Larger apartment: Help me pick out tower speakers under $2000 for 3.1 system - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm moving to a new apartment where the living area is double the size of what we have now. For years, I've been using M&K 7 setup which I've been moderately happy with.

Some info about the room and my gear:
  • Space is about 12' x 21' with 8' high ceilings. (About 2100-2500 cubic feet)
  • Viewing distance is about 12' from TV to the sofa
  • The 2 relevant pieces of gear that are moving with us are an Onkyo TX-NR1007 receiver and a Hsu STF-2 subwoofer.
  • Only looking at doing a 3.1 system since don't have room for 2 rears.

This is the layout of the new room, which shows the TV area next to the eating area and kitchen. I've annotated it with our plan of where to put things:

ILEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Questions:
  1. I'm looking at theAscend Acoustics Sierra, Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE, Aperion Audio Verus Grand and the NHT Classic 3. I've also crazily looked at the Ascend Sierra-2's since everyone keeps raving about them, but wow, what a jump from the Sierra-1's! What else should I be looking at (or eliminating from the list)?
  2. All the speakers I'm looking at have corresponding center channels in their same "series". I spend 80% of time watching movies and TV, and 20% music. Given this, I"ve been putting a lot of thought into a great center channel and going "up" to better centers. Would this create any acoustic problems?
  3. Will the HSU STF-2 be sufficient for my room? I've been using this sub for 5+ years and love it, but it's always been in smaller spaces. The Hsu site doesn't really help much with advice on room size.

(Update on 3/3 based on figuring out that bookshelfs won't work due to the intended setup. I'm back to looking at Tower speakers, or bookshelfs with heavy bases. Also eliminated some of the other questions since they were answered by people below)

Note: I spend 80% of time watching movies and TV, and 20% music.

Here's the list of towers I'm considering:
  1. Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower
  2. Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1 with the pedestal stands. ~$300 more expensive than the CMT-340SE. Reviews I"ve read all over talk about how great they are for music but not necessarily mentioning that much about HT. Also not sure for my 80/20 HT and Music split whether the NRT upgrade is worth it (which would add an additional $300).
  3. NHT Absolute Towers. I'd likely combine this with the higher up TwoC or ThreeC center channel instead of the absolute.
  4. Marting Logan Motion 40. More spendy at $900-ish per speaker but reviews seem to be super positive. However, I've read more than a handful of tepid reviews on the Motion center channel which worries me.
  5. Definitive Technology BP-8040ST. They have integrated subwoofers in each.
  6. SVS Ultra Towers - Like the ML Motion 40's, these have integrated subs.
  7. Paradigm Monitor 11. Wasn't on my list originally, but I've read some great reviews in the last day (e.g this one)
  8. Anthony Gallo Classico CL-3. Haven't done as much research on these, and not totally sure on the WAF due to cabinet shape, but many forum members rave about these.

Note: I ruled out the Aperion Audio Verus Grand Towers, solely because the matching center channel is gargantuan. At 24.75" wide, it won't fit in the media console.

Budget wise for the speakers, I'd ideally want to spend no more than $2500 for left, right and center.

Would love your input on the above speakers, or any I should be adding to the list.
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post #2 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Updated my original post to narrow in on bookshelfs, not towers due to space constraints and worry about towers not being appropriately safe in a baby filled household smile.gif
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post #3 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 07:53 PM
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Towers are definitely not just for full range sound reproduction. Quite the contrary actually; in the HT arena very few people don't use a subwoofer, even if they have towers. With the size of your room they would definitely be a better choice than bookshelf speakers.

Since your intended usage will be mostly watching TV and movies I suspect the STF-2 will prove insufficient. Given your circumstance you might want to consider something like the PSA XV15 instead. Lots of output for not a lot of money.

If you do opt to go with something like the XV15 that will leave you with approximately $1200 for speakers. That being the case, all the speakers you mention - save the Aperion Audio's - would be out of your price range. A few other potential alternatives to checkout out are the following...


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post #4 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 08:00 PM
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HSU gives you approximate room size capabilities of their sub's on their package deal webpage: http://www.hsuresearch.com/packages.html

According to HSU STF-2 can handle up to 3k cubic feet. Multiply your new room dimensions by your height to see if it will work for you.
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post #5 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post

Towers are definitely not just for full range sound reproduction. Quite the contrary actually; in the HT arena very few people don't use a subwoofer, even if they have towers. With the size of your room they would definitely be a better choice than bookshelf speakers.

