Originally Posted by taken
1) Do I really need towers in the front with the sub I have chosen or will I be fine with the PL66's in all four corners?
2) Will the horn loaded speakers be too bright for my AR center channel? I would upgrade that one too with the PL26 or 28, but they won't fit in my stand. The AR is standard AV width and fits nicely in one of the component sections of my ET center.
I have no experience with BIC speakers, but to answer your questions:
1) With a good sub in a moderate sized room, the advantages of towers are minimized. On a tight budget, you would do better, IMHO, with bookshelves.
2) If you're replacing your left/right, get a proper timbre-matched center channel as well. This is more important that upgrading your surrounds. Speakers from different manufacturers rarely work well together in the front three.
If I were in your shoes, I would upgrade in stages:
1) Stretch the budget for a good sub. the Hsu looks great (I have not heard the new VTF-15). However, there are lots of good options in between the BIC and that Hsu: a 12" Hsu or Outlaw, for example.
2) Get a pair of bookshelves and matching
center channel (sell the AR center) and continue to live with the current surrounds. If you like BIC, get them, but keep your options open; there are lots of good speaker out there...
3) When you want to upgrade the surrounds, you could get a pair of towers in the same line and move the bookshelves to the back, or get a better pair of surrounds; consider surround specific speakers (bi/dipole) depending on your taste and priorities.