My < $2,500 5.1/7.2 Upgrade – The (Amateur) Process and a Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 17 Old 07-16-2019, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
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My < $2,500 5.1/7.2 Upgrade – The (Amateur) Process and a Review

Summary and Disclosure:
Too Long, Didn’t Read version: I recently made an exhaustively-researched jump from a HTiB system to a Chane 5.0 system, powered by an Onkyo AVR and coupled with a Klipsch subwoofer and rudimentary 4k Samsung TV. This writeup discloses my research and purchasing process, and I review the new system at the end. This was what worked for me (a REW-less, Audyssey-less, Dirac-less, non-audiophile amateur!), and how I found the system that best fit my needs and budget. BUT - Do your own research! I’m not trying to advertise for the system I purchased (although it does sound great!) or convince anyone else to follow suit. You are much better served by auditioning as many speakers as possible in your space, with your equipment (see Interlude B below). What worked well for me may not work for you. I share this experience simply to help amateurs (like myself) recognize what could be a helpful process, and perhaps save them some leg work with respect to the great ID options available to the budget-minded buyer.

Some might say this sort of review doesn’t belong on AVS, but I disagree – people come to this forum with different levels of experience and knowledge, and I’m hoping what I’ve learned can be helpful to others similar to myself. I still have much to learn myself, and there are many threads on AVS I should read through.

I reference several AVS members throughout this write-up – please let me know if I’ve mischaracterized anything about your experience and I will correct it!

Intro:
I have had the same HTiB (Home Theater in a Box) for almost 20 years. Over that time period, there were a few upgrades, but for the most part, the system operated unchanged and provided a lot of great listening and surround sound capability. Now, I have completed a recent 5.0 upgrade, and I’d like to share my experience on this forum for those who may gain some insight from my humble journey. This thread will double as a selection/purchasing guide and a system review for the Chane 5.0 system I’m now using (Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s as L/R, and Chane A1.5s as L/R surrounds).

Before starting, I should note and stress that, like many others who may stumble across AVS, I Am Not An Audiophile (IANAA). That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate good SQ (Sound Quality), it just means I am restricted (by budget and by non-dedicated “home theater” placement in my very open and multi-use family room) from building an out-of-this-world sound system. I marvel at the amount of time and money spent by many AVSers (many seem able to drop upwards of $3,000 - $10,000 at the drop of a hat), and while I envy them and appreciate their efforts (and especially their ADVICE as experts in this field), sadly I will never be one of them. If you could kindly keep that in mind as you read on, I’d appreciate it – I get mocked enough at home by my kids, I don’t need it here, too!

Part 1: Humble Beginnings
Twenty years ago, fresh out of school, I decided to pursue 5.1 surround sound. My father had built a decent system at home (Onkyo receiver and speakers, along with some DAK speakers), and I loved the experience of sitting at home, watching a movie, and feeling surrounded by sound, similar to what you get at a theater. I love movies, and I love music. As a big rap fan, I also love deep bass you could feel.

Back in 2000, I didn’t have a computer, so I did research on HTiBs using Consumer Reports. One system (which I could only afford by working overtime) that had great reviews from CR and other sources was the Kenwood HTB504, with a Kenwood receiver (VR-507), 5 speakers, and the 100 watt SW-35HT subwoofer (8”, ported). [Note: I found out much later that this system was touted online as a “good buy” (e.g. here). I saved my overtime pay and made the purchase. It took me two more trips to Circuit City to get the cables necessary to hook everything up (unbeknownst to me, digital-out from my 1999 cable box only supported a few channels, whereas the rest were analog, which took me forever to figure out!), but I was very happy with the system, such that it lived in my home for the better part of two decades.

The receiver gave up the ghost a few years ago, but the speakers and sub served me well – they were trouble-free and sounded fine to my untrained ears, and far superior than any TV speakers or soundbar. I bottomed out the sub on occasion (it has no limiter), but it didn’t suffer from any lasting problems as a result.

Part 2: Partial Upgrades
When the receiver failed, I tried to find something cheap to replace it. I settled on a Sony STR-DH750, which I scored for only $220. Installation of modern receivers required a flat screen (HD) TV by then, so I had to upgrade from a tube TV to a 1080p Vizio (42”, about $400). It was a challenge to make the move to HDMI, but overall setup was much simpler (although I temporarily fell into the failing Audio Return Channel (ARC) hole that consumes many of us – I never could get it to work, and still can’t!).

The Sony had issues, however. When watching TV (Comcast), the audio would drop out every 10-20 minutes. All sound would cease for about 1 second. It was mildly annoying, and I could never figure out how to prevent it. Evidently, lots of people have had this problem with Sony receivers. I can’t recommend this specific Sony receiver because of this issue. In addition, the setup and on-screen guides/text were very confusing. The receiver needed to move on, but I had no money to do so.

Part 3: Budget
Fast-forward about two years, and I found a new source of funding. My employer, after years of surveys in which employees complained about “not being appreciated,” instituted a new “bonus point” system. Managers or peers can now award employees for going above and beyond, helping others when issues arise. These points can be traded in for gift cards to places like Best Buy, Crutchfield, and Amazon. I suddenly found a new source of “disposable income.” Whereas all other income is carefully set aside, budgeted, saved (3 college educations, retirement, home repair/improvement, cars, etc. – we are blessed to be able to save for all this and have no outstanding debt, other than 15 years left on the mortgage), spent, or donated, this money was designated for “fun.” Initially, that meant buying a new dishwasher and clothes dryer, and getting my wife some Christmas presents in 2018. Ha! Eventually, funds were freed up for electronics.

Part 2b: Partial Upgrades, continued
With some Crutchfield gift cards, I was able to upgrade the receiver. A sale allowed the purchase of the Onkyo TX-RZ620. It was a major improvement over the Kenwood and Sony, but still a far cry from the Denon/Marantz/Yamaha/Emotiva/NAD top-of-the-line receivers touted here on AVS. Regardless, I still own and use this receiver, and will until it fails. It’s 7.2-channel and capable of Atmos (although I don’t use it) from Onkyo’s top AVR line. I’ve never had any problems with it, and it doesn’t suffer from any of the problems the Sony did. It seems to provide plenty of power, and the sound signature is good.

Next up, the TV was replaced by a 43” 4k Samsung (only $380). It’s nothing special, but it does have a better picture than the 1080p Vizio and doesn’t suffer from audio-sync issues.

Finally, it was time to start replacing speakers. I had long craved a center-channel replacement. The Kenwood center was decent, but I had trouble understanding TV and movie dialogue, and for almost 20 years I’d been watching content with closed captioning or subtitles. I spent $80 (Amazon) to get the Andrew Jones/Pioneer SP-C22, which was touted as part of a great 5.1 budget speaker system at CNET. Sadly, it seemed like a lateral move. I picked up a bit of extra clarity, but I was largely disappointed. That’s not to say the Pioneer was a bad speaker, but rather that the Kenwood center was actually quite good when compared to other budget speakers.

With a year-end windfall of Crutchfield gift cards from my employee bonus points, I made a grab at a new subwoofer. I grabbed a Klipsch R-120SW (12”, 200 watt, 400 watts peak, on sale for $280). A major, major upgrade over the Kenwood 8”, obviously! This sub seems to have endless energy, such that I keep its gain around 9-10 o’clock and trim it further with the AVR. Having recently corner-loaded it behind my TV cabinet, it has insane output. It can sound boomy and probably suffers from a good deal of distortion, so I will eventually upgrade to something like a Rythmik FV15HP of FV18, or perhaps something from PSA, Hsu, Monolith, or DIY. I can say that, for the money, the R-120SW brings a lot of room-filling and room-shaking bass, and it’s a lot of fun to have in my system.

