Recommendations for 5.1 Speaker setup under $2K - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 12-27-2012, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been out of the speaker market for a long time, but looking to do an upgrade match my new 65 inch plasma. I've been reading for some time to get current. So I've read the similar threads for months, but figured I would post for some advice.

The room currently has an Energy Take 5.1 system in it and its way overdue for an upgrade. I have been trying to audition, but I am finding local options very limited in variety and setups are less than ideal.

Some design considerations/constraints:

1) 2K is absolute ceiling, and some comfort margin underneath that is not a bad thing; lets say 1500-2000.
2) The room is roughly 13 by 17, but see attached photo of the layout.
3) This is a Family Room HT setup, but also does a fair amount of background music service for the family room and adjoining kitchen (not critical listening), so HT takes priority.
4) Given location of sectional, and the fact that I'd want a sub anyway, I'm leaning towards bookshelves/ stands for the fronts, as a left tower is just going to fire into the furniture.
5) TV will be wall mounted, but I have av furniture that is 23 inches high (and it stays). Given the 65 inch screen, that places some height challenges on my center. I probably want to stay under 7 inches (to keep bottom of tv no higher than about 30 inches).
6) The surrounds are high on the side walls, almost inline with prime horizontal sitting positions on the sectional. Given windows and other wall issues, I think dispersive surrounds would help me improve the rear sound stage.
7) I already have a Denon 3310CI receiver, seems more than fine for me and has Audyssey , and I don't really want to do external amps.

I was originally planning 500-700 for the sub and based on the recommendations it looks like ID is the way to go, and I should look at HSA, SVS, Outlaw etc. I haven't concentrated on the sub research beyond that. Been focused on the fronts/center since I don't want to hang the plasma until I have the speakers.

What I have been able to find hear:
Paradigm Atoms for fronts (but the Paradigm centers are tall.) I thought they were OK, but on small side and a bit light on output, local dealer jumped right to towers after that.
Limited auditioning of Paradigm Millennia 20s in LCR. I like the low height profile for the center, and center channel wasn't bad, but probably pricey for the (lack of) stereo positioning in on wall. Can buy more bookshelf with less.

I've heard various combinations of PSB bookshelves and centers, didn't find any combo that grabbed me so far.

Klipsch Reference:
2- RB61 II bookshelves , RC52 II (center is 6.5 inches high), and 2 RS-41II dipoles . This seemed more than adequate in power due to high efficiency. I liked the Surrounds a lot as well for their size.

So far I think the Klipsch system has been the best soundstage that I've heard, and was well dispersed across the room and and provided best overall imaging. As for the general 'love or hate' for the horns: I liked them from what I've heard. Still probably not enough competitive auditioning though to make an absolute decree. The Reference system is roughly 1300 as noted (and I need some $$ for speaker stands). Currently local and online retailers are 'throwing in' the SW-110 for free (I assume Klipsch has a manufacturer promotion, as do a few other competitors). I know if I had to buy the sub outright the recommendation would be to go elsewhere. And yes I could do that anyway, then I'm sitting on an extra sub that was really amortized into the Klipsch pricing anyway.


Thoughts? How bad is SW-110 given the above? What else should I be looking (listening) at? I may be challenged finding them in person, but we'll see.

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post #2 of 19 Old 12-27-2012, 04:20 PM
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Well, there is nowhere to go but up from what you have now...lol.

For $2000, there are endless possibilities.

I think my first choice would be a pair of Wharfedale 10.2 speakers for the front main speakers, with a pair of the 10.1 speakers for the rear pair and the 10 CC center speaker (height = 7.4'). You might wish to read the Stereophile review article on the 10.1 speakers.

I think that comes to about $1000-1100 total, but check Music Direct for the exact prices.

For a subwoofer, I picked the NHT B12D for my system and love it. It runs $700. It is an acoustic suspension sealed design, which minimizes resonances and gives less distortion than most others. It also makes it a bit smaller than most 12-inch subwoofers (a 14-inch cube). I also love the gloss black finish...lol.

An alternate system that would be very good and has more compact speakers would be four of the Cambridge Audio S30 speakers with the S50 center speaker, which is only 5 inches high. Those 5 speakers would run about $700 and are very nice also.

Either of these systems will be such a huge improvement over your current system that you will no doubt be overjoyed at what you hear.

P.S.- I would never say that the SW-110 is "bad'. There are a LOT of worse subwoofers out there. On the other hand, IMO it doesn't come close to equaling the performance of my NHT B12D.
The one main problem with the SW-110 is that it is pretty badly underpowered, with only a 200-watt RMS amplifier. The other problem is that it only has a 10-inch driver, which is too small for many rooms.

