95% Movies; towers or something more compact? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 74 Old 02-05-2017, 09:12 PM - Thread Starter
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95% Movies; towers or something more compact?

I see that the big three companies i am looking at for a home theater system (Kef, Elac, SVS) offer a specific home theater package. I will use a 5.1 setup as my example. These setups are usually paired with 2-4 bookshelf speakers and maybe a slightly larger center channel. With this said, it seems that the standard for movies is this set-up. I plan to be using my system for 95% movies/tv/sports.

Is there a noticeable benefit for the larger towers (e.g. Elac Uni-fi UF5 or upgrading to the SVS Surround Tower Package) for the front left/right channels if watching only movies?

I don't want to go overkill, but earlier today I was looking at spending $2500 before AVR, but I am also willing to go less if I can save some money since it won't be used primarily for music.


Thanks,
Nate

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post #2 of 74 Old 02-05-2017, 09:53 PM
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this is an endless debate
here is a recent thread that may help you
Towers vs. Bookshelf.. what am I missing?

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post #3 of 74 Old 02-05-2017, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick374 View Post
I see that the big three companies i am looking at for a home theater system (Kef, Elac, SVS) offer a specific home theater package. I will use a 5.1 setup as my example. These setups are usually paired with 2-4 bookshelf speakers and maybe a slightly larger center channel. With this said, it seems that the standard for movies is this set-up. I plan to be using my system for 95% movies/tv/sports.

Is there a noticeable benefit for the larger towers (e.g. Elac Uni-fi UF5 or upgrading to the SVS Surround Tower Package) for the front left/right channels if watching only movies?

I don't want to go overkill, but earlier today I was looking at spending $2500 before AVR, but I am also willing to go less if I can save some money since it won't be used primarily for music.
95% non-music use = spend at least half your $2500 on a sub (or two), max. $1K on 3 bookshelf speakers, and the leftover $ on booze and snacks.

How big's the space, and how far from the screen will you be sitting?

If you want to simplify things, I'd just get these 5.1 setups: http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid3hppkg.html
http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid15mk2pkg.html

Lots other great options out there of course. I'd cross off KEF and ELAC off your list, IMO they're better for music than HT and their subs are mediocre at best in comparison.
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~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #4 of 74 Old 02-06-2017, 11:08 AM
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Your room size, placement options and seating distance will go a long way toward determining the towers-vs-bookshelf question as well. Knowing that info will help with the suggestions/advise.
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post #5 of 74 Old 02-06-2017, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
95% non-music use = spend at least half your $2500 on a sub (or two), max. $1K on 3 bookshelf speakers, and the leftover $ on booze and snacks.

How big's the space, and how far from the screen will you be sitting?

If you want to simplify things, I'd just get these 5.1 setups: http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid3hppkg.html
http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid15mk2pkg.html

Lots other great options out there of course. I'd cross off KEF and ELAC off your list, IMO they're better for music than HT and their subs are mediocre at best in comparison.
Just curious, what makes you think like this? There is hundreds of Kef Q/R serie owners who are very happy with them watching mostly movies. Everything i have read about Kef´s and the Uni-Q driver tells me that the speakers has great off-axis performance and big/wide soundstage = great for movies. Have you heard both Q and R serie, same feeling with both?
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post #6 of 74 Old 02-06-2017, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr_Hifi View Post
Just curious, what makes you think like this? There is hundreds of Kef Q/R serie owners who are very happy with them watching mostly movies. Everything i have read about Kef´s and the Uni-Q driver tells me that the speakers has great off-axis performance and big/wide soundstage = great for movies. Have you heard both Q and R serie, same feeling with both?
Just personal tastes. The R series I heard in a full Atmos setup just a few months ago, and was not much impressed (by them or by Atmos). The Qs I heard ages ago in a 2.1 setup so my memory of them is a bit fuzzier but I don't remember them having the kind of crispness, speed and sparkle that I would want in an HT setup either. I'm mostly a music listener so I do appreciate their mids, though the LS50 is still the best KEF music speaker IMO.

