Recap - 75% Movies / 25% Music. Small - Medium sized living room. Due to rears placement prefer bi/dipoles. Already have decent receiver (Pioneer Elite vsx-03xh) Budget around $2000 (+/-) Can do towers instead of bookshelves but they can't be super huge.
OK reading all of these reviews, threads and recommendations over the last week has literally started to make my head spin. No matter what you pick there's reasons to pick something else or another direction to go in, etc. etc. etc. After awhile you just gotta make a decision.
Here's what I've pretty much narrowed it down to:
SVS SCS-02(M) 5.0 SYSTEM: $949. Upside - Cheap, bipole surrounds. Plenty of budget to add a nice sub. Downside - Reviews are positive but seems like there might be better options. Movie dialogue is somewhat quiet off the center? (I hate that!)
Ascend Sierra 1: (Sierra L/C/R) $1342. Upside - Well reviewed, probably better for music. Comprable to Paradigm Studios which I like. Downside - Need to add non-matching Bipole rears (Cheap Paradigm ADPs probably to stay within budget). Ported design might make placement problematic (but not impossible). Might have to step down to a $600 price range sub. I could do the CMT340s instead but figure if you are going to do ascend, go for the sierras.
Emotiva X-Ref Series: (X-Ref 6.2 Tower, 6.2 Center, 4.2 Bipole Rears) $1485 on sale Upside: Due to pricing can do a tower instead of bookshelves which will hopefully be better for music. Reviews seem to be good from magazines/mainstream sources. Matched bipole rears. Downside: Are they as good as the Ascend/paradigm combo above? Would once again probalby have to make due with a $600ish sub to stay in budget. Have read some less than stellar stuff on the X-Refs being a step down from previous speakers in their line.
For subs i'm looking at something from Hsu, SVS, Outlaw or Epik. Model (and price) depending on which speaker set i go with.
Anyway that's where I'm at. Paradigm kinda slipped off list because it seems like brands like Ascend have better value for money and i'm all about that. (would these SVS/Emotivas compare against the paradigms tho?) I know there's no substitute for listening to them in-person but with these all being internet companies that's not possible (theres always returns).. so just appealing to the avs folks what do you think? Sound Quality is important but so is wow factor and i definitely want to surpass my old Paradigm setup.. I've been out of the HT loop for a decade so i figure that shouldn't be too hard with any of these?
Thanks in advance guys!