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post #1 of 22 Old 01-29-2019, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Recommendations for complete AV overhaul

Hi all, I'm looking for some recommendations for new speakers. If there are any details I missed let me know - thanks!

Budget... $1,000ish now, but can flex a few hundred above if needed. Anything past $1,500 is probably a no-go, but can certainly grow into something a speaker or two at a time over the next few months. I haven't searched for AV stuff in a long time and the last time I looked I was a starving college student so my options were severely limited.

Listening interests... mostly movies, Xbox, and streaming. I've got a Sonos system setup throughout the house so very rarely use the system for music.

Existing setup... is a Polk CS245 center, Polk TSX440T L/R fronts, a Velodyne CT-150 15" sub, and what I think are Polk R50s in the rear (the labels have long since fallen off, they have a 6" driver and 1" tweeter near as I can tell). I cobbled the system together during college and have had most of these speakers 15+ years. It's all either budget line or open box stuff. Receiver is a Onkyo TX-NR626 that I replaced an old dead Pioneer with a couple years ago. As you can imagine, the sound is less than ideal. Dialogue is hard to hear on certain movies and there's a ton of muddy noise that it can toss out, but that's all it is, noise. TV is a 65" LG B6.

Room setup... is less than ideal. The house is a 1952 Eichler midcentury-modern, picture attached of the room. Lots of windows, stone, open doorways - typical Eichler. The picture was taken from the dining room and the entire wall is open. The tongue and groove ceiling does not have an attic above it so ceiling mount speakers are a no-go. Aesthetically speaking, my fiance' would probably cut me in my sleep if I put them up there anyway.

Preferences... I want a good clean sound. It doesn't need to shake the house down but something with some 'umph' wouldn't be bad. A friend suggested going with bookshelves all the way around which is an option, I can figure out where to put them on the back wall with stands or some new furniture, bookshelves, or something. It's really a blank slate assuming I can keep the speakers against the walls or on some kind of furniture.

General comments... My first thought was to replace the existing AV setup with a modern sound bar and get rid of the freestanding rears, AVR, and mains, but after trying a few different options and listening to a few different options at friends' houses (N850, LG SK10Y, Sonos PlayBar 5.1 setup, and Vizio 36512) I'm convinced I need to just invest in some quality speakers. I wasn't overly impressed with trying to do 5.1 in front of me all off a bar. I missed the immersion effect of having rears. I'd like to be able to expand into an Atmos setup at some point, but realize it's likely out of my budget initially. I think end game would be somewhere around a 5.1.4 or 5.2.4 upfiring Atmos setup. There's no room for a full 7.x setup with the doors, windows, etc. in the room and ceiling limits the direct Atmost setup. Dimensions are about 15' wide, 20' long, about 13' tall at the pinnacle. I've done a little reading on the Klipsch Reference Premier line and found some great deals this week at Fry's for the Klipsch Reference line.

Open for ideas and suggestions! Thanks all!
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post #2 of 22 Old 01-29-2019, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frizille View Post
Hi all, I'm looking for some recommendations for new speakers. If there are any details I missed let me know - thanks!

Budget... $1,000ish now, but can flex a few hundred above if needed. Anything past $1,500 is probably a no-go, but can certainly grow into something a speaker or two at a time over the next few months. I haven't searched for AV stuff in a long time and the last time I looked I was a starving college student so my options were severely limited.

Listening interests... mostly movies, Xbox, and streaming. I've got a Sonos system setup throughout the house so very rarely use the system for music.

Existing setup... is a Polk CS245 center, Polk TSX440T L/R fronts, a Velodyne CT-150 15" sub, and what I think are Polk R50s in the rear (the labels have long since fallen off, they have a 6" driver and 1" tweeter near as I can tell). I cobbled the system together during college and have had most of these speakers 15+ years. It's all either budget line or open box stuff. Receiver is a Onkyo TX-NR626 that I replaced an old dead Pioneer with a couple years ago. As you can imagine, the sound is less than ideal. Dialogue is hard to hear on certain movies and there's a ton of muddy noise that it can toss out, but that's all it is, noise. TV is a 65" LG B6.

