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  1. #1

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    Default Advice on vintage Polk 7.1 setup

    Hey everyone,

    First post on the Polk forums. Looks like a great community you have here! I'd like to know your opinions on my current setup and what I could do to improve it. Currently I have the following in my home theater:

    Pioneer Elite SC-27 (7.1, 140 Watts/channel) running...

    Fronts - Polk 2.3's - Just got them this past Saturday for $400 in mint condition! 8 ohms, 50-750 w/channel - Blown away by them so far...

    Side Surrounds - DCM Time Windows - 5 Ohms minimum/6-8 Ohms nominal, 200 watts max.

    Rear surrounds - Polk RTA-11t's - 6 Ohms, 10 - 250 watts

    Center - Yamaha (can't remember the model), 140 watts. 8 ohms, I think.

    Subwoofer - Two Polk PSW-505s.


    What would be a good vintage center and side surrounds to match the rest of my polks? Or would I be better off getting one of the newer center models? Finally, would I benefit greatly from adding an additional, more powerful amp to power (at least) the 2.3's? Any other suggestions?

    Thanks for you opinions and insights...

    Alan

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    2.3's are TL or no? Non TL have donut drivers on the top and bottom of the 4 row woofers.

    Bill

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    Bill - They have the donuts, so no, they are not the TLs.

    Alan

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    Alan,

    Welcome to Club Polk! Use the search function, and I think you'll find lots of discussions around these questions.

    There are many choices you can make that will improve the overall sound.

    I think that most people here agree that the Pioneer Elite line is very nice, but that nice separates (a nice processor, or your current receiver via pre-outs, driving 1-7amps) will almost always improve the sound over a receiver. But let your ears be the judge of that.

    As far as speakers go, I've always thought that using speakers with the same tweeters (and therefore of similar vintage) would sound best together. I'm slowly (VERY SLOWLY) assembling a vintage Polk home theater with Polk monitors upgraded to the RDO_198 tweeter.

    Overall, I think you'll get more improvement for your money by matching speakers first. But, that's just my opinion.

    Good luck!

    Dawg

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    Thanks for the response, Dawg. That's kind of what I was thinking as well - having matched speakers might be my best bet on getting a more cohesive sound from my setup. However, if adding extra power (especially for the 2.3s) is also highly recommended, that will probably be a lot easier to add to my setup now (vs. hunting down a vintage center channel in good/great condition).

    I know what you mean by "slowing assembling" a vintage Polk theater. It's taken me quite a while to find the ones that I have now. It's fun looking though...

    Alan

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    Grab a Polk CSiA6 for your center, get rid of the DCM's and get another set of RTa 11's or find a set of RTa 15's.

    I would also suggest a dedicated two channel amp for the SDA's and a good 5channel for the rest.
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
    Two Channel... Carver Statement 450~1 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks, Dodd Mid-line Tube Linestage with Psvane 12Ax7 tubes, Pioneer Pdd 9Mk II SACD Player, Yamaha PX-3 Turntable with Sumiko BPS EvoIII, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TLs.


    "The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living." Brad Shurett

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    nooshinjohn - Thanks for the suggestions. I'll keep my eye out for another set of RTA 11's or 15's.

    Thanks,

    Alan

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    Heh, I love how many people are doing this :) I am green for your 2.3's, but I digress...

    I think that more RTA's might be overkill for a HT setup, because the vast majority of the sound in these 5.1/7.1 tracks is stereo and center. For the money, space, and time, I think you might be better off finding several pairs of monitor 5's for the various surrounds that you want to run(side surround, wide surround, high surround, back surround) and even possibly pairing up two 5's to make a center channel. On the other hand, matching the tweeters between your mains and others will be less important for HT use than it would be for a stereo music setup.

    Personally, I have been working towards a 7.1 HT as well, and I think it is closing in on decent:

    Main - SDA 1C
    Center - CS350LS + CS200
    Rear - Monitor 5
    Side Surround - Monitor 5
    Secondary Mains - RTA 15
    Sub - PSW505

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    phocion - Since there is less content in the side and rear surrounds, I somewhat agree that larger speakers are overkill. But then again, if there is a train or a jet airplane roaring through the fronts into the rears, do you want it to be wimpy sounding when it hits the rears? I think that when a demanding signal is present (no matter in which speaker it occurs), you want a large speaker with multiple drivers that can handle it with ease. Or, maybe I just really like large, impressive looking speakers. :-D lol

    Having said that, your setup sounds nice. :-) You suggested running two speakers as a center. How are you doing that? Are you using the regular center output, as well as center pre-out to another amp to power a second center? I've heard of people using multiple subs (me included), but I don't think I've ever seen someone's setup with multiple centers. What was the motive behind that?

