Can you really tell the difference between speakers? (Srs) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't mean between a $10 PC speaker and a $10,000 speaker... I mean, can the average guy, in the average American home, in the average sized room (20' x 20') really hear a difference between say a $300 speaker and a $700 speaker? Serious question. Right now, I have Polk RT400s. I think they were in the $200 to $300 range in ~1997ish. They have a 1" tweeter and a 7 1/2" mid range and have a freq response 40Hz-22kHz. Honestly, they fill my room and I can turn my Denon AVR-3808CI up to call the cops level. So what exactly would $700 speakers give me? I'm not hearing distortion or clipping, so I'm not having issues with them... volume / spl is also not an issue. I have never bought into that these speakers sound "warm", "bright", etc. bulls*it since nobody can actually explain what that means.

If I upgraded to $700 each speakers, I would expect a night & day difference over my current Polk Audio setup and not sure I'm gonna actually get that.
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post #2 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 06:52 PM
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The average guy, with a little listening training, can tell the difference between two speakers of identical price (generally). There's no fixed price-to-sound relationship
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post #3 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 07:21 PM
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Speakers sound different....

This fact is obvious to me ...especially with an A/B comparison.....

I agree on the warm, laid back, forward...etc comment..who knows what that means......

The one I use , and know what it means....is "bright"..

Bright means a lot of treble energy....

I generally don't like bright speakers........

To me, Klipsch would be on the bright side....

The thing is, everyone has different hearing ability....

Even though I am over 50, I still hear high freqs pretty well....

For someone that doesn't, the Klipsch may sound great.. due to the boost in high freqs, where their hearing is diminished....

I really can't put into words what I like in a speaker, but I know it when I hear it.....

As far as the OP question, I really wouldn't expect a huge difference between a $300 speaker from years ago, and a $700 speaker today.....

Shelly
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post #4 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelly40 View Post

Speakers sound different....

This fact is obvious to me ...especially with an A/B comparison.....

I agree on the warm, laid back, forward...etc comment..who knows what that means......

The one I use , and know what it means....is "bright"..

Bright means a lot of treble energy....

I generally don't like bright speakers........

To me, Klipsch would be on the bright side....

The thing is, everyone has different hearing ability....

Even though I am over 50, I still hear high freqs pretty well....

For someone that doesn't, the Klipsch may sound great.. due to the boost in high freqs, where their hearing is diminished....

I really can't put into words what I like in a speaker, but I know it when I hear it.....

As far as the OP question, I really wouldn't expect a huge difference between a $300 speaker from years ago, and a $700 speaker today.....

Shelly

+1
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post #5 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 07:25 PM
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I can listen to 10 different speakers all in the same price range. All ten will sound different to me but I can never decide which one actually sounds better. My current speakers one day I think they sound great and the next day they sound awful to me. For me it has to do with mood and state of mind.
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post #6 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 07:36 PM
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To an extent prices can mean something, but they can be all over the place as well. B&M offerings vs ID offerings can be quite a bit different on asking price/msrp. There's inflation from 1997, too. One way to find out is to go check out $700 speakers (why $700, a particular budget or you have something specific in mind?). Personally haven't bought all that many speakers, compared to many here, over the years but I still consider my first purchase, Original Advents, one of the best bargains I've had (at what $240/pr or so, but that was in 1972 or 73 wink.gif ). Wish I had kept them. My current Ascend Sierra-1s I like a lot and they go for about $425 each stock, $575 with the NrT upgrade and I also have some of their less fancy/capable siblings, the 170SEs and 200SEs which go for about $150 each....are the Sierra-1s 3x "better"? Not to me at least, I'd describe the differences as significant but more as in subtle than outrageous if that makes any sense.

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post #7 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 08:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I was looking at the MartinLogan Motion 20's & 40's. Wasn't looking in the sense of "I'm going out tommorow to buy them", kind of in an early research phase to see if its even worth it. Shelly commented that he wouldn't expect much of a difference between $300 speakers from '97 vs. $700 speakers today which is kind of the feedback I was looking for. I don't think I spent too much on the Polks since I got them out of college. It might have even been $400 or so for the pair vs. $1400 for the Motion 20's and $2000 for the Motion 40's. Then I'd need to replace my center speaker to match... thats another $400 to $500 for a MartinLogan and probably another $800 for a pair of the in-ceilings. So $3000 to $4000 for 5 speakers. Kind of a pricey upgrade lol... so if the Motion 20's/40's are gonna sound pretty much the same as my Polks, I dunno...
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post #8 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 10:11 PM
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If you go with from a tweeter to a planar or ribbon or amt (which martin logan uses) sound will be different. From an AMT tweeter, you should expect clairty, wide dispersion and sweet mid range. What you should be expect to give up on is accuracy.

