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post #1 of 9 Old 03-13-2013, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey all, I'm looking into 5.1 speakers and have a few questions i'm hoping you can help. they will be used mainly for TV and movies. my wife and son might listen to music once in a blue moon. i might listen to the odd metal song if i'm ever home alone. but TV and movies about 90% of the time.

1. what are some good brands of speakers?
2. If I buy the fronts, center, rears and subwoofer seperately, what comon specs do they all have to have? all have the same db rating? watts?
3. I notice alot of A/V receivers seem to have 100 or 105 watts per channel. I read its better if your receiver is about 10% higher wattage than your speakers. but most speakers i'm looking at can handle really high amounts like 30-250 watts. isn't this bad?
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-13-2013, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post

1. what are some good brands of speakers?

There are many good brands, but first we'll need to know your budget, as well as whatever preferences you may have as to the type of speakers you'd be willing to accommodate in your room, such as floorstanding towers, bookshelf speakers, very small satellite speakers, etc.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

2. If I buy the fronts, center, rears and subwoofer seperately, what comon specs do they all have to have?

None, really, but it would be ideal to have a set of speakers that all sound similar. The subwoofer can be considered on its own as it only handles a limited range of frequencies that the other speakers for the most part do not.
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all have the same db rating? watts?

It is unnecessary from an electrical point of view, although it would be best if the three speakers at the front, at least, were all as similar as possible in every way, beyond their specs. Minor differences can be compensated for, and may have to be anyway for other reasons.
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3. I notice alot of A/V receivers seem to have 100 or 105 watts per channel.

That's just enough for most home theaters and their owners.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

I read its better if your receiver is about 10% higher wattage than your speakers. but most speakers i'm looking at can handle really high amounts like 30-250 watts. isn't this bad?

No, it's not bad for speakers to have greater capability. Generally, the more power your receiver has, the better, because then it will distort less and handle dynamic sounds better, even though on the average you're probably going to be using less than 1 watt per channel (for which 100 watts would be just enough for dynamics). Similarly, the more power a speaker can handle, generally the better it will handle any amount of power that is put through it without getting too hot and sort of backing down in terms of volume and dynamics. There may be some purposes for which rules of thumb like the one you mentioned may apply, such as maximizing the output of a particular speaker, but in general you can never have too much of either specification, on their own.
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-13-2013, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
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lets say my budget for speakers is $1000 for all 6 speakers. I have no preference in the types, but i'm weary of those small satellites for the 2 fronts and 2 backs. I like a bit of size. I'm open to floor standing speakers, but not sure if my wife wants those.

I realize its better to buy the 6 speakers in a package, but I need in wall speakers for the back and I don't see any 5.1 packages where the rears are in-wall.

I know you don't really have to have all 6 speakers at the same db rating, but isn't it bad for sound balance to have the rears not as loud as the rest?

I read once that having a speaker that can handle alot more power than the receiver puts out because the speaker will draw out more power from the receiver resulting in to much load on the receiver or it will push out distorted power. is that not true?
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-13-2013, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

lets say my budget for speakers is $1000 for all 6 speakers.

OK, and approximately how large is your room?

I just realized that you're located in Canada, and I'm not sure about the availability and pricing of various speakers there. Could you tell me which speakers you've been looking at?
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

I have no preference in the types, but i'm weary of those small satellites for the 2 fronts and 2 backs. I like a bit of size.

That's good because small speakers, well, sound small--unfortunately size still matters when it comes to audio reproduction.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

I realize its better to buy the 6 speakers in a package, but I need in wall speakers for the back and I don't see any 5.1 packages where the rears are in-wall.

While it's generally better to have speakers that sound alike for a good match, they don't necessarily have to be purchased in a single package. In your case, the surround speakers (not rears--they belong on the sides of the viewers) may be quite different, but if you're going to have different speakers, then the surrounds are where you'd want to make that compromise.
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I know you don't really have to have all 6 speakers at the same db rating, but isn't it bad for sound balance to have the rears not as loud as the rest?

