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  • OT (completely) Audio Setup

    I thought about posting this on an AV forum, but I decided I would hit up the ol' trust-worthy think tank. I am looking for advice on setting up some better audio to go with my 32" LCD television. It's nothing too fancy by today's standards, but a good TV. Anyway, I listen to a lot of classical organ music and it just doesn't sound very good coming from little laptop speakers - no bass. The TV speakers are not really any better.

    So, can you guys give me some recommendations on a good AV reciever and speaker setup? I'm looking for something that does a reasonable job handling classical music but nothing fancy. I'm looking for a mild improvement and something cheap. I know there is a wide variety in quality and price, so I'm primarily looking for something in the low end. Maybe a pair of bookshelf speakers and a sub? I bought a pair of bookshelf speakers from Polk Audio for my sister (they were cheap ... $99 for the pair, I think) and they performed well for the money. I'd like something along those lines. What do you guys think? I tried doing some Google research, but there are so many opinions and information that it was all a little overwhelming. I'm no audiophile ... just want something simple and cheap!

    EDIT: Hit enter too soon and messed up the title ... supposed to read "OT (completely): Audio Setup"
    Last edited by Fasttrack; 05-29-2012, 07:38 PM.

  • #2
    Have you checked out "Sound Bars"
    It seems all the new TV you need one for decent sound.
    The TX are too thin and small for decent sound.
    Progress. :-(
    I was over at a buddies place who restores old Radios. I sure love the sound from the 16" speakers. ;-)


    Dave

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DFMiller
      Have you checked out "Sound Bars"
      It seems all the new TV you need one for decent sound.
      The TX are too thin and small for decent sound.
      Progress. :-(
      I was over at a buddies place who restores old Radios. I sure love the sound from the 16" speakers. ;-)


      Dave
      What are TX?

      I'm not a fan of sound bars. I've heard a few demos at Best Buy, etc and they always sound sort of ... "flat". I suppose there are some good ones out there, I just don't know enough. Wish I had some 16" speakers ... my soon to be father-in-law has two 16" commercial Peavey speakers he got out of a bar setup with his TV and they sound great.

      Comment


      • #4
        Of all the "classical" instruments, the grand organ places the highest demands on one's stereo gear. It has such a huge frequency range and dynamic range as well.
        So take a deep breath and get a really decent stereo.
        Basically, the bigger the speaker cone, the better the bass response. Smaller speakers can reproduce low frequencies, but to do it in a balanced fashion they have to move more air, i.e., the cone excursion is greater, so the distortion is greater too.
        So get the biggest speakers you can afford, preferably not Japanese (they are all aimed at the pop market, where the volume of the boom is much important than what it actually sounds like), and check out the box's mid and high-range drivers too, by listening before you buy. Take a favourite CD to your audio shop, or better still ask if you can try your chosen gear out at home for a few days.
        Audiophiles are all barking mad, so you can expect to get as many conflicting opinions are there are posters on this thread!

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        • #5
          These days there's so much duplication of function that it's hard to avoid. The tv might well have the full audio processing capability in it, and you would probably be hard pressed to find any sort of amp or receiver that didn't also have the same full-surround functions. Since the last several years, you haven't been able to buy based on quality- it's all features and looks.

          I know you can buy speakers and receivers separately, and you can also buy a package deal which has all the speakers with it. You might want to visit a showroom and sit for a while with the various systems. Usually you'll find several rooms, with one system set up in each one. The systems are usually fairly affordable, and if you find one that appeals to you it might be the way to go. If you want to mix and match by selecting your own speakers and surround sound receiver, you will probably pay more- you may or may not like the final result anyway after using it for awhile.

          There's no guarantee that any of them are any better than any other these days. Yamaha has consistently made a good product- maybe they still do. There are makes out there that I can't even pronounce, let alone have heard of. In the long run, they are probably all non-scottish- in other words, crap

          There is a lot of personal preference (or conflicting opinions) involved. My personal preference in terms of speakers is to go with a two-way system instead of three-way, and often it will have an 8 inch speaker and dome tweeter. Add a sub to handle the low end, and spend some time placing the speakers to give you the best sound. There is no end to this, and you sure can spend a lot of money.
          Last edited by darryl; 05-29-2012, 08:28 PM.
          I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mike Burch
            Of all the "classical" instruments, the grand organ places the highest demands on one's stereo gear. It has such a huge frequency range and dynamic range as well.
            So take a deep breath and get a really decent stereo.
            Thanks for the advice. Don't think I can afford a really good setup right now, maybe I can pick up a decent reciever and low end speakers and then add to it as I go?

