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Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Old 04-17-09, 10:00 PM
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Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

This is the first time I'm setting up with a receiver and speakers. I've always used the TV speakers. So, starting out what do you think of the following:

Harmon Kardon HKTS-18 5.1 Channel Speaker System

Onkyo TX-SR606 7.1 Receiver

I know it's a 5.1 speaker set up and a 7.1 receiver... but it seems like a pretty good receiver and good speakers. I really do not have room for 7 speakers. I want the HD sound that I've heard great things about.

Any suggestions?
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Old 04-17-09, 10:24 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Well, you can still use 5.1 just fine with that. It's getting to where you can't really buy just a 5.1 receiver anyway.

I'm not sure how good those speakers would be. Others will probably suggest something else. They might be good for a starter system though. You'll probably be blown away just having a surround system at all for the first time.
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Old 04-17-09, 11:17 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Frankly, ..and though I'm no expert, I would attempt to dissuade you from an all in one solution. You will get more mileage if an investment were simply made considering a stereo (only) receiver and an adequate speaker array than a HTIB solution.

Since you're interests lie beyond stereo, in the 5.1/7.1 arena, ...the world really opens up. And consider yourself somewhat lucky. There are some serious deals that can be found due to 1) economic conditions 2) spring time upgrades (electronics companies generally release new equipment this time of year). For example I recently saved myself $800 on a Pioneer receiver - as E-tailers are dumping off old models in preparation for new.

Keep an eye out for the HK AVR-354 (for around $500) which are being discontinued or the Pioneer Elite SC05 (for now more than $1K) which I am not as certain of - however online they are disappearing.

Out of the two you selected, I would opt for the Onkyo 606 and dump your cash into the best front (R/L) and center speaker system that you can afford. The surround speaker array is not as important (well it is, but not nearly as much as you get from the front array) especially when it breaks down to music performance. This is how I lived for one year before I purchased surrounds (which aren't as important for timber matching).

Except for reliability I like Onkyo and the sound reproduction they are capable of over (Denon/Yamaha/Sony) at that price point ..but everyone has a different take on what sounds "good". Aside from that ...the speakers boil down to the usual affordability: Polk/Klipsch/Boston Acoustic/Paradigm/Vienna Acoustics. With (at least up in the northeast) both Circuit City and Tweeter dead ...just don't be afraid to seek out local independents or chains, find out what their return policies are if they won't let you "borrow" and take as many different speaker systems home to try out what sounds the best to you before committing to a purchase.

None of this shit is easy - believe me. I've spent more than I care to admit returning receivers I bought online over the last two months (because I couldn't get locally) just to get the absolute best sound possible for the budget I set. And it was worth every penny ..............

Last edited by visitor Q; 04-17-09 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 04-17-09, 11:47 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Well, the problem with a stereo-only receiver is that he'd likely lose out on a lot of features I imagine he wants, like HDMI and decoding of the new lossless audio formats on BDs. I think he would also want this for games, so he could hear things around him.

It isn't a bad idea to start with 2 speakers or so, and expand later. In that case, I think the HDMI receiver would still be worth getting, because he'd be set with the receiver for a while (I think ), then he could add more good speakers as budget allows. I suppose 2-channel lossless audio could pass over optical or coaxial, but the player would have to be capable of decoding TrueHD/DTS-HD MA. The PS3 can do that.
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Old 04-18-09, 12:37 AM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Originally Posted by Drexl View Post
Well, the problem with a stereo-only receiver is that he'd likely lose out on a lot of features I imagine he wants, like HDMI and decoding of the new lossless audio formats on BDs. I think he would also want this for games, so he could hear things around him..
Originally Posted by visitor q
Since you're interests lie beyond stereo, in the 5.1/7.1 arena, ...the world really opens up. And consider yourself somewhat lucky. There are some serious deals that can be found
It was only my intro. For anyone considering "surround" capabilities I would presume it's obvious for most to acknowledge 5.1/7.1 systems over stereo ..of which Pop already brought up. ..of which I also made the recommendations.

Even still ..the effectiveness of a quality 2 channel system over a hackneyed HTIB system is still more than obvious for some.
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Old 04-18-09, 11:16 AM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Thanks for the thoughts.

