Bounding Unicorns

My Home Audio Journey

When I was a kid, my apartment had a turntable with a pair of "home audio" speakers (probably most similar to the Sonic speakers I describe below), and this was my first experience with recorded music. Subsequently I purchased boomboxes and cassette tapes but these had smaller speakers, and to this day I have fond memories of the turntable experience.

I've been using computer speakers (small speakers with a subwoofer) since then, and I've always had the idea of getting a real "home audio" setup on my mind. Eventually I got around to putting such a setup together. This essay documents my journey.

Sony SS-F6000

Driver complement: - 1" dome tweeter - 3.25" H.O.P. cone mid driver - 6.5" H.O.P. enhanced cone mid-woofer - 6.5" mica reinforced woofer - Front ported

This was the first speaker pair I procured, in a package deal with a Yamaha RX-V365 amplifier.

I set these speakers up in my office. They are placed at the edges of my 6 foot wide desk, thus they are about 4.5 feet away from my listening position. Because the speakers are next to the desk, the bottom woofer doesn't have a direct line of sight to my ears at all, the top woofer is roughly at the desk height and only with the speakers raised on monitor stands to the tweeters clear the open laptops on the table and the mid drivers end up above the table surface.

Also due to this placement, despite being toed in a lot (close to 45 degrees), the speakers aren't pointing at the listening position.

Despite serious placement issues, I love the way these speakers sound. They have been my favorite speaker until I acquired the Warfedales, and they are still my top choice for the office.

I find the SS-F6000 to have a balanced, coherent, clear, detailed, pleasant and immersive sound throughout the frequency range. They do excellent with music as well as speech (Youtube movies). I find the amount of bass they produce to be perfect for the space they are in. The bass is deep and tight but not rattly, sloppy nor boomy. I do not hear any distortion at moderate listening volumes.

Given the placement of these speakers, I am essentially listening to them in near field and they excel in this role in my opinion. This excellence is rather unexpected given that these are floorstanding towers.

I find SS-F6000 to be very pleasant to listen to at lower volumes later in the evening. At the same time they are energetic at moderate volumes. In both cases the sound they produce is distortion-free.

2022 Update 1

After upgrading the rest of the apartment in both speakers (the reference now is Definitive Technology BP7002) and electronics (Yamaha RX-V1500 in pure direct + Sonamp 275 SE / 875D), I returned to the office where SS-F6000 are homed to reevaluate them.

I find the treble and bass of SS-F6000 to be very pleasant. I like that they are front ported, because the office has minimal room for speakers and the speakers are placed against walls, and I want the bass to fire into the room rather than into the walls (and hence my neighbors).

However, I have an issue with the midrange on these towers. Most of the time the midrange sounds lovely, quite open and pleasant. However on some songs I hear what I think is lower midrange ringing, manifesting as a burbling sound. Some of this could be due to not ideal recording quality (compressed MP3), some perhaps due to me listening them in near field (about 3 ft away from the left speaker, 6 ft away from the right one). But this burbling I do not hear in other rooms and it is annoying.

2022 Update 2

I moved SS-F6000 into the living room to compare them side by side to Definitive BP7002 (behind BBE processing), my current reference.

I found SS-F6000 to have dirty lower treble/upper midrange.

I prefer AR PS-2262 to the SS-F6000 now. In the living room, with space behind both speakers, they have similar bass output, with PS-2262 possibly having some more. PS-2262 is a cleaner speaker however and more pleasant to listen to.

SS-F6000 to me has more bass output than Infinity Primus P362 which I tested at the same time. SS-F6000 seem to play lower as well.

Yamaha RX-V365 / HTR-6230

These appear to be identical in everything other than the name printed on the front panel. Yamaha documentation says that HTR receivers have gold trim as opposed to the silver trim of RX-V models, which certainly seems to be the case for HTR-5890 I later purchased, but in case of RX-V365 / HTR-6230 they both have silver trim and are identical in all respects as far as I could see.

This was my first receiver, and I thought it was a fairly decent unit. It is not a very powerful receiver with stated 240 watt power consumption and stated power delivery of 100 watt/channel at 0.9% THD. This power rating is I believe at only one channel driven, thus it isn't even meaningful for stereo listening. The manual quotes 0.06% THD at 1 kHz into 8 ohms at 50 watts, which is probably the realistic power delivery of this receiver.

The receiver has A and B speaker terminals, but they can't be used at the same time - it outputs to either A speakers or B speakers. Front main speaker terminals use binding posts, all others use spring clips.

I found the sound quality of RX-V365 to be alright. It is important to note here that I had this receiver early in my listening career and I stopped using it for critical listening when I purchased RX-V1500, DTR-50.4 and similar grade hardware.

Unlike the newer RX-V371, the RX-V365 does not have the forced audio delay and thus can be used adjacent to pre-HDMI receivers without butchering the sound.

The biggest issue I had with the RX-V365 and HTR-6230 was a high frequency hum they produced. This hum was not audible when music was playing but it was certainly audible at night when nothing was playing. I had the two receivers and they both had the hum, leading me to suspect that this was perhaps a design issue with the model rather than a particular example being defective.

Partially due to this hum and partially due to the audio delay I have since decided to stick to higher end receivers regardless of vintage.

Polk Monitor 60 Series II

I find the sound that these speakers make sterile and lifeless. They do appear to reproduce all frequencies decently (though there is not much bass from the 6.5" drivers) but the different frequencies do not meld together. Perhaps these speakers are highly sensitive to placement and there is actually a placement in which they sound good, but I haven't found it.

I was also not impressed with the off-axis performance of the Monitor 60s, both vertical and horizontal. The sound timbre changed significantly when I was walking around the room in which the speakers were operating.

Klipsch KSF 8.5

Driver complement: - 1" compression tweeter with Tractrix horn - 8" woofer

Yamaha RX-V659

This receiver is about 4 years older than RX-V365 but two notches higher on the product ladder within a year. Differences from RX-V365:

  • 7.1 channel output instead of 5.1 channel output on the RX-V365.
  • No HDMI inputs. Doesn't matter to me because I only have a single video source (the computer) and it's connected directly to the TV.
  • 6 total digital audio inputs (5 on rear panel, 1 on front panel). RX-V365 has 3 total digital audio inputs, all on the rear panel.
  • Speakers A and B can be turned on at the same time. This means the RX-V659 can effectively independently control 3 pairs of stereo speakers (front A, front B, surround) where "independently" means each pair can be turned on individually or together with any combination of the other two pairs. RX-V365 can only independently control two pairs of stereo speakers. As well, while RX-V365 can drive the same two pairs of stereo speakers total from its outputs the RX-V659 can drive four pairs of stereo speakers total (with two of the pairs being always on or off together - surround and surround back).

I've been playing Definitive BP-8 in pure direct (to defeat tone control via the remote) and it seems the sound is fuller in pure direct mode than in stereo. I rather expected them to be virtually the same, considering I am playing digital input (optical). This goes into detail of what audio processing is performed by the receiver, perhaps RX-V659 performs some unnecessary digital to analog to digital conversions somewhere?

Klipsch Tangent 300

I came to buy these speakers but instead I purchased the Altec Lansing Model Three Series II. I don't remember much about Tangents other than I wasn't impressed by their acoustic output and preferred the Altec Lansings, as well as Energy e-XL:26 over them.

Altec Lansing Model Three Series II

These sound alright when playing acoustic performances (e.g., rock).

