Best 5.1 Speaker System for $1,000? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 08:24 AM - Thread Starter
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I need help deciding on the absolute best "bang for my buck" system for $1,000 or less.

I am looking for 2x Floor Standing Towers, 2x Surround or Bookshelf Speakers, 1x Center Channel Speaker, and 1x Subwoofer.

*This Budget Does Not Include the Receiver. I will be buying it Separately.*

Of course, I want the system to be great for Movies, Music, and Gaming.

I do not have a brand preference. I am simply looking for the best sounding system I can get for my budget. I don't have any local stores that I can demo anything at, either. The only thing I have is a Best Buy ~ 1 hour from here and their selection is pitiful at best so I will have to rely on your personal experiences.

By "bang for my buck" what I mean is if I can get a system for $700 that sounds ALMOST as good as a different system for $1,000, then I'd much rather save the $300.

My local CraigsList community is scarce and useless so everything will have to be bought new.

The room I will be installing this system in is a 13x13x7 Rectangle. I will include a model of my plans below. The square area below the bed and to the right of the back right surround speaker is my closet. It is basically a small room that juts out into the floor.

Let me know if you guys need any more info. Thanks for the help!

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post #2 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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What do you guys think of this setup?

I can buy all of this for $564 Shipped:

(All Brand New)

Infinity P363 x2 @ $200 Each
Infinity PC351 @ $160
Infinity P153 x2 @ $64 Each

That leaves around $436 left in my budget to either buy a $300 Sub and increase my Receiver budget, or buy a $450 Sub.

Can I do better than this for the price range?
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post #3 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 09:34 AM
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In a room that size you'd be a lot better off buying bookshelves, you'll get a whole lot more bang for the buck. You buy floorstanding towers when you have a huge room to fill. I'm going to run with the bookshelf idea. BTW the surrounds in a 5.1 system go to the side not the rear.

2x Infinity Primus P162 bookshelves Review These hit well above their sale price.
1x PC250 or PC350/PC351 center
2x P162 bookshelves as surrounds.
Elemental Designs A2-300 subwoofer and size-matched subwoofer isolation pad.
Wires, cables, and connectors from monoprice.com.
Stands

That leaves you an upgrade path should you later move to a much larger home. You would just add P362 or P363 towers (minor cosmetic differences) and a second sub to the P162/PC350/P152 system above and have a really nice 7.1 system for a room 3x that size.

If you must have towers now then you'll sacrifice the quality of the subwoofer but these are the best floorstanders I know of for the price.
2x P362 (see Primus like above)
1x PC350 (see link above)
2x P152
Add a $200ish subwoofer and pad.
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post #4 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kabigon24 View Post
What do you guys think of this setup?

I can buy all of this for $564 Shipped:

(All Brand New)

Infinity P363 x2 @ $200 Each
Infinity PC351 @ $160
Infinity P153 x2 @ $64 Each

That leaves around $436 left in my budget to either buy a $300 Sub and increase my Receiver budget, or buy a $450 Sub.

Can I do better than this for the price range?
You're on the right track and those are better prices than I found. I'd buy the better sub and make do with an Onkyo TX-SR508 or better yet TX-SR608 - check Amazon for prices. If you have anybody under you you'll want an isolation pad for the sub - especially with a down firing sub. Keep in mind that the sub I linked aren't always in stock and may require a few week wait. I'd confirm availability before ordering.
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post #5 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, the site that I found those on was Electronics-Expo.com and when I checked the shipping....It's freakin' $250 to ship those speakers....That is ridiculous.

So, it's back to square one, I guess.

Just disregard the Infinity reference because I'm sure I can do much better for that price, right?

So, Bookshelves would be the best option for me? Won't I be sacrificing quite a bit in overall power and sound, though? Normally the highest bookshelf speaker in a line is ~ the equivalent of the lowest tower speaker. (For example, the Polk Monitor 40 and Monitor 50.) I had actually considered doing bookshelves all around, but I feared it would be a pretty significant step down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sholling View Post
You're on the right track and those are better prices than I found. I'd buy the better sub and make do with an Onkyo TX-SR508 or better yet TX-SR608 - check Amazon for prices. If you have anybody under you you'll want an isolation pad for the sub - especially with a down firing sub. Keep in mind that the sub I linked aren't always in stock and may require a few week wait. I'd confirm availability before ordering.
I have $350 saved back for the Receiver. My choices right now are between the Pioneer VSX-1020-K, Denon AVR-791/1911, and Onkyo TX-SR608.

