Is it worth upgrading my old Sony HTIB speakers to match new rxv575 receiver? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi folks,

 

I bought a Sony HTIB back in 2004, the HT-DDW760:

 

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-769w0PnM9VI/p_158HTDW760/Sony-HT-DDW760.html#overview-tab

 

I'm not exactly an audiophile, and I've always been reasonably satisfied with the sound of the speakers. My usage is:

 

Movies with surround sound - 85%

Music - 10%

Games - 5%

 

My room is about 14x16, carpeted, and I share a wall with another homeowner so I don't need/want earth-shattering volume or bass.

 

Anyways, I just bought a new receiver, the Yamaha rx-v575 and I'm wondering if I would notice much better sound if I upgraded the speakers? It sounds decent to me, but movie dialogue seems a bit muddy and low at times and means I have to crank up the volume to hear it all (lacking clarity?). It's worth noting that the speakers are connected via very thin speaker wire (18 gauge I think).

 

My budget would be $300-$500, but I would rather stay below $400 if possible. I know I have to listen to systems in store to find what I like, but it's hard to gauge if there will be an appreciable improvement over my current set-up once I get them home and in the room, at that price point.

 

Things I'm considering (these systems are on sale at Best Buy Canada currently for under $400):

 

1. Polk Audio TL250 5.0 speaker system (and keep the old Sony Subwoofer)

 

2. Polk Audio TL1600 5.1 speaker system (with sub)

 

3. Just staying with my current setup

 

Any suggestions/recommendations/feedback help would be most appreciated!

 

Alan

 

 

 

P.S. I've included some details about my current speakers below in case they are too old/cheap for people to have heard of! lol

 

  • Front/center speakers:
  • video-shielded
  • 3-3/16" full-range driver
  • 4-1/16"W x 5-15/16"H x 5-1/16"D (8-15/16"W x 4-1/16"H x 5-1/16"D for center)
  • Rear speakers:
  • 3-3/16" full-range driver
  • 4-1/16"W x 5-15/16"H x 5-1/16"D
  • Powered subwoofer:
  • video-shielded
  • 7-7/8" driver
  • built-in 100-watt amplifier
  • 10-11/16"W x 12-13/16"H x 17-1/8"D

Satellite Speakers: The speaker system consists of two SS-MSP760 front satellite speakers, two SS-MSP760S rear satellite speakers, and a matching SS-CNP760 center channel speaker. Each speaker has a 3.15" full-range driver. The rear-mounted spring clip terminals on each speaker will accept bare wire and pin connectors. Each enclosure is covered by a non-removable gray cloth grille. Speaker wire is included.

Mounting: The M5 threaded female inserts on the back of the satellite speakers allow them to be mounted using optional brackets or stands. If you do not wish to mount the speakers on the wall or stand, you can place them on any flat surface using the supplied self-adhesive foot pads.

Subwoofer Driver and Enclosure: The SA-WMSP76 has an 7-7/8" front-firing woofer powered by a 100-watt amplifier. For extended bass response, the woofer is loaded in a bass-reflex enclosure with a front-firing port. A subwoofer cable is included.

Subwoofer Controls: A front-mounted level control on the front of the subwoofer allows you to match the output of the subwoofer to the rest of your system. The power button is located next to the level control.

Video-shielded: The front satellites, center channel speaker and subwoofer are video-shielded, allowing them to be placed near your television without causing picture distortion. The rear satellites are not video shielded.

SA-WMSP76 Subwoofer:

  • Power Output (28-200Hz, 6 ohms, <0.8 total harmonic distortion): 75 watts
  • Power Output (100 Hz, 6 ohms, 10% THD): 80 watts
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 09:58 AM
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Speakers affect the sound you hear more than anything else.  So if you want improved sound, get better speakers.

 

Your best option is to go to all of your local audio shops, and listen to as many types of speakers (e.g., ribbon, horn, dome, whatever) as you can find, of as many brands as you can stand, with all of the types of music to which you listen, with music with which you are familiar.  Making a CDR for this is a good idea.

