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post #1 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Help selecting speakers for new 5.1.x HT System ($1500 budget)

I'm moving into a new house and I'm looking to set up a new home theater system in our living room. As this is my first time really looking to buy something nice, I could use some advice on which speakers to purchase. I've taken a look at The Wire Cutter's Surround Sound Speakers article (sorry can't link, not enough posts) and a few others, but I wanted to be very thorough before I made my decision.

The end-goal is to have a 5.1.4/5.2.4 Atmos system. However, I can't afford the full system at this point, so I'm hoping to start with a 5.1 system and purchase the extra sub (if needed) / Atmos speakers as money allows.

1) Your budget.

I'd like to keep it under $1500 for the 5.1 system, but if there are worthwhile upgrades I can flex a little bit. Mostly, I don't mind paying a little bit more if it's going to keep me from wanting / needing to spend more money on upgrades in the future.

Edit: Just to clarify further, the $1500 is for the 5.1 system only (not including atmos speakers). The atmos speakers will come later.

2) Your listening interests: movies/gaming/music--and whether or not any of those are your primary concern.

Priority: Movies / TV Shows / Music / Gaming
Usage: 50% TV Shows / 20% Movies / 15% Sports / 10% Music / 5% Gaming

3) Your existing audio equipment (make/models) if any. Include comments about what you hope to improve upon.

Denon AVR-X4300H
I also have an old Energy Take 5 set and Klipsch PSW10, but those are likely going to be used for a smaller HT setup in the basement.

4) The size of your room. Please also mention if there are adjacent open areas and how big they are (important for subwoofer choice).

The room is 169" x 212". This is measured to the front of the fireplace (see pictures). In terms of open spaces, there are 3 open doorways to other rooms in this room. One runs to a hallway that leads to the main floor bedrooms. The other visible one (on the left) leads into the kitchen, which is probably ~12x12. There is also another doorway where the photo is taken that leads to the front entryway, with the entryway probably being like 6x6. There are also stairs that lead upstairs right next to where the picture was taken (they form one of the walls of the room).

https://imgur.com/a/thH4A

Note: The furniture in the room is from previous occupants. The room is currently full of random stuff from moving so I can't take any good pictures yet. We are, however, planning on putting in two leather couches with recliners (one loveseat, the other with 3 seats). Room orientation hasn't been decided and I am open to ideas there as well.

Note 2: I can try to take better pictures / measurements after work if needed.

5) Any placement restrictions.

None. It's worth mentioning that we can hang speakers from the ceiling if needed.

6) Any aesthetic or size concerns.

Just wanted to mention that we aren't worried about aesthetics, sound performance comes first. Exposed wires, etc are fine. We'll do our best to make it look decent but we aren't worried.

7) Any equipment you are already considering (or would not consider).


The speaker systems mentioned in the The Wire Cutter article mentioned above. That would be the ELAC Debut "package" they talk about and the KEF Q Series "package".

8) Any particular audio sonic signatures you know you prefer (e.g., you are a basshead, you have a preference for bright treble, etc.)

We probably enjoy a warmer, bassier sound signature. Neutral is also fine though.

Last edited by everix1992; 09-25-2017 at 12:37 PM.
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 12:19 PM
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What volumes do you want to listen at?
$1500 sure doesnt go very far when you want a subwoofer, LCR, 2 surrounds and four atmos speakers (9 speakers and a subwoofer). Especially when your area is pretty large AND it seems to be open to other rooms so you might want dual big subs.

Do you have any DIY capacity? I think subwoofers are absurdly easy to assemble and you get 2x for the money, easily.
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post #3 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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What volumes do you want to listen at?
$1500 sure doesnt go very far when you want a subwoofer, LCR, 2 surrounds and four atmos speakers (9 speakers and a subwoofer). Especially when your area is pretty large AND it seems to be open to other rooms so you might want dual big subs.

Do you have any DIY capacity? I think subwoofers are absurdly easy to assemble and you get 2x for the money, easily.
What volumes do you want to listen at?
I personally like to listen to my movies/shows at a fairly loud volume. I expect that the volume will be lowered when I watch with others, but I'm purchasing these for me and not them so we'll go with reasonably loud.

For the budget, I'll try and edit the OP to clarify a bit more, but I wanted the $1500 to cover the base 5.1 system. The atmos speakers will be purchased in the future on a different budget when I have the money available to buy them. I just wanted to mention that having atmos speakers was my end goal in case that affected the 5.1 speaker decisions.

