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post #31 of 49 Old 06-14-2012, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

There would be nothing wrong with this, since you're making an informed decision (well, as informed as you can be, given the circumstances), and I'm confident that the 340 will deliver (it's a great speaker for music in its own right).
By the way, will you be using a vertically-oriented center (the 340 in its "mini-tower" configuration), or do you have to use a horizontally-oriented center? If it's the latter, then what will your viewing distance be, and how wide will your seating area be?
Right, and on the other hand, the 170 is still a bigger speaker, which may occasionally make a difference with bassy surround effects and multichannel music. Most people by far opt for the 200.

My plan was to use a horizontally-oriented center, and the viewing distance would be about 8-10' back. The seating area consists of a 3seat couch, and one chair on each side so probably 12-15' wide. Is that a problem with horizontally setting the center? I thought it was designed to disperse from a horizontal standpoint - the reason there's a separate center speaker.
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post #32 of 49 Old 06-14-2012, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by profanitypete View Post

My plan was to use a horizontally-oriented center, and the viewing distance would be about 8-10' back. The seating area consists of a 3seat couch, and one chair on each side so probably 12-15' wide.

Uh oh, that's a pretty extreme angle--nearly 45 degrees off-axis in the worst case. eek.gif As it happens, I have the same issue, which is why I opted for a vertically-oriented CBM-170 SE center in my home theater, and in my experience it does make a difference.
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Is that a problem with horizontally setting the center? I thought it was designed to disperse from a horizontal standpoint - the reason there's a separate center speaker.

That's a reasonable and intuitive assumption, but unfortunately the reality is actually counterintuitive in some ways. The reason that most purpose-designed center speakers are horizontal is the issue of placement (for most people), and the reason they're mostly MTM designs (a tweeter between two midwoofers) is probably to make them symmetrical; aesthetics are also probably a major consideration, as a horizontal center generally goes better with a widescreen TV. Unfortunately, the main drawback to this configuration is that horizontal dispersion is compromised, which is ironic--even seemingly paradoxical--but nonetheless true.

If you're interested in the reasons for this, then without getting all technical, picture a vertically-oriented speaker such as a standard two-way bookshelf or an MTM speaker, for that matter. As you move your head horizontally from left to right and back, notice that the relationship between the drivers and your head stays more or less the same--this means that the sound stays pretty much the same, at least within the horizontal dispersion characteristics of each driver. Now move your head up and down (or imagine doing so). Do you see how the relationship between the drivers and your head changes? Now you're closer to different drivers than before, and any destructive interference between the drivers--which happens all the time at some vertical angles that you're normally not supposed to be at--could be aimed right at you, diminishing some of the clarity of the sound (especially where we're the most sensitive, which can compromise dialogue intelligibility to some extent). MTM speakers in particular are designed to be vertical, with your ears near the height of the tweeter; in this orientation, they should have good horizontal dispersion (some better than others, but it's always better than their vertical dispersion). If we turn them on their sides, orienting them horizontally for use as a center, then the opposite is true--now they have good vertical dispersion, which is actually an advantage since they're usually placed well above or below ear level to stay out of the way of the TV, but relatively poor horizontal dispersion.

Usually this issue isn't serious at all, but it could be when your seating area is wide enough and/or your viewing distance is sufficiently short. In addition, the CMT-340 SE has design features that improve its performance over that of most horizontal MTM centers, but it could still be an issue because it is simply inherent to this ubiquitous configuration. Here is a description of the issue and how it relates specifically to the 340, written by the designer (and owner of Ascend Acoustics) himself:

http://forum.ascendacoustics.com/showpost.php?p=1367&postcount=10

As you can see, the problem is often overblown, and a properly designed horizontal MTM can be a viable option for a center speaker after all (the 340 is good out to 25 degrees off-axis, which is above average), but in your case it would definitely be preferable to have a vertically-oriented center (like I have) if possible. If you're using an acoustically transparent screen and projector, or are planning to mount your screen (of any type) above the front left & right speakers anyway, then it should be no problem to obtain a vertical CMT-340 SE for the center (just ask Ascend). The tweeters should be at or near ear level, by the way, as with all speakers, really (unless you tilt them like I do). Tell us about what kind of screen you'll be using, and how the front of your dedicated home theater will be arranged. I apologize for suddenly complicating matters, but I want to make sure that your system is as well optimized as possible. It's not as though viewers sitting on the far sides couldn't hear or understand dialogue, of course, but to me this issue would make a noticeable difference in your case and ought to be taken into consideration.
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post #33 of 49 Old 06-14-2012, 07:49 PM
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Yes, a horizontal MTM arrangement is not good for a center when your seating area is so wide.

