Looking into a new surround sound system - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-27-2013, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

I'm in the market for a surround sound system for my room. I'd like a 7.1 system, but I can do with a 5.1 system.

Priorities:

- Price as low as possible (but willing to spend up to about AU$2,500)
- Strong, deep, but not bloated bass
- Uncoloured, deep, warm mids
- Detailed, crisp highs
- A large, enveloping soundstage

What am I looking for? I'm not really into speakers. I'm open to anything, I don't have any brand preference, besides going under the assumption that brands such as Bose, Sony, Monster etc are no good. I'm more into headphones than speakers.

I need a subwoofer, but I don't know much about them.

I guess I need a receiver too. What am I looking for in a receiver? I need something to connect my PC, my headphones (Creative Aurvana Live), my Xbox 360 and my Wii U to.
Is there anything else I need?

The thing is, my room is only 3 x 3, and one side is pretty much totally taken up by a wardrobe and door, and the other side is taken up by a fairly large window, plus the back wall is taken up by a bed with a lounge underneath it. So there's not a hell of a lot of space. But I'm trying to turn this room into a little bit of a man cave / bedroom, and as such, it needs an awesome sound system.

I'm in Australia as well, if that matters.

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post #2 of 8 Old 06-27-2013, 09:13 PM
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With a room that small, you aren't going to need anything particularly robust to fill it with sound. You can go with modestly priced speakers for something that small.

The first thing you really need to do is settle on a budget. You meantion you want to spend as little as possible, but then said you can go as high as $4000. Which is it? Because there is a lot of wiggle room in there and what people will recommend to you will depend on how much you plan to spend. 4K is quite a bit when just buying speakers+AVR+sub, so you would be able to get some pretty decent sounding gear on that budget. However I feel something in that price range would be wasted on such a small room.

If you were willing to spend the $4k you mentioned, I would recommend spending 2k on speakers, 1k on your sub and up to 1k on your AVR, depending on what your needs are going to be.

For AVR's check out the mid-range to upper-end Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer and Harmon Kardon models. The mid-range models on up all tend to be 7.1 or better models. Your biggest concern should be if the AVR's amplifier section can power your speakers properly (taking into account how many speakers are being powered). You want to make sure the total power of the AVR can provide at least 90 watts to each channel driven. For example, my Denon AVR 1912 can produce a total of 450 watts to the speakers, which when divided by the 5 speakers I have connected is 90 watts per channel (the rated power of the AVR) which isn't bad. If you can get an AVR that can provide more than that for 7 channels driven, you would be in good shape. This is also "future proofing" your AVR so that if you move your system into a bigger room, you'll have the watts to produce enough sound to fill it.

Here is a Denon AVR that would probably be all that you would ever need: http://www.amazon.com/Denon-AVR-3313CI-Networking-Receiver-Capacity/dp/B00829USKS/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1372392392&sr=8-5&keywords=Denon+AVR

It boasts 125 watts per channel, but the amplifier section runs on 670 watts, which breaks down to 95 watts per channel driving all 7 channels simultaneously, which is good enough. During a movie, all of your speakers won't be spiking simultaneously very often, which means they all shouldn't need that max of 125 watts at the same time, so you should be good here.

As for the sub and speakers, I'm not so savvy on the expensive ones, as I myself don't have a ton of money to spend on this kind of stuff, so I haven't really done the research on anything over $500 a pair. Although I actually do intend to start this research over the next few years in anticipation of eventually building my own dedicated theater room. I'm not there yet though.

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post #3 of 8 Old 06-27-2013, 09:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, if something at 4k is going to be wasted on such a small room, then I don't really want to spend 4k. I changed the budget to 2.5k. Could I still get gear that sounds as good as a 4k system for 2.5k?

I'd like something that is going to sound GREAT, but not be so expensive that it starts to become a waste on the room. If that makes sense. Would you say that a 7.1 system would be a waste for such a small room? Should I cut down to 5.1?

OK, so 50% of budget on speakers, 25% on sub, and up to 25% on AVR. Is there anything else I need?
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-27-2013, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Also, trawling through Amazon, it says 2.5 way, 3 way, 4 way, etc speakers. What does that mean?
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-27-2013, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaanalSeed View Post

Well, if something at 4k is going to be wasted on such a small room, then I don't really want to spend 4k. I changed the budget to 2.5k. Could I still get gear that sounds as good as a 4k system for 2.5k?

Yes. With that small of a room, as long as you get some decent hifi speakers, they are likely to sound quite nice. Although I'm not sure how such a small room will affect the acoustic properties of your system.

