Replacing 2 front speakers of my HTIB system - 95% PC Gaming Use

Elcs

Standard Member
This is my first post over here and I already feel nervous, like I have posted in the wrong section. Please be gentle with me :)

A few years back I bought myself an Onkyo HT-S5105 Home Theatre In a Box. I was wanting to improve my overall sound experience but felt really, really daunted by the whole "pick a Receiver and pick 5 speakers to go with it" thing so I went for the easy route. It has stood me in good stead so far but I thought I would see if I could improve things a little. I hook up my PC to my Receiver with an optical cable via my Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro PCI-E soundcard. The receiver correctly picks up a 5.1 DTS signal from my graphics card and plays test sounds in the appropriate speakers.

I was thinking about spending up to £50 (very, very minute budget I understand) on replacing the 2 front speakers and replace the rear speakers with the old front speakers. That way I hope to receive a reasonable upgrade to both my front and rear speaker sets. Second hand is fine and I'm not looking to purchase in the next 5 minutes... I can spend weeks searching for something if need be. If I want a bigger budget, I'm going to have to wait a long time.

Due to space constraints, I am going to be limited to what I believe are termed 'bookshelf' speakers. I do so love the look of floorstanding speakers but my room is of a size whereby I'd be able to touch the floorstanding speakers with my foot at a stretch, if I was able to clear such a space in the first place.

My computer is mainly for gaming but I do the occasional movie and music thing with it so I'd prefer something to enhance the gaming side of things mostly.

Current Setup:
Onkyo HT-R518 Receiver (Manual)
Onkyo SKW-518 Subwoofer
Onkyo SKC-518C Centre Speaker
Onkyo SKF-518F Front Left and Front Right Speakers
Onkyo SKM-518S Surround Left and Surround Right Speakers

Is there much that can be done with my budget? I know that some speakers and speaker sets easily run into hundreds and thousands of £/$'s but I'm working on a tighter budget . I know I cannot expect a huge difference in the quality of my front speakers but I was hoping that I could get a nice boost there as well as a substantial boost by moving my current front speakers to the rear.

I'm still very new to things and as I read it, my receiver can accept any speakers with an impedance of between 8 and 16 ohms.

Any support welcome and I am grateful for any help/advice/non-aggressive chit-chat provided.


Onkyo Front Speaker Specs
Type: 2 Way Bass-reflex
Input sensitivity/impedance: 8 Ω
Maximum input power: 130 W
Output sound pressure level: 78 dB/W/m
Frequency response: 60 Hz–50 kHz
Crossover frequency: 4 kHz
Cabinet capacity: 1.8 L
Dimensions (W × H × D): 101 × 273 × 121 mm
(incl. grille and projection)
Weight: 1.1 kg
Speaker: 8 cm Cone Woofer
2.5 cm Balanced Dome
(Tweeter)
Terminal: Spring type color coded

Onkyo Rear Speaker Specs
Type: Full-Range Bass Reflex
Impedance: 8 Ω
Maximum input power: 130 W
Output sound pressure level: 79 dB/W/m
Frequency response: 70 Hz–22 kHz
Cabinet capacity: 1.1 L
Dimensions (W × H × D): 101 × 175 × 116 mm
(incl. grille and projection)
Weight: 0.7 kg
Speaker: 8 cm Cone
Terminal: Spring type color coded
 

Elcs

Standard Member
Do you already have gaming headset? If not I would highly recommend you do.

Had several over the years and they are not my thing. Speakers are.
 
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Elcs

Standard Member
Your use is 95% gaming. What part of gaming headset is not your thing?

The headset part is not my thing. I do not like on-ear or over-ear headphones.

I do like in-ear monitors for music and I have a custom pair which I use religiously for music but aren't exactly ideal or enjoyable enough for gaming.

