Thoughts on speakers for home media room/theater - $3,000 to $5,000 budget - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Looking for some help after doing research on various sites and forums, visiting several AV Specialty stores including Best Buy's Magnolia store, and listening to several different speaker lines. I think I've overwhelmed myself with all the research, as well as the fact most of these stores only try to upsell you when possible.

I am looking to add front speakers, center, sub and two surround ceiling speakers (5:1). I was looking to spend $3,000 to $5,000 on the speakers. I started looking at Bowers & Wilkens CM5's for the fronts, CCM center, CCM686 ceiling and ASW10 sub. Before I was ready to drop $4,350, I was hoping to get some opinions. I also looked at Paradigm Reflection Studio 20's for the fronts and associated items (as I have a set of 12 year old Monitors, Atoms, center and SUB10...always been good to me). Paradigm would be more. Also listened to Definitive Technology.

I have attached a picture of my newly finished basement setup where equipment will be installed. I am using an Epson 6020 projector with a 100" fixed mount screen. I need to use bookshelf speakers because of the built-in since floor speakers probably wouldn't look right.in front. Also wired for ceiling surround speakers.

The room size is 16 feet wide (built-in is 14 feet wide) and the seating will be about 14 feet from the screen (behind seating is open about 15 feet). One of the issues I have is the depth where the bookshelf speakers will sit on built-in base is only 16 inches in depth. I noticed a number of speaker companies suggest 8 inches behind speaker (the Paradigm's and Definitive are a few inches deeper then the BW CM5's- 12 inches deep).

I don't plan to use a pre-amp, just a receiver which I am also open for suggestions ($1,000 range....need Ethernet, phono input, 3D).

Before dropping the money on BW's, are they overpriced due to Big Box store, marketing, etc. I saw some reviews for NHT, Episode, Anthony Gallo (Refections would fit nicely but they don't make ceiling speakers.

Anyway, was hoping for some guidance and thoughts!

Thanks

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post #2 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 03:06 PM
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Boy do I loathe built-in's since they limit your speaker choices, but you gotta work with what you have. biggrin.gif

Do an in-home trial of the Ascend Acoustics (.com) Sierra-1 bookshelf with NrT tweeter upgrade. Less than the CM5's per pair (and as good or better/smoother sounding). Try their Horizon center (you want the biggest matching center you can get as it's the most used channel and you want clean, clear vocals... the Horizon and Towers already have the NrT tweeter built-in and you want to timbre match with the Sierra-1's) and another pair of Sierra-1 NrT versions wall mounted for the surrounds.

I would not recommend in-ceiling surrounds. That makes them Voice of God speakers and that only works for commercial formats like Dolby Atmos that actually have overhead speakers. Otherwise, things will sound pretty funky. There are pivoting side clamp mounts like the Pinpoint AM40 that will work with the Sierra-1's. Once formats like Atmos make their way to the home, then there would be a need for overheads. It looks like you have space to mount the side surrounds on the wall.

Check out Rythmik, SVS, and HSU, to name a few quality internet direct sub manufacturers. Much better bang for your buck.

As for the receiver, try the Denon X4000 with Audyssey's newest calibration software. You could also, at some point in the future, get yet another pair of Sierra-1's and use them up high on your shelving as height effects speakers with DTS Neo:X post processing engaged.

If you ever want more amp power the X4000 also has a full set of pre-amp outputs.

And I do recommend throwing some thick area rugs down in your listening area to tame all those hard surfaces (especially near the speaker locations). The sound quality will improve greatly.

You can also place some acoustic foam behind the speakers to help with the closeness of the speaker to the back of the shelving unit.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
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post #3 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 06:03 PM
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My pick:

RBH SX-661 (90dB/2.83v/m).
MSRP $1800/PR or $900 each.
Dealer $1125/PR or $563 each. A nice dealer might have some sale specials going and possibly get you these for $650 - $700 each shipped, so 3 would be $2K.

Then get some MC-6 ceiling speakers for surrounds for about $400/PR.

Then get dual Subs from Rythmik, HSU, SVS, PSA, etc.
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post #4 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Dan...thanks for all the information. Unfortunately I designed the built-in without thinking it would be much of an issue! Recently I had regrets since I can't use floor speakers. Wish I bought a nice piece of furniture and used the proceeds on the system. Oh well...

