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post #1 of 15 Old 04-16-2015, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
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How to make a choice when you can't see things in person?

My theater build is just driving me nuts recently. We are in the process of finishing our basement and we are installing a dedicated theater space.

The short explanation of our problem is that we do not have local options to hear speakers and physically touch the equipment prior to making a purchase. Nice sized town with a Best Buy and 3 local home theater "installation companies." Of these, none actually have in-wall speakers available to listen to or the receiver available to interact with prior to purchase. That this is even happening just makes me question how any of these places get business.

So what do you do? Buy something based off what the salesman suggests? How about the internet? Every time I read something here or somewhere else I'm ready to change my mind again and buy that one.

Here is what we have decided for sure on.
Projector: Epson 5030UB
Screen: Visual Apex 110"

Here is what we are not so sure on:
Receiver:
Marantz SR 5009
- But then you guys turned me on to accessories4less.com and they have it cheaper there AND they have the SR 6009 for what I was ready to pay earlier?
Sony STR-DN1050
Onkyo? - I had one of these 10 years ago and it was just fine.

Speakers: I need in wall. Unwilling to budge on this.
Best Buy Can order their typical stuff for me, but I can not hear it prior to purchase.
All 3 of our local "home theater" companies push
Episode ES-500 for fronts and ES-300 for in-ceiling
Paradigm AMS-LCR for fronts, AMS-LCR-100R for in-ceiling.

What is crazy is that all three of these places tell me that people buy what they suggest based on their price point and "everyone is happy in the end."

I had a theater system with infinity speakers 10 years ago and was happy with them.
A decade ago I used to work at a big box company and liked the polk as well.

Ok, so here I am just ready to spend too much money on something that I might not be happy with.

Stepping away from the ledge and awaiting any input you can give.

Below is the plans for the space.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 15 Old 04-16-2015, 09:46 PM
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what is your max budget for speakers, sub and receiver?

__________________________________________
Who AM I

Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7, EOS 150SP
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
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post #3 of 15 Old 04-16-2015, 10:56 PM
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Over the many years I've been in this hobby I've come to learn one thing in general: when you get a consensus about a speaker that most people who've heard them like what they hear most people will agree - those are some good speakers. Same is true with bad speakers - if few like them there is better than an even chance you won't either. For a truly bad speaker I think of White Van speakers. I've had offers from guys selling out of the trunk of a car - white vans (most common) - and through want ads and the line is always the same - vendor sent them too many speakers for a job and they just need to get rid of them and yeah these are the best speakers for $500 you'll ever hear. Yeah right! Price drops fast as you walk away - the guy hoping that $200 drop is going to lure you into buying.

Since my location in the high desert of Washington State isn't exactly a hotbed of audio nirvana I have to trust other's opinions. I've swapped out my main speakers recently and I'm on my third set of towers in the past 15 years. With the first pair was I able to audition them in person. Those were Infinity Interlude IL40s. Nice sounding speaker that needed the help from a sub to make them sing. Great tweeter in the Interlude line. I had them for 9 years. On a leap of faith that what others were hearing I'd probably like I bought a pair of Emotiva ERT 8.3's - they were a step up from the IL40s - if only a little. They didn't require a sub to make them sound whole. I'm on my third pair of towers and have had them a couple of weeks now - I bought them after reading many many good reviews. In fact no reviewer I read didn't like them. They are a definite step up from the ERT's - Salk SongTowers. No sub needed and they sound fantastic IMO. Your opinion may vary but I can say that most people would like these speakers. Not all - but most.

I guess what I'm saying (in a long-winded way) is you need to trust your fellow man when there are enough of them saying the same thing. I did and got speakers twice with that leap of faith that were everything that they said they were. When you don't have the opportunity to audition its what you do - or you go without. Some times you just gotta roll the dice and hope for the best.

I remember the old Renault ads that were run on American TV back in the late 50's early 60's - 60 million French men can't be wrong... Well - they were when it came to the Renault Dauphine. Its on the list of 50 all time worst cars in the world.

When all else fails - RTFM!

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post #4 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 05:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post
what is your max budget for speakers, sub and receiver?
Thanks for the reply.

Really I'd like to stay around or less than $3000 for the speakers including sub.

Receiver I was thinking $900 or less.