I prefer speakers to in-ear, on-ear, over-ear and any other kind of headset for gaming.
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
If replacing the front L/R then you will really want to replace the centre at the same time. This is because you want the front 3 to be a good tonal match to ensure a good front soundstage. Also considering the centre takes over 60% of the total sound output it is the speaker you want to get right as it will have the biggest impact on your sound quality as a whole. Replacing front L/R will have gains for gaming/movies etc. but the main reason for bigger fronts tends to be for improved music quality when playing stereo sources (not something you appear particularly interested in). This does not mean you should just replace the centre and not the front L/R as again you want the 3 speakers to be a good match.
How do you plan to mount the speakers? Bookshelf speakers, despite their name (the more correct term is standmount speakers), should be either mounted on proper speakers stands or wall brackets to get the best from them. They are not going to sound their best either on or in a bookshelf or cabinet.
 

Elcs

Standard Member
If replacing the front L/R then you will really want to replace the centre at the same time. This is because you want the front 3 to be a good tonal match to ensure a good front soundstage. Also considering the centre takes over 60% of the total sound output it is the speaker you want to get right as it will have the biggest impact on your sound quality as a whole. Replacing front L/R will have gains for gaming/movies etc. but the main reason for bigger fronts tends to be for improved music quality when playing stereo sources (not something you appear particularly interested in). This does not mean you should just replace the centre and not the front L/R as again you want the 3 speakers to be a good match.
How do you plan to mount the speakers? Bookshelf speakers, despite their name (the more correct term is standmount speakers), should be either mounted on proper speakers stands or wall brackets to get the best from them. They are not going to sound their best either on or in a bookshelf or cabinet.

Assuming I replace the front centre as well as L/R then I doubt I would be able to encompass all 3 in my lowly budget to make any significant improvement which would rather make the discussion over. (Save up loads more money then come back :D )

As for speaker mounting, they sit on my desk. Due to the limited space I have in my room I cannot do anything but stick them on my desk. I used to have room for speaker stands but not any more. I could stick them in front of my desk I suppose but then I'd be able to use floorstanding speakers.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
One option is to use a phantom centre mode if your amp allows it. I used to have a basic £200 Sony AIO unit in my conservatory set up and I added some M&K front speakers that I picked up cheaply ex demo. It worked well enough, though I didn't try it at party levels, the sound of the M&Ks was much better than the ones supplied by Sony.

I've since upgraded the rears, sub and eventually the AIO was replaced by my old Denon 3805 amp as I'd upgraded my living room set up in the meantime. However the Sony ran the M&Ks for quite a few years and I gave the whole package (including the Sony speakers) to a colleague and he's still using it AFAIK.
 

Elcs

Standard Member
Sounds like I have a lot of thinking and saving to do... (skinheads on a raft for me for the next few months I think!)

Would those 6 ohm Wharfdale Diamond 9.0's play nicely with my Onkyo receiver and what kind of speaker would I be looking to get for the Centre to match up with those Wharfdales? (Thinking I could get the Wharfdales now and benefit from the improved front L/R and rear L/R and save for the decent centre to finish the deal.)
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
The wharfedales will be fine with the onkyo so no issues there. There is a diamond centre to match those speakers (cs, cm) so should be no issue there.
 

Elcs

Standard Member
The wharfedales will be fine with the onkyo so no issues there. There is a diamond centre to match those speakers (cs, cm) so should be no issue there.

Is it normal for the centres to be so expensive compared to L/R speakers? Over double the price of those Wharfedale Diamond 9.0's.

I could run my system as a 4.1 if that was any better. 5.1 as it is now Vs. a 4.1 system with 2 Wharfedale 9.0's as front L/R and my existing front L/R as my new rear L/R. Which would be better for me? (most likely clutching at straws)
 

Elcs

Standard Member
Been scouring around for second hand speakers.. Tannoy Mercury F3 floorspeakers for ~£50 and a Tannoy mxC centre for maybe £30... Sound anything like a decent pairing or worth the money?
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
You would really want the f series centre to go with those floorstanders. You could go 4.1 especially if you sit central to the screen. How close to the screen do you sit? If you are very close then this may change things since the front speakers may not be far enough away to create a good stereo image.
 

Elcs

Standard Member
You would really want the f series centre to go with those floorstanders. You could go 4.1 especially if you sit central to the screen. How close to the screen do you sit? If you are very close then this may change things since the front speakers may not be far enough away to create a good stereo image.

The Tannoy FC Centre seems to go for about £72 and I can't find any used ones at the moment.

