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Discussion Starter #1
So I have recently gotten bit by the home A/V bug. I've been reading nonstop about home speakers, receivers, amps, etc etc. I figure there has to be others like me who are enthusiastic about high fidelity at home. Post your setups / ideas / reviews!

My own humble system at the moment is:

Technics SA-AX530 receiver;
Technics SL-PD8 CD changer;
Paradigm 9SE mkII fronts;
Paradigm PDR-10 subwoofer;
Paradigm Monitor 3v2 surrounds

The 9se's use Vifa tweeters while the Monitors use in-house Paradigm tweeters which are brighter. I'm currently in the middle of repairing one of each, pic below. Just waiting for the new diaphragms to arrive from Paradigm (awesome customer support!)

I'm also shopping for an updated receiver that can take a digital audio cable from my ST60 and support 5.1 surround. The Technics receiver has been kicking ass for over a decade but has become dated. :( It might become my garage receiver as soon as I find its replacement.





Please post up!

Cheers,
Ryan
 

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Spd Kills your bank acc.
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This is probably the worst upgrade bug you can get... endless options and combinations. What price point you looking for in a receiver? and is pre/pro an option?

My current setup:
Onkyo TX-NR809 receiver
Polk Audio RTi12s front
Polk Audio Monitor 70s side/rear
Polk Audio CSi 3 center
Polk Audio PSW 110 sub

I've been looking to add an Emotiva amp, either the the XPA-3 or 5. But I'm in a townhouse so the setup is a little tame to prevent the neighbors from complaining.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Wow you have a killer system! Would love to see any pics you have of it ...

For me, I'm just looking for the lowest price, highest quality amp/receiver to run 5.1 surround from the digital out of my TV. I had been looking at HDMI-upconverting options (e.g., a Yahama V667) to try to improve my 1080p upconversion from my legacy 480i outputs, e.g., SNES and PS2, but decided against it since I am going to run my old video games on a secondary TV. So yeah now I'm trying to find the best 5.1 w/ digital audio input amp/receiver at around $200, used or refurbed.

I've been looking at the refurb'd units at Home Theater Receivers | Accessories4less, eyeing Denon and Yamaha units. I was looking at Onkyo too but heard about the HDMI board failures. How has the HDMI board held up on yours?
 

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Not a super fancy setup, but boy does it put out...and its crisp. Got a lot of awards last year, even by CNET. Best way to spend $200 on Black Friday.

[ame]http://www.amazon.com/VIZIO-S4251w-B4-Soundbar-Subwoofer-Satellite/dp/B00CDIK908[/ame]
 

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JNS Engineering
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Ryan, without spending a ton you can upgrade to a good AVR that will take in digital audio by coax or TosLink.

I'm running a very old Denon AV-3801 that supports digital audio as well as two audio zones (one is for the hot tub!). I have KEF RDM2 x4 for front and rear channels and KEF-100 center with a Velodyne HGS-10 sub.

I just replaced the lamp in my 65 inch DLP for the first time after 12200 hours but now I need a decent BlueRay playback device that could hopefully stream files from a 4TB network storage box as well. I investigated the Oppo BDP-93 series but it hiccups on DVD file structures where there are multiple files for one movie.

Anyway - I suggest AVSforum for all the reading you could want on any AV topic.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Jim! Yes I have an AVS Forum membership from the first time I started looking into this stuff (lawdogg handle, join date 11/13/2008! lol!), time to start using it.

Those KEFs of yours seem like they are pretty sweet from this review / measurements I found ... KEF RDM Two loudspeaker | Stereophile.com!

Wish I could help you on the Oppo BDP-93. That thing is ludicrous speed. Way above me at the moment :p
 

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Spd Kills your bank acc.
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I've had onkyo receivers for about 15 years, the 809 worked great for about 4 years with no problems until this past summer. The board did fail but instead of dealing with onkyo's bad customer service, I had it repaired by a service from ebay (suggested by other owners) for about $75. Has been working with no issues for a few months now. Even with the faulty boards of the 09/1X/2X units, I would still suggest onkyo. They do have good value and options in their receivers. And tend to be more powerful then similar priced competitors.

since you're looking to stay around $200, you're going to only get scaled down versions of what most brands offer. Getting referb will help the best. These are the model lines I'd suggest:

Onkyo - NR616 or NR626 for older models. brand new would be NR414.
(It would stay with the Tx-NR models. they include wifi and other bonus options)
Marantz - NR14XX or NR15XX. but I've seen SR models around $300 which is a good deal.
Denon - AVR-S or AVR-X series are generally good.