7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??

Last edited by jwskud; 07-17-2019 at 08:02 AM.
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post #2 of 17 Old 07-16-2019, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Part 4: 5.0 Speaker Upgrade
This year, with more bonus points coming in, I resolved to save and purchase a new 5.0 system. But first, a few interludes:

Interlude A: Speaker Philosophy
I’m blessed to be able to listen to lots of live music. My daughter is in 4 music groups (orchestra, band, jazz) and my son also plays violin. Their concerts are held in school auditoriums. As such, I recently paid special attention to the room acoustics. Because of the large space, the music is amplified by a system of hanging microphones and large PA speakers in the space. As such, I’m NOT really hearing live music, I’m hearing amplified live music.

That got me thinking – what does a speaker do? It’s meant to recreate all the frequencies of recorded, live music. But if you have an orchestra with upwards of 20-30 different instruments, and some of those instruments have different pieces of music, and some instruments have variations in tone/pitch or whatever, you are asking a lot of a tweeter/midrange/woofer system! A speaker has to simultaneously recreate ALL of those sounds. It’s astonishing that this can be done by any speaker, much less a two-way or MTM (mid-tweeter-mid). I’m sure my primitive reflections are just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s something I’ve not given a lot of thought until recently.

Interlude B: How to Properly Buy a Speaker
This is extremely important. There is a right and a “wrong” way to go about purchasing a speaker. This was all news to me. Typically, I do weeks/months of research before buying any electronics, tools, or an appliance. Like most people, I look for feedback/reviews left by current owners, or I google “best self-propelled lawnmower 2019” and check out professional reviews. I’m looking for two things: value and longevity.

When it comes to speakers, however, this approach doesn’t work. Why? Because of Interlude A. All legitimate speaker manufacturers are trying to recreate recorded sound as best they can. They do this in many different ways, with many different technologies, and the result is that no two speakers sound alike, because all technologies and builds have advantages and disadvantages (or tradeoffs). As a result, they all have their specific “sound signature.” With that in mind, we now need to consider two key factors:

1. Different people, with different ears and brains, like different sound signatures. What sounds good to you may not sound so hot to me, and vice versa.
2. Listening environment has a huge impact. No two rooms sound alike. Thus, speakers that sound good at the local big box store may not sound so good in your room. Or, they might sound better.

Because of all this, the only way to get the “best” speaker is to audition multiple speakers in your home, on your equipment, with your ears. To get the best result, I’ve read that (ideally) one needs to listen to a speaker using lots of different content for many hours, if not days and weeks. Then you switch the speakers out and do an A/B comparison with another set of speakers, and take lots of notes, which is necessary because our audio memories are fleeting (i.e. we can quickly forget how speaker pair A sounded while auditioning speaker pair B).

There are folks on AVS and other forums who do this. They literally order 8+ pairs of speakers and optimize each set for their room, then listen and listen, taking notes. They typically narrow their search down to 1-3 speakers, then run A/B tests to find the pair they like best.

This requires a good deal of time, money (although much of it can ultimately be reimbursed, minus return shipping costs in some cases), know-how, and superior “audio memory.” At the end of the day, they have the speakers you like best. That doesn’t mean they’re the “best” speakers, it just means to their ears, on their equipment, in their room, with their content, they sound the best, i.e. they prefer that specific sound signature to all the other brands/models tested.

Take note – I did NONE of that. I have neither the funds, nor the wherewithal, nor the audio memory, nor the patience to perform such an endeavor. IANAA, remember?

So – how does one decide what to buy when doing a major upgrade? I’ll use the next section to detail my steps.

7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??

Last edited by jwskud; 07-16-2019 at 12:28 PM.
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post #3 of 17 Old 07-16-2019, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Part 4: 5.0 Speaker Upgrade, continued
About a year ago, the research began. I sought three main things from a 5.0 speaker upgrade: value (getting a lot of speaker/technology/SQ for the money), reliability (speakers that don’t break and speaker companies with good customer service in case something did break), and sound clarity. Since I’m a low-budget shopper and don’t anticipate another upgrade unless something breaks, I was willing to spend a lot of time researching options.

I started by collecting the brands/models of potential 5.0 speaker systems that would fit my somewhat constrained budget. My list included Elac, Onkyo, Pioneer, Klipsch, Wharfedale, SVS, KEF, B&W, DefTech, Polk, Focal, Martin Logan, and others. These are the big players, and most have great reputations for building solid products. Better yet, lots of people own and review these brands, so getting insight is easy. Many professional reviews are available, too.

If you’re lucky, you should be able to audition lots of these speaker brands in a fully-stocked Best Buy Magnolia room. Just keep Interlude B in mind – what sounds good in a store, on their equipment, may not sound as good in your home.

My own Magnolia experience was disappointing. I really wanted to hear the Elac UniFi speakers, Klipsch R8000f, some Wharfedales, B&Ws, DefTechs, SVS Primes and Ultras, KEFs, and several other brands. None were available for auditioning except the Klispch R8000f. I did listen to the R8000f pair for about 20 minutes, but I found them overly bright (again, my ears*). I was told to seek out a better-stocked Magnolia room, but the experience was off-putting (the salesman didn’t seem very interested in helping me), so I decided to go back to the computer to do research.

*I should note that the Klipsch audition was actually very helpful. It helped me to further identify and characterize my preferred sound signature. IANAA, after all, so my experience with different sound signatures is limited. In any event, I listen to music on my home theater system, but I listen more frequently on my mp3 player (while working/exercising) with Koss SportaPro on-ear (cheap) headphones. I also listen in my car, a Honda Civic with no audio options added. And I listen to small boom boxes at work and while working around the house. All this to say, I’ve grown to prefer a neutral sound signature – not flat, not bright, just neutral.

Back at the drawing board, I came across a new tool which proved helpful – Crutchfield has a new option to audition many different types of speakers using their new calibrated headphone application, SpeakerCompare. Using this tool, you can compare many types of speakers online. Now, I don’t believe it’s 100% accurate, nor does it represent what you’d hear in your room, nor does it allow you to listen to your own content, but it does provide you with a taste of the different brand sound signatures, even if you don’t own a pair of the many types of headphones that Crutchfield has calibrated. Using this tool, along with online reviews, I was able to narrow my interest considerably.

At the same time, as a means of educating myself, I started frequenting AVS and learned a great deal about audio in general and comparisons of speakers specifically. I read thread after thread initiated by folks looking for speaker recommendations. This was when I was first reintroduced to internet-direct (ID) brands. Many recommendations were to forgoe the big box brands and consider some of the stellar ID offerings available nowadays. ID brands are considered a great buy by some because instead of spending money on marketing or overhead, they (presumably) sink their money into R&D and/or they pass the savings on to the customer. Moreover, as smaller outfits, many deal directly with their customers; being able to converse directly with the owner of the company, who also designs their products, is a definite plus.