I found a good review on the SVS brand speakers so will look at those subs besides the Rythmik.

Rather than installing two ceiling speakers for surrounds (I would need to do some drywall cutting, etc. to run wire for wall surrounds) , would you suggest a surround "type" speaker hung from the ceiling.

Thanks again.
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post #5 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

My pick:

RBH SX-661 (90dB/2.83v/m).
MSRP $1800/PR or $900 each.
Dealer $1125/PR or $563 each. A nice dealer might have some sale specials going and possibly get you these for $650 - $700 each shipped, so 3 would be $2K.

Then get some MC-6 ceiling speakers for surrounds for about $400/PR.

Then get dual Subs from Rythmik, HSU, SVS, PSA, etc.

+1 on the subs, I got SVS but keep reading good things about HSU and PSA.

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Originally Posted by mmgolf5 View Post

Dan...thanks for all the information. Unfortunately I designed the built-in without thinking it would be much of an issue! Recently I had regrets since I can't use floor speakers. Wish I bought a nice piece of furniture and used the proceeds on the system. Oh well...

I found a good review on the SVS brand speakers so will look at those subs besides the Rythmik.

Rather than installing two ceiling speakers for surrounds (I would need to do some drywall cutting, etc. to run wire for wall surrounds) , would you suggest a surround "type" speaker hung from the ceiling.

Thanks again.

I would also go with bookshelf for surronds.
Take a look at aperion, they have 25% off the Intimus line (good speaker for price with lots of good review).
I personally have the Verus Grand line but I think you can still be within budget with these and a good sub from the one previously mention.

Ray

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post #6 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 07:02 PM
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I'd give NHT a good look since they are acoustic suspension, no ports to worry about.

Or maybe the the Kef Q series.

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post #7 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmgolf5 View Post

Dan...thanks for all the information. Unfortunately I designed the built-in without thinking it would be much of an issue! Recently I had regrets since I can't use floor speakers. Wish I bought a nice piece of furniture and used the proceeds on the system. Oh well...

I found a good review on the SVS brand speakers so will look at those subs besides the Rythmik.

Rather than installing two ceiling speakers for surrounds (I would need to do some drywall cutting, etc. to run wire for wall surrounds) , would you suggest a surround "type" speaker hung from the ceiling.

Thanks again.

You could definitely hang the surround bookshelves on mounts off the ceiling and aim them towards the listening space. There is a screw in point on the back of the Sierra-1's (which also get great reviews, by the way, though SVS does make good products). I'd ask Ascend which pivot mount they recommend.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
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post #8 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 07:18 PM
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You might check these kits out, the Dayton UA721 in gloss black and curved maple. They are using high quality parts, they can't take any shortcuts because they are assembled by enthusiasts. Each woofer in those speakers cost nearly $130 each, and each speaker has two, and the tweeters are $75. You won't get that near that kind of high end components in an assembled speaker of the same price. The crossovers are using good Dayton components so they will have tighter tolerance levels than many Chinese crossovers which other speakers use. It will have very good performance, probably very neutrally voiced. Assembly is very easy, all you need is a screwdriver, some glue, and an hour of assembly time. Just watch the video on their product page. Three of those will cost you less than $1500 for your whole front stage.

For surrounds, in-ceilings are not the best speakers, as has been said. If you can avoid that, I would encourage you to do so. Hanging a surround speaker from the ceiling is going to look pretty awkward. I wouldn't do that. I don't know of an elegant solution to that situation. If it were me, maybe I would just resort to in-ceilings with aimable tweeters. Ninety percent of the sound is going to come from your front stage anyway, and the surrounds are't important, so don't sweat that. Whatever you do, don't spend a lot of money trying to make surrounds work, and don't mess up the lines of that nice new room.

As far as subwoofers go, I would go for a Rythmik FV15HP at the very least, in your budget you can afford it. Upgrade it to gloss black if that keeps the wife happy. If you can spend more, go for a Seaton Submersive. Also take a look at the Funk 18.0, there is currently a sale on that here, $2550 shipped, very high wife approval factor and very high performance. There was a very good review on it recently here.

As for AVRs, I would go for the Denon AVR X4000, and get that Audyssey MultiEQ XT32, very nice.
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post #9 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the information. Very helpful. My ceilings are almost 9 feet, but hanging a speaker might look awkward. The reason I originally picked the BW's CCM663 is because they have aimable tweeters (I have backboxes installed in the ceiling).

