Looking to rebuild audio system, seeking advice

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs & Equipment' started by PhaseNoise, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. AeonF1

    AeonF1 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Just be careful with your budget and because in the end you might be spending way more than you were expecting as the hole can get pretty deep. Also take advantage of manufacturers that offer free auditions. Not to be a SVS shill but they do offer a free 45 day in-home trial, probably to make up the lack of presence in your local audio shops.
    I run the following 5.1 setup:
    • Denon AVR-X4300H - $800
    • SVS Ultra Bookshelves - $1000
    • SVS Ultra Center - $700
    • SVS Prime Satellites (Surrounds) - $165 at SVS Outlet
    • SVS SB13-Ultra Subwoofer - $1000 at SVS Outlet (discontinued)
    • Speaker cables, banana plugs, subwoofer cable, 18 Gbps capable HDMI cables, speaker stands, etc - $300~
    • 10'x10' shaggy rug (living room has hardwood which isn't good for acoustics) - $150
    Total was roughly $4000

    And this is for an apartment setup! I could've mixed and matched with different brands but felt kinda lazy because of the logistics of it so I just commited to one brand after enjoying the bookshelves so much. I thought I was gonna be happy with a simple 2.0 setup but eventually the itch just kept coming until it was a full blown system. When we do purchase our first home, I'd move the bookshelves to the surround positions and pick up the Ultra Towers along with a 2 or 3-channel amp to power the LCRs. I don't plan on dabbing into Atmos anytime soon because if I would go route, I'd have to go the downward firing speakers way which takes some commitment because of the wiring and mounting speakers in the ceiling to ensure a clean setup. Just picked up a 65 inch LG OLED C9 and now I just realized I'm gonna be spending about 10 grand when it's all said and done.

    I've considered KEF and Polks (they had a great rep back in the day, not sure about now since they went mainstream). Klipsch IMO are quite bright (some would call it harsh) but it really depends on the genre of music you listen to. The Andrew Jones designed ELAC Uni-fi's are a decent budget option comparable to SVS Primes. Same dude that made those famous but super cheap Pioneers. All I gotta say is once you move up the tiers, its really difficult to downgrade as you train your ears to what quality sound is. Unlike most electronics, I think of speakers as a long term investment given that even old speakers can sound really great. My Dad is currently still rocking some 30 year old Polks.
     
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  2. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise [H]ard|Gawd

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    Sounds like a sweet setup. I am really interested in the SVS ultras. I tend to keep things forever, so climbing cost ladders doesn't freak me out unduly - as long as it means I am satisfied and have no recurring upgrade itch. My last system lasted ~15 years, until they had to go away in a divorce settlement (jerk). Not doing THAT again, so the next step will be in service until I can't hear anymore.

    I am probably going to go incremental, if no other reason than I string out the thrill of upgrades:
    Phase1: Receiver and 2x SVS ultra towers
    Phase2: Center channel. This is probably going to require some entertainment center / TV stand alteration too.
    Phase3: subwoofer (I have one, but it's not on the quality level of the SVS gear)

    I can't wait until I get some time to really do this. The thought of having incredible audio again makes me tingly. I've put up with the "temporary" solution for too long, guldurnit.
     
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  3. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    I have a SVS subwoofer and 15 Monitor Audio speakers in my setup. Immersive sound at it's finest.

    If I was rebuilding the system today I would go full DIY though based on price/performance.
     
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  4. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise [H]ard|Gawd

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    Turns out one friend of ours had SVS speakers (prime - not ultra), and they really did sound quite nice.

    I commandeered the system to play my checklist, and was really impressed. In particular, Bach's cello suite in G Major (one of my all-time favorites) sounded incredibly rich and ... correct. And then Osbourne's Diary of a Madman was also really good.
    I think the thing I liked about them was a lack of over-emphasis, which some sets do to cover a lack of real range. No overly harsh highs, and no weird booming bass passband (which I hate).

