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Premium Member
2,539 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have read the subwoofer archives several times and today when I was lurking I saw the Lava sub giveaway so I thought I would register and see if I can get Lucky.

Oh yeah, I guess I would describe my current audio gear as either high lower tier or low mid tier.
When I bought the TV it was high end but the last 5 years has seen it left in the dust with the improvements in the LCD and plasma panels along with the huge reductions in price.
I guess the TV is still pretty good though because when I visit the new TVs on the showrooms I don't leave with TV envy.

I was first introduced to 'HiFi' while serving in the Navy way back in the late 70's / early 80's.
Its hard to remember the models but I think this is close Sansui G7500, Technics SL-1600 Mk2, Sony TCK-96R, Pioneer equalizer, Pioneer HPM-100's, and a pair of two way Cerwin Vegas.
I got to hear a lot of stereo equipment in those days and I was very well satisified with my gear.

Over the years the electronics died off one piece at a time.
The cassette deck was the first to go, I had it serviced twice but it only worked for a year after the last service and CDs were taking over by then so when it quit I could not justify the money to fix it again.
The turntable died next, but since it was only used on Halloween to play a scary LP I could not justify fixing it so it got boxed up and put in the closet with the tape deck.

Of course the foam surrounds on the Cerwin Vegas rotted along the way, I had no idea at the time that this could have been economically repaired.
The Sansui eventually developed some intermittent switches and the noise floor began to degrade.
I still liked to listen to the HiFi VCR through the remanents of the system though and the HPM 100's were hanging in there pretty well.

By now DVDs were arriving on the scene and I began to contemplate what it would take to move into that technology.
By now the Sansui was failing with the symptoms getting worse every day.
For what ever reason it seems like $300 is the sweet point for me to jump into new technology (5 disc CD changer $300, HiFi VCR $300) and it just so happened that Best Buy was advertizing a Sony DVD player with Dolby 5.1 channel output for (you guessed it) $300.

Well right about this time my wife and I were on a shopping trip to Sams Club and they had a packaged deal which consisted of a low end JVC 5.1 channel receiver and some version of the Bose Acoustimass speaker system. I think it was right around $1k. We had been discussing replacing the gear we had and we decided to get the package deal.

We got it home and hooked everything up and we were sitting there listening to it and like it was on cue we looked at each other and we both said.... I don't think it sounds all that good.
So I switched back to the Sansui and the HPM 100s and we listened and we tried to do an A/B between the systems the best we could.
After a couple of switches we connected the JVC to the Pioneers and started boxing up the Bose.
Once the Bose was boxed up we did the same to the JVC and returned it to Sams.
They didn't really like it but they gave our money back without any problems.

I liked the JVC receiver just fine and it had a remote control (very important upgrade) so we went to Fry's and the next model up was on sale for maybe $170.
I took it home and connected the HPM 100s to it and we were happy campers.
It was not to much longer until we added a DVD player with 5.1 channel analog output.
Looking back it was a mistake to get the receiver without the Dolby decoder, but at the time I did not forsee the analog outputs going away on the DVD players.

So now I had surround capability with the electronics but the only speakers I had were the HPM-100's.
I looked at all kinds of speaker systems but my love for those old speakers had caught on again once the AVR was replaced.
I ended up buying a small pair of KLH indoor/outdoor speakers to use as rear surrounds and we used the four speaker setup for several years.

As time passed I had trouble hearing the dialog so I added a cheap center channel to the mix and we used the five speaker setup for a few more years.
The DVD player started having trouble playing any disc that was less than perfect so I figured I would just replace it with a $50 unit.... well every $50 DVD player on the planet has optical output but none of them have multi-channel analog output anymore.

I didn't know that trying to replace the DVD player would be the beginning of a complete overhaul of the sound system.
Oppo had a DVD player that had analog output but it was expensive and since Blu-Ray had won the HD war and was gaining traction I could not see spending over $200 on a DVD player.
I tried out a LG-390 and it worked fine but the JVC receiver I had did not have any video capability so I was not ready to go the BR route.

I returned the BR player and started looking into AVRs.
It was impossible not to notice the speakers when auditioning AVRs but at this time I had not decided to do a complete overhaul.
I picked the Pioneer VSX-23 because the Pioneer brand seemed to have the least complaints about HDMI compatibility and it was one of if not the first 'affordable' AVRs to have a front HDMI port (for the laptop) and built in iPod support (front USB port).

Since I tend to get something and keep it until it breaks or is replaced with new technology I had no idea how far AVRs had come with the auto cal features. While the auto cal is not perfect, it is pretty close and is easy to dial in with some minor adjustments.
I now had the upgradeitus and started looking at speakers.
I figured it would not be to hard to replace the HPM-100s since they were now 30 years old.

