Budget Audio Setup

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  • 10-08-2007, 06:45 PM
    Budget Audio Setup
    I am looking to spend less than $1300 on a complete audio system that will be used for both music and home theater. I want to start with a 2.1 setup because the living room in my apartment wouldn't really work with surround sound (there's no where to run the wires easily). However, I want to have the option to expand to 5.1 or 7.1 in the future. I would prefer to have HDMI inputs and outputs on the receiver for convenient integration with my HDTV.

    My primary interest is making this sound excellent with music, but good movie sound quality is also important. I listen to a wide variety of music from metal to orchestral to jazz. Most of my listening would center around rock music varying from Pink Floyd to Tool.

    Here is what I am looking at now. I am hoping you can tell me what the weak points are in this setup and if I can can get any better components on my budget. I currently am looking at:

    Paradigm Monitor 7's (v5) for around $600
    Paradigm PDR-10 Sub for around $300
    Yamaha RX-V661 Receiver for around $500

    The stereo store I would buy all this from would give me a percentage off the top, bringing the total to around $1300. Is that a smart setup for a $1300 budget? Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
  • 10-08-2007, 07:09 PM
    Mr Peabody
    Paradigm are good speakers. Have you compared the Yamaha to anything else? I personally find them a bit soft in the bass. You'll find more slam from Onkyo. Denon and Marantz would be some where between. What I mean by soft, is just a general lack of definition and no authority. If the sub is set up well though, it may compensate some what.
  • 10-08-2007, 07:22 PM
    I agree with Mr P the Yamaha's are not very good for stereo music.Most new recievers have HDMI for video but not always for audio, but you may find running video from DVD player direct to tv will give better picture quality.

  • 10-09-2007, 06:38 AM
    Thanks for the replies.

    The Marantz SR-4002 is comparable to the Yamaha I was looking at (with better HDMI 1.3 but slightly less power), but I can't find any comparisons of their sound quality. The Onkyo TX-SR605 seems like a good value, but apparently has poor video performance (based on it's CNET review). The Denon AVR-877 is a little more than I am looking to spend and I can't find any reviews on it at all.

    I could probably get more bang for my buck audio-wise if I just got an audio receiver and forgot about the video and HDMI stuff, but it seems like HDMI would be very convenient. If there was a normal amplifier/receiver that had obviously better sound quality at a better price than the AV/HDMI receivers I'm looking at, then I might go for it.

    I mirrored my original post over at the Audioholics forum and they suggested that I look at the Boston Acoustics VR-series, which is on clearance. I can get the high-end VR3's for around $500/pair. They also suggested I look elsewhere for my sub (suggesting HSU or SVS). Here is the thread over there.


    What do you think of Boston Acoustics? Has anyone compared the Paradigm Monitor 7's to the Boston VR3's? I'm going to try to see if Circuit City is carrying them where I live so I can hear them.
  • 10-09-2007, 08:09 AM
    Your music choices don't sound very bass heavy to me. And, you live in an apartment. I'd suggest dropping the sub for now and adding the difference to the mains. Also, I think you'd be better off saving more for a bigger sub and adding it after extended listening and determining what it is your set up lacks. Some good mains will cover the sub frequencies anyway (for a small sub).

    If Jazz and Classical are significant in your listening, skip the monitor series and try to swing the Studio 20's or even better the Studio 40's. Your ears will thank you in the long run. I have the 20's and although my sub does add something, I could easily live with out the sub, especially for Jazz and classical (although my tastes run to chamber and not orchestra). The Studio 40's would be welcome.

    I don't know about Yamaha being soft in the bass. Perhaps. It never bothered me. Seems like an active sub's amplification would cover any lack in the receiver. In my opinion, the receiver isn't doing much more than just passing the signal through. And for bass in the mains, you'd want to get more sensitive speakers for a low power receiver...
  • 10-09-2007, 04:48 PM
    Mr Peabody
    If your receiver has 5-7.1 analog inputs and you don't mind taking your video directly to your TV, you don't have to worry about HDMI in a receiver. According to what I last read on Dolby's website it's not clear whether HD discs will allow the digital stream past the decoder anyway.

    I can't remember the series of Boston's I heard at the time I listened to them and Paradigm, I clearly preferred the Paradigm. The Paradigm series was a bit more money though.

    I beef with Yamaha's bass is not the amount, but the quality, it lacks detail. On Yamaha products I've owned and heard you will get a boom but can't tell what instrument made it. On the other hand, giving Yamaha credit, they seem to be a bit warmer and less offensive in the mids and highs compared to similarly priced units.
  • 10-09-2007, 06:10 PM
    I'm totally 100% backing the paradigm Studio 20's or 40's...i've heard both. Hell, even my Mini-Monitors (the new V.5 models only) are AMAZING for jazz...boy, does ol' charlie parker ever sing on these.

    Oh, and Denon and marantz are both great companys (check my sig, i own both)

    Happy hunting!

    (oh yeah...listen to these guys, drop the sub, and spend the difference on speaks and electronics)
  • 10-10-2007, 09:26 AM
    I called all of the local stores around here and I found a store that has a pair of Polk RTi8's and another store that has a pair of Boston VR2's. These are both different stores than the store I've been listening to the Paradigm Monitor 7's at. I was hoping to find a Boston VR3 in the area, but can't seem to find one. They even seem like they're all sold out online.

    Does anyone have any opinions on the sound quality of the VR2 compared to the RTi8? I hear the VR2 has a stronger low-end, but I plan on getting a sub anyway. I'm annoyed I can't hear them all side-by-side at the same store to do an A/B comparison. Any advice on what I should be listening for that will stick in my mind as I drive between the stores?

    Here's the only comparison of the 2 speakers I could find online:
  • 10-10-2007, 05:37 PM
    Mr Peabody
    Well if both offer a 30 day return, you could bring both home and return the one you don't like.

    The way you have to do it is better than nothing but you will be listening to 2 different speakers, in 2 different rooms and most likely different electronics, I'd suggest at least bringing your own music. I like listening for detail, and balance, is it overly bright or bass heavy etc. But I think you will know if you hear a speaker you like, or which you enjoy the most. Keep in mind you are the one who sits and listens to them, so you are the one you have to please, so don't let some one try to talk you in to something, trust your own ears.