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Best HT front speakers and center for $1100

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I am trying to get a friend interested in Home Theater and it seems its working LOL (not that sure yet)

Anyway, I need your help on what to suggest to him for his front speakers (Bookshelf) and Center. He already has speakers for the rear and his sub will most probably be an SVS one.

This will be placed in his bedroom though with roughly 1500cuft. His TV is a 50incher.

He will mainly use this as 50%-movies 30%-TV shows 10%-games 10%-music

His amp is an Onkyo 609

He wants to watch movies LOUD

Im looking into: SVS, Klipsh, Mission, Polk, PSB, Monitor Audio, B&W, etc.

His budget is around US$1100 for the fronts and center. (excluding cables)

Thanks
post #2 of 45
Then you need to look into the speakers that give you great high spl dynamics, and not just the "her voice sounds so beautiful when I play this track at 90db peaks" crowd of speakers.

Look for either speakers with lower sensitivity but high power handling that you have to throw hundreds of watts per channel at, or high sensitivity.
post #3 of 45
Thread Starter 
I see. Do you have any speakers in mind? I'm really a newbie in home theater stuff and need your help =)

(I'm a bit experienced in car audio though but it seems they are a bit different)
post #4 of 45
Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 SE series has an exact matching center. It's the same speaker configured for horizontal placement. Having three same across the front is optimal for HT.
post #5 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

Hi,

I am trying to get a friend interested in Home Theater and it seems its working LOL (not that sure yet)

Anyway, I need your help on what to suggest to him for his front speakers (Bookshelf) and Center. He already has speakers for the rear and his sub will most probably be an SVS one.

This will be placed in his bedroom though with roughly 1500cuft. His TV is a 50incher.

He will mainly use this as 50%-movies 30%-TV shows 10%-games 10%-music

His amp is an Onkyo 609

He wants to watch movies LOUD

Im looking into: SVS, Klipsh, Mission, Polk, PSB, Monitor Audio, B&W, etc.

His budget is around US$1100 for the fronts and center. (excluding cables)

Thanks

I'm in a very similar boat. I have a svs pc12-NSD ans SSS-02for surrounds.

I was looking to replace my font 3 at 1000-1200. I settled on the aperion verus gran bookshelves and center ($1300 new - b stock available for $1050) and Boston acoustics vs 260/325 ($2300 list - VANN's clearance for $850). I currently have both in my house and will return the "loser"

Both sets have excellent reviews and would be worth considering, though I will let others advise if the Onkyo is powerful enough.

Good luck!
post #6 of 45
The receiver is not real high-powered, so you need to be sure you get fairly sensitive speakers; 89db/watt or higher. Speakers rated 88db/watt or lower take too much power to play very loud.

If I was recommending speakers to a friend in that price range for that usage, I would recommend the Monitor Audio M6 ($650/pair) towers and the Monitor Audio Bronze BX Center ($299). IMO those are some of the best in that price range. You can check their specs and dimensions on the Audio Advisor website.

The M6 has enough bass to satisfy some, but if he wants real heavy bass you need a decent subwoofer in there somewhere.

If a subwoofer has to fit in the $1100 budget that is a major change; instead of going with towers one would use bookshelf/monitor speakers big enough to go down to 50 Hz for the front plus a center and 12-inch subwoofer with good power.

In that case the Monitor Audio Bronze BX-2 could be the front ($489) with the Bronze BX Center, and the Polk PSW505 subwoofer or whatever is good in that price range would finish it up for $300 or so. Anything that does not have a 12" driver and at least 300 watts of RMS (not peak) power is not adequate IMO.

PSB speakers are excellent, IMO. The Image B6 ($549) could be the front speakers with the Image C4 ($299) and a subwoofer. The excellent Image T6 tower speakers that I have are $1300 pair, so that is kind of out of the price range.

I would never recommend Mission or Klipsch speakers to a friend because their tweeters are not good-sounding to me at all; I find them harsh and not natural-sounding, especially when driven to high sound levels.


Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

Hi,

I am trying to get a friend interested in Home Theater and it seems its working LOL (not that sure yet)

Anyway, I need your help on what to suggest to him for his front speakers (Bookshelf) and Center. He already has speakers for the rear and his sub will most probably be an SVS one.

This will be placed in his bedroom though with roughly 1500cuft. His TV is a 50incher.

He will mainly use this as 50%-movies 30%-TV shows 10%-games 10%-music

His amp is an Onkyo 609

He wants to watch movies LOUD

Im looking into: SVS, Klipsh, Mission, Polk, PSB, Monitor Audio, B&W, etc.