So a number of choices from several experienced members. Thanks.
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post #10 of 18 Old 08-27-2013, 07:58 AM
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ShadyJ has a great suggestion in the FV15HP, but I have to disagree with the assertion that the surrounds aren't important. If you ever listen to SA-CD, DVD-Audio, or Blu-ray music discs you'll see that. There are newer surround formats on the way that will also make the surround speakers far more important to the overall presentation.

However, if in-ceiling surrounds are a must, you could go with the Paradigm SA-15R-30 in-ceiling models as the entire driver array is angled at 30 degrees towards the listening space, not just the tweeters. They timbre match with the Studio line of speakers. Use the Studio 20's for the front left/right and the CC-590 or CC-690 center (you will probably have to modify your cabinet to fit them in, but again, you want the LARGEST matching center you can get. One nice thing about the Studio's is that they are front ported, so it won't be as bad having them set on bookcase shelves.

If you have space behind your main seating you could possibly install two pairs of SA-15R-30's. One pair for the sides and one pair for the back surrounds.

I have Studios and really, really like them.


Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
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post #11 of 18 Old 08-27-2013, 08:36 AM
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I have to disagree with the assertion that the surrounds aren't important. If you ever listen to SA-CD, DVD-Audio, or Blu-ray music discs you'll see that.

Agree to disagree because I do have a collection of music concerts in BD, DVD-Audio, & SACD, and I think surround speakers are nothing more than ambience, which is cool for movies and annoying/ distracting for music.

The fact is, if you ever go to a live symphony, concerto, or any concert, you will see that you do NOT sit in the MIDDLE of the musicians. You sit in the audience and the MUSIC is mainly coming from the FRONT. You may hear some reflected sound (if not outdoors) from the sides and rear, but they are not crucial - they are ambience. Most of the time the only thing coming from behind you are annoying people whispering, sneezing, and coughing.

Also consider the FACT that most of the dialogue and soundtrack come from the front 3 speakers, NOT the surrounds.

Next time you watch a movie or listen to 5.1 music, try turning off the front 3 speakers & subs and just listen to the surround speakers and see how UNIMPORTANT the surround speakers are.
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post #12 of 18 Old 08-27-2013, 08:42 AM
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Agree to disagree because I do have a collection of music concerts in BD, DVD-Audio, & SACD, and I think surround speakers are nothing more than ambience, which is cool for movies and annoying/ distracting for music.

The fact is, if you ever go to a live symphony, concerto, or any concert, you will see that you do NOT sit in the MIDDLE of the musicians. You sit in the audience and the MUSIC is mainly coming from the FRONT. You may hear some reflected sound from the sides and rear, but they are not crucial - they are ambience. Most of the time the only thing coming from behind you are annoying people whispering, sneezing, and coughing.

If you're listening to a studio rock recording (for example), it's not supposed to be realistic and live... it's stylistic.

Two of my favorite multi-channel music discs are The Beatles: Love Album and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Multi-channel surround used to expand and enhance the music experience, not detract. You need really good, matching surrounds for that type of music.

Also, check out AIX Records' Blu-ray discs. You have multiple mix choices and the fidelity is outstanding. Large format movies like Baraka, Chronos, and Samsara use all the speakers to convey their music mixes. Again, the surrounds are very important.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
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post #13 of 18 Old 08-27-2013, 09:05 AM
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If you're listening to a studio rock recording (for example), it's not supposed to be realistic and live... it's stylistic.

Two of my favorite multi-channel music discs are The Beatles: Love Album and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Multi-channel surround used to expand and enhance the music experience, not detract. You need really good, matching surrounds for that type of music.

Also, check out AIX Records' Blu-ray discs. You have multiple mix choices and the fidelity is outstanding. Large format movies like Baraka, Chronos, and Samsara use all the speakers to convey their music mixes. Again, the surrounds are very important.

Oh, well, if it's personal preference and artistic attributes, then I cannot debate. Everyone is different.

Probably the best fidelity music concert I've seen/ heard is the Dave Mathews/ Tim Reynolds Live at Radio City Hall Blu-ray Disc. I've compared both the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 vs Stereo 2.1. Although I do listen to the TrueHD audio, I don't think the 2.1 audio is any less fantastic.

