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#288030 - 01/21/10 05:49 PM New M60 owner looking for help
C.A. Duncan Offline
regular

Registered: 01/21/10
Posts: 6
Hi all. I'm sincerely hoping for some input from some of you guys who know a lot more than me. I'm more knowledgable about audio/electronics than your average layperson, but I am no audiophile.

About 10 years ago, after I graduated from college, I bought two Polk floorstanding speakers at Circuit City; cost me ~$250 for the pair. I don't t know the model number, but they have one tweeter and two 5-1/2" drivers each. I've always been very happy with them for the money I put into them, but I've always known they were only modest speakers. I eventually bought an 8" Polk powered sub (~$300 at Circuit City) to pair with them, and these have comprised my "home theater" audio (yes, only stereo) as well as my primary music listening setup for a number of years. Recently I decided it was time to start moving up to "big boy" audio, and invest in something I could enjoy for years.

So I ordered and received last week a pair of Axiom M60's and a VP150 center speaker. My intention is to eventually end up with a nice 5.1 setup, but I'll do it in pieces. Phase 1 is 3.1 with the M60's, VP150 and (for now) the 8" Polk sub. First let me say, in sheer physical size the M60's dwarf the old Polks. They are slightly taller but noticeably wider and much, much deeper. I'd say in cubic volume the M60's are 50% bigger than the old speakers - maybe more. And they look great! Impressive to the eyeball test. \:\)

Here's the issue. I have everything hooked up, and honestly, I'm a bit disappointed with the result thus far. The M60's are a modest improvement, but they do not sound like the upgrade over the Polk floorstanders that I expected and want them to be. It's primarily music CD's I've listened to - and a couple movies - but I'm overwhelmingly speaking of music. I expected more "airy-ness", more clarity, more separation of the instruments/sounds that make up a song - than I can hear. I really, really, really want to like these speakers and I'm hoping something else in my setup is to blame. Please give me any comments and/or ask any questions you care to. I would be appreciative.

I'm driving them with a several-years-old pre-HDMI Onkyo 5.1 receiver. I *think* it's model TX-SR505. I know it's listed at 75 watts per channel. It certainly isn't a high-end receiver (I think I paid $400 for it back in the day), but I've used it with my previous speakers and it was adequate. Could this receiver be holding back the M60's for any reason? Do I really need more power? I specifically passed on the M80's because I thought the M60's (at 8 ohms) would be easier to drive without a higher-end receiver. Now I do intend to eventually have a high-end receiver, and I could get one if need be, but I had planned to do this in chunks. The receiver would probably have come after all the speaker units were replaced.

My living room is laid out odd, and this may not help. It's about 14' x 20' with 9' walls that then taper up to a vaulted ceiling. Best I can tell it's about 280 square feet and about 3500 cubic feet (counting the vaulted area above). Also two of the walls have wide partial openings to the foyer and kitchen. Because of these openings the 50" television (on a stand) and speakers are oriented in the corner of the room, thus without a perpendicular wall behind them. However, I have the M60's pulled a good 12-15 inches away from the slanting wall behind them to let them breathe, and the VP150 sits on a shelf in my TV stand with an open back, so none of the speakers are right up against the wall. The room is carpeted, no hardwood, and due to the openings in the wall I really don't feel like reflections are a big issue (again, I'm no expert). I'm wondering if room acoustics could play a role, but I really don't have a better option to situate the speakers better than where they are.

And how about break-in period? I know speakers need time to sound "permanent". I've been leaving a 5-disc changer of music CD's playing each morning when I go to work to help out. In fairness, I've had them only 6 days now, but I figure the speakers have about 35-ish hours of play time on them. Maybe they just need more time before they sound right?

Again, thanks SO MUCH for any insight offered. I REALLY want desperately for my setup to be what I want it to be. I know the M60's are high quality, but I just don't feel like I'm getting "something" from the setup. My old system is clearly inferior but seems like it sounded 80% as good. I just feel like the M60's are better than that.

Thanks again!

CD

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#288048 - 01/21/10 07:47 PM Re: New M60 owner looking for help [Re: C.A. Duncan]
SirQuack Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 13576
Loc: Iowa
Hey CD,

Welcome to the forums, wow where to start. \:\)

I guess first of all, did you "re-calibrate" everything once you hooked up the new speakers. In other words, did you run the built in test pink noise and calibrate your speakers using an SPL meter, or the built in mic from the primary seat, assuming it came with one?

I think most likely your room layout could be part of the problem. But others have used a "corner" location without issues. Have you tried moving the m60's a little closer to the wall? This would help reinforce the bass frequencies, but not sure if that is what your having issue with. 12-15" should be fine, but might work better closer.

Are the speakers "aimed" straight out parrallel to your ears, or are they slightly towed in aiming behind you when seated? How far away from the speakers are you sitting? You want to be at least the same distance back as they are apart, or more...

Are all the drivers working? You didn't remove the gold connection between the speaker terminals did you on the back, that needs to stay in place with all terminals snug.

What mode on your receiver are you using when listening to music?

I would think the 60's should blow away those Polks, I know I thought my old 60's were better than B&W 703's which cost twice as much....Now I own m80's...
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#288104 - 01/22/10 01:22 AM Re: New M60 owner looking for help [Re: SirQuack]
C.A. Duncan Offline
regular

Registered: 01/21/10
Posts: 6
Thanks for the thoughts, sirquack!

