Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S

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Jipillow

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Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« on: 2 Sep 2018, 07:14 pm »
I currently have been running a setup of 3 N3S in LCR and a sealed 12" sub (also GR). I absolutely love them, but i have always had the lingering thoughts of could they be better.

The speakers do not have sonicap/mills resistors in the crossovers nor do they have No Rez lining. Would I see any noticeable improvement in quality by adding these after the fact?

I am using an Onkyo TX-NR809 as the pre-amp with a NAD 925THX amplifier powering the speakers. I picked both up on clearance and all of my research shows that they are nothing fancy, but they get the job done.

I also understand that quality is highly subjective.

I appreciate your time and efforts.

Early B.

Re: Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« Reply #1 on: 2 Sep 2018, 07:26 pm »
Crossover mods should be one of the last upgrades to make. As you mentioned, the gear you have is "nothing fancy," which is limiting the speakers from sounding their best. Start by taking the Onkyo out of the chain.

Danny Richie

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Re: Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« Reply #2 on: 2 Sep 2018, 09:55 pm »
Those mods can be a significant improvement in many areas. The differences are more apparent if the room is set up well and good gear is used. The improvement obviously is less with budget gear or limited room placement or acoustics. But the differences can still be quite noticeable.

Tyson

Re: Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« Reply #3 on: 2 Sep 2018, 10:07 pm »
I would upgrade the speakers first, get them sounding their best, and then look at upgrading the rest of the system.  My reasoning is that if you upgrade the speakers first, then you can be certain that the speakers are NOT the bottleneck in the system.  In other words, as you improve the rest of your system, the maxed out N3S will scale up just fine to the better quality front end gear.

Jonathon Janusz

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Re: Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« Reply #4 on: 2 Sep 2018, 11:24 pm »
I'm with Tyson on this one.  Maybe look at it another way: considering this is a hobby where folks go through gear at varying intervals, of all the stuff you currently have, if you had to pick what you would replace, first to last, trying to upgrade what would that list look like?  As you mention you absolutely love your speakers, and are at least satisfied with your other gear, it reads to me like of all the things you would change you would probably get rid of your speakers last (which from a "if I had it to do all over again" approach to this hobby is actually a really good thing!). 

So if your speakers are going to be the base upon which you continue to upgrade your system, going all-in on your speakers is going to be an investment that is going to last for the longest time.  It also means that you will also take care of that "what if" that is gnawing at you for not a lot of additional investment, which is for sure worth something.  As Tyson also pointed out, upgrading your speakers as far as they'll go (within practical reason before you would want to move on to a different speaker model) will just make all the other upgrades you might do in the future on your upstream gear even better.

If we are just musing in general about how you should spend your next audio hobby dollars, I don't know the exact cost of the upgrades to all three of your speakers, but I might offer an alternative that in my opinion might be a real coin toss to upgrading your speakers now or later.  If you already have (and have built, meaning you know how and can do so) one of Danny's subs, and your upgrades would be in the ballpark of $500 (the ballpark cost of another sealed servo sub driver and amp), I might go for a second sub first, then upgrade your speakers.  Going dual subs, run in stereo, in my opinion, would give you a lot of bang for your audio buck.  Also, even if you move on to other speakers in the far-away future, I can only think of a few circumstances in which your sub(s) won't stay with you.  For what they do, Danny's subs have few peers, and arguably none better, regardless of price.

Congratulations on being on the short(er) path to dialing a system you love rather than having to go at it from scratch.  :thumb:

Tyson

Re: Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« Reply #5 on: 2 Sep 2018, 11:51 pm »
For what they do, Danny's subs have few peers, and arguably none better, regardless of price.

Tru dat, Danny's subs are exceptional, regardless of cost.

I'd also point out that the N3S has one of the best tweeters on the planet, so $$ spent upgrading that speaker is money well spent.

Jipillow

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Re: Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« Reply #6 on: 3 Sep 2018, 12:42 am »
Sage advice all around.

I am not attached to the receiver at all. It happened to be the cheapest one with a full set of pre outs so that could use the external amplifier. The technology changes so rapidly with receivers that it pains me to spend so much on something that has such a short shelf life.  I like to spend money on speakers and amplifiers cause they seem to stick around. Hell, I still have pair of $1200 speakers that i bought in the 90's (i had unusual priorities as a teenager).

You must have been reading my mind. I have been itching for some extra bass. The sealed servo is so beautiful sounding in upper bass, but it kind of loses steam at the very bottom. Godzilla is one of my main choices for showing off my system. When he roars, it sends chills up my spine. However, when I watch Inception and the main character is plunged into water to wake him up, there is a sound that occurred when i watched it at the IMAX that i haven't heard since. I am assuming that sound was well below 20Hz.

This leads me to the question do i get a second matching sub or use an active crossover (https://www.minidsp.com/products/minidsp-in-a-box/minidsp-2x4) to send upper bass to the existing 12" servo and get a second sub to plunge the depths.

I am sure that the easiest/quickest method is a second matching sub. However, I tend to do things the hard way.

