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post #1 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 09:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Help: What To Upgrade First?

Hello everyone,

I need a little help. I have always wanted to have a nice audio setup to go with the video setups I have, but I have lived in apartments, had kids, a first house without a room suitable etc. Anyway, I finally have a downstairs room, a 4K HDR TV, Game systems with 4K HDR support etc. Now I want to start building the audio system. I currently have a Yamaha RX-V679. The speakers I have though are some Onkyo 7.1 HTIB speakers that have done the job in the past, but I would like to start upgrading. The Sub is fine for now and will probably be the last upgrade. My question is, what is the better option to upgrade first, the center channel, or the two front speakers? I am not wealthy and am not a fan of credit cards, so one step at a time for me. My initial thought was the center channel because that is where the dialog and basic sound comes from, but then I second guessed myself and thought the fronts actually process the majority of all the sounds. So now I’m not sure which way to go. Once I know which I should upgrade first, I’ll search the forum for suggestions on good options that fit my budget. Thanks in advance.

Cheers,
Brian
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post #2 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 10:21 AM
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Assuming you want it for HT use, the center + sub are the most important speakers.

However, if you sit in primarily one viewing spot, going with a phantom center is also an option... so in that case, left/rights would be the priority.

What is your total budget? How much bass-heavy content do you listen to (or watch, i.e. action films)? What speakers have you heard and liked?

The typical budget build when going from an htib setup is re-use the existing speakers as surrounds, then replace the front three and most likely sub.
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post #3 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 10:27 AM
 
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Movies only? Or do you listen to music a lot? If music start with left and right and go phantom like suggested. I've been doing that in my living room for years and it works fine for its purpose.

What is your budget tho? Maybe someone can help you find a deal on 3 speakers. 4th of july may have some sales going on.
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post #4 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian206 View Post
Hello everyone,

I need a little help. I have always wanted to have a nice audio setup to go with the video setups I have, but I have lived in apartments, had kids, a first house without a room suitable etc. Anyway, I finally have a downstairs room, a 4K HDR TV, Game systems with 4K HDR support etc. Now I want to start building the audio system. I currently have a Yamaha RX-V679. The speakers I have though are some Onkyo 7.1 HTIB speakers that have done the job in the past, but I would like to start upgrading. The Sub is fine for now and will probably be the last upgrade. My question is, what is the better option to upgrade first, the center channel, or the two front speakers? I am not wealthy and am not a fan of credit cards, so one step at a time for me. My initial thought was the center channel because that is where the dialog and basic sound comes from, but then I second guessed myself and thought the fronts actually process the majority of all the sounds. So now I’m not sure which way to go. Once I know which I should upgrade first, I’ll search the forum for suggestions on good options that fit my budget. Thanks in advance.

Cheers,
Brian
Both of your thoughts are well founded; the center speaker is crucial for clear, intelligible dialogue and the Left and Right front speakers complete your front soundstage when watching movies (not to mention the majority of music in your programming sources). If you could swing it and placement of the center speaker allows in your setup, the ideal would be to have 3 identical speakers for L/C/R. Many people can’t fit or place an exact center speaker as their L & R so the C is by necessity, the best one within their budget. If you must do this one at a time, and your HT is mostly for enjoying movies, I think I’d start with the Center speaker purchase, keeping in mind that eventually, the L and R speakers are just as important and ideally would match your center.
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post #5 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 10:31 AM
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You're receiver is fine so no need to upgrade that. The center provides 80% of the soundtrack and 99% of the dialogue. The problem with upgrading only the center is that your FL/FR HTIB speakers will not be able to keep up. If you can upgrade all 3 which can be done at very reasonable cost, that would be your best option. If that's not possible, start with a pair of good bookshelf speakers and add the matching center later. Good left and right fronts with at least 5 1/4" drivers will produce clear and detailed dialogue that will be better than HTIB speakers.

The sub is the 2nd most important component in an HT setup. I would upgrade the sub long before the surrounds which only do a lousy 10-15% of the soundtrack and is mostly ambient sounds and background music.

What is your total start-up budget? We can help you better if we knew how much you can spend.

