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help me upgrade my home audio system

theguy

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My current system right now is used for movies and music hooked up from my computer via optical cable (mostly lossless audio files)
I would say its 75% music and 25% movies.

I was hoping someone could help me out with upgrading. What would be the cheapest upgrade that would give me noticeable gains in sound quality.

Here's my current system

Surround Front - Monitor Audio Silver Rx1's
Front Center - Monitor Audio BX centre
Rear Surround - Definitive Technology ProMonitor 800
Sub - Sony sa-wm250
Reciever/AMP - Denon AVR - 3805

My budget for upgrading is $400

Help a brotha out
thanks in advance
 

whiteslashasian

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What kind of music do you listen to? If Rock, house, electronica, pop etc, then it sounds like you'd need to replace your Sub. That Sony is an underpowered dog. You can get a beefier Polk PSW505 12" at 300W RMS for around $200 with free shipping on Amazon. There are many other options closer to the $400 mark as well.

Otherwise, you could get some beefier fronts, but for $400 you can't do a whole lot unless you go the DIY route.
 

akatsuki

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I'd spend it on room treatments and getting your room sorted out acoustically. Not sexy at all but will give you the most bang for your buck.
 

whiteslashasian

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Originally Posted by akatsuki
I'd spend it on room treatments and getting your room sorted out acoustically. Not sexy at all but will give you the most bang for your buck.

Good point.

I'd go for the sub and spend the rest on treatments and calbration tools. He has some pretty decent gear already (other than the Sony Sub) so maximizing their potential is the next step. The only way to noticeably improve his sound beyond that would cost big $$$.
 

theguy

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Originally Posted by whiteslashasian
What kind of music do you listen to? If Rock, house, electronica, pop etc, then it sounds like you'd need to replace your Sub. That Sony is an underpowered dog. You can get a beefier Polk PSW505 12" at 300W RMS for around $200 with free shipping on Amazon. There are many other options closer to the $400 mark as well. Otherwise, you could get some beefier fronts, but for $400 you can't do a whole lot unless you go the DIY route.
I would say 60-65% of the time im listening to classic rock, the rest of the time its every other genre out there except country and rap. I could always sell my fronts to add some more to funding. What would the diy route be, how difficult? Thanks for replying so quick
 

Artisan Fan

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Originally Posted by theguy
My current system right now is used for movies and music hooked up from my computer via optical cable (mostly lossless audio files)
I would say its 75% music and 25% movies.

I was hoping someone could help me out with upgrading. What would be the cheapest upgrade that would give me noticeable gains in sound quality.

Here's my current system

Surround Front - Monitor Audio Silver Rx1's
Front Center - Monitor Audio BX centre
Rear Surround - Definitive Technology ProMonitor 800
Sub - Sony sa-wm250
Reciever/AMP - Denon AVR - 3805

My budget for upgrading is $400

Help a brotha out
thanks in advance


The biggest bang in this price range is likely an outboard DAC like the HRT Music Streamer Pro. Around $450 I think. The optical link is a problem in all likelihood as well so switching to USB would be a step up.
 

rahimlee54

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Originally Posted by Artisan Fan
The biggest bang in this price range is likely an outboard DAC like the HRT Music Streamer Pro. Around $450 I think. The optical link is a problem in all likelihood as well so switching to USB would be a step up.

I feel like his cash would be better spent on room treatments. I am sure a DAC would help but room treatments are the biggest impact on your overall sound. Selling the mains for funds would just put you in a hole and you would need more cash for mains. The treatments or an Emotiva sub would be the best way to go, I feel. But that is just another person's opinion.

Thanks
Jared
 

Artisan Fan

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Originally Posted by rahimlee54
I feel like his cash would be better spent on room treatments. I am sure a DAC would help but room treatments are the biggest impact on your overall sound. Selling the mains for funds would just put you in a hole and you would need more cash for mains. The treatments or an Emotiva sub would be the best way to go, I feel. But that is just another person's opinion. Thanks Jared
Without seeing his room it is hard to tell how much impact treatments would have-speaker placement may have a bigger impact. Also, most of the fixing in room acoustics can be free if one reads: www.getbettersound.com Since he listens to music much more than movies a think a sub is not a good investment.
 

