Bose Killers for Every Budget – a Series - AVS Forum

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[Irishman]'s Avatar [Irishman]
06:08 PM Liked: 72
post #1 of 25
01-30-2014 | Posts: 1,529
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Every once in a while, a thread will get started asking if there are better alternatives to Bose in audio. And most of us who read and join in those threads throw out some great ideas, and almost inevitably, someone says this - or words to this effect - "I should come up with a system that will demolish this Bose system". We've all thought this at one point, right? Well, I decided to have a go at it. The recommendations are 100% serious, and the mocking tone of Bose is half-serious.

Bose buyers usually fall into 3 categories – they’re buying Bose for ease of use and setup, because they are stylish and unobtrusive, or they’ve been told that Bose represents the best in sound quality. First, we’ll tackle their least expensive “home theater” system – the Cinemate GS Series II.

1. The Cinemate GS Series II at $600 includes a pair of small satellite speakers that Bose calls Gemstones, one of Bose’s Acoustimass modules, a remote control and remote sensor. It can only connect to a TV that has an audio output, via analog stereo or optical.

Ease of Use - For those who like a sleek look and simple setup, the AVR is the Marantz NR1403. It features Audyssey MultEQ system calibration. It’s $400 list, but you can catch it for less on sale. To get 2.1 stereo sound boosted by a good subwoofer, pick up these Insignia NS-SP213 5 ¼” bookshelf speakers for $70, and round out the LFE with this Bic America V80 8” 100w subwoofer for $110. This puts you at $580, giving you $20 for cables at monoprice.

Low Profile - For those who want a solution that disappears with no visible wires, go with the ZVOX ZBase 580. Like the Bose, it connects to your TV via optical, analog stereo, or digital coax. It’s also $500, and exceeds the performance of the Bose in every way. It also gives you the ability to add a true subwoofer to really enhance the LFE. Use the money you save on an optical cable if you need it, and be sure to pick up some popcorn for movie night, because you’ll be doing it a lot!

Sound Quality - For those who want the best sound quality in a 2.1 system, get a pair of the lauded Andrew Jones SP-BS22 monitors for $130. Couple it with Bic America’s F-12 12” subwoofer for $200. Then power everything with Pioneer’s VSX-523-K for $250. This will leave you with $20 for cables at monoprice. Everything you play on this system will destroy the Bose Cinemate in every conceivable way.


Next time, we’ll tackle their least expensive surround sound system – the Lifestyle 525 Series II.
[Irishman]'s Avatar [Irishman]
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02-01-2014 | Posts: 1,529
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Next, we’ll tackle their least expensive 5.1 surround sound system – the Lifestyle 525 Series II.

1. The Lifestyle 525 Series II at $2500 includes a set of 5 small satellite speakers that Bose calls Jewelcubes, one of Bose’s Acoustimass modules, their AV receiver with 4 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output, an AdaptIQ calibration microphone and headset, a remote control and remote sensor. This is one of 2 Bose systems that can connect via HDMI, but features no blu-ray playback. You’ll have to bring your own player.

Ease of Use - For high-performing, low-profile receivers, it really is just a Marantz world. Use the R-1604 for plenty of HDMI ports (7 in and 1 out), multiroom capability, Audyssey’s MultEQ calibration, and front panel iPod capability via USB all for just $650! That leaves you $1850 for speakers. Get this SVS SB-1000 sealed sub for just $500, leaving you $1350 for your remaining 5 speakers. To keep the low-profile spirit of this Bose killer, we’re going to go with monitor (read, bookshelf) speakers, four of these amazing Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 monitors and matching center – all for only $1190! This leaves you room in the budget for 4 stands for these CMT0340s and cables from monoprice.

Low Profile/style – For this configuration, we’re going to get you separates! That’s right – we’re pairing Emotiva’s UPA-500 for $400, and their UMC-200 Preamp/surround processor for $700. That’s $1100, leaving $1400 for speakers. We’re going to opt for Aperion Audio’s Intimus 4T Hybrid SD package, for $1400. This gets you two slim 4T towers, one 4C center, two 4B monitors, and the Bravus II 8D subwoofer! Your system will be the envy of all your neighbors, even the Bose Lifestyle owners!

