3.1 options - what do you think? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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After lurking around here for a while and doing some research, I decided to put together a 3.1 system. The surround speakers would have been a problem in my living room for several reasons I won't go into now ("it's very scientific"), but maybe in the future I'll add those. For now, I'm looking at 2 front towers, a center speaker and a subwoofer.

Anyway, I have a Panasonic Viera TH-42PZ85U and a PS3. I plan on getting a small form factor desktop, probably a MacMini later this year or next Christmas to hook up to my system. I currently have an old JVC receiver and some Sony tower speakers.

My budget for the 3.1 (not including receiver) is about $1000 with just a little flexibility. Size/appearance is not a main concern. I'm estimating my room to be about 2000 cubic feet. Listening usage is probably 80% viewing, 10% music, 10% gaming, but my concerns are more like 40% viewing, 50% music, 10% gaming (meaning eventhough I'm not listening to music on the system much, I want it to sound great when I do). I can't listen at very high volume since I live in a condo right now.

I'm upgrading the receiver, and I decided on the Pioneer VSX-919AH-K. I put one on backorder for $350. Hopefully that will come through for me.

My shortlist (not that short) for speakers is :

-Aperion: Intimus 4T (2 towers and center $810)
-Axiom: M50 v2, VP100 v2 (2 towers and center $1,035)
-BIC Acoustech: PL-89, PL-28 (2 towers and center $750)
-Infinity Primus: P362, PC350 (2 towers and center $640)
-SVS: STS-01, SCS-01 (2 towers and center $925)

I'm leaning toward the BIC or the Infinity given the prices, unless there is significant value added for the more expensive speakers.

My shortlist for subs is:
-BIC Acoustech PL-200 ($330)
-BIC VK-12 ($330)
-HSU STF-2 ($350)
-Velodyne Impact 12 ($250 refurbished)

What are your thoughts AVS Forum?
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post #2 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 12:50 PM
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what speakers have you been pleased with in the past?

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post #3 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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This will be my first upgrade from the Sony speakers which were my first. So, I don't really know.
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post #4 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 01:23 PM
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You should add the Elemental Designs A2-300 to your short list of subs.
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post #5 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 01:33 PM
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Don't be afraid of bookshelf fronts, they will work just as well as towers as long as you have a good sub. I would rule out the Aperion towers right away, they are just not the same kind of speaker as the rest you have listed. They will sound fine but they won't rock as hard as the other speakers. They are pretty much the opposite of the BIC Acoustech's. I think your safest bet from all of those is the Primus speakers, even though they are also the cheapest. Those are terrific speakers, a sure thing.

Some other tower speakers I would consider in that range are the Elemental Designs A6-6T6 towers and the EMP E5Ti Impression towers. Both look to be pretty good speakers. Get a speaker/sub package with Elemental Designs, and you will end up with a better sub than the ones you listed.

Something else I would consider I the Ascend CMT-340 mini-towers. While they aren't really tower speakers, they will rock just as hard as any of these others, and have at least as good, if not better sound quality. For listening for musical detail, these would probably be my first choice. And they would be no slouch for dynamic movies either.

Along those same lines, look at the maple finished Hsu speakers which are on clearance right now. These speakers rock hard for bookshelfs, and in one of those packages you get a good sub for a killer price. Those subs will crush any of the ones you listed. This is the option that will get you the best bass, easily. This system will rock as hard as any of the tower speaker setups you mentioned, especially if you go with a VTF3 sub, it will absolutely dominate.
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post #6 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 02:29 PM
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I'd also consider the Sierra 1s. I have them in a 3.1 setup in my home and am extremely pleased.
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post #7 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, that gives me a lot to think about.

I don't know if this helps any, but I'm more concerned with clarity and overall sound quality than I am with volume and thumping bass. For instance, I've read here that the eD subwoofers hit deeper and with more power, but the HSU subwoofers are more musical. I'm more interested in the HSU subs than the eD.

