Yamaha or harman/kardon -- or Sony?!...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Bengt77, Dec 13, 2004.

  1. Bengt77 macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #1
    Early this year I did some work for an architect and just yesterday I received an e-mail from him in which he wrote how much money he owes me for the work. It turned out to be €600, which was more than I anticipated. That, of course, was a very welcome surprise. He wants to pay me in goods, though, and now I've decided to spend the money on a nice Dolby Surround system.

    The main question now is, should I go for a bottomline Yamaha or harman/kardon system or for a midrange Sony system? Also, do most systems have good stereo sound? My parents have quite a crappy Akai dvd-system (all-in-one design) and it's stereo sound is horrible, although in Dolby Surround-mode (when watching dvd's) the sound is quite okay. I've done some searching on the internet and found some good deals. See below.

    1. Yamaha receiver and dvd-player with Yamaha 5.1 speakers
    This set consists of all Yamaha components. It's a good brand, I believe, but have no experience with it. Also, I have no friends who ever bought any Yamaha systems, so I have no secondhand experience either. The receiver is the Yamaha RX-V450 6.1 receiver with 6x85W power. The dvd-player is the Yamaha DVD-S550. The speaker system is the rather simple Yamaha NS-P240 5.1 set. Too bad that with the 6.1 receiver it only comes with a 5.1 speaker system, or is 5.1 okay enough? Does anybody here have any experience with Yamaha living room hi-fi stuff?

    2. harman/kardon receiver and dvd-player with Pioneer 5.1 speakers
    This set consists of the harman/kardon AVR 130 5.1 receiver with 5x45W power, the harman kardon DVD 22 dvd-player and the Pioneer S-V50-II 5.1 speaker system. The harman/kardon stuff looks good, but I have my doubts with the Pioneer gear. Is the brand known for making good speakers? I've never seen or heard any Pioneer speakers at all, so I don't know.

    3. Sony 5.1 home cinema system with dvd-burner
    My third choice is the Sony HTR-6100 system. Main advantage over the other two options is, of course, the dvd-burner. I have one in my iMac though, but I can't get a video-signal into the Mac.

    What are your opinions? The three systems all cost around €600, so they all seem to be good value for the money and I'd really like to read all your thoughts about them.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Hoef macrumors 6502a

    Hoef

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  3. DakotaGuy macrumors 68040

    DakotaGuy

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    #3
    I just purchased a 600 Watt 6.1 Yamaha receiver and it is excellent. There are a few that might be slightly better out there, (ie. H/K), but for the price the Yamaha can't be beat. Go listen to the different receivers and you will see a big difference between a Sony and a Yamaha. I went with a Bose Acoustimass-16 6.1 channel speaker system and the whole package really sounds nice, especially on movies with DTS or Dolby Digital. I liked the Bose because they are small and have attractive mounting options. It is true that you can find better sounding speakers then the Acoustimass cubes, but then again no speakers "that small" sound "that good." The bass module that comes with them is a powered 3 driver model and it is excellent. Natural bass that hits "like a hammer." Not a lot of "boomy" bass. Anyhow that is the set up I went with and I really like it.
     
  4. Jovian9 macrumors 68000

    Jovian9

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    #4
    I've been using a combination of Harmon Kardon and Pioneer for years and NEVER have had a problem or complaint with any of their products (home or auto). The Harmon Kardon CD burner (bought before I had a CD burner in any of my Macs) that I have is one of the best products I've ever bought. Several of my friends have switched over to either all Harmon Kardon or some HK and Pioneer in their home audio set ups since I got my first HK product. In the past I've had lots of problems with Philips, Sony, Aiwa, RCA, and Fisher.
     
  5. evoluzione macrumors 68010

    evoluzione

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    #5
    i for one would go with the yamaha. h/k would be my last choice, and i wouldn't touch pioneer speakers ever again (their hardware sure, but not their speakers). h/k i've seen/heard some poor stuff from (first hand, not read/heard as it were)

    sony stuff is good, over priced in my mind but well designed (except their remotes). i have their 32xbr100 tv and it's the best picture i've ever seen, and it's not even hd.

    i'm a fan of (the higher end of) technics stuff though, had them for years and they've never ever faultered, solid, quality stuff, and sound good of course.
     
  6. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

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    #6
    When I went shopping for a speaker system a few years ago, I had intended to buy Sony, but ended up paying an extra $50 for the Yamaha equivalent. I've never had any problems and it sounds great. Actually, occasionally the remote is a bit buggy, but easily remedied.

