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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've finally been given the green light by my wife to upgrade my bachelor system consisting of an old Sony receiver, cd player, and Polk speakers. I want to get a very high quality, upper mid-level system but know almost nothing about good quality audio components (I'm formerly from the "Bose is the best" school). I'm in the market for both speakers (5.1 setup) and components (A/V receiver and DVD player). The system will be a family room system (3200 sq ft) and be used for both audio and HT (50/50). My budget for this new system will be in the $6k - $8k range. For the past couple of weeks I've been reading a lot of magazines, visiting stores, and searching the internet (I'm more uncertain now than I was before). I understand that a lot of this audio talk is very subjective but my biggest fear is dropping a lot of cash on equipment that I'm going to regret buying in a year or two or pairing the wrong speakers with the wrong receiver or getting the wrong DVD player, etc.
So, I've narrowed my equipment purchase down to the lists below (in priority order). Please review and provide opinions/suggestions on my choices. Please add (or omit) whatever glaring mistakes you see below. Also, recommendations on the best pairings will be especially appreciated. Also, please advise if there are pitfalls/traps that I should be mindful of before purchasing anything. Thanks in advance.


Speakers (prioritized):

1. B&W (704s w/ CM1 surrounds)

2. B&W (CM7s w/ CM1 surrounds)

3. PSB (Image T65s w/ B25 surrounds)

4. Focal (Chorus 826s w/807 surrounds)


AVR Receiver:

1. Arcam AVR350

2. Arcam AVR300

3. Rotel RSX-1067

4. NAD T773


DVD Player:

1. Arcam DV137

2. Arcam DV79

3. Rotel RDV-1092

4. NAD T585
 

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That's a pretty big room, which means lots of power need. If you're open to the idea, I'd be looking at a preamp/amp combo instead of a receiver.


I have B&W 704's in my house for a week - about 6 months ago - and was extremely disappointed with them. There is a near infinite supply of speakers that I (and most others here) feel are better for the price.


What's your plan for a sub?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboFC3S /forum/post/0


That's a pretty big room, which means lots of power need. If you're open to the idea, I'd be looking at a preamp/amp combo instead of a receiver.


I have B&W 704's in my house for a week - about 6 months ago - and was extremely disappointed with them. There is a near infinite supply of speakers that I (and most others here) feel are better for the price.


What's your plan for a sub?

I am open to the idea of a preamp/amp setup but I wouldn't know where to begin with this. And I thought a receiver would be more economical and better address the HT setup. But what would you recommend?


Wow! Disappointed with the B&W 704s! What are some of the other speakers that you would recommend in lieu of the 704s?


I'm planning to just use B&Ws AWS750 subwoofer.
 

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Outlaw Audio is highly recommended.

www.outlawaudio.com


I have a friend that uses Outlaw 2200 Mono blocks in his system, and loves them.
 

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Real quick before I head out the door, I'd start looking at preamp/amp combo's here

http://www.outlawaudio.com/


They also make subs that'll destroy that B&W!


It's not that the 704's are BAD speakers, they were just very average. Maybe I was expecting too much out of them. My main gripe is that the upper male vocals often sounds tinny on them, like it's recorded inside a coffee can. They also have a more collapsed soundstage than many others in the same price range.


I'm sure others will give suggestions on where else to look in that price range, but for now I gotta run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboFC3S /forum/post/0


Real quick before I head out the door, I'd start looking at preamp/amp combo's here



They also make subs that'll destroy that B&W!


It's not that the 704's are BAD speakers, they were just very average. Maybe I was expecting too much out of them. My main gripe is that the upper male vocals often sounds tinny on them, like it's recorded inside a coffee can. They also have a more collapsed soundstage than many others in the same price range.


I'm sure others will give suggestions on where else to look in that price range, but for now I gotta run.

Thanks TurboFC3S!


Since starting this effort, I have only been able to listen to a few different speakers: B&W 703/704s, B&W CMs, and Martin Logans. But what are some other speakers in the 703/704 range that I should audition? I know that there are probably dozens of choices but if I could just get an idea what the top 5 or 6 best options might be for me then I could really narrow my focus (I will be auditioning PSB and Focal speakers within the next week or two).


I checked out the Outlaw Audio site and thought that their prices looked good. But when putting together a system of separates am I just looking at a power amp and a preamp processor? Not sure if this is all I'm going to need. And how do Outlaw separates compare (pricing aside) to more familiar offerings from NAD and Rotel? Am I going to take a step back as far as SQ is concerned if I go with Outlaw over NAD/Rotel?
 