    Hoping to obtain some decent kit this week or the next. As one my managers once said "Let's light this candle."
     
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  5. XXXStevemanXXX

    XXXStevemanXXX n00b

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    Damn, some of these audio setups are insane. I could never fathom spending $3000-$10,000 on home audio gear, but damn Id love to listen to it and see what the difference is. I cant even talk myself into spending the cash for a good Reciever and set of Klipsch speakers. I did however get a Klipsch RSB-11 Sound Bar which does sound good but I'm getting the itch to at least upgrade to a Klipsch 2.1/3.1 or something setup to start with after reading this thread.
     
  6. Algrim

    Algrim [H]ard|Gawd

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    You could afford a lifetime of live music trying to replicate how live music sounds in your listening room. :eek:
     
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  7. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    A soundbar is an upgrade from the TV speakers but not much more.

    My cinema room setup is already blowing the local cinemas out of the water both from both a picture and sound point of view (OLED and 9.1.6 sound) and that is before the upgrades planned for next year.
     
  8. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise [H]ard|Gawd

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    I've been told by someone who is very into audio - I should replace the Yamaha receiver options with a Marantz. My original choice stemmed from years of using Yamaha gear and an inside guy, who while is of course competent, may have A Dog In the Hunt.

    Anyone have a thought on this? I was that close to pulling the trigger when new concerns came in from a friend of mine.[

    I'm assuming it doesn't really matter for someone like me, who is not the top 5% listener. But if there's a big issue here people know about - I'd love to hear feedback. From specs I can read, the receiver isn't really going to be a limiting factor either way.
     
  9. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Yamaha is a top shelf player and there isn’t a thing wrong with their units. Sounds like someone has an axe to grind.

    I’d actually say Yamaha units are some of the best and in my local repair shop owners experience (certified repair shop for nearly every brand) he says Yamaha are the most reliable brand of all of them. Followed by Denon/Marantz. (Same company/same guts inside)

    Both Yamaha and Denon/Marantz brands are top shelf consumer gear.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
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  10. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    You're going to have to get extremely specific about the differences. I'd start with user experiences and speaker pairing, but I wouldn't really know where to take it from there. My old Yamaha drives a pair of cheap 5" Klipsch bookshelves in the bedroom, got a newer Pioneer doing 7.1.2 in the living room, for whatever Atmos is worth.
     
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  11. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise [H]ard|Gawd

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    Thanks guys. I don't know that there is actually any specific issue here - just some last-second input from someone who has designed audio parts for 50 years. He's also obsessive to a degree which is possibly unhealthy. Literally - has designed his living room with each "wall" to be a speaker, selected furniture for its acoustic properties, etc. He is absolutely brilliant, no questions asked, but I don't know if his ears are that much better than mine, or if he's gone off the rails a little. It could be both.

    I've got good ears, but have never been able to tell if others have better ears, or are just on a mission / agenda.

    I've personally loved yamaha gear. I had a keyboard, drum set, a guitar, 2 receivers, and the (sadly) soundbar I have now. The stuff is generally very good. The soundbar needs to be taken out back and put out of its misery. But that's the exception.

    I'll chalk this up to pre-sale jitters.

    Failing that, look for my post in the For Sale forums... ;)
    Thanks again for the reality check. F it, I'm going Aventage and SVS ultra, and the odds-on guess is I will love it.
     
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  12. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Nothing wrong with that level of anal- however, I would put a nod toward ranking stuff in terms of overall effect for the cost / bother.

    If you wanted to do a 'home theater room', you'd yank off the drywall and start anew; and if you wanted to do a music listening room, you'd do the same, and you'd wind up with two different rooms :)

    [I can't really help you with the dilemma at hand though, sorry- I don't have great ears due to a variety of reasons beyond genetics, which I also suspect, but still love great audio]
     
  13. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    The only main difference between the different AVR's on the market is the room correction software they come with, Denon/Marantz use Audyssey while Yamaha/Onkyo/Pioneer each use their own home grown versions.

