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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys,

A new acoustically transparent screen is more or less forcing me to revisit my audio setup and consider addressing the existing and (now) new problems it poses.


My current setup is as follows:


- HT Area is 11'x15' though it is not walled in on the rear or right side.


- Receiver - Pioneer VSX-D812 7.1 unit, in a 5.1 config right now. 100W per Channel RMS).


- Infinity Interlude IL36C Centre (Called one of the best centre channels, at any price range)

- Infinity RS5 Mains (Meh reviews)

- Infinity RS2 Surrounds (Meh reviews)

- JBL 10" Powered Sub (I forget the model # right now, not really relevant anyhow).

- AURA Bass Shakers in platform and couch to make up for the lack of air movement from the sub.


The problem(s) as I see them:


- My LRC don't "match" (The RS's use a poly drivers and the IL uses C.M.M.D. drivers)

- I have floor standing speakers (with no real low end in them to begin with) for a Home Theatre Setup

- Middle of screen is 55" off the ground, Ear Level is 44" off the ground. Raising floorstanding speakers to 49" seems (and is) problematic. Also more or less prevents floating them on the wall behind the screen.

- They weigh too much. About 40lbs a piece.

- I believe the RS5's have a rear port at the top of the speaker. I only have 15.5 inches of space behind the screen, the RS4's are about 13" and I need to leave 2" before the screen.. this doesn't leave much of a airspace for the port.


So my question is a rather general one. Question 1: What do I do about this?.


That said, I will have specific questions in bold below.


Possible Solutions to those problems:

Matching - Since I believe in the IL36c as a serious speaker and have just today found reviews to back this up. I've done some searching and even came across an auction selling a pair of Infinity Interlude IL10's (they were meant as surrounds but have been well reviewed cautioning people not to consider them as "just surrounds". The Floorstanding IL30 or 40's don't make sense to me here since I'm back to a floor standing speaker. I can probably get the IL10's for about 200-300USD. They retailed for 400 but they're heavy and shipping sucks. I did find a pair of IL30's locally for $500 CAD but again, floorstanding. Better than the RS5's for sure, but I'm thinking this would be yet another compromise. the IL30's are just 2 ways though.

Size and Weight - Going to a bookshelf at less than half the weight must be the solution.

Disclaimer


I'll admit to knowing very little about pros/cons of floor standing vs bookshelf vs the tiny home-theare sets. I have a set of powered THX Logitechs (Z-5300) and I tried them out last year and while they were impressive for a couple hundred bucks, they really didn't hold a candle to the setup mentioned above which is probably on the weak scale in terms of pro-sumer level home theatre anyhow.


Therefore:

Question 2: What specifcally is "matching"?


I understand the idea, but are there limitations to what would be considered matching? Would using IL10's with the IL36c be considered "matching"? They're the same series of speaker using the same materials for the tweet and cones using the same materials for the cabinets. Or is Matching simply the EXACT same speaker for L/R and C. To me, that's what I'd prefer, though considering the investment in the IL36c, it would be nice to continue to use it. Not a requirement though. I'm just trying to find the most reasonable solution here.

Question 3: What's the deal with "Home Theatre Speaker Systems"?


Most "Home Theatre" speaker systems I see, even from "reputible" speaker companies (Klipsch, Energy) still continue to sell a Centre that's different in size and configuration from the L/R and LS and RS. Though when I look at some of the more serious installs, people using the Ultra 2 THX's, all 3 are the same (well one L or R channel is reversed or upside down).


Can any of these little systems that that the little desktop stands actually be of any use in a serious (not serious $$$) Home Theatre? OR are they really just for desktop computer or small gaming room setups (as I've been using such systems in 10'x10' rooms).


Should they perhaps just be called "Cheap Speakers for Movie Watching in a small room Packages"? Or are there proper, valid, serious systems in a small package for a mid-sized room?

Question 4: From the "I should know this category", Does a speakers sound change if I change it's orientation?


I ask this because if I Were to buy a setup like the Energy Take Classic (simply as an example) the rears may be too small for my wall mounted bookshelf mounting system and I may need to orient the speakers on their sides.


I also ask because it's possible turning my floor standing (which do not have anything bigger than a 6.5" mid in them) on their side may solve one of my mounting problems mentioned above. Plus then the Driver-Tweet-Driver orientation would be also on the same horizontal plain as the center's Driver-Driver-Tweet-Driver-Driver setup. Plus then the weight is disbursed over a greater distance as well.

Question 5: Does a totally mismatched sub make much difference (i.e. enough difference to buy a replacement sub to replace an otherwise perfectly good unit?)


Thank you for your time and any assistance/guidance/options/suggestions you can provide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Oh also:

Question 6: What are the pros and cons of mounting options?


