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Thread: 10 Speaker Buying Tips

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    Default 10 Speaker Buying Tips


    1) Don’t scrimp.
    Your home entertainment speaker system is not the place to get cheap. You’ve heard the phrase, “where the rubber meets the road” to denote something’s importance? Just as a good set of tires is essential to the performance of an automobile, a good set of speakers is crucial to the performance of a home entertainment system—whether there are 20 speakers or just two.
    The speakers are the last stops for sound on the way to your ears. So you can have the world’s greatest DVD player and amplifiers, all creating this beautiful sound, but if you have a lousy set of speakers, it will still sound lousy. In other words, your system will only be as good as its speakers.
    There’s no set figure on how much you should spend on audio versus video, but a good benchmark is to try to budget for them equally, and look for a set of speakers to fit the audio portion. Try to spend at least as much on your speakers as you spend on your other audio components.
    2) Leave Mr. Audio at home.
    Everyone seems to have a friend or relative who is a self-professed audio expert, and when he—and usually it is a he—gets wind that you’re buying a home theater, he’ll suddenly become your self-appointed shopping consultant/escort/new best pal. Leave this guy at home. Chances are he will try to talk you into buying a system that he likes, not the one that is best for you. And he may be grossly misinformed. Consult him over the phone if you must.
    3) Same speakers, all around.
    Ideally, you’d have the exact same speakers throughout your home entertainment system. If it’s a five-speaker system, try to use the same five speakers. This is often difficult, as the front center channel is usually positioned horizontally, and you may not have room for full-size surround speakers. If that’s the case, look for packaged home theater speaker systems, though don’t bother with inexpensive home-theater-in-a-box systems which often include DVD players and A/V receivers. Opt instead for a package that comes with only speakers. Many manufacturers sell all five or more speakers together, with a smaller center channel and surrounds. The advantage of these speakers is that they are designed to work well together.
    The speakers should also have identical power ratings and frequency ranges. A 5.1 surround-sound system, for example, calls for five full-range speaker channels. Look for ranges starting at 60 to 100 hertz for the low sounds and up to 20 kilohertz for the high sounds, and leave the really low bass for a subwoofer to reproduce. Some center-channel and surround speakers may have narrower frequency ranges, as they don’t normally reproduce some lower sounds, for instance.
    If you can’t get all the same models or a package for the speakers, try to get them from the same manufacturer’s line, or from the same manufacturer, as each speaker maker tends to have a signature sound. That way, the speakers will sound good together. If you have to use a mix of brands, be sure your electronics professional matches them for tonal quality. This process is called timbre matching.
    4) The center channel rules.
    It may be smaller than the other front speakers. It may lie on its side and look like it’s not doing much. But the center channel is the most important speaker in a surround-sound system. All of the on-screen dialogue comes through this speaker, and about 70 percent of all sounds in a movie soundtrack come through it. That’s a lot. Scrimp on it or buy an underpowered one, and you may be constantly turning up the volume to hear what’s being said. That doesn’t make for good a home entertainment experience. That’s why the center channel should have the same power ratings as your other speakers. Don’t settle for less.
    5) Power isn’t all-important.
    Sure, Mr. Audio friend brags about his 200-watt-per-channel blah de-de-blah blah blah. And his system can still sound lousy. Power isn’t important unless you have a really big room to fill. Save the 100-watt-per-channel systems for dedicated home theater rooms where you want to shake, rattle and roll. Sixty watts per channel should be plenty in a family room environment. Thirty-five watts per channel is more than enough for background music.
    6) Sensitivity wins.
    This is the age of Mr. Sensitive. Much more important than the power capacity of a speaker is its sensitivity, which is a measure of how a speaker plays at low power. This is expressed in decibels, from about 83 to 93, the higher the better. And here’s a little factoid for Mr. Audio: An increase in 3 decibels of sensitivity is equal to doubling the power. The higher-sensitivity system will likely sound better as well.
    7) Surround channels should be diffused.
    That means they are meant to create ambient effects that can’t quite be localized, such as the hum of a spaceship or crickets chirping in the night. You shouldn’t be hearing your surround speakers all of the time. And you shouldn’t be able to pinpoint where those ambient sounds are coming from. For that reason, surround speakers should be located on the sides of the seating area and at least a foot above the heads of the seated audience. Many surround speakers have dual sets of speaker drivers pointed to both the front and back of the room to help disperse that sound. These are called bipole speakers. A dipole speaker goes step further and produces a sound that’s slightly “out of phase,” which you can think of as a slight delay between the two sets of drivers, thereby making the sound even more ambient. Bipolar and dipolar speakers are used almost exclusively for side surround channels.
    8) More is not necessarily better.
    One speaker has three drivers: a woofer for bass, a tweeter for high sounds and a midrange driver for sounds in the middle. The other speaker has just a woofer and a tweeter. The two speakers are about the same price. Which is better? All other things being equal, the two-driver speaker will likely have the better drivers, and the three-driver speaker will have cheaper ones. Moral of the story: Don’t be swayed by the notion of getting more for same price or less.
    9) Try them out.
    Listen to several speaker systems before you buy. And don’t just listen to the music or soundtracks the store has. The best way to judge a speaker is to hear how it reproduces the human voice. Bring CDs and DVDs of your own and that you are very familiar with. It’s a good idea to select various tracks or DVD chapters that have loud and soft sounds. Bring vocal tracks and a DVD with some really soft or whispered dialogue. Can you hear that whispered dialogue clearly? Listen to the CDs and DVDs before you go to the store, even if you’re sick of them. This will enable you to judge the speakers’ sound and perhaps pick out sounds that you’ve never heard before.
    10) Buy what you like.
    Don’t be influenced by “this is the better system.” or deceptive marketing (BOSE and others). If one speaker sounds better to you, go with it. You’re the one who’s going to be hearing it day in and day out. But be sure to take other things into consideration, such as the room decor and layout, and consult your electronics dealer on which system would be best for a large space with hardwood floors, for example.
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    Nice Post. It's so true about Mr. Audio guy.. Everyone has different ears, as well as, likes..
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    Hope it helps
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigitalDoctor View Post
    Hope it helps
    I just got my speakers last week, after 2 months of waiting.. I posted myset up in the Post your setup thread.. I had my bookshelves and center upside down in the pics, don't know how that happened. lol But, there fixed now.. lol
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    What speakers did you get?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigitalDoctor View Post
    What speakers did you get?
    A trio of Elemental Designs W6-6TC's these are my fronts. I also got a A7s-450 with a 1300 watt amp, and eQ.2. It was my first Home Audio Purchase. I went 3.1.. Powered by a Pioneer elite..

