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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

Evening guys. Just thought I'd post a follow up to my initial post. Wow, sure feels like I've grown a lot over the past month. First off, how naive to think $10-12k was a big outlay. Despite being more than the value of my current vehicle, I'm learning this is really chump change in the world of home theater. I could see how this could become a very expensive hobby!

So I've spent the last few weekends visiting showrooms, talking to dealers, and reading, reading, reading. Here's a quick update.

For projectors, I demoed the Epson 6010, Sony HW30 and JVC RS45. I really liked the brightness of the Epson, but I'm a video game dork and there was just a bit too much lag. In the end, Sony beat out the JVC due to the better 3D image. Wasn't a big win, but in the end, a choice had to be made.

In the meantime, I was inspired by ALMFamily's journey and have been busy on a speaker quest of my own. This is in listening order, and please forgive the lack of lingo, I'm still learning.

• Triad Bronze – nice sound, great clarity, but missing power. Just wasn't blown away. Had high expectations, but honestly, felt a little let down. Probably for the best, because would have been ruled out anyway due to the inaccessibility of wall cavities in our room.

• B&W CM8/CM-Centre – happened past a Modia on the way home from the Triad demo. Wow. I know there's strong sentiment about B&W being inaccurate on the forum, but these speakers made me smile. I can't explain it, the music just sounded alive.

• Paradigm Studio 100/CC-690 – I wanted to love these. Even brought the wife, because everything I read made me think these would be 'the one'. Don't get me wrong – amazing, powerful sound. Just sounded shrill to me, the highs almost made me wince. This was in a well-setup showroom with lots of power.

• B&W CM9/CM-Centre 2 – this was at a different Modia, near the Paradigm demo. Wanted to re-listen to the CM8's, but that room was busy so we tried the CM9's. In a way, I hoped my first listen was just over-excitement, but I was equally impressed with the CM9's ... as was my wife. I've read all the bad press, so maybe I'm tone deaf. All I know is I really like the B&W line.

• Focal 826V – put these on the list after reading a recommendation by Jungle Jack. These are REALLY impressive speakers. The dynamics were incredible and the sound … well, the only word that comes to mind is beautiful. And I couldn't believe the price. About half that of the CM9 or Studio 100.

• PSB Synchrony 2 & Jamo C607 – these were both setup at the same showroom as the Focals. The PSB's were nice and seemed to handle lower tones a tad better than the Focals, but the Focals just had an overall better sound – again, at almost half the price. The Jamo, well, there really just wasn't a comparison in A/B against either the PSB or Focal. But definitely at a lower price point and, for the money, would have been a contender.

So at the moment, I'm leaning towards either the B&W CM8 or Focal 826V. I really enjoyed the B&W's, but to be honest, I'm hesitant due to some of the negative forum feeback.

There's another showroom in the vicinity with a Paradigm setup, though a good drive away. I'm debating giving them another shot in a different environment. Like I said, I really *wanted* to love them.

With all this speaker talk, I've been curious – is just a receiver enough to power speakers of this quality? I've read the Studio 100's are very power hungry – what about the CM8 or 826V? Jungle Jack made recommendation in my first post to the Onkyo TX-NR809, which is rated at 135 watts per channel. Is that enough? I certainly don't want to spend this kind of money and then damage the speakers by not having them powered well. And since I'm already blowing the budget, the need for an external amp may limit my choices...

I'll keep you guys posted once I decide to pull the trigger.
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

Evening guys. Just thought I'd post a follow up to my initial post. Wow, sure feels like I've grown a lot over the past month. First off, how naive to think $10-12k was a big outlay. Despite being more than the value of my current vehicle, I'm learning this is really chump change in the world of home theater. I could see how this could become a very expensive hobby!

So I've spent the last few weekends visiting showrooms, talking to dealers, and reading, reading, reading. Here's a quick update.

For projectors, I demoed the Epson 6010, Sony HW30 and JVC RS45. I really liked the brightness of the Epson, but I'm a video game dork and there was just a bit too much lag. In the end, Sony beat out the JVC due to the better 3D image. Wasn't a big win, but in the end, a choice had to be made.

In the meantime, I was inspired by ALMFamily's journey and have been busy on a speaker quest of my own. This is in listening order, and please forgive the lack of lingo, I'm still learning.

