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Upgrade or Not? Wanna be smart and need advice...


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A quick background on where I am in this journey/hobby. I listened to crappy Bose cubes through a decent Yamaha receiver (85 watts driven) for most of my life. A couple years ago I started to realize it wasn't the quality sound I thought it was. So I upgraded over the next 6 months and landed with the following...


Same Yamaha AV receiver
Two (2) Klipsch R-12SW subs (Rated down to 29 hz)
Four (4) Klipsch RP-150M bookshelves for my two fronts and rear surround (75 watts Cont/93 db eff)
One (1) Klipsch RP-250C for my center channel (100 watts Cont/96 bd eff)

So that brings me to now...


I still have all the speakers outlined above from my first upgrade noted above. All Klipsch. The 4 bookshelf and center channel speakers are 5 inch cones. These are all Reference Premier speakers so a step up from entry level. The two subs are 12 matching 12 inch cones but are entry level subs, not premier. They are rated down to 29 hz for whatever that is worth. Between the two, they seem to have plenty of power for my room but I realize the other speakers are built better. That said, I have no complaints.


Last week my old receiver died and I replaced it with a Yamaha 7.2 A-880 (100 watts driven). It has all pre-outs if I want them. I realize the value in properly setting things up. My speakers are all calibrates for level and distance and are all set to small with crossovers of 100 hz for the bookshelves and 90 hz for the center channel.


The room was an addition so there is only one door sized exit in the center of the rear wall. The room is square and 19'x19' with a flat 7.5' ceiling. All walls and ceiling are drywall. However, the back wall is the exterior brick from prior to the addition construction. The room is carpeted and two windows are covered with thicker drapes. There are no acoustic treatments at this time. Overall, I think it's a great room to work with.


The audio system is situated on the front wall with the two subs to the right and left of the TV and center channel. The center channel is below the TV with slight angle upwards as it sits on acoustic pads with an angle. The subs are situated at 25% and 75% of the front wall facing out. The rear surrounds are tucked into the two rear corners.


The new 7 channel AVR opens up some options for me to upgrade some things which is my predicament. I feel like my last upgrade generated a quantum leap in my audio quality and it didn't cost me a fortune. I don't know if any additional upgrades are prudent or just me chasing my tail. I realize I can make things better but at what cost and return on my money?

The upgrade I have in mind is kicking the two front channel bookshelves to the sides for 7 channel surround. I would replace them with Klipsch RP-260F towers for the two front mains (125 watts cont/97 db eff, 34 hz low end rating). However, will this be a big upgrade in sound quality? It’s the same horns as my bookshelves with 6.5” cones so they could go a little lower. Also, would my receiver be powerful enough to get the most from these speakers or would I need to also add an external power amp via the pre-outs on my receiver? My gut tells me adding a power amp would be the only way to get the most of the upgrade if I were to move forward. My main goal here is to improve my music listening experience.


My questions are as follows:

  • Is adding a power amp even necessary or smart?
  • With or without an amp, are adding tower speakers going to truly improve my audio quality or will it be such an incremental step that I can barely hear the difference?
  • Should I be more concerned with my room acoustics before I start spending money on speaker upgrades?
  • Are Klipsch RP-260F speakers more than I need for my room? I am guessing 280’s would be overkill for the room size.
  • Should I instead be thinking about my subs?


I may be willing to spend a little cash but only if I know what I am spending the money on. I don’t want to throw over $1,000 at my system and only have the prestige of bigger speakers to show for it without an audible difference. I want to take it a step further but I feel like I am entering a grey area where there are no clear answers, at none that are obvious to my novice mind.

Any thoughts are welcome. Thanks in advance.


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My own experience started much like yours, 20 years listening to Bose then upgrades!


Bigger mains would give you a little more punch but not much else.


The 2 things to consider are room treatments and bigger subs.


Treating the room has an ROI off the chart.  Few do it, but those that do, understand.  You can upgrade 50x and never achieve the benefits of some good basic room treatments.


Bigger subs will dig deeper, get you down to 20hz or even 10hz if you want to get there.  


No need for outboard amps, speaker upgrades or anything else yet imo.


Treat the room, then reassess.  I could show you graphs of treating a room but that does little to let you HEAR that difference.


Decay times are tamed and made more uniform...giving you a much clearer, less boomy experience.  One of my theaters easily blows away any theater and its just a bunch of work or money (diy or buy them for 3 or 4x).


Ask about anything you want help or direction with.  👍

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Thanks for the feedback Robo. Room treatment would seem to be a very affordable option. If I were to add treatments, I would probably do the following:

  • Add some traps to the two front corners. I don't think I would do anything to the back corners given their distance from the subs and the fact that one of the two corner walls is brick.
  • Add some modest wall treatments to the right and left walls using some common sense in terms of where the worst reflections might be.

I realize the flat ceilings are probably a major source of reflections but I am hesitant to go that far as I also have to balance the fact that I share the space with my girlfriend. Do you think I can get away with no ceiling treatments or am I missing a critical component?


In terms of subs, I am certain better subs would make movies better. However, would it impact music listening that much? I am sure a pair of good subs will cost a good penny.

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A few things.....


subs.  one sub allows a very good sound in one place in the room, other places (say the seat next to that main spot) will not.  when you add a 2nd sub, you greatly improve seat to seat consistency.  some use multiples to provide higher spl


treatment.  position of treatments matters ONLY with regards to absorbing near reflections...i.e. in most rooms treating where the front three are bouncing off walls is very key to "unsmearing" the sound field.  


when it comes to bass traps (properly called broadband absorbers) if they are in the room they are equally effective...thus putting big bass traps in the back will have equal effect to the front no matter their exact distance.  i have 18 bass traps in my small room!  and another 20 or so absorbing early reflections (so many to cover my front wall and even absorb the surround reflections.  yes i have them on the ceiling...but most dont go there).  i built my own panels as its cheap and easy.  about 1/3 the cost of buying them.  


its a long explanation i will skip...but bass frequencies are huge wavelengths.  your goal with treatment should be to reduce early reflections of your mains, and some bass traps which combined with the other panels will work to lower and make more consistent the decay times in your room.


very few understand decay times...the reason many rooms sound bad when loud is because they have resonances that make certain frequencies ring way too long.  also, bass hangs around in a room too long, and the traps reduce that decay time in a big way.  while that may seem like it absorbs your bass, in fact it does but only in a way to smooth out frequencies that resonate too much.  my overall decrease in spl was maybe 2db...and the result is so clear i will never have a home without at least one treated theater space.


treating a room this way results in a WOW in how clear music is, and dialog from the center channel and

a WOW in hearing bass that never creates boomy scares, instead it perfectly follows the recording.  bass gets "tighter"


want cheap good subs and willing to build or buy?  avsforum has a vbbs thread,and a $29 jbl sub thread.  and a martysub thread, all easy diy options. most are also for sale used in classifieds.  but yes, music will benefit on the bottom end, especially if you listen toanything with hard beats.  


movies prefer a sub that can go down to at least 20hz with authority

music benefits from punch provided by designs tuned higher and mains with large woofers


they are somewhat interchangeable and somewhat a tradeoff for each other



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Thanks for all the great feedback Robo. I plan to explore your recommendation of adding some treatments. I think I will likely take that step before pursuing anything else for now. I even started to try to sell my girlfriend on the idea which is not simple lol.

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