    The most expensive units use Dirac Live/Room Perfect/Trinnov Optimizer.

    My next processor will use Dirac Live.
     
  14. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Ouch. And that doesn't come with an amp.

    There are other options, of course, but it seems to be pretty rough going at that level.
     
  15. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    It's the Monoprice Monolith HTP-1 that I'm aiming for.

    Emotiva have some serious problems releasing kit that isn't in Alpha/Beta status. Just look at the RMC-1, 6 months after the release they have yet to get some of the most basic functions stable and Dirac Live is yet to be rolled out.

    The lowest cost option for Dirac Live is the NAD T758v3 AVR. It still needs a 4ch external amp to drive a 7.1.4 setup but the owners seems fairly happy with them.
     
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  16. westrock2000

    westrock2000 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Atmos is a fundamental change in the way channels are played. It is an object orientated sound format. The content tells the receiver/controller to play a sound in a certain place and the controller than dictates which speaker(s) are used to position that sound in the proper place. This is different from traditional surround sound where the sound is hard baked into specific channels. This is also why there are 2 or 3 speaker Atmos systems, because the system determines how to try to position the audio.
     
  17. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    While I realize this, my overall point is that adding Atmos to a 7.1 system really just means adding height speakers.

    It's not like you're going to place your speakers willy nilly without respect to how DD 5.1 and 7.1 are mastered. You could add one hundred more speakers for Atmos, and you'd still want speakers where they should be for non-Atmos audio streams.
     
  18. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise [H]ard|Gawd

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    <itshappening.gif>

    upload_2019-6-26_17-8-0.png

    I'm not posting a pic of the in-situ speakers because my house is a mess. You'll just have to imagine really cool speakers sitting in a room of toddler toys.
    But the sound... Oh. My. God.

    I have played everything which might be a stretch in any direction (dynamic range, raw punch, nuances, etc) - and these giant beasts absolutely unquestionably deliver.
    I would gush on about each test I'm throwing at it, but hey, I'm busy listening right now. Sue me.

    I am not an audiophile, but as previously mentioned, I do have a really good ear. I am fussy. I can listen to music now and not make a face, and that's saying something. I'm rarely high maintenance, but with music, I kinda am.

    Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who chimed in here with input. This yamaha + svs ultra tower set is absolutely nothing short of incredible. The speakers are taking zero prisoners, which is precisely what I'd hoped for.

    I can't wait for the rest of the family to get home, so I can knock them out the back wall with some metal. Even my own songs I've written with shoddy mixing sound incredible. I just need to ship these with all my demo tapes!
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  19. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise [H]ard|Gawd

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    Mr Phase was playing it cool and said something nice but a bit dismissive, and went to work on the laptop as per usual after dinner.

    I casually put on the GOT soundtrack "Dracarys" which has a nice slow build. He's working along, then a couple minutes in the chanting and drums kick in, the laptop closes and he utters "holy shit."

    Skeptic to true believer in 3 minutes flat.
     
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  20. Algrim

    Algrim [H]ard|Gawd

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    That's awesome! I'm glad that you found something you and he can enjoy. (y)
     
  21. drutman

    drutman n00b

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    Hope this helps I am a retired professional chemist with a specialty in analytical instrumentation and my uncle has a recording studio so I have knowledge of the consumer and pro side of audio.

    Do not get to caught up in the specs or being a "measurebator" audio is very subjective and personal.

    Must listen to speakers and base on personal taste, all are voiced differently.
    Receivers/Amplifiers
    The quality of the watt is crucial, for example a discrete Darlington hand wired transistor amp can run over 10K whereas your MosFET receivers are sub $500 (99% of gear bought today). I have a Yamaha DSP receiver, 7 ch.


