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£450 Receiver Sugesstions and Thanks for your postings!

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Julia, Oct 24, 2002.

  1. Julia

    Julia
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    I've made a bit of research, but I still don't have a clue which one to chose. :confused:

    I'm just a hopeless newbie with regard to building a sound system and I'd appreciate all help.:)

    I'd like a good Receiver for around £450 and any matching speakers sugesstions most welcome as well (I don't have a definite budget for speakers, so maybe around £400-£500).

    Is it possible to get something THX certified at this price?

    All ideas most welcome,

    Thanks,
    Julia:)
     
  2. MikeK

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    Yes, it's possible to get a THX approved AV receiver for under £450 - the Kenwood KRFX9060D. It's THX Select (not Ultra or Ultra2 - big money for these, well relatively speaking anyway).
    As to whether I'd make the decision based simply around the presence of that badge - well that's an entirely different matter.

    That said, the Kenwood has a high spec for the money, and although I've only heard it briefly, it sounded competent enough, - certainly on a par with others I've heard around the same price in multichannel mode. No idea about stereo music though, if that's an issue.
    However, there's no shortage of alternatives for £450.

    The new Marantz SR7300 can be pre-ordered for around £470 (a little overbudget, but not much), and the 6300/5300/4300 can all be obtained for less still.
    Even the £300 SR4300 has a very decent spec for the money.
    Denon, Yamaha and Sony are always worth a look too!

    Personally, I'd draw up a list of receivers which will meet or exceed your needs. Things like, number and type of inputs, surround modes etc. Make sure that whatever you choose can accomodate what you want or are likely to want to connect to it. For example, if you need to connect 2 or more devices with a coax digital lead, there's no point buying a receiver which only has one digital coax input, unless you are happy with then spending more money on converters.
    For some, even colour and looks can influence the decision (ie if the rest of your kit is gold, you may not want a black or silver amp, especially if your kit has pride of place in the living room :) ) - we all buy to differing sets of priorities.



    Given your overall budget, I may be inclined to take a serious look at something like the £300 Marantz SR4300, and put the money saved towards speakers and accessories (which can add a fair bit to the cost of a new setup, a fact which many have fallen foul of in the past, I'm sure). The Kenwood unit can be ordered from Empire for around £350, and for that price, IMO it can't be ignored, all things considered. The Sony STRDB1080, Denon AVR1803 and Yamaha RXV630, all fall into a similar price range too!

    As for speakers, it's hard to give any advice really without at least some indication of the type of package you are considering, size, finish, etc etc). There are many alternatives which can all provide decent performance for your money.
    Don't forget to budget for a subwoofer - while your budget won't really stretch far enough for a higher end model, you can still get reasonable performance if you shop around.
     
  3. Julia

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    MikeK,

    Thanks for your help.

    Kenwood KRFX9060D is now the first on my list and I've read some reviews about it and it seems the stereo performance is not the best. Maybe it will be competent enough for me as I will use it mainly for my home cinema and maybe only 10-20% for listening music.

    I was thinking that looking for a THX feature will warrant the quality somehow.

    When is Marantz SR7300 going to come out? Is it worth the wait?

    I even contemplated Sony STR-V-555ES at £590 (but it's out of my budget and I'm not sure if it's worth the stretch- or if it's a notable difference).

    With regard to colour and looks I couldn't care less (the same applies for speakers), all that it's important to me it's the sound performance for my home cinema set up.

    Thanks,

    Julia

    :)
     
  4. MikeK

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    Kenwood KRFX9060D is now the first on my list and I've read some reviews about it and it seems the stereo performance is not the best. Maybe it will be competent enough for me as I will use it mainly for my home cinema and maybe only 10-20% for listening music.

    I was thinking that looking for a THX feature will warrant the quality somehow.


    Well sort of..... but then maybe not :D

    What it does is state that the receiver in question meets certain technical criteria laid down by THX, and that the receiver manufacturer has paid the license fee to THX for the badge.
    It also then allows the use of THX-EX, and THX processing etc.