The sound is not as clean as that produced by Wharfedales. I hear some light buzzing and distortion even on Nightwish songs.

For electronic music, these speakers are not pleasant to listen to because they have a weird quality to how they reproduce bass. My theory on what is going on is given in the "paper cones and EDM" section below.

Sonic Unknown Model

I haven't been able to figure out what model these speakers are. They look very similar to Sonic Audio Labs SL-110, except the SL-110 have four drivers and my speakers have three drivers.

Driver complement: - 3" tweeter - 4" midrange - 10" woofer - Front ported

Specs: - Frequency response: unknown - Sensitivity: unknown but seemingly relatively high, >= 90 dB? - Rated impedance: 8 ohm - Dimensions: 23" H x 13" W x 10.5" D

Despite the 10" woofer these have really weak bass. Lots of distortion.

These speakers have tons of very forward midrange.

Even when tasked with playing acoustic performances (rock), which I've learned the vintage speakers handle better than electronic music, these Sonics still distort even acoustic performances to where their distortion is obvious without having to listen closely to the speakers.

These speakers were surprisingly unpleasant to listen to at night at low volume - the distortion seemed to become even more pronounced (and clearly present across the entire frequency range). There was still no bass but now the rest of the sound was also bad.

Sony SS-CS5

Driver complement: - 3/4" super tweeter - 1" soft dome tweeter - 5.25" mica reinforced cellular dome woofer - Rear ported

After seeing many glowing reviews of these speakers on Youtube I decided to buy a pair to check them out for myself.

I found SS-CS5 to be an excellent bookshelf speaker. I don't see them as replacing a good quality floorstander any time soon but they are outstanding in applications that are more suited to their size:

  • In near field, they are absolutely awesome. The entire frequency range is reproduced clearly and vividly. The bass is good and deep.
  • SS-CS5 are a perfect choice for night listening. They have just the right amount of bass to be deep but still neighbor-friendly, and they sound very full at low volume levels. They have no issue filling a moderate-sized room with sound at low volume at night.

When asked to fill an entire room with sound by themselves at moderate volumes in daytime, SS-CS5 do a decent job but they cannot compete with quality floorstanders (in my personal experience, SS-F6000, Monitor Audios, Mirage and Wharfedales clearly do a better job filling a room than the SS-CS5). The lack of bass is quite apparent, and while some can be dialed in via the equalizer, the 5.25" drivers in a small cabinet simply cannot compete with even the same size drivers in a cabinet three times the size (Mirage or Monitor Audio), never mind the larger drivers of SS-F6000 and the Wharfedales. With that said, the midrange and the high frequencies remain good, but those alone aren't sufficient for my needs.

Monitor Audio MA303 / CC300

Although these speakers have only 5.25" drivers, they produce quality sound and respond well to more bass being added via the equalizer. I got the MA303+CS300 to sound similar to the SS-F6000, with the difference being that the SS-F6000 have +2 dB of bass set on the equalizer and the MA303+CS300 have +8 dB.

The bass is tight and punchy. The midrange is present and sounds full and whole. The highs are quite clear.

2022 Update

I listened to the MA303 again after having the Definitive supertowers and, more relevantly, AR PS 2262 which I would say are the closest to the MA303 of the equipment I own.

I now found MA303 rather noisy in the midrange and lacking bass, even compared to the PS 2262 (though the 2262 have 6.5" drivers and MA303 have 5.25" drivers). I would have perhaps kept the MA303 for their small footprint - they are the smallest towers I've owned - if the issue was just with the bass, but I sold the Monitor Audio set due to the noisy midrange.

Sony SS-U542AV

Driver complement: - 1.75" cone tweeter - 4" midrange - 10" woofer - Sealed cabinet

Specs: - Dimensions: 34" H x 12" W x 9" D

There aren't any specs available on these speakers on the internet other than a "200 W" power rating. I am quite convinced this is peak power, there are several accounts of people having blown these speakers at parties and I would be seriously worried about putting in the full power of a 100 W amplifier into them.

For the crossover, these speakers have a single capacitor on the midrange driver. Tweeter and woofer are connected directly to the speaker terminals and (attempt to) play all frequencies that the speaker is receiving from the amplifier.

A Youtube video review of these speakers called them "profit boxes", meaning they had cheap components but were sold at a large markup. I can see how this could be true - the crossover is one indicator, the cabinet walls are thin, knocking on the cabinet produces a very hollow sound, the cabinets have no bracing, and these speakers are very light.

The speakers do have an acoustic(?) foam in them extending approximately half the height of the cabinet, centered behind the woofer.

Despite having a 10" woofer, the SS-U542AV do not produce deep bass. Adding bass via the equalizer does not help much - I was only able to add about +2 dB before the lower frequencies started noticeably distorting. At low to moderate listening volume the speakers will tolerate a bit more extra bass on the equalizer, but they still don't have deep bass.

SS-U542AV do sound pretty good at low-medium volumes (evening listening). In this application they have just enough bass output to be adequate without being a nuisance to neighbors.

At truly low volumes (night listening) the entirety of the bass disappears and they aren't that attractive anymore.

Of course, for evening/night listening a pair of SS-CS5 bookshelves sound just as good (evening) or better (night) while occupying a fraction of the space.

I do find the bass tight as long as equalizer is kept reasonable. From what I understand this is a property of sealed cabinets - bass is not large in volume but it's tighter and cleaner. I do find the bass cleaner than that produced by Altec Lansing Threes and Yamaha NS-A636.

The midrange is pretty good. No complaints.

Lower treble sounds noisy. Upper treble sounds good.

Overall the speaker produces a decent sound, notwithstanding lacking bass. I would say sound quality is better than on Sonics and Yamaha NS-A636. SS-U542AV are probably in the same league if they were to be graded as Klipsch KG 1.5 but the two speakers have totally different qualities to them.

Mirage FRX Seven

Driver complement: - 3/4" metal dome tweeter - Two 5.25" polypropylene woofers, butyl surrounds - Front and rear ported

I only have one of these speakers. The gentleman who sold it to me said the other speaker quit working and he threw it away.

The Seven is very similar to my Monitor Audio speakers. In fact, I have added it to the three Monitor Audios in the kitchen and after setting speaker level only I find the Seven to blend in very well with the MAs.

The Seven produces very impressive bass for its driver size, no doubt due to the dual ports. Even so the speaker responds well to adding bass via the equalizer, producing even more bass with the same tightness and clarity as on neutral EQ.

Wharfedale Emerald EM-99 MK IV

Very nice speakers. They are not directly comparable to the Sony SS-F6000 but I consider both of these pairs the highest quality speakers I have.

Wharfedales have a slightly warm sound, but not too warm. They are pleasant to listen to and are non-fatiguing. When I switch from other speakers to Wharfedales they seem to lack midrange somewhat, but when I just listen to Wharfedales I don't get that impression. A fellow enthusiast told me that the Wharfedales, along with other English speakers, are designed for small spaces (or, smaller compared to US-designed speakers) and thus have more upper midrange and lower treble rolloff to be less forward and more listenable to at smaller distances from the speaker. I suspect that if the speakers had a 3-6" midrange driver, instead of reproducing the midrange from an 8" driver, they might perhaps have a more present midrange; but again when I just listen to the Wharfedales I don't perceive any deficiencies in their sound.

