Your thoughts on a newbie's 1st day looking for speakers & receiver for HT use

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Daniel Simon, Oct 24, 2001.

  1. Daniel Simon

    Daniel Simon Extra

    May 11, 2000
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    Decided to do some looking around today for speakers and receiver to turn my 'system' into an actual HT system (just have a TV and DVD & VCR players right now). In Indy, I had heard good things about Sound Pro, which was advertising a 50% off sale on demo equipment, so I stopped by there. I wasn't necessarily looking to buy something today or next week unless the price was right, but I could at least get a feel for what I might want in the future. My 'starting' budget for EVERYTHING (4 speakers + center + sub + receiver) was around $1500.
    Store A (Sound Pro): They carried names like B&W, PSB, and PhaseTech that were in my budget, with a few other brands in upper ranges (my budget was definitely in their low-end; BTW those B&W Nautilus's are freakin' sweet! [​IMG] ). I wish I could remember the models, but I basically ended up comparing some B&W bookshelves with the PSB Image 1B speakers. I ended up liking the PSB sound (crisp and clear highs) compared the B&W sound (more mellow). I had never actually heard of PSB before (I apparently don't know all the makers very well), but I liked the B&W name going into the store. While I thought the B&W's sounded good, the PSB's just sounded 'better'. The guy recommended the PSB 8C for my center, and I think we just picked up any general 10" sub (Phasetech Power 10 sub). The price quote given me was:
    - PSB 1B (x4): $548
    - PSB 8C (x1): $270
    - Phasetech Power 10 sub (x1): $370
    Total: $1188
    I kind of briefly looked at receivers and thought the Denon $400 or $500 models 'looked nice', but I don't remember the model numbers, and I wasn't really sure what to compare them to, as they only had a couple receivers in that price range.
    Next I went to Ovation just to compare my finds at Sound Pro (this whole day started because of Sound Pro's advertised sale).
    Store B (Ovation): They pretty much carried Polk, Klipch, Definitive, and Paradigm. I ended up deciding between Paradigm and Klipch. After a few minutes, I determined I liked the 'more accurate' sound of Paradigm over Klipch, which although put out more sound and more treble, just sounded muddy compared to the Paradigm. The Paradigm set I auditioned the most and priced out was:
    Paradigm Phantom (floor) (x2): $420
    Paradigm Titan (bookshelf) (x2): $220
    Paradigm CC170 (center) (x1): $200
    Paradigm PDR10 (sub) (x1): $350
    Total: $1190
    On receivers, I kind of liked the Yamaha RXV620 over the competing Denon models. IIRC, it delivered more power (important for the Paradigm's?), seemed a little easier to use, more inputs, and had a nifty on-screen display.
    Unfortunately, I am unable to compare the 2 brands, although I might like the PSB's a little more. I'm rather curious what you guys think of what I ran into, and if I should look out for anything else given my preferences formed today. I really want to audition some Energy, as I've never heard them, but I hear great things about them. Does anyone in the Indy area know of a store that carries Energy products?
    Also, do the PSB 1B (x4) sound a look a good idea for HT use, or should I really try to bump into some floor speakers for my fronts (I've actually got a HUGE entertainment center that has space for bookshelve speakers for my fronts, which is what I would do now with my given selections). And given the prices quoted (which were pretty close) do you think the PSB 1B's (bookshelves) in a 4 speaker setup will hold up to the Paradigm Phantom/Titan setup, which has 2 floor speakers?
    And, in my current room setup, if I went with Paradigm, I was considering using the bookshelf speakers for my fronts and my floor speakers for my rears. Is that an insane idea, or do you think that might be acceptable?
    What are your thoughts on my day's experience?
  2. Thomas F

    Thomas F Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 6, 2001
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    You are definitely on the right track. I don't think you can go wrong with Paradigm, PSB, or B&W. The Energy Take 5.2's are also excellent in that price range. I'm not familiar with the PhaseTech products. I have the Paradigm Studio Reference 40's. The Klipsch tend to the bright side, if that is your prefence, and you would not want to match them with a bright sounding receiver, such as a Yamaha. This is a generalization and some may argue with me. The Denon and Marantz receivers tend to be warmer sounding than the Yamaha's. If you decide to go with bookshelf speakers, I would discourage you from placing them in an entertainment center. They really need quality stands to sound their best. The Titans can sometimes sound boomy, especially if placed in an entertainment center, and a lot of people think the lower priced Atoms sound better. For receivers, look at Denon, Onkyo, Marantz, Yamaha, and Outlaw. Perhaps somebody else can give you specific model numbers to look at in the $500 price range. The Outlaw 1050 is only available direct from Outlaw and represents a lot of bang for the buck for $499.
  3. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

