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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's been 1.5 years since my last upgrade.


I have an inner calm that I've never felt before. My mind is not troubled by thoughts of change.


I listen to my audio system every day and experience great satisfaction. When I think about what I'd like to change with it, nothing comes to mind.


This is the first time in my A/V-buying 'career' that I've ever felt truly satisfied with my audio system. Before this time, I spent a lot of time researching the next set of upgrades and waiting impatiently until I had enough money for the next round of purchases. However I was frequently disappointed with the systems that I put together. They sounded better, but never 'great'.


Part of the problem was the way I went about buying audio gear. Subconsciously, I was just as concerned with getting a good deal as I was with how much I liked a component. And how much I liked a component was driven largely by internet reviews, not my own ears.


I didn't go around to stores and audition speakers and amps. I researched on the internet endlessly and compared prices on used gear, where the best deals could be had.


My second-to-last upgrade was especially disappointing. I bought a pair of NHT VT-2's on Audiogon for a good price (circa 2000), and picked up a floor model of a receiver I thought was pretty good - an Onkyo TX-DS939, one of their flagships from a few years back. I thought I'd save some money by using my old NHT VT-1's for rears and my old VT-1C for the center.


It was underwhelming. The midrange sounded harsh, dialogue was never at the right relative volume, the rears were too easy to localize, and the bass was lacking (but the VT-2's had 10 inch woofers!). I realized years later that I had made a lot of dumb mistakes (again). The center channel wasn't matched well, the rears weren't built to be diffuse, and the receiver was way underpowered. I also discovered that the NHT midrange I had liked so much on my SuperZero-based office system didn't really suit my tastes on the VT-2's.


For my last upgrade, I changed my buying habits. I decided to do finally do what countless AVS'ers had been recommending for years - make a CD of my favourite music, then visit all my local audio stores and audition everything in my price range. However I still couldn't quite kick the urge to get a good deal so also I bought a receiver on Audiogon (thankfully it turned out well).


I ended up with the following:


B&W 703 Mains

B&W HTM-7 Center

B&W DS6 S3 Rears

Paradigm PDR-10 (leftover sub from earlier system)

Harman/Kardon AVR-7200 Receiver (from Audiogon)


I was _almost_ there.. but there were still some problems. The center channel didn't seem to match. Dialogue changed tone noticeably when going from the mains to the center. And the bass.. ahh the bass.. still not quite powerful enough.


The final upgrade: I changed the center to a B&W HTM-1 (same midrange driver as the 703's) and the sub to a whopping Paradigm Servo-15 v2.


The center made a huge difference - it truly is the most important speaker in a surround setup. At first glance the sub felt like overkill.. the thing has 1200W RMS for pete's sake. But the problem is that I listen to music at relatively moderate volumes, and it's always been difficult to get any bass at lower volumes (why doesn't some mfr doesn't make a receiver with a mode that compensates for the Fletcher-Munson curve ?). The Servo-15 v2 worked wonders at low volumes, adding a smooth oomph to the low end that was always lacking, and reproducing notes I could never hear/feel before.


That was 1.5 years ago, and today I'm happy to say I have no desire to upgrade my audio system.


I've reached the point where, for the size of the room I have and the amount of floorspace I can devote to speakers, I don't feel I could do any better. And I'm still surprised by how good the system sounds. Just today I was watching a concert of Corinne Bailey Rae in 5.1 from the BBC and it blew me away.


Looking back, my biggest mistakes were putting too much emphasis on internet reviews and bargains. For certain types of equipment, comparing specs and reviews is fine. But for speakers (and amps, to a degree), nothing can beat doing your own listening tests at quality stores. Sure you get killed on the retail pricing, but over the long run, I think it yields a quicker path to a more satisfying system.


And eventually, a system that you're completely satisfied with.



edaly
 

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The internet is a great place to come up with ideas for what to audition. Everyone has different tastes in sound so reviews a nothing more then an interesting read. In then end i does come down to listening to stuff on your own with you favorite music. That is why it is said so many times in the forum. go listen. i have auditioned 20,000 dollar pairs of speakers and would be happier with a set of altec lansing computer speakers. the looks i get when i say i dont like them and that to me they sound like crud is priceless though. One time i was walking around outside a mall and heard a pair of outdoor jbls mounted to the wall and a pair of bose that were in the ground and i must say the sound coming from them was really nice. It sounded very airy and it took about 15 minutes to pinpoint where the sound was coming from. probably because of the lack of reflections. A sound i know i could not produce inside a house, its really to bad.


In the end with everything that is available it comes down to what you like and can afford. Hopefully you will always continue to follow your own advice. if you do then you will be the winner every time.


also i have to say great taste in speakers. I have heard the B&W 703s and i was impressed. i liked them and so far those are the only speakers i have found besided the quad 989's that i would purchase to replace my jbl l7's.


and good for you. keep enjoying your purchase.
 

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Nice story. Thanks for sharing. My guess is the upgrade bug is just taking a rest. I suspect your receiver will be the next victim. . .
 