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #7 of 74 Old 02-06-2017, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr_Hifi View Post
Just curious, what makes you think like this? There is hundreds of Kef Q/R serie owners who are very happy with them watching mostly movies. Everything i have read about Kef´s and the Uni-Q driver tells me that the speakers has great off-axis performance and big/wide soundstage = great for movies. Have you heard both Q and R serie, same feeling with both?
The KEF's will be fine, as will be demonstrated if you talk to people in the KEF owners thread. Zorba is not into HT. I don't even think he has surround speakers. LOL

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post #8 of 74 Old 02-06-2017, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
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My theater is about 13x14. I am in the military so moving around a lot means what works great now might not work well in a year or two when I move. I have no problem going with an oversized system now to avoid rebuying later

I am looking for a 5.1 to a 7.1 system but the 7 might be tight in that space.

While I know that I can find towers that will help in the quest for a good HT, I am just wonder if it is worth the extra money for someone who will use it primarily for movies, TV

Thanks for all your help!
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post #9 of 74 Old 02-06-2017, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Maverick374 View Post
Is there a noticeable benefit for the larger towers (e.g. Elac Uni-fi UF5 or upgrading to the SVS Surround Tower Package) for the front left/right channels if watching only movies?
Movies? Subwoofer!!!

We'd like to see a picture of your space, that would help a lot to generate ideas.

The big benefit of towers over bookshelf speakers is more efficiency and/or lower bass (Google "Hoffman's Iron Law"). Now, if a subwoofer is putting out the lowest bass, that advantage is somewhat reduced, but a tower can still have more upper bass output and a smoother transition to the subwoofer.

Bookshelves on stands to me are just a waste of space and not attractive to any normal person. I'm probably too rabid about that-I'm a loudspeaker engineer and it offends my technical sensibilities but it's hardly the end of the world. If you have actual shelves or a mantel, bookshelf speakers may be less obtrusive.

More money DOES get better sound, and speakers last for literally decades. So it is OK and even wise to spend a big chunk of money.
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post #10 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 06:06 AM
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Bookshelves on stands to me are just a waste of space and not attractive to any normal person. I'm probably too rabid about that
No probably about it.

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post #11 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 06:15 AM
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While I know that I can find towers that will help in the quest for a good HT, I am just wonder if it is worth the extra money for someone who will use it primarily for movies, TV
No. Those who have towers will disagree, but if they didn't disagree they wouldn't have towers, would they? There's no technical advantage to having towers when subs are handling the lows.
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post #12 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 06:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick374
My theater is about 13x14. I am in the military so moving around a lot means what works great now might not work well in a year or two when I move. I have no problem going with an oversized system now to avoid rebuying later
. . .
While I know that I can find towers that will help in the quest for a good HT, I am just wonder if it is worth the extra money for someone who will use it primarily for movies, TV ...
IMO the biggest reason for getting towers up front is because in addition to HT you also want to be able to do "pure" two-channel listening (mains only, no sub(s)).

If that's not on your "wish list", get some good bookshelf speakers. Bass/extension isn't an issue because you'll have a sub (or two) to handle that, and bookshelf speakers will be more portable than towers.

Oh, and +1 to HSU. They have well-regarded speakers and subs and offer 5.1 and 7.1 packages that IMO are pretty reasonably priced.
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post #13 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 10:38 AM
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IMO the biggest reason for getting towers up front is because in addition to HT you also want to be able to do "pure" two-channel listening (mains only, no sub(s)).
I listen to 2ch with mains and subs. I haven't done otherwise since I built my first sub/satellite system in 1972, long before anyone even dreamed of the possibility of HT.
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post #15 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 11:25 AM
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The KEF's will be fine, as will be demonstrated if you talk to people in the KEF owners thread. Zorba is not into HT. I don't even think he has surround speakers. LOL
IME, speakers that are good for music generally do well for HT. I use Kef Q100/200 and have absolutely no complaints about sound quality or dialogue clarity for tv/movies. They can get very loud with about 60% of my amp's capabilities so the 85db@1m sensitivity isn't really an issue. Of course if you need to play the system at reference levels, higher sensitivity speakers would be a better choice, but may not necessarily sound better.

