Today I went to J. Kalachand to listen to a subwoofer that I was planning to buy. But I couldn’t help myself asking some questions to the salesman there and now I have a dilemma.
What I have now
I currently use a pair of Pioneer S-H210V speakers as the front speakers of my home cinema setup as well as the main speakers when I am listening to music or watching satellite. Here are their technical characteristics:
- Bass-reflex configuration
- 2 x 13 cm medium/bass speakers
- 1 x 5 cm tweeter
- Sensitivity 90 dB/2.83 V/1 m
- Frequency response 50-20,000 Hz
- Impedance 8 ohms
- Input Power 80 W
- Weight 4,2 kg
As I wrote in my previous post, there is a definite problem with the bass (and this is easy to understand given the frequency response of the speakers) and even though I like the sound when watching a DVD, I have some issues when listening to music: the high frequencies are strange.
1st possibility – the Yamaha YST-SW215 subwoofer
This subwoofer is available at J. Kalachand and costs Rs. 9,155. The YST-SW215 is a current product and this is somewhat rare in Mauritius where shops routinely sell outdated equipment for lots of money.
I spent about 30 minutes listening to some music (a UB40 CD and some tracks from my iPod Nano) and the effect was subtle. The very helpful salesman, Pierre Alain (by the way, thanks David), told me that Yamaha has adopted a new strategy concerning its subwoofers: less boom-boom but more quality and fidelity. And I’m 100% happy with that. Except that the effect was so subtle. I’ll definitely bring some DVDs there. The technical characteristics are:
- 150W dynamic power
- 20cm (8″) multi-range driver with magnetic shielding
- 30â€“200Hz low frequency reproduction
So it seems that this subwoofer has the potential to supplement my S-H210V well (at least in the 30-50 Hz region) and solve my bass problems. But what about the high-frequencies?
2nd possibility – a pair of Yamaha NS-50F speakers
While having a look in the showroom, I noticed the NS-50F. J. Kalachand sells a pair of those at Rs. 9,720 i.e. a pair is comparable in price with one YST-SW215. Here are the technical characteristics:
- Bass-reflex configuration
- 2 x 16 cm medium/bass speakers
- 1 x 3 cm tweeter
- Sensitivity 90 dB/2.83 V/1 m
- Frequency Response 35â€“35,000 Hz
- Input Power 80 W
- Impedance 6 ohms
- Weight 12.5 kg
There are two major differences with my current S-H210V: (i) the frequency response and (ii) the weight.
The NS-50F can go down to 35Hz compared to the 50Hz of the S-H210V. Maybe 15Hz does not seem much but I can assure you that this is where the .1 data in a 5.1 encoding is.
I didn’t have time to test the NS-50F but I’m pretty sure it’s treble is bound to be much better than what I have currently.
The weight difference (12.5 kg v.s. 4.2 kg) is a clear indication of how “professional” the Yamaha is compared to the Pioneer.
Given the price difference which is relatively small, is it better to buy the YST-SW215 (at Rs. 9,155) or a pair of NS-50F (at Rs. 9,720)? What do you think?
Hmmm…G.A.S Attack!! (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) ;)
I was at J.Kalachand today at around 11:00 till noon! Had a very long chat with Pierre Alain. Too bad we missed a great opportunity to finally meet each other in real-life today…Would have been really cool! :)
Anyway, back to the subject…
Ideally you should get both the NS-50F and YST-SW215 (and some lottery tickets too…Hehehe…) ;) But seriously, I believe you should get the subwoofer first.
The reason is quite simple: the two front speakers should match with the centre. And if you decide to replace them with a pair of NS-50F now, you should make sure the centre speaker you already have matches them well. Otherwise the panning may at times not feel as smooth for sound effects moving from right-to-centre-to-left and vice-versa.
Secondly, a subwoofer is irreplaceable! Believe me, you will never get sufficient bottom-end using just a pair of front speakers. The YST-SW215 will definitely fill that void in your current system. I’m not so sure about the NS-50F alone…at one time one or another you WILL feel the need for a subwoofer! As a result, the YST-SW215 is in my opinion, a long-term and much better investment. You can later decide if you want to upgrade your other speakers.
About your high-frequency issue, the culprit may be a sudden drop somewhere in the mid or high-end, resulting in an overall muffle sound. It could be caused by either your speakers (poor quality crossovers) or your receiver. Some receivers apply DSPs on stereo sources with very strange frequency curvers and phasing effect, to try to widen the stereo field and they usually sound awful! Did you try to switch off all DSP on you receiver and see if it gets better? Also, I noticed that on my system, I do have to adjust the built-in EQ slightly on my receiver when listening to non-surround material.
One more thing, next time you go for a demo at J.Kalachand or any other shop, don’t forget to bring your own DVDs! Some movies, albums or concerts you are familiar with. The DTS version of “Playing The Angel” has some very nice low frequency tracks by the way.