However, a horizontal TM arrangement is fine. A Sierra-1 or CBM-170 center would be good for you.
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post #34 of 49 Old 06-14-2012, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jonnythan View Post

Yeah, XT. You need to pay a lot more money to go from XT to XT32. With your budget that doesn't seem like the best idea.

Agreed.

Also, there is no additional EQ benefit for subwoofers going from MultiEQ to MultiEQ XT (see the table at the bottom of this page). You could improve your sub EQ using something like the MiniDSP, a calibration mic, and REW software on a computer. And note that you would be able EQ each sub some separately with the MiniDSP.

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post #35 of 49 Old 06-14-2012, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

Uh oh, that's a pretty extreme angle--nearly 45 degrees off-axis in the worst case. eek.gif As it happens, I have the same issue, which is why I opted for a vertically-oriented CBM-170 SE center in my home theater, and in my experience it does make a difference.
That's a reasonable and intuitive assumption, but unfortunately the reality is actually counterintuitive in some ways. The reason that most purpose-designed center speakers are horizontal is the issue of placement (for most people), and the reason they're mostly MTM designs (a tweeter between two midwoofers) is probably to make them symmetrical; aesthetics are also probably a major consideration, as a horizontal center generally goes better with a widescreen TV. Unfortunately, the main drawback to this configuration is that horizontal dispersion is compromised, which is ironic--even seemingly paradoxical--but nonetheless true.
If you're interested in the reasons for this, then without getting all technical, picture a vertically-oriented speaker such as a standard two-way bookshelf or an MTM speaker, for that matter. As you move your head horizontally from left to right and back, notice that the relationship between the drivers and your head stays more or less the same--this means that the sound stays pretty much the same, at least within the horizontal dispersion characteristics of each driver. Now move your head up and down (or imagine doing so). Do you see how the relationship between the drivers and your head changes? Now you're closer to different drivers than before, and any destructive interference between the drivers--which happens all the time at some vertical angles that you're normally not supposed to be at--could be aimed right at you, diminishing some of the clarity of the sound (especially where we're the most sensitive, which can compromise dialogue intelligibility to some extent). MTM speakers in particular are designed to be vertical, with your ears near the height of the tweeter; in this orientation, they should have good horizontal dispersion (some better than others, but it's always better than their vertical dispersion). If we turn them on their sides, orienting them horizontally for use as a center, then the opposite is true--now they have good vertical dispersion, which is actually an advantage since they're usually placed well above or below ear level to stay out of the way of the TV, but relatively poor horizontal dispersion.
Usually this issue isn't serious at all, but it could be when your seating area is wide enough and/or your viewing distance is sufficiently short. In addition, the CMT-340 SE has design features that improve its performance over that of most horizontal MTM centers, but it could still be an issue because it is simply inherent to this ubiquitous configuration. Here is a description of the issue and how it relates specifically to the 340, written by the designer (and owner of Ascend Acoustics) himself:
http://forum.ascendacoustics.com/showpost.php?p=1367&postcount=10
As you can see, the problem is often overblown, and a properly designed horizontal MTM can be a viable option for a center speaker after all (the 340 is good out to 25 degrees off-axis, which is above average), but in your case it would definitely be preferable to have a vertically-oriented center (like I have) if possible. If you're using an acoustically transparent screen and projector, or are planning to mount your screen (of any type) above the front left & right speakers anyway, then it should be no problem to obtain a vertical CMT-340 SE for the center (just ask Ascend). The tweeters should be at or near ear level, by the way, as with all speakers, really (unless you tilt them like I do). Tell us about what kind of screen you'll be using, and how the front of your dedicated home theater will be arranged. I apologize for suddenly complicating matters, but I want to make sure that your system is as well optimized as possible. It's not as though viewers sitting on the far sides couldn't hear or understand dialogue, of course, but to me this issue would make a noticeable difference in your case and ought to be taken into consideration.

Thank you for the very long and detailed response, it really makes sense when you think about it. As for my setup, I have a picture of the room from the house listing, this is NOT my furniture but the TV will be in the same location.

450

It is a 47" LCD TV (upgrade coming later) sitting on a basic HT stand. It would look really weird regardless if I put a center channel on one side of the TV, and I'm not really sure how else I could do it without having it way too far below ear level. The side monitors will be about 2' from the side of the TV on each side (can be slightly farther if needed) in line with the inner edge of the built in book cases. The surrounds will be about 2' above ear level on the wall angled slightly down to the PLP, and in line horizontally with the seating, about 3' in front of the rear wall. In the photo, the left surround will be on the wall in the stairwell. The surround rears will be at ear level in the rear corners of the room, about 3' behind the seating position. My plan right now is to put the sub in the rear left corner where the computer chair is in the photo, as close to the wall as I can go.