Sound Quality – This one is hard. It’s not hard to beat Bose, mind you. It’s just hard to pick a winner, because there are so many phenomenal choices at this price point! If you want to make your theater room sound like an actual theater, you could do little better at this price than Klipsch’s RF-42 II Home Theater system for $1500. Make this Denon AVR-X3000 the brains of your setup for $900, and you’ll have pick up your jaw from where it lands on the floor!


Next time, we’ll tackle their most expensive 5.1 surround sound system – the Lifestyle 535 Series II.
afrogt's Avatar afrogt
03:19 PM Liked: 443
post #3 of 25
02-01-2014 | Posts: 23,624
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You could get the Yamaha RX-V373 for $199 instead of the Pioneer receiver and save another $50 in your Cinemate killer setup.
http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-RX-V373-5-1-Channel-AV-Receiver/dp/B007JF8FD8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391292991&sr=8-1&keywords=yamaha+373
ermghoti's Avatar ermghoti
04:25 PM Liked: 80
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02-01-2014 | Posts: 281
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With a $2500 budget, I would think a $700-1000 ID sub, $8-900 in the receiver, leaving $600-1000 for speakers would yield the top bang-for-buck, but I do like what you're doing here.
Elihawk's Avatar Elihawk
04:49 PM Liked: 254
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02-01-2014 | Posts: 2,775
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I would not spend 40% of a 2500 budget on an Avr! You can get 5 or 7.1, enough power and good room correction for 500 dollars.
mark62's Avatar mark62
05:27 PM Liked: 87
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02-01-2014 | Posts: 1,409
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

I would not spend 40% of a 2500 budget on an Avr! You can get 5 or 7.1, enough power and good room correction for 500 dollars.

+1
zieglj01's Avatar zieglj01
05:35 PM Liked: 601
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02-01-2014 | Posts: 11,751
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Compared to Bose, you still do not need room correction

No need to spend $2500 to top the Bose, that come from a mountain up North
ermghoti's Avatar ermghoti
09:24 PM Liked: 80
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02-01-2014 | Posts: 281
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

I would not spend 40% of a 2500 budget on an Avr! You can get 5 or 7.1, enough power and good room correction for 500 dollars.

I'd go along with that strategy as well. An Audyssey XT32 receiver is never a terrible idea though, and the price of entry seems to be about $800. It would bite into the speaker system quite a bit, I admit, just a decision to make.
sandydankness's Avatar sandydankness
10:56 PM Liked: 34
post #9 of 25
02-01-2014 | Posts: 152
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This thread is great!


charmerci's Avatar charmerci
11:51 PM Liked: 105
post #10 of 25
02-01-2014 | Posts: 732
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This is a real cheap Bose killer....lol!


mark62's Avatar mark62
12:13 AM Liked: 87
post #11 of 25
02-02-2014 | Posts: 1,409
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charmerci View Post

This is a real cheap Bose killer....lol!


or even this! $76.45

http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=109&cp_id=10906&cs_id=1090601&p_id=8247&seq=1&format=2&utm_expid=58369800-11.KFcpHWqASSutMqNPOqaJVg.0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.monoprice.com%2FCategory%3Fc_id%3D109%26cp_id%3D10906


MrEastSide's Avatar MrEastSide
04:59 AM Liked: 53
post #12 of 25
02-02-2014 | Posts: 1,443
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^^^^^ The really sad thing is, I'd take that monoprice setup in a heartbeat over Bose' most expensive setup.
[Irishman]'s Avatar [Irishman]
12:31 PM Liked: 72
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02-03-2014 | Posts: 1,529
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Thirdly, we’ll tackle Bose's most expensive surround sound system – the Lifestyle 535 Series II.

1. The Lifestyle 535 Series II at $3300 includes a set of 5 of Bose’s JewelCubes, one of Bose’s Acoustimass modules, their AV receiver with 4 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output, an AdaptIQ calibration microphone and headset, a remote control and remote sensor. This is the second of 2 Bose systems that can connect via HDMI, but features no blu-ray playback.

