5.1 Home Theater Speaker Suggestions? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 58 Old 01-09-2013, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Is this the right sub-forum for speaker advice? I'm a noob, so please go easy on me!

I need some suggestions about what speakers to look at for my simple, budget basement home theater setup.

I've got my Panasonic TC-L55ET5 in place, and I'm pretty sure I've settled on the Marantz NR1603 receiver (low profile is clutch for my cramped TV stand.) So now I need 5.1 good speakers to go along with those. My budget for the 5 speakers (and sub, if needed) is about $1250 to $1500.

My basement is more or less rectangular. The main area is approximately 12 feet by 19 feet, though there is a closet that takes a pretty big chunk out of one corner. The TV is set up in the center of one of the 12 feet long walls, with the couch (main viewing) approximately 11 feet away from the TV. So if you are sitting on the couch facing the TV, there is about 5 feet of space behind you (except on one end where the closet is). Walls and ceiling are drywall, floor is concrete slab with carpet over most of it.

Usage will largely be movies, gaming (PS3), and TV (football). Probably not that much straight music, though I wouldn't mind if it was able to handle music well.

So for speakers -- I'm not an audiophile, but I'd like a respectable set of speakers and sound that I can be proud of on movie night or gaming night with the guys.

I'm leaning toward tower speakers for the main left and right, for space and spouse reasons, but if you tell me that's a no go for my space for some reason, I'll reconsider. The rears need to be kinds small, they're going to have to go on the ceiling. Other than that, I'm all ears -- what's the best my budget will allow?

Thanks in advance!

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post #2 of 58 Old 01-09-2013, 07:32 PM
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Yes. You definitely will want a sub for movies and for gaming night with the guys. A sub will make a BIG difference in the low end frequency output, and towers can't reproduce all the good low bass in movies like a sub can.

For your size room, towers are not a necessity as long as you are getting a sub. In fact, you might consider the Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 SE Mains with CMT-340 SE Center, and then CBM-170 SE or HTM-200 SE for the rear. Then add the Klispch RW-12d from Newegg (often on sale from $300 to $349).

Another option is this HSU Research Hybrid 2 speaker package. The HSU sub with it is a step above the Klipsch I previously listed.

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post #3 of 58 Old 01-09-2013, 07:32 PM
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I'd put a set of Ascend 340SEs up front (on stands the L/R will be pretty much towers), and the Ascend 200SEs for surrounds and are sealed so you can put them right up to the wall/ceiling. By the way, surrounds are intended as sides, not rears in a 5 ch setup, altho if you have to it can be done but you'll want them wide and angled in rather than just straight out from the rear wall ideally). That's $1158 shipped and is a very competent setup. www.ascendacoustics.com

You mentioned 5.1 yet spec only 5 speakers....while these will dig reasonably low for the money, you need a sub. I'd spend at least $500 or more for a sub (or even better, dual subs but then that old WAF thing gets in the way for some). Can you add a bit to the budget? My speaker recommendation is definitely based on personal bias, by the way (altho disclaimer, I have various Ascends but not the 340SEs but wish I had).

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post #4 of 58 Old 01-09-2013, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Yes. You definitely will want a sub for movies and for gaming night with the guys. A sub will make a BIG difference in the low end frequency output, and towers can't reproduce all the good low bass in movies like a sub can.

For your size room, towers are not a necessity as long as you are getting a sub. In fact, you might consider the Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 SE Mains with CMT-340 SE Center, and then CBM-170 SE or HTM-200 SE for the rear. Then add the Klispch RW-12d from Newegg (often on sale from $300 to $349).

Another option is this HSU Research Hybrid 2 speaker package. The HSU sub with it is a step above the Klipsch I previously listed.


Wow...stereo reco's!

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post #5 of 58 Old 01-09-2013, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Two Ascend recommendations right off the bat -- thanks! Headed to their website now for more info.
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post #6 of 58 Old 01-09-2013, 07:47 PM
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Also look at HTD Level Three speakers
http://www.htd.com/Products/level-three-speakers

This will leave you money, to get a good HSU or Outlaw subwoofer.

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post #7 of 58 Old 01-09-2013, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much everyone -- I've got to go to sleep. but can't wait to keep researching these recommendations tomorrow!

I know this is kind of lame, but the slot on my TV stand that I've got reserved for the center is a bit tight, about 4 inches high and 17 inches wide. Is there any quality center that is going to fit in there and work well with the kinds of speakers you've been recommending -- or should I start looking for a new TV stand? (Could cause a ruckus with the wife, but I might be able to get away with it.)

