Help a headphone guy become a speaker guy for $3000 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 08-28-2013, 10:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey everyone, I made an account on here to get some input on my new obsession, speakers. I am a head-fi guy at heart, but I'm looking for a new beginning with speakers. I want to melt into my listening room without the cumbersome feeling of cans attached to my head. The room where I will be setting this up is a bedroom (12 x 11 x 10 ceiling)

Gear I currently have:
Logitech Squeezebox Touch (source)
Schiit Gungnir DAC (balanced)
Schiit Mjolnir Headphone/Pre Amplifier (balanced)
Audeze LCD-3 headphones

What I want:
2.0 speaker system. Since my room is not big by any means, I'm thinking bookshelf/monitors size. A sub is not a necessity for me. Soundstage/timbre/vocals/smooth highs are most important. I could probably get away with floorstanders, but I'm not sure that's a good idea in a non-empty bedroom. So in essence, I need a pair of medium size speakers and an amp. I want to use my DAC and Preamp if I can to feed a speaker amp.

Budget:
On my current headphone rig, I spent about $3500. As I'm going to keep everything I have, I want to spend no more than $3000 (give or take a few hundred) on the pair of speakers and amp

Through some limited research, I am considering the following:
Dynaudio x series
Dynaudio focus 160
Philharmonitors
Emotiva xda amp

I don't know anything about speaker amps so I would like some recommendations on these as well. I have not made rounds to any local dealers for auditions yet. I'd like to avoid delving into that world because I know I won’t be able to decide when I hear 8 different sets back to back. I think I'm one of the few audio enthusiasts that actually prefer to buy blind. Thank you very much for the help and I appreciate any recommendations you may have for me.
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post #2 of 18 Old 08-28-2013, 10:47 AM
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Ascend Sierra Towers with RAAL tweeter will run you around $2700 shipped and they are as sweet as they come at that price point. Spend the rest on a good amp and pre, and you're good to go

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRT/srt.html

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post #3 of 18 Old 08-28-2013, 01:39 PM
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fwiw, kef ls50's or reference 3a mm de cappo i's

i'm so laid back,i'm laid out
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post #4 of 18 Old 08-29-2013, 12:49 AM
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Lots of good choices in your price range, surprised you didn't get more recommendations. Anyway, in addition to the ones on your list or already recommended, here are a few more to consider:


Salk Songbird (small towers) - $1499
flat to 42Hz; excellent cabinetry; custom veneers available
http://www.salksound.com/songbird%20home.htm

Selah Audio Verita (stand mount) - $2495
ported version flat to 45Hz; RAAL ribbon tweeter; custom veneers available
http://www.selahaudio.com/id216.html

Vapor Sound Breeze or Stiff Breeze (stand mounts) - $1395 & $1895
flat to 49Hz & 46Hz;RAAL ribbon tweeters
http://www.vaporsound.com/#BreezeandStiffBreeze

Revel F3 M106 (stand mount) - $1800 (dealer discounts might be available)
flat to 59Hz;Revel/Harman reputation
http://www.revelspeakers.com/Products/Details/225#overview

KEF R300 (stand mount) - $1799
flat to 50Hz; KEF Uni-Q concentric driver
http://www.kefdirect.com/r-300-bookshelf.html


And although they're towers, here's a shameless plug for the speakers that I own:
Salk SongTower QWT - $1999 or $2700 (with RAAL ribbon tweeter upgrade)
flat to 42Hz; Hiquphon or RAAL tweeter; excellent cabinetry; custom veneers available
http://www.salksound.com/songtower%20home.htm



Amps:
Emotiva XPA-2 Gen2 - $899
500W x2 @ 4ohms
http://shop.emotiva.com/collections/amplifiers/products/xpa-2-gen-2

Emotiva XPA-200 - $499
240W x2 @ 4ohms
http://shop.emotiva.com/collections/amplifiers/products/xpa200

ATI AT1202 (refurb) - $595
220W x2 @ 4ohms
http://www.classicaudioparts.com/index.php/amplifiers/ati-at1202-two-channel-x-120-watt-amplifier-b-stock-120-v.html

Outlaw Audio Model 2200 (monoblocks) 2ea. @ $379 = $758
300W x1 @ 4ohms
http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/2200.html


Have fun in your search.

