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Kid in a Candy Store Syndrome!! My friends, please help!!

1391 Views 28 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  indieman
Dear AVS forum friends:

I have been lurking and reading and digesting your posts for months now and I feel that I know so many of you folks from your posts, you feel like family. I am a newbie in Michigan that is upgrading from a 36 inch CRT and a $300 Kenwood HTIB to a 50 in plasma with a 5.1 setup. I decided to start with speakers. I began researching and auditioning and eliminating and have been doing that for months. My budget, of course, has doubled and then tripled since I found out more and more about "hi-end" audio. My wife has gotten bitten by the upgrade bug as well and both of us have decided that since this is really important to us and we have to start from scratch anyway, we want to get the best system that we possibly can.

To give you guys a background: we have a 18x12 family room which our kitchen/breakfast nook opens into. The far side is a fairly large fireplace which is why we will be stuck with plasma being the only tv option (we like the format so that is not a problem). Although the system will be used 70% for HT, the 30% for music is more important to us which is why we want a really good set of mains. We have auditioned many brands including Paradigm Studio 100s, B&W 703s, 802s, Boston Acoustics, Martin Logan Aeons, JMLabs (I think Chorus, MSRP was around $4K), Dynaudios, PSBs and last but not the least - Von Schweikerts VR4 SE III, VR4 jr, VR2, etc.

Our favorite for musicality and a sweet tweeter were the VR4s. We loved the 802s of course but a lot of our source music is older poorly recorded ethnic music that just sounded terrible on the Nautilii. The VR4 SEs were much more forgiving and seemed to even bring the older stuff "to life". We are thinking of doing VR2 s for rears and LCR-15 for the center (until Albert VonSchweikert comes out with his matching center for the VR4s and then the LCR 15 can go to the rear for a 6.1). Our questions to you, my family for the last few months (trust me, I have been on this site so much, my wife feels like I have been out of town for months):

1) What opinions or experiences have you folks had with this particular speaker setup?

2) We were thinking of an Anthem AVM 30 for a pre/pro and Aragon Palladium monoblocks for both fronts.

3) We have an older HK DVD-101 that we will be upgrading early next year in favor of a good player that does DVD, DVD-A and SACD. This is not a priority right now but if someone has suggestions (should we do separate pieces for separate formats, etc) we would certainly like to hear them so that we can begin researching now.

4) For the rears we were trying to choose a 5-channel amp so that we can bi-amp now and/or expand to 7.1 later. Our budget is 1-2K for the rear amp. Thinking of either the Rotel RMB 1075 (120x5, around $1K) or maybe Sherbourn 5 channel (125x5, $1.8K) or Parasound A 52 (125x5, $2k). Any thoughts?

I am sorry for the long message. Just wanted to give you folks as much information so that you can help us.

Thanking you in anticipation,


PS. No matter what we get, in comparison to what we have, the future is sure GOING TO SOUND GOOD!! :D
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wow, does your wife have a sister? ;)

no one has responded so i'll add some small reassurance for you.

indie - you guys are right on track! you've done your homework and now it just comes down to the sound that the two of you enjoy the most. all of those products are exceptional and highly regarded on the forum. IMHO - you don't need any help from here. welcome to elysium. enjoy. :)
Gee thanks Metal. We were just tentative 'cause we have come so far from our previous system (which we actually thought was OK, believe it or not) to the world of great audio. The jump has been mind blowing and tremendous and the great sound is like a drug......
It only gets worse from here...

Originally posted by John Robert
It only gets worse from here...

So true...
Yup, you guys are right. The whole thing just keeps snowballing until all that u think, breathe and dream is audio.....

Any thoughts on the equipment though?? Since this all adds up to more money than my car is worth I just want to make sure there are no major compatibility issues, etc.

That's a heck of a way to get your feet wet in the world of audio! You've got a really nice rig there and you shouldn't have any compatibility issues. Rotels are just slightly darker sounding than Parasound, IMO, but I'm splitting hairs here. They are both really good amps from respectable companies and between the two, I personally don't think the Halo is twice as good as the Rotel.

Albert voices usually shows his speakers hooked up to either tubes (VAC) or switching amps (Spectron) and I can attest that they sound gorgeous with either. Because I'm sure you love wading through the stacks of info and opinions on audio :rolleyes:, a little more won't kill you, right?

PS Audio has a brand new switching amp called the GCA and it's pretty revolutionary. I won't go into details here but here's a link . Their multichannel amps can be configured to provide anywhere from 100-500 wpc into 8 ohms, doubling into 4. With your rig, you could stipulate 250wpc to the front 3 (or just the mains) and 100 wpc to everything else and have more than enough power for everything all in one tidy box. The amp won't overwhelm your rack, runs dead cold (barely warm at full chat into 4 ohm speakers) and consumes as much as a night light in standby. Paul Mcgowan states it's better than the vaunted HCA2, which is saying something. This infers tube like mids and highs with truly gutteral slam and depth that's the equal of the big Krells and Brystons. I love the way my HCA2 blends with my VSA's so the new GCA should be even better. Just another option for you...

Really nice set-up you've got started. Don't skimp on the source components and if you don't go with PSA or another switching amp like the Bel Canto , you might toy with inserting some tubes into the chain just to give it a bit of sweetness. You might be surprised.

Good luck and have fun.
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Buy the best speakers you can afford... you seem to like the VS so go with them... buy some solid amps (they will be with you for a long time as well)... those two things will be with you the longest. Electronics is where the quickest turnover is.

Plasma, not the forum for this, but how about a projector? I bought a plasma and then upgraded to a projector... should have saved time and money. ;-) Sorry to add to the snow ball but just sharing my experience.

