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The ultimate (as in last) upgrade question

Fahzz

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This is my current audio entertainment system used for home theater and music listening in my living room:



Digital Streamer: Pi4 w/Allo Boss 2 Player w/ Nirvana power supply

Amplification: Pioneer Elite VSX 80, to Parasound 2125 v2 via pre outs for front mains

Speakers: KEF LS50 Mains, Paradigm SE Center, SVS SB12-NSD Subwoofer, Paradigm Atom v.5 Surrounds



Living room is 10' by 20', I'm sitting 8-9 feet from speakers and I'm limited to standmounts due to space limitations. Speaker placement is less than Ideal, but can't be helped, and I'm not chasing a perfect system anyway. I want capable, reliable, and reasonably priced equipment that is well regarded in terms of sound quality, primarily for low volume listening to eclectic music and watching streamed TV/movies in surround sound. I don't have the luxury of a separate music listening room, so an AVR is required, not separates.



This will be my last investment in this system, and I'd love to tell you that I've got $5000 or $10000 to burn, but I'd be lying. I do have $2000 to $2500.



So the question is where to best apply the money.



My original thought was to just replace the front main speakers with KEF R3's or Revel 106's etc. (I have a long list), and be done with it. A speaker upgrade seems to be the rule of thumb in these situations. I don't see a need to replace the center, surrounds, or sub, and I would add that it's not as if I don't like the LS50's because I do.



But lately I've been thinking about replacing the old Pioneer with a Denon 3700 and swapping out the Parasound for a Buckeye 2 channel NC252MP or something similar, for the same amount of money that I'd spend on new speakers. The speakers I'm looking at might very well be a lateral move in terms of SQ, but the pontential of lowering distortion etc. in the preamp and amplification stages may make such an audible improvement in my current speakers' performance that main speaker replacement is less sensible???



Any opinions, advice, or thoughts on this will be greatly appreciated.
 

LTig

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Speakers make more difference than electronics. Your current amp has a preamp output so think seriously about active speakers like Genelec 8040 or 8050.
 

GXAlan

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For a freebie, if you have Windows, take a look at the DSEE HX thread and see how you like or dislike it. It goes against straightwire with gain but it does make things sound a little bit better or no difference at all. Adds warmth and widens sounds yet by adding upper register harmonics it seems. Subtle but noticeable.

What is missing from your music or HT? What is your top three wishlist items to improve?
 

alex-z

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Replacing your electronics would be a waste at this stage. Your current gear is not bad, any reduction in distortion wouldn't be audible.

First, if you don't have acoustic treatment that should be given a portion of the budget. $500 if you DIY, $1000-1500 if you don't. This will make the largest difference in sound quality by a significant margin.

A second subwoofer will give you a smoother bass response that has less seat to seat variation. SVS has an outlet SB-1000 for $500 with full warranty. Although I would consider buying the PB-1000 Pro for $600 and plugging the ports instead.



The KEF R3 would be a fairly major speaker upgrade, but not worth prioritizing over the acoustic treatment and second sub. If you can stretch the total budget to $2800 only then would I get a pair. Buy re-certified for $500 less, they still have the full warranty.

 

JRS

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Get a measurement mic, and take measurements to determine what you are hearing or not hearing.
That's along the lines I was thinking--some advanced DSP and that limited to the mains plus sub. Maybe something from miniDSP such as the SHD Pro? Not sure how easy it would be to integrate the Pioneer, but I am in agreement that an upgrade in amps is unlikely to turn heads. Measurement (preferably borrowed) would be the place to start.
 

DanielT

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It smells more subwoffer long way.:)

My tip, sketch out your room. Post the sketch here so those who are good at acoustics can tell you how many subwoffers and how they should be placed. That taken into account what is optimal in your room and what you are listening to.After you have received tips and suggestions, it remains to be seen if it appeals to you aesthetically and practically. :)

When you are still working, treat your room acoustically, if you have not done so and of course EQ when it comes to subwoofers.

If you have the opportunity and think it's fun, consider a DIY subwoofer. Choose one or more subwoofer drives with:
Good ability to pump air
Long x-max (min 10 mm)
Plus they should have the ability to go as far down in frequency as you want, plus acceptable level distortion (we are not so sensitive to distortion, compared to higher up in frequency, but the frequency response definitely affects how we perceive the sound from woffers).
DIY woffers together with powerful class d amplifiers.

There are many who have built good DIY subwoofers. There are drawings online, in case you do not want to calculate on the box and vents (if you do not build seald).

Both HP and LP filters between subwoofer and full range speakers.

Edit:
With DIY. It is then possible to fix tailor-made solutions. Let's say you have a sofa and under it you can load a subwoofer. Two of these woofer + 19 mm playwood + class d amp + miniDSP, EQ ..


I'm not DIY behind that subwoofer in the attached pictures, it's just a DIY example. :)
 

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JRS

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Under the sofa--:eek:for the ultimate in tactility. (I put one in an ottoman that worked well--it was one of the 18" HO from Dayton Audio, and didn't want a 4 cube box in the LR.)
 

DanielT

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Under the sofa--:eek:for the ultimate in tactility. (I put one in an ottoman that worked well--it was one of the 18" HO from Dayton Audio, and didn't want a 4 cube box in the LR.)

Cool. :)

I suspect that Mr. DIY got a little too much massage of the scr ... so, see picture.:)

"The sofa will be extremely torsionally rigid with these drawers as they are precisely adapted to the compartments under the sofa. The folding down of the sides is to have something to screw in. The weight will probably end up at about 25 kg. extra with the three drawers and the sand. Should make a difference. : D"

 

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Holmz

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That's along the lines I was thinking--some advanced DSP and that limited to the mains plus sub. Maybe something from miniDSP such as the SHD Pro? Not sure how easy it would be to integrate the Pioneer, but I am in agreement that an upgrade in amps is unlikely to turn heads. Measurement (preferably borrowed) would be the place to start.

What about trying an integrated amp with room correction?
 
OP
Fahzz

Fahzz

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Thanks everybody for your input (pun!).
I think I'm going to hold off and see what's coming from KEF, and I'm also hoping that Denon refreshes their AVR Line, and puts external amp assignment features in their lower priced models.
 

Ataraxia

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R3's. A couple DB more sensitive than LS50's so you will have upgraded your speakers and amp by default. I've been rotating R3's and LS50 Metas and although the Metas are excellent, the R3's are excellenter. :)
 
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