            There are only two pipe organs in the world with 64' stops. They resonate at 8.18 Hz, well below auditory range. All we hear are the overtones but the feeling must be incredible. Just for kicks, I started looking for a sub that could reproduce such an amazing effect. Found a speciality maker in the UK that makes a powered sub for just such a task. IIRC, he wanted about $12,000 for the speaker. Guess I'll have to forgo having that kind of low end frequency response.

            Comment


            • #7
              when I bought our first HDTV some years back it too lacked in the audio. I had a choice of going crazy or giving it a little kick which has been quite satisfactory when I consider the investment.

              I could go and buy a typical AV setup and to me it would be a waste of money considering the house I live in is 100 years old and most rooms are less than 15' in the longest dimension. I then gave in to the really cheap solution which was to bring home a subwoofer from a yard sale for a total investment of less than $20.

              The bottom octaves have really changed the character of the sound, disregarding its still 2 channel and a sub, I really don't care about adding rear channels or a center speaker for dialog.
              gvasale

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Fasttrack
                Thanks for the advice. Don't think I can afford a really good setup right now, maybe I can pick up a decent reciever and low end speakers and then add to it as I go?

                Fasttrack,

                As mentioned before, everyone has an opinion and many conflict as to brand etc...

                The only thing I will say is to spend your money FIRST on good speakers then on the electronics later. View it like buying a very expensive machine tool or welder and then using very poor tooling or bad welding rods.... No matter how good the equipment the finished product will be poor.

                Now for the equipment recomendation..... I very much like planar speakers like Magnepan etc.... Not cheap but very good sound reproduction. Just my opinion, YMMV
                Robin

                Happily working on my second million Gave up on the first

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                • #9
                  I agree, A good set of speakers will make a cheap stereo sound good, but the best sound system mony can by will sount bad with cheap speakers.
                  Craftsman 101.07403
                  Grizzly G0704
                  4x6 Bandsaw

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Fasttrack
                    Thanks for the advice. Don't think I can afford a really good setup right now, maybe I can pick up a decent reciever and low end speakers and then add to it as I go?

                    There are only two pipe organs in the world with 64' stops. They resonate at 8.18 Hz, well below auditory range. All we hear are the overtones but the feeling must be incredible. Just for kicks, I started looking for a sub that could reproduce such an amazing effect. Found a speciality maker in the UK that makes a powered sub for just such a task. IIRC, he wanted about $12,000 for the speaker. Guess I'll have to forgo having that kind of low end frequency response.
                    I highly recommend going to a thrift store and picking up some old stereo receiver for $20. Maybe speakers too if you can check instore that they are not blown yet, But yea, I would buy good speakers before I bought an amp, those old stereo receivers did quiet well IMO.

                    Might not be the best sound, but it is the best value.
                    Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Fasttrack
                      What are TX?
                      TV but my fat fingers and fried brain got in the way LOL

                      Dave

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am/was a professional TV engineer, not an audiophile so my advise is probably more pragmatic than some others in this area. I do have over 45 years of experience designing and installing monitoring systems for professional use in TV and radio stations. I recently set up my own "system" for both TV and music in my home office area and I wanted a combination of quality and economy (I have a very thrifty mother and my budget was not deep).

                        In my experience, the speakers are the most critical element in any audio set up. So, what I did was first go to Best Buy and do a comparison test of the speakers available there. They have a nice setup where you can instantly compare up to 10 different speakers with a selector switch. Try to go at a time when they have limited staff so you will not be bothered by a salesman telling you why you only want the expensive ones. The ones I compared ranged in price from about $75 to perhaps $500 a pair. There are even better speakers available but even the $500 was out of my range so that test was good enough for me. By going to a store where the various speakers are set up with a switch to drive them from the same amplifier and the same audio source you are comparing the speakers only; the other elements are out of the equation. You can read the specs on speakers until your eyes go red, but in the end, you will be happiest with speakers that sound best to YOUR ears. After listening to various types of sound on all the various speakers available there, I wound up with a pair that cost about $100 and I am very happy with them. Frankly, I thought they sounded better than most of the more expensive ones.

