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Krogoth
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Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Mon May 20, 2019 9:04 pm

My 13-year old Z-5500s are on their way out. The left rear speaker is slowly fading away and I suspect that more problems will arise down the road. I was wondering what would be a good replacement these days. Should I stick with generic 5.1 computer speakers or go the extra step get a proper home theater setup using HDMI on my Vega 64 as the digital audio feed? It is even worth attempting to repair/restore Z-5500s?
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Mon May 20, 2019 10:18 pm

At its age it could be that the foam surrounding the drivers is starting to break apart. If it's just that then a generic 3" foam surround replacement should be about $1 for each speaker. Plenty of videos on youtube showing how to do the actual fix.
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Tue May 21, 2019 8:22 am

If you're happy with the sound quality of an old Z-5500, I second the recommendation to repair them.

Proper home-theatre setup is probably not worth doing unless you're prepared to spend north of $650.

A decent, yet budget HDMI receiver from Yamaha or Onkyo is going to set you back $200. Then you want two pairs of bookshelf speakers with at least 4" drivers (ideally 5" or more) at $150 each, so we're up to $500 for 4.0 surround sound. Throw another $150 at a center channel (the most important part of your setup) and depending on your tastes and how large the bookshelf drivers are, you may want to add a subwoofer. I haven't even considered stands or cabling yet, but there's no need to go crazy on those things. "Audiophile" cabling is snake oil and you'd need to have superhuman hearing to tell the difference between the $1000 idiocy and a reel of 14AWG pure copper wire for $25 on Amazon.

After a bucketload of research last year, I went for Q-Acoustics 3000 series, paired with an ordinary, but well-reviewed Yamaha HDMI receiver. It was replacing some old M-Audio BX8 kit so although it had big boots to fill, I wasn't disappointed. The Q-Acoustics have won multiple awards as the best budget set but they're still expensive compared to PC speakers at £800 excluding the receiver. Compared to my experience with Klipsch ProMedia and Logitech Z-something 5000ish from a decade ago, they're noticeably better/cleaner but I'm not sure everyone would appreciate the 4-5x price difference. Most decent audio gear is operating way beyond the point of diminishing returns so as long as you understand that, go for whatever the best-reviewed setup is for your budget/region.

If you're not sure about the difference, I can highly recommend going to a store that has units you can listen to. For me that was the deciding factor to move from similar quality 2.0 to 5.1, but for you it will likely be the deciding factor between a $250 combined package and spending 3x that on separates.

One last note: I'd avoid the budget "home theatre speaker kits" that sit between $200 and $400 for a complete 5.1 or 7.1 setup. The speakers are generally not as good as the speakers you get if you buy a half-decent PC surround option like the Logitech Z906. For $250 those are pretty hard to beat. Same thing goes for the HTIB packages from both TV makers and Amp/receiver companies like Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer. They're cheap imitations designed to entice people to buy the amps as part of a kit, but you'll be replacing the cheap speakers in short order if you care about sound quality.
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Tue May 21, 2019 10:36 am

How important is 5.1 to you? Is this for gaming, music, or movies? I agree with Chrispy that you're not going to get a good 5.1 set for cheap.
Personally, in the $0-$500 range, a 2.0 (or 2.1 if you want the boom) is going to be significantly better quality, positioning, and power than a 5.1 setup.
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Tue May 21, 2019 11:05 am

From what I can see the Z5500's plate amp uses a linear power supply and five channels of chip amplifiers, while the control pod uses a conventional volume pot and op-amp based preamp circuit. It's a practical, modular design and very repairable. And it would be hard to replace it with anything modern that does the job as well.

