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It begins... (home audio thread)

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Like a message from God Himself, I was browsing through speakers the other day, with my eye on a set of Polk Audio R30s. I visited Outpost.com, and the speakers were $58.00 apiece.

I bookmarked the link, thinking I'd order when I was ready. Clicking through to another part of the site, I went back to glance at the speaker page again. What's this? $41? Second lowest price ever recorded for these speakers.

How could I resist?

Obviously, I couldn't.





These speakers are generally regarded as an unbelievable value. I've exhaustively researched a lot of speaker sets and there's nothing else that even touches these in terms of positive reviews vs. dollar value. I love my Polks in my car, hope these work out as well. I figure they can be migrated to rear surrounds if I decide to buy something better.

Next on the agenda: a Yamaha RX-V657 receiver, and a new USB soundcard for the laptop. Soon, my precious, soon...

I will be updating this thread as I progress with my system.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Today the speaker wire arrived:



I went with 12 gauge even though my runs will be short. It wasn't significantly more expensive than 16 gauge and it'll go in the closet in case I need to do long runs for surround speakers or something.

Also got an optical cable for the USB sound card, which I haven't ordered yet. I figure, worst case (if I don't get the sound card I'm planning on getting) it'll go into the back of my PS2 if I don't sell it:



We're getting there :D
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,658
25
behind the viewfinder
my squeezebox has both digital out (optical) and analog out (typical RCA jack). i can't tell the difference between AB testing, personally (my receiver can take both inputs).
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
narlus said:
my squeezebox has both digital out (optical) and analog out (typical RCA jack). i can't tell the difference between AB testing, personally (my receiver can take both inputs).
Yep, but the soundcard I'm looking at only does digital out unless you use a splitter on the headphone jack. The cable wasn't that expensive - accessories4less.com has some pretty good deals on cables.

I could have gone with a digital coax cable, but there's only a few dollar difference between good quality digital coax and the optical cable I bought, and frankly, I've been a geek for long enough that there's no way I could have lived with myself if I didn't get a fiber optic cable. Fiber optics are pretty cool :thumb:
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Ciaran said:
What sound card are you looking at?
M-Audio Transit.

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Transit-main.html

Compact, (relatively) inexpensive, and will provide high quality audio output. I'm not interested in any kind of recording or any gaming features, so this seems like the perfect simple device. Most higher end cards do not provide better audio playback, but instead mostly provide more gaming features or recording feautures.

There's a significant amount of people who believe that internal sound cards do not provide optimal sound quality due to the electrical interference of being inside the computer case. That's a moot point for me since it's going to be used on a laptop but I know you said you were building an audio station.
 

Ciaran

Fear my banana
Apr 5, 2004
9,844
9
So Cal
Nice. M-Audio makes some nice stuff. I am looking at a couple of their sound cards for my recording rig.

The more serious high end cards ($$$) have their DA/AD converters shielded, and/or use a break out box.

For me my two main concerns are getting a high quality, clean signal from mic into the PC and a clean quality signal from the PC to my mixing board.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
I'm dying to get this hooked up.

Narlus/Ciaran/anyone else: What do you use for connectors to your receiver & speakers? Bare wire or do you use plugs?

The wire came with gold plated "compression pins" but I've never used 'em before and haven't looked to see how they even work. Always did bare wire connections previously. Are they just screw on deals or do they have some kind of clamping interface? Or neither?
 

Mackie

Monkey
Mar 4, 2004
826
0
New York
binary visions said:
I went back to glance at the speaker page again. What's this? $41? Second lowest price ever recorded for these speakers.
Hey, those are nice speakers at a great price. Could you give me link to the page? Can't find them on the site.
Thanks.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Mackie said:
Hey, those are nice speakers at a great price. Could you give me link to the page? Can't find them on the site.
Thanks.
The reason you can't find the link is because it doesn't exist anymore. I just checked my bookmark and did a search - Outpost apparently no longer carries them. Must have been why they went on sale - blowing out inventory.

Sorry. I heard Polk was discontinuing them.
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,658
25
behind the viewfinder
binary visions said:
Narlus/Ciaran/anyone else: What do you use for connectors to your receiver & speakers? Bare wire or do you use plugs?
for my 'nice' stereo, i had banana plugs installed on the cables, mainly because both the speakers and amp had the corresponding female fittings and it was super easy.

for my surround-sound HT system, it's bare wire (14 or 12g), twisted into the receivera and speaker nuts.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
narlus said:
for my 'nice' stereo, i had banana plugs installed on the cables, mainly because both the speakers and amp had the corresponding female fittings and it was super easy.
Had them installed? Like, professionally? I assume they did a soldering job on them?
 

