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Old 06-19-2014, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Orb replacement suggestions

I'm looking to replace my living room speaker setup. I bought a seven channel setup from Orb Audio based mainly on the WAF aspects and positive reviews. The Orbs overall sound great IMO, but I don't think they move enough air to produce "room filling" sound in my acoustically huge room. I have an open concept floor plan where the living room, kitchen, and dining area are shared with minimal walls. Listening location is about 15' from the orb front soundstage, with no rear wall until you hit the cabinets in the kitchen approx 45' away. 11' ceilings, mixture of carpet and tile flooring.

I'm running two orbs each for the left and right fronts and I've combined 4 of them to make a center channel. Use one orb each for the surrounds in 5.1ch since I went to the 4 for the center. Running a SVS SB12-Plus sub crossed over high at 150hz that I really, really like. Tight punch at <20% gain. Onkyo 806, 130W/ch. eq is set by Audyssey.

In fact it's the authority of the sub that has made me yearn for more with the orbs. I think my space is just too acoustically large for the orbs narrow imaging. I'm forced to crank them up into the -10db range to get what I would call immersive sound during movies (99% of my listening), but that feels like it's straining them as they start to distort at high volume. Even then, I'm constantly aware that the sound is coming from the front soundstage and it "feels" like the audio is coming from a small enclosure, if that makes sense. My front sound stage is what I would call anemic, so much so that I almost never listen to tracks in Dolby digital, favoring all channel stereo instead to get at least some reinforcement.

I had a friend bring over his Paradigm Cinema CT left/center/right thinking their higher sensitivity and multiple drivers would do the trick, but had almost the same feeling when listening to them. The highs were clearer, likely because of the dedicated tweeters, but I was still very, very aware that most all do the audio was coming from the front stage, particularly the center channel, and we had to crank it way up to get any immersive sound.

What I'm looking for is a front sound stage that produces "in your face" audio without having to crank up to reference level volumes. I find it very uncomfortable to listen to high SPL for any lengthy duration.

I'm hoping some decent towers will give me the room filling sound I'm looking for and that I'm not just screwed with the acoustics of my space. I've been looking at the Klipsch RF-52, though I was also recommended the JBL Studio L series and told they would be less directional.

My question is, what aspects of a speaker, equip, or room setup really drive the ability to fill a large room with clear sound without having to just crank it up to ear piercing volume? And what towers are out there that really do that? If i am forced to run them loud, should I be leaning towards biamping them, upgrading to a dedicated LCR amp, etc...

Sorry for the novel, trying to give people enough data to form a response.

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Old 06-19-2014, 02:47 PM
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If you are 15' away from the front speakers, how far apart are the front speakers away from each other?

You should have the front speakers apart as the same distance that you are sitting from them.

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Old 06-20-2014, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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If you are 15' away from the front speakers, how far apart are the front speakers away from each other?

You should have the front speakers apart as the same distance that you are sitting from them.
That's a good point. I have the left, center, and right speakers all on top of my console,which puts the left/right only about 5.5' apart. With the center they are only a couple feet apart each. This is a limitation of my room design as I have a concrete fireplace just to the left of the console jetting out at an angle, so even if I did go with towers I would likely have to keep them hugging the sides of the console, meaning the left/rights would still only be 6-7' apart.
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Old 06-20-2014, 12:38 PM
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It sounds as though everything in that setup is far too small for the space you have; the speakers, their distance from each other, the sub (yes, the SB-1000 too). Realistically speaking, for a big sound in a big space you need big components. Tower speakers and a pair of good sized ported subs might be the only way for you to get the 'in your face' experience you're seeking. The RF-52's could even be too small - you may need to look more along the lines of the RF-82 instead.

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Old 06-20-2014, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bigredaggie11 View Post
That's a good point. I have the left, center, and right speakers all on top of my console,which puts the left/right only about 5.5' apart.