    What it doesn't say

    1. It does NOT mean that any or all AV receivers without THX approval cannot or do not meet or exceed most of their spec.
    Just because a manufacturer chooses not to seek THX approval does not necessarily mean their design is in any way inferior, or would fail to the meet the spec if they decided to apply for it.
    As the manufacturer has to pay THX for the privelege, many prefer to use that money to better the design, and/or keep the price down (and price point is very important at the budget end of the market)

    2. As THX will not release all the details of exactly what constitutes THX approval (it's released to licencees on a non-disclosure basis), you really have no objective way of knowing what the approval really means, other than the obvious THX modes etc. Some details have inevitably leaked out though - you can search the net for these - but I have no idea whether such info is either complete and/or reliable.

    3. It is NOT a "guarantee" of sound quality, or reliability.


    Personally I would try to judge a product on it's own merits, regardless of whether or not it has THX certification.
    One thing is certain though, you are paying for that certification.
    It's up to the individual to decide if it's worth it.
    In the Kenwood's case though, it seems the certification won't actually be costing that much - the unit has a very competitive spec for the price even without the THX Select certification.
    If such things "float your boat" so to speak, then you could just consider THX certification as icing.... :)




    When is Marantz SR7300 going to come out? Is it worth the wait?


    I believe it's imminent, ie within the next 4-6wks.
    Whether it'll be worth the wait I couldn't really say for sure.
    For the money though it certainly looks a decent enough product.



    I even contemplated Sony STR-V-555ES at £590 (but it's out of my budget and I'm not sure if it's worth the stretch- or if it's a notable difference).


    Be careful, the STRV555ES is an old model, and can't really be compared to the newer STRVA555ES.
    £590 is either very expensive for the V555 (I think Richers used to do this for £300 or so), or else very cheap for the VA555.

    If it's the VA555, you're really into the next class up - you really should be able to hear the difference!


    With regard to colour and looks I couldn't care less (the same applies for speakers), all that it's important to me it's the sound performance for my home cinema set up.


    :)
    Now you've said that, you'll probably get 101 different speaker setups recommended to you.

    My opinion is that you'd probably find many of them offer fine performance for the money. It seems to be a very emotive subject, speakers, and often you'll find that, at a particular price level, one speaker simply sounds a bit different to another, not really better or worse.
    True, you can listen to some, and they immediately sound "right" though - but what sounds "right" to one person isn't necessarily what will sound "right" to the next person.
    For the money, I think you could do a lot worse than a set of Wharfedale Diamond AV3 from QED, around £300 (Diamond 8.3 fronts, 8C, and 8.1 rears).
    It's probably true though that there are others around just as good or better, especially if you spend a lot more.
    HifiBitz are/were advertsing Monitor Audio ASW100 subs for £150 - that would bring you right in on budget - £450 all in.
     
  5. Julia

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    MikeK,

    Thanks for all your help, it is great appreciated.

    I've done a bit more reading about the different receiver options and I've managed to reach to only two options: Kenwood KRFX9060D and Yamaha RXV630. Just as you said , the pricing is very similar between them.

    I've found a few reviews very favourable for Yamaha RXV630, but at the same time Kenwood is more packed with features and maybe it's more future proof?...

    What do you think it's the best between the two?

    With regard to speakers, the sugesstion you've made for Wharfedale Diamond AV3 seems very good from the reviews I've read. At the same time I'd like to hear some more speaker options (in the same or a bit more price range).

    Do you think maybe that it's worth buying the speakers separately? (I mean different brands)

    The subwoofer Monitor Audio ASW100 sounds good, but maybe I'd like a bigger one.... I'm not sure.... Please could you tell me some more options....

    Thanks,

    Julia
    :)
     
  6. MikeK

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    I've done a bit more reading about the different receiver options and I've managed to reach to only two options: Kenwood KRFX9060D and Yamaha RXV630. Just as you said , the pricing is very similar between them.

    I've found a few reviews very favourable for Yamaha RXV630, but at the same time Kenwood is more packed with features and maybe it's more future proof?...

    What do you think it's the best between the two?


