$1000 and a tall order [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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09-21-2004, 05:51 PM
I've been asked to help out in upgrading a stereo (2-channel) sound system for a 5000 square foot exercise facility. The only problem is that this is for a school that has a very limitted budget allocated for this: $1000.

Their initial plan was to install an old Sony receiver with four hand-me-down old JBL speakers (one of these had a torn driver). Unfortunately the receiver was designed for surround sound and it could barely eek out enough watts to power the speakers. So they pulled strings and were able to cobble together about $1000 and I offered to kick in $300 (total= $1300). They have also been to the local CC, GG, and BB's, only to be sorely disappointed by the prices they were quoted. I went with them to the GG and the sales rep tried to tell us we needed 6 ohms speakers, along with a bunch of other nonsense.

So what we need is 6-8 speakers that can play very loud and efficiently coupled with a solid receiver. My starting point (what I would have wanted) was a Harman Kardon HK-3480 receiver ($300), a PA-4000 multi-speaker amp ($600), and six Klipsch SB-1 Synergy speakers ($900), but this is well over our budget (not to mention the wiring). So then we thougth we would cut some costs and came up with: HK-3480 ($300), Adcom Speaker Selector ($200), and six JBL Northbridge speakers ($600). I never heard the JBL's but the specs are impressive.

So I was wondering:

- Would the HK-3480 and four Klipsch speakers (it supports four natively) be enough?
- Will the six JBL's be better than the 4 Klipsch's?
- Will a six-speaker selector switch degrade the output too much?
- The HK also has dual sub outputs, and we just happend to have a large Energy Sub that was donated (they thought it was a regular speaker and would help). Will it help?

I like the HK because it has a lot of clean and crisp power and would mate nicely with the HK PA-4000 in the future, but I am open to other suggestions (Onkyo 8511?). The room shape is also not ideal with an awkward L-shape layout and a piping & conduit cluttered ceiling (the speakers will be mounted overhead just under these). With exercise equipment clanking and people talking, I'm trying to get good clarity out of the sound system.

Please advise & thanks in advance.

09-21-2004, 06:29 PM
My concern is with the reliability of receivers for heavy usage - including HK.

Is there any way you can go used here. You can save a lot of cash in this regard and put more money where it counts - the speakers. Speaker wiring can be dirt cheap just don't buy any sort of name brand. might be worth looking into Athena as well as they have a slightly fatter sound and may be cheaper than Klipsh's(not sure on that though).

Looking at some pro amps would be good too as in that environment the audiophile sound is not of prime importance Something like this but you can find cheaper ones or used versions well under your budget http://www.usspeaker.com/mackie%20amps-1.htm

Then it's just a matter of getting a preamp/tuner.

09-22-2004, 06:09 AM
Use the HK as a preamp, go online or some where and find you some used Crown amps or other used PA gear. If you ran two of em, on for front and one for rear you'd be fine. And since bands go outta business everyday, I'm sure you'll find something, somewhere to fill the bill.

Da Worfster :D

09-22-2004, 07:32 AM
Worfster's right....
I'd be looking at some crown amps and Cerwin Vega speakers or some PA gear to fill a 5000 sq ft room...
Depends how loud they want it though, I suppose...

I see little PSB's and Klipsh monitors in shopping malls and restaurants all the time with dimensions that would be close to 5000 sq ft. But it's usually used for background music.

piece-it pete
09-22-2004, 09:28 AM

I'm in agreement with these guys.

If you cruise the local musicians' stores you might be able to find some gawdawful beatup looking heavy duty amp for very little.

In your budget I would think used speakers, as well. I'm thinking start with four. Have you tried the sub to see if it's powerful enough? It would be a big help soundwise, you could pump the speakers and amp a little harder if they were high-passed.

I looked at JBL L26s' on ebay and found only auction # 5720373429 , expired not sold, 4 ea for $300 + frt. I'd make him an offer. If you're nonprofit I would mention that to EVERYONE you deal with.

Fun, if seemingly impossible assignment. Good luck!!


piece-it pete
09-22-2004, 09:55 AM
BTW, I should say CONSIDER making him an offer.


09-22-2004, 10:28 AM
The receiver will work fine, but you need to pair it with some very efficient speakers. I agree with Worf, you're probably best off going with live concert monitors since those are designed specifically for efficiency and durability. Home audio speakers are less efficient and more designed around critical listening. In an exercise room, those sound quality differences will probably not matter much since the room acoustics/noise (I'm assuming that this room will not use any kind of acoustic treatment on the walls) and high mounting will negate any sound quality advantage that home audio speakers have.

