Would new speakers make a difference? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 02-25-2013, 04:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys, wondering if I can pick some of you guys brain. I bought a 60" Pana plasma last year. I also bought a new Denon 1312 receiver. My room is approx. 16x12. The speakers I have are a set of KLH's model # 520 that I purchased back in the mid 90's. (Paid $100). It came with two front speakers and a passive sub woofer. I bought a couple of 20 watt KLH speakers for my back surround. I did spend more money and bought a half decent center speaker, an infinity, with two 5 1/4" speakers. My problem is when the wife and I are watching cable tv , it seems we have to turn the receiver up real loud to hear dialogue. I watch a lot of mkv movies through a media player ( Patriot hbo) hooked up via hdmi and its worse yet. I have to turn the volume up to 75-80 all the times and even then dialogue is hard to understand half the time. In the receiver I set my center channel at 12dbs, the fronts at 8db's, bass 6db's & rear at 8db's. Being I got this newer receiver
that can put out 75 watts per channel, I'm thinking that my problem has to be my speakers. In doing some research it seems that if I got a system with a active, powered sub woofer, that my sound would be alot better. I was also looking at that Monoprice 9774 system for $250. I don't want to spend over $300. Do you think newer speakers will make a noticeable difference? Should I just get a powered active sub woofer to replace the one I got or should I get a whole new set like the 9774? I'm not an audiophile. Just want to hear dialogue clearly. Thanks for any suggestions!smile.gif
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post #2 of 30 Old 02-25-2013, 05:02 AM
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I had the same issue with my Dish set. I changed the audio crompression setting line to RF
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post #3 of 30 Old 02-25-2013, 05:02 AM
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Do you think newer speakers will make a noticeable difference?

Very likely, yes.

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post #4 of 30 Old 02-25-2013, 05:48 AM
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Since the KLHs are more sensitive than the CC speaker, they will play louder given the same amount of power. Using a CC speaker with more comparable specs - or, better yet, replacing your front three speakers with a set of timbre-matched mains + CC - should provide better overall balance and, as a result, better clarity from the CC speaker.

Since your AVR doesn't have Audyssey, what you might want to do at a minimum is re-set all your levels to 0dB and adjust the levels of the CC speakers, surround speakers and subwoofer relative to the mains. So, for example:
- mains = 0dB
- CC = +?dB
- surrounds = +?dB
- sub = -?dB

Re. the sub: How are you currently powering your passive sub? Not off the AVR-1312, I hope! eek.gif If so, either:
- get a cheap power amp and run the subwoofer output of 1312 to that amp, and then speaker wire from the amp to your passive sub; or
- buy a powered sub.


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post #5 of 30 Old 02-25-2013, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Eljay, thanks for the detailed reply. I did what you suggested and turned the the front speakers down to 0dbs. CC-10db and the back and subwoofer at 5 db's. This made a big difference as far as hearing dialogue from the center channel. As far as the subwoofer, I don't think it is even doing anything. Its got no power going to it. It has the front R & L wires from the receiver going to it then out from there to the front speakers. I think I'm going to look for a powered subwoofer. That should improve the sound alot. Thanks for the help!
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post #6 of 30 Old 02-25-2013, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bogart219 View Post

As far as the subwoofer, I don't think it is even doing anything. Its got no power going to it. It has the front R & L wires from the receiver going to it then out from there to the front speakers.
Then it is getting power to it. The R+L receiver power goes to it; it splits the signal between high frequencies which it sends off to the speakers and the low frequencies which it plays. But it's not making the job of your receiver any easier, and you are missing out on most of the LFE content on movies. A powered sub would indeed help a lot.

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post #7 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 03:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I see what your saying. This stuff gets complicated. Come to think of it I don't really recall hearing any Bass during movies. I will get a powered subwoofer. Another question. On the back of my receiver is a plug for the sub woofer. I''ve seen subwoofers that have this plug also, just a single female plug.(not rca). What kind of cable do I need to connect my receiver to my sub woofer when I get it? Thanks again for the info.smile.gif
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post #8 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 04:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bogart219 View Post

Being I got this newer receiver that can put out 75 watts per channel, I'm thinking that my problem has to be my speakers.