    ]



    I have a question about my setup.. AS you can see for my center I went with a bookshelf, I been hearing different responses on how to place the center(upright, like it is, or on its side), what do you think??

    In the pics, I had the speakers upside down, their all the way they should be now.
    PSN= Foreniscs80..

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    Quote Originally Posted by House72 View Post
    A trio of Elemental Designs W6-6TC's these are my fronts. I also got a A7s-450 with a 1300 watt amp, and eQ.2. It was my first Home Audio Purchase. I went 3.1.. Powered by a Pioneer elite..


    I have a question about my setup.. AS you can see for my center I went with a bookshelf, I been hearing different responses on how to place the center(upright, like it is, or on its side), what do you think??

    In the pics, I had the speakers upside down, their all the way they should be now.
    Try it (center channel) both in the upright position and laying on it's side and listen to what gives you the best sound, dialog in particular.

    You could always add 2 more for a great 5.1 system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigitalDoctor View Post
    Try it (center channel) both in the upright position and laying on it's side and listen to what gives you the best sound, dialog in particular.

    You could always add 2 more for a great 5.1 system.
    Yea, I was thinking that(adding two more, as well as, another sub). lol The GF(Queen), was shocked how big the sub was, as well as, how it shakes the House.. She doesn't have a problem with what I buy, but I think if I bought more speakers and sub, she would def think I'm crazy, but wait I am.. It's a sickness, once you get hooked it's over.. Just like when I was in to car audio, why stop at 2 subs, when 4 is twice as nice.. lol

    Yea, I will play around with the center, Thanks for the input..
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    Anytime and yes I do feel the addiction as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by House72 View Post
    A trio of Elemental Designs W6-6TC's these are my fronts. I also got a A7s-450 with a 1300 watt amp, and eQ.2. It was my first Home Audio Purchase. I went 3.1.. Powered by a Pioneer elite..