Mounting a small speaker directly to a wall?

Creating 1 shelf for all 3 speakers behind my screen?


I'm just thinking about vibrations to the wall or along a shared base? What about vibrations? Do I just use rubber pads or something on the base/feet or between the wall and speaker to kill these?


Right now I have 3 bases (more like risers) crudely (and temporarily constructed). But they're separate of one another to the floor. This seems, logically, the best solution. Though I don't actually want bases down to the floor. It'd be nice to tidy that area up. But I'm not unwilling to compromise.
 

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The issue that seems to be most important to you is called timbre matching and it involves using speakers that share the same drivers that have the same sonic characteristics. The purpose of such an alignment is for optimal blending of the front three speakers to eliminate seperations and localizations of the front speakers. All of this is dependant on proper placement as well for individual drivers and the polar response of the speaker as a unit need distance to 'sum' in front of the listening position.


Given your AT screen, sheerweave i presume, you may find that you have to attentuate or equalize the high frequencies that the screen dampens as the soundwave passes through the screen. This will make timbre matching more of a factor in your case.


The ideal setup for behind an AT screen would be three identical speakers of either a Mid/tweeter, Mid/tweeter/Mid, or Mid/Mid?tweeter configuration...all of them vertically oriented with the speakers tweeters on alignment with eachother and the seated listeners ear level on a horizontal plane. Horizontally mounted center channels provide a convenient placement for under or above flat screens or below PJ screens...which in all cases is far from optimal. Your existing center does employ an MT vertical array to counter some of the problems with a horizontal alignment, but will still be bested by a vertical alignment of similiar quality drivers.

The least expensive option for you would be to find another RS-5 and use that as a center channel.


Your post indicates you're under the impression that floorstanders aren't an option inyour case...whcih couldn't be farther from the truth. The MTM design of the RS-5 is the preffered driver alignment for home theater speakers, the only drawback in your case is the rear firing port.....which may or not be a problem. As long as you can provide at least 5" of clearance, you'll eliminate most port compression with the only remaining thing to worry about is muddy bass. Entry level speakers are often designed with poor placement options in mind, and therefore baffle step compensation was likely designed into the crossover to compensate.


The more expensive option would be to replace all three front speakers. To reduce any effect caused by the screen, they should either be sealed or front port loaded with the front port low on the front of the cabinet or baffle to allow the port pressure to pass below the viewable screen area.... as long as the area below the screen is AT as well.


Hope i was able to help. I suggest you weigh your options verses your finances and then narrow your choices to speakers that meet the criteria listed above and your listening habits such as moderate to loud volumes. Also consider the amplification of your system and consider speaker efficiency as a factor. Critical music playback is really not an option with an AT screen so consider this in your search as well.
 

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Going to an AT screen is an *excellent* choice. I did this about a year ago and it transformed my theater. The biggest benefit is that all three front speakers can be "matched" and height aligned. This provides the most consistent and coherent front soundstage possible, with the best possible "lock-up" of audio with video. Sounds that "pan" across the front soundstage keep the same tonal quality, (timbre), as they move from speaker to speaker. They also keep the same height. In my old system, with the CC below the screen, the height differential was about 12" from the L/R tweeters to the CC tweeter. This was clearly noticeable, even with the CC pointed up at ear level. Also dialogue "imaged" from below the screen, when it should have imaged "at" the screen. Those problems are completely solved with the AT screen and speakers behind the screen.


The ideal "match" is 3 identical speakers. This gives you the best chance at a perfect timbre match, although room interactions will be different for each speaker, and there will still be some timber mis-match, even with 3 identical speakers. However, you can't do "better" than 3 identical speakers.


Horizontal CC's, like your IL36C, are prone to problems with lobing and cone filtering. It's inherent in the design. Many/most horizontal CC's exhibit this characteristic. In spite of this problem, many manufacturers still sell horizontal CC's because there is a market for them. Nonetheless, it is a flawed design. There are some things a manufacturer can do to reduce the problem. In a speaker like the IL36C, it is reduced somewhat by the stacked central TM, but it's probably not eliminated. Here's an article that explains the problem:
http://www.audioholics.com/education...peaker-designs


Turning a speaker, (re-orienting it), is usually not a good idea. The speaker is designed with a specific dispersion pattern based on it's intended orientation. Changing that orientation will change it's dispersion pattern in an unpredictable way.


Bookshelf vs. Floorstanders: (First of all, one issue you did not address in your concern about using your floorstanders is whether the frame of the screen will stand in front of any of the drivers, in particular the tweeters or midranges. If it does, you definitely want to raise or lower the screen or the speakers to eliminate this problem. You don't want to go "AT" only to block some of the sound with a wood or metal frame.)


