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Help please -- upgrading to surround

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by Oolon Colluphid, Aug 18, 2005.

  1. Oolon Colluphid

    Oolon Colluphid
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    Hello, newbie here, all lost and alone and confused in the AV world, hoping you nice folks can help... And hope this is the right forum (apologies in advance!)

    Here’s the deal. Back in 1990 I got into hifi, and so got myself a Pioneer A400 amp to go with my new CD player. And a set of Wharfedale speakers. I don’t remember the model, but it’s a set with a subwoofer and two satellites -- quite novel at the time. The signal goes to the sub then up some quite nice (had to be, for the length) cable. This system still sounds (to my ears) great.

    Fast forward to 2005, and the Age of DVD. I’m finally looking to go surround for movies... and I’m stuck. And the budget is very tight -- if I can keep it under a hundred quid my wife will (probably) not make my life too hellish ;).

    I’ve got a DVD player (obviously). And three-sixths of a 5.1 speaker set. But how to do the rest?

    An all-in-one home cinema box would give me a player with a built-in decoder/amp (if I understand it correctly). I assume that it would be more or less plug-n-play too, which would be good considering the mass of cabling there already.

    But it would mean buying a superfluous player (or rather, some of the price must be going towards something I’ve already got). And would leave me with a still-good set of speakers. Oh yeah, and multiregion is essential.

    I could get a decoding AV receiver. This would make the A400 superfluous if the receiver had decent-enough sound... but if the sound wasn’t too hot for music, I’d have to keep the A400. (My wife thinks the damned great stack of stuff in the corner of the living room is hideous enough already -- tape deck, tuner, VCR, amplifier, CD player, DVD player, record deck, widescreen TV and freeview box... ;).)

    So anyway.

    (1) Is there any way to use the existing (good) Wharfedales and add centre and rear speakers?

    (2) Volume control:
    One of the main reasons I want to go surround is so that, hopefully, with a separated-out sound track, we can hear what’s being said without having to be constantly turning the volume up and down. Can the speaker volumes be varied separately with these all-in-one setups, or only with a proper receiver (if at all?)...? Can it be done with the remote? The rear speakers are likely to be placed just behind our couch, so we don’t want to be deafened by special effects just so we can hear all the front action!

    (3) Budget. Richer Sounds have always been good in the past. But are the very budget-est receivers and speakers any good at all? Have things moved on in fifteen years enough that they could make a stab at replacing an A400 for music?

    RS have got an Eltax AVR200 for £70, JVC RXE5S and Yamaha RXV350 for £100, and a rather swish-looking (and slim!) Pioneer VSXC301 for £140, which is the upper limit really, depending on speakers. Any good?

    And speakers. If I can somehow (how?!) link up the Wharfedales, the rear speakers don’t have to be much cop. But if I’m replacing the full speaker setup, are the cheap 5.1 speakers any good? (Can’t see my dearly beloved going for the idea of having nine speakers -- including two subwoofers -- in the living room ;))

    They don’t have to be the sort of HiFi quality I was after in 1990, but reasonable enough to listen to music on. Can AS150s or Eltax Alphas or Sony SSP67s make a reasonably pleasant noise?

    Oh, and finally: I’ve just got a new PC, which comes with a set of creative surround sound speakers that I didn’t really need. I take it that these can’t be used from a DVD or AV amp... or can they?

    Many thanks to you all for any ideas!

    Simon
     
  2. GW43

    GW43
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    Having never gone down the 5.1 route myself, I can't help with your wider questions, except in one regard. My relatively cheapo Toshiba DVD player has 3 audio modes - Psuedo 3D, Normal and Dialogue. I use the Dialogue setting when watching most films and this brings the speech to the fore in 2 channel stereo mode, meaning that the volume doesn't have to be up so far that the kids are disturbed, yet speech can be heard clearly. I don't know if all DVD players have this or something similar, but your budget might not get you very far in the 5.1 stakes, yet may allow you to trade your DVD player if yours doesn't have a Dialogue setting.
     