Wow 300 posts... I gotta stop hanging out here... just costs me more money ;-)
Plasma, not the forum for this, but how about a projector?
I'll second that you should look into getting a projector over the plasma if its possible.
This is for upstairs and not the basement. There is a fair amount of light in the family room and even if there is a bright enough projector I wonder about needing to pull down a screen every time I watch regular TV. Also, the ceiling slopes from one end to the other (will this mess up my acoustics? Either way there is no choice: I can't change it) and I wonder how I would be able to hook up the projector.
Indie: I can empathize completely. I've been on this forum for a few months now and I too have the embarassing symptoms of breathing and dreaming AV. Fortunately I have a very sympathetic wife because her Dad is an audiophile and she grew up thinking that everyone traded in their gear every few months and tweaked their systems weekly.

Anyways, the gear that you've described is all great. Based on my own research I've narrowed down it down to the Rotel 1075/1068 combo and for speakers it will be the B&W 700 series, Dynaudio 40-52SE Audience and the Von Schweikerts even though I haven't heard them, everything I've read says they're great.

I heard the Rotel combo with B&W 700s on the weekend and it was wonderful. From memory though I think the Dyns were even better so hopefully that will be a project for this weekend. Good luck.
Thank you so much all for your input. Hopefully, even more people will pipe in with their 0.02s. Every time I listen to any music anymore, even on my nasty Saturn Vue speakers, I imagine myself listening to the same recording on the VR4s and my mind almost invents the depth, clarity and enveloping sound that emanates from them, almost to the point where I don't even need the VR4s anymore, I can listen to them anyways. Omigosh, I am freaking myself out now!!! I think I need a vacation......

Also, the ceiling slopes from one end to the other (will this mess up my acoustics?
A sloped ceiling can be a good thing acoustically. Set your front speakers at the shorter end so the ceiling slopes upward away from you...

I can't do that cause it does not slope away or towards me. It slopes from left down to right!! I am going to try and post a picture tomorrow.


BTW, any thoughts on a subwoofer for the above setup?? Thinking of doing Martin Logan Depth which goes down to 20 Hz only. Will that be a problem? Dont want to spend too much more than that. Rather go modest now and add a second sub later?? or go all the way now and get one good sub right away?
ML makes great speakers and I don't think anyone would say otherwise. However, they aren't really known for their subwoofers. Others to consider would be HSU, SVS, Definitive Technology, Paradigm Servo's, Velodyn Servo's, and REL. HSU and SVS in particular seem to offer tremendous bang-for-the-buck. Don't discount VSA's VRS-1 either. It may be small but it throws out serious bass.

You've got a GREAT start on a fantastic system. You might want to contact VSA regarding center channel speakers. I've heard rumors that others are currently available but not shown on their website.

I do have one concern about your amplification for HT and multi-channel music if you get into that at some point. For movies, the center channel is by far the most important, having a lower powered amp from a different manufacturer may have in adverse impact on the sound of the system. It could really throw off the sound for MC music too.

For a DVD player, I recommend checking out the Denon DVD-3910. It's a universal deck and performs very well for both audio and video.

For subs, the ML's are good but as topspeed noted there are other manufacturers that are you might want to consider. The list he noted is excellent, I'd also add M&K and Onix Rocket. I've previously owned a Def Tech and I wasn't too impressed with it. I now own a SVS which I absolutely love and it's tough to compete with their bang for the buck.

Good luck and have fun!
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A quality subwoofer will help your audio in many ways:

- less load on the main amplifier = less distortion and better sound

- optimal placement of bass transducer

- better bass extension and higher SPL with lower distortion

The Depth is a good product but I've heard better bass for less money. I would look at the following in order of (my) preference:

1) IB (infinite baffle) sub. Do some research and hire a cabinet maker to build the enclosure. Many consider this to be the pinnacle of bass reproduction.

2) DIY subwoofer. Either build your own or hire a company to build one to your specifications (finish, performance required, etc.). Acoustic Visions is one place that does this type of work (they also make a great line of pre-built subwoofers .

3) Internet direct sales. SVS, Hsu & Servodrive are all popular choices on this forum (there are others out there as well).

4) Store purchased item. The ML Depth, Paradigm's new Servo-15, and the new Velodyne subs are all good options.
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Check out the HT forum meets area. There may be some meets in Michigan where you can see some theaters in action. Some home theaters are better than anything you'd see in a dealers showroom.

I hope you're investigating room treatments for your space. This is even more important than the speakers you pick out. A bad room can make an expensive system sound _horrible_. A few well placed rugs, seats and bookshelves can result in major improvements.
Thank you all for your insight and input. You have been wonderful. As far as the Martin Logan Depth goes versus other brands, the only reason I chose it is because my rep has that in his system with the VR4s and it blends in nicely.

I am afraid if I go with more bang-for-the-buck subs like SVS or maybe even Paradigm Servo-15 that although they will go below the 20 Hz they may not integrate well with the Von Scweikerts especially in a music only situation. I have heard many compliments for the Depth in terms of how seamlessly it integrates with the rest of the system. Any thoughts on that?

Also, although the MSRP was originally $3 K, either that has been seriously reduced by ML and is now available street price for close to half of that. Does that make it any more acceptable or is 20 Hz just not low enough?

Further, the VR4s themselves are tremendous bass makers rumored to go down to virtually 25 Hz themselves. Even my rears (VR2s) will be full towers so perhaps I may not even initially need a sub (for music) and then would a Depth be a nice, tight addition which would be more than adequate given my situation or should I go for more bang for the buck when I really have a fairly medium to small sized room (12x18) and not a huge room? I also have a wooden sub floor on a concrete slab and not a basement underneath so I will NOT be losing base to the basement!! Or is my thinking erroneus??

Gosh, there is so much involved here I am glad u guys are around.

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