Thanks again!
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post #8 of 58 Old 01-09-2013, 08:19 PM
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Nope. A 4" center channel would have tiny drivers in it. Definitely not a good choice if you can avoid it. Do you have room over your TV?

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post #9 of 58 Old 01-10-2013, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Maybe instead I'll get or build a riser of some kind to put on top of the stand. It would raise the TV up 7 or 8 inches, and provide room underneath for the center. I guess as an added benefit, this would put the center much closer to ear height off the floor. Any obvious drawbacks to this plan?
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post #10 of 58 Old 01-10-2013, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobio2 View Post

Maybe instead I'll get or build a riser of some kind to put on top of the stand. It would raise the TV up 7 or 8 inches, and provide room underneath for the center. I guess as an added benefit, this would put the center much closer to ear height off the floor. Any obvious drawbacks to this plan?

As long as the TV is still at a good height for viewing, that's pretty optimal for the center channel.

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post #11 of 58 Old 01-10-2013, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobio2 View Post

Maybe instead I'll get or build a riser of some kind to put on top of the stand. It would raise the TV up 7 or 8 inches, and provide room underneath for the center. I guess as an added benefit, this would put the center much closer to ear height off the floor. Any obvious drawbacks to this plan?

You might think about the position of the front baffle of the speaker as relating to what is below and above it (it should be at the leading edge of the shelf/top to minimize reflections from the surfaces above/below the speaker), otherwise that sounds like a good plan for height and accommodating a better speaker. Like cel says, as long as the tv height still works. I like my tv centered at eye height from my couch position so my center is on a stand just below the tv angled up towards the LP. If my tv were sound transparent I'd put it right behind it but I'm not ready for a projector and that transparent screen thing...

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post #12 of 58 Old 01-10-2013, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks cel and lovin. Should not be a problem putting the front edge of the center in line with the front of the stand -- thanks for the tip.

Anyone have thoughts on the NHT Absolute 5.1 Surround Package? http://www.nhthifi.com/Home-Theater-Absolute-5-1T-System?sc=12&category=3780

I know -- higher than the budget I listed in the OP, but it looks really nice to me. I'd consider one of their less expensive packages, but I think I really want the towers rather than the bookshelf speakers. Also, center speaker is a reasonable 5.25 inches high. (So my riser would only have to be 6 or so inches tall. I'd rather not raise the TV 8 or 9 inches, if I don't have to.) Is this quality stuff? Will I be proud of the sound?
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post #13 of 58 Old 01-10-2013, 08:10 PM
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I'd say the weak link in that setup is the sub. Not a tower guy altho someday I'd like to try the Ascend Sierra towers with Raals. I've seen 340s on various stands and they can look like badass towers if you want in any case and I still suspect they'd give those NHT towers a run for their money at the least.. I haven't heard the NHTs but I'd consider them as they do have a good rep generally. There's a lot of choice out there smile.gif

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post #14 of 58 Old 01-10-2013, 08:50 PM
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Quote:
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I'd say the weak link in that setup is the sub.

I agree. Those NHT subs are supposed to sound pretty good for music, but it's a smaller 10" sealed sub. Given your size room, it would be best to step up to a 10" ported sub or 12" sealed, such as the SVS PB1000 or SB1000. Because your main interests are movies and gaming, I'd say the PB1000 because it has pretty solid low end extension down to below 20hz.

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post #15 of 58 Old 01-10-2013, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobio2 View Post

Anyone have thoughts on the NHT Absolute 5.1 Surround Package? http://www.nhthifi.com/Home-Theater-Absolute-5-1T-System?sc=12&category=3780

NHT makes good sounding stuff - however if you want more lower bass, then consider another sub.
However if going straight NHT - then I would opt for the B-12 sub over the B-10.

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post #16 of 58 Old 01-10-2013, 10:34 PM
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There are lots of good options. Another to consider is Emptek. Check out the E5Ti towers, E5Ci center, and a pair of E5Bi bookshelves. Those are about a thousand. Then I second getting a good subfloor around $500. The SVS PB1000 would definitely fit the bill. I have the older generation 10 inch sub, called the PB-10 nsd and it is very good for movies, especially as a first sub. Obviously, there are much more powerful subs, but it is great for its price. also look at Hsu and Outlaw for good subs at the entry level price.

Also, there are a bunch of shelves that attach to the top of flat screens that you can use to mount your center channel, like this one:

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-FtTUjT304rD/p_769CSB1210/Center-Stage-Bracket-CSB-1210-BLK.html

Good luck!

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post #17 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 05:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all of the help, guys. I'm going to keep researching those links.

