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  1. #1
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    New receiver with vintage speakers

    While my budget won't allow for terribly expensive equipment, I can still appreciate good quality sound and would like to buy the best that I can afford.

    I have a pair of 3-way floorstanding Marantz speakers series 50/500 with 1-3/4" tweeters, 4" midrange, and 14" woofers circa 1975. I had them reconed in the mid 1990's as they were disintegrating. The speakers appear to be in excellent condition!

    Also in the mid-1990s I purchased a Marantz SR-66 AV receiver which was working well until the last three years or so when speaker channel A stopped working along with video 1, and occasionally the sound from the amp cuts out completely and then returns moments later.

    Based on high ratings from Consumer Reports I just purchased a Sony STR-DG820 with all of the proper HTML connections for my kids PS3, my Sony Bravia HDTV, my digital cable box, and analog connections for my JVC L-A31 turntable with creek phono preamp.

    I have configured the receiver for a 2.0 speaker configuration since I am using only my Marantz speakers for music. I have also configured the receiver to pass the audio through to the the TVs speakers for dialogue clarity while watching TV and movies.

    Everything seems to work as advertised except... playing music sounds terrible! The sound is flat: the highs and the lows are weak. The mid range sounds muddled and unfocused. I can boost the high and low frequencies with the receivers EQ however it seems to add an unnatural brightness which is uncomfortable to my ears. Playing music actually sounds better when I turn on the TV speakers.

    Is the problem that the receiver is not good enough to produce the sound that I would like? Or are the speakers beyond their years and just can't do the job? I suppose another possibility is that both pieces of equipment are fine, however are somehow not compatible with each other? Where do I go from here?

  2. #2
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    First: Welcome to AR.

    Although I'm not a fan of AV receivers, I doubt that's the root of your problem. Try some different speakers first.
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  3. #3
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    Firstly: Welcome to AR

    are the TV speakers on too, when you're playing music? cause that would likely cause some of the facts you described

    the speakers are wired correctly?
    and did they sound good (better than now), or different with the previous amp?

    I'm with JoeE, I'm also not a very big fan of AV amps for music, but they should sound "decent" enough, so check the settings too on the amp, some "surround" setting, or preset or the like could be killing your sound, so run through your menu on the receiver, see what you can find there...

    Keep them spinning, and good luck,
    Bert
    Life is music!

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  4. #4
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    are the TV speakers on too, when you're playing music?
    No they are not.

    the speakers are wired correctly?
    Yes.

    and did they sound good (better than now), or different with the previous amp?
    They sound better with the old Marantz amp.

    so check the settings too on the amp, some "surround" setting, or preset or the like could be killing your sound, so run through your menu on the receiver, see what you can find there...
    All appears to be configured correctly.

    Thanks for the reply. By following your questions I was able to conclude that the old Marantz amp is better than the new Sony with those speakers. I guess I send it back.

  5. #5
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    I owned Marantz Imperial 6 speakers and used them for many years. They were a 2-way 10 inch design. I bought them in 1973 I believe. I do remember auditioning them in the store. At that time the store had Pioneer and Marantz receivers for sale. These speakers sounded awful on the Pioneer receivers and great on the Marantz receivers. I believe I hooked them up once to a Sansui QX4500 quad receiver and they sounded awful on that unit yet my brother had bought Fisher 3 way 12 inch speakers that sounded nice on that unit. I used the IMP 6 speakers on a Fisher tube amp and they played fine. A Dynaco SCA-80Q amp made those speakers sizzle.

    What I am saying here is that seems to be compatibility issues between certain speakers and receivers. For some reason, certain speakers may be so compatible as to play good to great on almost anything. Some do not and I think in this case your Marantz speakers are not compatible with this Sony receiver. You have a choice to make; try to find speakers compatible with that Sony receiver or disband with the Soiny and try a different brand of A/V receiver of you want to keep your Marantz speakers. If you go the receiver route, make sure you can buy and try with the option of returning a chosen receiver. Of course that would be the same if you go the speaker route.

  6. #6
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    Although I'm not a fan of AV receivers, I doubt that's the root of your problem.
    Perhaps it is. A $250 seven channel receiver is going to have to cut corners in multiple places. Here is some info on the unit.

    rw

  7. #7
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    E-stat has a good point. At that price level, you can get either features or a little performance. You got lots of features that don't equate to good sound.