That could happen anyway because they're usually at a different distance from the viewers than the front speakers are. This is why AVRs provide level-matching controls, which can compensate for both distance and different speaker sensitivities (dB rating) at the same time.

As for the sixth speaker, the subwoofer, these days they all have their own built-in amplifiers and volume controls, so as far as setup is concerned, it doesn't matter what their sensitivity is (usually you won't even know)--you just need to match them with the other speakers in level using test tones.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

I read once that having a speaker that can handle alot more power than the receiver puts out because the speaker will draw out more power from the receiver resulting in to much load on the receiver or it will push out distorted power. is that not true?

You might have been reading about speakers that draw more current than most others, which can overload typical AVRs. It's not because of how much power they can handle, per se, but because of their lower than typical impedance ratings, measured in ohms. As long as you're using speakers that have "nominal" impedances of 6 ohms or higher, your receiver should be alright, regardless of how much power the speakers can handle.
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-14-2013, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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the room is 18x13. the front and subwoofer would go up against the front wall (not wall mounting). either on a bookshelp if I get small enough speakers, on a speaker stand if my wife minds that, or i'd get floor standing speakers if my budget or wife allows. my wife does want to wall mount the speakers, but I don't want that. I fear i'd get wall vibrations and be able to hear it.

Right now i'd rather just get a list of good brands instead of me listing what speakers are available to me and you telling me which of those are good. but I do believe I have access to Paradigm, Definitive Technology, Martin Logan, PSB, Totem (probably out of my price range), Bose, and some others that I haven't heard before, not to say they are not good. i haven't researched this stuff in about 20 years.

whether they are called surrounds or rears, they will be on the back wall, behind me and up high. that's where the speaker wires and holes in the wall are. I will post this question later in a seperate post, but i'm wondering how they will sound if they are up high, above me and i will be sitting right against the wall.

do all receivers provide this level matching controlls? if so, what's it usually called? I need to make sure I get it.

i didn't know subwoofers come with their own amp and volume control. is getting one of these recommended? is it bad if i get one that doesn't have its own amp?

as for matching the wattage, i read that you should get a receiver that pushes out about 10% more power than what your speakers can handle. I see most receivers give about 100-105 watts where most speakers can handle about 250 watts. I read this here: http://www.gizmag.com/how-to-choose-the-right-speakers-for-your-amplifier-or-av-receiver/9737/ here is what it said

"When power matching speakers to an amp, a good rule of thumb is to power them with a little more juice than they’re designed to handle - around 10% should do it. That way the amp doesn’t have to work
as hard to drive the speakers to their full capacity, resulting in cleaner, more dynamic sound. Speakers are designed to handle fluctuations in power levels, so this extra bit of juice won’t cause any issues any issues."
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post #6 of 9 Old 03-14-2013, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post

the room is 18x13. the front and subwoofer would go up against the front wall (not wall mounting). either on a bookshelp if I get small enough speakers, on a speaker stand if my wife minds that, or i'd get floor standing speakers if my budget or wife allows.

At this budget level, and when using a subwoofer, generally you'll get better sound quality from bookshelf speakers than floor-standing speakers (there may be exceptions and odd cases, but this is how it generally works).
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

my wife does want to wall mount the speakers, but I don't want that. I fear i'd get wall vibrations and be able to hear it.

Any speakers placed close to walls are going to get some reinforcement of the bass frequencies, but other than that it's very unlikely that you'd have problems with audible vibration (and there are ways to remedy that if it proves to be an issue). It's not something to be overly concerned about, in my opinion, especially if you use any room correction systems included in most AVRs these days.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

Right now i'd rather just get a list of good brands instead of me listing what speakers are available to me and you telling me which of those are good. but I do believe I have access to Paradigm, Definitive Technology, Martin Logan, PSB, Totem (probably out of my price range), Bose, and some others that I haven't heard before, not to say they are not good. i haven't researched this stuff in about 20 years.

