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Promedia Replacement

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March 17, 2008 12:22:50 PM

Hello

So like so many others my Klipsch Promedia Ultra 5.1's sub has died. yes it's out of warranty and I will not get it repaired (because more of the same would happen).

I heard creative S750's have their own sub issues and they're not quite "klipsch" in terms of sound quality

My thinking is to build a custom more versatile setup with a receiver, sub and speakers separately.

my setup is X-Fi Fatality, on vista with the whole external drive bit. latest drivers etc.

my main application is MUSIC. even though i game occasionally. don't really watch movies (22" lcd just isnt that great for that. my budget is around 700 dollars

can you guys recommend high quality components (speakers, sub, receiver) to build such a thing that would at least outdo the promedia's... remember we're NOT building a huge theater... these will serve as computer speakers on a large office desk... but i do want high quality sound (for the price range). at least with this setup if one item goes i just replace that item instead of the whole speakers set being useless. any input/recommendations are welcomed.

More about : promedia replacement

March 17, 2008 10:10:52 PM

Since the Fatal1ty has a digital optical out and you prefer music quality, I would use that to connect to the receiver, so there are no additional conversions from analog to digital and vice versa which can cause various forms of distortion.

I think you will find the Panasonic SA-XR55/57 to be the most well received receiver under $300 if you are going for a purely digital connection. The receiver uses a relatively new technology that produces a large amount of power with significantly lower distortion than comparable Class A/B amplifiers. In stereo mode it uses 4 amps (2/channel) and if you biamp, it uses 6 amps . Each amp is rated at 90W/channel at 8ohms, 0.03% distortion. It would be very difficult to find an analog A/B receiver at even twice this price for that kind of performance.

As far as speakers, especially if your focus is music, I would get a high quality pair of bookshelves first, this would net your the highest price/performance.

At this point you will need to decide if you need a very full sounding pair of speakers (adding a quality subwoofer in the future), or if you are content with a speaker that has ample bass but will not blow your socks away. If your focus is mainly non-bass heavy music, you can get away with a speaker that only goes down to about 60hz. (There's very little material below 50hz in general in music, unless we are talking about rap music).

I personally think you should start with bookshelves and add a sub later...bookshelves will generally give you ample bass anyway.

My favorite picks at $400 price range are the Usher S-520 and the Dana 630. Here are two reviews for the ushers:

http://stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/1205usher/
http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/bookshelf/u...

The Dana 630s do not have a true review although it's been received very well at AVSforum, the bottom is a link where the top contenders in your price range, and the Dana 630 arguably came on top (these are mostly internet direct speakers...the Ushers are dealer only...with internet direct you get guaranteed 30-day no questions asked return policy).

Since the Fatal1ty has a digital optical out and you prefer music quality, I would use that to connect to the receiver, so there are no additional conversions from analog to digital and vice versa which can cause various forms of distortion.

I think you will find the Panasonic SA-XR55/57 to be the most well received receiver under $300 if you are going for a purely digital connection. The receiver uses a relatively new technology that produces a large amount of power with significantly lower distortion than comparable Class A/B amplifiers. In stereo mode it uses 4 amps (2/channel) and if you biamp, it uses 6 amps . Each amp is rated at 90W/channel at 8ohms, 0.03% distortion. It would be very difficult to find an analog A/B receiver at even twice this price for that kind of performance.

As far as speakers, especially if your focus is music, I would get a high quality pair of bookshelves first, this would net your the highest price/performance.

At this point you will need to decide if you need a very full sounding pair of speakers (adding a quality subwoofer in the future), or if you are content with a speaker that has ample bass but will not blow your socks away. If your focus is mainly non-bass heavy music, you can get away with a speaker that only goes down to about 60hz. (There's very little material below 50hz in general in music, unless we are talking about rap music).

I personally think you should start with bookshelves and add a sub later...bookshelves will generally give you ample bass anyway.

My favorite picks at $400 price range are the Usher S-520 and the Dana 630. Here are two reviews for the ushers:

http://stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/1205usher/
http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/bookshelf/u...

