I get what you are saying, and I agree that a great sound system isn't as crucial to enjoying movies as it is to enjoying music. I say that as both a music lover and a lover of older movies where the soundtrack is either in poor shape or the movie predates soundtracks (ie silent movies). Anyway, I think you should be set on hitting certain performance metrics and after that you get seriously diminishing returns (unless you factor in aesthetics). I think this can happen at a lower price point than you are imagining. I would not be looking at any of the brands you mentioned for that.
For high bang-for-the-buck, I would start by looking at high quality bookshelf speakers. There is no sense in paying for the lower bass extension of tower speakers when you are going to hand all that bass playback to subwoofers anyway. Some bookshelf speakers I would be looking at are the NHT Classic Threes
with it's matching center channel
. If you have a larger room, I would also give some Klipsch Reference speakers a look. One speaker that has my attention is the Soundfield Audio Monitor 1
which have built in subs, but I would still be after some separate subs even with those, and let their 8" woofers handle the mid bass and upper bass region. A high efficiency speaker to look at is the Chase Pro-10
, another choice appropriate for a larger room. For subwoofers, you definitely want to stay away from the brands you mentioned, they are very poor values when you factor in performance. Some good subs for $/performance are the Hsu VTF15h
, Rythmik FV15
, SVS PB12 Plus
and PC12 Plus
, the subs from Chase
(if appearance isn't a big concern), and the subs from Funk Audio
(which look sweet and will have great performance as well).
By the way, if your budget is for speakers, receiver, source, and subs, I would get speakers that can be easily driven, so you don't have to spend money on a separate amplifier. Any of the speaker mentioned above will be just fine on any AVR's amplifier. Also don't buy into the notion that amplifiers can somehow make a speaker sound better- they don't. They can only make a speaker sound louder. Also I wouldn't spend a lot on a source, I would just get a decent blu-ray player with the features you want, and not get any fancy esoteric brand, that is a waste of money. And whatever you do, do not spend a lot on cables, just get some nice thick gauge cables from monoprice.com, or blue jeans cables
if you want nice looking ones. You could also just go to Home Depot and get a 100 ft roll of 14 AWG cable for $20, it is all just copper and even the most expensive $2000/ft cables won't sound any better.