Upgrading 5.1 to 7.1. Am I going to fry my 840 watt receiver? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 50 Old 12-26-2013, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

I just ordered a pair of Polk RIT A9 tower speakers to add on to my 5.1 setup, and I had a question.

My Pioneer 840-Watt 7.1 Channel 3D HDMI Home Theatre Receiver (VSX-926-K) can drive 7 speakers, but i'm worried about power. The two existing towers + bookshelf + center + sub = 900 Watts based on their specification sheets under "power capability".

I haven't had any issues, but when I add the RIT A9's to the receiver, am I going to melt something?

I've also seen people in the user reviews mention they need a dedicated amplifier. Can you shed some light on what you would recommend in this regard?

The 5.1 setup i'm adding the RIT A9's to are infinity (if it matters), and here is a link to the 5.1's I have.
https://www.evernote.com/shard/s3/sh/2095e773-ca08-4676-b02e-aa605ef36701/42a72988f7d1d265e41b1242b97ca4fc

Basically I want to use the towers for front and back left & right, and mount the bookself speakers on the back wall behind my head, but thats a ton of extra power.

Appreciate any feedback, and go easy on an audiophile newbie smile.gif
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post #2 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 04:25 AM
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First off, mixing speaker brands in the same system is usually not a good thing. Meaning you will most likely have a mis-match in timbre.
Adding a power amp to a receiver to drive the mains reduces the total load that the AVR would have to drive.
But from what I saw, your Pioneer AVR only has a single pre out for the sub.
So you will have to drive all channels with the AVR. If it bottoms out, your only choices will be to buy an AVR that either has more power, or pre outs, which will allow you to add a power amp.
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post #3 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 05:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post


I haven't had any issues, but when I add the RIT A9's to the receiver, am I going to melt something?

No.
Quote:
I've also seen people in the user reviews mention they need a dedicated amplifier. Can you shed some light on what you would recommend in this regard?

Without getting into writing a book let me just say that the great majority of separate power amplifiers are bought because they are wanted and not because they are needed. Few people have any concept of how much power they actually use. The receiver manufacturers are not stupid enough to sell products that would fail to drive ordinary speakers to room filling volume in ordinary listening rooms.
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The 5.1 setup i'm adding the RIT A9's to are infinity (if it matters), and here is a link to the 5.1's I have.
https://www.evernote.com/shard/s3/sh/2095e773-ca08-4676-b02e-aa605ef36701/42a72988f7d1d265e41b1242b97ca4fc

Basically I want to use the towers for front and back left & right, and mount the bookself speakers on the back wall behind my head, but thats a ton of extra power.

Appreciate any feedback, and go easy on an audiophile newbie smile.gif

That should work fine. The surround channels deliver sound effects. Mixing those speakers isn't much of an issue.
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post #4 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 08:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

Hi,

I just ordered a pair of Polk RIT A9 tower speakers to add on to my 5.1 setup, and I had a question.

My Pioneer 840-Watt 7.1 Channel 3D HDMI Home Theatre Receiver (VSX-926-K) can drive 7 speakers, but i'm worried about power. The two existing towers + bookshelf + center + sub = 900 Watts based on their specification sheets under "power capability".

I haven't had any issues, but when I add the RIT A9's to the receiver, am I going to melt something?

I've also seen people in the user reviews mention they need a dedicated amplifier. Can you shed some light on what you would recommend in this regard?

The 5.1 setup i'm adding the RIT A9's to are infinity (if it matters), and here is a link to the 5.1's I have.
https://www.evernote.com/shard/s3/sh/2095e773-ca08-4676-b02e-aa605ef36701/42a72988f7d1d265e41b1242b97ca4fc

Basically I want to use the towers for front and back left & right, and mount the bookself speakers on the back wall behind my head, but thats a ton of extra power.

Appreciate any feedback, and go easy on an audiophile newbie smile.gif

Speakers aren't like lightbulbs or toasters. Just because you add some speakers doesn't mean that the power demands on your AVR are going to instantly go up proportionately.