    That power figure Sony states is extremely optimistic, to say the least. Some would simply say they are BS.

    I think you need more real power, not paper watts.

  8. #8
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    Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay!

    I hear it loud and clear, you get what you pay for.

    I made a visit to the local hi-fi shop Van L Speakerworks, the guy who re-coned my Marantz speakers way back when, and told him about my predicament. He lent me a JoLida JX10 to try out with my system. Boy oh boy, does that make a difference! Since it is simply a two channel amp I will have to rethink how I connect all of my video components, perhaps all to the TV, and then the audio out of the TV into the JX10 for movies and such.

    Now I can clearly hear the limitations of my speakers. With an amplifier like this in a living room [14'x16'x9'] which is open on the short end to a dining room , what kind of speakers can you suggest? Smaller than my old Marantz, my wife hopes.

  9. #9
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    Your link took me to the Jolida site for an FX10 int. amp. This is a low powered tube amplifer though it could probably give some nice sound. I think I know what I am talking about because some of the old Fisher equipment in tubes used the 6BQ5/EL84. You wanted an A/V receiver of which I gather you have set up in a very specific way. Your speakers have a woofer of 14 inches and as such these speakers would require some real good power to push them and I am thinking along the 60 watt per channel realm at the minimum. If you like the Jolida, you will need a more powerful Jolida to push those Marantz speakers properly.

  10. #10
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    at the base of a good system, there is a good front end/source, they always thought me. well, your sources are all set, you use your playstation and your tv, since there are no different playstations, and a new tv is an unlikely route , the next thing in line is the amplifier.

    you heard the Jolida has an entirely different sound. Now, since you borrowed it, you'll have to give it back once, since the sony didn't do much of a good job, you could look for something else, a different AV amp (if you decide to go the surround route somewhere in the future. If you decide to stay stereo, you can go with a decent stereo receiver, or integrated amplifier, or separates.

    Assuming you're going HT sooner or later (since you bought a surround amp in the first place), I think it's best for you to look for a decent AV receiver first. I'm sure there are people here that can suggest you an excellent amp, Home theatre isn't my main interest in audio, that lies more in stereo, so I think there are better people here to suggest you good home theatre amplifiers...

    My limited knowledge would lead me to a decent onkyo, or a denon surround receiver...

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.
    Life is music!

    Mcintosh MA6400 Integrated
    Double Advent speakers
    Thiel CS2.3's
    *DIY Lenco L75 TT
    * SME 3012 S2
    * Rega RB-301
    *Denon DL-103 in midas body
    *Denon DL-304
    *Graham slee elevator EXP & revelation
    *Lehmann audio black cube SE
    Marantz CD5001 OSE
    MIT AVt 2 IC's
    Sonic link Black earth IC's
    Siltech MXT New york IC's
    Kimber 4VS speakercable
    Furutech powercord and plugs.

    I'm a happy 20 year old...

  11. #11
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    Assuming you're going HT sooner or later (since you bought a surround amp in the first place), I think it's best for you to look for a decent AV receiver first.
    I would like to thank you all for your excellent input, you have all been such a great help.

    I purchased a new AV receiver because my 15-year-old AV receiver is dying, and I bought that one because my old Harman Kardon receiver died after serving me well for years. The only time that I have ever had more than two speakers was when I had four back in high school when my receiver had a built-in eight track player! So, my primary need for an entertainment system has always been and remains good quality two channel audio. While watching movies I have played the audio through my stereo while utilizing the televisions speakers as a center speaker for dialogue clarity. Will I eventually going HT? I don't know.

    After reading that Consumer Reports rated the Sony so highly, I began to look for new smaller speakers to go along with it, but quickly realized that I did not want surround sound speakers, I wanted good quality two channel audio. So I thought I would give the Marantz a try with the new receiver before seeking a replacement for them.

    After reading the replies of numerous audiophiles in a couple of different forums, the fog of "what I have always done" has been lifted to reveal the fact that I don't need a receiver. My hi-fi guy told me today that all of the HDMI connections that I was going for in the receiver were only necessary for high-quality video, but not necessary for high-quality audio which is still achieved in todays hi-fi systems through the use of RCA connectors. He then stated the obvious [as did MarkW], that many people like those receivers because of the connectivity features! That's exactly why I chose it.

