which will give me the biggest sound upgrade? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I currently have an Onkyo TX-NR709 powering a set of Polk monitor 70s, CS2, and 50s. Would I see a bigger difference in sound quality by buying an external amp or by upgrading to Klipsch Reference series speakers? Thanks for the help.

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post #2 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 08:33 AM
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Have you heard the Klipsch? Which ones would you get? Do you like them?
While some will tell you that adding an external amp will open up your speakers, this is really only true for speakers thathave difficult impedance curves. I don't know whether these Polk fall into that category or not, but their nominal 8 ohms impedance doesn't indicate an issue to begin with.
Swapping to Klipsch might be a lateral move, unless you don't like the sound of your speakers or go up in the Reference line. Note that the RF-7ii has impedance issues and may do better with an external amp.

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post #3 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I like the speakers, but find that they give up detail when pushed during key sequences in movies such as the train wreck in Super 8. I was thinking about running the RF-62s and the RC-62 for the front sound stage and the RB-61s for the rears.

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post #4 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 08:42 AM
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The Klipsch reference line sounds very different from the Polk Monitor line. I personally own the Icon W line but have heard the reference line to compare and the references really are in your face. I'm kind of used to it now but you might find it grating coming from those speakers.
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post #5 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colemad5 View Post

Thanks for the reply. I like the speakers, but find that they give up detail when pushed during key sequences in movies such as the train wreck in Super 8. I was thinking about running the RF-62s and the RC-62 for the front sound stage and the RB-61s for the rears.
Could work.

Have you heard the Klispch?

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post #6 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I have only heard the Klipsch speakers briefly. I understand they have a different sound profile and from everything I've heard and read the Klipsch speakers will work well for me, but I wasn't sure how big of an upgrade those speakers are compared to my current speakers. I have enough money to either upgrade my speakers or go to a dedicated amp but not both.

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post #7 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colemad5 View Post

I wasn't sure how big of an upgrade those speakers are compared to my current speakers.
Yeah, I hope someone else can offer up an opinion here. I am not familiar enough. Maybe ask on the Klipsch thread.

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post #8 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colemad5 View Post

Thanks for the reply. I like the speakers, but find that they give up detail when pushed during key sequences in movies such as the train wreck in Super 8. I was thinking about running the RF-62s and the RC-62 for the front sound stage and the RB-61s for the rears.
This would certainly give you the bigger difference over buying an external amp but would the difference be worth the money? Imo, No.
You already have some pretty nice speakers. You would have to spend much more to get a worthy upgrade.

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post #9 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 12:05 PM
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If your looking for a sound upgrade, then you need to buy power. Your speakers are rated higher then your receiver can dish out. Receivers typically fall flat on its face when reproducing low frequency and all channels suffer.

I have Cerwin Vega's rated at 400 watts and is efficient. So very little power can drive then well. I paired it up with a Harman Kardon AVR 635. I thought it sounded good and loud but was disappointed with the bass and felt that it should be able to output more before distorting.
I started investigating external amps and found Emotiva.
To make a long story short... I bought the XPA2 and XPA5 and am literally blown away with the performance. I feel the bass blasting right through my chest. Now I realize that my Cerwin Vega's can actually dig deep and play it back loud and clean. The detail came out too. I get listening fatigue before my speakers distort. I'm not knocking the performance of the Harman Kardon as it is a beast and dazzled many friends. But, I'm never looking back at Receiver amp performance again. I will buy a receive again for its processing and sound stage configuration tools. But, I'll leave the power to the animal designed to deliver. Once I find a separate processor that can configure a sound stage like audyssey or better, then I will be done with receives.
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post #10 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 12:10 PM
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Do you have a subwoofer?
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post #11 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 12:14 PM
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By far the best way to deal with that would be for him to get a good subwoofer. He will never get chest thumping bass from those 70s. I dont care if he gets a 10,000 watt amp.

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post #12 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, sorry forgot to put that in my original post. I have a svs pb10nsd which provides plenty of deep bass.

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post #13 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I have looked at the XPA-5 and it looks like what I'll probably go with. Sounds like my speakers will benefit better mid bass and clarity with the external amp.

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post #14 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 12:26 PM
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How hard are you pushing your speakers? Have you run Audyssey? Is your room treated at all? How far back are you sitting from your speakers? What do you have your system crossed over at?