...
Salk SongTowers-RAAL / SongCenter-RAAL / SongSurrounds; Rythmik F12 (x2); Denon AVR-4520CI; D-Sonic M2-800S; Oppo BDP93; Panny 65VT50; Schiit Audio Valhalla; Sennheiser HD600; BJC everywhere
WDTV Live Hub; Xbox 360; Harmony One; Furman Elite-15 PFi; Omnimic v2 & REW; CalMAN 5; i1 Display Pro 3; i1 Pro2
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post #5 of 18 Old 08-29-2013, 05:14 AM
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Lots of choices:
http://rbhsound.com/sx6300.php
http://www.atlantictechnology.com/default.asp?NodeId=159
http://www.klipsch.com/cornwall-iii-floorstanding-speaker

Best advice is to get out and listen to as many different speakers as you can.

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post #6 of 18 Old 08-29-2013, 08:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your great recommendations. I will look into each of them.

I'm starting to lust over towers, I dont want to miss out the increased quality vs. a bookshelf speaker. That said, can I conceivably run 2 towers in a 12x11x10 bedroom with a queen sized bed, bureau with drawers, computer desk, and a tv? I don't plan on listening very loud. Is it a bad idea to run towers in such a small space?

Also, do you recommend getting a powerful AVR as an all in one amping solution or going with something like an xpa-2? I am more than willing to just feed dac>pre>xda or similar amp and just switch the input cable on my dac to go between music and tv. Would an AVR just give me convenience or is it better to have one in this case?

BTW those sierra and songtowers look incredible. I wouldnt mind having either.
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post #7 of 18 Old 08-29-2013, 09:55 AM
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If you can fit towers in your room I'd recommend the Revel Performa3 F206 paired with the Denon AVR-1712.
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post #8 of 18 Old 08-29-2013, 12:57 PM
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Check out Totem speakers. Im using them in my 2 channel system downstairs also using a Schiit DAC with it. I too am a headphone guy but rarely at home, mostly on the road. That being said, I love the sound quality that comes from my Totems. Depending on the system you want to run you can get an integrated amp(which is also what Im running). Cuts down on space and are usually very solid pieces. Just dont go into one of them assuming they act like a receiver. They mostly just accept information and pass it through.
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post #9 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle00jesse View Post

Thank you all for your great recommendations. I will look into each of them.

I'm starting to lust over towers, I dont want to miss out the increased quality vs. a bookshelf speaker. That said, can I conceivably run 2 towers in a 12x11x10 bedroom with a queen sized bed, bureau with drawers, computer desk, and a tv? I don't plan on listening very loud. Is it a bad idea to run towers in such a small space?

Also, do you recommend getting a powerful AVR as an all in one amping solution or going with something like an xpa-2? I am more than willing to just feed dac>pre>xda or similar amp and just switch the input cable on my dac to go between music and tv. Would an AVR just give me convenience or is it better to have one in this case?

BTW those sierra and songtowers look incredible. I wouldnt mind having either.

I agree. Towers don't make sense. The drivers will be aimed at the furniture. With bookshelves or monitors, you can set them up on stands so that the drivers radiate the room. And then the main benefit of towers--the lower frequency extension--can easily be made up for with a very good sub.

Is there any reason you were not thinking about a sub? It'll fill out the bottom end very well. I'd recommend the SVS SB12-NSD. Has an optional 80hz line out pass through, so you'd have the option of using it with an integrated amp or power amp with your speakers and choosing an 80hz crossover. Here's a review: http://www.audioholics.com/subwoofer-reviews/sb12-nsd-subwoofer. I'm running the lower model SVS SB-1000 sub with my ODAC, Asgard 2, and Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SEs, and it integrates very smoothly with the speakers, and the bass from the SB-1000 is better than out of mid-fi headphones I have heard. I would imagine the higher model SVS SB12 would not disappoint you with its bass SQ.

AVRs have the advantage of offering room correction software to better smooth the frequency response in room and bass management for a wide range of selectable crossovers. Although both of those features will convert the analog from your Schiit Gungnir to digital and back to analog again in order to use them; your SQ will be based upon the AVRs internal DAC unless you run them in direct/pure mode which bypasses most of the extra features. I'd probably go with an integrated or power amp instead, and also look into the Outlaw Audio RR2150.

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post #10 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I agree. Towers don't make sense. The drivers will be aimed at the furniture. With bookshelves or monitors, you can set them up on stands so that the drivers radiate the room. And then the main benefit of towers--the lower frequency extension--can easily be made up for with a very good sub.

AVRs have the advantage of offering room correction software to better smooth the frequency response in room and bass management for a wide range of selectable crossovers. Although both of those features will convert the analog from your Schiit Gungnir to digital and back to analog again in order to use them; your SQ will be based upon the AVRs internal DAC unless you run them in direct/pure mode which bypasses most of the extra features. I'd probably go with an integrated or power amp instead, and also look into the Outlaw Audio RR2150.

