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scardeal
scardeal Reader
8/30/10 2:24 p.m.

It has been recently demonstrated to me that the speakers in my home-theater-in-a-box, quite frankly, are crap.

I had been using 2 of the speakers in my Forza man-cave, but decided that I wanted to finally set up surround sound in the living room again. Well... a friend gave me a pair of speakers he had lying around, and I swapped out my speakers for his pair. It was night and day. And his speakers aren't anything to write home about.

It's like the revelation that comes from driving a Miata when all you've driven are SUVs.

So, I've been scheming to get a good set of speakers, but I've been blown away at how much this stuff costs. It seems like the good stuff is all > $100 per speaker.

In true grassroots fashion, then, is there any way to replace at least the front 3 speakers with something better, and maybe improve the enclosure somehow? BTW, I can't spend more than ~$200, probably.

Pointers, tips, commentaries, websites?

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim Dork
8/30/10 2:29 p.m.

Good speakers cost very good money, which is why I've mainly been buying used good speakers instead of cheaper new ones.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
8/30/10 2:32 p.m.

I bought a whole 7 speaker Yamaha setup for $240 brand-new in an open box. Retail was something like $600. It was a showroom floor model set and while the audiophile types might poo-poo it as barely adequate... it sounds great to me.

YMMV... I drive an unmuffled car without ear protection when I forget to bring the plugs and ditto that for the rifle range. I might not be the best guy to ask... I notice my wife has to shout to get my attention.

alex
alex Dork
8/30/10 2:57 p.m.

WHAT?!

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH SuperDork
8/30/10 2:57 p.m.

Cheap but decent speakers are easy to find used. Just see how the speakers you're replacing sound with an MP3 player, then plug it into the new speakers you're testing and see what the difference is. If you can't test the speakers don't buy them.

zomby woof
zomby woof Dork
8/30/10 3:05 p.m.

Post a pic of the cabinets. Maybe you can change the lousy drivers for something much better for very little.

http://techtalk.parts-express.com/index.php

PubBurgers
PubBurgers Dork
8/30/10 3:09 p.m.

For store bought stuff, I've found that Klipsch sound very good. You can snag the five speaker setup at best buy or HHgregg for ~$300 if you bide your time.

mtn
mtn SuperDork
8/30/10 3:11 p.m.

Get used. I saw a rough pair of Thiel's for 300 shipped on ebay a few days ago.

Thiel, Magnapan, B&W (bowers and wilkins), Phase-tech, ADS, Gallo, and Monitors are the brands that I've heard that I like. There are also some good Klipsh out there used for a good price that play loud and have surprisingly good fidelity. I bought my pair for about $150, and no, they aren't comparable to my dads Thiel's, but they are certainly louder, and for an unfinished basement they are surprisingly good. This is mine:

scardeal
scardeal Reader
8/30/10 3:44 p.m.

The setup is not unlike what's shamelessly hotlinked below.

From what I've been reading, it sounds like the whole speaker will have to be replaced.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 New Reader
8/30/10 4:02 p.m.

Ug. Those set ups always sound bad.

You can DIY a nice set of speakers and save money, but you really, really have to design it right to end up with something really good. If you want to go that route, you'll need to do some book learnin'.

If you want to skip that, I agree with the folks who say "go used". Amazing deals if you look for a bit.

Keep an eye on your local craigslist. Check in the thrift stores too. Believe it or not, my B&Ws came from Goodwill. My ADS L810s (very nice speakers) were $9 from another thrift store.

If you want a pretty decent speaker that's still smallish, keep an eye out for a pair of Boston Acoustics A40s. They're kind of a gem. Oh! And learn how to replace foam surrounds. For about $5 you can fix a pair of speakers often listed as having "blown woofers". Of course, if they're really "blown" they're dead. But if it's just rotted foam you can get a great deal. Very easy to do. If you end up with that project and need some help drop me a note.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 New Reader
8/30/10 4:14 p.m.

These are pretty nice speakers

http://annarbor.craigslist.org/ele/1911952169.html

Wow, smokin' deal, but more than you want to spend- might think about it though.

http://annarbor.craigslist.org/ele/1904155322.html

These could both be good. Worth a listen.

http://annarbor.craigslist.org/ele/1899472128.html

Lots of deals on DCMs in your neck of the woods. I had a pair of these for a long time. Very hard to part with them. A true classic.

http://annarbor.craigslist.org/ele/1887475110.html

Hard to go wrong with Advents:

http://annarbor.craigslist.org/ele/1873295954.html

More DCMs - these would be outstanding- better than the 250s earlier. I had a pair of these for a while too. Loved them.

http://annarbor.craigslist.org/ele/1855734157.html

mndsm
mndsm Dork
8/30/10 4:34 p.m.

