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Second opinion needed

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mattcooper

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I need some advice on the system I just bought. I am not an audio or videophile, but I just bought a new place and my AV equipment is sorely in need of upgrading (all I have now is a Panasonic self system that was purchased 15 years ago when I started college). I stopped by a local Magnolia store and listened to a bunch of different systems, but I was very impressed by the Martin Logan line (both in terms of sound quality and aesthetics). I would like some second opinions on what I purchased since I went with the sales rep’s recommendations on everything, and I am totally a fish out of water. I also want to make sure I got a descent price on the items listed, so any feedback is welcome.

Martin Logan Vista floor speakers (2) $3699.98
Martin Logan Cinema “i” center channel $1799.98
Martin Logan Vignette wall-mounted for rear (2) $1299.96
Pioneer Elite Receiver/Amp (VSX-74TXVi) $1499.99
Pioneer Elite DVD (DV-79AVi) $949.98
Pioneer Elite 50” plasma TV (PRO-1130HD) $5499.98
Panamax line conditioner (MAX5300EX) $549.98
AudioQuest HDMI-1 2m HDMI cable (3) $600.00
AudioQuest Optilink-1 2m (2) $220.00
AudioQuest Firewire-G $35.00
AudioQuest Type-8 speaker cables 10ft $295.00
AudioQuest Type-8 speaker cables 6ft $115.50
AudioQuest Sub-X subwoofer cable 3m $50.00
Universal Remote Control Aeros MX-850 $399.98
Universal Remote Control RF Base $99.98
MX-850 installion and programming $300.00
Salamander Synergy System 334 AV furniture $1699.00
Custom home installation $605.00

The total on all this stuff came to $21,283.38 with tax. My wife about killed me when I got home and she saw the receipt lying on the kitchen table. Is there anyway I can scale it back a bit to save some $$$ but without any meaningful loss in sound/visual quality? I would like to get in closer to $15K, but I am not sure how I can do that at this point. They have a 30-day price guarantee; is there a good place to comparison shop to get the prices down a bit?

Any advice welcome!
 

IWalker

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My opinion on the matter is that you can save some good money (without hurting your quality) by changing a few things I'll list below.

1. I assume if you have room for Vistas, you have room for a Rear Projection DLP/LCD/Lcos, etc. I personally feel that it's a MUCH better value, unless you're hanging it on your wall. You can get a 50" Samsung DLP for around $2000....or go bigger to a 60" for around $2700.
Savings $2800-$3500

2. I like pioneer elite stuff, so if you're not looking to get into the world of seperates, then I'm ok with that. I personally feel that you'd be better served with nicer 2ch amplification for the Vistas, and then receiver power would be fine for the surrounds...But I'll leave this alone for now.

3. Cables. There are plenty of ways to trim money off of this. I again would skimp on the cables to the rear speakers...since they are so much less important (and receive so much less information) The difference between cheap 12ga wire in price is huge, but performance is...well...limited. You can upgrade this later if you want. The shorter runs are cheaper...so go ahead and keep those. You can find MUCH cheaper HDMI cables as well. I can't vouch for quality on em, as I'm much more of an audiophile than videophile...but I have some $20 HDMI cables that seem to work great in my system.

4. Remote. The Home Theater Master MX-350 (I think that's it) is around $150 and is supposed to be great. Program it yourself and you save more.

5. The Panamax is nice, I'm sure...but a cheaper (even monster power) surge protector/conditoner is cheaper...if you're looking to save money.


Those are my basic savings. Changing the TV is the big one.
 
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tsd2005

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mattcooper said:
Martin Logan Vista floor speakers (2) $3699.98
Martin Logan Cinema “i” center channel $1799.98
Martin Logan Vignette wall-mounted for rear (2) $1299.96
This is MSRP. You can get a 5% discount off ML product. With the total amount you are buying you should get that discount.

mattcooper said:
Pioneer Elite Receiver/Amp (VSX-74TXVi) $1499.99
Pioneer Elite DVD (DV-79AVi) $949.98
Pioneer Elite 50” plasma TV (PRO-1130HD) $5499.98
Where to begin.... first you're paying MSRP yet again. The Receiver normally streets for around $1200. The DVD player around $800. The Plasma around $4800.

Next: That Receiver is junk for $1,500. Its got new bells and whistles like HDMI. However amp quality is not up to par with other $1,500 pieces.

