Best 5.1 Setup under $3000 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I am looking at putting in a system and here are my particulars:

1) Not a dedicated HT, this will go in my living room

2) The room w/l/h/ is 11' x 21' x 8'

3) Usage will be likely 50% movies / 40% music / 10% games but I definitely want to focus on musical quality as that is most important factor for me

4) My initial preference is for in-wall as I'm not sure I want to clutter the living room with speakers (but that would depend on the sound quality trade off involved)

5) I don't need earsplitting volume, happy with nice tight loud movies/music

6) for subwoofer I would like it to be transparent for music (blend seamlessly with the mains), I don't need incredible loudness, but would like it to get low enough to really feel movie effects.

7) For the receiver, I like the idea of hooking up a hard drive full of mp3s (via usb) and playing them directly from the receiver, but I haven't seen that feature on a receiver in my price range yet. Otherwise sound quality is most important, but I would also want HDMI switching/up-conversion.

Thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions. Let me know if there is any other information I can provide that would be helpful.

I also know that my room has a funny layout and I'm going to have speaker placement issues, so I may need help with that, but I'll stick to this question now and ask that question later (I can provide a diagram).

Thanks!
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post #2 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 12:05 PM
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There are a lot of threads pretty identical to yours on AVS you should do some searches. I do have one recommendation for you though which would be for your media content.

The Popcorn Hour (www.popcornhour.com) will do everything you want for your mp3 collection plus a lot more including video, wifi, streaming via networked devices, it can act as a torrent client, etc.

Check Triad for inwall speakers, although I will say there is always a tradeoff in sound quality with in wall speakers. Wouldn't a lot more people go in wall if there wasn't? Not only that, but you'll pay about the same for them as you would for comparably equipped speakers with enclosures (talking about the same amount and size of drivers).

Either way good luck on your search!

-Chad
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post #3 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 02:03 PM
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my mandatory klipsch suggestion!

WF-35 System is dead sexy I think...


They make some pretty nice in-walls too!
Quote:


Electronic House Expo (EHX) voted it 2005's best in-wall speaker on the market for less than $1,000 a pair.

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post #4 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 03:49 PM
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ddseddse -

You'll get more suggestions on subwoofers and receivers if you post over in the receiver and subwoofer forums.

Do you want 5.1 or 7.1? What is the allotted budget for only the 5 - 7 speakers?

In-wall speakers will greatly reduce the sound quality, FYI, however there are some very good in-wall manufactures out there. Triad comes to mind. Nevertheless, I'd still recommend going with on-walls or bookshelf speakers on stands. This will net you better sound quality.

For on-walls I'd recommend something that is sealed (no port) so that placing them on the wall won't ruin their sound. The Salk Sound HTS speaker package would work wonderfully for what you need. They implement a ribbon tweeter for that extra depth and transparency of the high frequencies (great for music and movies). There are three different versions of them, all for various placements (in-wall, on-wall and stand mount). Below are the various finishes they are available in, though I'd imagine you could have any wood veneer and finsih you want (something Salk Sound is known for).



Some other great options are:

Monitor Audio
PSB
Paradigm
B&W
AV123
The Audio Insider
Ascend Acoustics
Aperion Audio
Elemental Designs
SVSound
Polk Audio
JBL
Klipsch

After you provide the extra information, hopefully we can help even further (a specific and separate budget for the sub, the speakers and the receiver would be most helpful).


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post #5 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses.

I am looking at a 5.1 system as I don't think that I'll get the bang for the buck from a 7.1 system.

My tentative budget would be $1250 for 5 speakers, $750 for the sub, and $1000 for the receiver.

I would LOVE to take advantage of the Labor Day Sale system at av123, but I just don't have the space for the floor standing Fronts due to the weird layout of my room. The room would be too cramped with poor traffic flow.

So I'm looking at the MFW-15 sub from av123 and maybe the HSU Horn Bookshelfs/Center for the speakers. I like that they come in flat black which would be my preference aesthetically.

If I went for the HSU speakers I would be underspending my speaker budget by almost half, which is perfectly fine with me. I guess the question is what other products out there that that would be better for my purposes or worth spending the extra money on? How big would the difference be (knowing that it is all subjective to an extent)?

I know it's very subjective but are these generally good choices and or do you have any other recommendations in these price ranges?
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post #6 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddseddse View Post

I would LOVE to take advantage of the Labor Day Sale system at av123, but I just don't have the space for the floor standing Fronts due to the weird layout of my room. The room would be too cramped with poor traffic flow.

Floorstanding speakers or bookshelf speakers on stands take up about the same amount of room.

If you have poor traffic flow. At least the floorstanding speaker will have no chance of being knocked over. While the bookshelf speakers will.

If the AV123 system just will not work once you get it home. You could always sell it and make money on it on Craigslist.

Mazer

My System

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post #7 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddseddse View Post

My tentative budget would be $1250 for 5 speakers, $750 for the sub, and $1000 for the receiver.

Why so much for a receiver, that seems disproportionate for the rest of your system.
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post #8 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Also, here is my weird room setup (sorry it's an attachment, don't know how to post a URL image)...

Problems abound. I generally listen to music or watch tv from the couch which is at a right angle to the tv and against the wall. Because the fire place is in the center of the room I can't turn the couch to face the tv, I don't have the width. Because of the hall opening the TV (and speakers eventually) is positioned right of center on that wall.

