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post #1 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Ultra Low Budget Audiophile Build

Hello all,

I'm new to register to this site, but I've done a lot of reading here already.

I'm having issues trying to get my new setup to sound good, and I'm wondering if anyone can shed light on it. I just bought a pair of Pioneer SP-FS52 tower speakers to replace my Yamaha NXE-200 bookshelf speakers. (Nothing wrong with the Yamaha's, just always heard that speakers are by far the best upgrade for a system, and I wanted to move the bookshelfs upstairs). Amplifier is a Yamaha EX-200 amplifier. (The Yamaha stuff came from the MCR-250 Piano Craft Micro system.) Source is a PC with motherboard line-out. (I know a DAC would help a lot, but it never sounded bad with the old speakers).

Based on all the rave reviews on the Andy Jones Pioneer speakers, and the killer deal on Amazon the other week, I figured this would be the perfect upgrade, but I just can't get them to sound nearly as good as my old Yamaha speakers. I find they have very heavy/muddy mids & lows, and the highs aren't well defined at all.

Any ideas why these new speakers aren't sounding good?
Should I break them in longer? And if so, how long and at what volume?
Am I not driving them with enough power? I have 50 watts per channel (rated at 6ohm), and I've read that the Pioneer Elite A20 is a good amp for these speakers, and it also runs 50 watts per channel (rated at 4ohm).
Could it be a polarity issue? I'm confident that the speaker wires aren't crossed up, but maybe inside the cabinet? It's easy enough to try swapping speaker polarity, but can the crossovers handle that?

I also have a Headroom Total Bithead portable headphone amp/DAC. How could I test with it as a DAC only? It doesn't have a line-out, only headphone output. Is it safe to run the headphone out straight into my Yamaha amplifier? What volume / gain settings should I have it set at?

Any input would be greatly appreciated, and if more information is required, let me know.
Thanks in advance!
Cheers
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post #2 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 08:07 AM
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The DAC won't help. My guess is you don't like the sound of the new speakers.
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post #3 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 08:08 AM
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"but can the crossovers handle that?"

yes

I'll be back later...


1.5RQ > digits > OpenDRC-DI > DEQ2496 > DAC2 > KCT > FPB 350mcx > reQuest > Sweetspot
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post #4 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 08:16 AM
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If you have some kind of polarity miswiring, then obviously you'll need to correct that.

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Based on all the rave reviews on the Andy Jones Pioneer speakers, and the killer deal on Amazon the other week, I figured this would be the perfect upgrade, but I just can't get them to sound nearly as good as my old Yamaha speakers.
It's really hard to say, but the first thing that jumped to mind is that those Pioneer speakers are probably a tough load for a small amplifier like that. The SP-FS52 is a three-way design with small drivers designed to go down to 40Hz. They're likely to need quite a bit of power from the amp to get them to 'sing.' You mentioned that your Yamaha amp came from a mini system.



That suggests that the amplifier is a small, low-power type, which probably does not drive those speakers well. I would guess that a more capable amp will be necessary, or speakers that are higher in efficiency (take less watts to get loud) and have an easy-to-drive impedance curve.

You can use a headphone output to drive a power amplifier. Keep the volume control low on the headphone amp, at first. Maybe start out at 20% of the way up. If your power amp has its own volume control, adjust that to no more than about 50%. If the output level is too low at that setting, try slowly raising the level from the headphone amp until you get a moderately loud level. Now leave the headphone amp volume alone, and you can adjust the power amp level control as your main volume control. That may not be the 'best' way to do it, but it's safe.

--

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Snell Type C speakers
Homebrew DC-coupled, push-pull, 2A3 amp, Intact Audio volume control
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post #5 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 08:23 AM
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What's the physical setup?

If the bookshelf speakers were "in your face" and the new ones are "down on the floor" that could be a factor.

Get yourself in front of them if you aren't. Especially the tweeters.

I'll be back later...


1.5RQ > digits > OpenDRC-DI > DEQ2496 > DAC2 > KCT > FPB 350mcx > reQuest > Sweetspot
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post #6 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 08:33 AM
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Nothing here says muddy.