Room setup... is less than ideal. The house is a 1952 Eichler midcentury-modern, picture attached of the room. Lots of windows, stone, open doorways - typical Eichler. The picture was taken from the dining room and the entire wall is open. The tongue and groove ceiling does not have an attic above it so ceiling mount speakers are a no-go. Aesthetically speaking, my fiance' would probably cut me in my sleep if I put them up there anyway.

Preferences... I want a good clean sound. It doesn't need to shake the house down but something with some 'umph' wouldn't be bad. A friend suggested going with bookshelves all the way around which is an option, I can figure out where to put them on the back wall with stands or some new furniture, bookshelves, or something. It's really a blank slate assuming I can keep the speakers against the walls or on some kind of furniture.

General comments... My first thought was to replace the existing AV setup with a modern sound bar and get rid of the freestanding rears, AVR, and mains, but after trying a few different options and listening to a few different options at friends' houses (N850, LG SK10Y, Sonos PlayBar 5.1 setup, and Vizio 36512) I'm convinced I need to just invest in some quality speakers. I wasn't overly impressed with trying to do 5.1 in front of me all off a bar. I missed the immersion effect of having rears. I'd like to be able to expand into an Atmos setup at some point, but realize it's likely out of my budget initially. I think end game would be somewhere around a 5.1.4 or 5.2.4 upfiring Atmos setup. There's no room for a full 7.x setup with the doors, windows, etc. in the room and ceiling limits the direct Atmost setup. Dimensions are about 15' wide, 20' long, about 13' tall at the pinnacle. I've done a little reading on the Klipsch Reference Premier line and found some great deals this week at Fry's for the Klipsch Reference line.

Open for ideas and suggestions! Thanks all!
Gorgeous, gorgeous room that is a challenge for sound though a larger rug that would reach to the first floor reflection point of the speakers would help.

I think the new Klipsch RPs are great but I think you need a speaker with a warmer sound signature.

Here is a list of affordable easy to return for free or for $10/box and your room rules out Atmos IMHO unless you are willing to hang pendant speakers from the ceiling at some point.

The speakers that have a "warmer" sound signature for your room would be Wharfedale, Monitor Audio and Elac.

Maybe someone else will look at the list and make other comments.

BOOKSHELF SPEAKER PAIRS WITH >4.9" MAIN DRIVER, UNDER $500 MSRP & FREE OR CHEAP RETURN SHIPPING

**equals free returns ^^equals $10/ box returns

NOTES: >note that most speakers do not actually reach within 10hz of their stated bass extension; check pro reviews

>CRUTCHFIELD carries many speakers that Best Buy does not listed below. Their return policy is very inexpensive and longer in time.

>check center speaker prices before choosing a pair for a surround system as some companies have VERY high prices for centers

MSRP/PR PORT? H/W/D ROUNDED TO NEAREST INCH

$149 REAR 11X7X9 3 way 5" [53hz] SONY CORE SSCS5, often 50% off Best Buy**

$150 SEALED 14X7X5 2 way 5.5" [100hz] JBL ARENA 120/ARENA B15 (B15 often on sale)**

$219 FRONT 12X7X10 2 way 5.25" [60hz] HTD LEVEL TWO**

$225 REAR 15X9X11 2 way 7" [55hz] JBL ARENA 130**

$250 REAR 13x7x9 2 way 5.25" [55hz] JBL STAGE A130**

$230 REAR 12x8x10 2 way 5.25" [50hz] POLK SIGNATURE 15 ^^

$250 REAR 11x7x9 2 way 5" [60hz] WHARFEDALE CRYSTAL 4.2 ^^

$250 FRONT 13X7X9 2 way 5.25" [46hz] ELAC DEBUT B5.2**

$300 FRONT 15X8X11 2 way 6.5" [44hz] ELAC DEBUT B6.2**

$300 REAR 15X9X14 2 way 6.5" [39hz] POLK SIGNATURE 20 ^^

$300 REAR 12X7X10 2 way 5.25" [65hz] PSB ALPHA B1^^

$319 FRONT 16X9X12 2 way 6.5" [47hz] HTD LEVEL THREE**

$349 REAR 12X7X8 2 way 5.25" [75hz] APERION INTIMUS 5B**

$350 DOWN 13X7X10 2 way 5.125" [56hz] WHARFEDALE DIAMOND 220, often 10% off Best Buy**

