazines.

    A lot of us though, simply use our 5.1 or 7.1 systems for 2 channel listening. Quality 2 channel sound reproduction is not precluded in a multichannel setup.
     
  6. aroon

    aroon Auditioning

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    well, its good to hear two channel systems are still alive and kicking. i guess im still at the surface of the HT community...

    also thanks for the recommendations. i was also looking at the klipsch KSB-3.1 system although it seems its a bit hard to find it around anymore since it was discontinued several years ago. has anyone heard these? i listened to the B-3's today...granted it was a terrible environment (bestbuy....) and i doubt they're really comparable to the KSBs, i have to say i was not impressed by klipsch's performance. they seemed very bright and it even seemed like they were trying to play lows that were far out of their range...

    anyone else have thoughts on the klipsch bookshelf speakers, specifically the synergy III line?

    of course, more recommendations along the requirements in the title post are welcome =D

    edit: i should mention another quirk about my listening experience at best buy. although the little media stand had klipsch written all over it, it seemed to be playing recordings for jbl speakers...so ive been wondering if may be those recordings were tweaked to make jbl's sound good and hence they don't sound so awesome with the klipsch's
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I'm not a big fan of Klipsch, particularly for music.

    My main system's primary focus was on 2ch listening actually, and the rest of the gear is based on the choices made for 2ch, since that is what I do mostly with it.
     
  8. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

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  9. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

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    right on....it just seems like a lot (most?) people who come on here for advice do so with a relatively fixed budget. They are usually wanting to fit an entire 5.1+ system into that budget, whereas I think at least some of them would be happier if they allocated those funds a bit differently. Maybe go with two really good speakers instead of five average ones. Pick up a used integrated off of audiogon and you're golden. I've even begun to see some stereo integrated amps and preamps that have subwoofer out jacks on them for easier sub integration with a 2-channel rig. If someone really wants surround sound, that's great. I totally understand the appeal. But I think a lot of people feel like they HAVE to go that route, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    I've just found that for myself, I'm happiest when I go with the best, cleanest 2-channel path I can afford. I spend more time with movies, but music reproduction is more important to me. When John DeVore (of DeVore Fidelity) comes out with his on-walls, I'll probably throw a few up in back since I already have a pre/pro and a 5-channel amp, but I'm going to put more money into a dedicated stereo preamp and outboard DAC than I will those speakers. I just think there are those who will, when they have to make a choice, prefer quality over quantity.
     
  10. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

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    Just think you can spend the same on a stereo setup as a surround setup and get a higher fidelity sound. My fave is when you suggest that someone start with a receiver and two speakers for $2000 and upgrade to surround sound at a later date building it piece by piece, but they decide they want the entire thing all at once on that budget and buy an Axiom system with a Denon receiver. They could have gotten a better Denon and some Paradigm studio or B&W speakers and been much happier or maybe not. Some folks just aren't patient.
     
  11. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

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    Exactly.....whenever I see someone with a relatively small, fixed budget I almost always try and urge them to consider a stereo system instead of going with surround sound. I think it falls on deaf ears most of the time, but at least the idea is getting put in their head. Two really good speakers can do a helluva job....people just don't give it enough of a chance sometimes.

    I've been back with a 2.1 rig since March....I finally took the dive into the higher end of things and dropped $4k on a pair of mains and another $2500 on an amp. Sounds pretty damn good to me [​IMG]
     
  12. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Aroon: I don't have any experience with 7.1 soundcards & how they operate, so I'll just throw this out and see if it sticks. [​IMG]

    If you're going to use a subwoofer with your mains, using a surround receiver would make this easier to set up and should sound better. That's because you can use the receiver's bass management system to better integrate the sub and mains. Just for "safety's" sake (in case you unknowingly select DPLII or some other surround setting) when programming the receiver I would set the surround channels & center channel to "none".

    Or....you can buy the only stereo receiver I've seen yet that has a full b.m. system for a 2.1 system, the Outlaw Audio RR2150.

    Also, based on personal experience, I am of the opinion that a sub that sounds great with a movie's artifically generated sound effects will not always sound as good with music's bass frequencies, so I would advise auditioning subs as carefully as the mains. Relying solely on numbers and graphs to choose a sub - as with ANY sound reproduction device - is ill-advised.
     
  13. Chris Quinn

    Chris Quinn Screenwriter

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    HK 3480- $265 shipped http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...lance&n=172282

    Or look for a Denon DRA-395

    Ascend Acoustics 170SE - $350
    HSU Research STF-1 - $300 You can use the crossover in the sub. http://ascendacoustics.com/pages/pro...70/cbm170.html


    With shipping and package price from Ascend on sub and speakers you should be around $950 and have great sound.


    I have both a 2 channel and HT rigs. For my 2-channel I picked up a used Audio Refinement Complete integrated amp off of audiogon for under $500.
     