I live in a 2 unit duplex but I don't have anyone below me. The other apartment is above me so I just need to make sure I limit the annoyance to them as much as possible. I will most likely be moving in the next 4-5 months so I just need to make it acceptable until then.
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post #6 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kabigon24 View Post
Well, the site that I found those on was Electronics-Expo.com and when I checked the shipping....It's freakin' $250 to ship those speakers....That is ridiculous.

So, it's back to square one, I guess.

Just disregard the Infinity reference because I'm sure I can do much better for that price, right?
The Infinity Primus line are great speakers for the price - you'll have to quite a bit spend more to get better. The sites that I linked above include shipping so take a look at those and reread my suggestions. You can do the Infinity Primus bookshelves and a kick-butt sub for $1k or the Primus towers and a so-so sub for that same $1k, or you can save up another $200 and do the towers and the better sub.
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post #7 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 10:00 AM
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I was going to create my own thread, but my question and budget and needs are similar (movies/tv/music). Only my room size (14'x18'x10') is a little larger than OP's.

Attachment 201308

Here is what I own:
Technics SA-DX950 (5.1, 80W/ch@8ohm or thereabouts, 0.09%THD)
Energy RC-30 (x3) - $600 - Already broken in for 3 weeks (AudioAdvisor)
Some 12AWG cable and banana plugs - $40 - Monoprice (nice stuff)

Here is what I am considering:

Surround
----------------------------
Energy CB-5 (x2) - $80
Energy RC-Mini (x2) - $200+ on eBay but maybe not available
Energy CR-10 (x2) - $350 probably more than it is worth (?)

Sub (~$250 in bold)
----------------------------
Energy EW-100 10" $200
Infinity PS210 10" $200
Bic Acoustech H-100 12" $230
Bic Acoustech PL-200 12" $330
Bic VK-12 12" $330
PA-120 Sub 12" $260
HSU STF-1 Sub 8" $300
HSU STF-2 Sub 10" $390
Dayton C1500K Kit 15" $320
Lava LSP08 $200
Lava LSP10 $245
Lava LSP12 $340
Emotiva Ultra Sub 10" $330
Emotiva Ultra Sub 12" $430
Elemental A2-250 10" $350
Elemental A2-300 12" $415

Total (possible)
----------------------------
Energy RC-30 (x3) - $600
Energy CB-5 (x2) - $80
Subwoofer (x1) - ~$250
----------------------------
~$930

Questions (same as OP):

1. Can I do significantly better for about the same budget with a different brand/model? If not, how much more would I have to spend to improve on this?

2. Can I do just as well for significantly less money? The suggested Infinity set is quite a bit cheaper. Is it just as good as what I am trying to do? I heard that the Infinity build quality is not as good as Energy RC. Is that definitely true? And does not sound as good either? For the price difference (not that much) I would keep the RC-30's if they sound a lot better. (Apparently there is no store near Boston that carries Infinity for me to try.)

3. Are the CB-5's a bad choice to use as surrounds with the RC-30? Is there a better option for ~$100 or less?
LL
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post #8 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 10:31 AM
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The CB-5s are fine for surrounds. Not that much info goes to the surround speakers. It makes more sense to go cheap on surrounds and put the money saved towards the subwoofer.

and its is true, the Infnity Primus build quality is not as good as the RC speakers. I don't think they sound as good either but that's just me. And the Primus is uglier. Lots of people love the Infinity Primus though.

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post #9 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbahns View Post

I was going to create my own thread, but my question and budget and needs are similar (movies/tv/music). Only my room size is a little larger than yours (14'x18'x10').

I don't want to hijack the OP's thread so I'll keep this short. I can't speak for the RC-30 specifically but the now discontinued RC line were decent speakers with a solid build quality and I'd just build off what you already with an RC-Mini center or better yet RC-LCR center and the best sub that you can afford. The surrounds don't have to be an exact match so any Energy speaker rated down to 80hz should be good enough. RC-50 vs P362 - RC-50 wins in my book. RC-30 vs P362? Personal taste, however the correctly sized and matched RC-LCR center is over $400, however the RC-Mini center should work in a small room.

For a room that size (2500cuft) the same eD A2-300 that I suggested for the OP should be fine. The Emo Ultra 12 (I own one) is incredible for music but doesn't have much umph under 30hz and as much as I like the STF-2 the eD will play lower for movies.
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post #10 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 10:36 AM
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He's got 3 RC-30s so I'm guessing one of them is used for the center. He doesn't need the RC LCR.

Afro GT
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post #11 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afrogt View Post

He's got 3 RC-30s so I'm guessing one of them is used for the center. He doesn't need the RC LCR.

