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Corn-Picker 8th October 2002 04:00 PM

I'm building a new system, but I'm confused about some issues.
How much should my speakers (I plan to do 5.1) cost in relation to my receiver?

I plan to do music listening, video game playing (xbox and PC 5.1 capabilities rule), and home theater over my speakers.

So far I have been looking at the Polk LSi9's and the Amphion Argon 2's. I want really powerful rears for gaming, so I will get four of the same type of minimonitor, either Polk or Amphion, and a matching center and sub. Altogether this system will be under $3500 (retail) for speakers.

My issue is that even for only two Amphion Argon 2 speakers, people seem to reccommend over four thousand dollars worth of amplification. :eek: I was planning to power my system with something like a $1000 (retail) Denon 150W/channel receiver.

Should my receiver/amplification cost that much more than the speakers alone? Would I be better off getting the $1000 Denon and then getting speakers that cost under $1000 for all six?

This is all very confusing to me :xeye:

Also, how long to Polk's composites last? The Amphions are aluminum, so they shouldn't disitegrate anytime soon. I plan to have this system for decades, so I want to do it right the first time.

My previous system was a $300 Pioneer powering a $200 set of Sony's. Then I made the mistake of stopping into a high end audio shop in Pittsburgh, the guy there had a $15,000 McIntosh receiver running into $20,000 McIntosh speakers, it sounded great :D Of course I don't expect anything I buy to sound that good, but I am trying to build a decent system that meets my goals and will last a long time.

Thanks a ton for any help you can provide.

hifiZen 9th October 2002 06:11 AM

Hmm... $3500 on a full 5.1 channel speaker set...

For that kind of cash, I'd go with Paradigm speakers. Haven't heard Amphion, but IMHO Polk is overpriced, mass market junk. No offence, I just think they spend too much money on marketing instead of engineering. They sound like mass market speakers... consumer speakers with hifi pretensions, just like Bose-o brand.

Anyway, read some reviews on the Paradigms - unmatched at their price levels, and very well suited to both music and home theatre applications. Paradigms play loud, and are pretty bulletproof, too. They make nice sets of timbre-matched surround speakers so you don't have to compromise your main LR stereo channels to afford matching surrounds. Highly recommended... I've owned paradigm for many years now, and my original bookshelf speakers made it through numerous college parties without missing a beat, and still stand up to moderate audiophile standards at the end of it all. I still have them in service as front channels in a 5.1 kit, and they're as good as new going on something like 7 years now...

Amplifier wise, you might want to budget a little more, but a Denon should do ok for you. The amplifier doesn't become super important until you've got pretty high end speakers and source components. If you're feeling adventurous, I recommend you build your own amps ;) You can easily outperform any consumer unit with a grand worth of homebuilt power amps... dunno if you're up to it though.

hifiZen 9th October 2002 06:14 AM

Actually, now that I think of it, you may want to consider the Paradigm active speakers too... you'd totally blow away any speaker+amp combination you could get for the same money... Food for thought.

mrfeedback 9th October 2002 11:36 AM

The Fine Print.....
"I plan to have this system for decades, so I want to do it right the first time. "
Foam roll surrounds decay usually in 5 to 10 years. :(
Vulcanised rubber surrounds or doped cloth surrounds last pretty much forever.

Sparhawk 9th October 2002 02:06 PM

How did this question end up in the Digital forum? :confused:

I second (third?) the Paradigm recommendation; they are excellent speakers for the money, and you will not be disappointed. I don't know about Amphion, but Paradigm is definitely much better than Polk. If you're looking as high as $3500, you should look at the Paradigm Reference series. But if you don't want to spend that much, the cheaper Paradigms are still excellent.

