help/advice for upgrading my home theater setup for better stereo music listening experience - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 02-25-2013, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello,

I've owned my home theater setup for quite a few years now and still very happy with it for movie watching. The setup consists of a yamaha receiver (htr-5860) and paradigm speakers (mini monitor fronts, cc370 center, adp 170 surrounds, pw2200 sub). I also love listening to music through this system. Most of my music has either been bought through itunes or cds that have now been ripped to my computer and I now listen through my appletv. I play music in stereo mode. I can't really complain about the clarity of the music, it sounds great. the biggest thing, from what i've read, that i am missing is stuff like imaging and separation. No matter how i set it up, most of the music and vocals seem to be coming from straight ahead. If i didn't know the center channel wasn't playing anything i would swear it was the only speaker that was on.

I've been looking into getting myself some nice towers to upgrade my music listening experience. I still plan to use the sub as I think it is a quality sub and could only help the situation. I have given myself a budget of 2000$ cdn + tx. room size is 15ft x 30ft.

As I see it I have 3 options:

1) just upgrade my fronts to best possible within my budget. I was looking at paradigm monitor 7s or higher or even going into studio series.

2) split my budget into upgrading my front speakers and getting a higher quality receiver.

3) keep my receiver and use it's pre-outs to connect to a new stereo amp. Which means I would be splitting my budget between a stereo amp and new fronts.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 11 Old 02-26-2013, 05:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter2679 View Post

Hello,

I've owned my home theater setup for quite a few years now and still very happy with it for movie watching. The setup consists of a yamaha receiver (htr-5860) and paradigm speakers (mini monitor fronts, cc370 center, adp 170 surrounds, pw2200 sub). I also love listening to music through this system. Most of my music has either been bought through itunes or cds that have now been ripped to my computer and I now listen through my appletv. I play music in stereo mode. I can't really complain about the clarity of the music, it sounds great. the biggest thing, from what i've read, that i am missing is stuff like imaging and separation. No matter how i set it up, most of the music and vocals seem to be coming from straight ahead. If i didn't know the center channel wasn't playing anything i would swear it was the only speaker that was on.

I've been looking into getting myself some nice towers to upgrade my music listening experience. I still plan to use the sub as I think it is a quality sub and could only help the situation. I have given myself a budget of 2000$ cdn + tx. room size is 15ft x 30ft.

As I see it I have 3 options:

1) just upgrade my fronts to best possible within my budget. I was looking at paradigm monitor 7s or higher or even going into studio series.

2) split my budget into upgrading my front speakers and getting a higher quality receiver.

3) keep my receiver and use it's pre-outs to connect to a new stereo amp. Which means I would be splitting my budget between a stereo amp and new fronts.

Any advice would be appreciated.

On general purposes: Two words: room acoustics.

More specifically, it sounds like there is some kind of a setup problem. Is that due to how far you sit away, or the room's acoustics or how the speaker levels on the AVR are set are the questions.

When you say that "...From i've read, that i am missing is stuff like imaging and separation.", how do you translate hyperbolic poetry in some audio ragazine into sonic expectations for your audio system?

For me, my sonic references are live sound and other systems I've heard and enjoyed. Listen to live music much?
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post #3 of 11 Old 02-26-2013, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey, thanks for the reply.

I sometimes listen to live albums, but I usually don't. The receiver has an auto setup which I ran when I set everything up. The only change I made was hoping the subwoofer level a couple notches, just out of preference. The front are spaced about 8 feet apart and I sit 10 feet away.

I guess I've never heard for myself what I'm looking for. My only references are my klipsch s4 headphones connected to my iPod touch, or my m-audio av40 computer speakers I have connected to my computer's sound card. They all sound great for their intended purpose.
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post #4 of 11 Old 02-26-2013, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by peter2679 View Post

I guess I've never heard for myself what I'm looking for.


You're in Montreal, make time to visit this: http://www.salonsonimage.com/EN/About/ssi.html

IMO, one of the best places to experience a bunch of different equipment is an audio show.
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post #5 of 11 Old 02-26-2013, 05:51 PM
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I know ArnyK's position on AVRs and amp differences, however, I used to have a Yamaha HTR 6090 and it always sounded lifeless and dull to me. I upgraded to an HK AVR 3600 and it made a huge difference. Your biggest benefit will come from room acoustics, then speakers, then amp/receiver.
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post #6 of 11 Old 02-26-2013, 05:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter2679 View Post
I play music in stereo mode. I can't really complain about the clarity of the music, it sounds great. the biggest thing, from what i've read, that i am missing is stuff like imaging and separation. No matter how i set it up, most of the music and vocals seem to be coming from straight ahead. If i didn't know the center channel wasn't playing anything i would swear it was the only speaker that was on.

If you're in stereo mode and the center channel really ISN'T on and it sounds like it is, that's a GOOD thing. That's called a phantom center and is considered desirable. 

Separation with speakers isn't going to be as good as with headphones, but you should still be able to localize sound from side to side. Have you played any demo/test material that specifically goes from speaker to speaker ("This is your left channel")?

Any chance you have your speakers angled towards you?

Of course, if you're looking to upgrade, this is the place to help you spend more money than you ever thought possible.

