Suggestions for upgrading/replacing my 3.1 setup - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Suggestions for upgrading/replacing my 3.1 setup

I am looking for suggestions on new/additional speakers to upgrade/replace or supplement my current set up and general advice...

Background:

I bought a pair of Infinity Alpha 50's (6 1/4 " woofers) about ten years ago and I have been using them as my main TV watching/music listening fronts (or only's) ever since. Until about 3 years ago these two speakers paired with a decent amp and a sub were preferred by me and any roommates I have had each time we put them up against a 5.1 or 7.1 system as none of us ever purchased anything high end.

skip forward to now - I have a denon avr 791 which I recently decided was too bulky for my tastes so I purchased a Marantz NR 1605 to run my basement room set up which consists of my Infinity Alphas, a Klipsch KC-25 Icon Series center, a Klipsch sw-350 sub and a pair of polk t15 5 1/4 in bookshelf speakers that I currently have not utilized as part of the system but could potentially work as surrounds to fill out 5.1.

I used this room 75% of the time for listening to music via various sources so I rarely care about the surround most of the time. 25% would be movies, tv, other video like netflix I may watch on my panasonic plasma or HTPC.

So the question I have is two pronged:

1. I love the infinity towers but I think they may be getting a bit past their prime as the anchor in my setup and I am considering buying a new set of nice tower speakers that would work well in a music dominated set up. 2.1/3.1 most of the time. I am looking for any suggestions the community may have (budget would probably be flexible but I do not see myself spending more than $1000 (likely much less) for the pair especially since they would be running off my Marantz NR 1605 (or denon avr 791) so I doubt they can push anything too extreme.

2. If I keep my Infinity Alpha's and wanted to round out my 5.1 set up without using the Polk Bookshelf speakers what would be suggestions for doing that speaker wise?

3. (sorry I know I said 2 fold) are these amps solid enough to push the kind of speaker set ups I am asking about or did I low ball my needs in that area with the Marantz and perhaps that limits my speak options?

general feedback/suggestions/or clarifying questions are welcomed and appreciated. I have been out of the audio market for quite some time and have not kept up with the technology and my wife has OK'd me to go buy a new set of speakers

Thanks!!

Tim
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 11:08 AM
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My impression is you are anxious to buy something but moving sideways, not up, so keep what you have, till you really figure it out.

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post #3 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 01:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry if I seem ignorant but could you expand on that? It is hard for a person that isn't knowledgable about audio best practices etc. to know if there set up could be easily improved sound wise with small tweaks or upgrading old equipment.

Would it help to ask more specific questions or is this just not interesting or complex enough to peak interest for a response other than essentially "do nothing".

Perhaps I am misinterpreting your comment? My infinity speakers to have a couple woofers with dents and a tear that I used (horrific I know) tape to fix temporarily so it's not like they are at peak conditioning.

If anyone can help suggest amplifier capability of the 1605 when used with a 2 or 3 channel mostly music playing set up it would be much appreciated.

I also want to know whether it is important to have speakers or the same brand/series in one system as clearly none of mine match at this stage.

Excuse my ignorance/newbie response. Just want help making my stuff sound good
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post #4 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 01:24 PM
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The Polk speakers would be fine for surrounds unless you listen to multi-channel music. You could stay with what you currently have but you really need a matching center speaker for your front three. My guess is that it would be quite difficult to find the matching center at this point (but not impossible). So it might be better to start over for your front three. What's your budget? Keep in mind you will need efficient speakers due to the power constraints of the Marantz 1605.

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post #5 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post
The Polk speakers would be fine for surrounds unless you listen to multi-channel music. You could stay with what you currently have but you really need a matching center speaker for your front three. My guess is that it would be quite difficult to find the matching center at this point (but not impossible). So it might be better to start over for your front three. What's your budget? Keep in mind you will need efficient speakers due to the power constraints of the Marantz 1605.
thanks that does help confirm my suspicions that a mismatched front 3 is not the best way to go.

