I want to get new speakers but need help buying a receiver

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by cmm, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. cmm macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2006
    Hi all -

    Newegg has some KILLER deals on speakers, but it seems they stop there: receivers look expensive.

    Can I get a receiver in the $100-200 (USD) range that will work for my uses:

    - 128-192kbs mp3s is 90% of my music collection
    - Most of my music is classic rock (70%), 20% classical (from the European romance era) and 5% opera
    - I sometimes watch movies that I find around in avi or mp4 format. I haven't listened to a 5.1 or larger speaker system in 10+ years.
    - I don't watch any television, other than an odd documentary online sometimes.
    - Haven't been to the movie theater in longer than that (point is: I don't feel like I'm missing anything)
    - I don't have TV, nor any plans to get one, so it doesn't have to be compatible with anything but my computer.
    - Will be setup in a 20x20 bedroom in Boston

    I don't mind buying used (CL, eBay) or from an "outlet" (refurbed/open box/whatever) so long as I know what I am looking for (especially on the former situation).

    I will hook these speakers up to my (current model) MBP 13 only. I may upgrade to a 15 MBP in the near future, if that matters...

    I currently have semi-broken Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX computer speakers with a built in receiver (I guess, since I can just plug it into my computer?). I'd love to replace these speakers as it's too much of a pain to try to use them anymore. The killer deals on Polk Audio speakers end in a few hours, so I'd appreciate a timely response. If I can't get a decent receiver for 90% music / 10% normal to slightly-below normal DVD quality for under $200, please just tell me.

    Thank you!

    NB: These are the speakers I am considering, which do you think is the best product?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290220 $130 (first ad I saw a few days ago in my email that got me thinking about getting rid of my current Klipsch paperweight) - seems to be the gold standard bookshelf speaker?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290174 $399 Only considering because it looks like an amazing deal - 5 speakers plus a sub for $400!

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290200 $90 - Even cheaper than the first pair. Is there a noticeable difference for my uses?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290203 $120 - What is the difference between this speaker set and the first pair?


    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...510-Index-_-HomeAudioSpeakers-_-82290034-L02C $80 cheap Polk sub. Am I missing something?

    I would be most interested in the comparison of these two pairs of speakers:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290220 and http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290203

    LASTLY, if all you have time for is to educate me about getting a receiver in the $100-200 range (even used is fine, if you can tell me what to look for), that's the most important, as I'm not going to purchase any of these speakers now at such a great price if the receiver will cost me $300+ as it looks like...

    Thank you!
  2. cwaddell2002 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2005
    Raleigh, NC
    First, you don't want/need home theater - no prob, however, most receivers today are made for home theater, so just about anything you buy will be more than you need. You may want to look at getting just a stereo amplifier, unless having a radio tuner is important to you. If you look at partsexpress, something like this could be just fine for the Monitor 40s you suggest. Dayton Amp. This is also an option: Audiosource Amp. If a reciever with a tuner is for you, check out this ofering from Sherwood.

    Second in regard to speakers, the RM8 you linked to is primarily designed as a diffuse surround speaker. It may operate ok as a main speaker, but I suspect not. The frequency range produced by those small drivers will be pretty severly limited. You may note that polk rates it down to 95hz, however, they don't say if can produce 95 hz at the same volume as it produces 1khz... The monitor 40 is a pretty well respected speaker, note the low frequency extension to 45hz. Thats going to make a big difference in the sound.

    The sub you linked to is not great, but it isn't awful either, however, in a 20 x 20 room, if you try to get any real volume out of it, it will sound akin to a wet fart... as it doesn't have the power or extension for a room of that size. You may be better off combining all you speaker money and investing in a better pair of speakers.

    If you head over to avsforum.com, and join, there are a great number of very knowledgeable people who are more than happy to make some good suggestions in your price point.