    Personally I don't think there's "that" much to choose between any of the main budget contenders on sound alone, certainly for the average movie watcher. Often it's simply personal preference anyway. Possibly more debatable for stereo music though, although none are particularly great (at least the ones I've heard). That said, I don't think they are as bad as is often made out.
    As you get to choose the speakers at the same time anyway, you can match the speakers to the amp you want, and end up with a good result with either.

    I don't know how you whittled it down to those two (doesn't really matter either I suppose :) ), but now you are at that point,
    considering your usage will be heavily biased towards movies/TV, I might be inclined to go with the Kenwood out of the two.
    If stereo music is more important, then I think I'd go for the Yamaha, even if does mean forgoing some AV features (the RXV630 isn't exactly poorly specced - it's just not as comprehensive as the Kenwood)

    I wouldn't really sweat over it though - I'm sure you'd be happy with either for the price.
    There's no substitute for hearing them yourself though!


    Do you think maybe that it's worth buying the speakers separately? (I mean different brands)


    No, I don't. Especially for someone just starting out.
    It's not that you can't get great results by mixing and matching, you can, it's just that IMO it's easier to get it wrong than it is to get it right. Buying from the the same range and the same manufacturer is no cast iron guarantee either, but it ups the odds of getting a good match considerably.
    That's really for the front 3 (Left, Centre and Right), although it could be argued that identical speakers all round is the ideal.
    If you go for 3 (or4) rear speakers, then although I would suggest they don't "have" to be from the same range as the fronts, they should all be the same as each other.

    One way round it all is to simply buy 3 stereo pairs of speakers, and use the six all round, one in each position.
    You'd need to make sure they were shielded though, as the centre would be near the TV. (Mission m70 series would fit the bill)

    2 pairs and the matching (and shielded) centre is a very common way of doing it too.



    As for sub - that's fine, it was just a suggestion based on your overall budget (which I assumed was around £900-1000 all in).
    If you can afford a bigger and more importantly better one, then go for that!
     
  7. Julia

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    MikeK,

    Thanks for the help. Kenwood it is for me (I've just ordered it at EmpireDirect).

    With regard to speakers, what is your opinion about Mission Cinema 7 from RicherSounds (£400)? Or Mission Cinema 72 (£265 at QED)? Or anything else?....

    Maybe I'll just buy the speaker package now and the subwoofer later...:)

    All sugesstions welcome.

    Thanks,

    Julia:)
     
  8. MikeK

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    Well, that's the amp sorted :)


    As for the speakers, I think you'll struggle to find the Mission Cinema 7 speakers at any RS branch now (unless you know of one with stock). Sadly RS seem to persist in advertising stock they haven't got any more - looks good in the ads I suppose :( .

    They are typical Mission though - somewhat on the brighter side of neutral, and as your amp may lean that way itself, it may not be a great match anyway, at least for music.

    The Mission m72 set is a possibility, but the m7c1 centre speaker is a bit pants by all accounts - many of the owners of m70 series setups have since swapped it out for the m7c2.
    The main m72 speakers are also rear ported, which complicates siting somewhat - some rear ported speakers do not like being positioned close up against a wall.

    I think your amp may suit a more neutral speaker setup - the Diamonds would fit the bill (and they are also front ported, if that matters). Have a look at Tannoy and Yamaha too, although I doubt you'll get either setup for £300 (well perhaps the Tannoys).

    An inexpensive alternative might be some Eltax Monitor3 speakers and a Monitor centre - these are on offer at Richer Sounds (if they have any stock),at £60 for the 3s and £50 for the centre. The 3s are a little odd though, in that they are ported at the bottom and have longish "feet" or spikes (you'd have to see them on RS website), so you'd need to make sure you can accomodate them on units or suitable stands.
    You could also have a look at the Kef Cresta range, again if they actually have any left - a pair of 2s for the front, 1s for the rear and the matching centre will set you back £190, which is pretty good (these are rear-ported though if that's an issue).