I began to research some top ID players: Emotiva, RBH (fomerly EmpTEK), Ascend, Q Acoustics, Aperion, PSA (Power Sound Audio), Fluance, Philharmonic Audio, RSL, HTD, NHT, Hsu, Paradigm Studio, Axiom, JBL, Chane, Salk, etc. Luckily there are fans of these and other brands around the internet and on AVS. Some of these fans are…ahem…quite dedicated, so all feedback was taken with a grain of salt. Who doesn’t like to think their speakers are better than other brands?

I quickly focused in on the Ascend Acoustics CMT-340se and CBM-170se, as they’ve garnered rave reviews, they’re considered neutral speakers, and Ascend’s superior Sierra 2 speakers were, sadly, well beyond the reach of my budget. I was ready to purchase the Ascend speakers, until I came across a couple sources who had auditioned the Ascends but preferred Chanes: @mpk1970 and @audiofreak38 .

I had first heard of Chane through another AVS super-user, @Zorba922 . Chane seemed to be an ID company with a great reputation with regards to value and SQ, but a less-than-stellar reputation with regards to product availability. Many AVS posters lamented being unable to procure Chane speakers, with very long back-order times and some lack of transparency. This made me wary of their speakers, but I also heard from many posters on AVS that their customer service is second-to-none, with owner and designer @Jon Lane responding directly to queries via both email and phone, as well as frequenting the AVS forum. So I decided to take a closer look.

A broad internet search on Chane speakers highlighted an extremely dedicated fan base and confirmed that availability was often lacking. The fan base seemed to be a direct result of quality, neutral speakers, owing to both their planar leaf tweeters (with 4 times the surface area of a standard dome tweeter) and their Splitgap XBL2 midranges/woofers (allowing approximately twice the dynamic output due to a doubling of the linear excursion), two technologies which allow Chane speakers to compete with larger and more expensive speakers. This was intriguing, but not enough to convince me to take a risk on Chane.

However, the Chanes had garnered another reputation: “winners” of speaker shootouts, or direct comparisons. Going back to Interlude B above, recall that direct A/B comparisons are the only way to properly evaluate speakers, and you can see the value of these shootouts, at least from the perspective (and with the ears, content, preferences, and rooms of the evaluators in mind) of showing value.

In 2013, Home Theater Shack had run a $1000 Speaker Evaluation, auditioning 8 tower brands (both big box and ID) under controlled conditions, and the (Chane) Arx A5 were preferred (see here), narrowly edging out the Martin Logan Motion 12. The evaluation stressed neutrality, sound stage, and SQ, specifically detail and clarity. The Arx A5s were not well known at the time and received very HTS user votes as expected winners before the evaluation. This detailed comparison was very useful to me.

I next came across an AVS speaker shootout, as performed by @mpk1970 : the 9 Budget Speaker Shootout
(see here). Performed in 2017, it featured the Chane A2.4 and Chane 1.4 speakers in direct comparison to 7 other big box and ID brands. Here again, the Chane speakers (A2.4) were preferred, and emphasis was again placed on neutrality, clarity, and detail. There were issues with perceived break-in time, something Chanes are also known for – the XBL2 Splitgap technology which allows the 5.25” midranges to dig deeper than their small size would normally allow also require some time to “loosen up.” This has been attested by many Chane evaluators, although there are plenty of detractors as well.

Next, I came across @mpk1970 ’s direct A/B comparison between Ascend’s Sierra 2 speakers and Chane’s A2.4 speakers (see here). This was huge for me – the Sierra 2 speakers are considered top-line, with their RAAL tweeters touted as exceptional. They are also much more expensive (about $1450/pair vs. ~$560/pair for the A2.4s). Could the Chane A2.4s come close to the Sierra 2s? In mpk1970’s evaluation, he makes it clear that the Sierra 2s are the better speaker, but I was surprised to see that, in his opinion, the Chanes held their own with regards to clarity and detail, and handling volume well. In other words, you are definitely getting a lot of speaker for your dollar with the A2.4s.

For full disclosure, it doesn’t appear that @mpk1970 uses the Chanes in his main system anymore (he switched over to Emotiva T2s and a C2, more expensive and larger speakers compared to the Chane A2.4 – I’d love to see a fairer comparison of the T2 to the Chane A5.4 towers…), but at the time he seemed quite pleased with their performance-to-dollar ratio. In fact, I’ve read a handful of accounts by people who have owned Chanes and moved on to other brands, and they do so with a major budget boost (Emotiva T2, or Revel F206, or Sierra 2, etc.), an option not open to me.

Shortly thereafter, I came across a review by another AVS super-user, @audiofreak38 , who preferred the Chanes to the Ascends (e.g. see here).

As a result of this, my target purchase shifted from Ascends to Chanes. I then sought out more head-to-head comparisons of Chanes and the following brands (all over again): SVS, Emotiva, RBH (formerly EmpTEK), Ascend, Q Acoustics, JBL, Aperion, PSA, Philharmonic Audio, RSL, HTD, NHT, Hsu, Paradigm Studio, Axiom, and Martin Logan. Some of the better offerings from these vendors were beyond my budgetary constraints (e.g. PSA’s MTM210Ts are $1050 each!), but across the board, the Chanes either held their own, or were preferrred outright. Is that to say the Chanes are superior to all these brands? Again, no, these are all opinions by specific listeners, in their rooms, with their equipment and content, and their specific preferences. But I kept hearing key words repeatedly: clarity, sound stage, neutrality, value, and equal or superior all-around SQ than higher-priced competitors.

As a final step, I actually read through the “Official Chane Music and Cinema Owners Thread” on AVS…all 4000+ posts. I was looking specifically for unsatisfied customers. And there was…one! All in all, a very strong showing for Chane, and I must add here my appreciation of the expert opinion, advice, and feedback of @BufordTJustice , a forensic audio expert who works with Chane’s @Jon Lane on speaker design, but who is not an employee and who receives no compensation for these efforts. His level of expertise is extremely high, and he’s a very helpful guy! I am very grateful for his help integrating my system and choosing settings and further investments to pursue to protect my purchase.

And so…the decision was made. I purchased a Chane 5.0 system: a Chane A2.4 (MTM) center, two Chane A5.4 towers for L/R, and a pair of Chane A1.5 bookshelves for surround duty.

7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??

Last edited by jwskud; 07-16-2019 at 12:53 PM.
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post #4 of 17 Old 07-16-2019, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Part 5: Decision Made, Orders Placed
My employer (sadly) does not allow me to trade in bonus points for Chane gift cards (ha!). Instead, I traded them in for Amazon gift cards, provided them to the family (wife), and received back the option of spending the equal amount in cash elsewhere. This was the money used here – about $1547 with shipping for the 5.0 system (plus the bonus HiVi Swan X3 computer speakers for $21 – an exceptional deal and major upgrade as well!).

An order was placed for all but the A1.5s on May 27th. A separate order for the A1.5s was placed on June 13th. As noted above, Chane is frequently out of stock. Based on AVS posts, it seems this has cost them some sales, but since they are a company striving for overall value, I can understand the business model - it doesn’t help overhead to keep a fully stocked warehouse year-round. Rather, as I understand it, they place bulk orders with the factory a few times annually and try to anticipate orders. The fact that they repeatedly sell out of speakers should be a testament to their products – and lots of people are willing to wait to have their orders filled.

One advantage to this business model is that, once an order is placed with the factory, Chane offers pre-order discounts before they arrive in the US. I was able to take advantage of this for the A2.4 and A1.5s, and I got the nice bundle with the A5.4s and HiVi X3s, wherein the X3s were basically free, as mentioned above.