I'm leaning towards the Paradigm AMS setup as a couple years ago I did hear the in ceiling speakers and remember being happy with them. I do like their floor standing that I have heard. But again, that is not an option for us this time.

In another threat someone mentioned subs by Reaction Audio and they have a 15 inch sub (Gamma 15) that sounds interesting.
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post #5 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 05:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I really think that this is what I needed to hear. So many people have said the same things about a lot of the equipment that I am looking at and that is reassuring.

I've been taking pictures of what we have been doing so far and I am planning on doing a dedicated build thread when I am done.

Thanks again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 View Post
Over the many years I've been in this hobby I've come to learn one thing in general: when you get a consensus about a speaker that most people who've heard them like what they hear most people will agree - those are some good speakers. Same is true with bad speakers - if few like them there is better than an even chance you won't either. For a truly bad speaker I think of White Van speakers. I've had offers from guys selling out of the trunk of a car - white vans (most common) - and through want ads and the line is always the same - vendor sent them too many speakers for a job and they just need to get rid of them and yeah these are the best speakers for $500 you'll ever hear. Yeah right! Price drops fast as you walk away - the guy hoping that $200 drop is going to lure you into buying.

Since my location in the high desert of Washington State isn't exactly a hotbed of audio nirvana I have to trust other's opinions. I've swapped out my main speakers recently and I'm on my third set of towers in the past 15 years. With the first pair was I able to audition them in person. Those were Infinity Interlude IL40s. Nice sounding speaker that needed the help from a sub to make them sing. Great tweeter in the Interlude line. I had them for 9 years. On a leap of faith that what others were hearing I'd probably like I bought a pair of Emotiva ERT 8.3's - they were a step up from the IL40s - if only a little. They didn't require a sub to make them sound whole. I'm on my third pair of towers and have had them a couple of weeks now - I bought them after reading many many good reviews. In fact no reviewer I read didn't like them. They are a definite step up from the ERT's - Salk SongTowers. No sub needed and they sound fantastic IMO. Your opinion may vary but I can say that most people would like these speakers. Not all - but most.

I guess what I'm saying (in a long-winded way) is you need to trust your fellow man when there are enough of them saying the same thing. I did and got speakers twice with that leap of faith that were everything that they said they were. When you don't have the opportunity to audition its what you do - or you go without. Some times you just gotta roll the dice and hope for the best.

I remember the old Renault ads that were run on American TV back in the late 50's early 60's - 60 million French men can't be wrong... Well - they were when it came to the Renault Dauphine. Its on the list of 50 all time worst cars in the world.
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post #6 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 06:09 AM
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I've bought quite a few things blind, due to lack of audio/video shops, distance to the seller, lack of transport etc. Any bad purchases are offset by savings involved. For one item alone the saving for that single item would pay three high end subwoofers. I've bought speakers, TV's subwoofers, AV pre, BD/DVD players, DAC, pre-amps, and power amplifiers blind, new and second hand (mostly second hand)

I'd say bad experience with a blind purchase was with ATI amplifier- yet that was brand new.. Also a standmount pair of speakers that didn't match well with certain brand of amplifier, but I re-used those speakers on another amplifier.

Pivetta Opera
Bose Jewel speakers.
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post #7 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 07:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndecisivePurchaser View Post
So what do you do? Buy something based off what the salesman suggests? How about the internet? Every time I read something here or somewhere else I'm ready to change my mind again and buy that one
Been there. I was lurching from speaker to speaker based upon subjective reviews. Finally decided to put an end to it. But first let me say that I think above a certain level the arguments over speaker differences is over - I won't say insignificant differences - but the differences aren't life-changing. I could have lived with any of the speakers I bought.

Even though I can afford better, I've got a cheap mentality, so I kept switching between sub-$800 bookshelves. They were all good in their own right, but 25 years ago I came from a budget-audiophile background, so I've heard high-end speakers owned by non-budget audiophile friends before, as well as at showrooms, and I knew none of these matched that level, so I decided to get off the upgrade-itis merry-go-round and buy a set for keeps. I figured if I hadn't already, I was well on my way to spending more money upgrading than if I'd have just bought a really good setup to begin with.

So my first piece of advice is, don't cheap out. It could wind up costing you more.