Ease of Use – We’re going with Onkyo for this solution, specifically the TX-NR929 for $1200. It gives you plenty of power in the largest rooms yet simple control via Onkyo’s Control App, HDMI video to a second zone, THX Select 2 Plus certification, plus Audyssey’s MultEQ XT32, for equalizing up to 2 subwoofers flawlessly! For the speakers, $2114 (yes, I know, we went over by $14! You’ll thank me, and here’s why). You get the EMP Tek E55Ti Tower pair, an EMP Tek E56Ci Center, an EMP Tek E5Bi Monitor pair, and a droolworthy Hsu Research VTF-3 MK4 subwoofer in rosenut.

Low Profile/style – This Harman Kardon BDS SO 5.1 does Bose one better in this configuration. It combines a 5.1 channel amplifier with an integrated blu-ray player, for only $700. For low profile style, you really can’t top these Orb Audio Mod2X PLUS 5.1 system, including subwoofer, for $1876. Orb includes a 12 foot subwoofer cable in the bundle AND 100 ft. 16 gauge speaker wire! This brings you to $2576, letting you pocket quite a bit of the difference, all the while showing what premium audio can do.

Sound Quality – We’re reaching out to one of our favorite and most well-regarded internet direct brands for this one! Yes, I’m talking about Hsu Research, and this time it’s their Ultra 15 5.1 Package, coming in at $2049 in a premium Rosenut finish. It features their ULS-15 subwoofer that reaches down to 15Hz, four of their HB-1 MK2 monitors and the matching HC-1 MK2 center. For the receiver, we’re going with Yamaha’s RX-A1030BL for just $1100, with great movie night sound plus HDMI-based second zone for multiroom flexibility. Their YPAO Room Correction system will also fine-tune the sound for your room. This gives you $151 for cables at monoprice, and a little left for popcorn and drinks.
cel4145's Avatar cel4145
09:57 PM Liked: 794
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02-03-2014 | Posts: 11,796
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I love this thread biggrin.gif
[Irishman]'s Avatar [Irishman]
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I love this thread biggrin.gif

Thank you! It was fun making it. smile.gif
spocker1103's Avatar spocker1103
08:18 PM Liked: 12
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04-19-2014 | Posts: 3
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This is an awesome thread...lol.

 

Instead of mix and match, do you have any suggestions for a sound bar system that is better than the cinemate series (I did own a Bose GS321 before)?  I listened to the Samsung F450, Sony HTCT260H, JBL SB400 and nothing really jump out at me.  I like a system with deep deep bass but do not want to spend more than $300.  Since people say that Bose is over priced, what can I get that sounds better but cheaper?  Surprising, I bought the Logitech Z623 for my computer and the bass was awesome but the little speakers was just terrible with very cheap sound.

 

Thanks in advance


[Irishman]'s Avatar [Irishman]
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04-20-2014 | Posts: 1,529
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spocker1103 View Post

This is an awesome thread...lol.

Instead of mix and match, do you have any suggestions for a sound bar system that is better than the cinemate series (I did own a Bose GS321 before)?  I listened to the Samsung F450, Sony HTCT260H, JBL SB400 and nothing really jump out at me.  I like a system with deep deep bass but do not want to spend more than $300.  Since people say that Bose is over priced, what can I get that sounds better but cheaper?  Surprising, I bought the Logitech Z623 for my computer and the bass was awesome but the little speakers was just terrible with very cheap sound.

Thanks in advance

Try Pioneer's soundbar, the SP-SB23W. It's designed by the same renowned designer as the bookshelf speakers I gave in one of my Cinemate killers. Great, flat response for a soundbar. It retails for about $400, but you can find it on sale quite frequently. In fact, Best Buy has it for $100 off this week.
spocker1103's Avatar spocker1103
05:12 PM Liked: 12
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04-20-2014 | Posts: 3
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Thanks for your input Irishman. 

 

Have you personally heard this system before?  Have you heard the JBL SB400?  I don't know much about "electronics" so this might sound stupid but, the JBL cone is 8" and it produces 200W.  I checked the Pioneer soundbar on their website and the subwoofer cone is only 6" and produces 50W....do you think this is system is louder?


cel4145's Avatar cel4145
07:33 AM Liked: 794
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04-21-2014 | Posts: 11,796
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There is a forum on AVS specifically for soundbars that you might find helpful: http://www.avsforum.com/f/195/soundbars
[Irishman]'s Avatar [Irishman]
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spocker1103 View Post

Thanks for your input Irishman. 