Wharfedales do need the listening position to be some distance away from the speaker for the sound to fuse, I would say at least 8 feet. I listened to them in near field when purchasing them and they didn't sound good in that case. For this reason I don't think Wharfedales would sound good in my office instead of SS-F6000s are.

These speakers produce noticeable bass at all volumes, including at minimal volumes during night listening. On one hand I find it admirable that the speakers always produce good sound, on the other hand this makes the Wharfedales rather unsuitable for operation past midnight when neighbors are present.

Additional references: - Audiokarma - Home Theater Forum

Sony STR-DE845

I got this receiver as a package deal with the Wharfedales.

The STR-DE845 is a 5.1 surround A/V receiver. It has digital and analog audio inputs, and analog only video inputs.

Differences from RX-V365:

  • Speakers A and B can be turned on at the same time, unlike with RX-V365. Very nice.
  • All of the setup can be done from the front panel, unlike all of my Yamahas which require the model-correct remote to configure them.
  • No volume indication on the display. However, the volume knob has a fixed range (min at 7 o'clock position and max at 5 o'clock), unlike Yamahas where the knob is free-spinning.
  • No "surround stereo" sound field program.

The volume knob turned out to be quite problematic to use at night at low listening volumes, because after barely moving it the receiver is already slightly too loud. For comparison, on my Yamahas I have volume set in the -50 dB range at night. The STR-DE845 is very difficult to control at this volume level.

The lack of "surround stereo" sound field program is very problematic, and (together with the volume knob awkwardness) is the reason I decided not to keep the STR-DE845 for regular use. The STR-DE845 can only play stereo inputs as either stereo (meaning 2 speakers driven only) or one of its sound field programs with full processing, which adds reverbaration and effects. There is no feature to simply duplicate front two channels into the surrond channels. On later Sony models like STR-DN1000 this is called "Multi Stereo" (enabled from the Auto Format Direct button (A.F.D.)), Yamahas call this "5.1 channel stereo" or "7.1 channel stereo", but this STR-DE845 doesn't have this feature at all. Lacking this feature means that while the receiver can support two pairs of speakers attached to it, the volume of the speakers cannot be set relative to each other, and the per-channel equalizer can't be used to make the two pairs sound the same either. For stereo inputs the STR-DE845 is essentially only a stereo receiver.

Practically irrelevant (to me) differences between STR-DE845 and the various Yamaha receivers I have are:

  • No HDMI inputs. Doesn't matter to me because I only have a single video source (the computer) and it's connected directly to the TV.
  • No second zone. Doesn't matter because Yamaha receivers only send analog inputs to the second zone and I use digital interconnects exclusively.
  • A huge number of various sound field programs. Unfortunately this makes cycling through them take quite a bit of time. I hear the remote that comes with the receiver has convenient ways of getting to the various programs; I can't comment on this as my receiver didn't come with a remote.

On my STR-DE845 some of the front panel buttons are glitchy - when you press one button sometimes the receiver thinks that another (nearby) button is pressed instead. A number of other reviewers commented on the front panel buttons ceasing to work, this agrees with my experience. Certainly something to consider if you are inspecting a used STR-DE845.

Yamaha NS-A636

I got these speakers as a package deal with Klipsch KG 1.5 and a Yamaha HTR-3064.

This review ended up being long enough that I put it on its own page.

Klipsch KG 1.5

I got these speakers as a package deal with the Yamaha NS-A636 and a Yamaha HTR-3064.

From Klipsch's product description:

The two-way KG Series KG 1.5 bookshelf loudspeaker was first introduced in 1994 and manufactured by Klipsch until 1997.

Klipsch KG brochure with specifications

Driver complement: - 1" tweeter - 6.5" woofer - Rear ported

Specs: - Sensitivity: 90 dB @ 1 W/1 m - Frequency response: 50 hz - 20 kHz (-3 dB) - Nominal impedance: 8 ohm - Power handling: 50 W (200 W peak) - Dimensions: 13" H x 9.25" W x 9.25" D - Weight: 15 lbs

I initially listened to these speakers with them sitting on the floor, which is probably not how they are designed to be heard. The sound was weird - it seemed to me that the frequency response was uneven, specifically that there were peaks in both lower and middle frequencies. The upper bass seemed to be emphasized, the mid-bass seemed absent, and the speakers actually reproduced surprisingly low frequencies (seemingly largely via cabinet rather than driver vibration) leading to a weird discontinuity in sound. Similarly the midrange seemed both muted and forward at the same time. The treble was acceptable, it's probably somewhere in between the peaks and the valleys of the bass and midrange making it sometimes insufficient and sometimes appropriate.

When I raised the speakers to bookshelf height (about 4.5 feet off the floor, and about 1.5 feet above my ear level to the base of the speaker) the bass has subdued and became more in line with what I would have expected from a speaker of this size. The speaker became more balanced overall, treble became more noticeable. The weird unevenness has gone away.

I would say at bookshelf height the KG 1.5 has decent to good midrange and treble, as long as there weren't too many different sounds happening concurrently.

At either height the KG 1.5 struggled to reproduce passages with more than the average amount of acoustic information (i.e. multiple instruments/samples playing at the same time). The bass became distorted as the woofer seemingly thrashed uncontrolled. Given that this is a two-driver speaker, such overload was quite noticeable in a variety of frequencies.

At relatively low volumes (night listening), at bookshelf height, the bass disappears completely. These speakers are somewhat acceptable to be utilized in this capacity - I would prefer some bass to none at all, but at least they don't sound distorted (unlike the Sonics).

Yamaha HTR-3064

I believe this receiver is equivalent to RX-V371. As I own two RX-V365s (one an actual RX-V365 and one an HTR-6230) the HTR-3064 differs as follows:

  • No speaker B terminals at all.
  • HTR-3064 permits equalizing all channels individually. RX-V365/HTR-6230 (as well as my RX-V659) only have the equalizer for the center channel.
  • HDMI ARC is supported.


  • HTR-3064 and HTR-6230/RX-V365 have the same power rating, 100 W/channel at 0.9% THD (which is rather high). A more honest power rating for these receivers would be 70 W/ch, which (at 0.09% THD) Yamaha started to publish as of RX-V375, released two years later.

The RAV283 remote that I got with HTR-6230 works with HTR-3064 as well and permits setting up the receiver.

The HTR-3064 has what I think is different audio processing latency compared to HTR-6230/RX-V365, RX-V659 and Sony STR-DE845. If the HTR-3064 is playing from the same input as any of the other receivers, the result sounds similar to an outdoor concert where the sound is either taking a significantly different time to arrive from the different speakers set up around the venue or it's bouncing off buildings and such and creates additional reflections. This is very unpleasant.

Yamaha Aventage RX-V4A

Yamaha's current entry level home theater receiver.

What a pain to use. Almost all of the settings (except for dimmer and one more which I'm forgetting) must be configured using the on-screen menu. This means in order to configure this receiver, you need not only the remote but also a TV attached to it. Clearly this unit is not meant for playing audio only.

Worse, even more common controls like bass, treble and bass boost require going through the setup menu! Even if you have this receiver attached to a monitor this is simply too much work to tweak the sound that is coming out. I'm hoping that Yamaha's smartphone app has an easier interface for adjusting the equalizer but you still need to go through however many steps to get the phone, get the app opened, etc...

The receiver only has 5 speaker outputs. It does support bi-amping, but if you do that you lose the surround channels. Given that the device is not usable without a TV attached to it I really do not understand the point of biamping - you'd have this receiver attached to a TV and two speakers only?