If you do opt to go with something like the XV15 that will leave you with approximately $1200 for speakers. That being the case, all the speakers you mention - save the Aperion Audio's - would be out of your price range.

Thanks for the info. I've revised my original post to focus only on bookshelfs since a discusion with my wife had an alteration of the available space smile.gif Also, towers will prove to be a problem due to the impending arrival of our first child smile.gif Bookshelf speakers can just be more out of the way.

Given I have the full budget now for speakers, how does that alter your recommendations?
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Originally Posted by Turlen View Post

HSU gives you approximate room size capabilities of their sub's on their package deal webpage: http://www.hsuresearch.com/packages.html

According to HSU STF-2 can handle up to 3k cubic feet. Multiply your new room dimensions by your height to see if it will work for you.

I'm between 2100-2600 cubic feet depending how you calculate it, so looks like I'm good. Thanks for the pointer to their room calculator.. I'm evidently blind smile.gif
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post #6 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

Thanks for the info. I've revised my original post to focus only on bookshelfs since a discusion with my wife had an alteration of the available space smile.gif Also, towers will prove to be a problem due to the impending arrival of our first child smile.gif Bookshelf speakers can just be more out of the way.

I would suggest you still consider the possibility of floorstanding speakers. They are large, heavy, and more difficult to be messed with by a toddler. Bookshelf speakers can be accident prone if they are on stands. You'd be surprised how young a kid can be to move a 20 pound object around if they set their heart on it. Of course, a lot depends on parenting, child temperment, etc... Just food for thought.

I would also read up to see if any reviews comment about the grills your prospective speakers use, and make sure they cannot be easily be removed.
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post #7 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 08:49 PM
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... Unless your bookshelf speakers are wall mounted or on a mounted wall shelf ...
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post #8 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turlen View Post

I would suggest you still consider the possibility of floorstanding speakers. They are large, heavy, and more difficult to be messed with by a toddler. Bookshelf speakers can be accident prone if they are on stands. You'd be surprised how young a kid can be to move a 20 pound object around if they set their heart on it. Of course, a lot depends on parenting, child temperment, etc... Just food for thought.

I would also read up to see if any reviews comment about the grills your prospective speakers use, and make sure they cannot be easily be removed.

Sorry for not being clear.. the bookshelf speakers would be sitting on a wider media console. Originally, the media console my wife chose was 70" wide, which only left 6" on either side of the TV to put speakers. Now, she's found one that is much larger, at 90" so it leaves it possible to put bookshelf speakers there. Toddler won't be able to grab them at all..
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post #9 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

Sorry for not being clear.. the bookshelf speakers would be sitting on a wider media console. Originally, the media console my wife chose was 70" wide, which only left 6" on either side of the TV to put speakers. Now, she's found one that is much larger, at 90" so it leaves it possible to put bookshelf speakers there. Toddler won't be able to grab them at all..

The CMT-340 SEs have dual 6.5" drivers, giving them some good dynamics to help fill a large space. Do you have room for their matching center in the console?

Looks like your room opens up into a kitchen area and other rooms? If so, a more powerful sub could help. Or, if you feel the STF-2 to be just a little challenged keeping up with your speakers in that space (you could try it first), you could get another and run dual subs. Dual subs have the potential of being able to provide a smother response in a larger seating area and can often give you about 6db more SPL.

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post #10 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

The CMT-340 SEs have dual 6.5" drivers, giving them some good dynamics to help fill a large space. Do you have room for their matching center in the console?

I looked a bit at the CMT-340's but assumed that the Sierra-1's would be better in every way based on the reviews and Ascend's description of being their best speaker for small to large rooms. I'll take a second look at these.
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Looks like your room opens up into a kitchen area and other rooms? If so, a more powerful sub could help. Or, if you feel the STF-2 to be just a little challenged keeping up with your speakers in that space (you could try it first), you could get another and run dual subs. Dual subs have the potential of being able to provide a smother response in a larger seating area and can often give you about 6db more SPL.