Chane keeps its pre-order customers apprised of projected shipping dates via its website and its newsletter, and by direct emails. Shipment of the speakers took place in late June, with both shipments being received a few days apart. Shipping was only $17 per box, and all of the boxes arrived undamaged.

Unboxing revealed attention-to-detail with regards to safeguarding the speakers. Everything was in perfect shape, with triple-layer protection and lots of high-grade foam.

Part 6: Initial Impressions
Before receiving the 5.0 Chane system, I emailed Chane and received their multi-page and detailed Chane User Guide (v1.7), which has a lot of useful information. Included are instructions for installation of the outrigger feet for the A5.4s, how to manage bass (port) modes, placement, crossovers, etc.

Unboxing the speakers was an experience. My first impression was, “These speakers are heavy!” They are well built, well braced, and sturdy. All three models are also deep, deeper than I was expecting. This wasn’t an issue, as I’d measured my spaces vs. specs before ordering, it’s just something to keep in mind.

Many will say the Chanes have a “standard” appearance. I would disagree; from an amateur standpoint, having only owned HTiB and budget speakers, they look very good to me. The A5.4 towers, with three 5.25” woofers, a 5.25” midrange, and the planar leaf tweeter (exactly at ear level), with outrigger feet attached, look sharp, professional, and powerful. The A2.4 center is compact and a perfect size for placement under a screen, even a smaller 43” TV like mine. The A1.5s are perfect bookshelf size. I like the look of all of them so much I don’t mount the grills. The finishes are simulated black ash and blend nicely in my room.

Interlude C: Speaker Placement
My open, multi-use family room serves as the home theater in my house. This non-dedicated space is not acoustically-friendly. First, the room is a bit large (2300 cubic feet) and opens to the kitchen, effectively doubling the space. Second, the family room is divided by a large fireplace that extends out into the room, restricting placement of the cabinet that houses my TV and AVR. Third, my wife insists on keeping the cabinet that houses our (small, 43”) TV . Finally, all of this requires corner-placement of the system, which I’ve read is not acoustically desirable. In other words, regardless of the system I employ, my room is demanding a lot of the various audio components!

Upon arrival of the Chanes, I endeavored to improve placement as well as I could. The center channel was moved from a high shelf to underneath the TV, placing the tweeter at ear-level. I raised the TV to achieve this placement. I also shifted the entire cabinet to the left a great deal, away from the fireplace, and made the corner angle more shallow. This allows seating across the room (in an L-shape) while maintaining full-screen viewing at all positions.

A sub crawl was performed. I’d read about this technique and didn’t think it would actually work. You put your subwoofer in your MLP (main listening position), on your chair or couch or whatever, and run bass-heavy music through it, while you crawl around the room with your head near the floor, listening for points of superior TR (tactile response) and SQ. I was shocked that there were huge nulls around the room, including near my original sub position. I was pleased to feel/hear corner-loading in my room gave a pronounced increase in both TR and SQ. The corner behind the TV cabinet gave a pronounced improvement in SQ, with much of the “boominess” of the sub removed relative to placement to the left of my old speakers and in front of double-glass French doors. The added bonus was the realization that, for this sub at least (I’ve been told sub crawls are not universal and need to be performed each time an upgrade is made), placement behind the TV cabinet was ideal, allowing me to move the TV cabinet out even further, making the wall angle shallower still. This provided plenty of room for the A5.4 L/R speakers.

As an aside, I hope to upgrade my sub in the future, and I’d love to get something as large as the Rythmik FV18. If it can be placed as effectively behind the TV cabinet as the Klipsch, I can pull this maneuver off without my wife freaking out…maybe.

Part 7: Putting it All Together
The Chane A2.4 is now under the TV, with the front of the speaker overhanging the cabinet. The upper cabinet doors were removed to allow the A5.4 L/R some breathing room. The fronts of these speakers also extend about 5 inches in front of the cabinet. I am currently running all 3 speakers with open ports (the TV cabinet is open in the back). I used 14 gauge speaker wire to connect all 3. They are in close proximity to the AVR, so while the A5.4s are considered 6 ohm speakers, 14 gauge is not strictly required.

The A1.5s are my surround speakers. One sits on a small end table but is close to the wall. The other sits extending beyond a bookshelf. Both are running with foam plugs in their rear ports.

The old Kenwood L/R speakers (KS-505HTs) are now used as rear speakers. They are suitable for surround-back sound effects, but it would be great to replace them with the upcoming Chane A4.5 on-wall speakers some day.

Part 8: Dialing In
Chane pursues excellence in SQ through “good parts, valid design, quiet cabinets, and careful tuning,” thereby “explor[ing] the most dynamic, musical, and pleasing sound in [Chane’s] price points.” Having direct lines of communication with Jon Lane, owner and designer for Chane Audio, on AVS, it is obvious that he is seeking great value, clarity, and SQ for his customers by designing speakers with great technology that provide low distortion and the best possible dynamic behavior in their price points. A quick perusal of the “Response” tabs for the A5.4, A2.4, and A1.5 on the Chane website shows extremely tight “SPL vs. Frequency” plots. Plots don’t tell us how speakers sound, but they do indicate designers’ intentions as they build products.

There is, of course, no comparison between my old HTiB speakers and these new Chanes. However, I was still surprised at the initial improved clarity upon hooking up the new 5.0 system. The muffled sound of the old Kenwoods was replaced by some of the clearest sound I’ve ever experienced on any system. The planar leaf tweeters are highlighted by many reviewers as being exceptional, and I must agree.

Interlude D: Break-In
Fact or fiction? Many people believe speaker break-in, or giving a new speaker time to play a variety of frequencies over time to “loosen up” various drivers/components, in order to achieve full potential, is a bunch of bologna. They argue that the listener’s ears are adjusting to the new sound signature, and the speakers sound the same when initially unboxed vs. after many hours of playback. There are those who believe there are exceptions to this rule, however, and I (and others) believe the XBL2 technology are one such case. Most reviewers report increased midrange and bass response after putting the Chanes through their paces for 20-50 hours. This doesn’t require any special process, but rather just playing content. I set all 5 speakers to large for about a week of listening to expedite this break-in and I believe I heard much different responses before and after with respect to both midrange and bass. YMMV, but it's another reason to consider auditioning Chane speakers for days/weeks and not just a few minutes/hours. @mpk1970 certainly had this experience, having disliked the A2.4s initially (see link above).

Part 8: Dialing In, continued
As a reminder, I don’t have access to top-line equipment. I don’t have a UMIK-1/REW to measure frequency responses. I don’t have a miniDSP 2x4HD to tweak settings. I don’t have a top-line AVR or external amplification. I have an Onkyo TX-RZ620, however, which I then put through its paces (following ~20 hours of break-in time).

I started by placing the speakers in their appropriate positions, tweeters at ear-level, and aligned with the MPL, with very slight toe-in on the A5.4s (converging behind the MLP). I used a tripod and the Onkyo microphone to run AccuEQ. One nice thing about this particular AVR is that it allows quick toggling of the system with and without AccuEQ, so you can tell if you like what it’s done or not. There’s even an option to toggle AccuEQ on for everything except the L/R speakers. Lots of people on AVS don’t like AccuEQ, especially when compared to Audyssey XT32, or Dirac Live, or even YPAO (Yamaha) or MCACC (Pioneer). I find its impact to be minimal, yet noticeable and preferable, however, so I leave it on.