Front Speakers = Very Important
Receiver = More Important than the Speakers?

What would you recommend for speakers for about $500? I'm really looking to spend no more than $1000 for everything. And I really don't want to spend that much.

I am looking to run it through HDMI and I totally expect to be blown away to having never heard surround sound aside from at movie theatres.
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Old 04-18-09, 02:09 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

The Onkyo gets a lot of play. It is a favorite receiver right now. Good bang for your buck, good features, nice sound. As someone mentioned, you can also consider the H/K surround receiver.

Even tho I'm a H/K fan boy, I would not recommend their speakers. Go with a speakers form the "usual" suspects (there are several recent threads). I think the little NHT's are a steal right now. 5 of them + a base SVS or HSU sub would be a kick ass set up. I've been listening a lot to the little Mirage Nanostates and really like them as well. I love KEF but there are probably some better value's out there right now.
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Old 04-18-09, 04:52 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Speakers are more importan than a receiver. With that said, you seem to be on a limited budget. So the standard 70/30 (speakers/other audio) wont apply.

What is your budget?
Are you limited to bookshelf speakers or will towers be okay up front?
Are you a black-only finish person or would cherry/maple/etc be okay?

The Onkyo 606 WAS a good value receiver...a year ago. For a low price you used to get a lot of features. Now, a few receivers fit that category. And with the overheating and humming issues with the 606, as well as the fact that you can't get it for very cheap anymore, I would now avoid it.

I will be happy to give you some options once you answer those questions so I dont go on a wild goose chase.
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Old 04-18-09, 06:08 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

My set up is pretty much exactly like this:



Except I have 360/DVR/PS3 on the top shelf.

I'm looking to set it up similar to the picture. I'd like the subwoofer to the side -- I need to hide all the wires. I want to put the speakers in front and then speakers in the back corners of the room. This set up is for my bedroom so I'm not looking for high end stuff. I'd like HD sound if within budget --which I'm looking at no more than $1000 for speakers, receiver + subwoofer. Also, I don't want wires running across my carpet and I cannot run wires through the walls.

So, that's everything I need. I'm not an audiophile but I don't want crap either. Ideally, I'm looking for some kind of good bargains on quality stuff.

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Old 04-18-09, 06:21 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

If you can't go in the walls how are you going to put up the surrounds? Through the attic? That's what I did (see signature).


http://forum.dvdtalk.com/9353145-post5.html

http://forum.dvdtalk.com/9383027-post13.html

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Old 04-18-09, 07:00 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Very nice theater set up!!

I'm checking around at wireless speakers and there's certainly not a lot to choose from. I would have to have the speakers professionally installed. I thought this would be simpler...
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Old 04-18-09, 07:28 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

You do not want wireless speakers. There are no good one's or ones that work well. And remember they have to be plugged into the A/C, so then you have that wire to deal with.

Why do they need to be professionally installed. With a little patience and research you can put speakers anywhere a pro can. I'm not insulting pro's, they are great. But if all you are doing is running/hiding speaker wire, you can do it.
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Old 04-19-09, 11:27 AM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

For the surrounds in the back there are several options from "flat wiring" to "wire-mold". I agree with the wireless part and tend to avoid them. Since this is for the bedroom and not the main setup you can opt for a smaller gauge wire in "16-18". You may actually be able to suff it down between the baseboard and carpet.

The "HK" speakers are not bad but don't discount those "Energy Take Fives" on the Amazon page. Look at some of the Polks as well. Both are good for smaller areas but large rooms will strain them, The Onkyo is a good choice.


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Old 04-19-09, 09:39 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

I'm looking into getting a surround sound system also. Right now I'm eyeing at the Denon AVR1908 and the Yamaha RXV1800 for $299 and $499 respectively. They're on a clearence sale and figure it is a good opportunity to get started. Does anyone recommend those? What speakers would be best to keep the total price under $1000?
Btw, I have a 42" Sharp HDTV, PS3, and cable that would be hooked up through HDMI. Would the PS3 and cable go through the receiver first and then to the tv or how does that normally work for best picture/audio quality?
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Old 04-19-09, 10:35 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

See the links I posted above for speakers.