Also, I didn't mention the Axiom M50 v2 ($780) and VP100 v2 ($255) because they're more expensive, but are they worth the extra cost?
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post #8 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

Don't be afraid of bookshelf fronts, they will work just as well as towers as long as you have a good sub. I would rule out the Aperion towers right away, they are just not the same kind of speaker as the rest you have listed. They will sound fine but they won't rock as hard as the other speakers. They are pretty much the opposite of the BIC Acoustech's. I think your safest bet from all of those is the Primus speakers, even though they are also the cheapest. Those are terrific speakers, a sure thing.

Some other tower speakers I would consider in that range are the Elemental Designs A6-6T6 towers and the EMP E5Ti Impression towers. Both look to be pretty good speakers. Get a speaker/sub package with Elemental Designs, and you will end up with a better sub than the ones you listed.

Something else I would consider I the Ascend CMT-340 mini-towers. While they aren't really tower speakers, they will rock just as hard as any of these others, and have at least as good, if not better sound quality. For listening for musical detail, these would probably be my first choice. And they would be no slouch for dynamic movies either.

Along those same lines, look at the maple finished Hsu speakers which are on clearance right now. These speakers rock hard for bookshelfs, and in one of those packages you get a good sub for a killer price. Those subs will crush any of the ones you listed. This is the option that will get you the best bass, easily. This system will rock as hard as any of the tower speaker setups you mentioned, especially if you go with a VTF3 sub, it will absolutely dominate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aggieactuary View Post

Thanks, that gives me a lot to think about.

I don't know if this helps any, but I'm more concerned with clarity and overall sound quality than I am with volume and thumping bass. For instance, I've read here that the eD subwoofers hit deeper and with more power, but the HSU subwoofers are more musical. I'm more interested in the HSU subs than the eD.

Also, I didn't mention the Axiom M50 v2 ($780) and VP100 v2 ($255) because they're more expensive, but are they worth the extra cost?

The Hsu 3.1 System with VTF-3 MK3 subwoofer is a steal.

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post #9 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Would the Hsu 3.1 system be bottom heavy?
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post #10 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 05:03 PM
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On being bottom heavy it depends how you tune it. The sub can be turned up or down whatever sounds good to you.
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post #11 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess what I'm asking is whether I'd be spending proportionately too much on the subwoofer.

It seems I would have a more well rounded system if I spent a little more on the fronts and less on the sub.
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post #12 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 05:24 PM
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Do you live in a house, condo, or apartment? If you live in house just make it sound so it fits you. Do not under estimate the importance of a good sub when watching a movie. I have a Bic sub now, but I'm gonna drive up to Elemental Designs in the next couple weeks and listen. Heck I'm even take the Bic so they can laugh at it. All in all a good sub is important when watching a movie.
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post #13 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aggieactuary View Post

This will be my first upgrade from the Sony speakers which were my first. So, I don't really know.

I strongly urge you to go out and listen to a bunch of speakers to learn what you like. You obviously care a lot about music, and not all of these speakers will perform equally with the music you like.

Audition with music only, through a receiver similar to yours, and make sure you have both male & female vocals, and good acoustic stuff (jazz, classical, blues, etc.) as well as a bunch of stuff you know and love.

It's fun!

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post #14 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moprint View Post

Do you live in a house, condo, or apartment? If you live in house just make it sound so it fits you. Do not under estimate the importance of a good sub when watching a movie. I have a Bic sub now, but I'm gonna drive up to Elemental Designs in the next couple weeks and listen. Heck I'm even take the Bic so they can laugh at it. All in all a good sub is important when watching a movie.

I live in a condo, and I can't listen at high volume.

Maybe I should be more clear that I care more about music than movies. Actually, I don't watch too many movies with explosions and stuff like that. Isn't that where the subwoofer matters? I watch more criterion collection movies than action movies.
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post #15 of 21 Old 01-14-2010, 11:43 PM
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Some subs have great sound quality for the detail of music but not a lot of raw output for movies. There are also a lot of subs where the reverse is true. Hsu is a rare submaker that does both well, and relatively cheaply. If you went with Hsu subwoofers, the VTF1 would probably suffice if you aren't listening to bass-heavy material real loudly. In your case, it doesn't sound like you are, or else your neighbors would complain. The only advantage the VTF3 could give you at the moment is a bit more overhead, at least until you get into a place where you can really let it rock. I love the VTF3's, I have two of them, and I hate to recommend something less powerful to someone, but, in your case, it doesn't sound like it would make a lot of sense to get something that powerful, unless you had plans in the future to move somewhere where you could take advantage of it.
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post #16 of 21 Old 01-15-2010, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aggieactuary View Post

I live in a condo, and I can't listen at high volume.

