Introduction and possible directions

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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
Hi all, gotta introduce myself first.

I got into high grade audio when I worked as a broadcast engineer. Playing with studio grade equipment kind of spoiled me. However moving on into the world of chemistry (I have a PhD in the field), I went out and bought myself some initial goodies. As I was advised and heard demonstrated, I went out and got the following for my living room surround sound (first in my experience) system. To start with the base it is a Yamaha RX-v663 receiver. Paired for the front left and right speakers are a pair of rebuilt Sansui speakers with matched replaced tweeters and midrange speakers and a custom on the cheap crossover. These speakers are good, and when you are a grad student on a severely crimped budget they actually sound pretty good. But the speakers actually purchased with the Yamaha receiver, are the following and are all Paradigm. Mini Monitors v5, cc-190v5, adp-190v5, and a dsp-3100.

I do have a second system, 2.1 stereo on my computer. This comprises a Sprout 100, a Pinnacle 100 subwoofer, and a pair of Martin Logan LX-16 speakers. This second system has served me well. I am not looking to upgrade this.

Now, I am cleaning my abode and am assessing and fixing and figuring out what I want to keep, what should go, and what needs to be tossed. In this mix, the system in my living room I assessed and did some reconfiguring to bring out of it's coma which is the 7.1 surround sound Yamaha receiver system. For what they are, every speaker I have all sound as good as the day I bought them (don't ask what I bought the Sansui's for). But looking into the future, I am considering a few upgrades to head to 4K capability. To that end I did go visit a local retailer that had an Arcam 20 and an Anthem MRX 720 both on demonstration (was advised the MRX 740 would be out by the end of the year and wait for that). I like the Anthem 720 for its room correction. The Arcam even though paired with better speakers did not have the same "presence" that the Anthem MRX 720 had. Both receivers should be a distinct improvement over the Yamaha RX-V663 receiver. However for the moment the Yamaha is what I am using. If I upgrade to the MRX 740, is there any thought for or against?

On the speaker side, I liked the ideal of the Paradigm Premier 800F that I heard demonstrated. There are better speakers out there, but for the price to performance the upgrade from the Sansui speakers would be a definite change. Currently the Sansui speakers are my front left and right. I do have a question about the new Paradigm Premier 800F speakers, would they pair well with the v5 speakers mentioned above? And would the Premier work with the current receiver or should I upgrade that also? Also, the cc-190 v5 is a bit thin for performance. Is there any good recommendations?

But with the current state of affairs, I could always stick with the current stuff I have. I did fire up the current speakers, and for what they are, with the current hardware I am using, running the speakers back in after years of not even being turned on, I can definitely attest the current system sounds amazingly good. I am not looking to upgrade unnecessarily, but I am also keeping an eye out on the future. 4K IMHO is not yet fully in front of us, but the FCC has reallocated the TV OTA spectrum for 4K broadcasting. Also interestingly Netflix and AppleTV also have 4K services. But all my stuff is either CD's or are standard blu-ray DVD's in 1080p. My current equipment can handle that now. I don't have to upgrade, and what I have now works well. My biggest complaint is the complexity and difficulty of programming correctly the Yamaha receiver. Given that, since it already paid for, I can use what I have now. Is there any thoughts?
 
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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
I do have a local line on a Paradigm Studio CC v2 center speaker for $120. Don't know if it is worth it. Considering an upgrade of the current cc190 to a Prestige 55c for the center, but it is pricey. Any thoughts?
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
I do have a local line on a Paradigm Studio CC v2 center speaker for $120. Don't know if it is worth it. Considering an upgrade of the current cc190 to a Prestige 55c for the center, but it is pricey. Any thoughts?
You need to see the measurements on that Sprout 100! That is a "lifestyle amp", NOT a "hi-fi amp" by any stretch!

I hate to rain on your parade, but those Sansui that have been rebuilt are also very suspect speakers! Maybe OK for the garage, but likely no place for those as living room mains.

With that being said, you seem to be happy with what you have, so why the doubts?

I can tell you, most of us on here are gonna be upgrade enablers ;) Have no doubts, we will help you spend your $! And, you will be happy with the results.

I may have missed it, do you have any dedicated sub-woofers? That is likely gonna be a good bang-for-buck upgrade if you do not.

 
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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
You need to see the measurements on that Sprout 100! That is a "lifestyle amp", NOT a "hi-fi amp" by any stretch!

I hate to rain on your parade, but those Sansui that have been rebuilt are also very suspect speakers! Maybe OK for the garage, but likely no place for those as living room mains.