I guess I am a little reluctant to tell you to spend another $900 on more power for relatively cheap speakers. My guess is that between your Onkyo and the Emotiva you are looking at, your amp budget far exceeds your speaker budget, which IMHO, is backwards.

It sounds to me like you may want something a little more dynamic for movies. Klipsch might give you that, or you could look at some other brands that are more efficient and a step higher than your current Polk speakers. Nothing against the Monitor 70's, when on sale, they were a good deal, but they are not the most dynamic speaker IMHO.
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post #15 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

How hard are you pushing your speakers? Have you run Audyssey? Is your room treated at all? How far back are you sitting from your speakers? What do you have your system crossed over at?

I guess I am a little reluctant to tell you to spend another $900 on more power for relatively cheap speakers. My guess is that between your Onkyo and the Emotiva you are looking at, your amp budget far exceeds your speaker budget, which IMHO, is backwards.

It sounds to me like you may want something a little more dynamic for movies. Klipsch might give you that, or you could look at some other brands that are more efficient and a step higher than your current Polk speakers. Nothing against the Monitor 70's, when on sale, they were a good deal, but they are not the most dynamic speaker IMHO.
+1.
That amp may make a small difference but it will not make that system sound like a $3000 system. If you have $900 to spend on a minor upgrade then sell it all and get a real $3000 system.

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post #16 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Bond 007 View Post

+1.
That amp may make a small difference but it will not make that system sound like a $3000 system. If you have $900 to spend on a minor upgrade then sell it all and get a real $3000 system.

Do you have any suggestions on some speakers that would be better than the klipsch speakers that are in the same price bracket?

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post #17 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 01:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colemad5 View Post

Do you have any suggestions on some speakers that would be better than the klipsch speakers that are in the same price bracket?
No. Not unless you want to look at used. That may be the only way that you are going to spend $1500 or so and get a real upgrade. No offense but its not that those 70s are that great, but they arent that bad either. The Klipsch reference series will definitely sound better but thats a lot of money to get better sound. You might as well sell what you have and get used or go bigger budget and get great sound.

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post #18 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 01:18 PM
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I would look into these:
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/FOCAL814V/FOCAL-Chorus-814V-716v-Dual-6-Floorstanding-Speakers-Gloss-Black-Pair/1.html
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/FOCALCC814V/FOCAL-Chorus-CC814V-800V-Dual-6-Center-Speaker-Gloss-Black-Each/1.html?c=to
The matching center will put you just over $1K, but these speakers are in a different league.

I would also look into these:
http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/cmt340m/cmt340m.html

With the matching center and shipping, you are under $1K.

A pair of these then get the matching center when funds allow:
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/KEFQ700BLK/KEF-Q700-Q-Series-6-1/2-inch-Black-Floorstanding-Speaker-Each/1.html?c=ss

I would also go to some local stores and listen to some of these brands along with Deftech, PSB, Paradigm, etc.
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post #19 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colemad5 View Post

Do you have any suggestions on some speakers that would be better than the klipsch speakers that are in the same price bracket?
If you like the Klipsch sound, have lots of room, don't mind used, then look at the Klipsch Heritage line. At that price, you could get Cornwalls which would be a real upgrade (and you wouldn't need an external amp).

I also don't think that the amp is the correct route for now. How much were the speakers you have now, and how long ago?

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post #20 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

I would look into these:
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/FOCAL814V/FOCAL-Chorus-814V-716v-Dual-6-Floorstanding-Speakers-Gloss-Black-Pair/1.html
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/FOCALCC814V/FOCAL-Chorus-CC814V-800V-Dual-6-Center-Speaker-Gloss-Black-Each/1.html?c=to
The matching center will put you just over $1K, but these speakers are in a different league.

I would also look into these:
http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/cmt340m/cmt340m.html

With the matching center and shipping, you are under $1K.

A pair of these then get the matching center when funds allow:
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/KEFQ700BLK/KEF-Q700-Q-Series-6-1/2-inch-Black-Floorstanding-Speaker-Each/1.html?c=ss

I would also go to some local stores and listen to some of these brands along with Deftech, PSB, Paradigm, etc.