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post #16 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr_Hifi View Post
Just curious, what makes you think like this? There is hundreds of Kef Q/R serie owners who are very happy with them watching mostly movies. Everything i have read about Kef´s and the Uni-Q driver tells me that the speakers has great off-axis performance and big/wide soundstage = great for movies. Have you heard both Q and R serie, same feeling with both?
It's terrible advice and completely backwards thinking. The opposite actually tends to actually be fairly true... If a speaker is good with music it will handle HT duties just fine as long as it's being used in a room and to volume levels that suit it - 2 channel music is MUCH more demanding on a speaker than multi-channel theater is. If a speaker is more HT performance oriented it's possible, and I would even venture to say likely, that it won't be particularly strong where 2 channel music is concerned when compared to speakers in a similar price point.

Of course there will be a examples on both sides of that dividing line where the above rule of thumb doesn't exactly fit. However, I can give a bucket full of examples for every handful of examples in exception.

This does not mean that HT specific speakers are bad choices or are just awful for music. They're just designed with different uses in mind.
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post #17 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Maverick374 View Post
My theater is about 13x14. I am in the military so moving around a lot means what works great now might not work well in a year or two when I move. I have no problem going with an oversized system now to avoid rebuying later

I am looking for a 5.1 to a 7.1 system but the 7 might be tight in that space.

While I know that I can find towers that will help in the quest for a good HT, I am just wonder if it is worth the extra money for someone who will use it primarily for movies, TV

Thanks for all your help!
The "oversized" part is where I would invest in the biggest baddest sub(s) you can afford if you watch a lot of big budget action/thriller movies.

The geographical mobility part of the equation is where I'd definitely go with bookshelves over towers. And totally agree with Rick James: there is zero FUNCTIONAL benefit to towers unless you do a lot of 2-channel music listening or have an auditorium sized room AND sit far away AND like it super loud. Or unless you prefer towers just for looks, or for child/pet safety concerns.

The "good for music" vs "good for HT" debate is perennial, just like the "towers vs bookshelves" debate. My take is that people who believe that "good for music" equals "good for HT" usually like the an analytical, forward, and/or highly detailed presentation of the music. Those who don't, usually prefer a warm, laid-back, and more (intangibly) "soulful" presentation in which perfect accuracy is not the sole criterion. That's why many speakers that are very popular among the HT crowd (Def Tech, SVS, Klipsch, Axiom, etc.) are much less popular among the music crowd.

The key point is, figure out not just where YOUR tastes and preferences lie, but also where your actual real-world priorities and USAGE habits lie---and *then* pick your gear accordingly.

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #18 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 12:53 PM
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IME, speakers that are good for music generally do well for HT.
That entirely depends on WHICH speakers you personally find to be "good for music," of course.

I love my Wharfedales for music, but I'd never choose them for an HT-only setup.

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #19 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 01:59 PM
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White Van and the like aside, all speakers are designed with the same goal: the best possible reproduction of the source material within the constraints dictated by the size and price. What the source material is has no bearing on the design goal. The only major difference between the system needs for music only versus HT is how low the system will go. For music 35Hz is usually adequate, but for that matter the average user would find 35Hz sufficient for HT as well. A serious HT system would go about an octave lower, but that's the only difference.
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post #20 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick374 View Post
My theater is about 13x14. I am in the military so moving around a lot means what works great now might not work well in a year or two when I move. I have no problem going with an oversized system now to avoid rebuying later



I am looking for a 5.1 to a 7.1 system but the 7 might be tight in that space.

While I know that I can find towers that will help in the quest for a good HT, I am just wonder if it is worth the extra money for someone who will use it primarily for movies, TV

Thanks for all your help!
EDITED 02.10.16

For a low spend with outsize performance at that size room plus and moreover in your circumstance maybe just get a decent clean sounding plausible ~ 100 wpc Denon or Sony ~$500.00 give or take HT AVR and a $179.00 Monoprice 2 way alu. dome tweeter 5.1 speaker system and included plausible 8" 200 watt powered sub noting they play at a quality and loudly in a room like that and larger up to many times thier price .

These are NOT audiophile grade and have a mid range /impact mid bass vacancy and are only plausible for music on Dolby PLII rocking all 5 compact speakers not badly and fairly loudly to 112db dynamic peaks on the spendy Sony ES brutish HT AVR in this room with the room gain which isn't a small or large room and its all better with some shock and awe on movies and well above the spend in any case .