I'm still kind of on the fence on which line to go with, but I called and left a voicemail with them today and I think by her voicemail back to me that they're willing to give me money off.
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post #36 of 49 Old 06-14-2012, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by profanitypete View Post

Would the extra money of getting Sierra-1s in the front and 170s for the other four be worth it do you think? That still puts me at $1820 shipped, + $100 for stands and I'm still under budget. The unfortunate thing with these is that I can't demo them, but they do have a 30 day return policy... Trying to maximize my quality with using all my budget. I'm not worried about wall mounts or cable, already hard-wired the room for 7.1 and I budgeted extra for wall mounts for the back 4.
They are running a sale right now on the Sierra 1's and if you chose to go the 340 route they have some B-Stocks currently, which would save you around $35 and some change. I currently run a pair of B-Stock 170SE's and they sound great to me.

Cliff
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post #37 of 49 Old 06-14-2012, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jonnythan View Post

Yes, a horizontal MTM arrangement is not good for a center when your seating area is so wide.

However, a horizontal TM arrangement is fine. A Sierra-1 or CBM-170 center would be good for you.

A horizontal TM center would work better, that is true, which favors the Sierra-1. However, they still suffer from some phase cancellation, which causes combing and lobing. It's just that MTMs suffer much more in comparison, due to the fact that two drivers spaced apart are reproducing exactly the same signal. A vertical TM (or T/M as I like to call it) is clearly the best option, especially at the extreme angles we're dealing with in this case, but the OP may be forced to compromise here.
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It is a 47" LCD TV (upgrade coming later) sitting on a basic HT stand. It would look really weird regardless if I put a center channel on one side of the TV, and I'm not really sure how else I could do it without having it way too far below ear level.

Yeah, I would NOT recommend placing the center speaker to the side of the TV. Well, home theater, much like life wink.gif, is full of compromises. As mentioned earlier, I have similar placement and seating issues (even worse, actually), so I compromised by going with CBM-170 SEs across the front (instead of 340s), mounted just above the TV; the Sierra-1 wasn't around back then, so obviously it wasn't an option for me. I also went with two 170s for the surrounds, by the way, because the HTM-200 hadn't been upgraded yet. You could compromise by sticking with the horizontal CMT-340 SE center despite the dispersion issue (lobing), which to me is a better compromise than using a phantom center, for comparison. Then again, more than a few people actually prefer a phantom center in general--the issues that are so apparent to my perception don't even phase (yuk-yuk! wink.gif) them, to put things into perspective. You could also move the seats back a little or squeeze them as tightly together as possible--maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal, then. A horizontal Sierra-1 would still be less of a compromise, with noticeably (to some folks, anyway) better performance for viewers sitting at extreme angles, though. I don't think that there is necessarily any absolutely right, best answer here--it's just another point in the Sierra-1's favor.
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post #38 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 06:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

A horizontal TM center would work better, that is true, which favors the Sierra-1. However, they still suffer from some phase cancellation, which causes combing and lobing. It's just that MTMs suffer much more in comparison, due to the fact that two drivers spaced apart are reproducing exactly the same signal. A vertical TM (or T/M as I like to call it) is clearly the best option, especially at the extreme angles we're dealing with in this case, but the OP may be forced to compromise here.
Yeah, I would NOT recommend placing the center speaker to the side of the TV. Well, home theater, much like life wink.gif, is full of compromises. As mentioned earlier, I have similar placement and seating issues (even worse, actually), so I compromised by going with CBM-170 SEs across the front, mounted just above the TV; the Sierra-1 wasn't around back then, so obviously it wasn't an option for me. I also went with two CBM-170 SEs for the surrounds, by the way, because the HTM-200 hadn't been upgraded yet. You could compromise by sticking with the horizontal CMT-340 center despite the dispersion issue (lobing), which to me is a better compromise than using a phantom center, for comparison. Then again, more than a few people actually prefer a phantom center in general--the issues that are so apparent to my perception don't even phase (yuk-yuk! wink.gif) them, to put things into perspective. You could also move the seats back a little or squeeze them as tightly together as possible--maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal, then. A horizontal Sierra-1 would still be less of a compromise, with noticeably (to some folks, anyway) better performance for viewers sitting at extreme angles, though. I don't think that there is necessarily any absolute right, best answer here--it's just another point in the Sierra-1's favor.