I sit centrally to the screen with my speakers about 5-6 feet away and the screen is another 1.5-2 feet back from the speakers. If I went with the floorstanders then they would be slightly closer than my speakers are currently... unless I can hook them up to sit on my desk, closer to my screen.

For some clarification, my screen is a 47" 1080p LCD TV which sits on my desk next to the wall and I sit on a chair with the back pressed up against my bed (which is pressed up against the wall). So... I am very limited on the space front to get things all nice... but I do want an improvement if I can squeeze one out.
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
If you get the tannoys then just wait for a fc to turn up on ebay or here. It would be worth the wait.
 

Elcs

Standard Member
Thanks for all of your help PSM1 and others :)

I think that if I grabbed the Tannoy Mercury F3's (£50-60'ish used) then I would have to place them too close to me to be worth it and they'd rather tower over me, assuming I can actually get them to fit nicely.

Considering my budget and almost necessity to grab a matching centre for my front L/R, I think I should just give up on the idea of purchasing new speakers for the global improvement of my system and try to better arrange and tweak what I have to make the most of it until I can afford to make a worthy upgrade.

Quick OT question: Where should the 'rear L/R' speakers be placed relative to my position in a 5.1 setup? I have them a few feet to the side and approximately 4 feet back, sitting maybe half a foot below my ear level. I've heard a few different views around the net and whilst I'm here, I thought I may as well ask those with the experience.
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
The rears should be about 30cm above ear level. If you search for Dolby or THX speaker positions you will find lots of diagrams showing the prefered angles for a 5.1 system.
 

Elcs

Standard Member
Managed to grab a nice deal on a Diamond 9.CC Centre Speaker off eBay and another good deal on some Diamond 9.1's.

Just installed them and swapped my old fronts to the back. I'll have to re-run the Audessy set up on my receiver before I comment.

Thought I'd update everyone that contributed and issue another thanks :)
 

Elcs

Standard Member
Update:

Having gotten them in position I found that my setup felt a little lopsided, louder and more apparent on the left. My left ear is 'better' than my right ear so I done the 'ear closer to speaker' thing and found that one of the speakers is a lot 'duller'. If anything it sounds muffled or just not right.

I have reseated both ends of the cabling (used the cables supplied with the speakers), lobbed the ends off, stripped them back and reseated afresh and also reseated the bridge between the two inputs on the back of the speaker but to no avail. Removing the grills and upon visual inspection I cannot find any imperfections externally that could account for such an issue with the audio.

Please help me troubleshoot this issue. I really don't fancy having all of the hoohah about contacting the ebay seller, getting them taken back etc.

EDIT: Seems like I am missing one of the four Crossover Networks. Going to retrace my steps and mail the seller to see if it had dropped off before I'd picked it up (plausible, I know they were a tad wobbly when I was moving around to twiddle the wires but I thought that there was only one bracket on the back. my bad).

If the seller cannot find it, how much would it cost for a replacement set of Crossover Terminals and where could I get some from? Would it be easy/easier/just as easy to get some Bi-Wireable cabling and hook them up? (Got a Richer Sounds local to me).
 
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PSM1

Distinguished Member
Do the speakers have 2 sets of binding posts at the back? If so is there a metal jumper bar connecting these together and if it is there is it tightly connected. These have a habit of coming loose (especially during transport) and can mean loss of the tweeter or mids depending which one you have plugged the speaker wires into.
 

Elcs

Standard Member
Do the speakers have 2 sets of binding posts at the back? If so is there a metal jumper bar connecting these together and if it is there is it tightly connected. These have a habit of coming loose (especially during transport) and can mean loss of the tweeter or mids depending which one you have plugged the speaker wires into.

Sorry I edited my previous post with an update.

I have 2 brackets on one speaker but only 1 bracket on the other (which would explain things). I've contacted the seller and searched my property/transport but nothing yet.

Would I be better off buying a new bracket? If so, where and how much?

Or

Just grab some bi-wireable speaker cable and hook it up that way?
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
The missing jumper bar would explain the problem.
Just use a bit of the speaker cable you already have between the 2 sets of terminals. This can be done by cutting a small piece and connecting that way or you could do it by stripping more off the end so that it reaches through both terminals. There is no need to buy another bar or biwirable speaker cable.
 

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