Help with picking a $3,500ish HT Setup (5.0 + Receiver) - AVS Forum

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reikoshea's Avatar reikoshea
02:45 AM Liked: 11
post #1 of 11
09-15-2013 | Posts: 211
Joined: Nov 2008
Alright, here's the details. I live in an apartment, and I'd really like to have something that's more immersive when I'm unwinding after work, whether it's watching a movie or listening to music. I'd also like to avoid being a total jerk to my upstairs neighbors (no matter how much they deserve it). I also want to have room to grow if I move into a house in the future and decide I want to add a discrete amp to my 5.0 system.

I just bought a new Panasonic ST60 for my living room, and I'd like the time I spend in there to be more relaxing.

I'm a Programmer/Systems Engineer, so the initial setup can be as complex as it needs to be, that doesn't worry me.

This needs to be good for both Music (Trance, Metal, Folk/Rock) and TV. It's probably going to lean more towards music since I usually only watch TV on Sundays for football and the good shows. For music Highs and Mids are very important, bass probably being the least emphasized, at least in what I listen to. Examples are Trance: Armin, Tiesto, Aly & Fila. Metal: Bullet for my Valentine, All That Remains, As I Lay Dying. Folk/Rock: Of Monsters and Men, Mumford and Sons, Lumineers. All this music is FLAC/MP3 coming from my Media Center PC, so on the fly decompression isn't really need. The media center can handle that.



Alright, so, $3,500 budget for all the things. (Although for the right system I might be persuaded all the way up to $5k)

Receiver

It looks like the receiver market hasn't changed in the last 3-4 years, so I hit up the usual suspects and came away with 2 names at the top, 3 if you count the extreme option.

Harman Kardon AVR 3700 ($1000) 125W
Onkyo TX-NR828 ($1100) 130W
Emotiva UMC-200 + XPA-5 ($1600) 200W
Yamaha HTR-7065 ($850) 95W
Marantz SR6008 ($1200) 110W
Marantz SR5008 ($900) 100W
Denon X3000 ($900) 105W
Denon X4000 ($1300) 125W
Sony: Nothing worth Mentioning

So I heard about Emotiva when my boss was buying his new Receiver, but he ended up going Denon because of brand loyalty, but that didn't stop him talking my ear off about it. So that's how Emotiva ended up on this list. I'm leaning towards the HK, but I'd love to hear feedback on the Emotiva setup or the Onkyo 828. Please feel free to add to this list as well. Definitely not set in stone. I would imagine there's been some new players to this game.

Speakers

Again, I've only got a passing knowledge here. I've done some research, but I keep getting lead to the same 2 places when it comes to systems I can listen to in a store, and I keep finding myself on the website of the 3rd based on reputation alone. My Living room is an open into the kitchen, so there's no wall directly behind the couch, I'm thinking I'm probably going to have to mount bookshelf speakers to each side of the living room, then have towers on either side of the TV stand, and the center channel on one of the shelves of the TV Stand. Here are the speakers I've got on my list:

Polk Audio RTiA9, RTiA3, CSi6. $2,300
JBL Studio L890, L830, LC1. $2,450
SVSound Ultra (2x Tower, 2x Book, 1x Center) $3,700

Now I know what you're thinking, Those SVSounds will blow my budget before a receiver. And you're right, but what's the fun in buying yourself something nice if you force yourself to stick to the budget to the penny. They also have a risk free trial that is completely legit. I had the old SBS-01 Bookshelves from them forever ago, and I keep coming back to them. I'm positive there are some names here I'm missing. The only ones I've ruled out are Klipsch, and that's because every system I've heard of theirs always seems to be like the Beats headphones. Over emphasized bass, but feel free to change my mind. I'll probably be testing speakers even past the end of Christmas.

