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Coming Soon – 30.4.4 Channel Surround Sound

Please be patient. In just two days we will post our latest surround sound here at Premium Audio. Like most of the ones before it it will be a free posting for everyone to enjoy. This will be “The Next Great Surround Sound.” Most importantly it will be yet another Premium Audio exclusive. 30.4.4 channel surround sound is more than twice the surround sound we offered in 2014 with the release of our 15.2 channel surround! Not only is it more speakers, it involves multiple elevations and properly positioned bass along with two new revolutionary speakers introduced into the mix. Best of all, no one else has these additional speakers.

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Our new logo is here

We have just changed over to our new logo. We hope you like it. It better promotes our over the top surround sounds with the mentioning of our latest one – 30.4.4. Also there is no longer the confusion of is it or .us. Now it is simply

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An audiophiles favorite brands for eclectic sound

In this post I dare to share with you some of my personal favorite brands. This posting gives you a snippet of what really goes on inside my head. Being a true audiophile and home theatre nut, speakers are constantly what I dream about. This posting is a risk and I realize that because I am about to share with you some brands that I do not sell here. I feel that the risk is worth it, because these brands are quite costly and therefore only a smidge of readers will be able to afford to get purchase them.

I have said it before and I will say it again… Polk is by far my personal favorite brand of speakers overall. In fact I own a pair of 5 1/4’s that I believe to be the best sounding speakers of that size ever made. To me they are what a pair of bookshelf speaker are supposed to sound like. I also have a matched top of the line Polk center and pair of bookshelf speakers that I enjoy for movies. Of course I also hold a special place in my heart for my beloved custom made dual 12’s and my Fischer 12’s.

Other great speakers in my opinion are:

Definitive Technology, Paradigm, KEF, Pinnacle, Klipsch, JBL and Cerwin Vega.  Since so many people think highly of Infinity speakers I include them in this list despite me personally not liking them. One exception to my dislike of Infinity is a 500 watt powered 12″ sub I once owned. Although my Definitive Technology dual 6 1/2″ 375 watt powered sub easily outplayed it, the Inifinity just looked so cool due to it’s shear size (it looked like it could stand in as an end table). On a more affordable price point I think very highly of BIC which is why I am proud to say that we still sell them here at Premium Audio. I have owned all sorts of different model BIC’s over the years and they are rock solid in their reliability. They have almost as much bass as Cerwin Vega. So if you like bass without distortion then BIC is worth considering.

I have owned several Definitive Technology speakers and a friend of mine made his entire home theatre out of that brand. They make very nice speakers for the money if you can afford them. I gave my dad a pair of older model Definitive Technology floor standing speakers with a pair of 4’s aimed at the wall and dual 4’s aimed into the room. They are ported and provide amazing sound for movies and music (if you like blues, jazz and pop. They suck with rock n roll and rap). I also have a Definitive Technology center and its pretty good. They make better models than the entry level one I have that runs about $200. I also owned a Klipsch entry model center that sounded about as good as the Definitive Technology. Their more expensive models can sound better than the Polk top of the line models. Think of them as providing the nice rich Polk mid base with enhanced clarity.

I have owned two Paradigm speakers (bookshelf and a center) and in my opinion they are great at producing natural sound without the enhanced dynamics found in both JBL and Polk. This is why I believe both JBL and Polk are better than Paradigm. I have owned several Pinnacle brand speakers and they are super cool! I had a Pinnacle Classic Gold Center and a Pinnacle Digital Sub 600. The center was designed to fit on top of a big screen tv (back when they were no longer rear projection but still had separate color bulbs in them. Later they were replaced with flat screen tv’s). My center was twice the size of a full size center at the time. It actually went about half the length of my 53″ (not diagonal) big screen I had at the time. It had four (4) 5 1/4″ woofers, a rear bass port and a 1″ liquid cooled center. This was the clearest center ever, but lacked the bass of BIC and others. The Pinnacle sub of mine was my most powerful sub ever at 600 watts and driving dual 12’s (one behind the other). Cerwin Vega; every one knows that if they want bass they need this brand. I have never owned a pair of large or bookshelf speakers from them, but a friend owns a pair and they are very nice. I did however own a center channel with dual 6 1/2’s from them and it had too much bass to hear dialogue with so I got rid of it. In comparison I owned an Optimus 8″ 3 way bookshelf speaker and it dished out less bass then the Cerwin Vega and was easier to hear dialogue with although it was scratchy sounding. This was not a center but I used it as one when I did not have a good center to use with upgraded main speakers. Eventually I got rid of it since I only had one (the other was blown by an EQ that had a short in it).