    Oh, and if it comes with that skinny little speaker cable, throw that out and buy real cable on a spool.
     
  7. Rend It macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I'm not an audiophile, but there is just something about Yamaha electronics. The "Natural Sound" components always make the sound very warm and pleasing -- Kind of like listening to recordings from an LP or through an old tube amplifier. As far as speakers, I wouldn't trust speakers from any of those brands. Maybe you're forced to get one of those package deals. If not, then buy speakers from a different company. Remember, you don't need a lot of power from your receiver if you have quality speakers. Look for the sensitivity ratings (aka SPL - sound pressure level). The higher the SPL, the less power (watts) you need from your receiver/amplifier. I have an old stereo Yamaha receiver (40 Watts per channel) and Klipsch KG4.2 speakers. I've never had to turn the volume past 1/3 of full scale, it just gets too loud (and no, the room isn't small).

    Speakers are largely a matter of taste, but good brands are Klipsch, B&W, KEF, Definitive Technology, Bose, Boston Acoustics (sort of), and others I'm sure some people will list in this thread. Put your money into good speakers. You will be much happier later on. Electronics are fairly cheap, and the difference in sound and quality among the receivers you listed will not be anywhere near as large as the difference you'll hear when you have really nice speakers.
     
  8. rhpenguin macrumors 6502a

    rhpenguin

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    #8
    I would look into a Bryston amp and a set of Angstrom speakers .. Nothing beats Canadian quality audio :)

    I have a Bryston 9B SST Amplifier and a BP25 Preamp (both are HAND BUILT in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada) paired with four Angstrom Legato speakers and an Angstrom Forza subwoofer (made in Markham, Ontario, Canada).. The speakers are made into a concrete casing and have a really slick wooden laminate over it and its all tied together with 12GA B-Flat speaker wire.

    Be prepared to spend to get a setup like this (my setup is $10000+), but i sugest saving and looking at something like this. Put some cash down in the first place and your going to get something that will last you many years.

    But for your price range i would sugest looking at B100 SST and some B&W speakers..
     
  9. stubeeef macrumors 68030

    stubeeef

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    Aug 10, 2004
    #9
    Not familiar with things lately, but used to be an audiophile. When friends asked me advice I would always say look at yamaha, and if your choice is yamaha and anything else, you will always be ok with the Y.

    Y 7.1 dsp is outstanding. Spend extra time looking for better than crap speakers no matter what you choose. Don't buy what everyone tells you to as far a speaker goes, listen with YOUR ears and find the sound you like.

    I own 2 pair of KEF speakers, but also own some Polks and Boston Acoustics. All great value no matter the price.

    Have fun and enjoy! Congrats!
     
  10. Bengt77 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #10
    Ehm... nice, when I have €600 to spend now.

    Ehm... that's a stereo amplifier, and so doesn't do Dolby Digital and the like. Besides, I think the name is displayed way too big on the front of the amp.

    Thanks anyway?!... :rolleyes:
     
  11. Bengt77 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #11
    Do you know if the Yamaha receiver of the package I listed in my first post is one of those 'Natural Sound' components, too? Will it sound good? I don't have time to check out all the stuff until Saturday, so I might as well have some good advice until I actually get to choose my system...
     
  12. Rend It macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I can't say for sure. The Natural Sound thing is more of a design philosophy for Yamaha, rather than a particular set of components. But, remember that my receiver is an old analog type. The only thing digital about it is the tuner. Pretty much everything nowadays is digital. So, there may be different constraints on how to get a "natural" sound out of a digital receiver. Secondly, AV receivers don't generally emphasize stereo performance. They're for home theatres. Some brands do both quite well, such as NAD (who makes excellent equipment for not too much $$$).

    Having said that, the Yamaha receiver you picked does seem very nice upon further inspection. You will probably be very happy with it. But, I stand by my previous assertion that speakers will make the biggest difference in the sound. You should definitely try to spend some time in your local stereo shop listening to different brands. Bring along some CDs, or your iPod, and listen to YOUR music through various brands of speakers. The point is that you want some sort of reference -- if you listen to music you've never heard before, you're not sure how it should sound exactly. I remember doing the same thing when I purchased my KG 4.2's. I first listened to Boston Acoustics, Infinity, and Pioneer (which were way closer to my price range). Then the salesman put on the Klipsch. I was totally blown away. I mean, with the first 3, it was really hard to tell any difference, but the difference between the Klipsch and the rest was like night and day. Of course, they were way expensive, but after having them for 10 years, no regrets.

