Thanks for all the help to everyone! After a ton of research, a lot of auditioning, and a lot of consideration, I've finally pieced together what I think will be the best performance/value for my price range (and easily well beyond). It's all ordered and now all I have to do is wait for it to come in!
Here is what I ended up going with. I have no previous speaker equipment and am starting from scratch so this includes everything:Speakers: Paradigm Reference Studio 10 v5
- New / open-box. $740 shippedSubwoofer: HSU STF-2
- New. $387 shippedReceiver: Harmon Kardon HK 3490
- New. $330 shipped
Speaker wires, banana plugs, and various connectors: $25 shipped from Monoprice.
So the total amount spent (including shipping, tax etc.) for the entire system comes to $1483
, which is just perfectly under my max stretch limit. I'm getting this system essentially as a net $0 swap/trade, due to my sold equipment from my previous headphone rigs paying for everything.
What I like about this setup is that the Studio 10 plus a solid subwoofer totals to considerably less than a Studio 20, and should sound much better overall. My reasoning for the Studio 10s versus the 20s is due to reading multiple reviews where each reviewer mentioned that the Studio 10 sounds just as good as the 20s in everything except less bass extension. Also, the Studio 10 has the exact same tweeter, and the same woofer coils etc. The only difference is the smaller box (which actually is better for my small room) and smaller overall woofer size. Since the reduced cost allows me to add a good sub, I get an overall higher quality, more full sound for less price overall.
Edit: Also I should clarify on my speaker choice. Ultimately I chose the Paradigm Studio due to sonic preference, since it's most likely around the same general sound quality level as the Ascend Sierra-1s. I've come to realize that I tend to prefer the more forward and crisp treble of a metal tweeter, versus the soft domes as found in the Ascend Sierra.Edited by ac500 - 10/15/12 at 11:58pm