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Speakers for 100% movies/TV (~$3K to $5K budget)

post #1 of 257
Thread Starter 
I'm focused first on determining my best options for LCR, then finding surrounds to match. I understand that I'll need to do some demoing (probably at my local Magnolia), but I'm looking for some initial direction; I'm not sure what qualities I should be looking for. As an example, I'm not sure what value I should expect to get from a pair of $1K Def Tech towers vs. a pair of $550 Energy towers.

Details:
  • I've got a fairly large room (23' x 27' x 9.5' = ~5500 cu. ft.)
  • The purpose is 100% movies/TV - i.e. I'm not interested in the perfect reproduction of orchestral music.
  • Ballpark budget for LCR and surrounds is $2K to $3K for LCR
  • Ballpark budget for sub(s) is $1K to $1.5K - not sure if I should be targeting a single large sub or multiple medium/small subs.
  • The room has hardwood floors throughout
  • I'm expecting to purchase either a Denon x3000 or x4000 for the setup (still deciding)
post #2 of 257
I'll throw out the Klipsch RF-82 II towers and RC-62 II center. That's about $1800, and then take the remaining $1200 and grab two of those FV15HP subs. cool.gif
post #3 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

I'll throw out the Klipsch RF-82 II towers and RC-62 II center. That's about $1800, and then take the remaining $1200 and grab two of those FV15HP subs. cool.gif
Thank you for your suggestion. Why would you choose these fronts vs. other options available? ("Teach a man to fish..." smile.gif)
post #4 of 257
Those are horn speakers, and they are generally more sensitive than a traditional dome tweeter. Given you have such a large space, they would offer you excellent SPL and dynamics. Some people dislike the Klipsch sound, and describe it as "bright". Meaning the higher frequencies are more pronounced and to some this can be fatiguing. You can go have a listen as Best Buy and see for yourself.

Regarding the subs, that is a huge space to fill, and you are going to need some large cabinets to pressurize the room.
post #5 of 257
If you were willing to bump up your budget a little bit, I think you would get a lot of recommendations for the Noesis 228HT as LCR...
post #6 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post

[*] The room has hardwood floors throughout
That's the first thing you want to fix. The best system made won't sound good in a room with gymnasium acoustics.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post

Those are horn speakers...the higher frequencies are more pronounced and to some this can be fatiguing.
They're not horn loaded speakers, they're speakers with horn loaded tweeters. They can be very fatiguing if the tweeter level is not reduced to match that of the woofers.
Quote:
Given you have such a large space, they would offer you excellent SPL and dynamics
Only with respect to the tweeters. With respect to the woofers, which are not horn loaded, they'll work no better than any other speakers with similar components in similarly sized cabinets. But that's of little concern, as is the room size, because what matters is the listening distance, and that should be related to the size of the screen. Where room size is significant is with the subs, as they need to pressurize the room, and that's directly related to the size of the room. As for towers, the only advantage they offer over bookshelves is being able to go lower than bookshelves. If you don't have subs that's an advantage. If you do have subs it's not, since you won't be using them for low frequency reproduction. In that case you're better off spending the same amount on higher quality bookshelves.
post #7 of 257
Thread Starter 
You guys are awesome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Where room size is significant is with the subs, as they need to pressurize the room, and that's directly related to the size of the room. As for towers, the only advantage they offer over bookshelves is being able to go lower than bookshelves. If you don't have subs that's an advantage. If you do have subs it's not, since you won't be using them for low frequency reproduction. In that case you're better off spending the same amount on higher quality bookshelves.

This is a very valuable insight for me. It widens my options to good bookshelf speakers since I already intended on getting a good sub (or two). However, I was just reading up on some Def Tech towers with some good built-in subs (e.g. Mythos STS and BP-8060) and it made me ask myself, "Would this be the equivalent of two medium subs and could I leverage those to pressurize the room with the aid of a single large sub? Or would I be better off a couple of good bookshelves and let a pair of large subs do what they do best?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

... what matters is the listening distance, and that should be related to the size of the screen.

Is there some math that relates to this topic? Screen size and distance (i.e. where I place the sectional) are still flexible, so I want to keep this in mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

That's the first thing you want to fix. The best system made won't sound good in a room with gymnasium acoustics.