+1 I agree. Your next upgrade should be the speakers. Those Polks are rather efficient and an external amp isn't going to do much for SQ IMHO.

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post #21 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 01:31 PM
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Those all certainly look nice and I would imagine certainly sound better than the 70s. Have you heard any of them?

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post #22 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bond 007 View Post

Those all certainly look nice and I would imagine certainly sound better than the 70s. Have you heard any of them?
I have heard all of them but the Q700's. But I have heard the 900's which I liked. The Focal's are a screaming deal and I would probably put them above the others, but the Ascend's are very impressive speakers IMHO. They play effortlessly and cleanly. I liked them over my Polk Rti 8's.

If was me, I would be looking at the Seos DIY kits. Since going DIY with my subs, I am really amazed at what you can do for the money.

Something like this:
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/fusion-series-kits/fusion12-kit.html
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post #23 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

How hard are you pushing your speakers? Have you run Audyssey? Is your room treated at all? How far back are you sitting from your speakers? What do you have your system crossed over at?

I guess I am a little reluctant to tell you to spend another $900 on more power for relatively cheap speakers. My guess is that between your Onkyo and the Emotiva you are looking at, your amp budget far exceeds your speaker budget, which IMHO, is backwards.

It sounds to me like you may want something a little more dynamic for movies. Klipsch might give you that, or you could look at some other brands that are more efficient and a step higher than your current Polk speakers. Nothing against the Monitor 70's, when on sale, they were a good deal, but they are not the most dynamic speaker IMHO.

I agree with you. They were what I could afford a couple of years ago working part time while going to college. I now have a better job and am looking to improve my home theater system. It looks like everyone is leaning towards better speakers for now.

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post #24 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

I have heard all of them but the Q700's. But I have heard the 900's which I liked. The Focal's are a screaming deal and I would probably put them above the others, but the Ascend's are very impressive speakers IMHO. They play effortlessly and cleanly. I liked them over my Polk Rti 8's.

If was me, I would be looking at the Seos DIY kits. Since going DIY with my subs, I am really amazed at what you can do for the money.

Something like this:
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/fusion-series-kits/fusion12-kit.html

I would love to hear those.

(I am more of a horn-loaded bass person myself, but at 1K$ a pair I can't suggest that)

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post #25 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 07:06 PM
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I would love to hear those.

(I am more of a horn-loaded bass person myself, but at 1K$ a pair I can't suggest that)

Well he wanted the biggest sound upgrade for around $1K smile.gif

I am definitely leaning towards the 15" model for my next project. Three of them behind an acoustically transparent screen would kick some serious butt smile.gif
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post #26 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 08:05 PM
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I run dual SVS PB-13 Ultra's co-located, placement dictated via bass crawl. I recently begun a home theater upgrade and decided to get rid of all my speakers except for the CV's and build my own. I also decided after much mental debate about performance to include amps in my theater upgrade. The idea was headroom. Also, whats the point of having speakers rated higher then what a receiver can output. So, it was time to match and see what happens. Never imagined the details and how it opened op the speaker to really breath. I thought it would continue to do what they do but can be pushed harder. I was wrong. I watched Master and Commander on blu ray to test it out, between the ship creaking to cannon blasting to violins playing, it was AMAZING. Did I mention the violins.

I spent a year speaking with speaker companies about running full range vs small when using subwoofers. I received much BS in the industry as they only wanted me to purchase their speakers. However, there was one company that stood out, SVS... They provided me details on how to properly configure speakers, the importance of running small and how to appropriately set cut off frequencies. Even though I built massive speakers for center and 4 surrounds in a full range configuration, I high passed them to allow the subs do what they do best.

My point is this:
When your asking what will give you the biggest sound upgrade in sound quality and say the choices are external amps or speakers, the concept of sound quality in this discussion becomes unfocused.

The questions we should be asking you are:
what is it about your current speakers you do not like?
are you running them large or small?
do you have enough headroom?
has your room been treated?

