Advice on building a 5.1 Surround System around a pair of B&W Matrix 802 speakers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 04-19-2013, 08:51 AM - Thread Starter
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I am looking for some advice in building a 5.1 surround system around my pair of classic B&W Matrix 802 Series 2 speakers. Presently I have a hybrid system consisting of various B&W and KEF parts as follows:

FL/FR: B&W Matrix 802
Centre: B&W HTM62
SL/SR: KEF KHT3001 "eggs" mounterd KEF stands
Sub: KEF KHT3005 "sub-woofer"

Amplification is a Yamaha Aventage 7.2 receiver, set up with 4 channels bi-amping the 802's, and the remaing 3 channels driving the SL/SR and Centre speakers. I have questions concerning two aspects of this system as follows:

A. Concerning the Sub-Woofer

I believe the usual recommendation is to hand off between floor standers and a separate sub in order to relieve the floor standers of some "stress" at low frequencies. According to the specifications the 802's roll off at 42Hz. And so currently I have the Yamaha set-up to cross-over between the 802's and the KEF sub-woofer at 60Hz. But my questions are:
  1. Does it make sense at all to use a sub-woofer in this case? Or are the 802's better on their own without being "stress relieved" by a sub?
  2. If the answer to the above is yes, then is the 60Hz cross-over correct? Or should it be higher or lower?
  3. Do you think the KEF KHT3005 is up to the task? Or should I be looking for something beefier? And/or should it be from B&W?

B. Concerning the Surrounds

To me, the KEF eggs sound quite Ok as surround speakers. I think that for typical movies, the actual amount of signal / power sent to the surround channels is quite light (compared to the fronts), and so there should be no risk of over challenging the KEF's. I have the KEFs on the KEF standard "egg stands" which is good because the stands are sufficiently tall to "look over" the soft furnishings, and they look good in my room. But my questions are:
  1. Do you think there would be much improvement in replacing the KEFs by something else? If so what? e.g. Something from B&W?
  2. If the answer to the above is yes, can anyone recommend good stands that are as tall as the KEF stands?
  3. If the answer to the above is yes, which should I focus on improving first a) the sub-woofer or b) the surrounds?
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post #2 of 16 Old 04-19-2013, 09:07 AM
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What size is your room?

My thoughts. I am not a B&W aficionado, but do your mains match with your center? Aren't they two different speaker lines from B&W?

If the surrounds work for you, keep them for now. The subwoofer looks like it is a 10" sub with the following specs:
Frequency Response (+/-3dB) 30Hz - 150Hz

This could definitely be a weak link. If you like movies and bass heavy tracks (and depending on the size of your room) there are much better subs out there in the $700-1000 range that would be a huge step up. In the $500-700 range there are some options I would pick as well that would be a big upgrade.

Depends on what you want to achieve. I personally like crossing over between 60-80hz, and typcically settle on 80hz. If you have a good subwoofer (or two, or four) they typically handle bass much better than traditional speakers in the sub 80hz range (but this depends on your speakers and sub) and this also puts less stress on your receiver and speakers and gives you more headroom as your speakers are not trying to play those lower frequencies which are typically quite taxing.

Would be happy to give you options once we know your budget, and size of your room and your goals.
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post #3 of 16 Old 04-20-2013, 03:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

What size is your room?
It is an open plan hallway / living / dining room; the living portion is about 4.5m x 6.0m but double that volume if you include the dining and hallway part...
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Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

I am not a B&W aficionado, but do your mains match with your center? Aren't they two different speaker lines from B&W?
They are as close as I can match them. The 802 Matrixes are about 20 years old and the HTM62 is almost new. However they both use drivers from the same lineage.
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If the surrounds work for you, keep them for now.
Ok thanks.
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The subwoofer looks like it is a 10" sub with the following specs:
Frequency Response (+/-3dB) 30Hz - 150Hz

This could definitely be a weak link. If you like movies and bass heavy tracks (and depending on the size of your room) there are much better subs out there in the $700-1000 range that would be a huge step up. In the $500-700 range there are some options I would pick as well that would be a big upgrade.