    Eltax Liberty 5+ and the Liberty centre is yet another option, for £200. You could pick any rears you liked really. Cresta Ones, Mission 700 etc etc , all around £50 (end of line offers, but doesn't mean they aren't any good)
     
  9. Julia

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    MikeK,

    Thanks for your help.
    I'm a bit surprised that you said Mission Cinema 7 might not be in stock. I spoke to them on the phone yesterday and they said they had the black coloured ones for £400 and the cherry ones for £429. Unfortunately I cannot go to audition them so I 'll rely on your suggestions.

    What do you mean by being rather "bright"? So you say that they do not exactly match the Kenwood?

    My buget is now £400-500, as I was thinking to buy the speakers first and later the sub.

    I'll have a look at the ones you sugessted and please let me know if you have any other ideas.

    Thanks,
    Julia
    :)
     
  10. MikeK

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    This is where the "adjectives " :) come into it

    It's actually quite difficult to describe a sound in words :)


    Some products might be described by some as rich, smooth and lush, while another listener might describe the same thing as flat dull and lifeless (this the "warm" side of neutral). On the flip side, the sound might be energetic, sparkling and exciting, which may be described by others as hard, aggressive and grating (this would be the cold side of neutral, or as some call it)
    There's also many many adjectives used for the descriptions :)
    Neutral is somewhere in between ie something which either doesn't display either trait or does so in equal measure etc etc etc.
    It's not a hard and rigid measurement system though - it's really entirely subjective.

    As to which type of sound a person likes, it's purely down to personal preference, and is why you get so many diverse opinions. It's also a known fact that the frequency response of everyones ears is not the same - hence two people hearing exactly the same sound, may not perceive it in exactly the same way. Irrational likes and dislikes play a part too (and I mean irrational in the sense that you can't explain why, not as in someone's a bit loopy :) ).
    But it's not just hearing which is like this - our other senses are exactly the same.
    Some like red, where others prefer blue.
    Some prefer the smell of Armani perfume, whereas others prefer Cacharel.
    Some like the taste of curry and others don't.
    And so on.......
    Much is really down to subjective preferneces at the end of the day, and it's often not easy to explain why.


    As for the Mission Cinema 7 and the Kenwood - I have to say first that I have never heard them together - but I have heard both products individually. I'd say both were on the colder side of neutral. Usually, unless you know exactly what you want, most people would plump for a neutral sounding system.
    Obviously it's probably best to pick amp and speakers which are neutral to start with, but failing that, if you have a cold amp, use warm speakers, a warm amp, use colder speakers.

    As I said, it's hard to put it into words, but I hope this at least gives you some idea of what the flippin heck I'm on about :) :)
     
  11. Julia

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    MikeK,

    Thanks for your help.

    Yes, your're right saying that the sound interpretation is subjective to every person's taste and preferences. But I also believe that there is a point where 2 or more agree that something sounds or not OK (e.g. otherwise the magazine reviews would not be so much alike - but even this might be debatable, I know;) ).

    I like the sound to replicate the reality as much as possible. I like it to be sharp, clear and precise (e.g. to hear clearly the rain drops or two peebles dropping on the floor, I hope you know what I mean:) ).

    I think I prefer the sound to be sharp more that soft and mellow (I like the sound to be as realistic as possible).

    Do you think that this means that maybe I like the cooler side of neutral?

    In this case maybe Mission Cinema 7 is for me? Or maybe another one?

    But hey, these are going to be my first speakers, so I really want to get them right:) ... especially that if I'll like them a lot, I'm going to keep them a few years...

    Thanks,

    julia:)
     
  12. MikeK

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    Perhaps it does mean you like the cooler side of neutral, but as the descriptions are always a bit vague, it's not that easy to say.

    If so, you may well find the Mission7/Kenwood pairing suits you well.

    There's really no substitute for hearing the options yourself though, before you buy. While every component in the chain (DVD - AV amp - speakers) affects the final sound you get, it's perhaps the speakers which have the biggest influence of all in the final character of that sound.

    If you like sharp and vivid as opposed to rich and mellow, then I doubt the Missions will disappoint.
    Good material value too at £400 - real wood veneer finish as well!
     