They murder HTIB rubbish and the spendy brand cube speakers and boom box and the spendy soundbars out there and they are true 5.1


I was shopping the default Energy Take 5.1 compact system in this review at Amazon and so on and after that Cnet review that likes these better than sliced bread for compacts ...,

I ended up wholly satisfied for the spend and *well beyond with the arguably better Monoprice speakers .
https://www.cnet.com/products/monoprice-10565/review/

https://www.monoprice.com/Product?se...13720000011458
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post #21 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick374 View Post
My theater is about 13x14. I am in the military so moving around a lot means what works great now might not work well in a year or two when I move. I have no problem going with an oversized system now to avoid rebuying later

I am looking for a 5.1 to a 7.1 system but the 7 might be tight in that space.

While I know that I can find towers that will help in the quest for a good HT, I am just wonder if it is worth the extra money for someone who will use it primarily for movies, TV

Thanks for all your help!
There is some advantage to Floorstanding in a Home Theater system. Consider what drivers in the Floorstanding are moving above the typical 80hz crossover relative to Bookshelf speakers.

That said, I think for a vast majority of people in a vast majority of circumstances, a Bookshelf system provides the best results on all fronts.

Under no circumstances do I every recommend tiny Lifestyle Satellite speaker - too much money for not enough speakers. But having said that, I do recognize that there can be a time and place for speakers like this. I just don't ever see myself in that time or place.

Of course, budget matters, since there is more drivers to a floorstanding, it cost more without upgrading the sound, but it does give benefits in other areas. Just as an example, the Monitor Audio Bronze are a very good well respected line, but their floorstanding is roughly the same price as the Monitor Audio SILVER bookshelf. So for a fixed amount of money, you typically get better sound quality from a bookshelf. You just don't quite get the impact. However, for movies, a lot of what we would consider impact will come from the subwoofer.

In a room the size of 13ft x 14ft, that's pretty small, so that again pushes more strongly in the direction of Bookshelf speakers.

As to the Surround speakers, they are typically dictated by circumstances. Many people simply don't have any place at the side to place the first set of Surround speakers. So, they go on the wall to the side, assuming there is room, or they go on the back wall above the listener.

The Front Three (Left/Center/Right) plus the Sub are your primary concerns, after that, for Side/Rear Surround, circumstances dictate the possibilities there. It would not be uncommon to have Bookshelf in Front, and Satellite in the Side/Rear simply because there is really no place to put Surround Bookshelf speakers. Again, that is very situation dependent.

With a Speaker-only budget of about $2500, you should be able to do exceptionally well. In fact for less than that, you should be able to do exceptionally well.

For example -

https://www.svsound.com/products/pri...urround-system

The Surrounds here are small bookshelf, but SV Sound does make another bookshelf that lends itself better to wall mounting -

https://www.svsound.com/products/prime-elevation

These can be mounted high and as you can see, angled down.

That system does NOT include a Subwoofer, but for a small space like that, either of these Subs would be enough -

https://www.svsound.com/products/sb-1000

https://www.svsound.com/products/pb-1000

That takes the full system price to about $1550. Again, no one would be crying over having that system.

That would leave you a pretty substantial sum for an AV Receiver, you should be able to get something well above average.

And by the way, in that small space, stick with 5.1.

Also, the Front Bookshelf in that SV Sound 5.0 system linked to, would still make very good music speakers.

There are others - Wharfedale, Monitor Audio, Klipsch, ELAC, and the Internet Direct sellers like HSU, SVS, Emp-Tek, and many others. My example was simply to illustrate what is easily possible within your budget range.

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post #22 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 04:28 PM
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so many people ask questions without specifying how loud and where...I guess we need a sticky for best setup by price.

If you can diy, I say diy

If you got $$$, I say spend it...the more the better up to about 10k for a system...then diminishing returns

subs are important

audition, audition, audition and get good warranties/trial periods

have fun with the process

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post #23 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 05:05 PM
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SUBS SUBS SUBS.

A decent sub will be able to cover any thinness in the low end up to 100Hz but a decent bookshelf will probably allow you to cros over at around 60Hz. How you split up your money is just personal preference. Unless you are a pristine music audiophile looking for the most discriminating detail in the mid-frequencies, a 2-way bookshelf (tweeter plus mid) will be just fine with your kick-ass subs. Tower is not needed. I prefer the look of my towers. And I also know that my tower with separate tweeter, mid, and woofer allows more musical mid frequency detail which I wouldn't give a rat's ass about if I were only watching movies. I'm 80% music, 20% HT.