So I started out by listening to very entry level speakers.
They really did not cut the mustard.
Fry's was having some incredible sales on the Polk RTi9 at the time and from reading reviews I had pretty much decided that I would go with them.
That just never worked out, I listened to them many times wanting to like them (because the price was certainly right) but I just didn't like them and my wife didn't like them either.
I liked the Def Tech BP 7002 pretty good and the BP 7000 better from Best Buy.

Best Buy also had Vienna Acoustics and I liked them pretty good too, but they only had towers, no centers or surrounds.
So I started looking at the home theater stores, Dallas has three that are also retail type stores; Star Power, Ed Kellum's, and Modia Home Theater.
I visted each store several times and it became clear that i was going to have to spend some money to get better speakers than what I already had.

I didn't start with a budget because I had no idea what it would take and even though I could afford to buy what I wanted I was not really prepared to spend thousands of dollars on speakers.
Of course each store was an authorized dealer for different brands with Star Power having the largest selection to choose from by a wide margin.

I bought the AVR in September and looked at speakers off and on until January.
I mostly concentrated on the front main speakers, figuring that if I got those right the matching center and surrounds would take care of themselves.
After much individual listening and dragging my brother, my wife, and my sister-in-law along at different times for sanity check and opinions the field was narrowed down to Paradigm Studio 100, B&W 804S, and Klipsch RF-83.

The Klipsch and the Paradigm were pretty close in price and the B&W was about $1k more for the two front towers.
Of course there was still three speakers to buy on top of those which pushed the B&W even higher compared to the Paradigms and the Klipsch.
Once we began to focus on the final three we judged the Klipsch and the Paradigm to be pretty close with each having its + and -.
We liked the B&W 804S the best, but to buy the whole set of speakers was going to be significantly more money.

Since we were looking at spending up to $7k we decided to take a month or so to cool down and think about it. Of course I was the only one that was thinking about it and that was pretty much all I was thinking about LOL.
While I was driving home one Friday I heard a Star Power radio spot promoting a Klipsch buy one tower get one free sale on the weekend.
I called Saturday morning and asked which speaker was on sale and they said it was the RF-83.

I made sure the boss was on board and I called the salesman I had been working with and we did the transaction on the phone.
While he was putting it in the computer I asked if he could sell me the center and the surrounds for 1/2 off too and he said let me check... a few minutes later he came back and said he could do 2 for 1 on the surrounds and knock $100 off the center. I told him that sounded good and to add it to the order.

I picked the speakers up from their warehouse and have been enjoying them for about a year.
If we had paid full MSRP we would have probably returned these and found some way to justify the price of the B&Ws, but at close to 1/2 MSRP for all five speakers there was nothing else we auditioned that could come close to these.

Right now I am considering adding a subwoofer to the system.
The RF-83's actually do very well on their own so I don't know if I need one or not.
But since I am the only one without a sub I think I need one.
I have been studying up on subs and they seem like they are sort of a pain in the neck to get setup.
Plus I see where many people talk about adjusting the volume depending on the source... music, movies, TV all needing a different volume setting.
I am not interested in doing that, I am willing to go through the setup and fiddle with it until its as good as its going to be.
But once that is done it needs to be on auto pilot and do its job along with the rest of the speakers without needing any special attention.

The whole bass null thing has me concerned.
I only have two possible locations with one being greatly preferred over the other.
If the sub goes to location 2 I am not convinced that we will not be able to locate the sub by ear.
The sub will rumble through out the house, I don't want to disturb my wife with it since she goes to bed earlier than I do.
Lots of stuff to think about in regards to a sub woofer.
I also see so many people buy a killer sub and put it in a room that is much smaller than mine and then buy a second one to even out the bass.
That just seems crazy to me, and it ain't going to happen here. If one is not enough I will revert back to none.

Well if you have slogged through the whole thread thanks for hanging in there.
Hopefully I can contribute something useful at some point.
For the time being I bid everyone g-nite.

54 Posts
bet you are tired after that post! ,,, welcome to hts

591 Posts
Well if you have slogged through the whole thread thanks for hanging in there.
I made it! :T Thanks for the writeup, I'm sure a lot of the steps along the way ring a bell to those who read it, I know they did to me. Reminds me of some of the older gear that I used to have that at the time was considered pretty high end, but which now is either long gone or gathering dust - Sansui reel-to-reel, Altec 3-way speakers, Nakamichi cassette player, Bang and Olufson turntable, ...

Premium Member
2,539 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have to confess that when I was writing the story I was making multiple posts to my own thread to get myself qualified for the sub give away.
I didn't realize that it was in poor taste to get 25 posts that way.
Thankfully the moderator combined the posts into one long one instead of deleting them because with my typing skills it was quite the effort to get it written... LOL.

That old gear was a lot of fun, many youthful memories of some very fine people and some really good parties are associated with listening to music on that old system.

6,170 Posts
Hello and Welcome to HTS.

Premium Member
3,777 Posts
Welcome to the Shack. Have fun. Dennis
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