I'm in the Central Austin TX area, and not against driving to Dallas, Houston or San Antonio to hear the options in person. Also if it's a direct sale company like SVSound, they need to pay for return shipping and be no cost for at least 30 days.
shadyJ's Avatar shadyJ
06:21 AM Liked: 629
post #2 of 11
09-15-2013 | Posts: 7,136
Joined: May 2009
Speakers are pretty much a personal preference. I would say go out and audition as many as you can. For the Polk Rtis, you can often get good deals on them, and they go on sale for very nice prices every now and then. As for the JBLs, I would be looking tha the Studio 590s or 580s over the others.

One thing I would say, since you are in an apartment, you should still consider a bookshelf speaker, subwoofer setup, especially since you want to be a good neighbor. Bass from a subwoofer is much easier to control than bass from towers. Another thing is, you could place the subwoofer closer to you, and by doing this you don't need to have the unit turned up as loud to get good bass at your listening position. Your neighbors will appreciate that. The closer you can get that sub to you, the better it will be for both you and your neighbors. Since you live in Austin, I would really recommend giving Rythmik subs a look, they are also in Austin. They are a very highly regarded subwoofer company.
coytee's Avatar coytee
06:56 AM Liked: 145
post #3 of 11
09-15-2013 | Posts: 1,171
Joined: Mar 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by reikoshea View Post

 The only ones I've ruled out are Klipsch, and that's because every system I've heard of theirs always seems to be like the Beats headphones. Over emphasized bass, but feel free to change my mind. I'll probably be testing speakers even past the end of Christmas.
 

 

I'm a fan of Klipsch so discount my comment as you deem appropriate.  I just wanted to say I got a giggle out of  your comment because it seems to me most people (that have a negative comment) tend to say it's the pronounced midrange/tweeters that bother them with Klipsch, not that they have over emphasized bass.

 

My guess is you haven't had a good listening experience but then, as long as you're content with what you end up with, it won't matter.

 

One nice thing with highly sensitive speakers (both Klipsch and non-Klipsch) is they can make it easier to create the volume when you want it.  Before someone says "yeah and they'll make you go deaf" or something like that....  another thing about highly sensitive speakers is much like a car that can go 200 MPH being driven at 40 MPH, they can ALSO play at lower levels so it's not always about ear splitting volumes.

 

Good luck in your search!

 

Side note (intended to be humerous to a small degree)

 

I'm currently living in an apartment.  I've got a pair of Klipsch speakers, about 108/109 db@ 1 watt (from their cinema line) and....I've got a pair of Danley DTS-10 subwoofers.

 

All this is mated to a couple of Crown K2's and another dbx monster amp.  The irony...  given that I could literally power a small concert, my neighbors don't have the first clue as to what is residing next to them!


bladerunner6's Avatar bladerunner6
12:31 PM Liked: 55
post #4 of 11
09-15-2013 | Posts: 1,455
Joined: Nov 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

Speakers are pretty much a personal preference. I would say go out and audition as many as you can. For the Polk Rtis, you can often get good deals on them, and they go on sale for very nice prices every now and then. As for the JBLs, I would be looking tha the Studio 590s or 580s over the others.

One thing I would say, since you are in an apartment, you should still consider a bookshelf speaker, subwoofer setup, especially since you want to be a good neighbor. Bass from a subwoofer is much easier to control than bass from towers. Another thing is, you could place the subwoofer closer to you, and by doing this you don't need to have the unit turned up as loud to get good bass at your listening position. Your neighbors will appreciate that. The closer you can get that sub to you, the better it will be for both you and your neighbors. Since you live in Austin, I would really recommend giving Rythmik subs a look, they are also in Austin. They are a very highly regarded subwoofer company.

+1 on the idea of looking at a local company.

Anyway...

What about an Ascend Acoustics system?