It opens up to the kitchen and a hallway. I'm going to try the STF-2 first and see if I need to upgrade.
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post #11 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 11:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

Sorry for not being clear.. the bookshelf speakers would be sitting on a wider media console. Originally, the media console my wife chose was 70" wide, which only left 6" on either side of the TV to put speakers. Now, she's found one that is much larger, at 90" so it leaves it possible to put bookshelf speakers there. Toddler won't be able to grab them at all..
You will learn very quickly NOTHING is out of reach to a determined child.
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post #12 of 30 Old 03-02-2014, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

I looked a bit at the CMT-340's but assumed that the Sierra-1's would be better in every way based on the reviews and Ascend's description of being their best speaker for small to large rooms. I'll take a second look at these.

The Sierra-1s are a more refined speaker. But if I'm not mistaken, the CMT 340s should have better dynamics.

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post #13 of 30 Old 03-03-2014, 05:50 AM
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You could also look at the Philharmonitor and Phil Center (www.philharmonicaudio.com) Dennis Murphy is a very well known speaker designer, and these are some fantastic options. They are front ported so you won't have to worry about placement on your console, and the center speaker is a well designed one that helps to reduce lobing. If you can accommodate three identical speakers across the front, that is the most ideal scenario.

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post #14 of 30 Old 03-03-2014, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

Given I have the full budget now for speakers, how does that alter your recommendations?

You'll need some pretty decent bookshelf speakers to get acceptable weight out of them, but it's doable. You have already been given some good suggestions, so to those you might want to add the following to your reasearch list...



Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

I'm between 2100-2600 cubic feet depending how you calculate it, so looks like I'm good. Thanks for the pointer to their room calculator.. I'm evidently blind smile.gif

3000 ft^3 for an STF-2 is too large, in spite of what the calculator is telling you. It would simply be overwhelmed by that much space. How tall are your ceilings? From the drawing it appears you have a rather open floorplan, and if so you're going to need a bigger subwoofer for sure. What you consider the 'viewing area' is not all the subwoofer is going see I'm afraid - it's going to try and fill the open contiguous space. Short of adding walls there's no way to change that.

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post #15 of 30 Old 03-03-2014, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimWilson View Post

3000 ft^3 for an STF-2 is too large, in spite of what the calculator is telling you. It would simply be overwhelmed by that much space. How tall are your ceilings? From the drawing it appears you have a rather open floorplan, and if so you're going to need a bigger subwoofer for sure. What you consider the 'viewing area' is not all the subwoofer is going see I'm afraid - it's going to try and fill the open contiguous space. Short of adding walls there's no way to change that.

Thanks for the tip. I have 8-9' ceilings I believe. I'm planning on trying out the STF-2 and if it doesn't work, I'll switch it out.
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post #16 of 30 Old 03-03-2014, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Now that I'm thinking about it, here's another question:

The bookshelfs plan to be sitting on a media console with a glass topper. Do I have to worry about vibration or reflections? If I have to dampen them somehow or compromise in sound, I may reverse the decision and go with floor standings towers.
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post #17 of 30 Old 03-03-2014, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

Now that I'm thinking about it, here's another question:

The bookshelfs plan to be sitting on a media console with a glass topper. Do I have to worry about vibration or reflections?

Yes

Glass is reflective and not a friend.

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post #18 of 30 Old 03-03-2014, 10:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.. After a crazy amount of reading over the past few days, I've reverted back to considering towers. Didn't realize bookshelfs on the media console on glass would be as much of a problem as it is and that tower speakers were as heavy as they were. Lots of forum members have reassured me that they aren't as child dangerous as I feared smile.gif

I updated my original post with more info and tower choices. Would love the stream of input.. thanks guys!
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post #19 of 30 Old 03-05-2014, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
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bump
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post #20 of 30 Old 03-05-2014, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

bump

I will throw a curve ball - the MB Quart Alexxa tower speakers
http://shop.mbquart.com/p/as-s1cpb-single?pp=24

Or, you can pay full price at Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Quart-Alexxa-Floorstanding-Speaker-Cherry/dp/B000R6YUJE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1394048941&sr=8-2&keywords=mb+quart+alexxa

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post #21 of 30 Old 03-05-2014, 12:53 PM
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Here are some to look into:

PSB Image T6 and Image C5
Monitor Audio Silver 6 and Silver Center
Wharfedale Diamond 10.7 and 10.CM Center
Focal Chorus 726 and CC700 Center

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post #22 of 30 Old 03-05-2014, 01:51 PM
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Have you gone out to any shops to do some listening? Any sound you seem to like?