You have two options. Either bring the listening position in to 5.5' away from the speakers, or re orientate the room to a "longwall" setup so you can get the speakers further apart and form an equilateral triangle with the listening position.
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Old 06-23-2014, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Triangle

I just tried and spread the left/right out some and did notice an improvement in overall sound. The fronts seemed less narrow/directional. Even with them spread I still think I need something louder/more sensitive as the sound still wasn't room filling until I cranked it way up.

Attached is a pic of the room layout. I really can't change the layout of the room much, I'm pretty much stuck with it as is because of the construction. Left wall is a wall of windows, right side has tile separating a walkway and an open dining area to the right. Diagonal fireplace robs a lot of room to separate the fronts.

I still think I need some decent towers flanking the console. I can spread them out some, but only to a point I think. Knowing the physical constraints, are there certain speaker designs that might work better for my application? Ie Klipsch tractix horn directionality vs something like the JBL L880 solution with two tweeters set up for wider dispersion? For midrange would several 5.25/6.25" drivers work better than a couple 8", or a full compliment? Etc
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Old 06-23-2014, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by bigredaggie11 View Post
I still think I need some decent towers flanking the console. I can spread them out some, but only to a point I think. Knowing the physical constraints, are there certain speaker designs that might work better for my application? Ie Klipsch tractix horn directionality vs something like the Polk solution with two tweeters set up for wider dispersion? For midrange would several 5.25/6.25" drivers work better than a couple 8", or a full compliment? Etc
Horn tweeters often have higher sensitivity, which in turn allows them to play louder with less volume from the AVR. The horn makes them more directional as well, but properly designed that's actually a benefit for most situations because it minimizes the deleterious effects of reflected sound.

Note that if you buy new towers you'll also need to match them with the equivalent center. The front 3 speakers are the most critical and if they don't have the same 'voice' you'll end up with an uneven sound field. Don't use the Klipsch towers - or anything else new for that matter - with the Orb center. More than likely you'd end up regretting that.

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Old 06-23-2014, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Horn tweeters often have higher sensitivity, which in turn allows them to play louder with less volume from the AVR. The horn makes them more directional as well, but properly designed that's actually a benefit for most situations because it minimizes the deleterious effects of reflected sound.

Note that if you buy new towers you'll also need to match them with the equivalent center. The front 3 speakers are the most critical and if they don't have the same 'voice' you'll end up with an uneven sound field. Don't use the Klipsch towers - or anything else new for that matter - with the Orb center. More than likely you'd end up regretting that.
Yes I would definitely plan on buying a matching center. That's a good point on properly aiming a very directional horn at my listening position - aside from reducing standing waves it might also help me compensate for what I feel is a very large acoustical space. I guess I really need to just get some towers in there and try them out.

I also think I need to play with my eq settings a bit. I have it set to whatever Audyssy measured last time, but I'm also using loudness plus, which I read could step on each other.
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Old 06-23-2014, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
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It sounds as though everything in that setup is far too small for the space you have; the speakers, their distance from each other, the sub (yes, the SB-1000 too). Realistically speaking, for a big sound in a big space you need big components. Tower speakers and a pair of good sized ported subs might be the only way for you to get the 'in your face' experience you're seeking. The RF-52's could even be too small - you may need to look more along the lines of the RF-82 instead.
I think you are most likely right. I went with the orbs mainly for appearance reasons, and do think they would do great in a smaller space, but yea I think it's time to beef things up.

My question on towers, besides low end bass performance, is there any reason to go with larger drivers like the 8" vs something like a 5.25 or 6.25" driver? Seems like companies make towers all over the board with a full complement of different sizes, all claiming to cover the freq spectrum. Does a larger driver make it easier to cover mid range frequencies in a larger room simply because of the amount of air it can move in comparison to a smaller driver having to work harder to have the same effect. Not sure I'm voicing the question in my head, but basically would the rf82s perform better than the rf52s in my space due to their low freq coverage alone, or would the larger drivers offer benefits across the board in a larger room?
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:07 PM
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Yes, the 82's would perform better in your room than the 52's would, in large part due to the midrange size.