In regards to the power constraints of the Marantz, how efficient of speakers are we talking to get really good stereo sound? Honestly, I haven't done much research in this department for so long that I do not know what efficient speakers would be rated as compared to say the Infinity Alpha's I have.

If I was to take one of the receivers, Marantz 1605 or the Denon avr 791, to my living room (where the wife watches TV and could care less what it sounds like) to run a 3.1 set up and perhaps down the line full surround with rears and a sub which one would make the most sense if I wanted to have the ideal music set up remaining downstairs where I listen the most and play guitar?

I guess the real question is which amp would be better for a 2.1/2.1 (or 3.1?) set up where I mostly listen to music and would the Infinity Alpha's with (or without?) a sub be a good stereo music set up? I really prefer the sound quality and clear powerful sound that comes from the Alpha's when I have them set up right and the right source of music over any kind of "immersive" experience for movie watching if that makes sense.

I could return the Marantz if it is not really a value add in my situation but the ease of which it allows music/content to come from so many sources (blue tooth, air play, etc.) makes it really easy to use spur of the moment especially with guests that BTOM.

I may be overcomplicating this but searching the web these days for good information on these topics usually just results in surround sound advertisements and little non biased advice.....

Thanks again to both of you for reading and responding I am new to the forum and appreciate your patience.

T
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post #6 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pickering.tim@gmail.com View Post
thanks that does help confirm my suspicions that a mismatched front 3 is not the best way to go.

In regards to the power constraints of the Marantz, how efficient of speakers are we talking to get really good stereo sound? Honestly, I haven't done much research in this department for so long that I do not know what efficient speakers would be rated as compared to say the Infinity Alpha's I have.

If I was to take one of the receivers, Marantz 1605 or the Denon avr 791, to my living room (where the wife watches TV and could care less what it sounds like) to run a 3.1 set up and perhaps down the line full surround with rears and a sub which one would make the most sense if I wanted to have the ideal music set up remaining downstairs where I listen the most and play guitar?

I guess the real question is which amp would be better for a 2.1/2.1 (or 3.1?) set up where I mostly listen to music and would the Infinity Alpha's with (or without?) a sub be a good stereo music set up? I really prefer the sound quality and clear powerful sound that comes from the Alpha's when I have them set up right and the right source of music over any kind of "immersive" experience for movie watching if that makes sense.

I could return the Marantz if it is not really a value add in my situation but the ease of which it allows music/content to come from so many sources (blue tooth, air play, etc.) makes it really easy to use spur of the moment especially with guests that BTOM.

I may be overcomplicating this but searching the web these days for good information on these topics usually just results in surround sound advertisements and little non biased advice.....

Thanks again to both of you for reading and responding I am new to the forum and appreciate your patience.

T
also I think I mis represented some specs from the Alphas - here is a link: http://www.crutchfield.com/S-WagTS3C...Black-ash.html

would the Marantz be powerful enough to play loud stereo content in high quality? Would the Denon perhaps be a better choice for that?

Also, these speakers have Bi-amp capabilities but i have read a lot of confusing articles on that and assume I would need different equipment to achieve any benefit. Any thoughts on that?
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pickering.tim@gmail.com View Post
thanks that does help confirm my suspicions that a mismatched front 3 is not the best way to go.

In regards to the power constraints of the Marantz, how efficient of speakers are we talking to get really good stereo sound? Honestly, I haven't done much research in this department for so long that I do not know what efficient speakers would be rated as compared to say the Infinity Alpha's I have.

If I was to take one of the receivers, Marantz 1605 or the Denon avr 791, to my living room (where the wife watches TV and could care less what it sounds like) to run a 3.1 set up and perhaps down the line full surround with rears and a sub which one would make the most sense if I wanted to have the ideal music set up remaining downstairs where I listen the most and play guitar?

