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post #1 of 24 Old 06-10-2012, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello, All ~
As always, I'm amazed at the information people have to share online! I will (try to) be brief and to the point:

My husband and I are looking to purchase some speakers/receiver. In the past, when I started to look up reviews, I was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information to consider. It was a case of analysis paralysis: because there was so much to consider, I just quit investigating. What has been obvious, however, is that many people think that there are MANY better choices in audio than Bose. Please don't hate me because I've considered the Bose Cinemate II...... :0

We will be using our system to listen to music (eclectic mix) and movies/TV. We'd like to have AirPlay as an option. Speakers will be in our family room, which is open and connected to our kitchen. The ceiling height slopes to a max of 12' from 9'. Family room is approx 15' x 20'ish (not including the kitchen). We'd also like to minimize the number of wires we route around the room.

What we want is GOOD sound. Not tinny, hollow, cheap sound. But, we also have a limited budget. We are not averse to starting small and adding on. At a minimum we want to start with two speakers/subwoofer (why we looked at Cinemate)

My question is: What are some suggestions for building a system starting with a budget of $600-$800? Is that even realistic?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/information! One request: not too many acryonyms and lots of explanations for the novice! smile.gif

KMM
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post #2 of 24 Old 06-10-2012, 08:04 PM
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Read this thread
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1413788/need-help-buying-speakers-for-my-18x20-family-room

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post #3 of 24 Old 06-10-2012, 08:24 PM
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You'll either get minimal responses, or tons, depending on how the stars align. Just so you know, this place dies other than business hours. I'm replying because you emphasize good sound, so your budget makes you an uber-noob and I thought I'd annoy you and everyone by giving some basic advice based on your good sound criterion.

I'd say you need to start with 3 speakers, L/C/R (left/center/right) and you might not feel the need to add anymore. If you want to add center later, be sure you get mains that have a matching center. You want a center - not just for movies, but it allows you to play with surround modes for 2 channel music (very useful) and there are many 3 channel SACDs where the original recording was 3 channel, if that's your thing.

I took a quick look at a place that sells inexpensive gear, just to get a feel for prices, and I came up with ~$600 for a L/C/R matching combo from a good quality manufacturer. I'm a sound quality guy, and that was the minimum I could accept for sound quality.

So I made your budget with just speakers (the mains were 300/pr.) You could substitute a $300 sub for the center, but you're still at your budget without a receiver, and you really should have a center.

Whatever, you'll be doing yourself a favor by saving until you can double your budget comfortably.

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post #4 of 24 Old 06-10-2012, 08:47 PM
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Are you okay with larger speakers? The "tinny, hollow, cheap sound" is usually from very small speakers trying to produce a loud, full range signal (20hz - 20,000hz) in a large room. Speakers are mechanical devices, the cone movement is what produces the sound, the lower in frequency you go the more "air" the speaker needs to be able to move, this is why small speakers are a poor choice.

So as long as you are okay with something on the larger side, here is where I would go with for $600-800 based on your preferences.

Boston A360 $400pr. These are very nice speakers, that will definitely fill your room with a rich, full sound. They are half off due to the color scheme.

Denon 1912 $320 or Pioneer 822 $300. The 1912's a lot better, but some people are scared of refurbs

I recommend you start with this, when you feel like more is needed you can add a sub like this as the minimum

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882269026&Tpk=energy%20s10.3

If you really like bass, you will need a sub in the $600 price range.
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post #5 of 24 Old 06-11-2012, 12:06 AM
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I would say that your budget allows for a home theater system in the medium quality range if you choose to purchase your hardware brand new. Searching on craigslist or other "used" goods websites will offer you many more choices in high performance speaker systems with the budget you have in mind.

One thing i want to comment on is your 2 speaker arrangement that you're planning on. I know you're working with a budget and its always possible to add onto the system later, but I would recommend starting with a 3 piece theater system. 2 piece systems provide good sound but will sound unbalanced if you move about the room. If you can find a 3 piece set (before the subwoofer), that would be more ideal.

here's a link to several quality systems that would fit your budget:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20076109-47/three-awesome-sounding-under-$500-home-theater-speaker-systems/

hope this helps
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post #6 of 24 Old 06-11-2012, 01:21 AM
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I suggest the infinity Primus series of speakers. get the bookshelf speakers. i have the p162 and they sound amazing. They are quite detailed and have decent bass even without a subwoofer. i would get denon 1912 for 320, the p163 (like p162 just black instead of silver) pair for 170 from crutchfield and a sub from bic like the f12 or the polk psw505. the klipsch r12-d is decent for the price too if its on sale.
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post #7 of 24 Old 06-11-2012, 03:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Ya'll are amazing! Thank you for taking the time to jump start me with some ideas.