I further tweaked the system by experimenting with crossovers. The Chane guide is useful here, and I follow its advice with regards to the A5.4s, setting a 50 Hz crossover. This is mainly because the bass response from the A5.4s is quick, clean, and tight, and I prefer that over the (sometimes) slower and muddier response of my sub. This is also why I’ve set my LFE low-pass filter (LPF) to 100 Hz instead of the default 120 Hz. Mark Seaton and others experienced in the realm of LFE recommend this setting for cleaner bass response.

I cross the A2.4 center over at 80 Hz, but need to experiment with a 50-60 Hz crossover and the port plugged. With the port unplugged, I find a 50 Hz crossover causes about 5-10% of dialogue to have a bit too much “bass spit” – that small, low-frequency “puff” noise at the end of a word. At 80 Hz (open port) it is crystal clear, however.

The A1.5 surrounds are crossed at 80 Hz, ports plugged, due to recommendations and proximity to walls.

Finally, I played around with EQ. The Onkyo allows 3 presets to be saved, and in each preset, you can EQ 9 of 15 bands for each speaker position (i.e. center, L/R, surrounds, surround rears). This is when the Chanes went from sounding really good to sounding exceptional. For the A2.4 center, I utilize a standard parabolic EQ while boosting the center frequencies just a tad; I boost the high frequencies slightly higher than the lower frequencies since I’m seeking dialogue clarity from this speaker and I don’t want that “bass spit” to muddy up deeper male voices.

The A5.4s are boosted in a similar manner, but with full boosting on lower frequencies (parabolic). This brought the A5.4s “out of the box,” so to speak, and the results are stunning. More on this later.

The A1.5s are given similar EQ treatment, with a slightly attenuated low-frequency boost, similar to the A2.4.

7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??

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Part 9: The Review
If you’ve read all this so far, you’re still wondering, “How does it all SOUND?” Did I get the SQ and sound signature I was seeking? Is it worth the $1500 paid for the upgrade? Would I have done anything differently?

Music. I listen to a lot of music (mostly on headphones), from many genres. I have very eclectic taste in music. From classical music to death metal, from The Little Mermaid soundtrack to dark synth, from the smooth stylings of Mr. Nat King Cole to the aural (falsetto) assault of King Diamond. I’ve always preferred listening to music in All Channel Surround, with a subwoofer, to fill the room. With my old system, I couldn’t push above an AVR volume level of ~60 (out of 100) without distortion – things just started breaking up.

With the new system, post-AccuEQ and post personalized EQ, I am listening to a lot of music, much more than ever before, and I’m loving it in 2.0. The Chane A5.4s are killers. I am so happy with them and their ability to fill both my family room and kitchen with clean, clear sound that I can’t really describe it adequately. As I said above, I love bass; if I bass-boost +3-6 dB on the AVR, I can go sub-less and get incredible bass out of these three little 5.25” woofers…it’s actually shocking. I’m not saying I get the room-shaking bass I get with my sub(s), but rather that the bass I do get is low, tight, clean, and it makes listening to music a lot of fun. Actually, refer to ** below for a bit more feedback on bass.

In fact, the A5.4s sound so good that they have me listening to genres of music I don’t normally enjoy, like New Age, Jazz, and Stage/Broadway. Everything sounds good. Vocals are sweet and smooth.

One of my earliest critical listening sessions in 2.0 with the A5.4s was on the “Stage and Screen” Music Choice channel on Xfinity. The song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” performed by David Tomlinson and Dick Van Dyke from the movie Mary Poppins, came on. I haven’t heard this song in over 10 years, and never thought much of it. But with the A5.4s, the SQ and vocal clarity was thrilling, and I knew I was listening to something special.

New Age and Dark Synth make the A5.4s shine more than any other genre (IMO), however. The overlapping sounds across so many frequencies simultaneously are tailor-made for the 5 drivers. I have auditioned Perturbator’s I Am the Night album (ChromeCast from YouTube) on these speakers at least 10 times and it’s a lot of fun. The tracks “Technoir” and “Deviance” make me smile every time.

I should rewind and add that I audition three specific (CD) tracks on any system (usually just boom boxes) to test its capabilities, as I did with the Klipsch L/Rs (mentioned earlier) at the local Magnolia Room. The first is For Today’s “Open Eyes.” This is a well-recorded and dynamic track, featuring some blistering vocals and thrash guitar coupled with some diving lows (a very cool effect). On the Klipsch R8000fs, in Best Buy, this track was too shrill for my taste; some personalized EQ probably would’ve worked wonders. On the Chane A5.4s, the track is tight, powerful, clear, impactful, and there is no ear fatigue. I can listen for hours with no issues, even at volume. They also create a terrific “phantom center” effect, where it seems like the sound is coming from between (and to the left and right and behind and above) the speakers and not from both separately. The A5.4s provide a wide sound stage with spades.

The second track is Kid Sensation’s “Two Minutes.” This track is very sibilant and has some piercing tweeter action throughout, making it painful to listen to at volume with headphones. On the A5.4s, it’s attenuated. I won’t say it’s completely removed (I don’t think that was the intention of the producers, after all), but it isn’t painful either.

**As referenced above, I should make a note here regarding bass response. Running bass at +8 dB, and listening to the track “Back to Boom” by Kid Sensation, I can definitely say that I get chest-thumping, room-filling bass. I have been fooled on several occasions, in fact, that my sub was running when I was actually in 2.0, which is a good indication of the bass capabilities of the A5.4s.

The third track is Megadeth’s “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due.” My favorite band, my favorite album. I’ve listened to this particular track perhaps more than any other song. I know every nuance. I know when it sounds good and when it is lacking. I’ve even heard it live in concert (only once, sadly). And I realize that the original recording (1990) is severely lacking dynamically when compared to some newer albums I own. On the A5.4s, straight out of the box with zero break-in and no EQ, this track was severely lacking. Now that everything is dialed in, in 2.0 with a +3 dB bass boost, it sounds as good as I’ve heard it. Mustaine’s vocals are rich and clear and sharp. Guitar work is crunchy and technical. The drums/cymbals are a bit subdued (with Dolby engaged – see below), but I owe that to the recording (as evidenced by “Hangar 18” on the same album, wherein the drum work comes through much better). Referring to Interlude A above (Speaker Philosophy), this track puts a speaker through its paces – there’s a lot going on simultaneously. I’ve found that I get far superior results on the drum/cymbal work in Music/Stereo listening mode and not Music/Dolby Surround (set for 2.0), which tends to mute the midrange somewhat. DTS Neural:X also sounds superior to Dolby Surround (for all-channel listening), but this isn’t news to anyone I suppose.

As an aside, I should note that the Chanes are, by design, transparent with regards to production values – this has been disclosed by numerous reviewers. In other words, if you play a sub-par recording on the Chanes, you will hear it – nothing is masked. The Chanes, by design, don’t over- or under-emphasize any frequencies, they simply present the music as recorded. That being said, I’ve listened to a lot of 256 kbps (average) mp3’s from Amazon music, and I detect nothing sub-par about them. So far, I’ve yet to come across a music recording or source that sounds bad…but you can definitely tell which recordings are superior, as mentioned above when describing the Megadeth album from 1990. I’m also a big ChromeCast user, and I cast audio to the Onkyo from YouTube via laptop constantly…and it all sounds great to my amateur, IANAA ears. I can confidently say that the sound you get off YouTube using good headphones will be matched or surpassed by the A5.4s.

