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Answered Improve Sound Quality of existing Speaker System thru Upgrade/Acoustic Optimization

Rico6699

Novice Member
Hi

I`m new here and I hope you can help me with this difficult decision

I want to improve the Sound Quality of my existing Speaker Setup by means of the following options:
->change Center-Speaker
->change Subwoofer (or add second Subwoofer)
->acoustic room improvement
->add power amplifier

I dont want to change my whole Speaker-System now. I would rather upgrade the other speakers later in the future.

My Budget is 4000€ - 5000€ (3500£ - 4400£)

The question is: How can I get the most Sound Improvement out of the money?
1 max out accoustic room improvement (dont change any speakers at all)
2 acoustic room improvement + power amplifier + new center
3 acoustic room improvement + second subwoofer
4 maybe something completely different ?

My current setup:
Teufel Theater 200 (5.1 Sound-System)
Marantz SR7010 (AV-Receiver)

The System is mainly used for 5.1 Movies (no music). I`m not interested in Dolby Atmos at all.

According to an review from the audiovision magazine the Marantz SR7010 pulls out 115Watts (6 Ohm, 1kHz Sinus) in my 5.1 Setup
but I´m not sure if sound Quality will improve by adding some 200W Power Amplifiers

My room size is 28m². I currently don`t have any acoustic room improvement at all.

I think that the Center Speaker is the most important speaker. That`s why my current upgrade concept looks like this:

Center: Monitor Audio Gold C350 1400€ (1230£)
Amp: Rotel RB-1582 MK2 (2x 200W) 1600€ (1400£)
Room Acoustic Improvement 2000€ (1750£)

Do you agree with that?
What do you think would be the most effective way to improve my Sound Quality within this Budget Limitation?

Thank you very much for any kind of help.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
To just replace a centre speaker from a different manufacturer is a poor decision. The front three should be from the same model range and manufacturer, this will ensure a timbre match across the front array. Although desireable but not neccessary to have the same extended to the surrounds your present speakers should suffice.

The Monitor Audio Gold or perhaps the KEF R Serie would make good additions for the Marantz. However, as you have no interest in music the addition of a power amp is not warranted. You would probably get better audio improvement from spending that part of your budget on a more powerful receiver such as the Denon X7200 or Yamaha 3060.

Room accoustic improvement is harder to quantify. £1750 could be too much or indeed too little to spend. Impossible to give advice on a forum to give a firm cost, even for experts, which I am most certainly not.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Can you give us the DIMENSIONS of your room, and perhaps some photos?

Can you describe the room? Are there any aberrations that might effect sound - Fireplace, large windows, patio doors, odd shape, corner placement, curtains, carpets/rugs, other? That will give us some sense of the acoustic potential of the room.

Are these your existing speakers -

5.1 Kanal-Lautsprecher-Set Teufel Theater 200 im Test

Teufel Theater 200

Am I correct that these speakers were about €800 to €900 per set?

Marantz amps are generally well regarded. Does the Marantz have Pre-Amp Outs for the separate amp channels?

You have a pretty good budget to work with, so if we can find equipment that will do well in your space, you should get good results. But to find equipment and acoustic treatment to fit the space, we have to know the space.

When you are considering speaker, remember that when you commit to a Center speaker, you are also committing to getting the same brand and series Front Speakers. That is if you get a Monitor Audio Gold Center, you are somewhat forced to get Monitor Audio Gold Front Left/Right speakers.

I think if I were in your situation, I would first replace the Front Three Speaker (Left/Center/Right), then consider Acoustic Treatment. The difference in speakers is huge and very noticeable, but the difference in amps is more subtle.

Though just meant to layout the general principles of Acoustic, here is an older post I made on the Subject -

Primer: Acoustics - Absorption & Diffusion

Some of the links might not still be active though.

