Home Theatre / Music setup for oddly-shaped apartment [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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12-27-2010, 06:35 PM
Hello! This is my first post here, and I'm looking for some advice. I have a condo (apartment) that I moved into recently, and I want to construct some sort of stereo.

I have a 46" Samsung TV with absolutely awful speakers. They made the TV super thin, which is useless since it's in a deep cabinet anyway and left out any possibility of fitting decent speakers into the unit. Voices on blu-ray movies and even regular TV can get muffled and hard to understand... ugh.

I also am quite the music-listener and I'm picky about sound to the point of annoying other people. I'm the guy who sets up people's TVs and stereos when I go to their house for a party or something. I currently have a harmon/kardon iPod boom box thing that serves the majority of music duties for my apartment and while it sounds quite good for a boom box, it's still just a boom box. I also have a Dynaudio system in my Volvo that I'm pretty happy with (it's currently my best stereo).

My condo has an awkward layout (click here for floor plan - red is existing TV, green/blue are where equipment and speakers would go (http://members.shaw.ca/slipstream3d/floorplan.png)) that makes running surround sound speakers more of an investment in construction than I want to undertake, so I'm 100% fine with a 2.0 system at the moment. As much as I appreciate bass I don't want to annoy my neighbours.

Summary: I want a system that I can listen to TV, HD movies, video games, and a wide range of music on.

I am thinking bookshelf speakers on stands. I have room for floorstanding units, just likely not the budget.

I visited a local high-end audio store and played some Eagles and some Arcade Fire tracks on Paradigm speakers (either Atom or Micro monitors, not sure) driven by the Denon 100th anniversary PMA-A100. Aside from some midrange weirdness I can't really describe, it sounded fantastic - the only catch being the amplifier alone was $2750 - I'm thinking more like $1000 for the speakers and the receiver/amplifier.

Now, I also have a source of equipment. My dad has some late 1980s-era Yamaha stuff sitting in his basement. It's a two-channel integrated amplifier that weighs 50+ pounds, a DSP, a receiver, and maybe a couple other bits. I'm going to get pictures or model numbers of it as soon as I can. Is any of this worth using or are all the caps going to be garbage since they're almost as old as I am?

He also has a pair of Magneplanar speaker that were used with said Yamaha equipment, but something is wrong with one speaker - the wire "coil" that runs back and forth along the big plane is broken in one spot. Can these be fixed or will it make one sound different than the other?

Opinions? Thanks!

12-27-2010, 10:36 PM
see if he is not using it and what you can do with it. if he is not using it...

most everything there should be in good shape. Provided he never blasted bass heavy rap with them. Nor blasted heavy metal.:D

12-28-2010, 06:01 AM
Oh, right. Should've mentioned that my dad said I can have anything of his he's not using. Since he has a shiny new Yamaha home theatre receiver, he's not using any of the old stuff I described.

12-28-2010, 06:52 AM
I would forget about all the old stuff and buy a new 7.1 receiver, to drive lots of speakers and with autocalibration, as a means of filling that irregular space with relatively uniform sound. (I think this is more or less opposite to your current thinking, so it probably won't seem to you like a good idea.) And shop for speakers with good lateral frequency dispersal characteristics.

My main system is in an irregular room, broken up by a large set of closets in the center, and I think my $1000 system copes with it nicely, but speakers have been a problem. I started with classic JBL 4310 control room monitors made back in the 70s, went to DCM KX12, and wound up with a set of 8 Axiom speakers, all bought used. My receiver for that room is a Pioneer vsx-1020.

12-28-2010, 08:31 AM
what model is the 50 plus pound yamaha? Heck id use it. Find some good speakers off of craigslist and youre good to go. A home theater receiver can wait while you save up some funds for a good one and a set of speakers.

12-28-2010, 08:33 AM
GregLee: My main problem is running wires everywhere. I'm a fan of surround sound & the like (the pro-logic-II in my car is actually very pleasant) but I have hardwood and a stucco ceiling... and I'm not really any good at DIY stuff so ruining my brand-new condo isn't on my to-do list. Argh!

budgetaudio76: I will try to find out ASAP. I was going to take pictures of it last night but I got sidetracked and forgot.

12-28-2010, 08:53 AM
Ah, wires. I simply drape them around where I need them, but my house is old and cluttered with bookshelves, so no one notices.

Mr Peabody
12-28-2010, 09:57 AM
I agree, to see if any of the vintage gear would work. You will have to make a decision whether you will be happy with just 2 or 2.1 channel home theater. If not, then you will have to invest in a new receiver and for go the vintage gear. With an irregular room and wanting to keep wires to a minimum the 2-channel may not be a bad thing and many are satisfied with that for movies. If you enjoy the full effect of surround then you will have to make some compromises to get the entire set up in there.