With that being said, you seem to be happy with what you have, so why the doubts?

I can tell you, most of us on here are gonna be upgrade enablers ;) Have no doubts, we will help you spend your $! And, you will be happy with the results.

I may have missed it, do you have any dedicated sub-woofers? That is likely gonna be a good bang-for-buck upgrade if you do not.

I have 2 subwoofers actually, on the computer system I have the Pinnacle 100, and on the living room surround sound the DSP 3100. The Sansui speakers are when you are living hand to mouth as a graduate student on a stipend, I got pretty good value for the money at the time. But that was circa 1997?, or was it 1998. They work but I was not really in a position to do anything until now on the upgrade. Please note, the 2.1 system used for my computer is a vast upgrade over the cheap computer speakers.......and is definitely NOT used for guests......It is something cheaper and used to give good sound when I am working! The Sprout 100 is for that setup and is not intended for full HiFi surround sound use!

Oh, it is always easier to spend someone else's money, and the Sprout 100 replaced a TEAC AH-01 that I began to notice failure on! The Sprout 100 fits on my computer desk where an Anthem MRX-720 would be way overkill for what I need done with my PC.
 
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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
My biggest complaint is the complexity and difficulty of programming correctly the Yamaha receiver. Given that, since it already paid for, I can use what I have now. Is there any thoughts?
That avr isn't any more difficult to deal with than most, what's so difficult?
 
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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
That avr isn't any more difficult to deal with than most, what's so difficult?
The manual, anything I have tried has required multiple fingers on various pages as nothing is explained well. IMHO the receiver tries to be the Swiss army knife and I tend to be more of a KISS type. Which is why I have a hairy eyeball on the MRX 740 ( not yet out) from Anthem.
 
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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
The Paradigm Premier towers and center speakers are very good! Definitely go for those. I would skip the deal on the old Paradigm stuff, it isn't likely to be anywhere near as good. Spend the money, get the Premier set.
 
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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
The Paradigm Premier towers and center speakers are very good! Definitely go for those. I would skip the deal on the old Paradigm stuff, it isn't likely to be anywhere near as good. Spend the money, get the Premier set.
I am going to get the 800F Premier series pair and Prestige 45C for the center. I will keep the pair of Mini Monitor v5, the ADP-190, and the DSP-3100 for the subwoofer in place. I think that will be a very good upgrade. Oh, that will mean in the very near future that a CC-190 v5 would be available......
 
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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
To be honest, even though the Prestige center is more expensive, I would be surprised if it were better than the Premier center. I would just go with the Premier center if I were you.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
Phew, a lot to unpack.

Shady reviewed the Paradigm speakers right here and really liked them. I wouldn't mind checking them out myself. If you found a nice deal on those they'd for sure be on my short list. Those would be a very nice upgrade for you. Thumbs up on those!

That Sprout not only doesn't measure very well, it's overpriced for what it is. I also think Anthem and Arcam are pretty pricey for what they offer.

Also, you can't really trust what you hear in a demo room. Especially with different speakers being used. Any differences you heard were likely due to different DSP settings, the speakers used, their placement in the room... even a slight difference of 0.5 dB higher can have a big impact on the perceived sq. You wouldn't necessarily register the change in volume, but the perception would be a cleaner, wider, deeper, warmer, chocolatier- pick your superlative- sound.

There are a ton of things that really don't have anything to do with the actual "sound quality" of the unit itself that can have a big impact on your audio perception. It's easy for a dealer to take advantage of that to sell more expensive (or promotional) gear just in the way they set it up. If you were to remove as much bias as possible, level match the gear, stay within spec and make all else equal it's highly, highly unlikely you would be able to tell one from another.

That said, I can see an argument for a new receiver just to get you updated, but would focus more budget on speakers and subs and save on the receiver. Find one with the features you want and you're good to go. No need to get a more expensive model packed with features you might never use. Yamaha, Denon and Marantz all make great gear and sound as good as any other. The major differences are mainly with room correction and features.

I don't know a lot about the DSP 3100 but appears to be a pretty decent little sub for its time. Depending on your room size I would consider a 2nd sub or even upgrade to something newer and bigger. I'm not necessarily gunning for more bass when I suggest subs, so much as cleaner, more effortless bass, and 2 of them can help you deal with room anomalies that result in peaks and nulls.

