I am looking for a 5 speaker surround sound package. I already have an excellent Rythmik subwoofer. My budget is around $15K though I'd prefer to spend much less and I have no problem going with much lower priced speakers if they sound good.
In the past I've owned Infinity, Genesis Tech, Wilson, Polk, Paradigm, Axiom, Golden Ear, Ascend, Von Schweikert, Aperion Audio, Definitive Tech, Monitor Audio, and my last pair of speakers, Revel F52s. I found the Axioms, Revels, Monitor Audios, and Paradigms to be bright. The other brands did not bother me.
For me the speakers must measure well (good off axis response, flat FR, low distortion, etc.) and not cause listener fatigue. I am VERY sensitive to bright speakers and brightness drives me nuts.
I've narrowed down the list to the following speakers:
1. Salk Audio Soundscape 8
These seem to be universally accepted as excellent speakers with great drivers and excellent build. They also have the much loved RAAL tweeter. Lastly, the matching center is a 3-way design which can be better than the typical MTM.
The negatives I see are the 2 month wait, they are very expensive, relatively inefficient, and I am concerned they could be bright with the Accuton and RAAL combo.
2. Von Schweikert VR-33s
I've owned the VR-4jrs before and I loved them. I think the VR-33s use the same or a very similar tweeter so this is a known quantity. They are very easy to drive, there are dozens of positive reviews, and they use expensive Scanspeak drivers. Lastly, they are in the middle of the budget saving me significant cash.
The negatives are the unknown matching center and typical MTM design. Without an AB comparison I also wonder if the tweeter is as refined as the RAAL?
3. Ascend Acoustics RAAL Towers
Why am I considering Ascend if I have a $15K budget? They use the same RAAL tweeter as the Salks, they are easier to drive, ready to ship, and cost THOUSANDS less. In addition the center is IMHO a steal considering it is a 3-way design, fairly robust, and has the RAAL tweeter. Plenty of good reviews on these as well.
The cons I see are the fact there is no matching surrounds (really Ascend??), they are not as full range as the others, and obviously they use less costly parts. I would imagine the crossover, cabinet, and midrange drivers are not in the same league as the others but I could be wrong. I'd assume the others weigh 2-3 times as much for a reason.
The questions is do they perform 90% as well as the others at 1/4 the cost?
4. Other options...
Others I am considering but have mostly ruled out are the Gallo Acoustics 3.5s (measure OK) and the Pioneer EX series (older, expensive design). The tweeters on both are unknown to me. I have no clue if they are considered bright sounding speakers.
I'd appreciate any feedback and/or suggestions you guys can provide. If you have listened to one of these or you have a link to any type of comparison of these brands please chime in! Since money IS a factor which of the three would you choose? I can't for the life of me decide!