                        Then I needed a power amplifier and a pre-amp for my old turntable. I am in the process of transferring my old 33s to CD. The pre-amp I choose was about $30 and it has excellent specs. as well as the proper de-emphasis characteristic for records. You really do not have to pay a lot today for good quality. But you can pay an awful lot more for just a very small increase in the quality after that point. And the purveyors of such equipment will be very willing to take your money. I had an old tube type power amplifier which had fairly good quality sound, but it was best suited to heat the room in winter. I sold it on E-bay for almost $200 to one of those audiophiles who loved the "tube sound", which is actually a bit of hiss, and that financed my whole project here with some left over. If I recall correctly it cost me about $60 in kit form, about 40 years ago. In it's place I purchased a new, solid state, class T amplifier for about $20 on sale. I actually bought two because they were so cheap. It has 20 Watts per channel and in truth, that is quite enough to drive speakers for personal use in almost any home setting. In fact, at only half way up on the volume control my wife often complains that it is too loud. Yes, I know that they sell 50 and 100 and 250 Watt per channel amplifiers and the know-it-all audiophiles will swear by them. But again, years of professional experience have told me that there is very little improvement with each doubling of the price and those power levels are just a waste of money as you will almost never use them. In fact, this $20 amplifier had better specs than some professional equipment I have used over the years. And if you conduct a double blind test of a low end solid state amplifier against a high end one at reasonable listening levels, you will find even the most discriminating of those audiophiles will be hard put to tell the difference. Only when they know which one they are listening to will they be able to describe all the minute differences that make the $500 or $1000 amp so much better. Believe me, I have put them on the spot with such a test and they can not tell until the identity is revealed to them. Of course then they will insist that they could hear it all along. And they will be very irritated at me for showing them up. Often they will refuse to believe you are telling them the truth when they actually pick the cheaper system as the best by far.

                        My ears may not be as good as yours so you may wind up with better speakers than I did. But I can assure you that this procedure will produce a very good system for your ears, for a rock bottom price. If your ears are happy, that is all that counts.
                        Paul A.

                        Make it fit.
                        You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Paul has made some excellent points above.
                          One of my hobbies is Hi-Fi, (wait for flame) and at this point in time my hi-fi system is worth more than my home shop.... although the margins are narrowing :-) That does exclude media, CD;s vinyl, etc. If I take that into account, the home shop has a lot of catching up to do.

                          Built in speakers in TVs are generally of very poor quality, even when you are paying for a good display.
                          My advice would be to set a budget first and go and listen to some systems at a reputable dealer. It is your ears that need pleasing not the salesman's pocket. As Paul said speakers are the most variable element in sound quality and it is down to personal taste. Amplification is not so much the issue apart from that you need one.
                          DON'T be tempted to listen to any high end systems out of your budget or you will be hooked and you will end up spending more money.

                          Stuart

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                          • #14
                            Thanks guys. I'm going to head to Best Buy today and take a gander. I do have an old Sony reciever from my soon to be father-in-law. Maybe I can use that until I save up for a better one. He said everything works on it except the tuner. I'll just look at picking up a pair of bookshelf speakers?

                            I guess that's the other question I should ask ... apart from brands, how many and what kind of speakers should I get? Just a pair of two way bookshelf speakers or one of those 5 piece sets or a pair with a powered sub or ... ? I think having good bass is important for organ music.

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                            • #15
                              I have been involved in recording studios for over 15-18yrs now, both on the recording side and engineering side.
                              I really love great audio, and am willing to pay for it, to a point.

                              There's also the other side of the "snake oil" in audio products.
                              You can pay hundreds of dollars (if not thousands) just for "audiophile" speaker cables and other interconnect cables!
                              Crazy stuff.

                              I have spent many thousands of dollars on my living room audio system, which stems from my recording studio experience, but I love what I have.

                              I tell people don't jump into audio buying going the expensive route right off the bat. Get something reasonable, yet decent quality.
                              You can always upgrade if you want. But if you find you're satisfied without spending an arm and a leg, why go further?

                              I know my parents think their crappy Panasonic boom box sounds great, so spending large amounts on an audio system would be lost on them.
                              You need to know your satisfaction level.

                              Also, don't discount buying used items off CL. There are deals to be had out there at a fraction of the cost of buying new, but you need to do some homework when you're looking.

                              Originally posted by Fasttrack
                              There are only two pipe organs in the world with 64' stops. They resonate at 8.18 Hz, well below auditory range. All we hear are the overtones but the feeling must be incredible.
                              Along with my audio system that includes a pair of subs, I have installed in my floor joists two ButtKicker transducers. Then don't make any sound, but rather the vibrate whatever they are mounted to to simulate low bass notes. Many of those theme-park rides have these built into the seating for the shaking effects. They are rated down to 5Hz, and I don't doubt it. It would also depend on the amplifier used to power them, and the recorded material being played. You may not hear that low, but you sure as heck can feel it.

                              The ButtKickers allow for 'feeling' the low end without having to have excess audio volume to get to that point normally.
                              I know some people also mount a few of these under their outdoor deck to augment smaller outdoor speakers that don't have much bass response.

                              Accurately reproducing low end takes a LOT of good power.
                              And good power is not cheap.

                              Many think I'm nuts for having what I have in my living room, and I admit I'm probably on the deep end for most people.
                              It's not about sheer volume levels, but rather accurate reproduction and sound quality at all volume levels.
                              A bigger system running without a sweat will almost always sound better than a smaller system running at the ragged edge.
                              Movies in my living room are fantastic.
                              Last edited by T.Hoffman; 05-30-2012, 03:53 PM.

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