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Regarding to your subwoofer choice, bear in mind that you don't necessarily need one from same brand as the speakers, though.


There are 2 highly regarded ID brands (among otheres) to choose from:

www.svsound.com and
www.hsuresearch.com


With any of those, you'll get the best bang for the buck and will be very, very satisfied as well.


Just my $0.2 worth...


Cheers.
 

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The electronics that you mention are very well respected and should serve you well. I also would suggest separates if the budget allows. You can NEVER have too much power in a larger room.


A brand that isn't often discussed, but make OUTSTANDING products is EMOTIVA . They are not found in a traditional B&M store. They are an ID company. Emotiva is manufactured by JADE LABS located in Nashville TN.


Another sub recommendation would come from AV123 . They already have some very nice subs for the money but are coming out with some KILLER subs very soon. I auditioned a couple of monster performers recently in Chicago. They blew me right outa my chair and I'm not very svelte at ALL.



As for speakers.... I to am not a big B&W fan (unless you are talking about the ubber expensive Nautilus series). I personally think that you can do a LOT better for your money. But, that and a buck and a half might buy you a cup of coffee. IOW, my "opinopn" is just that. A pretty worthless opinion. My best advice on speakers is LISTEN, LISTEN and then go back and LISTEN some more to pin down EXACTLY what YOU like.


As for the speakers and electronics "pairings" that isn't usually a very huge deal. If you buy decent gear, and the speakers that sound good to YOU.... you will have a system that you will be happy with for years.


Good luck!

 

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Another "quick before I go out the door" post:


What are your room's dimensions (length x width x height)? [I had a largish three story house once that was 3200SF, is your room really that large? Ten foot high ceilings, 32,000 CF? Or more?]

Also, for speaker selection, what would be your viewing distance from you screen - and what sized screen? Front Projection we could assume?



Quickly:


There are some killer speakers out there for your budget.


If your room is only 1/5 the area you state (3200SF divided by 5 = 640 SF) you would still be in the "Huge Room" category, as far as amplification and horsepower (watts per channel - something I normally largely ignore in favor of quality over quantity).


I have heard of EMOTIVA and will visit them soon as I don't live that far from Nashville. Outlaw audio will also serve you well.


If you do have a room larger than about 5,000 cubic feet in size, you will definately want to consider:


A preamp/processor, the Outlaw Audio Model 990 is one example of a good one.


A separate power amplifier, or power amplifiers, the Outlaw Audio 7700 Amplifier mates well with their Model 990 pre/pro unit.



OK,

I gotta go and we are talking about a huge room here (3200 SF times 10 foot ceiling height - 32,000 CF !!!)
NO PROBLEM if your room is really that size, but answer my quick questions asked above while I go do what I'm supposed to be doing (!) and I'll post some speaker thoughts after we've heard from you.


Cheers!

.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sorry DelsFan, I meant 3200 CF. My bad.


Anyway, my viewing distance is going to be about 16 ft from screen.


BTW, I listened to the Paradigm 100s a couple of days ago and was really impressed with their sound -- very spacious and seemingly more three-dimensional than the B&W 703/704s.
 

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"Sorry DelsFan, I meant 3200 CF."

Seems like I could have surmised that...

To confirm (going out the door again, but I will return!):


$6-8K for sound system and DVD player. Correct? (television budgeted separately). [You can do high quality sound in your sized room without overkill with that budget, quality - with quantity only when you need it... I'll get back to you later today!]


"very spacious and seemingly more three-dimensional"


Fabulous.


Most people never realize what is being left behind when they are buying speakers. "I don't hear that well", or "That's good enough for my ears" - they've never had or taken the opportunity to listen! HTIB? Fine for a college student with no $$. But there is so much joy to be had from listening to a prudently selected sound system that actually gets all the information from the DVD to your ears - and you've shown you "get it".


I'll do a little thinking and get back to you later today.




[Edit: Oh! The Paradigm speakers are very good, in the class of "real speaker" instead of wannabee. For your budget there might be better, but that's probably why you stopped in here - to find out some other opinions! I'll share mine, soon...]
 