I'm sure someone will disagree with me, but I don't think the receiver is overly critical, as long as it is decent. Denon, Sony, Yamaha, etc... they'll all do nicely for home theatre. Now, if you want some serious music... build your own amps, and maybe look at some high efficiency speakers such as Klipsch.

cowanrg 9th October 2002 04:51 PM

go with paradigm, energy, or something of that sort. the denon avr-3802 will be a good choice for you. i sell a ton of those, and everyone is happy with them. maybe even look into the new poineer elite receivers, they are pretty darn awesome. even a new yamaha will be great for you.

if you are keeping the system for awhile, plan on spending at least $1K on the receiver. this will give you all the sound formats you need, as well as a good amount of power and features.

get the very very best speakers you can. dont skimp on those. also, remember to get good cable. if your budget is $3500, and you've already spent $3499, return something, and get better cables... good interconnects and speaker wire make a world of difference, especially in the range you are talking.

Corn-Picker 9th October 2002 10:12 PM

Thanks a lot for all of the replies everyone, I'll definitely check out the Paradigms.

hifiZen, I agree that most Polks are overpriced and not the best sounding, but I had the chance to listen to the LSi9's in person and they are a better deal per dollar than any other Polk I have ever heard.

I've actually been trying to get into electronics for the last year, so I will definitely keep lurking around the forums looking for information on building one's own amps.

mrfeedback, thanks for the feedback. I will definitely go with vulcanised rubber, doped cloth, or metal speakers.

sparhawk, this question ended up in the digital forum because I was not sure where the heck I should put it :) What forum should a question like this be posted in? I will check the less expensive Paradigms as well; right now I'm trying to split money between making a good home audio system or making my WRX go faster :)

cowanrg, Ill check out energy as well as paradigm. The AVR-3802 was the receiver I picked out when I referred to "$1000 Denon", it looks like a good receiver.

One question I have is how do better interconnects produce a better sound? My gut reaction is to think that putting an extra piece of metal (24k gold in the case of decent interconnects) in between the wire and the binding post could not improve the sound; what's the advantage of a good interconnects besides ease of connecting/disconnecting the speaker?

Thanks a lot guys, I really appreciate it.

cowanrg 10th October 2002 03:02 AM

a better interconnect will give more shielding, better insulation, and a better coductor all around. this will give a smoother more natural sound. there is a lot of noise generated in any system, and the cables act like little antennas, picking most of it up. a good interconnect will block most of that out, and thus less noise.

try it out. use the standard junk that comes with the dvd player or whatever, and then swap it out with even some ok monster. you will/should notice a pretty good difference.

Schaef 10th October 2002 12:44 PM

Just wanted to jump in here real quick for a comment about the Denon receiver. Denon is what I have been listening to for the past 5 years, and I have to say that for my ears, it sounds wonderful! I'm not as high up on the model end as you are, but I have no complaints about the receiver at all!

As to interconnects, I'll have to agree with cowanrg on this one. Buy one pair and try swapping to see if you can hear a difference. I tried some on my system, and couldn't tell a difference, so I have a total mishmash of decent and crap connectors and couldn't tell you which is running on which.

As to which forum this should have been on, I'd have to vote for the "Everything Else" forum.

Sparhawk 10th October 2002 01:32 PM

"Everything else" is probably the proper place for this, but it's no big deal.

As for cheaper Paradigms, you might want to look at a pair of Monitor 5 or 7 for mains, and a pair of ADP-370 (or even Mini Monitors) for surround. Check out the CC-370 center channel, and maybe a PDR-12 sub.

As for interconnects... That is a subject that is almost as delicate as religion. :D Personally, I think the difference is going to be very subtle with typical "mid-fi" products like multi-channel class B (or A/B hybrid, or whatever) receivers. With pure, minimalist class A and a good source, I think the contribution of the interconnects is probably much more obvious. There are many ways in which the cables can affect the sound. All cables have some amount of capacitance and inductance which can interact with the connected device to alter the signal.

For home theatre use, my rule of thumb is good quality, physically robust cables and connectors that are going to make solid, reliable connections. Nothing too exotic (ie, expensive) is really necessary. If the system is going to be used for critical music listening, then maybe something more expensive is justified.

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