Need input on speaker system

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Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:01 am

Hi, I'm moving to a new house and need a new speaker system. It will be connected to my computer that does all my gaming, music listening, and movie playback. Connection from the computer will be through my Xonar DX. First question, what would be the best way to connect my sound card to the receiver?

These are the speakers I have in mind:
Fluance ES1
Fluance AVBP2
Fluance AVSC
Polk Audio PSW111

What receiver should I use for this system? Ideally I would get a refurbished product from Onkyo so I can get a little more bang for the buck (http://www.shoponkyo.com/products_refur ... group_id=1)

Finally, what kind of speaker wire should I use to connect the speakers to the receiver?

Sorry about all the questions, but I'm used to buying a set of normal computer speakers. I'm ready to step up my game a little bit.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:49 am

Shmeal wrote:What receiver should I use for this system? Ideally I would get a refurbished product from Onkyo so I can get a little more bang for the buck

Great idea, and one that is suggested a lot.

Shmeal wrote:Finally, what kind of speaker wire should I use to connect the speakers to the receiver?

Anything that's reasonably thick (Monoprice). Don't fall into the "audio cables" religion.

Shmeal wrote:Sorry about all the questions, but I'm used to buying a set of normal computer speakers. I'm ready to step up my game a little bit.

Well, you shouldn't be thinking about "computer speakers". Think just plain good speakers, then shop around the smaller models if you have to.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:26 am

morphine wrote:
Shmeal wrote:What receiver should I use for this system? Ideally I would get a refurbished product from Onkyo so I can get a little more bang for the buck

Great idea, and one that is suggested a lot.

Shmeal wrote:Finally, what kind of speaker wire should I use to connect the speakers to the receiver?

Anything that's reasonably thick (Monoprice). Don't fall into the "audio cables" religion.

Shmeal wrote:Sorry about all the questions, but I'm used to buying a set of normal computer speakers. I'm ready to step up my game a little bit.

Well, you shouldn't be thinking about "computer speakers". Think just plain good speakers, then shop around the smaller models if you have to.



I'm just thinking plain old "speakers" now, but I've never done anything remotely similar to this. So any input on my speaker choice, or what receiver I should use?
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:32 am

For receiver, I'd go with anything that's powerful enough to drive the speakers you want. Look for RMS power, not peak power. What you suggested (Onkyo refurb) is a pretty good choice. As for speaker choices, I'm not really into it, but in order for people to advise you best, perhaps you should specify your requirements in terms of size / power, at least.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:49 am

So to check for power do I just match the speaker's output to the power output of the amp for the speaker's specific channel?
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:56 am

Shmeal wrote:So to check for power do I just match the speaker's output to the power output of the amp for the speaker's specific channel?

Pretty much yeah. If you want to err on the side of caution, make sure that your speakers are rated higher than your amp.

Having said that, if you don't plan on listening to music in loud volumes, some mismatch is OK.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:53 am

Perfect, is there anything else I should look for while trying to get the right receiver? The speakers all top out at 120w, while the receiver can only put out 80w per channel, so far so good!

This research part is a lot more enjoyable than I anticipated, just like putting together a PC build :D
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:10 am

Shmeal wrote:Perfect, is there anything else I should look for while trying to get the right receiver?

Depends on what you want it to do, whether if you just want to use it with your PC or would like to keep your options open, for example, using a Blu-ray player with it.

When using your PC, you can use the analog connections or go digital (I think the DX does DD/DTS, not sure?), but Dolby Digital and DTS are widely supported. What you need a fairly recent receiver for, however, are all the new-fangled Blu-ray audio formats, namely DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD.

Other than that, make sure that the receiver lists a pretty low THD number. That's Total Harmonic Distortion, and IIRC it should be well under 1%. Together with "has enough power", that's the most important aspect to look out for.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:27 am

Shmeal wrote:Perfect, is there anything else I should look for while trying to get the right receiver? The speakers all top out at 120w, while the receiver can only put out 80w per channel, so far so good!

