System Check Before I Pull The Trigger...

Reclaimist

Reclaimist

Enthusiast
Hi guys, new here. Been reading steadily for days in attempts to plan my first system, and after about 40 hours of looking I'm still not sure about anything except that I'll need to budget more than anticipated. Right now, I'm looking for a quick check on a system plan to make sure I'm on the right track.

(prices in Canadian dollars)
Fronts: 2x Klipsch R-820F ($400/ea)
Centre: Klipsch R-52C ($200) or R-34C ($600)
Sub: Something better than the Klipsch R-120SW ($400) hopefully? It doesn't seem to be a favourable choice.
Rears: TBD (2x Klipsch R-51M $125/ea?)
Ceilings: TBD
Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR494 ($500)

I intend to start with fronts/centre/sub, and add on surrounds a bit later. I know the R-51Ms are affordable, but I'm not sure if they're the right choice.

Usage: A dedicated PC running video, music, and gaming on a projector display. Plan is to go HDMI audio/video from PC into receiver (input), and HDMI video out from receiver to projector, and audio out via speakerwire to the monitors.

I'm very open to suggestions. Klipsch seems good to me, but also like "the first thing you see" when you're just getting into it. Maybe I'm bedazzled, and my dollar can go further elsewhere?

By far, the receiver was the toughest to figure out. I think this one's a good bang for the buck, at least for my usage, although I hear people prefer Yamaha (reliability) or Denon. But I can't seem to find a comparable example around that price point shipped to Canada. I'm hoping the Onkyo will be a good base for my needs, and powerful enough to drive those towers and similar. People say don't worry about watts too much. I've seen this receiver spec'd at 80W/channel, but also at 160W/channel (confusingly), and those towers are spec'd to peak at 150W. I'm not sure.

I'm also curious: this receiver does 7.2 (or 5.2.2), yet it has a "Zone B" for driving an additional two speakers at pre-out line levels. Does that mean I could theoretically add on two more speakers with an amp and bring the system up to 9.2? Or would channel decoding create some kind of barrier, and limit the functionality of those other two channels? My thinking is it might be nice to have the option to run independently-amped speakers in the future (higher watts than what this Onkyo can drive), but I don't know if I'd be able to get the receiver to use Zone B as fronts, or even as surrounds or any other particular channel for that matter. I've a hunch they're limited to being a duplicate of the main audio, mixed down to stereo, but I dunno.

Thanks for any helpful advice. These forums are a great source of high-quality information. It truly seems endless when you're first getting into it.
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
Fronts: 2x Klipsch R-820F ($400/ea)
Centre: Klipsch R-52C ($200) or R-34C ($600)
Sub: Something better than the Klipsch R-120SW ($400) hopefully?

It doesn't seem to be a favourable choice
Have you listened to Klipsch? You need to and plan on spending a fair amount of time infront of them not just 5 minutes. Determine if their sound signature is for you.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
You can’t get a Denon or Yamaha, instead of Onkyo? :D

I don’t have any problems with Klipsch speakers. I’ve heard the RF7-iii and I love the sound. So I think other Klipsch speakers will sound good also.

But Klipsch isn’t too popular around here. I think quite a few members think Klipsch sound harsh or bright.

But as long as you love the sound, then it’s all good.
 
Reclaimist

Reclaimist

Enthusiast
You can’t get a Denon or Yamaha, instead of Onkyo? :D
Hard to source :confused: At A4L, they don't ship receivers outside of the USA and with the borders being what they are, I can't get to my drop point. There's a Yamaha RX-V6A for $780 Canadian, or a Denon AVR-S750H for $700. Worth it vs. the $500 Onkyo?


Have you listened to Klipsch? You need to and plan on spending a fair amount of time infront of them not just 5 minutes. Determine if their sound signature is for you.
Thanks. I'm trying to audition multiple systems. There's not a lot of opportunity to do so; all the big-box stores seem to be focusing on demoing sound bars almost exclusively. Would you have any suggestions for alternatives around that price point?
 
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mtrycrafts

mtrycrafts

Audioholic Slumlord
Welcome to AH :)

Glad you asked before pulling trigger as we get lots of questions afterwards, did I do it right, etc.
 
