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Thread: New speakers

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    Senior Member RECOiL™'s Avatar
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    New speakers

    Hello,

    I have a 50" plasma and im now wishing to upgrade my front speakers. Currentley they form partt of a £200 budget dvdplayer+amp+5speakers+sub job. This has served me very well over the years. But I feel im not doing the tv justice by having such small spearks next to it. Also I like listening to mp3s via the amp.

    Now, im not to hot on av stuff, but im after a nice but reasonably priced set of floor standing speakers. Would my current amplifier be ok to power them or would I need to invest in a new amp as well ?

    regards

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    HEXUS.social member 99Flake's Avatar
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    Re: New speakers

    What amp do you have at the moment and what kind of budget do you have for the speakers?

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    Senior Member RECOiL™'s Avatar
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    Re: New speakers

    i think its only a 200watt amp and my budget is £250

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    Re: New speakers

    I don't think there's enough information to answer whether it'll drive floor-standers or not, for the simple reason that both amps and floor-standers vary a lot in capability and needs.

    In terms of sound quality, speakers don't necessarily need to be floor-standing, or large, either. There are some very impressive (and expensive) compact speakers. But, by and large, you get what you pay for - whether it be floor-standing or not..

    Ideally, you need to give some idea of budget, because "reasonable" is very subjective.

    I would also suggest that you need to try to match the amp to speakers in such a way that while the speakers will handle the power output from the amp, you never have to drive the amp even close to it's max power output to get the sound volume you want.

    Say, for example, your amp delivers 50w per channel, and your speakers can handle 70w. You should, it seems, be safe from damaging speakers by overdriving them. The trouble is that if you have to run the amp flat-out (or close to it) to get the sound volume you want, you're driving the amp at a level where it is likely to be electrically very poorly behaved. And the cheaper the amp, the more that will be the case. And when amps are poorly behaved, they are more likely to provide exactly the type of transient that blows speakers.

    Personally, I don't like driving an amp much over about 60-70% of capability. That means, in terms of the above logic, finding speakers that will provide the sound volume and type of sound you like whilst not driving the existing amp above that level .... or changing amp.

    Next, how do you assess amp power? Some will quote power output in terms of "RMS", and some use "peak". Without going into the maths, RMS is a measure of average power, with peak is, well, peak. The RMS of a given amp will always be a lot lower than peak, the latter being nothing more than a marketing man's way of making an amp spec sound better than it is.

    Then comes the sound of speakers. Some speakers are very neutral in sound, some are very "bright". Some provide deep tight bass while for others the bass is more "woolly". Some people (like me) prefer a tight crisp sound to bass, so that, for instance, snare drums have a real snap to the sound, but others prefer volume of bass over what I'd call quality. On the other hand, I prefer a bass with real depth to it. The transmission line floor-standers I use go down to VERY low frequencies, so the organ piece at the start of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor is, literally, subsonic. You almost feel it more than hear it.

    The problem is that those transmission line units take a lot of driving. They are relatively inefficient ... i.e. sound volume out compared to amp power in is relatively low.

    So the sound actually made by two pairs of similar priced and sized speakers can be very different.

    Ultimately, I strongly advise that the start of your search should be to go to a decent hifi shop or two, and listen. Take some of your favourite CDs and/or DVDs, and listen to the type of sound. Explain your problem, and any decent shop should at least be able to point you in the direction of various alternatives.

    But at the end of the day, a lot will come back to budget. If you have £200 available, you're likely to end up down a different route to if you have £500 available ... and end up with a different level of sound quality, too.

    Any system works best when the components are, at least to a reasonable degree, balanced. There is little point using £2000 speakers with a £75 amp, because you'd end up with far better sound if you cut down the speaker budget and increased amp quality too. You could probably spend £1000 on each, or £400 on the amp and £1600 on speakers, or £800 on amp and £1200 on speakers and end up with a far better result than with high-quality £2000 speakers on a cheap amp. They'd be wasted.

    So expenditure should generally be aimed at creating that balance, The exception, of course, is if you're aiming at a higher overall level, but can only afford one component now. Then, you either have to wait, or you have to buy one component now (say speakers) at a higher level than match the rest of your system, then upgrade another bit when funds allow. But the objective then should still be to end up with a balanced system.

    Finally, two points. One is that the type of sound you like and the type of sound I like may well be very different. I've listened to expensive systems friends have bought and though "ho-hum", just because the sound doesn't suit my ears. That makes it VERY tricky buying equipment based on recommendations. So for pities sake, don't. Get recommendations (like B&W, for instance) by all means, but go listen before buying.

    Secondly, my personal viewpoint is that speakers make the biggest overall difference to the nature of the sound, so choice there is critical. But other components also have an impact an it can be fairly significant.

    You might, for instance, get a bright, attacking pair of speakers. If you then partner them with a bright-sounding amp, the result may well be harsh and grating. Partner them, however, with a smooth, refined amp and you take the edge of that harshness and end up with a bright and crisp sound, but clean and analytical rather than just brash. The same works the other way round - speakers that are slightly laid back may well work well with the amp you shouldn't use in the above system because it was too harsh there. Matching suitable components so that they suit each other in order to produce the sound you like is the art of selection.



    Note : don't forget to consider smaller main speakers and a sub as an alternative to bigger floor-standers, especially for use with AV gear.


    Edit - you put that budget update in while I was typing the above .... and asking the same question.

