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Upgraditis: is it worth spending $600?

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 
Hey Guys:

I'm currently using Pioneers BS22 and C22 for my LCR. My usage is 85% movies/TV and 15% music. I've been overall happy with my budget system. Many here may flinch but I actually enjoy listening to music on these, so I wouldn't change them just for this.

However, I have found something lacking when watching movies with epic soundtracks. This is usually limited to the "summer blockbuster". So I'm ok otherwise. I feel the sound in these movies doesn't elevate in the same way I'm expecting them to (from previous experience at the theater). I understand is not going to be 1:1 but still I come out a little bit disappointed. Case in point, in Dark Knight Rises, in Batman's first appearance under the tunnel (when he is first spotted by the patrol car), the soundtrack elevates to involve you in the grandiose moment. However, I don't feel the same with the BS22 playing it. Special effects, etc, sound just good.I attribute this to weak dynamics, even though I listened below reference level (-25db in my Yamaha receiver).

Somehow, I am fixated at the HSU HB-1 Mk2/ HC-1. They are $600 with shipping. Some of the reasons I like these are the "Huge soundstage" and "Unrestrained dynamics" and "slam" accolades most pro reviewers seem to agree on. Another option I've been looking into is Empteks E5bis with E56Ci (large center) that I could have for $620 shipped. I know a lot of people here like the Ascends, but i'm not sold on the 170 SE's and couldn't afford the 340Se's under this budget.

I guess my questions and dilemma, is it worth the $600 upgrade from my current system? Will the upgrade be night and day? or would it just be a minor upgrade and should I save my money for something better later down the road?

Thanks guys!
post #2 of 91
I haven't heard them personally but I would say it is worth it over the pioneers. Seems like you've grown out of them. It happens to all of us
post #3 of 91
What sub are you using? Possibly bigger benefits there than in changing to the speakers you mention.

ps The Ascend 170SEs are very capable speakers, I own a pair. I haven't heard the HSUs otoh.
post #4 of 91
I definitely think the change from the Pioneers to the EMPs is a worthwhile upgrade, however, what sub are you using? A good sub can enhance cheaper speakers, and for $600 you can get a very good sub. Something like a Rythmik LV12R would be a great option at that price, and would help give you the dynamics you are looking for.
post #5 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Sutliff View Post

I haven't heard them personally but I would say it is worth it over the pioneers. Seems like you've grown out of them. It happens to all of us

It hasn't been that long, 8 months since I got the pioneers.
post #6 of 91
Doesnt have to be long. I'd say the higher the quality the longer the time
post #7 of 91
I don't think any of the speakers you are contemplating will be the upgrade you are hoping for, whatever improvements they might bring. I would save up for the seriously dynamic speakers, SEOS, Pi, JTR, JBL Pro, etc. You'll also need subwoofers that can keep up with them. That will all be expensive, although not nearly as much if you are willing to go the DIY route.
post #8 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

I definitely think the change from the Pioneers to the EMPs is a worthwhile upgrade, however, what sub are you using? A good sub can enhance cheaper speakers, and for $600 you can get a very good sub. Something like a Rythmik LV12R would be a great option at that price, and would help give you the dynamics you are looking for.

I have one of those Yamaha Servo subs, can't remember the model no. Definitely not as good as many $500+ sub. I will get a better sub down the road. My room is 13 x 16, with a 1/3 of a wall on one side, open to the dining room and kitchen. On top of that, my downstairs neighbor doesn't really like my sub, so I had to lower the volume a bit. I can't justify spending that much on a sub and lower the volume and probably negating its benefits.

Also, I'm not sure the sub is my problem. I believe the soundtrack in question uses violins and brass instruments, but I think they all high spl notes stay on 60hz+, which make me believe is the speaker, not the sub.
post #9 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

I don't think any of the speakers you are contemplating will be the upgrade you are hoping for, whatever improvements they might bring. I would save up for the seriously dynamic speakers, SEOS, Pi, JTR, JBL Pro, etc. You'll also need subwoofers that can keep up with them. That will all be expensive, although not nearly as much if you are willing to go the DIY route.

I disagree, I do t think he needs to make that big of a jump to get what he wants. He has budget friendly pioneers. He could upgrade to Definitive tech. Axiom, Polk
post #10 of 91
It sounds like you won't be able to do the pro-style dynamics. In that case, you might just order a pair of the Hsus, and if they give you the sound you are looking for, keep em and add the HC-1 center channel, and if they aren't quite what you hoped for, you can return them within 30 days, and you will only be out shipping. For the Hsus to get their best soundstage, toe them in so their aim crosses a bit in front of the listening position. Hsu also has a 3.0 set in their B-stock, but those are non-returnable.
post #11 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdnewbie21 View Post

I have one of those Yamaha Servo subs, can't remember the model no. Definitely not as good as many $500+ sub. I will get a better sub down the road. My room is 13 x 16, with a 1/3 of a wall on one side, open to the dining room and kitchen. On top of that, my downstairs neighbor doesn't really like my sub, so I had to lower the volume a bit. I can't justify spending that much on a sub and lower the volume and probably negating its benefits.