Mackie

Monkey
Mar 4, 2004
826
0
New York
binary visions said:
The reason you can't find the link is because it doesn't exist anymore. I just checked my bookmark and did a search - Outpost apparently no longer carries them. Must have been why they went on sale - blowing out inventory.

Sorry. I heard Polk was discontinuing them.
Thanks anyway!
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Home for lunch, got out the wire and the compression pins to see how they work. Nice: simple and effective.

The pins unscrew into two pieces:


The wire is then inserted through the bottom piece, and the end is frayed and pushed back against the flat part of the bottom section. Screw the cap on, and bingo, you've got a connection.

 

Pau11y

Turbo Monkey
BV, high end speaker wires tend to fall into the "oxygen free" realm. I was thinking about this a while back and I think a soldering job and shrink tubed to the point of contact might help extend the oxygen free status a bit longer. I have some older 10g monster calbe and they're starting to turn color just inside the plastic (the rest of the wire looks ok, minus the first inch or two where the bare wire exits the plastic). Just $0.02 worth for your $60.00 cable.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Pau11y said:
BV, high end speaker wires tend to fall into the "oxygen free" realm. I was thinking about this a while back and I think a soldering job and shrink tubed to the point of contact might help extend the oxygen free status a bit longer.
Hm. Seems to me that soldering would be unnecessary when a simple wrapping in tape or a careful application of a little silicone caulk would keep everything airtight... wouldn't it?

Just $0.02 worth for your $60.00 cable.
$60 cable? I think I paid $12 for 30ft of it, and that included the compression pins :p ;)

Thanks for the thoughts. Maybe I'll take a fine bead of silicone caulk and dab it around the bottom of the connector and the side. Or possibly some shrink-tubing if I still have some left over. I'm sure this is a little nit-picky for my $82 speaker set, but it certainly won't hurt anything and will probably provide a little more longevity for the wires - keep 'em from corroding as quickly.
 

Ciaran

Fear my banana
Apr 5, 2004
9,844
9
So Cal
1/4" balanced TRS or XLR connectors go from the mixing board to the active monitors.

Depending on the power amp and the passive monitors it could be 1/4" balanced or unbalanced, XLR, RCA, or bare wire/screw/push port connectors.

I have never really delved into high end home audio and I don't know what the industry standard connectors are for home equipment. Being in an apartment I don't have much need for big speakers or amps. The only high end stuff I have ever worked with has been studio or sound reinforcement stuff.

Here's a handy tutorial about cables and connectors. Mostly to do with pro audio but there's some really good info. http://www.tweakheadz.com/all_about_cables.htm
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
I wonder if it would be irresponsible to buy one of these for roughly 2x what I was planning on spending for the receiver?

:drool:

Yes, yes it would be. Irresponsible and completely unnecessary.

Must...be...good...
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Okay, so I went with a Panasonic SA-XR55 digital receiver. Reviews are extremely positive, especially for the price point, and it was $150 less than the Yamaha RX-V657 that I was looking at.

I ordered that, plus the M-Audio Transit, plus a 10ft. USB 2.0 cable, and including shipping, it totaled out to $30 less than the cost of the Yamaha alone. I purchased everything from J&R Music World, and they have a really great 30 day return policy if I decide the receiver isn't right for me.

More pictures and updates to come...
 

-dustin

boring
Jun 10, 2002
7,165
1
austin
i was looking at speaker cable not too long ago. i couldn't believe how much that stuff can cost (i had never looked at it before).
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
the Inbred said:
i was looking at speaker cable not too long ago. i couldn't believe how much that stuff can cost (i had never looked at it before).
General consensus is don't bother with real high end speaker cable. Go with thick, good quality cable at a reasonable price. From what I can determine, $0.50-1.00 per foot is all anyone with anything less than a $10,000 system should be paying.
 

Brian HCM#1

MMMMMMMMM BEER!!!!!!!!!!
Sep 7, 2001
31,290
21
Bay Area, California
narlus said:
my squeezebox has both digital out (optical) and analog out (typical RCA jack). i can't tell the difference between AB testing, personally (my receiver can take both inputs).
With good speakers and a WELL recorded CD you should be able to hear a difference.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Pau11y said:
BV, I found your amp/receiver
http://www.circuitcity.com/rpsm/oid/119865/rpem/ccd/productDetail.do#tabs

Doh! Nevermind, didn't read you had already ordered one.
Got speakers, too :D

Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't really want a 7 channel setup right now. I'm going for a good stereo setup to supply some 'tunes in the living room, and I'll upgrade the pieces as I find the money.

I doubt I'll go to a 7.1 setup anytime soon - more likely that I'll invest in a really nice set of stereo speakers first, and put these other two in the closet until I can afford a 'woofer and a center channel.
 

