Originally Posted by Zorba922
You can definitely do 1 and 5 on that budget, though---and I strongly suspect that will take care of your dissatisfaction.
If you are feeling adventurous you can experiment with 3 of those BIC FH-6 speakers across the front for under $400, and easily return them for a full refund at your nearest Walmart if they don't satisfy. I say "adventurous" simply because these speakers are often dismissed out of hand due to their branding, low pricepoint, and BIC's horrible marketing of them.
However, if you want a "safer" choice with a widely praised (by both pro reviewers and forumites), I'd do 3 x Ascend CMT-340SEs across your front:
Immaculate detail, neutrality and accuracy, they do both music and HT well, and will be a big step up from the Polks. About $834 shipped for LCR, add $180 if you want the OEM pedestal stands for a tower look. Do a forum search for all the feedback on them...I don't think I've ever come across anybody who didn't like them. Their only slight "con" is the plain black MDF cabinets, if that matters to you.
Another option, not quite as well known as Ascend, but with much prettier cabinets:
Zorba, you have been very helpful through all of this.
Honestly, looks is the least of my concern, though I do have a wife, so there are some limits, but she is pretty reasonable, I think. I honestly prefer black ash and basic in most cases. I know that gloss piano black is all sexy, but I don't get why anyone wants something shiny in their field of view while watching video.
So you think three of those BIC's would beat my Polks? That does sound like an interesting "experiment" and learning opportunity. I'll consider it!
I have been studying up on those Ascends...I believe you mentioned them earlier in the thread. I even called and spoke with someone there Friday. If I didn't feel like they were worth the upgrade and returned them, I'd be out some pretty hefty shipping, but you are right that they get rave reviews, so it seems pretty unlikely I'd not feel the same way as the rest.
A few questions:
1) I love how the Ascend stands can be filled with sand or cat liter to be rock solid against tipping...I've got little kids, a 100 pound boxer/great dane, and these will be in the family room. Though I know you get a discount once you have the speakers...they are not inexpensive in my book. HOWEVER, what if I checked out the BICs (or any other bookshelfish speaker)...are there SOLID stand options? Or, what are the acoustic rules about attaching these things to the walls (on each side of my plasma)? If I did stands, they would sit on a wood floor, FYI.
2) I read some kind of forum thread where the designer of the Ascends was responding to a Polk Monitor 70 user that was disappointed in the CMT-340's...I cannot find the link now...but basically he mentioned somewhere in there that they true audiophile speakers and will not have that big room-filling sound like Polks will. Any idea what was meant there?
3) Is using the third CMT-340 as a center just a way to save money over their SE center, or is it actually identical anyway?
4) Do you know much about the Aperion Intimus series?
5) Those Empteks are indeed pretty, but cherry wouldn't really match our other stuff, and if I tried to get a matching center at the same time it is over budget.
Are we assuming through most of this that I could stick with the Monitor 30's in the back for some time?