It's been a couple of months since making my purchases, and I thought it might be of interest to post a follow up on the audio part of my system. To save you the pain of digging thru this long thread, here's my equipment list:
- ACI Panoramas as mains on Atlantis Pro stands mass loaded with 50 lbs of lead shot each
- ACI Essence center channel on a Sound Anchors center channel stand
- ACI Sapphires as surrounds on Atlantis Pro stands mass loaded with 10 lbs of sand each
- Velodyne FSR-12 subwoofer
- Pioneer Elite DV59AVi DVD player
- B&K AVR507 receiver
- DH Labs T-14 speaker cable to the front 3, MIT5 to the Sapphires, cheapo Monster cable to sub
- DH Labs BL-1 interconnects for SACD/DVD-Audio
- DH Labs D-75 digital coax cable
The big equipment tweaking is done, though minor tweaks continue. Mostly what I do these days is use the system and enjoy it.
Here are the questions I would like to have answered if I was shopping for HT products.
Q: Overall, how satisified are you with your system today?
A: Very satisified. On a 100 point scale, probably in the mid 80s.
Q: If you had it to do over, would you buy the same speakers again?
A: On the same budget, probably. ACI is one of the best values on the market today. Comparisons showed ACI speakers are about half the price of comparable products at the b&m's here in Ohio. I might be inclined to test drive more of the online vendors before making a choice. That said, I have no regrets.
Q: If you had it to do over, would you buy the same DVD player again?
A: Given the same budget, maybe. This unit is a good balance between quality and cost today. Given how rapidly this segment of the HT market changes, this decision could be different in a few months.
Q: If you had it to do over, would you buy the same receiver again?
A: Given the same budget, probably. With a larger budget, it would be tempting to move to separates. That said, it's a very flexible receiver that does more things than most people will ever use, and it sounds great. Perhaps the biggest omission is DVI support, but that may be provided in a subsequent upgrade.
Q: How does 2-channel sound now?
A: In a word, great. The Panoramas have continued to evolve in small ways, mostly in the area of smoothness. Some CDs that sounded harsh after the initial break-in are quite listenable now. Well recorded disks are a stunning. These speakers look like they will give long term satisfaction.
Q: How does HT via DVD sound now?
A: It depends on the quality of the disk, ranging from good to outstanding. With a top notch sound track, it sounds better than any of the local movie theaters.
Q: How does HD TV sound now?
A: It depends on the quality of the broadcast. Overall, very good.
Q: How does the Velodyne sub integrate with the ACIs?
A: Seamlessly. It's clean and musical.
Q: How transparent are the ACI speaker grills?
A: They block a surprising amount of content. For 2-channel listening, the L/R grills come off. For HT, the L/C/R grills come off. The grills stay in place on the surrounds.
Q: What were the biggest surprises in the upgrade?
A: (1) Speaker damage in shipping. ACI made it right, but I still grumble about UPS.
(2) How easy it was to sell old equipment on Audiogon.
(3) How the entire upgrade process seemed to take on a life of its own.
(4) How long it took to acquire the right components. It was over 8 months of investigation.
(5) How amazingly patient and supportive my wife was through the entire process.
(6) How much my wife likes and uses the new system.
(7) How the speakers have continued to evolve since the 200 hour mark.
Q: How do you feel about your upgrades given the total cost of your system?
A: Ultimately, this depends on what's important to you. Many acquisitions can't be evaluated solely on financial terms (cars come to mind). As a hobby and source of family entertainment, it can represent great bang for the buck. When I have doubts (there are days), playing some music or watching a good DVD reminds me why this was worth the time, money and effort.
Bottom line: I'm a happy camper.