Originally Posted by atlman
I am the process of piecing together a 5.1 sound system. Previously, my listening consisted of a 3G IPOD, so this purchase is a big jump for me. I've been toiling over which speakers to get, but unfortunately I had a somewhat limited budget to work with. After exploring the several entry level HiFi speakers such as the Klipsch Rf-60 and Polk Rti-7A, I wasn't completely sold on the sound quality of either or the somewhat high price. The front Polk and Klipsch speakers alone without tax are pushing $1000 per pair, and I was hoping to spend less than $1,800 for all speakers , cables and assorted accoutrements. I considered a speaker package from EMP, but they retailed for more money than I wanted to spend. I also read mixed reviews about EMP speakers too.
My total system is basic and consists of a Samsung PDP8000 Plasma, Denon 3312ci AVR, Oppo 93 Blu Ray and an APC H15 power conditioner, which is probably the best built item I bought recently. I have a 15 year old B&K 202 amp and B&K 105 preamp. I am thinking of using the B&K for the front speaker towers, and let Denon power the rest. I haven't had a chance to hook anything up yet, so this review is just on the speaker's appearance and perceived build quality. FYI: I haven't hooked the TV up yet so I can't comment on the screen peeling issue that seems so pervasive with SAMSUNG.
While exploring the AVS forum I came across a thread about BIC America and Premier Acoustics speakers. They both seem to fill a need in the budget challenged consumer. After some thought, I decided to purchase the Premier Acoustics PA-8F 5.1 speaker package for a shipped cost of about $1250. I based my opinion on reading numerous threads on this forum and others about the pros and cons before purchasing. I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into, meaning my expectations were consistent with the low purchase price.
Shipping/ReceivingThe packages were shipped UPS and arrived to my door on schedule. To be frank, the white and blue boxes look private label and arrived roughed up a bit. The subwoofer box had a big 10 inch cut on the side. Okay, I don't blame Sound Distributors for the condition of the boxes, as I know UPS bounced them from truck to warehouse to truck for 2000 miles. Fortunately, in spite of the exterior condition of the boxes and to my surprise the speakers arrived basically flawless. I could not detect any dents, nicks, chips or scratches on any of them. The speaker package came with the PA-15 sub, which weighs about 87 lbs., I had to use a moving dolly to haul it in from my garage into my den. The boxes are large, thick and heavy and take up a lot of space.
Build Quality I ordered the black speakers, because I didn't want them to standout and clash with the rest of the wood in my den. The actual drivers look perfect and fully aligned. Honestly, the appearance of these speakers I would rate a C+ to B-. They won't win any beauty awards, but at least visually they appear to be quite stout. The midrange and woofer drivers are made from a Polygraphite material with foam surrounds. They seem okay but are a little bit on the cheap side I think. They are not paper speakers, but you can sense some cost cutting has occurred on the speaker driver materials versus higher end brands.
All the tweeters appear to be silk. Without the grill the speakers don't look too bad. I think they look rather muscular. Though my wife thought the speakers looked better with the grill on, so it's debatable I suppose. Speaking of the grills, they are not magnetically attachable.
The twin towers seem very well built and probably weigh about 47 lbs. each. The center speaker is rather tall but robust in build and appearance. The dual 8 woofers are nice to have and should help to project a credible front channel presentation. The surround speakers also have dual 8 grey polygraphite woofers, and a silk tweeter. They are bi-direction and fairly large, tall and heavy. I think most people, unless you have a very big room, are not going to want to wall mount these speakers.
All of the speakers have seams on the rear, which I would think is not a sign of high end speakers. It doesn't bother me that much since the seams are rear facing, but you know for the price they had to cut corners somewhere. Another sign of cost cutting is the lack of any floor stands. The speakers lay flat, except the surrounds have very short feet.
The PA-150 subwoofer is a huge beast of a speaker. It looks like a baby A-bomb and it's heavy. You'll need a lot of space for it. I laughed out loud when I took it out of the box. It's really a massive black box. Picture a wet, sloppy, party bottom speaker. Well I hope not, but it looks like it belongs in a bachelor pad or frat dorm room. My wife found the size rather amusing. Your spouse or significant other may not.
Since they have no real pedigree, I can't help think that the PA speakers are White Van specials, which I learned about after purchasing, but I think more likely they are private label or contractor's grade. I think I recall Eric from Sound Distributors mentioning that they installed these speakers in expensive track homes in Las Vegas.
Miscellaneous Observationslittle documentation came with my speakers, other than a warranty card. The subwoofer included a short flier, but I didn't think that the information is very insightful or useful to a beginner.
The speaker box says the towers have a 92db sensitivity, but the included spec sheet says 89db? There is conflicting information on the box versus published elsewhere.
Strangely there is no mention of country of origin anywhere on the box or elsewhere. No doubt these speakers are built in China. The PA-8F speakers seem to me to be a knock-off the Polk TSI 500 series. This is probably a fair matchup given the relative price points.
The black lacquer hard top on the speakers, which to me is their nicest feature, shows fingerprints and dust easily, so keep a dust rag nearby.
The power cord on the PA-150 sub is short and flimsy. You cannot replace it.
The cord looks like it belongs on a kid's toy , and not on a device capable of a handling a claimed 1000 peak watts.
Overall the PA-8F speakers with 15 inch subwoofer package seems to compete okay in the under $1300 speaker market. They are definitely better built than what you would likely find at your local Best Buy,Costco or Wal-Mart, but I am not sure if they are worth the suggested retail price of $2199 price. Just keep your expectations reasonable for what you paid and you'll likely be satisfied overall with them.
Once I hook everything up, I'll post a review on the sound quality.