Some people even listen to 7Ch Stereo music, instead of 2Ch Stereo. I won't debate what's the preferred sound.

Some people think surrounds are "important" and some people think that surrounds can be enjoyable ambience.

I do prefer to watch discrete 5.1 movies over 2Ch stereo or 3Ch. But the surround speakers are for ambience fun, not critical and not worth spending a lot of money on, unless you just want to. biggrin.gif
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post #14 of 18 Old 08-27-2013, 09:10 AM
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Surely everyone believes that the front 3 speakers are a lot more important than the surround speakers.

So I find it funny to see 3 speakers up front, but 4 speakers in the back. It does not make mathematical sense to me. smile.gif

Perhaps stylistic and artistic sense, but not rational sense. biggrin.gif
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post #15 of 18 Old 08-27-2013, 09:22 AM
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I do believe that the ultra-accurate (+/-0.9dB) NHT Absolute Zero x 5 plus dual Rythmik FV15HP would work, assuming you are like me and you don't listen to THX reference level of 115-120dB max (each speaker 105dBC max + Sub 115dB max).

NHT had them on sale for $175 each couple weeks ago.

Just run the Denon X4000's Audyssey-XT32. Then set speakers to small, XO to 100Hz, and boost the Subwoofer channel level +3dB (or more) above the other channels (use SPL meter). I use Audyssey Flat, Keep Dynamic EQ on, Keep Dynamic Volume off. But you can experiment.
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post #16 of 18 Old 08-27-2013, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmgolf5 View Post

Looking for some help after doing research on various sites and forums, visiting several AV Specialty stores including Best Buy's Magnolia store, and listening to several different speaker lines. I think I've overwhelmed myself with all the research, as well as the fact most of these stores only try to upsell you when possible.

I am looking to add front speakers, center, sub and two surround ceiling speakers (5:1). I was looking to spend $3,000 to $5,000 on the speakers. I started looking at Bowers & Wilkens CM5's for the fronts, CCM center, CCM686 ceiling and ASW10 sub. Before I was ready to drop $4,350, I was hoping to get some opinions. I also looked at Paradigm Reflection Studio 20's for the fronts and associated items (as I have a set of 12 year old Monitors, Atoms, center and SUB10...always been good to me). Paradigm would be more. Also listened to Definitive Technology.

I have attached a picture of my newly finished basement setup where equipment will be installed. I am using an Epson 6020 projector with a 100" fixed mount screen. I need to use bookshelf speakers because of the built-in since floor speakers probably wouldn't look right.in front. Also wired for ceiling surround speakers.

The room size is 16 feet wide (built-in is 14 feet wide) and the seating will be about 14 feet from the screen (behind seating is open about 15 feet). One of the issues I have is the depth where the bookshelf speakers will sit on built-in base is only 16 inches in depth. I noticed a number of speaker companies suggest 8 inches behind speaker (the Paradigm's and Definitive are a few inches deeper then the BW CM5's- 12 inches deep).

I don't plan to use a pre-amp, just a receiver which I am also open for suggestions ($1,000 range....need Ethernet, phono input, 3D).

Before dropping the money on BW's, are they overpriced due to Big Box store, marketing, etc. I saw some reviews for NHT, Episode, Anthony Gallo (Refections would fit nicely but they don't make ceiling speakers.

Anyway, was hoping for some guidance and thoughts!

Thanks


I would use a speaker with a crossover designed for a speaker to be placed in cabinetry. Some thing like this: http://rbhsound.com/si770.php

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post #17 of 18 Old 08-27-2013, 12:58 PM
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One thing I would add is that room is going to need some kind of damping if anything is going to sound good in there. I realize it isn't complete, but as it is, with all those hard flat surfaces, it is an acoustic nightmare, and no speaker will sound good in there as it is. Put a thick rug down, some curtains or thick drapes, some soft seats, and soft decor, like maybe some acoustic paneling. There is a lot of things you can do to tame sound.
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post #18 of 18 Old 08-28-2013, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for all the information. I have plans to tame the hard surfaces starting with a large sectional (124" x 96")...it should be a big help to start. Also looking at installing grasscloth wall paper and/or wall/ceiling panels to add some balance.

Picking the speakers and sub is the hardest part of the project since you can't always demo all of the suggestions.

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