Reclaimist

Reclaimist

Enthusiast
Welcome to AH :)

Glad you asked before pulling trigger as we get lots of questions afterwards, did I do it right, etc.
Thanks! :) Yea it's decent coin. My goal is to build a system I'll be happy with for years to come. Figured I'm at the point I need to consult the experts, so here I am. Nice setup you have there, btw.
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
I don't think in fact I kind of know these aren't going to compete at the prices you listed for those Klipsch but I do believe these speakers you should consider so I'm going to tell you about them here

SVS Prime

Paradigm Premier

It looks like you're on a extremely tight budget trying to put together a whole HT system and I understand. But I in my opinion would rather purchase a system in parts and increase my quality and take my time and save for other components or parts of the system overtime. Then try and squeeze in a complete system of budget or less quality. But that's just me

Klipsch Sub ❌
 
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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
By far, the receiver was the toughest to figure out. I think this one's a good bang for the buck, at least for my usage, although I hear people prefer Yamaha (reliability) or Denon. But I can't seem to find a comparable example around that price point shipped to Canada. I'm hoping the Onkyo will be a good base for my needs, and powerful enough to drive those towers and similar. People say don't worry about watts too much. I've seen this receiver spec'd at 80W/channel, but also at 160W/channel (confusingly), and those towers are spec'd to peak at 150W. I'm not sure.

I'm also curious: this receiver does 7.2 (or 5.2.2), yet it has a "Zone B" for driving an additional two speakers at pre-out line levels. Does that mean I could theoretically add on two more speakers with an amp and bring the system up to 9.2? Or would channel decoding create some kind of barrier, and limit the functionality of those other two channels? My thinking is it might be nice to have the option to run independently-amped speakers in the future (higher watts than what this Onkyo can drive), but I don't know if I'd be able to get the receiver to use Zone B as fronts, or even as surrounds or any other particular channel for that matter. I've a hunch they're limited to being a duplicate of the main audio, mixed down to stereo, but I dunno.
The Onkyo 494 is rated, per it's manual, 80 watts per channel at 8 ohm, 20hz-20khz, .08% THD. The 160 watt spec is a 1 channel driven at 6 ohm at 10% thd. Not really comparable. The 80 wpc is the more comparable spec to other units (at same impedance, frequency range and similarly low THD). You can use an spl calculator like this to see how that translates into spl at your distance from the speakers http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html. The speaker wattage rating limits are more about limits before damage than a particularly useful spec.....and using your volume control with common sense would generally keep you out of harms way.

Zones are for speakers for use in another room. The processor in the 494 appears to be limited to 7ch, so no, you can't get 9ch processing. Some avrs have 7 channels of amps, but can process 9 channels with an external amp, don't see yours can do this.
 
Reclaimist

Reclaimist

Enthusiast
The Onkyo 494 is rated, per it's manual, 80 watts per channel at 8 ohm, 20hz-20khz, .08% THD. The 160 watt spec is a 1 channel driven at 6 ohm at 10% thd. Not really comparable. The 80 wpc is the more comparable spec to other units (at same impedance, frequency range and similarly low THD). You can use an spl calculator like this to see how that translates into spl at your distance from the speakers http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html. The speaker wattage rating limits are more about limits before damage than a particularly useful spec.....and using your volume control with common sense would generally keep you out of harms way.
Thanks, this is really helpful for figuring out ratings. It looks to me that the one which matters most is the 20hz-20khz <0.1% THD. I've been comparing specs in manufacturers' official manuals. Most stuff around this price point is coming up at 100W or less.

Because I'm concerned with buying a receiver that fails to deliver, I started looking at equipment higher up in the chain and am now considering the Denon AVR-X2700H (CA$1150 plus tax). I've seen it recommended here multiple times for 7.2 systems. The manual says 95W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, <0.08%THD and 125W/channel @6Ω, 1 kHz, 0.7% THD. This inspires more confidence than what I'd listed earlier, but is there reason to be concerned that the wattage might be too light? It's a 20'x20'x12' living room.

For comparison, I also saw a pre-owned AVR-A100 (Denon 100-year anniversary model) for $700. This is a 10 year-old receiver, but it has HDMI (albeit 1.4) and boasts 9.2 channels at a whopping 140W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, 0.05%THD. This is insane power for that price point. But, it's old and could fail and I don't know what technical gains have been made between now and then which could affect audio quality.

There's also a pre-owned RX-A1010 up for $450, from 2011 with 110W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, 0.06% THD which could be an option if the X2700H is insufficient.

I suppose you sacrifice reliability going the pre-owned route, but get way more performance while saving on cost.

$1150 and tax for the new AVR-X2700H is already becoming steep, and I'm thinking going significantly higher than that to get maybe only 15 more watts/channel is where it starts to get into diminishing returns for me. $500 (tax in) for the Onkyo to get 80W, but $1150 plus tax to get the Denon's 95W... or take a chance on a pre-owned... I'm feeling really stuck. I think I need some help figuring out how much these watts really matter. People would say, that's up to you, but supposing typical listening levels and inability to bring entire systems home to test one by one, what's a good ballpark?
 
