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Surround Sound Talk about everything from 5.1 to 7.1 to Dolby True HD and beyond.

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Old 07-17-2008   #1
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Wink Speaking of speakers, can I have your input?

It's been a long but enlightening journey since I first posted on the Source Component forum, and I still appreciate Kenny and Charley's patience and empathy that I was, (and still am) a newbie.

After close to two months of agonizing over what I really wanted, and weighing my dreams against the realities of current technology, and also my pocketbook, I've finally made some purchases, and also acquired some hand-me-downs to fill in until I decide I need.

I went with the Onkyo TX-SR805 in my great room, and I believe it will be a "sound" decision, but, since I am awaiting a functional replacement unit, I am basing this judgement on the performance of the little sister Onkyo TX-SR304 I purchased for the Master Bedroom. I got the 304 for a steal, and couldn't resist since I knew setting up an additional zone on the 805 for the MBR was going to be a PIA for me in the long run. Unfortunately, the 805 I received is under the impression that it has headphones hooked up when none exist, and Onkyo tech support and I have decided it best to swap it out.

I'm smitten with the little 304 - it sounds great and was easy for me to hookup. I've insulted it with a pair of archaic Pioneers, which I'm certain remember the likes of "Detroit Rock City" and "More Than a Feeling." Since the 304 was a "bonus", it will have to tolerate the Pioneers for awhile - at least until the Great Room is kickin'.

So, there's my update, and, BTW, Kenny, Pearl Jam was great last month in Columbia, although I wish they could have played somewhere besides a basketball coliseum.... I'm still wondering why they chose to do a gig in Columbia, SC.

It's time to make a speaker decision, and I'm back, hoping for some more sound advice and keeping my fingers crossed that you speaker guys are as sweet as the good Dr. et al who lurk in the Source Component forum.

So, my first and utmost concern is sound quality and the ability to wake the neighbors - sweet and loud. So, should my first investment be for two floorspeakers, or for 5.1 surround? Truthfully, watching television, whether it be something on TV, or a DVD, is very much a secondary priority with me. Unless it's the occasional concert, my 19" LCD stays off for the most part, except I do kind of enjoy watching youtube when I hook my laptop up to it.

What do I need to look for when making my buying decision? Should the speakers be rated at a certain ?whatever, and should I sink my money into just two for now, or stretch the dollars out over 5 speakers instead? I'm going to have to limit my expenditure to probably about $600.00 right now, but being the penny squealer that I am, I will be certain to find an incredible deal (either that or raise my budget), so suggestions in the $800 to 1K range would be appreciated. Yes, I know, the speakers will make our break my dreams, but, when I go fantasy shopping and see the 12k/pair guys, I shutter when I think of one of my cats walking by and spraying on something that cost about the same as my last car! So, I just can't commit to purchasing something I have to be paranoid about...we're just too rough of a bunch around here!

What about Athena, or Fluance, Celestion, JBL, Polk...just to throw a few out at ya? Who am I overlooking? And where do I shop to get the biggest bang for the buck? And, what specifications should I be pursuing in case I need to remind the neighbors that rock and roll truly isn't noise polution?

You guys have been great, tolerating me up until now, and I really do appreciate your guidance. I look forward to your help in being the loudest and proudest soccer mom on the block.

Kristen
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Old 07-17-2008   #2
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Lightbulb Re: Speaking of speakers, can I have your input?

Oops! Almost forgot this tidbit: The speakers will live in a 20'x24' room with 16 foot ceilings...guess that might be kind of important to mention.

K.
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Old 07-17-2008   #3
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Default Re: Speaking of speakers, can I have your input?

Well, Kristen, I am glad to hear Onkyo is swapping out the receiver. I always insist on replacement when a new item is not working properly, and fortunately often get it.

You have a HUGE volume room, so getting big volume will require efficient speakers, (the higher the efficiency, the louder they will play for a given power output). That said, your room is very large so will take a good deal of output to get the volume you describe, and unless you get lucky on the used market (Audiogon.com is my favorite site for audio gear) you won't get what you want for $600, and definitely won't get a 5.1 system that will do that room any justice.

