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Help with friend's 2.1 setup

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Ok guys I need a little help here. My buddy is going to give up on his TV speakers and get a receiver and speakers. He doesn't want to do the whole 5.1 in one pop, so I suggested that he get the receiver, bookshelves and sub.

This setup will be used probably 50% for HT and 50% for music. The room is a very large open room encompassing the kitchen/living room/dining room, but the HT listening area is probably 10x12. He's not an audiophile so I think he just needs a good quality setup that will last him a while.

His budget at this point is probably $1000-1200 for the receiver, sub and two fronts. I am thinking $250 for a basic 5.1 receiver (doesn't really need HDMI) and $300 for the HSU STF-1 (my recommendation). That leaves about $500-600 for the fronts. They need to be bookshelves, black, and that a matching center channel can easily added to in the future. I don't know much about stuff in this price range, as I have Athena LCR.

Any ideas? Thanks
post #2 of 10
PSB Alphas. Whatever the current models are... B1, I think. They're inexpensive enough that he could get the matching center channel now rather than later, and still have a little money left over for speaker stands.

post #3 of 10
I would also suggest spending a bit more on the receiver. Whatever the least expensive model in Denon's, Onkyo's or Yamaha's lineup is that has pre-outs for all channels.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice on the speakers, I'll do some more reading about them. I was thinking about this receiver


that should be fine right?

any other ideas for good speakers? He may want to use the whole budget up on 2 channel setup now and get a matching center in a few months, so he has even better speakers eventually.
post #5 of 10
take a look at the onkyo 505 and 605. if you want the 605 but do not want to spend the money you can get a refurb with a one year warranty from shoponkyo. I got my 505 there and love it. I got it because I am not using hdmi either so there was no sense in getting the 605 unless I wanted to future proof

Look into the polk speakers. After doing a lot of thinking and reading those are what I have decided on. They are not in yet but I should have them in a week and I am excited. I got the RTi4s but my price range is a lot less than yours. In your price range you can bump up and get the RTiA3s or spend another $100 and get the the LSi7s. A lot fo people on here would suggest floor standing but these are the book shelfs.

The RTiA3s match the Polk CSiA6 and CSiA4 center althought the 6 is better
The LSi7s match the LSiC

Good luck.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Ok the PSB Alpha B1's sound good, but they are only $279/pr would he see a good jump in quality to go with another brand in the $400-$500 range? like maybe axiom M22 or ascend CBM-170? what other brands should I be looking at in this range?

post #7 of 10
It's really pretty hard to hear a significant jump in quality over the Alphas for anything I've auditioned in the $400-$500 range, considering the fact that a subwoofer is part of your setup (as it should be for a system that is or will evolve into a home theater). All the extra couple hundred dollars will typically buy you are improvements in bass output over the Alphas, at least until you hit the $700 price point. Since the subwoofer will be handling the bass duties anyway, I see little point in going for a $500 set of speakers that does bass better than the Alphas would but almost certainly won't have the Alpha's excellent imaging, midrange, and treble.

I really think you should put the extra money into the Alpha C1 center channel and/or spend it on a better receiver. Again, I would recommend the least-expensive receiver in the Denon, Onkyo or Yamaha lineups that has pre-outs for all channels (not just the subwoofer). A modern A/V receiver that can decode all the popular multi-channel sound formats can be used for a good many years, even if your friend decides to upgrade to harder-to-drive speakers sometime in the future -- as long as the receiver has pre-outs. This would allow the use of dedicated power amps to drive low-impedance and/or inefficient speakers later if he so desires.

Just FYI, the Alphas are pretty easy to drive, so this wouldn't be a concern now. It's just a consideration for long-term planning. My home theater is still making excellent use of a 7-year-old Denon AVR-2800. It has pre-outs and therefore it was no trouble to go to low-impedance, fairly inefficient speakers for my front three speakers recently, by purchasing some inexpensive used power amplifiers on craigslist (10-20 year-old NAD and Adcom power amps are an absolute steal and pop up all the time on the used market).

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply. The one question I have is about the receiver, and I know there is a separate forum, but how can you tell if they have pre-outs? I don't even understand what exactly they are, but I don't see them listed on the Denon site for the AVR-588. Does the Pioneer 817 I listed above not have pre-outs for each channel?
post #9 of 10
Sorry, I should have been more clear about that. Pre-outs are RCA-style jacks on the back of the receiver that output from the preamp portion of the receiver. If there are no pre-outs, you're forced to use whatever amplifiers are included in the receiver forever. If there are pre-outs, you can use the receiver for switching, decoding, etc... and then use dedicated power amplifiers to drive your speakers.

The subwoofer output on the back of almost all HT receivers is a pre-out. That's fine... you hook up a powered subwoofer to the subwoofer pre-out and the amp built into the subwoofer is used to drive the subwoofer's big driver. But many HT receivers don't have pre-outs for the other channels -- fronts, center, surrounds. No pre-outs means no opportunity to upgrade amplification later -- you basically have to chuck the receiver and buy a new, more powerful (and much more expensive) receiver later if you decide you want to drive Magnepans, certain Thiels, or any other hard-to-drive speaker.

For example, my Denon AVR-2800 does everything I need it to do right now in terms of decoding (Dolby Digital, DTS, Pro-logic, etc). But its amplifier section is only rated for 85 WPC. Not bad and will drive most speakers to satisfying volumes for home theater. But wait... what if I want to use inefficient, low-impedance speakers for the left & right front channels? The built-in amplifiers might not be up to the task. So I buy an inexpensive NAD 2200 PE or Adcom GFA-555 on the used market, connect it to the left and right front pre-outs on the receiver, connect my left and right front speaker wire to the power amp instead of the receiver, and now I have hundreds of watts per channel on tap, and stability for low-impedance loads.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Ok makes perfect sense now. I think I'll suggest that he maybe goes with the Alpha B1's and uses the extra money for either the receiver upgrade or CC. Thanks for your help
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