Just for clarity, my receiver is an Onkyo TX-SR504. 7.1 receiver, listed as 75 watts per channel.

I didn't do anything to "re-calibrate" after changing speakers, and that may be a fair point. I don't have an SPL meter and I don't think my receiver came with a setup mic (again, it's a fairly low-end receiver), but I will check the receiver's owner manual and see what - if anything - they suggest for new speaker setup. There is likely something.

I have tried the M60's a little closer to the wall, but it didn't really seem to have an effect on the sound to my ears. The bass from the M60's is really quite satisfactory, it's more mid-range and higher frequencies where I feel something isn't right. They just don't sound "airy" or "spacious", if that makes any sense at all. For the sake of being thorough, I've also played them with the Polk sub both on and off.

I do have the speakers pivoted *just a wee bit* in toward the center. I measure the distance between the inner walls of the two speakers to be about 6.5 feet at their current placement (the TV stand, of course, sits in the space between); my primary seated position is about 9 feet from the left speaker, about 11 from the right (it occurs to me I did not input the speaker distance values in the receiver). So I think the distances are not particularly off.

I didn't remove the gold "bridge" that connects the pairs of terminals on the back. I am using banana plugs on the ends of my speaker wire. Perhaps I should try bare wire?

I'm listening to music in primarily stereo mode, which engages only the M60's. In tinkering I have tried "Dolby PLII Music" mode (which I didn't care for at all) and "Neo6: Music" mode (which was the far superior of the two, IMHO) just to engage the center speaker also. But after a moment I always put it back on stereo mode.

Another thought: I have the powered sub connected "in-line" with the L and R channels, because that's how the manufacturer recommended to set it up. It's not connected to the receiver's LFE output. I have tried the sub both on and off, but could the sub be doing something that's degrading the signal to the M60's? The sub has a dial to set the crossover freq, but the lowest it goes is 60 Hz (which is where I have it set); but again, the bass seems quite satisfactory to my ears.

I have a several-year-old 100-watt Nakamichi stereo receiver in my bedroom that is only used for playing CD's. This weekend I may take the M60's into the bedroom and connect them to that receiver just to see if they sound different.

Again, thanks for the insights!

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#288109 - 01/22/10 01:55 AM Re: New M60 owner looking for help [Re: C.A. Duncan]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 18044
Loc: NoVA
No, the wire or ends aren't going to change anything. You definitely need to calibrate the system.

You should also move the sub to the LFE input--what the manufacturer recommends doesn't make much sense in modern AV. I doubt it would be affecting the mids and highs, but ya never know. You'll want to play with the position of the M60s as well.
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#288129 - 01/22/10 09:52 AM Re: New M60 owner looking for help [Re: Ken.C]
SirQuack Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 13576
Loc: Iowa
Yep, as Ken mentions, you need to rerun the test tones for each speaker and set the dB levels to match, normally 75dB. If your receiver didn't come with a setup mic to do this, I would recommend you hunt down a Radio Shack SPL analog meter, so you can get all your speakers and subs to the same levels, this will make a HUGE difference.

The sub should be connected to the Sub LFE out jack on the receiver to the RCA Line IN jack on the sub, not using the high level hookups your using. For movies you want this for low LFE.

Also, the crossover on your sub should be set to the highest setting, or bypass if that is an option. You want to handle the bass management within your receiver, set all speakers to "small" and start with 80hz, as a crossover frequency, you can adjust this a little, but that is THX recommendation.
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#288135 - 01/22/10 10:20 AM Re: New M60 owner looking for help [Re: SirQuack]
cb919 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 1166
Loc: Ottawa, Canada
Fully agreed with above, but one other suggestion - try running the M60's full range (no receiver crossover engaged) with no sub attached. That will remove some of the variables from the equation. If you go that route you can then try a more direct comparison of your original speakers against the M60's with no complicating factors. Just a thought.

To be clear I am not suggesting you leave the setup this way as the sub will likely help overall sound impression, I was just thinking in terms of making it easier to evaluate your purchase.
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On-Wall M5HP LCR, QS8 & EP500 in 7.1

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#288184 - 01/22/10 02:39 PM Re: New M60 owner looking for help [Re: cb919]
Ascension Offline
veteran

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 130
Loc: Hutchinson, KS.
Make sure your equilization in your receiver is set to "off" if you have one. That made a huge difference on my setup when I first got my M60s.
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#288213 - 01/22/10 07:02 PM Re: New M60 owner looking for help [Re: Ascension]
C.A. Duncan Offline
regular

Registered: 01/21/10
Posts: 6
Thanks for all the input, gang. I picked up an analog sound level meter today at Radio Shack. I'll spend some time on your suggestions tomorrow and report back.

I sure appreciate it!

CD

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#288215 - 01/22/10 07:08 PM Re: New M60 owner looking for help [Re: C.A. Duncan]
SirQuack Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 13576
Loc: Iowa
Let us know if you need help using it, for starters here is a good article. You should be able to go into the receiver setup menu and do a manual level check which will cycle through each speaker...

How to Calibrate using an SPL meter
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#288229 - 01/22/10 10:06 PM Re: New M60 owner looking for help [Re: SirQuack]
fredk Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 7786
Loc: Canada
I want to jump in and help out, but the rest of the gang has it covered.

The only thing I'll add is that you should get it as close to symetric as you can. What you hear is the sum of the direct and reflected sounds and a non-symetric layout can affect that openness or airy sound.
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