The answer to your question is yes. Going from one tweeter to a whole different tweeter you will notice difference without the cost in mind.
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post #9 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 11:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

If you go with from a tweeter to a planar or ribbon or amt (which martin logan uses) sound will be different. From an AMT tweeter, you should expect clairty, wide dispersion and sweet mid range. What you should be expect to give up on is accuracy.

So, is that a good thing or a bad thing? MLs seem to get great reviews and are usually regarded way above Polks... but "accuracy" kind of sounds important to me lol, but I'm no expert on the speakers aspect.
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post #10 of 42 Old 09-29-2013, 11:08 PM
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I didnt read your post carefully sorry. If you are going with a 5.1 set-up which you wil have a dedicated center, accuracy wouldnt matter much. I dont mean the FR is going to be all over the place, I meant that if you turn up the volume, the Martin Logans will give you life like size volume and that can be an issue for some people who have small screens. You will be fine with them.
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post #11 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 05:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SledgeHammer View Post

can the average guy, in the average American home, in the average sized room (20' x 20') really hear a difference between say a $300 speaker and a $700 speaker?
That depends. If he knows one costs $300 and the other costs $700, yes. If he doesn't, maybe not. The more pertinent question is whether one will prefer the sound of a more expensive speaker to a less expensive speaker. Different speakers do sound different, but a higher price doesn't necessarily equate to better sound. Most people buy speakers with their eyes, based not only on what the speaker looks like, but also what they see on the price tag. This is required watching for anyone considering spending a lot of money on audio gear:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ

Depending on your personal finances, even $700 might constitute a lot of money.

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post #12 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 06:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SledgeHammer View Post

I don't mean between a $10 PC speaker and a $10,000 speaker... I mean, can the average guy, in the average American home, in the average sized room (20' x 20') really hear a difference between say a $300 speaker and a $700 speaker? Serious question. Right now, I have Polk RT400s. I think they were in the $200 to $300 range in ~1997ish. They have a 1" tweeter and a 7 1/2" mid range and have a freq response 40Hz-22kHz. Honestly, they fill my room and I can turn my Denon AVR-3808CI up to call the cops level. So what exactly would $700 speakers give me? I'm not hearing distortion or clipping, so I'm not having issues with them... volume / spl is also not an issue. I have never bought into that these speakers sound "warm", "bright", etc. bulls*it since nobody can actually explain what that means.

If I upgraded to $700 each speakers, I would expect a night & day difference over my current Polk Audio setup and not sure I'm gonna actually get that.
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post #13 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 06:22 AM
 
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NO! Sounds like to me you're very happy with your system I assume with your amp your using the Audyssey room correction that can make huge improvements as well as correct placement of the rear channels or all channels but other than that sounds like you're happy. Have you tried analog maybe get an entry-level turntable. It could be lots of fun you can get a nice turntable for 3 to 400 bucks and the Denons have a nice phono stage. Or save your money Obama's got three more years. Lol
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post #14 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
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NO! Sounds like to me you're very happy with your system I assume with your amp your using the Audyssey room correction that can make huge improvements as well as correct placement of the rear channels or all channels but other than that sounds like you're happy. Have you tried analog maybe get an entry-level turntable. It could be lots of fun you can get a nice turntable for 3 to 400 bucks and the Denons have a nice phono stage. Or save your money Obama's got three more years. Lol

I am fortunate in that my room is square. My TV is in the front of the room, center speaker is positioned underneath perfectly centered under the TV. Left & Right speakers are floor standing, front plane of the L & R is about a foot in front of the front plane of the center (center and TV are in a built in cabinet in the media niche). L & R's are equally spaced off the TV. Rear speakers are in-ceilings. Also equally spaced off the TV. They end up being about a foot behind my head. Subwoofer is in the front corner of the room front firing. I think thats pretty much ideal speaker positioning in an ideal room lol. I do have tiles on the entire first floor and no area rug (still need to get one lol)... so... I dunno if the room eq has much to fix?? Speaker distance was manually set with a tape measure and then I balanced the speakers with an SPL meter to the primary seating position.

I'm sure sound could be better, but I'd want it to be awesomely better if I drop $3k on a speaker upgrade.
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post #15 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by SledgeHammer View Post

If I upgraded to $700 each speakers, I would expect a night & day difference over my current Polk Audio setup and not sure I'm gonna actually get that.

What kind of sub do you have? Most likely that is where you could tell a big difference unless you have recently bought a sub from one of the Internet direct subwoofer vendors.

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post #16 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
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What kind of sub do you have? Most likely that is where you could tell a big difference unless you have recently bought a sub from one of the Internet direct subwoofer vendors.