It does support Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and supposedly a plethora of streaming services which I haven't tested.

Overall this is very much a movie receiver rather than a music one, and a very basic movie receiver by today's standards with only 5 audio channels. I imagine the intended user for this would be someone who has a huge 4K TV, is planning on getting an 8K TV in the future, doesn't have space to place the ideal number of speakers in the room, but lives looking at a smartphone consuming streaming services. Perhaps a console gamer.

Yamaha NS-6490

The bookshelf speakers I got with the NS-777 towers.

The specs on these speakers advertise a 45 Hz-23 kHz frequency response. The 45 Hz figure of that is pretty good for a bookshelf speaker. Unfortunately, the reality is that NS-6490 produce barely any bass. I can hear something when the song has low frequency notes in it, but this isn't what I would consider good bass reproduction.

Increasing bass level on the equalizer causes the woofer to start to buzz before the bass level is sufficient.

These speakers are quite similar to the NS-A636 - similar dimensions, driver configuration, MSRP I imagine and, unfortunately, sound. The NS-6490 is most certainly a satellite speaker that should be configured as a "Small" in the receiver and not be tasked to play any low frequency sounds.

NS-6490 do sound better than NS-A636 - they have less distortion and are cleaner across the board (both bass and midrange).

Yamaha NS-777

Yamaha's premier home theater floorstanding towers.

They have surprisingly little bass for both the specs, the cabinet size and their MSRP. The advertised frequency response for NS-777 is 30 Hz-35 kHz. They have way less bass presence than the Wharfedales do. They sound quite similar to the SS-F6000 which are rated to 40 Hz and have 6.5" woofers, despite having dual 8" woofers. And, NS-777 are physically larger than both Wharfedales and Sonys (they have probably close to double the volume of the SS-F6000). All in all, bass performance is disappointing. I guess these are expected to be used with a subwoofer in a home theater system.

NS-777 are rear ported, which I honestly start to understand less and less especially in a tower speaker. In a bookshelf speaker like the SS-CS5 there is simply not enough room on the front face to have the port, but normally where a tower has a rear port there is nothing on the front, so the port may as well be forward facing. NS-777 are in this category.

I initially positioned NS-777 such that they had about a foot of clean space between them. After moving them to have them roughly centered in the living room pockets with two feet of clean space behind them, with intention to get more bass out of them, the bass became boomier but not deeper.

The midrange is clear, though on some songs I hear raspiness.

Treble is good.

NS-777 seem to lack dynamics and separation (soundstaging?) of the Wharfedales. Granted, I have the NS-777s positioned just inside of the Wharfedales, so maybe they need to be spaced further apart. On some songs NS-777 sound very flat.

Overall I find Wharfedales to be more engaging, dynamic, deep and more pleasant to listen to overall.


I tried to make Wharfedales sound more like NS-777s by elevating the midrange on a HTR-3064 receiver. This worked. Comparing the two speakers I now think that NS-777 simply have too much midrange, or are too forward, and I think what I am hearing in NS-777s is midrange being colored. Wharfedales' midrange is a bit more withdrawn but it doesn't sound bad, perhaps it is simply more neutral.

Unlike Wharfedales which can produce more midrange with equalization, NS-777s cannot produce more bass even with the bass set to +6 dB. They cannot produce deeper bass in any event. I hear the notes that are, I'm assuming, in the 40 Hz range, but they aren't anywhere near as felt as the same notes produced by the Wharfedales, even when the latter have their bass trimmed to match the sound of NS-777s.

I tried separating NS-777s more to get better imaging. This resulted in me moving them out of the alcoves they were in, which ruined what bass they did have due to room gain from being in a corner with 3 walls. Separated out but closer to the wall behind them, NS-777s became very flat and unpleasant. They honestly sounded worse than SS-CS5 at that point.

In my opinion, NS-777 are very finicky about placement in the room, and for me to consider them at all good they would require:

  • 2 feet minimum distance from the closest walls
  • Positioned in a corner (but 2+ feet away from walls)
  • At least 10 feet away from listening position

This means the speakers simply do not fit into the vast majority of rooms. You need a dedicated large living room-sized area but dedicated to listening to the music. I imagine they are perhaps intended to go into a movie theater that occupies the entire basement in a house? Without this much space to work with, the speakers sound simply mediocre.

Klipsch KF-28

  • 1" horn tweeter
  • 2x 8" IMG woofers (not copper though)
  • Front ported

These speakers appear to be quite similar to Klipsch R-28F. They are not however identical - dimensions differ slightly, weight differs too. R-28F have copper IMG woofers, KF-28 have IMG woofers but not copper ones. Some internet posters say these speakers are the same but I'm not sure how true this really is.

I listened to KF-28 but ended up not buying them. These speakers to me were lacking in upper and mid-bass. Treble seemed quite good, midrange was good (and there was quite a bit of it), but the low frequencies were simply lacking. In the lower bass I heard the drum kicks, but these kicks were separated from the midrange and the result was rather unpleasant to listen to.

I wonder if this is the "Klipsch sound" that some people are referring to, because I have now observed various Klipsch speakers having dips in frequency response (KG 1.5 are very similar to KF-28 but KG 1.5 have a somewhat muddy midrange I would say while KF-28 do not, KSF 8.5 seem to be very placement and listening position-sensitive to get the proper mid-bass and depth from them).

The speakers are approximately as large as Yamaha NS-777 and once again I am surprised at how such a large enclosure seems to produce very little bass. Due to their size I was limited in where I could use them, so I decided to not deal with them given less than enjoyable sound.

Yamaha Receiver Forced Audio Delay

HTR-3064 (eqivalent to RX-V371) adds a 40 millisecond forced delay to all audio output. This delay applies to all input sources including analog and digital audio-only connections when the receiver is not receiving any video input signal at all.

I determined the delay as follows. I set up the HTR-3064 next to an HTR-6230 (which is a model 2 years older). Both receivers were set up to receive the same input signal - I used optical SPDIF input via a splitter. Each receiver had one speaker attached to it on the same channel (e.g. right front). The speakers were placed next to each other. Both receivers implement an audio delay function, and in both receivers the delay was initially set to zero.

With both receivers operating on the same input, the bass was smeared due to the audio delay on the HTR-3064.

I then increased the delay on HTR-6230. When the delay passed through 39-40-41 milliseconds a couple of interesting things happened:

  • The apparent sound source moved from one speaker at 39 ms delay to the other speaker at 41 ms delay.
  • At 40 ms, the smearing seemed minimal.

Based on the apparent sound source moving dramatically when the delay was changed from 39 ms to 40 ms and again from 40 ms to 41 ms, I concluded that 40 ms was the actual delay added by the HTR-3064.

My guess is this forced delay was introduced in HTR-3063/RX-V369 models, when the receivers gained the ability to extract audio from HDMI signal.

My theory as to why this delay exists is this. Prior to HDMI, video and audio signals were analog and required minimal processing, hence they could be processed at the same time without there being A/V desynchronization. HDMI is however an encrypted protocol, and retrieving image data from it takes some time. When HDMI was added to the receivers (in the RX-V363 model, according to the specifications I've seen) the receiver did not perform audio extraction - the receiver passed the entire HDMI signal to the TV, the TV performed decryption, rendered the picture and sent the audio back to the receiver via (typically) optical output. The audio still did not require much processing and thus audio and video were in sync.