Pierre Alain told me you were there until 11:00. I arrived around 13:00. Pity we couldn’t meet… Maybe next time :-)
Anyway, thanks for your comment. But frankly I am less and less sure about the subwoofer being priority #1.
I was talking to my wife today. We are music and movie buffs but we watch few DVDs (mainly because of the kids). We spend a lot of time watching films on Parabole Maurice (in stereo). And we also watch the music channels (even though I sincerely think that (i) the videos are obscene and (ii) the sound is waaayyyy too compressed) as well as listen to a lot of music (either CDs or my iPod Nano).
Most of those sources do not really have a very low-frequency content. For instance, I know that most CDs are mastered with a 50Hz roll-off.
So the biggest issue for me is quality stereo and, as I wrote in my post, I am not satisfied with the S-H210V speakers that I have. In my opinion, they are faulty. I’ve tested them with two different amplifiers (a Kenwood and my current Pioneer) and they sound ok sometimes but bad at times (even compared to the speakers I have on a cheap Sony compo I bought 15 years ago).
Buying a new set of front speakers solve both my bass (partly) and my treble problems. Of course, another problem here is the central speaker. And you know what I was thinking about? Why not eliminate it from the equation (I can use it as a central surround speaker as my amplifier is, in fact, 6.1)? Then the two front speakers will have to handle the dialogues but I think that this won’t be a big issue.
What do you think?
Now, I get it! And in that case, you’ve changed all parameters in your equation! So, back to square one…
In fact what you’re looking for is NOT only bass compensation (as you initially stated)!
If your current speakers sound as awful as you say they do, then it’s like throwing almost everything away and building up a brand new home cinema system around your Pioneer A/V Receiver! And in that case, you’re absolutely right in saying that you need a brand new pair of front speakers in the first place!
What I would suggest, is to keep your centre speaker in its current position and see if it matches with the NS-50F first. Remember: matching speakers is not an exact science! You just have to experiment to know if they blend together nicely. However, you may have to adjust the centre speaker’s level on your receiver in order to achieve proper balance with the new NS-50F.
The centre speaker is particularly important for dialog in movies. It gives the viewer the impression that vocals are coming directly from the screen. Using only two front speakers will result in a less precise localisation and spacialisation. For instance, in normal conversation, the distance between someone talking on the hard left/right side (or off of the screen), to someone located in the dead centre will not be as pronounced.
But since you plan on using it mainly for watching Parabole, where movies are mostly in stereo or at best encoded in Dolby Surround (and not in Digital or DTS), the difference will not be as obvious. And the lack of a subwoofer will not be felt as much as when watching DVDs with properly encoded 5.1 material.
Anyway, with a limited budget, you can build a good 6.1 home cinema system block by block over time, just like a Lego!
My proposed scheme:
Step 1: Purchase a pair of NS-50F as front.
Convert your current Pioneer front speakers as rear.
Keep your current Pioneer centre speaker.
Step 2: Replace the Pioneer centre with a better one.
Convert your current Pioneer centre as rear centre.
Step 3: Finally add the YST-SW215.
Thanks David for your comment. I’ll go to J. Kalachand with a couple of CDs and DVDs (including Playing the Angel) on Friday at around 11:00.
And then I’ll decide :-)
I’ll be in Port Louis on Friday. Meet you there at 11:00 then! :)
We’ll reach J. Kalachand at around 13:00. I completely forgot that my kids are finishing school at 12:00 in Quatre-Bornes today.
gud luck for ur ‘date’ avinash :P
when in doubt, buy the whole set! lol
i use a pair of seinheisser headphones n watch all ma dvd’s on ma pc [19 inch wide screen lcd monitor]
and until i am solvent enough to buy a really gud sound system [gonna take a couple of years of hardwork koz am mostly broke at the end of the month :/] i’ll keep to ma headphones :P
merry xmas mate!
Today Christina and I bought a pair of NS-50F. They’ll (normally) be delivered tomorrow.
I’ll blog on our experience then.
PS: David was extremely helpful today at J. Kalachand where we spent about 1 1/2 hour making up our minds. Thanks David.
J. Kalachand just called. They’ll only deliver our speakers tomorrow (Sunday)…
No problem Avinash…My pleasure!
Had a great time chatting with you and Christina (and also meeting the “mini-Depeches”!)
I can feel your pain concerning the delay in delivery of your new ‘toys’…those long hours waiting in vain surely makes the day seem longer!! ;)
As you know, most consumer electronic shops are overwhelmed at this time of the year. And J.Kalachand’s home delivery system is no exception. Things usually go awry. But still, I think it’s all part of poor planing and forecasting on their part.
I remember being once pleasantly surprised to see them at 10:30pm at my front door (after wasting a whole afternoon awaiting for delivery!). On another occasion, they even delivered a product on a public holiday! Overtime pays I suppose…
Hopefully you’ll get your speakers today and you’ll be able to rock the house on the 25th! Woohoo! :)
You won’t believe it David but I still have not received my speakers. I waited the whole day yesterday but no one came!