So, that would be my plan -

- Upgrade the Front Three Speaker (Left/Center/Right)
- Work on room Acoustics


Then see where you stand.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Rico6699

Novice Member
Room-Overview.jpg
thanks for your answers

@gibbsy:
That`s a good point with the timbre match across the front array and I`m planning to do so in the future but for now I have to somehow reasonable distribute my
available budget to where it makes the most sense.
The reasons why I wanted to only change the center speaker (for now):
1. I believe that the center speaker is the most important one for Movies
2. I don`t have enough money available right now to get a full set of High-Class Speakers like Monitor Audio Gold Series (for example). I planned to upgrade the Front Speakers later on
3. I want to avoid double changing my setup. Every Setup Change means a loss of money because you never get your full money back when reselling things.
Therefore I want to avoid upgrading from cheap entry level speakers to middle class speakers just to do it all over again in a few years.
I dont need reference speakers but upper class at least.

I can`t really understand why you are recommending an AV-Receiver Upgrade. The Marantz 7010 is the state of the art flagship receiver from last year.
According to Denon`s website, the X7200 has 9x 210W. The Marantz SR7010 has 9x200W.
According to this Review from the german audiovision magazine the marantz can only deliver 115 Watts in 5.1 channel mode and 88 Watts in 7.1 channel mode.
So yes, it is an 9 channel receiver and yes it can deliver more than 200 Watts, but only in stereo mode.
Marantz SR7010 (Test) – av-Test, Receiver & Verstärker, Receiver & Verstärker, Tests – audiovision


@BlueWizard:

Room-Dimensions: 5,51m (~18 feet) x 5,26m (~17,2 feet) = 28,98m²; Height=2,43m (~6,56 feet)
TV-Wall (red) = 5,26m (17,2 feet)
Window-Wall (purple) = 5,51m (~18 feet)
NuF4EaU


red = 65" TV
blue = 3 Seat Couch
yellow = cupboard (Height = 97cm | ~3,18 feet)
green = computer desk with 3 flatscreen monitors
purple = large Window and glass door

I am renovating this room right now so I haven`t yet decided if more furniture are getting inside.

Your links to the Teufel Theater 200 System are correct. I bought the whole 5.1 System in the year 2009.
The price was ~900€ for the whole 5.1 system

The Marantz has pre-Amp Outs, of course.

Your post about acoustics - Absorption & Diffusion was very interesting (sadly some of the links are down)
but the videos from ethan winer demonstrated pretty good how important accoustic room improvement is.
I think this should be my number one priority (before buying new speakers)

About the Amp thing: I don`t know how much power I really need. As said my Marantz delivers 115 Watt in 5.1 channel mode.

Monitor Audio Gold Center C350
Recommended Amplifier Requirements: 100 -200 W
Power Handling - R.M.S: 200W

Monitor Audio Gold Center C150
Recommended Amplifier Requirements: 100 -150 W
Power Handling - R.M.S: 150W

Monitor Audio Gold 300
Recommended Amplifier Requirements: 100 -200 W
Power Handling - R.M.S: 200W

Monitor Audio Gold 200
Recommended Amplifier Requirements: 100 -150 W
Power Handling - R.M.S: 150W

Gold

115W is at the lower end of 100-150 / 100-200W. Does that mean it is "enough" but not perfect
or do I waste the full potential of these gorgeous speakers?
Is Power directly related to sound volume? I usually don`t pump up the volume very high.
If I have to buy 200W power amps for every Speaker my budget wont suffice.

Thanks for all your help ;-)
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
That is a big room and almost square, and that could be an issue. REW from simulator suggest that a seating position of 2.21 metres from the back wall is best. Still you should consider something like antimode room correction, rather than another AVR upgrade.

Damping the room would be a good idea and best done first before purchase more speakers. Bass is going to be an issue for you due to room shape.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
115w/channel is enough. Though more power is always a good thing. But Power Amp are not cheap. You could probably buy a new AV Receiver for less than Power Amps. Though you could simply get a Stereo Power Amp and just use it on the Front Left/Right speakers.

But, I'm thinking that you might want incremental upgrade. Upgrade the Front Three (left/center/right) and see where you stand.

