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OT -- LCD TV with decent sound
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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6093
Location: Westchester/NYC

8/18/11 9:04 AM

OT -- LCD TV with decent sound

I vaguely recall some comment here about paying special attention to the speaker and sound quality of LCD TV because so many of them have poor sound quality. I can kind of see the lack of a huge enclosure might make it a bit harder to come up with quality sound.

I just had Verizon Fio installed in my apartment in NYC. It came with a bunch of music channels. There are some pretty good classical music selections. But the TV I just picked up randomly really doesn't do too well with the sound quality. It's about as bad as the earliest generation of boomboxes. Thin base and almost no resonance. It's borderline torture listening to a violin concerto! I'm guessing the speakers are really meant for movies and sitcoms.

I'm assuming it's the TV not the signal. But I can't test it out without hooking it up to something that makes good sounding music.

So, I can see 2 directions I can go:

1) try to hunt for a small'ish TV (<25", it's a rather small apartment) with decent sound. But I don't want to spend a lot of time and money doing that. This is a TV I only use maybe once or twice a week for a couple hours. Can someone tell me I have any chance of finding anything useful? Or am I better off to forget about getting enjoyable classical music out of these TV's?

2) Get a stereo system! -- The only draw back here is all that hassle of getting a half way decent amp (however inexpensive), speakers (not always easy to find decent ones without spending too much), and the hassle of having so many different pieces of "gadget"!

Obviously the first option is a lot less hassle. And if it turns out to be the signal from the cable is really not that great anyway, I'm not stuck with all pieces of stereo I don't use.

Opinions and advices welcome.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15809
Location: Portland, OR

8/18/11 9:21 AM

Sell the pieces on CraigsLList, or donate to goodwill and take the deduction maybe?

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PLee
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 3493
Location: Brooklyn, NY

8/18/11 10:06 AM


quote:
the hassle of having so many different pieces of "gadget"!



Hassle?? Sounds like heaven for a guy!!!

Seriously, you can upgrade your sound with not a whole lot of cash with a small, 5 channel, entertainment system.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6093
Location: Westchester/NYC

8/18/11 10:30 AM

ok, clutter then, if not hassle.

But seriously, I have too much "gear" with my various hobbies. Not a matter of money. But I'm getting to the point of hating seeing all the "stuff" laying about...

Trying to simplify my life, AFTER it already gotten a bit out of hand! :-[

Though I do understand TTF forum isn't exactly the best venue to start a 12-step program for clutter-anonymous... ;-)

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sandiway
Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 4902
Location: back in Tucson

8/18/11 3:31 PM

headphones?

Since you are so space-limited, why not a pair of high-end headphones with a headphone amp?

Sandiway

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Wheels
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 1139
Location: Needham, MA

8/18/11 4:02 PM

Cake and Eat It Too

If you already have a stereo, reading below you may not, then swap the amp/receiver for a HMDI unit (<$400). Plug the FIOS cable into the receiver and the tv in the receiver along with the curent stereo speakers. Now you have HD TV and the sound is HD.

If you don't already have a stereo, the mini 5/7 all around sound systems piece units will do it. But your looking at $500+ for those (typically). They take up minimal room. About the size of largeish dvd/cd player.

Try craigslist for used stuff. Much cheaper than new at the Box/Internet stores and solid state electronics typically don't break after a year or two of use.

Wheels

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6093
Location: Westchester/NYC

8/18/11 5:42 PM

I don't already have a stereo. So I'll have to acquire them. Hence the hesitation. Amps I can easily find them on Craigs list, since quality isn't all that far apart as long as I stay away from junk brands. Speakers are a different matter. Even average listener can tell a good spearker from a bad one. So it's not quite so easy to find bargains in decent speaker people are willing to part. Speakers are also a bit more temperametal, unlike amps which almost never break.

I'm fortunate and unfortunate to be able to hear the difference between good speaker and so-so speakers. I'm ok to put up with TV sound as long as it's tolerable. Sadly the current TV is borderlining torture when it comes to classical music. Maybe there isn't a TV that will do a ok job and I'm better off to go the stereo route? Once I go down that route, I might as well get something good.

But deep down, I don't want to go down that route.

