I am no 'seasoned' audiophile and fairly new to the audio world myself. Would love to share with some of my findings:
1) No experience with SACD since I have too big a CD collecion to move on :-( According to lots of people, SACD is audibly better.
2) my couch is right up against the wall too! Just put two surround speakers on the side on the same plane as my listening position. Works OK. I'd not veture into di-polar, sounds fishy to me.
3) No liner conditioner is need, unless you live in an area that has 'visibly' bad power, where lights often dim ....
4) I like Cardas cables because their engineering and specs are convincing. For your system try their mid priced cables.
I'd highly recommend SACD, it is incredible and well worth it. I went with the Denon 2900.
I have been in the hobby for over 25 years.
1. SACD is an improvement over CD's. However, there is a limited amount of software. It is worth the extra $200 to give you the option of dvd-a/sacd.
2. Dipole surrounds will not work in your setup. Dipoles require that you seating position be at least 5' from the rear wall.
3. Power conditioning is a must. I have a dedicated 20amp line for my eq and I still use power conditioning. It will filter out all the noise from home appliances as well as anything coming off the power grid. You can pick up and inexpensive panamax or monster power conditioner for less then $200.00. Also, these units also offer warranties for equipment replacement if they ever fail.
4. Cables do make a difference, but finding the ones that will work in a system can be frustration. Over the years I have tried cables from at least 30 different manufacturers. Right now I'm using cables from 6 different manufacturers in my main system. It's fine to mix and match. I would recommend that if your on a budget, then buy used cables. That way if they don't work in your system you can usually resell them for little or no lose if you turn them around fairly quick.
I am currently using a pair of Paradigm titans in the bedroom system. A lot of bang for the buck. Also, check out the little B&W DM303's. Again, a lot of banf for the buck.
Thanks for the feedback.
I've subsequently been advised that the rear (surround) speakers should be as powerful as the front b/c new music releases are increasingly employing content on those channels (esp. w/ SACD). This line of reasoning seems a little weak to me--any thoughts??
Rear speakers should be "voiced" like the front's. It's best to use speakers from a single manufacturer so that pans are seamless from one speaker to the next.
SACD is an absolute must--not because of the enhanced audio quality, which is of questionable value--but because it's almost certain to become the next standard. Right now, SACD is the only viable weapon the record companies have against declining margins, rampant bootlegging, and the booming popularity of Internet downloads. Even if buyers can't her the difference, expect the companies to cram SACDs down their throats. There was a great article in Businessweek about this a few months back.
If I were buying a new audio system, I'd be sure to make the SACD the focal point. You should learn from Beta vs. VHS...
Trust me, Paradigm is not the way to go.
Paradigm's rise to prominence is a tale of marketing chutzpah, more than anything else. At a time when all the other other manufacturers were advertising heavily in the typical trade magazines, paradigm ingeniously devised a guerrilla marketing campaign, spreading word through underground channels that it was a company for "in-the-know" consumers who wanted high-end fidelity at a lower price point. Gradually, the company developed a positive reputation amongst pseudo-audiophiles, when in reality its products are far inferior to others in the same price category. You'll hear from people that paradigm was founded by a bunch of brilliant Yale grads, that it can offer better pricing because of superior sourcing, etc...as far as I know, none of this is true. if you test out their speakers in-store, you'll hear what i mean.
for the same price as the paradigm, i'd go with harman kardon, or better yet, vendela.
Thanks for your input. I've heard from many other sources that Paradigm is "the real deal" and that they are able to provide a better value than their competitors due to:
1) Lower labor costs in Canada, and
2) Impact of the US Dollar's appreciation against the Canadian Dollar from 1992-2002. Since much of their sales are in USD but costs (at least labor and overhead) are in CAD, they have historically been able to offer a better product for the same USD price than their competitors. Since the USD has depreciated so much in this past year, it will be interesting to see if Paradigm raises their prices.
I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this.
I doubt labor costs are any lower in Canada after adjusting for foreign exchange. I always thought the reason Canadian speakers provide good value is because of government subsidized R&D.
firstly, I'm no expert (at anything), but here's is my 2 cents....
i agree with peacefrog's first part of arguement...global market these days...free trade capitalism...
i think paradigm offers a great product (with some attention to detail) for the price due to size of company/dealer network (a lot like Trek bicycles(only good anology i could think of), benefitting from high quality mass production.
government subsidies? Yale grad students?...i think it's just an economy of scales thing (remember that term from econ 101?)...every town i have ever lived in has had a paradigm dealer (and a Trek bicycle shop!)
but there are better, smaller, companies out there that can really pay attention to details and make refined, value based products due to smaller overhead and fierce competition...
that being said, i currently own paradigm monitor 7v2s and have been very happy but have begun looking for upgrade (see current thread for modest arcam alpha system speaker upgrade)...honestly, when i bought them, i didn't demo any competitiors because nothing else looked as nice that was in my price point in the audio shop's speakerroom
as for the SACD thing...I am a resistor to the movement...i also am not a huge fan of denon...maybe a little old school, but i like stereo and stereo production...not digital manipulation of stereo albums to be played on sacd
i know, a lot of compact discs have already been manipulated from analog...but "i'm talking about drawing a line in the sand, dude"....any joe shmoe should be able to manipulate the image and soundstage if he has 5-7 speakers to work with...where is the fun in that?...i'd suggest looking into buying a high quality cd player and a cheapo dvd player...
guerrilla marketing!...what an awsome concept....i picture jim beloushi and dan ackaroyd dressed in black get-ups with ski masks in some dark NYC alley pushing gorrillas on unsuspecting passer-bys....
Of the mass market speakers Paradigm offers some of the better value for your money. Can you do better for the same money? Most definitely.
In your price range I'd check into Epos ELS-3, Monitor Audio B2, Acoustic Energy and consumer direct companies like Ascend Acoustics and Axiom.
Here's my .02
Don't waste your money on items like expensive cable and line conditioners. Use your home's electrical outlet and buy speaker cable at Radio Shack. Honestly, it really is that simple. Anything else is money wasted. Do spend your money on your first thought, an SACD player.
Remember source and speaker are the key, cables and line conditioners aren't IMHO.
Good luck whatever you choose.