Where to put more $ for Performance-Amp or Mains?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brent_Whit, Jul 6, 2001.

  1. Brent_Whit

    Brent_Whit Auditioning

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    Hi fellow lovers of knock yer socks off sound,
    I'd like to get your error-cking on my logic here... [​IMG]
    I'm looking at replacing my BOSE Acoustimass 3 and Sony 945 Prologic recvr to a current system. I have a 12X14 room, about a $1000-1200 budget, HT/music is 40/60.
    [​IMG]1. Should I put more dollars weight into good front shelf speakers(vs a wowser Rcvr), with a matched Center, before I plop down money for a good receiver?
    1a. Is it important to get a "matched" Center with the mains?
    [​IMG]2. OR should I take advantage of a Mirage 5 satelite speaker kit for $500? hmmm. Satelite vs. main
    [​IMG]3. I'm looking at the:
    Rcvr:
    Outlaw 1050, or Yamaha 5240, or Onkyo 595 [​IMG]
    Speakers
    Mirage AVs500(4 + center) [​IMG]
    Klipsch KSB11 + a center Klipsch
    Sub:
    Sony Sa-Wm40 [​IMG] or Mirage FRX S8
    I guess I don't want to get a overpowered receiver, with puny speakers, or vice versa.
    so I ask, ladies and gentlemen, am I on the right path? [​IMG]
    Thanks so much in advance as I trek thru the HT jungle....
    Brent
    [​IMG]
     
  2. GarryW

    GarryW Stunt Coordinator

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    With those $$$, I would suggest you look via ebay or one of these types of forums. There is always someone who wants to sell and move up and discounts of -50% off retail can be found.
    Amps & Speakers are ususlly pretty safe to buy used. I would stay away from recievers and transports though, as they are usually more fickle in the reliabilty department.
     
  3. BryanZ

    BryanZ Screenwriter

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    How about:
    1. Sell the AM3 and the Sony on Ebay. Good starting point for:
    2. Buy Onkyo TX-DS595 - $400
    3. Buy Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 package with the HSU VTF-2 sub - $1,100.
    or buy the Ascend/HSU package and use that with the Sony until you can sell the AM3 and use that money towards a new receiver. Gives you the best of both worlds.
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Brent, welcome to the Forum. I do not have first-hand experience with the receivers or speakers you are considering, so I won't rank them. However, a common philosophy in audio is that one should put the most money into speakers as they most influence the sound quality. That is not to say that amps or CD players (or other source components) cannot influence sound quality. They most certainly can. Still, you would probably be best served to channel your efforts into testing speakers. A point to consider is that not all speakers match well with all amps or front-end components. That is why you should never buy or pass over speakers based solely on how they sound in the store. You will need to demo them with your own equipment and your own music and/or movies and see how the acoustics of your room influence the sound.
    Now, I realize that you are shopping for a receiver and speakers at the same time. With the short list that you posted, try to see if there are dealers in your area that sell both the receivers and speakers so you can test them together. That's not always easy, but see what's around. Of course, you can't do this with Outlaw. If you have to buy anything to test it out, be sure you can return it if you are not satisfied. You might want to buy the Outlaw receiver and either take it to stores to demo speakers or take speakers home to test various combinations. It can be a painstaking process, but the end result is worth it. That's when you kick back on your couch and listen to your favorite CD or watch your favorite DVD and realize that you have never experienced them that way before. It's refreshing and mind-boggling sometimes. [​IMG]
    One final point. Although allocating a large chunk of your budget to speakers is wise, I have seen first-hand that quality amps and front-end components can make inexpensive speakers sing. I have good quality amps and CD players paired with $300 speakers, and the sound quality blows me away. One day I might upgrade the speakers, but I am thrilled with the sound now.
    Sorry for the long post. Good luck in your search.
    ------------------
    My:
    HT Pics ; Equipment List ; DVD Collection ; LD Collection
    KeithH: Saving the Home Theater World Before Bedtime
     
  5. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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    Brent,
    Its always good to see new Dallasites here (I live on the north side of Garland). Just had a couple of HTF members over a couple of weeks ago for a demo night.
    When I recently upgraded my 10+ year old HT system I came to a few conclusions about upgrading on a limited budget that really seemed to make sense. And I think they'll apply well to your situation.
    1) Spend the most money on speakers. They'll have the most impact on the end sound. And since good speakers don't really get outdated (like a receiver or pre-processor) you can enjoy them for the next 5 ... 10 ... 20 years. You'll get your money's worth from them over time. This applies to subwoofers as well.
    2) Its smart to upgrade the receiver last. The electronics are constantly being improved. If you time it right you may catch the next big processor (a recent example is DPL2). Or you may just want to wait until the end of the model year to get a better price on current receiver models. And remember that the processor is the first thing to get "old" because of the tremendous rate of advancements. So you may want to upgrade it again after a few years anyway. Add in the fact that a powered subwoofer (or a passive sub with outboard amplification) can take a load off the receiver and it makes sense to spend a little less on the receiver.
    3) There are some ways to grow your system over time without having to sell old stuff at a loss. Examples are:
    Passive subs (SVS CS) - Use an old receiver now. Get a monster amp for them later.
    Receivers with pre-amp outputs - Just add an external amp for more quality power.
    Upgradable receivers - They're expensive, but when new technology comes around, it may be offered as a firmware or software update for a nominal fee.
    Speaker trade up programs - After you've used your speakers for 6 months or a year, take them back and you can apply their full price or some pro-rated amount against a more expensive model.
    You certainly shouldn't follow these "rules of thumb" to the letter. I didn't. But they can sometimes guide you to a smarter decision.
    As for your specific questions:
    Try to match the mains and center as closely as possible. This is essential. And while somewhat less important, matching the rears to the fronts can allow seamless transitions.
    I'm not familiar with Mirage. But if you get the Sony sub, you'll want mains that can play full range for your 60% music listening. This sub has a reputation for being great in HT and not-quite-great at music.
    Have you considered the $400 Adire Rava Sub? Very powerful and very musical. Or you could get the $400 passive SVS and use your old receiver to power it. $400 for the sub and $400 for the new receiver would leave you $200 - $400 for speakers. There are some decent speaks in that range - Home Theater Direct or JBL NSP1. Or you could spend that on your mains and live with the Bose for the surrounds for a while.
    You did say your receiver was ProLogic only, right? There's a current Sony model 945 that's DD and DTS. If you already had DD and/or DTS I'd say spend it all on speakers.
    All 3 of the receivers you mentioned are great. I own the 595. You might even consider the Onkyo 494 to allow an extra $100 towards your speaker/subwoofer budget.
    Have I rambled on long enough?
    P.S. the posts that slipped in ahead of mine are excellent advise as well.
     