Maybe I should be more clear that I care more about music than movies. Actually, I don't watch too many movies with explosions and stuff like that. Isn't that where the subwoofer matters? I watch more criterion collection movies than action movies.

The subwwoofer also matters in the frequencies that your speakers can't or are unable to reproduce. The sub will handle all of the material, below a selected crossover point, in the frequencies that the unit was specifically designed for -- 120 Hz and below for instance.

Take a look at this chart to get an idea of the range of some musical instruments.


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post #17 of 21 Old 01-15-2010, 06:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Great info, thanks.

I think I'm persuaded to move up to the HSU VTF-1.

Are any of these speakers better matched to the VTF-1?:

-BIC Acoustech PL-89 & PL-28
-Infinity Primus P362 & PC350
-Ascend CMT-340 SE Mains & Center


Other than listening to each set with the subwoofer, how can you determine whether they will be a good match?
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post #18 of 21 Old 01-15-2010, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aggieactuary View Post

Great info, thanks.

I think I'm persuaded to move up to the HSU VTF-1.

Are any of these speakers better matched to the VTF-1?:

-BIC Acoustech PL-89 & PL-28
-Infinity Primus P362 & PC350
-Ascend CMT-340 SE Mains & Center


Other than listening to each set with the subwoofer, how can you determine whether they will be a good match?

A capable and well-designed subwoofer will work with almost any speaker.

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post #19 of 21 Old 01-15-2010, 02:33 PM
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A good sub should compliment any set of speakers. What you should be looking at is what speakers you think you will enjoy the most.

The BIC speakers are the most sensitive, they will be the best for dynamic response for movies. When things go bang, these are the most likely to slam the hardest. With a 98 db sensitivity rating, these are made to get LOUD. You won't need a powerful amp to drive these at all. With two 8" drivers, they probably have pretty good bass response, but that is just a guess. I don't know how they would fare for music, I am guessing not badly. There is a thread for BIC Acoustech in this forum, it might to worth checking out to see how these speakers compare to others in that regard.

The Primus are excellent speakers, I have these and they do great with movies and music. You can't go wrong with these, they are a sure thing. Their drivers are very highly regarded by speaker enthusiasts. After I finish writing this post I am going to rock them with the blu ray of Total Recall that I just got in the mail. This is going to be sweet!

The Ascends ought to be good, I haven't heard them, but I have heard nothing but praise for them. Another speaker which is very highly regarded by those who know about speakers. If I were in the market for speakers at this price point, these would be one of my first choices.

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post #20 of 21 Old 01-16-2010, 10:02 AM
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Aggie - Have you considered not using a center speaker and putting the $ into a better pair of of L & R fronts? If you are able to properly position the speakers so that they image well I doubt that you will ever miss the center speaker and will appreciate the better sounding speakers for music.

You could take this thinking one step further and eliminate the sub from your shopping list and roll the $ into your front pair. Although you probably won't FEEL those bombs exploding you will definitely hear them and I doubt that your condo neighbors would want to feel them anyway. Given your preferences in movies and the value you place on music I think that you would get the most enjoyment from a quality 2.0 system.

I currently have a very nice 5.2 system but had less space before remodeling and I was delighted with how well my old 2.0 system worked. Like you I am not a big bang type of movie fan but I do love good movie soundtracks and concert films.

Design your system based on what you value most, rather than trying to cover all of the bases that others may think are important. Worst case you can always scale up in the future if you feel that you really need a sub or a center, but I doubt that day will come as long as you are in your current space.
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post #21 of 21 Old 01-20-2010, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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That's an interesting thought. What about going the other way?

Would it make sense to get a pair of nicer bookshelf/monitor speakers and a really nice subwoofer? Would the center be optional, then?

Couldn't I get better overall sound quality that way?

If I got the Ascend Sierra-1 speakers, would I even need a center? It seems like the clarity is so good that I probably wouldn't need the center for dialogue, right? And music quality would be good, right?
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