Most people turn their audio systems up until the loudness meets their preferences. With more speakers the sound from the speakers adds together in the room before it reaches your ears which means that to some degree about the same amount of power is going to be split up among more speakers, combine in the room, and do the same thing to your ears as was done before with fewer speakers.

The above is a hyper simplification, but in the end its pretty close. Not only that, but you've probably not been driving your AVR to its full power all along. So the 840 watts is more like the BTU number on your water heater. It indicates capability, not actual use.
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post #5 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Most of the answers put my mind at ease, but Polk support is making me re-think my purchase. They seem to take issue with my Pioneer VSX-926-K's 90 watts per channel.
Even though it's an 840 watt system, I guess power per channel is really low? (Bad design?).
The answer is below, but are these amp's he's suggesting an add on to my receiver, or a replacement for the receiver?
I apologize if this question sounds overly basic, but i'm still pretty new to all this.
A direct link from an AVS pro to a suggested product would be amazing smile.gif

FROM POLK SUPPORT

I would definitely look at getting a dedicated power amplifier for the A9s. I would look at Emotiva, Crown or Niles. Since the Pioneer only has 90 watts per channel, I don't think that will be enough to power them. It will power them but you won't get the sound you're looking for. I don't see you melting anything by adding the A9s, you could potentially pop a tweeter by powering the A9s at 90 watts and then cranking them. Let me know if you have any other questions.
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post #6 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Weird, the website I purchased my Pioneer VSX-926-K from says 120W per channel in 7.1, and Pioneer's website says 90w.

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post #7 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

Weird, the website I purchased my Pioneer VSX-926-K from says 120W per channel in 7.1, and Pioneer's website says 90w.

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I would go with the Pioneer specification. The difference between 90 watts and 120 watts is meaningless. It isn't even audible. Much ado about nothing.
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post #8 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

I would go with the Pioneer specification. The difference between 90 watts and 120 watts is meaningless. It isn't even audible. Much ado about nothing.

Pioneer is warning me I could potentially pop a tweeter at 90 watts though, and "I won't get the sound i'm looking for".
Still very confused. Do I need to replace the receiver? Buy an amp, if so what? Still very confused.
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post #9 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 06:29 PM
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The 120 watts is short term peak power- however it is mute in surround mode - the receiver becomes less efficient
as more channels are hooked up.

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post #10 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
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So you would recommend sticking with 5.1?
I only have 90 watts per channel to work with.
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post #11 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

So you would recommend sticking with 5.1?
I only have 90 watts per channel to work with.

do you kniw how many watts per channel it takes to push 90db sensitive speakers to satisfying volume levels at say 9 ft? hint, its not many. most people most of the time are only using around 5 watts per channel with maybe upwards of 30 or so for certain short peaks,

also fwiw, i would not put any stock in polks tech suport.....they told me to biamp my monitor 70's. rolleyes.gif best advice, try 'em on your current avr and id you are unable to achieve the desired spl levels in your room then start looking around for alternatives.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #12 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

So you would recommend sticking with 5.1?
I only have 90 watts per channel to work with.

It is less than 90 watts even with 5.1 - it only has 1 main power supply

However, it is rare that all channels will receive full power at the same time.
Plus, the subwoofer takes some stress off the receiver

The biggest issue may be, if it is loud enough for you - a speaker will let
you know if something is wrong - then cut the volume down.

Are you thinking about matching your center in the future?

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post #13 of 50 Old 12-27-2013, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

Hi,

I just ordered a pair of Polk RIT A9 tower speakers to add on to my 5.1 setup, and I had a question.

My Pioneer 840-Watt 7.1 Channel 3D HDMI Home Theatre Receiver (VSX-926-K) can drive 7 speakers, but i'm worried about power. The two existing towers + bookshelf + center + sub = 900 Watts based on their specification sheets under "power capability".

I haven't had any issues, but when I add the RIT A9's to the receiver, am I going to melt something?

I've also seen people in the user reviews mention they need a dedicated amplifier. Can you shed some light on what you would recommend in this regard?