Maybe your physical setup is real bad.

Maybe your speakers are defective.

Maybe your amp is lame - maybe not, the specs say no in this application.

and so on...



http://www.audioholics.com/tower-spe...s-measurements

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1.5RQ > digits > OpenDRC-DI > DEQ2496 > DAC2 > KCT > FPB 350mcx > reQuest > Sweetspot

Last edited by RayDunzl; 08-27-2014 at 08:45 AM.
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post #7 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies and input.

Physical setup didn't change much. I had the bookshelf speakers on the corners of the TV stand and the tower speakers stand on the floor right next to them. They're only a few inches off the back wall (which might not help), but there's not much room to move them. Distance between speakers is maybe 6ft, and distance to listening position is 10ft.

As for the amp - I fully realize it's designed for a matching set of small bookshelf speakers. But, I am surprised that the Pioneer Elite A20 with 50W/channel is recommended for these speakers, and my Yamaha amp at 50W/channel can't push them. I know there is some variance in power output depending on impedance of the speaker, etc, but are there other factors that play into it? Should two 50W amps be able to drive speakers similarly? Or could there be major differences?

I'll keep the DAC out of it for now - eventually I'll buy a dedicated USB DAC for that computer - looking at either the ODAC or the Schiit Modi, but like I mentioned, it used to sound good with the exact same source.

What about break-in? Is 5-10 hours at low/normal listening levels enough?

Last edited by xc_racer; 08-27-2014 at 10:09 AM. Reason: added details
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post #8 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 10:35 AM
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Are the tweeters working?

5-10 watts should be somewhat loud.

Pull them out from the wall a bit temporarily and see what happens.

I'll be back later...


1.5RQ > digits > OpenDRC-DI > DEQ2496 > DAC2 > KCT > FPB 350mcx > reQuest > Sweetspot
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post #9 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Tweeters are definitely working. I'll try pulling them off the wall tonight and see what happens.
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post #10 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 02:20 PM
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Here's a guess: You are used to listening to small speakers with relatively little bass in a small room. Now you have larger speakers with somewhat more bass, accentuated by being close to the wall, in a small room. So the bass is muddy, and overwhelming the highs you were used to.

At any rate, breaking them in won't help, a DAC won't help, and new amp probably won't help. Consider returning the speakers if you still can.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #11 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post
Here's a guess: You are used to listening to small speakers with relatively little bass in a small room. Now you have larger speakers with somewhat more bass, accentuated by being close to the wall, in a small room. So the bass is muddy, and overwhelming the highs you were used to.

At any rate, breaking them in won't help, a DAC won't help, and new amp probably won't help. Consider returning the speakers if you still can.
Likely not far from the truth.
One criticism I've heard of these speakers is that they could be an inch or two taller, and now that I'm sitting in front of them, the floor isn't level, so they lean ever so slightly forward, which won't help.

One other thing I never mentioned is that I have a sub in the equation. It's a Pioneer TZ-SW05 - 10", 150W sub. I used to have the crossover up around 100Hz with the bookshelves, now I'm down at 70Hz, with the volume decently low.

Also, returning them isn't really in the cards. I bought from Amazon.com and had them shipped to a PO box in Niagara Falls, NY, and drove down from Toronto to go pick them up. So, I'd loose duty & taxes if I returned them, and I'd have to drive back across the border.

As I'm sitting here listening with them a few inches off the wall, they seem to be sounding quite a bit better. I think it's just the one album (Sailing to Philadelphia by Mark Knopfler) that sounds quite a bit different that threw me for a loop.

I'll keep playing with the setup and see how things go. Next purchase will be a DAC anyways, so I'll do some testing with my headphone amp/dac for now to see how it does.

Thanks again for the input.
Cheers
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post #12 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 06:50 PM
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Don't waste your money on a DAC. What you need is a basic AVR (which will include a DAC!) to better integrate that sub with your speakers. There's your problem.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #13 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 06:58 PM
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I dunno anything about the Pioneers you're referring to but all the Jones' speakers have got glowing reviews for their price range.