Can a bookshelf/subwoofer system provide the same kind of bass as a floorstander/subwoofer system? Absolutely, yes. This is what Bass Management is for. Invoke a crossover in the receiver and re-direct the bass from the bookshelf's to the sub. Let the sub do all the bass in the system. This has multiple benefits.

- First, it uses the best speaker in the system for bass, (the subwoofer), for *all* the bass. If you send an 20 to 40 Hz signal to a speaker incapable of reproducing it, what happens? That signal is lost. Re-direct it to the subwoofer and it will be reproduced, (depending on the capability of the sub.)

- Second, it frees up "headroom" in the main amps and speakers for the sounds above the bass. This reduces distortion and allows the entire system to play louder with less compression.

- Third, the main speaker locations can be optimized for imaging and soundstage, while the subwoofer location is optimized for bass response. The best locations of the mains for imaging and soundstage are rarely the best locations for their bass response. Send that bass to the sub, optimize it's position and you'll have more and better bass.


There are a couple of system design elements that must be considered to make this system work. First, you need a receiver/pre/pro with a capable of Bass Management system. It should have multiple crossover points, and preferably the ability to set different crossover points for different speakers. Second, you need bookshelf speakers with "decent" bass extension. To get a good blend between the bookshelf's and sub, you need the bookshelf's to have some bass output below the crossover point. Otherwise, there'll be a "hole" around the crossover. The rule-of-thumb is extension to about an octave below the crossover, although you can get away with less than this. For example, if you use an 80 Hz crossover, you want the speakers to extend to 40 Hz. You can get away with 50 or even 60 Hz, but the lower the better. Third, you need a capable sub, not just on the low end, but also the high end. If you crossover at 80 Hz, you don't want the sub to give out at 60 Hz. This gets more problematic the higher you go, (although I don't recommend a system where you crossover higher than 80 to 100 Hz.)


In, summary, 3 identical speakers, vertically oriented, with "decent" bass response, Bass Managed with an 80 Hz crossover, mounted at the same height behind an AT screen is the absolute *best* possible arrangement for a home theater sound system.


(Some would argue that a system with floorstanders would be better. I might agree under the following conditions: One, the CC is a third, identical floorstander. Two, the floorstanders have bass extension and output capability to at least the same point as the subwoofer. And three, the floorstanders can be placed in the room where the bass extension can be utilized without compromising the imaging and soundstage. If all three of these conditions can be met, then a floorstander system could be as good as, and *possibly* better than the system described above.)


Mounting options: You can mount the speakers many different ways. They can go directly onto the wall behind the screen. They can be mounted with brackets to the wall. They can be shelf mounted. They can be placed on stands on the floor. However, you do it, just be sure to height align them.


Craig
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayhem13 /forum/post/15492631


Given your AT screen, sheerweave i presume, you may find that you have to attentuate or equalize the high frequencies that the screen dampens as the soundwave passes through the screen. This will make timbre matching more of a factor in your case.

The new woven screens don't require nearly as much EQ as the old "perforated" screens. Some require none at all. If anything, they might require a slight, (1 or 2 dB), boost, not an attenuation.


Also, if the screen is in front of all 3 speakers, it's impact on timbre will be the same for all three speakers and it will be negligible in terms of timbre-matching.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayhem13 /forum/post/15492631


Critical music playback is really not an option with an AT screen so consider this in your search as well.

I listen to music with my screen in front of the speakers all the time. It has very little impact on the SQ. Mine is a SeymourAV woven screen. My system is EQ'd with Audyssey MultEQ XT with the screen down, which would take care of any impact of the screen. Nonetheless, I have demo'd music for several "critical" listeners with the screen up and the screen down. No one could hear an appreciable difference.


Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you so much for the replies gentlemen.


I'm pleased to have the answer about horizontal vs vertical arrangements as well as reorientation. I suspected this was the case, but it gets very confusing when you see reputible speaker manufacturers selling speakers only in pairs and then a separate Centre Channel in the same lineup.


A couple questions came up:

Quote:
The MTM design of the RS-5 is the preffered driver alignment for home theater speakers, the only drawback in your case is the rear firing port.....which may or not be a problem. As long as you can provide at least 5" of clearance, you'll eliminate most port compression with the only remaining thing to worry about is muddy bass.

I can not provide 5" of clearance for the port. The depth of the speakers are about 12.5 inches and I only have 15.5 inches from screen material to wall. I need at least 2" from the drivers to the screen. Leaving only 1" in the rear.


While I suppose it's possible to notch out a hole in the drywall, that effort seems "extreme" when my 3 front's don't match in the first place. Moving the screen forward isn't quite a reasonable option either. Too much trade off.

