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  1. #1

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    Question Questions regarding break-in periods, SPDiF, HTPC (Monitor Series 2 speaker setup)

    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.

    Questions:

    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)
    Last edited by nwchaos; 05-17-2012 at 07:58 AM. Reason: Clarity

  2. #2

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    Default I guess I should have split up the previous post. =(

    =( Sorry for askin so much as a first time poster, seen others do the same with better results.

    - Dave

  3. #3

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    Here is my take on break in!!!!! Hook them up and enjoy them no need to worry about break in time just don't blast them to the point of distortion and you will be fine.. Will they sound better in time? Maybe/Maybe not but who cares you spent the money on them now enjoy them..

    Just my .02
    No Way But The Hard Way, So Get Used To It!!!

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    I wouldn't bother with Bi-Amping but that's just me..

    Yes you can put your speaker upside down, and I doubt you will hear a difference with that thin piece of cloth hanging over the speaker but that's for you to decide..

    I like having a power conditioner in the mix I was shocked at the picture quality I get with one, but I believe everyone's electrical grid can be better or worse depending where one lives..

    Hope this helps a little..
    No Way But The Hard Way, So Get Used To It!!!

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    Thumbs up Ty!

    Helps a little, yes indeed! =) Thanks for the feedback.

    Mmkay, worrying about damaging the speakers was my primary concern, so that's good to hear. Hooking up the system today.

    - Dave

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    I broke in my new Polk tweeters with Keystone Ice, rum and Coke and Miles Davis with ok results.
    listen to Alex Jones
    Acer Laptop: the Flash works it works haha!

  7. #7

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    Default Well, it's all hooked up, but...

    Heh. Did the install, everything looks great, but... Have yet to see the "on screen" GUI menu the Sony receiver claims to have. When I turn on the TV, the receiver turns on. When I adjust the volume on the TV remote, the receiver claims the vlume is going up and down. So far, that's the only success I've had so far - at least it appears my HDMI cables are working! This happens if I have the "veira-link" option turned on in the TV settings.

    If I turn off Viera Link, these two things do not work. Bummer.

    Have not seen a picture on my TV since I hooked up the HDMI from computer to the receiver. Don't really want to test the audio on the receiver before I've done the "calibration" for the speakers, which you (apparently) need the onscreen GUI to complete. I guess I'm going to spend some quality time with Sony technical support when I wake up, and I'll update this post if I get it to work, lol.

    Pretty bummed, tho. =( Didn't get to watch my HD copy of Fellowship tonight. Maybe tomorrow!

    - Dave (nwchaos)

  8. #8

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    1) Break-in: Vastly overrated. It's probably you that breaks in (i.e., gets used to the sound), not the speakers.

    2) Bi-amping: There's only so much juice that can go into an amp, so there's only so much juice that can come out. More wires won't draw more power. Pass.

    3) I wouldn't put ANYTHING in front of speakers, but there's no harm in trying.

    4) Power conditioner: Totally useless, unless there's something really wrong with your electrical service, in which case you have bigger problems than audio. Pass.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post
    1) Break-in: Vastly overrated. It's probably you that breaks in (i.e., gets used to the sound), not the speakers.
    You're not too sure about that one, I am. The break-in of gear, speakers and cables is very real.

    2) Bi-amping: There's only so much juice that can go into an amp, so there's only so much juice that can come out. More wires won't draw more power. Pass.
    You don't seem to understand what true bi-amping is, although in this case I agree that bi-amping with an AVR is pointless.

    4) Power conditioner: Totally useless, unless there's something really wrong with your electrical service, in which case you have bigger problems than audio. Pass.
    Totally useless, eh? That's simply not true.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post
    1) Break-in: Vastly overrated. It's probably you that breaks in (i.e., gets used to the sound), not the speakers.

    2) Bi-amping: There's only so much juice that can go into an amp, so there's only so much juice that can come out. More wires won't draw more power. Pass.

    3) I wouldn't put ANYTHING in front of speakers, but there's no harm in trying.

    4) Power conditioner: Totally useless, unless there's something really wrong with your electrical service, in which case you have bigger problems than audio. Pass.

    Wow!! It seems you have a lot to learn..
    No Way But The Hard Way, So Get Used To It!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    You're not too sure about that one, I am. The break-in of gear, speakers and cables is very real.



    You don't seem to understand what true bi-amping is, although in this case I agree that bi-amping with an AVR is pointless.



    Totally useless, eh? That's simply not true.
    Agreed!!! Jesse the only reason I said not to worry about break in is I didn't see where it was needed to worry about here..
    No Way But The Hard Way, So Get Used To It!!!

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    Default Thanks for the input guys!

    Well, I didn't spend any extra on the setup, and I *did* get 'er working. Apparently I had a bad HDMI cable between the receiver and the TV. Problem fixed. =) Fairly easy intuitive setup also, the Sony STR-DH820 impressed me.

    Been breaking the speakers in with a mix of music ranging from Dave Mathews Band to Faceless to Mozart. Variety is the spice of life, they say. I elected to pass on the AVR Bi-amping feature, and the speakers sound just fine (in fact, the speakers sound incredible compared to the past speakers I had!) but not quite as good as the original Monitor setup that made me choose Polk in the first place. I'll update the thread as they get better, of course.