The potential fault in your logic is that abssent detailed information which may exceed what can done via conferencing, your problem is about equally likely to be with:

(1) The room
(2) The positioning of the speakers and AVR adjustments relating to them.
(3) The speakers themselves.
Quote:
In doing some research it seems that if I got a system with a active, powered sub woofer, that my sound would be alot better.

I've done that to two different systems recently and the results were good and in excess of expectations.
Quote:
I was also looking at that Monoprice 9774 system for $250. I don't want to spend over $300.

I was going to say that they are mystery meat and then I found this:

http://on.aol.com/video/monoprice-9774-speakers-review-517674768

"Monoprice's 9774 speakers are virtually identical to the Energy's Take Classic 5.1 speakers but for $150 less"

The Take 10 gets quite a bit of favorable comment. I've tried to do a sniff test by comparing online pricing, and the cost savings may be real.
Quote:
Do you think newer speakers will make a noticeable difference?

High probability. Its in my top 3 without even looking at your current situation that hard.
Quote:
Should I just get a powered active sub woofer to replace the one I got or should I get a whole new set like the 9774?

I'd have to be there and listen to really know. All things considered, again high probability that the Take 10 smell alike system from Monoprice might be your best move. It has the powered sub, tiny though it may be. Given your investement in it, setting it aside for something better should cause minimal pain. And its not a decoration - it has excellent potential to make the whole system sound better.
Quote:
I'm not an audiophile. Just want to hear dialogue clearly. Thanks for any suggestions!smile.gif

Clear voice reproduction is a critical success factor for every system, even those that just play music. There is a myth that says that dialogue and music can't coexist, but I've heard a ton of well-implemented systems that tell me otherwise.

The Monoprice system gets you a powered subwoofer, if you can call it that. It will offload some of the bass from the tiny satellites which is highly positive for clarity, and that is always a good thing.
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post #9 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 04:55 AM
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On the back of my receiver is a plug for the sub woofer. I''ve seen subwoofers that have this plug also, just a single female plug.(not rca). What kind of cable do I need to connect my receiver to my sub woofer when I get it? Thanks again for the info.
That is a female RCA terminal. You need a male RCA to male RCA cable such as this one to connect to a powered sub that has a similar female RCA terminal.

Re. your current sub: Passive subs have speaker level inputs, but not speaker level outputs. If you're currently running speaker wire from your AVR to your sub and from your sub out to your speakers, you have an active (powered) sub. Can you provide a make / model #?


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post #10 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 04:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys, Amazon has the Polk Audio PSW10 10-Inch subwoofer for $80 shipped.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002KVQBA/ref=nosim/?t=slicinc-20&ascsubtag=Wwd0AIAQEeKMqRIP6jmopg0_UkwO3_KTL_0_0&tag=slicinc-20&linkCode=as1

The problem I see is that my Denon 1312 has a single connection on the back for the sub, but looking at the back of the Polk, I only see a set of RCA plugs that say R &L for the line in. Will this subwoofer even work with my Receiver? Do I need to get a "Y" or something? Thanks again!smile.gif
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post #11 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 04:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank You for the info!
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post #12 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 05:00 AM - Thread Starter
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I got a KLH #520 (mid 90's) . The sub has two sets of terminal strips and thats it. One set coming from my receiver and the other set going out to the speakers. (Front speakers only!). There is no power cord to the sub.The back of the sub as a cone with an opening in it about 3" in diameter that supposedly your supposed to aim toward the wall. Does this makes sense?
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post #13 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 05:01 AM
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... Amazon has the Polk Audio PSW10 10-Inch subwoofer for $80 shipped.
A modest price for a modest sub. smile.gif
Quote:
The problem I see is that my Denon 1312 has a single connection on the back for the sub, but looking at the back of the Polk, I only see a set of RCA plugs that say R &L for the line in. Will this subwoofer even work with my Receiver? Do I need to get a "Y" or something? Thanks again!smile.gif
You can usually connect to one input or to both. You don't need a Y-splitter.