I saw that but I tossed in the center because I'm not a huge fan towers laying on their side as a center (personal taste) and I wanted keep things apples to apples for the OP's information since it is the OP's thread. I know some here swear by the idea of a tower on its side as a center.
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post #12 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 10:59 AM
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I don't remember him saying he was laying the RC-30 on its side. Maybe I missed something? I was under the impression he was using all 3 RC-30s upright.

Afro GT
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post #13 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afrogt View Post

I don't remember him saying he was laying the RC-30 on its side. Maybe I missed something? I was under the impression he was using all 3 RC-30s upright.

An assumption on my part since it's a 33" floorstanding tower which would require placing the TV rather high for my taste. Of course it's also possible that he has a front projection system and an acoustically transparent screen - I don't know that either. If it's upright it's a very good solution. I've used 3 matching bookshelves across the front it's a nice way to go.
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post #14 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 11:21 AM
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A note on the 1020k, no HDMI overlay. I think the best pick there is the 1911 (or even the 1611). Another option on the onkyo side is the RC260, same as the 608, but without the THX certification/post processing. (everyone steered me to the 1611 over the 260/608 though)

On the speakers, I really like the sound of HTD Level TWO Speakers.

2 bookshelf level twos run $200
2 surround level twos run $260
1 center level two is $130

Puts you at $590 and you can pick the subwoofer of your choice.

I think for a room that size, the middy speakers would work good as surrounds too.

My HT:
Denon AVR-2113 Receiver
Mains TBD
Surrounds TBD
Subwoofer TBD (SVS SB1000, NHT B-10d, Rythmik LV12R, Klipsch RW12-D)
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post #15 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 11:21 AM
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I would go for this Jamo package

http://www.vanns.com/shop/servlet/it..._c=site_search

Which leaves you $500 for a sub from Elemental Designs, SVS, HSU, Outlaw etc.
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post #16 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 11:38 AM
 
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If you use the package builder at elemental designs you can get A6.mtm's for the fronts and center, and the A4.mtm for surround and the A2.300 for the sub. Total cost $1058.25 delivered.

Or you can change the surrounds to the A4.b's and it would lower the price to $998.75 delivered.

Just another option to think about.
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post #17 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sholling View Post

The Infinity Primus line are great speakers for the price - you'll have to quite a bit spend more to get better. The sites that I linked above include shipping so take a look at those and reread my suggestions. You can do the Infinity Primus bookshelves and a kick-butt sub for $1k or the Primus towers and a so-so sub for that same $1k, or you can save up another $200 and do the towers and the better sub.

+1

Crutchfield also has some good coupons available, plus cashback from a variety of sites to help lower the cost.

I have an 11X17 room and I would recommend the P162's with total enthusiasm.

They are awesome speakers for the price and they will fill that room with clean, effortless sound. For your budget, they are an outstanding choice.

Here is the thread on my system, you might find some of the discussion useful.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...022&highlight=
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post #18 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Damnit! lol You guys are suggesting some great options. This is going to be difficult to choose.

The Jamo's are gorgeous, but the reviews I've read all say they are bad to jumble up voices and such with their extensive bass. Has anyone used those to attest to this?

The HTD and Elemental Designs I have never even heard of. Same question on these as with the Jamo's. lol Has anyone really listened to them to know how they sound?

The Infinity's are still in the discussion, however, I'm extremely disappointed that the original deal was ruined by ridiculous shipping prices. :/
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post #19 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kabigon24 View Post

The Infinity's are still in the discussion, however, I'm extremely disappointed that the original deal was ruined by ridiculous shipping prices. :/

I wouldn't let a single dealer's shipping charges limit your choices.
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post #20 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 12:08 PM
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that Jamo S606 just showed up recently. Nice deal.

Kabigon, my Jamo's are E680 and E660 towers and S60 center. Never had that problem with jumbled or garbled voice at all. Maybe that is specific to the S606?

My center would be the same one that comes that package on Vanns, just different color.

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post #21 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sholling View Post

In a room that size you'd be a lot better off buying bookshelves, you'll get a whole lot more bang for the buck. You buy floorstanding towers when you have a huge room to fill. I'm going to run with the bookshelf idea. BTW the surrounds in a 5.1 system go to the side not the rear.

2x Infinity Primus P162 bookshelves Review These hit well above their sale price.
1x PC250 or PC350/PC351 center
2x P162 bookshelves as surrounds.
Elemental Designs A2-300 subwoofer and size-matched subwoofer isolation pad.
Wires, cables, and connectors from monoprice.com.
Stands

That leaves you an upgrade path should you later move to a much larger home. You would just add P362 or P363 towers (minor cosmetic differences) and a second sub to the P162/PC350/P152 system above and have a really nice 7.1 system for a room 3x that size.