When I got bigger, better quality subs I was floored how much better everything sounded and have been beating the drum ever since. My music was cleaner and more detailed from top to bottom. It's not about having louder or more bass either. If anything they were quieter because distortion I didn't realize was there is now gone. Distortion with bass is a lot sneakier because of the way we hear low frequencies. It's not in your face like it is with higher frequencies, and it sneaks into the whole range. For me it was like lifting a curtain or wearing glasses for the first time. Now I still have all the depth and slam, but without the noise from smaller, lesser quality subs struggling to fill the room.
 
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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
Phew, a lot to unpack.


That Sprout not only doesn't measure very well, it's overpriced for what it is. I also think Anthem and Arcam are pretty pricey for what they offer.
The Sprout is to deal with a place that has size constraints. My office is filled with chemistry books and a massive main computer. IF I had more space, I would have gone to a better system. However the Sprout 100 with my Martin Logan LX16's and Pinnacle 100 subwoofer are a massive upgrade from standard computer speakers sold at Best Buy, Microcenter, Newegg, etc.. Since I am on my computer for up to 10 hours a day for work, all I really need is something that sounds decent. For what it is, and the speakers only 3 feet away from my ears, I don't want or need massive amplification. And the computer speakers I have tried just plain suck _______! If you have a good amplifier that is similar in size to the Sprout 100 I would be all ears. Teac was the only other manufacturer that I found with anything of any value. I also don't use this system for guests. If I were to use my computer as a source and wanted to stream audio to my 7.1 surround sound Yamaha receiver, I would have to run the connection from my office to the living room and I don't see that need.
 
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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
Oh, and what irritates me is that everyone is complaining, but there is no solution. If one has something to offer in definite replacement of the Sprout for a space constrained location, let me know. But telling me how bad it is with no solution is not an answer. Compared to computer audio, the out of the case conversion of spdif output to analog is far superior to what I get in an audio stream directly off the motherboard output. I am hard of hearing and need something that I can hear without the awful noise floor of a motherboard analog output. I had an old TEAC AH-01 that was failing after 10 years that I purchased back in 2009 for $500. The newer TEAC stuff turned into an AV receiver and what I needed was essentially a converter box to power a much better set of speakers than a Creative labs or Logitech brand computer speakers. Now by complaining about the Sprout, are you saying to go back to the crap computer speakers?
 
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Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
Oh, and what irritates me is that everyone is complaining, but there is no solution. If one has something to offer in definite replacement of the Sprout for a space constrained location, let me know. But telling me how bad it is with no solution is not an answer. Compared to computer audio, the out of the case conversion of spdif output to analog is far superior to what I get in an audio stream directly off the motherboard output. I am hard of hearing and need something that I can hear without the awful noise floor of a motherboard analog output. I had an old TEAC AH-01 that was failing that I purchased back in 2009 for $500. The newer TEAC stuff turned into an AV receiver and what I needed was essentially a converter box to power a much better set of speakers than a Creative labs or Logitech brand computer speakers. Now by complaining about the Sprout, are you saying to go back to the crap computer speakers?
I don't know about anyone else, but the reason I mentioned it is because you alluded several times in your first post that budget was a major constraint. Any PS audio gear that I'm aware of flies in the face of conservative spending with this hobby. You also mentioned something about what to keep and what to toss? Well... that Sprout would be the first to go for me with that in mind.

Out of my multi paragraph reply, that's the one sentence you're going to focus on? I put some real time and thought into that reply!

*Edit: The crown XLS series are very good amps, small, and don't cost an arm and a leg for what you get. QSC would be another consideration.

 
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slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
The Sprout is to deal with a place that has size constraints. My office is filled with chemistry books and a massive main computer. IF I had more space, I would have gone to a better system. However the Sprout 100 with my Martin Logan LX16's and Pinnacle 100 subwoofer are a massive upgrade from standard computer speakers sold at Best Buy, Microcenter, Newegg, etc.. Since I am on my computer for up to 10 hours a day for work, all I really need is something that sounds decent. For what it is, and the speakers only 3 feet away from my ears, I don't want or need massive amplification. And the computer speakers I have tried just plain suck _______! If you have a good amplifier that is similar in size to the Sprout 100 I would be all ears. Teac was the only other manufacturer that I found with anything of any value. I also don't use this system for guests. If I were to use my computer as a source and wanted to stream audio to my 7.1 surround sound Yamaha receiver, I would have to run the connection from my office to the living room and I don't see that need.
What is your specific field?

I'm an Analytical Chemist. 3 years of industrial smoke stack testing, 15 years of Semiconductor Manufacturing support labs. I'm sure you can see that trace analytical work, SOTA instrumentation, and keeping a semiconductor factory running is a hectic and never dull day of work!
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Concerning receivers......your best bet is to stick to a major brand like Marantz, Denon, or Yamaha!