I got my JBL Northridges for free. Cones weren't smashed or nothin', happened to be in the right place at the right time. Sold my sale priced Polks for 200$ shortly thereafter, and ended up making 200$ on a free set of speakers.

YMMV- but wait for apartment move out day. If you have access to buildings, it's amazing what you can come up with. I also have a set of RTR 300D's I got for free. They're rough, and they need foams like whoa, but they're free, and I'll probably make some decent ching on em if I A- get around to them, or B- don't trade them for something that amuses me more than speakers.

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe Reader
8/30/10 5:16 p.m.

I am of the opinion you have to have big speakers if your a man.

Ignore the chainsaw. www.audiogon.com has everything. used you could ever imagine as well.

zomby woof
zomby woof Dork
8/30/10 5:49 p.m.

I love electrostats.

Get some carpet in that room

DrBoost
DrBoost Dork
8/30/10 6:17 p.m.

Pick up a set of used Magnepans from eBay. They are big, ugly and need a sub but sound like secks. The only downsides, they are huge and they are the epitome of "garbage in, garbage out." I had a pair and was in love. Then I upgraded all my interconnects and speaker cable. The difference was AMAZING!! Then I upgraded my hardware and the difference was AMAZING yet again. After a pair of electrostatics it's hard to go back to anything else.

madmallard
madmallard New Reader
8/30/10 6:35 p.m.

you can get a good deal on used speakers but its rare you'll find something matched without lots of hunting...

and I don't think its unreasonable to ask for $100 a speaker for quality sound. That would be a bargain to me for a new speaker.

fast_eddie_72
fast_eddie_72 New Reader
8/30/10 6:40 p.m.

Ohhhh. Martin Logans. Heard a pair once. They're pretty amazing.

scardeal
scardeal Reader
8/30/10 8:07 p.m.

In reply to madmallard:

I think I'm only really getting my feet wet here. I've only experienced really low end speakers that have been bundled with radios and whatnot. It's the first time I've actually sat down and heard a real marked difference with speakers that weren't obviously compromised.

mtn
mtn SuperDork
8/30/10 8:23 p.m.

Look around for a high-end audio store around you. There is a good chance they will have used speakers, or can at least point you in the right direction.

alex
alex Dork
8/30/10 8:36 p.m.

I have an insatiable curiosity for running something like this as an amplifier. (For the record, this is a pretty great guitar amp with a little light modding.)

http://stlouis.craigslist.org/msg/1927635181.html

Why wouldn't it work?

z31maniac
z31maniac SuperDork
8/30/10 9:08 p.m.

No one mentions building your own?

There are numerous proven DIY designs for audio speakers.

Check out the Parts-express forums, audiokarma, etc.

I had a guy design me a left/center/right setup as a 2.5 way setup for the mains, and typical horizontal MTM for a center using Peerless mids and BF Neo3 Ribbon Tweeter.

But the speakers/XO components alone are going to run $550 for that before the cabinets are built.

They will meet "THX" specs, and the two mains will be capable of nearly 108dB on 70watts each.

jefmed2
jefmed2 New Reader
8/30/10 9:19 p.m.

a LP, a tube amp, and electrostats = listening nirvana

pigeon
pigeon Dork
8/30/10 9:28 p.m.

My favorite "cheap" home theater setup - Energy Take5 Classic - $399 at Amazon all day.

I have a set of Definitive Technology Cinema60 home theater setup, the current version is 2 generations newer. Sure, I'd like a bigger, harder-hitting sub for when I get to watch movies loud, which is rare, but other than that I love them.

+whatever on buying used; my local high-end dealer has lots of trade-ins for sale which is nice because you can hear them before putting the money down.

jrw1621
jrw1621 SuperDork
8/30/10 10:25 p.m.

I fell into a great deal. There was this guy...he approached me in a parking lot and in his van he had a second set of speakers. The place he bought them from loaded two pairs by accident. I paid less then half of what he paid for one. At $400 they were a bargain. He showed me an invoice for $1,000 for a pair.

mtn
mtn SuperDork
8/31/10 12:02 a.m.
jrw1621 wrote: I fell into a great deal. There was this guy...he approached me in a parking lot and in his van he had a second set of speakers. The place he bought them from loaded two pairs by accident. I paid less then half of what he paid for one. At $400 they were a bargain. He showed me an invoice for $1,000 for a pair.

Sounds shady to me...

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