Quote:
using your floorstanders is whether the frame of the screen will stand in front of any of the drivers, in particular the tweeters or midranges. If it does, you definitely want to raise or lower the screen or the speakers to eliminate this problem. You don't want to go "AT" only to block some of the sound with a wood or metal frame.)

Agreed. And yes, with the screen in it's current position and the RS-5's on the floor, the top mid is blocked by the frame.


My viewing angle right now works out to about 16 degrees. So I could move the screen down a bit, but the array on the RS5 is really an easy foot tall. As it is, I have a 2nd row of seating and lowering the screen further would likely impact that row's line of sight.


RIght now I have them on a crude riser so the tweets were in-line with the tweet on the IL36c. Actually that brings me to another question.

Question 7: When aligning your front channels with your vertical ear position, do you align based on the tweet? or middle of the array? In the case of my RS-5's, the MTM layout must span an easy 13 inches. That's a lot of variance. I get they should all be in-line but I found a difference with the centre being just 6 inches too high yesterday. Tweeter right? Higher frequencies are more easily locatable, therefore the mids should be sacrificed nyah?

Quote:
First, you need a receiver/pre/pro with a capable of Bass Management system. It should have multiple crossover points, and preferably the ability to set different crossover points for different speakers.

Hrm. Well my receiver puts me half way there I guess.


This receiver allows me to select speaker size for Fronts, Centre and Surrounds. (Small or Large). So I'm guessing it uses some predefined crossover based on that choice "per channel" (more like per zone). It also allows me to choose a crossover for the sub itself, though they are fixed, it's 100, 150 or 200.


The manual states if I select "L" speakers (hrm, I think I may have just discovered a hole in my current setup).. anyhow if I choose L speakers for any channel based on the cross over for the Subwoofer it will send those frequencies to those channels. This should mean if set to "S"mall then those frequencies go to the sub.


I actually have an in-line active low pass RCA crossover as well (FMOD 70Hz). And then again the sub itself has a built in cross over as well. I think it's a switch though. Being a 10" I seriously doubt it goes below 100hz (the crossover switch, not the sub). I think that was the reason I put the in-line in (many many years ago)



Of the Bookshelfs I'm considering (KEF IQ3, PSB Image B25 and Energy RC-10) they go down 45, 45 and 50hz respectively. So they should fit that requirement. So I guess the thing to do is look at the IQ3 or B25's since they're front ported. However the IQ3's are just as deep as my RS-5's, so I'd only have 3" in the front. The PSB's would give me 4". Used IL10's to best match the IL36c, are still 11.5" deep and I presume rear ported so I guess they're not really a solution either.


Course those two are only sold by the pair though... maybe I can use the extra for 1 rear surround (6.1ch). At which point I might as well buy 3 sets and get the surrounds done too.


Quote:
Given your AT screen, sheerweave i presume,

Yes, SW4500. I believe the 4000 series has some high frequency issues but measurements against the 4500 indicates only a slight loss of loudness.


So far I haven't really noticed any change in sound from the movies/scenes I usually run through when I make changes. Though I'm not sure what that says about my ears considering the ports on the RS5's are only 1" from the wall.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15494808


I can not provide 5" of clearance for the port. The depth of the speakers are about 12.5 inches and I only have 15.5 inches from screen material to wall. I need at least 2" from the drivers to the screen. Leaving only 1" in the rear.


While I suppose it's possible to notch out a hole in the drywall, that effort seems "extreme" when my 3 front's don't match in the first place.

Do *not* notch a hole in the wall. This will not be effective at allowing the port to "breath". The port moves air in and out at it's resonant frequency. It needs some space around it to allow the air movement. If you can't provide that, you should look at new speakers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15494808


Agreed. And yes, with the screen in it's current position and the RS-5's on the floor, the top mid is blocked by the frame.

That would not be good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15494808


My viewing angle right now works out to about 16 degrees. So I could move the screen down a bit, but the array on the RS5 is really an easy foot tall. As it is, I have a 2nd row of seating and lowering the screen further would likely impact that row's line of sight.

Put the second row on a riser.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15494808


RIght now I have them on a crude riser so the tweets were in-line with the tweet on the IL36c. Actually that brings me to another question.

Question 7: When aligning your front channels with your vertical ear position, do you align based on the tweet? or middle of the array? In the case of my RS-5's, the MTM layout must span an easy 13 inches. That's a lot of variance. I get they should all be in-line but I found a difference with the centre being just 6 inches too high yesterday. Tweeter right? Higher frequencies are more easily locatable, therefore the mids should be sacrificed nyah?

Tweeters at ear level, correct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15494808


Hrm. Well my receiver puts me half way there I guess.