    ]



    I have a question about my setup.. AS you can see for my center I went with a bookshelf, I been hearing different responses on how to place the center(upright, like it is, or on its side), what do you think??

    In the pics, I had the speakers upside down, their all the way they should be now.
    Do you have a rug on the floor between you and the speakers? It would be a good idea, if possible. If you could get the speakers another two feet apart somehow, the soundstage would improve drastically for movies and music.
    What's the thingy to the right of your receiver?
    Gamut D200 MKII, Parasound P3, Totem Forest, Samsung BDP3600, Musical Fidelity V-DAC, Pace Whistler(PVR), Samsung PN58B850, Harmony 670

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobsplease View Post
    Do you have a rug on the floor between you and the speakers? It would be a good idea, if possible. If you could get the speakers another two feet apart somehow, the soundstage would improve drastically for movies and music.
    What's the thingy to the right of your receiver?
    Yea, if I move the sub, I can move the speakers out. I think I may move the sub.. Have to wait to get help, it's 140lbs, and too awkward to pick up by myself. I could just drag it on the pad though..

    Yea, I took out the area rug for the pics..

    The "Thingy" would be my wireless router, and a comcast modem to the far right???
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    Quote Originally Posted by House72 View Post
    Yea, if I move the sub, I can move the speakers out. I think I may move the sub.. Have to wait to get help, it's 140lbs, and too awkward to pick up by myself. I could just drag it on the pad though..

    Yea, I took out the area rug for the pics..

    The "Thingy" would be my wireless router, and a comcast modem to the far right???
    Try to get the speakers at least 12" away from the TV and if possible move the sub out of the corned ( subs have a tendency to get Boomy when in a corner not a clean bass image). Usually you put a sub in the corner to increase the Boominess and get more bass effect, but it doesn't look like it would lack any sound by those pictures.
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    5' to 7' would be the best separation for the front speakers to yield a proper soundstage and a piece of carpet beneath the sub would be almost required...
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigitalDoctor View Post
    5' to 7' would be the best separation for the front speakers to yield a proper soundstage and a piece of carpet beneath the sub would be almost required...
    I have the sub on this::::




    IS that 5-7 feet from each other??? If so, I'm at about 5' now..
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImRizzo View Post
    Try to get the speakers at least 12" away from the TV and if possible move the sub out of the corned ( subs have a tendency to get Boomy when in a corner not a clean bass image). Usually you put a sub in the corner to increase the Boominess and get more bass effect, but it doesn't look like it would lack any sound by those pictures.
    Yea, I'm going to move the sub behind my couch, it will give me more room, as well as, be hidden..

    Thanks, Rizzo, and DD, for the Tips/Suggestions
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    Quote Originally Posted by House72 View Post
    I have the sub on this::::




    IS that 5-7 feet from each other??? If so, I'm at about 5' now..
    Cool then try to go for 6' if you can, you may just be amazed at what the added separation will do for the sound stage. Nice piece of carpet, sorry I didn't notice it before.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DigitalDoctor View Post
    Cool then try to go for 6' if you can, you may just be amazed at what the added separation will do for the sound stage. Nice piece of carpet, sorry I didn't notice it before.
    Thanks... It's ok, the beast was hiding the pad...
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    Quote Originally Posted by House72 View Post
    Thanks... It's ok, the beast was hiding the pad...
    Are you still catching crap about your upright center? LOL
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    Quote Originally Posted by mytime View Post
    Are you still catching crap about your upright center? LOL
    HAHA, Yea, somewhat.. At first most people are like man your center is upright. Then I explain to them it's a bookshelf like the other two fronts. I'm still in the process of going Vertical or Horziontal with it.. Now, I plan on moving my sub to behind me, uggh, it never ends.. Off to Mononprice once again for a longer in wall rated sub cable...
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    Quote Originally Posted by House72 View Post
    HAHA, Yea, somewhat.. At first most people are like man your center is upright. Then I explain to them it's a bookshelf like the other two fronts. I'm still in the process of going Vertical or Horziontal with it.. Now, I plan on moving my sub to behind me, uggh, it never ends.. Off to Mononprice once again for a longer in wall rated sub cable...
    You know that you could just get some RG6 coax cable and put the RCA plugs on the ends yourself...
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