The best thing for you to do at this point would be to audition as many speakers as you care to because they all sound a little different. All of the brands that you listed are worth a listen, with the exception of Bose (and maybe Totem due to price). Once you figure out which brands and series you prefer (they all provide in-walls, too, which is convenient), let us know about the specific speakers that you prefer in your general price range, and we'll tell you what we think.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

whether they are called surrounds or rears, they will be on the back wall, behind me and up high. that's where the speaker wires and holes in the wall are.

They may be located on the back wall, but they still should be located to the sides of the viewers. Is this the case for you?
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

I will post this question later in a seperate post, but i'm wondering how they will sound if they are up high, above me and i will be sitting right against the wall.

In situations like this (not uncommon--I have to deal with being up against a wall, too) surround speakers can work fine, although I personally think it would be best to mount bookshelf speakers on the back wall and toe them sharply inward toward the audience. In my opinion, in-wall surrounds that fire toward the front wall can work, too, but not quite as well.

As for the height of the speakers, most people prefer to place them a little high. If they're way up high it may be less than optimal for some, but I think that this works fine in practice, too.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

do all receivers provide this level matching controlls? if so, what's it usually called? I need to make sure I get it.

I'm sure that the absolute vast majority--if not every single one--of the AVRs available today have such controls, and many of them also come with a microphone that is used to set the level of each channel and speaker automatically. I guess they're usually called "levels" or "channel levels."
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

i didn't know subwoofers come with their own amp and volume control. is getting one of these recommended? is it bad if i get one that doesn't have its own amp?

Yes, so-called "active" subwoofers are generally recommended because AVRs tend to be limited in power output as it is, and a subwoofer would only put additional strain on them. The amps built into active subwoofers can also be specifically designed for the driver(s) used, and come with additional controls and adjustments that some people may find handy. While there is nothing inherently wrong with "passive" subwoofers that don't include their own amp (in fact there are some very high-end, high-performance passive subs available), it would be highly recommended that you purchase a separate amp for these in any case, due to the limitations of most every AVR. Most people by far, aside from those who buy certain "home theater in a box" systems, simply opt for an active sub.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

as for matching the wattage, i read that you should get a receiver that pushes out about 10% more power than what your speakers can handle. I see most receivers give about 100-105 watts where most speakers can handle about 250 watts. I read this here: http://www.gizmag.com/how-to-choose-the-right-speakers-for-your-amplifier-or-av-receiver/9737/ here is what it said

"When power matching speakers to an amp, a good rule of thumb is to power them with a little more juice than they’re designed to handle - around 10% should do it. That way the amp doesn’t have to work
as hard to drive the speakers to their full capacity, resulting in cleaner, more dynamic sound. Speakers are designed to handle fluctuations in power levels, so this extra bit of juice won’t cause any issues any issues."

The speakers will only draw as much power as they need, based on the voltage provided by the amplifier. While it would be ideal to have enough amplifier power to maximize the performance of a speaker, you don't necessarily need to do that because it may be way too loud anyway, and you certainly don't need to look for speakers that can handle less power just because of the limitations of your amp/AVR, because being able to handle more power is a benefit regardless (probably has better internal cooling and will therefore be more dynamic than a speaker that can handle less power, which will get hotter inside and become less efficient). I think I understand what those other guys are trying to say, but it's kind of a specific, focused viewpoint, while I'm looking at the big picture regarding typical home theaters (I'll be giving you more focused viewpoints, too, when you start to choose speakers and other components).
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post #7 of 9 Old 03-15-2013, 01:01 AM
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Get these
http://www.pioneerelectronics.ca/POCEN/Home/Speakers/Home-Theater-Speakers/S-HSAJ2
Great sound for in your price range
Read this review
http://hometheaterreview.com/pioneer-sp-fs52-floor-standing-loudspeaker-reviewed/
The pioneer sub is not that good but you can upgrade later.
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post #8 of 9 Old 03-15-2013, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
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in the case of the speaker being in the wall or attached to the wall using a bracket, wouldn't easily hear vibrations if lets say there are other things against the wall such as picture frames or anything else touching the wall? my dining room will be on the other side of that wall and we could have a buffet (a dresser like thing to store plates, glasses, etc) with stuff on it and there could also be a picture frame on that wall aswell.