Also, I'm not sure the sub is my problem. I believe the soundtrack in question uses violins and brass instruments, but I think they all high spl notes stay on 60hz+, which make me believe is the speaker, not the sub.

Well the problem with cheaper/older subs is they need to be loud so you even hear them and get some detail. A good sub can be played quietly and still give you articulate bass. However I think you could better spend your money given your living situation.

I do feel those speakers would be an upgrade, as shady mentioned probably not night and day. If you want serious dynamics for movies, a high efficiency horn is probably something you should look into. If DIY is an option, you could look at the SEOS kits from www.diysoundgroup.com and build yourself a front sound stage. These will outperform everything in your budget and it can be a fun experience.
post #12 of 91
If a Yamaha servo sub causes his neighbors problems, pro styled speakers like SEOS would be wasted in his situation.
post #13 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

If a Yamaha servo sub causes his neighbors problems, pro styled speakers like SEOS would be wasted in his situation.

Well I would reckon its the bass that is the issue if it's his neighbor below him. An 8" SEOS probably wouldn't be a big deal.
post #14 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

Well the problem with cheaper/older subs is they need to be loud so you even hear them and get some detail. A good sub can be played quietly and still give you articulate bass. However I think you could better spend your money given your living situation.

Agreed. There's a huge difference in the quality of bass between one of those Yamaha subs and a good sub, even if you do have the bass turned down.

Plus, cheaper subs tend to have a lot of mid bass output and then roll off by the lowest frequencies. So a good sub would give you a more even bass response down through the very lowest frequencies where the special effects are in movies.

Also, have you considered giving the Pioneer SP-FS52-LR a try? If you could pick them up from BestBuy, you could demo them in home. If you don't like them, return them. Maybe they will give you that little bit extra you are looking for (you should get better dynamics out of the towers), and then you could save the rest toward a better sub.
post #15 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Agreed. There's a huge difference in the quality of bass between one of those Yamaha subs and a good sub, even if you do have the bass turned down.

Plus, cheaper subs tend to have a lot of mid bass output and then roll off by the lowest frequencies. So a good sub would give you a more even bass response down through the very lowest frequencies where the special effects are in movies.

I'm not disagreeing that I need a better sub, and that even at low volumes, a quality sub will yield better results. However, I am not trying to improve the LFE sound effects, as I know and accepted my situation, so not bothered as much. What I'm looking is bigger presence of the soundtrack in the scene that gives you an immersing feeling.

For example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aj1Q_BAqwa8 FFWD to 0.25 into the video until 0.46. I remember this scene track having a lot of energy, and background track dominating the scene, immersing you into the grandiose moment that was supposed to be Batman's comeback. However, at home, I feel the sound, which should be coming from the mains, feels a little bit muted, restrained in comparison with the center sounds. I'm thinking it is due to the BS22s not giving enough. I think most of these notes elevations are in the 60hz+ range, not below.
Quote:
Also, have you considered giving the Pioneer SP-FS52-LR a try? If you could pick them up from BestBuy, you could demo them in home. If you don't like them, return them. Maybe they will give you that little bit extra you are looking for (you should get better dynamics out of the towers), and then you could save the rest toward a better sub.

I don't have space for towers. My speaker placement is limited to bookshelves.
post #16 of 91
You may want to go hear Klipsch speakers. Horn-loaded speakers have higher sensitivies usually and Klipsch will give you great dynamics for movies. If you need a more in-your-face sound then this might be the direction for you, I would consider the Pioneers a little more neutral sounding.
post #17 of 91
Thread Starter 
Aren't the HSU touted as having good dynamics as the Klipsch but more neutral (so it sounds well with music)?
post #18 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdnewbie21 View Post

Aren't the HSU touted as having good dynamics as the Klipsch but more neutral (so it sounds well with music)?

The HSU speakers are regular tweeters in a horn wave guide. Klipsch uses a compression driver tweeter in a horn wave guide. This difference is where the extra (supposed) sensitivity comes from and possibly some of the harshness that some associate with Klipsch.
post #19 of 91
My 2 cents is that it's your sub - having not heard your system of course. People who love thumps, booms and bangs really like 60-80hz. The Pioneers are designed to ideally roll off at 100hz - after all they are 4" woofers. You're not getting a huge 60-80 bang out of them.
post #20 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by charmerci View Post

My 2 cents is that it's your sub - having not heard your system of course. People who love thumps, booms and bangs really like 60-80hz. The Pioneers are designed to ideally roll off at 100hz - after all they are 4" woofers. You're not getting a huge 60-80 bang out of them.