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Reclaimist

Reclaimist

Enthusiast
I don't think in fact I kind of know these aren't going to compete at the prices you listed for those Klipsch but I do believe these speakers you should consider so I'm going to tell you about them here

SVS Prime

Paradigm Premier

It looks like you're on a extremely tight budget trying to put together a whole HT system and I understand. But I in my opinion would rather purchase a system in parts and increase my quality and take my time and save for other components or parts of the system overtime. Then try and squeeze in a complete system of budget or less quality. But that's just me

Klipsch Sub ❌
You are absolutely right. I need to start slow, and not make quality compromises that'll come back to bite me later.

Klipsch sub is totally out. Not sure about the towers yet. I'm checking out the brands you recommended, and see them coming up in audioholics guides and reviews. Unfortunately, nobody stocks those around here so I'd be going in blind.

I'm thinking to invest in two nice front towers and a receiver to start.
Step two would be adding a sub and centre channel, and I can probably get to this point now.
Step three would be rears/surrounds, and one worth waiting a bit for.

Back to square one: what receiver is future-proof enough for a nice 7.2 system? I'm mulling over the Denon AVR-X2700H, while looking into Yamaha's offerings.
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
If you could find a Denon 3600 new for that $1150 or under JMO you need to jump on that.
Great idea getting L/R first and adding. Both SVS and Paradigm have 3 way center channels.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Thanks, this is really helpful for figuring out ratings. It looks to me that the one which matters most is the 20hz-20khz <0.1% THD. I've been comparing specs in manufacturers' official manuals. Most stuff around this price point is coming up at 100W or less.

Because I'm concerned with buying a receiver that fails to deliver, I started looking at equipment higher up in the chain and am now considering the Denon AVR-X2700H (CA$1150 plus tax). I've seen it recommended here multiple times for 7.2 systems. The manual says 95W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, <0.08%THD and 125W/channel @6Ω, 1 kHz, 0.7% THD. This inspires more confidence than what I'd listed earlier, but is there reason to be concerned that the wattage might be too light? It's a 20'x20'x12' living room.

For comparison, I also saw a pre-owned AVR-A100 (Denon 100-year anniversary model) for $700. This is a 10 year-old receiver, but it has HDMI (albeit 1.4) and boasts 9.2 channels at a whopping 140W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, 0.05%THD. This is insane power for that price point. But, it's old and could fail and I don't know what technical gains have been made between now and then which could affect audio quality.

There's also a pre-owned RX-A1010 up for $450, from 2011 with 110W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, 0.06% THD which could be an option if the X2700H is insufficient.

I suppose you sacrifice reliability going the pre-owned route, but get way more performance while saving on cost.

$1150 and tax for the new AVR-X2700H is already becoming steep, and I'm thinking going significantly higher than that to get maybe only 15 more watts/channel is where it starts to get into diminishing returns for me. $500 (tax in) for the Onkyo to get 80W, but $1150 plus tax to get the Denon's 95W... or take a chance on a pre-owned... I'm feeling really stuck. I think I need some help figuring out how much these watts really matter. People would say, that's up to you, but supposing typical listening levels and inability to bring entire systems home to test one by one, what's a good ballpark?
The A100 am not particularly familiar with, but for a 10 year old model seems a high price; my Denon 4520 is of similar power ratings, as is my 3808. If the connectivity and functionality work for you, it could be viable. Not familiar with the pricing you generally face, tho. The A1010 could be a better price for similar capability. Without warranty can figure into things along with really not knowing the history of a used unit. One great rule to keep in mind is it takes a doubling of power for a 3dB level difference....not a lot so most avrs are really within the same range, usually doesn't vary but by 1-2 dB.
 
Reclaimist

Reclaimist

Enthusiast
If you could find a Denon 3600 new for that $1150 or under JMO you need to jump on that.
Great idea getting L/R first and adding. Both SVS and Paradigm have 3 way center channels.
Cheers. That would've been a great buy. I've looked everywhere but wasn't able to come up with any X3600H units. I'd have taken one, as it looks perfect for my purposes. I was also checking Yamaha, but there aren't many available to me in-store or online. As such, here are my top-3 receiver options (Canadian dollars):

Yamaha RX-V6A: $780 (tax not inc, long lead-time); 100W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, 0.06%THD, 360W total
Denon AVR-S960H: $899 (tax not inc); 90W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, 0.08%THD, 460W total
Denon AVR-X2700H: $1200 (inc tax); 95W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, 0.08%THD, 500W total
Denon AVR-X3700H: $1900 (inc tax); 105W/channel @8Ω, 20hz-20khz, 0.08%THD, 660W total

The jury's still out, but I'm leaning toward the X2700H because I think the $700 would be better spent on speakers than the differences between a 2700 and a 3700. For sure the 3700 looks great for several reasons, and would keep me comfortable for at least ten years, but hopefully the 2700 would as well, considering it'll take me a while to get to 5.1, and even longer to get to 7.2. Unless there's something more I'm missing. I see a bit more watts, a couple extra speaker outputs, pre-amp support, and some Audyssey stuff... would I even outgrow the 2700, I'm wondering?

