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Entertainment center sound systems

Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
My system seems to be dying, as the sound cuts out every time I adjust the volume. I'm going to look into getting it repaired, but I'm not terribly fond of it, so I wouldn't mind replacing the thing either. My current system is a Bose, though I understand for the money, they're really not that great. I honestly have no idea what to look for though, so I'm turning to you.

A couple things to keep in mind: I live in an apartment, so vibrations are a concern. Space is also a concern. The Bose's woofer is the size of a desktop computer, and I'd prefer something a bit more inconspicuous. For the speakers, easy mounting onto a wall would be nice, but isn't a deal breaker. As for price range (and this may be where my ignorance comes into play), I'd prefer to keep it under $200.

What can you suggest for me, PA?

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    Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    It's hard to find good speakers that are inconspicuous. It really is, since as I remind people whenever these topics come up - size directly relates to quality. You can however find excellent sound under $200 if you know where to look.

    I often recommend these for the budget conscious. They are stunning for the price, and not TOO large. And if you can hook them up with SPDIF, even better, the DAC in these compares favorably with pro level sound cards.

    Rigor Mortis on
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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    If $200 is your budget for a whole 5.1 system, you might want to look used on craigslist.
    Oh, and your subwoofer is going to be that size.

    Improvolone on
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    Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2008
    Look into some computer sound systems. I've been using systems designed for a computer for years on my television setups since they're cheap. The one I have now has a pretty sizable woofer but I can turn it down and I've never gotten a complaint from my neighbors. I have the Z-5500 set right now, which is about double your price range but I've had the previous-generation G-51 system (don't remember the model) and they sounded fine as well.

    The previous replies are assuming you want to buy an amp separate from everything else, which is the proper way to do a sound system... no question there. With your space and budget concerns, all-in-one is something you're going to desire. Sure, it's not going to get the crisp whatevers or the smooth whathaveyous but honestly these are still great speakers to use in an apartment.

    Satan. on
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    Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Satan. wrote: »
    The previous replies are assuming you want to buy an amp separate from everything else, which is the proper way to do a sound system... no question there.
    That is entirely true for multimedia speakers and HTiB, where the amp seems to always be built into the subwoofer, or the DVD player, or whatever.

    However, active speakers (amps built into EACH speaker) have several benefits if designed properly. Powered crossovers, true biamplification, perfect amp-driver matching, and no signal degradation due to extra wires.


    Edit: Improvolone's suggestion of craigslist is good, I would also encourage looking at reburbished systems if you want 5.1. Heck, $200 will get you a HTiB with a built in tivo if you go refurbed http://www.factorydirect.ca/catalog/product_spec.php?pcode=PH5800

    Rigor Mortis on
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    Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2008
    If $200 is your budget for a whole 5.1 system, you might want to look used on craigslist.
    Oh, and your subwoofer is going to be that size.

    Well, the Bose is a 2.1 system, so no, it doesn't have to be a whole 5.1.

    Bionic Monkey on
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    Satan.Satan. __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2008
    BM, take a look at Logitech's 2.1 offerings as well. I figured you wanted surround, but their 2.1 offerings are nice as well.

    Satan. on
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    Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Satan. wrote: »
    BM, take a look at Logitech's 2.1 offerings as well. I figured you wanted surround, but their 2.1 offerings are nice as well.
    As far as computer speakers go, Logitech is good stuff. But unless Logitech's newer models have made significant improvment, the Behringer MS40s I mentioned earlier, being aimed at the entry-level pro audio market, should be considerably better than any Logitechs in the same price range.

    And if you're worried about not having enough bass you could add a seperate subwoofer and still be under $200.

    Rigor Mortis on
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    contrabandcontraband Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Satan. wrote: »
    BM, take a look at Logitech's 2.1 offerings as well. I figured you wanted surround, but their 2.1 offerings are nice as well.
    As far as computer speakers go, Logitech is good stuff. But unless Logitech's newer models have made significant improvment, the Behringer MS40s I mentioned earlier, being aimed at the entry-level pro audio market, should be considerably better than any Logitechs in the same price range.

    And if you're worried about not having enough bass you could add a seperate subwoofer and still be under $200.

    What would you recommend as the "next step up"? Just the next step, not five or ten steps up. If say, the budget was around $350. (And would it be worth the money?)

    contraband on
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    Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    contraband wrote: »
    What would you recommend as the "next step up"? Just the next step, not five or ten steps up. If say, the budget was around $350. (And would it be worth the money?)
    What purpose would you be using them for? Home Theater or Computer? Music, movies, or games?

    Rigor Mortis on
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    contrabandcontraband Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    contraband wrote: »
    What would you recommend as the "next step up"? Just the next step, not five or ten steps up. If say, the budget was around $350. (And would it be worth the money?)
    What purpose would you be using them for? Home Theater or Computer? Music, movies, or games?

    Could they serve a dual purpose? I'd love to use them for music mainly, from a record player as well as my laptop, and then when I watch the occasional movie.

    (I was about to say "no games," but then I wondered if, since I'd prefer them to be in the living room with the TV, why I couldn't also use them with consoles. The TV speakers would probably be fine, but standalone speakers would obviously be better.)

    (I just realized I asked for everything on your list. Sorry for not being clear-cut ;x)

    contraband on
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    Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    contraband wrote: »
    contraband wrote: »
    What would you recommend as the "next step up"? Just the next step, not five or ten steps up. If say, the budget was around $350. (And would it be worth the money?)
    What purpose would you be using them for? Home Theater or Computer? Music, movies, or games?