Believe it or not, I actually had done a *little* bit of research and the Denon was on my radar as a reciever, but not the 1912. Had also considered looking into some Pioneer models, but had not gone any farther than the consideration phase. I think one website I looked at highly recommended Denon as a good "budget-minded" model, so that was where I was kind of focused.

SO...here is another question: buying used/refurbished rather than new? A good idea? Better for speakers than components?

I did look at the one post the lady from California wrote a few days ago, so thanks to the person who also included that thread.

What I have learned is that AV equipment is like any hobby -- it can get pricey if you want it to! Of course, I would love to spend $$$ thousands, but realistically will start small and build.

How many of you purchase sight unseen and go by recommendations only? I ask only because my choices of actually seeing/hearing some of this equipment is limited due to where I live, which has a dearth of stores that would have some of the suggested items. Mostly Big Box stores like Best Buy (well, that is pretty much it), and I REALLY would rather not do business with them.

Again, many thanks!
Cheers,
KMM
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post #8 of 24 Old 06-11-2012, 09:03 AM
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http://reviews.cnet.com/surround-speaker-systems/pioneer-sp-pk21bs/4505-7868_7-34654855.html?tag=mncol;txt

This Pioneer system is pretty much one of the best or THE best sounding system you can buy at that budget. You can buy the speakers individually at Best Buy for a good deal, and if you don't like them, return them.

You can leave the subwoofer out for now and add a better one later.

The denon 1912 is a great receiver, I had it before, but the 2112Ci would be a better choice since it's got a better audyssey version called "XT".


You can buy the receiver auto electronics expo. Call them and press extension 150. Rich will help you get the best deal. The 2112Ci would be my pick if I were you (that's what I actually DID pick).


The Pioneers aren't the best looking speakers and the center channel especially is kinda bulky, but the sound is amazing for the price.


Good luck


Ray

Projector: AE7000
Screen: 5x12 Wilson Art Laminate Designer White
Receiver: Denon 2112Ci
Fronts: DefTech 8020ST
Center: DefTech 8040HD
Side Surround: DefTech SR 8040 BPs
Rear Surround: DefTech PM 1000s
Subwoofers: 2x HSU VTF 15H's
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post #9 of 24 Old 06-11-2012, 09:20 AM
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Also, the Link I provided shows 4x Monitor size speakers. You can get 2 Floor standing speakers for the front and use the Monitor size as the rears. That way you get a better, fuller sound.


Ray

Projector: AE7000
Screen: 5x12 Wilson Art Laminate Designer White
Receiver: Denon 2112Ci
Fronts: DefTech 8020ST
Center: DefTech 8040HD
Side Surround: DefTech SR 8040 BPs
Rear Surround: DefTech PM 1000s
Subwoofers: 2x HSU VTF 15H's
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post #10 of 24 Old 06-11-2012, 01:15 PM
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I'm an Energy guy, so here's my recommendation:

Two Energy RC-10's @ 249. Very capable bookshelves, they handle themselves well with everything except low bass.

One Energy RC-LCR center@ 249. This is the top of the line center for the Energy RC line.

That leaves $300 for the receiver, which is fine for an entry level receiver. I would check for lower priced or outlet availability of last year's models. As an example, at Vanns clearance outlet, the Pioneer VSX1022K 7.1 3D and airplay capable receiver @ $337 is a very good receiver for what you want.

Then set aside money later for a sub and surrounds. The sub of course being the most important of the two. In my case, I started as above, then bought larger RC floorstanding speakers for fronts and moved the RC-10's to surround duty.

Good luck, I think taking a stepwise approach is the right way to go. In my opinion, speakers are much more important than the receiver so long as you have the features you want in the receiver.
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post #11 of 24 Old 06-11-2012, 09:03 PM
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I like Energy, too, and agree with the RC-10s. Great bookshelf speakers.

But if you like music that has a lot of bass, or enjoy action movies, I would go with a sub before the center. Newegg has been running the Energy S10.3 on special frequently the last month anywhere from $199 to $219. That's a great sub at those prices. These 2 speakers and that sub will blow away a Bose setup in sound quality.

Then add the center later on. I believe people often get overly fixated on getting the center first because of the advice about how important it is to get a good center channel speaker. Well, that advice is important because no center channel is better than a bad center channel. One is better off going without a center because two good L/R speakers do a good job on their own. Meanwhile, when listening to music, a sub is more helpful than a center channel (which is better turned off for 2 channel audio).