The 5.1 setup i'm adding the RIT A9's to are infinity (if it matters), and here is a link to the 5.1's I have.
https://www.evernote.com/shard/s3/sh/2095e773-ca08-4676-b02e-aa605ef36701/42a72988f7d1d265e41b1242b97ca4fc

Basically I want to use the towers for front and back left & right, and mount the bookself speakers on the back wall behind my head, but thats a ton of extra power.

Appreciate any feedback, and go easy on an audiophile newbie smile.gif


you'll be fine. my fronts and center set to "Large" (it takes more juice to drive speakers uncrossed) and my Pioneer still doing very well.

also even at 60-70% of the volume it getting uncomfortably loud and most cases my AVR working only at 30-40% and I very doubt you will ever drive your AVR at 100%,.


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post #14 of 50 Old 12-28-2013, 01:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

Hi,

I just ordered a pair of Polk RIT A9 tower speakers to add on to my 5.1 setup, and I had a question.

My Pioneer 840-Watt 7.1 Channel 3D HDMI Home Theatre Receiver (VSX-926-K) can drive 7 speakers, but i'm worried about power. The two existing towers + bookshelf + center + sub = 900 Watts based on their specification sheets under "power capability".

I haven't had any issues, but when I add the RIT A9's to the receiver, am I going to melt something?

I've also seen people in the user reviews mention they need a dedicated amplifier. Can you shed some light on what you would recommend in this regard?

The 5.1 setup i'm adding the RIT A9's to are infinity (if it matters), and here is a link to the 5.1's I have.
https://www.evernote.com/shard/s3/sh/2095e773-ca08-4676-b02e-aa605ef36701/42a72988f7d1d265e41b1242b97ca4fc

Basically I want to use the towers for front and back left & right, and mount the bookself speakers on the back wall behind my head, but thats a ton of extra power.

Appreciate any feedback, and go easy on an audiophile newbie smile.gif

The power issue that you are "worried" about would perhaps become more clear to you if you could find specs on the receiver's individual channels, instead of an over inflated total power rating. The higher posted power output numbers of a receiver, (example: 90 watts) are often stated as "two channels driven", and that number would be reduced with "all channels driven". You should be interested in what each channel will do individually vs the above statement of 840 watts.
The speakers also have a recommended power range...a minimum and maximum power rating, example 50 to 120 watts, stated by the manufacturer. Your statement above, where you add the power handling numbers for all speakers up to a total of 900 watts has no meaning. Again, you want to know what each individual channel of the receiver will do, continuously, and what each speaker can handle, continuously, (in watts).

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post #15 of 50 Old 12-28-2013, 01:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

Most of the answers put my mind at ease, but Polk support is making me re-think my purchase. They seem to take issue with my Pioneer VSX-926-K's 90 watts per channel.
Even though it's an 840 watt system, I guess power per channel is really low? (Bad design?).
The answer is below, but are these amp's he's suggesting an add on to my receiver, or a replacement for the receiver?
I apologize if this question sounds overly basic, but i'm still pretty new to all this.
A direct link from an AVS pro to a suggested product would be amazing smile.gif

FROM POLK SUPPORT

I would definitely look at getting a dedicated power amplifier for the A9s. I would look at Emotiva, Crown or Niles. Since the Pioneer only has 90 watts per channel, I don't think that will be enough to power them. It will power them but you won't get the sound you're looking for. I don't see you melting anything by adding the A9s, you could potentially pop a tweeter by powering the A9s at 90 watts and then cranking them. Let me know if you have any other questions.

"They seem to take issue with my Pioneer's 90 watts per channel" ???
"840 watt system" ??? (Bad design?) ???
I think the Pioneer receiver is a nice one. Also, as others have stated, you are gaining headroom by adding a powered subwoofer, and in turn putting less demands on the receiver. Do you have everything set to "small" in the receiver's menu? Do you want to listen at "concert levels"? ...here comes the add on power amp!