Hmmm…Very poor customer care. They should at least have given you a phone call!
Just give P.A. a phone call…
I’ve finally received my speakers and they look and sound great!
Fooufff!! ENFIN PAPA!!! :) Ene chance ban la pa fine fer twa attan boxing day!
SeryÃ© net! Kav met lafaya aster!! ;)
Pa blier: lamizik pa rempli ventre: bizin al cuit diner la!! Hehehe…
Bon, allez amiz twa bien. ZoiyÃ© Noel ek bananÃ© a twa ek tou to fami!! Cheers!
hehe enjoy the system ^^
well whatever would have been the decision,it would have been all good…yesterday watched “The Shooter” and with my 50W sub a half-volume,it was more than enough :D.. my front jamo speakers does the magic as well
hehe since you bought those speakers :P,i foresee the coming of the central, surround and sub in the near future….lol good quality speakers are like…hhmmm once you tasted their unique rich sound,looking for far less is practically not imaginable :)..lucky you ,you had 2 ppl to guide you in your choice ;),now thxs to david and P.A.,the neighbors are going to have a hard time :D….sound insulation >__<
p.s. merry xmas to all and a happy new year to come :)
I’ve not yet had the time to sit and enjoy a nice movie (fÃªte oblige). The next step is to use my previous fronts (the S-H210V) as surround. I am fortunate to have an amplifier which features EQ on each channel…
Happy new year to you all :-)
Nick C says
I’m from Greece and planning on building a new … (i don’t know how to refere to it sorry for my english)
I saw those NS-50F you where talking about, and i wanted to ask a few questions.(if you don’t care)
first of all the cost, i see here in greece at an e-store(www.apothema.gr) that they cost â‚¬80.Is this ~the price of a pair or they are sold as a single speaker?
using them as rear speakers too is a good choise or not? when having a party swiching to 4 speaker stereo for front and rear.
what about the amplifier is rx-v361 a good choise?
i don’t see any center speaker of the same model anywhere(at least here in greece), what should i use?
and for last the subwoofer yst sw-030/yst sw-216 are available in the same store for â‚¬109/â‚¬130 are they enough or they are matches for other speakers?
i am planning to use it with my PC,
this is my first time going buy a whole system.
i now use some creative 7.1 speakers, theyare ok for low volume listening but when you want to hear something loud you can’t.
thank you for your time.
â‚¬80 is the price for one I guess and you are lucky as they cost substantially more in Mauritius where I live…
As far as my ears tell me, the NS-50F is an excellent budget speaker and mines are used as front speakers… so I don’t think they won’t work well as rear speakers too :-)
As for the RX-V361, I’ve checked Yamaha’s website and I’ve noticed that it can pump 100W per channel so it is a good choice for the NS-50F (which takes a 80W nominal input).
Yamaha recommends the NS-P60 (containing a center speaker and two surround speakers) to accompany the NS-50F. I guess you could go to the shop and ask them what centre speaker is in this bundle. By the way, I use a Pioneer centre speaker and the sound is OK as my amplifier has 5 parametric EQs on each channel…
The YST-216 is more recent than the other one and will work very well with the NS-50F. Mind you, I have not really tested the YST-216…
Nick C says
…oh, hi again
and i thought i was lucky buying apair for just â‚¬80, it was going to be cool to get four of these speakers.
so i get two NS-50F, RX-V361 and the YST-216, what should i do with the rear and center speakers?
I can only find NS-P125 (3 speaker set 2rear 1center) black for â‚¬108 and cherry for â‚¬87.30, i dont understand why(i like black mostly).they have also the NS-C125(silver and cherry) for â‚¬28.
i don’t know why but on the site i was looking for specs it says that not all speaker colors are available everywhere. do the NS-50F come out in cherry too in Mauritius?
again i’d like the black most of the other colors.
other yamaha center speakers i can find are C225 slver and C325 black but they cost near a pair of th NS-50F and i don’t want to spend so much for a single speaker.
do you suggest any other brand? or should i buy the NS-P125?
…i realy wanted four NS-50F, they look great and from what i hear the sound great too…
thank you again.
You’ll find the Yamaha 2008 catalogue here… I think that it contains quite interesting information on what speakers work well with what other speakers.
You are very lucky to have been able to buy a pair of NS-50F atâ‚¬80! I paid three times as much :-(
Mines are black. The cherry ones are not available in Mauritius.
As for mixing brands, I won’t advise you to do this. Stick with Yamaha’s and you’ll be happy :-)
Nick C says
i didn’t buy a pair for â‚¬80, as you said it was the price for a single speaker. at first i thought that it was for a pair but it wasn’t.
thank you again.
Thnx 2 u ol, i got a sound knowledge of speakers 2day.. I’ m still lagging behind with a 4.1 unitek!