This receiver allows me to select speaker size for Fronts, Centre and Surrounds. (Small or Large). So I'm guessing it uses some predefined crossover based on that choice "per channel" (more like per zone). It also allows me to choose a crossover for the sub itself, though they are fixed, it's 100, 150 or 200.


The manual states if I select "L" speakers (hrm, I think I may have just discovered a hole in my current setup).. anyhow if I choose L speakers for any channel based on the cross over for the Subwoofer it will send those frequencies to those channels. This should mean if set to "S"mall then those frequencies go to the sub.

You need to find out what the crossover frequency is, so you can get speakers that work well with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15494808


I actually have an in-line active low pass RCA crossover as well (FMOD 70Hz). And then again the sub itself has a built in cross over as well. I think it's a switch though. Being a 10" I seriously doubt it goes below 100hz (the crossover switch, not the sub). I think that was the reason I put the in-line in (many many years ago)

Get rid of all that stuff. You want *one* crossover in use... the one in the receiver. Get rid of the FMOD, turn the sub's crossover all the way up, (or disable it if possible), set the phase to zero, set the speakers to "S", and calibrate your system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15494808


Of the Bookshelfs I'm considering (KEF IQ3, PSB Image B25 and Energy RC-10) they go down 45, 45 and 50hz respectively. So they should fit that requirement. So I guess the thing to do is look at the IQ3 or B25's since they're front ported. However the IQ3's are just as deep as my RS-5's, so I'd only have 3" in the front. The PSB's would give me 4". Used IL10's to best match the IL36c, are still 11.5" deep and I presume rear ported so I guess they're not really a solution either.


Course those two are only sold by the pair though... maybe I can use the extra for 1 rear surround (6.1ch). At which point I might as well buy 3 sets and get the surrounds done too.

Check out this system:
http://www.svsound.com/products-sys-sbs_black.cfm

The speakers are sealed, (no ports), $1K gets you a great 5.1 speaker set *and* a much better sub than your current sub. $1.3K gets you 7.1 and an even better sub. Substitute an additional bookshelf for the horizontal CC, and you're good to go!


Or, check out this system:
http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/enthusiast2.html

These speakers are ported, but they're only 8" deep. Check out their other package deals also. (Once again, substitute an additional bookshelf for the horizontal CC.)


Or, there's this system:
http://www.axiomaudio.com/epicmidi_main.html

(Once again, substitute an additional bookshelf for the horizontal CC.)


Any one of these speaker systems will work well and offer higher value as a "system" than the speakers you mention.


Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john /forum/post/15500591


Put the second row on a riser.

It already is. It's also as high as it can be according to common building codes. That said, the couch that's on it does sit a little low. With proper HT seats I guess I'd gain back a couple inches. It's as optimal as it can be for the space.


Craig: Also, thanks for the links to your other suggested setups, though ultimately I have serious concern about buying from an online only company as I can't audition in them. That said, I see Axiom has a 30 day return policy, so I guess I'd just be out the shipping which is probably about what my time would be worth shopping around retail stores for them.


Still, I wonder if $1600 (which is going to be what the other two work out to in CAD by the time they're here) isn't exceeding my budget.


And yet again, I don't know if I want to compromise on HT speakers another time.


Anyhow, the Energy Take Classic set just went on sale here for $599 (CAD) last night. It's with a place with a liberal return policy and just around the corner from me. I do suspect these aren't going to cut it (I'm not holding out hope on the sub), though if they do, I can think of somewhere else to spend the other $1000.


I did some work on the system today to get a sort of baseline from what I'm currently using.


My prefered listening peak level of concert material measured with my Radio Shack Sound Level Meter (Fast Response, C Weighting) works out to 100db. Meaning this is about as loud as I'll ever need(want) the room to be.


I do not hear any distortion in the system at this level. I guess max peak is around 105. So basically I think this means I need the Energy's (where my primary concern is their size) need to at least hit 100-105db's from 10ft away (my listening position). If anything can do that in the showroom with 100W sent to them I'll probably take them home and try them out.


I mean, just as important as movies, is Rock Band.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wow.. the state of home theatre audio in Canada's largest metropolitan area is pathetic.


Your option are big box stores (with clueless setups and salespeople) or boutique shops with clueless salespeople.


Best I could do is audition PSB Image B15 and B25's placed 1 foot over my standing head, side by side... exchange only policy. Or KEF iQ1's... well couldnt' audution those at all.. their receiver connected to them wasn't working or wired properly and they don't carry the iQ3's. It was embarassing (and furiously annoying). Felt like I was a consumer in a third world country for a few minutes there. About the only potential light in the tunnel of pathetic is a store DT Toronto though I think it may be unecessary to visit.