    Now, on the subject of power conditioners, the power I have in my place is somewhat good, I think, I've never had a problem with any of my computer systems anyways in the past decade. However, the concept of a power conditioner intrigues me, so if anyone has more opinions on them, or possibly a suggestion on what a good "entry-level" one could be, I'd be all ears.

    Thanks again for the feedback everyone =)

    - Dave (nwchaos)
    Last edited by nwchaos; 05-20-2012 at 05:37 AM. Reason: Typos suck

  13. #13

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    There is an interesting thread going over at Auto Karma about speaker break in. One of the contributors is Kenneth Kantor who is a Speaker God. Started out with Acoustic Research, went on to found NHT speakers, his design work made bookshelf speakers worth buying etc. Kantor contends a properly built speak does not require a break-in period, that a speaker that does should never had made it past a QC inspection. I don't know about this one but I don't even have clue knowledge wise compared to a man with Kantor's stature.

    Power conditioners: This is an area I am very familiar with. I live in a region, South East Wyoming that has it's share of sometimes huge thunderstorms, and we do get tornadoes. All of this causes power fluctuations, the possibility of line surges, and an unstable sign-wave on the AC line, 60Hz is nominal but it can and does shift around plus or minus. There is also line noise. I once, and I still can't figure out how this happened, had horrible line noise I checked the wiring, the breakers every thing and could not pin it down. It turned out to be one of my neighbors had an ancient and badly worn Kirby vacuum cleaner who's motor was on it last legs. I purchased my first UPC, line conditioner. The difference it made was demonstrative. I have always used Cyberpower equipment. here is a link to the latest and greatest unit you can see what it can do for you. http://www.cyberpowersystems.com/pro...mageI=#tab-box
    Last edited by transmaster; 05-20-2012 at 10:45 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toolfan66 View Post
    Agreed!!! Jesse the only reason I said not to worry about break in is I didn't see where it was needed to worry about here..
    Yes. IMO, break-in is a bigger deal if you're listening critically with higher-end gear, and will be much more apparent with music sources. Break-in of speakers with HT material will probably be less obvious. As Tool suggested - just use and enjoy it!
    7.1 - polk RTi10 x 3 (LCR) : FXi3 x 2 : RTi4 x 4 : MFW-15 (RIP): Yamaha Aventage RX-A1000 : Adcom GFA-7500 : PS3 : Squeezebox Touch : DIRECTV : Panasonic PT-AX200U PJ @120"
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    There is an interesting thread going over at Auto Karma about speaker break in. One of the contributors is Kenneth Kantor who is a Speaker God. Started out with Acoustic Research, went on to found NHT speakers, his design work made bookshelf speakers worth buying etc. Kantor contends a properly built speak does not require a break-in period, that a speaker that does should never had made it past a QC inspection. I don't know about this one but I don't even have clue knowledge wise compared to a man with Kantor's stature.
    There's an old saying: The break-in period always lasts longer than your return privileges.

    Seriously, if break-in were a real effect, it would be impossible to design speakers.

    Power conditioners: This is an area I am very familiar with. I live in a region, South East Wyoming that has it's share of sometimes huge thunderstorms, and we do get tornadoes. All of this causes power fluctuations, the possibility of line surges, and an unstable sign-wave on the AC line, 60Hz is nominal but it can and does shift around plus or minus. There is also line noise. I once, and I still can't figure out how this happened, had horrible line noise I checked the wiring, the breakers every thing and could not pin it down. It turned out to be one of my neighbors had an ancient and badly worn Kirby vacuum cleaner who's motor was on it last legs. I purchased my first UPC, line conditioner. The difference it made was demonstrative.
    Well, yeah, if you have a problem like that, then you certainly do need to deal with it. But relatively few of us have problems anywhere near that severe, and a power conditioner can't solve a problem you don't have. Some fluctuation in electrical service is normal, and any decently designed gear should be able to handle it without blinking, so to speak.

    And if you do have a severe problem, your first concern should be your hard drives, not your amplifiers. The guys with $500 conditioners on their A/V systems and $5 power strips on their computers are asking for trouble, however good or bad their power is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nwchaos View Post
    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?
    Upside down is fine - in fact, it's designed for that purpose:
    Reversible-design cabinets can be turned upside down to aim "up"? when placed under a video monitor.

    Personally, I'd remove the cloth. Best thing would be to have someone hold it up and see if you can hear a difference.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post
    Seriously, if break-in were a real effect, it would be impossible to design speakers.
    Impossible? Not really.

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    Btw, Dave - Welcome to Club Polk!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post
    Well, yeah, if you have a problem like that, then you certainly do need to deal with it. But relatively few of us have problems anywhere near that severe, and a power conditioner can't solve a problem you don't have. Some fluctuation in electrical service is normal, and any decently designed gear should be able to handle it without blinking, so to speak.
    And if you do have a severe problem, your first concern should be your hard drives, not your amplifiers. The guys with $500 conditioners on their A/V systems and $5 power strips on their computers are asking for trouble, however good or bad their power is.
    Which why I have everything, including my computers, plugged into Cyberpower UPC's with line conditioning, including all of my Ham gear, at least the solid state stuff. The much older hollow state stuff isn't fazed by much of anything short of a direct strike on the antennas, and the antennas go through a solid copper bulkhead that is grounded and I have quick disconnects for everything.