    He then played a CD for me in his listening room with a $5000 this and a $7000 that and I was blown away! He said that the lowest level individual components generally perform better than the highest level receivers... and then he showed me the JoLida. If I was to go this route I would plug my PS3 and my cable box directly into the Bravia via HDMI. The Bravia has an audio out which could go into the JoLida for powering my hi-fi speakers to augment movie sound. My turntable could be plugged directly into the JoLida with the use of my Creek turntable preamp. If I ever wanted a tuner for playing radio I could add one.

    My hi-fi guy also told me that there was a question of whether or not the JoLida FX10 would be powerful enough to drive my speakers... it may just be a matter of not achieving a high enough volume he said. After playing a couple of CDs it appears to be powerful enough at lower and moderate volumes, however kelsci has a point that I might consider a more powerful amp. Playing CDs is still a question... will the Bravia pass the audio from the PS3 to the JoLida with an acceptable level of fidelity?

    My limited knowledge would lead me to a decent onkyo, or a denon surround receiver...Bert.
    Great, I'm open to checking out good quality audio receivers too.

  12. #12
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    There's a happy medium to be had.

    Not all receivers suck. There are many good ones out there that sound good, offer a modicum of connectivity features and don't cost a fortune. ...but they won't be found at the bottom of the line.

    The hi-end game, particularly the low power variety, is nice but it is a very slippery slope with a marked point of diminishing returns. You'll know that point only after you've passed it.

    Since you're talking about a serious investment anyway, might I suggest you also consider more upscale receivers from, say, Denon, NAD, and even the current Marantz line. If you feel multi-channel isn't your cuppa tea, there are also stereo units available from these manufacturers as well.

    This way, you could gauge their capability with your beloved vintage speakers and know that you've got the oomph to handle almost any current speaker you might choose as well.

  13. #13
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    My father in law is a Denon man. Check out Dakmart. They are an official reseller of Denon FACTORY refurbished items. This means they are refurbished in a Denon factory/Denon approved factory rather than some third party. They have warranties with their items also...

    http://www.dakmart.com/index.php?cPa...t=&filter_id=5

    I know I'm a little late to the party, but as an owner of a Sony AV unit, I can whole heartedly say they suck at 2 channel playback. HOWEVER, they aren't too bad if you are inputting RCA's and using your source's processing. For digitally inputted sources, the DAC contained in the Sony is EXACTLY how you described it. Bright and generally unrealistic sounding.

    I use an external DAC to counter this issue, my PS2 as transport.

    I would also like to add a congrats! Clearly your ears are adept enough to hear these differences and recognize them as weaknesses. This is 90% of the audio hobby. If your ears cannot ascertain what they're hearing, you don't have much to go with.

    Good luck and enjoy your gear.

  14. #14
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctctc
    Boy oh boy, does that make a difference! Since it is simply a two channel amp I will have to rethink how I connect all of my video components, perhaps all to the TV, and then the audio out of the TV into the JX10 for movies and such.
    What you need to do is determine whether or not you want to have a single system for both music and HT, or whether you want to have a separate two channel music system. You'll find compelling arguments for either choice depending upon your needs and priorities. I really good HT receiver can serve music listening quite well.

    rw

  15. #15
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    The hi-end game, particularly the low power variety, is nice but it is a very slippery slope with a marked point of diminishing returns. You'll know that point only after you've passed it.
    Do you mean to say that no matter what you buy and how much you spend you always have your desire set on that next piece of equipment that is better for more money... and that each new acquisition brings a discernable benefit which is greater in the beginning but the higher you go the benefit is less and less...and that eventually you regret that last multi-thousand dollar purchase because you simply can't discern the benefit? Yep, that sounds like my 4th wife! : o

    Since you're talking about a serious investment anyway, might I suggest you also consider more upscale receivers from, say, Denon, NAD, and even the current Marantz line. If you feel multi-channel isn't your cuppa tea, there are also stereo units available from these manufacturers as well.
    My only experience with NAD is the 522 CD player [I see that you have the 523] that I bought from my hi-fi guy. I was very disappointed when it stopped working after only a few short years. Maybe I had a lemon. I don't know. I should probably take another look anyway. I have seen Denon and NAD mentioned a lot in this forum.

    But let me throw this into the mix, I'm a musician and I enjoy playing electric guitar most of all. I have owned all tube amps, hybrid solid-state preamps with tube power amps, and all solid-state amps and hands down the sound I like best, and keep coming back to, are all tube amps because of their warmth, tone, and I feel that I can almost play those tubes as if I had my hands on them like a guitar!