Also that Receiver driving those speakers would be a CRIME.

If you want a Recevier: Arcam and NAD make excellent models to drive your Martin Logans.

SUGGESTION: Go Separates. NAD has a $3,500 combo that is GREAT... however budget restraints considered:

www.outlawaudio.com

buy the model 7700 and get 200 watts per channel legit all 7 channels pushed hard. Combine it with their model 990 and you have a nice setup.

Combining the new Arcam 700 Processor with the Outlaw amp would be better, but $1,000 more.

NAD has a $500 DVD player that is far better than that Pioneer Unit for music playback, and is just as good for video.

TV: Thats a great plasma. Consider though that for the same price you could have a 100 inch screen via front projection. However a nice new LED DLP from Samsung will cost you less and be much better quality. You can save $1500 right there.

matt cooper said:
Universal Remote Control Aeros MX-850 $399.98
Universal Remote Control RF Base $99.98
MX-850 installion and programming $300.00
Salamander Synergy System 334 AV furniture $1699.00
Custom home installation $605.00
I have no problem with the conditioner and speaker cable EXCEPT: ITS ALL MSRP.

The Universal Remote is overboard. If that installation includes fixing the RF inputs on all your gear to interact with the RF base, then its ok. However I don't think the 850 is the least expensive universal with RF capabilities from the Theater Master series.

I carry Salamander and its wonderful. Why they are putting you in a $1,700 MSRP piece of furniture is beyond me.

mattcooper said:
The total on all this stuff came to $21,283.38 with tax. My wife about killed me when I got home and she saw the receipt lying on the kitchen table. Is there anyway I can scale it back a bit to save some $$$ but without any meaningful loss in sound/visual quality? I would like to get in closer to $15K, but I am not sure how I can do that at this point. They have a 30-day price guarantee; is there a good place to comparison shop to get the prices down a bit?

Any advice welcome!
Well Matt you got ripped off. The entire list of gear is all at MSRP, and while some places can justify treating a customer that way... I can't. I work for a nice Dealership myself... and I might hit you with MSRP on some items, but not on furniture, wire, etc.

You got no deal what so ever.

In fact if I were you I would be ****ed, especially if the salesman made you think you paid an honest price.

I'd take it all back. I'd call Martin Logan and ask if there is another dealer in your area. I'd then notify that Dealer of your experience with Magnolia. I'll put together a nice package that would sound better/look better in a bit and at it to this thread.
 
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tsd2005

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Matt here is a much more efficient system at a lower cost:

Martin Logan Vista floor speakers (2) $3514.98
Martin Logan Cinema “i” center channel $1709.05
Martin Logan Vignette wall-mounted for rear (2) $1234.96
Arcam DiVA AVR300 7.1 Reciever - $1899
NAD T534 DVD Player- $450
Samsung LED DLP 56 inches HL-S5679W- $4,199
Monster Home Theatre Reference HTS 3600 MKII PowerCenter with Clean Power Stage3 v.2.1 Circuitry- $450
(better)Display Magic HDMI Cable - 6.56 ft (3)- $270
(better)Premium Toslink Optical Cable - 6.56 ft (2)- $100
Acoustic Zen Satori Speaker Cable (pair) 10 Feet: $606.90
Acoustic Zen Satori Speaker Cable (Sng) 8 Foot: $254.15
Vampire Wire #2100C for Rears: $2 a foot (say pair 20) $80.
(better)Silver Serpent Subwoofer Cable - 9.84 ft- $64.98
Universal Remote MX-350 (IR/RF)- $149.95
Universal Remote RF Station- $99.95
Salamander Designs ARCHETYPE 5.0- $399.95

Total System Cost: $15,482.87

It will sound better, and look better than the system you paid for.

1. I don't know why you want a firewire cable.
2. I don't know why you have a sub cable, but no sub.

Some Modifications:

Go Separates:

Budget: Outlaw Audio 990 and 7700 (200 Watts x 7)combo: $2898.
Acoustic Zen WOW Balanced XLR Interconnects 1m(5): $633.25

Price Difference: $1632.25

Extreme: Arcam 700 Processor- $2089.05
Outlaw Audio 7700 amp- $1999
Acoustic Zen WOW Balanced XLR Interconnects 1m(5): $633.25

Price Difference: $2822.30

Add a Subwoofer:

Martin Logan Abyss $854.95

Also if needed you can get the Salamander Archetype TV stand to hold your gear, thats an extra $100.