The comment you made about wanting to have the experience be 'in your face' infers you're looking for strong output (volume essentially), and in order to achieve that you need larger and/or multiple speaker drivers. But volume isn't the only consideration, there's also dynamic range. A lot of music and movie soundtracks today have huge dynamic swings, which means you need to have sufficient headroom -- excess capacity basically -- in order for the speakers to handle those broad swings. If you listen at an elevated volume level that extra capability is even more critical; if you don't have it the speakers will either distort or compress, and both of those problems will cut into your enjoyment rather significantly.

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Old 06-23-2014, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Not that it matters much, but I have the SVS SB12-Plus subwoofer, not the newer sb-1000.
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Old 06-23-2014, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, the 82's would perform better in your room than the 52's would, in large part due to the midrange size.

The comment you made about wanting to have the experience be 'in your face' infers you're looking for strong output (volume essentially), and in order to achieve that you need larger and/or multiple speaker drivers. But volume isn't the only consideration, there's also dynamic range. A lot of music and movie soundtracks today have huge dynamic swings, which means you need to have sufficient headroom -- excess capacity basically -- in order for the speakers to handle those broad swings. If you listen at an elevated volume level that extra capability is even more critical; if you don't have it the speakers will either distort or compress, and both of those problems will cut into your enjoyment rather significantly.
Perhaps "in my face sound" was the wrong wording, I'm not really looking to drive them at high volume levels. In fact I'm really looking for just the opposite. Ideally I'd like to get set up with something that brings the sound to me, makes me feel immersed, without necessarily having to crank it up real high. The orbs and paradigms I've been able to test so far sounded distant and flat, even when listening at uncomfortable levels. My ears seem to be sensitive to SPL, as I really don't like listening at high levels for very long, nor do I like headphones.

I agree completely on the huge dynamic range in most of the audio I listen to (movies). It drives me nuts, very likely due to the reasons you cited, that I don't have enough headroom with my small drivers to handle the swings. Dialog is so quiet I can't discern it without cranking the levels up, then ten seconds later boom and crashing music comes on at blaring levels. This was especially irritating when my son was an infant and I needed it quiet, enough so that I went out and bought a wireless gaming headset. I played around with the night mode/loudness plus settings on my onkyo to try and flatten it out some, but it didn't seem to matter much.
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:31 AM
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If it was me, I would place one Orb on top of the fireplace mantel where the left pot plant is and wall mount the other Orb above the light switch on the wall on the right of that pic. Then I would get a 2nd SVS SB12-Plus and make sure the room's frequency response was nice and smooth and even all the way up to the crossover (150hz ?) to the Orbs.

Getting the bass sorted and the wider speaker placement should give you a more room filling sound.

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Old 06-24-2014, 02:00 AM
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Perhaps "in my face sound" was the wrong wording, I'm not really looking to drive them at high volume levels. In fact I'm really looking for just the opposite. Ideally I'd like to get set up with something that brings the sound to me, makes me feel immersed, without necessarily having to crank it up real high. The orbs and paradigms I've been able to test so far sounded distant and flat, even when listening at uncomfortable levels. My ears seem to be sensitive to SPL, as I really don't like listening at high levels for very long, nor do I like headphones.

I agree completely on the huge dynamic range in most of the audio I listen to (movies). It drives me nuts, very likely due to the reasons you cited, that I don't have enough headroom with my small drivers to handle the swings. Dialog is so quiet I can't discern it without cranking the levels up, then ten seconds later boom and crashing music comes on at blaring levels. This was especially irritating when my son was an infant and I needed it quiet, enough so that I went out and bought a wireless gaming headset. I played around with the night mode/loudness plus settings on my onkyo to try and flatten it out some, but it didn't seem to matter much.
Humour me for a bit Bigred. Pull all the Orbs forward as close as possible to the leading edge of the entertainment unit. The way you have them now, the top of the unit will interfering with (at least) the mids and upper bass frequencies as they propogate into the room, colouring the sound and probably affecting intelligibility. The glass topped coffee table between you and the speakers won't be doing you any favours either.