I'm wondering what that will do to the soundstage. I don't have room for floor standing speakers and even if I use bookshelves wall mounted then my listening position will be well to the left of both speakers (big chair is too far back in room to be main listening/watching spot).

Also my side speakers would have to be way in the back of the room because I have the fireplace on one side and the kitchen opening starts on the other side before the fireplace ends. Not to sure if they will be too far back.

I would love any suggestions at all. One possibility is to punt and use ceiling mounted speakers, I know the sound quality will suffer greatly but I'm wondering if the better positioning options would offset that.

Any comments/suggestions? Thanks!
LL
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post #9 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jnickrand View Post

Why so much for a receiver, that seems disproportionate for the rest of your system.

To be honest, don't know. I'm kinda new at this. I think it was just feature creep as I started researching. Given my budget, where would the money be better spent? Or maybe better to save it?
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post #10 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 08:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnickrand View Post

Why so much for a receiver, that seems disproportionate for the rest of your system.

Bingo! I was just going to say that.

You can still pick up the Onkyo 805 from amazon.com for just over $600. The newer Onkyo's stink in comparison to last years models, plus last years models were better than the Denon 3808 in my opinion (less features but better SQ and better dacs (Burr Brow)).

Put most of the budget toward the speakers.
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Originally Posted by ddseddse View Post

To be honest, don't know. I'm kinda new at this. I think it was just feature creep as I started researching. Given my budget, where would the money be better spent? Or maybe better to save it?

See my above comments. To recap, spend the most money on the speakers. Nothing else will change/effect the sound quality more than the speakers (well, expect the room acoustics, but that's an entirely different topic ).

I'd get that Onkyo I mentioned before it's too late. It's quite an amazing receiver for the price and should be plenty for what you need.

Your subwoofer budget is pretty darn solid, and the MFW-15 is a great choice. I'd stick with that. However, if you want a more muscial, sealed subwoofer, look into the Rythmik 15" DIY package. You'll have to assemble it, but it's child's play. You can also pay them a little extra to send it pre-assembled. Personally, I think the Rythmik will outperform the MFW-15.

In the end, the only thing that matters is what your ears tell you to buy. We're here to give suggestions and share our experiences, but don't take our opinions as fact. Like I said, all that matters is that you like the sound.


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post #11 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddseddse View Post

Also, here is my weird room setup (sorry it's an attachment, don't know how to post a URL image)...

Problems abound. I generally listen to music or watch tv from the couch which is at a right angle to the tv and against the wall. Because the fire place is in the center of the room I can't turn the couch to face the tv, I don't have the width. Because of the hall opening the TV (and speakers eventually) is positioned right of center on that wall.

I'm wondering what that will do to the soundstage. I don't have room for floor standing speakers and even if I use bookshelves wall mounted then my listening position will be well to the left of both speakers (big chair is too far back in room to be main listening/watching spot).

Also my side speakers would have to be way in the back of the room because I have the fireplace on one side and the kitchen opening starts on the other side before the fireplace ends. Not to sure if they will be too far back.

I would love any suggestions at all. One possibility is to punt and use ceiling mounted speakers, I know the sound quality will suffer greatly but I'm wondering if the better positioning options would offset that.

Any comments/suggestions? Thanks!

Hmm...you are in a bind with that configuration. Umm...

Could you angle the TV and speakers in the bottom left corner, then angle the couch to face it? You'd have to move some furniture, but it would be a better scenario (sound wise) than what you have now. If possible, you do not want to sit off-axis. I'd make the TV the focal point while the fireplace with be off to the right. Again, this may not be doable, though.


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post #12 of 13 Old 10-08-2008, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

You can still pick up the Onkyo 805 from amazon.com for just over $600. The newer Onkyo's stink in comparison to last years models, plus last years models were better than the Denon 3808 in my opinion (less features but better SQ and better dacs (Burr Brow)).

I pretty much agree with everything Nuance said. Putting the money in the speakers will make the most different in the end result of your system. Subwoofer is a nice choice as well.

I quoted above though because I'm curious what Onkyo has changed with their xx6 models that make them stink in comparison to last year's models? FYI I'm not being facetious, being completely honest I was looking at their new line up just the other day so I am curious what's better about the 805.
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post #13 of 13 Old 10-09-2008, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by thirdeye11 View Post

I pretty much agree with everything Nuance said. Putting the money in the speakers will make the most different in the end result of your system. Subwoofer is a nice choice as well.

I quoted above though because I'm curious what Onkyo has changed with their xx6 models that make them stink in comparison to last year's models? FYI I'm not being facetious, being completely honest I was looking at their new line up just the other day so I am curious what's better about the 805.

They dopped the Burr Brown DAC's, for one. Last year their receivers had better DAC's than Denon and Pioneer Elite (the other main competition in my opinion). Onkyo also went with a smaller and weaker PSU, at least from what I've read and felt (I picked up the 906 and it was lighter than the 805). I could be wrong about that, but I'm pretty sure. Also, the sound quality difference merits some attention. I've not personally compared them side-by-side, but based on reviews it seems the 906 is not better than the 805, perhaps even a bit muddier.

I hope that helps. Based on my comparisons and what reviews have said, last years models were better built and had a more attractive price. I think Onkyo knew they gave too much for too little last year, hence the weaker offerings this generation.


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