The prices listed here are what you should pay for the items, and are more than reasonable to any dealer.

Notes: (better) are www.bettercables.com which on a budget are a better solution than what you paid for.

www.outlawaudio.com for the Outlaw product, it too can only be bought online.

www.vampirewire.com for the original and still the best budget speaker available.

www.acousticzen.com contact them for a dealer close to you.

www.audiophilesystems.com for Arcam info.

www.NadElectronics.com for NAD info.

The TV is the first LED based DLP, meaning no rainbow effect!!! LED lasts much longer than a lamp as well. Plus they actually LOOK BETTER.

If you bought either above solutions your system would be an amazing one for musical fidelity and visual pleasure. More than likely you have a dealer for all the above equipment nearby.
 
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IWalker

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Hehe, yes...what tsd2005 said is what I wanted to say...but didn't have all the details of :)

My only difference of opinion is on the speaker wire...where you could probably get some nice cables (see river cable) for a lot less. Then spend what you save there on a better amp/preamp or receiver. I think the money spent on cabling is only worth it once your system is at a certain level...but the money is better spent on better core gear until that point. Just my opinion...but like I said...tsd2005 knows more than I do :p

And maybe spend enough to get a depth sub as well...I consider it a nice (but certainly expensive) step up from the lower level ML models. (there's actually one in the For Sale forum right now)
 

Reverb

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50% off AudioQuest Cables.

If you want to save some money on those cables, call around and see if you have a Best Buy with a Magnolia hi-fi in side it. If you do I would take your cables back and head over to the Best Buy magnolia and load up on cables.

Best Buy has decided not to carry AudioQuest cables any more, so all Best Buy Magnolia’s are clearancing out AudioQuest cables for up to 50% off. I picked up a set of AudioQuest King Cobra interconnects MSRP $175.99 for $87.95 and I also got a YIQ-3 component video cable regular $200.00 for $100.00. Not everything AudioQuest is on sale, but 98% of it is, if you ask they will price check it for you.

Good Luck,
 

Robin

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New vs Used Audio Equipment...

mattcooper,

Welcome to the ML Club! :D
Let me begin by asking you, is their a reason why you have to purchase all of your equipment new? I think you would be able to pick up some wonderful bargins on Audiogon or ebay, and get better equipment as well. We did a thread here once asking, "what percentage of our systems were purchased 'new' and what pecentage was purchased 'used". It was amazing how many members had purchased some or all of their gear used. I can't find the thread right now, but my advice is to concider used audio equipment, you will get more bang for your bucks... ;)

I recommend seporates. Don't be fooled by Pioneer's reciever wattage claims. I ashamed to say I got fooled, having purchased the 59 TXi, never again. In addition, during your listening adventures, listen to tube amps, concider tubes or a combination of tubes and SS... ;) Look at the ML Club Member Systems for ideas.

Good luck on your audio quest. :)
 

twich54

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Robin makes a good point regarding the Pioneer receiver (I too have one for my "HT" only) that being said spending in excess of 21k and utilizing only "that" receiver I think is a big mistake. Pioneer elite might be Ok for "HT" but with respect to listening to music it's out in left field.
 
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leaderc

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I agree on looking for separates and using Audiogon. With a dedicated receiver you are locked in to the amp and preamp/processor. With things rapidly changing with HD-DVD and Bluray just coming in to play, I'd advise to leave your upgrade paths as open as possible. Also, the prices you were charged were full list, a rip-off in my opinion for the amount of equipment you bought.

Just my $0.02.
Charles
 
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mattcooper

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Thanks!

Thank you all for your responses. It has given me a lot to think about. I will try respond to some of your questions.

tsd2005 - Based on your post, I spoke with my dealer and they were happy to pass on a 5% discount on most of the equipment. I totally forgot to mention the subwoofer - I ended up getting the Grotto.

Robin - The main advantage to buying all the stuff new is time savings = cost savings. Instead of buying a piece here and there, educating myself on how to put them all together, programming/building things, etc., I am willing to pay a slight premium to have someone do all that for me. I am also very interested in the factory warranties if I am going to spend this much $$$ on all this equipment. If I were back in college and had more time than money, I would have made this a grand little project. Now that I am in the opposite situation, I'd rather get it all done with whilst getting descent value.
 

