A change of Surround Speakers

My original side surround speakers were an excellent PSB 10S Bipoles. But due to a structural issue, I originally had them mounted high up on a shelf, about 2.2m above the floor and about 4 feet above my listening position. This resulted in an uneven sound experience and the Audyssey compensated by turning up my left surround much louder than my right. Furthermore, i could not get the enveloping effect I was used to with my old setup, as the speakers were near the ceiling, and a little recessed on the Ikea shelf. Now you may think that it was no big deal, but it resulted in a rather unsatisfactory ambience and it was hard to feel the surround experience I had created before.

So I decided on a few options:
a - bring them down and drill a hole into them and mounted them underneath the old shelf in an underslung fashion. 
b- I also researched into the Monitor Audio options, since I was already using them for the front speakers. This seemed to be the better option for a few reasons.

One the drivers of the new RX series were more similar to my older GS series, allowing for a more seamless integration. The RX FX speakers also had a switch which allowed them to be either bipole or dipole. 
There was a pair of mounting lugs behind, which allowed the speakers to be mounted almost flush with the side walls without a shelf or a bracket. And this suited my narrow long room better. There is a whole debate on the dipole / bipole issue, and here is a link to a good article on the matter: (http://forum.blu-ray.com/showthread.php?t=170720).

Of note is that you use the Dipole mode in a way such that you sit in the null zone between the two tweeters, to give a very diffuse sound and I found this to be more ideal since my sitting position was almost exactly between the two side surrounds.

Some specs and info on the MA RXFX:

It's widely understood that the sound of surround TVs cannot compete with the excitement of a properly designed and equalised home theatre system. But great sound comes at the expense of living space…until now. The wall-hugging RX-FX surround speaker reconciles the problem by providing a convincing, enveloping timbre-consistent surround sound that places you on the edge of your seat and at the heart of the action. Discreet enough to be flush-mounted on side or rear walls, the RX-FX design will blend with the system and your d├ęcor so completely you'll wonder why you ever thought of compromise. It's also immensely flexible sonically, offering direct or diffuse sound effects at the flick of a switch.

  • Flush to wall placement, with recessed termination.
  • Drivers match with other Rx loudspeakers for consistent timbre and consistency.
  • Dual di-pole/ bi-pole modes easily selected by switch operation.
  • New C-CAM® tweeter design with damped rear chamber, providing improved clarity and wider operating range to make better use of HD audio formats
  • Single 6" C-CAM® bass/mid-range driver incorporating RST® technology, for better damping and improved mid-range clarity.
  • Selected premium quality wood veneers or high gloss piano finishes.
  • Acoustically matched with all other Rx speakers for excellent imaging and consistency of timbre in surround applications.


System Format: 2 Way
Frequency Response: 60Hz - 35kHz
Sensitivity (1W@1M): 89dB
Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms
Maximum SPL (dBA): 111.8
Power Handling (RMS): 80W
Recommended Amplifier Requirements (RMS): 10-80W
Bass Alignment: Sealed Cabinet
Tweeter Crossover Frequency: 2.1kHz
Drive Unit Complement: 1 x 6" RST® Bass/Mid driver.
2 x 1" (25mm) C-CAM® gold dome tweeters
Product External Dimensions:
(H x W x D)
 250 x 300 x 120 mm
(9 13/16 x 11 13/16 x 4 3/4 inch)
Individual Weight: 4.69 Kg (10.38 lb)

I found that the experience with these speakers in the dipole mode, sited about 75 cm above my listening position was pretty good and I then swopped the PSB bipoles to the rear back position. This was also an improvement as the rear backs were in a less than ideal or Dolby dictated position and still allowed for a good spread of the sound in the rear soundstage. 

If you have $6000 to spend on a HT system

Now let's see:

For a small HDB bedroom setup...

What do I like - caveat, this is my personal taste...

Leaving 1.5 to 2k for an AV amp. I would suggest stretching to something with XT 32. That will be nice, but if that's too high, get a XT equipped one that has 7-9 channels of amps, so that even if you don't use it, it will have enough power reserve.

Now I am partial to Denons, and will readily recommend the 4311 for < 2.5k, but that could be too much, so an Onkyo 3xxx will also provide XT 32, especially if you can score a 2nd had one.
Otherwise it will be a XT version.
Personally I prefer that to the other auto-EQ systems.

