Help Me Pick My Speakers and Receiver for Music Purporses - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 05-18-2013, 07:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys,

For the past week, I've been doing everything I can to learn about speakers, receivers, cables, etc. A quick background...I've been interested in vinyl music lately because I've always heard the sound was better than CD's. So I bought an audio technica turntable and have been into buying records. And I'm enjoying it--but only with some Sennheiser headphones and a portable head phone amp.

I dusted off my old Onkyo 5.1 set up that I used years ago for watching movies, put the two front speakers on a bookshelf in my office, and connected them to the receiver. The turntable has RCA cables (well, the white and red audio cables) connected to the back, so I plugged those into the back of the receiver to input the music. This is all I currently have on hand to be able to listen to my record collection, and I'm no audiophile, but the sound is only adequate at best. To me, it seems quite muddy and not clear at all--especially when compared to listening through my Sennheiser headphones.

I say all of that to say--I'm in need of a way to have better audio considering I'm investing in vinyl to, well, enjoy better audio quality.

I suppose I'm on a relative budget...I think I'd like to spend roughly $500 on a pair of speakers and then a few hundred at the most on a receiver. But I'm not an expert when it comes to this stuff like you guys, so I'm defaulting to you.

But here's what I've been thinking:

Speakers: Through doing some research, I was interested in the Definitive Technology SM55 or the Bowers and Wilkins 685. I haven't gotten a chance to hear either in person unfortunately, but everything from written reviews, forums, and youtube, I feel that (at least for the price range) people seem to have good things to say about these speakers. Thoughts on these speakers or maybe even other ones?

Receiver: I don't know, to be honest. All I can tell you is, ideally, I'd love to be able to not only play my vinyl collection through the turntable, but remotely be able to play music from my iTunes or even Spotify (or even Pandora) accounts, too.

As far as speaker cable and all that--I'm clueless. I have no idea what's good, why it's good, why it's better than the other stuff. I didn't even know about this bi-wiring or bi-amping until this week. The back of my current Onkyo speakers have those speaker clamps you press down, insert the cable wire, and release to connect. I had no idea things have since been upgraded.

So as you can see, I'm a relative newbie I suppose. Would love to get your thoughts.

Thanks guys.
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post #2 of 10 Old 05-18-2013, 07:54 AM
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we had the sm 350 for years for our front left and right at least the bookshelves from def tech are good bang for the buck speakers.
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post #3 of 10 Old 05-18-2013, 08:00 AM
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Hey man. I'm on a similar boat. Speakers can be a tough topic. I've owned a few good sets of earphones and headphones and bought a 5.1 set of Pinnacle speakers (MB8000 I think) and have an old set of Sony bookshelf speakers I hate. Just to explain where I'm at, I'm getting into this.
Hated the Pinnacles; sounded horribly tinny. The Sony's were refurbished and broke and had to return and order a new set instead. Way too bassy and can't hear them unless you blast 'em.

But while I was getting into my 5.1 from Pinnacle, I went and got wire from Home Depot. 12 AWG, I think. Went and bought banana plugs from GLSAudio.com. I got the "black chrome" ones.

But, yeah, as for speakers, I'm on a flexible budget and searching still.
For a receiver I bought an open-box from a local Best Buy. If you can't find one you like with all the internet-connected features, maybe plug in a smartphone is what I'd consider.

I hope I at least helped with the speaker wire part.
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post #4 of 10 Old 05-18-2013, 04:42 PM
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I imagine you are using the built-in phono preamp with the Audio Technica turntable? What book shelf speakers are you currently using?

Right now it does sound like you need some higher quality speakers (but it's always going to be difficult to approach the fidelity of headphones). In your listed price range I would add some other options to your list. I highly recommend auditioning if possible.

KEF Q300 $449 at accessories4less.com
PSB Image B6 $549
NHT Classic Two $650
Ascend Acoustics CBM-170SE $348 (or B-stock for less)

Receivers:
Denon 1713 $380 clearance
Yamaha 673 $380 clearance

Audyssey or YPAO (Yamaha) calibration software will do wonders for room issues. The Denon 1713 features Audyssey MultEQ XT which will offer a big improvement in sound quality.