    I have never considered purchasing a tube stereo, it just never occurred to me. But when I heard the warmth and the tone of that all tube JoLida, I must admit I was smitten.

    This way, you could gauge their capability with your beloved vintage speakers and know that you've got the oomph to handle almost any current speaker you might choose as well.
    As I mentioned before I have been without a proper working amp/receiver for some time now. The JoLida has allowed me to hear some limitations/weaknesses in my vintage speakers and I suspect that there is something wrong with one or both of them in the midrange and high-end sections. I'm going to haul them over to my hi-fi guy to have him take a look. These cabinets are constructed of particle board with a vinyl covering. I don't know what the effective live is of an actual speaker. How would you determine where to draw the line on investing money in them or moving on to new more efficient and better sounding speakers?

    BTW...Just kidding about that wife comment...only been married once : )
    Last edited by ctctc; 05-21-2010 at 04:15 AM.

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    My father in law is a Denon man. Check out Dakmart. They are an official reseller of Denon FACTORY refurbished items.
    Another Denon referral. I'll check out Dakmart. Thanks.

    I know I'm a little late to the party, but as an owner of a Sony AV unit, I can whole heartedly say they suck at 2 channel playback. HOWEVER, they aren't too bad if you are inputting RCA's and using your source's processing. For digitally inputted sources, the DAC contained in the Sony is EXACTLY how you described it. Bright and generally unrealistic sounding.
    Yes, I can't tell you how disappointed I was. I had such a high regard for Sony products.

    I would also like to add a congrats! Clearly your ears are adept enough to hear these differences and recognize them as weaknesses. This is 90% of the audio hobby.
    Thank you poppachubby! : )

  17. #17
    Forum Regular pixelthis's Avatar
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    Cool

    [QUOTE=ctctc]Another Denon referral. I'll check out Dakmart. Thanks.



    Yes, I can't tell you how disappointed I was. I had such a high regard for Sony products.
    I did, and still do, but their receivers stink on ice, even the high line ones

    If on a beer budget check out Emotiva, very good alternative.
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  18. #18
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    This way, you could gauge their capability with your beloved vintage speakers and know that you've got the oomph to handle almost any current speaker you might choose as well.
    I had my hi-fi guy check out my Marantz speakers and he told me that I needed new tweeters. He lent me a pair of scanspeak D2626/922000 tweeters to try. This makes all the difference in the world, my speakers sound better than I ever remember. The high mids and the highs are strong and articulate. The lows are strong but inarticulate. The mids are just plain weak.

    By the way the JoLida JX10 drove these speakers to a high volume level. There is a possibility that it is the cause of the inarticulate lows and the weak mids that I heard, but I don't know.

    I believe that there is a lot that goes into the sound quality of a speaker cabinet including its construction, size, shape, electronics, and speakers. But if for the sake of discussion I were to replace all of my speakers with corresponding products from Scanspeak's discovery series, that would total $433 plus tax. Again, just speculation on my part, but my guess is that you could double the $433 in order to purchase new speaker cabinets of that quality level.

    When I read the editorial reviews for best floorstanding speakers under $1000 at the link on the right of the forum, I see four speakers in that price range and two close behind. Any comments from experienced high-quality speaker users would be appreciated.

  19. #19
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctctc
    When I read the editorial reviews for best floorstanding speakers under $1000 at the link on the right of the forum, I see four speakers in that price range and two close behind. Any comments from experienced high-quality speaker users would be appreciated.

    I don't know what the editorial says, but I could give you some help

    if you don't mind going the second hand market, you might be able to strike a good deal.

    I am a very big Thiel fan myself, you could find some good deals here and there, on audiogon, for example, check for 2.3's...
    also, for about a grand, you could get a pair of B&W's from the 600 line, or monitor audio Bronze reference series, maybe silver reference if you go used...

    how big is your room for the speakers, and what's your budget?

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.
    Life is music!

    Mcintosh MA6400 Integrated
    Double Advent speakers
    Thiel CS2.3's
    *DIY Lenco L75 TT
    * SME 3012 S2
    * Rega RB-301
    *Denon DL-103 in midas body
    *Denon DL-304
    *Graham slee elevator EXP & revelation
    *Lehmann audio black cube SE
    Marantz CD5001 OSE
    MIT AVt 2 IC's
    Sonic link Black earth IC's
    Siltech MXT New york IC's
    Kimber 4VS speakercable
    Furutech powercord and plugs.