  14. Brian_cyberbri

    Brian_cyberbri Stunt Coordinator

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  15. aroon

    aroon Auditioning

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    thanks for all the tips guys. i think im pretty much settled on the CMB 170 SEs for my mains. I'm still trying to finalize my sub decision...My room right now is pretty small (a bit over 1500 cu ft) and based on this review:

    http://www.hometheatershack.com/foru...ontenders.html

    im starting to feel like the SVS PB10-NSD will be a bit much for my space and may not be the best decision for pure music listening. then again, im afraid if i go with an 8" sub like the HSI STF-1 im going to dropping all those low freqs (stf-1 is rated down to 32hz vs the SVS performing down to 20hz). what do you guys think? anyone know of a really thorough review of the HSU STF-1?

    im still stuck on recievers/integrateds. im not hell bent on having a tuner so im open to both, whichever delivers the best sound at min cost for a 2.1 system. that outlaw audio receiver, although awesome, is definitely too expensive for me unfortunately. i really have almost no idea where to start on this. im especially lost when it comes to what kind of power handling i should be looking for. the 170SEs are rated at max 200watts RMS which seems like a TON of power. most of the receivers in my price range that i've seen are 80-120 watts/channel. im thinking 120 should be more than enough but 80 might cause the speakers to sound a bit muted when paired with the svs 10" or hsu 8". thoughts?
     
  16. Brian_cyberbri

    Brian_cyberbri Stunt Coordinator

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    Is it going to be just for music?

    You might look at the STF-2 or VTF-2 (or something like the X-Sub or ULW/UFW-10 from AV123.com), which would let you go a little deeper, but there isn't a whole lot of music that goes deeper than 30Hz, unless you listen to pipe orgrans.


    As far as receivers go, power ratings can be pretty iffy. For example, my Harman/Kardon AVR330 is rated at 55x7 or 65x2, into 8 ohms. According to tests done by Sound & Vision magazine (results available on their website), it puts out about as much power as the digital Panasonic xr70. The 70 is rated at 100x6 or 110(?)x2, but at 6 ohms.

    You'll find some receivers rated with all channels driven over the full 20Hz-20KHz range, and others rated at only one or two channels, maybe even at just 1KHz or something. So some manufacturers cheat the numbers to make sure they're at or over the 100w mark. Other manufacturers are more honest. But at least most manufacturers have the manuals for their products online, so you can download the pdfs and jump to the specs in the back to see how they got to their numbers. There's also "distortion" or THD. If you look at the manuals for some cheap HTiBs, you'll see the "700 watt" receivers are rated at 2 channels only, driving at 1KHz only, with 20% distortion rather than .07%. Which means they can probably push 20-30 watts before getting to audible distortion.

    And my HK 330, at 55x7, runs my 3 340SEs and 2 170SEs (surrounds) just fine in my 2800~ cubic foot room. I have them paired with a VTF-3 Mk2. In that room, you could run the 170SEs off of for example a HK 140 anhd be fine.

    When you look at sensitivity, it's usually around 87-92dB. That means that with 1 watt of power, the speaker can produce say 90dB of sound at 1 meter. You'll be sitting further than 1 meter, but you'll also have 2 speakers (and the room) to even it out. It takes double the power to increase the sound 3dB. So for a speaker with 90dB sensitivity, it would take 2 watts to get 93dB, 4 watts for 96dB, 8 watts for 99dB, 16 watts for 102dB, 32 watts for 105dB and so on. If the speaker has a sensitivity of 87dB, it would take 32 watts to get to 102dB, and 64 watts to get to 105dB. You won't be listening to constant 105dB (which would be damaging to your hearing with prolonged periods), but for example in movie soundtracks, at "reference level" you may have dialog around 75dB-85dB, but the transient peaks in the main channels can reach 105dB. So with lower sensitivity in the speakers, you need more power to get the same volume.

    The 170SEs are rated at 89dB, or 91dB in-room. So at most times you'll probably only be using between a fraction of a watt and a few watts for music (say if the average is at 75dB with peaks around 90-93dB).

    I'm sure any small receiver from HK, Denon, or Marantz would give you plenty of clean power to run those speakers.
     
  17. Chris Quinn

    Chris Quinn Screenwriter

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    The difference between 80 and 120 watts isn't that great. It takes doubling the watts for every 3dB increase in volume. The 1.5dB difference between the 80 and 120 watt would be rather hard to hear.
     
  18. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    It really depends on the amps/power supplies in question. There can be a VERY big difference between 80w and 120w.
     
  19. Brian_cyberbri

    Brian_cyberbri Stunt Coordinator

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    And the 80w amp could be much better and more powerful, with cleaner power, than the 120w amp.
     
  20. aroon

    aroon Auditioning

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    good points all. from what brian has to say it sounds like i'll probably be happy with that hk3480. anyone have any opinions on that?
     

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