This research part is a lot more enjoyable than I anticipated, just like putting together a PC build :D

A receiver that features at least 60W/channel of RMS power (not peak power, which is nearly always exaggerated), rated at 0.1% THD or less, will drive nearly any decent-quality, mid-range speaker on the market. Even at higher volumes, most full-range audio for ordinary listening is produced at much less than 5W of electrical power, and only the transient peaks go higher for fractions of a second up to a couple seconds at most.

In any case, it somewhat depends on the efficiency rating of the speakers, which is normally expressed as "__dB @ 1W-m". This should be in the high 80s, and the low 90s are even better. Every 3dB efficiency difference requires changing the electrical power by a factor of two for the same level of acoustic output. The tradeoff is that an ultra-sensitive driver is more likely to reproduce background noise and hum from the audio circuit, which forces you to look up-market for the front-end hardware. But anything in the range of 87-93dB is in the right ballpark.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:57 pm

Okay, so I'm thinking about using the Onkyo TX-SR608 or something similar for my receiver. The issue is that I have no idea how to connect my sound card to the receiver. Receiver should be fine because the power handling for the speakers are all 100w and that's exactly what the receiver provides.

Sound card:
http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image ... rs/PCI.jpg

Back of the receiver:
http://www.musicorner.nl/pics/Onkyo%20T ... achter.JPG

Would I just get better sound using the HDMI from my videocard? I always thought that discrete sound cards were better than audio over videocards but never had concrete evidence.

Sorry for being such a noob, not really sure what I'm doing yet.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:06 pm

You can do digital output over HDMI, but you may find that multi-channel encoding is not consistently supported, dropping you back to stereo mode in some cases.

You can also do digital output over SPDIF from your sound card.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:09 pm

Shmeal wrote:Would I just get better sound using the HDMI from my videocard? I always thought that discrete sound cards were better than audio over videocards but never had concrete evidence.

Some confusion there.

A discrete soundcard will have better analog output (and features) than built-in motherboard sound cards. A video card, on the other hand, merely provides a digital output (via HDMI, and older models with regular SPDIF). If your video card has an HDMI out and passes sound through it, you have either option available to you.

Apart from soundcard-specific features, the scenarios will be:

1) Soundcard via analog outs: the soundcard does the digital-to-analog conversion, and that signal is then passed to the receiver through standard minijack/RCA cables. Sound quality here is mainly up to the soundcard's analog path, namely the DACs (digital-to-analog converters). Everything is guaranteed to just work, however.

2) HDMI (from video card): the videocard merely passes the digital signal along to your receiver, which then turns it into analog. Sound quality here is up to the receiver alone. The Onkyo 608 will probably be better at this than the Xonar.

3) Soundcard via digital output, if it has DTS or Dolby Digital encoding: same as above.

Caveat: I'm not sure if/how playing Bluray discs and other protected content will affect your audio path. For example, in the past, there have been situations where putting a DVD on would kill any other audio output. However, this is something that you'll have to test, though you have all the options available to you. It's really mostly a matter of cabling.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:00 pm

Oh okay, that makes a lot of sense that the receiver should be better than my sound card. Don't know why that didn't occur to me earlier.

Okay, two more things. First, should I use banana plugs or just stick with bare wire connections? Secondly, I don't know how to place my desk in relation to my speakers. The center channel would be way to close if I stuck it in front of my monitors and the surround satellites would be very far away.

I know that ideally my desk would be placed in the center of the room, but I don't know how i should set this system up around my desk. (The room is 200sq feet and is currently empty because I haven't moved into the house yet)
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:04 pm

Shmeal wrote:Okay, two more things. First, should I use banana plugs or just stick with bare wire connections?

Either works, use banana plugs if you have the option, since they're easier to work with.

Speaker placement: monitor right on the center speaker, as far back as the desk will allow, and if the center speaker isn't too big, of course. Left/right - buy some speaker stands, even cheap ones. It's $$$, but that way you're not limited by the desk itself.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:05 pm

Having the surround speakers further away isn't a real problem. You configure the speaker distances on your receiver's setup menu so that the digital delays are done properly.