I've never been much of a fan of sony, pioneer or yahama for stand alone receivers. not sure if you shop on newegg, but they usually have good deals on receivers. About twice a year they have nearly 50% off on most brands.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Good to know about your Onkyo board ... and that you would still run one even not knowing about the HDMI board.

I wish I could take the higher end receivers and strip out the things I don't really want or care for, like WiFi and 7 channels, etc., and get down to $200 that way instead of having to go with an overall lesser quality unit.

But of the ones you posted, I actually had been looking at the Marantz NR1403 and the Denon AVR-S500BT since they are in the price range and have good reviews.

However, the last thing I need to figure out is if I can even get the 5.1 surround signal from my ST60 to the receiver with a digital audio cable instead of having to use the ARC HDMI mumbo jumbo, which would force me to use an HDMI-passthrough receiver. I'd love to be able to hook my laptop up to the TV via HDMI, or watch Netflix on the TV's native app, and be able to run 5.1 channels to the AVR through the digital audio cable, but from what I've been finding, it seems that the digital audio cable will only send 2 channels to the receiver.
 

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depending on the configuration, you shouldn't run any audio from the tv. unless you only want to run the surround sound during "movie time".

Ideal configuration would be:
Cable/Sat(HDMI or component) + SNES/Ps2 (RCA) + CD player (Phono/optical) + computer (hdmi) ----> Receiver ----> TV (HDMI). Note for a Smart TV you'll need to route the audio from the tv back to the receiver (via Optical) to hear the audio from the built in apps like netflix.

In this setup the receiver handles all the switching you'll need. I'd also suggest getting a smart remote by logitech that can be programmed to adjust everything by hitting a button that says "Watch TV" or "Play SNES" etc...

you can run a similar setup but lose receiver's on screen configurations and upscale ability by routing everything to the TV first.
Cable/Sat(HDMI/component) + SNES/ps2 (RCA) ---> TV ----->Receiver (Optical wire)

Optical wires are the best when need audio only and do not suffer from ground loop interference like an RCAs.

As for the receiver choice,Wifi capable is one of the best options. I listen to a lot of music an can stream directly from my DLNA server or even services like Spotify, Slacker radio etc... with out needing a airplay, roku or chromecast or other mini pcs or hooking up my phone/mp3 player. And a 7 channel stereo a lot times drives either a 7.1 or two zoned 5.1 / 2.0. If all else is the same between a 5.1 and 7.1, choose the 7.1. you'll be much happier with the extra headroom to upgrade without needing to buy a new receiver.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
My thoughts were that if I can already switch between all those inputs at my TV, all I would need to do is run the optical cable to a receiver so that I wouldn't have to spend the $$ on a switching-capable receiver, and could instead just use it to play the sound from the TV. I assumed that it would support 5.1 surround from all sources connected to the TV (including my PC playing .mp4 video files, and my 3d bluray/dvd player).

What I didn't realize is that apparently my TV scales down all the inputs to 2ch. output through the optical cable (http://service.us.panasonic.com/OPERMANPDF/E-HELP_ST60.PDF p.131) UNLESS I'm connected via HDMI to an input with "HDAVI Control 5" functionality (p.128).

I don't fully understand what this means and what implications this has. If my laptop, connected via HDMI to the TV, counts as an HDAVI Control 5 device, then in theory the optical output from the TV will carry the 5.1 signal to the receiver. If not, that's really too bad and a pain in the butt because now I'll have to go spend a bunch of money on a fancy avr like the type you're suggesting, and use the receiver as the switch! :p
 

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JNS Engineering
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Yeah, switching and amplification are the main functions of the integrated receivers. The really old ones just switch composite video and 2 channel audio and then you have those that switch component video and 5.1 audio (like mine). The newest switch HDMI which integrates audio and video. The only problem with this is HDMI supports DRM which limits what you can record.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Oh ok, understood. I found this Yamaha which has good reviews and all the i/o I will need to switch everything I have. It also supports ARC and HDMI 1.4 (3D) passthrough.