That's the thing. I'm not looking for more thump, booms and bang because I don't want to upset my neighbor. What I want is a higher presence of the orchestra through the mains.
post #21 of 91
Sounds like you should try out horn tweeters. Go find somewhere you can listen to the klipsch reference line
post #22 of 91
I would doubt that the tweeter is the source of his problem.

But I agree that he should listen to what he can within his price range and see what helps.
post #23 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

I would doubt that the tweeter is the source of his problem.

But I agree that he should listen to what he can within his price range and see what helps.

It he wants to hear the orchestra more, without more boom or thump, that only leaves the tweeter really? Right?
post #24 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Sutliff View Post

It he wants to hear the orchestra more, without more boom or thump, that only leaves the tweeter really? Right?

I've listened to several speakers comparing with and without and yes, a subwoofer can improve the sound of the speaker. (Including these Pioneer 22's - hooked 'em up to someone's stupid expensive system with NCore amps and 15" Rhythmic subs.) It sounds strange but true. I think it's basically because it "spreads" the sound around - so to speak(er.) Makes the overall balance of the sound more even and sound natural.

I was just responding to his 60+hz comment -
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdnewbie21 View Post


Also, I'm not sure the sub is my problem. I believe the soundtrack in question uses violins and brass instruments, but I think they all high spl notes stay on 60hz+, which make me believe is the speaker, not the sub.


Nevertheless, it sounds like he's gonna replace the Pioneers.
Edited by charmerci - 10/31/13 at 4:35pm
post #25 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by charmerci View Post

I've listened to several speakers comparing with and without and yes, a subwoofer can improve the sound of the speaker. (Including these Pioneer 22's - hooked 'em up to someone's stupid expensive system with NCore amps and 15" Rhythmic subs.) It sounds strange but true. I think it's basically because it "spreads" the sound around - so to speak(er.) Makes the overall balance of the sound more even and sound natural.

I agree with that. But I also wonder if it doesn't help some speakers because it doesn't require them to have the double duty of reproducing the bass frequencies at the end of their response range. Seems to be some slight less congestion in the mids on some speakers. Perhaps it's in my imagination smile.gif
post #26 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdnewbie21 View Post


Also, I'm not sure the sub is my problem. I believe the soundtrack in question uses violins and brass instruments, but I think they all high spl notes stay on 60hz+, which make me believe is the speaker, not the sub.


Nevertheless, it sounds like he's gonna replace the Pioneers.

Well, "he" is me;smile.gif I'm not sure if I am going to replace them yet. I acknowledge something like the HSUs are an upgrade from my pioneers, and an easier choice if I hadn't bought the pioneers 8 months ago. I just don't know if upgrading something like HSU or Emptek is worth $600 considering I already own the pioneers.
post #27 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdnewbie21 View Post

Well, "he" is me;smile.gif I'm not sure if I am going to replace them yet. I acknowledge something like the HSUs are an upgrade from my pioneers, and an easier choice if I hadn't bought the pioneers 8 months ago. I just don't know if upgrading something like HSU or Emptek is worth $600 considering I already own the pioneers.

Best thing to do is order a pair and see. Sort of the trade off for well-priced Internet direct speakers. Gotta take the risk of demoing a pair smile.gif
post #28 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Sutliff View Post

It he wants to hear the orchestra more, without more boom or thump, that only leaves the tweeter really? Right?
http://www.digitalprosound.com/2002/03_mar/tutorials/mixing_excerpt1.htm

The crossover frequency on his speakers is 3khz.

It's possible that his issue is above 3khz; but you are in the "presence" region of the instruments that get there. The bulk of the sound from most instruments will be coming out of his midrange driver.
post #29 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdnewbie21 View Post

I acknowledge something like the HSUs are an upgrade from my pioneers, and an easier choice if I hadn't bought the pioneers 8 months ago. I just don't know if upgrading something like HSU or Emptek is worth $600 considering I already own the pioneers.

How about upgrading to a decent $250-300 sub and then save up some more for speakers later - or vice versa.? The more expensive speakers will sound better.

Funny, 8 months down the road I think these Pioneers sound better than when I first got them - though I did dampen the internal walls which improved its sound at louder levels.
post #30 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdnewbie21 View Post


Well, "he" is me;smile.gif I'm not sure if I am going to replace them yet. I acknowledge something like the HSUs are an upgrade from my pioneers, and an easier choice if I hadn't bought the pioneers 8 months ago. I just don't know if upgrading something like HSU or Emptek is worth $600 considering I already own the pioneers.

I also wondered about the third person use there...

I just watched the scene in DKR you mention, both with and without my subs. My fronts are more capable in full range, though (Ascend Sierra-1s, 170SEs for surrounds). There's plenty of low end going on with the orchestral music, much prefer with sub(s) for impact and dynamics, even at lower volumes. YMMV.

Is a small upgrade in bookshelf speaker worth $600? Personally I think the money is either better spent on a sub or speakers more capable of full range use (but the latter makes the budget too small IMHO), as I think the bookshelf trade off is more of a lateral move....but again YMMV.
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