Only the bass drivers will be that low generally. Bass frequencies do not need to be near ear level. Only the tweeters and less important the mid drivers. Unless the OP has space on a desk or actual bookshelf to place the bookshelf speakers on, the bookshelf speaker + stand will take as much space as a tower then will need additional space for a sub. In such a small room, a pair of towers may be a better option depending on how loud the OP wants his bass. My Philharmonic 3 has more than enough bass run full range for most of the music I listen to in my 2300ft^3 room. I turn on the subs only for house/electronica music and movies. That being said, yes a bookshelf + sub is the preferred method for most, just not always. I would save judgement until I can see either a picture or a drawing of his space.

I also agree with you on the AVR recommendation. Most rooms will benefit more from room correction than they will from good DACs unless they are well treated hence my recommendation for the Denon AVR-1712 instead of a standalone amp. It would be much more versatile then trying to connect his DAC to the amp. The OP may be disappointed and blame the amp/speakers when it most likely would be an issue with room acoustics.
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post #11 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 09:56 AM
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Polk LSi 703's with a SVS SB13U sub.
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post #12 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by duc135 View Post

Only the bass drivers will be that low generally.

You must be thinking of box springs and mattress on the floor, or the cheap metal roller frame instead of a full bed frame with footboard.

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post #13 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Great advice, thanks!
I didn't realize that an AVR will take over the DACing duties in the chain. I figure that if I have a pretty good DAC that I enjoy already, I should continue to use it and incorporate it in my speaker setup. I didn't factor in a sub because I didn't think it'd be necessary due to the room dimensions but I can see how it would have a big impact on the overall sound. What else futher would I need to buy to hook up the sub, other than a power amp for my speakers? Would that extra electronic if necessary over-write the DAC signal from my gungnir?
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Is there any reason you were not thinking about a sub? [/URL].
I came to that same conclusion when I first started looking at towers. Realizing that with bookshelf monitors, I'd need to put them on a stand anyway and once you do that you basically just have a tower with all the sound coming from the top. If I can get better performance with towers than I think thats the route I want to go.

I also have another question: How do you guys feel about also getting a center speaker? The system will primarily be used for music and leasure television watching. I'm not big into movies and will most likely never get surrounds. Would a L,C,R setup be more effective in my room for music than L,R? From what I've gathered a center is most useful for HT with regards to dialog in movies. Would you guys recommend getting a center if you were just listening to tunes?
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post #14 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 10:37 AM
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You must be thinking of box springs and mattress on the floor, or the cheap metal roller frame instead of a full bed frame with footboard.

Nope. I have a fairly tall bed where my feet are at least 10" from the floor when I'm sitting on it. My Philharmonic 3 are only about 3' - 4' from the footboard and I have no imaging problems caused by the bed. Like I said, It's only important for the tweeters and mid drivers not be blocked. Bass frequency waves are large enough to not be affected much by furniture. Not sure how short the towers you're used to seeing, but the Revels are 41.4" tall. That would put the tweeters somewhere around 3' off the ground. How tall is your bed that the tweeter would be firing into it? Like I said, I would have to see the room in question to say whether satellite + sub is a better solution. We don't even know if the OP can even fit a sub. Even if he could, will it be in the optimal position based on limited spots available for it? For all we know the available locations for the sub could be terrible and produce unacceptable peaks and nulls. If height is a concern, you can always raise the towers up as well. From the stands I've seen the bookshelves would be at the same height or lower than the towers so raising them would still be needed. Like I mentioned previously, unless the OP has room on his desk to actually place the bookshelf speakers, tower speakers take up less footprint than a bookshelf + stand + subwoofer.
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post #15 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle00jesse View Post

Great advice, thanks!
I didn't realize that an AVR will take over the DACing duties in the chain. I figure that if I have a pretty good DAC that I enjoy already, I should continue to use it and incorporate it in my speaker setup.

The AVR doesn't have to do any digital conversion. But if you are running it pure/direct with 2 channel audio and bypassing the internal DSP in the AVR, what's the point of the AVR? Seems better just to get an amp to me smile.gif

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I didn't factor in a sub because I didn't think it'd be necessary due to the room dimensions but I can see how it would have a big impact on the overall sound. What else futher would I need to buy to hook up the sub, other than a power amp for my speakers? Would that extra electronic if necessary over-write the DAC signal from my gungnir?