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post #6 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies guys. I left out the important info of what I actually use it for. Primarily it will be for movies and games (Xbox,PlayStation) along with a little TV and some music. So it sounds like the center channel would be the primary thing to upgrade first. As far as budget goes, I’m thinking somewhere in the $200-$250 range for a center channel. Is this going to get me a decent increase over the HTIB center channel? I gotta think it would, but I am new at this stuff. If I had to describe how the system sounds now, it would be... not hollow, but just not full sound. The lows from the sub are good, and the highs are decent, but I think (based on my limited knowledge) it’s the midrange that is lacking. It doesn’t have that full sound. This, I believe is also beyond just the program settings.
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post #7 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian206 View Post
Thanks for the replies guys. I left out the important info of what I actually use it for. Primarily it will be for movies and games (Xbox,PlayStation) along with a little TV and some music. So it sounds like the center channel would be the primary thing to upgrade first. As far as budget goes, I’m thinking somewhere in the $200-$250 range for a center channel. Is this going to get me a decent increase over the HTIB center channel? I gotta think it would, but I am new at this stuff. If I had to describe how the system sounds now, it would be... not hollow, but just not full sound. The lows from the sub are good, and the highs are decent, but I think (based on my limited knowledge) it’s the midrange that is lacking. It doesn’t have that full sound. This, I believe is also beyond just the program settings.
During movies/TV, the "midrange" is mainly what the center produces, i.e. VOICES.

This is what I'd spend the $250 on:
https://emotiva.com/collections/loud...ts/airmotiv-c1

Or this center, with free return shipping for extra peace of mind:
https://www.jbl.com/loudspeakers/STU...urrent#start=1

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #8 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 10:52 AM
 
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Let me be the voice of caution on one thing tho. Don't wait to long to finish the upgrade. I once had some infinity speakers with a horizontal center but always wanted 3 matching vertical speakers. After a few years I decided to finally replace the center speaker, but guess what... They were no longer produced and I couldn't even find a used one. Ended up replacing all 3.
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post #9 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian206 View Post
Thanks for the replies guys. I left out the important info of what I actually use it for. Primarily it will be for movies and games (Xbox,PlayStation) along with a little TV and some music. So it sounds like the center channel would be the primary thing to upgrade first. As far as budget goes, I’m thinking somewhere in the $200-$250 range for a center channel. Is this going to get me a decent increase over the HTIB center channel?
Yeah, it should definitely be better than a HTIB center.

If you can increase that budget a little, you could upgrade your entire front three right now though. Keep an eye out for 4th of July sales.

Off the top of my head -- Elac C5.2 is $200. Polk S30 is $188 (was on sale for $150 recently). Emotiva C1 is $250.

Several ways you can go. Ideally try to match your front three, since you plan to use the setup for gaming too. So I'd suggest run up to Best Buy or some speaker place, listen to some speakers first, see what your ears like. Then ideally match whatever fronts you decide upon. For gaming, I'm not sure if it's ideal to get the center first though... for movies, maybe... but for gaming it's not like the center does all of the work.
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post #10 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian206 View Post
Thanks for the replies guys. I left out the important info of what I actually use it for. Primarily it will be for movies and games (Xbox,PlayStation) along with a little TV and some music. So it sounds like the center channel would be the primary thing to upgrade first. As far as budget goes, I’m thinking somewhere in the $200-$250 range for a center channel. Is this going to get me a decent increase over the HTIB center channel? I gotta think it would, but I am new at this stuff. If I had to describe how the system sounds now, it would be... not hollow, but just not full sound. The lows from the sub are good, and the highs are decent, but I think (based on my limited knowledge) it’s the midrange that is lacking. It doesn’t have that full sound. This, I believe is also beyond just the program settings.
For movies and games, I'd start with a 3 Def-tech SM45's up front. They will put you a little over budget, but a great deal since they're currently on close-out. These would be a significant upgrade over your current speakers. They will provide clear dialogue and good detail and are reasonably efficient so can get pretty loud.
https://www.crutchfield.com/p_735SM4...onitor-45.html
Another great option would be the Pilharmonic AA's to which you can add the center later unless you can fit it into your budget.
http://philharmonicaudio.com/

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post #11 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, it should definitely be better than a HTIB center.

If you can increase that budget a little, you could upgrade your entire front three right now though. Keep an eye out for 4th of July sales.

Off the top of my head -- Elac C5.2 is $200. Polk S30 is $188 (was on sale for $150 recently). Emotiva C1 is $250.

