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Help Selecting Speakers and Receiver

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hello All,

First time poster. I know there are many threads regarding this topic, and upon reading, I remain as confused as ever.

I'm charged with researching and selecting a pair of speakers and a receiver to get for my brother and his wife for Christmas. I'll try and give as much detail as possible, please let me know if more is needed.

They live in a moderately sized 1BR apartment in Brooklyn, NY. The living room they're using runs directly into the kitchen (it's one large-ish open area). However, they do a reasonably good job of sectioning off the living area. To give an idea of dimensions, they have an entertainment stand, then probably ~10 feet before the couch. There is maybe 5 feet behind the couch and a deep window. The area is probably ~10-12 feet wide.

They have a 42" Samsung LCD TV (model unknown. ~$1300). They use the standard Time Warner DVR/HDTV box. They have the ubiquitous Sony Blu Ray Player that was standard purchase in early 2008.

Now, here's the main problem. Since it's Brooklyn, there's lots of ambient noise from neighbors, the city, etc. My brother is an arts and entertainment writer and gets furious when he'll watch a movie (especially on Blu Ray) where there are vast differentials between loud/quiet. A perfect example occurs whilst watching There Will Be Blood. Volume needs to be cranked to hear dialogue but when something loud happens it is deafening.

To boot, they'd especially like it if the speakers could be placed behind them. I know many have ill-will toward wireless systems, but if this can be incorporated into a recommendation, it is a definite plus.

We are looking to get two speakers and a receiver in hopes of alleviating this problem to some degree and giving better quality audio. They are by no means aficionados, nor can we afford expensive equipment. We're looking for what I'm sure many of you will consider a solid entry system. Subwoofer unneeded since they are trying to be good neighbors even if many aren't as courteous. Our price range is ~$500 total. We have some wiggle room if people really think it is worth it. I know some will scoff at this price, but please try to understand. I'm a Ph.D. student (read: poor) and money is tight with everyone else as well. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

So, in brief:
Small space
Looking to rectify huge differences in loud/quiet
2 speakers (Wireless a plus, if can go behind a couch a plus)
Receiver needed as well
~$500, give or take

Thank you -- for dealing with my ignorance, rehashing a largely covered topic, and for your time in response.

Jeff
post #2 of 16
a low end Harman Kardon receiver is a good choice IMO - pretty. Sony makes a big 3 way bookshelf with kevlar drivers that honestly sounds good. That is a good sub $500 system. I am sure other ppl will recommend internet direct speakers - if so make sure that they have a decent sized box if there is really no sub.

Best bet that I know of? Used B&W 6 or 3 series - I know that they sound good in a similar environment.
post #3 of 16
Behind them is awful, I get why, but baaaad.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldoCombs View Post

Behind them is awful, I get why, but baaaad.

I know. I wouldn't be as stumped if it weren't for this want of theirs.

Thanks for the one suggestion, poster above, I'll check out these options.
post #5 of 16
Energy Take Classic 5.0 will be suggested quite a bit on that budget. Depending on where you find it you will have $250-$350 left for an AVR. Buy any cables and speaker wire at monoprice for the best price.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
I have gotten more specificity from my sister in law:

No subwoofer.
No Floor speakers (not enough room behind them for this).
Wireless doesn't matter

So I guess we're looking for either a 2.0 bookshelf system, or a 4-5.0 system with small speakers in the back.

I know behind them isn't optimal, but it's what they want since they've gotten complaints from neighbors about noise from their TV. Being a writer, he keeps very strange hours.

Thanks for the tip on monoprice. This Energy Take system is intriguing for the price and the reviews I'm finding.

Any recs on receivers? I know this is the speaker forum, but you're all smart!

Thanks for continued advice.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
So, after looking through a bunch more threads and around the internets, these 3 looked intriguing (not saying it's between these 3 sets, but they popped out at me):


http://www.amazon.com/Energy-RC-Mini...7643128&sr=8-2

http://www.tsto.com/ProductDetails.a...Show=TechSpecs

http://www.pcrichard.com/catalog/pro...7cTAKECLASSIC5

Any thoughts on the three of these compared to one another -- especially the first 2? I know the first 2 are going to be better than the third if we're comparing 2vs2. However, would the third be better since it would include 3 in front of them as well as the 2 behind (if they get 2, they'll put them behind them)? Yes, this is a Busch League question, but I know nothing!