Depends on what you want to achieve. I personally like crossing over between 60-80hz, and typcically settle on 80hz. If you have a good subwoofer (or two, or four) they typically handle bass much better than traditional speakers in the sub 80hz range (but this depends on your speakers and sub) and this also puts less stress on your receiver and speakers and gives you more headroom as your speakers are not trying to play those lower frequencies which are typically quite taxing.

Would be happy to give you options once we know your budget, and size of your room and your goals.
Could you give suggestions in both those price ranges i.e. 500..700 and 700..1000 please?
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post #4 of 16 Old 04-20-2013, 03:47 AM
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The best sub under $1k is the Klipsch rw-12. You can get a pair of those for 600 brand new.
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post #5 of 16 Old 04-20-2013, 05:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewFG View Post

It is an open plan hallway / living / dining room; the living portion is about 4.5m x 6.0m but double that volume if you include the dining and hallway part...
They are as close as I can match them. The 802 Matrixes are about 20 years old and the HTM62 is almost new. However they both use drivers from the same lineage.
Ok thanks.
Could you give suggestions in both those price ranges i.e. 500..700 and 700..1000 please?

Where are you located?
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post #6 of 16 Old 04-20-2013, 12:23 PM
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+1 the sub is the weakest link.
For 2 channel music: You could probably leave the sub off and just go with the Matrix's (i.e. no crossover), they will shine for that.
For HT: It's nice when the front three LCR share the same crossover, 80 is the most common target. The Klipsch RW12D for $300 is often recommended as the go-to budget HT sub. Currently there are several outstanding subs in the $500-$600 range (i.e. bang-for-the-buck sweet spot) - the Rythmik LV12R, SVS PB-1000, Outlaw LFM-1+ and an HSU sub (whose model I can't remember) are the most commonly recommended. They are all a worthy step up from the Klipsch sub and a radical step up from your current KEF sub.
All those companies also have nice $700-$1600 subs. (One potential advantage of going with $500-$600 range sub is if later you decide your space is large enough that you want/need a 2nd sub then it could be more affordable to get a matching sub.)

I also think your center may be of a bit a weak link too. The 600 series centers have mixed reviews even in the B&W owners thread. The CM Centre 2 would likely be a much better match for Matrix LR mains. (You can often find B&W gear used at places like http://app.audiogon.com/.)

The KEF eggs are acceptable surrounds for now - what they lack in low end or heft (their crossover should be set to 100 or 110) they make up for with very good detail and exceptional imaging (the latter being a particularly nice quality for surrounds). If you do want to upgrade your surrounds later obvious options would be B&W 686's or CM1's (I would favor the CM1's).
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post #7 of 16 Old 04-21-2013, 07:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Where are you located?
Europe
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post #8 of 16 Old 04-21-2013, 08:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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The best sub under $1k is the Klipsch rw-12. You can get a pair of those for 600 brand new.
It seems that Klipsch marks this as a discontinued model. Is the SW-112 the successor model ? Or what?
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post #9 of 16 Old 04-21-2013, 08:59 AM
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I would say that the "subwoofer' you have does not go any lower than the 802 speakers alone and is pretty much worthless in your system. Take it out.

It is really not a "subwoofer" at all but only a woofer designed to be used with tiny front speakers that have no bass at all.

Actually, it might well be worse than nothing, since it will overlap the main speakers and mess up the clarity of the bass.

I would run the main speakers without it and see if it doesn't sound better. There is no reason to "relieve the stress" on your main speakers; that is nonsense. The four large drivers of your main speakers can put out a lot more bass
than the one driver of that little "subwoofer' with no undue stress whatsoever.

A good subwoofer will extend the frequency response of your system. Your main speakers start to roll off between 40 and 50 Hz, and a good subwoofer can extend that down to below 30 Hz, which will

be a big help with large drums and low organ notes, and other powerful very low bass.

The KEF B12D is the subwoofer I use, and I recommend it to you. It is an excellent unit using a sealed design with a lot of power and a very clean linear frequency response. It runs $700.