When RX-V367/HTR-3063 implemented audio extraction from HDMI, there was an issue however: the video signal sent from the receiver to the TV used HDMI and thus had to be decrypted in the TV, whereas the audio was already available in the receiver, causing the audio to potentially play ahead of the video. I'm guessing that 40 milliseconds is the typical processing time that the TVs are expected to spend to decrypt HDMI signal, and for whatever reason Yamaha decided to simply add a corresponding delay to all audio output. This delay however is wrong because it should not be applied to, for example, audio received from the TV via the optical input, but it is applied in that case as well.

The added audio delay is probably noticeable by gamers who have numerous complaints about audio lag with Yamaha receivers. Some of the fixes suggested online include using analog audio inputs on the receiver (yuck), but at least in case of HTR-3064 the analog audio is also subject to the delay, hence using analog audio inputs accomplishes nothing.

I am not completely sure but I believe the RX-V4A is also subject to audio delay/lag. I haven't tested the amount of delay since I have already sold the RX-V4A by the time I performed the above described test on the HTR-3064.

So far the newer Yamaha receivers are the only ones I personally had that exhibited such an audio delay. The receivers which I tested which did not exhibit the delay are:

  • Pioneer VSX-516 (no HDMI)
  • Sony STR-DE845 (no HDMI)
  • Yamaha RX-V365/HTR-3260 (HDMI pass-through but no HDMI audio extraction)
  • Yamaha RX-V659 (no HDMI)
  • Integra DTR-50.4 (HDMI 4K)

Integra DTR-50.4

This is a really fancy 7.2 receiver, costing about $1400 new. I bought it because of a few interesting features:

  • Biamp capability + 7 powered channels, such that it is possible to biamp the front speakers while retaining 5.1 surround sound
  • Per-channel equalizer. I think the Wharfedales could use a bit more midrange, and I've been looking for a receiver that would allow me to bring up the midrange on the Wharfedales without doing this on the remaining (surround) speakers.

Unlike the Onkyo receivers which appear to require a TV to configure the receiver (same as Yamaha RX-V4A), the Integra receivers appear to have no such limitation. I think the Integras can even be set up completely from the front panel.

On my DTR-50.4 the front panel buttons don't always work correctly - sometimes I press one button but the receiver behaves as if another button was pressed. I witnessed this behavior previously on the Sony STR-DE845, but I was rather disappointed to see it on the $1400 Integra receiver.

Pioneer VSX-516

I bought this receiver to replace the Yamaha HTR-3064 because of the audio delay it adds that is described above. The VSX-516 is a 7.1 channel receiver which is biamp-capable and has support for B speakers, though those consume two amplifier channels (surround back, same ones as would be used for biamping).

This receiver sounds good. I haven't noticed any deficiencies in sound output so far.

The VSX-516 is a rather cheap unit, retailing for $200 new (and selling for sometimes as low as $150 with promotions). For this money a number of features are absent:

  • Automatic calibration (MCACC)
  • Input renaming
  • Per-channel EQ

The receiver can be configured completely from the front panel which is nice, and unlike the much more expensive, as well as newer, Integra DTR-50.4 all of the front panel buttons work as they should which was super awesome.

My VSX-516 did not come with a remote but Amazon sells a generic remote that is compatibile with this receiver (all functions I tested worked, though I did not test the tuner functionality) for under $8: AXD7622. I also tested AXD7534 and this remote worked for changing sources and volume but not for receiver configuration.

Linux 5.1 Channel Output

To output multi-channel audio on Linux, ultimately only the following was required:

  • Install mpv (an mplayer fork).
  • Add the following command-line arguments:

    --ao=alsa --audio-device='alsa/iec958:CARD=Device,DEV=0' --af=scaletempo,lavcac3enc=yes:448:3

Most of the required parameters are detected automatically, to force them try:

mpv --ao=alsa /path/to/file.mkv --audio-channels=6 --audio-device='alsa/iec958:CARD=Device,DEV=0' --af=scaletempo,lavcac3enc=yes:448:3

Resources I used: this was very helpful, this might be helpful but I haven't needed or tried it, mpv manual was indispensable, this is a curious note, this post suggested using aften which needs to be installed via deb-multimedia although I ultimately did not need aften at all (or an mpv configuration file).

Background information: here. Doing this via pulseaudio (untested, I do not use pulseaudio myself).

Klipsch Icon VF-35

1" horn tweeter, 3x 5.25" woofers.

Non-removable grille over woofers, magnetic removable grille over tweeter.

Good looking, slim speaker.

Bass does not go down very far. Sounds like a bookshelf speaker. Especially at lower volumes there is very little bass.

At higher volumes the entire speaker becomes muddy. It also seems to lack dynamics. Not enjoyable to listen to. Reminded me of NS-A636.

Mirage M-360

  • 1" soft dome tweeter
  • 8" woofer
  • Front ported

Information from Internet:

Canadian, built by API (Energy, Mirage, Sound Dynamics Image etc.) Mirage 60 series, Early 90's maybe 89. Nice 2 way speaker worthy of a reform.

Yes, typical of speakers that were developed at the National Research Council in Ottawa, very accurate and neutral. IIRC they sold for about $400/pair back in the day. Worth saving.

For EDM they have a very pleasant, expansive sound. Bass is present and pleasant to hear. These speakers produce less bass than a good quality tower, as would be expected, but the bass that is produced is lovely and the amount of it is quite enjoyable. I haven't listened to M-360 vs SS-CS5 but to me they are rather similar in enjoyment.

For rock, the upper bass was seemingly cutting in and out, which perhaps was because I listened to the speakers on the floor and they need to be lifted 20-30" to be at a more reasonable height. On the floor they sounded shallow with rock material.

When lifted about 18" off the floor, the M-360 have good dynamics and are an engaging speaker.

I think I hear two issues with M-360:

  1. Woofer ringing - sounds somewhat in between Altec Lansings and PSB towers, possibly the woofer cone is not rigid enough for EDM material.
  2. Distortion in EDM material when percussions crash - possibly from the woofer trying to play treble due to this being a 2 way system.


  • 3/4" titanium dome tweeter
  • 6.5" midrange
  • 8" woofer
  • Front ported

This speaker uses non-standard surrounds for both midrange and woofer. The cones on the speaker are slightly larger than the standard 6.5"/8" cones so that the standard surrounds are too small on the ID and also don't fill out the basket fully in the OD. Unlike some other speakers the MR-38 don't have any trim over the surrounds, for correct appearance the MR-38 specific surrounds need to be used.

When I was auditioning the MR-38 they sounded a bit too harsh in the midrange. This was with damaged surrounds though and I thought perhaps new surrounds would remedy the harshness.

With the surrounds replaced, the speakers sound boomy in the upper bass/low mid-range. It really sounds like they have too much midrange and a bit too much treble. What they seem to lack is bass, despite the 8" woofers and front ports. The SS-CS5 have deeper and louder bass than the MR-38.

MR-38 are unpleasant to listen to due to the midrange boominess.