With these three test tracks performing excellently on the Chanes, I should make a few comments about my listening habits. I tend to listen at volumes well below reference. I have sensitive ears, and I don’t usually like it too loud…but I will blast it on occasion! And perhaps two things that make the Chanes even better to me are their low distortion and lack of ear fatigue. Whereas with my old speakers I couldn’t cross the 60-volume barrier (my AVR doesn’t allow reading of dB from reference, but it goes up to 100 as a point of reference), I now consistently push volumes as high as 75 and still get clear, clean, powerful sound, and I can listen for hours, literally. I’m confident I can push even higher volumes, but I value my hearing and my family will evict me if I go north of 75.

In summary, the best thing I can say about the Chanes for music, either in 2.0 or 5.1, is that they have me wanting to listen to more and more music. I used to spend as little as 5% of my time on my system listening to music, but nowadays it’s increased to as much as 60% of my time. It’s like listening to music for the first time and getting to re-experience a lot of beloved tracks.

As much as I enjoy listening in 2.0 nowadays with the A5.4s, I must also add that 5.1 music listening is excellent. Having Chanes around the room provides a great listening environment, and everything blends perfectly. Hearing sounds travel around the room, from A1.5s to A5.4s to the A2.4, is great – I can’t tell where one speaker stops and the next picks up.

HT. I love movies just as much as I love music. HT has historically been the major use for my system in the past, as mentioned above. And here, just as with music, the Chane 5.0 system shines.

The A2.4 center channel speaker completely lives up to its reputation, delivering vocal clarity far surpassing my old Kenwood or Pioneer center (or any other system I’ve heard in person). I’ve been watching TV and movies with closed captioning or subtitles for about 15 years because I have trouble understanding dialogue at times, but now that the A2.4 is dialed in, I have no need. I can understand 100% of spoken dialogue from pretty much any source, be it cable, DVD, Blu Ray, streaming, or even VHS. In order to test the audio quality of a lesser source, I recently played Blade on the last working VCR in America. The opening nightclub scene is a favorite. The audio from VHS cannot compete with Blu Ray or even DVD, but the dialogue was still comprehensible amidst all the thumping base and vampire-eviscerating loud sound effects, a massive improvement over the old system.

Moreover, and this cannot be stressed enough, the surround capability with A1.5s is fantastic. Watching Guardians of the Galaxy was a trip as ships came flying in from off-screen – (as mentioned above) the transition from the A1.5 to the A5.4 to the A2.4 was seamless; the only way I knew there was any transition at all was how the sound traveled right to left across my room. Likewise, watching The Shrine recently on Netflix DVD was a trip – lots of ambient effects coming from the A1.5s added a lot of weight and excitement to the film. My only criticism is pointed at myself – the A1.5 is too nice a speaker to relegate to surround duty! I’ve read that a lot of folks are using the prior iteration, the A1.4, as L/Rs with great results.

Everything about the A5.4s above, regarding music, goes for HT uses, as well. I’m tempted to try them as a phantom center, but I’d be hard-pressed to ever remove the A2.4 center from the equation.

The system shines most brightly, however, with Blu-Ray. Thor: Ragnarok was thrilling in 7.1, as close to a theater-going experience as I’ve ever had at home, even listening well below reference and without everything fully dialed in via optimized EQ and crossover. My son, situated on the couch, kept glancing over my way with eyes wide. I’d describe his expression as, “Whoa!” We had even better experiences with My Hero Academia: Two Heroes and Dragonball Super: Broly, both only 5.1-encoded, but extremely dynamic with effects and soundtracks. The sound stage fills the room, the sound quality is superb, volume can be pushed to ridiculous levels, dialogue is readily heard and understood, while quieter surround effects are noticeable, etc. I did experience two explosions in the My Hero movie that triggered my subwoofer limiter, but had no effect on the Chanes, thankfully!

Part 10: Ongoing Issue
If I have one complaint about upgraded system, it’s this: the Chanes are so good, tight, fast, and clear, that they make my current subwoofer sound (at times) slow and muddy. I’ve had some issues integrating the sub with the new 5.0 system, although @Jon Lane and @BufordTJustice , and others on the Chane owners thread, have helped me a lot. The ultimate solution to this issue is, of course, to upgrade the sub. Based on my research, the servo technology used in Rythmik subwoofers sounds like a great pairing for the speed, tightness, and clarity of the Chanes. My tentative plan is to replace the Klipsch R-120SW with a Rythmik FV18, although I’ve not entirely ruled out JTR, PSA, Hsu, Monolith, or even DIY subwoofers. Until then (and I’ll need 1-2 years to save the funds to make this upgrade), I’ll continue to dial in the current sub. I have the capability of altering crossovers and the LPF of my sub, along with trimming subwoofer output or bass in general, all of which has helped a lot.

I should also note that I do have the capability to run dual subs, although they are mismatched. I have the Kenwood SW-35HT in the opposite corner of the room and I can turn it on with the flick of a light switch. Running dual (preferably matched) subs is ideal for battling room modes and nulls, giving a flatter frequency response across all listening positions. But it can also be very difficult to blend two subs together, especially without measuring tools. In my current setup, I rarely add the second sub, although I do find it gives a nice bump in across-room response (by ear).

Interlude E: Measuring Tools
As just mentioned, in order to get the most from any system, it is paramount that one have access to the best tools available. Top-line AVRs with YPAO (Yamaha), MCACC (Pioneer), Audyssey XT32 (Denon/Marantz), and Dirac Live (Emotiva) go a long way towards improving SQ for any given space (as mentioned above, Onkyo’s AccuEQ is not afforded a top reputation by most at AVS, but I find it helps a bit). In order to fully understand in-room speaker responses, however, one must make a jump to REW (Room EQ Wizard), coupled with a UMIK-1, which allows measurements of FR across multiple listening positions AND tweaking your system to eliminate nulls at specific frequencies [Note – there are more user-friendly alternatives to REW but most cost a pretty penny]. All this to say: for me, it’s a bridge too far right now. REW is a free piece of software, but I’ve heard it is not user-friendly and requires a good deal of reading and studying to understand, implement, and optimize. The UMIK-1 is about $100, and that’s $100 more than I have right now. However, I will say that procuring both these items is almost definitely in my future – why spend all this money on top-quality products if you’re not going to utilize them to their full extent? On the other hand, I have read far too many accounts on AVS of REW users getting frustrated with the exhausting process of optimizing response for a room. As a result, since my system sounds so good in its present state, I’ll spare myself that frustration…for now.

Additionally, sub integration is made easier by investing ~$100 in a little tool called a miniDSP 2x4HD, which allows individualized and very specific EQ of subwoofers. When I upgrade my sub in a few years, I will also invest in one of these – it gets rave reviews and seems fairly user-friendly.

Part 11: Summary
Hopefully all of this is helpful to someone. If not, I’ve enjoyed my in-home auditions and authoring these posts, so I’m good either way. I’m sure I’ve made errors in some of my terminology/descriptions, and I will make edits as necessary – thanks for any feedback.