Early B.

Re: Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« Reply #7 on: 3 Sep 2018, 03:02 am »
With audio upgrades, one can easily be swayed by advice on a forum and end up trying to do everything. Once you go down this road, there's no turning back. I suggest that you come up with a plan and stay focused. The first order of business is to remove/replace the weakest link. 

Jonathon Janusz

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Re: Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« Reply #8 on: 3 Sep 2018, 03:47 am »
This leads me to the question do i get a second matching sub or use an active crossover (https://www.minidsp.com/products/minidsp-in-a-box/minidsp-2x4) to send upper bass to the existing 12" servo and get a second sub to plunge the depths.

Well, I think the advice of starting with another servo sub still is the best way to approach that problem.  These subs will play down into the teens with the switches on the plate amps set for it, so really the only limiting factor at that point will be your room size and desired SPL.  You're right in understanding that these drivers were never meant to be full-on HT effects subs, but rather excel at filling out the lowest registers in music.  If a second one doesn't get you the SPL you need for HT, then having a pair to run in stereo for your mains will still be needed to fill in the low end for your mains, and you can add a third HT focused sub (I might direct your attention to Rythmik's aluminum drivers, something in the 15" variety to keep rocking that servo goodness all the way to the bottom of your HT effects).

Whether you choose to DSP manage the very lowest frequencies or not with a separate box is up to you, but your receiver (I think?) has enough features on its own to take care of what you need to get done, regardless of how you want to split up the sub duties.  Because the GR subs can handle the low frequencies the mains would see without a problem, put a y-splitter on the L/R main pre outs, set the L/R to cut out at say 40Hz in the speaker settings in the receiver, one jack on each channel from the y-split goes to your main amps, the other to the sub for that side, then again using the settings on the receiver everything else frequency wise goes to the sub out on the receiver into whatever sub you put in for HT duty, and no need to add another DSP box unless you want to EQ the bass more than the single band PEQ on the sub plate amps.

I completely agree and understand not wanting to put a lot of money into the moving target that is HT receivers/processors if you want to stay current with feature sets and sound processing setups/modes.  Somewhere down the rabbit hole for you (which I might look in to if you were so inclined after sorting out your bass situation and maxing out the upgrades on your speakers) might be a dedicated 2-channel preamp with HT bypass feature if you enjoy 2-channel stereo and want to up your game in that area.

mlundy57

Re: Question regarding upgrades to existing N3S
« Reply #9 on: 3 Sep 2018, 04:51 pm »
Sage advice all around.

I am not attached to the receiver at all. It happened to be the cheapest one with a full set of pre outs so that could use the external amplifier. The technology changes so rapidly with receivers that it pains me to spend so much on something that has such a short shelf life.  I like to spend money on speakers and amplifiers cause they seem to stick around. Hell, I still have pair of $1200 speakers that i bought in the 90's (i had unusual priorities as a teenager).

You must have been reading my mind. I have been itching for some extra bass. The sealed servo is so beautiful sounding in upper bass, but it kind of loses steam at the very bottom. Godzilla is one of my main choices for showing off my system. When he roars, it sends chills up my spine. However, when I watch Inception and the main character is plunged into water to wake him up, there is a sound that occurred when i watched it at the IMAX that i haven't heard since. I am assuming that sound was well below 20Hz.

This leads me to the question do i get a second matching sub or use an active crossover (https://www.minidsp.com/products/minidsp-in-a-box/minidsp-2x4) to send upper bass to the existing 12" servo and get a second sub to plunge the depths.

I am sure that the easiest/quickest method is a second matching sub. However, I tend to do things the hard way.

I have a pair of N3s and would definately suggest adding the NoRez, Sonicaps, and Mills resistors. I would also suggest adding by-pass caps. I used Platinum by-pass caps in both the woofer and tweeter circuits, but that is pricey and most folks consider it over kill. The next step down would be platimums in the tweeter circuits and Gen IIs in the woofer circuits, or just platinums in the tweeter circuits, or just Gen IIs.

I'd also suggest using tube connectors.

As for crossing to the sub, AVR's have that ability built into their bass management. Basically, using the AVR's manual speaker setup mode, the preferred method is to set the front and center speakers to small and set the crossovers to the sub where you want it. An alternate method would be to set the main speakers to Large (or Fullrange) then set the subfoofer to LFE + Main or whatever your AVR calls that function. I have seen it called double bass before. With the N3S I'd set them to small with a crossover at 60 to begin with.

The biggest advantage of a second subwoofer is evening out the bass in the room. This is especially helpful if you have seating positions spread out in the room.

In my setup, the N3s are at the front of the room as you would expect and the subwoofer is centered directly behind the couch. This provides good bass response to anyone on the couch, which is the only seating position in the living room, so one sub works fine.

Dialing the sub in properly is also really important. The A370 amps have a ton of adjustability. This can be a little confusing and time consuming but is well worth the effort. Make sure the sub you have is located as best you can, given whatever constraints you have with the space, and dialed in properly before adding a second sub.

Mike