    Also, you can do a lot for the sound quality of your system by placing it in a room with a lot of soft spots -- a couch, carpet, put lots of irregularly shaped objects on the walls like picture frames, etc. You don't want a lot of large, flat, hard surfaces because any system will sound like crap. So, do yourself a favor and spend some time in the stereo shop, even an hour will give you a lot of information about what type of speaker you'll want. Oh, and after ten years and moving 5 times between Florida and Colorado, my Yamaha receiver is on its last leg. The display has burned out. My Yamaha CD changer gave up about 3 years ago. It doesn't work at all. However, my speakers still sound as good as the day I bought them.

    Enjoy!

    P.S. You'll notice all of my advice has a musical bent. I spend way more time listening to music than I do watching DVDs. So, it all depends on what you plan to do with your system. If you plan on mostly watching movies, then choice #1 is great. But if you listen to music mostly, you're going to notice whether you have crappy speakers very quickly. Testing speakers with a DVD seems pointless. You're going to feel the movie just because of the subwoofer, nothing else. The only other major component to movies is dialogue, which pretty much any speaker can reproduce faithfully.
     
  13. Bengt77 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #13
    I think I've decided what to buy. Contrary to most suggestions on another forum, I won't buy a seperate set of stereo speakers. No, I've seen a really good deal that'll go on sale coming Sunday. It consists of the harman/kardon stuff I mentioned in my first post, with the Infinity TSS-750 5.1 speaker system. The combo only costs €800, which is a steal, I think.

    Now, I just have to hope they won't sell like hot cakes. I'll just have to get there in time, since it's a gone=gone sale, only next Sunday.
     
  14. Rend It macrumors 6502

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    #14
    It's hard to know what is available to you because we don't know your location, and you keep using euro as currency. Are there any online stores we could take a look at? Also, a word about decibels. When you see a SPL rating, it will be in dB. The Infinity you listed has a sensitivity of 88dB vs. 94 dB for the Klipsch (for reference). A change of 3dB in that rating means that the speaker will be TWICE as loud for the same amount of power. So, the above difference of 6dB means that the average Klipsch will require 1/4 of the power of the Infinity's to get the same volume. Buyer beware.
     
  15. Bengt77 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #15
    Here's the deal I mentioned. It's the second item from the top, on the left. The store itself is Polectro Plaza in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Pretty good stuff for even better prices.

    Two good Dutch online price comparison sites are Kelkoo and Kieskeurig, if you really want to have a look at what's available to me.


    Whow! That sounds serious. Will the volume between the different speaker systems really be that dramatic?
     
  16. Bengt77 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #16
    Exclamation mark.

    Oh, maybe I should mention this.

    I am not an audiophile, nor do I actively pursue being or becoming one. I just happen to care for good and well-built equipment. That's the reason I have a Mac. But, as with not being an audiophile, I'm no Pro guy either; I 'only' have an iMac. I've been doing fine with a probably pretty crappy system for ten years now (a Sony MHC-3900 mini system) and only now that I happen to have some money to spend feel the urge to upgrade to components. I've never done components before, let alone what are commonly regarded as 'good speakers'.

    This will be my first 'true' hi-fi set. Probably not my last, though. I've always fancied harman/kardon. I've also always fancied Sony in a way, but I'll probably get flamed on the other forum for just saying so. That said, I'm not looking for huge speakers, nor the best sound I can get, just for decent sound that's bound to be better than I have now. When and if I ever feel the need to upgrade to an even better sound, I'll go for better speakers with the receiver and dvd-player I then already have.

    So, my question should actually be: Will a non-audiophile like me, with some (but not too much) money to spend, be happy and okay for some years with the harman/kardon & Infinity combo?
     
  17. Rend It macrumors 6502

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    #17
    OK, having looked at your Infinity speakers, I think maybe I can suggest something. How about the Klipsch Quintet II. They are perhaps the smallest horn-loaded speakers I've seen. They are a tad more sensitive than the Infinity's (90dB vs. 88dB, which means 1.6 times as loud, for the same power), and the freq response seems to be rather flat (a good thing). For pricing, check here.

    There's also a marginally useful review at CNET. Note that these are an updated version of the first Quintets, which seemed to have pretty good reviews. If you can find it, you might also check out the Synergy System 6, also by Klipsch.