    Note to self - type faster. .

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    Senior Member RECOiL™'s Avatar
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    Re: New speakers

    Saracen, thankyou for this insifgful post. Im going to richer sounds on my lunch break

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    Re: New speakers

    How did you get on ? Richers are great if you know what you're looking for, and they stock it, but if not...

    I think you'd really need to replace the amp, as if it's a budget 200 watt 5.1 job, then I'd be surprised if it actually managed much more than 20w RMS without silly amounts of distortion.

    That said, don't get too hung up on power ratings. Well, other than, as Saracen pointed out, trying to avoid to much of a mismatch between amp and speakers.If you are set on floorstanders, and using that surround job, you'll likely have one of those mismatches. Soooo, you'll most likely be needing an amp too !

    Which ones really depends on whether you want your listening to be in a "hi-fi" fashion, or whether you prefer bangs 'n' crashes!

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    Senior Member r_j_k_p's Avatar
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    Re: New speakers

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    I
    Say, for example, your amp delivers 50w per channel, and your speakers can handle 70w. You should, it seems, be safe from damaging speakers by overdriving them. The trouble is that if you have to run the amp flat-out (or close to it) to get the sound volume you want, you're driving the amp at a level where it is likely to be electrically very poorly behaved. And the cheaper the amp, the more that will be the case. And when amps are poorly behaved, they are more likely to provide exactly the type of transient that blows speakers.
    im currently just about to set up my new sound system.
    however the amp im going to be using is the built in amp on my dvd player which is a pioneer xv-dv55.

    Looking at the manual, it says the amp provides 30 watts per channel (bass@ 50watts), and im looking to set up to it the following:

    - some speakers that came with the system (the centre, and rear left and rear right)
    -the bass that came with the system
    -some nice kef uni-q q80's that i've stolen from my dad (as the front left and front right)

    these will all be receiving input from optical via my pc and tv.

    now my question is this: seeing as im connecting the kef q80's up, and they have an input of 125watts,
    will i get much volume and power seeing as the kef speakers need alot of power to play?

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    Re: New speakers

    Check on the efficiency (has more to do with sensitivity and imedance) rating of the speakers - its that which will tell you how loud they'll go and how easy a drive they are.

    I had some PMC's which were transmission line but were extremely efficient and had no problem being driven loud by a 25 watt amp (it was Class A though so thrived on a heavier load).

    Most speakers will give you the full spec on the back - I can't seem to find out much about the Q80's, but most KEFs are fairly easy going. At least the ones I've tried out are.

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    Re: New speakers

    To be honest, I wouldn't put those KEF's anywhere near it.

    An amp in a cinema-in-a-box type thing will probably have massively misleading power stats. Often the figures stated will allow for ridiculous levels of distortion. If it says 30 watts output (that is definitely the amp yeah ? Not what that system together produced ?) I'd bet it'll be 20, if it's lucky.

    The most dangerous thing to a set of speakers in this sort of situation is being fed by an underpowered amp being driven too hard. You do that, and you'll royally shaft those speakers, which would be a shame as KEF's are usually nice bits of kit.

    Just stick with the Pioneer speakers, they'll be a better match anyway.

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    Senior Member r_j_k_p's Avatar
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    Re: New speakers

    no its definetly what the amp outputs PER channel
    also its 1kHz, 1%THD, 8 ohms


    i guess i'll connect them up and see how it goes, if i feel i want more power can anyone recommend me an amp that is:

    - at least 80ish watts per channel
    -cheap
    -has dolby pro logic 2 feature
    -at least 2 optical inputs

    btw, what other things should one look for in an amp?


    dont mind buying 2nd hand if there is a bargain going on fleabay



    many thanks
    Last edited by r_j_k_p; 10-05-2008 at 09:16 PM.

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    Re: New speakers

    Quote Originally Posted by r_j_k_p View Post
    no its definetly what the amp outputs PER channel
    also its 1kHz, 1%THD, 8 ohms
    Ok, but I'd still be surprised if they managed anywhere near that, all channels driven. And even if it does give out a genuine 20-25w, I still wouldn't recommend it, as I can't see what you'd gain really, unless the Pioneer speakers are truly awful.

    The crossover on your Pioneer amp will be set with at a point relevant to the Pioneer satellite's output. The Kef's will have different abilities altogether. There will be a tonal mismatch between the Kefs and the pioneer sats when used in surround. The Kef's will put more load on the amp than your sats. And so on...

    The only theoretical advantage I'd see would be when using the Kef's in 2.0 form, without the sub. But as the crossover will effectively stop any low frequency stuff getting sent to them, it's not an option. These sort of kits are designed from the ground up to work as a package. I'd say getting a new amp would be a better shout.
    btw, what other things should one look for in an amp?
    Sound quality, not wattage ! There's loads of good second hand amps out there which won't meet your 80wpc requirements. But I wouuldn't worry about that so much, as to run a surround system at even 40wpc you'd need to have understanding (or no) neighbours. If you maybe don't worry so much about the power you could find yourself a bargain.
    dont mind buying 2nd hand if there is a bargain going on fleabay
    AVForums classifieds is probably a safer bet, and you'll be able to get advice on your purchase too

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  14. #12
    The Irish Drunk! neonplanet40's Avatar
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    Re: New speakers

    May i also suggest reading about on AVForums as there is alot of info on there and that is where i went before i bought my kit.

    Also an excellent post Saracen!
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