His budget is around US$1100 for the fronts and center. (excluding cables)

Thanks
post #7 of 45
elemental designs

pair of these
http://www.edesignaudio.com/product_...oducts_id=1007

and the center channel
http://www.edesignaudio.com/product_...oducts_id=1009

$980 shipped.

This would be a very nice setup.
post #8 of 45
CHT SHO-10's
post #9 of 45
Hi,

I have a set of 3 brand new Infinity Cascade 3V's in Silver if that might interest you?

Bazzy!
post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

Hi,

His amp is an Onkyo 609

He wants to watch movies LOUD

Thanks

+1 on the Chase SHO or PRO speakers. Klipsch are nice for HT- pretty efficient.
post #11 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

He wants to watch movies LOUD

Another vote for Chase Home Theater, Pro-10 or Sho-10; he'll be happy!
post #12 of 45
Thread Starter 
I've read that klipsh, despite being a sensitive speaker, sounds harsh when driven loud (with respect to the tweeter).

Are the Monitor Audio more for music or HT? Could their bookshelf and center speaeker handle LOUD movie viewing when paired with an SVS ported sub ?

Note: The $1100 budget is for the 2x front speakers and 1x center speaker only. (He has an SVS ported sub and rear speakers)

Thanks
post #13 of 45
Good thread as I'm currently looking to upgrade all my HT components and take it up a level or two. It's been years since I've done anything so I need to reacquaint myself with everything. Any votes for Energy either RC-10's, RC-LCR or the veritas line?
post #14 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by rick240 View Post

Another vote for Chase Home Theater, Pro-10 or Sho-10; he'll be happy!

I didn't even think about those before. No doubt. For speakers that can get loud for HT and sound good, this would be it
post #15 of 45
Hsu makes some really good speakers (and subs). I've really enjoyed my HB-1s and the HC-1 center is an excellent match.
They are also very easy to drive.

http://hsuresearch.com/products/hb-1.html

http://hsuresearch.com/products/hc-1.html
post #16 of 45
^^^
These have been tentatively on a list I was considering.
But even though it uses a horn for the upper frequencies, I feel like the woofer is holding back its sensitivity?

92db sounds decent...not reference level sensitive, but gets me a lot closer to what I want...UNTIL I see the spec is for half-space.

If I take away 3db to get an anechoic approximation, should we be calling this an 89 db sensitive speaker? That doesn't seem high enough to me for great theater dynamics. It puts it behind the Ascend CMT-340, or Axiom's M3 (92db anechoic).

I sure wish this price bracket had more to choose from in the 93db-95db sensitivity range.

I'm also thinking of some pro-sound speakers that people have recommended for home theater, such as Electro-Voice ZX1 (which seemed great until I saw that they, too, report in half-space) and the Mackie C200 (only problem is can't rotate the horn 90 deg for center speaker use).

So, back to the HB-1: I feel like I'm missing something here. People rave about the punching midbass, and offer them as higher sensitivity speakers, but it seems like they shouldn't be. Thoughts?
post #17 of 45
It is very simple to figure out if a speaker will play loud enough. First, you need to know how loud you listen and if you calibrate properly or use an auto EQ this is easy. Second, you need to know what is reference level on your receiver, many use 0 dB master volume, if not, the manual should state it or call. Reference levels are a known voulme so if you listen at say -20dB's from reference you know that you need peaks of 85 dB's at your listening position and 95dB's from your sub. Now figure out how many dB's you lose at your LP compared to the speaker. For example, I listen at reference levels, so I need 105 dB's peak at my LP. I lose 12 dB's at my seats so I need a speaker that can play 117 dB's at the speaker. Now take a Triad speaker because I know the specs. It can take 250 watts and 92 dB sensitive. This speaker can play 115-116 dB's based on the specs so very close. If I watch at -5 dB's from reference no problems at all. However, speakers usually compress and distort before their maximums. The M&K S-5000 speaker was special because it specs were very under rated. That speaker could play louder than the specs say, much louder. We need to figure out what our AVR really puts out and what our speakers really can do because if we really care about great dynamics there should be no compression. Once you hear this there is no going back! My speakers I use don't use more than 20 watts peak and makes my AVR sound like a powerhouse!
post #18 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by rick240 View Post

Another vote for Chase Home Theater, Pro-10 or Sho-10; he'll be happy!