If you must have towers now then you'll sacrifice the quality of the subwoofer but these are the best floorstanders I know of for the price.
2x P362 (see Primus like above)
1x PC350 (see link above)
2x P152
Add a $200ish subwoofer and pad.

The forward looking nature of using the first system with the P162 for the front speakers makes a lot of sense.

Just add some towers and a second sub and you are all set for a big room.

No need to go through the speaker selection process again, which will save you both time and money.
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post #22 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sholling View Post

I wouldn't let a single dealer's shipping charges limit your choices.

I agree, go to the link that was provided and you will see the Primus speakers at great prices, free shipping and you can use coupons and cashback to make the price even lower.
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post #23 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afrogt View Post

that Jamo S606 just showed up recently. Nice deal.

Kabigon, my Jamo's are E680 and E660 towers and S60 center. Never had that problem with jumbled or garbled voice at all. Maybe that is specific to the S606?

My center would be the same one that comes that package on Vanns, just different color.

What they were mainly referring to is the Towers in that system. It said everything else was great for the price but that the towers added a "boom" to everything where they actually have subs mounted in the sides. I believe it described it as not making a woman sound like James Earl Jones, but definitely adding a deeper tone than should be displayed which sometimes did jumble the voices a bit and sacrifice clarity.

So, you guys think that the Infinity system would sound better than the rest? That Elemental Designs system really looks nice and powerful.
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post #24 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kabigon24 View Post

What they were mainly referring to is the Towers in that system. It said everything else was great for the price but that the towers added a "boom" to everything where they actually have subs mounted in the sides. I believe it described it as not making a woman sound like James Earl Jones, but definitely adding a deeper tone than should be displayed which sometimes did jumble the voices a bit and sacrifice clarity.

So, you guys think that the Infinity system would sound better than the rest? That Elemental Designs system really looks nice and powerful.

I can only say this: the Infinity system should work great for your room and budget.

That is not to say the ED system wouldn't be better, it is just I have no experience with that system.
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post #25 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kabigon24 View Post

What they were mainly referring to is the Towers in that system. It said everything else was great for the price but that the towers added a "boom" to everything where they actually have subs mounted in the sides. I believe it described it as not making a woman sound like James Earl Jones, but definitely adding a deeper tone than should be displayed which sometimes did jumble the voices a bit and sacrifice clarity.

So, you guys think that the Infinity system would sound better than the rest? That Elemental Designs system really looks nice and powerful.

I think they're just 8" woofers on the side, not subwoofers. The tower only goes down to 42hz so they can't be considered a subwoofer.

Have the people who have owned these used Audyssey or some calibration system? Or at least set the crossover on their receiver to 80hz?

I have dual 8" woofers on my Jamo E680 and dont have that problem. I calibrated with Audyssey Multi EQ XT and have them crossed over at 80hz.

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post #26 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kabigon24 View Post

So, you guys think that the Infinity system would sound better than the rest? That Elemental Designs system really looks nice and powerful.

I haven't heard the eD speakers, just a couple of their subs. The Infinities I know are great bang for the buck. You can get better speakers but none that I'm aware of for the price if the P162s. At your price point I've listened to Boston's CS series, Polk Monitors, Hsu HB-1, Energy C100s, low end Klipsch, and a few others that I don't recall at the moment. But speakers are very subjective and it's very-very possible that we have completely different tastes. FWIW EMPTek has speakers (check b-stock) close to your price point but I've never heard them and won't recommend what I haven't heard.
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post #27 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, as of right now it is looking like my options are the Infinity Primus, Jamo, and I really like the Polk Monitor's, as well. The ED system still intrigues me.

Basically, I want the best system I can buy for the cheapest price I can get it, as I said in my original post.

It's not that I MUST spend $1,000 on these speakers. If I can put together an amazing system for $700-$800, that is excellent. However, I have no problem spending the full amount, either.

My main question is should I avoid Towers for my room completely, then? I mean, they would definitely look better but if it is going to ruin the sound or be too much for the room, I will definitely steer toward bookshelves.

With the Polk Monitor Series, I can either do 2x Polk M70's + 2x Polk M40's + Polk CS2 Center for $600 Shipped (leaving me $400 for a Sub) or 4x Polk M40's + Polk CS2 for $387 leaving me $600+ to either buy a ridiculous Sub, buy a $400 Sub and upgrade the Receiver, or to just save $200-$300 if it's not really necessary. I could even do 7.1 with 6x M40's at those prices! lol (I doubt it would benefit me at all in a room my size, though, right?)

