My First Home Theater Project [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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12-24-2006, 05:34 PM
Hi everyone,

This is my first visit to these forums, but no doubt it won't be my last. I've always been quite the fan of top-notch audio, but I've never quite had the money to take a stab at my own setup. I can't afford to spend too much here, but as this is my first setup, I'd like it to sound good, and prefer quality over cost as extensively as possible.

To start, this is what I've got to work with:

2x Klipsch KG4 Speakers (More to come - suggestions welcome. :))
Carver M-1.5t Power Amplifier
Pioneer VSX-108 Receiver (Useless?)
CD Changer/AM-FM Tuner/DVD-VCR Combo/Turntable/Computer

What I'm looking to accomplish is to configure a setup allowing me to connect each component to a switch with two outputs, one leading to the amp, and from there a box with master volume control, per-channel output control (by wattage, if such a feature exists cost-effectively,) and an EQ for finesse.

Specifically, I want the switch to adjust low-level input (automatically?) so that no manual volume adjustment need be made when simply switching between components, the amplifier to never have to waste power if possible, and the following box to take that high-level 2-channel signal (up to 600w per channel) and distribute it amongst 5 speakers and a sub, with a high level of control over the output. Oh, and something with a remote control would be really nice. :D

Many, many thanks to anyone who can give me at least a tip or two. I know I'm asking an awful lot, but any help will be quite appreciated. No need to waste time simplifying terms either - I'm more then willing to do my own research if I know I'm at least heading in the right direction.

Brian Ziemek

12-25-2006, 05:17 AM
So you already have the items listed above? You mention a CD Changer/AM-FM Tuner/DVD-VCR Combo/Turntable/Computer........what is this? And I assume you are aiming for a multi channel surround system using some of what you already have.....correct?

Well, additional speakers including a sub, additional power amplifiers, you have the Carver which is 2 channel so you will need another stereo amp to drive the rear channels and a mono amp to drive the center assuming you use a powered sub woofer. You will also need a surround processor/pre amp to control the system. I would suggest looking at some used equipment. There is a lot to choose from and in most cases you can save a great deal.

This will get us started and I'm sure others will jump in here as well.

12-25-2006, 09:42 AM
Yeah, I've got everything I listed already, the CD Changer/... being the components I wish to connect to the system, not one large combo device. And yes, I'm aiming for multi-channel once I get the chance to acquire some more speakers.

The Carver amp provides 600w/channel RMS @ 4ohms, peak 750w, so I would assume that would be sufficient to power my two current speakers (100w/ea.) alongside a pair of 110w Klipsch towers, and a center channel with the proper equipment.

The subwoofer I will most likely buy is a friend's old Klipsch KSW-10, (my whole area is really into Klipsch,) and a pair of Klipsch RP-3s from his neighbor. The only issue is that the RP-3 speakers run at 8ohm impedance, so unless I can find an efficient way to operate them at 4ohm, I won't be bothering with those.

Are there any surround processors to speak of which could distribute output from the amplifier itself, assuming I connected a separate preamp before the amp? Suggestions in this area are highly welcome, as it's my least knowledgeable point.

Also, is there anything that could scale input levels so that the peak output passed to the amplifier would always be (near) the same, regardless of the input it receives?


12-26-2006, 01:13 PM
Your post are a little confusing. It sounds like you want to use your Carver amp to run all your speakers for surround sound, or configured to drive all five speakers in stereo mode. This is already incorporated in most surround sound AV receivers. It can decode the digital signal from DVD or other 5.1 sources for AC3 (Dolby Digital) and DTS surround and has other formats for two-channel sources Tuner, CD, turntable , computer (Dolby Pro Logic II, Five Channel Surround, NEO6, tec..) You can still use your Kg4s (one of my favorite speakres), Carver amp (for the main channels) and all source devices. Since you're using the Carver for the KG4s (4 ohm, the Carver is overkill since they're 94db efficient) you're safe going with 8 ohm speakers for the remaining channels. I would recommend a AV receiver from Yamaha or Denon.
By your post it's apparently you're having poblems with different levels of input signals. Usually most line level inputs are similar in level. Finding a device which allows you to adjust the input level of each component would fall into more professional level of hardware which will be expensive and require professional initial setup. I personally don't believe it's worth the time, effort, or money when a simple touch of the volume control does the trick. But it's your money, so if it's that much of an annoyance also look in the Professional Equipment Forum.
I love the Klipsch', but if you're not concerned about the cost there are many higher quality speakers out there. I have several systems. One Klipsch including the Kg4s, RS-3 surrounds and either a KV3 or KLF-C7 center depending on my mood. I supplement the bass with a small SW8 for upper bass and a custom-made ACI Saturn (compound config with two 12" woofers face-to-face). Another system uses Legacy Focus mains, Legacy Silver Screen center and a pair of German T&A (Theory and Application) P-30 3-ways. Both are great systems, just different.
If you want to keep the Kg4s check out ebay. I've seen many good deals for the RS-3 and KV3 centers.

12-26-2006, 01:24 PM
The Carver power amp is a place to start but as I mentioned before you are going to need additional amplification to drive the rear and center channels assuming that whatever sub you end up with is powered.