A set of these, perhaps:

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/floor-standing-speakers/floor-standing-speakers-reviews/wilson-audio-sophia-3-loudspeakers.html


Downloadable FREE demo discs:

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Did you really need to quote that entire post in your reply?
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post #7 of 11 Old 02-26-2013, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
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I wouldn't say it's completely lifeless and dull but it seems to be part of the problem. The speakers are angled towards me. I'm going to follow some of the advice and work on speaker placement. I do have free space around the speakers so maybe that had been my problem all along.

I still see new main speakers in my future, but I want to get everything else right also.

thank you for all the replies. i'll be checking back soon.
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post #8 of 11 Old 02-27-2013, 08:51 PM - Thread Starter
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So i worked on speaker placement last night. found a few articles and followed their advice. then i reran the auto setup on the receiver. The biggest difference was bringing out the speakers about 8 inches off the wall and closer towards my listening position and angling them more towards me.

I wouldn't say the speakers sound better but it completely eliminated that perception that all the music was coming from straight ahead. There was stuff coming from all over the place. It was definitely a step in the right direction. It's still not where i want it to be though. I know I shouldn't ever expect it to become perfect but i'm not satisfied yet.

K Shep, I will definitely check out that show in march. thanks for the info.
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post #9 of 11 Old 03-03-2013, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Been checking out kijiji for some used stuff around my area. Found a pair of paradigm monitor 9v2 (same version as my mini monitors) and some studio 100v1. The monitor 9 would fit right into my current setup although the studio 100s are better speakers. Obviously they would cost more, but what i'm wondering is how do i fit the studio 100s in my system, would i need to upgrade anything else? would i need to get a better receiver for the monitor 9s also? Any input would be appreciated.
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-24-2013, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Checked out the salon son&image today, it was truly amazing. Of course none of those systems I got to listen to were anywhere near my budget but at least I got to listen a bit to what's out there. They weren't really playing the types of music I like to listen to, alot of jazz and more acoustic stuff, so i couldn't really hear the difference between my system and theirs.

So after spending 6 hours at the show listening to all those systems, checking out how their systems were set up, and how much everything cost, I realized that it's not what I'm looking for right now.

I got out of there and went to an audio dealer that was nearby that I had dealt with in the past. I got to listen to a pair of paradigm monitor 7v.6, couldn't really tell much from listening to them in that environment, but I asked him how much. It was his last pair and he was already carrying the newer v.7s so he gave me a real good price on the pair I listened to, it was a lot less than what I was willing to spend so I jumped on the opportunity.

I brought them home and hooked them up. Moved my old titans to the back. Will have a 7.1 setup after I buy some speaker wire to run to them. But right now only have a 2.1 system hooked up ( I disconnected the other speakers a couple weeks ago because i wanted to get this 2 channed audio thing figured out) . Been listening to them for the last 2 hours. I wasn't expecting much of an upgrade (actually was expecting not to notice any difference), but surprisingly they are clearer than the titans were. I am happy with the result. It didn't cost me as much as I was fearing. Was it worth the cost? Maybe not. I won't know until I hook everything up. If going from 5.1 to 7.1 does improve the movie watching experience and on top of that i enjoy listening to music that much more, then I will be fully satisfied with the purchase.

Just wanted to let everyone know how things turned out and thank K Shep for letting me know about the show that was going on this weekend, it was quite the experience.
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post #11 of 11 Old 03-25-2013, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter2679 View Post

Checked out the salon son&image today, it was truly amazing. Of course none of those systems I got to listen to were anywhere near my budget but at least I got to listen a bit to what's out there. They weren't really playing the types of music I like to listen to, alot of jazz and more acoustic stuff, so i couldn't really hear the difference between my system and theirs.

So after spending 6 hours at the show listening to all those systems, checking out how their systems were set up, and how much everything cost, I realized that it's not what I'm looking for right now.

I got out of there and went to an audio dealer that was nearby that I had dealt with in the past. I got to listen to a pair of paradigm monitor 7v.6, couldn't really tell much from listening to them in that environment, but I asked him how much. It was his last pair and he was already carrying the newer v.7s so he gave me a real good price on the pair I listened to, it was a lot less than what I was willing to spend so I jumped on the opportunity.

I brought them home and hooked them up. Moved my old titans to the back. Will have a 7.1 setup after I buy some speaker wire to run to them. But right now only have a 2.1 system hooked up ( I disconnected the other speakers a couple weeks ago because i wanted to get this 2 channed audio thing figured out) . Been listening to them for the last 2 hours. I wasn't expecting much of an upgrade (actually was expecting not to notice any difference), but surprisingly they are clearer than the titans were. I am happy with the result. It didn't cost me as much as I was fearing. Was it worth the cost? Maybe not. I won't know until I hook everything up. If going from 5.1 to 7.1 does improve the movie watching experience and on top of that i enjoy listening to music that much more, then I will be fully satisfied with the purchase.

Just wanted to let everyone know how things turned out and thank K Shep for letting me know about the show that was going on this weekend, it was quite the experience.


Congratulations on your new purchase. I'm glad you enjoyed the audio show, my experience has been hit and miss with shows. It's so difficult to set hotel rooms up to sound good, Rocky Mountain Audiofest had larger rooms that sounded wonderful. For the most part you may check out hundreds of manufacturers in a short time.
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