True Bookshelf speakers (actually in a bookshelf) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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True Bookshelf speakers (actually in a bookshelf)

People,
I used this site to much success about 7 years and set up a beautiful living room when I was a single man.
Life has moved on...I have moved to a new house on the west coast and have a family. I just sold all my audio equipment as it was not suitable for the new living room.

Right now I have a room that has 3 built in shelves either side of the fireplace. I plan to set up a nice system again but it will have to be more "Stealth" than my previous set up....upside is I can spend a bit more money.

I had my heart set on the ascend accoustics, Sierra 1 for the fronts and a matching center channel.
The Sierra 1 fronts would have been mounted at ear level in the top shelf (not the actual top but the highest enclosed bookshelf. The center would have been high mounted to the wall above a 55 inch samsung.
However everything I am reading tells me that this will not work due to the rear porting of these speakers and the lack of room behind them.

I am looking for advice on a front ported bookshelf speaker.
This is a multi funtion room...not a dedicated home theater room. I dont mind spending a bit of money but I do not want the speakers or the system to dominate the room.
I have already drawn up an enclosure to turn the bottom right shelf into an enclosed cabinet. Needs to be deeper to hide all the AV equipment. Having a cabinet maker do nice doors and i will have fans running air through it for cooling...but to the living room all wires and equipment will be totally hidden other than lights through the glass.
ideally - I would like to go just 5 speakers...no sub for now (wife is not into huge bass and to honest...with the last system I regularly did not run the sub).
I guess I should put costing info in...looking to keep 3 front speakers combined to around the $1500 level.
Size is a factor - left and right should not be more than 10 inches deep. Must be able to function correctly in the enclosed area.
Astetics is also a factor. I loved the bamboo finish on the ascent set up...this would be ideal!

I understand that these kind of limitations are alien to a lot of folk on here...but would appreciate your help. We live in the city with 3 kids and while its a lovely house...its not big enough to have a "dedicated" AV room and concessions must be made.

Thanks
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post #2 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 11:03 AM
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Hi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boston Irish View Post
People,


The center would have been high mounted to the wall above a 55 inch samsung.
However everything I am reading tells me that this will not work due to the rear porting of these speakers and the lack of room behind them.

I am looking for advice on a front ported bookshelf speaker.
This is a multi funtion room...not a dedicated home theater room. I dont mind spending a bit of money but I do not want the speakers or the system to dominate the room.
I have already drawn up an enclosure to turn the bottom right shelf into an enclosed cabinet. Needs to be deeper to hide all the AV equipment. Having a cabinet maker do nice doors and i will have fans running air through it for cooling...but to the living room all wires and equipment will be totally hidden other than lights through the glass.
ideally - I would like to go just 5 speakers...no sub for now (wife is not into huge bass and to honest...with the last system I regularly did not run the sub).
I guess I should put costing info in...looking to keep 3 front speakers combined to around the $1500 level.
Size is a factor - left and right should not be more than 10 inches deep. Must be able to function correctly in the enclosed area.

Thanks

Hi there,


I've been checking all the brands I'm familiar with...all of them are rear ported. Are you positive that you cannot use a rear firing monitor?


SVS has an ultra set with a beautiful center channel. It would only exceed your budget by a couple hundred. But it has the port in the back. I'll give them a call to discuss the port issue...


Bri
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post #3 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deckard97 View Post
Hi there,


I've been checking all the brands I'm familiar with...all of them are rear ported. Are you positive that you cannot use a rear firing monitor?


SVS has an ultra set with a beautiful center channel. It would only exceed your budget by a couple hundred. But it has the port in the back. I'll give them a call to discuss the port issue...


Bri
I am not positive at all...actually I dont know!

I AM POSITVE that the speaker will have to sit in an enclosed shelf. There will be 2 inches of room behind it or so. If I go with the guidelines for positioning rear ported speakers (Sierra 1) they all seem to indicate that 1 to 2 feet of space behind the speaker is optimal.

I am an engineer (mechanical) and it would seem kind of silly to me to go for what I consider a high end speaker and then position them in a way that seriously hinders their performance.

....But I dont know. Maybe I am wrong here...

What is totally out of the question is putting the speakers on stands. Small kids and I want the system for entertaining and also for movie nights with the wife, what I dont want is it taking up floor space when the kids are doing their thing in the day.