The Dana 630s do not have a true review although it's been received very well at AVSforum, the bottom is a link where the top contenders in your price range, and the Dana 630 arguably came on top (these are mostly internet direct speakers...the Ushers are dealer only...with internet direct you get guaranteed 30-day no questions asked return policy).

http://av123forum.com/showthread.php?t=28546&page=2

I personally own the Ascend Acoustics 170SEs. They are perhaps the most critically neutral speakers you can get under $400. But they have their limitations, bass response is usually one, and there were some tradeoffs made for this kind of accuracy. Personally if I had to start over I would pick the Dana 630s...but I don't think you could go wrong with the Ascend 170SEs, AV123 X-LS encores, Usher S-520, or the SVS SCS-01s (SVS is a very well known subwoofer company, one of the best, along with Elemental Designs, Epik, and Hsu Research). All of these speakers are incredibly accurate, much more so than retail/brick and mortar speakers in this price range. The advantage of internet direct is no middleman, so a very large amount of the money is sunk into the components. The X-LS encore for example, the DIY kit for the drivers from GR Research (a driver manufacturer) alone are $150...this is for a $299 speaker, not including enclosure, crossover, etc.

Anyway this is just some stuff for you to chew on. My pick would be Panasonics + Dana 630s for musical clarity. If you want a fuller sounding speaker the one with the most bass extension is the AV123 X-LS Encore.
March 18, 2008 4:21:12 PM

Astralite, first of all I wanna thank you for writing up such a lengthy and good response :) ... that's definately a lot to chew one. it seems that most of those products I would have to order through the net as they don't seem to be available locally.

yesterday I went around various shops and checked out a bunch of systems and come to a conclusion that maybe i've got too little $ to work with.

here's a WILD idea I had. what if i just starded with a receiver and a sub now... and used my EXISTING klipsch speakers (They're the sattelites from Promedia Ultra 5.1's). Would that work? the speaker wires on the klipsch sattelites are just thin red and black wires bare on the ends that you "push in" and "lock"... they seem standard on many units i've seen. most receivers i see use an actual RCA jack... not really sure how i'd convert them and if so would a high powered receiver cause any issues with these low power speakers?

This would be just til I have more money to buy a better speakers... spending 2 grand right now is just not an option for me and in the meantime the lack of bass in my headphones irritates me a little bit :) 
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March 20, 2008 3:35:42 AM

Well getting a receiver and a subwoofer (that will overpower the satellite speakers no doubt) with your current satellites won't sound like much of an upgrade.

I've gone without a sub for long amounts of time before settling on the SVS SB-12/plus. With music I hardly ever even hear it with the crossover on for most music. A good pair of bookshelves will give you substantial enough bass. The most audible bass is in the 60-100hz area anyway, and a decent bookshelf will give you plenty of that.

If you are really worried about bass, I know the AV123 speakers *specialize* in bass (its a company that's more home theater oriented, so their speakers are very full sounding).

Just as an example, Panasonic SA-XR57 ($250) + AV123 Onix X-LS Encore ($299) comes to a total of $550. You'll need to spend some money on a toslink cable ($20?) and some speaker wire (~$30 for a spool of 50 feet of 12-16 gauge). This comes out to around $600, which is a little under your budget. Or $650 if you have a non-black finish to the AV123s. Add another $50 for a set of speaker stands. So this is $650 to $700 total.

My favorite speakers $350 and under are the Ascend 170SEs and the X-LS Encores (not going to say the "best" because that's subjective). But they are possibly the most "accurate" speakers at this price range, and that's something I personally find important, because it stays true to the source material. A speaker that has exaggerated bass or treble may sound good on a certain type of music, but it will sound fairly horrible on the opposite genre. The Ascend 170SEs measured at 60-20,000hz +/-1.5db, the X-LS Encores at 55-20,000hz +/- 1.8db, which is phenomenal accuracy. Audioholics have a review up where the Logitech Z-5500's were measured at 200-13,000hz +/- 5db. +/- would mean maximum over and under a middle line, so the variance we are talking about is 3 decibels vs 10 decibels for a desktop speaker system.