The Klipsch RW-12D is available from Amazon for $371 currently, and it is supposed to be fairly good.

If your current satellite speakers sound good to you then that would seem to be a non-issue.
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post #10 of 16 Old 04-21-2013, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewFG View Post

Europe

It is hard to recommend many US based subwoofer due to shipping. I would look into SVS. They have some European distributors:
http://www.svsound.com/international-sales

When shopping for a subwoofer, you really want to consider the size of your overall space, including any attached rooms if it is an open space. Subwoofers can make or break a good sound system and any of the SVS subs would be a huge improvement over the current sub you have.

Not sure where you are in Europe, but perhaps getting in touch with one of their distributors on pricing would be a good step.
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post #11 of 16 Old 04-21-2013, 05:46 PM
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The best sub under $1k is the Klipsch rw-12. You can get a pair of those for 600 brand new.

That's definitely a "wrong answer." It's a great sub for the prices we get it for here in the US, but there are definitely better for under $1000.
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Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

It is hard to recommend many US based subwoofer due to shipping. I would look into SVS. They have some European distributors:
http://www.svsound.com/international-sales

Yep. I agree that SVS Sound is perhaps your best bet.

Here are reviews of two of their subs:

http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/subwoofers/sb12-nsd-subwoofer
http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/subwoofers/pb12-nsd

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post #12 of 16 Old 04-21-2013, 06:20 PM
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+1 ^^^

I didn't realize you were in Europe when I wrote my previous post. The two subs cel4145 mentions are a sweet spot for price-vs-performance, and, both would be a huge improvement over your current sub!
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post #13 of 16 Old 04-22-2013, 05:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Yep. I agree that SVS Sound is perhaps your best bet.

Many thanks for the tip. They have a subsidiary in Germany who sells online http://www.sv-sound.com/
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post #14 of 16 Old 04-22-2013, 05:23 AM - Thread Starter
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I would say that the "subwoofer' you have does not go any lower than the 802 speakers alone and is pretty much worthless in your system. Take it out.
...
Actually, it might well be worse than nothing, since it will overlap the main speakers and mess up the clarity of the bass.
...
I would run the main speakers without it and see if it doesn't sound better. There is no reason to "relieve the stress" on your main speakers; that is nonsense. The four large drivers of your main speakers can put out a lot more bass than the one driver of that little "subwoofer' with no undue stress whatsoever.

Ah. That is a very interesting point, which I had not thought of. I will try it out and report back the findings.

In this context, does anyone know how a receiver works in sorting out which low frequencies to send where, when there is a subwoofer in use? (Mine is a Yamaha driving the 802s biamped, and the front and surrounds single amped, but I suppose all receivers do it in a similar way...)

- When playing stereo music (2.0) I assume the amp just filters out the low frequencies from both channels, and feeds some kind of combined LF signal to the sub?

- But what does it do when playing a 5.1 source? I suppose the 0.1 effects channel contains LF that always gets fed to the sub? And I assume that the amp also filters out LF from the fronts, centre and surround signals, and combines them all in some way with the effects channel to send the combined LF signal to the sub? How does the amp handle the fact that that the front 802s cut off at around 45 Hz whereas the centre and surrounds cut off much higher? The Yamaha just has a setting for each speaker being either "large" or "small", which seems to be a rather crude parameter...
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post #15 of 16 Old 05-01-2013, 01:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Yep. I agree that SVS Sound is perhaps your best bet.

Here are reviews of two of their subs:

http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/subwoofers/sb12-nsd-subwoofer
http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/subwoofers/pb12-nsd

After assessing trade off of WAF versus audio specs I have just placed my order for a SB12-NSD smile.gif
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post #16 of 16 Old 05-01-2013, 09:44 AM
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Quote:
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After assessing trade off of WAF versus audio specs I have just placed my order for a SB12-NSD smile.gif

I have that sub and really like it - no blurry thumps, you can easily hear the pitch of deep notes wink.gif Enjoy!
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