Doesn't seem like you have the time to do what I did. I voraciously read technical and subjective information for a couple of years to get to the point I'm at now, such as the Harman Kardon subwoofer white paper. I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure I can look at graphs and along with knowing whose ear to follow, get close to the sound I like. That last one is very important. It doesn't take long for me to weed out those I don't want follow from those I do. I've been in blind tests before, so I weed out those whose beliefs are different from mine. I weed out the ones who are clearly biased to one brand, and the ones who favor speakers I've heard and don't have the same impression of. In the end it gets you down to a handful of people.

I would never pay attention to a salesman. And I find subjective biases to be too prevalent to rely on that method completely. I use subjectivity to guide me to speakers I might consider. I have only bought one set of speakers "recommended" here and I have them for sale. They were good, but no better than what I had. That isn't an indictment of this site's recommendations. It's just a sign of the idea that there isn't a ton of difference between most speakers within a price range. The real differences I hear are between design approaches - omnipolar vs. monopole, etc.

So my second point is, do some reading here, figure out who knows what they're talking about, take that information and go to other places to verify it.

As an example, I came to the decision of my current speakers from a circuitous route. I like small unobtrusive bookshelf speakers, but I didn't start my search there. I began with families of speakers. What do I and most people (as shown in tests) prefer - flat frequency response - with possibly a house curve. What speaker families tend to be flat - pro audio monitors, Revel, Paradigm, etc. I already own JBL LSR2325 monitors and like them, but they aren't going in a "good-looking" room. I don't need SPL monsters because I don't listen at those volumes. I looked at several brands, but eventually it came down to Revel and Paradigm. I read everything here and on HTS, Bluray and Audiogon about both. I read about the characteristics of beryllium tweeters. I read the tests (with measurements) on SoundStage. And as a topper, I read a post here by Gooddoc, who doesn't know me from Adam. I just happen to follow the GTG threads he participates in. He owns speakers that are considered near the pinnacle, yet I ran into a post from 2010-11? where he was talking about the speakers he owned at the time. The same ones I was researching - Paradigm Signature S1 - and how he really liked them. All this combined information made me pull the trigger and I couldn't be happier. In fact, I bought a second pair.

So my third piece of advice is, carefully gather your information, make a decision, pull the trigger, don't look back.

BTW, what do I have as in-walls? Phase Technology. Why? I own Phase Technology towers and bookshelves in another room and really like their price/performance. From the specs and my experience I figured they'd be good and they are.
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post #8 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 07:51 AM
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I live in rural nm. My entire system was purchased blind. Am I satisfied with it all? Hell yes! Just read reviews here. Youll find something great. Many manufacturers will let you try them at home for free if u buy direct. Dont like em? Send em back at their cost.
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post #9 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 08:18 AM
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When you are creating a home theater and looking for a projector , you are not going to look for an image that is dull or dark and that doesn't pop off the screen. You are going for a beautiful image that will delight you and those who join you. it is the same for the sound, go for speakers that will blow you away rather than wishing they could do more. As you are building your space, do some research on soffit mounting your speakers and buying what is often called an AT screen or building a screen wall instead. If you build a screen wall you can get any speakers you want. For instance, check out the Yorkville"s for sale on this site. Those 3 speakers at $2000 behind a screen wall will blow you away without any compromise for years to come. Also do some reading here on speakers from Reaction Audio and Powersound or some used JTR 228's that come up for sale on this site. Check out the thread here "Whats your system configuration" for great pics on what others have done in their home theaters and find ideas for design and equipment that catch your eye. If you want a great set of speakers under 3 grand look at 3 Klipsch Forte 2's or Klipsch Chorus 2's on the used market, behind a screen wall. These are not small in walls, but behind a screen wall it won't matter and they also will play with little compromise and will also give you a movie theater sound experience in the home.
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post #10 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndecisivePurchaser View Post
My theater build is just driving me nuts recently. We are in the process of finishing our basement and we are installing a dedicated theater space.

The short explanation of our problem is that we do not have local options to hear speakers and physically touch the equipment prior to making a purchase. Nice sized town with a Best Buy and 3 local home theater "installation companies." Of these, none actually have in-wall speakers available to listen to or the receiver available to interact with prior to purchase. That this is even happening just makes me question how any of these places get business.

So what do you do? Buy something based off what the salesman suggests? How about the internet? Every time I read something here or somewhere else I'm ready to change my mind again and buy that one.