I have a pair of JBL’s that I am listening to right now as I write this. Well sort of JBL’s….the woofers deteriorated so I replaced them with Technics. The cabinets and tweeters are still JBL and they sound really nice for 5 1/4″ bookshelf speakers. KEF. I think KEF are amazing and so do so many other people. I used to flip them on the side on Craigslist (as a personal account not in any way tied to Premium Audio). These would sell out within 24 hours and I would have 10 backup offers on them and triple my money on the sales. I almost kept one pair as rear speakers because they were so nice but I needed the cash. I still own a half pair of their floor standing speakers (I bought it used and they only had one speaker) and use it as a rear center. I have used it as a normal (front center) and its one of the best centers I have ever had. The rich bass tone without being overbearing allows for nice clear vocals. It has a 5 1/4′ woofer with tweeter built into the cone and has a rear bass port.

Of course great speakers do not matter without a great amp/pre-amp or receiver to drive them with. Here is my list of preferred means to power speakers with. Keep in mind not all of these are still around so you may have to find them used somewhere.

Onkyo,  Denon,  Nakamichi, Harman Kardon, Fischer and Vector Research. I have owned two Onkyo’s (5.1 and 7.1 channel surround sound receivers) and they are my favorite for home theatre. Denon is top rated too and is their direct competitor. Harmon Kardon is supposedly better than Denon and Onkyo, but I have never owned one. I did test one and it was noticeably better sounding then everything else at the time. Sadly I do not believe Nakamichi, Fischer or Vector Research are made anymore. I own a Vector Research 100 watt per channel 8 ohm receiver and a Fischer 150 watt per channel 8 ohm pre-amp and they are both awesome at what they do! I almost bought a Nakamichi surround sound receiver but the Yamaha at the time was on sale and had more features so I bought it instead.

Technics, Sony, Pioneer, Kenwood, Yamaha and JVC are all good choices if you cannot afford better brands. Sony and Pioneer are the best selling brands of this bunch for overall sound, features and reliability. No one ever says don’t buy a Sony or Pioneer they break down. Kinda like buying a car these brands hold up like Nissan, Toyota and Honda do. Buy it and use it for the next decade or so. I owned a Yamaha RV1105 5.1 channel receiver with a 75 watt per channel high current amp for 13 years. It had extreme bass and I was almost as said when I had to toss it as when I had one of my dogs die. Please note Yamaha receivers are worth giving a listen to for their custom surround sounds and features, but their speakers are not worthy of this list. Some brands should not expand product lines and just stick with what they know. The same can be said for Onkyo speakers. Onkyo tried for a few years and realized that they should only make receivers so that is all they make.

Honorable mention goes to Sansui for making my 14 band EQ which really does bring out sounds in music that are otherwise lost or forgotten or perhaps never discovered as they lay hidden in the background.