Several ways you can go. Ideally try to match your front three, since you plan to use the setup for gaming too. So I'd suggest run up to Best Buy or some speaker place, listen to some speakers first, see what your ears like. Then ideally match whatever fronts you decide upon. For gaming, I'm not sure if it's ideal to get the center first though... for movies, maybe... but for gaming it's not like the center does all of the work.
Ahh, good to know about gaming. That is probably what it gets used most for. I do enjoy movies, but with kids, it’s not always easy to get a free 2-2.5 hours. Maybe I will look at upgrading the LR first then shortly after upgrade the Center.
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post #12 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 11:12 AM
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Ahh, good to know about gaming. That is probably what it gets used most for. I do enjoy movies, but with kids, it’s not always easy to get a free 2-2.5 hours. Maybe I will look at upgrading the LR first then shortly after upgrade the Center.

If the setup is mostly used for gaming, I'd upgrade the L/R first over the center. And maybe run it in phantom, at least while gaming.

Depending on what sales go on, it may not even be that much over your budget to replace the entire front three. Besides the 4th, primeday is coming up soon too.
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post #13 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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So I guess my next question would be, if I am going to upgrade the LR first and want to stay in the $250 budget range, should I do floor speakers or Bookshelf? Is there an advantage to one over the other? I currently have my speakers mounted on the wall next to the TV.
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post #14 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 11:41 AM
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So I guess my next question would be, if I am going to upgrade the LR first and want to stay in the $250 budget range, should I do floor speakers or Bookshelf? Is there an advantage to one over the other? I currently have my speakers mounted on the wall next to the TV.
For a firm $250 max budget the Emotiva C1 center Zorba mentioned is the best use of your money.

If you must mount the left and right speakers to the wall Emotiva offers their $269/pair E1s for that purpose though their B1s on stands would be a better choice as they play deeper.
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post #15 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 12:47 PM
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Ahh, good to know about gaming. That is probably what it gets used most for. I do enjoy movies, but with kids, it’s not always easy to get a free 2-2.5 hours. Maybe I will look at upgrading the LR first then shortly after upgrade the Center.
For HT, it's often encouraged to go cheap on the surrounds since they mostly do ambient sounds and background music. For gaming the surrounds are much more active so matching them to your fronts becomes more critical. Just something to consider when you're ready to upgrade your surrounds.

Adding matching surrounds made a big difference to my gaming experience. Not so much for TV/HT.
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Awesome, thanks for the tip. Good to know.


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post #17 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 12:59 PM
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So I guess my next question would be, if I am going to upgrade the LR first and want to stay in the $250 budget range, should I do floor speakers or Bookshelf? Is there an advantage to one over the other? I currently have my speakers mounted on the wall next to the TV.
You'll get much better quality bookshelf speakers for your money. If you can go up to $300, the Emotiva B1's would definitely be worth the extra $50. Kef Q100's at $250/pair would be a steal as well, but a 3rd Q100 would have to be used as a center.

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And all of these options would hook up to my receiver in a standard way without special settings etc. just plug and play?


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post #19 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 01:58 PM
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And all of these options would hook up to my receiver in a standard way without special settings etc. just plug and play?


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Yep. Just remember to re-run YPAO and make manual adjustments as needed. Although the Emotiva center is 4ohms, so if you choose that one, make sure your AVR plays nice with 4ohm speakers (I assume anything semi-decent should).

As for towers vs bookshelves, it's not so easy to find decent towers at $250/set.

The only exception I'll mention is keep an eye out for Adorama sales on slickdeals. Above your budget, but they have run open-box (actually new), Polk S50/30/10 setups for around $480 in the past... which would get the towers within your budget, but you'd have to buy the center + surrounds at the same time.
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post #20 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 08:37 PM
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Yep. Just remember to re-run YPAO and make manual adjustments as needed. Although the Emotiva center is 4ohms, so if you choose that one, make sure your AVR plays nice with 4ohm speakers (I assume anything semi-decent should).

As for towers vs bookshelves, it's not so easy to find decent towers at $250/set.

The only exception I'll mention is keep an eye out for Adorama sales on slickdeals. Above your budget, but they have run open-box (actually new), Polk S50/30/10 setups for around $480 in the past... which would get the towers within your budget, but you'd have to buy the center + surrounds at the same time.

The Dayton T-652 AIR towers are decent. And so are the Polk T50.
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post #21 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 08:55 PM
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The Dayton T-652 AIR towers are decent. And so are the Polk T50.
Between those 2, I'd definitely take the Daytons.

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post #22 of 32 Old 07-03-2018, 10:33 PM
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Check out the Phil AA's (get three or 2 plus matching center).

http://www.philharmonicaudio.com

http://www.philharmonicaudio.com/aa.html

There are not a lot of speakers in this price range that come with measurements and an owner/designer that not only posts on here and answers all questions but who also designs crossovers for Salk.