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/
dfp84's Avatar dfp84
01:04 PM Liked: 12
post #5 of 11
09-15-2013 | Posts: 43
Joined: Aug 2012
If you like the Onkyo 828 then look at last years model the 818. I believe that Onecall had it for 799 new and it is an upgrade to the current model and equates more with the 929. It has the Audyssey Multi Xt 32 which by itself is worth putting it on your list.
deeda's Avatar deeda
08:16 PM Liked: 12
post #6 of 11
09-15-2013 | Posts: 149
Joined: Jun 2011
Have you considered KEF. Sine you are in an apartment you might consider the LS50. They run $1500 a pair. $3800 for 5. If you want to save a bit you can drop down to another lower end KEF bookshelf for rears.

I would prioritize your spend on speakers (LCR) being the most important, then on sub and then on receiver.

The other comment on bookshelf vs tower is a good point. As you prefer highs and mids, don't waste your money or space on tower. The sub should provide sufficient bass.
jima4a's Avatar jima4a
08:25 PM Liked: 70
post #7 of 11
09-15-2013 | Posts: 1,554
Joined: Jun 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by deeda View Post

Have you considered KEF. Sine you are in an apartment you might consider the LS50. They run $1500 a pair. $3800 for 5. If you want to save a bit you can drop down to another lower end KEF bookshelf for rears.

I would prioritize your spend on speakers (LCR) being the most important, then on sub and then on receiver.

The other comment on bookshelf vs tower is a good point. As you prefer highs and mids, don't waste your money or space on tower. The sub should provide sufficient bass.
+1
HKtmartin's Avatar HKtmartin
10:00 PM Liked: 10
post #8 of 11
09-15-2013 | Posts: 2
Joined: May 2013
First - nice pick on the ST60. I bought one for my office - it's a great value and looks stunning.

Receivers - I've had Sony, Denon, Yamaha receivers over the years and just bought a NAD pre-amp and amp for my living room system. I currently use a Denon 2808 (from 2008) in my office and had a Yamaha from 2010-2012. Both Denon and Yamaha have been great choices for me - high build-quality (my denon a shade better than the yamaha), capable, and nice sound output. Of the two...I might have liked the Yamaha better because of the intuitive set-up and menu system. Maybe you'd be ok with the Denon though even if they are still difficult to set up given your professional background. So...my rec. would be Denon for you. Of the two you list, the X3000 seems like all you need (is the main diff. HD radio, higher output, and another zone? - I say "meh" to that). Can you test the Denon next to one of your top 3 choices and see if it's a better choice for you?

Speakers - I agree with ShadyJ on it being a personal choice. When I bought the Denon, I bought Klipsch Icon wc-24 left, right and center and XL-12 right rear and left rear (these are all "bookshelf-sized"). They also worked nice with the Yamaha, too. I have a Klipsch XW300D sub-woofer mated to the system. I think they sound great, definitely fill the room, and can power a party (i agree with Coytee!). I don't hear too much bass - but you'll definitely want to listen to things before you buy them and trust your own ears - that's my advice and it sounds like you already listened to a few. If at all possible, I'd see if i could test the speakers in your apartment before buying them.

Where to purchase - I like Magnolia for this price range - but maybe you have some local choices, too. I would try to buy a floor-model receiver. that's how I got my 2808 for half price. It was in mint condition and came with all the accessories plus a return policy PLUS I got points on that BestBuy frequent buyer card. I think I even redeemed a gift card that I bought at the local supermarket that was allowing me to accrue supermarket fuel perks for gift certificate purchases. I wouldn't count on the employees to coach you through which choice is the best for you - the magnolia guys aren't all great (but some are). It sounds like you are doing a lot of your research on your own though - good on ya.