So, do I now have the best speakers for the price I paid? I can’t say that. Do I like the sound signature of the Chanes better than other speakers in their price point? I can’t say that either. I have not auditioned every possible brand and model of speaker in my room, with my equipment and content, listening with my ears, so asserting such would be utterly foolish. However, the better questions are, “Are you very happy with your upgrade, and do you believe it was worth the expense, and would you recommend others audition the Chane speakers?” The answers to all three questions would be a firm “Yes, very much so.” I’m loving music and HT in my space far more than ever. I feel like I did enough research to make this purchase with confidence, as my research was focused on several factors: value/SQ (great return on investment, i.e. you get a lot of speaker for the $), clarity (incredibly sharp sound signature), and reliability (can you trust the company to help out if repairs are necessary). The Chanes deliver on all three areas with top marks.

IANAA…but with this system and a few more upgrades in the future, I feel like I’m on the cusp. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some listening to do!

7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??

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Before and after pics (old Kenwoods on the left, new Chanes on the right):

Chane A5.4


Chane A2.4 (right), with Pioneer on the left


Chane A1.5
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7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??
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old setup:


new setup:
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7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??
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Wow. A fantastically thorough treatise! It really gives insight, and a roadmap, for others who are getting in the game again (or for the first time).

I really enjoyed reading your musical impressions.

I have also recently gotten into New Wave stuff. Wolfclub. The Midnight. Deadlife. FM-84. Gunship. Miami Nights 1984.

Note: i reposted from the other thread because it makes more sense for me to post this here.


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"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said 'faster horses'." -H. Ford | Krell Showcase 7.1/Anthem Statement D1 pre/pros | Musical Concepts' LX Elite Mini-Platinum Mod Adcom MOSFET GFA-5500 | Acurus/Mondial A200x3 | Bluesound Node 2/Apple TV 4K | Toshiba SD-9200 CD/DVD-A | Vizio 55" LED/LCD | L+R: Chane MTM Prototype | Chane A2.4 center | custom-finished Chane A5rx-c surrounds | Member: NATIA, LEVA, & AES.
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Very very thorough review of the speakers and the process you took to find the perfect speakers for YOU!!

Congrats!!

Enjoy the speakers and the experience

Set up #1 Speakers LR: Tekton Enzo XL ; Center: Tekton Pendragon Subs (2) 2019 JTR 118HTs
Set up #2 : QA3020i LR, Center: Emotiva C1 Subs (2) HSU VTF2 MK5,
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpk1970 View Post
Very very thorough review of the speakers and the process you took to find the perfect speakers for YOU!!

Congrats!!

Enjoy the speakers and the experience
I hope I relayed your journey properly, and I must thank you for all the work you did, as it was very helpful to me!
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7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
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And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??
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post #11 of 17 Old 07-17-2019, 09:44 AM
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@jwskud excellent write-up! Very thorough as well. I am also very happy to hear that you are very happy w/the Chanes. Was quite taken back myself. Thanks for taking the time to share with all of us. Many will find this thread extremely helpful to say the least. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Phil
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post #12 of 17 Old 08-10-2019, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Stand-Alone A5.4 review

Small update here - my stand-alone A5.4 review.

I've been spending a lot of time with these speakers for several weeks now. The A5.4s suit my needs perfectly – a mix of home theater and music/gaming in a very large, open space (~4800 cubic feet). I use them as my mains (L/R), coupled with a Chane A2.4 center speaker and Chane A1.5s as surrounds. All by themselves, the A5.4s are more than capable of filling the entire space at modest volume levels – they are highly efficient. Moreover, my 100 wpc Onkyo TX-RZ620 AVR is fully capable of powering them to ridiculous volumes with no signs of strain.

If I were forced to choose one word to describe these speakers, it would be musicality. Or clarity. Or quality. It is difficult to narrow it down to a single word!

For music, I routinely listen to the A5.4s in 2.0 stereo. These speakers come to life after a brief break-in period and when utilized with modest electronic equalization (standard parabolic EQ, with a slight midrange boost in addition). With a 5-8 dB bass boost, I have been fooled many times into thinking my subwoofer was on, when in fact the A5.4s were filling the room with clean bass, coupled with an impressive amount of TR (tactile response, i.e. bass you feel in your chair or chest). That three 5.25” woofers supply this much bass is impressive and speaks volumes about the XBL2 technology - the high excursion level of the woofers is a sight to behold and would be difficult to convey adequately on paper. The planar leaf tweeter is stellar and adds a level of clarity that I’ve not heard before. My Onkyo has an additional setting called "Music Optimizer," which somehow unveils even more impact and SQ from these speakers.

In fact, perhaps the biggest compliment I can give the A5.4s is that they have me listening to music on my system more frequently than ever before…and listening to different genres than I usually do. Stage and Screen, Smooth Jazz, Soundscapes (New Age), and other Xfinity Music Choice channels have become favorites. My new favorite activity is to sit in my recliner listening to music on the A5.4s, regardless of genre. My recent discovery of "dark synth" music (Perturbator, Mega Drive, Carpenter Brut, etc.) has been made 10 times more enjoyable with the A5.4s, which seem to excel at this type of music. Metal (Megadeth, Tenacious D, For Today, etc.) and EDM and classical are no slouches, either. In summation, I've not found a style of music which doesn't come to life on these towers.

Needless to say, the A5.4s also excel in home theater applications - powerful and dynamic. Coupled with the A2.4 center, dialogue is now crystal clear. Subtitles and closed captioning are things of the past.

I recently watched The Shrine, Overlord, Paranormal Activity 3, and Beyond the Black Rainbow at modest volumes, and the impact and clarity of these speakers, coupled with the A2.4 and A1.5s, made the experiences many times more frightening than they would have been with my old system.

These speakers are clear but not “bright.” I experience no listening fatigue after listening at high volumes for hours on end. If I have one complaint about the A5.4s, it’s this: they make my budget, “one-note” subwoofer sound slow and lazy, and demand a considerable sub upgrade!
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7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??
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post #13 of 17 Old 08-10-2019, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Stand-Alone A1.5 review

A1.5 Review

I purchased a pair of the new Chane A1.5s for use as L/R surrounds in my 7.2 system. They came as part of a major upgrade, along with Chane A5.4s as L/R and a Chane A2.4 as a center channel. As such, my entire system was boosted to audiophile levels.

As surround speakers, I am definitely NOT taking full advantage of the A1.5s. These smaller bookshelf speakers are fully capable as L/Rs in a 2.0 or 2.1 system, according to many other users. However, I can definitely say that, coupled with the A2.4 and A5.4s up front, the A1.5s pair wonderfully for 5.0 sound. I've been consistently shocked at how well sounds travel around my room now, with incredible clarity and power. The XBL2 bass technology in the A1.5s is the real deal, and the planar leaf tweeter is incredible.

Watching surround-coded films (DVD or Blu-ray, or even on cable TV) is a new experience. I can close my eyes and hear space ships flying around the MLP in a fully transparent fashion, meaning I cannot discern where the A1.5s start and stop and where the sound is picked up by the A5.4s or A2.4, other than noting that the sound is "traveling." This timbre-matching and lack of localization allows fuller immersion in the action on screen and removes any distractions which could be caused by sounds coming out of surround speakers.

The best thing I can say about the A1.5s is that they made me very curious how they'd sound as L/Rs in a 2.0 system, so much so that I recently disconnected my A5.4s and tried the A1.5s in the same position.

