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Building a 2.1 System, Please Advise...

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I have a small apartment and need to fill it with sound. I've been scouring these boards and checking out reviews and such, and was hoping to get some opinions on my tentative plan. I want a 2.1 setup for both music listening and movies/video games - I'm not interested in Surround Sound. I have to buy every single component and connector, so please advise.

TV - JVC 42x688 - seems to have less issues than all others at pricepoint; not looking for comment necessarily, just wanted to present total picture of my planned system.

Receiver - Denon dra-37 - chosen entirely based on looks and brand name. Anyone have any experience with this model? The others I was looking at are the Yamaha 397, HK 3485, and Onkyo 8522. Any appreciable difference between these, anyone passionate about one over others?

Speakers - Warfedale Diamond 9.1 - chosen entirely based on Stereophile Review and forum comments. Also looked at Epos ELS-3. I know jack all about speakers and it seems like all the highly recommended speakers on these forums are online retailers only(?) - I'm in NYC, I should know, but do not know, where to go listening to speakers, other than J&R. I want something that will sound good with music, movies and videogames - and I have eclectic music tastes, so something that will work well across genres. The Wafedales are the most expensive I would consider, and if someone has high praise for something cheaper and more readily available I would be very interested.

Subwoofer - Velodyne vx-10. I know nothing about subs, I don't even know if this sub would work right with that receiver - I don't even know if I need a sub. Do I need a sub? Is this one good, other reccomendations?

Cables - ?? Suggestions.


Any advice, confirmation, insults, attention is appreciated - I'm loathe to invest money without someone telling me "It's okay, it's okay, this'll work just fine, just fine." Will it?
post #2 of 18
Questions:

1. How much do you want to spend?

2. Do you definitely want a sub, rather than 2 "full-range" speakers?

3. Sources? CD? DVD? Computer?

Now some specific advice:

Receiver: Not much difference between these, other than features. If money's tight, the Onkyo is the cheapest.

Cables: Do not even think about cables. If you have components that didn't come with interconnects, they can be bought anywhere for $5. Speaker wire runs well under $1 a foot. Don't be an audiophool.

Speakers: This is the single absolute worst way to choose speakers:

Quote:
chosen entirely based on Stereophile Review and forum comments.

Look in the Yellow Pages! There are loads of places that sell audio gear in NYC. Visit a few and listen. Decide what you like. Buy that, not what Stereophile told everyone to buy (which is why everyone touts them in forum comments, so it's not like you're getting a lot of independent opinions here).

Most of your budget should go toward speakers, which is why I can't offer any specific advice on this until you set a (rough) budget.

And don't worry--whatever you do will be OK.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Budget - don't have one; deficit spending. The cheaper the better, but quality is key. Let's say $400 for speakers and $150 for a sub, or ~$600 total. If I can find quality "full-range" speakers (I'm assuming you mean speakers with good built in subs) for under $500 I'd be ecstatic. I don't particularly want a sub, but all that I was reading about bookshelf speakers encouraged paring them with a sub. I don't have a lot of space, I need to mount whatever speakers I get or put them at opposite ends of my TV bench (75" Ikea Lack bookshelf on legs), which must also hold the TV and Receiver - speakers could be mounted above bench, on top of it or in the cubbies, but not on the floor; floor standing speakers would take too much space.

Sources - Wii, PS3, SNES, iPod/Walkman/MacBook Pro (will use same RCA cable no doubt).

The wealth of speaker choices has frightened me; I'm kind of shopped out (I've been building an apartment from scratch - this is the last stretch).
post #4 of 18
OK, so let's pretend you do have a budget for speakers, and it's $500-600, and you want bookshelf speakers, with or without a sub.

I suggest you try to hear some larger bookshelf speakers, to get an idea whether they provide enough bass for you. To take one (good) company as an example, you could buy a pair of Paradigm Atoms ($250/pr) and a PDR-8 sub ($300), or just get a pair of Paradigm Titans ($500/pr). Can't advise on which would be better for you.