Quote:
I'd like something that is going to sound GREAT, but not be so expensive that it starts to become a waste on the room. If that makes sense. Would you say that a 7.1 system would be a waste for such a small room? Should I cut down to 5.1?

Define "GREAT". Much of this is subjective. You are going to get ten different perspectives on what makes a great sounding system. Unless you have a well-trained ear (musician or sound engineer or some such) the majority of moderately priced speakers and better will all sound "GREAT" when properly set up.
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OK, so 50% of budget on speakers, 25% on sub, and up to 25% on AVR. Is there anything else I need?

For your basic surround needs, nope. Speakers, sub, AVR is good to go. For those who are serious about their audio, they go for room treatments to reduce/eliminate reflections, calibration equipment to tailor the frequency response for the room etc. You probably won't need any of that but it wouldn't hurt for you to look into those things for future reference.
Quote:
Also, trawling through Amazon, it says 2.5 way, 3 way, 4 way, etc speakers. What does that mean?

i'm not sure what 2.5 way is, but the number denotes how many types of drivers are on the speaker. A 2-way speaker includes a tweeter and a woofer. A 3-way driver includes a tweeter, a mid-woofer and a full-woofer. Sometimes, tower speakers will come with more than 3 drivers, but they will be considered 3-way because two or more of the drivers are doing the same job (usually producing low frequencies). Also, many center channel speakers are considered 2-way but they have three drivers and that is because there is a single tweeter plus two mid-woofers. Mid-woofers being generally 4"-6" in size, with full sized woofers being between 6" and 8" in size. Also, sometimes a speaker will have two or more drivers of the same size but they are pushing different frequencies due to the internal crossover, so these would be considered different types of drivers due to the difference in frequency response.

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post #6 of 8 Old 06-28-2013, 12:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, here's how I define GREAT.

- Strong, deep, but not bloated bass
- Uncoloured, deep, warm mids
- Detailed, crisp highs
- A large, enveloping soundstage

Now, I'm not aware of what brands are good and what are bad, but what you gotta understand when building a man cave that mates will use, is that there's a little bit of one-upmanship, and as such, brands do play a little bit of a part, unfortunately.

I worked out that I probably could afford some B&W speakers, maybe a B&W sub as well. Are B&W like Bose / Monster in the sort of "all talk, no walk" category, or or they a legitimate audiophile grade brand? The B&W owners thread on here suggests that they are, but just double checking.

Also, looking at the room again, I figured out that at least the speakers will have to be wall mounted. Is that possible with floorstanding speakers? Or will I have to use bookshelf speakers?
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-28-2013, 01:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaanalSeed View Post

Well, here's how I define GREAT.

- Strong, deep, but not bloated bass
- Uncoloured, deep, warm mids
- Detailed, crisp highs
- A large, enveloping soundstage

Ah. For speakers with those characteristics, you are going to have to step up your price, however, there are mid-range speakers that can fill those shoes. You'll probably end up spending at least $1000 for such a set though. $2000 would give you an even better set.
Quote:
Now, I'm not aware of what brands are good and what are bad, but what you gotta understand when building a man cave that mates will use, is that there's a little bit of one-upmanship, and as such, brands do play a little bit of a part, unfortunately.

Budget brands: Sony, Pioneer, Polk, Cambridge Audio, Infinity, BIC-Acoustech

Mid-priced brands: Klipsch, Definitive Technologies, Infinity, JBL, Boston Acoustics, Mirage, Focal

Higher priced brands: Thiel, Martin Logan, Golden Ear

There are a lot more than that, but I would begin looking at the mid-priced brands speakers. Going above that starts to get expensive very quickly.
Quote:
I worked out that I probably could afford some B&W speakers, maybe a B&W sub as well. Are B&W like Bose / Monster in the sort of "all talk, no walk" category, or or they a legitimate audiophile grade brand? The B&W owners thread on here suggests that they are, but just double checking.

B&W are well-regarded by quite a few posters on these message boards. They can be expensive though and might be a bit out of budget for you if you want towers. Lower priced book shelf speakers can be found for reasonable prices.
Quote:
Also, looking at the room again, I figured out that at least the speakers will have to be wall mounted. Is that possible with floorstanding speakers? Or will I have to use bookshelf speakers?

You could wall-mount tower speakers if you are imaginative enough. Otherwise I would go with bookshelf sized. B&W does have some well-regarded bookshelf speakers and as long as you go with a subwoofer in addition to the speakers, bookshelf should be fine for your purposes.

I am assuming the size of your room is 3 meters by 3 meters.

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post #8 of 8 Old 06-28-2013, 02:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Yep, it is 3 x 3m.

I think B&W bookshelfs are the way to go. I'll let you know how I go, I'm working it out with my dad.
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