Have you personally heard this system before?  Have you heard the JBL SB400?  I don't know much about "electronics" so this might sound stupid but, the JBL cone is 8" and it produces 200W.  I checked the Pioneer soundbar on their website and the subwoofer cone is only 6" and produces 50W....do you think this is system is louder?

I have demoed the Pioneer, and it's really solid. I was only able to demo it with music, but music seems to be where it really excels. (In my experience, speakers that handle music well, will handle anything that you throw at them well). I have not demo'd the JBL. I might get the opportunity over the next couple days to do so. I'll let you know if so. (I would also suggest you do the same, because no matter how much advice we can give you, your own ears tell you what kind of sound you like).

Also, when it comes to connectivity to your HDTV: make sure that you have one of the other of these: a TV that has an EXPLICTLY LABELLED audio output. Learn what it is, and search for soudbars that match it. It may be analog stereo left and right RCA plugs, it may be digital coax (looks like a single RCA plug but it carries a digital signal), or it may be fiber optic (AKA S/PDIF). If you don't have one of those, then the only way you'll be able to use a sound bar will be via HDMI. One thing I've read so far with regard to the JBL is that is has HDMI audio return channel (ARC) issues with some TVs (and since all your HDMI source devices will run into the JBL), demo first, then buy from a shop that has a return policy that lets you return it once opened.

Some folks have also reported popping issues on the JBL here on AVS. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1447595/jbl-cinema-sb-400/30

The Pioneer bar also has its own thread here at AVS: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1487290/pioneer-speaker-bar-possible-game-changer

You asked about the wattage difference between the two bars - The only time I would usually consider the wattage difference to be an additional benefit, would be if you're using it in a very large space (dedicated theater room size, or a living room with an open floor). It's not that you're trying to fill that room, but sound has a nasty habit of going where it wants to go. All the wattage does is delivers the volume you need without distortion. If either one of them will do that in your room, then save the money and go with the Pioneer. If you only have HDMI for audio in, go with the JBL, which is over your stated budget, by the way. smile.gif
charmerci's Avatar charmerci
11:50 AM Liked: 105
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04-21-2014 | Posts: 732
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I found out today that bose (with an .. accent over the o) in German translates to evil! biggrin.gif
zieglj01's Avatar zieglj01
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04-21-2014 | Posts: 11,751
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spocker1103 View Post

Instead of mix and match, do you have any suggestions for a sound bar system that is better than the cinemate series (I did own a Bose GS321 before)?  I listened to the Samsung F450, Sony HTCT260H, JBL SB400 and nothing really jump out at me.

Look at the Boston Tvee30 system
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/bostveem30b/boston-acoustics-tvee-30-soundbar-w/7in-wireless-sub-bluetooth/1.html
spocker1103's Avatar spocker1103
07:59 PM Liked: 12
post #23 of 25
04-23-2014 | Posts: 3
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Again...thanks Irishman

 

I will definitely check out the Pioneer this weekend and will report back to you guys

 

Thanks Zieglj01...I will check out the TVee30


Satyaa's Avatar Satyaa
08:35 PM Liked: 13
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04-24-2014 | Posts: 11
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Irishman, thank you for this thread. My need was not comparison against Bose but I did find some useful information in this thread. I am reasearching for my first HT setup. You have covered different possibilities at different price points for aesthetics, performance and ease of use. That is very helpful for new members.

 

spocker1103, I currently use a Vizio 5.1 soundbar (with rear surrounds attached to wireless sub). Its performance is impressive for my liviging room 13' x 23'. I turn on the sub w/surrounds only for movies and other TV programs that require bass. For most daily use the soundbar with TV is sufficient. One other advantage is that my Vizio TV's remote controls this soundbar and turns off the TV speakers automatically.

 

I found the soundbar and sub seem well balanced at default setting. If I increase the bass in soundbar or increase the sub volume it feels distorted. Instead, I use the TV EQ settings such as natural, dynamic, drama, center, etc.


Satyaa's Avatar Satyaa
05:22 AM Liked: 13
post #25 of 25
04-28-2014 | Posts: 11
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In my speakers research I found this useful thread http://www.avsforum.com/t/1387083/list-of-reference-level-high-sensitivity-spl-speakers; anyone starting their speakers research need not reinvent the wheel.


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