  6. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    A general rules of thumb...
    Speakers are the one single component in a system that affect overall sound the most. Put as much into those as you can.
    It is better to overpower than underpower. An amp/receiver with an output rating above the maximum rating of your speakers will not hurt it unless you actually attempt to find out which gives out first, your amp or your speakers. On the other hand, underpowering a system can lead to distortion and distortion is what kills most tweeters.
    Satellites vs. full range mains, satellites can do an excellent job, and it is generally easier to get a matching center for a smaller main speaker (yes, that is extremely important in a theater system). Most important factor in choosing satellites is to make certain the satellites and sub blend properly. Safest bet is to go for a matched system rather than "mix & match".
    I have found larger mains are generally more suited for stereo music reproduction, but flexible bass management and crossover slopes come into play more when trying to match larger mains with a sub.
    I do recommend dumping the Bose, though [​IMG].
     
  7. Rob Roth

    Rob Roth Stunt Coordinator

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    Get rid of the Bose and any other unusable items out of your garage and attic.
    Much good advice in preceding posts. One additional trick is to buy higher sensitivity speakers: If you can find speakers rated above, say, 90 dB you can halve the amount of amplifier power required. This can translate into big savings on electronics- allowing you to buy quality rather than quantity.
    I make a strong pitch for matched center and mains. If your experience is like many others' you will be doing some music listening in multichannel modes and for that the more seamless soundstage achieved by matched sets is important. You can also run into problems of non-linearity when mixing mains and centers: You can calibrate the relative levels at some reference point, but the levels don't maintain the same relation as the overall system volume is increased or decreased.
    There are some good 5 speaker mini monitor systems out there which would give you seamless sound and you could later add a better sub. Don't think you'll get off with only spending $1K- this is a hobby of continuous improvement.
     
  8. Brent_Whit

    Brent_Whit Auditioning

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    Thanks, guys!!!
    I have followed your advice and purchased a matched B&W speaker mains, 303s(they are new and sound great), and the new LCR center speaker. I was impressed with the Paradigms, too.
    I also bought the Sony WM40 sub, and then purchased the Onkyo 595 Receiver....
    You guys are the best!
    Ryan, since you are in Dallas, I was most impressed with Hillcrest HIFI on the tollway, instead of the local Tweeters.... Where do you shop?
    Thanks again, guys....
    Brent
     
  9. Matt Wallace

    Matt Wallace Second Unit

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    Brent,
    Did you buy at Hillcrest HiFi or on-line? Also, if I may ask, what range did you pay for the 595? I'm in a similar boat....
    Thanks,
    Matt
    ------------------
    "And I say I'm dead, and I move"....
     
  10. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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    Brent,
    I shopped Hillcrest HiFi and that place next door (Stereo East I think). Hillcrest had a Sony 200 disc CD changer that they'd been using to demo equipment. They wanted $100 for it and my old CD player had just kicked the bucket, so I got a great deal on that.
    I set goals of getting maximum performance for the $ and getting a system I could be happy with for years to come. So I went with nOrh, SVS and the Onkyo 595 from J&R. This is my first time to step up into the mid-fi arena.
     
  11. Brent_Whit

    Brent_Whit Auditioning

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    Guys,
    Here is what I got pricewise..
    Onkyo DS-595 Receiver....$370 from JandR.com (LEO)
    B&W 303 speakers.........$300 from Hilcrest Hifi storefront
    B&W LCR Center spkr......$229 from same
    Sony SA WM-40 subwoofer..$189 from local BESTBUY
    I almost went with the Paradigms, but the B&W sounded just as good, and had the MAPLE finisth instead of the Black that my wife hated. I know, I know, a very imperfect way to choose speakers!!! SO, have any of you heard good things about B&W?
    They all sound great! I am not getting the "boominess" from the WM40 that I've heard about in these posts.
    Now I need to find out how to buy/make some good speaker stands. Am running into the spousal accectance factor again... [​IMG]
    Thanks again for all of your posts!
     

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