Regarding the suggestion for speaker stands, I have some similar to these for my rear surround speakers.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:19 pm

That's exactly what I'm looking for, thanks for all the help guys!

I'll keep you posted once I have everything sorted out installed, and broken in. ^_^
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:06 pm

One last thing, how important is it to get THX certification? I was a little surprised to see $300 dollar amps without THX certification when my old pc speakers had it at half the price.

Is it worth paying extra for?
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:16 pm

Shmeal wrote:One last thing, how important is it to get THX certification?

Not of any importance, unless you like to pay for logos. The only thing that you know about THX-certified equipment is that it won't completely suck. Just mostly.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:30 pm

morphine wrote:Not of any importance, unless you like to pay for logos. The only thing that you know about THX-certified equipment is that it won't completely suck. Just mostly.

When I go to a movie and the THX certification logo/toon plays before the movie (here in the US it's the old moo can that made cow sounds when you flipped it over and back), that's a cue for me to insert earplugs. THX = the audience is deafened. Then again, anytime I walk in on the wife & daughter watching TV together I ask them why they have the volume set to "stun".

Properly done to spec THX is too loud, but at least it's not distorted (which would increase the loudness pain for me).
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:45 am

Shmeal wrote:Okay, so I'm thinking about using the Onkyo TX-SR608 or something similar for my receiver.

Back of the receiver: http://www.musicorner.nl/pics/Onkyo%20T ... achter.JPG

Oh man! That's one helluva receiver! How much does the TX-SR608 cost new? Refurbished?

And finally, do they make a newer version of a similar receiver that has a DVI-D input? Nothing really works with that old school VGA crap anymore... Archaic.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:11 am

Captain Ned wrote:When I go to a movie and the THX certification logo/toon plays before the movie (here in the US it's the old moo can that made cow sounds when you flipped it over and back), that's a cue for me to insert earplugs. THX = the audience is deafened.

There's also the THX Deep Note sound effect... the idea for which was essentially lifted wholesale from the Styx track Krakatoa, which predates the THX Deep Note sound effect by roughly a decade. (Skip forward to 1:20 on the Styx track if you just want to hear the relevant bit.)

(Yes, before they became Top 40 arena rockers, Styx recorded some decidedly odd, non-commercial stuff... I suspect significant amounts of mind-altering substances were involved!)
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:53 am

thegleek wrote:
Shmeal wrote:Okay, so I'm thinking about using the Onkyo TX-SR608 or something similar for my receiver.

Back of the receiver: http://www.musicorner.nl/pics/Onkyo%20T ... achter.JPG

Oh man! That's one helluva receiver! How much does the TX-SR608 cost new? Refurbished?

And finally, do they make a newer version of a similar receiver that has a DVI-D input? Nothing really works with that old school VGA crap anymore... Archaic.


It costs about 400 refurbished, but if THX certification isn't important, I might go with this one instead:
http://www.shoponkyo.com/detail.cfm?pro ... &ext_war=1

Any input on this receiver?

I was reading some reviews on subwoofer choices, and now I don't know if I should get the PSW111, or PSW110. The amp on the PSW125 appears to have trouble powering such a large driver, but the PSW110 and 111 don't seem to have such problems. Do any of you have experience with either of these subs or have recommendations for a sub within the same price range?

While thinking about the layout of the bedroom that this setup will go in, does it make sense to put my desk at the foot of the bed, mount the center channel above the headboard, put the front and left speakers on either side of the bedside tables, and put the surrounds on stands on either side of me? I feel like that would give me a better soundstage than putting my desk against the wall and being just a foot or two away from my center channel. The setup would also let me run my wires under my bed, which would be much easier than trying to hide them in plain sight.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:29 pm

Shmeal wrote:It costs about 400 refurbished, but if THX certification isn't important, I might go with this one instead:
http://www.shoponkyo.com/detail.cfm?pro ... &ext_war=1

Any input on this receiver?