$400 FRONT 16X6X6 2 way 2 X 4" [85hz] RSL CG 23**

$400 REAR 10X7X8 2 way 5.5" [55hz] MONITOR AUDIO BRONZE 1^^

$400 REAR 15X9X11 2 way 6.5" [52hz] JBL STUDIO 230**

$420 REAR 14x7x101 2 way 5.25" [48hz] KLIPSCH RP 500M**

$450 DOWN 14X7X12 2 way 6.5" [45hz] WHARFEDALE DIAMOND 225, often 10% off Best Buy**

$479 SEALED 13X6X10 2 way 5.25" [35hz] KLH ALBANY^^

$500 FRONT 14X8X10 2 way 6.5" [42hz] MONITOR AUDIO BRONZE 2^^

$500 REAR 12X7X11 2 way 5.25" [55hz] PSB IMAGE XB^^

$500 REAR 13X8X10 2 way 6.5" [48hz] SVS PRIME BOOKSHELF**

$500 REAR 13X8X11 3 way 5.25" [46hz] ELAC UNIFI UB5, often 10% off Best Buy**
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post #3 of 22 Old 01-29-2019, 12:10 PM
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Spoiler!


That looks like a room begging for acoustic room treatments.

Here's a beginner's guide on treatments, in my opinion, any sound system put in will struggle against all of that reflecting real estate.

There are ways and good ideas on putting up attractive treatments that don't break the bank.

In the past, I owned a spa that had a hair cutting area with the general shape of yours. Having any number of people in the room launched a cacophony of sound that prevented anyone from having a good conversation because of the reflected sound.

I attached several sound panels to the ceiling to cut down on reflections, and put up camouflaged (with art, not swirls of green and darker green) sound panels on some of the walls. It improved the acoustics of the room comprehensively.

So an idea would be to take your room and experiment with some sound panels, see how much it clears up your existing setup. It doesn't prevent you from getting nice speakers, etc.

But it does set up a good environment so that good speakers can shine.

Costs - I think the panels cost about 500 for my use, with me doing the installation. If you have someone come in and do it, it would be more.

Just an idea.
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post #4 of 22 Old 01-29-2019, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Funny you mention the rug... my fiance' has been on the warpath to replace it but hasn't found one yet. A bigger rug is definitely on the list!

Thanks Geoff!
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post #5 of 22 Old 01-29-2019, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by frizille View Post
Funny you mention the rug... my fiance' has been on the warpath to replace it but hasn't found one yet. A bigger rug is definitely on the list!

Thanks Geoff!
That will go a long way as your speakers won't be close to the side walls so taming that first floor reflection with a large rug will be a big big help!

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage; my daughter is getting married in October.

We're writing checks now!

Could have gotten a killer upgrade myself for that money!

Wish they'd eloped!

Geoff A. J., California
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post #6 of 22 Old 01-29-2019, 12:33 PM
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I’d start with a small 2.1 or 3.1 system and build out.

Let’s start with the staples of any theater, receiver and subwoofer.

$300 for the Denon X1400H. No better pick for the price IMO.

Then let’s move to subwoofers. Rythmik or HSU are easily the best picks at their price point. $590 for the LV12F or $560 for the VTF2. Can’t go wrong with either.

I’d look at Chane, Ascend, or Emotiva for speakers.

Chane A1.4’s + Chane A2.4 = $650ish

Emotiva B1’s + C1 = $529

Ascend CBM170’s + CMT340 = $600
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Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #7 of 22 Old 01-29-2019, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gajCA View Post
That will go a long way as your speakers won't be close to the side walls so taming that first floor reflection with a large rug will be a big big help!

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage; my daughter is getting married in October.

We're writing checks now!

Could have gotten a killer upgrade myself for that money!

Wish they'd eloped!
Thanks! Congratulations to your daughter as well!