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post #14 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 05:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

The potential fault in your logic is that abssent detailed information which may exceed what can done via conferencing, your problem is about equally likely to be with:

(1) The room
(2) The positioning of the speakers and AVR adjustments relating to them.
(3) The speakers themselves.
I've done that to two different systems recently and the results were good and in excess of expectations.
I was going to say that they are mystery meat and then I found this:

http://on.aol.com/video/monoprice-9774-speakers-review-517674768

"Monoprice's 9774 speakers are virtually identical to the Energy's Take Classic 5.1 speakers but for $150 less"

The Take 10 gets quite a bit of favorable comment. I've tried to do a sniff test by comparing online pricing, and the cost savings may be real.
High probability. Its in my top 3 without even looking at your current situation that hard.
I'd have to be there and listen to really know. All things considered, again high probability that the Take 10 smell alike system from Monoprice might be your best move. It has the powered sub, tiny though it may be. Given your investement in it, setting it aside for something better should cause minimal pain. And its not a decoration - it has excellent potential to make the whole system sound better.
Clear voice reproduction is a critical success factor for every system, even those that just play music. There is a myth that says that dialogue and music can't coexist, but I've heard a ton of well-implemented systems that tell me otherwise.

The Monoprice system gets you a powered subwoofer, if you can call it that. It will offload some of the bass from the tiny satellites which is highly positive for clarity, and that is always a good thing.

Thank You for the info smile.gif
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post #15 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 05:11 AM
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Well, if there's no power cord, it's definitely passive, and you should definitely not be using your AVR to try to power it. Either get an inexpensive power amp - something like this - to run that sub, or ditch it and get a powered sub.


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post #16 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eljaycanuck View Post

Re. your current sub: Passive subs have speaker level inputs, but not speaker level outputs. If you're currently running speaker wire from your AVR to your sub and from your sub out to your speakers, you have an active (powered) sub.

I disagree. It can have a crossover, as I stated earlier.

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post #17 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by eljaycanuck View Post

Well, if there's no power cord, it's definitely passive, and you should definitely not be using your AVR to try to power it. Either get an inexpensive power amp - something like this - to run that sub, or ditch it and get a powered sub.

Agreed, but the monoprice bundle looks to fit his needs better than an inexpensive amp to power his sub and satellites.

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post #18 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by bogart219 View Post

I got a KLH #520 (mid 90's) . The sub has two sets of terminal strips and thats it. One set coming from my receiver and the other set going out to the speakers. (Front speakers only!). There is no power cord to the sub.The back of the sub as a cone with an opening in it about 3" in diameter that supposedly your supposed to aim toward the wall. Does this makes sense?
It makes perfect sense. It has a passive crossover built in to send the low frequencies to the sub driver and the high frequencies to the mains. This is how it was done before the advent of AVRs with LFE outputs and self-powered subs. You don't see very many that were done this way.

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post #19 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 07:49 AM
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I disagree. It can have a crossover, as I stated earlier.
But without a power cord, it's still not an active sub.


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post #20 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 07:49 AM
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Agreed, but the monoprice bundle looks to fit his needs better than an inexpensive amp to power his sub and satellites.
It was just an option.


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post #21 of 30 Old 02-26-2013, 08:36 AM
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With most of these three-piece systems (or four-piece, in the case of the original Cambridne Soundworks Ensemble) thinking of the bass unit as a "subwoofer" is misleading. These things are basically standard three-way speakers, with the woofer in its own box instead of sharing a cabinet with the midrange and tweeter. The CSW had a separate bass unit per channel; most others had one bass driver shared between channels, with the crossover for the stereo pair built into the sub.

But functionally, it's just a three-way speaker, and if you use one in an HT system you would treat it as one -- a powered sub would be added to it, rather than replacing the bass unit, and you would probably set it to "small."

So what the OP has are older budget speakers that were never that great to start with, and the question of whether modern speakers could sound better is undoubtedly "yes." But how much better, and different in what ways, is another question. The Energy Take system, for example, is a fine-sounding aystem for the money -- but it still has real limitations that it reaches at relatively low levels, particularly in larger rooms. There's no guarantee that it will sound *that* much better than what he has. A powered sub, on the other hand, will have the immediate benefit of adding both bass extension and considerable dedicated amplifier power for the lows.

So I'd start with the sub, if it were me. But the garbled advice above -- to go to some true hifi shops and listen to what state-of-the-art actually sounds like, in order to acquire some personal aural benchmarks -- is actually pretty good.