I guess the real question is which amp would be better for a 2.1/2.1 (or 3.1?) set up where I mostly listen to music and would the Infinity Alpha's with (or without?) a sub be a good stereo music set up? I really prefer the sound quality and clear powerful sound that comes from the Alpha's when I have them set up right and the right source of music over any kind of "immersive" experience for movie watching if that makes sense.

I could return the Marantz if it is not really a value add in my situation but the ease of which it allows music/content to come from so many sources (blue tooth, air play, etc.) makes it really easy to use spur of the moment especially with guests that BTOM.

I may be overcomplicating this but searching the web these days for good information on these topics usually just results in surround sound advertisements and little non biased advice.....

Thanks again to both of you for reading and responding I am new to the forum and appreciate your patience.

T
The Infinity Alpha 50s you have are great speakers and quite efficient at 91 dB. 90 dB and above would be considered efficient. I would be inclined to keep the Alpha 50's in your music setup with the Marantz and a decent subwoofer. Move the Denon 791 into the living room and get some decent budget speakers. What would your budget be for the living room setup? There are some reasonably priced options from Pioneer, Ascend Acoustics, HTD, Wave Crest Audio, etc.

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Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post
The Infinity Alpha 50s you have are great speakers and quite efficient at 91 dB. 90 dB and above would be considered efficient. I would be inclined to keep the Alpha 50's in your music setup with the Marantz and a decent subwoofer. Move the Denon 791 into the living room and get some decent budget speakers. What would your budget be for the living room setup? There are some reasonably priced options from Pioneer, Ascend Acoustics, HTD, Wave Crest Audio, etc.
my budget for new floor standing speakers to replace the alphas would probably be around 1000 for the pair but could go higher and would love to go lower of course.

however, to pair with the denon upstairs I could use my bookshelf speakers there or get some decent sounding more budget friendly speakers as that room is not used for anything needing a high quality sound really. My wife does mostly tv watching and if I want to do anything where I would appreciate better sound I come downstairs where my alphas are now. the wife just likes the way the alphas look next to the flat panel we have so that could be a waste.

Would you recommend Bi-amping? or if that requires additional equipment and know how that would be above the increase in performance for my needs would you recommending replacing the one mid speaker with a dent in the cone (?) and the woofer that had the cone (not sure of terminology there), separated from the woofer that i repaired with tape? Or is there an easier fix?
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post #9 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pickering.tim@gmail.com View Post
Sorry if I seem ignorant but could you expand on that? It is hard for a person that isn't knowledgable about audio best practices etc. to know if there set up could be easily improved sound wise with small tweaks or upgrading old equipment.
Stare at it for a little while. How is it set up? Nice symmetry? Room problems? Ever measured the sound? What do you see that is wrong or could be improved? Ever read about how to set up a system? Read about room treatments?


Quote:
Originally Posted by pickering.tim
Would it help to ask more specific questions or is this just not interesting or complex enough to peak interest for a response other than essentially "do nothing".
It's hard to say from a first post. I answered to see where it goes, and gave my first impression opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pickering.tim
Perhaps I am misinterpreting your comment? My infinity speakers to have a couple woofers with dents and a tear that I used (horrific I know) tape to fix temporarily so it's not like they are at peak conditioning.
Oh, you didn't say you had damage.

Maybe you can get that damaged driver reconed or replaced. Maybe it really doesn't make a sonic difference at all. Do they still look dented when the grilles are on? Is the tape holding?

I may have focused on "I love the infinity towers" and looked them up and thought "Those look good enough".

Quote:
Originally Posted by pickering.tim
If anyone can help suggest amplifier capability of the 1605 when used with a 2 or 3 channel mostly music playing set up it would be much appreciated.
All I could do is read the spec.
Receiver change? I dunno, they're receivers to me. I don't have one at all. I still consider them to have some compromises to get it all in the box.

NR1605
Power Output 50W x 7
AVR-791
Power Output 90W x7

Difference in rated power is 2.55db. That's a just noticeable difference.