• Triad Bronze – nice sound, great clarity, but missing power. Just wasn't blown away. Had high expectations, but honestly, felt a little let down. Probably for the best, because would have been ruled out anyway due to the inaccessibility of wall cavities in our room.

• B&W CM8/CM-Centre – happened past a Modia on the way home from the Triad demo. Wow. I know there's strong sentiment about B&W being inaccurate on the forum, but these speakers made me smile. I can't explain it, the music just sounded alive.

• Paradigm Studio 100/CC-690 – I wanted to love these. Even brought the wife, because everything I read made me think these would be 'the one'. Don't get me wrong – amazing, powerful sound. Just sounded shrill to me, the highs almost made me wince. This was in a well-setup showroom with lots of power.

• B&W CM9/CM-Centre 2 – this was at a different Modia, near the Paradigm demo. Wanted to re-listen to the CM8's, but that room was busy so we tried the CM9's. In a way, I hoped my first listen was just over-excitement, but I was equally impressed with the CM9's ... as was my wife. I've read all the bad press, so maybe I'm tone deaf. All I know is I really like the B&W line.

• Focal 826V – put these on the list after reading a recommendation by Jungle Jack. These are REALLY impressive speakers. The dynamics were incredible and the sound … well, the only word that comes to mind is beautiful. And I couldn't believe the price. About half that of the CM9 or Studio 100.

• PSB Synchrony 2 & Jamo C607 – these were both setup at the same showroom as the Focals. The PSB's were nice and seemed to handle lower tones a tad better than the Focals, but the Focals just had an overall better sound – again, at almost half the price. The Jamo, well, there really just wasn't a comparison in A/B against either the PSB or Focal. But definitely at a lower price point and, for the money, would have been a contender.

So at the moment, I'm leaning towards either the B&W CM8 or Focal 826V. I really enjoyed the B&W's, but to be honest, I'm hesitant due to some of the negative forum feeback.

There's another showroom in the vicinity with a Paradigm setup, though a good drive away. I'm debating giving them another shot in a different environment. Like I said, I really *wanted* to love them.

With all this speaker talk, I've been curious – is just a receiver enough to power speakers of this quality? I've read the Studio 100's are very power hungry – what about the CM8 or 826V? Jungle Jack made recommendation in my first post to the Onkyo TX-NR809, which is rated at 135 watts per channel. Is that enough? I certainly don't want to spend this kind of money and then damage the speakers by not having them powered well. And since I'm already blowing the budget, the need for an external amp may limit my choices...

I'll keep you guys posted once I decide to pull the trigger.
Hello,
It truly warms my heart to read about your journey. Where have you come across "negative forum feedback" in regards to the B&W's? It is just I cannot honestly remember one truly negative comment about B&W's here.

While I personally love the sound of Focal's Inverted Dome Tweeter, I realize that others might not. I would also audition Dynaudio if they are in your neck of the woods. They make a fantastic Active Monitor that was Reviewed by HTS. Please do check out the Reviews Subforum for it. Also, you definitely would not need an Outboard Amplifier with Active Monitors.
Cheers,
JJ
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

And I do think an 809 can drive the 826v's, and the CM8's. I could not agree more about the Studio 100 sounding its best with lots of power/current. I used an Aragon 8008bb to drive the Front Pair of 100 V2's and my HCA-2205AT to drive the Studio CC and Studio 100 V2 Surrounds. I think they sound best with at least 250-300 Watts. Granted, this was the V2 which actually weighs more than the Paradigm Statement Flagship and at least 20 lbs more than the current Studio 100's.

I mention this as it uses a more heavily dampened Cabinet. That being said this was the Series which won The Perfect Vision 5.1 Speakers of the Year and also garnered an excellent Review in Stereophile. I still think the V2's are the best Paradigm Studios ever built and often regret selling them. I actually sold them to my friend who also purchased my Onkyo TX-SR875. Come to that, I was shocked at just how well the 875 drove the 100s. I also sold him a single Marantz MA700 which he uses to power the Studio CC. The AVR had never had Speaker Cables connected to its Binding Post and the Studio 100's had never been driven by an AVR for a nanosecond prior to me setting the HT up.
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