Keep in mind there are other supposed high end brands of speakers and receivers out there, but I do not in my opinion believe they are worthy of being on my best of list. Perhaps you disagree. Let me know your thoughts on this:


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Wall of Bass

As a teenager I moved around quite a bit. At one point I lived in a town home and a had a really cool next door neighbor who baby sat for extra money. She even took me to my first concert back in I think 1991. It was a Queensryche concert. They were promoting their new album “Empire.” During the concert they played all of that album and all of a previous album “Operation Mindcrime”. The band sounded amazing! In fact now whenever I listen to bands play live I expect and am frequently disappointed in how poorly they sound live in comparison to Queensryche. No band I have ever heard sounds as good live as these guys do. Years later I heard them on the radio (yes music used to be played there. Videos used to be played on MTV and VH1 too when I was a teenager). I was listening without any distraction and I noticed for a brief second something sounded off but I couldn’t place it. When the song ended I heard the crowd cheer. The DJ confirmed this to be live by announcing that was a recording of them playing live. This was not one of those live albums where it was created live in the studio; this was an actual live concert recording. I am not a huge fan of the band, but this concert will never be forgotten in my mind nor will how good they sounded years later on a live recording.

The other thing I remember about my neighbor was the constant rumbling of pure bass against the adjoining wall to our town home. How she could be allowed to crank it up while babysitting is beyond me. The bass was so intense that it didn’t just pound a part of the wall it covered the entire wall. Listening closely I could not hear any vocals or instruments just bass. It was not until I cupped my hand around my ear and I think placed a glass cup up against the wall that I was able to determine what it was. The music was almost always Queensryche and not just one album- she celebrated the entire collection! I do not recall her name, but if she has found this posting I just want to say thank you for creating my first moment of real interest in sound and for taking me to my first of many concerts.

Another early encounter with bass was with a friend of mine and his setup. He had a receiver (piece of crap cheap bookshelf system made to look like a mini rack system). Back in the late 80’s early 90’s the market was flooded with these poor imitations of the once great rack systems from the 70’s and early 80’s. In fact the early 80’s models were not as good as the top of the line 70’s models. The reason I mention his setup was because in the 90’s we had portable CD players and the better ones (like his) had a bass boost. Now with a touch of a button we could get rich(er) bass pumping thru our crappy speakers (at lower volumes). This was an improvement for sure and with bigger speakers and a decent receiver it sounded pretty good at moderate volume levels. I was impressed at the time with the bass because I did not have a bass boost. I had a crappy mini rack system and full size cd player.

These experiences later would evolve from just musical sound to movie sound (surround sound) as well for me. Now I focus on how to make movies sound better than before with my custom surround sounds. Today I will discuss how to make your bass much more impressive if all you are after is just pure bass. Today’s posting is about how to create lots bass at home. Have you ever wanted to just crank it up and blast the whole neighborhood? Well now you can with the tips I am about to provide. As a teen I wanted to blast back at her some of my own bass to try to get her to turn it down at times, but was improperly equipped with the right tools to do so. Unlike me back then, you WILL be properly equipped with the right tools to win that bass war against your neighbor!

A few quick disclaimers are in order before getting started:

  • Warning: Cranking up the volume and in effect blasting the immediate neighbor and possibly the entire neighborhood is fun but not wise to do. Both myself and Premium Audio are not to be held responsible for any damage or anger caused by the information provided in this posting. I am merely using this post as an outlet to provide free information on how this loud deep bass can be reproduced. What you choose to do with that knowledge is up to you and you alone.
  • Warning: This will piss of your neighbor and possibly others living or working nearby.
  • Warning: This could and most probably will cause some form of hearing loss and or deafness when done repeatedly for short bursts or worse for hours on end.
  • Warning: When I refer to a “wall” in this document I mean a wall, not a glass door (slider, french doors) or a wall with a window of some kind in it. By definition I refer to a wall as a floor to ceiling height wall consisting of wood (most likely 2×4’s) to hold it together and covered in drywall or lathe (if an older home). This wall as I refer to it is permanently attached to the side of a house. Using any of these tips of mine against anything that does not fit my definition of a wall or is near a window or door with glass in it, just might break the glass. Don’t get cut with glass, avoid glass at all costs.

Okay so lets get started with the details.