Some other things you may want to consider (maybe you are already on top of this):
- Power Conditioner: I don't have anything connected to my office system, but I have a Furman Elite15PFI that does a nice job (about 500)
- Speaker Cabling: I have some pretty cheap stuff connected to my Denon, but think I can notice a difference with some Audioquest type 2 cabling i have in my living room. (http://www.audioquest.com/star-quad-speaker-cables/type-2). I think I may like to upgrade this, too, eventually but you may want to consider it for now.
- HDMI/ AV Cabling: I have a mix of Audioquest Evergreen and Pearl cables to connect my equipment and they have solid connections and support 3D, ARC, etc.
- Turn table: I just bought a Pro-ject Debut Carbon turntable (about 500). I haven't had a record player since i was about 6 listening to Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys. It's been a fun hobby so far and maybe you'd like it too.

finally - I'm new to AVS. I hope this was helpful...looking over what I wrote probably not so much. smile.gif But, anyway, good luck and have fun.
reikoshea's Avatar reikoshea
12:06 AM Liked: 11
post #9 of 11
09-16-2013 | Posts: 211
Joined: Nov 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

Speakers are pretty much a personal preference. I would say go out and audition as many as you can. For the Polk Rtis, you can often get good deals on them, and they go on sale for very nice prices every now and then. As for the JBLs, I would be looking tha the Studio 590s or 580s over the others.

One thing I would say, since you are in an apartment, you should still consider a bookshelf speaker, subwoofer setup, especially since you want to be a good neighbor. Bass from a subwoofer is much easier to control than bass from towers. Another thing is, you could place the subwoofer closer to you, and by doing this you don't need to have the unit turned up as loud to get good bass at your listening position. Your neighbors will appreciate that. The closer you can get that sub to you, the better it will be for both you and your neighbors. Since you live in Austin, I would really recommend giving Rythmik subs a look, they are also in Austin. They are a very highly regarded subwoofer company.

Thanks for the Reco on the 590s. I think the Frys by me might have both of those in the same room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coytee View Post

I'm a fan of Klipsch so discount my comment as you deem appropriate.  I just wanted to say I got a giggle out of  your comment because it seems to me most people (that have a negative comment) tend to say it's the pronounced midrange/tweeters that bother them with Klipsch, not that they have over emphasized bass.

My guess is you haven't had a good listening experience but then, as long as you're content with what you end up with, it won't matter.

One nice thing with highly sensitive speakers (both Klipsch and non-Klipsch) is they can make it easier to create the volume when you want it.  Before someone says "yeah and they'll make you go deaf" or something like that....  another thing about highly sensitive speakers is much like a car that can go 200 MPH being driven at 40 MPH, they can ALSO play at lower levels so it's not always about ear splitting volumes.

Good luck in your search!

Side note (intended to be humerous to a small degree)

I'm currently living in an apartment.  I've got a pair of Klipsch speakers, about 108/109 db@ 1 watt (from their cinema line) and....I've got a pair of Danley DTS-10 subwoofers.

All this is mated to a couple of Crown K2's and another dbx monster amp.  The irony...  given that I could literally power a small concert, my neighbors don't have the first clue as to what is residing next to them!

I think the deal with klipsch is maybe the people using them. Might just be my friends tend to like rap and dubstep, and set the equalizer funky. I'll give em another shot just to see if either the new models are better or my friends are insane.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfp84 View Post

If you like the Onkyo 828 then look at last years model the 818. I believe that Onecall had it for 799 new and it is an upgrade to the current model and equates more with the 929. It has the Audyssey Multi Xt 32 which by itself is worth putting it on your list.

Thanks for that. If i can get a NIB, I'm all for it. I'll definitely look into it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by deeda View Post

Have you considered KEF. Sine you are in an apartment you might consider the LS50. They run $1500 a pair. $3800 for 5. If you want to save a bit you can drop down to another lower end KEF bookshelf for rears.

I would prioritize your spend on speakers (LCR) being the most important, then on sub and then on receiver.

The other comment on bookshelf vs tower is a good point. As you prefer highs and mids, don't waste your money or space on tower. The sub should provide sufficient bass.

I never even thought of KEF...just thought they'd be too expensive. I need to find a dealer, but the name drop alone piqued my interest.

