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staar
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Budget speakers in a nightmare environment

I'm tired of poor sound. Figure my first step should be to replace the terrible speakers I currently use. I listen to music primarily but do watch a lot of movies also. Everything is done through my pc hooked up to the receiver through a M-Audio AP 192. My speakers are placed pretty much right up to the wall (Within 2 feet). I listen to fast music and want good seperation of the notes. I also dont want to hear distortion when the notes get too low/high. I like the music to sound natural, without too much emphasis on the high or low end. Plus when a note stops I dont want it to resonate for an hour! My current pair sound muddled and I have a hard time making out spoken words somtimes in some movies. Considering how close my speakers are to the wall, they probably need to be front-ported. The ideal position is about 8 feet away. Any suggestions? Not looking to refinance my home, but willing to save for a while...

linden518
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Re: Budget speakers in a nightmare environment

Staar. Supposing you want to stay with monitors, I'd DEFINITELY recommend FJ Mini speakers with their wooden stands. I think they're like $1200? Or are they less? But if I was pressed to purchase a sub-$2500 monitors for myself, I'd get the FJ Minis without a doubt. Loved their sound - really good imaging... the speakers might as well not exist. The notes just hang there in the room, and the music is really warm and addictive, without being muddled. No harshness whatsoever. For such small things, they do bass surprisingly well, too.

scottgardner
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Re: Budget speakers in a nightmare environment

Welcome aboard!

Can you tell us a little more about your current system:

Speakers 2/5.1, sub
Amp/receiver
Digital or analog out on the M-Audio
movies xvid/avi/mkv/bd ... or external player
target price range to get started and where you want to be in future.

There are many different ways to go, the more you can tell us the more we can help.

jackfish
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Re: Budget speakers in a nightmare environment


Quote:
when a note stops I dont want it to resonate for an hour

This can be the room more than the speakers. Treatments are in order.
http://www.gikacoustics.com/
http://www.atsacoustics.com/
http://www.realtraps.com/

In addition, there may be other links in your audio system chain that are weak. What receiver are you using? What kind of digital files are you using? Do you use the computer CD-ROM?

There are many loudspeakers that will work well in the nearfield (8' is right on the edge) and are not particularly sensitive to placement. Price range?

The Totem Arro takes up no more room than bookshelf speakers on stands and is well regarded (Diana Krall owns them).

smejias
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Re: Budget speakers in a nightmare environment


Quote:
The Totem Arro takes up no more room than bookshelf speakers on stands and is well regarded (Diana Krall owns them).

Yes. The Arro actually takes up less space than most standmounted speakers. I use them, too.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Budget speakers in a nightmare environment

IMO, the first and least expensive thing to do is address speaker placement with a serious set up program in mind. This cannot turn inferior speakers into state of the art masters or change a terrible room environment into a custom built studio, but you shouldn't begin thinking about new components or speakers until you have achieved maximum potential from what you already own.

If you do not have your present speakers mounted on proper stands, you will experience many of the problems you hint at in your post. Set up is all important in speakers. Buying new speakers and placing them incorrectly will still result in the same poor sound quality issues, the issues will simply be shifted around to how the new speakers mate with the old placement. In all cases you are hearing the speakers reacting to the room and therefore you are really listening to the room more than your speakers. Placement of the speakers within the environment of the room smooths out the most egregious errors caused by the confines of the space they occupy. Bass lumps and midrange muddiness can be minimized and clarity of sound and space can be achieved with good placement. Properly set up your system before you give up on it.

Read these set up suggestions to get an idea of how to achieve the best results;

http://www.stereophile.com/reference/1008speaks/

http://www.tnt-audio.com/casse/waspe.html

http://www.tweekgeek.com/_e/page/1037/SpeakerPlacement.htm

http://www.sensusaudio.com/loudspeakersetup.html

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/speakerplacement.html

http://www.messaggeri.it/xaltoparlanti.htm

I would begin with the WASP set up program since it is the least intrusive into most living environments and offers a simple approach to good sound. It's based on the sound of the human voice, something we are all familiar with, so no test tones or complicated measurements are required to begin, just attention to detail and some patience.

All rooms meant for use as a living environment have, by design, problems with sound quality. Room dimensions favor some frequencies over others and reflections swamp the direct sound of the speakers. Some frequencies are boosted while others will be attenuated by the typical living room accessories. Unless you have a dedicated listening room you must deal with these facts before you can extract real music from your components. Room treatments will achieve quite a bit of improvement in these areas if you are working with a well thought out plan of attack. However, room treatments will not make up for poor speaker placement. So the order of thinking flows from placement and set up issues, then to room treatments and finally to new components/speakers.

Start with placement of the speakers and then proceed to address any set up issues with your present equipment. This attention to how your components are placed and set up should be done before you decide to spend money on component or speaker upgrades. Minimizing resonances in support shelves or damping a CD player's chassis are important parts of how to get the most from what you have already spent.

After you are satisfied you have pulled everything from your system that is there to be had, then you should make notes of what is still lacking and what you still require in terms of sound quality. That's when you can think about new purchases.

Buddha
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Re: Budget speakers in a nightmare environment

Great post, Jan!

I'll just sit back and add, "What Jan said!"

scottgardner
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Re: Budget speakers in a nightmare environment


Quote:
Great post, Jan!

I'll just sit back and add, "What Jan said!"


ditto

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