Rather than Circuit City, you might be better off starting at Guitar Center or some other place that carries live PA equipment.

At my high school 20 years ago, the weight room simply mounted a couple of JBL floorstanders on high platforms off the ceiling and hooked them up to an old Sansui receiver. Despite the large size of the room, those two speakers alone could crank out a lot of volume because the room was mostly concrete with not a lot of sound absorption.

piece-it pete
09-22-2004, 11:15 AM
And Hafler DH-110 preamps go for as little as $55-65 +frt on ebay. I use this on my main system. I see a Hafler DH-500 on Audiogon for $340 frt. paid, so say $500 total for speakers (guesstimating a bit high), $340 for the amp and $100 for the pre, that leaves $60 for 12 ga Home Depot wire. Should sound good, maybe a bit harsh?

Just one possible scenario of many :) . What are the "old jbls'" you have?


piece-it pete
09-22-2004, 11:53 AM
Wooch, if I'm not mistaken the older JBLs' were based on their pro stuff?


09-22-2004, 01:57 PM
Wooch, if I'm not mistaken the older JBLs' were based on their pro stuff?


To a degree they were (I seem to recall that they shared drivers between their studio monitors and home audio speakers), but they were designed for different purposes so they used different driver arrangements, cabinets, and crossovers. Plus, the concert audio speakers have always been very different from the stuff for studios and home use. I always remember JBL's concert rigs consisting of horn drivers, which they still use today. I believe that nowadays JBL's pro division is much more separated from their consumer division than before.

09-22-2004, 03:31 PM
maybe try CerwinVega's new Classic line. I belive the biggest model was $699. 3way with 2 15inch bass drivers and horn loaded Tweeter and midrange. i think the tweeter is a vifa so it may not be as harsh sounding if paired with a a rough sound pro amp.

piece-it pete
09-23-2004, 08:04 AM
Thanks, Wooch. I didn't think of the distinction between studio and pro.


09-23-2004, 09:50 AM
Thanks for all the good suggestions. Here are some more details:

The reason we wanted to go with the HK receiver is because they will be using several sources for the sound: a widescreen TV (already donated), VCR, FM radio, DVD Changer (already donated) and possibly digital cable. The HK has video switching too so that will come in handy. My thinking was to try it out with the receiver's built-in 120 watts first. Correct me if I'm wrong, but with 6 speakers running on an Adcom switch, that would still give us 20 watts per speaker, or should that be 40 Watts? That said, I am a little concerned from what RGA said about extended use of the receiver. Our hope is that this receiver will last us at least 10 years. Is that unrealistic?

The HK alone (at least for now) would allow us to spend more on the speakers and leave the option of adding the amp and running the HK as a preamp later if we needed it. And the Crown amps look ideal for that, I had completely forgotten about checking the pro-audio store; we have a Guitar Center nearby. They also sell speakers.

The room does not have acoustic treatments and there is an echo, which I know is not good news. So what I need a little more help on is the speakers. Some of the things I had not considered before is the dispersion angle. The Klipsch speakers are very directional so they may not be the best solution. People have recommended MTX and Cerwin Vega, but I have very little experience with these. I only mentioned the JBL Nortbridges because they have really nice specs for what we need. When the speaker switch is set for just two speakers, they will need to be able to handle a full 120 watts and still be able to play loud with just a 20 watt load when all six speakers are activated.

I should also mention that purchasing second-hand and from eBay is really not an option. The school has very strict purchasing guidelines that require purchase from an established vendor who stands behind his products.

09-23-2004, 10:22 AM
Just a thought here: Have you tried contacting ACI, AV123, or Ascend Acoustics to see if they can help you out or offer further guidance? You never know what one of those fine gentleman may be willing to do.

09-23-2004, 12:42 PM
Just a thought here: Have you tried contacting ACI, AV123, or Ascend Acoustics to see if they can help you out or offer further guidance? You never know what one of those fine gentleman may be willing to do.

Bryan, I''m not familiar with these companies. What are their websites? Oops, never mind, I found 'em. I'll look into them.

09-23-2004, 12:53 PM
If you're concerned about room acoustics (echo) I would focus more on treatments for the room than speaker selection. Parts Express has a bunch of DJ/Pro audio gear as does Guitar Center. Crown, Pyramid etc are some things to look at. You may also want to check for used PA speakers. An old corner cabinet with a 10" driver plus horn will play a whole lot more efficiently than most home audio speakers and generally be less taxing on your amplifier.

