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Dr. Bernice 05-20-2008 05:47 PM

System Advice, Please? Never Thought I'd Ask For Easy Listening, But
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Really, I flip the dial real fast when it comes to Delilah or the like. But, after weeks of research, all I feel like I've discovered is I know even less than I thought when it comes to building a quality system for myself. I'm so ready for Easy Listening, or, at least rocking and rolling, made easy. Suggestions from you would be greatly appreciated.

First, I rarely watch TV, unless it's a concert dvd, so having to deal with 5+ speakers and placement of them is not a priority with me. But, I would like to have a receiver with surround capability, so as not to limit myself, should I change my mind in the near future. I would also like to have the latest technology, or, at least limit myself as little as possible. My system will live in a room approximately 20 x24, with walls that are 2 stories high. I would also like to be able to switch between my main audio speakers, and the surround speakers I will probably purchase eventually. And, lastly, if I could also switch to my hardwired outdoor speakers, my life would be a dream.

Secondly, I would like large, impressive floor speakers. I had a friend recommend Athena LS500's as a respectable pair, and it appears I can purchase them for around 300.00...that is, if the forum agrees with the suggestion.

From what I gather, I will probably need an amp, unless advised to the contrary.

I would like either a high capacity CD changer, or maybe a CD hard drive recorder would be cool, but this appears to be pricey. So, ok, for now, if I have to cut corners, I'd settle for, but not be thrilled with, a 5 disc cd player.

If the CD player mentioned isn't actually an DVD player, I imagine I'd probably like to have one of these as well.

In the near future, I'd also like to integrate the system into my network, and have the ability to do two things: wirelessly play digital music files from my laptops, and stream music from the living room to other rooms containing speakers (and whatever else may be required to do this.)

Finally, I'd like to mention, if some of my desires cause my primary components' costs to soar through the ceiling, I don't mind having to purchase some little extra gadgets here and there, as long as my sound isn't adversely affected.

I really want Large, Loud, Ass Whipping Easy Listening!! And I want heavenly sound quality.

Would you please suggest the ingredients to make this happen? I know, I'm going to get what I am able to pay for. I'd be thrilled to spend 2 thousand, kind of queasy over 3K, and pretty uncomfortable approaching the 4 mark. So, I realize I'm going to have to balance my dreams with my checking balance.

Thank you for your help, and for your patience and understanding... I'm just a girl with ADD, Audio Deficit Disorder.


Hey! Check out my current system....remember "one of these things is not like the other?"

CharlyD 05-20-2008 10:51 PM

Re: System Advice, Please? Never Thought I'd Ask For Easy Listening, But
Hey Kristen!
It's great that you've recognized your disorder and are taking steps to resolve it! The remedy I suggest would be:

Speakers - NHT Classic 4 - $1000 at (or $850 for demo) (edit-oops that's $999 EACH for new. The $850 for demo is correct and a steal.)
Receiver - Onkyo TX-SR805 - $700 at Amazon
Network Music Player- Olive Symphony No 2 - $600 from Olive
DVD - Oppo DV-983H - $400 from Oppo
Various cables from Impact Acoustics or BlueJeans Cable

This combo would cure all your ailments for probably a hair less than $3000. You'll have to use one of your laptops for a music server, but you can also control the Olive from your laptop. The receiver is 7.1, so you can use two channels for the outdoor speakers and still have enough channels for 5.1 surround. The speakers are serious floorstanders. All this may not get you to heaven, but it will be a lot closer.

kennyt 05-21-2008 04:26 AM

Re: System Advice, Please? Never Thought I'd Ask For Easy Listening, But

That is a huge room to fill, so you will want efficient (high Db output @ 1W/M) speakers to allow lots of sonic output from a receiver. Charly's suggestion for the Onkyo is a good one, IO am likely going to use one of their smaller ones in my bedroom when IU get around to replacing a receiver that died in their...

Speakers are a very personal thing though, so you will need to go around and listen to all you can, take material you are familiar with and listen to as many different ones as you can. NHT's are good, I also really like Paradigm and Definitive Technologies for affordable speakers, but DO go listen for yourself before you buy!

Oppo makes a good player for the money, so I too can agree with that as a choice, it will also allow you to play SACD and DVD-A (should you have/want any...)

