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Thursday 2 September 2004

More wires Scotty! [Spiny]

I'm in debt for three trillion brownie points at Spiny Towers due to splashing out on some new home cinema kit. I'm no expert, but I thought it would be worth a blog seeing as I'm a bit blown away by how much you can get for your money these days, even if Mrs Spiny thinks it's expensive & ruins the living room decor.
The amp is yet to come (later this week), so I'll cover how that goes in a later blog. This first blogs on the speakers.
Originally the idea was to go for a one box system to cut down on the number of boxes under the telly & wired protruding thereof. For some reason Mrs. Spiny has an aversion to bits of tangled cable, but as we all know wires are life!
We were considering the new Denon DHT500 one boxer, excelent value at 500 quid, until I discovered that the speakers were a funny shape & only fit the Denon custom stands. We wanted wall mounters to avoid our 2 year old trashing stand mounters, so no go there.
True to form & drool over web pages until I come up with a spec just short of a grand, only about 300% over budget :) I managed to come up with a system based in the real world after a few evenings prowling & Kelkoo.
The speakers needed to be as unobtrusive as possible for as little wonga while still satisfying my desire to experience Star Wars in it's full glory come Sept 20th. Bose or Kef would have been nice, but out of my budget, so I settled on a set of Mission FS2-AV I wasn't really in the market for a seven speaker set up (even more wires & boxes for Mrs. Spiny to worry about) & the FS1 6.1 set is 100 quid more. Although the FS2s are coming towards the end of their shelf life they've had great reviews & compared well with other packages, even at their previously higher selling prices. I reckon the're a real bargain at £260 now. They also fix directly to the wall & come with all cabling required. So no need to shell out for loads of cabling & banana plugs.
Installation is a matter of popping off the front speaker grille and uncliping the NXT speaker panel from the plastic back. The back screws directly onto the wall after applying some acoustic cushions to it. So, after a little help from Mr Black & Mr Decker it was time to trail out the speaker cables. The cables are amazing. A flat ribbon with the individual wires lying side by side. It's so thin, it takes some care to strip the ends which feed from screw terminals at the speaker into spring clips at the sub. From the sub, a 5 metre umbilical runs to the amp. Under the speaker grille, the sub has spring clip terminals for the speaker cables, a pass through for a second sub should you wish to shake the windows out of their frames & a couple of knobs for tweaking the volume & bass profile.
As you may guess once under carpet there's no way you'd tell the speaker wire is under there. The package also comes with three rolls of double sided tape when you need to run the wire up the wall. Apparently you can paint the cables for wife friendly blendinability which I plan to do at a later date.
All in all it's a very lifestyle-friendly type setup, I'll let you know how it sounds after its run in.


  1. Denon eh! Flash git.
    My new mobo (NF7 S2 fwiw) has optical audio out - SPDIF thing - and my few years old Creative surrounds are only analogue. Any tips on a new speaker rig for games and MP3s?
    Creative Inspire P580 seems about right... don't want to spend silly Spiny money mind :)

  2. Spiny, have you considered recessing the front speaker cables into the wall for that invisible look? I'm supposed to be hiding mine in flush-fit plastic trunking but I have no idea how to gouge out plaster in a straight line without cracking every bit of plaster on the wall.
    Beej, how did you managed to buy a new mobo? Did you just 'do it'? I've been trying to buy one for years but there are so many to choose from, buying is impossible... groan.
    Can I buy the same as you? It looks nice.

  3. If the cables weren't so flat anyway I may have chased the wall out, but as it is I reckon they'll be fine just painted. Got to wait till the end of Oct for the amp tho, it's not out till then apparently. Grrr.My best guess is that one of these plus one of these would knock the socks off any decidated PC stuff.I wanted to spend a bit more 'cos mine's in the lounge tho.

  4. I'd be amazed if Pure Digital's uber PC stuff didn't fuck those Yamaha speakers up big time. Yamaha speakers are traditionally pretty manky.

  5. Aiiie. Me and Lurks coming from the same place. Yamaha have a pretty nasty rep in the speaker department apart from the legendary NS10 studio nearfield monitors which were so fucking grim that they became this kind of tough medicine speaker that if you could get a balance on them, it meant it'd sound good on anything. Still the balance was the thing, they still sounded shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite.
    Yamaha speakers - I'll take a barf ta.

  6. BTW: ^^^ The stuff above wasn't a recommendation , just a random cheap choice that would probably be better than a lot of PC setups. Creative *cough*.Following on from Lurks' blog on his sublime victory in the "bloke+wires" vs "partner+ideal home magazine" war, here's an update on my own home cinema indulgancies:After a week of seeing the Mission speakers hanging on the wall I got fed up waiting for the Denon AVR-1905 amp to appear so started hunting around for alternatives. I was pretty much settled on the Sony STR-DB795. A bit of a belter by all accounts. Don't think I saw a review of less than 5 stars & it was winning group tests. The only trouble was, I couldn't get my hands on one. The local Sony Centre had a good price on one but it was "stuck in pre-sales". Something to do with checking all the specs & manuals were correct after a mag had mis-quoted the spec as including a DAB tuner or something. Now, I could probably have waited a couple of weeks, but that would have meant facing the prospect of a non 5.1 Star Wars trilogy, yes, horrific stuff indeed. Those nice people at AVLand were very helpful though, and kind enough to extract some more money from my wallet in the shape of a Denon AVR-2105. Seems I picked well, as the thing has picked up best amp under £500 in the What Hifi 04 awards. A couple of killer features for me were the automated setup & dynamic compression. The auto setup involves plugging in a small mic and letting the amp spurt forth various pschhhshshhshs noises. After it's finished all the speaker sizes, distances & volume adjustments are set. It'll even tell you if you have a speaker out of phase (+/- swapped). The dynamic compression thingy will reduce the difference between loud & soft sounds. Cleverly avoiding those crank the volume up to hear dialogue, then wake the kids with an explosion moments.In use it's very, very good with superb sound steering. The nearest thing you'll get to a third gunners seat aboard the Millennium Falcon as the tie fighters whizz overhead. Music's not bad either. It was a touch harsh at the start, but this was due to the Mission speakers needing a good run in. Subjectively, the mission speakers let the amp down a bit so I think I'll have to find a wealthy long lost aunt to leave me some moolah to fund a set of Mordaunt Short Genies. Most of the DSP modes are rubbish for music, loosing clarity. The best bet seems to be the 5 Ch stereo that just mixes up the two channels to 5.Expect more HC blogs soon. My 5 year old DVD player just died so I'll be replacing it with a SACD/DivX capable deck soon.PS: This blog has been edited for Spiny-Broken URLs (TM)