And sadly, I don't think I have any DIY capacity for this area at least.
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 12:50 PM
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90% movies/TV/gaming usage, you don't need to spend much on the speakers, but invest in a good subwoofer since you've got all those open spaces around the listening area.

Yeah, I'd move or sell the Energy Take sats and Klipsch sub.

If you want to do it all in one fell swoop, get the 3.1 package here for $1259:
http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid3hppkg.html

And for your surrounds (they only do a lousy 5-10% of the audio output, so zero need to "match" them to the fronts) you could get a pair of these for $130 shipped:
https://www.amazon.com/JBL-Bookshelf...ywords=jbl+b15

Similarly, your Atmos in-ceiling speakers can be just about anything, no point splurging on them:
https://www.amazon.com/Micca-M-8C-Ce...speakers+micca

Beware of salesmen clamoring to sell you a "matching" set---in reality, the only speakers in your system that need to match are the front L/R. Salesmen have to make rent, is all.

~ 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 #5 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
90% movies/TV/gaming usage, you don't need to spend much on the speakers, but invest in a good subwoofer since you've got all those open spaces around the listening area.

Yeah, I'd move or sell the Energy Take sats and Klipsch sub.

If you want to do it all in one fell swoop, get the 3.1 package here for $1259:
http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid3hppkg.html

And for your surrounds (they only do a lousy 5-10% of the audio output, so zero need to "match" them to the fronts) you could get a pair of these for $130 shipped:
https://www.amazon.com/JBL-Bookshelf...ywords=jbl+b15

Similarly, your Atmos in-ceiling speakers can be just about anything, no point splurging on them:
https://www.amazon.com/Micca-M-8C-Ce...speakers+micca

Beware of salesmen clamoring to sell you a "matching" set---in reality, the only speakers in your system that need to match are the front L/R. Salesmen have to make rent, is all.
One fell swoop is nice, but I'm not opposed to going another route if there's better options. From the little bit of reading I've been doing, it seems like the HSU Subs are pretty highly recommended, so I'm sold on the MK3 from that package. Are those center and L/R speakers great options too or am I better off opting for something else?

Also, how does the VTF-15H MK2 compare? Is it worth the extra ~$130 to step up to it?

Last edited by everix1992; 09-25-2017 at 01:05 PM.
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post #6 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 01:04 PM
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One fell swoop is nice, but I'm not opposed to going another route if there's better options. From the little bit of reading I've been doing, it seems like the HSU Subs are pretty highly recommended, so I'm sold on the MK3 from that package. Are those center and L/R speakers great options too or am I better off opting for something else?
I recommended the Hsu speakers because you said you like to play fairly loud, and also you like a "warmer" sound---the Hsu speakers fit both criteria.

If you wanted something more neutral, you could look at the Ascend 170SE with 340SE center. 3 x 340SE centers would be ideal, but you'd be over budget.

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages.../spkrlist.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 #7 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I recommended the Hsu speakers because you said you like to play fairly loud, and also you like a "warmer" sound---the Hsu speakers fit both criteria.

If you wanted something more neutral, you could look at the Ascend 170SE with 340SE center. 3 x 340SE centers would be ideal, but you'd be over budget.

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages.../spkrlist.html
Perfect, I was just making sure you weren't only recommending them because they were packaged with the sub. Also, I see that the VTF-15H comes pretty highly recommended as well. Is it worth paying the extra ~$130 to step up to that? The little bit of reading I've managed to do in the last few minutes makes it sound like it very well may be, even if it's only to make sure I don't get buyer's remorse down the road haha.
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post #8 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 01:17 PM
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Perfect, I was just making sure you weren't only recommending them because they were packaged with the sub. Also, I see that the VTF-15H comes pretty highly recommended as well. Is it worth paying the extra ~$130 to step up to that? The little bit of reading I've managed to do in the last few minutes makes it sound like it very well may be, even if it's only to make sure I don't get buyer's remorse down the road haha.
If I remember correctly, the VTF-15H simply has a bit more subsonic output than the VTF-3. Do a search on the Subwoofer forum, they discuss it more in depth there.

~ 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 #9 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 02:04 PM
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Perfect, I was just making sure you weren't only recommending them because they were packaged with the sub. Also, I see that the VTF-15H comes pretty highly recommended as well. Is it worth paying the extra ~$130 to step up to that? The little bit of reading I've managed to do in the last few minutes makes it sound like it very well may be, even if it's only to make sure I don't get buyer's remorse down the road haha.
I owned the HSU VTF15H and it is definitely worth the upgrade if you have the room and care about the ULF. A thread discussing the two.
Also I am a big fan of the company [HSU] and the products so you won't be disappointed. IF it were me I would rather have the HSU 5.0 than the ELAC.