I feel accurate speakers will provide the best compromise; you are simply hearing the original mix. (the measurements for the X-LS encores are at the bottom of the product page, and the measurements of the 170SEs are here: http://ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/cbm1...).

What I ended up doing was buying the 170SEs and once I saved a large chunk of money and wanted some new speakers, I moved the 170SEs to the rears. My new speakers cost about 3 times more than the 170SEs. Are they three times better? Nope, probably more like 15% better. It's not that it's more accurate, but just little things like lower cabinet resonance, lower decay times, greater excursion and power handling, etc, but more money in audio is generally heavily diminishing returns once you get a competent set of bookshelves or tower speakers.

I'm not pushing you to buy either...there are tons of good speakers in this price range. They are quite the rage online though, lots of budget audiophiles like their sound as accurate as possible, and these two definitely deliver...

My favorite sites for budget audiophilia are:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=89
and
http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/

A good place to peruse recommendations for speakers. You'll find either Ascend or AV123 on the top of most people's lists (along with Axiom although their speakers are TRULY bass anemic and require a sub).

If I was starting anew I probably would get the Onix Encores and the Panny receiver...ironically my starting budget at the time was roughly the same as yours. Chances are if it's nearfield and in a smaller room, bookshelves might even provide more bass than you expect...my bookshelves now have a 5.25" driver but hit 40hz cleaner than a desktop 8" or 10" sub ever will....part of that reason is the driver is just bigger (bigger magnet, casket, spider, etc) than those desktop subs despite a smaller surface area.

Anyway, check out those forums...you might come to a different conclusion as far as what brand you might like, but I think the best cost/reward at your position for music quality starts with a single pair of bookshelves and a receiver.

Finally, with internet direct you do have a 30-day return policy although you will have to pay 1-way shipping to your own home...I understand someone on a small budget might not have the money to drop $20 on shipping (each) for 2 or 3 brands of speakers to see which one is the one for them. It took me a long time to figure out what to buy and a lot of that was customer testimonials and taking a dive...I ended up buying a pair of Axiom M22tis and a set of Ascend 170SEs...auditioned them for 3 weeks and sent the Axioms back. I found both speakers to be similar but the M22tis had slightly more sizzle on top (I have very sensitive high frequency hearing though, your mileage may vary) although the Ascends were clearly fuller sounding so for both vocals and bass they won me over. The Encores probably are even more fuller given AV123's focus on bass...I suspect for that bass extension you give up a tiny bit of accuracy in the midrange. Everything in audio is a tradeoff, and the difference is even more minute when you are comparing these well-received internet direct brands that all have very accurate frequency response. Given your preference for some bass, I doubt the Axiom's are for you. Most likely the Encores are what you are looking for. They cost $299...the drivers actually come from GR Research. The drivers alone would cost you $140. There's a lot of value in internet direct speakers that you don't get from brick & mortar (retail) brands.

http://www.gr-research.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCAT...

Anyway, just some stuff to chew on, my opinion is pretty biased, let me know if you want me to clarify something because I realize I sound like I'm pushing internet direct speakers pretty hard.
March 25, 2008 3:00:52 PM

astrallite made a very positive recommended the units are pretty much you would need for your taste. I would consider the axiom better but that just me, anything with more bass I get a headache after listening for awhile, same with my wife. Play movies is a different matter because the thumping is not constant.

One might say turn the bass control down, but that another topic.

I have not audition Encore speakers yet so I can't say about that. However its given good reviews.

I also recommend the ascend speakers as it is a good deal. Just remember that these speakers required breaking in for some time before the sound will be at optimum. Some speakers need a hundred of hours, so be prepared. Call the manufacturer as these companies have good tech support service. That’s one more plus if going with those companies mentioned above. Another thing is that these are budget speakers in HIFI world but good enough to go up against the big guns.
astrallite said:
Anyway, just some stuff to chew on, my opinion is pretty biased, let me know if you want me to clarify something because I realize I sound like I'm pushing internet direct speakers pretty hard.


Giving opinion maybe bias but we speak from our experience. It’s up to the reader how to use that information. Hope this will help him with his purchase and not go to all the hassle to narrow down his selection. Good job astrallite.

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