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ChrisI
Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 31
Location: NJ

8/18/11 6:29 PM

Just a thought...

April...maybe a sound bar would fit your needs...very little clutter with much better sound than TV speakers.

http://www.crutchfield.com/g_316150/Sound-Bar-Speaker-Solutions.html?tp=47370

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KerryIrons
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2850
Location: Midland, MI

8/18/11 6:57 PM

Mini theater

There are several decent "home theater in a box" systems available in the $500 price range. Very small speakers, small woofer, and an AV receiver. The sound will be MUCH better than what you have with your TV. I'm partial to Cambridge Soundworks but there are many other companies out there. Many TV companies assume that people will get a separate sound system so they really scrimp on the speakers they install with the TV.

The soundbar idea does cut down on "clutter" but test after test has shown that the sound is really not great if you are looking for a home theater experience. If all you want is stereo sound, they are fine though they might not be cost competitive with a decent (comparable sound quality) satellite/subwoofer.

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 3772
Location: Nashua, NH

8/18/11 7:28 PM

I have a 26" Sharp Aquos...

...with speakers on the sides and the sound is outstanding. Although I do have a home theater setup, I don't need to use it unless I've looking for higher volume, lower bass and surround. For regular TV, the built-in speakers are fine.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6093
Location: Westchester/NYC

8/18/11 7:54 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll have to think about it a little bit and maybe go listen to a few samples...

I'm not so much into the "home theater" effect. Sure it's nice for watching movie on TV. But I actually do very little of that. Classical music is about 50% of what I use the TV for. (I'm typing this with the TV on, playing some opera. That's what I use for background music too! ;-] ) Now with Fios, there're actuall 2 classical music channels!

With classical music, there's a lot of subtlety in the notes. So a balanced amp+speakers are usually what it needs. I've yet to hear a system that involves sub-woofers performing too impressively. The cross-over point was clearly audiable, and that's a bit disturbing.

Though it's been a while since I try to hunt for a new stereo system so maybe they've solve that problem satisfactory...?

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15809
Location: Portland, OR

8/18/11 8:49 PM

"Speakers are also a bit more temperametal, unlike amps which almost never break. "

FWIW, I have the same few sets of speakers for decades.

DCM Time Frames, Boston Acoustics Monitors and pair of Radia X3s. I have gone though a few amps keeping up with Dolby though... I do make my own subs, it is all in the enclosure, and a good driver[s] I use the previous Dolby amps for the Subs... The oldest re purposed Pro-logic amp is a 1990 or so IIRC. So still in use although not for a Dolby spec that is obsolete.

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Nick Payne
Joined: 10 Jan 2004
Posts: 2297
Location: Canberra, Australia

8/18/11 10:04 PM

I found that when I went from a Loewe CRT set with good speakers to a Samsung 46" flat screen unit, the sound on the Samsung was, by comparison, crap. I guess with a set that's only a couple of centimetres thick, there's nowhere to put a decent loudspeaker. As I listen to quite a lot of classical music DVDs, I bought a 2nd hand Marantz AV amp for $100 and hooked up an old pair of Wharfedale Diamond III bookshelf speakers that I hadn't used in years. That gives pretty good sound - stereo only, but I don't listen to or watch any programs that require surround sound.

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 3772
Location: Nashua, NH

8/19/11 5:17 AM

Music through a TV? Yuck!

In most flat panel TVs, the speakers are an afterthought and you'll never get good enough sound for critical music listening. You need a hifi system for that.

Home theater isn't only for movies, as many TV shows and sports events are broadcast in surround sound. If you're listening to music that's broadcast in stereo, only the front right and left speakers will be active, so if you have good front speakers, you don't give up anything by having a home theater vs. a hifi system.

The secret to a good subwoofer implementation is that the sub and the speakers have to be matched to each other. If they don't have the same sensitivity, the balance between them will be off whenever you change the volume. Also, the volume setting on the sub may need to be quite low. My girlfriend recently bought a sound bar for her TV and we hooked up a subwoofer that we had kicking around. The best volume setting is at around 1 1/2 on a scale of 1-10. If you can tell there's a subwoofer, it's set too loud.