    Aug 19, 2000
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    Omaha, NE
    Real Name:
    CJ Paul
    My first setup was exactly like the Paradigm setup except the sub. (mine was an old B&W not a paradigm) I can tell you, most anybody would be happy with that system. The only reason I upgraded (to the paradigm monitor line) was to get better music performance and a little more bass response out of the non-subwoofer speakers, not that you will find the performance line necessarily lacking in either area. I would go back, if you get the chance, and make sure you give all the speakers you are considering another listen, with music you are familiar with.
    Oh, I forgot to mention, you should be able to get them to come down on those prices a bit. I paid $375 for my phantoms, $200 for the cc-170, and $200 for the Titans.
    My Website:
    e-mail me: [email protected]
    My DVD Profiler
    Paradigm Lover
    [Edited last by Charles J P on October 24, 2001 at 07:11 AM]
  4. BryanZ

    BryanZ Screenwriter

    Dec 18, 2000
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    IMO, for $1,500 the way to go is:
    Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 package w/HSU VTF-2 sub - $1,100
    Denon AVR-1802 - $400
    If that budget is for the speakers and sub only, I'd go for:
    nOrh 4.0 package - $850
    SVS 20-39CS - $449
    Plate amp for the sub - $85 (part #300-800 from
    Total - $1,384
  5. Scott Bourden

    Scott Bourden Second Unit

    Aug 29, 2001
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    For that price, I would stay away from those Phantom's. You are much better off with a monitor series. I'm unsure about American prices, but around here a set of Monitor 5's (what I have, I love them) go for approximately the same as a set of Phantoms. The Titan's are good though, (also in my opinion, obviously). Perhaps you could swing it to get 4 Mini-monitors, or two mini's and two titans as rears. The center and sub with the Paradigm set are good for your budget, but keep in mind I am a huge Paradigm fan, so I *am* a little bias.
  6. MatthewJ S

    MatthewJ S Supporting Actor

    Feb 27, 2001
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    Of course you'll have to take Bryan's word for it that you will like the sound of those systems, because you can't go to a store and HEAR those set-ups and without doing EXACTLY what you are doing now , so you'd never know how good the system is (comparitively)...I sold a lot of Bose systems to people who took the advice of others ,never properly demoing alternatives for themselves, and I'm sure they believe that they made a GREAT, keep LISTENING with your own ears! ,you seem to be on the right track ...use the opinions of others to perhaps narrow the field of choices a bit...use your own demo softwareand listen to the speakers for prolonged periods of time to evaluate any potential "FATIGUEING" problems that would take time to reveal... remember as a general rule larger cabinets displace more air /have more impact/sound better than smaller cabinets.So ,your IDEA of eventually reversing front bookshelves w/rear floorstanders is good! Just make sure everything is voice-matched above100-120hz....OH yes, happy hunting
    that receiver sounds great demo'd through my computer speakers!
    I bought the best ones, my buddy would never steer me wrong .He's not trying to make a commission off me and Cambridge Sound's factory direct pricing means that I got a great deal!
    It must be a good deal all the people on the net would surely tell me if they didn't make a good choice and all those guys that are nice enough to provide a link i'm sure none of them are making a dime for it...all that stuff about e-marketing is probably Hooey!
  7. John Gates

    John Gates Second Unit

    Jun 18, 2001
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    I would agree with Matthew that you should, whenever possible, audition audio gear before buying it. He makes an excellent point. However, don't dismiss nOrh and Ascend because they aren't shown in a retail store.
    DO listen to everything you can in your pricerange. Get a sense of what you like and don't like. THEN, find someone in your area who owns nOrh and Ascend and Axiom and Home Theater Direct speakers, and listen to them too.
    That's what I did. I ended up buying nOrh 4.0's and a pair of SVS 20-39's after auditioning them in owners' homes. I had to drive around a bit to get the auditions, but they were very thorough, I made some friends, and the nOrh 4.0's and SVS outclassed everything I had heard in their price range. All in all, the research and auditions were WELL WORTH THE DRIVE.
    Of course, what I like and what you like might be two completely different things and highly subjective. However, we can reasonably say that direct-to-consumer audio companies can (generally) afford to offer better parts and (generally) better products in any given price point because of reduced marketing expenses (advertising, dealer markup, etc). You may well find a better performing speaker in a store somewhere (no doubt they do exist), but don't make the mistake of avoiding nOrh, Ascend, SVS, or HSU because they are less convenient to audition.
  8. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

    Dec 6, 1998
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    As another Paradigm fan I will throw in my $.02 worth. You should consider 2 pair of Mini-Monitors This would be about the same cost as the Phantom/Titan combination. The Monitor series is a "step" up from the Phantom/Titans. FWIW, I have Monitor 7's for main and Mini-Monitor for surrounds.
  9. Gregg Hart

    Gregg Hart Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 15, 1999
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    Here's my suggestion.
    HSU VTF-2 sub - $500
    Outlaw 1050 receiver - $500
    Energy Take 2.5 for spealer - $500
    This brings you to $1500 for an excellent receiver and the best $500 sub out there if size is important. Of course you could go with SVS which is loved by many here but the units are quite large compared to the 16" cube of the VTF-2.
    My Home Theater

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