If you have just one channel fading on old kit I would bet on either a disintegrating speaker surround as already suggested, or a scratchy volume pot -- in which case pop the module open and try flooding the inside of the pot with any off-the-shelf cleaner rated for electrical contacts (e.g. WD-40 Specialist, DeoxIT D5, CRC QD Electronic Cleaner...). This kit has been hacked a lot, and there are countless YouTube videos for opening, modifying, and repairing it. The next option is that the input coupling capacitor is going bad on that channel, and that would require digging into the plate amplifier.
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Tue May 21, 2019 6:05 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
two pairs of bookshelf speakers with at least 4" drivers (ideally 5" or more) at $150 each

You can find decent speakers for less. With some patience, half that much.
And I'm not convinced PC speaker are that great anyway, any reviews comparing them to standalone speakers?
I suspect even normally-priced $80 speakers could be more than competitive.
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Tue May 21, 2019 6:51 pm

After playing around with the speakers. It looks like that aforementioned rear speaker's membrane is cracking from age and the wiring is suspect. FYI, I have the first revision of Z-5500 which used build-in RCA for the satellites instead of the standard speaker cabling that later revision had (Z-680s always had them). I'd switch out speakers on different ports and the amp/sub seems to be fine on all ports.

I did grew attached to 5.1 output for gaming. I was wondering if I would be sacrificing that with if were go with a home theater route. In any event, it looks like Z906s are the only viable upgrade in the pure computer speakers route these days.
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Tue May 21, 2019 7:07 pm

meerkt wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
two pairs of bookshelf speakers with at least 4" drivers (ideally 5" or more) at $150 each

You can find decent speakers for less. With some patience, half that much.
And I'm not convinced PC speaker are that great anyway, any reviews comparing them to standalone speakers?
I suspect even normally-priced $80 speakers could be more than competitive.


As I mentioned, nearly all audiophile speakers are beyond the point of dimininishing returns. If you double your budget you definitely do not get double the sound quality.

I'm not in the US so you'll have to excuse my approximations on budget - but popular "budget" bookshelf units over here start at about £50 ($60) for small, 3" drivers using the cheapest acceptable materials (silk-dome tweeters, plastic-coated paper cones in the main drivers, and enough MDF and glue to avoid resonating cabinets) That's not really big enough to deliver full range audio, and there's absolutely no point in buying Hi-Fi separates if you are going to cripple the system with small, cheap drivers that don't sound any better than affordable computer speakers.

At 4" drivers, some of the better (so more expensive) kevlar drivers can put up a decent performance, but the "best buy" entry-level and budget award winners tend to be the cheaper 5" drivers using aluminium/polymer drivers. You can pick these up as old stock, entry-level models from lesser brands for £100 ($115) or so, but that requires shopping around a fair bit. Most of the award-winning speakers in the entry-level or budget categories seem to have an MSRP of $200 and it doesn't take me much effort to find deals for them at $150.

So yeah, you can definitely build up a 5.1 setup using Hi-Fi separates for less than $650, but given that they're going to be undersized, limited-range, basic speakers using paper cones and cheap crossover circuits, they're unlikely to sound any better than a cheap $200 5.1 system or PC speakers, so just buy those instead.

As for reviews and comparisons, check out noaudiophile.com. That guy is a true nerd and his site is mostly about reviewing speakers with the aim of creating DSP correction profiles to compensate for a set of speakers' flaws. He tests everything from silly-expensive to $50 unbranded junk from China. I enjoy reading it, at least, and it's refreshing to find a knowledgeable audiophile who doesn't have their heads up their own arse ;)

Krogoth wrote:
I did grew attached to 5.1 output for gaming. I was wondering if I would be sacrificing that with if were go with a home theater route.


Nah, a proper AV receiver will show up as a 5.1 device in Windows 10 when connected via HDMI. I've tested this on RX 480/Vega, Nvidia 900/1000/2000 series. It works direct to my basic receiver and also via ARC on my TV, and my receiver is good but very much a basic entry-level one: ( Yamaha RX-V383 )
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Wed May 22, 2019 1:31 am

Krogoth wrote:
After playing around with the speakers. It looks like that aforementioned rear speaker's membrane is cracking from age and the wiring is suspect.