Anyhow the point of the post is Futureshop (Owned By Best Buy) had the "best setup" I could find and a friend and I auditioned between the Energy RC-10 ($399) and the new CB-20 ($349). We placed the speakers side by side and tried different music and DVD's. In every test the CB-20's sounded noticably better than the RC-10's. Also measured with a SPL meter at what I believe was 10 feet. I could get mid 90's with just the speakers themselves running and still -9 db to go on the receiver. Add the woofer in and we were hitting 100-105db. So these speakers should work.


What I can't tell is why anyone thinks the RC-10's are impressive. Because if they are, then the CB-20's are amazing (and I just don't think a $349/pr speaker can be 'amazing'). The RC-10's sounded small. Every aspect of them sounded small.


Anyhow there's ZERO info on the CB-20's on the AVS Forums nor elsewhere online... which is a little odd, and scary. I know the speakers are only 4 months old but I'm really surprised.


With the exception of subtle soundtrack portions in films the CB-20's were much more expansive and immediate sounding. Bjork's Vocals on many Vespertine tracks on the RC-10's would sound like they were coming from the middle, but diffused a bit. Switch over to the CB-20's and it sounded like she was in the room. My buddy was getting chills when we would engage those speakers. Switch back over to the RC-10's and the soundstage shrunk at least a good few feet. Really odd. The cabinets are roughly the same size.. should be abou tthe same volume as the CB-20's are just a but shallower and shorter, but a bit wider to accomodate the 6.5" woofer vs the RC-10's 5.25" woofer.


Afterwards we went back to my place and watched The Presitge on BD and my friend asked me again why I needed to get rid of my speakers.


It is true, they are still rather impressive. But I know the RC-5's are just an okay speaker. I can just imagine what a good or very good speaker will sound like and that's what I'm hoping to find when I pick up some CB-20's today.


We'll run them back to back against the RC-5's (and if I get two pair, the IL36c) and then we'll run them against his pair of Paradigm bookshelfs (I think they're an older version of the Studios).


Oh also, after seeing the Take Classics in person. I didn't even bother. They're way too small.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15523691


Wow.. the state of home theatre audio in Canada's largest metropolitan area is pathetic.


Your option are big box stores (with clueless setups and salespeople) or boutique shops with clueless salespeople.


Best I could do is audition PSB Image B15 and B25's placed 1 foot over my standing head, side by side... exchange only policy. Or KEF iQ1's... well couldnt' audution those at all.. their receiver connected to them wasn't working or wired properly and they don't carry the iQ3's. It was embarassing (and furiously annoying). Felt like I was a consumer in a third world country for a few minutes there. About the only potential light in the tunnel of pathetic is a store DT Toronto though I think it may be unecessary to visit.

First, I applaud you for actually taking the time to go out and listen to speakers. Too many people come on the forum and want to be "told" what speakers to get. You're doing it the right way. I share your frustration with "clueless setups and salespeople". However, you seem smart enough that you can work your way through this problem. Don't give up on auditioning more speakers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15523691


Anyhow the point of the post is Futureshop (Owned By Best Buy) had the "best setup" I could find and a friend and I auditioned between the Energy RC-10 ($399) and the new CB-20 ($349). We placed the speakers side by side and tried different music and DVD's. In every test the CB-20's sounded noticably better than the RC-10's. Also measured with a SPL meter at what I believe was 10 feet. I could get mid 90's with just the speakers themselves running and still -9 db to go on the receiver. Add the woofer in and we were hitting 100-105db. So these speakers should work.


What I can't tell is why anyone thinks the RC-10's are impressive. Because if they are, then the CB-20's are amazing (and I just don't think a $349/pr speaker can be 'amazing'). The RC-10's sounded small. Every aspect of them sounded small.

One word of caution about A/B'ing speakers: if the speakers are not exactly level-matched, the louder speaker will always sound "better", even if the diference is only 2 or 3 dB. These two speakers have similar sensitivity spec's, (91 vs. 92 dB), however, they're tested as "2 speakers in a typical room". As a comparison of sensitivity, unless the two speakers were measured with the exact same mic and the exact same amp, with the mic and speakers in the exact same positions, in the exact same room, on the exact same day,... this "spec" is meaningless. This spec is supposed to be stated as "1 watt/1 meter, anechoic". The RC-10 has such a spec, (88 Db), but the CB-20 does not. Therefore, I would caution you to ensure that you are listening to both at the exact same output levels. Since you took your SPL meter with you, this should be relatively easy to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15523691


Anyhow there's ZERO info on the CB-20's on the AVS Forums nor elsewhere online... which is a little odd, and scary. I know the speakers are only 4 months old but I'm really surprised.