    Hope this helps.
     
  18. Bengt77 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #18
    Okay, they seem nice, but they're also a tad too expensive for my budget right now. I'm not willing to save the money, I want to have spent it this Christmas.

    I want new toys, and I want them quick! :D

    No, really. They're probably very good speakers, but just too exensive for now.
     
  19. Rend It macrumors 6502

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    #19
    It's just math: (Gain in dB) = 10*log(PowerOut/PowerIn)



    Don't worry, the only reason I'm not an audiophile is because I don't have the money to be one. But, I care about the way my music sounds -- I want to feel as close to being at a concert as possible when I listen to my stereo. So, I end up looking for the best quality I can get, for a modest amount of money. But, I will spend a little more if the difference is clear: Also the reason I have a Mac.



    Don't worry about being flamed by those guys -- I read that thread, and they didn't seem very helpful, much less audiophiles.



    No. H/K setup is OK, but I really believe the Infinity's will disappoint. See my previous post about the Quintet II, I made some changes. Now, I hate to show my bias towards Klipsch (as if I haven't already), but last month I was shopping for either a 2-piece or 2.1-piece microsystem just for my Powerbook, and also to take with me on a recent vacation (now you see how important music is to me). So, I shopped for about a week. I wasn't happy with anything I listened to. Then I went to Best Buy and listened to the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 system. I had doubts because I figured that even though it has the Klipsch name on it, it can't possibly sound anywhere near as good as my other speakers that I bought from the fancy stereo shop. Plus, you can't listen to your music through it at Best Buy, you just have to hear their "intercom" music. So I took a chance and bought them anyway, and thought I could return them if I wanted.

    Well, after a month of listening all I can say is WOW! My old KG 4.2's are now in the closet, along with the receiver. Not because these sound better, but just because I now only need my iPod or Powerbook and the ProMedia setup. Actually the sound is comparable, but of course a $150 dollar microsystem isn't going to replace a pair that costs 4 times as much. So, there you have it. You don't have to spend a lot to get a lot, and Klipsch is one of the few brands that has consistently shown that.

    Happy listening.
     
  20. Rend It macrumors 6502

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    #20
    You're right, that combo you listed was a good deal. I assumed you could afford them because the TSS-750 costs $700 at Circuit City. You can get the Quintet system w/o the subwoofer for $300 less (corrected), and then get it later. There's also a few on Ebay.

    We can go back and forth like this forever, but just do yourself a favor and listen before you buy anything, even if it's the day you're going to purchase the system. And when you bring home whatever you decide on, pay careful attention to how you place the speakers. There should be guidelines in the manuals. Good Luck on finding a deal.
     
  21. Bengt77 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Bengt77

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    #21
    Thanks! I'm going to need it, I think. There's soo many of them out there, that it's hard to pick the right one(s)... :p
     
  22. flip2 macrumors newbie

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    #22
    ik zou het wel weten

    een wasmachine :)) :eek:
    hahahahaha
     
  23. jadam macrumors 6502a

    jadam

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    #23
  24. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    #24
    i have a harman/kardon system myself and can tell only good things about it. together with infinity speakers it's a wonderful experience :)
     
  25. sinisterdesign macrumors 6502

    sinisterdesign

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    atlanta
    #25
    tough call

    if you haven't purchaser anything yet, here's my $.02:

    - worry more about the speakers than the receiver if you have a limited budget. you can have the baddest-ass McIntosh tube amp and B&K receiver, but if they're running through some old bookshelf speakers you dad had in college it's not going to matter. the guy above that said take your music w/ you when you listen to some different sets. you know what it normally sounds like to you so you can compare the different highs & lows.

    - i'm a huge fan of HK/Infinity, although i've admitedly had some probs w/ my HK receiver (faulty soldering, the repairman told me). all my front channel speakers are Infinity & the receiver (and CD player before the days of AirportXP) are HK. but i saved up and bought one piece at a time, starting w/ a nice set of Infinity front channel speakers. eBay is a good place to check for this stuff.

    - i trust Cnet's reviews. here's a good page of their editor's picks for compact speaker packages.

    - as for the loudness of the speakers? how often are you ABLE to blare your system? i live in a loft and thank god i don't have a neighbor yet, b/c my 12" Infinity sub was rattling the pictures on the walls last night watching Star Wars. ;)

    good luck! have fun w/ it.
     

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