MY buddy still has a 5.1 HSU setupand it is simply awesome for the price. I have not yet heard the CCB-8 but I would like to.
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 02:17 PM
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Perfect, I was just making sure you weren't only recommending them because they were packaged with the sub. Also, I see that the VTF-15H comes pretty highly recommended as well. Is it worth paying the extra ~$130 to step up to that? The little bit of reading I've managed to do in the last few minutes makes it sound like it very well may be, even if it's only to make sure I don't get buyer's remorse down the road haha.
Your post and needs pretty much leads directly to HSU and while their package prices don't offer much of a true discount when you do the math you can end up saving $50-$100 by pairing the excellent speakers with their excellent subs.

I'd say Klipsch RP or JBL but I think the HSU sound signature more matches your warmer preference as Zorba said.

Geoff A. J., California
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post #11 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I think I'm pretty sold on the Hybrid 15 - 3.1 Package then. Just to make sure though, there really won't be much gain by getting the HSU bookshelf speakers for the surrounds right (as opposed to something like the JBL's that Zorba linked)? If so, I may go ahead and pull the trigger on these then.

Having never shopped with HSU before, I was thrown a bit off guard by the shipping. $260 or so for the 15 3.1 package, yikes!
Edit: Didn't realize the sub was over 100lbs. That explains the massive shipping price then.

Last edited by everix1992; 09-25-2017 at 02:45 PM.
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post #12 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 02:56 PM
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I think I'm pretty sold on the Hybrid 15 - 3.1 Package then. Just to make sure though, there really won't be much gain by getting the HSU bookshelf speakers for the surrounds right (as opposed to something like the JBL's that Zorba linked)? If so, I may go ahead and pull the trigger on these then.

Having never shopped with HSU before, I was thrown a bit off guard by the shipping. $260 or so for the 15 3.1 package, yikes!
Edit: Didn't realize the sub was over 100lbs. That explains the massive shipping price then.
The HSU bookshelves are hardly expensive when you consider when you go from the 3.1 package to the 5.1 package you are essentially paying $143 each for the HSU HM1s.

I'd get the HSU over the JBL at $143 each in a heartbeat, (regularly $168 each).

Mind you that is twice the price of the JBLs, but if aesthetics play even a minor role the overkill HSUs for surrounds would be perfect.

The HSUs you can cross over at 80hz, just like the fronts, the JBLs would have to be crossed over at 120hz and there is some content below 120hz for surround when it comes to explosions and helicopters and whatnot.

Geoff A. J., California

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Originally Posted by everix1992 View Post
I think I'm pretty sold on the Hybrid 15 - 3.1 Package then. Just to make sure though, there really won't be much gain by getting the HSU bookshelf speakers for the surrounds right (as opposed to something like the JBL's that Zorba linked)? If so, I may go ahead and pull the trigger on these then.

Having never shopped with HSU before, I was thrown a bit off guard by the shipping. $260 or so for the 15 3.1 package, yikes!
Edit: Didn't realize the sub was over 100lbs. That explains the massive shipping price then.
You could use a pair of your Energy Takes for surrounds until you try out the HSU package and hear how it sounds.
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post #14 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
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This is maybe a bit off topic, but seeing the room does anyone have advice on placement of the sub? I just want to be doubly sure that we can accommodate it before I make the purchase. How does the corner work?

Also I'm thinking that we're probably gonna put the TV along the wall to the right and the couches across from it.
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post #15 of 16 Old 09-25-2017, 06:29 PM
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This is maybe a bit off topic, but seeing the room does anyone have advice on placement of the sub? I just want to be doubly sure that we can accommodate it before I make the purchase. How does the corner work?
Corners are where many people put their subs...for aesthetic as well as acoustic reasons.

~ 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 #16 of 16 Old 09-26-2017, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by everix1992 View Post
This is maybe a bit off topic, but seeing the room does anyone have advice on placement of the sub? I just want to be doubly sure that we can accommodate it before I make the purchase. How does the corner work?

Also I'm thinking that we're probably gonna put the TV along the wall to the right and the couches across from it.
A common location and your excellent AVR actually has EQ for the subs which will take care of any excesses below 30hz.

I have a sealed sub with built in EQ and my sub is on a side wall just in front of my left tower about 3 feet from the corner and as you can see my EQ had to cut below 30hz to reduce boominess.

20=-11db
25=-10
32=-12
40=0
50=0
63=0
80=0
100=+1

Geoff A. J., California
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