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post #12 of 24 Old 06-11-2012, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I like Energy, too, and agree with the RC-10s. Great bookshelf speakers.
But if you like music that has a lot of bass, or enjoy action movies, I would go with a sub before the center. Newegg has been running the Energy S10.3 on special frequently the last month anywhere from $199 to $219. That's a great sub at those prices. These 2 speakers and that sub will blow away a Bose setup in sound quality.
Then add the center later on. I believe people often get overly fixated on getting the center first because of the advice about how important it is to get a good center channel speaker. Well, that advice is important because no center channel is better than a bad center channel. One is better off going without a center because two good L/R speakers do a good job on their own. Meanwhile, when listening to music, a sub is more helpful than a center channel (which is better turned off for 2 channel audio).

Im with these guys on the Energy RC-10s with the S10.3 sub, and then look at www.accessories4less.com for a Denon or Onkyo in your price range. Try the Onkyo 509, its a good unit.

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post #13 of 24 Old 06-12-2012, 03:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Again, thank you. I really appreciate the direction of where to start.

Another question (of course) arises: if we purchase a 5.1 or 7.1 reciever but only have 2 speakers and a subwoofer, is the sound diminished? I understand that the sound wouldn't be as good as having all 5 or 7 speakers, but my question is if we start with two, is there sound that ONLY goes to the back speakers that doesn't come out of the front two? Does that make sense? I know some of you may be thinking, "Holy smokes! She IS a novice!". I'll just say that my strengths do not lie in electronics and gagetry! smile.gif And then following that, how do you all manage the wires from your receivers to the back speakers once you add the other speakers? That is one thing we would like NOT to have: a bunch of wires running from the receiver to the back of the room.

Also, we will not get a 3D TV, and I think I read the Denon 1912 has some kind of 3D capability? Does that matter? Also, the 1912 is last year's model, is that correct?

Cheers!! biggrin.gif
KMM
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post #14 of 24 Old 06-12-2012, 06:00 AM
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No problem. You can use a 5.1 or 7.1 receiver for 2 channel audio use and it will work fine. Moreover, it can be a better choice for a 2.1 setup over a 2 channel stereo receiver or amplifier because of the built in bass management capabilities for subwoofer integration.

The 3D capability is just an extra features that is there if you need it. The 1912 will work fine for regular TV usage. And yes. The 1912 is last year's model. Denon recently put out the new models, so the best deals are on last year's. As long as the 1912 has the features you want, there is no reason to pay more for the newer model.

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
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post #15 of 24 Old 06-14-2012, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmmlangston View Post

Again, thank you. I really appreciate the direction of where to start.
Another question (of course) arises: if we purchase a 5.1 or 7.1 reciever but only have 2 speakers and a subwoofer, is the sound diminished? I understand that the sound wouldn't be as good as having all 5 or 7 speakers, but my question is if we start with two, is there sound that ONLY goes to the back speakers that doesn't come out of the front two? Does that make sense?
Cheers!! biggrin.gif
KMM

Hi, good question. The way this is handled applies for all output that is targeted at multiple speakers if fewer than the expected are connected.

As an example: If you have your 2 fronts and a subwoofer, and you're playing a bluray that can output sound to 5 speakers and a sub (5.1), the receiver can downmix the sounds that would go to all five speakers and present them in a way that all of the sounds would now go to the two speakers that you actually do have. The subwoofer would get all of the sound that it would normally get.

So you're ok, the receiver will take care of that mixing for you, deciding what sounds go where, etc. It's how some movies that are mixed for 7.1 (7 speakers and a sub) can play well on a system that has only 5 speakers and a sub. Any modern receiver, no matter how inexpensive can usually handle that function.

Hope that helps.
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post #16 of 24 Old 06-23-2012, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
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So we went to a local audio store today that carried klipsch, def tech, and two other brands of speakers I don't remember. The guy showed us the dt sm55 @ $600 for both. Loved how they sounded, but is there anything cheaper out there that has what he said was a smallish sub integrated into the speaker? I understand it is not the same as having a subwoofer, but the bass was nice. Our budget isn't really allowing for that pricey of a speaker set. What is the main difference in the sm55 and the sm45? Or is that a question for the def tech thread? The guy there also recommended the denon 1913. What reciever would be a good recommendation that has wireless, or is that out of the question with our limited budget of $800ish. The price we got was $599 for the sm55 def tech speakers and $579 for the 1913. He told us $1100 + tax, which we just weren't ready to do.

Thanks!
KMM
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post #17 of 24 Old 06-23-2012, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Oops! I meant wi-fi in the receiver, not wireless. smile.gif. Like I said, novice....biggrin.gif
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post #18 of 24 Old 06-23-2012, 01:37 PM
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Center vs. surround speakers: personally speaking, as someone who watches a lot of sci-fi and action movies, I prefer buying - and did - the surround speakers first. Those speakers, combined with the fronts of course, are what create the ambience and especially, the involving (and fun!) front-to-back moving sound effects so many of those movies contain.