Give it a go and let us know if there's any improvement or not.
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Humour me for a bit Bigred. Pull all the Orbs forward as close as possible to the leading edge of the entertainment unit. The way you have them now, the top of the unit will interfering with (at least) the mids and upper bass frequencies as they propogate into the room, colouring the sound and probably affecting intelligibility. The glass topped coffee table between you and the speakers won't be doing you any favours either.

Give it a go and let us know if there's any improvement or not.
Yes moving them forward does help a bit, if I'm really going to watch something I want to get into I typically will pull them to the front lip. That console is a good 18" deep if not larger, so I've always thought it was bad placement. Pulling them forward and separating the left and right does help, though admittedly doesn't get me where I want too be. I've ultimately moved them back afterwards each time because it looks like Hell in that configuration as the side profile of the cabinet and components is the very first thing you see when you walk in the house. Good eye though. I've always thought having towers flank the sides of the console flush with the front would help this issue with both aesthetics and performance. I'd likely still have the same issue with a new center, though I have considered doing an in wall on top of the plasma instead. Something like the Klipsh R5502, though cutting a 16" hole in my living room wall will take some convincing.
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Old 06-24-2014, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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If it was me, I would place one Orb on top of the fireplace mantel where the left pot plant is and wall mount the other Orb above the light switch on the wall on the right of that pic. Then I would get a 2nd SVS SB12-Plus and make sure the room's frequency response was nice and smooth and even all the way up to the crossover (150hz ?) to the Orbs.

Getting the bass sorted and the wider speaker placement should give you a more room filling sound.
The top of mantel location I could do, the light switch one on the right has proven too difficult. That's tile separating the carpeted area and the right wall, and it's engineered flooring in the ceiling for the upper floor with no access. Going straight up the wall behind the plasma I ran into some serious cross bracing/obstructions for the staircase behind the wall. This was my plan for all speaker locations initially, ceiling mounted out of sight with proper separation. I was even going to go so far as to pull back the carpet and plywood flooring upstairs to get access, but when I couldn't snake speaker wiring up that vertical wall it pretty much crushed those plans. As a result I'm only running 5.1 ch instead of 7.1 with the rear channel wiring routed under the carpet around the fireplace then splitting out and running under the sectional for my right rear. Not ideal.

Perhaps I need to borrow a second sub from a friend to see what I'm missing with my single non ported application. To be, my little svs seems to produce tight bass that will rock the China cabinet at very low gain levels, but then again perhaps ignorance is bliss, maybe I just don't know what I'm missing.

Admittedly the svs has a ton of room equalization features on the back panel that I never got around to tweaking.
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Old 06-28-2014, 09:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Polk

How about the Polk RTi Series for my application?

I know I quoted Klipsch and JBL originally but I keep coming back to the Polk RTI A7 towers and CSi A6 center as a good replacement. I can't go extremely wide with the towers because of the location of my fireplace, so I need something appox 8-9" or less in width. I also like the cherry veneer on the RTi series as I think it would blend well with my console and other furniture in the house. (Trying to make wife acceptance factor less of a driver in this buy, but still...)
The driver compliment in the RTi seems to follow the suggestions in this thread and they seem to have good reviews overall. I'd plan to keep my SVS sub in the setup and likely keep the Orbs for the rear left and right for the time being, though they probably eventually be swapped out as well.

