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-   -   Help Me Spend $1200 - $2000 On A Complete Audio Set-Up. (https://forum.dvdtalk.com/dvd-home-theater-gear/222080-help-me-spend-%241200-%242000-complete-audio-set-up.html)

ckolchak 07-12-02 06:49 PM

Help Me Spend $1200 - $2000 On A Complete Audio Set-Up.
i'm going to be ready to move away from my Kenwod HTIB soon.
its served me pretty well the last year and a 1/2, but i'm begining to notice its shortcomings.

i'm planning a budget between $1200-2000, but of course would like to stay as low as possible.

i'll need the works; reciever, center, surrounds and a sub.

i'm pretty much clueless when it comes to the audio end so any suggestions will be investigated.

i'm very concerned with the speakers mating well with the reciever, so 'complete' set-ups would be helpful.

been considering Paradigms, but Energys also seem to be worth a look.
any good recievers to mate with these?

SLee 07-14-02 01:19 AM

Here's a good bang for the buck setup:

Athena Point5 6 piece surround package

MSRP is about $800USD

Review 1
Review 2

Athena is a brand under API, which also produces Energy and Mirage speakers.

Panasonic SAHE100 AV Receiver MSRP is $300USD but can be found for less
Rated highly by Sound and Vision in the July/August Sound and Vision Magazine.

Some highlights from the review:

5 Channels 78 watts
6 Channels 70 watts
Noise Level -75.0db
THD 0.04%
Excess Noise +1.3db (not sure what this is)

You can use the following link to see how the HE100 compares with other receivers.
Table of various Receiver tests

Comment from the reviewer:
"The results were outstanding. Even with the system set up for no subwoofer, my system rocked at surprisingly solid levels, sounding better than I'd would have guessed it could with a $300 receiver. That's impressive considering that the SA-HE100 was driving six full-range speakers, none of them particularly efficient."

Notes at the bottom of the Test Report:
The panasonic SA-HE100 produced impressive numbers, especially for so inexpensive receiver, including very good real world noise levels and even good results on stereo tests with extended-dynamic-range, extended-bandwidth 96-KHz/24-bit signals. It generated a lot of power, including very solid output in our 6-channels-driven test and reasonably good reaction to 4-ohm loads. The forced-air cooling fan came on whenever more than a few watts was demanded for more than a moment, but it shouldn't be audible very often with a movie soundtrack or music playing. The receiver did shut down in response to extended clipping, but it recovered almost immediately with no ill effects.

The HE100 also has 50MHz component video bandwidth, enough for HDTV if you need it.

ckolchak 07-14-02 07:03 AM

Thanks SLee, i'll look into the ones you mentioned.

i just ran across some posts on JBLs.
An N24 package is on sale for $200, and if i go for 4 N26's with an S center II it's under $500.
how are these ?

i think i'd have to ditch my Kenwood reciever, but at $500 for the entire speaker package, i could afford to spring for a 1/2 way decent reciver.

i'm also reading alot about the Rockets.
going for those would cramp my budget for a reciever, but they look absolutely mouth watering.

nekobus 07-14-02 10:48 AM

I don't know how much of a step up from the Kenwood HTB the JLBs will be. Kenwood has had some nicer HTB setups.

Have a look at the Onkyo 600 for a receiver ($429) and PSB for a speaker setup:


skar 07-14-02 02:04 PM

I would recommend getting a receiver and speakers from different companies because the best speakers tend to come from speaker-only companies. At your price range I recommend spending 1/3 on a receiver and 2/3 on a 5.1 speaker setup.

As for a mid level receiver I would look at the Onkyo SR-600 or perhaps the Denon 2802 if you are willing to spend closer to $2000.

As for speakers, your ears should be the deciding factor. I highly recommend PSB, Paradigm, and B&W. Find some local dealers of these brands and go audition the speakers in their low-end value lines.

Lastly don't be afraid to get a sub from another company, it doesn't have to match the main speakers.

ckolchak 07-14-02 03:17 PM

Originally posted by skar
I would recommend getting a receiver and speakers from different companies because the best speakers tend to come from speaker-only companies. At your price range I recommend spending 1/3 on a receiver and 2/3 on a 5.1 speaker setup.

thanks. this was the kind of 'formula' i was looking for.
i'll seriously look into this onkyo.

when i asked for suggestions on a complete system, i wasn't thinking another HTIAB set-up like i have.
Rather i was interested on personal feedback on which speakers mate well with which brand of recievers.
this comes from my abortative attempt at upgrading my center channel to a JBL S center about 6 months back.
The S Center, i have no doubt, was a far superior speaker to the one thats in my set-up now.
i could clearly hear that right off the bat.
however, less than 5 hours in, i started to get the most piercing headaches.
i'm assuming this is related to 'brightness', and this brightness was a result of the JBL not going together well with the Kenwood reciever.

or am i off base here?
could this have just been a case where i needed 100 hours on it to break it in before i passed judgement?
does breaking a speaker in change its bright characteristics...mellow them out?

i'm very concerned about spending good money on 2 elements that are in and of themselves high quality, but just won't work together well.

skar 07-14-02 03:45 PM

Interesting. I've never heard a receiver and speaker setup that gave me a headache, but consider this.

Kenwood and JBL are not bad brands, but some of the companies (PSB, Paradigm, Onkyo, Denon) recommended in this thread are IMO better quality. A great rep for sound quality among audiophiles comes from producing equipment that doesn't color or change the sound very much. When receivers and speakers are both producing a neutral sound they are much easier to mate. Secondly, most good local A/V shops are nice about returns for speakers.

