Where to begin?

Discussion in 'What Speakers Should I Buy?' started by Jimmmy, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. Jimmmy

    Jimmmy
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    So atm I've got a Panasonic 42" G30, PS3, i3 HTPC and a digital set top box.

    I've only been using the built-in speakers on my Panny for everything(50% movies, 25% ps3, 25% music) so far and I reeeeaaally don't like it.

    Eventually I want to get 5.1 surround but my current budget doesn't allow for me to go as high up the ladder as I want.

    Atm I've got around ~500£ which, where I live, allows me to either get a decent AVR+bookshelf speakers, a good AVR or a HTIB blu-ray system, examples below.

    Denon AVR 1612 & Dali Zensor 1

    Denon AVR 1912

    Panasonic SC-BTT370

    Obviously the HTIB system would give me surround straight away, but I got told that one shouldn't really use the speakers of these systems outside of the systems and I'd hate to have to sell the entire system when I feel like upgrading, which WILL happen. :)

    1612+Zensor 1's tempts me the most atm, since it gives me A LOT better stereo speakers than what I've got now, and when I get the upgrade bug, I'll simply move them to surround duty and get floorstanders.

    So, what's the 'AVF approved' way of starting up a surround system on a budget? :)
     
  2. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    You can find excellent deals on the Denon 1912 right now. I'm sure I can find a couple of places that have it for about £300. (PeterTyson.co.uk, Superfi.co.uk, and a few others have it for near £300)

    As to speakers, the remaining £200 cuts you very thin. But, I think it is a waste to get a complete, but ultra-cheap, 5.1 system. Far better to start with a few good speakers, then over time as money become available, build the system up until you are satisifed.

    The Zensor 1 would be very good front speakers in a 5.1 system, but they are going to be a bit weak for bass until such time as you have at least a Subwoofer, but they are going to be head and shoulders above you TV's built-in speakers. The Zensor 1 have acceptable bass specs, but these are speakers that are made to be closer to the wall. Being closer to the wall boosts the bass, and evens the sound out. So, this would be a very good place to start, if you think you can move reasonably quickly to a more complete system.

    As an alternative, the larger 6.5" Diamond 10.2 have very good bass response, and as front speakers should give satisfying bass for both movies and music.

    Again, this is complicated because once you have made the decision to build your speakers system in pieces over time, there are so many possible ways to go.

    For example, you could start with Diamond 10.1 or Zensor 1 in front. Then upgrade to either Diamond 10.4 or Zensor 5 floorstanding speakers and mover the bookshelf to the rear.

    If having Surround Sound is important, then you can get front followed by rear speakers. Then when the money become available add the Sub and Center.

    If you are a bass-head, then front followed by Sub might be the best route. You have to set your own priorities in which path and which direction serves you best. Also keep in mind that the Sub is going to be the most expensive speaker.

    Other possibilities in a similar price range might be the Monitor Audio BX1 and BX2.

    Myself, if my short term budget was tight, but my longer term budget was substantial, I would start with Zensor 1 (as an example), then move them to the rear and upgrade to Zensor 5 in the front. The Zensor 5 will give you a nice bass boost which will allow you to delay the purchase of the Subwoofer. Now, you have a decent 4.0 surround sound system. You could very well stop there. That might completely satisfy you. Next, assuming you want to continue to upgrade, it is a toss up between the Sub and Center. The Center will certainly be the cheapest upgrade. If you priority in improving the vocal clarity of movies that sways the choice toward the Center speaker. However, if you priority is to add substantial bass impact to movies, then logically the Subwoofer is the next choice.

    You can probably get higher value in BK Electronics Subwoofers. They are not cheap, but they are relative to the amount and quality of Subwoofer you get.

    BK Electronics - Subwoofers

    In your case, though depending on what your front speaker ultimately are, the Gemini-II, the XLS200, or the XLS300 would all do a good job of it. Of course, you can go as large and as expensive as you want.

    A complete Dali Zensor 1 5.1 system cost about £1000 with £480 of that being the Subwoofer.

    The larger Dali Zensor 5 5.1 system cost about £1300 and uses the same Subwoofer.

    A complete Monitor Audio BX2 5.1 system will run about £1000 with £405 of that being the Subwoofer.

    A complete 5.1 Acoustic Energy Neo 1 system is going to run about £800.

    A complete 5.1 Acoustic Energy Neo 3 floorstanding system is going to run about £1050.