I would not go so far as to say $10k - $12K is chump change, but it does go very quickly when you start spending it in $1k here $3k there chunks :gulp:
The other forum dogs B&W speakers much more than this one does, I like them OK but at the CM series price point to my ear the Paradigm Monitor 11 speakers sound better and the Studio 100 speakers are even better; but again that sound appeals to me.
The CM series speakers sound good, but I really like the B&W speakers once you get up to the 800 Series, they are just a different animal compared to the CM series, of course they are a much more expensive animal too.
I think you should buy what pleases you and your wife, you are the ones that will be living with them.
You have certainly auditioned some nice speakers so the ones you choose should give you many years of pleasure.
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

Let me impart some wisdom from my own journey. Nothing can make a expensive speaker sound worse then the space in which it sits. Leave some room in the budget to treat the room. I spent years thinking that my definitive technology setup was overly bright for theater till I treated the room. Also keep in mind that each of these speakers will sound different in your room compared to where you heard them previously. All of the choices are good choices and would sound wonderful in 2 channel. But will all be under utilized in theater assuming your going to crossover to subs
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

Indeed. Bob Ludwig did a great Interview on I think Stereophile where he advocated quality Headphones over top notch gear when placed in a suboptimal room. For those not familiar, Bob Ludwig owns Gateway Mastering in Maine and is a legend. He Masters and does Remastering on the best of the best albums. He owns Speakers and Amplifiers in addition to other gear that most of us can only dream about.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

True, the B&W bashing does tend to come from another forum. Mostly I have read them as being 'too warm' and 'not accurate'. To be honest, I'm not even sure I understand how to gauge speaker accuracy or what impact inaccurate sound has in a home theater environment? That said, probably should have said 'critical' feedback instead of 'negative' - which is of course is both insightful and appreciated. Certainly didn't mean to offend.

Probably also should have mentioned we aren't considering the Studio 100s, but rather the 60s. Just no showrooms in driving distance to demo the 60s. Is the power efficiency on these any better?

Ansat, thanks for your insight on treatments. I'm learning along this journey as I go, but would have guessed treatments were more to tame bass. This was the first I'd considered they'd do the same for highs ... something else to read up on! ;) The room will probably be used 90+% for movie viewing, with at least 3.1 configuration. Maybe the sets I'm looking at are overkill? Just trying to avoid buyers remorse, even if it means going a bit over budget.
 

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It is not taming the lows and highs that should be of concern but the how long the sound is lingering in the room.
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

True, the B&W bashing does tend to come from another forum. Mostly I have read them as being 'too warm' and 'not accurate'. To be honest, I'm not even sure I understand how to gauge speaker accuracy or what impact inaccurate sound has in a home theater environment? That said, probably should have said 'critical' feedback instead of 'negative' - which is of course is both insightful and appreciated. Certainly didn't mean to offend.

Probably also should have mentioned we aren't considering the Studio 100s, but rather the 60s. Just no showrooms in driving distance to demo the 60s. Is the power efficiency on these any better?

Ansat, thanks for your insight on treatments. I'm learning along this journey as I go, but would have guessed treatments were more to tame bass. This was the first I'd considered they'd do the same for highs ... something else to read up on! ;) The room will probably be used 90+% for movie viewing, with at least 3.1 configuration. Maybe the sets I'm looking at are overkill? Just trying to avoid buyers remorse, even if it means going a bit over budget.
The 60's should be a smidge easier to drive. Given how skewed towards HT your listening is going to be, I would seriously consider at least auditioning the Klipsch Reference Series. They are ridiculously efficient. They can achieve Reference Levels with a handful of Watts which means no need for an Outboard Amplifier or even concerns about how close to the specifications an AVR is. This would allow you to focus almost solely on reliability and features. While some find Horns to be too upfront, I think they sound outstanding in HT. While I still prefer Focals, I do listen to a decent amount of Music.
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

Also Check golden ear and deftech. With almost all theater and gaming. As long as you have a good sub or two you could even get away with 7 really good monitors.
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

Very interesting read and impressive observations cinco :T

Ive found that outboard amps give my speakers more grunt and theyre more snappy. This has applied to any speaker Ive owned even if they werent considered hard to drive. The improvement applies especially in bottom end and especially for increased music performance. As a personal example, I adore the experience of multi-channel music with my 60 pound Sherwood receiver but I know for a fact that it would never be the same experience without the dedicated 90 pound Emotiva amp providing the power for that experience. That having been said would I get a lesser speaker, that I didnt love as much, so I could afford an external amp? Absolutely not! Get the speakers you like and if budget permits thereafter I highly recommend you at least try an amp.