so Bose is good at marketing/advertising but their products aren't very good?

the speakers on the backwall will not be in the middle of the wall, but on the sides pointing forward. not on the side walls. I will take a picture of my room one of these days and post them because I also have a bit of a situation for my center channel. my TV fits into my entertainment unit without alot of room around it. I don't know where to put the center channel. but i'm not looking for help on this in this post. i'll have another post for this topic soon. As far as bookshelf speakers on my back wall, I think i'd have a better chance of convincing the new pope to commit a crime than to convince my wife to have them there. smile.gif plus i don't think i'd like them like that either. if they have inwall speakers shaped such that they can point down and inward, that would be great.

for the subwoofer, I saw a picture of one with inputs in the back. when it comes self powered subwoofers, do you have to plug in all the other speakers into it? if that's the case, this will be a problem.
http://www.polkaudio.com/products/dswpro550wi



Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

At this budget level, and when using a subwoofer, generally you'll get better sound quality from bookshelf speakers than floor-standing speakers (there may be exceptions and odd cases, but this is how it generally works).
Any speakers placed close to walls are going to get some reinforcement of the bass frequencies, but other than that it's very unlikely that you'd have problems with audible vibration (and there are ways to remedy that if it proves to be an issue). It's not something to be overly concerned about, in my opinion, especially if you use any room correction systems included in most AVRs these days.
The best thing for you to do at this point would be to audition as many speakers as you care to because they all sound a little different. All of the brands that you listed are worth a listen, with the exception of Bose (and maybe Totem due to price). Once you figure out which brands and series you prefer (they all provide in-walls, too, which is convenient), let us know about the specific speakers that you prefer in your general price range, and we'll tell you what we think.
They may be located on the back wall, but they still should be located to the sides of the viewers. Is this the case for you?
In situations like this (not uncommon--I have to deal with being up against a wall, too) surround speakers can work fine, although I personally think it would be best to mount bookshelf speakers on the back wall and toe them sharply inward toward the audience. In my opinion, in-wall surrounds that fire toward the front wall can work, too, but not quite as well.

As for the height of the speakers, most people prefer to place them a little high. If they're way up high it may be less than optimal for some, but I think that this works fine in practice, too.
I'm sure that the absolute vast majority--if not every single one--of the AVRs available today have such controls, and many of them also come with a microphone that is used to set the level of each channel and speaker automatically. I guess they're usually called "levels" or "channel levels."
Yes, so-called "active" subwoofers are generally recommended because AVRs tend to be limited in power output as it is, and a subwoofer would only put additional strain on them. The amps built into active subwoofers can also be specifically designed for the driver(s) used, and come with additional controls and adjustments that some people may find handy. While there is nothing inherently wrong with "passive" subwoofers that don't include their own amp (in fact there are some very high-end, high-performance passive subs available), it would be highly recommended that you purchase a separate amp for these in any case, due to the limitations of most every AVR. Most people by far, aside from those who buy certain "home theater in a box" systems, simply opt for an active sub.
The speakers will only draw as much power as they need, based on the voltage provided by the amplifier. While it would be ideal to have enough amplifier power to maximize the performance of a speaker, you don't necessarily need to do that because it may be way too loud anyway, and you certainly don't need to look for speakers that can handle less power just because of the limitations of your amp/AVR, because being able to handle more power is a benefit regardless (probably has better internal cooling and will therefore be more dynamic than a speaker that can handle less power, which will get hotter inside and become less efficient). I think I understand what those other guys are trying to say, but it's kind of a specific, focused viewpoint, while I'm looking at the big picture regarding typical home theaters (I'll be giving you more focused viewpoints, too, when you start to choose speakers and other components).
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post #9 of 9 Old 03-15-2013, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalugadp View Post

Get these
http://www.pioneerelectronics.ca/POCEN/Home/Speakers/Home-Theater-Speakers/S-HSAJ2
Great sound for in your price range
Read this review
http://hometheaterreview.com/pioneer-sp-fs52-floor-standing-loudspeaker-reviewed/
The pioneer sub is not that good but you can upgrade later.