    I'll keep an ear out for some Monitor 5's in my area...

    Thanks,

    Alan

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    If I was going to use SDA's for HT, I would save my money and run a 2.1 system, and kill the sub when playing music. Just my thoughts and the route I would go.

    I say at least try it but keep in mind what you get out of the SDA's is how you power them, and how you set them up. Spikes are a must IMO.

    Enjoy!!!
    No Way But The Hard Way, So Get Used To It!!!

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    Toolfan,

    Yeah, I was considering running the 2.3's in a Stereo-only setup, just for music listening. But then I thought that maybe I should get the best of both worlds and add them to my 7.1 (7.2) setup. Do people not usually run SDA's as fronts in a surround sound setup? I was just listening to some SACD's tonight, and the 2.3's up front sounded sweet to me!

    My 2.3's already have small 1" feet on the corners of them. I assume those are sufficiently comparible to spikes? (Since most of the speaker isn't making contact with the floor).

    Regarding power - how much is enough? I've been looking at those Emotiva amps. I've heard lots of hype/good about them, and I've heard lots of bashing/bad things as well. Right now they have a sale and I was looking at either the 2-channel XPA-2 (300 watts RMS x 2 into 8 ohms, 500 watts RMS x 2 into 4 ohms) or the 5 channel XPA-5 (200 watts RMS x 5 into 8 ohms , 300 watts RMS x 5 into 4 ohms).

    I'm not sure which would be better for my setup. My Pioneer Elite seems pretty beefy, but those Polk Speakers (both the 2.3's and the RDA 11t's) seem to demand a lot of power. The DCM Time Windows aren't anything to sneeze at either when it comes to power consuption. I'm thinking I need more power because my Pioneer shutdown on the depth charge scene on U-571 when I had all of the speakers set to Large. (I was playing it pretty loud though.) And that was before I added the 2.3's to the system...

    Opinions? Go with a more powerful 2 channel amp for just the fronts, or get a 5 channel amp where each channel is more powerful than the channels on my Pioneer Elite SC-27?

    So many choices and decisions to make. LOL

    Alan

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    Some people have SDA's in a 5.1/7.1 or 2 system I was just giving my opinon on what I would do that is all. Yes I say get an external amp the XPA-2 would be my choice for the 2.3's if I was to go the Emotive route. But the XPA-3 would be fine as well. Let the Pioneer handle the surrounds it will fig the bill there.

    Now even though I have an XPA-3 in my HT they would not be my first choice for an amp. I have just been lazy with my HT set-up otherwise I would have a Adcom,Rotel or Sunfire in there. I am more about my 2 channel set-up then my HT.

    Get your ears on a few amps if you can. If you think those SDA's sound good with the Pioneer your in for a big treat when you put some power to them.

    Also make sure the amp you get is common ground or at least that you can tie the negitives together..
    No Way But The Hard Way, So Get Used To It!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by phocion View Post
    Heh, I love how many people are doing this :) I am green for your 2.3's, but I digress...

    I think that more RTA's might be overkill for a HT setup, because the vast majority of the sound in these 5.1/7.1 tracks is stereo and center. For the money, space, and time, I think you might be better off finding several pairs of monitor 5's for the various surrounds that you want to run(side surround, wide surround, high surround, back surround) and even possibly pairing up two 5's to make a center channel. On the other hand, matching the tweeters between your mains and others will be less important for HT use than it would be for a stereo music setup.

    Personally, I have been working towards a 7.1 HT as well, and I think it is closing in on decent:

    Main - SDA 1C
    Center - CS350LS + CS200
    Rear - Monitor 5
    Side Surround - Monitor 5
    Secondary Mains - RTA 15
    Sub - PSW505
    I disagree with the notion that larger speakers are overkill in a surround setup. I run LSi'15's as my surrounds and they do a fantastic job in that role. I don't think I could go small again. And listening to 5.1 music/concert video sounds so much better with large speakers. 5.1 SACD is simply amazing.
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
    Two Channel... Carver Statement 450~1 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks, Dodd Mid-line Tube Linestage with Psvane 12Ax7 tubes, Pioneer Pdd 9Mk II SACD Player, Yamaha PX-3 Turntable with Sumiko BPS EvoIII, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TLs.


