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Sound System on a Budget

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

I just moved into a new apartment and I want to get a decent 5.1 sound system. I'm looking to spend around 500$ but that's not a terribly strict budget. If I need to spend a little more or less for the best value I'm open to it.

I know wireless speakers aren't as good as wired, but since I live in an apartment I really don't have any way to do wires for the back speakers. So those two need to be wireless if possible. The room is about 15 ft deep and 18 ft wide.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

-Cameron.
post #2 of 23
Thread Starter 
Most things I have read recommend the Energy 5.1 Take Home Classics for my budget. Is this my best bet? If so. What receiver would you recommend? And would wireless receivers be an acceptable option with these speakers?
post #3 of 23
A few systems perhaps worth considering might be Energy Take Classic, Klipsch HD500 and the Mordaunt Short Carnival.
post #4 of 23
In a 5 channel system the surrounds should be to the sides, not the rear in any case. There are ways to run speaker wire artfully, too. Wireless transmitters/receivers still need to be equipped with amplifiers if you're using passive speakers (some wireless kits are intended for active speakers that have their own amplifier). You might consider a 3.1 setup and skip the surrounds if they're difficult to setup, lets you put more money towards quality speakers and sub. $500 still isn't a lot of budget for L/C/R and sub, though. Depends on what you want in terms of output, too. I have a Take Classic 5.1 set but have enjoyed it most in a very small room, the larger the room the less effective they are....they're small speakers.
post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

In a 5 channel system the surrounds should be to the sides, not the rear in any case..

Its not written in stone. In the case of direct-firing speakers like my Studio 20's, I like them up high and behind me with the drivers facing at an angle.
Too direct beside me, more of an ambient sound the way I have them IMO.
post #6 of 23
I was speaking more to the assumption that surrounds in a 5ch system are intended for the back of the room, like rear surrounds in a 7 ch system are intended by Dolby and THX (I know I made that assumption when I first went 5 channel, maybe that's my old quad influence showing wink.gif ). I've also used them in a 5 ch setup up and to the rear and angled towards the LP for aesthetics and they worked well but they became my rear surround mounts when i went to 7 ch (but kept the surrounds up rather than directly to the sides but mostly due to aesthetic reasons).
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by C3viz View Post

Most things I have read recommend the Energy 5.1 Take Home Classics for my budget. Is this my best bet? If so. What receiver would you recommend? And would wireless receivers be an acceptable option with these speakers?


http://www.amazon.com/Energy-Classic-Theater-System-Black/dp/B001202C44?t=slicinc-20&tag=slicinc-20&ascsubtag=8HRu1MFcEeK2n7Z5T1_aaglk82_axCZ3_yIN_0_0
post #8 of 23
Cambridge Audio.
S30 pair LR mains
S50 center
S20 pair surrounds
$570 total

There are a couple $120 subs occasionally recommended in the forum as an ok "starter" sub which would bring the total to just $690.

This would sound radically better than the Energy sets (for both HT and music). The 5.0 speakers are good enough quality that you could upgrade the sub later without also needing to upgrade the speakers. This could be a system you'd be happy with for a long time.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
I really appreciate all of the input. Does anyone else have an opinion in regards to the Cambridge audios vs the Energy's? Is It worth the extra 200-300 dollars?

Also is there any solid budget receivers that you would recommend?

Also. Are there any places you guys could recommend to go test some of these systems? In in the Austin Area.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by C3viz View Post

Hey guys,

I just moved into a new apartment and I want to get a decent 5.1 sound system. I'm looking to spend around 500$ but that's not a terribly strict budget. If I need to spend a little more or less for the best value I'm open to it.

I know wireless speakers aren't as good as wired, but since I live in an apartment I really don't have any way to do wires for the back speakers. So those two need to be wireless if possible. The room is about 15 ft deep and 18 ft wide.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

-Cameron.

How terribly not strict is that budget? You're going to have a hard time getting decent speakers and a sub at $500. You'll be upgrading quickly, especially with small cube speakers like the Cambridge or Energy Takes.

Newegg.com has the Klipsch RW-12d 12" sub (a great starter sub) on sale til 5/22. I'd snag one of those.

Ascend Acoustics .com has the HTM-200 small bookself package (5.0) for $658 + shipping. Go a little higher and you could move up to the CBM-170's for the front L/C/R and the HTM-200's for the surrounds. Bump things up a bit more and rock it out with CMT-340's (large monitors) up front and HTM-200's for surrounds.

If you place your surrounds to the sides (about 90 degrees) of the listening position, you can use wire molding to cover the speaker wires running up the walls.
post #11 of 23
IMO, start with:
- a pair of Cambridge S30s up front;
- a Denon AVR-1612 or 1613 receiver; and
- a JBL ES250 (currently on sale for $200 - as the ES250PBK - at Amazon.com) or a Klipsch RW-12d (currently on sale for $279 w/ promo code discount at Newegg.com)

Then:
- add a CC speaker - either a Cambridge S50 or another S30; and
- add surrounds.
post #12 of 23
The Cambridge S30 is a much better, actually a different class of speaker, than the Energy Take (I own both).

I don't expect brick and mortar stores to provide what I'm looking for in much of anything audio when I'm looking for it any more, but believe the Energy Takes are now discontinued so doubt any store currently selling them. Not sure what stores even sell Cambridge Audio (might check their website, and it's Cambridge Audio, not Cambridge Soundworks). I got both of mine thru Amazon.