 

You then listen and decide if you think that the improvement is worth the cost.

 

 

Now, given that you seem to have a very tight budget, you might want to just replace the front three speakers, and use the subwoofer you have (since you say you don't care much about bass) and use the best two of your current speakers for surround.  That way, you can get better speakers, as all of your budget goes into only 3 speakers instead of 6 (the 5 plus subwoofer).


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post #3 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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This is a good idea. Would I have to worry about matching up the surrounds and sub with the new speakers later if I have further money to invest? And should I be looking at satellites? Towers?

 

Also, since my primary requirements are clear movie sound, what would be the best kind of media to bring in and play on the speakers to test them?

 

Finally, this may seem obvious, but do you think the difference with new speakers will be noticeably better than the current speakers? (eg, is what I have crap?)

 

Thanks! Any other opinions/feedback welcome.

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post #4 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 11:33 AM
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Ideally, all of the main speakers would be identical.  This is so that when a sound pans from one to another, it does not change its tonal character at all, just its spacial location in your room.  So it would be good if you can match the front to the back.  However, it matters far less for the rear than for the front, for two reasons.  First, the surrounds are typically used for sound effects rather than very important sounds (like dialog).  Second, humans hear better in front of them than behind them.  So, with a tight budget, it can make sense to not bother with the rear matching the front, so that more of one's budget can go to the important front speakers.  That is why I recommend that you continue to use a pair of your current speakers for the rear.  The better the front speakers, the clearer the dialog and the better the important front sounds will be.

 

As for the subwoofer, there is no need to match it to the main speakers at all.  It is reproducing a different set of frequencies from the main speakers, and consequently it does not have to be very similar to them at all.  It is totally fine to use a different brand of subwoofer from the main speakers.  In fact, it is often best to do that, as most of the time, the best makers of subwoofers are not the best makers of other speakers, and vice versa.

 

As for your particular issue, it would be good to have a range of human voices, preferably talking.  You would want bass and tenor for males, and soprano and alto for females.  But I also recommend that you have music and singing, too.  Everything should be clear and understandable, to as loud or slightly louder than you ever want to hear it.

 

And, although I have not heard your speakers and cannot say absolutely, I think it highly likely that you can get better speakers that will render dialog more clearly than what you have.  Most cheap speakers are not great for dialog, or much of anything else.  Listen to your test disc (that CDR that I advise you to make) on your current speakers and then immediately go to a store to listen to other speakers with it.  Depending on what is available locally to you, I would expect a fairly dramatic difference between different models, and so I think it highly likely that you can get significantly better sound, that you will regard as dramatically better.

 

I personally would be looking for 3 bookshelf speakers (if you can position one vertically in the middle), the best that you can afford.  If you decide to go with a center channel speaker made to be a center channel, get front right and left speakers that are "voice matched" to it.  And make sure that center channel gives you clear dialog.

 

The reason I would be looking at bookshelf speakers instead of towers is that for the same price, you can go with a higher line of bookshelf speaker than a tower speaker.  The subwoofer is going to be given the deep bass (though yours is probably not very good), and so the main speakers do not need to do deep bass.  I would look for something that is flat down to 70Hz or preferably below (that is, the -3dB point should be at 70 Hz or below, so a speaker rated as 60-20kHz +/-3dB would be fine, as far as this aspect goes).  I have speakers retailing for well over $6k, and I use bookshelf speakers for all channels (other than subwoofers, obviously).  The subwoofers deal with the deep bass, so the main speakers do not have to.  The really nice tower models that have the same tweeter and midbass driver as my bookshelf speakers would cost twice as much, and so I would either have had to spend significantly more, or I would have had to drop down to a lesser speaker model to be having tower speakers.  Or I would have had to spend less on the subwoofers, which would also degrade the sound.