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Hi Bo:


Trying again! [uh oh. You've got some reading to do. But at least it should make you happy and save you money.]


a) you have listened to some good speakers and are right to take your time.

b) you like music, so one thing you should do is subscribe to The Absolute Sound and The Perfect Vision. Both for $25/year (they are sister publications).

c) Yes, there are some speakers that sound good for $2500 and some that might not please that are more expensive. I'd suggest the more expensive speakers should sound better, in the right room, coupled to the right amplifier. But, the advantage of listening is finding the least (within reason) expensive speakers with which you are satisfied.

d) Salesmen, yes, some know nothing and a few are helpful. When you settle pretty much on speakers, then a good salesman will be able to direct you to amplifiers that mate well with those speakers. A good salesman. Yep, big box store salesmen won't ever talk about sound They are all missing the point, once you start to spend more than $1,000 on a system you are interested almost solely on sound...

e) Six different speaker manufacturers. In this month's Perfect Vision they reviewed five 5.1 speaker systems from lessor, in my opinion, except for Paradigm, manufacturers. They really liked Paradigm's Cinema 330 system. PSB and Focal are good choices. I'll expound on Gallo and Definitive Technology speakers in the next section, they have models that are really kind of exciting. Potentially thrilling, actually. I hope there is any way you can hear both the DefTech and the Gallo's yourself, in the next month or so.


f) You really like music. I'd consider trying to find a pair of seriously good (for two-channel music) sounding floorstanding speakers that would also fit into a nice HT system (i.e. the company that makes those speakers makes a superb CC and, if necessary, really good subs too). You should think out of the box a little, and you have the budget (within reason) to do so.

One somewhat exciting option: Definitive Technology.
The Absolute Sound liked the Definitive Technology BP7004 speakers. In your room, the slightly larger BP7002's would probably work even better. The Definitive Technology floorstanders deserve a real hard look (listen) as two reviews (links below) make them sound like real contenders for what you are trying to accomplish. The design of both the Gallos and the DefTech speakers would require a not-so-incredibly-powerful amplifier (less cost for your a/v receiver) as they both make use of separate subwoofer amps for the heavy lifting required to adequately reproduce the below-100Hz sounds.


Either the 7002's or the smaller 7004's are apparently world class two channel speakers which would work superbly in a HT system too. Why? These towers come with tweeters and midranges and are bipolar [You need to discover what this means in terms of speaker placement and what restrictions (if any) these speakers would impose on placement. (near the rear wall? 2' minimum away from the rear wall? Etc.)] But what makes these DefTech speakers superb for both music and HT is they have built in subwoofers. This is excellent, because a) the subs are for sure designed to compliment the midrange and tweeters, and b) two subs are always better than one because with two you seldom have a node problem. (I could explain it, but first I'd have to re-read the article whose link is below. So, you read it!)


BP7004 two-channel review
http://www.definitivetech.com/reviews/BP7004ASrev.pdf


BP7002 in a home theatre system review:
http://www.definitivetech.com/review...evu_SV_904.pdf


I think the DefTech speakers are something to get excited about. BUT, if they don't sound good to you they are still an excellent example of thinking out of the box to achieve really good musical reproduction while at the same time being part of a satisfying HT system.


I think the Gallo Nucleus Reference 3.1 speakers would be great great great. Great! Supposedly the best two-channel speakers anywhere, for their price, and they also don't require you to worry about matching subs to your system because each of the 3.1's has a built in sub too. They might be budget stretchers since they are $3895 a pair, including the optional subwoofer amp you would want for HT use. [Add $300 to eliminate the subwoofer amp and add two powered Gallo TP-2 subs, for more serious HT use - but then you would require more horsepower from your a/v receiver and I'd think no outboard subwofers would lead to better two channel audio. Ask your Gallo dealer; in this case I know what questions to ask but don't know the answer without just calling Gallo. Which you could do.] The good news: as with the DefTech's you would only need a real good center channel ($1,200 list though, for the Gallo Reference a/v center channel) and maybe Gallo's $800/pair A'Diva Ti rear surrounds to complete your speaker system. [Really, the Gallos would put you in the $9K range minimum, for a complete system minus DVD player. But judging from every review I've read on them,they might sound so good that you would consider springing for them.]


Quote from Gallo Nucleus Reference 3.1 reviewer:

I am a two-channel audio man at heart. While I love home theater, my primary interest is music. I would love to have a separate two-channel audio rig and a purpose-built home theater, but my house and the budget do not allow it. One system has to deliver the goods for both applications.

On paper, this Gallo system seems to be ideal for this application, and my auditioning has proven this to be correct. To let the punch line out of the bag early, I decided rather quickly that I would buy the entire system at the end of the review, rather than return it...

