Speakers, Subwoofers, Amps. Also, my head is exploding.
Mar 4, 2006 at 6:34 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

johan851

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This happens once or twice down the line whenever I'm starting to get into something new. It happened with computer hardware, and now it's happening with speakers. Basically, I'm a review fanatic - I want to get the absolute best bang for my buck that I can. I hate wasting money. So I run around and read massive amounts of reviews, forums, anything I can get my hands on, in an attempt to educate myself. At some point I over-educate, or get overwhelmed with options, and start second-guessing everything I do. Then I find some fitting forum and post a thread in it with the intent of figuring stuff out. Maybe you guys can help me?

Here's my gear:
Computer Source (AV-710)
Yamaha RX V393 Receiver
Harman Kardon HKB6 Bookshelf Speakers

What I listen to (roughly):
Music 80% / Movies 20%
Acoustic 40%
Soundtracks 30%
Classical/Jazz 15%

Favorite Artists:
Jason Mraz, Ben Folds, DMB, Boston, Vivaldi, Norah Jones...that's a pretty decent cross-section of what I listen to.

What I want:
- Something that sounds better. I realize that my reciever probably isn't top notch, and I know my bookshelves aren't spectacular. They were cheap though.
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- A clear upgrade path. I probably can't afford a $1000 setup now, but it'd be nice if I could work my way towards something great piece by piece. I'd rather have great speakers and a sub-par amp than decent speakers and a decent amp, simply because I can replace the sub-par amp down the road without replacing the speakers.

My current budget:
Around $400

I was planning on spending this budget on a Mirage S12 sub, but now I'm wondering whether or not it's a good choice. I'm a college student, so I'm going to be moving once/twice per year, usually into different rooms and such. A feel like a sub would bother people around me, be a pain to configure in different (and small) rooms, and probably do more harm than good for most of what I use my speakers for (music). I figure I might get one eventually once I start making some Electrical Engineer type of income, but I really don't have the house for it, and won't for a couple of years.

I can't find reviews for any of my equipment, so I really don't know how it stacks up. Right now I'm thinking that upgrading my bookshelf speakers wouldn't be a bad idea. I've heard good things about the Energy C-3's, and there's some nice speakers in the classifieds from time to time. A lot of people seem to like some of the Athena models, too.

I'd rather spend my budget on one aspect that I won't have to upgrade for a couple of years, I think. Also, I'll always have more money eventually, and I recognize the merits of saving things up. It's not burning too much of a hole in my pocket. If I need to wait a month or two to have more cash so I can really make a difference in my setup, I'm all for it.

So, all of that said (I know it was long), what do you guys recommend? Should I stick with the subwoofer idea? Should I save up and get some floorstanding speakers? I was looking at these: http://www.vanns.com/shop/servlet/it...ures/542299059 but I'm definitely not set on anything. Is my amplification not cutting it?

Thanks for bearing with me. You feel like you're getting a handle on something, then realize you're a total n00b again...
biggrin.gif
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 9:23 PM Post #2 of 12

replytoken

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My personal opinion if I was heading off to college and wanted a good 2 ch. system. Skip the subwoofer. Consider NAD's L53 DVD/CD receiver (and possibly sell the Yamaha). It should provide decent sound quality in a singe unit (convenient for a mobile lifestyle). Hold off on the speakers until you get enough cash to buy a pair of decent 2-way bookshelf or floorstanding speakers (eg. Proac, Tannoy, Dynaudio, Rega, NHT, Quad etc...). Then, since the NAD is an amplifier, CD/DVD player and tuner, choose which section you want to upgrade with a separate component (at your leisure). My most important piece of advice, buy quality. My second piece of advice. Choose speakers carefully since they are the voice of your system and can last many years if properly taken care of. Finally, consider holding off on the speakers until you know they will not get trashed at a house party or by a careless roommate.
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 10:48 PM Post #3 of 12

cotdt

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Bah don't recommend the Dynaudio's to him, I think they are terrible. Definately skip the subwoofer, and buy quality.