    "The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living." Brad Shurett

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    Toolfan - Yeah, I know you were just giving your opinion, and I appreciate that. I was just asking an honest question back. I'm new to the SDA world, so that's why I came to Club Polk...

    To somewhat go on a tangent on my own thread, do you think that all three of the front channels should be powered by the same amp? If I only bought a 2-channel amp, that means the center would still be powered by the Pioneer. I'm almost leaning towards a 5 channel amp so I can run the 2.3's and the 11t's (and possible use the last channel for the center)... but then my Pioneer is just left with 2 speakers... that almost seems like a waste of a nice receiver.

    Regarding the brand of amp, I'm trying to get the most bang for my buck. I don't need the absolute top of the line amp, but don't want something that will possibly risk my speakers due to distortion.

    And hearing that the 2.3's will only sound better with a more powerful amp makes me smile. **grin**

    Alan

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    Quote Originally Posted by nooshinjohn View Post
    I disagree with the notion that larger speakers are overkill in a surround setup. I run LSi'15's as my surrounds and they do a fantastic job in that role. I don't think I could go small again. And listening to 5.1 music/concert video sounds so much better with large speakers. 5.1 SACD is simply amazing.
    Thanks for chiming in, Nooshinjohn. That's the way I've always leaned as well. The more enveloping the sound, the better. If it's too loud, you can always turn the volume down a notch or two. If the speakers are too small, there is nothing you can do to get that bigger/richer sound...

    That being the case, should I get (if I can find them) a pair of 1.2's for fronts, demote my 2.3's to rears, and keep the 11t's for side surrounds? :D

    Alan
    P.S. My basement is fairly large, and I can turn my system up to reference level fairly easily... the neighbors don't seem to mind... too much.
    Last edited by audio_alan; 07-13-2010 at 12:45 AM. Reason: spelling...

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by audio_alan View Post
    Thanks for chiming in, Nooshinjohn. That's the way I've always leaned as well. The more enveloping the sound, the better. If it's too loud, you can always turn the volume down a notch or two. If the speakers are too small, there is nothing you can do to get that bigger/richer sound...

    That being the case, should I get (if I can find them) a pair of 1.2's for fronts, demote my 2.3's to rears, and keep the 11t's for side surrounds? :D

    Alan
    P.S. My basement is fairly large, and I can turn my system up to reference level fairly easily... the neighbors don't seem to mind... too much.
    One set of SDA's in a surround setup is more than enough. Stick with the 11's and maybe the 15's.

    The more I have though about it I believe the 11's will be more than enough to fill out the 4 surround spots.
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
    Two Channel... Carver Statement 450~1 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks, Dodd Mid-line Tube Linestage with Psvane 12Ax7 tubes, Pioneer Pdd 9Mk II SACD Player, Yamaha PX-3 Turntable with Sumiko BPS EvoIII, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TLs.


    "The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living." Brad Shurett

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    Yeah, perhaps that is getting ridiculous. lol I think I have a lead on another set of 11t's as we speak (well, type...).

    Nooshinjohn - What do you think about powering the 2.3's? 200 wpc minimum, more? My 140 wpc Pioneer Elite is pushing them (to some degree), but I wonder how much more is needed before they are fully satified.

    Alan
    Last edited by audio_alan; 07-13-2010 at 12:55 AM.

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    You will need better power to make the SDA's come to life. If you have never heard them properly powered, then you have never heard them at all.
    HT Setup... Pioneer Elite SC-37, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TL's , Oppo BDP 93
    Two Channel... Carver Statement 450~1 Vacuum Tube Monoblocks, Dodd Mid-line Tube Linestage with Psvane 12Ax7 tubes, Pioneer Pdd 9Mk II SACD Player, Yamaha PX-3 Turntable with Sumiko BPS EvoIII, Polk Audio SDA-SRS 1.2TLs.


