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Discussion Starter #1
Happy holidays to all!

I finally pulled the trigger this Christmas and purchased a 50" Panasonic Plasma to replace my 14 year old 27" Panasonic CRT. I also purchased a Samsung Blu Ray, C6500 with 7.1 analogue output.

For my next "project", I'm deciding between upgrading my old AVR, a Technics SA-AX710 (does not have any decoders but comes with 5.1 analogue input) OR upgrading my home theatre speaker system - a pair of Bose 701 floor standing speakers, a Bose VCS-10 centre speaker and a Bose model 100 surround speakers. I also have a Velodyne CT-100 subwoofer. I realize some folks may not like Bose speakers but I have found them to be decent sounding to say the least. My Technics receiver and Bose speakers are as old as my old CRT. I do not plan to replace my subwoofer at this time.

My objective for upgrading is primarily to enhance the overall quality of the sound from my HTS. I use the system 90% of the time to watch movies (which is about once a week) and 20% of the time to listen to music.

I'm obviously not a serious Home Theatre enthusiast so I really don't want to spend a ton of money on this upgrade. If I go the AVR route, my budget is C$400-500, for a speaker system upgrade C$1000-1500, but will go up to C$2000 if it will make a significant difference.

If you were me, would you upgrade the AVR first, speakers, or neither? And what brand and model would you suggest?

I would appreciate your input.

Thanks!
 

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yeah ... keep your sub. I don't have the CT-100 but does appear from reputable sources, it's pretty solid performance.

I would change it all, speakers first. i recently purchased Focal 706V with matching CC 700 from Focal (I will add the 714V, to follow)

I cannot talk price on DHC .. other than MSRP, the (asking) $ 700 for the Focal 706V was the "best bang for the buck". I am of the opinion this price point offers very good value, particularly when referring to the 706V, it really is an outstanding speaker. If your in GTA region ..there is plenty of competition for sellers of these speakers.

I would describe it's trait as quite neutral, relaxed with a nicely refined mid range, very easy on my ears at high frequency (which is key for me). Bass is of very good quality and sufficient for 2 channel listening. I think many European stand mount will share similarity re: bass offering in this range (with exception of course) vs. North American speaker providers. Both are of very good quality. My point is we must factor in speaker trait and design emphasis, given the personal matter (and preference) of what one considers "good sound". IMO, the 706V are excellent build quality, not fussy ..and pleasing design; manufactured in France was also a comforting aspect re: quality ..I dunno .. something about the French intrigues me ..maybe my numerous visits to France and Quebec play a role..:p

Kidding aside, I'm not pushing Focal (Fo-call) on you, just sharing my experience. Maybe you will like (prefer) ..more up-front, brighter sounding speaker, for this ..audition brands such as Paradigm .. or Klipsch (horns).I also auditioned B&W many times (off-site) ..very good as well, obviously the nod going to Focal (for me)

Long story short, I'll quickly cue up and add that I would consider Marantz or NAD to pair with the Focals. If you go B&W .. try Denon and most certainly Rotel for pairing. There isn't any magic formula (and in the pure sense, differences are subtle or moot), yet do consider the electronics too. Than again .. it's all personal preference in most cases.
 

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For speakers, I'm so very into PSB. Have tried B&W, Klipsch, Energy, KEF and many others at the same price level, I ended up going back to PSB. Even after about 16 years of constantly looking for other brands of speakers (again, at the same price level as PSB).

For receiver, at $500, I can't recommend anything. My recommendation is to add about $200 more and you'll open up a whole slew of receiver selection with far better amplification system (MOSFET as opposed to regular transistor amps).
 

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I think you could do both!

Meaning this in the best possible way, even a low cost set of new speakers should improve your sound significantly over the Bose you have. Plus you could likely get some decent coin selling your Bose used on Kijiji. The sub is a keeper though.

For Boxing Day, I've seen some decent prices on Polk Bookshelves (RTi4 at FS) and Floorstanders (RTi10 at FS). All should provide you much better performance that what you have. Heck, lots of good used Paradigm for sale out there.

I will have to disagree with David though. At $500 there are a number of decent high current AVRs available, including the Denon 591, H/K 1600, and Pioneer 925, all available under $500.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys for your input!

David - will MOSFET AVRs produce a better/more accurate sound or is the benefit more in terms of additional power to drive your speakers? My HTS is in my family room which is about 15 feet x 15 feet with a 9' ceiling. Also, I have a basic set up and I only have a few components that I need to plug in to the AVR (blu-ray player, STB and an iPhone dock) so the additional input jacks that a high-end AVR will not be beneficial to me at this time.