My main concern is that the Polks seem to be power hungry from what I've been reading. They are not as efficient as the Klipsch or JBL units and I'm wondering if I will he happy with them without having to drop another 800 bucks on a LCR amp like the XPA-3. Still, even when reading about the RF-82 and L890 units a lot of people seem to be driving with external amps anyway. I think the easy answer is that any tower with larger drivers and a higher number of them would benefit from a dedicated strong amp, and maybe that's where I really need to go before too long, but I'd like to try and get the most out of my Onkyo 806 initially.

Since I can't go 7.1 in my space, I could bi-wire the towers with my spare RSR and RSL channels, but I'm not sure that would really net much improvement.

I haven't been able to demo any of these speakers "properly" yet, my local Frys had the RF-82 and RTi and I got to play with them listening back to back with the same media, but honestly their setup sucked and I thought they both should sound a lot better, so I didn't think it was a fair comparison. I got a demo at Magnolia of some B&W CM9s and ML electrostatics that really gave me what I was looking for in terms of volume/clarity/3D immersion. That room was setup a lot better than the one at Frys though (where the towers were 3' apart), so I have to think it wasn't just the 1500 dollar each towers that were getting it done.
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Old 06-29-2014, 08:58 AM
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A very close friend of mine has the A7's, so I've heard those myself. To me they're darn nice speakers. The only part I don't like is they're deep, much more so than most other speakers. From the side they look really goofy. Sound good though.

What makes you think the Polks are difficult to drive? At 8ohm nominal impedance, and 89dB sensitivity, the A7's are actually easy on an amplifier. The 90+ you're seeing on the Klipsch speakers are the exception to the rule.

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Old 06-30-2014, 11:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Phase

Not to turn this into too much of a science project but I like understanding the mechanics of what's happening.

From this thread I've taken recommendations to purchase towers with sizeable drivers in an effort to move quite a bit of air, especially in the lower freqs, to help with my large space and considering that my main use will be home theater and likely more bass heavy.

With that said I started looking at 3 way towers thinking that I could assist my sub with a little more bottom end. In doing so I realized I was dropping down to one midrange driver in most offerings in exchange for dual 6-8" woofers, in my mind perhaps losing some midrange clarity in exchange for some extra bass.

That seemed reasonable for my use case, but I found the old post below on another site and found it interesting. Perhaps I don't have enough sub and or tower planned in this setup to worry about phase delay in my space, and perhaps this quote is way down in the weeds in perfecting a musical two ch setup whereas mine will be primarily HT, but still, it confuses me on selecting the right compliment of drivers and driver size in the towers for my application.

"You said you are considering a 2.1 system so I presume you do intend to add a sub to the setup. If that is the case, you may as well want to lean towards a leaner (read tight but quantitatively lower amount of bass) but more revealing pair of speakers like the Klipsch RF-82 or KEF iQ9

If your fronts move a lot of air (like the Polk Rti) and if you have a sub coupled wit the setup then you'll have a hard time setting up the sub, and unless the room is accoustically treated, you will have major issues handling the bass phase delays.

I am saying this from 1st hand experience since my media room has a pair of Phase Tech V12 Floor standers (and they generate a good amount of tight bass) coupled witha Polk DSW Pro 500 and I need to keep the sub off all the time.. unless I am watching a DD/DTS encoded movie"
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Old 07-04-2014, 11:43 PM - Thread Starter
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floorplan/pics

If anybody is interested in the room layout/size here is a top down view (pdf), as well as some pics from several years ago. Note the TV is now a Samsung PN64D7000 wall mounted and the windows have moderate curtains on them. Still a lot of hard surfaces almost everywhere you look and over 7000 cu/ft of air to pressurize.

.pdf was too large to upload here (62KB...?) so i dropped it at this link:

http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/show...=1#post2063538
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:17 AM
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Perhaps worth considering - the Ascend 340's output a lot of sound easily and will fit your space (less than 8" wide).
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Perhaps worth considering - the Ascend 340's output a lot of sound easily and will fit your space (less than 8" wide).
I hadn't seen those before, thanks. I'm trying to make time to get over to a star power dealer to test drive a few different brands.
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