I would recommend the B&W budget line. Best bang for buck and pretty accurate speakers (relatively speaking). No house sound or sound signature. However, if you have the skills and time to make your own speakers, there are designs online that are much cheaper and better than commercial speakers that cost far more. One thing to keep in mind that in even the best bang for buck commercial speakers, they use cheap parts, and no amount of engineering would make up for that.

Also, some of the reviewers give crappy speakers great ratings, then when I hear them, they "suck". They are liked because they offer some house sound that the reviewer likes, but for a different genre of music they fall apart, and even my headphones offer better clarity and resolution. My own DIY speakers only cost me $350, I've auditioned hundreds of commercial speakers over the years but no commercial speaker under $2000 has ever beaten it. Some of the speakers that do so well in magazines couldn't even compare.
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 10:50 PM Post #4 of 12

Bob Mahoy

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Have you considered headphones? You can get something truly phenomenal out of them for under $500. (Plus amp and reciever)
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 11:49 PM Post #5 of 12

johan851

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Quote:

Have you considered headphones? You can get something truly phenomenal out of them for under $500. (Plus amp and reciever)


I think speakers tend to sound a little more realistic. I also like a more open sound, and I like being able to move the sound farther away from me. Plus, you can share music being played through speakers...headphones are for selfish people.
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Quote:

Definately skip the subwoofer, and buy quality.


Ok.
Quote:

NAD's L53 DVD/CD receiver


My computer covers all of my CD/DVD needs, and I hear the DAC on the 710 is pretty decent when you're using hi-res mode. If I was to get an amp I don't think it would be a combo unit like that...that just makes me think of those VCR/TV combo units. :-/ I could be wrong.
Quote:

However, if you have the skills and time to make your own speakers, there are designs online that are much cheaper and better than commercial speakers that cost far more.


Could you point me to a few? I'm decent at soldering (I've volt-modded motherboards and graphics cards and such, and I have all my soldering gear here with me) and wouldn't have any trouble there. What I probably don't have time or space for is assembling custom crossovers and things of that nature. If it was a sort of kit unit, or similar to that, I'm sure I wouldn't have trouble.
Quote:

Hold off on the speakers until you get enough cash to buy a pair of decent 2-way bookshelf or floorstanding speakers (eg. Proac, Tannoy, Dynaudio, Rega, NHT, Quad etc...).


2-way?
Quote:

Finally, consider holding off on the speakers until you know they will not get trashed at a house party or by a careless roommate.


Not too many house parties over here. My roommate is even more of a speaker guy than I am, and neither of us has trouble leaving our equipment sitting around with the covers off. We watch out for each other's stuff.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 12:15 AM Post #6 of 12

cotdt

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sounds like DIY is your route then! seriously it's like putting together your own computer, just slightly more complicated. except for computers you hardly save any cash over buying dell, and speakers you save a ton of cash for the same quality.

These are my DIY speakers:
http://htguide.com/forum/showthread.php4?t=13154
Post #7

yeah I had to solder the crossovers but seriously it only took me 15 minutes to do each one. it's $250 for the parts, and I built the cabinets myself since buying the Parts Express cabinets are expensive for a poor college kid like me. i did use premium capacitors so it costed me $350 total. these bookshelf speakers have very strong bass for a 2-way, the woofer has 14mm of peak-to-peak excursion and very low distortion. the tweeter is top of the line too.

if you really don't want to build your own crossovers you can order semi-built kits from Madisound.com where you just have to put everything in a box. Some of their designs are better than others.

some people here are also using the Dayton BR-1 kits, just scroll down this forum. I think four people here have these, maybe more. I wouldn't call these hi-fi though, since it doesn't use the best parts and the bass is lacking on the frequency response plots.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 12:19 AM Post #7 of 12

cotdt

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BTW 2-way is a woofer and a tweeter with a crossover. Cheaper and smaller than 3-way (bass woofer, mid woofer, tweeter). 1-way hi-fi exists too but is very difficult to acheive.

