Howdy to this lovely community! As some of you know, I’m a bit of a burgeoning audiophile (or at least someone who has a decent ear and loves HiFi), and I looked around at all our lovely OTs and discussions only to realize there was a massive gap: audio equipment discussions. So, I thought I’d get the ball rolling and build one, with the hopes that this could be a place where we could talk about our audio gear (heaphones, speakers, amps… the works) and for people with questions to get a bit of assistance and/or recommendations.
What are your setups like? What is your dream speaker? How do I get the best out of my current setup? Are you just proud of your setup and want to help others? All are welcome
I’ll start things off, as the son of a radio host/audio engineer/bassist/guitarist, I’ve grown up around audio equipment all my life and have been learning the ins and outs of audio and the equipment to celebrate the magic of music (as well as movies and games). I’ve had a bevy of speakers and headphones over the years, and I often spend more time and money on the hobby than I should, but it’s always been extremely rewarding (to me) and any time I’ve been able to turn someone else onto the hobby, or help them in their journey, the reward extends beyond just myself.
As such, I thought I’d give a rundown of some of my current setups:
Home Theater (5.0): Denon 760H AVR, L/R - Polk S60s, Center - Polk S35, Rears - Polk S20s. Currently using Apple TV and Apple Music for lossless stereo streaming (28bit/41khz). Switch between DTS and Dolby for movie/gaming.
Bedroom (2.0): Fluance Ai61 Powered Bookshelf Speakers and using the internal DAC for 24bit/96khz (Airplay). Lossless stereo via optical from Xbox gaming/movies.
Office (2.0): Onkyo NR656 AVR, L/R - rotate between Kef Q150, Polk R200, and Bowers and Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary. Apple Music Hi-Res Lossless (24bit/192khz) via Thunderbolt/Optical.
I have some additional soundbars for my office gaming setup (Polk N1) and for the wife and my other his/her setup (separate speakers unfortunately aren’t suited for the area).
I’ve had other brands/models of speakers as well, and have plenty to say about pros/cons of any and all - ultimately, speakers at least, are in a bit of a renaissance in that there are plenty of fantastic options in every price range and region of availability.
As for my headphones, it’s probably just easier to show a picture than to list (though it is missing one of my favorites: B&W P3).
Nice to see some Polk love @Knottian I’m a bit of a fanboy also. Not exactly an audiophile, as I’m not pretentious enough to pretend as though I’m an expert, but I treasure the gear I’ve collected over the years.
KRK Rokit 5s on my PC
They’re powered by my M-Audio Air 192|4
Also adore my daily driver Sony WF-1000MX3 ear buds
If I need to go wired I can always rely on my Sony MDR-1Rs
My favorite setup is in my den where I play my Series X and listen to the majority of my music. I have some vintage floor standing Polk Monitor 10s and a 10" Yamaha subwoofer: YST-SW216
In here I also have a Polk CS-1 for my center channel
in addition to two Polk R10s which serve as surrounds
The only place I really care about audio is my home theatre/gaming room. In there I’m doing 7.1.4, with Paradigm for speakers, SVS for sub, and Denon and Onkyo for AVRs.
More specifically, this is the equipment list:
Left and Right: Paradigm Monitor 11 (2)
Centre: Paradigm Monitor CC-390 (1)
Surround and Rear: Paradigm Surround 3 (4)
Ceiling: Paradigm P80-R (4)
Sub: SVS PB-1000 (1)
Primary AVR: Denon AVR-X3700H
Secondary AVR: Onkyo TX-NR708
At some point I may replace the Onkyo with an Emotiva amp, but for now I’m reasonably pleased with the sound this setup provides. Especially that beast of a centre.
I don’t really care about music much, and just use some little Sony mini stereo system I bought about 20 years ago. I picked it because it looked nice and would play CDs. Couldn’t even begin to tell you the model or any specs. For me music is just something to put on in the background while I do something else.
The only other audio related piece of equipment I own, aside from the factory default stereo in my car, is a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort noise cancelling headphones I use on flights. Love those things.
Great pieces of kit! I also have that Polk center but it’s currently in the closet being unused (I paired it with my old T15s and T50s at the time). I’ll get some better pics of mine in use, but for now this will have to do
Pardon our dust on the last picture - it’s a bit old and the space has been redone a bit, and there’s no subwoofer anymore - it was older Yamaha I had for 15 years, and it was great but the Polk S60s put out more than enough bass for the space
As to what’s “next”: I’d love to pick up a Denon PMA-600NE and eventually a pair of Focal Choras to test, and a pair of Polk R700s for my realistic dream-speaker (I’ve got some others that I’d love to pickup if money weren’t an object - looking at you B&W 801 D4s).
Oooh, I’ve been itching to get a pair of Paradigms (they’re on my short list). Not necessarily beholden to any one brand, as I’ve found far more great-quality speakers from brands around the world, but Paradigm and Fluance are my Canadian go-tos. The Premier 200Bs have been on my shortlist for a bit
I’ve had my front stage Monitors since 2009, and have been very happy with both build- and sound quality. I added the Surrounds in 2017, and the P80-Rs in 2020. I’ve had nothing but a good experience throughout.
I can’t speak to the Premiere 200Bs specifically, but can definitely recommend Paradigm as a brand. The few interactions I’ve had with support has been good and timely as well.
Anyone have any experience with the Syng Cell Alpha? I’m a headphone audiophile, so I have a lot of knowledge regarding headphones, but I’ve always been somewhat scared of speaker setups. The Syng Cell looks like a great compromise between ease of setup and audio fidelity.