Excuse me while I jump back on the other side of the fence... I can move the seating back and scrunch it together as close as possible, the only reason it's off the back wall was because I wanted it in line with the surrounds. I should be able to get the listening area within 12' and pushed back about 12'. I am at work now so I can't measure, but I'm pretty confident in that. The only thing that might throw off one side is one seat is a LoveSac "The Big One" so it's kinda wide, but if that one seat isn't the best seat in the house, that's fine with me. So at this point it's looking like LCR Sierra-1s, and surround/surr rear 170s. Still not pulling the trigger, but that's what I'm leaning towards.

One other question and this may or may not open up a whole nother can of worms, would the NRT tweeter upgrade be worth the hefty price tag? Or would that be something to upgrade later? It looks pretty easy to do, so that could be an upgrade if I want later on..
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post #39 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 07:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Also, I just took another closer look at the sierra, and I should be able to fit it under the TV vertically. The TV stand is very tall, so I should be able to center the speaker in front of it and have it not get in the way of anything. I don't know why, but I forgot what the center looked like, for some reason I thought it was much longer in an MTM setup.
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post #40 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 07:15 AM
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Don't worry too much about the horizontal versus vertical thing, especially for a two-driver arrangement. You won't be doing critical listening from that far off to the side and intelligibility won't really suffer. There is virtually no drawback to a horizontal two-driver arrangement and it looks a million times less goofy.

Just get the Sierra-1 center, which is horizontal, and use it horizontally as intended.
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post #41 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by profanitypete View Post

Excuse me while I jump back on the other side of the fence... I can move the seating back and scrunch it together as close as possible, the only reason it's off the back wall was because I wanted it in line with the surrounds.

It is better to be aligned with the surrounds and have some distance from the back wall, as well, so if you end up getting the Sierra-1, then I would recommend sticking with your current layout. And whichever speaker series you ultimately choose, only experimentation will tell you what is acceptable--the best set of compromises for you, your system, and your room. The most we can do here is help you decide based on theory and varied opinions, which is better than nothing, but to be perfectly honest you may make your own discoveries once you have everything on hand and start setting your system up.
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I should be able to get the listening area within 12' and pushed back about 12'. I am at work now so I can't measure, but I'm pretty confident in that. The only thing that might throw off one side is one seat is a LoveSac "The Big One" so it's kinda wide, but if that one seat isn't the best seat in the house, that's fine with me.

Don't move anything until you set up the speakers and try the center out from all of the seats. If it sounds good to you, whether you get the Sierra-1 or CMT-340 SE, then leave the seats where they are.
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So at this point it's looking like LCR Sierra-1s, and surround/surr rear 170s. Still not pulling the trigger, but that's what I'm leaning towards.

I don't think there is a wrong choice here, unless you plan to BLAST the room with reference or near-reference volume, which most people couldn't tolerate in a non-acoustically-treated room anyway. Plenty of people are satisfied with the Sierra-1 in rooms the size of yours, and that's with the subwoofer crossover set at 60 Hz (80 Hz would take a load off the speakers and receiver, allowing you to get louder if desired). You may want to ask Ascend what they think, giving them your room dimensions and a description of your intended listening levels, but in general they say that the Sierra-1 is suitable for "large" rooms, and I think that it would do fine in a room like yours.
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One other question and this may or may not open up a whole nother can of worms, would the NRT tweeter upgrade be worth the hefty price tag?

I'm sure you'd get plenty of hits regarding this subject in this forum and the Ascend forum. Here are a few that I got with a quick search:

http://forum.ascendacoustics.com/showthread.php?t=4915
http://forum.ascendacoustics.com/showthread.php?t=4694
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1332075/just-curious-who-did-the-sierra-nrt-upgrade/0_100

Whether anything is worth its price tag is quite subjective once you reach this level of diminishing returns, in my view. It definitely makes a positive difference that is noticeable to critical listeners, so by that standard, I suppose that it is worthwhile. On the other hand, the standard Sierra-1 is already quite a fine speaker, and not everybody would think that a $150/speaker upgrade is worthwhile--maybe they can't hear the difference anyway. Actually, the NrT isn't just an improvement in detail and distortion, it makes the speaker sound more "forward" in the upper midrange and treble, sort of like the SE series, I guess (but even cleaner and more detailed than the standard Sierra-1). The regular Sierra-1 is a bit mellower and "laid back" in this range. I think that pretty much everybody is in agreement regarding these differences. They're all rather neutral-sounding speakers overall, though--I'm talking about shades of differences here.
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Or would that be something to upgrade later? It looks pretty easy to do, so that could be an upgrade if I want later on..