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    Seriously, if break-in were a real effect, it would be impossible to design speakers.
    You really have a lot to learn.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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    Default Hehe THANK YOU! =)

    Quote Originally Posted by mdaudioguy View Post
    Btw, Dave - Welcome to Club Polk!!
    Thank you thank you. The journey was long and fraught with... expenses, but now that I'm here, I'm loving it. Movies have an entirely new dimension opened up, it's un-be-lieve-able! The systems working great, and the speakers already sound better, in my opinion.

    I experimented with the cloth covering the center channel, and I couldn't tell much of a difference. It looks so much cleaner to have it covered that I think I lost my vote anyways, the better half is losing her sense of democracy.

    Quote Originally Posted by transmaster View Post
    There is an interesting thread going over at Auto Karma about speaker break in. One of the contributors is Kenneth Kantor who is a Speaker God.
    That was an interesting read, thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by transmaster View Post
    Power conditioners: ... I have always used Cyberpower equipment. here is a link to the latest and greatest unit you can see what it can do for you. http://www.cyberpowersystems.com/pro...mageI=#tab-box
    That unit looks spectacular, does it have a little brother, though? I may pick up one for my office computer setup at any rate. =)

    - Dave
    Last edited by nwchaos; 05-20-2012 at 06:12 PM. Reason: Clarity

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    Impossible? Not really.
    You really have a lot to learn.
    Gee, you guys oughta explain to Ken Kantor what he's doing wrong. :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by transmaster View Post
    There is an interesting thread going over at Auto Karma about speaker break in.
    Have a linky? Sounds like an interesting read.
    Kantor contends a properly built speak does not require a break-in period, that a speaker that does should never had made it past a QC inspection.
    I 've read similar quotes from Barton of PSB and others while some contend there is a mechanical break in period for driver suspensions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FTGV View Post
    I 've read similar quotes from Barton of PSB and others while some contend there is a mechanical break in period for driver suspensions.
    I have a pair of PSB Synchrony One towers and after I had them for about 3 weeks one night I sat up straight in my chair, and went "these speakers sound really good". Break-in or not, something happened that made them sound better.

    I have no problem with the concept of speakers breaking in. The drivers are mechanical and probably do need some time to loosen up, for lack of a better term. This would apply to all speakers unless the manufacturer runs the drivers for 100 hours or so before shipping. Of course, in that case they are just breaking in at the factory.

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    I 've read similar quotes from Barton of PSB and others while some contend there is a mechanical break in period for driver suspensions.
    Those two things can both be true. Even Kantor and Barton will tell you that drivers measure differently after initial use. (Engineers tend to refer to this as burn-in, not break-in.) But the change is typically smaller than the unit-to-unit variations of new drivers.

    IOW, if you take two brand new, identical drivers and measure them, they will measure differently. If you then burn them in for 50 hours or whatever, they will each measure differently than they did at first. But the change in measurement of each will typically be smaller than the difference between the two out-of-the-box drivers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    Break-in or not, something happened that made them sound better.
    Did things continue to change(improve) afterward or did performance level off.

    I have no problem with the concept of speakers breaking in.
    Nor do I for the reason you state.
    This would apply to all speakers unless the manufacturer runs the drivers for 100 hours or so before shipping. Of course, in that case they are just breaking in at the factory.
    I wish I could find the article but when Vandersteen first introduced his model 3 many years ago they were found to be lacking in the bass dept. but apparently improved over time.IIRC his solution was to subject the woofers to a pre assembly break in period which consisted of wiring many woofers in series and applying a 60hz signal via standard 120 volts AC.
    Last edited by FTGV; 05-20-2012 at 09:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post
    Those two things can both be true. Even Kantor and Barton will tell you that drivers measure differently after initial use. (Engineers tend to refer to this as burn-in, not break-in.) But the change is typically smaller than the unit-to-unit variations of new drivers.
    Agreed certainly there will be some variations in the T/S parameters between samples of the same driver before and after a break in period.However Barton and others suggest it audibly insignificant while others feel a break in period is needed for optimum sonics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FTGV View Post
    Did things continue to change(improve) afterward or did performance level off.
    This happened around 4 years ago so it is hard to remember that level of detail. The initial event was so pronounced it stuck with me.

    I a currently breaking in a new pair of Aerial Acostics 7T speakers. They will be two weeks old tomorrow. When I first got them they didn't sound very good. They were stiff and bright. However, after a few days they came into focus and appeared to equal the PSBs they replaced. Now they are getting better and better. The dealer told me it would be around 200 hours before they were optimum.

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    It will be interesting to hear your impressions vs the PSB's.Both are excellent speakers, Barton and Kelly seem to have very similar design objectives.

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