That said, on my own home theater, I have a pair of JBL L112s and no subwoofer, as they don't need the help. The 12" woofers in those puppies weight 13 pounds apiece and produce tight, accurate bass down to 20 Hz.

I have a separate system for music, with a more powerful amp and a pair of Ohm Walsh IIs, which I like better than the JBLs, despite the fact that they don't produce the bottom octave or two as well.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15809
Location: Portland, OR

8/19/11 10:07 AM

"Music through a TV? Yuck!"

I am all with this. Give me some ribbon tweeter and some acoustically well engineered speakers, and add in a sub with phase adjusting to match the speed of the smaller drivers in these HT fronts middles and rears with for music and 5.1 sound tracks and I am a happy camper...

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6093
Location: Westchester/NYC

8/19/11 11:51 AM

new question

Went to Best Buy at lunch time. Saw a whole bunch of speaker "systems" (4 tiny speakers and a central one). Many priced at $200-300. That's a price I can easily swallow, and a price I could hardly get a pair of regular speaker even at Craig's list! So the question becomes: do these make as good sound as the old-fashion regular speakers?

For music, that is. Not "movie home theater".

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15809
Location: Portland, OR

8/19/11 1:27 PM

"For music, that is. Not "movie home theater"


Depends on brand and tweeter type mostly. And the cross over is critical. Cheaper speakers use mylar film drivers [not for me] and cheap capacitors to keep low out of the tweeters and let the low range speaker take the entire spectrum.

Conversely a good quality speaker has an active crossover in it that keeps the highs out of the low range speaker with a coil, expensive capacitors in the network, and expensive materials for the tweeter drivers. And is specifically designed to use that x-over and drivers in a well engineered balanced unit to 'reproduce' hi fi. IE a symbol sounds like a symbol and not like a brash splash of highs attempting to approximate a symbol.

Another point, real music does not have [for the most part] the bass we usually pump into what we listen to FWIW. Thus you really will not need a sub to reproduce trains, earthquakes, explosions. etc. Unless your tastes lean to thumping bass, and you like to feel the kettles and cannons in the 1812 overture et al.

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Wheels
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 1139
Location: Needham, MA

8/19/11 1:55 PM

April, you live in an apartment

where the acoustics are probably mediocre at best. Forget about creme de'la creme stuff. If you're into the sound quality, Sandiway's suggestion of top of the line headphones is probably the best approach for the $ for your situation. Another idea is these:

http://store.cambridgesoundworks.com/Home-Theater-Products/b/2858425011?ie=UTF8&title=Home%20Theater. The 105's series.

I have the Newton MC80's, and the MC300, and MC50's for my set-up. They are pretty decent, and I didn't spend an arm and leg for them.

I know people will shutter when I say this, but Bose makes a nice sounding HT system, that would sound nice in a small apt. I think Bose aren't very high end acoustics, but they're not bad.

As far as which of the $200-300 systems are best, take a few CD of your favorite music types in and have the sales guy/gal play them on each. Make your decision from there.

Wheels

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6093
Location: Westchester/NYC

8/19/11 2:27 PM


quote:
Another point, real music does not have [for the most part] the bass we usually pump into what we listen to FWIW. Thus you really will not need a sub to reproduce trains, earthquakes, explosions. etc. Unless your tastes lean to thumping bass, and you like to feel the kettles and cannons in the 1812 overture et al.

You're quite right.

I don't want to FEEL the music. I want to listen to it!


Wheels, thanks for the specific recommendation. I'll take my time and go check out some model that are mentioned here.

I don't exactly need to fill the room with music. I sit down and listen. (when I'm moving about and hear it as background, I don't notice the sound quality)

Headphone is out. I don't like to wear something on my head. I don't even wear a hat when it's 35 degree out...

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KerryIrons
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2850
Location: Midland, MI

8/19/11 6:04 PM

Sub/sat


quote:
I've yet to hear a system that involves sub-woofers performing too impressively. The cross-over point was clearly audiable, and that's a bit disturbing.