If it otherwise meets your needs for available I/O, I can't see anything against it. In particular I see "all discrete circuitry" in the specs, which means it's using discrete components in the amplifier circuit rather than all-in-one audio ICs that are common at the low end and in most car equipment. Some of the audio ICs are actually quite good these days, but a properly-designed discrete circuit is superior.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:06 pm

just brew it! wrote:There's also the THX Deep Note sound effect... the idea for which was essentially lifted wholesale from the Styx track Krakatoa, which predates the THX Deep Note sound effect by roughly a decade. (Skip forward to 1:20 on the Styx track if you just want to hear the relevant bit.)

(Yes, before they became Top 40 arena rockers, Styx recorded some decidedly odd, non-commercial stuff... I suspect significant amounts of mind-altering substances were involved!)

haha awesome! Got the Styx - The Serpent Is Rising LP from 1973 to listen to this track. The entire album is kinda neat too! Now to really test your skrilla (hopefully without google/wiki searches), the last track on that album is called Hallelujah Chorus. What movie was that played in? :roll:
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:27 am

Any suggestion on wall mounts for my center channel? I'm not really pulling anything useful on teh interwebs.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:32 pm

thegleek wrote:haha awesome! Got the Styx - The Serpent Is Rising LP from 1973 to listen to this track. The entire album is kinda neat too!

Are you saying you owned it already, or downloaded it specifically because of this thread? It's a mostly overlooked/forgotten chapter in the band's history, but has some pretty good songs on it. And one song ("Plexiglass Toilet", tacked onto the end of track 4) that sounds more like something that would've gotten played on Doctor Demento back in the day. I think I've even still got the original vinyl version of this album somewhere...

Edit: Plexiglass Toilet linky

thegleek wrote:Now to really test your skrilla (hopefully without google/wiki searches), the last track on that album is called Hallelujah Chorus. What movie was that played in? :roll:

I'm pretty sure it has been used in multiple films, but can't name one off the top of my head.

Shmeal wrote:Any suggestion on wall mounts for my center channel? I'm not really pulling anything useful on teh interwebs.

Probably depends on the speaker. Does it have mounting brackets on it, or is it designed to sit on a shelf?
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:19 pm

The speakers will have to have those L type brackets that they can sit on.

I was posting on another forum and they suggested that I just ditch everything except for the receiver and get the Jamo S606 system with a BIC F12 subwoofer instead.

Opinions?
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:48 am

just brew it! wrote:And one song ("Plexiglass Toilet", tacked onto the end of track 4) that sounds more like something that would've gotten played on Doctor Demento back in the day.

i'm a huge fan of dr. demento and all his past radio shows... such a good show like that should have never ended. meh.

just brew it! wrote:
thegleek wrote:Now to really test your skrilla (hopefully without google/wiki searches), the last track on that album is called Hallelujah Chorus. What movie was that played in? :roll:

I'm pretty sure it has been used in multiple films, but can't name one off the top of my head.

Yeah, I wasn't asking you in a trivia-stumpy kinda way. I really wanted to know what movies that song was featured in! I think the song originally came from Handel... And I -think- as a wild guess, this was played at some point in the movie Animal House.
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:34 am

thegleek wrote:Yeah, I wasn't asking you in a trivia-stumpy kinda way. I really wanted to know what movies that song was featured in! I think the song originally came from Handel... And I -think- as a wild guess, this was played at some point in the movie Animal House.

Yes, it is indeed Handel. People call it the "Hallelujah Chorus," but it's basically a small snippet from a much larger work, Handel's Messiah.

Edit: Fixed link that phpBB decided to mangle... :roll:
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Re: Need input on speaker system

Postposted on Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:22 am

just brew it! wrote:Yes, it is indeed Handel. People call it the "Hallelujah Chorus," but it's basically a small snippet from a much larger work, Handel's Messiah.

Which is still an annual community Christmas event in my old home town. Sang in it a few times myself back in the high school days. And yes, for some reason, everyone still stands for the Hallelujah Chorus (has to do with some tone-deaf British King IIRC).
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