  13. Julia

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    MikeK,

    Thanks for your help, it is much appreciated.
    Just a few more questions with regards to Cinema 7 and separates...:)

    I've finally reached to two choices with (almost) the same price, one sold as a package but 3 years old design (Cinema 7), one separates (which hopefully match) a bit newer (how new?). Of course there is the fact that Cinema 7 got awards as a package and used to cost a lot more money.

    So my choices are:
    1. Mission Cinema 7 package (773 fronts, 77c1 centre and 77DS rears) for £400 (Rich. Sound)

    Or

    2. M74 fronts, M7c2 centre and M7DS rears (£200 (Rich. Sound) + £110 (QED) + £133 (QED)) = £443

    Will there be a noticeable difference between them (used for Home Cinema only).

    Also my Receiver has 100W/channel. What will that do to 77DS rears that only handle 75W? If I accidentally turn the volume at max will it fry them?

    And what is the difference between an M74 and an M74i?

    Thanks,
    Julia


    :)
     
  14. MikeK

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    Will there be a noticeable difference between them (used for Home Cinema only).

    Probably - but which you'd like best is anybody's guess.
    As I said before, different doesn't necessarily mean better or worse.
    I think you'd find the M74s have a deeper bass response than the 773e, which I would hazard a guess will be the most noticable difference.

    As for the age of the design - personally it wouldn't really worry me at all (it's not THAT old). Despite what you might read in the marketing blurb, there's really no revolutionary jumps in conventional speaker design these days - but fashions change, and it's hard to get the mags to review old models - you have to give them something new to chew on.


    The M74i is the latest improved version of the M74.
    How much it's been improved I don't know - I wouldn't expect any huge differences though. If the prices are similar I'd probably go for the newer model!


    Power ratings of the speakers/amp? - don't worry about it.
    For a number of reasons I won't bore you with here, it is, to all intents and purposes, a bit of an irrelevance.
    (OK quickly - there's watts and there's watts - and as far as most AV receivers go their watts aren't as powerful as the watts you get with a stereo amp - in other words they lie (sort of :) ) - but Kenwood are no different to everyone else in this respect.
    It is possible to fry speakers by turning the volume on full - but you could just as easily fry the tweeters in a 300W pair of speakers, as the amplifier will clip and distort massively - so as I said, don't worry about it)


    If you do intend to add a subwoofer at some point, you could save some cash towards it, and pick the cheaper M73 instead of the M74.
    The only real advantage the M74 has is deeper bass and higher power handling.
    Still, the difference is only £70 or so, and the 74s will probably sound a bit fuller till the "box" arrives at some point down the line.


    Personally I wouldn't spend a fortune on speaker cables and interconnects either. CPC do stuff which is more than adequate.
    Must warn you though that not everyone shares this opinion - you may well get advised to spend a few hundred quid on cables in order to "fully release the potential of your equipment"
    IMO the only thing which will be released is the cash in your pocket, but as I said, opinion is divided on this, so you'll have to go with what you feel is right. Don't just blindly follow the advice of a hifi salesman though - the markups they make on this stuff are massive, so they have an interest in flogging it.
    A decent SCART cable for the DVD-TV is a good investment though (don't pay shop prices though - get one from CPC, they do a variety (some branded too) which are all half or less what you'll pay on the High St)
     
  15. Julia

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    MikeK,

    Thanks again for your help.

    Just one more question:
    What do you think about the following combination:
    M773e (from Cinema 7) + M7C2 for centre + M7DS for rears.

    I've chosen M773 because it is front ported and it's going to stay next to a wall.
    Do you think that this combination would match OK?

    I've also noticed a M704A (with included subwoofer!) at £199, but I could not find it in any magazine review. Have you ever heard of this one?

    Thanks,

    Julia
    :)
     
  16. MikeK

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    The Mission 704s were big, big floorstanding speakers - but I've never heard them.


    Personally I have to say that I'd rate the Wharfedale Diamonds at £300 for the set, as better value - but it's all down to opinion in the end.
    (PS I don't work for them either - nor do I own them :) )

    Including the Manchester show (where they weren't on demo), I really don't think I've heard a better set of speakers for the money than these (not that I've heard every single 5 speaker set though)
    If I were looking to spend £300-400 on a set of 5 speakers for home stereo/AV use, I really can't see anything being appreciably better for the money at the moment. (there's always that silly offer though :) )
    Sure, better speakers are available, but not for £300, at least IMO.