This will require very little work to put together and no wiring splicing will be necessary. You will need an entire wall or section of a wall available to utilize this setup. You will also need a powerful receiver/amp/pre-amp, lots of speaker wire, and at least 4 pairs (8 speakers). Other items may be needed too and are listed in this posting. Most likely your receiver will not allow for enough speakers to be connected so two speaker wire selectors (switches) will be needed.

The setup is simply, really. No really it is I promise! 7 easy steps to better bass:

  1. Connect a DVD player, CD player, tape player, turntable, Roku, MP3 player, computer or whatever it is you choose to play your music from to your receiver as you normally would. Simple right?
  2. If your receiver allows for enough pairs of main speakers to be connected then connect them like normal to the receiver and be sure to enable all of those speakers on the receiver. For instance some receivers allow for speakers a and b (others allow only a or b and not a and b together). Please make sure the receiver is powered off before connecting anything to it! To make this wall of sound (or rather speakers) you will need to be able to connect 4 pairs of speakers (8 speakers in all). The speakers cannot be connected just anywhere so if your receiver is a surround sound receiver ignore the center and surround speaker inputs they will not do what we want to accomplish. If you cannot connect all of the speakers to your receiver (which most likely you wont be able to do) get a speaker selector (switch) and connect it to where the left and right speakers are to go. One end of the wire connects to the receiver and the other end goes into the switch. On the switch you want to use the “in” or “amp” portion to connect to the receiver with. From there you will see either a,b,c and d or 1,2,3 and 4 as labeled outputs on the switch. These outputs are where each pair of speakers will connect to. Once connected be sure to enable each pair of speakers on the switch by pressing in the appropriate buttons (a,b,c,d or 1,2,3,4). Hopefully I have not lost you yet.
  3. Arrange the speakers so that you have two rows on the left side of the room and two rows on the right side of the room. One row will sit on top of the other row. In other words you will have 4 speakers on the left in a row with a speaker on top of each one. You will repeat the process the same way for the right side of the room. Make sure the speakers are pressed up against the wall as close to the baseboard as possible.
  4. Turn on the receiver and choose the appropriate input to match the device you connected in step 1 to the receiver. Adjust the tone (tone knob, menu setting, bass and treble knobs or equalizer) to the maximum bass and minimum treble.
  5. If you have a bass boost or loudness switch on your receiver turn it on.
  6. Gradually turn up the volume from zero to no more than half way. Use the remote for this so you are not right next to the speakers if possible. Turning up beyond half way can cause clipping. This will damage your speakers and or receiver. Also, if it is not already obvious the louder it is turned up the more damage you may cause to your hearing. Ear plugs (or at least cotton balls) are a great idea to use before turning it up.
  7. Be prepared for some angry neighbors.

Want more bass? Of course you do! Follow the tips below to make it even more intense:

These can be done in any combination as you see fit to reach your goal of serious bass. So much bass in fact that that is all they neighbors will hear and feel. If you have not already, please get the earplugs out and put them in your ears for safety.

Small Speaker Setup tips:

Please use bookshelf speakers (5 1/4″, 6 1/2″ or 8″) and not satellite speakers. Satellites are tiny and will sound like crap when cranked up! Satellites should only be used for surround sound applications in small rooms or when just starting out and then upgraded when possible. Listening to any music at any volume will most likely result in crappy sounding music too (even with a sub woofer).

If you have not already please connect a powered sub woofer. In most cases a passive sub will not be enough bass. I recently had an 8″ passive sub powered by a 100 watt per channel 6 ohm receiver and it was impressive, but with limits. Even that setup would not allow you to reach your goal of winning the bass war. If you can, connect two powered subs to your receiver.