Well most now do run everything through their receiver and use it as a switcher. One advantage to that is depending on the receiver you can use a single HDMI to carry both your video and audio. But you need to check the receiver carefully, not all receivers can do this. In addition, since you have a PS3 you might be interested in lossless. On the PS3 that can only be done over HDMI. So if you want lossless (and I'm not saying it is a requirement) then you want a receiver that can at least handle the audio. The PS3 can process lossless itself, but the receiver will need to be able to handle the audio (if not be able to process lossless itself).

BTW, I'm not running lossless. My receiver has no HDMI at all. However, most will say if you are buying today, you should at least consider it. But personally, I would spend more on speakers and skip the lossless for your budget. I strongly feel you would get better over all sound by saving money on the receiver by skipping lossless (there are some great deals out there) and putting that money towards nicer speakers. This would be better then lowering your budget on speakers just so you can get lossless.
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Old 04-20-09, 08:08 AM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Originally Posted by ktipton87 View Post
I'm looking into getting a surround sound system also. Right now I'm eyeing at the Denon AVR1908 and the Yamaha RXV1800 for $299 and $499 respectively. They're on a clearence sale and figure it is a good opportunity to get started. Does anyone recommend those? What speakers would be best to keep the total price under $1000?
Btw, I have a 42" Sharp HDTV, PS3, and cable that would be hooked up through HDMI. Would the PS3 and cable go through the receiver first and then to the tv or how does that normally work for best picture/audio quality?
Where in the world are you finding those prices for those receivers? The 1800 is a $1400 MSRP receiver. I know it is being replaced by the 1900 but $499 sounds super low. You couldn't go wrong with either.
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Old 04-21-09, 11:50 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Ultimate Electronics in Wichita, KS. It's across the street from Best Buy.
Also, how do you know if it can run lossless? Where does it say? In the specs? Is there an emblem that means lossless?

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Old 04-22-09, 12:16 AM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

If I can add my 2 cents.... Speakers are the MOST important part of your system. If you are into music as well as movies you really want to get a set of floor standing speakers. Besides good speakers will be with you for at least 15-20 years. You are gonna want to have a matching center the rears are the least important and then a good sub. Pls don't buy those all in one speaker packages the are awful. Oh and NEVER EVER wireless.
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Old 04-22-09, 07:51 AM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Originally Posted by ktipton87 View Post
Ultimate Electronics in Wichita, KS. It's across the street from Best Buy.
Also, how do you know if it can run lossless? Where does it say? In the specs? Is there an emblem that means lossless?
Dolby TrueHD is lossless. DTS HD Master audio is lossless. PCM is lossless. That is what to look for, but it may not be easy to find.

If a machine can decode these, it is capable of lossless. Also, any receiver with 5.1/7.1 analog input can receive lossless through that input. Then you need a player that decodes the lossless versions and has the analog output. If a receiver can only handle the generic PCM, the player must decode to PCM and send it via HDMI. The PS3 is a common example of this.
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Old 04-22-09, 08:13 AM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

I'm going to be nice and just say I disagree STRONGLY with a lot you have said here:

Originally Posted by Larry C. View Post
If I can add my 2 cents.... Speakers are the MOST important part of your system.
I pretty much agree. I think some would argue if you really got into quality the room size and acoustics would matter as much if not more. But I think in the real world, I do agree with you. More the vast majority of people nothing would effect the sound more then speakers.


Originally Posted by Larry C. View Post
If you are into music as well as movies you really want to get a set of floor standing speakers.
This would be just plain wrong. Size of the speaker matters not. It is all about the quality. There are some outstanding bookshelf and smaller speakers out there.


Originally Posted by Larry C. View Post
Besides good speakers will be with you for at least 15-20 years.
This I do agree with. Good sounding speakers never go out of style


Originally Posted by Larry C. View Post
You are gonna want to have a matching center the rears are the least important and then a good sub.
Not sure exactly what you mean, but actually ALL the speakers should match. There is no reason not to match all 5 or 7 speakers. Do they have to be exactly the same? No, of course not, but they should be matched timber wise (same brand, usually from the same series). And I'd argue this is even more important with lossless that seems to use the surrounds more.

"and then a good sub". I don't know if you meant it, but you make it sound like the sub is an after thought. Some might argue the sub is the most important piece of your speaker set up. And most people have never heard a true quality sub (SVS, HSU, etc).