09-23-2004, 01:31 PM
Here's an example for you. Crown xls202 is rated at 200wpc into 4 ohms (2ch stereo), listed at $269

Dayton Pro 12" PA speaker has 95db spl 1w/1m and is 8 ohm @ $139 each. This is a conrer cabinet with 12" driver and 10X5" horn.

Buy 4 of the Daytons for your corners and one of the crown amps to drive them. Configure the speakers to run in parallel, 2 speakers per channel showing 4 ohms. Your driving each of the Dayton's with 100 watts and have spent $830. I should think that 4 12'' inch drivers and 4 10X5" horns would fill 5000 square feet. That's just with new equipment from Parts Express. Many shops offer consignment for their regular customers who want to upgrade equipment.

09-23-2004, 03:09 PM
...Configure the speakers to run in parallel, 2 speakers per channel showing 4 ohms. Your driving each of the Dayton's with 100 watts...


This is new to me, can you explain how to drive two speakers per channel? I take it that I would be connecting both speaker wires to a single speaker post? Isn't that bad for the amp? Also, if the amp can withstand the load, will this be risky to the preamp/receiver, or is the latter sufficiently isolated from this?

Also, I measured out the space that we have to place the speakers and it looks like we really only have about 15 inches between the ceiling/pipes and where the mirrored walls of the exercise room start. While I suppose I could hang the bottom of the speaker over the mirror, this does not leave me much room. Of course, I could mount the speakers sideways although I think that would affect the dispersion of the horns. Given these restrictions, I'm giving some thought to go with standard home audio speakers after all since the pro audio speakers are typically much larger.

09-23-2004, 04:55 PM
Wiring a pair of speakers in parallel is very easy. Connect + and +, connect - and -. You end up halving the impedence. The rated specs for the amp are listed down to 2 ohm stereo, so I don't thrink driving it into 4 ohms would cause any harm. None of this has any effect on the pre-amp stage. Dimensions for the speaker are 15 3/4" W X 19 7/8"H X 15 3/4"D. If you hung them they would definitely cover part of the mirror. You may want to check for smaller alternatives along the same lines. Probably cost less.

09-23-2004, 10:13 PM
i wont go for home audio book shelf type of speakers as they wont be able to fill the room with much sound and no way will give u the base u r looking. for back ground music they should be good
and when cranked up u may blow them,
i dont know how they sound but looking to the specs i guess they should be able to do ur job good

Delivers 200 watts of sound out of a 10" woofer inside a diecast aluminum frame
5 1/4" midrange
Dome tweeter
Midrange & tweeter level controls
8 ohms
95 db efficiency

Dimensions: 31"H x 12-1/2"W x 12-1/8"D
250$pair at amazon
u can buy for two pairs and should be able to fill the room easily. 95db of home audio bookshelf speakers will be able to go this loud but wont do wt this shld be able to do, ie give u the punch when asked.

or mayble
dayton pro 12 2way PA speaker
Power handling: 200 watts RMS/400 watts max Impedance: 8 ohms Frequency response: 50 to 30,000 Hz SPL: 95 dB 1W/1m Dimensions: 19-7/8" W x 15" H x 11-5/8" D Net weight 31 lbs.
costs 140$ each, use four of em

connect two speakers in parrallel to make em 4 ohms and use PRO stereo amp.
look at PE for amps there r many but cant say which brand is good but ppl here recommended crown so try xls202 as toenail said.

surf around PE they have lot of stuff for u i guess, i hope ur skool thinks PE and non branded or non big brands as reputable stuff and allow u buy from them

a cheap HT receiver in all channel steroe kind of option may also do the things u want but i am not sure it will last long.
u may also want to cut of base freqs liks say below 60hz or 40hz with small speakers wont be able to produce them so just simply cut them of to save ur speakers and amp too
i would recomamnd cutting freqs with biggers speakers like speakers mentioined above aswell

just my opinion

09-23-2004, 10:22 PM
if looks and placement r very important then aaa HA Shelf speakers shld be good but hand down
dont sacrifice sound here dude
cover the mirror a bit, wts wrong with that

again just my humble opinion

09-24-2004, 11:39 AM

If the amp is delivering 4 ohms to 8 ohm speakers, isn't that bad for the speakers?

Also, would a good speaker switch box be able to do the bridging for me? I think the ability to control the volume of each speaker pair might be a good thing.