And yet another vote here. Loud + Movies = CHT within that budget. The eD's are also a good pick IMO.
post #19 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post

It is very simple to figure out if a speaker will play loud enough. First, you need to know how loud you listen and if you calibrate properly or use an auto EQ this is easy. Second, you need to know what is reference level on your receiver, many use 0 dB master volume, if not, the manual should state it or call. Reference levels are a known voulme so if you listen at say -20dB's from reference you know that you need peaks of 85 dB's at your listening position and 95dB's from your sub. Now figure out how many dB's you lose at your LP compared to the speaker. For example, I listen at reference levels, so I need 105 dB's peak at my LP. I lose 12 dB's at my seats so I need a speaker that can play 117 dB's at the speaker. Now take a Triad speaker because I know the specs. It can take 250 watts and 92 dB sensitive. This speaker can play 115-116 dB's based on the specs so very close. If I watch at -5 dB's from reference no problems at all. However, speakers usually compress and distort before their maximums. The M&K S-5000 speaker was special because it specs were very under rated. That speaker could play louder than the specs say, much louder. We need to figure out what our AVR really puts out and what our speakers really can do because if we really care about great dynamics there should be no compression. Once you hear this there is no going back! My speakers I use don't use more than 20 watts peak and makes my AVR sound like a powerhouse!

Good stuff. But I think it's a little more complicated when you're moving UP in capabilities, closer reference level, and one is not necessarily targeting reference level per se. In your case, you know what level you like to listen at. In my case, I honestly don't know. It sounds bad if I turn it up. I know anecdotedly it doesn't have to sound bad. Will I be happy at -10? Will I feel like it's better, but then wish it was -5, and be disappointed?

Living in ND as I do, I need to rely more on research, speculation, trial and error, than others in more metropolitan areas that are chock full of AVSers!
post #20 of 45
I've calibrated for 0db = reference on the receiver. I have REW and Galaxy sound meter.

What's the easiest way to tell how many watts I'm putting out of the receiver?

(I'm wondering at different levels of volume, when speakers are sounding strained, if the receiver is distorting/clipping, or is it solely that the speakers are giving up?)
post #21 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyleron View Post

I've calibrated for 0db = reference on the receiver. I have REW and Galaxy sound meter.

What's the easiest way to tell how many watts I'm putting out of the receiver?

(I'm wondering at different levels of volume, when speakers are sounding strained, if the receiver is distorting/clipping, or is it solely that the speakers are giving up?)

Well, what speakers are you using and what sensitivity are they? What is your rated watts on your AVR? Average AVR's put out half their ratings and good ones will put out a little less. My SC-37 puts out 110 watts per channel but specs say 140 watts. My power amp puts out 300 watts(specs) and really puts out 385 watts! I sold it because of the speakers I use now and don't need the power or ability to drive 4 ohms. You have to figure out what your goals are. Mine were IMAX in the home with deeper extension! What usually happens is that people are used to lower levels because the louder it gets the worse it sounds, in my case the louder it gets the better it sounds which makes you listen louder because it sounds so clear and dynamic! So if you like -20 dB on the MV now with dynamic speakers you may like -5 dB's and that is a huge difference! It is easy for us to just say what we like and we do, but you need to know what you like or would like. How about getting a system that can play reference so if you ever wanted to you could rather than what if? You don't have to listen that loud but the capability is always there.
post #22 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post

Well, what speakers are you using and what sensitivity are they? What is your rated watts on your AVR? Average AVR's put out half their ratings and good ones will put out a little less.

The receiver is a Pioneer 1014, which was a clone of the Pioneer Elite 52, and was pretty well regarded:
Five channels 8 ohm load: .1% distortion: 115.3 watts; 1% distortion 129 watts.

The front three speakers are Paradigms:
Titan v3: 6.5 inch woofer, .75" tweeter, 86 db sensitivity, 100 watt power handling.
CC-170. 5.5 x 2 woofers, .75" tweeter, sensitivity of 87 db, 120 watt max power.

(I'm also trying out my boss' Paradigm Monitor 370 center and Monitor 5, which are a little more sensitive, but still not much better, and didn't do much better when I did compression tests in REW)

Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post

It is easy for us to just say what we like and we do, but you need to know what you like or would like.

Right, that's what I was saying. With each equipment change (I've been lurking in your shootout thread), you've already long established what you like, what the rest of the room will support, so you know what level to shoot for.

Until I try it, and fix other bottlenecks that might crop up (like if the acoustics of the room hold me back), I don't know whether to shoot for -10db, 0db, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post

How about getting a system that can play reference so if you ever wanted to you could rather than what if? You don't have to listen that loud but the capability is always there.

Oh I know. But it gets more difficult the closer you get to reference level. If I could swing 1k per speakers I'd already have bought JTRs. But my budget keeps me away from "reference level" and plunks me into "better than before" or "near reference level."

