Bill Roper's Journal
Technology Marches On 
22nd-Sep-2003 08:13 pm
I'm not what you'd call an audiophile, but I do like surround sound when I'm watching a movie. I've had a Dolby Pro Logic setup in both the family room and the bedroom since not too long after I moved in here. Now, the receiver I'm using upstairs is the older of the two and must be more than 10 years old, so I suppose it wasn't too great a surprise when the surround sound just stopped working the other day. I checked the speakers and wiring on another system and determined that the amp wasn't amping on those channels any more.

A sensible person (say, for instance, Gretchen) would say, "Well, we can live without surround sound in the bedroom." I went web browsing instead and found a nice amp/receiver from Yamaha and headed off to Tweeter, where I used my 10% off coupon that I'd gotten in the mail and bought a new system with Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS decoder, support for six speakers (one more than I have) and a subwoofer (which I don't and won't have any time soon), and a boatload of bells and whistles.

I brought it home, discovered that the easiest way to wire it would be using banana plugs, and set out looking for plugs at a reasonable price. These don't exist. Radio Shack should have cheap plugs, but they're out of stock. They'll sell you ones that cost more than twice as much instead. Thanks, no. Other stores have even more expensive gold plated plugs. I finally decided to wire it without the plugs.

Of course, the new receiver goes in the family room, and then the older receiver goes to the bedroom, and... There's lots of wiring fun ahead. :) But when I hooked it up, it sounded much better than the old receiver. Obviously, there've been some improvements made.

The one sad thing is that this modern technological marvel doesn't have a place to plug in a turntable. *sigh*
23rd-Sep-2003 05:03 am (UTC) - Congratulations!
... though the eco crowd would have asked why you didn't get the old unit repaired instead ...

... took me a while to find cheap banana plugs, strangely enough it was in a car audio shop!

Subwoofers are great, if you set them up properly ... they should be turned up so you can hear them working and then turned down until you _just_ can't hear them, at that point it/they are underpinning the smaller speakers and just providing more low end as an extension of the speakers and not as some sort of seismic earthquake device (but then I've got a 150w 15" subwoofer, so if I *can* hear it, I won't hear much else!)

My Sony receiver does have a turntable input, some do, some don't.

A separate phono preamp can be purchased moderately cheaply (Radio Shack do one powered by a 9v battery that has had consistently excellent reviews), 25 dollars.

or try
(about 60 dollars here, nearly double elsewhere)

or for 25 bucks, http://www.jandr.com/JRProductPage.process?RestartFlow=t&Merchant_Id=1&Product_Code=PFA+AMP2&JRSource=DealTime.datafeed.PFA+AMP2.text

This looks great for a solution for transferring vinyl to computer files/CDs, but that's a different question! 99 bucks including software and useable for other applications including recording guitar to computer ....
23rd-Sep-2003 08:16 am (UTC)
An interesting bunch of products. I'll have to think about them, although I think the turntable will just follow the older amplifier upstairs.

I didn't try to get the old receiver repaired because my experience with such things usually involves paying $60 or more and discovering that it can't be done economically. Also, I'm moving it to the room where a less-expensive receiver (and no surround sound requirement) currently sits and putting that beast back in the box for use at some future date. :)

(Hmm. There's no stereo in the basement rec room. I now have a spare receiver, a spare CD player, and a spare pair of speakers. There may be a future for these items...)
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