People who balk at spending money on speakers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
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One thing that has always mystified me is why (most) people seem to balk at putting money into decent audio equipment. Keep in mind, these aren'ty people who are cheap or low-income, but people who will happily spend gobs of money on other things. Yet, when it comes to audio, the idea of spending even a few hundred on a speaker seems extravagant.

A case in point was my own bro who recently helped me set up my new PB13 subwoofer. This is someone who spent over 4 grand on what at the time was a cutting edge LCD rear projection TV. Yet, he thinks I'm nuts for spending more than a grand on that subwoofer.

Or likewise were some friends I recently showcased my HT to. I was discussing get HT furniture with them and talked about a set that would cost about three grand. Expensive, but they justified it to me as a long-term investment; i.e. something I'll have and use for the next 10 or 20 years. Yet, again with the subwoofer, when it was revealed how much that cost (~2 grand after tax/shipping), the amount I spent was shocking to them. But just like quality furniture, this is something that will last a good 10 or 20 years (or more).

I just don't get it. People will happily drop all sorts of money into all sorts of things (particularly TVs), yet spending for good audio seems excessive. And yet, when it comes to HT at least, good speakers are probably going to be the longest lived of all components in a HT. Heck, I'm using B&W 804 Matrix speakers that are close to 2 decades old! And they still sound amazing! Wish I could say the same for my old rear projection TV that I replaced after only ~8 years.
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post #2 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 07:20 PM
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Dunno,... ya see it time and time again. Someone on this board or another will spend 4k, 5k, 6k or more on a monitor or projector and then want the best receiver, sub and 7 speakers that money can buy, as long as it's not more than $1000,....????

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post #3 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 07:25 PM
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Count me in. I can't even begin to tell you how much money I have spent on lap dances; yet I don't want to spend over $800 for speakers.
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post #4 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 08:09 PM
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To watch a movie in your home you need:

1) a monitor (usually in the form of a TV)
2) a player

Its easy to justify buying a quality monitor as most people use one daily for news etc., but a subwoofer is an extraneous expense.

Also, I wouldn't bet on a modern display or sub lasting for twenty years.
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post #5 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 08:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjm7c View Post

To watch a movie in your home you need:

1) a monitor (usually in the form of a TV)
2) a player

Its easy to justify buying a quality monitor as most people use one daily for news etc., but a subwoofer is an extraneous expense.

Yeah, but I'm talking about HT application. You don't need to spend thousands on a TV to watch the news.

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Also, I wouldn't bet on a modern display or sub lasting for twenty years.

Display no, subwoofer maybe. I've got an old Paradigm I've used continuously for a decade and it is still kicking just fine.
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post #6 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 08:23 PM
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I usually suggest to people that they spend just as much on their audio as they do on their tv. At least that way they will have something serviceable to listen to. I have a quite a few friends who listen to blu-rays on their tv speakers.

The only thing that makes me raise an eyebrow occasionally is that some of these subwoofers can be built DIY for alot less $$$, and its not too difficult if you have minimal woodworking skills. And yet people still throw down $500+ for lackluster subs from Klipsch, Polk, etc.
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post #7 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 08:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shponglefan View Post

Yeah, but I'm talking about HT application. You don't need to spend thousands on a TV to watch the news.

I agree. I'm just trying to explain the average non-AVS'er thought process. You can have a home theater without a subwoofer, but you certainly cannot have one without a display.

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Display no, subwoofer maybe. I've got an old Paradigm I've used continuously for a decade and it is still kicking just fine.

I'm impressed. However, I'll bet that most subs won't make it to twenty years. Speakers with only passive elements may last that long.
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post #8 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 08:44 PM
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Hmm,... and I'd bet that most new LCD or Plasma displays will not last 20 years,... but I'd be willing to bet my sub would last that long.

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post #9 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 08:52 PM
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Different people, different priorities. Your hobby is HT I am guessing. Other people who think you are crazy enjoy other material things. I know people who will buy $8000 dollar watches and buy a Vizio or HTiB. Different people value different things.

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post #10 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by davidt1 View Post

count me in. I can't even begin to tell you how much money i have spent on lap dances; yet i don't want to spend over $800 for speakers.