Hence my quest for $200 speakers with high sensitivity. This simply appears to be more virgin territory for people, for the internet, for AVS. You see a few threads here and there over the past few years about pro speakers, JTR, Chase. But Klipsch seems to have had a virtual corner on the marker of consumer sensitive speakers for the past 20 years.

I'm compiling a Google Docs spreadsheet of various high sensitivity speakers, using their published specs, to help people with this sort of research. But it's tough, with some manufacturers not listing max RMS watts, or others leaving out Peak watts, or only publishing in-room sensitivity. But maybe over time other people can fill in the gaps from reviews, manufacturer comments, tests, etc.
post #23 of 45
I would say that it is the speakers and the AVR that is causing the distortion. Nearly impossible to get to clean reference level with 100 watt 89db speakers, unless you are wearing them like headphones.
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post #24 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by AV Science Sales 5 View Post

I would say that it is the speakers and the AVR that is causing the distortion. Nearly impossible to get to clean reference level with 100 watt 89db speakers, unless you are wearing them like headphones.

This is correct! The loudest the speakers can play is 106 dB's at 1 meter and they will sound awful doing so. I doubt they can play that loud at all. I just replaced some tower Paradigms with powered subs built in with some JTR's. His paradigms could only muster 105 dB's at the speaker and still sound ok. At 107 dB's they were down right awful! These were nice or over $1000 speakers. The Chase SHO-10 will play reference with an AVR unless you sit back too far. Those are not $200 though. I think your only chance at reference or near reference with your budget is DIY! Build some TLAH's or econowaves and be done. Up the budget and build some DR's and reference is easy. Again DIY!
post #25 of 45
Thread Starter 
I checked the Chase Home Theater and damn they are big LOL. More or less I could go for either 2x 6.5" and a tweeter for the bookshelf. 10" is just too big.

By the way, can these play LOUD for movies and which have these don't have harsh tweeters? We absolutely hate harsh tweeters. (we prefer silk domes to metal)

1) PSB Bookshelf
2) Monitor Audio Bookshelf
3) Polk Bookshelf
4) aperion verus Bookshelf

(to be used with an SVS ported sub and an Onkyo609/709/809 amp)
post #26 of 45
My father has the hsu enthusiast 2 pkg with the vtf 3.3 sub in a room that 20x40x20 and I was able to measure 106dB at the listening position without distortion.
post #27 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

By the way, can these play LOUD for movies and which have these don't have harsh tweeters? We absolutely hate harsh tweeters. (we prefer silk domes to metal)

You might appreciate the subjective listening testimonial in this recent AVS member posting: Energy Veritas v5.1, Polk LSi7's, B&W 685B's, and Ascend Sierra-1. You can figure out which ones play be loud by checking their specs. As mentioned previously, look for sensitivity of at least 89db.
post #28 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 SE series has an exact matching center. It's the same speaker configured for horizontal placement. Having three same across the front is optimal for HT.

Cel,
If I use these three speakers for LCR, should I place the center vertically like the LR or laying it flat horizontally? Thanks.
post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by tvuong View Post

Cel,
If I use these three speakers for LCR, should I place the center vertically like the LR or laying it flat horizontally? Thanks.

Horizontal, just like it was designed to be placed.Thats why Cel said "horizontal placement". Unless you meant you were getting 3 of the CMT-340 SE's to use as LCR then it would be placed vertically. But if you are getting the matching CC then horizontal
post #30 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

I checked the Chase Home Theater and damn they are big LOL. More or less I could go for either 2x 6.5" and a tweeter for the bookshelf. 10" is just too big.

By the way, can these play LOUD for movies and which have these don't have harsh tweeters? We absolutely hate harsh tweeters. (we prefer silk domes to metal)

1) PSB Bookshelf
2) Monitor Audio Bookshelf
3) Polk Bookshelf
4) aperion verus Bookshelf

(to be used with an SVS ported sub and an Onkyo609/709/809 amp)

Based on what I've gathered from your comments I'm thinking Klipsch will be the way to go, as they aren't too big and are pretty sensitive/easy to drive. They may sound harsh at high levels, though; that's in the eye of the beholder, though (or rather ear in this case). However, before anyone gives more recommendations (most likely only what they own ), you really need to define "loud." Exactly how loud? What are the goals here, because the speakers you keep listing won't go super "loud" (minus the Klipsch stuff...maybe), at least not to reference HT levels when compared to something like the CHT's or eD's. Does he want to watch movies at reference level (calibrated to 0 on the receiver), or maybe -15 or -25? We need to know.
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