The A100 am not particularly familiar with, but for a 10 year old model seems a high price; my Denon 4520 is of similar power ratings, as is my 3808. If the connectivity and functionality work for you, it could be viable. Not familiar with the pricing you generally face, tho. The A1010 could be a better price for similar capability. Without warranty can figure into things along with really not knowing the history of a used unit. One great rule to keep in mind is it takes a doubling of power for a 3dB level difference....not a lot so most avrs are really within the same range, usually doesn't vary but by 1-2 dB.
Thanks, that's revealing information. I checked the specs of your units, and they seem really good. I understand decibels is a logarithmic scale, so it takes lots of power to increase dBs. (And volume/sound pressure isn't everything.) This makes it seem like the reach for more advanced receivers is less a matter of watts, and more about the overall build. For example, the S960H and X2700H are only 5W apart in power per channel driven, but there are other considerations, such as components used, which increase quality and longevity. That, plus extra features put the X in a class above the S more than watts. This makes it difficult for the consumer to discern cost/value differences in units with similar channel support, such as 960/2700/3700. Essentially, there's more between those units than a mere 5-15 quantifiable watts. But hopefully, if I do go with the 2700, 95W/channel will be enough to drive an eventual 5.1 or 7.2 setup without coming up short. If not, then the extra $700 for the 3700 would be justified, unless I'm missing something.

I was looking at pre-owned units, but I'm feeling iffy about shelling out on something that could already have issues for all I know, even though there are some crazy eBay and craigslist finds, such as a local X3313CI for only $380 bucks/obo (125W/channel, 0.05%THD, and 670W total output). Hard to tell what shape it's in, but imagine it held up? I'd save coin and gain performance compared to a new 3700... It's stuff like that which makes a hard decision harder for me. I'm sure I could do a quick test, but it'd be easy for problems to hide until much later, and/or after I've gotten more speakers. I suppose worst case, I'd only be out about half a sub's worth of coin. But would a 10 year-old system sound as good as a current system?

For starter front speakers, these are what I'm looking at based on the above advice:

(Canadian dollars)
2x SVS Prime Towers: $1469 (inc tax)
2x SVS Prime Pinaccle Towers: $2351 (inc tax)
2x SVS Ultra Towers: $2939 (inc tax)
2x Paradigm Monitor SE 6000F: $1153 (inc tax)
2x Paradigm Monitor SE 8000F: $1998 (tax not inc)
2x Paradigm Premier 700F: $1998 (tax not inc)
2x Paradigm Premier 800F: $2498 (tax not inc)
2x Klipsch R-820F: $838 (inc tax)

Btw, KEFs are in the big-box stores around here, in similar price ranges. Do they stack up to the above?

Budget option would be the X2700H with the Klipschs (~$2k). Stretch goal would be the X3700H with one of the Premiers ($~3900-$4400). Or I could send it down the middle with the 2700 and either the 8000Fs or the 700Fs (~$3200). Not sure the superior of those two options there, the 8000Fs vs. 700Fs.

I'd better sleep on it. As mentioned previously, I'd like to add a centre unit and sub in the next step, and maybe after I recover a little from all this research. My head's swimming. Feels like I've been circling around for days, but I think I'm finally starting to get close to completing the first step. Thanks again for your guys' help.
 
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Reclaimist

Reclaimist

Enthusiast
I went and pulled the trigger on an X3700H. I was able to bargain the price down from $1900 to $1650 (tax included), which made it more competitive with the X2700H at $1200. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a lead-time so I'm going to have to wait for it. But at least that's one piece solved, and it should be solved for good. It's triple what I originally thought I'd be spending last week, but now that I understand things a bit better, I feel more comfortable in that price range knowing my money's going to a good place. I hope it lasts a long time. I might put some noctua fans on it if I think it's running hot.

I auditioned some KEFs today. I tried the Q950s ($1499 not inc tax), as well as the R7s ($5399 not inc tax). There's a difference between the models, but not one that warrants the price difference IMO.

I found the Q950s to be a bit clearer than the Klipsch R-820Fs ($838 inc tax), which I also heard today. The Klipsch sounded good for the price, but I think I can do a bit better so I'm reading up on the above models. I'm also looking at subs.
 
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mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
Nice receiver. Now you need speakers worthy.

premier-800f.png

premier-600c.png
 
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S

stalag2005

Audioholic
The Paradigm choice I would second. As I own the 800F they are great sounding speakers. Also SVS will audition their speakers for 45 days. If not happy with them they will accept returns. But to get this you need to order direct from them.
 

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