Powered Sub woofer Tips:

  • Do not connect more than two powered subs as the receiver will not have the power necessary to fully utilize them all. Instead they will all have a little thump instead of the constant booming that you want.
  • Never turn up the volume on the powered sub(s) more than halfway or they can become damaged do to what is referred to as “clipping.”
  • If your receiver only allows for one sub you will need a ‘y’ cable to allow you to connect two subs off of one input on your receiver.
  • Be sure to turn up the sub volume thru both your receiver and the powered sub. Again the volume on the sub woofer itself should not exceed half way. However, on the receiver the sub woofer volume can be turned all the way up. Do not turn up the master volume on the receiver more than half way.
  • Experiment with the speaker size (small vs large) on your receiver. Some receivers dish out more bass if the speakers are set to small instead of large.
  • Most sub woofer manufacturers and receiver manufacturers will tell you to turn off the bass boost or loudness on your receiver if using a powered sub woofer. By leaving it on you risk at high volumes causing clipping to the sub woofer, speakers and or receiver. This can really damage them so turn off the bass boost or loudness switch when using a powered sub or two.
  • Adjust the phase control on your sub if it has it to get the most bass.
  • Sub woofer placement is crucial to your optimal sound.
    • If you have carpet flooring try elevating the subs about 6 to 8 inches off the ground. If you don’t the carpet will soak up some of the bass sound and then it will not be as intense.
    • If you have tile flooring place the subs directly on the floor. The bass will bounce off the floor and walls for a more lively sound.
    • Place the subs about one to two inches from the baseboard or wall.
    • If possible place the subs so they are angled against two walls. More walls to bounce the bass off of makes it appear even louder.

Surround Sound Receivers:

Some surround sound receivers will not enable the sub woofer input in stereo mode. You might have to enable a surround sound to use the sub. If you have to do this do not connect speakers to the center or surround sound inputs. For this wall of sound to sound proper you do not want these other speakers connected. Also be sure to turn off or turn all the way down the volume to the center and surround sound speakers in the receivers menu this way you do not loose sound going to the left and right main speakers and sub. Of course you also want to turn up the sub woofer volume all the way on the receiver  and the left and right speakers. To do this you will need to go in a menu setting on the receiver. Do not turn up the main volume (usually a knob) more than halfway. Start out at a quarter of the volume and test from there.

Large Speaker Setup:

This is really what you want to use. Big old school speakers. I’m talking about 12’s or larger. Sorry, but 8’s and 10’s are not good enough for this application, find some 12’s! Now that you have 12″ woofers you can expect some serious bass, but wait do you have the proper receiver to actually drive the speakers? I learned the hard way in 2010 that 100 watts per channel is not always the same. 6 ohm receivers cannot drive a pair of 12’s very well if at all! 8 ohm receivers are old school and are more powerful (even if both the 6 and 8 ohm receivers you try are 100 watts per channel). It is next to impossible to find 8 ohm receivers new. Find one somewhere (Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, Craigslist, E-Bay, yard sale, wherever you can) and never let go of it. If it sounds good and dies get it repaired it’s a keeper! Better yet find an 8 ohm or higher amp or pre-amp they are even better sounding (usually) then a receiver is. One draw back to amps and pre-amps is that they do not have a sub woofer input. In fact unless your receiver has surround sound it most likely does not have a sub input either.

Advanced tips for even more intense bass:

Warning this will be intense! Try any combination of these tips if possible to really blast the wall with bass and piss off everyone.