Well if I do that, then I know svs is getting more of my money. I really regretted selling my PC12-NSD...I really want another. I'll definitely be testing bookshelves because you do make a fine point, and I know I can get the PC12-NSD to do exactly what I want with a good bookshelf...it's just a matter of not being vindictive to my inconsiderate upstairs neighbor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HKtmartin View Post

First - nice pick on the ST60. I bought one for my office - it's a great value and looks stunning.

Receivers - I've had Sony, Denon, Yamaha receivers over the years and just bought a NAD pre-amp and amp for my living room system. I currently use a Denon 2808 (from 2008) in my office and had a Yamaha from 2010-2012. Both Denon and Yamaha have been great choices for me - high build-quality (my denon a shade better than the yamaha), capable, and nice sound output. Of the two...I might have liked the Yamaha better because of the intuitive set-up and menu system. Maybe you'd be ok with the Denon though even if they are still difficult to set up given your professional background. So...my rec. would be Denon for you. Of the two you list, the X3000 seems like all you need (is the main diff. HD radio, higher output, and another zone? - I say "meh" to that). Can you test the Denon next to one of your top 3 choices and see if it's a better choice for you?

Speakers - I agree with ShadyJ on it being a personal choice. When I bought the Denon, I bought Klipsch Icon wc-24 left, right and center and XL-12 right rear and left rear (these are all "bookshelf-sized"). They also worked nice with the Yamaha, too. I have a Klipsch XW300D sub-woofer mated to the system. I think they sound great, definitely fill the room, and can power a party (i agree with Coytee!). I don't hear too much bass - but you'll definitely want to listen to things before you buy them and trust your own ears - that's my advice and it sounds like you already listened to a few. If at all possible, I'd see if i could test the speakers in your apartment before buying them.

Where to purchase - I like Magnolia for this price range - but maybe you have some local choices, too. I would try to buy a floor-model receiver. that's how I got my 2808 for half price. It was in mint condition and came with all the accessories plus a return policy PLUS I got points on that BestBuy frequent buyer card. I think I even redeemed a gift card that I bought at the local supermarket that was allowing me to accrue supermarket fuel perks for gift certificate purchases. I wouldn't count on the employees to coach you through which choice is the best for you - the magnolia guys aren't all great (but some are). It sounds like you are doing a lot of your research on your own though - good on ya.

Some other things you may want to consider (maybe you are already on top of this):
- Power Conditioner: I don't have anything connected to my office system, but I have a Furman Elite15PFI that does a nice job (about 500)
- Speaker Cabling: I have some pretty cheap stuff connected to my Denon, but think I can notice a difference with some Audioquest type 2 cabling i have in my living room. (http://www.audioquest.com/star-quad-speaker-cables/type-2). I think I may like to upgrade this, too, eventually but you may want to consider it for now.
- HDMI/ AV Cabling: I have a mix of Audioquest Evergreen and Pearl cables to connect my equipment and they have solid connections and support 3D, ARC, etc.
- Turn table: I just bought a Pro-ject Debut Carbon turntable (about 500). I haven't had a record player since i was about 6 listening to Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys. It's been a fun hobby so far and maybe you'd like it too.

finally - I'm new to AVS. I hope this was helpful...looking over what I wrote probably not so much. smile.gif But, anyway, good luck and have fun.

Lot to respond to, but I'll take a stab. I haven't ruled anything out for receivers. I've seen the X4000 in person, and I know it's a good receiver. For me it's gonna be an issue of best bang for the buck. I'm not sure which is, definitely still looking at this one. Like if I can get an Onkyo 818 for a good price, that's the definite winner. It's an amazing device and at that price it's hard to say no.

For the retailers, I had planned on checking out a few of the magnolia stores on the I35 Corridor, and going to Frys here, and Bjorns in San Antonio.