I am intrigued by the top-of-the-TV-shelf option that you've suggested, NewHTbuyer. Has anyone here actually used one of those? Is it stable and safe, or does it make the set a top-heavy threat? (I've got a rambunctious six-year-old in the house.) Also, is that ok positioning for the center speaker? I will measure when I get home tonight, but I am guessing that it is a little further from ear level up there than sitting below the TV. Is there any conventional wisdom about this?
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post #18 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 10:17 AM
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Movies, gaming (PS3), and TV (football) 1.gif use such a good speaker is too Waste
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post #19 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie Meadow View Post

Movies, gaming (PS3), and TV (football) 1.gif use such a good speaker is too Waste

Que? No hablo gibberish.
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post #20 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 11:47 AM
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Que? No hablo gibberish.

LMAO biggrin.gif

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post #21 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Lol. But actually not a bad point -- Are the speakers I'm considering overkill for the mostly TV, movies, and games? Or is there no such thing as overkill here on AVS? wink.gif

Could I get 80 percent of the quality for those uses at $1000 instead of $2000?
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post #22 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 12:35 PM
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I have another suggestion for you. The Ascend Acoustics speaker speaker setup 5.0 recommended will perform as well or better than the NHTs for movies and gaming. They have significantly higher sensitivity, which means more volume output per watt from the speakers.

The NHT subwoofer is the weak link. You can get a dramatic difference in impact for HT usage from a better subwoofer. This is common. People underestimate how expensive a good subwoofer is. They'll spend $300 and $1500 on the speakers, when typically you need to allocate more toward the subwoofer if you like the 4 or 5 star movies in this list. Do you want to feel the pressure of the helicopter blades in Black Hawk Down as one would feel it in the ground? Or would you like the room to react like the Hulk actually jumped into it? I'm not talking about boom vibration (like cheesy car stereo subs that thump down the road), but actually distinct, deep bass response that simulates the difference between those two. Or how about the feeling of explosion going off in BF3 or COD? My son was playing COD in my HT a couple of weeks ago, and we felt the explosion travel through the room. It felt like it rippled through the floor. LOL

Get the SVS PB12-NSD (read this review) and the Ascends, and that would be a much better setup for your money. biggrin.gif
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post #23 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I have another suggestion for you. The Ascend Acoustics speaker speaker setup 5.0 recommended will perform as well or better than the NHTs for movies and gaming. They have significantly higher sensitivity, which means more volume output per watt from the speakers.

The NHT subwoofer is the weak link. You can get a dramatic difference in impact for HT usage from a better subwoofer. This is common. People underestimate how expensive a good subwoofer is. They'll spend $300 and $1500 on the speakers, when typically you need to allocate more toward the subwoofer if you like the 4 or 5 star movies in this list. Do you want to feel the pressure of the helicopter blades in Black Hawk Down as one would feel it in the ground? Or would you like the room to react like the Hulk actually jumped into it? I'm not talking about boom vibration (like cheesy car stereo subs that thump down the road), but actually distinct, deep bass response that simulates the difference between those two. Or how about the feeling of explosion going off in BF3 or COD? My son was playing COD in my HT a couple of weeks ago, and we felt the explosion travel through the room. It felt like it rippled through the floor. LOL

Get the SVS PB12-NSD (read this review) and the Ascends, and that would be a much better setup for your money. biggrin.gif

While I'm new to the complexities of HT equipment, after quite a bit of research in a short amount of time, I have to agree with cle4145. I'm really big on movies (action, sci-fi, comedy, foreign, drama, you name it), gaming, and music, which is why I am allocating ~500 for a subwoofer. I was originally looking at spending ~$200, but my research indicated that I wouldn't really be happy with a sub at that price. Especially if I want to listen to music, which I plan to do much more now that I will be getting a nice setup.

My budget is similar to the OP, though it also included a receiver. Fortunately, I picked up a Denon AVR-1712 for $162, so it didn't cut into my budget much. I decided on a pair of Ascend CBM-170 SE's, which I will be setting up shortly. I hope to add a subwoofer and center (340 SE or 170 SE) within several months. I'm exited. I actually held off on playing many of my games because I wanted to experience them with a HT setup.
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post #24 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 02:53 PM - Thread Starter
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The moment I start talking about lowering the budget, I get a post like that and out comes the credit card again. Yes, I love those movies! And I want them to sound awesome! Sooooo, more questions:

(1) I can get away with (that is, be really happy with) the SVS-PB1000 sub discussed earlier, though, right? The PB12-NSD is a monster. I've got the room in my basement, but I'm not sure I can get it wife-approved at that price or size.