Sony SS-U45

  • 30 mm (~ 1.25") balanced drive tweeter
  • 80 mm (~ 3.25") midrange
  • 200 mm (~ 8") woofer
  • Front ported

Other specs from hifiengine:

  • 3 way, 3 driver loudspeaker system
  • Frequency response: 60 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Power handling: 40 w
  • Recommended amplifier: 25 w max
  • Crossover frequency: 6000 Hz, 9000 Hz
  • Impedance: 8 ohm
  • Sensitivity: 91 dB
  • Dimensions: 646 x 364 x 273 mm
  • Weight: 11kg
  • Year: 1981

Surprisingly good for a 1981 Sony bookshelf! This is the first speaker I had with the "balanced drive" tweeter, I had to look up what this was and it is essentally a combination of both cone and dome tweeter in one. Interestingly, the later SS-UxxxAV Sonys such as the SS-U542AV I owned used cone tweeters, which appearently are cheaper. My theory is that the SS-U45 was manufactured in the time when sound quality was prioritized, with later designs favoring cost over quality, which is why the SS-U45 is surprisingly good.

SS-U45 have very wide soundstage. Pleasant sound overall on-axis. When significantly off-axis (> 45 degrees), the bass is boomy and quite noticeably so. Depending on program material the speaker can sound relatively deep or not so much.

SS-U45 do appear to exhibit the floppy sound I heard in the Altec Lansings and Sonics, possibly due to using similar woofer cone material.

Definitive Technology BP-8

Bipolar design with a tweeter and 5.25" woofer in front and back.

Surprisingly for only one and a half woofers (the rear drivers are playing at -6 dB, per what I read) these have so much bass that they could be used without a subwoofer. Definitely out-bass the T930 towers, may be similar to the Wharfedale Emeralds in both how low the BP-8 go and the amount of bass they produce.

With that said, the single 5.25" woofer does seem to struggle a bit to play everything. The frequency response in the bass region seems to be not completely even - I would guess mid-bass has a small dip in my setup. I am very curious to hear a Def Tech speaker with more drivers such as the BP-2006TL which have a powered subwoofer plus the same tweeter/5.25" woofer bipolar complement.

Despite the minor issues, BP-8 is an engaging speaker to listen to. It is clean and clear (other than the unevenness in bass response). I think the speakers do especially well with electronic music.

Off-axis (~40 degrees) the BP-8 don't sound as pleasant as Wharfedales or T930, but I think this is forgivable.

Paradigm Monitor 9 v1

These speakers didn't come with any manufacturer labels but my best guess as to what they are are Monitor 9, and I think they are v1 because they don't have wide feet that Monitor 7 v2 gained, and the grille is "flush with 3 sides of the speaker".


  • Design: 3-driver, 2-way bass reflex, quasi - 3rd-order resistive port, floorstanding / tower
  • Low Frequency Extension: 32 Hz (DIN)
  • Frequency Response: On-Axis ±2dB from 44 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Frequency Response: 30° Off-Axis ±2dB from 44 Hz - 18 kHz
  • High Frequency Driver: 25-mm (1 in) PTD™ pure-titanium dome and former, Ferro-fluid damped/cooled
  • Mid/Bass Frequency Driver: Two 210-mm (8 in) with diecast chassis', ICP™ injection molded co-polymer polypropylene cones, Apical™ formers
  • Sensitivity: Room / Anechoic 93 dB / 90 dB
  • Impedance: Compatible with 8 ohms
  • Suitable Amplifier Power Range: 15 - 200 watts
  • Maximum Input Power: 150 watts
  • Finish: Black Ash
  • Weight: 96 lbs. (44 kg)
  • Dimensions: HxWxD 37" × 9.25" × 14.25" (94cm × 24cm × 37cm)

Semi-transparent poly woofer cones. Woofer surrounds are very soft rubber. Especially the bottom woofer looks to have a lot of travel permitted by the surround compared to other speakers I've had.

Listening impressions: treble and mid-range pretty good. Bass quantity is huge, in my living room even with flat EQ these produce more bass than is desired. However, the bass is smeared. The speakers sound qualitatively like a cheap car audio system which causes random parts in the car to rattle/vibrate after drum hits. Monitor 9's aren't anywhere near as obnoxious as some of such cheap car systems but they sound like the bass keeps going long after it should stop. This makes the speakers sound like they are producing bass almost constantly which - turns out - is annoying to listen to.

Moving the speakers closer to the wall changed the quantity of bass produced slightly but not this character of the speakers.

Boston Acoustics T930 Series II

  • 1" soft dome (CTF5) tweeter
  • 6.5" copolymer midrange
  • 10" copolymer woofer
  • Sealed box
  • Frequency response: 42 Hz - 20,000 Hz
  • Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 90 dB @ 1 W, 1 m
  • Recommended amplifier power: 15-150 watts
  • Crossover frequencies: 350 Hz, 2500 Hz
  • Dimensions: 36.5" x 10.25" x 12"
  • Weight: 50 lbs, 23 kg
  • MSRP $750 in 1988-1993

Info: 1 2 3

Series II inverted the tweeter and the midrange compared to Series I (I has tweeter on top, II has midrange on top).

These speakers have the foam surround material that looks like the 70's-80's material. If exposed to sunlight surely wouldn't last long.

It's a large box. The bass is there but there isn't as much of it as is present in ported designs. Midrange and treble at first impression are pretty good.

Subsequent listening however revealed distortion/noise in both midrange and lower treble. The speaker sounds boomy in upper bass, perhaps the cabinets are not braced veny well. Eventually some floppiness came through in EDM material.

The T930 do produce a wide sound stage. I had them set up on the outsides of Wharfedales and they produced a pleasant improvement to the overall sound on rock material but not on EDM. On EDM Wharfedales sounded better in combination with BP-8.

Sony STR-D615

No DAC in this receiver hence I didn't meaningfully use it.

Sony STR-DH710

HDMI receiver, 7.1 channels, looks to be somewhat newer and more featureful than the RX-V365.

Just like RX-V365 though the receiver hums when turned on! Not as loud as the RX-V365 but definitely audible.

Audissey vs YPAO

I got an Audissey setup microphone with the Marantz NR1603 receiver and used it to calibrate the same speakers with two receivers: the NR1603 and Yamaha RX-V1500. Yamaha's YPAO system uses its own microphone; I decided to see whether the microphones are compatible.

Audissey took 6 measurements from 6 listening positions. YPAO as far as I can tell took a single measurement.

With the T930, Audissey kept the response curve mostly flat from 200 Hz to 12 kHz. It wanted to kill some of the bass at 63 Hz (-2 dB) and it wanted more top end at 16 kHz (+3 dB). Personally I thought the +3 dB at 16 kHz was excessive, the speaker sounded like the treble was turned up a lot. Maybe this is a consequence of the calibration microphone pointing upward where it doesn't catch as much treble as a microphone that pointed forward.

The same speakers with the same microphone but using RX-V1500's YPAO produced weird result: the left speaker was claimed to be wired out of phase (it wasn't as far as I could tell), and the EQ settings were all over the place in the bass and midrange (200 Hz - 2 kHz). YPAO also wanted to reduce the bottom end at 80-125 Hz (-5 dB) and bump the top end at 13 kHz (+4 dB), more aggressively so than the Audissey.

My takeaway from this is that a single measurement system like the YPAO (or at least the YPAO in older receivers like the RX-V1500) should probably be double checked with manual measurements, and a multiple measurement system like Audissey has got to be more reliable.

It is nice that Audissey is used by Marantz, Denon and Integra. This means a single microphone can be used with receivers from all these brands, handy because most people lose the microphones and they are quite pricy on eBay.

Marantz SR8000

See the dedicated page.

Denon AVR-2803

See the dedicated page.