:d
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post #11 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 09:07 PM
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But, at some point, you cross a point of diminishing returns. For 99% of the world, that point happens well before you drop $2K on a sub-woofer. Tell me how much better that $2000 sub sounds compared to a $400 sub, 5-times as good? No, you paid a high premium for that last little ounce of extra quality that really doesn't amount to a hill of crap to most humans.
And, to be honest, your general tone does come across as elitist and arrogant. A $2,000 sub is not a "decent" piece of equipment; just as a Rolls Phantom Drophead Coupé is a not a "decent" car. Both are an extreme indulgence reserved for the precious few that have the disposable income to fling at that last 3 or 4 percent improvement. Most people can not or will not spend $2,000 on an entire surround sound system, let alone a sub. I can watch a movie, TV show or sporting event without a surround sound system, I can't do the same without a TV. So yeah... the TV often does get 90% of the disposable income. Some of us like this stuff enough to even throw some extra money at the experience and beef up the sound. But very few will spend more than 2 or 3 grand.
So, yeah, a LOT of people do want the best sound they can get for around a grand. And you know what? You can get a pretty nice system for that kind of money. People don't necessarily balk at spending money on speakers, but $2K on a sub definitely puts you in home theater geek territory and way beyond "decent" sound.
I work in the PC industry, so I see this mindset quite a bit. Most people are quite happy and productive with their $800 Dell or HP computers, but there is that group of enthusiasts whose graphics cards are never more than 3 months old, and their CPUs are considered grossly outdated if they are a year old. The "how can anyone do anything with just 2GB of memory? I have 4GB of PC3-10600 and that is just getting by..." attitude.

I truly do hope you enjoy your $2,000 subwoofer and I hope it brings you hours of happiness, but please realize that most people could drop less than that on their entire audio system (AVR, sub and speakers) and they will probably be more happy with the sound they get than you will be. Because you just *KNOW* SVS will come out with a PB14 that will hit 17Hz for a mere $4,000, and just knowing that it is out there and better will take the shine off of your PB13.
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post #12 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 09:08 PM
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I really doubt that you'll have the same sub for more than 10 years. What are you going to do when new format will come out, THX2 or something other and your sub won't be compatible any longer?

Amount spend on a sub should be comparible to the rest of your system. For example, if you have $500 TV and spend $2k on a sub, than you're not a rational person. However, if your TV costs $8k and you have $2k amp with decent speakers, than $2k for a sub maybe. It still too much for a sub in my opinion as there is only so much human year can recognize and after $1k the benefit to cost ratio becomes significantly less and you're mostly paying for the brand name and the label.
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post #13 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 09:14 PM
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Affluent people who balk at spending $2000 for a pair of speakers or $1000 for a subwoofer are people who have never heard $2000 speakers (other than Bose) or a $1000 subwoofer. Most people's exposure to speakers is in the form of Bose and whatever cheap stuff they hear in big box stores, or in their non-enthusiast friend's houses (again, more cheap mediocre stuff). With big screen TV's, they easily get a grasp of the quality and price out there because they can walk into BB or CC and readily see the picture and the price tag. Not so with speakers.

So their concept of what a speaker "should" cost is more like $200/pair. Notice how often somebody will visit this forum asking about a 5.1 system for $500 or something like that. They simply haven't been exposed to the ranges of quality and price that are out there.
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post #14 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 09:15 PM
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$2k for a sub is a fair wack from their perspective. Hell it's a fair wack from my perspective.

If you're putting down $2k on a sub I'd expect each of your other speakers to cost a similar amount. So that's $12k on a 5.1 speaker setup or $16k if you've got 7.1.

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post #15 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 11427 View Post

Hmm,... and I'd bet that most new LCD or Plasma displays will not last 20 years,... but I'd be willing to bet my sub would last that long.