My fiance' and I have been pricing out our wedding plans, since we'll be financing it ourselves, and we're actually thinking of just hosting something at our house. I made the comment to her that it makes more sense to put the money we'd spend on food, booze, decorations, a venue, etc. into the house and do the addition and/or renovation we've been talking about. Which is why I was shocked when she started pushing me to get new speakers. I may be new to this marriage/husband/fiance' thing, but I know when to nod and keep my mouth shut.

Thanks for the link on the sound treatment @hernanu . I mentioned the topic to the fiance' and she was like "so does that mean we can get drapes now?!?!?". Sigh.

@Russdawg - the Chane's were on my short list already, may need to order a couple and try them out. Will look into it tonight.
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post #8 of 22 Old 02-01-2019, 01:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I think I've got a plan put together... the Denon X1400H for the receiver, 5x Chane 2.4's, a new rug (and maybe drapes... ugh), and I'll upgrade the current Velodyne CT-15 to a pair of Rythmik or Hsu's in the spring. A few questions:

- any compelling reason to get the X1500 over the X1400? I don't see any major differences except for the DTS:Virtual X which I'm not sure really matters.

- Going with the 2.4's all round vs the 1.4's in the back - any issues with that (assuming the cost difference isn't an issue)? My understanding that using the same speaker all the way around would create the most uniform sound field. I'm going to try to figure out how to arrange them all vertical if I can - I think there's enough room under the TV for it.

Thanks all for the suggestions!
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post #9 of 22 Old 02-01-2019, 02:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frizille View Post
I think I've got a plan put together... the Denon X1400H for the receiver, 5x Chane 2.4's, a new rug (and maybe drapes... ugh), and I'll upgrade the current Velodyne CT-15 to a pair of Rythmik or Hsu's in the spring. A few questions:

- any compelling reason to get the X1500 over the X1400? I don't see any major differences except for the DTS:Virtual X which I'm not sure really matters.

- Going with the 2.4's all round vs the 1.4's in the back - any issues with that (assuming the cost difference isn't an issue)? My understanding that using the same speaker all the way around would create the most uniform sound field. I'm going to try to figure out how to arrange them all vertical if I can - I think there's enough room under the TV for it.

Thanks all for the suggestions!
Anyone who gets the 1500 while the 1400 is that great price is a nut.

If getting the A2.4s vs the A1.4s doesn't interfere with buying a quality sub or two by all means do so.

But buy a pair first just to make sure you don't have an "oh oh" moment when listening to them; I don't THINK that would happen but you never know.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #10 of 22 Old 02-01-2019, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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How about the X1400 vs the X3400?
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post #11 of 22 Old 02-01-2019, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by frizille View Post
How about the X1400 vs the X3400?

XT32 is a pretty big improvement, but other than that i don’t know if it’s worth the huge price jump. I’d put the extra money into better sub(s)

Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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I think you can forget using speaker-top Atmos speakers, as the roof material is reflective, but the angles/distance will not be conducive to making that work. I also agree with previous posters that a rug/curtains are going to be essential to getting better sound in the incredibly reflective room. Putting absorptive panels on the free walls will help (especially the wall right behind the seating). Instead of curtains, I'd be inclined to use cloth shades of some sort, which would not cover the structure of the room, but would soften the window reflectivity (for both audio and video).

https://www.theshadestore.com/shades

Best Eichler layout I've seen. Congrats.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

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post #13 of 22 Old 02-01-2019, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Russdawg1 View Post
XT32 is a pretty big improvement, but other than that i don’t know if it’s worth the huge price jump. I’d put the extra money into better sub(s)
Only thing I've found is:

- the power difference, 80 vs 105, not sure how big of a deal that is with the Chane 2.4s?
- discrete subwoofer outputs. Does that matter since I plan to do dual subs?
- Few more inputs and outputs, which doesn't matter since the X1400 has enough.
- the X3400 will get the eARC update while the X1400 won't. That doesn't matter now, but might in the future. Spending the extra couple hundred might save me from replacing the receiver in the future when I get a new TV. Conversely, future protocols like HDR10+ and HDMI2.1 may require new hardware in the future anyway.... so that's probably a wash too.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frizille View Post

Only thing I've found is:

- the power difference, 80 vs 105, not sure how big of a deal that is with the Chane 2.4s?
- discrete subwoofer outputs. Does that matter since I plan to do dual subs?
- Few more inputs and outputs, which doesn't matter since the X1400 has enough.
- the X3400 will get the eARC update while the X1400 won't. That doesn't matter now, but might in the future. Spending the extra couple hundred might save me from replacing the receiver in the future when I get a new TV. Conversely, future protocols like HDR10+ and HDMI2.1 may require new hardware in the future anyway.... so that's probably a wash too.
Upgrading from a Denon 710 to the X3400 with audyssey XT32 gave me a noticeable improvement. Audyssey XT32 and dual sub EQ will be helpful if going with dual subs. The X3400 has pre-outs which would allow you to connect an external amp should you need one. That said, go with the X1400 if you have to compromise on other components to get the X3400.

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The Denon X3500H is on sale for a day more for $529 at Fry's. Hurry if you want this killer deal

https://www.frys.com/product/9773614

See this deals thread post 884

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-re...l#post57510040
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post #16 of 22 Old 02-01-2019, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frizille View Post
How about the X1400 vs the X3400?
I upgraded late last year from an X3000 to an X3400 and XT32 made a noticeable difference. Since you plan to do dual subs, the Sub EQ is really worth it since it lets you eq each sub separately. It's a few hundred bucks more, but IMHO it is well worth it. It does limit you to 5.2..2 for Atmos, but in that room you are probably OK with that.

While the CT-150 is an old sub, if it is still working fine, it is a very capable sub. You can probably hold off of upgrading it for the time being. I have a Velodyne HGS-15 (which is a much more capable sub) from this same period, I bought it in the 2002-2003 time frame, and ti still rocks.

For speakers within your budget, Elac or Q-Acoustics towers might be worth a look. A 5.0 setup from either of those brands will come in within your budget with an X3400H (no sub, you have a decent one already). I feel for you in that room, my brother lived in an Eichler for a few years, but his living room only had one glass wall and low-nap wall to wall in most of the main living area, so not as bad (he had a pretty decent stereo in those days and the sound was good in his room). I rather liked the architecture, for a 1950's/1960's tract house it was pretty cool. Unfortunately, good architecture and good sound don't always mix.

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Blu-Ray: Sony UBP-X700/LaserDisc: Panasonic AG-LD20/Streamer Amazon FireTV 4K
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2018 Denons can display the GUI over 4K HDR, if that matters to you. I have an X2200 and it is a minor annoyance. However, I would still pick an older model with XT32 over an X1500 or X2500.
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post #18 of 22 Old 02-02-2019, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frizille View Post
How about the X1400 vs the X3400?
Along with better EQ you also get a bit more power, (not a huge deal but good to have), and, more importantly, a full suite of pre outs which in future gives you much more wiggle room when upgrading speakers as you can add an amp(s) if you decide you want to get some relatively inefficient 4ohm (or lower) speakers.

But if you plan for your current setup to last a very long time with easy to drive speakers the cost may not be justified.

$299 vs $599 new.

Oh, if you are indeed planning on dual subs then, yes, that makes it far more attractive to get the 3400.

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post #19 of 22 Old 02-06-2019, 06:41 AM - Thread Starter
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I pulled the trigger on the X3400 over the weekend and it showed up yesterday. Got it hooked up last night. All went smoothly until I got to the Audyssey setup. First time I ran it the calibration froze at 85%. Second, third, and fourth times also all hung at 85%. I checked the Aud FAQ and followed the troubleshooting steps there in between runs to unplug it for 5 minutes and to do a factory reset. Neither worked. I then found a couple posts on here about people talking about how they did the calibration and distance between measuring points. One guy was using like 6 inches between points and I was using more like 6 feet because of the picture on the screen during setup on where to place the mic. The screen says no more than 2 feet away ... I'm apparently not a good judge of distance. Anyway, I ran it a fifth time and kept each measurement position within about 6-12" of the center point and it ran fine with no issues. It's possible the reason people get a hung calibration is due to distance on measurement points but I have no way to prove that. You think the AVR would give you an error or something...