As for a music server, well, how you want to go depends, you could easily use an Apple Airport express and stream all your music wirelessly from your computer to the system, they are only ~$120 and ~$30 more for the cables (might be able to get these for less now, I haven't priced them in a while) Any receiver that can handle multiple zones will easily cover your outside speakers, only some will allow you to switch from mains to surrounds as this is a pretty esoteric and unusual request of a receiver, I have seen this feature on something, not sure if it is a receiver or pre/pro, but it is very uncommon and I would NOT recommend you wire the surrounds from two separate outputs of a receiver under any circumstances...

If you go with the Onkyo, airport and Oppo, that will only run you ~ $1,100, so then all you need to do is find some speakers.............

BTW enjoy PJ, though they have Petered out since I saw them last. First time I saw them they and Smashing Pumkins were warming up for the Red Hot Chili Peppers @ the American Theater in St Louis, this was before either PJ or SP had ever seen airtime, in fact it is where the Evenflow video was shot, look closely and you'll see a tall guy in a yellow sports jacket, that was my friend who had the tickets....

Dr. Bernice 05-21-2008 03:05 PM

Re: System Advice, Please? Never Thought I'd Ask For Easy Listening, But
Thanks very much, K & C, for your kindness and empathetic bedside manner. I was quite apprehensive about posting here, in fear of being flamed for my obvious knowledge deficit. I truly appreciate the advice.

Since I posted, I have been looking at the Denon 4808CI. Ok, granted, it's a bit pricier than I wanted to invest initially, but, I'm really having to ask myself if it's wise for me to buy a receiver that isn't Wi-fi capable, when that is reallt what I want. I see your recommendations for the Airport and Olive, and, clearly, it would be less expensive to add one of these, rather than the 4808CI.

So, is the difference in cost worth it? Would there be any difference in quality, and ease of use? It doesn't take Columbo to figure out that I'm not technological genius, so, would it make my life significantly easier to go for everything in one receiver or not? I have 3 pcs on my network.

And, yes, Kenny, I can't wait to see PJ again. Caught them out in Denver with Tom Petty 2 years ago, and it was beyond sublime. I walked 2 feet off the ground for days. Course, I have more pics of EV displayed around the house, than I do of my kids...

kennyt 05-21-2008 03:24 PM

Re: System Advice, Please? Never Thought I'd Ask For Easy Listening, But
4308, there is no 4808.

You would have a solid receiver, but it is going to cut into your budget quite a bit, but later down the road when you add a BLu-ray player, this unit does everything you could want so in the long run it might not be a bad idea, it will work with your PC's allowing you to stream music from them, and I believe if it is like the AVP-A1HDCI I am currently reviewing, will also allow Rhapsody and internet radio streaming, but I am not positive of that.

Also look into the Onkyo TX-NR905 if you're expanding the budget some, it is $2,099 retail, so a bit less than the Denon you are looking at and it does the same things, except would require a wired network, it's a really nice unit.

Remember you still need speakers.....

CharlyD 05-21-2008 04:11 PM

Re: System Advice, Please? Never Thought I'd Ask For Easy Listening, But
I assume you're considering the Denon 4308CI, not the 4808CI. The 4308CI includes a feature set that is absolutely state of the art. One aspect that I'm really fascinated about is that it is DLNA-compliant. DLNA is an open standard for interconnectivity between consumer electronic devices. Using the protocols defined in this standard, the 4308CI gives you a means to play back JPEG pictures as well as music content stored on a networked server. That server could be a toaster-sized NAS (Networked Attached Server) sitting in a closet. Or, the server could be one of your laptops. Also, the 4308CI will present a full control interface to any browser-equipped device on the network. You can fully control the 4308CI with a wirelessly connected laptop while sitting on your couch.

From a quality perspective, the Olive probably probably plays CD quality content at least as well and has the ability to play content that's better than CD. The user interface for the Olive is a winner. Olive should package that user interface as a product as it would be compatible with other DLNA systems. If you choose the 4308CI, the Olive could be used to stream music from the same server in other rooms in your house. The Airport Express has mediocre playback capabilities and includes NO user interface - content must be pushed from your laptop.

It seems you've justified the cost of the 4308CI as it's closer to what you really want. Be careful about applying that same reasoning when choosing speakers. The price for good floorstanders can skyrocket with increasing quality. Keep us in touch with your quest.

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