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post #16 of 50 Old 12-28-2013, 08:19 AM
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OP. Calm down. Amplifier power in a typical home theater in a typical home listening room is meaningless. The manufacturers are hyping theoretical possibilities to help them sell things. When listening to music, My main amplifiers have not been past 18 watts on peaks. Stop worrying about amplifier power. It doesn't matter for the great majority of installations.
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post #17 of 50 Old 12-28-2013, 03:04 PM
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The fact that the VSX-926-K weighs 21lbs is a good sign it can't deliver anything close to 840 watts of total power. Most Class A/B amplifiers in this weight-class can maybe deliver a total of 250 watts of power across 7 channels.
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post #18 of 50 Old 12-28-2013, 03:20 PM
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The fact that the VSX-926-K weighs 21lbs is a good sign it can't deliver anything close to 840 watts of total power. Most Class A/B amplifiers in this weight-class can maybe deliver a total of 250 watts of power across 7 channels.

I'll be darned. How did you calculate that?
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post #19 of 50 Old 12-28-2013, 04:06 PM
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I'll be darned. How did you calculate that?
Pure speculation, though not far off the mark. A better way to guesstimmate the actual capability of the average AVR is to look at the back panel or manual, see what it draws out of the wall. The Pioneer site gives 'estimated power consumption' at 550w. Being generous in assuming it has 75% efficiency that means it might deliver 412 watts total continuous output. Each amplifier on its own might be able to deliver 90 watts continuous, but the grand total with multiple channels is limited by the shared by all power supply.
You can't just go by weight, as Class D amps are very lightweight, and can run at 90% efficiency, and switching power supplies eliminate huge power transformers. But what you can't get around is the total power coming out of the amp will never equal, let alone exceed, the power coming out of the wall socket for more than short transient peaks.

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post #20 of 50 Old 12-28-2013, 11:21 PM
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I was being facetious, Bill, but your point is a good one. Luckily we don't play test tones so a continuous power rating isn't really any more useful than the ratings they provide in the literature. In my view amplifier ratings cause more concern and confusion than they should.
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post #21 of 50 Old 12-29-2013, 01:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Pure speculation, though not far off the mark. A better way to guesstimmate the actual capability of the average AVR is to look at the back panel or manual, see what it draws out of the wall. The Pioneer site gives 'estimated power consumption' at 550w. Being generous in assuming it has 75% efficiency that means it might deliver 412 watts total continuous output. Each amplifier on its own might be able to deliver 90 watts continuous, but the grand total with multiple channels is limited by the shared by all power supply.
You can't just go by weight, as Class D amps are very lightweight, and can run at 90% efficiency, and switching power supplies eliminate huge power transformers. But what you can't get around is the total power coming out of the amp will never equal, let alone exceed, the power coming out of the wall socket for more than short transient peaks.

The back panels aren't always accurate though, Pioneer Elite models with Class D amps state 330W on the rear panels, and even with 100% efficiency we know they obviously supply more than 47W x 7, as they are routinely measured in reviews with closer to with 110W x 7 output.

My Yamaha RX-Z11 says "800W" in the back, although Sound & Vision has independently measured 139.4 W x 7 of power output, which is 976 watts, even if it ran at 65% efficiency it would be drawing 1500W+ from the wall.

Of course you can't always go by weight, but obviously the Pioneer VSX receiver in question is a non-switch mode Class A/B which has pretty well-known design parameters.
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post #22 of 50 Old 12-29-2013, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by astrallite View Post

The back panels aren't always accurate though, Pioneer Elite models with Class D amps state 330W on the rear panels, and even with 100% efficiency we know they obviously supply more than 47W x 7, as they are routinely measured in reviews with closer to with 110W x 7 output.

My Yamaha RX-Z11 says "800W" in the back, although Sound & Vision has independently measured 139.4 W x 7 of power output, which is 976 watts, even if it ran at 65% efficiency it would be drawing 1500W+ from the wall.

Of course you can't always go by weight, but obviously the Pioneer VSX receiver in question is a non-switch mode Class A/B which has pretty well-known design parameters.
If you don't trust the rating look at the fuse. If it's a 5 amp fuse on a 110v supply, for instance, that's 550w maximum draw. You're not going to get more than that out of the amp. If you were to believe the claims of manufacturers Cold Fusion would be a reality as well. rolleyes.gif
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post #23 of 50 Old 01-03-2014, 10:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks all for your comments, they were really helpful.
I've broken in my new Polk CSI A6 Center and RIT A9 Floorstanding speakers, and I'm pretty happy with the quality they provide running off the Pioneer VSX-926-K.