Yeah, that's an option, as long as you're comfortable with modifying the speaker (changing out the tweeter and crossover in this case).
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Also, I just took another closer look at the sierra, and I should be able to fit it under the TV vertically. The TV stand is very tall, so I should be able to center the speaker in front of it and have it not get in the way of anything. I don't know why, but I forgot what the center looked like, for some reason I thought it was much longer in an MTM setup.

If you can do this without making too many other compromises, then this is what I would recommend. In this case, you'd want to ask Ascend to give you a standard Sierra-1 monitor, as the normal center version is slightly different (different grill, logo placement, and rotated tweeter). Or, if you'd prefer, the regular horizontal Sierra-1 center should work fine, as it doesn't suffer as much from lobing as MTM centers do. A vertical center works fine for my system, with all three front speakers mounted just above the TV, so beyond opting for a smaller speaker I didn't have to make any additional compromises, but since your system is arranged differently, maybe you'd feel differently about it, I don't know.
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Don't worry too much about the horizontal versus vertical thing, especially for a two-driver arrangement. You won't be doing critical listening from that far off to the side and intelligibility won't really suffer. There is virtually no drawback to a horizontal two-driver arrangement

This is a valid argument, too. The best choice depends on what you're more willing to compromise on--in other words, your personal priorities. All of the issues that I and others have brought up for the sake of spreading the knowledge of A/V science are a matter of degree with regard to standards and one's ability to tolerate various tradeoffs. To me, even a great horizontal TM like the Sierra-1 center sounds somewhat different when the viewer is significantly off-axis horizontally (the objective measurements certainly bear this out), and I have little tolerance for this (it bothered me even before I learned about lobing), while many others wouldn't even care or notice (even with horizontal MTM centers, which are measurably far worse).

To make things simple, I would say that if you could easily and cleanly accommodate a vertical Sierra-1 center, and wouldn't mind doing so, then this would be ideal. Otherwise, given the fact that it makes such a good horizontal TM center anyway, I think you'd be happy with the regular center (I would be, if I had no other choice). Just like choosing between the Sierra-1, Sierra-1 NrT, or CMT-340 SE, you can't go wrong--it's a matter of personal preference, cost, and which characteristics are the most important to you.
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and it looks a million times less goofy.

Point taken in regard to typical home theater systems, but in my case, for example, a horizontal center speaker would actually look goofier than a vertical one because the latter is a perfect match for my vertical left & right front speakers, which are mounted at the same height. The same would be true for, say, three vertical towers standing underneath a high-mounted screen, as some people have--aesthetically, this is much more consistent and visually pleasing. That said, in most systems, I'd agree that horizontal centers generally look better. Whether some performance should be sacrificed for aesthetics is, of course, a personal decision.
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post #42 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 10:02 AM
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I'm an audio guy and couldn't stand looking at an NHT SuperZero sitting vertically below my TV. Everyone who saw it thought it looked super goofy and made comments about it. It just doesn't work aesthetically - the TV is wide and short and the speaker is narrow and tall. It just doesn't look good. People are used to wider speakers as a center channel, and they ask questions when they see something different. They assume you messed something up. It's not a big deal, but it's annoying enough to think about.
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post #43 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 10:24 AM
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post #44 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 10:37 AM
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$550? Holy cow.
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post #45 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 10:38 AM
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Refub Denon 2311 which is a 7.2 receiver for $329+ shipping:
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/DENAVR2311CI/DENON-AVR-2311CI-7.2-3D-Home-Theater-Receiver/1.html

That will allow you to put more of your budget towards your speakers where it really counts smile.gif
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post #46 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 11:25 AM
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$550? Holy cow.

I do NOT need to buy that right now, but I R E A L L Y want to. I bet that price will be gone in no time frown.gif

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post #47 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 04:35 PM
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I do NOT need to buy that right now, but I R E A L L Y want to. I bet that price will be gone in no time frown.gif

I am hoping once the 2013 models are out, all other places would be selling at that price range.

B&W N804s, HTM1, N805s - Denon 3312Ci - McIntosh MC352 - JL Fathom F113
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post #48 of 49 Old 06-15-2012, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jonnythan View Post

People are used to wider speakers as a center channel, and they ask questions when they see something different. They assume you messed something up.

So what? I know that I'm doing it right, and that's enough. smile.gif If they actually ask questions about it (and this did happen to me on one occasion), then great!
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post #49 of 49 Old 06-16-2012, 07:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I do NOT need to buy that right now, but I R E A L L Y want to. I bet that price will be gone in no time frown.gif

Yeah, I saw that on Slickdeals yesterday, but held off the urge long enough for them to sell out
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