Both have the usual "good enough" specs. I suppose they have different features, somewhat.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pickering.tim
I also want to know whether it is important to have speakers or the same brand/series in one system as clearly none of mine match at this stage.
Excuse my ignorance/newbie response. Just want help making my stuff sound good
The fronts need to be matched for good stereo. I don't have or feel a need for a center channel, but if you have one, it should match in sensitivity and voicing as the main L/R speakers.

Speakers need to be placed well, too, or you get an uneven image (assuming you like to sit in the middle and enjoy the stereo part). have you experimented with their positioning? A system rarely sounds its best when just slapped together.

---

But now you have other customers for your thread, with more modern opinions than me, so, I'll look back in and see how it goes.

Good luck...

I'll be back later...



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post #10 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
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actually I should be mentioning the basement is a fairly square room however there is a column that has caused my much difficulty in finding the best place to set up the sound stage and place the speakers. I am limited as to how far apart my FL and FR tower speakers can be set. right now they are about 28 inches from center of TV stand and center channel speaker. not ideal

also, there is a air duct ceiling "protfusion" that runs from one side of the room to the other which is about a foot lower than cieling height so right now the set up is that the tv/speakers sit about 2 feet from a wall facing listneing position which is about 120 inches from the TV and the cieling run is perpendicular to the tv and speakers and runs all the way to back wall behind listening position about a foot from center channel and 3 feet in width if that makes sense. so the FL speaker is only about 6 inches from the colum that goes directly up to the air duct run. sounds complicated so i will add a pic

set up is the biggest issue i am sure so thanks for bringing my attention back to that.
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That column is certainly in an unfortunate spot. Anyway, could you move the setup another foot to the right? Or perhaps you could place your gear on the other side of the room and move the couch there?

Regarding the damage to your speakers it might be possible to find replacement parts-not from Infinity (Harman Audio) but used online. $1000 to replace the towers is not bad to start with (e.g. Emptek E55Ti $700). There are definitely some quality options in that range especially if you're open to considering book shelf speakers instead.

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post #12 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
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That column is certainly in an unfortunate spot. Anyway, could you move the setup another foot to the right? Or perhaps you could place your gear on the other side of the room and move the couch there?

Regarding the damage to your speakers it might be possible to find replacement parts-not from Infinity (Harman Audio) but used online. $1000 to replace the towers is not bad to start with (e.g. Emptek E55Ti $700). There are definitely some quality options in that range especially if you're open to considering book shelf speakers instead.
Looking for floor standing for high quality music playback. Does that change the suggestion you made?
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post #13 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 05:14 PM
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Nope. The Emptek E55Ti towers are really good for the price. I've listed some other suggestions below (keep in mind some of them are a bit outside the $1000 budget).

KEF Q900, $1300 (accessories4less.com)
Focal 717V, $750 (accessories4less.com)-you will need a subwoofer
PSB Image T6, $999 (saturday audio)-demo or the new Imagine X2T for $1200
NHT Absolute Tower, $1100 (Audio Advisor)
JBL Studio 570, $1200 (Amazon)
Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE mini-tower with stands, $708

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post #14 of 17 Old 08-02-2014, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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last question as I have realized I should probably be moving this to a different forum? Sorry in advance if I haven't followed etiquette...

I am going to go ahead and set up my system as is taking into consideration some of the suggestions above before making a purchase of any kind. I still may have to buy some additional speakers to either fill out 5.1 or 7.1 in the basement or split the set up into two separate rooms but that is for another day.

You mentioned switching my couch and TV to help reduce problems of the column in my current set up. When I look at that option I have two doors on that side of the room that lead to our utility closet spaces where I have a fairly noisy HVAC/water heater and AC vents running that would end up all sitting directly behind the tv/speaker set up. Is that going to affect how the sound is perceived significantly?

My other option would be the wall to the right of my current set up which has a brick fireplace (currently blocked by a futon) that we have no interest in using which also has a banister type wooden shelf above it that I could place my center channel speaker on and it would be just above the tv.