Thanks for all the advice guys.
simp1yamazn's Avatar simp1yamazn
07:56 AM Liked: 67
post #10 of 11
09-16-2013 | Posts: 655
Joined: Mar 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by HKtmartin View Post

First - nice pick on the ST60. I bought one for my office - it's a great value and looks stunning.

Receivers - I've had Sony, Denon, Yamaha receivers over the years and just bought a NAD pre-amp and amp for my living room system. I currently use a Denon 2808 (from 2008) in my office and had a Yamaha from 2010-2012. Both Denon and Yamaha have been great choices for me - high build-quality (my denon a shade better than the yamaha), capable, and nice sound output. Of the two...I might have liked the Yamaha better because of the intuitive set-up and menu system. Maybe you'd be ok with the Denon though even if they are still difficult to set up given your professional background. So...my rec. would be Denon for you. Of the two you list, the X3000 seems like all you need (is the main diff. HD radio, higher output, and another zone? - I say "meh" to that). Can you test the Denon next to one of your top 3 choices and see if it's a better choice for you?

My own thoughts on receivers is get one with Audyssey MultEQ XT or XT32. Everyone has different experiences with the various auto-setup systems but in my use, Audyssey has definitely given me the best results.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HKtmartin View Post

Some other things you may want to consider (maybe you are already on top of this):
- Power Conditioner: I don't have anything connected to my office system, but I have a Furman Elite15PFI that does a nice job (about 500)
- Speaker Cabling: I have some pretty cheap stuff connected to my Denon, but think I can notice a difference with some Audioquest type 2 cabling i have in my living room. (http://www.audioquest.com/star-quad-speaker-cables/type-2). I think I may like to upgrade this, too, eventually but you may want to consider it for now.
- HDMI/ AV Cabling: I have a mix of Audioquest Evergreen and Pearl cables to connect my equipment and they have solid connections and support 3D, ARC, etc.
- Turn table: I just bought a Pro-ject Debut Carbon turntable (about 500). I haven't had a record player since i was about 6 listening to Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys. It's been a fun hobby so far and maybe you'd like it too.

finally - I'm new to AVS. I hope this was helpful...looking over what I wrote probably not so much. smile.gif But, anyway, good luck and have fun.

I promise i'm not trying to start a big debate, just want to offer my $0.02 on things like power conditioners, speaker cabling, etc. In my research and experience, I don't go so far as to say that they cannot have any influence on your system's sound quality. I do think, however, that any gains you get going from $10 speaker wire to $200 speaker would be much better served in upgrading the other aspects if your system, whether your speakers, subwoofer, or room treatments.
reikoshea's Avatar reikoshea
09:08 AM Liked: 11
post #11 of 11
09-16-2013 | Posts: 211
Joined: Nov 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by simp1yamazn View Post

My own thoughts on receivers is get one with Audyssey MultEQ XT or XT32. Everyone has different experiences with the various auto-setup systems but in my use, Audyssey has definitely given me the best results.

XT32 is what's in the 818, and I think that's the direction I'm going to go. It's so good I think I might just buy it on friday.
Quote:
I promise i'm not trying to start a big debate, just want to offer my $0.02 on things like power conditioners, speaker cabling, etc. In my research and experience, I don't go so far as to say that they cannot have any influence on your system's sound quality. I do think, however, that any gains you get going from $10 speaker wire to $200 speaker would be much better served in upgrading the other aspects if your system, whether your speakers, subwoofer, or room treatments.

Yeah, I guess it's worth responding to that stuff.

I just moved into an apartment that isn't even a year old, and I'm kind of dubious about the advantages of power conditioners.
For speaker wire, I'm thinking about just grabbing some 14G from MonoPrice. Their quality on everything I've bought from them is second to none.
For HDMI, it's a digital signal. As long as the solder points on the connector are solid, it's all the same. Monoprice here again.
Turntable: I dont have any vinyl in my collection and I think if I started adding it, it could get quite dangerous.
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