    "The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living." Brad Shurett

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by nooshinjohn View Post
    You will need better power to make the SDA's come to life. If you have never heard them properly powered, then you have never heard them at all.
    Yeah, that's what I keep hearing. Sounds like these things are real power mongers... but when you give "that" power, it pays off in a huge way.

    Even at 140 wpc, I think they sound great (compared to what I was coming from). I can only image what they'll be like with a more powerful amp... :D

    Alan

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by nooshinjohn View Post
    I disagree with the notion that larger speakers are overkill in a surround setup. I run LSi'15's as my surrounds and they do a fantastic job in that role. I don't think I could go small again. And listening to 5.1 music/concert video sounds so much better with large speakers. 5.1 SACD is simply amazing.
    Well, I agree, and my preference would be to have as many amazing speakers as possible :) My suggestions are more in terms of practicality than pure audio nirvana. All the time and effort that would go into finding those RTA 15's and replacing the tweeters on the lot might be better served by selecting smaller speakers, and putting time and money toward other considerations, such as power or steps toward an anechoic chamber.

    I was running the rta 15's as a back channel in a 5.1 setup for a while. I sat down and ran through a few favorite scenes in movies with just the backs plugged in and was sort of dismayed at the quantity of sound that was being pushed off to that channel. With 7.1, it is even more apparent that huge speakers in these locations are more of a luxury than a necessity, but your mileage may vary.

    I am also showing my bias toward the monitor 5's, which I think are one of the best little speakers I have ever heard. They pack a serious punch for their size, and any low frequencies that they miss will be more than covered by the ".2" dual subwoofer configuration. Every time I listen to 5's, I have to grin at the genius that is a sealed PR box.

    On the subject of 2 centers, I have the main center (350) stationed directly below the TV, and the smaller 200 above the TV with the wires run parallel from a single center channel. The 350 has an immense power capacity and sounds great, but I wanted to raise the center point a little and broaden it a bit, since so much dialog happens in the center, and my setup can be somewhat unforgiving outside of the classic stereo seating envelope. I got the 200 off of CL for $15, so I am just playing around with it at this point.

    Considering where you are, I think you will get the most bang for your buck by getting a good 2 channel amplifier, plugging it into your receiver pre-outs for the mains, and running the rest of your surrounds with your existing receiver.

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    Phocion - I see your point. Sometimes I watch movies and I think - "Is this movie really in surround sound?". It should almost be a crime to put 5.1 on the case of some movies. For most Comedies, 3.0 would probably be more accurate. ;-)

    But, I still think large speakers make sense for listening to SACDs (and for movies that really make good use of the surrounds). I was listening to a SACD last night and the surrounds were almost constantly in use.

    Interesting idea on the 2 centers...

    Alan

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    I second the vote for Monitor 5's as good rear and side surrounds. I am running RTA12C's as mains, a single Monitor 7C as a center and four Monitor 5JR+ series II as side and rear surrounds. The voice matching is quite good, you can tell the difference while playing the pink noise / white noise set-up tones, but in an actuall movie the sound pans from speaker to speaker so well!
    Polk Audio RTA 12c's, Monitor 7c, Monitor 5JR+, SDA CRS+

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    I should have added my weak link is a lower in the hierarchy Pioneer Elite AVR. It gets the job done for now but someday when my ship comes in I will look to upgrade it.
    Polk Audio RTA 12c's, Monitor 7c, Monitor 5JR+, SDA CRS+

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    See system below - lots of big speakers - lots of powerful amps - a good pre-pro - a great universal player - and it sounds great. I've never had a problem in my system with having speakers be too big.
    I do have a pair of 2.3tls in the guest room system but that might be a bit of overkill (if I wanted to go to a 7.1 system.)
    Good Luck, Phil

    SRS-SDA Front
    2 cs400i Center
    SRS-SDA Rear
    Shure 12in sub
    B&K ref 10 pre-pro upgr to ref 50
    Techniques 1200 TT
    Mac MR71 Tuna
    Lexicon rt-20 uni player
    PSE Studio pre for TT
    2 PSE Studio Mono Blocks
    4 PSE Studio Stereo Amps
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    Last edited by Phil Dawson; 07-13-2010 at 03:17 PM.

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    Phil - Nice setup! How many wpc are you pushing to your SDA's? Do you think I'd hear a big improvement between a 140 wpc Pioneer Elite SC-27 (8 ohms) vs. a 200 wpc (8 ohm)/300 wpc (4 ohm) external amp? Or is that still not enough power to really make my 2.3's sing?