Another large bookshelf worth checking out would be the PSB Image 25 ($480/pr). And if you're really totally shopped out and just want to buy something reliable online, take a look at the Axiom M22 ($470/pr).

One good way to find dealers near you, is to go to the manufacturers' Web sites. They all have dealer locators, where you can plug in your zip code or area code.
post #5 of 18
For the receiver, stick with the HK. Along with lots of power, it has high current capability and will be more compatible with a wider variety of loudspeakers. Sound is very good. I've got one and I'm enjoying it more than some high priced separates I've owned.

I would pass on buying a cheap sub and trying to integrate it with the main speakers. Your ears and wallet will thank you and your neighbours will also be pleased.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
OK, no independent subwoofer, I prefer this idea. I will go speaker hunting this weekend and probably try to pick up a receiver with them. Anyone want to suggest speaker brands to pay attention to, or a brand ranking list somewhere? Perhaps more importantly, any brands to avoid?
post #7 of 18
HK advertises its receivers as "high current." That doesn't mean they're any more "high current" than anybody else's. Any of the receivers the OP mentioned are likely to drive any speaker he will encounter in his price range.

That's not to bash HK at all. But if another happens to have a feature he likes, or he can get a deal buying another receiver along with speakers, he should go for it.
post #8 of 18
Hey,

I was pretty much exactly in the same position you are are in about a month ago. I too ended up buying the Denon DRA 37 receiver @ CC online. Currently I have two Bose speakers hooked up to it. These are OLD bookshelf speakers - almost 20 years - but they still sound fantastic. I did buy a subwoofer from Aperion Audio (the cheapest one), and I am quite happy with it. I am not really an audio know it all, but to me this set-up sounds good.

The Denon receiver does a great job as far as I can tell. I am using it to play music streamed to my airport express from iTunes, play video game (ps3 & 360), and watch movies. I don't have cable/watch tv. Like I said, the speakers and receiver are all great for all these types of listening.

Now, I know this might not be something you're interested in, seeing as they are an online only company, but Aperion Audio seem to make some really great speakers. I am actually waiting on a pair of their 532 bookshelf speakers to be delivered. They are discontinuing them and you can get a discount on them if they have them available - together with the sub that should put you at around the $600 range. If you look them up on their website and at reviews online one of the bigger selling points is their customer service. I have spoken with them a number of times and its absolutely top notch. Also they have a 30 day in home trial period so if you don't like the speakers just send them back and you won't pay shipping. If I end up not liking these 532 speakers, I'm just going to stick with my Bose speakers.

Anyways, hope this helps some. When you do finally decide on speakers and/or sub please post what you ended up with. I am curious as to what you paired your receiver with.
post #9 of 18
And my tv is a Samsung LCD LNT4071. Just for reference.
post #10 of 18
To me the only meaningful decision is the speakers. Since I don't have personal experience with many of them I'll just mention that I really like the concept of subwoofer/satellite for 2 channel audio. Most "full range" speakers aren't really full range and, those that are, are expensive and large. You can put a couple of bookshelf speakers together with a good quality sub and get an outstanding sonic presentation if you go through the trouble of iadjusting the sub and integrating everything properly. In fact, I'm amazed people buy anything else. I think the powered subwoofer is the most important advance in high fidelity sound since the CD.

Wharfdale has been around for ages and has a good reputation. I would imagine they would be as good as anything else in their competitive price range. Spend some extra money on a good quality powered sub and you won't be disappointed.

In the world of audio, room acoustics are by far the most important element, speakers are in second place and everything else is pretty much window dressing. Get the first two right and you get what you are after.
post #11 of 18
Companies like Paradigm and PSB have excellent sounding budget speakers. Buy the best speakers that you can afford. You may want to look at an integrated amp instead of a receiver. Basically a integrated amp is a receiver without the radio tuner. You may see brands like NAD or Rotel. I personally think that NAD and Paradigm sound really good together. The inexpensive NAD int amp would probably fit into your budget.