Are they rear ported? Acoustic suspension or ported, all speakers need "breathing room" and should be a good distance away from the rear wall and a fair amount from the side walls to perform best unless they were designed to be on wall. Tweeters should be at ear level when sitting. Cardas has a great page on set up, as well as a few others. My two channel system is closely based on the Golden Ratio because it's in a dedicated room.

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post #14 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 07:01 PM
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I've found Marantz stuff sounds amazing with the FS52. I've got my buddy setup with an Sr6008 and Fs52 fronts with BS22 rears and it is bliss for such a low cost setup.
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post #15 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post
Don't waste your money on a DAC. What you need is a basic AVR (which will include a DAC!) to better integrate that sub with your speakers. There's your problem.
Can you please explain? I didn't know that an amplifier can affect the sub that much.
As for a DAC in an AVR - that's likely paired with an optical or HDMI input, correct? And I'd use HDMI audio out on the connected computer?
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post #16 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by citizen arcane View Post
I dunno anything about the Pioneers you're referring to but all the Jones' speakers have got glowing reviews for their price range.

Are they rear ported? Acoustic suspension or ported, all speakers need "breathing room" and should be a good distance away from the rear wall and a fair amount from the side walls to perform best unless they were designed to be on wall. Tweeters should be at ear level when sitting. Cardas has a great page on set up, as well as a few others. My two channel system is closely based on the Golden Ratio because it's in a dedicated room.
They are rear ported. I moved them a few inches further off the wall, but can't move them any further. Room layout isn't really ideal for proper listening, but its my only (reasonable) choice at this point.
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post #17 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Greg121986 View Post
I've found Marantz stuff sounds amazing with the FS52. I've got my buddy setup with an Sr6008 and Fs52 fronts with BS22 rears and it is bliss for such a low cost setup.
Bit on the pricey side. Like I said in the title, ultra low budget. (A poor man can enjoy good quality audio too, no?)
I'm also not interested in going to surround. Only interested in 2 channel at this point.
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post #18 of 22 Old 08-27-2014, 07:21 PM
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I wasn't suggesting the SR6008, just indicating that I had heard it with the Pioneer speakers. Marantz has lower cost stuff and 2 channel amps. You may also find something used or vintage.
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post #19 of 22 Old 08-28-2014, 03:23 PM
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fwiw, does your receiver have manual speaker settings for example, speaker size (small or large) or speaker crossover setting(60hz,80hz 120hz etc.) or speaker distance setting.if so what are they set at.

i'm so laid back,i'm laid out
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post #20 of 22 Old 08-28-2014, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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fwiw, does your receiver have manual speaker settings for example, speaker size (small or large) or speaker crossover setting(60hz,80hz 120hz etc.) or speaker distance setting.if so what are they set at.
Nope. It's part of Yamha's "Piano Craft" series. Focus on clean sound. No digital processing, nothing. All I have for adjustments are Bass, Treble, Balance, and it has a sub-out.
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post #21 of 22 Old 08-28-2014, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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I wasn't suggesting the SR6008, just indicating that I had heard it with the Pioneer speakers. Marantz has lower cost stuff and 2 channel amps. You may also find something used or vintage.
Ah, ok. That makes sense. I know different people have different thoughts on "low budget" so I wasn't sure.
I'll have to check out the Marantz stuff, and maybe keep an eye out on finding something used.

Cheers
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post #22 of 22 Old 08-28-2014, 03:55 PM
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Can you please explain? I didn't know that an amplifier can affect the sub that much.
It's not the amplifier itself. It's a feature common to AVRs called bass management. Basically, it makes sure that only the low frequencies reach the sub, and only the higher frequencies reach the mains. Right now, you've got some bass frequencies being reproduced by both mains and sub. That, I suspect, is the root of your problem.

If you go to someplace like Accessories4less.com, you can find really good deals on basic AVRs, which is all you need for a simple 2.1 system.

Quote:
As for a DAC in an AVR - that's likely paired with an optical or HDMI input, correct? And I'd use HDMI audio out on the connected computer?
Depends what you've got, but most AVRs these days include both HDMI and optical. There are often multiple ways to connect a PC to an AVR.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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