With the exception of subtle soundtrack portions in films the CB-20's were much more expansive and immediate sounding. Bjork's Vocals on many Vespertine tracks on the RC-10's would sound like they were coming from the middle, but diffused a bit. Switch over to the CB-20's and it sounded like she was in the room. My buddy was getting chills when we would engage those speakers. Switch back over to the RC-10's and the soundstage shrunk at least a good few feet. Really odd.

Believe it or not, these differences could be attributable to a 2 or 3 dB difference in levels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taylor /forum/post/15523691


The cabinets are roughly the same size.. should be abou tthe same volume as the CB-20's are just a but shallower and shorter, but a bit wider to accomodate the 6.5" woofer vs the RC-10's 5.25" woofer.


Afterwards we went back to my place and watched The Presitge on BD and my friend asked me again why I needed to get rid of my speakers.


It is true, they are still rather impressive. But I know the RC-5's are just an okay speaker. I can just imagine what a good or very good speaker will sound like and that's what I'm hoping to find when I pick up some CB-20's today.


We'll run them back to back against the RC-5's (and if I get two pair, the IL36c) and then we'll run them against his pair of Paradigm bookshelfs (I think they're an older version of the Studios).


Oh also, after seeing the Take Classics in person. I didn't even bother. They're way too small.

All good stuff! The "level-matching" should be even easier to do at home. Use your receiver's test tones to ensure a "perfect" level match before you listen to each system.


However, I suggest you not limit youyself to these speakers. See if you can find some more to audition. I would suggest you go to that other store you mentioned and check out what they have.


Good luck and enjoy the process.



Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Craig: Great point about the output levels. I didn't think to do that. I will in the future.


Sadly there's not much else at Futurshop/Best Buy or 2001 (that other store) that I didn't listen to in store. There were some polks and Klipsch, but I'll ignore the klipsch due to their horn. I should have tried out the polks.


The store DT (Bay Bloor) is going to carry the same lines.. but yeah they may actually have iq3's and PSB Images's etup properly. Maybe they'll have Mirage and Paradigm too.


Thanks again for your input. Nice to know I'm on the right track and always good to know what I am or am not forgetting.
 

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Okay so I picked up a pair of the Energy CB-20's on Sunday and finally got around to listening to them last night.


A friend also brought over his PAradigm Mini Mk3's (roughly the same size as the CB-20's, 1" tweet with 6.5" woofer).


The Energy's were out of the box during this testing, still not broken in.


I calibrated with a DVD test tone for 85db's and listened to the material around 80-85db's so as to not overdrive the Energy's out of the box.


I listened to a number of tracks of Bjork's Vespertine (lots of highs and mids, clear vocals and various production elements moving backing vocals around the soundstage). I also listened to a number of tracks of an IASCA (car audio competition) CD including stuff like excerpts from John Williams Star Wars soundtrack. Everything in Stereo. Sub turned off on the amp, A/B speaker switching. Though the bookshelfs were only attached with smaller 16-18ish guage speaker wire while I use 12 for all my current stuff (but I don't have any extra).


I never tested the Paradigms directly against the Energy's, switching was between the RS5's and each bookshelf.


My findings (after realizing I had the Paradigm Left Channel connections reversed) were as follows:


Infinity RS5: Very full sound. Highs are a little on the edgy side. Maybe some would consider it bright though it's not piercing. More depth to the mids. On a sax heavy track on the IASCA disc the sax tone did not vary too much. I would say these speakers aren't terribly dynamic. But again, they have a very full sound. They fill the room with sound across the frequency range. One thing I did notice with these speakers though was if I was not directly in the middle of both speakers, I would loose some sound from the right speaker. Leaning over a few inches, I could hear a wall of sound come into my right ear. It's possible these speakers should be toe'd in a bit. I did not find this necessary with the others.


Actually more on the full sound, a few times (after calibration) I thought maybe the songs were playing louder on this speaker so I would A/B a place in the song with the DB meter going and sure enough they were playing to roughly the same average and peak. But perhaps their positioning in the room was optimal and they were getting better reflections. Perhaps off the back wall?!


Paradigms: Not as efficient so I had to adjust the volume to match the dB level of the other two speakers. These speakers are just as wide and long as the RS5's (though not as tall, of course). Beyond the fact they can't be bought new anymore, these couldn't be used in my space anyhow as they're rear ported and the port would be within 1 inch of my wall (I just wanted some form of control for the testing). During the sax track, there are notes which play unmistakenly lower (baritone?) out of these as opposed to the Infinity RS5's. Now... what IS that instrument supposed to sound like at that moment? I don't know. The write up just says "saxophone".. Alto or Baritone, no clue. I would (without experience) say baritone considering how the track is played. I expect alto is for more a jazz or uptempo song.. this is a blues-y song, but the sax starts out on high notes... anyhow.. point is, there's a noticable difference in how the speakers play this sound.