Please, spare us. Who really cares if a sub lasts 20 years, it isn't a car or house. It's a piece of AV gear. For you, I bet it won't last more that 3 years. Not that it won't be perfectly functional by then, but in 3 years, you will need something bigger/better. And at the rate most AV gear depreciates, that sub of yours will be heading straight for the landfill at the 1st sign of an out-of-warranty breakdown.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't spend top dollar on your gear, its your money and everyone needs a hobby. But quit trying to pass it off as some sort of investment, 'cause it isn't.
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post #16 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 09:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shponglefan View Post

One thing that has always mystified me is why (most) people seem to balk at putting money into decent audio equipment. Keep in mind, these aren'ty people who are cheap or low-income, but people who will happily spend gobs of money on other things. Yet, when it comes to audio, the idea of spending even a few hundred on a speaker seems extravagant.

are you talking about people buying cheap mass market equipment white van style or balking at the idea of paying for so called high end equipment after analyzing how it was designed, what drivers were used and how can they do better for considerably less money? First group would be one that does not care and the other is the group of thinking people not buying into marketing hype that comes with just about any "high end" equipment these days... The thinking part is the one that separates those balking from those who do not balk...
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post #17 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdmi4ever View Post

Affluent people who balk at spending $2000 for a pair of speakers or $1000 for a subwoofer are people who have never heard $2000 speakers (other than Bose) or a $1000 subwoofer. Most people's exposure to speakers is in the form of Bose and whatever cheap stuff they hear in big box stores, or in their non-enthusiast friend's houses (again, more cheap mediocre stuff). With big screen TV's, they easily get a grasp of the quality and price out there because they can walk into BB or CC and readily see the picture and the price tag. Not so with speakers.

So their concept of what a speaker "should" cost is more like $200/pair. Notice how often somebody will visit this forum asking about a 5.1 system for $500 or something like that. They simply haven't been exposed to the ranges of quality and price that are out there.

Or, maybe they HAVE heard high-end audio gear, but simply don't see the value in it. Sure, it is measurably and demonstrably better. But, if that $500 set of speakers hits their good enough threshold, then why spend more? Maybe they'd rather spend that money on travel, cars, lap dances invest it?

But, to simply pass it off as ignorance ("They just don't know any better") is sort of elitist. Many people do appreciate how much better a $2,000 speaker sounds next to a $200 speaker, but they also know they will never spend that kind of money on a speaker, even if they can easily afford it. Also, some of those people who just dropped $4K on their TV, might have pretty much maxed out their credit to do so, leaving little room for audio gear.

I've said it earlier, and I'll say it again. If someone just wants to spend a grand (or $500 or $600) on a complete home theater system, then that's what they should spend. Sometimes things are out of balance; there's those who want to spend $800 on a receiver and $200 on speakers when it should be the other way around. But, you can give yourself a really nice sound experience without spending much more than a grand. Sure, for some of us, this is more than just a hobby, so feel free to indulge and buy the finest gear you can lay hands on, but please don't dismiss the vast majority of the world who simply wants good, not great.
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post #18 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by griz_fan View Post

But, at some point, you cross a point of diminishing returns. For 99% of the world, that point happens well before you drop $2K on a sub-woofer. Tell me how much better that $2000 sub sounds compared to a $400 sub, 5-times as good? No, you paid a high premium for that last little ounce of extra quality that really doesn't amount to a hill of crap to most humans.


To be fair, if you are talking about big box store subs that are ~$400, the PB13Ultra will be at least 4x better no question. But at a price premium that excludes common joes like myself.
DIY is your friend.

This is an investment as much as a motorcycle or boat or car is one....they all depreciate but still hold some value until they fail.
Though I wouldn't actually consider any of them investments, like you said, because investments earn money.



But I think Decepticon07 and Griz Fan have put it best.
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post #19 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 09:51 PM
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Apparently they haven't heard that the audio part of a Home Theater is, at least, 50% of the HT experience. If they spent 5 grand on their display, then they should spend at least that much on their audio system.

BTW a quality sub should last a long time. My Velodyne ULD-15 is slightly over 20 years old, and I bought it second hand (a 1 year old floor demo unit from my local high-end dealer - it was one of the first ones ever made). It was reconditioned and updated by Velodyne, for free. My R/L fronts are professionally re-coned (the woofers) semi-pro speakers (JBL L96s) that are about 40 years old. My newest speakers are over 10 years old. It pays to get good ones the first time (the voice of experience).

I've spent more money on my audio electronics than I have on my speakers. But even those have lasted over 10 years (I recycle them to my other rooms and/or to relatives homes).

griz_fan -- Who said it was an investment? Speaker technology hasn't really changed that much. The speaker design principles, and speakers haven't changed that much over the years either. Only the materials to build them have gotten better, as have the design tools and the knowledge of human psychoacoustic behavior.