Here is what we have decided for sure on.
Projector: Epson 5030UB
Screen: Visual Apex 110"

Here is what we are not so sure on:
Receiver:
Marantz SR 5009
- But then you guys turned me on to accessories4less.com and they have it cheaper there AND they have the SR 6009 for what I was ready to pay earlier?
Sony STR-DN1050
Onkyo? - I had one of these 10 years ago and it was just fine.

Speakers: I need in wall. Unwilling to budge on this.
Best Buy Can order their typical stuff for me, but I can not hear it prior to purchase.
All 3 of our local "home theater" companies push
Episode ES-500 for fronts and ES-300 for in-ceiling
Paradigm AMS-LCR for fronts, AMS-LCR-100R for in-ceiling.

What is crazy is that all three of these places tell me that people buy what they suggest based on their price point and "everyone is happy in the end."

I had a theater system with infinity speakers 10 years ago and was happy with them.
A decade ago I used to work at a big box company and liked the polk as well.

Ok, so here I am just ready to spend too much money on something that I might not be happy with.

Stepping away from the ledge and awaiting any input you can give.

Below is the plans for the space.

Thanks!

I don't see in your profile where you live. One way is to try and find AVS forum members near you that may have home theater equipment similar to what you want. I've had several forum members over to demo gear in my theater.

Craig Peer, AV Science Sales. Call me on my direct line - 585-671-2972, 8:30am - 4:30pm PST, Monday - Friday
Email me at craig@avscience.com http://shop.avscience.com/
Yes, we sell Home Theater gear right here at AVS !!
JVC, Sony, Epson, DPI, SIM2, SV Sound, Martin Logan, RBH, and many more!
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post #11 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndecisivePurchaser View Post
Thanks for the reply.

In another threat someone mentioned subs by Reaction Audio and they have a 15 inch sub (Gamma 15) that sounds interesting.
Yes - take a look at the Reaction Audio sub

On a side note - over 75% of what I buy is blind - however, you tend to
learn and get a feel of things from experience.

Paradigm does make some nice/decent stuff for the money and should
be really considered.

__________________________________________
Who AM I

Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7, EOS 150SP
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30

Last edited by zieglj01; 04-17-2015 at 10:46 AM.
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post #12 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post
On a side note - over 75% of what I buy is blind - however, you tend to
learn and get a feel of things from experience.
Except for the fact that you could easily return those buying-in-the-blind speakers if you ended up disappointed in them. The O.P. is looking for in-wall speakers, so that poses a problem . Now, if someone can talk the O.P. into getting on-wall instead of in-wall, buying in the blind won’t be a big concern.

Music area: Magnepan 3.6, McIntosh MC2205 & C48, SVS SB13-Ultra, Oppo BDP 95 and assorted equipment.
Movie area: EMP Tek R5Bi, PSA XS30, Denon X2000, Oppo BDP 83.
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post #13 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsrussell View Post
Except for the fact that you could easily return those buying-in-the-blind speakers if you ended up disappointed in them. The O.P. is looking for in-wall speakers, so that poses a problem .
I Know they are inwall speakers - what he does is up to him and since
he liked Infinity and Polk in the pass - he for sure has a good chance of
liking these.

I would for sure consider them over the Episode.

If possible, I would try to build some type of artificial/dummy wall or box
to test them - with a return policy option if he chooses.

All in all, I would lean towards some on-wall speakers.

Also, your favorite review person - likes some inwall Paradigm AMS speakers
that he reviewed.

As the audio world turns - the final choice is up to him.

__________________________________________
Who AM I

Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7, EOS 150SP
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #14 of 15 Old 04-17-2015, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

If possible, I would try to build some type of artificial/dummy wall or box
to test them - with a return policy option if he chooses.
Now that's a great idea, zieg. The O.P. really needs to consider it. Cutting into a wall and then not liking the speaker would be a nightmare.

Music area: Magnepan 3.6, McIntosh MC2205 & C48, SVS SB13-Ultra, Oppo BDP 95 and assorted equipment.
Movie area: EMP Tek R5Bi, PSA XS30, Denon X2000, Oppo BDP 83.
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post #15 of 15 Old 04-18-2015, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

I am feeling a lot better about things now and will go ahead and pull the trigger.

I am going to go with the paradigm in walls and I am going to build a small enclosure prior to putting them in just to make sure we like the sound.

I'm sure everything is going to work out just fine.

Thanks for the advice!
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