Originally Posted by Larry C. View Post
Pls don't buy those all in one speaker packages the are awful.
This might be the piece I disagree with most (ok, your big speaker comment might be more). Some excellent, EXCELLENT sounding speakers from some of the biggest names in speakers come packaged. KEF, NHT, Mirage, B&W, Paradigm, Klipsch, Polk, Celestion, etc, etc. This is an EXCELLENT way to get outstanding sound at usually a slightly reduced price then if you bought separately. Not to mention of course they are all matching speakers.



Originally Posted by Larry C. View Post
Oh and NEVER EVER wireless.
This I agree
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Old 04-22-09, 10:51 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

I think you may be missing something about tower vs bookshelf, Sdallnct. While there are a few exceptions, most bookshelf speakers do not go as low as the towers from the same product line. Personally, I keep trying to look at bookshelf models, but I like my sub set at 50Hz, not the popular 80Hz. Maybe it's the concrete walls in my room, but 60-80 is still far too directional. I want that in my front speakers, not the sub. Even the high-end bookshelves I have checked out generally don't go below 70-80Hz, not enough box volume to create the bass, I'm guessing.

This doesn't say anything about the audio quality, which I'm guessing is your point.
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Old 04-23-09, 12:21 AM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
I'm going to be nice and just say I disagree STRONGLY with a lot you have said here:



I pretty much agree. I think some would argue if you really got into quality the room size and acoustics would matter as much if not more. But I think in the real world, I do agree with you. More the vast majority of people nothing would effect the sound more then speakers.




This would be just plain wrong. Size of the speaker matters not. It is all about the quality. There are some outstanding bookshelf and smaller speakers out there.




This I do agree with. Good sounding speakers never go out of style




Not sure exactly what you mean, but actually ALL the speakers should match. There is no reason not to match all 5 or 7 speakers. Do they have to be exactly the same? No, of course not, but they should be matched timber wise (same brand, usually from the same series). And I'd argue this is even more important with lossless that seems to use the surrounds more.

"and then a good sub". I don't know if you meant it, but you make it sound like the sub is an after thought. Some might argue the sub is the most important piece of your speaker set up. And most people have never heard a true quality sub (SVS, HSU, etc).




This might be the piece I disagree with most (ok, your big speaker comment might be more). Some excellent, EXCELLENT sounding speakers from some of the biggest names in speakers come packaged. KEF, NHT, Mirage, B&W, Paradigm, Klipsch, Polk, Celestion, etc, etc. This is an EXCELLENT way to get outstanding sound at usually a slightly reduced price then if you bought separately. Not to mention of course they are all matching speakers.





This I agree
Hey debate is what we are here for

Yes there are many outstanding bookshelf speakers out there but for what the good ones cost most won't go there.

As far as all in one's the problem there is that most sound you get from those are all midrange. Oh and most really screw you over on a weak ass sub that comes with the package.

The thing about floorstanding speakers is more important if the person is a true audiophile and a music buff.

No you misunderstood me I feel the sub is what brings everything to life and yes most haven't heard a great sub. SVS HSU are great I personally like my Martin Logan Descent but all are great.

Another great sounding speaker is Monitor Audio. Love those...
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Old 04-23-09, 12:49 AM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

The Denon 1909 receiver I have is exceptional. It can handle all the lossless audio, has no overheating (like I experienced with the Onkyo), no humming/buzzing, and has enough HDMI ports for my HD DVD player and PS3/Blu-ray player. My speakers are not ideal, but I was working with a very limited budget. I plan to at least upgrade my subwoofer sometime in the future (as in -- realitively soon, I will eventually upgrade all my speakers). Even as such all I can say is the sound is overall AMAZING. Truly outstanding sound. Even DVD's sound great, but the difference between a DVD and a HD DVD/Blu-ray (with lossless audio) is a huge one. I would not recommend a receiver that does not come with Audyessy Dynamic Equalizer calibration, and one of those Audyessy mics. The Denon 1909 has this as well as Audyessy Dynamic Volume (which you can switch on and off) and will help make TV stations easier to watch without any changes in sound volume between shows and commercials. This is a huge deal, and is also a great feature. You won't realize how much you need it until you have your surround sound set up of course but because stations tend to not put shows/commercials on the same volume control there can be huge swings (bad on the ears -- very grating) without having this feature turned on.

