I have been selling truly state of the Art hi-end audio systems for over 30 years for some of the finest stores and demanding clients in the world. I have extensive experience in designing, selling the right components for each clients needs, and have the highests standards of setup and calibration. I consider myself an expert in this field.
This thread is most likely for the average consumer and I am trying to give this gentlemen some sound advice and a correct perspective on what to look for in buying a system and not to underestimate the importance of the electronics.
I have always believed and heard in many systems, that its the electronics that make the most difference, and people are so suprised how good even the least expensive speakers can sound.
If you take a decent pair of speakers and couple it to very good to excellent electronics it will always outperform the very best in speakers with poor to average electronic.
Speakers can only reproduce what there given !
One of the best systems Ive ever heard was with about 30 thousand dollars of electronics with a seven hundred dollar pair of speakers.
I agree "without a doubt" that speaker placement is the single most important thing in any system. Setup and calibration is a whole other subject that I think would only confuse this gentlemen at this time and I am trying to keep my recommendation simple and as short as possible.
I have in other posts talked exclusively about speaker placement and room acoustics.
I consider this subject to be my highest degree of knowledge in the art of setting up a truely hi end audio system.
I would have to disagree with the fact that people are limited on placement on subwoofers. Most people believe that you can put subwoofers anywhere,certainly not if your into sound quality. Many also believe corners are the best place to put them. Wrong again !
First off Bass "is directional". So putting a subwoofer behind you is just plain wrong. Subwoofer placement is critical for sound quality. As you said about the main speakers depending on were you place your speakers will effect the over-all bass responce as will the same with subwoofers. You can completely change the frequency responce by were you place them. You should be able to hear each note, and should not sound like its at one frequency. Also I always recommend two subwoofers unless your into mono, because music is recorded in stereo, and no matter just about any instrument and vocals reproduces frequencys in the range that "MOST" subwoofers still have to reproduce. One subwoofer colapses the soundstage and makes it sound compressed and small. Just logically if you have a stand up bass player or any other instrument mixed to one channel in a stereo recording and you have one subwoofer where is it now going to sound like its coming from ! I highly recommend two woofers or a pair of full range speakers.
Same for the rears since it is a full range signal. Ideally I like to recommend in a surround system that all the speakers be the same. No tonal balance change from front to rear, and dynamics and soundstaging are consistant as well.
I understand were your coming from on the remote control side, you speak as a purist as am I. you feel money is better well spent on the equipment which relates to sound quality. no argument there but . .
for the AVERAGE consumer, ease of operation is a huge part of a system. Now that everyone in the home is to use the system it must be easy to use. Single remote control properly programmed is essential to the average consumers "audio Video" system.
I actually sell and design systems much higher end, strickly seperate components, I am a expert in analog turntable systems, vacuum tube electronics, and that is out of the realm of what most people can affort.
I am trying to help this gentlemen, with a simplified explanation of what to look for in designing a system, without getting to technical so a novice can understand the basics.
I feel there is a tremendous amount of miss information in this industry (unfortunitely) even in trade magazines and I feel sorry for consumers trying to figure this all out. It can take a life time to understand lol. Thats what I love most about this industry and this hobby its never ending what you can learn, and designing systems for customers that would normally take years to understand can easily use and enjoy the overall sound.
Oh and as far as klipsh and JBL, I have worked for stores that had the very best from these manufactures the JBL synthesis system at $75 grand and the klipsh la scalla's and corner horns, but for me I still feel theres soooo much better for even less. Hell I would take a pair of Wilson Watt puppie 8's at less than half of what these manufactures have to offer.
Recommended speakers for me:
Now as you know speakers are subjective, and one of the first questions I ask people is: when you go concerts where do you like to sit. All speakers differ in tonal balance and perspective. Perspective meaning the distance away from you the performers sound from you. Some speakers (and electroncs present the music more forward or more distant from you. That comes down to personal preference. No wrong answer there.
I feel a loudspeaker should play music well first, then it will work in any surround sound system as well.
My favorite speakers are the Soundlab A1's which are full range electrostatics. Not for everyone lol size and equipment requirements.
I also respect Wilson Watt puppies, they are one of the few speakers out there that mate up very well with a wide range of electronics and they are small enough they can be used in just about any room.
Now these are speakers out of most peoples price range but there are brands in the modest price range that offer very nice sound quality. Even the old trid and true pair of
vandersteen 2c's for about $1200 offer a full range sound, with pretty good tonal balance and decent resolving power (detail, with decent electronics) They are a little fussy on placement but not to bad, not like electrostatics.
Hope that does'nt confuse the origninal gentlemen lol but what Im trying to say is do alittle homework, be carefull what you read and hear, read only from the respected magazines that I mentioned before. I strongly suggest finding a independent dealer (your local hi-end audio store, not a chain store) be come friends with one of the sales representative and pick his brain, but buy from him as his knowledge is priceless. He deserves you business. Take your time, enjoy the process, and unless you have year to learn this art put your trust in the salesman.
I have designed systems for Herbie Hancock, Phil Collins, many actors and actress's and for some of the most discriminating listeners.