Cheers.
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post #4 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 11:26 AM
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I imagine Ascend Acoustics is not the only bookshelf speaker maker that offers plugs (Q plugs) for their rear ported speakers, Ascend offers Sierra 1 or 2s. My Sierra 2s (that were once 1s) reside in an enclosure (custom built wall unit) and sound great. The 2s unlike the 1s do not require the Q plug per the speaker maker's recommendation. 3 Sierra 1s would be under your budget, Q plugs cost a few dollars a piece. Highly recommend Ascend, and you can upgrade your 1s to 2s in the future budget permitting.

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post #5 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 11:43 AM
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Svs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boston Irish View Post
I am not positive at all...actually I dont know!

I AM POSITVE that the speaker will have to sit in an enclosed shelf. There will be 2 inches of room behind it or so. If I go with the guidelines for positioning rear ported speakers (Sierra 1) they all seem to indicate that 1 to 2 feet of space behind the speaker is optimal.

I am an engineer (mechanical) and it would seem kind of silly to me to go for what I consider a high end speaker and then position them in a way that seriously hinders their performance.

....But I dont know. Maybe I am wrong here...

What is totally out of the question is putting the speakers on stands. Small kids and I want the system for entertaining and also for movie nights with the wife, what I dont want is it taking up floor space when the kids are doing their thing in the day.

Cheers.


I just spoke with SVS, from their experience the monitors sound quality will not be impacted by your specifications. The speakers are about 10 inches deep, and fairly small in size.


The rear port should not be a problem because there's only a limited amount of air pumping out.
( unlike a sub )


Hopefully he's an honest tech guy


best of luck!


Brian
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post #6 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deckard97 View Post
I just spoke with SVS, from their experience the monitors sound quality will not be impacted by your specifications. The speakers are about 10 inches deep, and fairly small in size.


The rear port should not be a problem because there's only a limited amount of air pumping out.
( unlike a sub )


Hopefully he's an honest tech guy


best of luck!


Brian
The port allows for more extension, so if a speaker is rear ported, there is a certain amount of space you would want to give them to get a fuller sound. Maybe it wont matter if a sub is involved, though.
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post #7 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 12:05 PM
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I agree with you that you shouldn't be putting a rear ported bookshelf speaker on a bookshelf (kind of strange they even make them that way!). There are quite a few front ported speakers - I made a list last year for my office system but I didn't keep it - there were some Polks, Warfdale, Focal, and others on the list - some were old models that were only available used. Here is just one of them:

Polk Audio RTI A1-Cherry High Performance Bookshelf Speaker Pair - $324 - I've listened to these and liked them:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-153-_-Product


Even better, how about a non-ported speaker - take a look at the NHT Classic 2 or NHT Classic 3 (you didn't mention your budget). I own a pair of the Classic Two and I love them. Compared them to my Paradigm Studio which cost many times more and they sounded nearly as good:

NHT Classic Two Bookshelf Speaker - Black - Acoustic Suspension
http://www.nhthifi.com/Two-Black?sc=...y=3772#image-3

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2, Paradigm Signature S4 v.2, (2) SVS SB12-NSD subs, AQ & Cardas XLR
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post #8 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 12:11 PM
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Here is a world class bookshelf speaker - again front ported. These are amazing but expensive.

Paradigm Studio 20
http://www.paradigm.com/products-cur.../page=overview

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2, Paradigm Signature S4 v.2, (2) SVS SB12-NSD subs, AQ & Cardas XLR
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post #9 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 12:22 PM
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Hey there,

Having rear ported speakers in a enclosed space like that will affect bass performance. How? I wouldn't be able to tell you, perhaps with enough information regarding the dimensions of your self and speaker positioning there are some people here who would be able to tell you what to expect. Most likely it will be somewhat detrimental to the sound quality, but you can plug the port. This will raise the bass rolloff and may lower the efficiency just a little, which may not be desirable in your case since you don't want to use a sub.

As for an alternative, I'd recommend the Philharmonitors which I believe are front ported. I haven't heard the Sierra's so I can't directly compare them but I've read posts from other people here who have and found them to be comparable. They are 10.25" deep though, don't know if the quarter inch matters that much but though I'd mention it. It's a very good speaker and is worth considering.
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post #10 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 12:26 PM
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+1 to the NHT recommendation, you could get the Classic 3 front sound stage for exacty $1500. The sealed design means you can put them just about anywhere, and they sound great. Later on add a compact sealed sub like the SVS SB-2000 and you have a nice setup.
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post #11 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post
Here is a world class bookshelf speaker - again front ported. These are amazing but expensive.