The Jamo system is by FAR my favorite aesthetically. The wood/black combo looks beautiful and it looks high quality instead of cheap wood like some other brands. I am definitely looking more into this. Afrogt, what is your overall impression of your system? I had never heard of Jamo until I started looking into the other Klipsch-owned companies, but they still kind of take a back seat to the rest in renounce. I've read that they have great speakers, though. Package deals like that just make me a bit nervous. Most of the time, companies do packages with their lower-end speakers that are far from high quality and make it seem like you are getting a deal.

With the Elemental Designs system, I don't know anything about it but just looking at the specs and appearance, it looks like an extremely nice system. The speakers are all large and heavy while appearing to have nice build quality. The speakers are extremely powerful, as well. I'm just not sure how they sound or if it's worth the extra money.

What was the cheapest you guys found the Infinity system at? I know the 362's and 162's can be found for cheaper than the 363's and 163's. Are there any differences between the older and newer models other than cosmetics?

Has anyone heard both the Infinity's and Polk Monitor's to provide a comparison? (without bias, please. ) I mean, the Polk's seem like an extremely nice value.

Thanks for the help, guys!

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Originally Posted by sholling View Post

I haven't heard the eD speakers, just a couple of their subs. The Infinities I know are great bang for the buck. You can get better speakers but none that I'm aware of for the price if the P162s. At your price point I've listened to Boston's CS series, Polk Monitors, Hsu HB-1, Energy C100s, low end Klipsch, and a few others that I don't recall at the moment. But speakers are very subjective and it's very-very possible that we have completely different tastes. FWIW EMPTek has speakers (check b-stock) close to your price point but I've never heard them and won't recommend what I haven't heard.

I don't really have a decent enough background in audio to describe my tastes.

However, I did have a set of Klipsch Promedia 2.1's on my computer (I've read that all Klipsch have the same "style" of sound because of the horns) and I absolutely hated them. They hurt my ears just to listen. They just put such an aggressive tone on everything that within 10-15 minutes, I had to turn it off. I love music and listen to it 24/7 and I barely even turned it on when I had those. I sold them within 2 weeks of making the purchase.

Hopefully, that helps you to understand what I am looking for? I just want a system with a warm, crisp/clear, and EXTREMELY detailed sound. I love music and I want to be able to hear all of the beautiful parts that you miss with other systems. I also love video games and movies so I want it to perform well there, also. If a gunshot is fired or a grenade goes off, I want it to sound realistic and as if it's right next to me. I don't want any distortion or muddy sounding bass.

Let me know if I need to describe it any better. That's really the best way I know how. lol
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post #28 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 01:42 PM
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Polk Monitor series are AWESOME for the price. Not sure if anyone mentioned this but, in the pic on your first post you put the sub right in the corner. GET IT OUT OF THERE! Put it somewhere along a wall. Doesn't really matter which wall. Maybe even out into the room depending on how the room reacts to bass frequencies.

Sounds good!
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post #29 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by karlsaudio View Post

Polk Monitor series are AWESOME for the price. Not sure if anyone mentioned this but, in the pic on your first post you put the sub right in the corner. GET IT OUT OF THERE! Put it somewhere along a wall. Doesn't really matter which wall. Maybe even out into the room depending on how the room reacts to bass frequencies.

Hmm, I though people always recommend to put the Sub in a corner? Care to elaborate on why not to? I know that in the corner it is supposed to give you louder bass while if it is on a single wall the bass is supposed to be tighter and more precise. Is that what you are referring to?
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post #30 of 203 Old 02-09-2011, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Kabigon24 View Post

Hmm, I though people always recommend to put the Sub in a corner? Care to elaborate on why not to? I know that in the corner it is supposed to give you louder bass while if it is on a single wall the bass is supposed to be tighter and more precise. Is that what you are referring to?

The sub goes in the corner when you don't have enough sub for the room or the sub rolls of early like a sealed sub. Think of the corner as a megaphone boosting the deep bass while in some cases blurring it slightly. Getting the best from a sub is a black art and the best thing to do is do the sub crawl and find out through testing what works best in your room. Here's a bit of homework to help you out. Sometimes the best spot is serving as an end table for the sofa, the one in my family room is right behind me, it just depends but as long as you can crossover at 80hz or lower it won't draw attention to itself. You have some reading to do.

Bottom line on the speakers is they have to make you happy. That's the only one you have to please. Polk, Infinity, Jamo, Ascend - pick the ones that you like best, but my advice is don't skimp on the sub.
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