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post #22 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 04:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys, just a follow up. I bought a JBL Sub150P woofer off Newegg for $150 shipped. Being the Subwoofer I have now is basically not doing anything , this should make a big difference. I will post back in a few days after I get it to let you know what I think. Once more, thanks to everyone for all the helpfull suggestions!
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post #23 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 04:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdclark View Post

With most of these three-piece systems (or four-piece, in the case of the original Cambridne Soundworks Ensemble) thinking of the bass unit as a "subwoofer" is misleading. These things are basically standard three-way speakers, with the woofer in its own box instead of sharing a cabinet with the midrange and tweeter. The CSW had a separate bass unit per channel; most others had one bass driver shared between channels, with the crossover for the stereo pair built into the sub.

But functionally, it's just a three-way speaker, and if you use one in an HT system you would treat it as one -- a powered sub would be added to it, rather than replacing the bass unit, and you would probably set it to "small."

So what the OP has are older budget speakers that were never that great to start with, and the question of whether modern speakers could sound better is undoubtedly "yes." But how much better, and different in what ways, is another question. The Energy Take system, for example, is a fine-sounding aystem for the money -- but it still has real limitations that it reaches at relatively low levels, particularly in larger rooms. There's no guarantee that it will sound *that* much better than what he has. A powered sub, on the other hand, will have the immediate benefit of adding both bass extension and considerable dedicated amplifier power for the lows.

So I'd start with the sub, if it were me. But the garbled advice above -- to go to some true hifi shops and listen to what state-of-the-art actually sounds like, in order to acquire some personal aural benchmarks -- is actually pretty good.

Absolutely true.
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Hey guys, just a follow up. I bought a JBL Sub150P woofer off Newegg for $150 shipped. Being the Subwoofer I have now is basically not doing anything , this should make a big difference. I will post back in a few days after I get it to let you know what I think. Once more, thanks to everyone for all the helpfull suggestions!

Great. It should help a lot.

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post #24 of 30 Old 03-05-2013, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey fellows, got my JBL sub150P yesterday and hooked it up. (Its heavy ). Watching a cable show I could tell a difference but not as much as I hoped. I'm waiting to watch a movie and see how it is. On my Denon 1312, I got the speakers set to small and the subwoofer set at 80 hz. There are other settings in the menu but I'm not sure I have the right ones picked. (it gets confusing). I noticed when i did the test tones, all the speakers were that loud static noise except the subwoofer which was a low rumble that you could hardly hear. I have the volume on the sub set half way. I did leave the front speakers hooked up to the terminal strip on the old KLH subwoofer. I didn't think it would make a difference but not sure. That Denon has a bunch of modes but the only one I get loud enough sound out of is multi channel . Will post back once I play a movie. Hopefully with some tweaking it will sound better.smile.gif
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post #25 of 30 Old 03-05-2013, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by bogart219 View Post

Hey fellows, got my JBL sub150P yesterday and hooked it up. (Its heavy ). Watching a cable show I could tell a difference but not as much as I hoped. I'm waiting to watch a movie and see how it is. On my Denon 1312, I got the speakers set to small and the subwoofer set at 80 hz. There are other settings in the menu but I'm not sure I have the right ones picked. (it gets confusing). I noticed when i did the test tones, all the speakers were that loud static noise except the subwoofer which was a low rumble that you could hardly hear. I have the volume on the sub set half way. I did leave the front speakers hooked up to the terminal strip on the old KLH subwoofer. I didn't think it would make a difference but not sure. That Denon has a bunch of modes but the only one I get loud enough sound out of is multi channel . Will post back once I play a movie. Hopefully with some tweaking it will sound better.smile.gif

Yes, you must leave the bass unit from the KLH connected. It's not a subwoofer; it's the bass driver of a 3-way system. It's part of your main L/R speakers.

White noise for the full-range channels and a "rumble" for the sub (which obviously can't play full-bandwidth white noise) is typical.

If your AVR doesn't have automated setup, you use the test signals to set subjective balance. If the sub isn't loud enough, turn it up! There should be channel level controls on the AVR. It sometimes takes some work to get a good blend between subwoofer and speakers, and much depends on proper placement of the sub. Google "subwoofer crawl."

If it does have automated setup (Denon uses Audyssey), run it, using the included microphone. As for sound modes, you need to know what kind of signal -- DD 5.1, DTS, stereo, etc. -- is coming from your source. Usually you'll want to use a mode that matches the source.