Paradigm Studio 20
http://www.paradigm.com/products-cur.../page=overview
This just always happens don't it....the budget of 1500 for 3 speakers now at serious risk


My last set up was Polk.
Was looking to change from Polk...but these with a matching center are going to blow significantly past 1500.
However...thank you! Food for thought.
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post #12 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post
Here is a world class bookshelf speaker - again front ported. These are amazing but expensive.

Paradigm Studio 20
http://www.paradigm.com/products-cur.../page=overview

These speakers performed well in my previous setup. They are not world class, but sound very good. But compared to the Polks mentioned earlier, these Paradigms are world class.


Paradigm's Signature speakers are indeed world class. But that would cost $3400 opposed to $1500


Go for the NHT package instead of the polks.

Last edited by Deckard97; 07-08-2014 at 12:49 PM.
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post #13 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 12:36 PM
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The Philharmonitor is a nice/good option - a picture of the speaker
http://philharmonicaudio.com/folio-m...bookshelf.html

Also the NHT Classic Three

Plus, the MB Quart Alexxa B1 - on good closeout pricing
By 2 pair and have a spare speaker
http://shop.mbquart.com/p/as-b1pb-pair?pp=24

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post #14 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 01:27 PM
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These are front ported, but are 12" deep ... this will require that they hang a bit off the front edge of the bookshelf ... which is a good thing, sound-quality-wise, as this will minimize reflections off the bookcase. Also, the unusual "tweeter" design has excellent horizontal dispersion which could be helpful, given the fixed placement of the speakers in the room. No matter which speaker you choose, if you decide to go with the bookshelf form factor, be sure to get some "rubber feet" to help isolate the speakers from the bookcase itself.

http://www.amazon.com/Cambridge-Audi...shelf+speakers

That said, I think you might be better off with the Minx and a good sub. This will minimize the bass output of the "bookshelf" speakers and thus reduce any vibration issues you may have with the speakers as they interact with the bookshelf unit itself. It will also give you some "play" in the horizontal positioning of the speakers, which may improve the sound quality. The trade-off is that this will require a sub that has excellent output in the mid-bass, and that the sub will have to sit in the front of the room, very near the mains.

Last edited by RayGuy; 07-08-2014 at 01:33 PM.
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post #15 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deckard97 View Post
These [Studio 20] speakers performed well in my previous setup. They are not world class, but sound very good. But compared to the Polks mentioned earlier, these Paradigms are world class. Paradigm's Signature speakers are indeed world class. But that would cost $3400 opposed to $1500.
Not sure what makes the Paradigm Signature speakers world class over the Paradigm Studios - maybe a little more bass (which I don't hear because the bass management strips it off) and a little smoother highs. I have both (Studio 40 v.4 and Signature S4 v.2) and I'm going to tell you they don't sound that much different - but that is an argument for a different time and place.
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post #16 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post
Not sure what makes the Paradigm Signature speakers world class over the Paradigm Studios - maybe a little more bass (which I don't hear because the bass management strips it off) and a little smoother highs. I have both (Studio 40 v.4 and Signature S4 v.2) and I'm going to tell you they don't sound that much different - but that is an argument for a different time and place.




Agreed.
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post #17 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 03:05 PM
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Not surprised there is a lot of support for the acoustic suspension (sealed) speakers - as others said you can place them just about anywhere and they will sound great. Mine are pressed right up against the back of my 10" deep shelf and the hang over the front of the shelf slightly (which is the correct way to place them) and they sound great.

The only real problem with sealed speakers is they have a lower sensitivity - my NHT Classic Twos have a rated sensitivity of 86dB and impedance of 6 ohms nominal, 4.3 ohms minimum - so you should probably have a decent AVR to drive them - especially if it is going to be enclosed in a cabinet (even with fans). My Yamaha RX-395 (super low end / rated 8 ohms, 45W; 6 ohms, 48W - sad I know) drives them nicely but shuts down after about an hour of spirited listening - never shuts down with my 8 ohm Polk speakers. I'm sure that even a low end Denon AVR (which is the minimum you should get anyway) will drive them nicely.

You really should rethink the subwoofer - what is your objection?

Modern AVRs have excellent bass management that can remove the bass from your other 5 speakers and route it to a subwoofer - but only if you have one. As good as the NHT Classic Two speakers are, they only have frequency response down to ~50Hz. You can get a really small subwoofer that can go under an end table or behind the couch to take over those low frequency duties (which they are made for) below 70 or 80Hz and the rest of your speakers will actually sound better not trying to reproduce the low bass (which they are not made to do). Then you just adjust your sub level so you don't actually hear it - you only miss it when it is not there.