How did you like the Paradigm? If you listened to the Atoms a sub will be required. There are several Maggie owners here and I'm sure they can be fixed. Those who have them love them but speakers are a personal thing. They will require space around them to sound their best. Energy is a decent sounding budget speaker as well. You could also look on Audiogon to see if any used Dynaudio Audience 42's or 52's are in your budget.

If you own the condo you could check with a local retailer to see the cost of in ceiling or in-wall speakers if wanting the full home theater effect.

Welcome to AR

12-28-2010, 12:03 PM
The Paradigm speakers sounded good - certain aspects of the sound were fantastic. There was something funky going on in the midrange that bothered me, though. Again, I'm not sure if they were the Atom or the next one up, I never asked for specifics.

The salesman told me that most of the sound quality could be attributed to the $2750 Denon, haha. I'm not sure how right he was.

As for Energy, my dad's home theatre is actually mostly Energy stuff - and they do sound fantastic for the money. My brother was working at Future Shop at the time when everything was purchased and we got it for cost + 10% - we bought RC-70s for the front left/right, then the corresponding centre channel and RC-Mini bookshelf units for the rears. Then, instead of buying the matching Energy sub that I recommended... he went out and bought some stupid huge Velodyne unit. Sounds great, but... it's like two feet a side!

Total minus the Yamaha receiver at regular price would've been something like $2500, cost plus 10% ended up being about $1100. Ha. (Anyone who buys speakers from a chain store at regular price is nuts).

12-28-2010, 12:46 PM
Your answer is two systems.
Build an audio only system with the integrated, use the Maggies (repair the broken one)
and get a source device(s). Put this in a bedroom where you can listen to your hearts content.
Then get an inexpensive receiver for an HT in the main room, and a matching set of inexpensive speakers.
Any DSP or receiver from the eighties is obsolete...heck, anything from four years
ago is obsolete. Toss em.
And good luck.:1:

12-28-2010, 12:59 PM
No room. It has to be one system. All I have is an 850 sq ft apartment - one bedroom, one den. The bedroom barely has room for a bed and our bookshelves, and the den is used up by two computer desks. It'd be nice to put the Magneplanars in there but they're like half as big as my desk is and my desk almost takes up the whole wall.

12-28-2010, 05:12 PM
I guess you need to make some hard decision about a few things. Your Sq footage suggest that you go with a bookshelf or sat setup, (I would go for a 3.1 setup myself, base on the voice issue on movies/TV). But again nothing beats free gear, and the Maggies are like furniture/art pieces themselves and make for a good 2.0 system. Since your dads stuff is not going anywhere I would buy a mid/low range AVR $300-400 range, spend the rest on speakers Left, Right and Center channel and Sub. This will satisfy your viewing needs and music within your budget. 850'SqF is not much room so you do not need some high powered beast to get good results.

12-29-2010, 12:39 PM
No room. It has to be one system. All I have is an 850 sq ft apartment - one bedroom, one den. The bedroom barely has room for a bed and our bookshelves, and the den is used up by two computer desks. It'd be nice to put the Magneplanars in there but they're like half as big as my desk is and my desk almost takes up the whole wall.

You can do what a lot , including myself do.
Set up a HT, and integrate a two channel system into it. Buy a receiver with a pre out, run that into a decent amp, running a pair of audiophile grade speakers. THE receiver runs the other channels.
MUSIC is my main love also, but got sidetracked trying to get a great HT before I figured out
that most movie sound doesn't rate audiophile grade gear. Its mostly foley and other fake
put together stuff. You can get the thrill of a crashing helicopter with average gear.
Good music is more demanding, and deserving of more attention.:1:

01-15-2011, 05:52 PM
Inspect the Maggies to find the broken voice coil wire. Or it might only be a fuse!

You must (carefully) remove the fabric cover from a Maggie to inspect the wires. Cats can break the wires. If you find a broken wire, contact Magnepan for a wire repair kit. The wires are AL and Magnepan will supply AL solder and instructions.

If you then fix the faulty Maggie, connect exerything up and light off the system. (You should be able to connect the Yama receiver to a speaker-out on the TV.) Use a Samsung DVD/BluRay for best integration with the TV. Try to place the Maggies 2' to 4' from the wall....

PS- Buy thee a DMM (digital multimeter) to measure resistance, etc. The Maggies should be around 4 ohms. If you measure 40 Meg Ohms... that is bad.