Hello everyone, long time reader, first time poster. =)
Ever since I heard a Polk Monitor (series 1) theater system a couple years ago, I've been sold on Polk Audio. Recently, finances allowed me to pull the trigger on the following (speaker) setup.
Mains: Polk Monitor 60 Series II
Center: Polk CS2 Series II (My God, it's big...)
Sides: Polk Monitor 40 Series II
Sub: Polk PSW10
Receiver: Sony STR-DH820 7.2 channel (was only $200.00 at Fry's)
TV: Panasonic Viera TC-P54G25 1080p Plasma (THX certified 54" - had for a year)
HTPC: 3.4 Ghz w/ Nvidia 9800GTX+ (sound ran through SPDiF header on motherboard to vid card)
12 gauge w/ closed banana connectors
I'm pretty excited, and the mains arrive Friday. This is an upgrade from a HTiaB that's about 10 years old. I've also been reading forums on HTPC's and Speaker setups for the past year, trying to further educate myself, however it seems there are many, many opinions regarding the questions I have. I live in a townhouse apartment that is fairly secluded, but I'm pretty sure I won't be able "crank" this setup very far (hence the choice on my sub, I almost got the 12" sub - PSW505). I just hope it will work for my home theater. =) I'm a novice when it comes to audio and HTPC stuff, so I apologize in advance if I worded/phrased any of this wrong, and also for the lengthy post.
1) Break in Period question - I've heard everything from a weekend at near max volume to two months at ~30% volume, and to be honest, this really confuses me. Should I "break" them in by beating the tar out of them at high volumes, or should I start quiet and gradually work it up? Ultimately, I don't listen to stuff all too loud, I just want clarity and separation of sound, and I most definitely do not want to hurt the speakers! Can anyone post their thoughts and reasons as to what would be the "best" way to break in these speakers?
2) Bi-amp question - The Sony Receiver supports "Bi-Amping." Down the road I hope to pick up Polk Monitor 30 Series II's for rears (more on this below), but until then, would removing the bar on the 60's to Bi-amp from this receiver be worthwhile? Most of what I read at Polk says no, but since the 2 rear channels aren't going to be used, would it be worth the cable investment to utilize this option? Please, no "noobie bashing," I realize this is asked all too often, but I had to add it. (Also, if I do utilize it, my understanding is the "main" channel from the amp goes to the TOP plug, and the "rear/bi-amp" channel to the BOTTOM plug - is this correct?)
3) CS2 question - The TV sits on an old coffee table ~2' off the ground, and the CS2 will fit under the table. Currently there is a tablecloth on it, very thin material, draped over it. Will having this thin layer of material over the CS2 degrade the sound at all? Should I remove it? Last, can the CS2 be placed "upside down" so it points at me?
4) Power/Line conditioner questions - This confuses me even more. My sub and receiver have to plug into different outlets due to room aesthetics, accessibility. They appear to be quite spendy, from the $200 range all the way to some custom special jobby made by a guy named Jim for $5000 (LineStage). Originally I was going to use an old surge suppressor for the receiver+TV, and plug the PSW10 into my APC battery backup (on a regular slot, not the battery slot) it lies near to. I have maybe $150 to play with (I hope) still for this system installation, and if it would make a noticeable difference in audio or video quality, I'm on the fence. At this level of audio, should I be worried about not using a conditioner? Additionally, are there any alternatives I could/should consider for the TV, receiver, or sub?
5) SPDIF/HTPC questions! Currently I have an internal SPDiF cable running from the motherboard header to my video card. What I have read so far suggests that this cable is limited to 2 channel uncompressed signal, or 5.1 channel compressed. Most of my digital media is encoded in 5.1 channel DTS (and 5.1 channel AC3 for my older DVD's). Since my apartment didn't have room for the 4 full bookshelves of movies I owned when I moved, I was forced to rip the movies one at a time (which took months, lol), and since I have gotten used to it, I rip my Blu-Rays now as well. My girl is much happier that the shelves can be used for knick-knacks rather than the absurdly large collection of movies, heh. I use Media Player Classic for playback, with the CCCP codec pack currently for watching movies on my computer, but since we bought a NEW computer, this one is being delegated to HTPC duty.
5a) Would I get "better" audio quality from my existing 5.1 media upgrading to a video card with a built in sound processor, like the newer line of NVIDIA cards?
5b) Is there anything I should be aware of sending this signal to the Sony receiver? Any special settings to use, on either the receiver or HTPC software?
5c) If I do upgrade to 7.1 with the Monitor 30's, my understanding is I *will* have to purchase a newer video card to support true uncompressed 7.1 channel playback via the blu-ray drive, unless anyone knows differently?
5d) Would playback from my HTPC's Blu-ray drive be lesser, equal, or greater than playback from a standard Blu-ray player? ...< = > to a PS3?
6) Are there any resources, forum threads, books, videos, or links anyone could post that could explain these questions easily without confusing me further?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this rather large thread. While I technically do have answers on these questions, they are so ambiguous, varied, and vague that I find myself wanting; any help ya'll could have would be appreciated, to any or all of the questions! Yay for joining Club Polk!
- Dave (nwchaos)