I agree that people should buy good gear that they can afford. But the whole point is that if they have no existing equipment and their budget is, say, $4,200, then they should spend $2,100 on their display and $2,100 on their audio gear. They will get a better HT that way. They can, and will, spend another several thousand on a new display in a couple of years, but their audio gear doesn't need to be upgraded anywhere near as often, if they spent wisely to start with.

PS -- Yes, a good HT is one of my hobbies. I enjoy it much longer than a good vacation trip or any other item purchased with "disposable" income.

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post #20 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 10:08 PM
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I think it is as simple as people being more receptive to visual cues than non-visual cues. You can't see sound waves so why bother respecting them? That is until someone dragged you through becoming educated about why you should respect them, and then you are more receptive to audio cues.

Room acoustics is another thing people don't respect until they become educated.

Also the typical scenario:
Person: "I want quality 20hz bass for 100$"

Me: I brought them to a local church and played low E of the 32' diapason. "Doesn't get any more quality than this"

I didn't get the 100$ unfortunately.
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post #21 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 10:16 PM
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Just like they can't understand that "in general, all general statements are false" .

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post #22 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 10:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by griz_fan View Post

And, to be honest, your general tone does come across as elitist and arrogant. A $2,000 sub is not a "decent" piece of equipment; just as a Rolls Phantom Drophead Coupé is a not a "decent" car. Both are an extreme indulgence reserved for the precious few that have the disposable income to fling at that last 3 or 4 percent improvement. Most people can not or will not spend $2,000 on an entire surround sound system, let alone a sub.

You've missed my point and are reading in a bit much I think. I'm not saying that everyone should run out and spend a couple grand on a subwoofer. What I am saying is that I don't understand why people willing to justify other extravagances (like three thousand dollar furniture or four thousand dollar TVs) would be shocked at a two thousand dollar piece of audio gear. Which in all likelyhood would have a longer lifespan than the former two items.
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post #23 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 10:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by drey View Post

I really doubt that you'll have the same sub for more than 10 years. What are you going to do when new format will come out, THX2 or something other and your sub won't be compatible any longer?

Huh? How is it going to not be compatible? It's a speaker/amp. The basic technology hasn't changed in decades.
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post #24 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by griz_fan View Post

Or, maybe they HAVE heard high-end audio gear, but simply don't see the value in it. Sure, it is measurably and demonstrably better. But, if that $500 set of speakers hits their good enough threshold, then why spend more? Maybe they'd rather spend that money on travel, cars, lap dances invest it?

But, to simply pass it off as ignorance ("They just don't know any better") is sort of elitist. Many people do appreciate how much better a $2,000 speaker sounds next to a $200 speaker, but they also know they will never spend that kind of money on a speaker, even if they can easily afford it. Also, some of those people who just dropped $4K on their TV, might have pretty much maxed out their credit to do so, leaving little room for audio gear.

Note that the "balking" I am referring to is not merely about refusing to spend the $2000 (or whatever). I am referring to people who have the attitude "What?! Those speakers cost $2000? How can somebody spend that much money just for speakers ". Not people who have made an informed decision that $2000 speakers aren't for them. The informed people don't balk; they either buy it or appreciate it.

Have somebody listen to good $2000 speakers in a good room, and unless they have bad hearing they'll leave with an appreciation of why people would spend that much for them, even if they don't personally want to spend that much themselves. Just like I wouldn't personally buy a $50,000 car but I can appreciate it after riding in one and knowing that the prices of cars in general go into the six figures.
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post #25 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 10:46 PM
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Frequent AVS speaker thread:

OP: "Hi guys, I just got a new Plasma and I want to buy the best speakers. What should I get?"

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OP: "Under $200"

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post #26 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 10:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdmi4ever View Post

Note that the "balking" I am referring to is not merely about refusing to spend the $2000 (or whatever). I am referring to people who have the attitude "What?! Those speakers cost $2000? How can somebody spend that much money just for speakers ".

Exactly, that's the attitude I'm referring to. And especially coming from someone who will drop thousands on other pieces of HT gear, too (as long as it's not audio).
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post #27 of 231 Old 09-14-2008, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E-A-G-L-E-S View Post

To be fair, if you are talking about big box store subs that are ~$400, the PB13Ultra will be at least 4x better no question. But at a price premium that excludes common joes like myself.
DIY is your friend.