09-24-2004, 12:29 PM
A buddy and I are outfitting a bar, and we went with a Behringer Euro 1500 amp..It's got 700watts x 2 channels in 2 ohm mode, and of course you can run about any speakers to get the ohmage you'd like. It's an industrial rack amp, with heavy duty power supplies and fans, so it will run forever without weakening. All you'd need beyond that is some sort of transport with line outs - that old receiver with bad power would work fine. The Behringer runs like $299 where we bought it, shipping included. It can sound a little harsh (we're running 2-way horns for the bar, tho - lotsa treble was our goal) but for a weight room would definately give you what you need.

just my $.02

09-24-2004, 01:02 PM
...just my $.02

What kind of speakers did you end up getting?

09-24-2004, 03:18 PM
Nightflier- the amp doesn't deliver ohms, it's the nominal impedence of the speaker load. This load can be changed by adding multiple speakers and wiring them in either parallel or series arrangements. The lower ohm rating from parallel wiring multiple speakers will draw more power from your amplifier, but also cause it to run hotter and add some distortion. PA amps and Pro sound equipment are designed to handle this, average home receivers are not.

A typical speaker is rated at 8 ohms nominal impedence. Adding a second one on the same channel and wiring it in parallel will lower the nominal impedence to 4 ohms and increase output from the amplifier. You now have more drivers playing and more power to run them. Ideal if your looking for "bang for the buck".

What kind of listening levels are you talking about here? Are you looking for the Disco/Club effect for aerobics and spinning or just reasonably loud background music?

09-24-2004, 04:31 PM
...What kind of listening levels are you talking about here? Are you looking for the Disco/Club effect for aerobics and spinning or just reasonably loud background music?

This is going to be for a weightroom, so background music. But we have a ventilation unit overhead that makes a lot of noise so we were hoping to drown that out a bit with the music.

09-25-2004, 03:23 PM
I think this would work quite well for you - Onecall.com is offering a free pair of Infinity Primus (stereophile recommended) speakers with any purchase over $399. They have a ton of speakers to select from, and they have the Onkyo TXSR601 clearance for $328. As you will not need club-like loudness, a heavy duty 6ch receiver such as this should work well for you. This will give you video switching, dual zone speaker switching of sources (play tv source in one room & stereo in other simultaneous), and 6 + speaker outputs and a tuner. Why load up a 2ch receiver with 6 speakers and risk blowing it? Go with a 5 - 7 ch. receiver, most can run in stereo mode with all channels driven. Onkyo has a 2yr parts and service warranty, the Infinity speakers have a 5yr warranty. This would sound good and come in under budget (you have a lot of interconnect & speaker wire to buy). I have always been fond of Onkyo, and this one makes the HK receiver look rather toyish, IMO.

$328 Onkyo TXSR601 http://ww3.onecall.com/PID_19263.htm

$480 / 4 Infinity Primus 6.5in http://ww3.onecall.com/PID_23708.htm

Free 2 Infinity primus 5.5 inch http://ww3.onecall.com/Promotions.mpt?PromotionID=2040&MPActive=1

$808 + sh = Total price reciever & 6 speakers -

there are many other speakers there, you could go larger or maybe a few pair of towers and still be in budget, but the Onkyo + the free pair look very good there for a start....

Infinity Primus 150 Stereophile review: http://www.stereophile.com/loudspeakerreviews/404infinity/

10-11-2004, 10:10 AM
We' decided to purchase the HK3480 receiver alone and see how it would handle to room. It can do 120W to four speakers natively, so that's were we'll get started. We just ordered the receiver and we will be having a testing session next weekend. I will be bringing a pair of Klipsch speakers and I've asked some other people to bring their own speakers: we will have Polk, Yamaha, and Pioneer speakers as well. If the HK is not adequate, then we will add a Crown or Behringer amp.

But honestly, I don't think any of these speakers are going to be adequate for this type of environment. Can anyone recommend a few smaller pro-audio speaker brands/models that would be able to overcome our environmental problems better? We only have 19" of room above the mirrors on the walls, so they can't be too big.

10-12-2004, 06:26 AM
Generally when I have been in gyms, and I have been in quite a few, the volume level is close to "background music" levels, not dance club levels, not party levels, no where approaching even the level that I enjoy music when I have company and want to talk also. This way people can then easily talk and hear what is going on around them (for safety purposes). It needs to sound clear, not loud. You will be fine, IMO.

10-12-2004, 07:33 AM
I have to agree with psonic, for background music in a weightroom, unless it's the size of an olympic indoor track or something, the H/K should be more than fine.
I've seen many,many gyms use H/K, Yamaha, Denon, Kenwood, Sony, etc. receivers for this.
Now, if you're blaring music at PA system volumes like at a basketball or football game, you're gonna need more muscle.