Once setup was done, I fiddled with the different EQ settings just to see what did what and how they were different than the outgoing Onkyo 626. My immediate impression was much better sound than the Onkyo. Noticeable improvement on Mad Max Fury Road, Matrix bullet scene, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 opening scene in terms of clarity and sound position. I don't know enough about the inner workings of AVRs to say if that was due to the Audyssey version improvement or some electronic wizardry in the Denon vs the Onkyo, but I'm happy with the $600 spend. The Denon also cleaned up the HDMI 4K passthrough images (less grainy) even though the Onkyo was set to passthrough. No idea. Speaker positions, TV settings, Xbox settings were all the same - Literally a straight cable swap on the receivers.

Next steps - I need to track down an X3400 recommended settings guide and then plug those in tonight and see how it sounds and get the A2.4's ordered.

Thanks all for the help! The X3400 was a really noticeable improvement in sound quality, can't wait for the Chanes to get here.
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post #20 of 22 Old 02-06-2019, 12:30 PM
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I pulled the trigger on the X3400 over the weekend and it showed up yesterday. Got it hooked up last night. All went smoothly until I got to the Audyssey setup. First time I ran it the calibration froze at 85%. Second, third, and fourth times also all hung at 85%. I checked the Aud FAQ and followed the troubleshooting steps there in between runs to unplug it for 5 minutes and to do a factory reset. Neither worked. I then found a couple posts on here about people talking about how they did the calibration and distance between measuring points. One guy was using like 6 inches between points and I was using more like 6 feet because of the picture on the screen during setup on where to place the mic. The screen says no more than 2 feet away ... I'm apparently not a good judge of distance. Anyway, I ran it a fifth time and kept each measurement position within about 6-12" of the center point and it ran fine with no issues. It's possible the reason people get a hung calibration is due to distance on measurement points but I have no way to prove that. You think the AVR would give you an error or something...

Once setup was done, I fiddled with the different EQ settings just to see what did what and how they were different than the outgoing Onkyo 626. My immediate impression was much better sound than the Onkyo. Noticeable improvement on Mad Max Fury Road, Matrix bullet scene, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 opening scene in terms of clarity and sound position. I don't know enough about the inner workings of AVRs to say if that was due to the Audyssey version improvement or some electronic wizardry in the Denon vs the Onkyo, but I'm happy with the $600 spend. The Denon also cleaned up the HDMI 4K passthrough images (less grainy) even though the Onkyo was set to passthrough. No idea. Speaker positions, TV settings, Xbox settings were all the same - Literally a straight cable swap on the receivers.

Next steps - I need to track down an X3400 recommended settings guide and then plug those in tonight and see how it sounds and get the A2.4's ordered.

Thanks all for the help! The X3400 was a really noticeable improvement in sound quality, can't wait for the Chanes to get here.
Excellent.

Hopefully Audyssey set up all your speakers as "small" with an 80hz crossover, with Dynamic EQ "off" and Audyssey reference rather than Audyssyey bypass for the left and right which is what "dumber" versions of Audyssey have done for me the last two times I used it in two different receivers in two different homes of friends/family.

Note that the sub "distance" setting is longer than what a tape measure would reveal but that's "normal" so don't change that distance setting.

Looking forward to your further impressions.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #21 of 22 Old 02-06-2019, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Hopefully Audyssey set up all your speakers as "small" with an 80hz crossover, with Dynamic EQ "off" and Audyssey reference rather than Audyssyey bypass for the left and right
I didn't check the size and crossover settings yet. Audyssey gave me the option to turn off Dynamic EQ during setup (I did) and Audyssey did set it correctly to Reference during setup.
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post #22 of 22 Old 02-06-2019, 12:48 PM
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I didn't check the size and crossover settings yet. Audyssey gave me the option to turn off Dynamic EQ during setup (I did) and Audyssey did set it correctly to Reference during setup.
For modern soundtrack, for me, Dynamic EQ is awful.

But for old movies from like the 70s and before, it actually works OK on those crappy soundtracks at -10db reference.

Geoff A. J., California

Last edited by gajCA; 02-06-2019 at 12:57 PM.
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