    Thanks,

    Alan

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    External amp 250-300 watts of good clean power is the only way to go IMO.

    Come over to my house and I will give you a preview.
    No Way But The Hard Way, So Get Used To It!!!

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    I am pushing each of the 4 SDAs with about 300+- wpc. I am not a fan of receivers but since yours uses ICE power they are digital amps, small and they don't have issues with heat some of my reservations are taken care of. There are better sounding amps out there though. The thing to remember about power is that to increase the sound output by a factor of 2 (6db) takes a Power increase by a factor 10. In other words a 100 wpc amp only can sound twice as loud as a 10 wpc amp. There are also issues of headroom to consider. In general I am more interested in the sound of an amp than the power output. I have heard amazing things from tube amps only outputting 3-5 wpc. I use the PSE amps more for their sound than the amount of power they produce. The one place you probably do need gobs of power is for the sub-woofer. I wouldn't be in a panic to throw a bunch more money at your 2.3s. I have a pair that a drove for a while with one PSE stereo amp at about 125 wpc and they sounded great.
    Good Luck, Phil

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    Thanks, Phil. Yeah, I'm comfortable driving the 2.3s with my SC-27 (as reasonable levels). I think it has enough power to keep from damaging them, but I just keep thinking - "How much better could it get?" The specs of the 2.3s suggest that they can handle gobs more power, and from everything I've read, it sounds like I'm right around the corner from spectacular sound. Maybe I just have upgrade-itis, but if better sound is just a $700 purchase away, I want that sound! :-)

    Not to mention, if I replace the DCMs with another set of RTA 11t's, then I'll have four 250 watt, 6 ohm speakers. Sounds like more power would definitely be benificial to have, especially when playing one of those extremely demanding scenes in a movie...

    Toolforlifefan - Sent you a PM.

    Alan

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    I'm not sure that you are going to find a 7ch amp of high quality (better and more powerful than your pioneer) for $700. My 2 cents recommendation would be to look for a pair of 2.3tls run them in the front and run your 2.3s in the rear. If you go the separates route you most likely will spend a lot more cash (not a bad thing and many of us have) as you will probably wind up spending a lot more than you think right now to reach the ever rising next level of sound quality. By the way it is an exercise in diminishing returns. You might also consider a high quality source. The Lexicon RT-20 universal player although it doesn't play blu-ray originally sold for $5000 and can be purchased on the used market for about $800 if you are a bit patient. That could make your system sound better too as it is a great sounding player. And then I forgot you can upgrade you interconnects and get an outboard AD/DA converter. Did I mention speaker wire and power cords? You could also build a new room and things could get better (I know several people who have) It really never ends. Enjoy the ride.
    Good Luck, Phil

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    Phil - Yeah, a 7 channel amp probably won't be that cheap. However, I was looking at the Emotiva amp lineup, specifically the XPA-5 (200x5 8 ohms, or 300x5 4 ohms). Sounds like an affordable amp that could give my SC-27 a little extra breathing room for the remaining channels. Other people mentioned Adcom, Sunfire, etc, but those seems to be a lot more expensive. Usually the "you get what you pay for" adage holds true, but sometimes you can find exceptions to the rule. Having said that, I'm usually a middle/upper-middle of the road kind of guy. Sure, a $5000 amp will (most likely) sound better and have more power, but would I be happy with a $800-$1200 amp instead? Probably. And that would leave $3800-$4200 for a new projector, or new speakers, etc...

    I'm not sold on any brand right now. I'm just trying to figure out my power requirements for these vintage Polk speakers so I can take my system to the "next level".

    BTW, a pair of 2.3tl's sounds great, but it took me long enough just to find the regular 2.3's! I'll have to look into the Lexicon RT-20...

    Thanks for the responses,

    Alan
    P.S. And yes, I'm aware that this hobby (read: addiction) never ends and has diminishing returns. There is always a better amp, speakers, stands, cables. But hey, we have to spend our money on something, right? lol

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    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 12-07-2007, 04:32 PM
  5. Vintage Polk speakers for home theater Vs. vintage JBL?
    By jpchleapas in forum Vintage Speakers
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    Last Post: 05-23-2006, 12:03 PM

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