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post #23 of 30 Old 03-05-2014, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

Here are some to look into:

PSB Image T6 and Image C5
Monitor Audio Silver 6 and Silver Center
Wharfedale Diamond 10.7 and 10.CM Center
Focal Chorus 726 and CC700 Center

Thanks for the suggestions.. I'll dig into some research.
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Have you gone out to any shops to do some listening? Any sound you seem to like?

I've only listened to the Martin Logan Motion 40's and thought they sounded great. AFAIK, the SVS, Ascend and NHT are all internet-only/direct sales so no showrooms around. I plan on going to the local Magnolia HiFi in seattle to see what they carry in my short list to listen to some more.

No matter what speakers I get, I want to make sure the matching center channel is amazing since I use my system for 80% HT and having clear, crisp movie dialogue is super important to us
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

Thanks for the suggestions.. I'll dig into some research.

Check into the Monitor Audio if you can

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post #25 of 30 Old 03-05-2014, 09:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

Thanks for the suggestions.. I'll dig into some research.
I've only listened to the Martin Logan Motion 40's and thought they sounded great. AFAIK, the SVS, Ascend and NHT are all internet-only/direct sales so no showrooms around. I plan on going to the local Magnolia HiFi in seattle to see what they carry in my short list to listen to some more.

No matter what speakers I get, I want to make sure the matching center channel is amazing since I use my system for 80% HT and having clear, crisp movie dialogue is super important to us

If I may suggest, when you go to Magnolia in Seattle, you might also stop into Hawthorne and speak to John about various options and then also go to Definitive and speak to Ron. As you know, they are all within a block of each other, and all have different offerings. Hawthorne is definitely more geared toward 2 channel, but Definitive covers both HT and music. I live in New York, but I am in Seattle several times a year to visit my family there, and these 2 salesmen have been very informative and generous in their advice, with no pressure whatsoever. In Bellevue, I have also dealt with Brandon at Magnolia, and he has also been quite helpful. Good luck in your search, and it will be interesting to hear what you end up with!
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post #26 of 30 Old 03-06-2014, 09:26 AM
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Bookshelves should be pulled to the front edge if you place them on the console, so I don't think the glass will be a big issue. Put some Blue-Tack under them so the kid can't pull them off. If the STF-2 isn't enough, I would consider just getting a second one instead of a different, bigger sub.
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post #27 of 30 Old 03-09-2014, 08:47 AM - Thread Starter
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I got to audition the Martin Logan motion 40s yesterday and wasn't impressed at all.

The Def Tech 8060st in the other hand really blew me away. Huge soundstage that have it a 3D feel that I didn't expect.

I've narrowed things down to (I think):

Def Tech 8060st + 8040 center
PSB Image T + Image C Center

Def techs can we had easily used or refurb for sub $2000 for LCR.

PSB are seemingly impossible to find used, except at Saturday Audio with their B-stock. Price will be probably $600-700 more for LCR over the def techs.

Other problem is I can't audition the PSBs anywhere... The dealer I thought that carried PSB locally only carries their headphones.
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post #28 of 30 Old 03-09-2014, 08:58 AM
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Polk Audio LSiM 703 with LSiM 706C will do an amazing job in that room.

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post #29 of 30 Old 03-09-2014, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by bobby_t1 View Post

I got to audition the Martin Logan motion 40s yesterday and wasn't impressed at all.

The Def Tech 8060st in the other hand really blew me away. Huge soundstage that have it a 3D feel that I didn't expect.

Just make sure you have the ability to place them properly or you won't get that soundstage.
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post #30 of 30 Old 03-11-2014, 10:36 AM
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I would re-add the Kef Q series to your list as well as revel performa3s like the F206 which do show up used once in a while, both have a very good sound stage and you may get a very good deal on either if you shop around and there are refurbs available for both but double check the size of their matching center.

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