Here are the prices in the UK on the speakers you suggested -

£2300/pr = Monitor Audio Gold 200 (2x5.5 inch)
£3000/pr = Monitor Audio Gold 300 (2x6.5")
£_650/ea = Monitor Audio Gold C150 (2x5.5")
£1000/ea = Monitor Audio Gold C350 (2x6.5", 3-way)

That means between £2950 and £3650 for the set. That eats a substantial amount of your budget. IF we substitute the larger Gold C350 Center speakers, then the total is £3300 to £4000, which really consumes a very substantial portion of your stated budget.

Again, back to power, the rated power on the speakers, is a limit, it gives you some sense of the Maximum amps that the speakers can work with. In reality the speakers would probably work fine with a 50w/ch amp. But they are rated for 150w continuous, though it would be crazy to hit them with that much sustained power.

The Gold 200, as an example, are rated at 89db Sensitivity. That means with only 1 watt of power, they can exceed Reference Levels on a AV Receiver. 89db is pretty loud. A full 100w applied (actually 128w) would take the speakers up to 110db, which is near deafening levels.

The Gold 200 have an absolute maximum output level of 114db which is the limit of their excursion, or the limit of their ability to move. To actually hit 114db, which is a truly dangerous sound level, would take about 250w of power.

So, yes, you have adequate power, though you might want more at some point.

If you want speakers as nice as the Monitor Audio Gold, that is fine, but they are not cheap speakers, and are massively above what you have now.

Here is a potential alternative, the Monitor Audio Silver 6 5.1 package is under £3000 and includes a very expensive Subwoofer, you could trim several hundred off that price and still have a very good Subwoofer from another brand.

Monitor Audio Silver 6 Speaker Package (5.1) - Home Cinema Packs (5.1) - Speakers

Still, your money, your choice.

If you rebuilt your Front Three with Monitor Audio Silver, the price would be more like this -

£300/ea = Monitor Audio Silver Center
£799/pr = Monitor Audio Silver 6 floorstanding


Of course there are other speakers to consider as well.

Also the power specs to the common 8 ohm standard for the Marantz SR7010 -

Power Output (8 ohm, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 0.08% 2ch Drive): 125 W

That should be fine. In their price class, Marantz are pretty highly rated, and given that your AVR is only one model behind the current model, it is still a pretty up-to-date Receiver.

The newest Marantz SR7011 runs about £1200 to £1400 in the UK. That makes this a well above average Receiver.

The lowest cost Stereo Power Amps run about £800 each. Obviously bigger better more powerful Power Amps are going to be more. And those £800 Power Amps only deliver about 130w/ch to 140w/ch.

If you want to go all out, the Parasound A31 is a THREE channel amp with a solid 250w/ch, but it comes with a £3600 price tag -

Stone Audio - Parasound HALO A31 Power Amplifier

The Front Three Channels and the Sub are where you really need power, no point in putting monster amps on the Surround Channels. The Sub will have its own separate amp, and you simply pick that Subwoofer that does the job for you.

Though today the thinking is that TWO modest Subs are better than one large Sub. Two will give more uniform coverage in a given room.

ANTHEM are generally very highly regarded AV Receivers, but they are on the expensive side.

Fanthropes - Anthem AV Receivers

But note the Mid-Range MRX-720 model at £3200 is only 140w/ch. Even the highest end MRX-1120 is still only 140w/channel. Even the near £3000 Arcam AV Receivers still only have about 125w/ch.

In short, I think the AV Receiver is the least of your problems. I think upgrade speakers now, then in a year or two consider upgrading the AVR. Somewhere along the way, you could consider better, different, or more Subwoofers.

But then, that's just my opinion.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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Rico6699

Novice Member
thanks steve

you helped me a lot. Thanks for your suggestions and tips.
I think I won`t buy the Power Amps then and upgrade the front 3 speakers instead.
I will go with the Monitor Audio Silver Line but with the Silver8 instead of the Silver6.
This Way I actually have some money left from my budget, which I can spend on room accoustics or maybe a subwoofer upgrade then.