The NHT B12D has a 500-watt RMS amplifier and 12-inch driver. It's the best I have ever heard for its price.
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post #3 of 19 Old 12-27-2012, 04:36 PM
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http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid15pkg.html

Awesome bang for the buck. Nice size bookshelfs and great subwoofer.
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post #4 of 19 Old 12-27-2012, 04:59 PM
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Ascend CMT 340 R/L/C with stands for the L/R and CBM 170's for surrounds = 1344 with shipping
Pair of Klipsch RW12-D subs from newegg when on sale = 600 with shipping

This is what I bought and am very happy, might even have some b stock and save a few more bucks.

I would like to have the HSU VTF-15H sub actually 2 of them but I was only willing to part with 600 bones, I'm not a fan of horn tweeters always seem too bright for me.

Panasonic TC-P65VT50
Denon 2113ci
Panasonic DMP-BDT220P
Ascend CMT-340SE L/R
Ascend CMT-340SE Center
Ascend CBM-170SE Surrounds
Klipsch RW12-D x 2
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post #5 of 19 Old 12-27-2012, 06:02 PM
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The HSU bookshelfs use a soft dome tweeter just horn loaded. They are actually somewhat laid back to neutral, they don't have the reputation that Klipsch has.

To the OP, while the Klipsch or any other system might sound good in the showroom for a quick demo few mins to hour it may end being something you don't like in the long term or can sound drastically different in your living room. Probably some of the best advice I can give would be to try out the HSU bookshelfs, Ascends like skidog recommended and maybe something from Aperion or Arx and use the trial period and listen to them in your own home for a couple weeks. Just pick up a couple of bookshelfs from a couple brands that you seem interested in.
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post #6 of 19 Old 12-27-2012, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skidog View Post

Ascend CMT 340 R/L/C with stands for the L/R and CBM 170's for surrounds = 1344 with shipping
Pair of Klipsch RW12-D subs from newegg when on sale = 600 with shipping
This is what I bought and am very happy, might even have some b stock and save a few more bucks.
I would like to have the HSU VTF-15H sub actually 2 of them but I was only willing to part with 600 bones, I'm not a fan of horn tweeters always seem too bright for me.

The B-Stocks they currently have at Ascend are the Sierra-1 and Sierra Center speaker. I was checking to see if they had any HTM-200's and this is what they had listed.

Cliff
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post #7 of 19 Old 12-28-2012, 06:34 AM
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I found this in the classified section http://www.avsforum.com/t/1447403/complete-ascend-hsu-7-1-ht-system-stands-brackets don't know where your located but he also states he will ship the setup.

Panasonic TC-P65VT50
Denon 2113ci
Panasonic DMP-BDT220P
Ascend CMT-340SE L/R
Ascend CMT-340SE Center
Ascend CBM-170SE Surrounds
Klipsch RW12-D x 2
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post #8 of 19 Old 12-28-2012, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone on the recommendations, looks like I have some homework to do.

That's a nice deal on the full Ascend/HSU set and pre-broken in... A few more surrounds than I need, but I could get to 6.1 with some work. It is a one way trip if I don't like them, so I'll think about it.

I am a little concerned on the bookshelves as surrounds, given my tight placement relative to that rear window on the left wall. Both the HSU and Ascends are large enough that I'd have to place that surround forward of the prime listening plane. I was initially thinking a bipole/dipole might ease the pain here, but they aren't too common with the IDs.
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post #9 of 19 Old 12-28-2012, 12:00 PM
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Axiom Audio has some great surrounds with their QS4's.
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post #10 of 19 Old 12-28-2012, 12:33 PM
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I'd look into EMP, especially if they're going to do a New Years sale or something...

Panny 65st60 / Denon X1000 / EMP e55ti / EMP e56ci / EMP e5bi / (2) e1010i
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post #11 of 19 Old 12-29-2012, 05:28 AM - Thread Starter
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The QS4s look like they would work in my locations. Positioning tne surrounds has always been a problem in my setup, but these look a good fit.

I had started locking in on the Ascends for front stage, but I guess I should take a good look at the Axioms too.
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post #12 of 19 Old 12-29-2012, 07:44 AM
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EMP > Axiom

Based on multiple professional & user reviews. Just tryin to help...