  • Just in case you missed this one earlier it is worth repeating. Turn up the bass all the way and put the treble at the minimum setting. This can be accomplished in many ways. If you have a tone knob turn it all the way to the left for all bass. If you have bass and treble knobs (some are inside a hidden flip down or push down front panel) turn the bass to the far right and the treble to the far left. Some receivers have you go thru a series of menus to find the bass and treble. Please consult your manual if needed on how to do this. Once you find the settings put the bass up (highest “+” number) and treble down (lowest “-” number). If you have an equalizer built into your receiver/amp/pre-amp then that’s awesome! Generally speaking most equalizers (EQ’s) have the sliders on the left adjust the bass and the ones on the right adjust the treble. The sliders in the middle adjust either bass and mid range or just mid range. Since EQ’s can come in combination from 3 to 7 bands per side a little trial and error is in order. The good news is it will not take long to test out with music to determine which sliders do what. For the record sometimes an equalizer is labeled as a 10 band or 14 band. This really means its 5 bands to the left and 5 to the right or 7 to the left and 7 to the right. Other times they only show up as 3, 5 or 7 sliders and adjust the sound the same for the left and right speakers. If yours has a left and right make sure to make them match on both sides. Usually only separate equalizers that are made to connect to a receiver have both a left and right set of sliders to adjust. If your receiver, amp or pre-amp does not have an EQ built into it but sounds really good do not bother purchasing and struggling to connect a separate EQ to it. If your receiver does sound like crap either get a better one or connect an EQ to it. Keep in mind when connecting an EQ the settings on the EQ can adjust the tone heard out of your speakers and so can the bass and treble or tone settings on the receiver. This means you can combine them both for more bass. If however you have a crappy receiver and are adding an EQ to it do yourself a favor and turn the tone or bass and treble on the receiver down to the minimum settings (not the natural sound located in the middle). If you keep it in the middle on a crappy receiver you will have enhanced naturally crappy sound that will most likely be worse than if you didn’t have the EQ and just used the crappy receiver. Your best bet for this bass war is to simply get a better receiver, amp or pre-amp. EQ’s can be great for listening pleasure but we are simply looking for the most deep bass at high volumes and an EQ is not the best way to go for this.
  • Bigger speakers just sound better plain and simple than smaller ones do when turned up. Again, grab some 12’s!
  • Place the bottom row of speakers on the floor. Elevating them slightly (a couple of inches) may sound better if on carpet because they will appear louder and reduce the muddy bass sound. If on tile place them directly on the floor (do not elevate them) and they will appear much louder.
  • For even more bass try these variations to how you place the speakers:
    • Turn the bottom row of speakers around so that the front of the speakers face the wall and you are looking at the back of them.
    • Turn the bottom row of speakers into Pseudo Subs. To do this cover over the tweeters and mids (if you have 3 way speakers and not 2 way ones). Be careful not to damage the parts of the speaker when doing this.
    • Still not enough bass? Turn all the speakers (both rows) into Pseudo subs and turn them all to face the wall.

If somehow you think you do not have enough bass still then you are in luck here are my two most advanced tips:

  • If your receiver/amp/pre-amp supports two pairs of speakers that can be played at the same time (as front or main speakers) then connect a second switch to the receiver. In other words if the switch you connected already is connected off of speaker A on the receiver then lets also connect another switch (this time to speaker B) to the receiver. Connect 4 pairs of speakers to this switch. Now you have 8 pairs of speakers (16 speakers total). Setup the additional speakers next to the ones you already connected. Make sure the additional speakers are stacked on top of each other like you did with the speakers you connected before. This means you will have two rows of speakers (4 speakers on the top left with 4 under them and then 4 speakers on the top right with 4 under them). Now you really do have a wall of speakers!
  • For the best bass possible take the top row of speakers and elevate them up all the way to the ceiling. You want them to still face the wall but have the top of the cabinets rest up against the ceiling. I left this as the final tip because most people will have no way to do this especially with large speakers since they cannot be wall mounted. I had a neighbor in an apartment directly underneath me do this and I felt the bass on my floor and my walls at the same time. It took some thought but eventually I figured out that no large speakers even with a sub could shake my floor (their ceiling) unless they placed their speakers this way. You will want only the top row of speakers elevated to the ceiling. The bottom row needs to remain where they already are. This way you combine the bass hitting the top and bottom of the wall simultaneously. Do not worry about the middle of the wall since some sound will trickle down and up from the two rows of speakers to fill in the middle.  You might need to uncover the mids and tweeters on the top and or bottom row (no longer use them as pseudo subs). Experiment for yourself to see if they should remain as pseudo subs.

Congratulations, now you are shaking the entire wall and I am certain you have won the bass war! Hopefully you still have your full range of hearing and have not been arrested and or evicted!