When you go to the dealer make you don't pay list price. Most dealers will give you a discount off of list, especially if you are buying multiple pieces. You should be able to get at least 10% off. Also don't get roped into paying big $$ for interconnect cables. Some places like Tweeter will not do this unless you really push them hard.

Good Luck and enjoy.

There are a couple of websites that evaluate budget components that you do some research on.
www.goodsound.com
www.affordableaudio.org

also
www.paradigm.com
www.psbspeakers.com

Don't be fooled the the Watts that are listed on the receivers. A denon with 80W is not necessarily equal to a NAD rated at 80W. That is why receivers are labeled as high current. There is no standard for rating the Watts of a receiver and some manufacturers stretch the truth.
post #12 of 18
Not to knock NAD and Rotel integrateds (I've owned both), but if you're on a budget a stereo receiver can be had for less, and will drive most budget speakers just as well. (All right, I will knock NAD just a little--according to folks I know who repair gear, NAD's QC leaves a lot to be desired.)

Quote:
Don't be fooled the the Watts that are listed on the receivers. A denon with 80W is not necessarily equal to a NAD rated at 80W. That is why receivers are labeled as high current. There is no standard for rating the Watts of a receiver and some manufacturers stretch the truth.

This is more true of AV receivers than stereo receivers, which are usually rated into two channels, just like amps. So 80w/ch into 8 ohms means roughly the same in both cases. Where an integrated might outshine a receiver is in dynamic peaks (as opposed to continuous power), and in its ability to power low impedances--something you're unlikely to need with budget speakers.
post #13 of 18
Good points,

I think that NADs "bad" reputation comes from the AV Reveivers. I always thought that the integrated amps were good. I have a c340 that I purchased new years ago that operates flawlessly.
post #14 of 18
Quote:


I think that NADs "bad" reputation comes from the AV Reveivers. I always thought that the integrated amps were good. I have a c340 that I purchased new years ago that operates flawlessly.

NAD's rep precedes AV receivers. But that's the thing about QC--some units are good, some not so good. You got one of the good ones. Sometimes it depends on where the unit is made, and one NAD model may be made in several different factories in several different countries. So it's a crapshoot. My admittedly limited anecdotal information suggests that Rotel is more reliable overall.
post #15 of 18
New Shoes:

I own a previous model of one of the receivers you're considering, the H/K 3480. I think it's a great stereo receiver with ample power, and it's priced right enough to leave plenty of your budget left over for speakers (which is where you ought to concentrate your resources).

Regarding speakers, you have many excellent suggestions already. Let me add the Revel Concerta M12s, which are a bit pricier ($600 - 650/pair) than some of the previous suggestions, but are a large bookshelf speaker that you might be satisfied using without a subwoofer. The Paradigm Titans, already suggested ($500/pair), are another excellent option. Finally, the Klipsch Reference Series has a bookshelf speaker that you might have a listen to (I can't recall the model #). The H/K will drive any of these well.
post #16 of 18
I won't even pretend to be an audiopile. But just got some Ascend Serria1's (~$900) that are plugged into an $80 Onkyo B-Stock amp I bought a few years ago. Listen to these people "Spend your money on speakers". Buy an amp from a garage sale, it doesn't matter, then buy some kick butt speakers.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by milaz001 View Post

I own a previous model of one of the receivers you're considering, the H/K 3480. I think it's a great stereo receiver with ample power, and it's priced right enough to leave plenty of your budget left over for speakers (which is where you ought to concentrate your resources).

I also have the 3480 and incidentally, i have Wharfedale Diamond speakers paired with it. The sound quality is excellent!

For what it's worth, I use it for computer audio and listening to vinyl.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by astropuppy View Post

Buy an amp from a garage sale, it doesn't matter, then buy some kick butt speakers.


oh brother !!.........ok, let me guess, your one of those guys that drives around in a white van selling 'kick butt' speakers !!
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