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post #26 of 30 Old 03-06-2013, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rdclark View Post

Yes, you must leave the bass unit from the KLH connected. It's not a subwoofer; it's the bass driver of a 3-way system. It's part of your main L/R speakers.

White noise for the full-range channels and a "rumble" for the sub (which obviously can't play full-bandwidth white noise) is typical.

If your AVR doesn't have automated setup, you use the test signals to set subjective balance. If the sub isn't loud enough, turn it up! There should be channel level controls on the AVR. It sometimes takes some work to get a good blend between subwoofer and speakers, and much depends on proper placement of the sub. Google "subwoofer crawl."

If it does have automated setup (Denon uses Audyssey), run it, using the included microphone. As for sound modes, you need to know what kind of signal -- DD 5.1, DTS, stereo, etc. -- is coming from your source. Usually you'll want to use a mode that matches the source.

Hey RD, once more thanks for the info:) I played a couple of movies last night and you definitely can tell the difference with the bass. I don't think my Denon (1312), has that audyssey. In setup there are a lot of hz.'s to choose from which confuses me. I might write down all the settings and post here to see what you suggest.
thanks!
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post #27 of 30 Old 03-06-2013, 06:03 AM
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Hi, is what i would do is take the left over $150 from your $300 and buy 2 infinty primus bookshelves to match your center..you can find them bout anywere including direct from Harman Audio, It will make a HUGE difference. . They will sound way better then the small sattelite/sub combo..
Then go to speaker setting and run manuall set up. set all levals to zero db as a start, set your distance,your x over prob 120 hz, then adjust your levals.. this my .02.. but i would def take that dated 3 piece L/R out..
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post #28 of 30 Old 03-06-2013, 08:57 AM
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Hi, is what i would do is take the left over $150 from your $300 and buy 2 infinty primus bookshelves to match your center..you can find them bout anywere including direct from Harman Audio, It will make a HUGE difference. . They will sound way better then the small sattelite/sub combo..
Then go to speaker setting and run manuall set up. set all levals to zero db as a start, set your distance,your x over prob 120 hz, then adjust your levals.. this my .02.. but i would def take that dated 3 piece L/R out..

Certainly replacing the mains is the next step, and matching the existing center would be a reasonable strategy. I would contact Infinity to confirm what speakers in their current line best match your CC speaker. If you think your Model 520 is superior to the speakers you use now for surrounds, you could more the 520 into that role, at least temporarily. You could probably leave the bass unit where it is.

Follow flyingfreak's advice for setting up your speakers.

Size: Small (all)
Crossover: comfortably higher than the bass extensioon of your worst speaker 100-120Hz or so is a good place to start.
Distance: Use a tape measure
Crossover setting on sub: highest setting (or "off") -- you want the setting on the AVR to control this.
Level setting on sub: start at midpoint, adjust so that channel level for sub on the AVR is in the same range as other channels.

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post #29 of 30 Old 03-10-2013, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey fellows, just another little fellow up. After watching a half dozen movies I'm pretty happy with this sub. I don't know if its possible or I'm just imaging it but it seems to make the unit sound better overall not just the bass. I really don't have any place to put bookshelf speakers. My two front main speakers are small and I have them hanging in up on the wall in the corners. When I find a deal on some better speakers that I can hang, I change them then. Here is a picture of these KLH fronts. These are about 4"wide x 8" high. I custom made a holder for them. Thanks again for all the help!
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post #30 of 30 Old 03-10-2013, 08:30 AM
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Hey fellows, just another little fellow up. After watching a half dozen movies I'm pretty happy with this sub. I don't know if its possible or I'm just imaging it but it seems to make the unit sound better overall not just the bass. I really don't have any place to put bookshelf speakers. My two front main speakers are small and I have them hanging in up on the wall in the corners. When I find a deal on some better speakers that I can hang, I change them then. Here is a picture of these KLH fronts. These are about 4"wide x 8" high. I custom made a holder for them. Thanks again for all the help!

If you were running the KLH system full-range before, but now you're crossing over at 80 or 100Hz or whatever, it's no surprise it sounds better. Your receiver isn't working as hard, because now the sub's amp is handling the frequencies that require the most power. More dynamic headroom, less distortion. In turn, the KLH is not being asked to reproduce frequencies that are too low for it, reducing distortion further.

Powered subs are a wonderful thing. Glad it's working for you.

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