I have the Velodyne CHT-8.
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post #17 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 11:39 AM
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While doing blind tests in audio stores when they switch between speakers I can absolutely say you hear a difference. Forgetting price though, you have to decide which sounds best. I've gone into listening rooms with speakers ranging from $5000 to $50,000 and have picked less expensive options. Price doesn't say anything. Only YOUR hearing and yours only will tell you what sounds better.
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post #18 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by SledgeHammer View Post

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Originally Posted by wadia 9 View Post

NO! Sounds like to me you're very happy with your system I assume with your amp your using the Audyssey room correction that can make huge improvements as well as correct placement of the rear channels or all channels but other than that sounds like you're happy. Have you tried analog maybe get an entry-level turntable. It could be lots of fun you can get a nice turntable for 3 to 400 bucks and the Denons have a nice phono stage. Or save your money Obama's got three more years. Lol

I am fortunate in that my room is square. My TV is in the front of the room, center speaker is positioned underneath perfectly centered under the TV. Left & Right speakers are floor standing, front plane of the L & R is about a foot in front of the front plane of the center (center and TV are in a built in cabinet in the media niche). L & R's are equally spaced off the TV. Rear speakers are in-ceilings. Also equally spaced off the TV. They end up being about a foot behind my head. Subwoofer is in the front corner of the room front firing. I think thats pretty much ideal speaker positioning in an ideal room lol. I do have tiles on the entire first floor and no area rug (still need to get one lol)... so... I dunno if the room eq has much to fix?? Speaker distance was manually set with a tape measure and then I balanced the speakers with an SPL meter to the primary seating position.

I'm sure sound could be better, but I'd want it to be awesomely better if I drop $3k on a speaker upgrade.

Actually your room sounds like it could use help acoustically. Try looking through this on size/shape http://ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html#sizes%20and%20shapes. Also your floor/wall surfaces http://ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html#live%20or%20dead. You might be a better candidate for spending some time/money treating your room somewhat than on speakers alone.

As someone else mentioned, that's a small sub you have for a relatively large room (20 x 20 but what height and is it open to other rooms or can it be sealed off?), you might benefit from a better sub or subs...

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post #19 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 02:08 PM
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Actually your room sounds like it could use help acoustically. .
+1. The world's best speakers will sound like crap in a bad room. Start by covering as much of the floor as possible with carpet.
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As someone else mentioned, that's a small sub you have for a relatively large room (20 x 20 but what height and is it open to other rooms or can it be sealed off?)
+1, you need at least two subs to handle that area, and to smooth room modes.
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I have the Velodyne CHT-8
That's adequate for low level music, but totally inadequate for serious HT. Subs are the foundation upon which a HT is built, and right now your foundation is very weak.

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post #20 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 04:03 PM
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I have the Velodyne CHT-8.

I agree with what Bill said above. You can definitely improve on that. The CHT-8 has a 35-140 Hz +- 3dB response. For HT usage, there are many good sub choices that can provide nearly linear 20hz response. And in a 20x20 room, an 8", 170 watt sub is going to be underwhelming compared to what a more powerful sub can do.

Get an SVS PB12-NSD, HSU VTF-3 MK4, Power Sound Audio XV-15, or Outlaw Audio LFM-1 EX. Be prepared to be amazed at the difference with music watching biggrin.gif

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post #21 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 04:23 PM
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Be careful about equating price to performance in the speaker world. Some of the more expensive ones are pretty bad and some of the cheaper ones are pretty good. For instance, companies with high volume can take advantage of economies of scale, can hire better designers and engineers and can price at cost plus margin. Small high end companies have none of those advantages and sometimes need to price at (cost+profit)/units sold. Also one can buy internet direct and save the dealer margin. Your $3000 upgrade could actually produce worse sound. You need to listen to them in your own room. The internet direct companies will do that and the high end dealers will do that. Otherwise you can only base things on the opinions and preferences of others. The speakers I chose were $695 for a pair of towers. They sounded better to me than anything I heard at $2000 or less per pair. They are Chinese made, internet direct and designed by a fairly big name high end speaker company.

Yes, the subwoofer is clearly your weak spot. Fix that first. That may resolve the overall problem. I replaced mine recently with a DIY project. The difference is night and day.
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post #22 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, my room is walled off on the front and right. Back is wide open to the kitchen / living room, etc. Left is 70% walled off. I do plan on getting an area rug to cover most of the floor in the TV room. Not in the kitchen / living room area though. Agreed that the Velodyne CHT-8 is an entry level sub.

I have:

Polks RT400i's for the front and left
Polk CS245i for the center
Polk LC60i for the in-ceiling rears
Velodyne CHT-8 for the sub
Denon AVR-3808CI (will probably upgrade when HDMI 2.0 is available)
DirecTV
Denon DBT-1713UD bluray (will probably upgrade when HDMI 2.0 / 4K is available)

Don't listen to much music in the living room. 100% TV & Movies.