 

Generally speaking, tower speakers of the same line give you deeper bass and the ability to play louder.  You do not need deeper bass in them (because you are using a subwoofer), and bookshelf speakers can play loud enough for sane volumes in a typical room.  If you had money to burn, then you could go with whatever strikes your fancy (which you can do anyway).  But you are wanting clear dialog, and that is not deep bass nor does it require crazy high volumes.  Go for better bookshelf speakers.


God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all.
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 01:07 PM - Thread Starter
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JDR - thank you for taking the time to post such a detailed and informative response! Sounds like I would benefit from shopping for a really good set of bookshelf speakers with a matching surround speaker (a vertical center channel would not really work for my room). Can bookshelf speakers be easily mounted on stands?

 

Do you think it is even worth my time to listen to a satellite system like the Polk TL250 or TL1600?

 

Also, if you have any suggested brands to try during my search, that would be very useful.

 

Finally, is the gauge of speaker wire going to matter all that much?

 

Thanks again, really appreciate the advice :-)

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post #6 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 01:34 PM
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You mean a matching center speaker, not surround.

 

I have not listened to any current models of bookshelf speakers in your price range.  So any brand listing I might suggest will be of limited value.  In the past, I liked the bottom of the Polk RTi line for its price point (and did not much care for anything lower).  In cherry, they actually look nice, too.  But they might be just above your price point, given that you are needing three speakers.  I see from looking at ebay, you can buy refurbished ones directly from Polk:

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RTi4-CHERRY-Bookshelf-Speakers-Polk-Audio-NEW-PAIR-/360804038210

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/CSiA4-CHERRY-Center-Channel-Speaker-Polk-Audio-/231131921049

 

But I recommend that you go to your local store and listen to speakers.  Unfortunately, you will likely have trouble finding those exact models, as I believe they are discontinued (which is one of the reasons they are within your price).  Also, I have not listened to these models; my experience is with older ones, and compared with other speakers available in the past, not with what is available now.  So I am NOT saying that these are the best at their price point, although they might be.

 

Bookshelf speakers can easily be put on stands.  In fact, "bookshelf" speakers are more properly called "stand mount" speakers, but they have been called "bookshelf" for so long that that terminology has stuck.  For stands, you want something sturdy.  Unfortunately, good stands tend to be surprisingly expensive, so if you have another option for placement, you may wish to consider that.  For example, if your TV is on a very wide piece of furniture, you might be able to place the speakers on it on either side of the TV, though how well that will work will depend on all of the particulars involved.

 

As for the sets of speakers, go ahead and listen to them.  You will then know for yourself if they are worth considering or not, and have a better idea of how they compare with bookshelf speakers.

 

For wire, there is a chart here, but you will want to read the whole page to avoid being suckered:

 

http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm


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post #7 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Ah yes - I meant to write "center" speaker - the problem with responding too quickly :-)  Will the sale people know what I mean when I ask for something "voice matched?"

 

Great info and links, thanks again. Next up, making my CDR!

 

Also, if you or anyone else think of anything additional I may need to know in this endeavor, let me know. In the meantime, I probably have several weeks of speaker listening ahead of me. Yahoo!

 

Cheers, Alan

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post #8 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 02:49 PM
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Take your time, and do not make a rushed decision.  Although it is possible that you will miss out on some special deal that way (and salesmen may try to sucker you with some such claim), you will be far less likely to buy something that you soon regret if you take your time.

 

For "voice matched," it should be the same brand, from the same line of speakers (usually this will be indicated by a similar sort of name; the RTi series from Polk, for example, that are from the same model year, are all "voice matched" to each other).  The manufacturer's web site should help you in this if you have any doubts.

 

Also, at your price point, sacrifices are inevitable.  They will not be the greatest speakers ever, and if you listen to some really nice models out of your price range, it might make you unhappy with everything you can afford.  I recommend that you go up to the most expensive you are willing to buy, and compare with models costing much less as well.  Price is not the same as quality, and it may be that you will find a bargain that makes you happy.  Although, most of the time, I have tended to like more expensive speakers better than less expensive ones, it is not a hard and fast rule.  And anyway, it is your preferences that matter in this, not mine.