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Between those 2, I'd definitely take the Daytons.
Me too, Because I own the Daytons plus he can get the matching center and come within his budget still, and have the LCR already updated. Then he can do the sub-woofer.
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Me too, Because I own the Daytons plus he can get the matching center and come within his budget still, and have the LCR already updated. Then he can do the sub-woofer.
How do they sound to you overall and what did they replace?

Tremendous bang for buck though they are rather short and would benefit from a pedestal to bring the tweeters to ear level.

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post #25 of 32 Old 07-04-2018, 10:17 AM
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Me too, Because I own the Daytons plus he can get the matching center and come within his budget still, and have the LCR already updated. Then he can do the sub-woofer.

Curious too what you have compared them to.

Just read a Cnet review on them, and they preferred the Dayton MK402 over the towers. So if he wanted to go that way, that may be a better option, assuming he uses a sub with them.

If the OP absolutely wanted towers, A4L has some Boston Acoustics at a reasonable price. Not quite as cheap as the Daytons, but maybe a bit better. If it was me, I'd go with bookshelves or wait for an Adorama deal.
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post #26 of 32 Old 07-04-2018, 04:35 PM
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Curious too what you have compared them to.

Just read a Cnet review on them, and they preferred the Dayton MK402 over the towers. So if he wanted to go that way, that may be a better option, assuming he uses a sub with them.
.
The first thing I compared them with is the Andrew Jones, I liked the presentation of the Dayton's better. The Andrew jones sounded a bit "muted" and bright at the same time to me. I think the CNET review has to do with their room' and judging by how it looks and the fact it's open to a concrete floor in the back, it's a wonder if ANY speakers can sound good in that room! Also the T50 and I think they came out too close to say which is better. Although the AIR tweeter is a lot of fun in the RIGHT room.

I also think they look better than the entry level pioneer Andrew Jones, since they have a matte finish and a more traditional cabinet design and the front port means less placement problems in smaller rooms, which is where the saying of towers being bad for small rooms comes from.
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post #27 of 32 Old 07-04-2018, 05:22 PM
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The first thing I compared them with is the Andrew Jones, I liked the presentation of the Dayton's better.
That seems reasonable to me, and probably a lot of people would think similarly. The BS22s I used to own were way to warm for my liking... so it wouldn't surprise me if I came to a similar conclusion, especially for HT or gaming use.

But so long as the OP plans to use a sub, and if he wants matching timbre all-around, he's probably better off in my opinion going with bookshelves... unless he finds a great deal somewhere.
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post #28 of 32 Old 07-04-2018, 05:44 PM
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Something to think about OP , if you have to wall mount , some of the speakers don't provide a way to do so . The emotiva B1 dont , and I don't think the phils do either . That was one of my issues when I was looking , the way my room is set up I can not use floor stands of any kind without blocking my front door from opening , my speakers have to be above the top of my front door , and I didn't want to have to modify brand new speakers that i didn't know if I'd like to be able to try them out . Ended up with HTD bookshelves and I'm very happy except with the size of the cabinets , they are huge .

If you can do stands then I'll add https://www.wavecrestaudio.com/produ...udspeaker-pair These sound great , and you can buy 1 more for a center down the line if you want to stay in budget and go phantom center to start . I would pick them over the Polks , the others suggested I haven't heard so can't say .

Turn that $*!# UP!! --Beethoven
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post #29 of 32 Old 07-04-2018, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doe Doe View Post
That seems reasonable to me, and probably a lot of people would think similarly. The BS22s I used to own were way to warm for my liking... so it wouldn't surprise me if I came to a similar conclusion, especially for HT or gaming use.

But so long as the OP plans to use a sub, and if he wants matching timbre all-around, he's probably better off in my opinion going with bookshelves... unless he finds a great deal somewhere.
I would agree The Dayton MK line of speakers is basically the Emotiva SAT speakers! I will say they are a great value even if i never heard them, and he can get a decent inexpensive sub, from dayton, or micca Or one of the larger slot-ported acoustic audio subs. If he saves A bit more money.

Also there's micca and the Monoprice premium select 5.1 which are Energy Take clones. He can also have money left over for a pair of stands and some wire.

Speakers are subjective, and almost no two listeners will feel the same.
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post #30 of 32 Old 09-03-2018, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Just an update for those interested. After listening to the suggestions in here, and doing some more research, I ended up with the Left, Right, and Center of the Definitive Technologies ProMonitor/ProCenter 1000 series. I ended up finding them all on sale as well. Very happy with them so far. Thanks for all the feedback.


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