[ame]http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-RX-V373-R-Refurbished-5-1-Channel-Receiver/dp/B00BTLPVLW/ref=sr_1_7?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1411581966&sr=1-7[/ame]

Good at that refurb'd pricepoint?
 

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I'm not exactly a nerd in this area but I try to get the best bang for my bucks. Current 5.1 setup:

Sony STR-DB790 (very solid amplifier, only lacking HDMI but opticals do fine)
Tannoy Mercury F2 front speakers
Tannoy Mercury F1's as rear & center speakers
Audio Pro Focus subwoofer

This whole setup has cost me around $800. I paid a bit too much for the amp though, but that was already like 6 years ago.

In my dreams I would have Aurelia speakers. Absolutely the best I've ever heard... but they cost more per pair than my whole current system. :(

Edit: I've also got a pair of Mitsubishi home speakers. I'll put them in my garage when I have built it. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Bumping because I just scored a pair of Snell E/III's with original drivers in good shape for less than $200. They sound amazing. They use Vifa drivers just like my Paradigms but are super clean without any noticeable frequency peaks or holes. This is because the Snell production team hand-built every single crossover per its unique driver (by adjusting the # of coils in the inducers and the resistances) in order to achieve +- 0.5 dB ("officially" rated at 1.75dB) from (very conservative) 39Hz - 20khz.

The Snell story is pretty crazy too. Snell died an untimely death in 1984 at 38 years old after designing his Type A's which were and many say still are the best loudspeakers ever made, and a few others in the Snell line including the original Type E. After his death, a man named Kevin Voecks took over as chief designer and revised all Snell models for the next rev - so my E/III's are a Snell design that was tweaked by Voecks. When Voecks made these revisions, many people in the hi-fi world considered them a departure from Snell's vision and weren't happy about it. (Voecks was replaced by Joseph D’Appolito in 2008 and Voecks went to Harman.) At some point, Snell was acquired by D&M Holdings which (I believe) was responsible for closing Snell's doors in 2012.

In the meantime, Peter Qvortrup was in charge of Snell distribution in Europe. He was among those displeased by the direction Voecks went after Snell's death. So, he bought the rights to continue making various models of Snell speakers on his own, under the Audio Note name in the UK. Audio Note still sells modern equivalents of the E's, the Audio Note AN-E, which retail for north of $3800 (there's a set on eBay now for $13,000!).

So that's nuts. The story behind these make them fun to have. And they sound spectacular. But the real reason I got them is because my Dad has a pair of his own that he has owned since new in the late 80's. One of them has a blown woofer and he is pretty heartbroken because it means no more hand-matched accuracy. So I figured a cool thing to do would be to get him a whole speaker to replace his, then repair his on my own and see if I can figure out how to tune them myself.

Anyway here's a stock picture of them, they look pretty humble but are just unreal to listen to.

(they also have rear firing tweeters)

 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Made some speaker stands for the Snells (~10" tall, open design, filled with 50lbs sand each for lower bass resonance). Prototypes are operational, will go back and make another set using thinner wood so I can get them flush with the speaker cabinets.

Also picked up some random speakers on the side of the road. Look like "Soundcraftsmen" which are JBL Lancer rip-offs from the 60's as far as I can tell. Actually sounded great when hooked up (despite the self-destructing woofer foam), I'm debating if I want to restore them.

 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Ok so I got bit pretty hard by this bug, especially the vintage stuff. Have since started diagnosing and fixing solid state receivers, restoring speakers, gotten even more into vinyl, and generally picked up way too much equipment lol

Found these amazing speakers, Polk Audio SDA 3.1TL.



Re-capped and restored a pair of AR-3a speakers.





Grown a backlog of equipment to repair ...



... And really gotten into vinyl. If anyone has any Pink Floyd vinyl they want to get rid of, let me know ...

 

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I love the older gear. I'm currently running some klipsch 4.2's. I need to upgrade the horns, but otherwise they are an awesome speaker for rock type music.
 

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Discussion Starter #19

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... And really gotten into vinyl. If anyone has any Pink Floyd vinyl they want to get rid of, let me know ...

The top right unit and your repair shelf looks a ton like my old Pioneer SX-780 receiver. Mine's up in the attic in working condition I expect.

And I do have Dark Side and Wish you were Here on vinyl :) I have a stack of 70-80s vinyl that I digitized years ago but kept the vinyl in the attic. I fear the heat is probably warped some as they were stored vertically.
 
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