Oh that Infinity speaker, it can only handle 10 Watts RMS power. That's really weak considering the ModulaMT can handle 200-300W RMS power.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 12:43 AM Post #8 of 12

johan851

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Quote:

except for computers you hardly save any cash over buying dell, and speakers you save a ton of cash for the same quality.


That's dangerous ground there. Don't you start with me now...I've been an overclocker for about 4 years.
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Quote:

These are my DIY speakers:
http://htguide.com/forum/showthread.php4?t=13154
Post #7


That's a nice looking plot. I thought building crossovers would be a lot harder, but I must've confused that with designing crossovers. I'm a second-year electrical engineering major, so I do understand most of the lines/symbols on your crossover plot there. I'd probably still need some help and pictures, since I've never done that before, but my roommate build/designed his own from scratch, so he'd be of assistance as well.

How much would the parts express cabinets be? I don't have the space or tools available to me right now to build my own, I don't think, though I do enjoy woodworking. Where can I buy all of these caps/inductors/resistors? And which ones are best to use?

Thanks for all the help...more opinions are still welcome.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 1:04 AM Post #9 of 12

cotdt

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Eh... my computer is watercooled, which is why Dell is cheaper lol.

Oh that design isn't mine btw, it's JonMarsh's who is an engineer in his day job. Yeah that speaker is very accurate and neutral as you can tell by the frequency response and distortion plots. It's a simple LRC passive circuit which is a crossover and equalizer. It uses baffle-step compensation to acheive a flat low-end by boosting it, something you don't see in the cheaper speakers. on that site there are pictures of the speakers and crossovers that various people have built. probably about fifty people have built this design so far. it's pretty new.

The inductors, capacitors, resistors you can get from partsexpress.com or madisound.com. the cheap metallized polypropelene capacitors work great for the woofers. for the tweeters ideally you want the best money can buy, but since you're on a budget i guess you can just use anything. best bang-for-buck capacitors are generally agreed to be the sonicaps capacitors which is what i use. don't care about the other parts (resistors and air-core inductors), they don't make a difference to my ears.

Parts Express cabinets (.75 cu ft)
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...number=302-734

Madisound and Zalytron also has cabinets, and they can drill the holes for you.

With your budget you can build your own amp too! you won't beleive how good and how cheap the DIY amps are!
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 1:17 AM Post #10 of 12

johan851

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Quote:

Eh... my computer is watercooled, which is why Dell is cheaper lol.


What a coincidence. So is mine. You didn't go and pick up a little kit now, did you?
biggrin.gif


Those cabinets are a little more expensive than I wanted, but that's how it goes. What size holes do I need? And what drivers? Keep in mind, I'm completely new to speaker-tech in general...
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 2:12 AM Post #11 of 12

cotdt

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Hey johan,
If you're interested in this DIY speaker, it uses the Dayton Reference RS180 woofer. There's two variations of this speaker for the tweeter. You can use either the SEAS H1212 or the Dayton RS28A tweeter, both of which are among the finest. The Dayton stuff is only available from Parts Express, although you can also get them from Best Buy or amazon.com. The SEAS tweeter is around $30 each, and quality is the same as the RS28A except it's cheaper. I went for the RS28A version anyway since I got a special deal on it. On the site I linked, I beleive there's a post with the parts list and the total cost. The cutout sizes are 5 3/4" for the woofer and 3 1/4" for the tweeter. There is another option, which is the port. The ported box has higher bass output over a sealed box, but the sealed box has tighter-sounding bass with more punch. If you also want to add a port, tell them to cut out a hole for you at the back too. But the holes are irreversible so you'll need to make up your mind first. These are the finest speakers for the money! The RS180 woofer is in a league of its own for the money, that's why I make this claim.

oh yeah i built my watercooling rig from stratch too, hard to find internal watercooling kits! too bad my CPU didn't overclock that well, which pissed me off and made me quit the hobby.

http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...number=295-364
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...number=275-130
 

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