    Could they serve a dual purpose? I'd love to use them for music mainly, from a record player as well as my laptop, and then when I watch the occasional movie.

    (I was about to say "no games," but then I wondered if, since I'd prefer them to be in the living room with the TV, why I couldn't also use them with consoles. The TV speakers would probably be fine, but standalone speakers would obviously be better.)

    (I just realized I asked for everything on your list. Sorry for not being clear-cut ;x)

    OK, I'm gonna recommend these for general goodness. I hope you don't mind the hugeness or the lack of 5.1

    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/MAudio-Studiophile-BX8a-Studio-Monitors?sku=603708
    Huge woofers for more bass extension than a lot of consumer subwoofers, four amps for true biamplification, magnetically shielded, volume rated to match a subway train, 100dB SNR - in short, very nice.

    Also notice that they're 50% off MSRP there, ship free, and apparently come with free stands.

    Edit: They have pro audio inputs. You will need a couple of these to use them with normal stereo cables
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/American-Recorder-Technologies-14-Male-to-RCA-Female-Adapter?sku=339508

    Rigor Mortis on
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    ElJeffeElJeffe Not actually a mod. Roaming the streets, waving his gun around.Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
    edited August 2008
    contraband wrote: »
    Satan. wrote: »
    BM, take a look at Logitech's 2.1 offerings as well. I figured you wanted surround, but their 2.1 offerings are nice as well.
    As far as computer speakers go, Logitech is good stuff. But unless Logitech's newer models have made significant improvment, the Behringer MS40s I mentioned earlier, being aimed at the entry-level pro audio market, should be considerably better than any Logitechs in the same price range.

    And if you're worried about not having enough bass you could add a seperate subwoofer and still be under $200.

    What would you recommend as the "next step up"? Just the next step, not five or ten steps up. If say, the budget was around $350. (And would it be worth the money?)

    For $350?

    2 pairs of Boston Acoustics CR57B bookshelf speakers - $80/pair
    Paradigm CC120 center channel speaker - $120
    Onkyo TX-SR304B receiver - $150

    I cheated, that's $420. General idea, though, is that if you get entry-level models of solid brands, you can assemble something very good for around that price point, if you hold off on a subwoofer. By getting full-range speakers, you'll get enough bass that your system can still sound good. Save up a couple hundred for a good entry-level sub down the road and it'll rock. At this point, you'll have all your components, and upgrading becomes simple. You can replace one component at a time.

    HTiB solutions can also work, provided the components are all compatible with normal components. Problem is, a lot of them use proprietary or non-standard connection types, which means when you want to upgrade you have to trash the whole thing and start over. Cheaper up front, more expensive down the road.

    ElJeffe on
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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Guh, I feel like I can't even contribute with Rigor around.

    Improvolone on
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    GiantRoboGiantRobo Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Didn't think this warranted a new thread, should I go with the LS21 or the X140?

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    Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    GiantRobo wrote: »
    Didn't think this warranted a new thread, should I go with the LS21 or the X140?
    99% chance the LS21s are better. Subwoofers are very much your friend if the satellites are small.

    Rigor Mortis on
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    MongerMonger I got the ham stink. Dallas, TXRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    contraband wrote: »
    contraband wrote: »
    What would you recommend as the "next step up"? Just the next step, not five or ten steps up. If say, the budget was around $350. (And would it be worth the money?)
    What purpose would you be using them for? Home Theater or Computer? Music, movies, or games?

    Could they serve a dual purpose? I'd love to use them for music mainly, from a record player as well as my laptop, and then when I watch the occasional movie.

    (I was about to say "no games," but then I wondered if, since I'd prefer them to be in the living room with the TV, why I couldn't also use them with consoles. The TV speakers would probably be fine, but standalone speakers would obviously be better.)

    (I just realized I asked for everything on your list. Sorry for not being clear-cut ;x)

    OK, I'm gonna recommend these for general goodness. I hope you don't mind the hugeness or the lack of 5.1

    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/MAudio-Studiophile-BX8a-Studio-Monitors?sku=603708
    Huge woofers for more bass extension than a lot of consumer subwoofers, four amps for true biamplification, magnetically shielded, volume rated to match a subway train, 100dB SNR - in short, very nice.

    Also notice that they're 50% off MSRP there, ship free, and apparently come with free stands.

    Edit: They have pro audio inputs. You will need a couple of these to use them with normal stereo cables
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/American-Recorder-Technologies-14-Male-to-RCA-Female-Adapter?sku=339508
    One thing to be aware of is that monitors are not media speakers. They're designed to sound flat rather than "good." For a lot of people, the mids are going to be pretty harsh and fatiguing to listen to.

    Those M-Audios should be pretty close to a media speaker, but I've never heard them.

    Monger on
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    Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Monger wrote: »
    One thing to be aware of is that monitors are not media speakers. They're designed to sound flat rather than "good." For a lot of people, the mids are going to be pretty harsh and fatiguing to listen to.

    Those M-Audios should be pretty close to a media speaker, but I've never heard them.
    I do realize this, but I personally haven't found monitors fatiguing at all. I used a pair as media speakers for a good while and they worked very well. I suppose your mileage varies. It would also depend very much on the recording and the acoustics of the room.

    What I most appreciated was how when watching 24/96 LPCM music DVDs, occasionally there was a point where the speakers just "dropped away" and if you closed your eyes you could believe it was live. That sort of transparency only comes with flat speakers. Now every time I hear notes hither and thither jumping out of context because "media" speakers lack a flat response, it just kicks my ears in their metaphorical nuts.

    Rigor Mortis on
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