+1. DIY gets ALOT more for your money. Especially with subs, since they are so easy to build.

Also, most inexpensive (production) subs under $400 that I have heard just dont cut it in most rooms. For me atleast.

The sub makes a drastic impact. With those that say you don't like alot of bass, well I am willing to bet it's likely due to using a poor performing sub.

An SVS Ultra 13 is absolutely 4 times greater than a $400 production sub. Easily.

Although I usually wouldn't consider $4,000 speakers 4 times greater than $1,000 speakers.

Diminishing returns are dependant on a case by case basis.

The subwoofer is not one of them, IMO.
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post #28 of 231 Old 09-15-2008, 12:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gooki View Post

$2k for a sub is a fair wack from their perspective. Hell it's a fair wack from my perspective.

If you're putting down $2k on a sub I'd expect each of your other speakers to cost a similar amount. So that's $12k on a 5.1 speaker setup or $16k if you've got 7.1.

Oh brother. Well, $2k is a lot for a subwoofer. Sure. $2k is just a lot, period. Well, mine cost more than that. Its worth more than the 7 speakers combined in the HT. OTOH, my stereo speakers in the living room cost more than that sub and 7 speaker combo put together. My room treatments cost more than those 7 speakers as well.

The main thing with HT speakers, at least in my opinion as of today, are dynamic ability and midbass response, perhaps. HT tracks just aren't mastered to the same level as my extensive classical music collection. What I mean is that I'll take the first two qualities over imaging and soundstage if I had to choose for an HT setup.

So, for an HT only system, I totally think spending as much on the sub(s) as the speakers, if not more, is totally viable. LFE energy in subwoofers is waaaaaaay more potent that the bass in music.

But as the Dude says, ". . . well, that's like your opinion, man . . . "

The above is my opinion on an HT only setup. I would also agree that the display is the biggest deal.

Regarding simple expenditures compared to other hobbies, its just a matter of personal happiness. I spent as much as some people spend on a car on this stuff. My car is a decade old pickup with a current KBB of less than my sub, less than my PJ, less than my stereo speakers, less than my receiver/amp combo.

One of my friends thought I was insane too. It happens. I said, what about your nice roadster? "Oh, cars are TOTALLY different man". He's trying to sell his already to get a new one after a few years. The depreciation in value could buy you some really nice subs.

Another friend plays golf as often as he can. The green fees alone during the course of the year could get you plenty of nice subs. At least if you like nice courses. Oh, Im not even going into the betting aspect of that game . . . its something I dont play anyways.

Another friend has an RV. Im not even going there. I don't even want to know how much it costs to fill up.

Another friend loves to travel. A lawyer who just got back from a cruise in the Galapagos. He was already in S America and Africa last year. He would love to have a kik ass HT, but he prefers to spend on travelling for now. Oh, he wants an Audi RS5 or something.

Another friend has a boat. I forget what the monthly docking fee is, but Im pretty sure it could pay for a student's rent. What I do remember is how much more they can charge you for feul on the water.

I don't have a boat, nor RV, nor fancy sportscar, and no longer have the flexibility that I used to in being able to travel.

What I CAN do is invite over 7-8 friends, make a great dinner, and enjoy movies in a multi-row theater. Every person, each and every, think my HT is the best cinematic experience ever in both video and audio terms. Its fun being able to share a hobby. You could do that with an RV or boat I suppose, but OTOH perhaps not so easily with golf or travel.

Meh. It all works out. If I want to be on a boat, I know who to ask. If my friends want to watch a movie, they know who to ask.

-jostenmeat

 

 

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post #29 of 231 Old 09-15-2008, 12:22 AM
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jostenmeat has got it down. Different strokes... I think it's perfectly justifiable to spend $2K on a subwoofer but spending that same $2K on a body kit or an exhaust for my car is not.
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post #30 of 231 Old 09-15-2008, 06:04 AM
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Sometimes buying what you really want the first time costs less money. People who go through five sets of speakers in five years lose their butt enough times that they could spend the same net amount on something really good and be content much longer. I've had the same speakers in my theater for five years, and I never think of upgrading.

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aka TRIAD DUDE

It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.

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