Sure, the center adds some realism by making sure dialog and other center-oriented items emanate from the center of the sound "image", but to me anyway the surrounds add much more realism and many times you are almost 100% convinced you're sitting in that restaurant/hearing that jet roar over your head/hear that ghost rustling behind you. Plus if you're seated inline with the TV and your left & right front speakers are flanking the screen, unless those speakers are really low quality they can generate what's called a phantom center image and voices etc will emanate seemingly directly from the screen itself.* I know, because my own system was set up this way for nearly two years before I could find and afford the center channel I really wanted.

FYI to set-up a surround system with no center channel simply means going into the receiver's speaker management menu and selecting "no center" - it will then redirect the center info to the front left & rights.


* I lost track of how many people would walk up to my TV to see if its own speakers were still activated (they weren't)
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post #19 of 24 Old 06-23-2012, 02:26 PM
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Denon's new XX13 models just came out. Might as well look at last year's XX12 models to see if you can save money. Here is the 2112 for $489.

I'm not familiar enough to offer an alternative to the Def Tec SM55, although I'm sure there must be something that sound as well and be a better deal, given that price is full MSRP.

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post #20 of 24 Old 06-23-2012, 03:04 PM
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I just saw this at Newegg.com

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882269038

I have no idea how they sound but Energy is a well known brand that is often recommended for budget systems.

If not, I would go with 2 of the Infinity P163 plus a PC251 ($320 at Crutchfield.com)

My advice is to get the front 3 now since you really want them to all match. If you do not get a center now you may have trouble getting a matching one in a couple years when you upgrade. It is far less critical for the surrounds to match.

I would wait on a sub. Subs are really meant to play the ultra low frequencies (usually between 20-80Hz). A cheap or poor sub really is not going to add much. You can choose from a number of good offerings around $500-600 when your budget can hack it. Then you will really have the home theater experience.

As for receivers, given your budget, I would look for a closeout on a Denon like the 1912 or a Pioneer like the 822 or 1022. For last year Denon and Pioneer were Airplay enabled. I believe Yamaha now has Airplay, but only on their new 2012-13 line, not on last years.

Oh, there is no way to avoid running wires to the rear speakers unless you try some wireless adapters, which are often more trouble than they are worth. Do you have access to an attic or crawlspace?

Good luck

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post #21 of 24 Old 06-23-2012, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmmlangston View Post

So we went to a local audio store today that carried klipsch, def tech, and two other brands of speakers I don't remember. The guy showed us the dt sm55 @ $600 for both. Loved how they sounded, but is there anything cheaper out there that has what he said was a smallish sub integrated into the speaker? I understand it is not the same as having a subwoofer, but the bass was nice. Our budget isn't really allowing for that pricey of a speaker set. What is the main difference in the sm55 and the sm45? Or is that a question for the def tech thread? The guy there also recommended the denon 1913. What reciever would be a good recommendation that has wireless, or is that out of the question with our limited budget of $800ish. The price we got was $599 for the sm55 def tech speakers and $579 for the 1913. He told us $1100 + tax, which we just weren't ready to do.
Thanks!
KMM

The SM-45 will crossover to a sub at 80hz > the SM-55 has more bass impact and will
go deeper at -3db, due to a nice passive-bass radiater on top of the speaker - it will have
decent bass, for the one who may need to save up, for a good subwoofer.

HT Labs measurement >
The SM55
The –3dB point is at 44 Hz, and the –6dB point is at 40 Hz.

The SM45
The –3dB point is at 61 Hz, and the –6dB point is at 44 Hz.

http://www.hometheater.com/content/definitive-technology-studiomonitor-55-speaker-system-ht-labs-measures

The older Definitive Studio Monitors, are on Newegg with good sale prices.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882325060

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882325059

A refurb Denon 2112 receiver - is here
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/DENAVR2112CI/DENON-AVR-2112CI-7.1-Integrated-Network-A/V-Surround-Receiver/1.html

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Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
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post #22 of 24 Old 06-24-2012, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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So....which is better? Infinity p163 or Energy RC-10? The infinity pair is cheaper, but do the energys have significantly better sound? Thanks!
KMM
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post #23 of 24 Old 06-24-2012, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewHTbuyer View Post

I just saw this at Newegg.com
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882269038
I have no idea how they sound but Energy is a well known brand that is often recommended for budget systems.

That's not a true Energy system. It is a rebadged lower end Jamo system. Not to say it's a bad system, especially at the price, but it's a level below the other Energy systems.
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post #24 of 24 Old 06-24-2012, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by kmmlangston View Post

So....which is better? Infinity p163 or Energy RC-10? The infinity pair is cheaper, but do the energys have significantly better sound? Thanks!
KMM

Speaker preferences are subjective but for me I like the Energy RC-10 better. I own them but I did test the P163 before getting my RC-10s. Build quality is better on the RC-10 also.

Afro GT
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