It sounds like the only advantage of a dedicated amp would be to achieve higher volume levels, which in my case don't seem necessary.
I tried turning them up to super uncomfortable volume levels, and I couldn't hear a lick of distortion (around -10db on the receiver starts to get painful, and I went all the way to 0 which was almost deafening).

One last question though. I have Bi-Amped the RIT A9 Floorstanding speakers (not the center because I don't have outputs for that), but does this help reduce the strain on the AVR, or increase it because I'm adding channels?
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post #24 of 50 Old 01-03-2014, 10:43 PM
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One last question though. I have Bi-Amped the RIT A9 Floorstanding speakers (not the center because I don't have outputs for that), but does this help reduce the strain on the AVR, or increase it because I'm adding channels?

Neither. In practice it has no audible effect at all nor does it change the power to the speakers in any meaningful way. You stand a better chance of shorting something out with all those wires than affecting anything positively. I recommend you undo the biamp.
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post #25 of 50 Old 01-04-2014, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Neither. In practice it has no audible effect at all nor does it change the power to the speakers in any meaningful way. You stand a better chance of shorting something out with all those wires than affecting anything positively. I recommend you undo the biamp.

Interesting, appreciate the insight. Why does Polk put biamp terminals on all it's high end speakers?
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post #26 of 50 Old 01-04-2014, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

Interesting, appreciate the insight. Why does Polk put biamp terminals on all it's high end speakers?

For the same reason others do. It is a "feature" that can make the product competitive with others. Passive biamplification comes from the true active biamplification used in pro audio. There, the DSP or the crossover is placed in front of the amplifiers. That allows the amplifier power that is sent to each driver to be no more than the driver needs because the un-reproduced frequencies never reach the amplifiers, it completely isolates the drivers from one another and it allows individual level adjustment for each driver. It's an excellent capability and you may want to remove the passive crossover from your speaker cabinets one day, and connect your drivers directly to the terminals, buy an active crossover and try it out. Passive biamplification does none of those things and is simply a home audio response to the technology as an element in the manufacturers' effort to market and compete. It simply doesn't affect the sound of your system and those who say it does are suffering from the hearing bias inherent in sighted comparisons.
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post #27 of 50 Old 01-04-2014, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

Why does Polk put biamp terminals on all it's high end speakers?
So that people who think it does something useful will buy them. The same applies to pretty much every manufacturer. They don't want to lose a sale for not having them.
If you want to know how useful almost anything is go to the DIY forum and see what guys there are doing. It's not bi-wiring and bi-amping, or using fancy cables, and guys there tend to know more about speakers than the average CEO of a speaker company.

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post #28 of 50 Old 01-04-2014, 09:06 AM
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You just can not apply any ole active XO. XOs need to be tailor made for the drivers being used. Same as a passive XO, you just don't throw a bunch of components at a driver.

And as far as dual binding posts for bi-wire/passive amp, nothing more than a sales pitch.
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post #29 of 50 Old 01-04-2014, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow, so much smoke and mirrors, even Polk tech support misleads people (post sale???).
Thank you all for your support, I'm going to keep reading in the hopes I can help others here as you've helped me.

Glad I didn't buy that Emotiva dedicated amp.
For my 400SQ FT media room it would have really been a waste I think.
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post #30 of 50 Old 01-04-2014, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by justinbkerr View Post

Wow, so much smoke and mirrors, even Polk tech support misleads people (post sale???).
Thank you all for your support, I'm going to keep reading in the hopes I can help others here as you've helped me.

Glad I didn't buy that Emotiva dedicated amp.
For my 400SQ FT media room it would have really been a waste I think.

It is endemic to the audio industry. My bet is that if you look at any advertising for speakers with a biamp feature, it will simply mention the feature without mentioning an benefit that derives from it. Most separate amplifiers - but not all - are purchased because they are wanted, not because they are needed.
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