This would also mean the column ends up towards the back my the listening area probably next to the main listening couch and the duct ceiling work would be above that main couch (not in front of it)

Would the fireplace be a bad backdrop for the tv to be in front of as far as sound is concerned? I would have limited range to set the Front speakers out to the left and right of the TV but not more limited then the current set up i have. Also, my sub has been place in the corner of the room behind the listening position thus far and seems to do fine there but there is furniture around it so I wonder if putting it in a more open space might help.

Also, I use Audyssey to calibrate my set up (I do not know if this is wise or needed with a 2.1 config but for some reason it sounds better with it turned on). I am thinking of Bi-amping my fronts too since I believe the marantz can send a discrete amp channel to my infinitys because they have each two woofers a mid and a tweeter and a bi-amp connection in the back.

I always go back and forth on how the various inputs should be connected to my television to make it as simple as possible without sacrificing sound quality letting my amp pass it through to the television.

All thoughts/suggestions/critiques are welcome and much appreciated
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post #15 of 17 Old 08-03-2014, 11:32 AM
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My previous recommendations were based on what I could see from your provided pictures. With the additional information, the fireplace configuration may actually work better. The utility closet noise would be an issue most likely. Audyssey should sound better as it provides bass management and some compensation for some of your room issues. Personally, I use the Audyssey Bypass L/R option when listening to music. With this option, bass management, distance, and crossover options are still engaged but the detailed frequency adjustments are not.

In any case, if you have the time a little experimentation is in order regarding how your room is configured to provide for the best sound quality.

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post #16 of 17 Old 08-03-2014, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
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My previous recommendations were based on what I could see from your provided pictures. With the additional information, the fireplace configuration may actually work better. The utility closet noise would be an issue most likely. Audyssey should sound better as it provides bass management and some compensation for some of your room issues. Personally, I use the Audyssey Bypass L/R option when listening to music. With this option, bass management, distance, and crossover options are still engaged but the detailed frequency adjustments are not.

In any case, if you have the time a little experimentation is in order regarding how your room is configured to provide for the best sound quality.
Thanks - I set things up in front of fireplace as it made the most sense from my limited knowledge of sound acoustics and the shape/obstacles in the room.

I have yet to set up the marantz with my speakers though as I am trying to determine if I should move that receiver upstairs (it is lower power then the denon i think) and use the denon to run my infinitys (and my powered sub) in the basement with the option of my klipsch center channel (icon series)

I think the mismatched setup may cause it to not sound as good so I am considering a couple options now:

1. pick up a second pair of towers that match my sub and center (klipsch) which I see best buy has a very affordable icon pair on sale right now and move my infinity speakers upstairs as a stereo set up.

I was looking at the klipsch reference series as well (or reference II) as that might pair up nicely with the center and they seem to be very efficient in general for floor standing speakers so I wouldnt need a second amp or more power to drive them with the marantz.

2. Forget the center channel and get upgrade my towers to one of your suggestions from a previous posts. I can't find a lot of good info reviews on these speakers though but i havent searched very hard either though in my experience from past set ups is that a really good stereo and maybe sub if needed combination has always sounded better to me than a surround sound set up especially the lack of good sources i have at the current time.

Thanks again!
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post #17 of 17 Old 08-03-2014, 04:44 PM
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There's no question the Klipsch Reference II series is better than the Icon series. I would recommend listening to them first of course as the horn tweeter has a much different sound signature than the C.M.M.D. dome tweeter of your Alphas.

Here are some reviews (not all inclusive):

PSB Image T6 http://www.soundandvision.com/conten...speaker-system

KEF Q900 http://www.soundandvision.com/conten...speaker-system

Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages...S340Ascend.pdf

NHT Absolute Tower http://www.audioholics.com/tower-spe...absolute-tower

For the JBL Studio 5 series and Focal just peruse the forums. There aren't a whole lot of professional reviews but you'll see they are consistently recommended by experienced users. Ultimately, the best audition is at home with your equipment.

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