As far as avr's I'd look for the features I want, as most of the avr's in the lower price range are differentiated mostly by feature. I'd get the best possible room correction I could and look for pre-outs for all channels; if you're looking for network capabilities of a particular sort or zones, etc. then adjust accordingly. Might look at a refurb (but still warrantied) unit from accessories4less.com as well as the usual culprits.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

The Cambridge S30 is a much better, actually a different class of speaker, than the Energy Take (I own both).

Agreed. The S30s are a much better speaker than the Energy Takes.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Alright. So after reading all of your responses and doing some research. I feel like I have 2 options with my current budget.

Option A:
Buy the Energy Take 5.1 (299$) + Receiver (Possibly Denon 1613 (229$)) = 530$

Option B:
Just get a 2.1 or 3.1 system for now:
Cambridge s30's (219$) + Klipsch rw-12d (349$) + Denon 1613 (299$) = 870$


Its hard to pass up the Energy takes since they are so discounted right now and it is a full 5.1 system vs a 2.1 system. However, Option B seems like it will sound very good and be expandable in the future as funds allow.

Another thing to consider is that I live in an apartment complex, and will for a couple years most likely. I know a lot of people say that small speakers dont hold up when played loudly, but I don't have the luxury of being able to blare my sound system anyway.

I think my hang up is that I cannot find the Energy Takes in stores anywhere to listen to myself.  

If you had to rate the sound of Option A and Option B on a scale of 1-10 what put them at? Obviously B has better speakers, but is it so much better that it justifies the cost?


Once again, thanks for all of your suggestions.
post #15 of 23
I'm not going to rate your options but I can say that I would rather listen to a good 2.1 channel system rather than a weak 5.1 system.

BTW, the Denon on option B is $70 more than on option A......so B total should be $800, correct?
post #16 of 23
I speak from experience when I say you will end up spending more money in the long run if you go with the Energys now. When first starting my movie room I too came to this forum and found tons of good advice. I have a close friend with a very nice Paradigm setup, and ended up buying myself one of the Cinema Series satellite speaker sets.

Needless to say, it was a very short period of time before I bought something else (Polk RTi series speakers) and sold off the Paradigms, and then bought something else again (Chase Home Theater) and sold off the Polks. Looking back, starting with a 2.0, 2.1, 3.1 etc. and adding as your funds generate would have been a smarter, and much more hassle-free way of going about it...at least for me.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Okay. I think you guys are right. Going 2.1 and then upgrading from there is the way to go.

Is the Denon the best AV receiver in my price range? are there others I should look into?
post #18 of 23
Denon just came out with a bunch of new models. If you don't mind getting last year's model you can get some very good deals on them, especially if you are willing to do some leg work.

Here is Denon's authorized online dealer list, compare prices between them so you know where everyone's at. If you are willing to call up some of the online people you may be able to get better pricing than what's listed, I know Paul's TV tends to work with people and I've heard of a few others that occasionally will too.

If you don't mind going the refurb route, accessories4less is an excellent way to go too.

I myself just got the 2313ci for nearly $300 less than it was 2.5 months ago.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by C3viz View Post

Okay. I think you guys are right. Going 2.1 and then upgrading from there is the way to go.

Is the Denon the best AV receiver in my price range? are there others I should look into?

Denon makes a good avr, hard to understand their manuals, but good stuff (and look for batpig's denon-to-english dictionary for help). At this pricepoint I think the various brands choices in avr are all fairly similar so you just look for the best deal on the most features you can get (and the best room correction software).

I think you're making a better choice for option two in any case; the Energy sub compared to the Klipsch is night and day. The small drivers in the Energy Take speakers sound surprisingly good for what they are, but they aren't even close to a good small bookshelf like the S30.
post #20 of 23
Should consider some $100-ish BIC DV62's, I use them and it is plenty for an average size room. For movies you would have to go up in price a good ways to notice improvement in my opinion. You just want something clean, clear, and pleasant at volume that can reach 80-90hz comfortably. Music lovers with specific tastes are more suited to higher priced bookshelves.
post #21 of 23
FWIW I got my receiver (and directed a friend towards the same) from Accessories4Less. It was a refurbished item (Onkyo-709), but it has given me 0 problems during the year or so I have owned it, and it was MUCH cheaper than buying one new. In my opinion it was definitely worth it.

My friend ended up going with the Onkyo-609 and received one with a bad HDMI port, and A4L paid for his return shipping AND had another one on his doorstep in 2-3 days. He too was/is very happy with his choice.
post #22 of 23
The Energy Take Classic is back on sale again, but no store near me has a display of them to even listen to them...
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ien2 View Post

Denon just came out with a bunch of new models. If you don't mind getting last year's model you can get some very good deals on them, especially if you are willing to do some leg work.

Here is Denon's authorized online dealer list, compare prices between them so you know where everyone's at. If you are willing to call up some of the online people you may be able to get better pricing than what's listed, I know Paul's TV tends to work with people and I've heard of a few others that occasionally will too.

If you don't mind going the refurb route, accessories4less is an excellent way to go too.

I myself just got the 2313ci for nearly $300 less than it was 2.5 months ago.

+1 on Paul's TV.

I got an open box 1912 last year from them over the Memorial Day weekend for $299. They had a 20% off coupon this time last year so you might try them for that.

But check around, you don't know what you might find.
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