You mention these Klipsh speakers that have an impedance of 8 ohms and you ask about running them at 4 ohms. That is not how this works. A speaker has a given imepdance that is determined by its design. The impedance that is stated by the manufacturer is a nominal or average figure and this resistance varies with frequency. And, as such, it presents a constantly changing load to the amplifier. Most well designed power amps have no trouble driving low impedance loads and if you will be using multiple stereo power amps this is not a concern.

You ask this:Are there any surround processors to speak of which could distribute output from the amplifier itself, assuming I connected a separate preamp before the amp?

I don't think you have a clear understanding of the basic system set up. Separates refer to a separate pre amp and power amp. A surround processor actually is a pre amp and a surround decoder and the unit into which you will connect all of you source components; DVD, tape, cable/dish box, etc. A separate power amp, like your Carver cannot operate with out a pre amp or, in this case, a processor. What you are going to need to buy is a processor and additional power amps.

You ask this: is there anything that could scale input levels so that the peak output passed to the amplifier would always be (near) the same, regardless of the input it receives?

Not sure where you are headed with this. Input levels, especially with DD 5.1 or DTS, can be extremely dynamic. As a result, the output from the power amp to you speakers will vary pretty wildly too. In fact this is what makes surround so much fun. Wide dynamic range is what we all strive for in our systems. If you are asking if there is a way to limit dynamics, the short answer is yes. Most processors have settings on them that will accomplish this. But I guess I look at it like this: Why assemble a killer system and then look for ways to limit its capabilities?

12-27-2006, 10:24 AM
Sorry for all the confusion guys. Going into this I had a fair idea of what I wanted, but not much of a handle on what sorts of equipment is available, and it seems now (after reading your posts and talking to a few techs in my area) that I was really shooting over the moon.

My hopes were to find a processor that only split the signal from 2ch into 5, but with signals that had already passed through the preamp and amp. One of the guys at Tweeter explained that such beasts are available, but I would be hard-pressed finding it for any practical cost.

I'm not too surprised that a device to normalize the line-levels isn't cost effective either, but perhaps that's something I could develop on my own time as my understanding improves. I'm sure someone around my area with good electrical skill would jump in and lend a hand. It's not enough of a pain to be worth any more then $200, but if the parts to build it prove cheap enough, it could be quite a fun project.

Anyway, my focus has shifted more plausibly to connecting 4 speakers and a powered sub to a 4.1 or 5.1 receiver (in case I get a center sometime) using pre-out jacks for the Carver amp and the sub.

I'm going to be using the receiver's amp to power a pair of Klipsch RP-3s ( (or possibly their big brother, the RP-5s (, each with a built-in powered 10" (12" on the RP-5) sub. On the pre-out, I'll have the Carver amp connected, powering the 4ohm KG-4s ( Last, I'll be connecting a KSW-xx ( sub, not sure which one yet, but likely the -12 or -15.

Thankfully, every one of these speakers is from the first-generation Klipsch family, meaning before the corporate-minded son of Klipsch took over the company in 2002, and as I'm acquiring these at next-to nothing from a friend whose father was a Klipsch-a-hollic, I wouldn't consider anything else for the time being.

I have a few simpler questions this time around though. First, Klipsch's site reports the KG-4 to have been made from 1985-1992, and have a 6ohm impedance. Mine were made in 1984, and are 4ohm, so I can't really trust the specs on the website. If anyone knows where I could find specs for the 4ohm model I'd be grateful.

Second, finding a receiver is no hard task, but I'd really appreciate some suggestions, since I'm still quite an audio newbie, especially at 16-years of age. As a minimum I need 3 analog audio inputs, (a phono stage on one of them would be nice,) 1 video in/out, a 2ch pre-out for the amp (if I could specify which two channels that would be a plus,) a sub pre-out, and a front phono headphone jack. Oh, and at least 100w per ch. would be great. That's not too much to ask of a receiver, right?

And last - this one's really easy - what would you guys recommend for cables? I know Monster's out, I'm not that ill-learned, but I've got no experience of my own with any real high-end brand of cable.

Thanks for all the advice and such. I feel rather stupid now, but I'm glad to be learning at least, and from a group that really knows what they're talking about no-less.

Brian Ziemek

12-27-2006, 01:58 PM
Receivers.....pretty easy actually. The industry has gotten pretty sophisticated over the years so most all of the main stream companies make a decent product. Find one with the features you want and that fits your budget.

Far as cables, do not spend big money on "high end" cables. Monster makes fine stuff, they are just too expensive. Their low end stuff is not too bad. Don't let anyone convince you that spending a lot of money on cables is going to make a sonic difference, because it won't. Just buy quality, well made ones and you'll be fine. Same goes for speaker wire. A high quality 12 or 14 gauge multi stranded copper will work great.

12-27-2006, 04:26 PM
Anyone know of a good site to compare receivers by feature? I'm having quite the time trying to find one that matches my needs that isn't totally overkill.

12-27-2006, 06:56 PM
Browse through the reviews on this site,go through major brands that you are familiar with,they usually show prices and give user reviews,I have found them extremely useful.