Also, what receiver should I be pairing these with? I know certain brands pair better than others. Also, I don't really know a lot about the differences in speaker wire. If someone could just point me to a decent middle-of-the-road option, that'd be great. I know moving from low-end speaker wire to something even a little better can make noticeable differences.

Thanks!
post #8 of 16
Well, to cover all bases I'd grab 3 hdmi cables from monoprice. I'd say 6 ft length. Speaker wire I'd grab 100 ft of 16 gauge. Total for that should be around 35-40 bucks. Only other thing would be to grab 5 pair of banana plugs while at monoprice. Not necessary but I prefer them.

Energy Take Classic 5.0 from newegg $150
Denon 1610 off ebay $300

That will keep you in budget and they will be more than happy!
post #9 of 16
I concur with rmb70 but I happen to prefer Harman Kardon avr's at this price point.
post #10 of 16
As far as avr's for $300, take your pick of the litter at this price. they should all offer similar specs at this price. Others can chime in.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmb70 View Post

Well, to cover all bases I'd grab 3 hdmi cables from monoprice. I'd say 6 ft length. Speaker wire I'd grab 100 ft of 16 gauge. Total for that should be around 35-40 bucks. Only other thing would be to grab 5 pair of banana plugs while at monoprice. Not necessary but I prefer them.

Energy Take Classic 5.0 from newegg $150
Denon 1610 off ebay $300

That will keep you in budget and they will be more than happy!

I'm sorry, I don't think you'll be happy at all. The Takes sound terrible without a subwoofer to blend in the low frequencies. If she is not allowing a subwoofer then get bookshelf speakers that can play well below 110hz. This may limit you to a 2.0 setup but you'll be much better off than having 5 small satellites and absolutely no bass.

I have the original Take 5 setup and the new Take Classic are not that different. No sub = No Love.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
I've had issues with banana plugs in the past (not working for very long), but fully admit I may have been doing something wrong.

I've also heard that a spade connector might work better. As I'm unfamiliar with this type (other than the look), is there a reason not to try a pair of spades?
post #13 of 16
The RC minis would be better than the Take Classic but they still dont have much usable bass below 100hz if that low.

Great review of the RC mini and details the lack of bass issues.
http://www.goodsound.com/equipment/e...rcmini_s83.htm

A better choice because of the larger cabinet and deeper bass is the less expensive C-50 speaker. In fact you can get 4 of these plus the Denon 1610 receiver for your $500 limit. The RC mini is better if you had a subwoofer but without one I think I'd go this route.

http://wwstereo.com/website/ecommerc...x?product=C-50
Reviews below
http://www.amazon.com/Energy-C-50-Bo...pr_product_top

If you still prefer a pair of RC minis, you can get them here for less than your earlier link and free shipping.
http://wwstereo.com/website/ecommerc...roduct=RC-MINI
post #14 of 16
Something like this package deal may interest you too.
http://www.vanns.com/shop/servlet/co...0609-544120139
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by afrogt View Post

I'm sorry, I don't think you'll be happy at all. The Takes sound terrible without a subwoofer to blend in the low frequencies. If she is not allowing a subwoofer then get bookshelf speakers that can play well below 110hz. This may limit you to a 2.0 setup but you'll be much better off than having 5 small satellites and absolutely no bass.

I have the original Take 5 setup and the new Take Classic are not that different. No sub = No Love.

I didn't really think of that. That would be true. Get them anyway. Then they will realize what they are missing without a sub for movies!

Actually, I think I'd go for the 3.0 setup. Get the best you can up front with a center and the rest is on the avr. They can always add rears.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by afrogt View Post

Something like this package deal may interest you too.
http://www.vanns.com/shop/servlet/co...0609-544120139

This is enticing! She'll like the smaller footprint, and I have always had good experience with klipsch. getting the 5.0 also alleviates the weirdness of doing a 2.0 with the speakers behind you.

Are you of the belief that this would probably be my best bet?

And thanks for the thoughts on the RC-Mini. No way would I have known that kind of stuff.

Thanks all for the continued help.
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