This is one of the Holy Grails of hi-fi: a component that improves the sound reproduction so thoroughly it's like having a brand new library of music appear on the shelves.



Link to Gallo review:
http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...07-part-1.html


You said:
I want speakers that sound good whether I'm listening to James Taylor or Bob Marley or Diana Krall. Speakers that especially accentuate the human voice but "disappear" on mellow jazz cuts are really important for me.


It seems either the Gallos or DefTech might accomplish just that.


Winding up here. (Believe it only when you see it though.)

g) For two channel audio I absolutely love tube preamps. If you find the DefTech's suitable (as they would leave more room in the budget than the Gallo's) one option might be using a real good a/v receiver for HT and using a tube preamp (bypassing the a/v receiver's preamp section by using its preamp input jacks) for two channel listening. Or, Musical Fidelity makes a tube buffer that is supposed to open up the soundstage and it's not very expensive.

http://www.musicalfidelity.com/produ...lx/x10v3.html#


I'm getting a little off track here, but, you could also consider the Musical Fidelity tubed DAC for reproducing great two-channel music, assuming your CD player is already pretty good and has a digital output.

http://www.musicalfidelity.com/produ...es/xdacv8.html



h) Plan on investing some real money in speaker wire and interconnects. Now, I'm a firm believer that last year's $300/pair of 8' runs of speaker wire - for $150, used - is a better investment (and will sound better) than this year's new $150 a pair speaker wire. And heck, how can you hurt speaker wire? Same for interconnects. Maybe you are already convinced, if not: I had some pretty darn good MIT interconnects from the early 1990's that were $200/pair used; my wife's new Linn Genki CD player sounded 100 times better with them than the standard $2.00/pair interconnects. However, I purchased (used, around $250 new, I paid $125) Transparent Audio interconnects with the CD player - replacing the old (expensive, in their day) MIT's made my system sound like I had doubled my expenditure on the whole system again. Budget $10/LF for used L+R+C speaker wire, for rear surrounds you might get by with $0.50/LF. Plan on $125 to $250 for one length of used interconnects to go from your CD player to your pre-amp or receiver (oops, two interconnects required if you use the Musical Fidelity Tube Buffer - it never ends). I'm not up on HDMI cables to go from your DVD player to your a/v receiver but I'm told that good ones (better than the $100/each ones from Monster Cable at the big box stores) can be had in 1.5 metre length for $60 or so, each, if you talk to the right HT guys.


j) On page three or four of the Gallo speaker review, the reviewer talked about the necessity of room acoustical treatments. I was going to suggest budgeting $1000 for this, believing it to be that important. It seems there are DIY solutions that would reduce this expenditure greatly. My point remains though, your system will sound seriously better if you can identify (a trick in itself) your room's problems and treat them.


k) Lastly! ! ! I have no experience with line conditioners or expensive replacement power cords (those darn things can run from $100 to $300, more for spendthrifts). I am sure they help, I've been staying ignorant since my two-channel system is with my wife and cats in Germany (with her overseas job assignments) and I've been in America more than Germany - with their 220v system I've just hooked up my system as good as possible, bought her a new CD player and added Kimber 8TC speaker wire, and called it good. It's real good; when we move back to America and I unpack my turntable I'll worry about making it better - including trying out new power cords, etc.


l) I lied. One more thing. I tried vibrapods under my CD player and receiver and speakers - and they worked incredibly well, another serious improvement. I'd suggest them and they are cheap, considering the improvement they afford.


Now. Good luck and let us know what you think of the DefTech and Gallo speakers, if you can listen to them in your area. Then we can talk about amplification and a/v receivers!


Cheers!
 

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As for your speaker choices you might want to put Focal at the top of your list.

Much better than the B&W in many folks opinion. But then you should audition and purchase the speaker that sounds best to you.


Good luck in your search
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, I listened to a number of speakers over many weeks and after all the dust settled I decided to roll with Anthony Gallo! I purchased a pair of the Gallo Reference 3.1s, Reference Center, and a pair of Due's! However, it was not a slam dunk because I'm not a big fan of the Gallo look (I guess I sort of prefer the more "traditional" looking type of speaker) but nothing else that I listened to could match Gallo's breath-taking sound (especially in that price range). And, at the end of the day, isn't it all about the "sound!"


So, thanks to all who responded to my plea for help -- especially Delsfan who hipped me to the Gallos!!!


Peace
 
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