I would have to say that you listened to either a very poorly set up system or a crap system. I have two different sub/sat systems and they sound GREAT. One is a pair of Newton M80s with a 10 inch powered sub and the other is an original Cambridge Ensemble (two 4 inch 2-way sats and 2 8 inch subs) plus a 12 inch powered sub. The subs both have phase, crossover, and gain controls and you can really taylor the response. I'm thinking you have never heard a decent sub/sat system. They really are a good way to get good sound with small main speakers.

As far as speakers being tempramental, my oldest speakers (AR-1) are about 50 years old and have never given me any problems. I have had speaker surrounds get crumbly after 35 years in a sunny room, but I don't consider that a lack of durability. I've been through a number of sets of electronics in that time but all of my speaker systems are still working fine, most of them for several decades.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15809
Location: Portland, OR

8/19/11 8:01 PM

"I know people will shutter when I say this, but Bose makes"


I quite agree, well engineered acoustic offering. Even that Wave radio sounds linear and good to my ears.

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sandiway
Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 4902
Location: back in Tucson

8/20/11 9:43 AM

re: headphone is out

> Headphone is out. I don't like to wear something on my head.
> I don't even wear a hat when it's 35 degree out...

You don't wear a helmet? :0

How about custom-molded in-ear monitors? Nothing on your head.

http://ultimateears.com/en-us/products/custom

Sandiway

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15809
Location: Portland, OR

8/20/11 10:06 AM

Perhaps a bose acoustimass system would give you a few thing which may make sense.

Small drivers not obtrusive to your room, though it does have a sub, sit it in a corner and no need to over EQ more bass than your tastes desire. [or more than is inherently in the piece].

With a Bose or other higher quality system, the bass will be parts of the sound and not an extension of loud and low that sounds like it is separate, but rater just blended lower frequencies reproduced accurately.

You will have a nice filling of your space with the music you are listening to. And also if you watch a movie be able to take advantage of the engineering which has gone onto the Dolbly sound track of movies et al.

Dolby sound track i movies are not just booms and loud bass. Sound engineers like to use the channels for nuances, example the server in a restaurant walking by a table the main conversation in going on and focus of the scene and camera etc. The jingle of the plates the server is carrying going from the channels across as the server does. It is a layer in movies that surely adds dynamics to the enjoyment of and the reason for HT.

We always will have the HT, we like a projector, but a good reasonable screen scaled to the seating/watching area does not have to be huge, and in fact should no be.

You get the benefit of having both the sound system that does the tasks of music listening and HT use with one dime, I should point out.

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 2847
Location: Springfield

8/20/11 2:53 PM

Bose listener

I've had the good fortune to be given two Bose radios, the smaller ones. They sound fine in the two rooms. I also have a stereo setup with real speakers for real listening and a 5.1 on the PC. The Bose sound is between the two other ones. They do "fill the room with sound." But they sound kind of hollow. I hooked up a friend's little Bose to her little flat panel and she was very happy with the results.

I hesitated to write because of anti-Bose opinion. These radios have a distinct sound that is not as natural as a regular stereo, but the full range is there.

One inexpensive alternative (probably free if you work in IT) is to get a pair of self powered PC speakers and see how you like the sound. My friend's example above replaced a PC speaker setup I made for her. The PC setup wasn't as compact as she wanted. Her existing Bose radio was perfect for her. BTW, it sits on her FIOS box in front of the TV, and the FIOS controller can be set up to control the Bose too.

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Steve B.
Joined: 19 Jan 2004
Posts: 645
Location: Long Island, NY

8/20/11 3:19 PM

Coming in late, but I tried the 5.1 speaker setup, borrowing some speakers from work and purchasing a Sony receiver.

My wife and I both hated the complexity of having to turn on the receiver and the TV and the cable (now FIOS) box.

I then heard the Bose Cinemate system, 2 speakers that sit alongside the TV and a sub woofer unit. The Bose remote controls all - audio, TV and cable box.

Sounds just fine, music as well, though nothing sounds as good as routing the FIOS audio output into the stereo system, but I never bothered.

The Cinemate system does have a "tailored" sound, which is what Bose is know for, a fool-the-ear effect that turns some people off.

I find it easy to use and it sounds great and does exactly what I wanted, simple, easy to use, though a bit pricy at around $500. EDIT: BJ's has this for around $430 or so, so shop around.

Steve B.

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