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post #9 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 03:53 PM
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If you are only looking at other satellite speaker systems for "upgrading" don't bother. You like the sound of the Sony's so keep them.

If you can upgrade your front speakers to larger speakers like the RTi4's mentions with a CSi3 center that isn't a bad upgrade.

Unfortunately you can only set one crossover for your speakers with the Yamaha RX-575.

This means that even with larger speakers in front they will most likely still require a crossover for 80hz, where as your Sony speakers if you used them as surrounds need a crossover of 120hz due to their smaller size. That means if you use a 80hz crossover and the front speakers as 'small' to activate receiver to cross the lower frequencies to the subwoofers you might be missing some of the audio from the surrounds,

So unfortunately it would be best if your kept similar sized speakers all around most people will say.

HOWEVER I previously had a similar issue when I had just my Polk RTi4's and CSi3 upfront with my Polk RM6750 speakers as surrounds. I choose to run an 80hz crossover and I never felt like I was missing enough sound from the surrounds to make any real difference
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 05:40 PM
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Check these out, they are the AJ Pioneers with upgraded tweeters and crossovers. They are sold out right now, but should sound great for the money.
http://philharmonicaudio.com/folio-me/html/Phil%20Pages/AALS.html
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post #11 of 14 Old 01-09-2014, 09:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gmash View Post

Check these out, they are the AJ Pioneers with upgraded tweeters and crossovers. They are sold out right now, but should sound great for the money.
http://philharmonicaudio.com/folio-me/html/Phil%20Pages/AALS.html

Well, technically - he's built one pair which zieglj01 liked a lot. Dennis still has backorders for about 40 of them which he hasn't started as PE doesn't have the replacement tweeters in stock yet. But if you're willing to wait until sometime in Feb......
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post #12 of 14 Old 01-12-2014, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyrob425 View Post

If you are only looking at other satellite speaker systems for "upgrading" don't bother. You like the sound of the Sony's so keep them.

If you can upgrade your front speakers to larger speakers like the RTi4's mentions with a CSi3 center that isn't a bad upgrade.

Unfortunately you can only set one crossover for your speakers with the Yamaha RX-575.

This means that even with larger speakers in front they will most likely still require a crossover for 80hz, where as your Sony speakers if you used them as surrounds need a crossover of 120hz due to their smaller size. That means if you use a 80hz crossover and the front speakers as 'small' to activate receiver to cross the lower frequencies to the subwoofers you might be missing some of the audio from the surrounds,

So unfortunately it would be best if your kept similar sized speakers all around most people will say.

HOWEVER I previously had a similar issue when I had just my Polk RTi4's and CSi3 upfront with my Polk RM6750 speakers as surrounds. I choose to run an 80hz crossover and I never felt like I was missing enough sound from the surrounds to make any real difference

 

Thanks for the response! Crossover is a term I am unfamiliar with and I'm glad you brought it up. Would I lose a noticeable amount of audio from the surrounds, if I upgrade the front three speakers and keep the cheap Sony surrounds? i.e. would the improvement in sound from the front outweigh the drawbacks of losing the surround audio?

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post #13 of 14 Old 01-12-2014, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by charmerci View Post


Well, technically - he's built one pair which zieglj01 liked a lot. Dennis still has backorders for about 40 of them which he hasn't started as PE doesn't have the replacement tweeters in stock yet. But if you're willing to wait until sometime in Feb......

 

Sounds like an amazing deal, and I am in no hurry. Where could I hear something like this?

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post #14 of 14 Old 01-12-2014, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Alan Bernard View Post

Sounds like an amazing deal, and I am in no hurry. Where could I hear something like this?
No way to really hear them - however, they are sold out till around Feb 1 > Dennis does
good work, they are not a wimp - you can always Email Philharmonic Audio

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