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A friends new system - a cautionary tale

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by pcookie, Feb 17, 2003.

  1. pcookie

    pcookie
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    I've just spent the weekend at a friends house helping build some Ikea cabinets (like you do)
    and also to listen to his latest pride and joy, his new home cinema system, comprising of a 36" Toshiba nicam TV (excellent) a toshiba 220 DVD, a Yamaha 630 amp and the new Tannoy FX speaker styem. After watching a bit of Monsters Inc and listening to a couple of CD's I felt distinctly underwhemed. That's not to say it sounded bad, it didn't. Movies went crash bang wallop, music sounded ok, but my overwhelming reaction was that it didn't involve me yhe way I'd exspected it to. Even my wife, who isn't interested in HC said "whats so special about this surround sound stuff then? I don't feel we are missing out with what we have" (a prologic wide screen TV and a conventional hi-fi). The sad truth is that despite defending my friends system and extolling the values of home cinema, I secretly agreed with her.

    I have held off buying a receiver and speakers for some time now. The reason? Because the systems I've auditioned that have truly blown me away all cost at least 3 times that of my friends system. All the amps have been in the Denon 3802 price bracket and the speakers around the KEF 2005/ BMW VM1 price bracket, and after this weekend I'm more determined than ever to wait until I can afford such kit rather than buy the first cheaper system I can afford, only to be dissapointed. £700 spent on something you're unhappy with is a waste of money.
    £1700 spent on something you love is a bargain. You have been warned.

    cookie
     
  2. hazard

    hazard
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    Or, to say the same thing another way, "the quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten"

    Great quote, I think it was at the start of the REL manual, from the owner of the company (Richard E Lord).
     
  3. dejongj

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    Just to provide my 2 Euro's worth....

    Better have a well setup £700 system than a non-configured £1700 system.

    When you enter the world of Home Cinema, be prepared to 'tweak' the environment. There are many variables. I think there would be many people here that agree with me that the listed setup should overwhelm you when it is configured properly.

    Don't be fooled that by spending more money it will sound better. You still have to tweak it. Perhaps something like MACC from Pioneer maybe better for people who do not tweak.

    Also note that speaker placement can make a huge, huge difference...

    Money isn't the solution to everything...
     
  4. pcookie

    pcookie
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    Dear Hazard
    I take your point entirely. It may be that my friends system was configured badly. He had the sattellites high up in each corner of the room (WAF) and I was pretty convinced that the sub wasn't performing to it's upmost. Plus the room is almost square with laminate floor and very little soft furnishing, so that could also count for a lot. That said, I still think you should trust your instincts and go for what you like (within reason) rather than what you can afford.

    cookie
     
  5. Squirrel God

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    Also remember that the speakers and subwoofer have to be worn in for at least 24 hours....
     
  6. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Rember the old addage ...

    audition thrice ... spend once ... and then spend the rest of your life tweeking and ensuring everything is set up correctly.

    Victoria
     
  7. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    Having the satellites high up in each corner is going to ruin the soundstage. A poor-quality sub can also make the whole system sound underwhelming. I would go as far as to say that you're better off without either - a pair of speakers either side of, and at the same height as the TV driven by a simple, stereo amp (something like a Rotel) will sound far, far better than a highly-compromised surround system.

    Cheers,
    Liam
     
  8. Brad_Porter

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    If I could tell you about everytime I have moved my system around, added/taken away furniture, seeked advice, calibrated and re-calibrated, played with settings, added further equipment, read Dolby white papers, consulted and had experts visit and finally spend 5 hours a week listen to reference DVD's to keep seek the best sound., I would fill up the database driving this site!

    I purchased my equipment around 6 months ago and I have just finished setting up/tweaking my equipment and am dead sure that I have got the best sound that it and the room can deliver. That’s right, six months!

    Does it sound better? Has it progressed? You betcha. I have experienced better dialogue, proper integrated bass and now have a system that will happily play upto -5db below reference level without sounding harsh or nasty. Lots of the performance tweaks were positioning and correct powering of the speakers.

    I haven’t touched my system for one month and it now drops jaws off my friends and colleagues.