This high-value option would allow the OP to save more for a great subwoofer right now--just buy the center and tower/bookshelf speakers separately.

velocci, take a listen to these in addition to some of the others, for comparison, to see whether they meet your standards.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

in the case of the speaker being in the wall or attached to the wall using a bracket, wouldn't easily hear vibrations if lets say there are other things against the wall such as picture frames or anything else touching the wall?

I suppose that is possible, but it has not been an issue in my own home theater, in which all of the speakers (except for the sub) are wall-mounted, as well as other similar home theaters that I have helped install. The only such issues I have experienced are with the subwoofer causing some nearby objects to rattle during some particularly intense movie scenes, which I resolved by either moving the objects away or fixing them in place using museum/earthquake putty. Since you are concerned and it is theoretically possible for vibrations from the speakers to be transmitted directly to the walls, in the worst case scenario you could use mounts like the VideoSecu MS56B (not available from Amazon.ca, unfortunately) and isolate the speakers from the mount using foam or rubber pads.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

my dining room will be on the other side of that wall and we could have a buffet (a dresser like thing to store plates, glasses, etc) with stuff on it and there could also be a picture frame on that wall aswell.

While I can't absolutely guarantee anything, I really don't expect that you'll have any problems with vibration from the main speakers, especially if they are quality speakers and will be crossed over to the subwoofers at a reasonable frequency. If somebody has had bad experiences with vibrations from mounting speakers on the wall, then please speak up and tell us your story, but I think that the possibility of something going wrong is remote, and almost certainly addressable at worst (we could always try Sorbothane, the ultimate in vibration absorption, if all else fails). By the way, I'd recommend these mounts anyway because they allow the use of larger bookshelf speakers and are very stable even with heavy loads. If anything, you're far more likely to have vibration issues with the subwoofer, just from the soundwaves in the air.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

so Bose is good at marketing/advertising but their products aren't very good?

To be fair, some of Bose's products are fine--even rather good--quality for what they are, if overpriced and overhyped. But their home theater systems specifically have very poor sound quality for their outrageously inflated prices. Their "jewel cube" satellite speakers use one or two $3 (retail price) untreated paper drivers each with no supporting electronics inside, and consumers are charged hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars for this and a pitiful substitute for a subwoofer, all because of the Bose brand name and their marketing. There are other larger speakers from Bose that may sound better, but they don't compare to real hi-fi speakers, and are overpriced as usual.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

the speakers on the backwall will not be in the middle of the wall, but on the sides pointing forward. not on the side walls.

It's good that they are to the sides of the viewers, at least, and I would recommend using in-wall speakers that can tilt or rotate some or better yet all of their drivers to the sides so that they could at least partially be aimed toward the viewers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post

I will take a picture of my room one of these days and post them because I also have a bit of a situation for my center channel. my TV fits into my entertainment unit without alot of room around it. I don't know where to put the center channel.

That's a good idea--please do.
Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post

but i'm not looking for help on this in this post. i'll have another post for this topic soon.

Only do this if you think it would be of general help to many others, and in that case be sure to title the thread accordingly. Otherwise, there is no reason we couldn't talk about it here in this thread.
Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post

As far as bookshelf speakers on my back wall, I think i'd have a better chance of convincing the new pope to commit a crime than to convince my wife to have them there. smile.gif plus i don't think i'd like them like that either. if they have inwall speakers shaped such that they can point down and inward, that would be great.

Some can rotate sideways, and those would definitely be preferable.
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post

for the subwoofer, I saw a picture of one with inputs in the back. when it comes self powered subwoofers, do you have to plug in all the other speakers into it? if that's the case, this will be a problem.
http://www.polkaudio.com/products/dswpro550wi

No, any modern (or even not-so-modern) AVR will handle all of the "bass management" for you. The only connections to the subwoofer will be its power cable and a single RCA coaxial cable between the AVR's sub pre-out and one of the inputs on the sub.
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