Denon Receivers

The following receivers support B speaker output but cannot turn off all front speaker output according to the manual:

  • AVR-687
  • AVR-890
  • AVR-2803
  • AVR-2807
  • AVR-1909
  • AVR-2307CI

Assuming the intermediate models also have the same functionality, this covers most of the models I am interested in, perhaps older ones support having no speaker output?

Polk Monitor 11T

See the dedicated page.

Acoustic Research Performance Series

Soft dome tweeter:

Polycarbonate dome tweeter:

Horn tweeter:

  • AR-216PS - 2-way bookshelf
  • AR-226PS - 2.5(?)-way bookshelf, horn tweeter, 2 woofers, also here
  • AR-318PS - 3-way tower, horn tweeter
  • AR-328PS - 2 woofers instead of 1 in AR-318PS, 4 drivers total
  • AR-P428PS - 4-way tower, horn tweeter, midrange, 8" woofer, rear-firing 8" powered subwoofer, also here


Yamaha Receivers

RX-V663 successor is RX-V765, not RX-V665 which is inferior in a number of aspects.

Definitive Technology BP2006TL

These have a somewhat thin sound. The issue with these speakers in my opinion is that the mid/woofers are only 4.5" and thus don't play low enough to produce everything other than subwoofer frequencies out the front of the speaker. As a result, the subwoofers must be playing upper bass. And as a result of that, even though the speakers are the smallest of the bipolar supertowers that Definitive offers, they don't sound good in near field - to get the entire frequency spectrum blended coherently requires a certain minimum distance between the speaker and the listening position, as well as I'm thinking a certain minimum SPL. The BP2006TL I think would do better in a larger room, playing at a moderate volume, than in a small room - but in a larger room you may as well fit one of the larger towers.

Definitive Technology BP10

The original BP10, as far as I can tell, came with a soft dome Vifa tweeter. The later BP10B came with the aluminum tweeter than the supertowers also inherited. Many classified ads mistakenly claim "aluminum tweeters" for BP10, sometimes even as they are showing the photos of the BP10s with the soft dome tweeters.

Interestingly, while I think the BP6B, BP8B and BP10B all had the same aluminum tweeter, the original BP6, BP8 and BP10 each had different tweeters.

The BP10 seems to sound very similar to BP8. I wonder if the difference is really in power handling. My only complaint about the BP8 was that at higher SPLs the woofer seemed to be struggling to play everything, I haven't noticed this yet about the BP10 but also I haven't played them very loudly.

With the speakers about 10' apart, they have perfect center imaging.

Yamaha RX-V793

An actual "vintage" receiver, manufactured in 1997. Mine came with a volume knob issue - when the volume was turned down all the way, it went past the "mute" position into something above "mute". The knob has a fixed range which makes it difficult to use with digital input which is reproduced at relatively low volume levels (which become very low at night).

RX-V793 sounded very warm, I suppose this is what is meant by "colored" sound. It's the first Yamaha receiver whose sound I definitely did not like.

The 793 does not have multi-channel stereo making it not usable in setups requiring more than two speakers.

My 793 also came with the top cover missing from the remote. This top cover is purely cosmetic - it doesn't have any buttons on it, thus while the remote looks like it's missing something important, functionally it's all there anyway.


I sprayed Deoxit cleaner and lubricant on the pots. The bass/treble ones quit scratching in operation and are now working as they should. The volume control remained with the problem that it could go past the "mute" position when rotated counterclockwise, at which point there is some treble being played through the speakers but no midrange and no bass. Looking at it now the issue appears to be mechanical in that the knob is loose and it has play in the direction perpendicular to the center axes. When deflected in that way from the mute position, the treble starts to play. I don't know how to repair this short of disassembling the entire pot and possibly replacing some internal parts of it.

Marantz NR1603

Lacks bass, even with tone controls turned up all the way. I had it set up in the bedroom which is a smaller room and where I usually listen at lower SPLs, once I started listening critically and swapping speakers the Marantz became noticeably thin.

I originally attributed the lack of bass to NR1603's lower power rating (45 watts/channel), but after listening to Denon AVR-3803 a couple of weeks later I think perhaps the issue is with how Denon/Marantz receivers are designed/voiced.

I tried using NR1603 as a preamp feeding into Episode power amplifier. The result had more bass but lacked dynamics.

Eventually I replaced the NR1603 with a Yamaha RX-V1400, which I think is a much better apparatus with the internal amplification.

Denon AVR-3803

One of the reviews I read said the receiver has an outstanding midrange and no bass, and after listening to it for a bit I agree. The midrange, on acoustic material, is phenomenal, very clear and engaging. The bass on the other hand is just missing. Even AVR-3803 + BP10 produce significantly less bass than RX-V2500 + Sonamp 275 SE X3 + AR 2262, with both speakers being rear ported, having 6.5" woofers, and BP10 having larger cabinets and from what I remember being definitely more than adequate in the bass department when hooked up to the Sonamp. The treble on AVR-3803 I would say is "normal", it's overshadowed by the clear and engaging midrange but if the midrange was dialed back to "flat" I think the treble would match it perfectly.

With bass turned up to +10 dB via the tone controls the receiver does produce the bass, but I prefer listening to Yamaha receivers which produce the higher levels of bass with flat equalizer.

The lack of bass on flat tone controls was surprising given the 7A stated power consumption of the receiver, and its hefty 36 lbs weight. Given that with the tone controls adjusted the receiver does produce bass, I think this is again more of a voicing issue rather than lack of power capability.

AVR-3803 does seem to be noisy in the upper midrange/lower treble, similar to the Marantz SR8000 I had, especially with lower quality speakers (Axiom M22ti in this case, these aren't low quality, just not as good as the Definitive towers).

The receiver requires a TV for configuration. It doesn't provide any feedback on the front panel at all when the setup menu is active (on the TV).


I read that BBE processing, which I have in my reference systems, apparently boosts bass and treble up to, I assume, the processing level (+6 dB for the factory default on Sonamp 275 SE/875D, +9 dB configurable). That would explain why NR1603 and AVR-3803 had less bass than the RX-V2500 + Sonamp combo.

However, I tried setting bass at +6 dB on the AVR-3803 and while this produced more bass, the bass was not as clear and tight as the Sonamp bass. I still think AVR-3803 has harsher treble than Sonamp's.

Pioneer VSX-1130

Cool receiver. Has HDMI, 4K, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, network radio.

Unlike a number of other receivers, the VSX-1130 is configurable via the front panel. The TV is probably required for MCACC setup which I did not attempt due to lacking the required microphonoe, and definitely for adjusting EQ/phase curves, but not for basic setup of most settings.

Receiver has A, B and A+B speakers which is nice for something made in 2015.

VSX-1130 has a stated power consumption of 550 watts, which is greater than the 500 watts advertised for RX-V1400/1500/2500/2600. With that said, VSX-1130 is physically smaller than those Yamaha models and weighs less.

Definitive Technology BP2002

I consider this the equivalent of a muscle car. The subwoofers in BP2002 are very brute, they are definitely there and cannot be ignored but they are quite difficult to tame and balance. Even with the knobs turned way down, when the subs are playing, they are vibrating everything around them. In my living room which has tons of room gain for the low frequencies, the speakers are unbearable on more bass-heavy material. They do much better in the kitchen but I would still prefer BP7002 over them.

In the kitchen they have found a sweet spot where at low listening volumes (at night) the subs stay off and they just play from the tweeters and mid/woofers. This produces a quite reasonable result at night.