I was actually at Future Shop today and auditioned their Energy, Polk and Klipsch speakers. So far, I like Klipsch and Energy, Polk sounded a bit too tinny for me (at least the models they had on the floor). Anyone know where I can audition PSB and B&W in the GTA?
 

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I personally love MOSFET is due to its warmer sound. Almost like a tube amp minus the hassles and distortion level of tube-amps.

In terms of PSB, IIRC Kennedy HiFi and 2001 sell them

Alternatively you can PM me and we set a time so you can listen to my basic PSB setup.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
David -

MOSFET sounds interesting...I'll put that on my radar and read up on that subject.

Thanks for your generous offer, I'll just visit my local 2001 store for now as I'm still in "browsing" mode.
 

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Dealer Locators:


B&W Canada and Focal

i think you should at least audition Focal (the search tool is specific, meaning you will have to specify city - vs. Toronto only (in general) to obtain all GTA sources)

PSB
 

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As an owner (or past owner) of some decent high current gear (NAD, H/K, Denon), my thoughts are that the specific differences between MOSFET and any other high current receiver with multi-channel amplification sections is a matter of preference.

Back when I bought my old H/K AVR-230, it came with 6 discrete amplification sections, weighed ~30 lbs, and sounded "warmer" than the MOSFET driven Pioneer VSX-1014. Both were robust and solid pieces of equipment, both had gobs of power through a solid power supply and good amp sections, and both sounded good. To me, the H/K sounded better.

Generally speaking, I find audio equipment is like wine. You can tell the difference between a $6 bottle and a $15 bottle, but have a harder time telling the difference between a $15 bottle and a $30 bottle.

In other words, it is the law of diminishing returns - at a certain point (and I think $500 is a good benchmark) you are getting a good AVR, period. Once you start spending more, you may be disappointed that you don't hear the jump in quality you heard going to the $500 AVR. Some of us have the budgets to chase those elusive percentage increases in sound quality (or simply need more power for their space), most of us don't, and are happy to have something good sounding. Finding equipment you like the sound of within your budget is one of the most fun parts of the audio experience "hunt".

As to the speakers you auditioned, great! I'm glad you got to listen to a few different types, though keep in mind that if you buy an AVR with full Audyssey (like the Denon or an Onkyo), you can individually EQ each speaker to suit your listening area (and tastes).

This is why I suggest that whenever possible, people purchase speakers and AVRs that are returnable so that you can hear them in your room, with your room treatment, with your AVR. Possibly you might like the Polks at home with a different brand of AVR, and with a different source. If the price fits your budget, they may be worth trying, as all it costs you is a trip back to the store if they don't work out.

David's recommendation of PSBs is a good one - if you get a chance, also try to check out some Paradigms.

Have fun on your hunt!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the advise Scooter!

I never thought of taking into consideration Audyssey/YPAO when shopping for a new AVR - definitely should put that on my checklist. Are there any other must-haves or at least "must consider" features that I should consider that is available in AVRs at the $500 price point?
 

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Just FYI that Yamaha's YPAO for sub$500 receivers don't even use parametric EQ. They used to but not anymore (hence the change of name from Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer to Yamaha "Professional" Acoustic Optimizer)
 

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I think the main features you need depend on what you want.

For me, going to a single HDMI cable to the TV was important, and that the Denon 591 will convert all analog inputs to HDMI is a nice touch. That it had full Audyssey was equally important, as was that it could handle multichannel uncompressed audio for Blu-Rays from my PS3 (40GB).

Upconverting video was not important to me, as my set also upconverts the video, and the PS3 already upconverts DVDs. That it was also HDMI 1.4 compliant was also nice, as if I decided to add a 3D TV at some point in the future, it was already compliant.

For EQ options (sorry if I misspell some of the acronyms), Yamaha has YPAO (proprietary), Pioneer has MCACC (proprietary), Harman Kardon has EZ-Set (proprietary), while Onkyo and Denon use Audyssey.

Look through the boards for these, and I think you'll see Audyssey has the strongest following. That it allows the user to set individual speaker EQs is fantastic, something that allows users to overcome any limitations created by their room or gear.

Best thing to do though is go out and listen to a lot of equipment, and pair different speaker brands with different receiver brands. This will give you a feel for what you like/don't like. And remember, if you do buy from a place that allows returns, even better as all gear sounds different in your listening room than it will at the store.
 
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