In times past, I would have added Pioneer to the list, but I have a hard time recommending Pioneer/Onkyo nowadays.

AVRs from boutique brands (like Anthem) are asking for trouble!

AVRs are incredibly complex today, and ONLY the big brands have the engineering resources to really get it right and reliable. AVR from a boutique brand is asking for trouble.
 
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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
What is your specific field?

I'm an Analytical Chemist. 3 years of industrial smoke stack testing, 15 years of Semiconductor Manufacturing support labs. I'm sure you can see that trace analytical work, SOTA instrumentation, and keeping a semiconductor factory running is a hectic and never dull day of work!
I am an x-ray crystallographer with a general knowledge of Inorganic chemistry. I also have back in the day with my bachelors degree worked as an analytical chemist for the Illinois EPA. Currently I work for www.cas.org.
 
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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
I don't know about anyone else, but the reason I mentioned it is because you alluded several times in your first post that budget was a major constraint. Any PS audio gear that I'm aware of flies in the face of conservative spending with this hobby. You also mentioned something about what to keep and what to toss? Well... that Sprout would be the first to go for me with that in mind.

Out of my multi paragraph reply, that's the one sentence you're going to focus on? I put some real time and thought into that reply!

*Edit: The crown XLS series are very good amps, small, and don't cost an arm and a leg for what you get. QSC would be another consideration.

The computer audio is not being tossed. It lives for a specific purpose. Also if replaced, the amplifier must live on the computer desk and needs to fit in a space no wider than 10 inches. The amplifiers you linked to are too wide and too powerful for what I need. Amp needs to be 50 watts max to drive bookshelf speakers and a sub out. Want only a 2.1 amp/DAC to decode a spdif (USB and/or optical) connection.
 
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stalag2005

Junior Audioholic
Concerning receivers......your best bet is to stick to a major brand like Marantz, Denon, or Yamaha!

In times past, I would have added Pioneer to the list, but I have a hard time recommending Pioneer/Onkyo nowadays.

AVRs from boutique brands (like Anthem) are asking for trouble!

AVRs are incredibly complex today, and ONLY the big brands have the engineering resources to really get it right and reliable. AVR from a boutique brand is asking for trouble.
Okay, The statement about AVR's has me interested. At this time the current RX-V663 in my living room is working, and meets my needs currently. As I mentioned above, I am considering a replacement down the road but not now. There are SO many choices that I have a hard time wading through all the settings that each of the AVR's present. I have heard the Anthem 720 demonstrated and the Arcam 20. The other I looked at was the idea of the Marantz 5015. Due to age and physical challenges, I am needing something that 1 works, and 2 simple to operate after set up. The sources I have will be OTA TV signals from the TV, a DVD blu-ray player (also plays my CD's), cable TV input, and the radio tuner. Right now with my current Yamaha receiver, I am struggling with this and would need someone to help either in person or by phone to help me optimize my receiver I currently have. The need for simple is due to Autism. I get easily overwhelmed with too much to handle due to sensory overload.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Okay, The statement about AVR's has me interested. At this time the current RX-V663 in my living room is working, and meets my needs currently. As I mentioned above, I am considering a replacement down the road but not now. There are SO many choices that I have a hard time wading through all the settings that each of the AVR's present. I have heard the Anthem 720 demonstrated and the Arcam 20. The other I looked at was the idea of the Marantz 5015. Due to age and physical challenges, I am needing something that 1 works, and 2 simple to operate after set up. The sources I have will be OTA TV signals from the TV, a DVD blu-ray player (also plays my CD's), cable TV input, and the radio tuner. Right now with my current Yamaha receiver, I am struggling with this and would need someone to help either in person or by phone to help me optimize my receiver I currently have. The need for simple is due to Autism. I get easily overwhelmed with too much to handle due to sensory overload.
The reality is that AVRs are complex devices. I can also pretty much guarantee, NOBODY uses ALL the bells/whistles on their AVR.

Most any AVR "should" be simple to operate after setup, but setup can be difficult at times. I do think the modern AVRs with on-screen UI is much easier than the older AVRs where you had to do it all on the small AVR display.

I think a lot of us find that a good universal remote that can control multiple devices and has user-programmable macros is one of the best ways to simplify our setups, esp for other familiar members that are not as tech-savvy. So, a macro will have a label to line up with the particular task such as "watch TV", "watch DVD", "listen to music", etc. Hit the button to activate the macro, and ALL devices are given the proper commands from the remote to get to the proper settings and configs.
 

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