If you're interested in saving the set, if only to sell or give to a friend, the parts and pieces are on eBay. You can replace the entire satellite for around $30. The RCA wiring is annoying but pretty easy to substitute.
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meerkt
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Fri May 24, 2019 9:03 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
I'm not in the US so you'll have to excuse my approximations on budget

Yeah. I just assume that's the benchmark around here, so I refer to that.

check out noaudiophile.com

I'm in no position to gauge speaker quality myself, but there and elsewhere the Pioneer SP-BS22 bookshelves get a recommendation. They can be had for about $70 sometimes, and $100-130 normally. Warning: they're sorta large.

Cheaper and lesser, but also get a reserved recommendation there and elsewhere, are the Mica MB42x which normally go for $80.

I find it hard to believe that combo speaker systems for PC, and from non-speaker companies (Logitech), can somehow end up both offering better quality and being cheaper.
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Fri May 24, 2019 10:33 am

I'm going to chime in for a proper stereo and a good pair of bookshelf speakers, assuming you have room for them at your desk. If you're comfortable buying used, and there's a reputable second-hand audio shop near you, you can probably get a good-quality receiver and a pair of speakers for ~$150.

For reference, I have a 25-year old Technics stereo receiver here at my desk that cost me $20 fifteen years ago, running audio to a pair of Mission MS-50s that were sold as new old stock for $70 five years ago, and I've been pleased with the setup.
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Sat May 25, 2019 2:55 am

I am fine with 2.0 audio for gaming but Krogoth said he has grown attached to 5.1 output for gaming.

What's the cheapest, non-garbage, HDMI receiver with 5.1 decode these days?
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Sat May 25, 2019 12:01 pm

For simple DD or bitstream 5.1 I’d say them are pretty much all the same. Even a 5 YO one will be fine.
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Sat May 25, 2019 12:58 pm

Is there good/any support for sending audio to HDMI and video elsewhere, potentially another HDMI port?
There may be reasons to want to avoid sending video thru an AVR, like unsupported video modes, or latency (though by sending video elsewhere A/V may be desynced).
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Sat May 25, 2019 2:11 pm

If audio is going down the same cable as video (like HDMI) de-syncs shouldn't be a problem. It's really input latency where the setup might fall flat.

A good way is to use the receiver as nothing more than an amp: The PC's analog outputs into the receiver's RCA inputs for the 5.1 audio.
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Sat May 25, 2019 3:56 pm

meerkt wrote:
I find it hard to believe that combo speaker systems for PC, and from non-speaker companies (Logitech), can somehow end up both offering better quality and being cheaper.



IF the Co. cherry-picks the fullrange driver and does a decent design with the enclosure + a powered upper-bass "sub" of even modest quality - then it's more than possible.


Driver ex.:

Dynavox LY302F
https://www.parts-express.com/dynavox-l ... r--295-612

Good linear disperson +/- 30 degrees:
http://feleppa.com.au/pics/speaker_imgs ... eqResp.png

An excellent high-order distortion performance:
http://feleppa.com.au/pics/speaker_imgs ... awHarm.png
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Mon May 27, 2019 5:47 am

CScottG wrote:
IF the Co. ...

Why would a computer peripherals company have a technological / manufacturing / economies-of-scale edge over an established speaker-audio company?
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Mon May 27, 2019 8:28 am

meerkt wrote:
CScottG wrote:
IF the Co. ...

Why would a computer peripherals company have a technological / manufacturing / economies-of-scale edge over an established speaker-audio company?

For manufacturing and economies-of-scale, I would not be surprised if they do have an advantage. They've got the connections and business relationships with the big factories in Asia that crank out so much of our consumer electronics. Furthermore, discrete audio components have become somewhat niche, and therefore lower volume; a lot (if not most) people these days just buy a TV and Bluetooth soundbar, and call it a day.

Technology-wise the peripherals guys may not have the years of experience, but they've probably got a bigger R&D budget.
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Mon May 27, 2019 9:08 am

How would scale in all of their products combined help in a specific sub-group of products? Whatever the market for speakers is, I don't see how Logitech could have more of it than speaker-only companies. Maybe even versus companies that make speakers along with other audio products.