    Still, if you fancy Mission, they aren't exactly bad for the money either.
    However, I really wouldn't start trying to mix and match from the different ranges if I were you - it may be OK, but it's taking something of a gamble IMO, when there's really no real need - especially when you won't really save anything in monetary terms anyway.
     
  17. Julia

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    MikeK,

    Thanks again for your help, it is much appreciated.

    After some more reading, the previous matching attempt is out as I've read that the 77C1 and 77DS are better than the modern M7C1 and M7DS equivalents. As far as the Mission option goes, it is now Cinema 7 (773e's, 77C1, 77DS's).

    Looking at the Wharfedale Diamonds, they use 8.1's for rears which are not bi-polars. Also there does not appear to be available any Wharfedale bi-polar speaker (though on their web site they say they have one "Comming Soon").

    I have read in several posts here as well as in some mags that bi-polars make a VERY big difference to film sound. And I reckon that if bi-polars wouldn't matter then Wharfedale would not bother to bring some out, would they?

    So, the Diamond 3 package is VEEERY tempting at £260 (QED) as opposed to the £400 for the Mission 7. But would the presence of bi-polars make the Mission 7 a lot better?

    Also, it's not like I want to pin you to the wall here ;) , but I've noticed that when you refer to the Wharfedales you said "... for the money". So, ignoring the (significant indeed!) price diference, where would you spend your money for a speaker system to be used for DVD films only: Mission Cinema 7 or Wharfedale Diamond 3?

    Thanks,

    Julia :)
     
  18. MikeK

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    I have read in several posts here as well as in some mags that bi-polars make a VERY big difference to film sound. And I reckon that if bi-polars wouldn't matter then Wharfedale would not bother to bring some out, would they?


    This is really another of those "matter of opinion" debates.
    Some prefer bipolar, some aren't overkeen.
    Bipolars are easy to hang on the wall though - and may be better than monopoles of similar capability if you were sat directly against the back wall for instance.
    That said, bipoles of similar overall capability to monoples (not including the sound radiation pattern) are more expensive.

    The major difference is of course how they radiate the sound
    Monoples (or direct radiators) simply output the sound on one axis, as a point source (although they radiate sound in a fairly wide arc, it's always radiated in one direction - the way the speaker is pointing. This can make them easier to pinpoint if you close your eyes.

    Bipoles simply radiate the sound in two directions, which confuses the point source locatability - this results in a more diffuse rear soundfield.

    Each type have their supporters!



    So, the Diamond 3 package is VEEERY tempting at £260 (QED) as opposed to the £400 for the Mission 7. But would the presence of bi-polars make the Mission 7 a lot better?

    Also, it's not like I want to pin you to the wall here ;) , but I've noticed that when you refer to the Wharfedales you said "... for the money". So, ignoring the (significant indeed!) price diference, where would you spend your money for a speaker system to be used for DVD films only: Mission Cinema 7 or Wharfedale Diamond 3?


    Smiles as he removes the nails :)
    That's difficult to say really.
    The Missions have their "sound" and the Wharfedale's have theirs.
    Having been pinned to the wall though - if you can get the Diamond 8.3s, centre and 8.1s for £260, I think I might go with them, especially as you said looks/finish are entirely unimportant.
    That's c.£100 saved toards the subwoofer - you'll need to spend some on stands/brackets for the 8.1s.


    For the money?

    I think when you try to classify a product for someone, you have to take it's price into consideration along with performance etc etc.
    All I meant by that really was that I'm not going to try to have you believe that the Diamonds are the best speakers you can buy for less than £2000 - they aren't (at least IMO :) )
    They are, IMO, about as good as you'll get for the type (floortstanders, horizontal cemtre, smaller rears) for say rrp£500 or less.
    They are capable of a thoroughly enjoyable performance.
    They have flaws, yes (even very expensive speakers do) but to pick on these minor points considering what you are paying, would IMO be nit-picking in the extreme.
     

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