You mentioned lots of classic rock, desire for high volume, and smooth sound, and if theirs one speaker that fills that bill, it's the new Definitive Technologies Mythos ST. I bought my review sample and still have them rocking the HT, Stereophile just raved about their baby brother, the STS in this months issue as well. OK, the down side, the retail for $4K (ST's) or $3K (STS's) a pair, the STS's sound virtually identical tothe ST's, they just put out less volume, so if you could swing it, a pair of ST's would be a great match for you, they are efficient (93db), can play louder than you should ever listen to (I clocked >110 db in my room of similar size) and they have powered subwoofers built into each speaker so bass kicks a$$. They can often be found for less than $3K new, so I assume the STS's can be has for sub $2K if you shop hard, maybe better if someone is selling used ones but they don't last long on the market so if you see them, make the deal fast or they'll be gone.

I know it's more than you currently budgeted, but to be honest for $600, your not going to be happy with what you'll get, and they anything you can get for that won't do the room size well or sound very good......

I know, I am once again encouraging someone to go beyond their anticipated budget, but FWIW I always seem to do this myself too!
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Old 07-17-2008   #4
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Default Re: Speaking of speakers, can I have your input?

Welcome back Kristen! And it's good to hear that your quest is ongoing. I completly agree with Kenny's recommendations. You've got a very large space, and, based on your goals of high quality sound that the neighbors can also enjoy, the speakers you choose will have to move a lot of air - serious testicular fortitude to use a term from recent politics. I don't know of any speakers with that quality that could be had for price range of less than $600. The Def Tech speakers Kenny recommended are outstanding values in their price range and would certainly qualify. A shop I recommended earlier, Audio Advisor, has the NHT Classic Four (opened box) at $499 ea. (http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=0NHT4) which is half price. At $1000 for the pair, I don't think you can do much better for the high end of your budget. Kenny's recommendation of Audiogon is also a great source of audio bargains.

Don't know what to say about your wayward cats. How's your aim with a squirt bottle?
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Old 07-17-2008   #5
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Default Re: Speaking of speakers, can I have your input?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Bernice View Post
know, the speakers will make our break my dreams, but, when I go fantasy shopping and see the 12k/pair guys, I shutter when I think of one of my cats walking by and spraying on something that cost about the same as my last car!
Kristen, I used to worry about that, but now I only worry about what they do to the grill cloth! In fact, I have a bigger problem with my Great Dane possibly knocking over my rears if they aren't floor standers! This is just one (well, actually I always try for two pairs of matched speakers in my 5.1 setup) reason for full sized rears in my home!

Oh, and FWIW the $19K front I am rocking out now, the Escalante Design Fremonts are off the ground, so cats wouldn't get them, now the Danes tail could harm a tweeter though....

Good luck speaker hunting!

I might add that DCM makes a good smooth sounding though less dynamic and with less bass than the Def Techs, but they are super cheap and in my mind one of the best low budget speakers (the 100 model can be had direct from DCm for <$800 a pair, the 200, their TOTL is sub $1K a pair)
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Old 07-18-2008   #6
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Default Re: Speaking of speakers, can I have your input?

Like you, I also have a champaign appetite with a beer budget. So here's what I did. I listened to speakers for several months disregarding price, even traveling as far as 300 miles to listen to some that were not available nearby. When I found that I really liked the sound of the Revel Salons ($40k) and the B & W 801's ($20k) (speakers I obviously couldn't afford) I began looking for ones that exhibited as much of the same sonic qualities as the big dogs but priced near what I felt I could afford. I also started out looking for a 5.1 setup and quickly realized that I wasn't going to get the quality I wanted if I tried to get the whole setup at once. So, once I found the speakers that I felt got me as close to my idea of the absolute sound as possible within my budget, I purchased them over the span of 3 years. I started with the main L/R's then center and surrounds and finally a sub.

Speakers are like cars. Everyone has his/her own idea of what constitutes great ones. Go out and listen as much as possible. Don't be in a hurry because you may have to live with them for a long time. Many speakers that seem to sound great during a short listening session in a showroom can end up fatiguing in the long run. I think that the best way to audition speakers is in your own listening space as you cannot believe how much your listening space affects the sound of speakers. Failing that, when you've whittled the list of candidates down to 2 or 3, listen to them using electronics similar to what you will be using.

Shopping for speakers is great fun. Bring your own music, relax, and take notes. Be sure to audition the various speaker types to discover your preferences. There are cones, ribbons, horns, and electrostatic drivers to choose from.

Happy hunting!

An agnostic, dyslexic insomniac lies awake at night wondering if there is a dog.
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