  3. craynerd

    craynerd
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    QUESTION 1 by simon. Can someone PLEASE please answer it as its the same with me!

    BASICALLY i want to get two floor standers, i.e for my stereo sound, i think i`m going for the wharfedale diamond 8.3. BUT basically what i want to know, is in a few months time, when i get my new AV reciever what speakers will i need to but to upgrade it to surround sound. Are they speacial dedicated speakers you use for the rears and centre, or what, for example, just give me an example of speaker that would suit as the rears for adding to that system?

    PLEASE help, been wanting to know this for the last week and no one can answer properly :lease: :suicide:

    Chris
     
  4. narcoticsuite

    narcoticsuite
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    There is no reason why you can't use your Wharfedales as part of a surround set up. However, I don't think you actually have three-sixths of a 5.1 set up but two-sixths. The wharfedale's "sub" is most likely not a sub at all, what you have is probably a pair of stereo speakers which have their woofers and tweeters in different boxes, rather than the same box which is the norm. This is just a way of getting a big sound out of speakers which have minimal encroachment on the living space, as the "sub" is usually advised to be placed in a corner/behind furniture etc. How well this works in practice is variable but if you like them, keep them.

    You'll need three more speakers and a 5.1 amp for 5.0 - I'd forget about getting a sub for now. I'd keep the A400, it may be old but is still a better stereo amp than a budget receiver. You could connect your wharfedales to both the amp and the receiver but be careful how you do this as it could ruin your equipment if not done correctly, I have seen several threads on that topic on here.

    There may well be a way of using the creative speakers as rears. I'm guessing that they are the active type that connect to your PC via a little "headphone" jack? If so, you may be able to get a headphone to 2 phono connector so that you can connect them to the rear pre-outs of your AV receiver.

    Alternatively, you could sell your DVD player and get an all in one solution which start at £140 on RS website.

    Hope I have helped a bit.

    As a general comment, basically, any 5 speakers will do. There are specialised rear and centre speakers but it is not essential that you get specialised speakers. if you are placing the front speakers near the TV you may need shielded ones. It is desirable to have speakers that match eachother as close as possible but not essential and at a low budget may not be possible.
     
  5. Oolon Colluphid

    Oolon Colluphid
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    Many thanks Narcoticsuite! Very helpful.

    Yes, I suppose you're right about the Wharfedale sub, since it doesn't run off a separate amp output -- it's like a combined woofer for two separate stereo speakers. But that was from the days when stereo was all there was for home users... ;).
    Yep. The alternatives are too complex... at least, considering that by the time I've picked up the receiver and half-decent speakers, I'd hardly save any money anyway, and would still have a big stack of equipment in the corner for my wife to scowl at* :D . So, after investigating the prices and options, I've gone for a Pioneer DSC323, multiregion from RS for just £170. It's supposed to be good for music too, so hopefully it'll do the job of CD, DVD, amp and tuner -- the sort of 'all-in-one' idea my wife likes!

    ( * It's not like she doesn't benefit from this stuff, just that she just doesn't want to have to look at it. :confused: :D )

    Apparently I can get a phono adapter so I can plug the (Thorens) record deck into its aux socket too... the last remaining reason to keep the A400 and the Wharfedales. (Can't remember when we last played any vinyl, but still... ;))

    I'll report back if it all sounds horribly crap, and end up keeping the A400 and speakers :rolleyes: :D

    Thanks again folks!

    Simon
     
  6. narcoticsuite

    narcoticsuite
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    Oolon,

    Glad my comments were helpful but do you realise that the pio system you mention does not have rear speakers. It's a pseudo surround system, where the rear effects are "phantomned" in. In the world of surround sound directionality is very important and achieving it wihtout actually having speakers behind you is difficult, The £700 Yamaha YSP-1 can achieve good results but is often thrown completely out of whack by room dimensions which depart from the standard square or rectangle. I don't think the £170 pio will have much of a chance to be honest. You'd be better off going for something which has speakers to the back IMHO.

    Whatever you decide, make sure it's got the right connections to keep you happy as many all in one solutions can be a bit limited on hooking up external kit.
     

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