Daryl Zero

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mattcooper said:
Thank you all for your responses. It has given me a lot to think about. I will try respond to some of your questions.

tsd2005 - Based on your post, I spoke with my dealer and they were happy to pass on a 5% discount on most of the equipment. I totally forgot to mention the subwoofer - I ended up getting the Grotto.

Robin - The main advantage to buying all the stuff new is time savings = cost savings. Instead of buying a piece here and there, educating myself on how to put them all together, programming/building things, etc., I am willing to pay a slight premium to have someone do all that for me. I am also very interested in the factory warranties if I am going to spend this much $$$ on all this equipment. If I were back in college and had more time than money, I would have made this a grand little project. Now that I am in the opposite situation, I'd rather get it all done with whilst getting descent value.
Nice that your dealer was willing to pass on a discount he should have offered in the first place. Nice job tsd2005. Basically, that was my opinion, you paid list on everything. Always ask for discounts in those or any places.
 

Gordon Gray

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Ripped!!!

Hey Matt,

Magnolia should be absolutely ashamed of themselves because you got ripped. They should have provided you with a tube of vaseline with the sales receipt. I agree with those who stated you should return it all and shop elsewhere on the assumption you can do this without loosing any money. That should teach someone there a lesson. Down with Corporate institutions.

Before you buy anything next time, check this forum and others regarding recommendations and do your homework. I "cold called" the store that I bought my Summits from (I live in Wyoming and my options are limited) and he was great. He provided me with a reasonable discount from list, gave me a very fair trade in on my SL3's, and had one of his employees drive 250 miles / one way so I could pick up my Summits and avoid shipping charges. That's the way you should be treated.

GG
 
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tsd2005

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mattcooper said:
Thank you all for your responses. It has given me a lot to think about. I will try respond to some of your questions.

tsd2005 - Based on your post, I spoke with my dealer and they were happy to pass on a 5% discount on most of the equipment. I totally forgot to mention the subwoofer - I ended up getting the Grotto.

Matt, I'm glad I could save you some money.

However I feel I need to do more than that.

The Receiver you have bought is very inadequate. I'm talking about power here:

http://www.audiophilesystems.com/arcam/AVR300PowerRatings.pdf

Now Arcam doesn't want to mention the name of the company... but I can tell you that you would recognize the name by looking at your bill.

You need real power. If Magnolia is where you want it all to come from they have a B&K 507 S2. You should buy that. Its American made, with American power just like an old muscle car.

B&K offers upgrade paths for its owners. When the new model comes out, you can pay a small fee to get the new one and trade in your old.

I still think the $1700 piece of furniture is a big waste of cash. The Archetype 5.0 would work just fine.

Also change the DVD player to a Denon 2910. Magnolia sells that as well, it will save you a couple hundred.
 
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kal_s

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Magnolia ripped you off...

Dude:
Magnolia is a big rip off place! I remember walking in there once in my early inexperienced audio days, and the salesman pushed the B&K/ML combo so much and bad mouthed Sunfire, which I knew was a lot better than B&K for driving electrostats) that I started suspecting something wasn't quite right and left, swearing that I could find something a whole lot better.
Patience paid off and over time, I have built up a vastly superior system at less than 1/2 of what he quoted me! If I were you I'd take all the stuff back to Magnolia and get your money back. For $15K you can build a very decent high end system with a few days on audiogon and some advice from our friends on here... good luck!
 
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mattcooper

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tsd2005 said:
The Archetype 5.0 would work just fine.
tsd2005, will the Archetype be able to accommodate the Cinema "i"? It's 10" in height.
 
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tsd2005

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mattcooper said:
tsd2005, will the Archetype be able to accommodate the Cinema "i"? It's 10" in height.

Is the TV being hung on the wall?

If not, you're setting it on a stand...

That makes more sense for $1600+.

The Archetype TV Stand will work, and can be adjusted to hold the Cinema i. Your rep should know exactly what to order and save $1,100.
 
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Mrjb

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I am 99% sure a pioneer reciever will not go down to 4ohms. Call pioneer and ask them if you can drive a 4ohm speaker with them.

You really need something like a NAD 773 to unlock 25% of the potential of there speakers. Seperates are better a LOT more fitting. You are taking about a very unbalanced system.If you cant afford more get the vista's and buy seperate components. It will sound a lot better.
 
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