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bierfeldt
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$3000 to $4000 to spend on speakers for a 7.1 system

I am finally upgrading my system after many years. I have an old Carver system with Infinity Kappa 8.1 and Infinity Reference Center and Rear speakers.

I am moving to a Marantz AV7005 and am going to power the system with an MM8003. If I need to, I can add another 2 channel amp for bi-amping purposes, but would prefer not to if I don't have to.

The Infinity's are way great but are not very efficient and must go. I have read reviews on and have settled into three lines that I want to seriosuly audition.

Klipsch Reference, Polk RFi and B&W 600's. I can put together a system that is between $3000 to $4000 with any of them but I know each has there positives and negatives.

The Klipsch line is supposed to sound terrible until it has had a good 20 hours of play time. They are very efficient but can be a bit harsh.

The Polks are inneficient relatively speaking but I have plenty of power. They generally get poorer reviews for music but great reviews for theatre.

The B&W line gets mixed reviews. I see one mag will give it an award and another will pan it. The center channel in particular is just given awful reviews but then I see that it is being powered with a mediocre receiver.

Thus, the net question is what are your thoughts on these three lines with the Marantz equipment? Additionally, are there other lines that I should consider where I can get all 7 speakers and a sub for under $4000 and won't be over/under powered with that Marantz 140 Watt Amp.

Thanks in advance.

bierfeldt
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Other Notes

This is a basement environment with 7 foot drop cielings and a total listening space of 12 x 20, the total room including the stairs is ~20x20. The sofa will be placed off the wall to properly set up for True HD sound and I intend to listen to music in a 2.1 environment. The 7.1 is only for movies.

I like the Infinity's that I have, with one exception. The Kappa's always sounded a bit.....tinny, save for a better term. The Reference series balanced that nicely for movies but listening to high pitches on the Kappa's always bothered me a little, particularly at that price point.

Drtrey3
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Polks

have always sounded great to me. But then so do the B&W. I get a lot of joy from my 7.1 set up that has less expensive speakers and amp, so whichever way you go, I bet you will love it!

Trey

tmsorosk
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2 channel

bier ... How much of the time will you be listening in 2 channel mode , and how important is that aspect . Tim

bierfeldt
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2 channel

Probably 50% of the time. The 7.1 is for movies where stuff blows up. Otherwise, this will be a music system and audio seems to sound better through two speaker.

greenelec
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 I would suggest looking at

 I would suggest looking at the Outlaw Audio web site to anyone setting up a new system. I have two of their M-2200 mono blocks and am very happy using them in my system. A great value. 

bierfeldt
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I have been shopping and have made a choice

I have been out to 4 stores.  I read up on everything I could find that would keep me in my price range and the local dealers I put together a list of speakers I wanted to hear.  I will also admit based on the reviews and the prices, I was predisposed to Polk.  I have a boxed set of Polk satelites and a sub in my family room that I vultured from Circuit City when they were going under and for the $300 I spent on them, I am extremely pleased. 

My plan was to hear the following:

B&W 600 and CM, Martin Logan, Mirage, Def Tech and Energy which were all available at my local Best Buy. 

I have another dealer that has Def Tech, Mirage, Boston Acoustics and several other brand I can not afford.

A final dealer that had Polk, KEF Sunfire. 

I could not find a local dealer that has the Klipsch Reference series and suffice it to say, the line that Best Buy has on display was not in the same price and range and did not hold up against the other speakers.

The reference was my old Infinity Kappa 8.1s.  I have them set up with my old Carver Processor and they are bi-amped throgh the new Marantz amp.  They have never sounded so good.  The accoustics in the basement are remarkably good and it is a larger space so the sofa is further way.  They offer some flexibility with adjustments for the Midrange and Tweeter but no matter what I did, my wife still could not listen to a few things on them so they have to go. 

I forced her to sit through a bunch of CD's though so we could set a good baseline.  The key being that if we could not get a speaker that is better, than we would need to discuss altering the budget and delaying the timeline.  Journey's Only the Young became the screening song.  On the Infinity's she wanted to take an ice pick to her ears so this was the first thing we played.  If she could not listen to it, no point going further. 

I then put together a list of other songs that I liked and would test the performance.  Shaking the Tree from Peter Gabriel.  Paula Cole is the female voice on the live version.  Next was Miles Davis - So What, Dire Straits - So Far Away, Trans-Siberian Orchesta - Chrsitmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24, The First Two Tracks of the Harry Potter Soundtrack which is the very distinct music from the movies along with the string section, and finally Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills. 

The thinking was to take a broad cross section of music we like.  Some being subtle requiring perfection like Miles Davis and other with a lot of depth like the Harry Potter soundtrack and then big sounds like Iron Maiden and TSO.

Best Buy was the first stop.  I knew that my wife ws likely to like the Martin Logans and B&Ws the best so I asked to save those for last.  I insisted that we listen to each speaker with and without the subwoofer largely due to the fact that the best subwoofer they had to offer disapointed.  We both like something more musical and even the Def Tech and B&W subs were very boomy.  Also, we had them power everything with a 140 watt Denon Receiver and we se the volume based on the first set and did not adjust to illustrate the relative levels of efficiency. 

We did not make it past the screener song, Journey - Only the Young with any of them except the B&W CM series.  The Energy's were very bright and raspy.  The Mirage speakers need a very specific room to sound good and the showroom at Best Buy ain't it.  The Martin Logans were flat.  It fealt like the sound was compressed between 150hz and 3000khz.  No highs or lows.

