Final Installation and Listening Impressions

Installing the System

After a few setbacks, (like collapsing a saw horse and dropping the cabinet; and spilling my last pint of finish over the garage floor) I finally got everything repaired, assembled and finished. I used 3/4" pine screen door molding to finish the edges of the shelves. but decided to leave the edge of the top in its native state. Despite the 4 different woods used, the stain blended things pretty well. There's an old adage about measure twice, cut once. Once installed, I had about 1/2" clearance between the cabinet and the swing of the open door.

We moved the main cabinet in from the garage. Not too bad maybe 100 lbs. I installed the sub amp (Dayton SA 70) , the center channel, and some large rectangular grommets for wire management. I was finally ready to bring out the Harman Kardon AVR-154X refurbed receiver I bought several weeks ago from the HarmanAudio Ebay store. My cable box and my Oppo DVD player both support HDMI and optical audio. So I used the HK's HDMI switching, and Toslink to hook up everything. To see the onscreen displays (OSD), I added an RCA cable from the HK to the TV. (I have to admit, HT receivers have come a long way since I last bought one. The finish, manual and aesthetics of this HK are first rate. For about $150, with full warranty, I don't know how I could have done better) Having to switch TV inputs to see the OSD is a bit of a PITA, but once set up I'm not likely to mess with the more involved setting that often. The display on the receiver is readable across the room so routine diddling won't be an issue.

I wound up crossing the mains and center at 80 Hz, and the surrounds at 100 Hz. With the center at +1 db and the surrounds at +3db everything sounds very coherent and well integrated. I'm not sure about the sub (done by ear). But the crossover is on the low side, volume at about 3/4. I added some small, stick on "bumpers" as feet for the mains. Alas, I built that second shelf to accommodate clamping the cabinet. It's about 1/2" too short for DVD cases to sit vertically. There's always something you don't consider.

Now I just need to cover the grills with cloth, and this baby is in the books. There will be a single grill for the central tower that will hide the rat's nest of power cords and my surge protector. Maybe some room treatments, mods to the throne....

For the surrounds I used adhesive backed 3M Command 17017 Cord Clips to hang the 18 gauge white wires. Very clean and easy. Just large enough with the pair. I hung the boxes (with Xavier's help) using TOGGLER SPM Mini Drywall Anchors. (PE 080-300) I used a couple strips of adhesive weather stripping on the back of the boxes. The wedge shape really disperses the surround information. In a small room, these probably smear some of the directional cues, but there is no sense of localization. Since the "throne" is against the same wall as the surrounds, I think these might sound better as ceiling mounts. Ceiling mounts would not meet WAF though. As they are, I have no complaints. The ND90s are more than enough, on their own, for this duty.

Listening Impressions & Final Thoughts

Once I reduced the padding on the Kaverna's and got the bass management where I wanted it. I am thoroughly delighted. Bright airy & crisp for music (in 2 + sub mode). The Kaverna's throw a very wide sound stage, even in this small space. Once I relieved them of lower bass duties, they became more spacious, ate considerably less power, and moved up my list of best builds ever. The Peerless mids are very warm and forgiving of badly mastered recordings. I might give the RS150 a slight edge in absolute detail & bass, but in the smoothness, EZ2-work with and "forgiving" category, the Peerless is a clear winner.

I thought I might have issues with cabinet rattles and vibration from the integrated sub but they are minimal. If there's any port noise, I can't hear it. Even at very high levels, there is just a hint of vibration on the cabinet top. The Tangband is remarkable for it's size. Yeah, I can tell there's a little bit of sub 30 Hz missing, but I found myself turning the bass down on movies. Entirely adequate for me. With the small room, I feel like I'm inside the action. Even though the sub and LCR are all ported, I think the central location, made it easier to integrate & blend. Assembling a prefinished cabinet requires a bit more care, but it sure made things easier.

The HK was the best $150 I ever spent. The remote isn't the greatest and I couldn't find codes for either my cable box or the Oppo. But it's clean, flexible, and damn sexy looking. I did get my Comcast remote to work the TV, & HK. For TV watching, I think even my electronically challenged wife can operate things. I still have room for the second inflatable bed in the main room.

I'm looking forward to some beers, ball games, movies, and critical listening.