One last Question: Do these speakers have some kind of power protection?
My Marantz delivers variable amount of power which depends on the speaker-setup.

200 Watts in Stereo mode
115 Watts in 5.1 channel mode
88 Watts in 7.1 channel mode

The Parasound A31 you mentioned delivers 250W per channel.

The Silver6 / Silver Center have 150 Watts power handling (R.M.S). If I switch to stereo mode (200W) or plug in this crazy Parasound power amp (250W), will that "destroy" my speakers?

When thinking about that, I`m almost sure they have this protection already built in but confirmation would be nice to be sure :p
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Listening at high levels your ears will probably explode well before the speakers do. The Marantz will be calibrated to 75dB, shown as 0dB on the scale as is my Denon X6200 a more powerful unit than a Marantz 7011. At -15dB most films are loud enough and with stereo music from CDs -30dB. The various speakers in my set up are between 100 and 150W.
 

Rico6699

Novice Member
WoW! Good to Know. I didn`t understand why the volume goes from -75 to 0. I thought -75 (= absolute silence) should have been correctly displayed as 0dB. Though it was a nice thing to always know what the maximum volume is. I normally watch movies at -35. Therefore, when all this whole power thing is mainly about maximum volume, I´m absolutly sure I don`t need power amps or big Speakers at all. After all the Silver6 might already be enough for me. I just googled some dB referencel levels:

normal conversation is 40 dB
eardrum damage after longer influence: 85dB
jet: 150dB

Therefore I guess it`s a good thing that the maximum volume is calibrated to 75dB. And even the small Silver6 can already achieve a Maximum SPL of 115 dB.

Thanks gibbsy
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
No the speakers aren't protected by anything other than the common sense of the guy running the volume control.

But to blow your speakers, you would have to be abusing them in the extreme.

Many people will overrate their amps by about 50%, so 100w speakers with a 150w amp on the assumption that you will never be close to full power.

In fact, the Monitor Audio Silver 8 have a rated Sensitivity of 90db, which means 1 Watt will take the speakers higher than Reference Level which is actually 85db. The Amp is calibrated at 75db, then scaled up so that 0db on the Volume Read-Out is 85db with reference tones.

So, with less than 1 Watt you can have volume +5db higher than 0 db on the Volume Read-Out.

You are good, don't sweat it. Though again, if you grossly abuse the speakers, all bets are off. But that would be extremely rare and unlikely.

Steve/bluewizard
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Here are the Amp Power Specifications to a common standard, it is the only spec you need to know -

Power Output (8 ohm, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, 0.08% 2ch Drive): 125 W

Cut and pasted directly from the Marantz Website.

Steve/bluewizard
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
In fact, the Monitor Audio Silver 8 have a rated Sensitivity of 90db, which means 1 Watt will take the speakers higher than Reference Level which is actually 85db.

Just to slightly correct this:
Reference level isn't 85dB, the level is 105dB (peaks) for speakers and 115db (peaks) for subwoofers. Therefore to be sure of being able to reproduce reference level you need to be able to hit those levels at the listening position. Unless you are sitting 1 metre from the speakers, you need to take the distance into account.

However, most films aren't mastered to give a constant 85db +20dB peak all the way through, especially on all channels, so typically there is built in headroom for most content even if you can't quite hit those peak levels in practice. Even if you can (or can exceed those levels) it doesn't mean you have to listen that loud either of course, but being able to tends to mean that at lower listening levels there is less distortion and the sound is just 'cleaner' as I've found despite a bit of overkill with my potential SPL levels.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Just to slightly correct this:
Reference level isn't 85dB, the level is 105dB (peaks) for speakers and 115db (peaks) for subwoofers. ...

You are sort of right. Reference Levels for Calibration are 85db based on Reference Calibration Tones. The final system should indeed have +20db of headroom. The Headroom brings 85db + 20db up to 105db for speakers. You are right on the Sub, for Subs the peak is 115db.