The exception in this group was the Def Tech's.  They sounded every bit as good as my Kappas.  It was just a tinge of tinnyness in the highs that made us not go further.  They are an outstanding speaker and I should add that we did not use a sub with them since they have a powered woofer built in.  I think they are an outstanding value at $2000 (given they include a built in sub) a pair and if my wife wasn't so sensitive to the high pitches this would have been a very strong contender. 

We then got to the B&Ws.  The 684s sounded flat and unimpressive.  The 683s sounded better but you heard the tinnyness in the high's.  Literally thought we were going to strike out and that I was not going to fine a better speaker than the Kappa's.  I had them put on the CM8's prefacing to my wife that we can't afford them at $3000 a pair.  All I can say is wow!  What a speaker.  As close to perfection as I have heard out of a speaker other than the stuff I really can't afford.  I asked them to put on the CM1s.  The Mid range got washed out but the CM5's were unbelievable.  At $1500 a pair, this is an exceptional speaker.  We put the 5's and the 8's through each song and everything sounded exceptional.  Miles Davis was perfect and warm. Not a touch of tinnyness in Steve Perry's voice.  Paula Coles voice was clean and clear.  Sarajevo 12/24 had the big, full sound you would expect.  We walked out and my wife asked why we needed to go to another store.  I informed her that we would like be $850 over budget with the B&Ws, her response was "worth it."

I agreed with her but was having fun so I dragged her to the next store.  We listened to the Def Techs again and they sounded great.  This time through Marantz equipment.  The Mirage's sounded much better in the second store.  I can only say, don't judge them based on your experience in Best Buy.  They are a great speaker but need to be set up correctly.  The innitial experience ruined them for us.  Lingering thoughts of what if I can't set them up correctly prevented me from considering them seriously.  The Boston Accoustics sounded good.  We put them through the other songs but were no comparison to B&Ws. 

My wife was annoyed that I was dragging her to a third store but I reminded her that this was the Polk dealer and that these will be almost $2000 less than the B&Ws and the reviews are great.  She agreed that was significant.  Also, this is the Sunfire dealer.  I have always like Bob Carvers stuff and wanted to hear his subs.  The reviews indicate that he has more musical subs and pointed out this would be more appealing to her.  The rep took us in and set us up with the RTi A5's and the DSW Pro 660 Sub.  I was thinking this was going to be exceptional.  We did not make it past the screener song.  They were very bright and the sub was awful.  Very boomy We switched to the A7's and then the A3's.  No good.  You could hear the speaker coloring the sound.  He switched equipment and ran them through a simple Onkyo receiver and they sounded much better.  They got warmer and clearer.  Not like the B&Ws, but more in line with our expectations.  His opinion was that the LSi line is better with higher end equipment and would be a better choice for what we were looking to do.  They did not have it available though.  Turns out my hunch was wrong.

We decided to listen to the KEFs next.  We also switched to the Sunfire HRS 8 Sub.  This was what we were looking for.  It just blended with the mids and highs of the speaker.  Much better.  My wife literally said, "This is the first sub that doesn't sound like we pimped our car."  The KEFs were not what we were looking for though.  Our rep suggested that since we loved the sub, we should listen to the HRS speakers and we had the same reaction as to the B&Ws.  Wow!  Journey sounded perfect without a tinge to tinnyness.  Next onto Miles Davis.  Clear and crisp.  Very warm.  Paula Cole sounded great in Shaking the Tree.  Really, really good.  Probably not as good as the B&Ws though.  Sa Far Away sounded great, not quite as good as the B&Ws but really, really good.  Next we went to the Harry Potter sound track.  My wife literally go chills listening to the second track.  Strings sound better and warmer.  Next TSO.  A big sound sounded even bigger and deeper than it did on the B&Ws.  Run to the Hills sound great.  Bruce Dickinson's voice lost a bit of its raspiness.  Wow. 

We then asked how much they were.  $4250 list price with all 7 speakers and the subwoofer.  $3600 if we buy as a package.  That is $1250 less than the B&Ws.    I asked my wife on a scale of 1 to 100 where does she put the B&Ws.  She said 100.  I said 90 but have more points of comparison.  I asked where she put the Sunfires.  She said 98, I said 89.  We are getting the Sunfire's.  No question.  Similar quality and sound production to the B&Ws.  It was a toss up which sounded better and when we considered where the Sunfires sounded better (the sound tracks and big production music) we fealt even better about the choice since it is going to be used heavily as a theatre system. 

A couple other things:

The calculated price for the B&Ws of $4850 assume a Sunfire HRS 12 sub.  At a 1000w, it can rattle the house if you want it to but if you are looking for a clean, clear, musical sub it is the best I listened to for under $1000. 

Speakers are such a personal and subjective thing that you can't take anyone elses advice.  You gotta go listen to them and make sure you are using the same or atleast very similar equipment to what you are going to be using at home.  I did this backwards and picked my amp and processor before I chose my speakers.  I should have done it the other way around. 

My wife was honestly amazed at the differences.  She assumed that if you spend $3000 to $4000 on speakers, the differences would be subtle and that a normal listener would not be able to hear the difference.  She was astonished that these difference were not subtle at all and could not beleive that she hated speakers that $3000 a pair. 

The only other thing I can say is have fun with it. I have learned so much in the past month as has my wife and we are both excited about this and are looking forward to years of enjoying the Sunfires and Marantz hardware. 

Drtrey3
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Congrats

on your purchase! I hope you enjoy it for decades.

 

Trey

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