Improving

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  • 11-15-2004, 02:29 PM
    Technocrat
    Improving
    I want to improve my current setup. So I have a bunch of questions.

    This is my current setup:
    Sony STRDE-635
    (2) JBL N26
    JBL N-Center

    Its not really the best but it's better than nothing I guess. I would like to complete the 5.1 system at least.

    My first question is what would be a good sub for ~$300. Look around I think that the Hsu STF1 would be a good choice. Is there any others I should look for?

    I don't think I can afford to purchase a complete set of speakers. So I was thinking that I could use my current N26s are rear speakers and get a better set of fronts. Or should I do it the other way and get something better for rears?

    If so what should I get? I want them to be mountable to the ceiling.

    Thanks in advance
  • 11-15-2004, 04:36 PM
    Woochifer
    I think you should focus at this point on getting the surround speakers. That means either another pair of JBL Northridges so that you can voice everything all the way around, or look to upgrading the mains and live with some mismatches in the meantime. IMO, the real benefit to 5.1 soundtracks is the surround panning effects and imaging cues. The subwoofer in a 5.1 speaker configuration takes the lowest priority IMO.

    Whether you move the N26s into the back and get nicer main speakers, or grab another set of N26s for a matched set all the way around depends on two things 1) your budget; and 2) how much you like those JBLs.

    If your budget is limited to $300 and you're happy with the type of sound the JBLs give you, then you might well be better off just getting another set of N26s and enjoy the matching surround effect. Once you get the five main and surround speakers squared away, then you save up for the subwoofer. IMO, the extra dimension that discrete surround channels give you improves the listening experience more than the extra bass from the subwoofer does.

    As far as mounting goes, you're better off mounting them on the sidewalls than on the ceiling. A ceiling placement can create a "horn effect" that diminishes the imaging and creates a more smeared sound overall. Ideally, you would place the surrounds somewhere further away from the walls and definitely not right at the ceiling line.

    If you're looking to upgrade your main speakers, then it might be a bit trickier since that would potentially entail also upgrading the center speaker. Because of how multichannel soundtracks are typically mixed, you can get away with nonmatched surrounds and mains. It's ideal to have a matched set, and if you plan to listen to a lot of 5.1 music discs, the importance of timbre matched mains and surrounds increases. Up front, depending on the new main speakers that you opt for, you could have a serious mismatch between the mains and the center speaker as well. And in general, mismatches between the mains and the center are a lot more noticeable and detrimental than mismatches with the surrounds.

    If you decide to upgrade the mains, be prepared to eventually replace the center and surround speakers with models that voice match with the mains.
  • 11-15-2004, 04:46 PM
    Technocrat
    Actually I have around $1000 total to spend if needed. I would like to stay around $600 because I am going to try to squeeze in a TV too.

    Well personally I would rather have tall floor speakers. The problem I have is that my ceiling is already prewired and my wife is never going to allow speakers to "mess up" the room. So I am left with no choice but to mount them up high.

    The monts allow for pointing and rotation, so I can get some what of a decent cross down at the sitting areas. I know its not the optimal setup, but what are you going to do. :(

    The JBL have been ok. I can't really complain. They have held up well over the past few years.

    So I guess what would you suggest for some good mains and a center for around 600-1000 that can be mounted?
  • 11-15-2004, 06:45 PM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Technocrat
    Actually I have around $1000 total to spend if needed. I would like to stay around $600 because I am going to try to squeeze in a TV too.

    Well personally I would rather have tall floor speakers. The problem I have is that my ceiling is already prewired and my wife is never going to allow speakers to "mess up" the room. So I am left with no choice but to mount them up high.

    The monts allow for pointing and rotation, so I can get some what of a decent cross down at the sitting areas. I know its not the optimal setup, but what are you going to do. :(

    The JBL have been ok. I can't really complain. They have held up well over the past few years.

    So I guess what would you suggest for some good mains and a center for around 600-1000 that can be mounted?

    Forget about floorstanders with that budget. You'd be hard pressed to find too many floorstanding speakers that don't have audible issues with cabinet resonance or issues with the imaging compared to their bookshelf counterparts. Since you plan to eventually add a subwoofer, the low frequency advantage that you get with floorstanding speakers is not as much of an asset.

    If you're really that pressed for wall-mounted speakers, then you should look at some of the new wall-mounted models that are coming out. These are designed to mount on the wall around a wall-mounted LCD or plasma screen. Bookshelf speakers are designed to work best when spaced away from the walls. These wall-mounted speakers are designed with cabinets that minimize vibration and are sealed designs. Their main disadvantage is that their narrow profile takes away the interior volume that's needed to produce a lot of bass. Klipsch, B&W, Vienna Acoustics, Paradigm, Martin Logan, and Definitive Technology are among the companies that have recently come out with wall-mounted speakers.

    For the mains and center, you really do need to keep them as close to ear level as possible. The surrounds are okay for higher mounting (in fact, Dolby recommends placing the surrounds about 2' above ear level).