Kornphlake

Turbo Monkey
Oct 8, 2002
2,639
0
Portland, OR
binary visions said:
Hm. Seems to me that soldering would be unnecessary when a simple wrapping in tape or a careful application of a little silicone caulk would keep everything airtight... wouldn't it?


$60 cable? I think I paid $12 for 30ft of it, and that included the compression pins :p ;)

Thanks for the thoughts. Maybe I'll take a fine bead of silicone caulk and dab it around the bottom of the connector and the side. Or possibly some shrink-tubing if I still have some left over. I'm sure this is a little nit-picky for my $82 speaker set, but it certainly won't hurt anything and will probably provide a little more longevity for the wires - keep 'em from corroding as quickly.
I'm not sure soldering would give you any better resistance to oxygen contamination but soldering will definately give you a lower resistance connection. I'm not sure it's really necessary though. Instead of sealing with silicone caulk I'd get some dielectric grease from an autoparts store (the little packet you buy when you replace your spark plugs or wires should be more than enough for .99 cents,) smear some of that on the wires then poke the wire down into your connector and clamp it down. The silicone grease was designed for that purpose, caulk is for windows and aquariums.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Kornphlake said:
The silicone grease was designed for that purpose, caulk is for windows and aquariums.
I wasn't going to caulk the wires. I was actually considering a little dielectric grease in there to improve the connection but I was just talking about caulking the one place where oxygen will get in - a thin bead around the bottom of the compression pin will seal that space around the wire housing.

Just something to fuss with when I'm bored some day :D
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
I'm such an impatient bastard.

Hurry up, dammit. :mumble:

Status: In Transit -
On Time

Scheduled Delivery: 02/14/2006
Service Type: GROUND
Weight: 16.70 Lbs

Package Progress:

LAUREL, MD, US 02/13/2006 11:48 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
SADDLE BROOK, NJ, US 02/11/2006 1:10 A.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
SADDLE BROOK, NJ, US 02/11/2006 12:52 A.M. ARRIVAL SCAN
MASPETH, NY, US 02/11/2006 12:03 A.M. DEPARTURE SCAN
MASPETH, NY, US 02/10/2006 8:01 P.M. ORIGIN SCAN
US 02/10/2006 6:09 P.M. BILLING INFORMATION RECEIVED
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Okay... Got the package last week, set it up mostly on Friday.

First off, the binding posts on the Panasonic were not 5-way binding posts. Thus, the pins that came with the speaker wire would not work. Headed over to Circuit City and picked up some banana plugs instead. Monster Cable brand, which is extremely overpriced, I know, but these are actually pretty high quality little deals. Very well made, I was pretty impressed.



I also took the pins on the other end and used some self-amalgamating rubber tape to seal everything up and also to help protect against the pins accidentally contacting each other. That tape has got to be the second most useful stuff on the planet (after duct tape). I've used it for at least two dozen purposes.



...and the finished wires:



More to come later or possibly tomorrow if things get busy.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
I have the M-Audio Transit hooked up via the optical cable, and it's tucked away in the TV stand, out of sight.



The M-Audio unit came with a 10' USB cord! I've never heard of such a thing. Many USB devices don't come with a cable at all, and I knew I'd need a long one for this application so I purchased a seperate 10' cord. Guess I don't need it.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Here's the receiver. I was shocked at how small it is - the digital processors really cut down on the size.



If you look closer at the face panel, you'll see that it's receiving a digital signal:



I've read up on this receiver extensively and the general consensus is that it works much better with a digital signal (since it's a digital receiver) than an analogue one. Going with the M-Audio device seems like it was a good choice here.

I've been listening to some music and my early impressions are that it sounds great. I've got the day off tomorrow and will be putting it through the paces with some more musical variety and will try out a movie or two.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Qman said:
This stuff is the best bang for the buck that I've found.
www.diycable.com
They sell Cardas cable in bulk....yummy.
Looks like nice stuff. Completely out of the current pricerange, though. Might consider that for my next system, though, I've always been a bit of a do-it-yourself guy.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Final picture of my current setup:



The pictures were put there to ensure that Jenn didn't kill me for ugly-ing up our living room with my speakers :D - yes, the picture in the right hand one is the paper that came with the frame, we haven't decided on a photo for that one yet.

I learned a lot during this whole process. Good stuff :thumb:
 

-dustin

boring
Jun 10, 2002
7,165
1
austin
are you worried about the receiver getting hot in that space? i only have experience with 2 receivers and both got/ get quite warm when in use, so i arrange them such that they have plenty of room to breathe.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
the Inbred said:
are you worried about the receiver getting hot in that space? i only have experience with 2 receivers and both got/ get quite warm when in use, so i arrange them such that they have plenty of room to breathe.
Analogue receivers get much hotter than digital ones. I ran it for several hours straight and it got warm but not even close to hot.