    I'm a happy 20 year old...

  20. #20
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    Be careful when replacing speakers in an existing box.

    Particularly woofers. The box they came in were designed for that particular woofer.

    Woofers have certain electro-physical "parameters"* which are critical when designing the box they will work in. IOW, one cannot simply slap a woofer into an existing box and expect it to perform properly.

    Likewise, the crossover has a pretty important role into blending the outputs of however many speakers there are in a system. Scanspeak makes some durn nice speakers and I think that they outclass the other speakers in the system, at least as far as sensitivity. Your "old" speakers might not be the greatest, but I'm pretty sure they were chosen to blend together (and the crossover designed) so no one driver overshadows the others.

    Unless you're prepared to have a box custom made for a new woofer (and there are programs available to help in this area), you might be better off looking for all new speakers and keeping the Marantz's for the rec room or garage.

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    I don't know what the editorial says, but I could give you some help
    Thanks Bert.

    how big is your room for the speakers, and what's your budget?
    The living area, performance area, and dining area are completely open to each other and together create a room in the shape of an "L" which totals approximately 700 ft.. The TV and stereo are currently in one corner of the living area which measures approximately 14' x 16' x 9' high.

    My budget? It appears that I'm going to spend about $450 to $650 on a two channel integrated amplifier. I would like to purchase the best speakers that I can for a similar quality level, if there is such a thing.

  22. #22
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I really good HT receiver can serve music listening quite well.

    rw
    I'm going to agree with this 100%. While the "ideal" is to have a dedicated 2 channel system, a decent multi-channel system can sound good too.

    I LOVE vintage speakers. Some of them can STILL hold their own with even the best of today's speakers. While I've never heard your particular speakers, in 1975 Marantz was one of the top names of audio. Their speakers were not their forte, but still they should rival anything else from the time save the best from AR, or Quad if your a flat guy like me. My guess is that if you want to hear what they really were supposed to sound like then a vintage Marantz receiver would be in order. Barring that, a decent modern receiver with a quality amp would be in order. They list specs in wattage but what's never listed is how many amps it can swing into stereo. 100w or better into two speakers at 8ohm is what most modern receivers claim. However, the real test of power is how much amperage the unit can swing. Is it +/- 30amps?, +/-50 amps, or more? A lot of modern receivers fall short when measured this way, and a lot of tube amps can swing a lot more than the "wattage" rating would tell you, as you've found with the Jolida. The old Marantz receivers were severely under rated by modern standards and will drive most speakers to very loud volume.

    Tweeters are one of the things that modern speakers do better. I would be wary about just switching one out, but there are better tweeters today and if you can get one to match your other drivers then why not change it out.
    Audio;
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    My father in law is a Denon man. Check out Dakmart. They are an official reseller of Denon FACTORY refurbished items
    Okay I checked out the Denon website and cross-referenced it to the Dakmart.
    It appears that their only hi end 2 channel receiver is the DRA-CX3 which is clearly out of my price range. The best stereo receiver seems to be the DRA-697C. I know that the specs are not terribly meaningful to me but forgive me if it reads like the Sony that I returned. Knowing a little bit about what I've been through and what I'm looking for would it be possible for you to ask your father-in-law for a recommendation?

  24. #24
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctctc
    Okay I checked out the Denon website and cross-referenced it to the Dakmart.
    It appears that their only hi end 2 channel receiver is the DRA-CX3 which is clearly out of my price range. The best stereo receiver seems to be the DRA-697C. I know that the specs are not terribly meaningful to me but forgive me if it reads like the Sony that I returned. Knowing a little bit about what I've been through and what I'm looking for would it be possible for you to ask your father-in-law for a recommendation?
    Ya I could do that. You want a rec based on Dakmart's inventory? One of my local hifi shops sells Denon also. What's your budget?

    As far as spec'ing like the Sony, most of these receivers will share specs. This doesn't mean they will sound the same. The Denons will have better sounding chips than the Sony.

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    You want a rec based on Dakmart's inventory? One of my local hifi shops sells Denon also.
    I'd rather not limit myself to what is on the shelf. I would like to buy the best in my budget range and then purchase it from whoever has it.

    What's your budget?
    I am considering the $450 JoLida, and if I had to take a step up for some compelling reason it would be their $650 model.

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