I hope you find something good to use. As other have stated, speakers are often considered more important but a good AVR is a nice way to start. I would consider some polk audio speakers myself and a HSU sub. That's based on what I've read and researched, and not from experience. Unfortunately my speaker experience is limited so far. All I can tell you is that my sound is amazing. The only thing that seems a little off is the center channel (dialog is occasionally lower than I'd like it to be), and the bass which is sometimes too deep for the depth my sub can go. This can be improved though with upgrades.

Good luck!
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Old 04-23-09, 01:19 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Originally Posted by Larry C. View Post
Hey debate is what we are here for

Yes there are many outstanding bookshelf speakers out there but for what the good ones cost most won't go there.

As far as all in one's the problem there is that most sound you get from those are all midrange. Oh and most really screw you over on a weak ass sub that comes with the package.

The thing about floorstanding speakers is more important if the person is a true audiophile and a music buff.

No you misunderstood me I feel the sub is what brings everything to life and yes most haven't heard a great sub. SVS HSU are great I personally like my Martin Logan Descent but all are great.

Another great sounding speaker is Monitor Audio. Love those...
But that is my point, cheap speakers are cheap speakers. If you get cheap crappy floor standing speakers they are no better then cheap crappy small speakers. A quality speaker is a quality speaker.

I also disagree with you on "audiophile music buff". I use to work in the highest end audio store in Dallas. Well before surround sound was all the range. We all had nice turntables (I still have my Rega), we sold floor standing and bookshelf speakers. If you are spending $25,000 on speakers, most of those are floor standing. But you get to "the real world" where most people look, there is no coloration between small and large speakers. It is the quality that matters. One of the best overall sounding systems I ever heard was from some KEF little 101's. Of course the stands they were on were filled with shot and sand and being driven by tube amps by a VPT Turntable...but it was a sweet, sweet set up.

Having said that, listening is what it is all about. I would love a nice pair of Thiel, B&W, Maggies or KEF floor standing speakers. But the cost and the cost to drive them is more then I want to spend. And again, for most people that is the case. In the real world a packages set from a good speaker system is a nice way to go. I love the NHT's, Mirage, KEF etc. And dying to hear the SVS. IMO, these are all BETTER then similar or less priced floor standing speakers. Least in general. If you want to spend more then this, go for floor standing or nicer bookshelf. But it is not an issue with size.
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Old 04-23-09, 01:28 PM
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Re: Audio Hardware -- Help! I'm new

Originally Posted by Spiky View Post
I think you may be missing something about tower vs bookshelf, Sdallnct. While there are a few exceptions, most bookshelf speakers do not go as low as the towers from the same product line. Personally, I keep trying to look at bookshelf models, but I like my sub set at 50Hz, not the popular 80Hz. Maybe it's the concrete walls in my room, but 60-80 is still far too directional. I want that in my front speakers, not the sub. Even the high-end bookshelves I have checked out generally don't go below 70-80Hz, not enough box volume to create the bass, I'm guessing.

This doesn't say anything about the audio quality, which I'm guessing is your point.
IMO, again the issue comes to qulity/cost. I don't disagree that the higher end KEF and B&W (or Wilson Audio) floor standing speakers are incredible. But they are also out of the range of most people.

I guess this is what I'm trying to say: you should not lower your budget to get floor standing speakers because floor standing speakers are automatically better. Cheap crappy floor standing speakers are still cheap and crappy. They don't become good speakers because they are floor standing.

You bing up an excellent point (you always do!). You have very specific wants for a speaker. Very specific taste. It is possible you can only get that from a QUALITY floor standing speaker. And that is what everyone should do, listen, listen, listen. To see not only what they like, but what they want.

I'm sort of opposite of you. I cut my teeth on many a British speaker. I'm not into super low bass. What bass the speaker has better be tight and solid, but I don't need it to go low. I still love my KEF 103.2. Very, very solid/tight bass (if driven with a good amp) but they don't get low. But very good mid's, very natural and great soundstaging. Almost 3-D.

And your right. I was talking more about overall sound quality then one specific area. There is no doubt every speaker design has it's pluses and minuses.
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