First of all, let me tell you, recent Chane A1.5 customer @rhelliott2 is not exaggerating. The bass from these little bookshelves, with their 5.25" midwoofer, is impressive. As Darth Vader might say, "Most impressive." XBL2 is no joke. The excursion I witnessed on the midwoofers was huge relative to their small size - I can't say I've ever seen anything like it (other than my A5.4s ).

Looking at the specs first, I see my A5.4s are more sensitive (90 db with an F3 of 47 Hz) than my A1.5s (84.5 db with an F3 of 50 Hz), so I had to do some volume leveling to compare the two. Once that was done, I listened to the A1.5s in 2.0 with a 5-8 dB bass boost on my Onkyo (the same setting I use for 2.0 listening with the A5.4s). I listened to the Titan A.E. soundtrack (it features a broad variety of music, from Lit to Powerman 5000 to Jamiroquai to Electrasy), and the same clarity and sound stage I get from my A5.4s was present, albeit a hint more subdued (?is that the right word?) relative to the A5.4s due to the size difference. Bass was sharp and deep and it all sounded very, very good. This was enough to convince me: if you are limited to the A1.5s as L/R and haven't experienced the A5.4s, you are in a very good place! If memory serves, somewhere in the Chane Owner thread @Jon Lane talked about the design principles behind the A5.x speaker, and it was simply to "amp up" the A1.x and A2.x models, to provide a bit more boost to fill larger spaces.

And therein lies a detail I neglected to mention. My MLP is about 15 feet from the L/Rs, in a 2300 cubic foot family room which opens up to ~2600 more cubic feet in the kitchen and doors/hallways. It takes quite a bit of volume to fill this space, which is why I chose the A5.4s. If you have a more modest space to fill, I could argue the A1.5s (or A2.4s) more than fit the bill, and you'll save a pretty penny in the process!

But I wasn't through yet. I turned to my bass challenge: Kid Sensation's Rollin' with Number One, the same album I use to audition the few speakers I've had the opportunity to listen to in person. With the same 5-8 dB bass boost I use with the A5.4s, the A1.5s, on the track "Back to Boom," filled the room with bass, enough so that I was feeling TR (tactile response) through my recliner and directly in my chest. At 15.5 feet away...perhaps my audio naivete will shine through with this statement, but I don't think that's normal for a 5.25" woofer. I think that's exceptional. I've certainly never heard/experienced anything like it with other similarly-sized woofers. Heck, my Kenwood HTiB speakers couldn't amass that much bass at 6 times the volume and bass boost.

Lest I neglect to mention the top end, let me just say that the mids and highs from the A1.5s are beautifully synced/timbre matched with the A5.4s. So everything sounded great - what sounds great on the A5.x will sound great on the A2.x and A1.x - Jon seems to make this a primary goal in design). I highly recommend the A1.5s right alongside the A5.4s, and if room size and budget are in your favor, I can vouch for the A1.5s as L/R mains.

7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??
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post #14 of 17 Old 08-12-2019, 06:41 PM
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Thank you for this writeup. It has been very helpful in making my decisions on upgrading my system. From your description, my room is very similar (17x17x9) opened at the back to the kitchen/breakfast area, and partially on one side with the staircase. My system is a small Klipsch 5.1 system (Quintet III and Synergy 10), and I have been looking to upgrade for improved sound quality for movies (75%) as well as for music (25%).

The decision for speakers has bounced around so many brands and designs, that it is easy to become confused. From the big brands like KEF, Focal, B&W, and more recently looking at the smaller ID brands like Chane, Ascend, Hsu and RSL. I'm a sucker for the underdogs and liked what I have read about these smaller brands, their owners and their passionate followers. I look forward to joining soon

Roger
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System 5.1.2 :|: Marantz SR6013 :|: Vizio Quantum 4K 65" :|: Emotiva T2 :|: Ascend CMT 340 SE C:|: Ascend HTM 200SE Rear Surr :|: SVS SB4000 :|: Dayton B652 AIR Front Height
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post #15 of 17 Old 08-18-2019, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by suprolla View Post
The decision for speakers has bounced around so many brands and designs, that it is easy to become confused. From the big brands like KEF, Focal, B&W, and more recently looking at the smaller ID brands like Chane, Ascend, Hsu and RSL. I'm a sucker for the underdogs and liked what I have read about these smaller brands, their owners and their passionate followers. I look forward to joining soon
Best of luck to you! I'm glad I could post something helpful to someone. I really had to rely on many other people, like those cited throughout the review, to make an informed decision on what to purchase. There is excellent word-of-mouth for many, many ID brands, and I think it's a matter of finding a sound signature that suits your desires. I like to think you can't go wrong with the more-established ID brands, and I truly believe you get more for your money with these smaller vendors.

As someone who stresses value/bang-for-buck, after all of my research I figured I couldn't go wrong with Chane, and I'm very, very happy with my purchase (enough so that I spend a good deal of time sharing my experience with others here on AVS). I have a feeling I'd have to audition a lot of speakers, and considerably more expensive speakers, to markedly improve upon what I now have...which is great, since I don't plan on upgrading again for a very long time, if ever.

7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??
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post #16 of 17 Old 09-19-2019, 01:54 PM
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Just wanted to say thanks for the time and effort you put into this. I just placed an order for the 1.5/2.4 bundle yesterday (for L/C/R in my 5.1 setup). I didn't think I could be, but now I'm even more excited for them to get here!

As an aside, we appear to have very similar tastes in music. Have you listened to the new Tool album, by any chance? If not, stop whatever you're doing, crank it up, and prepare to have your mind blown.
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Vizio P75-F1 | Denon AVR-S740H | Chane A1.5/A2.4 L/C/R | Boston VRS Micro Surrounds | Dayton Sub-1200 | HTPC (Win10, Red Dragon RX 5700 XT, Kodi, MPC-HC/MadVR) | PS4 | XBone
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post #17 of 17 Old 09-28-2019, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sd_smoker View Post
Just wanted to say thanks for the time and effort you put into this. I just placed an order for the 1.5/2.4 bundle yesterday (for L/C/R in my 5.1 setup). I didn't think I could be, but now I'm even more excited for them to get here!

As an aside, we appear to have very similar tastes in music. Have you listened to the new Tool album, by any chance? If not, stop whatever you're doing, crank it up, and prepare to have your mind blown.
Thanks much for the feedback - always nice to hear it was beneficial to someone. I'm constantly marveled by the clarity of sound I get from these Chanes. I recently moved my MLP closer to the TV and things got even better...

I've only heard a bit of the new Tool album so far but I will definitely look into it - I've always loved their music. My personal taste in music is all over the place; I'll make playlists mixing The Little Mermaid soundtrack and Deicide, or Asphyx and Katy Perry...

Enjoy your new Chanes - let us know on the Chane thread what you think when you've given them a few weeks of time.
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7.2 system: Chane A2.4 center, Chane A5.4s L/R, Chane A1.5s surround, Kenwood KS-505HTs rear
Subs: Klipsch R-120SW and Kenwood SW-35HT (8"); HiVi Swan X3 monitors (laptop)
Onkyo TX-RZ620, Samsung 4k 43NU7100, PS3, Nintendo Switch, Sennheiser HDR130 headphones
Protection: Tripp Lite Isobar 8 Ultra; VCE SP250-2P
And don't forget - JVC HR-S3900U Super VHS - the last working VCR in America??
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