Artisan Fan

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P.S. I did not comment on selling the mains as I like the RS1s and actually feel that is a good speaker. The Denon 3805 is not great but it's not bad.
 

rahimlee54

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Originally Posted by Artisan Fan
Without seeing his room it is hard to tell how much impact treatments would have-speaker placement may have a bigger impact. Also, most of the fixing in room acoustics can be free if one reads:

www.getbettersound.com

Since he listens to music much more than movies a think a sub is not a good investment.


The RX1s only spec down to 45hz with in room they may push 40 Hz. I would want a sub to cover that low end duty, that is personal I guess. Speaker placement cant solve everything like huge drops in the frequency and bass suck out. I haven't see this book you linked, so I will have to read up on that a little later on. Either way I am sure whichever he chooses will be a good option.

Thanks
 

username79

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Originally Posted by Artisan Fan
The biggest bang in this price range is likely an outboard DAC like the HRT Music Streamer Pro. Around $450 I think. The optical link is a problem in all likelihood as well so switching to USB would be a step up.
No reason to get the Pro. Only reason to get the Pro is if you are using fully balanced components downstream. Recommend the II+ which is cheaper. That said, using an HRT Streamer into a Denon receiver will yield zero audible benefit. Might as well use the onboard DACs of the Denon since it converts all incoming analog to digital anyway. Agree with the above posters who recommended an upgraded subwoofer. Disagree with crappy Polk recommendations. The PSW is a woofer in a cheap box, hardly a subwoofer. Buy a used Velodyne HGS off of Audiogon or eBay. They will blow you away with their small size, incredible bass output, and zero distortion. I own three Velodynes, two HGS-12Xs and a DD-12. I also have a mint HGS-12 built in 2006 (no amp issues) that I'd like to sell, PM me if you're interested. An HGS-12 EQed with MultiEQ in a room without major issues comes pretty darn close to a DD-12 at a fraction of the price.
 

Artisan Fan

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Originally Posted by username79
No reason to get the Pro. Only reason to get the Pro is if you are using fully balanced components downstream. Recommend the II+ which is cheaper. That said, using an HRT Streamer into a Denon receiver will yield zero audible benefit. Might as well use the onboard DACs of the Denon since it converts all incoming analog to digital anyway.
I'm sorry but I really don't agree with this advice. The HRT Pro is a step change above the other HRTs which are good in their own right but the Pro is really close to a multi-thousand dollar CD player and that is many levels above the mediocre DAC in the Denon. Denon is not known for their digital quality in experienced audio circles. Even their dedicated universal players are soft sounding and veiled in my experience. Also the Pro has mini-XLR out but Cardas and other companies make mini-XLR to RCA cables ($125) which will interface fine with the Denon 3805.
 

edinatlanta

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The proper Styrofoam cups are your most important components, period. Although, I may be experimenting with sippy-cups soon.
 

A Y

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Originally Posted by username79
No reason to get the Pro. Only reason to get the Pro is if you are using fully balanced components downstream. Recommend the II+ which is cheaper.

No comments on which HRT to get, but a balanced output does not require fully balanced components downstream to take full advantage of it. As long as the input of the next component downstream implements a correct balanced interface, that's all you need. That assumes of course that the HRT Pro's balanced output is correctly implemented, of which I have no idea either way.

OK, maybe one comment. If you don't have a balanced input on the Denon, then it's probably a waste to get a component with a balanced output.

To be technical, correctly implemented means the common mode impedances to ground from each of the signal lines is equal from at least 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and there are no pin-1 problems. You probably have a pin 1 problem when pin 1 is tied to circuit ground. It is unfortunately common.

--Andre
 

Artisan Fan

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Originally Posted by A Y
OK, maybe one comment. If you don't have a balanced input on the Denon, then it's probably a waste to get a component with a balanced output.
Good post Andre but remember I am suggesting the Pro version not for the mini-balanced outputs but for the fact that it has a surprisingly well-refined DAC and analog output stage - indeed it is a level above the HRTs. I know this because a local friend who is a reviewer got them all in and I've heard them all. He had the less expensive ones and was not overly impressed - this is someone with a $13K Wadia 581SE cd player mind you and very high standards. He got in the Pro and was knocked out by its sound as was I. Further he has done lots of experimenting with custom optical cables and USB to SPDIF converters and feels the latter has better sound. Since there is a desire to do computer music, I think my recommendation was a solid one. But probably best to audition all options if possible and see what best floats the OP's boat.
 

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