However, 85db is pretty loud especially for Pink Noise or constant Test Tones, so they scale the TEST TONES back to 75db for the Calibration process, then re-scale it so 0db on the Volume Read Out equals 85db relative to the Test Tones used in calibration.

However, most films aren't mastered to give a constant 85db +20dB peak all the way through, especially on all channels, ....

Right, the 85db is not relative to the average level of a movie sound track, it is 85db relative to the Reference Test Tones/Noise used in the calibration process after re-scaling. But it is 85db.

Still this is a minor side point that has been debated many times before.

The core question is what equipment should the Original Poster buy, and I gave my opinion on that, and the OP seemed to accept that opinion.

My reference to a 90db speaker being +5db above the standard reference level is true for the illustration I was trying to make. It would take less than 1 watt of power to reach what is considered standard reference level of 85db. The point of this illustration was to show the OP that his speakers were more than capable of functioning with a 125w/ch £1400 AV Receiver.

Your arguing the technicalities of the point does not serve to further extend that point.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
My reference to a 90db speaker being +5db above the standard reference level is true for the illustration I was trying to make. It would take less than 1 watt of power to reach what is considered standard reference level of 85db. The point of this illustration was to show the OP that his speakers were more than capable of functioning with a 125w/ch £1400 AV Receiver.

85db is NOT considered 'standard reference level' though. It is 105dB as you agreed with me above. Now whether the OP considers that hitting 85dB is sufficient is another matter, however the listening distance needs to be taken into account.

I use this helpful calculator to work out whether a given speaker/amplifier/listening position will achieve reference level:

Peak SPL Calculator

Another factor is that while the AVR might be rated at 125 watts per channel, typically most AVRs will not maintain this level when all channels are driven. It isn't unusual for the 'all channels driven' wattage to drop to half or less than the headline figure for a single (or two) channel(s) driven.

Just a few thoughts to take into account to allow for seating distance and the number of speakers driven. :)

I want to improve the Sound Quality of my existing Speaker Setup by means of the following options:
->change Center-Speaker
->change Subwoofer (or add second Subwoofer)
->acoustic room improvement
->add power amplifier

I know you've marked this thread as 'answered' but I noticed that no-one has really gone into any detail about room treatment or adding a second subwoofer. Adding soft furnishings isn't really much help for the lower frequencies, so it's good to read up and find out what may help.

I've found a lot of useful information on this thread regarding room treatment:

Before you buy your next "upgrade"...

I've also done quite a bit of room treatment myself, though it's a little hidden in my build thread. I have put comparison waterfall plots on page 6 which show the improvement to the room as treatment was added. Nothing expensive, just concealed Rockwool:

When Worlds collide: The dedicated living room cinema

There is also some detail on adding extra subwoofers, which I would recommend to smooth response, even if your existing single subwoofer provides enough output for your requirements.

As mentioned previously, using the REW room sim can be a great guide as to potential sub/speaker positions and how they react relative to the MLP. You don't need any tools to use this part as it is purely a simulator, though with a rectangular shaped room I have proven that measurements closely match the predicted response.

This is a link to a tutorial as I don't think I'm allowed to directly link to the website, but the information should be in there:

Room EQ Wizard Tutorial - GIK Acoustics

I hope the above is useful, apologies for the side track, but that was as much to inform other readers correctly who may stumble across your thread.
 
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Rico6699

Novice Member
Thanks Kelvin. I will read through all of that information.
And thanks again to everyone else here. My main problem was basically the question how to split up my budget for the best rewards. And I can understand that this can`t be answered easily. At least I`m pretty confident now to not buy any power amps or AV-Receivers and use my budget on better speakers and room treatment first. I`m not sure if a second sub will be within this budget but I can upgrade that later. Change the front 3 speakers and a little room accoustic treatment should be enough to reach my goal (better sound quality).

Thanks Everyone
Very nice and helpful community here ;-)
 

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