    If nothing else do some research if you are up to it. There are some great kit speakers available in the price points you are exploring. If you don't mind a little work, and some time doing the research you can have some really incredible sound for the money by looking at places other than well known name brands.
  3. Obese Lobsters macrumors member

    Jul 3, 2010
    It doesn't sound like you need a home theater system. You most likely need a nice pair of computer speakers. As for the Polk speakers Newegg seems to have a Polk sale every single week. If you're serious about getting a home theater avsforum is a great place to start, but it doesn't sound like you need one.
  4. cmm thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2006
    Thanks for the responses!

    I have found a way to fix my speakers by cutting the speaker wire, soldering a Y cable to both sides and then plugging in. We'll see how that works - if it doesn't, then I'll spend more time looking around, viz. on avsforum and see what I can find.

    I didn't want to get a home theatre setup, but if I buy any type of "high end" speakers, it looks like I have to get either a receiver or amp to make them work, so it become a de facto home theatre setup, no?

    cwaddell2002: for my purposes, what is the difference between an amp and receiver. The amps you showed me were in the $100-200 range, though more expensive than the Sherwood receiver, though generally a little cheaper than the low-end receivers I found. You mention that an amp won't have an FM tuner - is that the only difference?
  5. cwaddell2002 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2005
    Raleigh, NC
    Generally home theater implies more than 2 speakers, but really if you want to call the room you watch movies or tv in a home theater - do it, its your place.

    An amp, generally, has one input, and takes that signal and amplifies and outputs it to the attached speakers. Sometimes (and in the examples I linked) they also provide a gain knob (volume control for our purposes). A receiver, combines an amp with some sort of source selection, and usually a radio tuner. In other words, the reciever lets you choose between several sources, such as a tv, a computer, a dvd player, a cd player, an 8-track deck, etc, then the chosen source is sent to the built in amp and outputted to the speakers.

    The above is the practical difference. Technically, and this is only in general, and not always true, a separate amp is going to be higher quality, and will more accurately amplify the sound. Whether you can hear the difference depends on how good your hearing is, and whether you care to try to listen for it. Some people can hear the difference, some can't, and some just don't care either way.

    Obviously you want a balance, you don't want a crappy amp hooked up to great speakers, or vice-versa. OTOH, your source files, a good portion of the time are mp3, and depending on the encoding quality, you may hear the compression artifacts from the encoding process long before you hear any difference from the quality of your amp or speakers. I suppose this answers some questions but also asks some new ones, regardless, I hope this helps.

    Also - FWIW, avsforum is not just for home theater, there are plenty of stereo people there, and everyone is generally happy to help anyone....
  6. OsageCowboy macrumors newbie

    Apr 21, 2010
    Based upon what you said, this is what you need:


    It includes an integrated 1080p/3d capable receiver, subwoofer, virtual surround, and 2 speakers for less than $300. Plus, you can always add center and surround channels if you so desire.

    I just ordered mine this morning.
  7. cmm thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2006
    Thanks! I'll let everyone know how fixing my Klipsch speakers turn out - if the results aren't desirable, I'll begin my search for a new stereo setup... :)
  8. cwaddell2002 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2005
    Raleigh, NC
    With all due respect:
    Was there a part of "I don't watch tv, and don't plan to" that you missed? All that HDMI switching and other things are completely unnecessary for someone who wants to listen to stereo from their laptop. Also, that sub isn't, its a bass module, and with response up to 200hz will be localizable, so your placement options will be limited. The specs are meaningless as they don't come with db ratings, so it can make noise at 35hz, but if it is 10% THD and down 20db then it doesn't really matter does it? Also, fullrange drivers don't do a great job producing the upper end of the frequency spectrum (think no highs, no lows, must be bose) Also its underpowered for a 20 x 20 room, also - well really, I could go on, but it doesn't seem to be the right product for the OP. Now don't get me wrong, I'm really glad you ordered one, that you were able to share your new purchase with the community and such and hope you will be happy with it, but that doesn't make it right for everyone.

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