If scale in non-speakers does help, while Logitech's become surprisingly big (I guess less so 13 years ago), there are also speaker brands that are part of big corps or multi-brand conglomerates. They should have both the experience and the size.
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Mon May 27, 2019 9:16 am

meerkt wrote:
How would scale in all of their products combined help in a specific sub-group of products?

Relationships with contract manufacturers who have a lot of experience building electronics.

meerkt wrote:
Whatever the market for speakers is, I don't see how Logitech could have more of it than speaker-only companies. Maybe even versus companies that make speakers along with other audio products.

How many people still buy discrete speakers for non-computer use? I'm guessing not very many.

meerkt wrote:
If scale in non-speakers does help, while Logitech's become surprisingly big (I guess less so 13 years ago), there are also speaker brands that are part of big corps or multi-brand conglomerates. They should have both the experience and the size.

True. But when you talk about "speaker companies", I tend to think of the smaller brands that specialize in them.
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Mon May 27, 2019 10:05 am

Maybe you could find a leftover satellite on eBay. That's the first thing I'd do.

Those are much nicer than mine; I'm still using Logitech's X-530 set. Which I got new, on clearance, for $30 shipped free, probably around ten years ago now. They're still going strong.
Image

They're still absolutely perfect for 5.1 surround gaming, and speaker sets from that era are still pretty darn good for this particular usage. If you can find one used replacement satellite, or a couple (so you can replace as needed), I'd totally do it. Other than that, Klipsch used to make really nice sets, but they weren't exactly cheap. The limitation for quality sound in games usually isn't the speakers unless you got really cheap ones, so a midrange 5.1 set will generally do.

If you're actually doing real home theater with them and showing movies off this system in a reasonably-sized room to multiple people, then and only then IMO, is going the receiver route worthwhile.
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Mon May 27, 2019 11:03 am

just brew it! wrote:
Relationships with contract manufacturers who have a lot of experience building electronics.

I assume electronics manufacturers don't generally deal with speaker enclosures and drivers, which are the main differentiator.

How many people still buy discrete speakers for non-computer use? I'm guessing not very many.

All serious home theater users, some of the casual ones, general audiophiles, PA speakers, stage, movie theaters...

I tend to think of the smaller brands that specialize in them.

There's Klipsch + Jamo (= Audiovox/Voxx), JBL + Infinity + AKG (= Samsung), Polk + Boston Acoustics + maybe parts of Denon (= DEI), etc.
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Mon May 27, 2019 11:08 am

What we have today is way too much pluribus and not enough unum.
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Tue May 28, 2019 2:04 pm

LoneWolf15 wrote:
Maybe you could find a leftover satellite on eBay. That's the first thing I'd do.

Those are much nicer than mine; I'm still using Logitech's X-530 set. Which I got new, on clearance, for $30 shipped free, probably around ten years ago now. They're still going strong.


Ah the X-530, I bought this at full price, and was blown away by the quality. Moved away and gave them to my brother, and even to date, they are still going strong too. Best bang-for-buck speakers made, and I loved that design!
 
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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Wed May 29, 2019 6:32 pm

qmacpoint wrote:
LoneWolf15 wrote:
Maybe you could find a leftover satellite on eBay. That's the first thing I'd do.

Those are much nicer than mine; I'm still using Logitech's X-530 set. Which I got new, on clearance, for $30 shipped free, probably around ten years ago now. They're still going strong.


Ah the X-530, I bought this at full price, and was blown away by the quality. Moved away and gave them to my brother, and even to date, they are still going strong too. Best bang-for-buck speakers made, and I loved that design!


Still love them playing Shadow Of the Tomb Raider, they sound great. They were normally $100 new, and someone offloaded an an entire shipment on Amazon years ago, new in retail box at that price. Considering I had Altec Lansing ACS500s, that says something.

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Re: Looking for replacement for aging Z-5500 set

Wed May 29, 2019 10:12 pm

LoneWolf15 wrote:
I'm still using Logitech's X-530 set. I had Altec Lansing ACS500s.
Believe it or not, my nearly 3 decades-old ACS-400s are connected to my Amazon Echo Dot right this minute. It sounds much better than the full-size Echo does.
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