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  • 12-26-2003, 10:38 AM
    Hi and Happy Holidays to Everyone!

    I am looking to "upgrade" my home component system, and was interested in recommendations. I currently own some very old 70s/80s vintage componenets (Ohm H speakers, JVC JA-S77 Integrated Amp, Onkyo Cassette Deck, Hitachi FT4400 Tuner, Sony CDP-70 CD-Player). I was never happy with the Ohm speakers ... and the Integrated Amp and Cassette Deck are shot.

    My listening patterns and tastes: wide variety of music ... little bit of jazz, little bit of show music, but I would say 80-90% classic rock, current rock, and current day stuff like Creed, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Counting Crows, Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind, etc (no rap). I live in an 800 sq. ft. apartment.

    I don't consider myself to be an advanced audiophile, but I do consider myself to be above the average listener is quality expectations (somewhere in the middle). I like some enhanced clarity and separation, and also like some bass separation.

    Here's my dilemma. Without a working amp, the rest of my system is unusable. I think the future seems to be Home Theater, so I'd like to pursue that. It would seem logical that I should think along the lines of replacing the amp with a Home Theater Receiver first. That way, I would then have a usable system with speakers and CD player. However, I eventually want to replace the Ohm speakers ... I never felt that they had adequate bass (in those days, Infinity would have been the way to go, but it's a long story as to why I chose Ohms).

    I know enough (I think) to know that one should purchase a receiver or amp that adequately drives ones speakers. Yet ... I'd really prefer to not have the expense of a new receiver and speakers all at once ... especially since I have "usable" speakers. So what should I do? Just pick a suitable receiver that I hope will drive whatever speakers I eventually decide on, or just resign myself to having to purchase them all up-front?

    The next question is what to consider in terms of components. I know this is a matter of opinions/tastes, but it would appear that in terms of home theater receivers, I should consider Yamaha or Denon (figure on price point $500-$1000). I have heard pretty consistently that Yamaha has a crispness at higher volumes that Denon doesn't have.

    In terms of speakers, do I have to have 4/5 speakers if I am using a Home Theater Receiver, or can I start with 2? What speakers are good nowadays that have good bass separation and emphasis (figure on price point $1000-$1500 total for either 2 or 4 speakers).

    Thanks so much for your help!

  • 12-27-2003, 09:13 AM
    Hello Larrye,

    I'm still quite a novice on the AV front, but here's my recommendations:

    1). Receivers: I think both the Denon and Yamaha lower end AV receivers are a great value for the money (I have one of each)....particularly the Yamaha units which generally go on sale more often. Try and find a store where you can do comparison testing of both units on an identical setup (same CD, same speakers, etc..). Think of all the features you need (i.e. Component switching, 6.1, etc..) and factor that into your decision. Personally, I don't think you need to worry about the receivers being unable to adequately drive your eventual speakers unless you plan to purchase some high-end, very inefficient speakers. Most good speakers under $1000 should work fine with most decent receivers.

    2). In terms of speakers, you certainly do not have to have 5.1 (or more) speakers with a HT receiver. However, you won't get true HT sound without all the speakers. Either way, I'd definitely recommend buying a matched center when purchasing your fronts. Speakers are discontinued all the time and it may be difficult to find a sonically similar center at a later date. With two fronts and a center, you could move your old speakers to the rear and have a full setup. A sub does make a big difference for HT (i.e. action movies), but you can buy one later. In regards to what speakers to purchase, bookshelves generally do lack some bass, but work well for HT when paired with a sub. If you plan to do a lot of stereo listening without a sub, towers are probably a better bet. As with the receiver shopping, do a lot of A/B testing (bring in your own CD disc) of the speakers AT THE SAME VOLUME LEVEL and choose the models that sound best to you. Also ask whether a home trial is possible. In regards to what speakers I like, I live in Canada and there are a lot of great Canadian brands that offer better value than the imports. These include Dahlquist, Energy and Axiom. The best time to purchase speakers is when the manufacturer is about to change models. 50%+ off the MSRP is not unusual during a good sale.

    Hope this info helps and I'm sure you'll get a lot of enjoyment out of whatever you decide to purchase.
    p.s. - a good learning remote may not be a bad idea either!