Any recommendations for games with really good sound design? I just got a new set of headphones (Arctis Nova Pro Wireless for Xbox) and want to give them a test. Dolby Atmos support would also be a plus, although I’m not sure how well (if) that translates to Atmos for Headphones.
Edit: Also some tips on system and game settings for audio would be appreciated.
Gears 5, Battlefield V, Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, and Resident Evil 2 Remake to get you started. All but BF5 are mixed specifically for Dolby Atmos and are fantastic examples of the soundstage and height that you get with DA. For BF5, I recommend using DTS (it is a separate license if you don’t have it already).
As for settings specific for the Steelseries, I don’t use my 9x very often these days but I remember needing to use the SteelEngine software on my Mac to customize the EQ to make them a bit more dynamic. The “flat” signature of the 9x was extremely subdued with significant dropoff of lows and highs, so I’m hoping that’s been resolved in the newer drivers.
I haven’t personally but I’ve got an audio engineer friend who’s tested these. Let me reach out and see what their opinion was.
What are your thoughts on headphones for xbox in general?
I generally use a wired headset (Sennheiser Game One) but I’ve always thought the sound through the controller was … meh. I am happier to listen direct from my AVR if I can’t use my M&K 7.1.2 set up. But wired to an AVR isn’t an option in other rooms. And makes a mess if trying to chat in rare occasions, too.
I also have some ear scarring and neck issues, so I’m weary of headsets in the first place and wireless adds to some weight on top of reading about a number of audio and connection issues via the wireless connection.
I don’t often use headphones for games. You’re right that using IEMs from the controller—while tolerable—isn’t ideal, and I mostly know that because the music I get out of the same Chi-Fi IEMS using my desktop music setup vastly outshines anything from my Xbox controller.
I don’t have a home theater setup, so I’ve never run gaming headphones from that sort of setup.
I have a new TV, love it but I don’t love the audio in game mode. For some reason Samsung thought it was a good idea to not have you be able to select any audio modes. Maybe it’s a input lag it could cause, anyway…
I’m on the hunt for a soundbar. Now I’ve seen the Sonos Beam gen 2 for a nice price, Atmos and all that. The thing is, I’m reading about a lot of audio delay issues with Atmos on Xbox, not with DTS. So my question is…
Has anyone got it working without delay? And, if not for Atmos, why not DTS? Is there a big audio difference between the two even?
From what I’ve seen, the audio delay is usually dependent on how your TV is handling passing through the audio. I found on my LG C9 OLED that there was significant audio delay when using Atmos if the TV was set to recognize the audio codec used on the eARC connection. When I changed it to just passthrough the audio, the delay was substantially reduced/mitigated. I’ve seen on newer LG OLEDs, like the C1, that they’ve added a feature similar to some AVRs where you can manually tweak audio/video delay to sync up the two if you encounter any issues.
With all of that said, I would also highly recommend looking at the Sonos Arc. We have the Gen 2 Beam in one room setup with a sub and surrounds, and it sounds fantastic. But the Arc is on a completely different level, especially with Atmos audio.
I have 5s with the 10S and it’s great, but you’ll need some time and perhaps some help to get it all set up correctly. It’s good for monitoring music but lately I’ve gotten interested in really low bass that you only hear with proper LFEs and car stereo bass enthusiast setups where 20-30Hz is actually represented. This won’t be able to do that but most audio out there is cut off higher than that.
I also have a set of Beyer DT880s and I highly, highly recommend Sonarworks Reference software to get an absolute flat sound for monitoring.
I might actually upgrade the software to get proper calibration for the speakers+sub as well.
Yeah it’s such a strange issue though. There’s like 100 complaints or more on MS Answers website and on Reddit and other places too. Also people with LG OLED and the same soundbars too. My brother has a C9, Sonos Arc and XSX and no issues and is using Atmos. I’ve spoken to some other people too with LG TVs and different brand of soundbars and they have no issues.
Apparently it’s not really an issue on PS5 with Dolby Digital, it can’t do Atmos though. I am on AVS in the thread about the TV that I have, 2022 Samsung QD OLED and there are lots of issues with XSX and Atmos soundbars for people, but at the same time also some people that don’t have issues. I wish I could just go to the store and buy a soundbar and done, but there’s no guarantee it won’t have the issue.
As for Sonos Arc. I went to the store today and was able to demo the Arc and Beam Gen 2. It’s a big store, lots of noise, not ideal, but better than nothing. They only had three brief demo videos and some music. It sounded great, but strangely enough the Sony soundbars that were there too had a more like “cinema” sound to me, more bass as well. But reviews tell me the exact opposite. At the end of the day audio is super subjective of course.
It’s still on my mind to get Sonos and later add Ones to it or IKEA Sonos speakers. Was very surprised when I read that IKEA sells speakers and they apparently sound great too as surrounds.
Yeah, very challenging to get a good idea of how something will sound when sampling in a big box store. I currently have the Beam Gen 2 with One SLs for surrounds and a sub in one room, and an Arc with a similar setup in another room. The Beam really does punch above its weight, and it’s nice that you can expand the system over time by adding the surrounds and sub as the budget allows.
And yeah, the promise of ARC and eARC versus the reality of getting it to work across a bunch of different manufacturers and components can be a jolt. Seems like I’ve been fairly lucky with my setups, but I’ve also seen other folks struggling to get everything working the way they want with different components, codecs, sources, etc.
Another thing regarding the Arc. On Neogaf where I have an account as well someone told me he has “pop” issues with Arc and XSX. He said it’s a well known issue at Sonos and they have no fix. But you don’t seem to have it? My brother doesn’t either. The guy said he turned Atmos off because of this.