Music I listen to in my office with my PC and AudioEngine A5+ speakers. Those are really nice.
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post #23 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 07:41 PM
 
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You don't have to
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I was looking at the MartinLogan Motion 20's & 40's. Wasn't looking in the sense of "I'm going out tommorow to buy them", kind of in an early research phase to see if its even worth it. Shelly commented that he wouldn't expect much of a difference between $300 speakers from '97 vs. $700 speakers today which is kind of the feedback I was looking for. I don't think I spent too much on the Polks since I got them out of college. It might have even been $400 or so for the pair vs. $1400 for the Motion 20's and $2000 for the Motion 40's. Then I'd need to replace my center speaker to match... thats another $400 to $500 for a MartinLogan and probably another $800 for a pair of the in-ceilings. So $3000 to $4000 for 5 speakers. Kind of a pricey upgrade lol... so if the Motion 20's/40's are gonna sound pretty much the same as my Polks, I dunno...
You don't have to replace your center. Just make sure delay and levels are correct. You can upgrade center later. I have a system with hales rev3 for fronts and a mirage m1 center and a pair of old rock solids for rears sounds great. Just let (DRC) do all the work!
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post #24 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 08:25 PM
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Since you are 100% movies, definitely the sub is the first upgrade to make smile.gif

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post #25 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by SledgeHammer View Post

I have the Velodyne CHT-8.

I heard the Motion 40's today and I must say they surprised me a bit for a $2,000 speaker. I dont think you will regret it if you ever purchase them.

A good sub will make a bigger difference in your HT than from ML 20's to 40's.
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post #26 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 08:57 PM - Thread Starter
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I heard the Motion 40's today and I must say they surprised me a bit for a $2,000 speaker. I dont think you will regret it if you ever purchase them.

A good sub will make a bigger difference in your HT than from ML 20's to 40's.

Well, the 20's you can get a pair for $1000 new, the 40's I priced at $1500 new. If I did pull the trigger on those, I'd probably get a Martin Logan Dynamo 700W for the sub. Huge step up from my CHT-8. That sub has a 10" woofer w/ 300 watts.
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post #27 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 09:08 PM
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Well, the 20's you can get a pair for $1000 new, the 40's I priced at $1500 new. If I did pull the trigger on those, I'd probably get a Martin Logan Dynamo 700W for the sub. Huge step up from my CHT-8. That sub has a 10" woofer w/ 300 watts.

That sub would be maybe a step up, but not as good as something like the Rythmik LV12R at the same general price point http://www.rythmikaudio.com/LV12R_specs.html although that would depend on the deal they'd offer you with speakers.

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post #28 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

That sub would be maybe a step up, but not as good as something like the Rythmik LV12R at the same general price point http://www.rythmikaudio.com/LV12R_specs.html although that would depend on the deal they'd offer you with speakers.

+1

That sub is a not a good value unless you are getting it for probably about $300, and it's probably still not enough sub for that space. Internet direct subwoofer vendors SVS Audio, HSU Research, Power Sound Audio, Rythmik Audio, and Outlaw Audio provide MUCH better price/performance values than traditional speaker company subs you can buy at brick and mortar stores. Go research in the AVS subwoofer forum to learn more. Then start a sub purchase thread and you'll get the same advice about the Martin Logan.

So the Rythmik LV12R is a much better sub for the $500 to $600 price range, but I think most people that know subs will agree you really need at least one of the 12" subs I listed above for that size space.

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post #29 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 09:15 PM
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As many has suggested that a good to great sub(s) is what you need as it is the most important component for movie. Movie is all I use my system for unless music is part of it. I bought some older used Klipsch speakers (Built from 1997 to 2001) for cheap and cannot go back to a lower sensitive non-horn speaker any more for home theater. YMMV.
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post #30 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 09:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, I will definitely upgrade the sub when/if I upgrade the speakers. Lol, that Rythmik LV12R is huge. I couldn't fit that in the space available. I do have a lot of space to fill, but its more of an issue of my open floor plan on the first floor. Its pretty much all one big open area on that side of the house. However, the TV "area" (defined by furniture) is more like 12' x 12', but there is no back wall and no left wall to close it off. I was including all the connected open space in my 20' x 20' guesstimate, now question about that... I'm obviously not trying to fill the entire first floor with bass, but how does the open floor plan come into play? Would I just buy something to fill a 12' x 12' space, or try to fill more of the connected open space? My rear in-ceilings are at about the 13' mark (slightly behind the back of the couch). Ceilings are 9'.
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