A small sealed sub works great with these speakers - look at the small 13" cube footprint of these subwoofers:

NHT B-10d Powered Subwoofer with DSP - $599 direct:
http://www.nhthifi.com/Subwoofer-Hom...y=3779#image-3

SVS SB-1000, 12", 300W, DSP controlled - $499 direct:
http://www.svsound.com/subwoofers/se...0#.U7xqwPldV8E

2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2, Paradigm Signature S4 v.2, (2) SVS SB12-NSD subs, AQ & Cardas XLR
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post #18 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 04:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay - excellent advice as usual.

Think I will go with a full NHT set.
Only problem I see is that I can get everything in white except the center?? Seems strange to offer white in all other speakers other than the center....
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post #19 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 04:37 PM
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If you go with the NHT you will definitely need a sub.
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post #20 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
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Think I will go with a full NHT set. Only problem I see is that I can get everything in white except the center?? Seems strange to offer white in all other speakers other than the center....
I think you will be happy with them - these are the kind of speakers that people own for 10+ years and continue to enjoy them. Very laid back sound - not to bright or flat, not boomy in the bass, just very balanced sound. I suspect a white center speaker next to a black LCD or Plasma TV is not a very popular look and would draw attention to the center speaker. A black one will probably be less visible unless everything around it is white. The real question is what color to get the mains?

What surrounds are you going to get?

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post #21 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Since I have gotten such good advice here...once I get home I am going to post a few pictures of what I want to do.
The colors on the mains is less of an issue as they are in the book shelves and will essentially blend in.
Sub can be hidden....(going to get the sub and be done with it in one)
Center is what I am more worried about.
In the last set up I was more focused on total performance when the room was dark at night. We worked all day and there were no kids....So TV was at optimal viewing height and the center sat under it in a wooden cabinet holding all equipment.
This house is much different. The TV will be mounted much higher. Too high actually. Which is why I dont want to put it any higher! So the center is going to have to be above the TV on a stand angled down.
At least that is my thoughts on the best way to do it.
I will get a few pictures up tonight and see what you guys think. But in that kind of a set up I would prefer if it was white as the wood trim all around the TV is an off white color.

On the surrounds...either the on wall units or the zeros....not sure yet. Need to check into how I run wires and mount them.

The look of the thing is of equal importance in this set up as the actual performance!
I am a little worried about the acoustics...its a very open plan layout. Will get some pictures of it up tonight. We just moved in so its pretty much bare right now.
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post #22 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay - here is the room. Just moved back from Malaysia so little in it yet.
That TV is going downstairs for the kids.
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post #23 of 29 Old 07-08-2014, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
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The bottom shelf on the right will be boxed in. Having a guy build doors to match the doors in the dining area.


You can see now why I am a bit worried about the effects of this area on acoustics....but there is not much I can do about it really!

Planning on putting the center speaker above the TV on a mount That TV is a 46 inch. Actual will be wall mounted and 55 inch. It will be mounted as low as possible so that top of the fireplace is about even with image when viewed sitting on the couch.


that there is 3 seats coming back...that fouton is not staying...wife is

You can also see the large opening out the entry hall. No doors either.
There is 9 foot ceilings in all this floor...its a three floor house and this is the open plan middle level.

This is taken from the kitchen...trying to show open plan



Essentially what I have planned will be
55 inch 4k LCD samsumg
Not sure on receiver yet - but a decent Denon or Pioneer. Not too worried about this. Will spend 700 or there abouts and I dont think it will be an issue whatever way I go. I want it drive a second zone that will be outdoor speakers (deck is out window behind the small table in the dining area...easy access to outside for cables from inside the cabinet.

The shelves are perfect size for the NHT Classic 2.
Center - only issue is the black color....need to think about that.
Sub - will put in
NHT B-10d Powered Subwoofer with DSP - $599 direct:

probably put in the wall mount NHT for the surrounds but need to figure exactly how I am routing the wires. Depends on the way I do it.

Suggestions?
Issues?

biggest question...is it a waste of money given the geometry of the room?? (I dont think so but could do with some opinions before dropping 5 grand.....
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post #24 of 29 Old 07-09-2014, 12:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Boston Irish View Post
Okay - excellent advice as usual.