There are a number of factors that can cause poor sound quality:
room size and treatment
power
incorrect gauge speaker wire
location
speaker configuration
speaker calibration
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post #27 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 10:43 PM
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a little over a month ago I added an xpa-5 to my set up using polk monitor series ii speakers. 70's as mains, 60's as wides, 40's for surrounds, cs2 center and dual 505's for low end. below is a copy and paste of my initial reactions to the inclusion of the amp that i posted in the polk thread.
Quote:
I have really put my system through its paces with a variety of music and it all has sounded sooo good....good as in clear and clean. I had a co-worker over for an evening of music listening. She is in her own right a budding audio enthusiast. Her dad is a consultant for a custom installer and she has had the opportunity to listen to a variety of gear when growing up. She like me is a music lover first. She was very impressed with the clarity, loudness and fullness of my set up. She never heard of emotiva before, and now she wants me to help her set up a system for her in a few months and she is very open to emotiva gear, especially when i told her the price tag of the amp.

I have only watched one blu-ray movie since the xpa-5 install...Ted...good comedy flick, but not much for reference demo material. I have however been re-watching the first season of Babylon 5 on dvd, again not the best "reference level source". This particular TV series on dvd was always difficult for me to dial in to sound "right" before. Especially with respect to the voices. I would either have to turn it up to where voices started to sound a bit harsh or I would have enable dynamic volume in order to get it to sound "right" to me, which of course changes the dynamic range of the source. With the xpa-5, this is no longer the case. It is very clear and I can fully understand the dialog and can have it at a nice volume level to fully experience the "fullness" of the surround mix. I was not expecting this and am very impressed. My set up is not my first experience with hi-fi gear. I grew up in a house hold where dad always had the latest and greatest a/v stuff and have heard a variety of speakers, amps, receivers etc over the years. However, finally I feel like I am on "par" with what I remember hearing when growing up...even though my speakers themselves are not exceptionally high-end.

One interesting thing I have discovered in regards to HBO broadcasts. I have read here on avs about members experiencing small static pops when watching HBO, even at moderate and low volume levels...evidently it has something to do with the way HBO compresses their content. I never heard them previously, but while channel surfing I landed upon HBO playing Galaxy Quest and I watched a few minutes of it and l heard the popping noises for the first time. I can only guess that either the xpa-5 is more sensitive to picking up this compressed distortion or that dish network has changed the way HBO is fed to me within the last week.

Something else that I have done set up wise with the inclusion of the xpa-5 is that I have set my crossovers much lower. Previously I pretty much did the 80hz crossover thing, even though audyssey in conjunction with onkyo's auto cal routine would measure the -3 frequency response in my room of my speakers at 40hz. I did play with the settings sometimes, and would sometimes prefer a 60hz crossover on my mains. Now with the xpa-5 in the mix it allows the lower notes to be played much more easily and I have left all my speakers at 40hz after running audyssey. I must say that there is a noticeable increase in volume and clarity of mid bass frequencies. Also keep in mind that my subs are not the best out there either (dual psw505's). I haven't decided for sure if I am going to keep my crossovers at 40hz, but it does sound really good crossed that low now. Much less boominess with the lower crossover, though I didn't have a ton of boominess before, there was just enough to be annoying sometimes. For this reason alone I may keep my crossover lower for now until new speakers and subs arrive at my doorstep...but that probably wont be for at least a year if not longer.

All in all in am very pleased with the inclusion of the xpa-5 into my set up. When I moved into my new house late last year and ended up with a larger space then I previously had in the old house, my gear just couldn't keep up with the volume levels I desired at the distance I now use. Previously my main listening position was just under 7 ft from the speakers, now I am much closer to 10.5 ft. That bit of difference along with the increase volume size of my new room was just enough to show the weakness in my avr. Now does everyone need an amp?....not likely, but in the right circumstances adding an external amp can certainly overcome weaknesses when higher spl levels are desired. I also plan to add some room treatments to my room in the near future, as I do get a fair amount of resonating throughout and it is sometimes annoying, but until I add them, I can just turn up the loud knob until I can no longer hear the room resonating tongue.tongue.gif

And now having it for a little more then a month I can still say I am very pleased with the amp and how it has increased the clarity of the midbass as well as being able to listen at spl levels at or near reference with no harshness. did the amp change the sound tonally from the onktyo running audyssey xt....well no...but sound performance has increased in positive ways...better midbass clarity and can go louder without being harsh...both good things in my book. would room treatments have been a better performance gainer for me...likely yes and they are pending...sometime this spring i should have the room fully treated.