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post #24 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 05:44 PM
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While I know that I can find towers that will help in the quest for a good HT, I am just wonder if it is worth the extra money for someone who will use it primarily for movies, TV
The extra 'headroom' you get from towers vis-a-vis bookshelf speakers allow for greater dynamics. They won't run out of steam as quickly, so in that regard they're definitely good for HT. But in a room the size of yours they won't provide enough of an advantage to be worth the investment. Any decent set of mid-sized bookshelf speakers can handle that volume of space.
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post #25 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you Everyone. I appreciate the help and insight and you all gave me a lot to think about. DIY sounds great, but not sure if I will have the time. Overall, I think that bookshelf speakers might great now, but If I ever have a larger theater then Towers might be better. I will have to price out bookshelfs with stands compared to towers and see where that takes me, but ultimately if I can afford towers...sounds like i should go for it... Maybe a little bit of "best of both worlds" If I ever decide to chill to music.
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post #26 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 08:43 PM
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The extra 'headroom' you get from towers vis-a-vis bookshelf speakers allow for greater dynamics..
That's the common wisdom, but these:



are not going to have the headroom or dynamics that these have:

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post #27 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Maverick374 View Post
Thank you Everyone. I appreciate the help and insight and you all gave me a lot to think about. DIY sounds great, but not sure if I will have the time. Overall, I think that bookshelf speakers might great now, but If I ever have a larger theater then Towers might be better. I will have to price out bookshelfs with stands compared to towers and see where that takes me, but ultimately if I can afford towers...sounds like i should go for it... Maybe a little bit of "best of both worlds" If I ever decide to chill to music.
"Best of both worlds" might be the Ascend CMT-340SE which offer room-filling high-sensitivity and have the ability to be converted to a "tower look" later on with their OEM stands, which you can fill with over 100lbs of sand/shot if you ever need the extra safety due to kids or pets. They're very reasonably priced and most people find that they do equally well for HT and music. I used to have a front stage of them in a huge open-plan living room with 18ft cathedral ceilings, and even with a cheap $250 AVR powering them they never lacked for headroom.

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages...m/cmt340m.html

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #28 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 09:01 PM
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"Best of both worlds" might be the Ascend CMT-340SE
For the average HT the 2x6.5 inch MTM is probably the best all around configuration.
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post #29 of 74 Old 02-07-2017, 11:25 PM
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For the average HT the 2x6.5 inch MTM is probably the best all around configuration.
EDITED 02.10.16

Exactly .


Subs are are the best thing to happen to home loudspeakers since Western Electric & Altec , Wharfedale ,Rogers,K horns,James B lansing and alnico JBL woofers

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TV's Samsung PN64f8500 PDP, 2 -5.1 speaks ,2 Sony ES AVR all total |MY hideout : Sony 4K HDR XBR 55X850C,2016.HP 4K core i5 PC, plausible 5.1, Sources D*TV HR54 and room clients ,OTA ,Roku,TV Android 6.0.1 ,all the usuall other stuff up to 4K HDR IPTV and hires media hdd eye candy ,Custom core i7 Game /drive sim PC & G27 wheel ,reference quality 2.1 music > PC Game /Music room. 3 LG,Sony LED TV

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post #30 of 74 Old 02-08-2017, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
"Best of both worlds" might be the Ascend CMT-340SE which offer room-filling high-sensitivity I used to have a front stage of them in a huge open-plan living room with 18ft cathedral ceilings, and even with a cheap $250 AVR powering them they never lacked for headroom.
They look entirely plausible and would probably be much better on a spendy brutish current Sony ES or Denon HT AVR .

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TV's Samsung PN64f8500 PDP, 2 -5.1 speaks ,2 Sony ES AVR all total |MY hideout : Sony 4K HDR XBR 55X850C,2016.HP 4K core i5 PC, plausible 5.1, Sources D*TV HR54 and room clients ,OTA ,Roku,TV Android 6.0.1 ,all the usuall other stuff up to 4K HDR IPTV and hires media hdd eye candy ,Custom core i7 Game /drive sim PC & G27 wheel ,reference quality 2.1 music > PC Game /Music room. 3 LG,Sony LED TV

Last edited by synccoil; 02-10-2017 at 11:45 PM.
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