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Edaly, you're just telling yourself what you want to hear. There is no cure for what we have. When I go into buying mode, I turn into the description of the Terminator. I can't be bargained with, I can't be reasoned with, I don't feel pitty, or remorse, and I absolutely will not stop.....until it is bought. Your bug is just full right now. He'll get hungry again. Probably sooner than you think. I have a feeling that, deep down, you know this. Enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hehe, well I promise to post an update in a year's time and we'll see if the skeptics are right
.


As for the receiver, I have to say I'm very happy with the H/K AVR-7200. I don't know how to really express it, but it sounds like it has a lot of power to spare. It's rated at 100Wx7 but H/K is known for their conservative ratings and it's also a high-current amp. I was even able to bi-amp the 703's for a little while with the extra surround back channels before I got the Servo 15.


It's true that things like HDMI might be useful but I watch the majority of my content from an HTPC so I'm not super concerned with additional inputs/features.


I won't deny that it's in my nature to want to upgrade. However even if I only manage to suppress my upgrade bug for 5 years, I'll consider that a great victory. In that time I can devote my time and energy to other more edifying activities.



edaly
 

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I think cars fall into the same category in terms of relying too much on the internet. You do a lot of reading and you downselect before seeing or driving. Then you can pretty much pick your most likely candidate before going to the dealer. The problem is that when you drive it, you realize there is an emotional connection to the experience that does not come through on paper. It can make you completely re-arrange your list of priorities. It seems you should do a quick survey to identify the list, go touch, feel, drive (even ones that are marginally on the list), then go back and re-evaluate what you get for the money, etc. Suddenly power liftgate on that SUV won't matter any more nor the extra grand for your preferred model.


During speaker auditions recently I found attributes of a system that on first glance would not have been obviously important. After listening to speakers that I might have liked even slightly better, I'm still taken by the overall package of the original system. This is because in addition to sound, looks for the space and size of the unit will affect what I buy (in addition to price). Some of us realize we can make things better...but will probably give up something else. Others enjoy the process as they trade-out gear. To each his own. Although a daunting task to listen to a lot of speakers, I found after I found ones I liked, I could eliminate the ones I didn't within the first couple songs. They don't sound so similar that you like them all. It's once you narrow down to the range of speakers that you like that it gets tough. If you can then switch over to your space/appearance/budget constraints to decide from there, you'll probably be fine in the end. But, I suspect many people on this board have a hard time with that...they have to get the best sounding ones.
 

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I am very happy for you that you have reached a level of audio comfort that makes you want to stay. But...


You are just baiting us to awaken your upgraditis!
It wants to come out and play. Have you tried a sub EQ (Behringer DSP1124P, Onix R-DES, Velodyne SMS-1) to flatten out your in-room response?


-Max
 

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Enjoy your "cured" time...while it lasts!


I have too been cured for sometime and then it comes back in full force...
 

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I have a slightly different (and personal) definition of upgraditis. To me upgraditis means changing/adding components with more or less the same functionality but more expensive and improved SQ is the only driver. Examples adding multiple subs, moving from AVR to pre/pro, changing speakers from 700 - 800 series etc.


The changes you do every couple of years, in more or less the same price range, just to keep up with the current technology is ok as long as you don't change with each incremental change (example HDMI 1.1 & 1.2 etc) and running after cutting edge stuff. I will upgrade my pre as well but only when HDMI 1.3 is stable and the pre/pros start doing surround sound decoding of the new HD formats. Till that time I am ok with my analog 7.1 bypass.


In this context I like the 2CH better. If you assemble a quality 2CH rig it is less likely to get obsolete in a couple of years although the technology is moving forward in this area too but just not as fast as MCH.


Sincerely.

-dollarman
 

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When I am simply listening to music, my system sounds fantastic and there is no upgradeitis. When I start thinking about upgrades that might theoretically make it sound better, however, I start imagining I hear "weaknesses" that weren't there before. I expect that these are not real, but simply things that my mind invents to try to justify spending more money. So far, the more rational part is winning. (But for how long?)
 

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Well, receivers do get introduced with new features or connectivity that weren't available or affordable before. Upgrading to get 4 HDMI inputs plus a network connection adds real and usable features.


OTOH, upgrading a good receiver just for a supposed increase in sound quality is upgraditis.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sb1 /forum/post/0


Edaly, you're just telling yourself what you want to hear. There is no cure for what we have. When I go into buying mode, I turn into the description of the Terminator. I can't be bargained with, I can't be reasoned with, I don't feel pitty, or remorse, and I absolutely will not stop.....until it is bought. Your bug is just full right now. He'll get hungry again. Probably sooner than you think. I have a feeling that, deep down, you know this. Enjoy.


LOL. Some funny posts in this thread and this one is true for me right now.


It doesn't matter that I cant afford them, it doesnt matter that my current system is great and I certainly won't be reasoned with or cured until I have my new speakers...
 

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Quote:
I have too been cured for sometime and then it comes back in full force...

no man........it comes back worse!!!


Edaly: In all seriousness, congrats on reaching your level of contentment. Wanting what you've got is immensely more satisfying in life than thinking the grass is greener on the other side. I especially enjoyed your comment on how your VT-1s were "too localizable" as surround speakers. I hate direct radiating speakers for rear duties as well. I've tried several pairs, in different rooms, with different processing, volume settings......blah blah blah...........none can immerse me like multi-directional surrounds can.
 
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