Panny 65st60 / Denon X1000 / EMP e55ti / EMP e56ci / EMP e5bi / (2) e1010i
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post #13 of 19 Old 12-29-2012, 08:03 AM
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Also, look into HTD Level Three - they are nice
http://www.htd.com/Products/level-three-speakers

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post #14 of 19 Old 12-29-2012, 08:05 AM
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Yeah those HTD's get a lot of praise too. I'd be all over EMP, HTD and Ascend before anything else in this range, but of course....this is just my opinion based on reviews, measurements, etc

Panny 65st60 / Denon X1000 / EMP e55ti / EMP e56ci / EMP e5bi / (2) e1010i
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post #15 of 19 Old 12-29-2012, 09:55 AM
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I forgot about the EMP stuff, I would recommend their stuff too. If I remember correctly isn't EMP owned by RBH? I have two pairs of Axiom Audio QS8s and love them but they are also the only Axiom speakers that I have, that's why I recommendedthe QS4s. But for 2k you could get a full matching system from EMP consisting of a pair of E5Ti towers, a E56Ci center, a pair of E55WI surrounds and a ES1010i sub. That would be a really nice system for only $2k.

Ascend would probably sound the best but the don't offer any surrounds other then traditional style bookshelf speakers. Ascend has some of the best sounding speakers on the market. Within the next 10months I'll be ordering a pair of their Sierra tower and new matching center channel all with the RAAL ribbon tweeter option.
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post #16 of 19 Old 12-29-2012, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbrown15 View Post

... Ascend would probably sound the best but the don't offer any surrounds other then traditional style bookshelf speakers ...

The HTM-200's are about the size of a Kleenex box and sealed so that they can be easily mounted, or even hung, on the wall. (Mention this because the pictures make them look bigger than they are.)
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post #17 of 19 Old 12-29-2012, 01:12 PM
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Yeah EMP the sister company of the great RBH. I was just listening (...blaring at reference level) and they never broke a sweat, lost instrument seperation, etc. You can get the e55ti towers instead of the e5ti's though. There's one guy on here that has the Ascend 340's & EMP e55ti and likes them both. He preferred the e55 but he's testing the 340's a little more again. For a 3500cuft room thats open to other rooms...its a no brainer. I wish more would try them to see just how great they really are

Panny 65st60 / Denon X1000 / EMP e55ti / EMP e56ci / EMP e5bi / (2) e1010i
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post #18 of 19 Old 12-29-2012, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
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ok,

The htm200s are much more workable than the 170s in terms of mounting. Overall the dimensions of the Ascends seem to work better for the constraints.
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post #19 of 19 Old 12-29-2012, 07:21 PM
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Here's a user that has the EMP and Ascends. He says the HTM-200's are quite a bit brighter than the 340's and EMP stuff....just letting you know as this user seemed like he wasn't too happy about it
Quote:
Originally Posted by dwaleke View Post

I also got in on the Black Friday sale on the Emp Teks. I picked up the E55ti towers, E56ti, and E5Bi bookshelf speakers for the side surrounds to make up a 5.2 system. I am running (2) Power Sound Audio XV15 subwoofers.
I am comparing this setup to an Ascend Acoustics setup that I recently bought (CMT-340s across the front and HTM-200 for side surrounds). I am faced with returning one of them in the next couple weeks.
I'm not an Audiophile and I don't know how to exactly describe how the speakers sound. But for a first impression so far I'm surprised how different the Emp Tek sound compared to the Ascends. The Emps seem to roll off a bit at the high end and overall sound much more laid back. The Towers blend with the subs much more than the 340s do. I am driving everything with an Onkyo 818 receiver and Emotiva XPA-5 amplifier. I listen to the Ascends at about -4.5db THX sound level when watching movies. With the Emps the volume seems lower and that I find I want to turn the volume up 3-4db higher than the Ascend (Audyssey level sets in between to about the same level for both sets). It seems like I feel action movies much more with the Emps. The Ascends seem to have more clarity up top and perhaps are brighter than the Emps. The HTM-200 is a really bright speaker compared to the 340s and pretty much everything else I've heard (outside of horn tweeters). With those in the back I find I want to turn the level down 2dbs or so. I don't get that feeling with the Emp bookshelfs. I'm thinking the 170s would make for a better surround speaker, but I'm also thinking of trying bipoles for my surrounds.
This is just a first impression of listening for a couple hours. I have a lot more listening to do this next week.
EDIT: I have been comparing everything with various parts of Transformers 1, 2, and 3 (bluray). My setup is 90% movies, 10% music.

Panny 65st60 / Denon X1000 / EMP e55ti / EMP e56ci / EMP e5bi / (2) e1010i
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