Again, great observations and thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

Okay, so I gave in to temptation and made my way to the 2nd dealer with the Paradigm setup. While he was setting things up, he had me keep entertained by listening to a pair of Sonus Toy Towers. I've got to admit, had never heard of this brand before and was completely taken by surprise. For the first time, I experienced imagining to the point where I swore there was a center channel playing during the 2-ch demo - even with my eyes open. The sound was incredibly detailed and clear. It was actually pretty amazing.

Next he did A/B with the Studio 100s against the PSB Imagines. Again, I found the Studio's bright, and this was in a room with heavy treatments. Still, I preferred the Studio's to the Imagines, which I found a bit quiet on the highs and a bit boomy on the lows. So next, we did an A/B with the Studio's vs the Toys. The Toys easily won out, and I was surprised at how being such a small speaker, seemed to fill the room better than the Studio's. I could really see myself exploring my CD collection with these more than I expected with this project.

So great speakers, but to be honest, sounded kind of soft and I'm looking for 90+% HT, right? I voiced this concern, so the dealer dragged all four speakers (mind you, those Studios look heavy!) to the 'theater room'. So the Studio 100s/CC-590 were setup head-to-head against the SF Toy Towers/Center. Looked like David vs Goliath.

Same equipment, same Paradigm sub and surrounds. We watched his scene from Tron and mine from Transformers 3. I was amazed at how powerful these little suckers are! Not to mention the panning and detail beat the Paradigm's hands down. Definitely needs a sub, but that's in the budget anyway.

So, I was hooked. I'm in the process of working up pricing on the Toy Towers/Center and looking for some insight into matching components. Trying to get away with not buying an amp out of the gate, so the dealer recommened either the NAD T-777 or Arcam AVR-360. For surround matches, dealer suggested to go with PSB CW260 since SF doesn't make matching in-wall speakers for the Toy line. Sub recommendation is Paradigm Seismic 110 - the dealer also carries REL, but Paradigm was suggested to bring some more power to the sound.

So I'm curious, why haven't I heard of this brand? I can't find a whole lot in the way of reviews or feedback. Also, any insight on matching equipment, surrounds and sub? This dealer was by far the most impressive I've worked with yet, so I'm tending to trust his input.

In the meantime, I found out the spouse of a co-worker does alarm installs and has a dealer account with a local electronics distributor. He gave me a quote on my Sony HW30 and mounting hardware that about blew me away. The reason I bring this up, is because I can get similar deals on other equipment he has access to, but at this point, I'm getting worn out and just want to install my HT already! :)

Still, should I consider any of the following:
Towers: Energy, Jamo, Polk
Subs: Energy, Jamo, Proficient, Polk, Sunfire, Velodyne
Screens: Screen Innovations, Vutec
(Screen is still my biggest unknown. For whatever reason, really nervous going to make the wrong choice here. The dealer above recommended Stewart Studio Tec 130 G3.)

You guys have been great, and I just wanted to say thanks for all the feedback and support.
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

Sonus Faber has been around for a long time, they are not a mass market type speaker, and they can be very expensive if you go up the food chain just a little bit.
Go with the speakers you love and don't look back, if it is the Toy Towers I see nothing wrong with that decision.
I would probably go with a mainstream AVR and if you want to spend a chunk on it something like a Dennon 4311 is very well regarded.
For sub woofers I would go with one of the well established internet direct manufacturers Hsu, SVS, Rythmik all have solid track records and compared to any store brand the performance for the dollar is unmatched. CHT looks like a good up and comer but still a new kid on the block.
 

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Re: Big Outlay Planned - Lessons Learned

Today I heard Sonus Faber speakers for the first time, I listened to the Cermonia M towers and the Auditor M monitors and I am very impressed.
The sound was very detailed and clear but not harsh at all, and the bass was very substantial.
Very nice sounding speakers and absolutely beautiful to look at.
Anyone in the Dallas TX area should stop by (get ready for this) the Best Buy at Park Ln and 75.
I don't know how long the Magnolia Store been there but they have a real Magnolia Store that is leasing space inside the Best Buy.
The gear they have is not the same as that you will find in the rest of the Best Buys in the area and the staff in this section of the store are not the typical crew you are accustomed to at BB.
Really nice and knowledgeable, real laid back (not pushing a sale) and they like to demo their gear.
 
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