Definitive Technology BP7002

Possibly the best supertower to purchase.

The bass is tighter, more refined than that in the BP2002. I think having passive radiators in a sealed cabinet sounds much better than the ported cabinet of the BP2002.

I cannot so far tell the difference in midrange and treble, if it exists, between BP2002 and BP7002. BP7002 have an extra mid/woofer on each end but the midrange of BP2002 has always sounded just fine to me.

BP7001sc, while being 50% more expensive than BP7002 and having two 6.5" mid/woofers per end rather than two 5.25" mid/woofers, also have 10" subwoofers and passive radiators instead of the 12" in BP7002. Perhaps BP7001sc would be even more refined than BP7002?

Infinity Primus P362

This is a 4-driver tower with dual 6.5" woofers, a dedicated midrange driver and a tweetr. It's a front ported speaker.

I bought these to try it for the bedroom so that the bass is projected into the room rather than into the walls (and thus into my neighbors), since the bedroom necessitates speakers placed against walls.

I found P362 do not play as low as AR PS-2262 or nd Sony SS-F6000 - other passive towers I had at the time. Although I haven't compared them side by side, P362 might be similar to SS-CS5, and SS-CS5 might even play lower. I don't find P362's bass output to be excessive, they just do not play low enough for towers.

P362 to me are fairly clean-sounding, just not very deep.

Denon AVR-2308CI

Surprisingly, this HDMI receiver can be configured completely from the front panel (with possible exception of Audissey which I have not tested).

The combination of AVR-2308CI + Sony SS-F6000 + Definitive ProSub 1000 lacked midrange compared to my reference RX-V2500 + Sonamp 275 SE + BP7002. The subwoofer produced bass that vibrated furniture (due to bottom-firing radiator), but I found BP7002 overall more pleasant because I think they play lower than the ProSub 1000.

Upon additional listening, the treble appears to come out of the receiver distorted. I don't yet know for sure if it is the receiver or the speakers (SS-F6000 are more obviously distorted than AR PS-C25, but even AR ones are distorted at higher volumes).

This receiver can be controlled via RS232. I got it working with a PL2303 adapter and no additional cable (the adapter's RS232 output connected directly to the receiver). Denon provides the serial control specification, and strangely many commands do not return the described output. Additionally I couldn't find the command for turning speaker A and B outputs on and off.

The front panel A and B speaker output controls are also strange - each button cycles through some combination of A, B and A+B instead of simply toggling the respective output.

Definitive ProSub 1000

The combination of AVR-2308CI + Sony SS-F6000 + Definitive ProSub 1000 lacked midrange compared to my reference RX-V2500 + Sonamp 275 SE + BP7002. The subwoofer produced bass that vibrated furniture (due to bottom-firing radiator), but I found BP7002 overall more pleasant because I think they play lower than the ProSub 1000.

I am however intrigued by the possibility of running the ProSub 1000 in addition to BP7002 specifically to fire into the floor to vibrate furniture - could be an entertaining experience. The only issue with it is that I would have to turn off Pure Direct on the receiver (RX-V2500) which I markedly prefer to non-Pure Direct sound.

Yamaha RX-A710

This receiver has a forced audio delay like the RX-V365 - tested on optical input.

Yamaha RX-V661

This receiver does not have a forced audio delay, unlike RX-A710.

Dell AE215 USB Speakers

Amazon link

Dell description

This is a stereo (2.0) speaker system. It is powered from USB and rated for a maximum of 5 watts.

If plugged into a USB 3 port, the system can draw 1 A from the computer and, at the 5 V USB voltage, can produce the full rated 5 W of power. If plugged into a USB 2 port, the system can only draw 0.5 A and thus is limited to 2.5 W of power.

The speakers contain a single 2" driver that plays full range. The cabinets contain an interesting transmission line system - there is a plastic tube going behind the driver in a C shape with the external vent under the driver and internal opening above the driver. This transmission line system does produce a lot of bass for the driver size, as the description claims.

As I received these speakers, they produced a ton of feedback when on, making them unusable.

Interestingly enough, despite having a USB connection, it is only used for power - audio signal is supplied via (analog) line input only. This does make the speakers cheaper, since they omit a DAC, but given that cheap DACs are very cheap one wonders if sound quality would improve, and more importantly, if the feedback issue might go away, if the speakers took in digital input via USB.

The treble on these speakers is rolled off, which is consistent with the driver size - a 2" driver generally doesn't play flat to 20 kHz.

I removed the amplifier from the speakers, turning them into a passive system. They do OK for midrange this way, the treble is rolled off as just mentioned, and bass is present but the 2" driver is easily overpowered by the lower frequencies. Short of being a transducer for vinyl records I don't see much use for these speakers.

Pioneer Car Speaker

This is a concentric speaker having a 5.25" woofer and a 1" tweeter mounted on the same axis.

Sound quality appears to be decent, at least at flat EQ nothing in the driver itself is buzzing/vibrating.

Perhaps if I had a cabinet to mount this driver in it would sound decent.

No-name Car Speaker

This is also a concentric speaker having a 6.5" woofer and a 1" tweeter mounted on the same axis.

Unlike the Pioneer speaker this no-name speaker buzzes even at flat EQ, making it unusable for anything but testing.


I don't like the sound of woofers with paper cones, as found in the Altec Lansings, Sonics, Sony SS-U452AV, Yamaha NS-A636. Altec Lansings have the highest quality drivers of this bunch I would imagine (at least for each speaker's respective era) and even though ALs sound good overall, the floppiness of the bass is clearly apparent on them. Especially in electronic dance music these speakers sound floppy. I suspect that the paper cones deform too much to be able to properly reproduce quick bass hits that are characteristic of EDM - unlike an acoustic instrument whose output speed is limited to the speed of the human performer operating it, EDM can theoretically be as fast as desired since it is produced by a computer, and in particular the bass comes on and goes away quicker which the paper cones seem to not be able to cope with.

Paper Cones And Electronic Music

When I listen to electronic music on, for example, Altec Lansing Threes, the bass sounds floppy.

My theory as to what is happening is that the paper cones are too flimsy to be able to reproduce quicker bass that is possible (and is actually present) on electronic tracks.

A human musician playing an instrument, be that a guitar or a drum set, requires a certain minimum time to actuate the instrument to produce sound. Similarly the instrument has a natural vibration time to it, and it takes another human action to silence the instrument which again takes a certain minimum time. When music is produced on a computer from samples, there is no limit as to how quickly a note or a sample can start or be stopped. As a result I think electronic music has quickr bass hits which the paper cones simply cannot deal with. This explanation makes even more sense to me considering that electronic music did not exist in the 1970s when these vintage speakers were manufactured - at that time the only music that existed was produced by human performers. Perhaps the introduction of electronic music in part drove development of other speaker cone materials leading to the variety that has existed since approximately 2000.

Another aspect of electronic music that vintage speakers with paper cones struggle with is the sheer volume of different acoustic information that exists concurrently. Again, with a human band there are only so many players and they can only actuate so many instruments at a time. Full symphonic orchestras are perhaps an exception but I haven't listened to such material on my speakers yet. Electronic music, again because it is created on a computer, has no limit as to how many samples can be playing concurrently, and as long as they are producing different sounds they can all be clear and separate and thus pleasant to listen to. But this seems to impose a real challenge on the paper cone drivers which start to produce noise instead of a coherent voicing of multiple concurrent frequencies.

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Various speaker aspects DAC quality