Think I will go with a full NHT set.
Only problem I see is that I can get everything in white except the center?? Seems strange to offer white in all other speakers other than the center....
Now that you've had several excellent recommendations, and one you particularly like, may I offer you some advice? Well, I will anyway. Get on your computer and find out what stores in your area carry these speakers. I simply cannot fathom buying any speaker without doing some serious auditioning first. And that opinion has nothing to do with trusting suggestions, most of these guys are audiophiles. However, what you may like in a speaker, others won't ... and vice-versa. Listen before you leap, and don't ever be in a rush.
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post #25 of 29 Old 07-09-2014, 04:38 AM
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Honestly I would probably forego a center in this situation. Putting it so high up will not be good for acoustics, nor will it look good with a big center hanging over the TV. The only option I could see is mounting the TV higher and sitting it on the mantle, but then the TV is going to be higher up. The NHT's image well and would have no problem creating a phantom center.

I think the SuperZero 2.1 speakers would work well for your surrounds, they come with a key-hole on the back so you can easily wall-mount them. They also make the Absolute Zero on-wall speakers which are another option. I would probably go with the Super Zeros because then all you need to install is a bracket, versus drilling into the wall. With the white trim, you could very easily run the speaker wire along a door jam and floorboard using a cable hider. I use these and they adhere to your trim and are very discrete. Check out Home Depot/Lowes, they have a nice selection; I imagine the wife would prefer you not drill into her living room walls

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post #26 of 29 Old 07-09-2014, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post
Honestly I would probably forego a center in this situation. Putting it so high up will not be good for acoustics, nor will it look good with a big center hanging over the TV. The only option I could see is mounting the TV higher and sitting it on the mantle, but then the TV is going to be higher up. The NHT's image well and would have no problem creating a phantom center.

I think the SuperZero 2.1 speakers would work well for your surrounds, they come with a key-hole on the back so you can easily wall-mount them. They also make the Absolute Zero on-wall speakers which are another option. I would probably go with the Super Zeros because then all you need to install is a bracket, versus drilling into the wall. With the white trim, you could very easily run the speaker wire along a door jam and floorboard using a cable hider. I use these and they adhere to your trim and are very discrete. Check out Home Depot/Lowes, they have a nice selection; I imagine the wife would prefer you not drill into her living room walls
Do you think?
One issue I always seem to see in badly done systems is lack of clarity on dialogue during movies. I thought that was why the center was the most important speaker.
You think two good mains can create the dialogue without a center?
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post #27 of 29 Old 07-09-2014, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boston Irish View Post
Do you think?
One issue I always seem to see in badly done systems is lack of clarity on dialogue during movies. I thought that was why the center was the most important speaker.
You think two good mains can create the dialogue without a center?
Yes, when properly placed and calibrated, a good pair of speakers will create a nice image and give the illusion of a center channel. I ran my towers without a center for a while, and while I now have one, the difference isn't night and day. Maybe just order the Classic Twos (assuming the Threes are too big?) for now, and see how they perform. If you feel the dialog isn't clear enough, then worry about adding a center.

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post #28 of 29 Old 07-09-2014, 08:24 AM
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I am one, would prefer a center channel - however, you will need to aim it down.
A black center on top of a black TV should not be a real eye sore - if you can adjust.
You can always replace the grill fabric with white - if you know some-one who can do it.

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post #29 of 29 Old 07-10-2014, 10:14 AM
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I also believe that the center channel speaker is the most important speaker in a home theater setup. If the conditions are perfect - the system volume is high enough and the listening position is exactly between the front L/R main speakers - you don't need a center channel speaker. But conditions in my room are not perfect. Because of the way movie soundtracks are mixed - with very loud sound effects and music playing while there is dialog - it is very important for me to have my center channel speaker as the best speaker in my setup.

I don't usually listen to movies at reference level because my room is not a dedicated theater room and shares space with adjacent rooms. Reference level is just too loud for me most of the time. Movies are mixed so that dialog can be heard at reference level but when the volume is turned down dialog can be impossible to hear - a center channel speaker prevents this issue a couple of ways - one, a dedicated speaker with the same amount (or more) sensitivity and power is reproducing dialog while the other speakers are reproducing sound effects and music - the dialog doesn't get lost in the other information from the front speakers. Two, a dedicated center channel speaker has a separate channel trim in the speaker setup and if you are watching a movie at lower volume you can boost the center channel to be closer to reference level where the dialog can be heard. Yes I know that this will upset the balance of the speakers being louder than the others, but when the volume needs to be turned down and you cannot understand the dialog this is a valid tradeoff.

I know there are "dynamic volume" settings from Audyssey and "dynamic range compression" settings from the AVR itself, but these don't always work exactly as desired - a really good center channel speaker with its own channel trim is one way to be able to hear the dialog.

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