    Its not just the owning of home hi-theatre its the fun that comes with it - or the pain - whatever way you look at it! ;) :D
     
  9. Ian J

    Ian J
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    £70 spent on something that you're unhappy with is a waste of money and I would suspect that many would say the same about £7

    I would suggest that if you were underwhelmed by your friend's system, that you are either too fussy or else it hasn't been set up properly.
     
  10. Jayb

    Jayb
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    This would be my worst nightmare......:eek:

    I have a 9 Year old Toshiba and PS2. I am sure most of you are aware of the problems you can encounter playing movies through the PS2, anyway the straw that broke the camels back came when I stuck in my new U2 greatest hits on DVD and after about 2 minutes the picture just froze. I tried it several times with the same outcome each time........:mad: . Right, I said, thats it I am getting a new DVD player..................and if i'm geting a new DVD player I might as well get a new 32" widescreen TV to show off what the DVD player can do.....................Well if i'm getting the TV and DVD player what about the sound, it would be silly to get half the gear, its like buying a BMW and sticking a 1.1 Fiesta engine in it (not that theres anything wrong with 1.1 Fiesta) after a few weeks of badgering, the missus finally broke......:D
    The next hurdle came when she said "How much"........:eek: "HOW MUCH" about 1500 to 2K, not much by most of your standards I know but as far as she is concerned I can get a big telly for about £350 and a DVD for £70 and as for the speekers they would be a waiste of time in our semi with an 11 month old little boy in bed (she might have a point). But anyhow I stuck my foot down and said I am not buying any cheap S**t and that she will easily be able to see the improvement in the quality of the sound and picture.
    So as you can imagine if I spend 2K on a system and the pic and sound are not the mutts nuts (by a newbies standards)...... :suicide: Say no more

    Plus I have spent many hours combing these Forums to help me in my quest, again another reason for her to moan........:nono:, so if I fail, well as I have already said....:suicide: ( Shes not that bad really.....:D )

    So when I have finally made a decision I will keep anyone who is interseted informed as to my fate.
     
  11. CounterWhine

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    What nothing? Really?

    D.
     
  12. pcookie

    pcookie
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    Ouch!

    I thought we were all too fussy on this forum. Thats the whole point isn't it? Or else we'd all have the same system and lump it! I'd like to think my friends system wasn't set up properly thank you.

    No offense taken.
    cookie
     
  13. mjn

    mjn
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    don't worry, Ian J is just a grumpy old man....:rolleyes:
     
  14. Silent Fly

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    Brad_Porter,

    I could not agree more.

    My system (5300+eggs+Tosh 220) sounds 10 times better now.

    I used the SPL meter to set the amp levels, I measured the distances to set the speakers delays and I tried several sub positions.

    I still have a problem with the rear center (too close to the sofa :mad:) but the sound produces the "drop jaws off" effect now.:rotfl:

    The real turning point has been the SPL meter. I thought "well, I am sure I can hear if a speaker sounds louder than another". I couldn't.

    Normal people do need a SPL meter. Dolby :eek: suggest to use one. http://www.dolby.com/tech/L.mn.0002.5.1Guide.s.pdf (section 3.4.2 and 3.4.6)
     
  15. adox

    adox
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    silent fly

    will you see the benefits of an spl meter, no matter what gear you have? my setup is probably considered the cheap end of the market, apart from my sub, and i was wondering would i benefit greatly from using a spl meter for my setup

    thanks
     
  16. Silent Fly

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    My set up is:

    Marantz SR5300
    Kef eggs (6.1)
    Toshiba 220

    (definitely not hi-end)

    In my opinion the SPL meter is a must.:smashin:

    In my case I tend to feel a speaker louder when is nearer. Consequently the speakers close to me were too quiet. Probably this do not applies to everybody but in my case it made a big difference.

    The SPL meter is a simple and cheap(ish) way to have the objective value of the sound pressure. If you want a good amp/speakers setting it is a very useful tool.

    I have the digital version because I need it for measure the sound pressure for other things not HT related. But if you want to save a few quids the analog version is more than ok.
     
  17. adox

    adox
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    i think it`s time i invested in an spl meter.
    thanks for the help silent fly:smashin:
     
  18. Silent Fly

    Silent Fly
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    You are welcome adox, :cool:

    Have a look in the power buys. Piero Milani is organising a power buy for a SPL meter!
     

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