    The power rating is irrelevant most sound systems play sound best when at under 5 watts continuous give or take. Efficiency rating will tell you how loud a speaker plays at 1 m away with one watt in. My Infinity speakers are rated at 98 dB/watt. So

    1 watt is 98 dB SPL OSHA states no more than 90 dB @ 8 hrs at this threshold without hearing protection
    2 watts is 101 dB
    4 watts 104 dB
    8 watts 107 dB Need to spend ton of money to experience clean uncompressed music at this level or above.
    16 watts 110 dB
    32 watts 113 dB
    64 watts 116 dB
    128 watts 119 dB Permanent loss of hearing

    Why is this important let say speaker brand X is rated at 80 dB/watt, what power is needed to match my setup?

    1 watt 80
    2 watts 83
    4 86
    8 89
    16 92
    32 95
    64 98
    128 101
    256 104
    512 107
    1024 110 to get this I need to invest in a Krell, Mark Levinson mono-block in excess of $5000 usd. These high end amps are rated at 1 horsepower which is around 750 W at 8 ohms, 1500 W at 4 ohms continuous), No FET stages, discrete class A.
    2048 113
    4096 116

    Sound output is logarithmic not linear, double power not twice as loud.
    For example I am a metal fan, the sound system for Iron Maiden is approx 300 KW at 117 dB this projects thousands of feet. If I do not add speakers or change drivers if I double power to 600 KW it is only 3 dB louder.

    PM me if you need any more help, I am avail.
     
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  22. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise [H]ard|Gawd

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    Thanks drutman. I personally am pretty well versed on the physics side (I've worked in RF/uW signal analysis quite a bit), but I have a hard/impossible time translating any of that knowledge into how speakers actually sound. That's where I love the feedback everyone gave here. If I get into deeper water than I can handle on the tech side, I'll ping you. :)


    The things I'm now noticing, which I find both entertaining and irritating:
    1) The engineering, production, and mixing on many albums is just awful. The trend of over-compression in rock/pop/metal is really irritating.
    2) My personal audio library was ripped in a nonsensical dog's breakfast of formats and bit-rates, and I can now hear all this. I was a damned fool for not ripping them all to FLAC and then last-miling it to AAC for mobiles. I don't have a CD player anymore, so am at least temporarily saddled with a really mixed bag of compression artifacts.
    3) Holy mother of god does Rodrigo Y Gabriela sound great. Goosebumps, and sounded like they were in my living room.

    I suspect this is the pattern which leads people down rabbit-holes of building ever-increasing audio quality.
     
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  23. Algrim

    Algrim [H]ard|Gawd

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    You are discovering the most important part of sound systems: Crappy source equals crappy sound. :)
     
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  24. PhaseNoise

    PhaseNoise [H]ard|Gawd

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    True story.

    The things which sounded kinda okay through poopy systems just doesn't cut the mustard anymore. 128k MP3 is an audio crime, and I am not sure what I was thinking there.

    I guess I need to buy an external CD player, and pay one of the kids to sit and re-rip all the CDs one day. Or perhaps more accurately, remind the older ones the number of things they aren't paying for now but could if I became irritated.
     
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  25. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    If only math worked like that...

    :D
     
  26. Algrim

    Algrim [H]ard|Gawd

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    To be fair, this was the recommended bitrate for audio back then; you can't have really known then that it would be inadequate now. I have a lot of music that's still in that format but my musical tastes have shifted quite a bit in two decades (Popular and New Age then to Symphonic Metal primarily now).
     
  27. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    For storage-limited devices and downloads over excruciatingly slow internet connections, yes. We still knew that these formats were lossy and that using them meant throwing detail away, but outside of CD audio, most only had access to FM radio and 128kbps MP3 is far supperior to that. Essentially we knew better than to throw away our CDs :).
     
  28. Chaos Machine

    Chaos Machine Gawd

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    I agree on yamaha being fucking awesome. Unlike other brands that tend to lean toward home theater or music at the exclusion of the other, the yamahas do both equally well. Also pro tip, check accessories4less.com, you can score a sweet deal on a refurb receiver. I picked up an aventage rx-a2060 for half price a couple years back there.