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post #5 of 10 Old 05-18-2013, 05:05 PM
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I've been browsing online for some bookshelves myself recently and can't make up my mind--since you obviously can't hear anything on the internet, lol. Check out the site musicdirect, though, they have some Focal 706's for $500, which seems like a good deal. I never heard em, but they might be worth a shot. If the JBL Studio 530's ever go on sale again, I might give those a spin. You could also check out some powered studio monitors. I'm really interested in the new Adam F line with the ribbon tweeters. I think they have a 5 incher for $500 a pair--with dual amps in each cabinet. I might head over to guitar center and see how those sound. Or if you want an unpowered monitor for cheaper, you can take a look at the Tannoy from musiciansfriend or zz sounds. I bet those sound sweet for only $250 a pair,

Too many choices, man...too many choices!
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-18-2013, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post

I imagine you are using the built-in phono preamp with the Audio Technica turntable? What book shelf speakers are you currently using?

Right now it does sound like you need some higher quality speakers (but it's always going to be difficult to approach the fidelity of headphones). In your listed price range I would add some other options to your list. I highly recommend auditioning if possible.

KEF Q300 $449 at accessories4less.com
PSB Image B6 $549
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
NHT Classic Two $650
Ascend Acoustics CBM-170SE $348 (or B-stock for less)

Receivers:
Denon 1713 $380 clearance
Yamaha 673 $380 clearance

Audyssey or YPAO (Yamaha) calibration software will do wonders for room issues. The Denon 1713 features Audyssey MultEQ XT which will offer a big improvement in sound quality.

I can chime in that I've had a set of PSB image speakers for about a month and a half, and am VERY happy with their clarity. They are ideal for music ( and pretty darn good for home theater too! )

Hopelessly biased opinion I know, but FWIW I thought I'd tell you how happy I am with mine.

Denon X4000 / Onkyo M282 amp
2 x PSB T6, 4 x PSB B5, 2 x PSB B4, 1 x PSB C5
2 x Rythmik LV12r
Dual Turntable
HTPC / gaming PC
Samsung PN60e530 Plasma
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-18-2013, 05:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Just want to say thanks to everyone who chimed in with their opinion! And I agree DLO...it's waaayyyy too many choices out there. I suppose that's a good thing, but it's tough because there doesn't necessarily seem to be an overwhelming consensus, which I understand.

To Postrokfan, yes, I'm using the built in phono pre-amp of the turntable. As for the speakers I'm currently using, well, it's been a while since I purchased them, but they were sort of an all in one package deal with my Onkyo receiver. So the speakers are Onkyo, as well. The receiver is an Onkyo HT-R520.

I have no idea if that's a pretty good or pretty bad receiver, lol.

I suppose another question I have is, especially with so many choices out there is...when searching for speakers and even receivers, are there certain specs I need to be aware of? Or steer clear of? Is there something that, when I read that this speaker has THIS or a receiver has THAT, I should sort of put in the positive category or realize that it at least meets some basic criteria of what a quality speaker or receiver (for the money, of course) should have?

And while one day I would like to get a new receiver to maybe enjoy wireless streaming, does anyone know if the Onkyo receiver I listed above is still good enough in 2013 for today's speakers?

And lastly, does anyone have an opinion or any experience with the Monster Clarity HD Model One speakers?

Thanks!
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-18-2013, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. I'm going to start researching the PSB speakers now.
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-18-2013, 05:58 PM
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Bi wiring and bi amping will provide no benefit. Use good quality 14ga speaker wire. 100% copper and 99.99% oxygen free is the best speaker cable and is easy to find.

No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-19-2013, 07:17 PM
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I'm not familiar with the Monster speakers you mentioned so I can't comment. Your current receiver should handle most speakers with ease. Obviously, the Onkyo lacks HDMI, USB, and Audyssey/YPAO/MCACC as well as internet streaming. The receivers I mentioned are a great starting point and include the features you are missing.

Regarding the specifications of speakers, they're not necessarily going to be that informational. Most of the speakers I and the other posters have listed have very similar specs with some digging just a bit deeper in the lower and mid-bass regions. Speaker measurements are a little bit more useful but not necessarily easy to decipher if you're not particularly technically inclined. All the speakers I've mentioned are well-reviewed. The next step would be to listen to them and any others that strike your fancy (with your favorite music) and decide which one you preferred.

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