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talk to me about Stereo systems


catphish

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We're remodeling the first floor of our home, and I'm getting my LOOOOOONG awaited HDTV. I got the TV part under control, but the other system components I'm not up to speed on. Mainly the surround sound Stereo part.

 

What's the hot ticket in this department for components and speakers?

What should I know before taking the plunge?

Will it make a difference if I use expensive speaker cables?

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How much do you want to spend on each part of your system?

 

Home stereo basics:

 

Speakers make the biggest difference. Spend the most money here. Listen to everything, buy what sounds best in your price range.

 

Subwoofer placement is critical. If you get a system with a sub, spend some time on placement, and conversely, couch placement.

 

With components, get a decent receiver. I'm not a fan of much you can buy in Circuit City or Best Buy, with the exception of some Denon or Yamaha stuff.

 

Speaker cables can make a difference, but it's marginal. My current system has $12/foot speaker cable - 2-18' runs. $432 of speaker cable into a pair of $500 speakers...yeah...

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My next receiver will be a Yamaha 6.1 or 7.1 setup. Know lots of people, and for movie use, they pretty much kill. Them, Onkyo or Denon aren't bad either.

 

Speakers, I like Klipsch, upper end Infinity and Polk, but that's just me. :)

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I hadn't really thought about it...Somewhere in the $3-4k range I suppose. More if I feel i would make a significant difference.

5.1, 6.1, 7.1, 11.2...? :D

 

I'd start off with at least a $500 receiver for your price range. $1100 used to be the "sweet spot," but that may have dropped recently. I've seen some great (on paper) receivers for around $800-900. As I said before, I'm a fan of Denon as well as Marantz, Rotel, Adcom and NAD. The last three are a bit pricier, however.

 

With speakers, it's all about listening on familiar material and then picking what sounds best to your ears. I really like my Definitive Technology speakers. Paradigm are also well-received.

 

It's been a little while since I've bought stereo gear, so others will probably chime in with input. And, inevitably, there will be a "I got this AWESOME system at Wal-Mart for like $200 that has everything in the box. It's just killer!" comment. :)

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I would recommend Harmon Kardon or Yamaha for a receiver. MacIntosh is great, but that kind of money is rediculous.

 

I have a Harmon Kardon receiver

Bose 601s from '82 up front

Bose Center Channel

Optimus LX5's in the rear

 

Those Bose 601's are a perfect example of "they don't make em like they used to"

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What's the deal with THX when it comes to home systems? It's basically just like set of specs a component has to meet, right?

 

Yep. It's supposed to be a certain "quality level" that gear has to attain. However, it means a little less than it originally did since there are now different THX levels. I wouldn't worry about it.

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Are any speaker sets (7 speakers together...or whatever) even worth looking into?

 

In my experience, not really. However, if you pick a brand of speaker and stay within a product line, it gives you many more options to suit your room. You can choose form factor (bookshelf, tower, wall mount), woofer size and physical size to make a system that will work best for your room. I'd try a midline hi-fi retailer and see if you can get a salesman who will help you do this.

 

And yes, I forget JBL, but they do make some really nice speakers.

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I agree about a lot of the circuit city and best buy stuff not being of great quality. And I also agree that the Denon stuff is good :thu:

 

NAD stuff can be had online in your price range probably, and I had a C350 stereo receiver by them and it was THE BOMB. I sold it to my brother though and now I'm really happy with my cambridge audio receiver.

 

I haven't checked out too many expensive sets of speakers because I can't afford them, but I love my old JBL studio series speakers, and my brother's Klipsch set sound really nice. :cool:

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I've spent way too much money on "stereos" over the years.
:cry:

At this point, I would go with (3) QSC PLX2 power amps, (3) JBL SRX712s, (2) JBL SRX718s, and call it day.
:love:

Doubles as a nice PA or Bass rig.
;)

 

I think this would be too much firepower for me. And I still would need a receiver.

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When I built my 109" FP theater, the bang for the buck was a Pioneer 6.1 receiver and JBL Studio 5 set with a homemade subwoofer.

 

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/ is a good site for information. Highly recommended.

 

As for speaker wire, they get as bad in hifi as that whole lava cable fiasco and even worse. I've see 6 foot IEC power cords on sale for $300 as "audio grade." I'm using 14 GA Carol Architectural Speaker Cable for all my runs in the bar, card room, and theater that we are currently remodeling our basement to be. Good quality at a little more than $0.28 a foot. It's only electricity, anyway. :)

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I think this would be too much firepower for me. And I still would need a receiver.

 

Sometimes too much is just right.:eek:

 

I've got a Sony Dolby 7.1 receiver and Boston Acoustics speakers with a 300W Powered Sub. It's a decent system, but everything is 6+ years old.

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Sometimes too much is just right.
:eek:

I've got a Sony Dolby 7.1 receiver and Boston Acoustics speakers with a 300W Powered Sub. It's a decent system, but everything is 6+ years old.

 

 

My Bose 601's are 26 years old. They stack right up with my buddies Klipsch towers. Easily.

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My brother gave me his H-K all tube integrated amp from the 1960's. I brought it to a tube amp guru in Naperville for tubes, biasing, cleaning, etc...and he turned me on the the new Klipsch cabinets I'm using now. I'm using a DVD player from Target, and am VERY happy.

FWIW, with your budget, I'd get a nice all tube integrated amp, a DVD player with serious converters, and look at the nicest pair of speakers to go with it.

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My brother gave me his H-K all tube integrated amp from the 1960's. I brought it to a tube amp guru in Naperville for tubes, biasing, cleaning, etc...and he turned me on the the new Klipsch cabinets I'm using now. I'm using a DVD player from Target, and am VERY happy.

FWIW, with your budget, I'd get a nice all tube integrated amp, a DVD player with
serious converters,
and look at the nicest pair of speakers to go with it.

 

Tube amps do not like me. :cry:

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Yamaha, Denon and Harman Kardon all make nice surround sound receivers.

 

For music listening, I think ultimately you'll probably be dissatisfied with a home theater so I would keep a separate setup for that - which can be put together pretty cheaply.

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