(2) Super noob question: As to the Ascends, it looks like the 340SE Center is just one of the 340SE Mains turned on its side. Or is it different inside somehow? Or is the difference in the signal that the receiver sends to it? Or does it not really matter, since it is going to sound awesome in any case?

(3) Lets say I get the 340SE Mains and Center (with stands and delivery: about $1070) and the PB1000 sub ($500). What surround speakers do you recommend I get with all of that? Small, for ceiling mounting, and a little less premium ($$), if possible.

(4) Is the Marantz 1603 receiver that I've got my eye on going to drive all of this properly? It is going to sound great?
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post #25 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 03:06 PM
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The PB-1000 hasn't been reviewed yet, but SVS has an excellent reputation. It would definitely be good. You could always add a second later down the road (dual subs are very nice for smoothing in room bass response).

The CMT-340 center has a different crossover to help it perform better as center, but otherwise is the same speaker.

For ceiling mount, don't go too tiny if you can help it. The Ascend Acoustics HTM-200s can be mounted horizontally. You'd have to aim them down toward the listening position.

That Marantz will certainly drive the system, but you are paying a premium for the slim height design. It's the same footprint as a normal receiver, just shorter in height. If you have room for a full height receiver, the Denon 1713 should have as much or more power, and it also has Audyssey MultEQ XT, the higher version of MultEQ over the Marantz. You can save a few bucks there by getting it. Better to put your budget toward the speakers/sub than a more expensive receiver.

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post #26 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Sadly, I need to pay the premium for the size. I made a mistake at the outset of all of this and bought the TV stand before I really started shopping for components. Now I am stuck with a tiny cubby for the receiver, so the Marantz could really save my butt. I am thinking about going with the 1403 instead of the 1603 to save a few dollars and because I doubt I need most of the additional features.

(Though in another thread somebody posted something that scared me about the different video processing capabilities between the 1403 and the 1603. He said the 1403 messed up his picture. Doesn't sound right to me, but still...)
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post #27 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 03:28 PM
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I also have Ascend speakers. I have the 170s, the 340 Center, and the smaller 200s for surrounds. Very happy with them. For any brand listed on this thread, check their sites for B-stock. Ascend does not have any B-stock 340s listed right now though.

For subs, Outlaw and Empire are other brands to consider. I think the Outlaw subs are similar to the HSU subs (they are both designed by Dr. Hsu).

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post #28 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobio2 View Post

Sadly, I need to pay the premium for the size. I made a mistake at the outset of all of this and bought the TV stand before I really started shopping for components. Now I am stuck with a tiny cubby for the receiver, so the Marantz could really save my butt. I am thinking about going with the 1403 instead of the 1603 to save a few dollars and because I doubt I need most of the additional features.

(Though in another thread somebody posted something that scared me about the different video processing capabilities between the 1403 and the 1603. He said the 1403 messed up his picture. Doesn't sound right to me, but still...)

Yeah. The entertainment center "fit" quandary. The 1403 has gotten some good user testimonials on Amazon and Crutchfield. If that problem isn't showing up a lot, I wouldn't worry. Also notice that the 1602 is on Amazon, just a little cheaper than the 1603.

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post #29 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 03:59 PM
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So you're definitely stuck with the TV stand? No way to return or sell it?

There is a SVS SB-1000 & PB-1000 thread on AVS (http://www.avsforum.com/t/1439755/new-svs-sb1000-pb1000-subwoofers). Some good info there and I'm sure they'll answer your questions, particularly with regard to room size. I emailed SVS last Sunday early in the morning and received a reply three hours later. Other subs to look at in that price range are the HSU VTF-1 MK2, Outlaw LFM-1 Plus, Rythmik FV12. I'm not as familiar with the FV12, though I've seen it mentioned a few times as "best" ~$500 sub.

I feel your pain. Going through this is definitely a process, but it's worth it for the end result.
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post #30 of 58 Old 01-11-2013, 06:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobio2 View Post

Sadly, I need to pay the premium for the size. I made a mistake at the outset of all of this and bought the TV stand before I really started shopping for components. Now I am stuck with a tiny cubby for the receiver, so the Marantz could really save my butt. I am thinking about going with the 1403 instead of the 1603 to save a few dollars and because I doubt I need most of the additional features.

(Though in another thread somebody posted something that scared me about the different video processing capabilities between the 1403 and the 1603. He said the 1403 messed up his picture. Doesn't sound right to me, but still...)

How tiny? Closed in the back or open? Consider many avrs need decent ventilation to stay cool (to assist in a nice long life).

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