Speaker Basics for a newbie [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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03-18-2005, 05:22 AM
Hi there,

I am completely new to the HT area and have recently just decided on my first receiver after much research (Yamaha RX-V1500). Obviously from the posts I have seen here the speakers are the more important component of a system and everyone has different tastes in which brands are better etc.

I need a basic education though on what I need to start looking at for a 5.1 system. I don't really know the terminology, and in looking at the review ratings on this site I don't know a main speaker from a surround speaker from a bookshelf (I think i get the center and subwoofer :)).

Any help would be greatly appreciated so I can take the next step in putting together my system. Thanks!

03-18-2005, 06:46 AM
Front L&R speakers are mains and most sound out of those. Backs or surrounds are for effects and center for dialog and a subwoofer for the .1 in 5.1,LFE which is low stuff,bombs,crashes,ect. Thats basic Home Theater. Nice to get same size mains and surrounds but most get smaller surrounds. Front 3 should be same brand to match so to speak. This is a quick,basic explanation.

03-18-2005, 08:09 AM
Welcome to the forum. There is a wealth of information on the web regarding sound and audio gear; you just have to get that mouse and keyboard humming. Here's one (http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article.asp?section_id=5&article_id=729) to get you started. And here's another (http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_1_1/v1n1spk.html).

In addition to studying about speakers, you need to get out to all of the audio stores in your area and begin listening to speakers. Take some CD's that you are familiar with and spend some time listening. Don't be shy about taking a few notes. Sonic memory is short. Also, don't just listen to what you can afford; listen to everything you can, including very expensive, exotic speakers. That way, you will learn what "sound" you like and have some frame of reference. Then, when you've settled on the type of sound you like, you can begin to narrow down your choices of speakers to those which are within your budget.

Keep in mind that hearing speakers in audio stores will only give you an idea of what the speakers sound like. They may sound somewhat different in your home depending upon your room acoustics.

Happy hunting!

03-18-2005, 08:39 AM
Just because this came up in the amp/pre-amp forum. Yamaha makes two identical model lines of A/V units (RX-V and HTR). They are model for model identical except for slight trim differences. Generally the HTR line is less expensive. Just a thought.

03-21-2005, 06:13 AM
Thanks for the basic explinations and the links! Are there particular brands I should absolutely stay away from? In the same token, what are some of the more popular brands (i know everyone has a favorite but I'm just trying to get an idea of what to start to look at.)

--edit-- Actually I just found a post with some good brands someone recommended for newbies so I think I'm good there ...

Should mains be bookshelf or floor standing or is that a matter of preference too?

Thanks again!

03-21-2005, 06:19 AM
Well, tell us what price range your'e considering (for the whole 5.1 speaker package) and we will tell you which brands we recommend. A company that makes fantastic budget speakers will most likely not be a competitor in a higher budget realm.

03-21-2005, 06:54 AM
Well I want to eventually get to a 5.1 setup but I am not in a rush to do it. I don't know whats "typical" to spend on a 5.1 speaker setup, but I probably want to spend around $1000-1500. If i spread out the purchases then I can probably get away with spending more. I was going to concentrate on getting a set of mains (possibly the center too since it was recommended they be the same brand) and then worry about the surrounds and sub maybe a bit down the road....

03-21-2005, 08:21 AM
Sounds good. There are many budget speaker companies out there. The key is to find the one that makes a speaker that caters to your liking. At this price level each speaker will have its failings. It is important that you audition a wide variety of speakers and find the one that does the most things right, for you.

Out of personal experience, I recomend bookshelf speakers within this price range. They have smaller cabinets so construction and materials are cheaper. Thus, you can get a speaker with better drivers for less money. Of course there are disadvantages to bookshelf speakers. But, I find that the advantages outweigh them in this price range.

I have been impresed with the following budget speaker manufactures:
Monitor Audio
Polk Audio

Epos makes a 5.1 package that has recieved favorable reviews and is extremly inexpensive. I have been very impressed with their M12.2 bookshelf speakers and I would recommend trying to hear them.

I recently purchased the Quad 12L bookshelfs. They may be just above your price range, but give them a listen if you can.


03-21-2005, 08:26 AM
Those are budget? WoW! Example: 4 Axiom M22ti at $400 a pair.
center $300
sub $600

$1700 plus stands,cables,wires.
So maybe 2K for a mid grade setup.

03-21-2005, 08:50 AM
thanks for the input ... I had a feeling the speakers could run closer to $2000 all in all. I don't want something real low end which is why i think by piecing it together gradually I can end up with a decent set of speakers, or what you called mid-range. I'll also start researching the companies you suggested above. Thanks!! :)

Eric Z
03-21-2005, 12:22 PM
Rav- You have a great start with picking out a good receiver, however, do you think you really need the 1500? I ended up getting the 650/5760 model and that does more than what I needed. I know you may need more than me, but just wanted to give you some options. You can also find the 650 or 5760 fairly cheap these days- about $330 or so. Just thought I'd throw that out there so you can save some cash here and there- this way you can put some more money into the speakers.

I really like your idea of getting the fronts and center first and at the same time- great idea! I bought my fronts first and then a center and it worked out really well. I waited 5 months or so to finish up the 5.1. The surround speakers are really nice to finish out the 5.1 set-up, but I would look at speakers in this order- fronts, center, sub, surrounds. Some people even buy smaller bookshelf speakers at the beginning and eventually move those to the back for the surrounds.

Sounds like you have a lot of options and some good cash, too. Just remember, don't settle for anything...that's why stores have return policies- If you go to a local retailer (or even online), be sure to learn about their return policy. I bought a couple different speakers and then returned the ones I didn't like as much.

Good luck and enjoy!

03-21-2005, 05:24 PM

Thanks for the input. It is much appreciated. I actually wrestled with the reciever thing for a long while, and decided that I wanted something that would last me a good while. I fell in love with the 2400 but could not find one since it has been discontinued. The 1500 was the next logical choice for me. You are right in the fact that I probably don't need all that receiver at the present moment but I am hoping it will be something I can grow into for years to come.

As far as the speakers go - thanks for the confirmation that I am heading down the right path in what I am choosing to pick up first. It's just a matter of slowly wading through the many many many companies and models now and learning as I go!

Thanks again!

03-21-2005, 07:28 PM
I would just say to keep an open mind. We can all give you examples of what speakers to listen to but in the end it all comes down to what you like. Hell I've even stopped telling people to stay away from BOSE (too much energy for me and if they like it what the hell). Don't be too caught up on whether a speaker is high end or low end. You can find great sounding speakers all across the range (though I can't think of any at the moment for under $100 but there must be someone out there selling a used pair for around that amount lol). What matters is how it sounds to you and whether you will be happy with it. I personally like bipolar/dipolar sound but I am obviously in the minority here (with the exception of some magnefans). If you get a chance listen to some Definitive Technology speakers, and some Magneplanars (if just to prove that you do/do not like bipolar sound). Definitive makes some speakers with built-in subs that are in your price range and I believe Magneplanar offers some choices in your range as well. To me they just open up music in a whole new way that I found very appealing. I guess I am just saying to take your time and keep your mind open to different types of speakers and to end up buying what you like regardless of price (within your budget of course) or brand bias.