    The Wharfedale Diamond 10 speaker are not bundled into 5.1 systems, you have to configure them yourself, but the following represent very good speaker systems -

    £220/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 (front)
    £170/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 (rear)
    £150/ea = Wharfedale Diamond 10.CS (center)
    £315/ea = BK Elect XLS200 Sub
    -----------------------
    £855 = total

    Very good bass from the 10.2, you might simply buy the 10.2 and the 10.1 and be completely satisfied.

    With Floorstanding in front -

    £330/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 10.4 (front)
    £170/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 (start in the front, buy Floostanding & move to rear)
    £150/ea = Wharfedale Diamond 10.CS (center)
    £315/ea = BK Elec XLS200 Sub
    ------------------------
    £965 = Total

    If you started with Dali Zensor 1, and later upgraded to the Dali Zensor 5 in front, but ultimately got the BK Electronics XLS200 Sub, you would save £165, bring the total cost of the Zensor 5 5.1 package down to £1135.

    None of the floorstanding speakers I've mentioned are huge. They are typically less than 36" high, which is small compared to my floorstanding which are 44" tall. Further nearly all have 5" bass drivers which is not going to overwhelm typical rooms. In a very small room, certainly bookshelf all round would be the better choice. In a medium sized room, you can go either way. In a larger room, definitely floorstanding.

    I mention the full system prices so you can see where you are going and ultimately what you will spend. But you can take a year or two to build the system to full capacity, and in the mean time, at every step of the way, you will have a satisfying system.

    If you feel your room or circumstance are complicated by having the deep bass of a Subwoofer, the floorstanding in front can give very satisfying bass to movies, and the extra cost of the floorstanding is more than offset by not buying a subwoofer.

    Again, you have many ways to go and many ways to save money. If you don't need larger substantial speakers in the rear, then the Diamond 10.0 for £100/pr as opposed to the suggested £170/pr Diamond 10.1 in the rear.

    In the Zensor, you can get the Zensor 1 in the front, use them a while, then decide whether you would prefer a second set of Zensor 1 or whether you feel more like upgrading to the Zensor 5.

    Again, there are so many ways to go, but in the end you have to set your own priorities.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  3. Jimmmy

    Jimmmy
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    Wow, immense thanks to you Steve for an amazing answer.

    Bookmarked and saved your reply for future reference for myself. :)
     
  4. Jimmmy

    Jimmmy
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    Got offered a ~4y/o Yamah RX-V361 for around £100, keep in mind that _everything_ is more expensive where I live, a Denon 1912 is cheapest, "on offer" for ~£625..

    I'm thinking this Yamaha+a pair of Dali Zensor 1's might be an ok starting ground. Could use optical from my HTPC+PS3, and route HDMI through the HDMI switch like I do now.
     
  5. Scotty Pro

    Scotty Pro
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    you can get the Dali's Zensor for £130 from HERE or go for the Dali Lektors for £159 HERE

    That would leave you £370 or £340 for an amp. You could then push the Dalis to the rear and get more beefier fronts when funds permit.

    I think the Dali's are a cracking speaker :smashin:
     
  6. Jimmmy

    Jimmmy
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    Thanks for the advice Scotty, I'd jump on that deal if I could. :)

    Atm I'm thinking of going for the Yamaha RX-V361 & a set of Jamo S426 HCS 3, could get the whole package for ~£400

    Of course it wouldn't give me the sound quality of the Dali's, but it would kick start me off towards a decent surround system, and should be a step above a HTIB system, especially since I have less than no use for a BR player.

    I can then later down the line change out individual speakers and the AVR when budget allows.

    Sound good? :)
     
  7. Scotty Pro

    Scotty Pro
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    We all have to start off somewhere jimmmy if you can hear them before buying and like the sound then go for it. My Dali setup came about six years after my first foray into HC.
     
  8. Jimmmy

    Jimmmy
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    Aye that's true Scotty, and especially seeing as this will be my very first speaker setup, maybe I shouldn't put this much thought into it as I currently am doing. :D

    Atm I'm looking at Denon 1612 & Dali Zensor 1 vs Sony STR-DH520 & Jamo S426 HCS 3, both setups cost practically the same, so I'm just trying to decide whether to go for quality or quantity. :)

    Went and listened to the jamo's+sony receiver, didn't exactly wow me, but the setup in the shop wasn't exactly spectacular which was definitely a factor.. The Zensor 1's are out of stock and won't be back until the end of the week, so I still have some time to weigh up pro's and con's.
     

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