The SVS SB12-NSD has an analog high pass filter if you use that. So just filters out the low end before being passed along to the speakers. Or you could always split the output from the Schiit Mjolnir and send it separately to the speaker amp and sub amp (if you didn't want to use the higher crossover).

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle00jesse View Post

I came to that same conclusion when I first started looking at towers. Realizing that with bookshelf monitors, I'd need to put them on a stand anyway and once you do that you basically just have a tower with all the sound coming from the top. If I can get better performance with towers than I think thats the route I want to go.

I don't know. I would wonder if you can. Depends on how you have the room setup and where the towers would go in relation to the listening position. I know in my bedroom, bookshelves would work better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle00jesse View Post

I also have another question: How do you guys feel about also getting a center speaker? The system will primarily be used for music and leasure television watching. I'm not big into movies and will most likely never get surrounds. Would a L,C,R setup be more effective in my room for music than L,R? From what I've gathered a center is most useful for HT with regards to dialog in movies. Would you guys recommend getting a center if you were just listening to tunes?


Center channel would only be helpful for music if you would like to watch some multi-channel blu-ray concerts. There are some awesome recordings out there. For regular music recordings, 2 channel will sound better out of 2 channel.

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post #16 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle00jesse View Post

Great advice, thanks!
I didn't realize that an AVR will take over the DACing duties in the chain. I figure that if I have a pretty good DAC that I enjoy already, I should continue to use it and incorporate it in my speaker setup. I didn't factor in a sub because I didn't think it'd be necessary due to the room dimensions but I can see how it would have a big impact on the overall sound. What else futher would I need to buy to hook up the sub, other than a power amp for my speakers? Would that extra electronic if necessary over-write the DAC signal from my gungnir?
I came to that same conclusion when I first started looking at towers. Realizing that with bookshelf monitors, I'd need to put them on a stand anyway and once you do that you basically just have a tower with all the sound coming from the top. If I can get better performance with towers than I think thats the route I want to go.

I also have another question: How do you guys feel about also getting a center speaker? The system will primarily be used for music and leasure television watching. I'm not big into movies and will most likely never get surrounds. Would a L,C,R setup be more effective in my room for music than L,R? From what I've gathered a center is most useful for HT with regards to dialog in movies. Would you guys recommend getting a center if you were just listening to tunes?

Well, if you want to go with a satellite system + sub, you will either need to get an AVR that can do bass management or get some type of DSP that can split the full range signal from your DAC to the external amp and the sub amp. Since you said you don't listen at very high levels and would still need to place the bookshelf speakers on a stand then some (not all) the potential added benefits of a sub is diminished. The only benefit of a sub at this point for you would be proper placement for best bass response, but at this point it's not a given that the available placement options will let you realize this benefit. At the same time, the added complexity is guaranteed if you decide to forego a receiver and use just an amp with your DACs. I still stand by my recommendations for a good floorstander and AVR in your particular situation since you are limited in floor real estate in a smallish bedroom.

For that small a space and I'm assuming at most two people in an intimate seating arrangement, a center channel would not be needed. Running a phantom channel from a pair of good imaging speakers like the Revels or Philharmonics should be more than enough. Center channels are more beneficial when you have a larger viewing area and need to get that reproduction of sound to a wider area for more people. IMO and IME with the Revel and Philharmonics, there is no need for a center channel in my 18' x 17' room. My room seats 3 people at ~9.5' from the speakers. Dialog is clear at all seating locations while listening to 2CH music. For movies and MC music, there is only a slight difference between a dedicated center channel vs. running a phantom center. The slight difference could either be real or perceived since it took quite a bit of time for me to switch between the two modes. It was not a big enough difference for me to run out and get a center channel had I not already owned on though. Again, all rooms are different so YMMV. I would suggest you start with two speakers and see if you're having issues with dialog in movies. If so, try different things that cost $0 before spending money on a center channel.
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post #17 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 06:59 PM
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The Salk Song Towers on ebay right now have the RAAL tweeter(arguably one of the best tweeters around) and bamboo cabinet upgrade. I beleieve Salk built this pair to demo at a shoe. They are a steal at the asking price. The same seller also has Selah Pretigios, which are very similar to the new Salk Veracity ST. Another good deal there. The previous owner of those exact Selahs upgraded to some very high dollar Revels and he told me that the RAAL tweeters are better...

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post #18 of 18 Old 08-30-2013, 07:01 PM
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Those Salks and either a Peachtree 125 or Harman 990 will be very hard to beat for the money

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