BTW, I do know what you are talking about. I have a some excellent speakers (Spendor LS3/5A's) that mate quite poorly with my receiver. Just avoid speakers with sensivity ratings in the low 80's.

ckolchak 07-14-02 04:32 PM

is there an optimum sensativity rating to be conscious of?

btw, here are the rockets in case anybody here doesn't know about them


they've gotten some excellant feedback on other forums and frankly, they look gorgeous.

i'll keep an open mind about the other brands though. just found a local retailer who carries the PSBs so i'll definitely be checking them out.
no retailers i know of locally allow for returns on speakers, though :(

skar 07-14-02 04:43 PM

Originally posted by ckolchak
is there an optimum sensativity rating to be conscious of?

No. A higher rating simply means that a speaker will play louder with a given amount of input power. I would look for ratings of 85dB (Anechoic Chamber, 87dB for listening room) and up.

nekobus 07-15-02 05:02 AM

Originally posted by ckolchak

when i asked for suggestions on a complete system, i wasn't thinking another HTIAB set-up like i have.
Rather i was interested on personal feedback on which speakers mate well with which brand of receivers.

Well both these sample combos sound excellent for music and HT:

At the higher end of your price range:

Onkyo 600
PSB Image 4T (mains)
PSB Image 8C (center)
PSB Image 1B (surrounds)
PSB SubSonic5 (sub)---optional as the 4T goes pretty low.

Lower end of your range:

Onkyo 600
PSB Image 2B (mains)
PSB Image 8C (center)
PSB Image 2B or 1B (surrounds)
PSB Subsonic5

These are just some examples. Hit some speaker maker sites and use the dealer locator to have a listen. Here are a couple of independent reviews to get you started:

4T review:


2B review:


On the Rockets. IMHO, right now they are mostly hype created by the dealer and those working with him on various forums. These guys really now how to work the psychology of the net. I would stick to the more well established names mentioned in this thread. The Rockets are such hype right now that I imagine I will be flamed for just making the above comment. -wink-

jsqrd 07-20-02 10:03 AM

IMO, Outlaw receiver and Energy Take 5.2 HT spaeakers. I have a Pioneer Elite and some Warfedale spaeakers. Two towers and center plus surrounds and two AR 215 for back surrounds. An Infinity 10" powered sub. Now is the time to check out Warfedale because they are just coming into the US and are cheap. These speakers sound really nice in my HT. Best $300 I ever spent on speakers.

skinsfan 07-20-02 12:05 PM

I'm in the process of doing the same thing. Here's the system that I'm building out:

Yamaha HT-5490 receiver ($575)
Velodyne ChT-8 subwoofer ($199)
B&W LCR600 center ($450)
B&W dm602 fronts ($550)

and I already own Bose Am5 that I used for the rear

On the higher end of your range, but should come in under $2000 and have a system that will last you quite a while.

speakerman 08-01-02 01:11 PM

Speaker Package Recommendation

ckolchak 08-01-02 05:22 PM

i bookmarked the site and will investigate it later.

i actually went ahead and ordered (and recieved yesterday) a small Rocket package.
i stopped short of getting 5 speakers and a sub, and just got 2 bookshelfs to use as the mains and their big center.
i am, as of this point in time, not entirely sold on these, but i plan to take advantage of the full 30 day window to put them thru their paces and give them a fair shake.
to this end, i'll need to buy or borrow another reciever and spend a lot more time on placement.
not just toe'ing-in, but height, and in the case of the center, angle to the listener.
not all that easy as the center is HUGE.
and HEAVY.
from a mass standpoint, its a substantial speaker.
sound wise? maybe i'm just not used to a good speaker. the dynamics are so wide compared to the kenwood bundeled speakers (that center weighed under 5 lbs and could be picked up with one hand easily).
about the only thing i can make a definitive value judgement on at this point is the fit and finish, which is, as advertised, very seductive.
if anything, its even better than the photos on the web.
asthechically, one of the best looking speakers i've seen in any (realistic, i.e sub- $5000) price range.

sound-wise; the jury is still out.

will continue to audition speakers while i'm breaking these in.
hope to get out and give those PSBs a look see.

one thing i may have found out, is that i have a preference for fabric tweeters.
i've listened to B&W,Mirage, Klipsch, Paradigm, JBL, Polk, BA's...and while some sounded decent, NONE really blew me away...at least not for the money.
the only speaker so far that i've really, really liked were the Vienna Acoustic Mozarts @ $2500 for the two floorstanders.

if i can't find anything to favorably compare to these in the sub $1500 price range, i may just start saving up.

For my ears, everthing has been a distant (VERY distant) second, third and fourth.

audrey 08-01-02 08:30 PM

At the $2k price point I can easily recommend:

Receiver: Outlaw 1050 ($499)
Speakers: Gallo Nuclus Micro ($150 ea)
Sub: Gallo powered sub ($750)

The Gallo's are a bit rolled off at the top, but offer a superb mid-range. Mated w/ the matching sub, the system offers amazing sound for the $.


Another option:

Receiver: Outlaw 1050 ($499)
Speakers: NHT Super Zero ($140 ea). Discontinued, but still available. I haven't heard the replacements (SB series)--these would be worth checking out as well.
Sub: HSU VTF-2 ($500)

A bit crisper, more detailed than the Gallo system. Less mellow, this system will appeal to those who require more "air." The mid range isn't quite as satifying to my ears as the Gallo. Satisfying in a completely different way from the Gallo's. The HSU VTF-2 is an amazing (though kinda ugly) bargin.


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