Energy CB-20s: Every time I listened to these with vocal-front tracks, I would get chills after a few seconds. I did not feel this with the other two speakers. This could be a placebo effect though as the electronic switching does take longer than the FS switching did and it was more difficult to pinpoint the changes mid song with a 2 second delay to reach the receiver and for the switch to take place and reposition myself. Anyhow, these played the sax track the same way as the Paradigms. Though fortunately I didn't have to adjust the volume when switching from the RS5's to these. There were many a time these speakers sounded better than the Infinity's, but then I'd switch to the Infinity's and the sound unmistakenly fuller. Though the impending question is... can the sound be too full? Is this just poor decay? Or proper representation of reflections in the recording space?


A lot of the tracks for the IASCA disc have a diagram of where you should hear the instruments playing in the soundstage. All speakers were in the vicinity of where things should be. Though the RS5's would sometimes play something that should be Front-Centre to just off to the right... Again, this could be room acoustics coming into play. It's also fairly minor considering most of my listening will be with films and a centre channel playing anyhow. But I didn't want matching coming into play, and besides A/B comparisons on my receiver would not support multichannel audio (other than the Sub) on the B setting.


On a soundstage track to show imaging, a snare is played 7 times, Far Left, Left, Mid-Left, Centre, Mid-Right, Right, Far Right. The acoustics of the room on all speakers made Right and Far Right sound just about the same. However on this speaker Far Left and Left were only minor changes. on the RS5's. I didn't run this track with the paradigms hooked up, but on the CB-20's there was a slightly more noticable change in positioning.


Ultimately I'm fairly content with the Infinity's and their slight shortcomings and benefits are ideal for the majority of my listening, movies (and games), but logistically; considering the rear port is only 1" from the wall, compression must be happening. The centre channel does not match the L/R mains (different model and orientation), so tonal matching has got to be off somewhat. Also they are 36-40" high and very heavy making secure positioning them behind the screen a bit of a task.. more engineering needed for the shelf.


The Energy's are very capable and I've been braking them in since then and will do some more A/B with them at movie-listening levels with them loosened up now and it should seal the deal on my decision as they should only sound better after a good 24 hours of break-in (manual says 100, most comments I've heard say Energy's with these kevlar woofers are good 12ish hours in). Plus they are a smaller speaker all around, giving me 4" to the wall from the Port and of course substantially lighter (though heavier than the paradigms). Also I expect putting the thicker speaker wire on them will round them out a bit better too. Though can they handle centre channel duty without getting over taxed? I don't know. Though I will hook one up as a centre to see if they're going to cut it. Since they're so good at vocals.. or at least Bjorks vocals, I expect them to shine as a centre.


So, some more comments to come.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Just in case anyone comes across this in a search.


I ended up picking up 2 more pairs of the CB-20's. (6 speakers total)


I've only put them through a few movies so far, but so far I'm fairly pleased.


I must say though, the process of moving the speakers behind the screen didn't yield the significant improvement I once thought it would. (keep in mind based on how I mounted my old screen and new screen my center has really only moved within a foot or so of where it was to begin with). So, YMMV.


However it's far sexier looking to have them hidden which no doubt helps with the immersion.


Watched The Dark Knight the other night (wow those IMAX sequences have to be the best images I've seen yet) and the sound was great, but mostly because, I didn't notice the sound. I didn't at any time think, "Too Loud" or "Not Loud Enough". I guess that's what they call "immersion"



During the demo stuff after I broke them in (before buying the 2nd and 3rd pair), I threw on Bourne Ultimatum and the streets/chase scene (from whatever the country was.. been a while since I watched the movie front to back). .anyhow, excellent sound in that movie. We watched the sequence at least a half dozen times and the CB-20's had some serious punch to them where the Mini MK3's weren't too far behind and then the Infinity's were just a bit of an assault. My friend remarked the CB-20's sounded like they were coming from behind the screen, but the Infinity's soundstage was much more forward. I would have to agree. I think that's where the feeling that the Infinity's have a much fuller sound comes into play. Still a good speaker, especially if you're not paying attention, but when you do, they're just much edgier/harsh than the Energy's. I think I could listen to the Energy's even louder than when we watched TDK and it wouldn't hurt while still outputting the same db's. If it were still the Infinitys I think it would have felt like "okay, that's enough" if they were driven any further.


Anyhow I still have a couple weeks to make a final decision, get in a few more films... but in the end, these ones are small(er), light(er), they fit properly behind the screen (2" in front, 4" behind), they're the same speaker all around and they sound good... I just wish they were front ported.


The RS5's are doing well, repurposed in the living room for music which is an improvement over those tiny Logitech Z-5500 speakers. They should do well to fill the first floor with sound for partys.
 
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