That leaves the 3312 Denon, and the Marantz 7005, which are pretty similar inside. Under 1.8k

For speakers, there are many alternatives, so spend time to check them out.
It is your loss if you only audition at one shop.
B/W speakers are great, and will give you a lot of sound, but you owe it to yourself to try the others too.

Even in a confined space, you can opt for bookshelf speakers and use a good subwoofer to beef up the bass.

IMO, the Monitor Audios combine well with these amps, and the newer ones do not sound so treble happy, so they will suit most system. The RX series from MA will give you a decent setup, but avoid the RX 6 floorstanders in a small space.

Other good bookshelf speakers include the Quads, Ushers and the KEF. But most important for anyone going into HT, the centre must be solid. I upgraded my own Silver MAs to the Gold series to enjoy the sound from their LCR centre. Very good solid sound and hard to beat at it's price.

The Dynaudios are superb stuff too, but for a 5k speaker budget, you will need to compromise and perhaps get the front three from them and get budget rears from Mission, Ushers and other cheaper brands. Most of the sound comes from the front three anyway.

That's how you stretch your dollar to spend on the important things. Save on the rears, save on stands, and spend on the subwoofer, the centre and the fronts in that order for anyone considering HT as the main use for their system.

You can save on stands by opting for Target / Atacama instead of the same brand stands.

Get decent cables. I use QED micros for the rears, but LHS in SLT can show you value cables from the Belden series for both fronts and rears. Spend more on the front three.

Also buy a sufficiently long subwoofer cable. Again Belden is fine.

As for the subwoofer. I suggest stretching to get a good sized Hsu, Rhythmik or SVS, as you will regret scrimping on this and ending up not being satisfied.

All this can still fit under 6-7k...

Enjoy the journey... :)

John Carter movie review

John Carter movie review

The current lack of a big TV has forced me to explore the cinemas more, and it was with some initial reluctance that I decided to go, especially with the new price increases, but it turned out to be a good experience.

Firstly with a friend's discount, I got a cheaper ticket and the show we picked turned out to be a nice show....

The actors in John Carter are no A-list ones, but in a sci-fi effects driven show, all you need is good screen chemistry, a good mixture of action, romance, humor and excellent pacing and you will have a hit on your hands.

This is the first time out for the director Andrew Stanton who is more famous for his Pixar cartoons, and he chose one of the minor actors from Wolverine, Taylor Kitsch (who played Gambit) and the gorgeous Lynn Collins (aka Silverfox from Wolverine as well), who plays a princess who is hot, kicks ass and becomes his love interest . Throw in Mark Strong in another villainous role and you have the basis of good versus evil thing.

Then borrow elements from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Stargate and Scorpion King, throw lots of money into the CGI, special effects and mix vigorously for a movie, which is a tad short on freshness of story but certainly delivers for the action and big moments.

Don't ask either of the leads to milk out Oscar winning acting, and instead sit back and enjoy the fun-filled swash-buckling action, moments of tenderness interspersed between some rather side splitting moments of humor and you have a rather good way to spend 131 minutes.

There was also a nice lovable alien doggie.... who brought out the smiles and awws... despite a rather grotesques initial appearance...

So does John Carter save Barsoom, get the princess, and the hot and ride off into the sunset on a six legged beast? Well I guess you have to watch it to know....

Plot - 3/5
Action 3.5/5
Chick factor - did I mentioned that Lynn Collins is HOT? 4/5

Well I reckon there is enough demo-worthy action in this show to justify a viewing and if they do the sound engineering well, it may also become a good Blu Ray disc to keep. One certainly for the big screen.

Some links on buying a TV...

 Just sharing a post I made about choosing a TV:

1 - have a budget, and use this link to see what are the actual prices others have paid:

Then see the stickies in Hardwarezone, on LCD vs Plasma Vs LED for the pros and cons of each technology.

Places to buy:

Other useful info are kept here:

Remember, you need to filter through all the marketing noise and the sales talk, then understand what type of stuff you watch:
SD = standard definition like free to air TV, or DVDs
HD = high definition, like Blu Ray

Then see which are the popular models and choose from there based on your budget.

I personally prefer plasmas for their picture quality and energy consumption is secondary to PQ.

I seldom watch TV, and the lowest quality I go is for DVDs for old movies, but Blu Ray discs form the majority of my viewing diet.

I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

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