did my low/mid level set up need an amp based on the often recommended budget guidelines frequently posted, again no...and in some ways my gear as a whole is "backwards" when it comes to where I spent my money. but i would like to point out that I built my set up over time, aproaching 3 years now. I started off with just the monitor 70's and a denon 1611 and expanded from there. If i was able to invest all the money i currently have in my system all at once, then i can say with certainty that different decisions would have been made. the biggest reason why I added the amp to my set up In my old house I had a much smaller room so the onk didn't have to work as hard to put out high volume with no or little harshness. Late last year I moved into my new house and have a march larger space to fill and the last several weeks I have noticed the onk was having trouble giving me clean sound at high volumes....unable to get the desired spl levels at my seating distance with out harshness/distortion. the onkyo 809 (and the old denon 1611 for that matter) worked really well sitting 6.5-7ft from the speakers, but not so much sitting 10-11 feet away in a larger room.

I guess what I am saying is, adding an xpa amp to the op set up can be worthwhile, and depending on the circumstances gains can be had. but it may not be the "best" option for the biggest increase in sound performance. but certainly not the worst idea either.

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post #28 of 33 Old 02-24-2013, 11:02 PM
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Best upgrade to any sound system and is fairly cheap. Acoustic treatments.
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post #29 of 33 Old 02-25-2013, 03:06 AM
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

a little over a month ago I added an xpa-5 to my set up using polk monitor series ii speakers. 70's as mains, 60's as wides, 40's for surrounds, cs2 center and dual 505's for low end. below is a copy and paste of my initial reactions to the inclusion of the amp that i posted in the polk thread.
And now having it for a little more then a month I can still say I am very pleased with the amp and how it has increased the clarity of the midbass as well as being able to listen at spl levels at or near reference with no harshness. did the amp change the sound tonally from the onktyo running audyssey xt....well no...but sound performance has increased in positive ways...better midbass clarity and can go louder without being harsh...both good things in my book. would room treatments have been a better performance gainer for me...likely yes and they are pending...sometime this spring i should have the room fully treated.

did my low/mid level set up need an amp based on the often recommended budget guidelines frequently posted, again no...and in some ways my gear as a whole is "backwards" when it comes to where I spent my money. but i would like to point out that I built my set up over time, aproaching 3 years now. I started off with just the monitor 70's and a denon 1611 and expanded from there. If i was able to invest all the money i currently have in my system all at once, then i can say with certainty that different decisions would have been made. the biggest reason why I added the amp to my set up In my old house I had a much smaller room so the onk didn't have to work as hard to put out high volume with no or little harshness. Late last year I moved into my new house and have a march larger space to fill and the last several weeks I have noticed the onk was having trouble giving me clean sound at high volumes....unable to get the desired spl levels at my seating distance with out harshness/distortion. the onkyo 809 (and the old denon 1611 for that matter) worked really well sitting 6.5-7ft from the speakers, but not so much sitting 10-11 feet away in a larger room.

I guess what I am saying is, adding an xpa amp to the op set up can be worthwhile, and depending on the circumstances gains can be had. but it may not be the "best" option for the biggest increase in sound performance. but certainly not the worst idea either.

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post #30 of 33 Old 02-25-2013, 03:33 AM
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^^^thanks for that!

I truly appreciate it.

seriously, i understood what the amp would and wouldn't do for me and why i added it

basically i need to provide me with more power for the high spl levels i enjoy and since my space grew my avr couldn't do it satisfactorily to my ears. In a smaller room with a closer seating distance it was not an issue.

as far as my perceived better midbass sounds from my 70's, a subwoofer upgrade most likely would have sufficed, but no new speakers or sub are in the cards for me at this time for a variety of reasons.

could i detect the amp vs my avr in a level matched blind test?...likely no. Can I tell if my amp is satisfying me over my avr playing KMFDM at 0db from my listening position...well, my ears dont hurt any more from harsh highs (distortion from untreated room and over driving the avr), nor have I blown a tweeter in my speakers...i blew them twice powered off my avr's.

if I was able to drop 3-4k or more all at once on all my HT/stereo gear would I have made different purchases? you betcha!...seeing how i built it up over time and never dropping more then a few hundred at a time well i made compromises and got what i could afford as I could afford it.

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