Would I fix that via area rugs, furniture, etc.? From some of my earlier (albeit newbie) reading, I had the impression that such floors can be useful for "gain" - I think for subs.
post #8 of 257
I would definitely look at Ascend Acoustic if you haven't already- they are at the top of my list for home theater/music speakers, made in the USA, and get exceptional reviews. The Ascend Acoustic Sierra Towers paired with the Sierra Horizon Center may be pushing your budget, but would make a killer system. However if you don't want to stretch for those they have other offerings that still offer excellent performance. For the sub I would look at the Hsu Research ULS-15 or a Rythmik sub, both very highly rated and powerful subs for your room.
post #9 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post

You guys are awesome!
This is a very valuable insight for me. It widens my options to good bookshelf speakers since I already intended on getting a good sub (or two). However, I was just reading up on some Def Tech towers with some good built-in subs (e.g. Mythos STS and BP-8060) and it made me ask myself, "Would this be the equivalent of two medium subs and could I leverage those to pressurize the room with the aid of a single large sub? Or would I be better off a couple of good bookshelves and let a pair of large subs do what they do best?"
'Built in' subs don't allow for the subs and mains to be placed separately, and very seldom do subs and mains both work best with the same placement.
Quote:
Is there some math that relates to this topic? Screen size and distance (i.e. where I place the sectional) are still flexible, so I want to keep this in mind.
Yes, ask on a video forum.

Quote:
Would I fix that via area rugs, furniture, etc.?
Bare hard surfaces are reflective of mids and highs, and should be avoided. That includes ceilings and walls. My floor is fully carpeted, my ceiling is acoustical tile, and my walls are covered with thick textured wallpaper. As a result the room is virtually perfect, with no other treatments.
Quote:
From some of my earlier (albeit newbie) reading, I had the impression that such floors can be useful for "gain" - I think for subs.
Low frequencies are unaffected by absorbent materials unless they're on the order of four or more inches thick. Most so-called bass traps really don't work on the bass, below 100Hz, they work in the midbass. It takes a lot of material to affect below 100Hz.
post #10 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryansboston View Post

If you were willing to bump up your budget a little bit, I think you would get a lot of recommendations for the Noesis 228HT as LCR...
I just read up on these and people seem to rave about them. In fact, it seems the primary audience are people who are movie watchers. What about them makes them great?

$1200 a piece for left/right could be doable; however, a third as center, while ideal, may not be palatable to the budget. Would their be an alternative option for center? Or could two of these pull off a "phantom center" until I can buy a dedicated one?
post #11 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post


Is there some math that relates to this topic? Screen size and distance (i.e. where I place the sectional) are still flexible, so I want to keep this in mind.


Screen size X 1.5 = minimum seating distance is the general rule of thumb. So, if you were looking to mount a 60 inch screen above your fireplace - 60 X 1.5 = 90 inches or 7.5 feet.

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33199_7-57468333-221/how-big-a-tv-should-i-buy/

Your room is fairly large, and at one point, you were pondering a projector - link:

http://www.da-lite.com/education/guide.php?page=10
post #12 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post

I just read up on these and people seem to rave about them. In fact, it seems the primary audience are people who are movie watchers. What about them makes them great?

$1200 a piece for left/right could be doable; however, a third as center, while ideal, may not be palatable to the budget. Would their be an alternative option for center? Or could two of these pull off a "phantom center" until I can buy a dedicated one?

I can't stand phantom center set ups but there are people who swear by them. Make sure you have experienced a phantom center so you will know if it will work for you before making a purchase.
post #13 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

'Built in' subs don't allow for the subs and mains to be placed separately, and very seldom do subs and mains both work best with the same placement.

Yes, ask on a video forum.

Low frequencies are unaffected by absorbent materials unless they're on the order of four or more inches thick. Most so-called bass traps really don't work on the bass, below 100Hz, they work in the midbass. It takes a lot of material to affect below 100Hz.

Thank you again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Bare hard surfaces are reflective of mids and highs, and should be avoided. That includes ceilings and walls. My floor is fully carpeted, my ceiling is acoustical tile, and my walls are covered with thick textured wallpaper. As a result the room is virtually perfect, with no other treatments.

You sound like someone who has worked with an "ideal" setup before. While I'll try to keep reflective surfaces to a minimum, I'm not sure I'd know what I was missing, unless it sounded outright horrible (and I'm not sure I'd know what that sounded like either... lol smile.gif). As an additional note, I was just reading up on the JTR 228HT (recommended earlier in this thread) and one of the reviews indicates that it eliminates much of the problems with reflective surfaces. I don't know how true this is, but thought it would be worth mentioning.
post #14 of 257
What layout did you end up going with? Still putting tv over fireplace, or did you shift to the large windowed wall?
post #15 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by myoda View Post

Screen size X 1.5 = minimum seating distance is the general rule of thumb. So, if you were looking to mount a 60 inch screen above your fireplace - 60 X 1.5 = 90 inches or 7.5 feet.

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33199_7-57468333-221/how-big-a-tv-should-i-buy/

Your room is fairly large, and at one point, you were pondering a projector - link:

http://www.da-lite.com/education/guide.php?page=10

For a while, I was considering a 75" TV above the fireplace since the room is large enough that people wouldn't kill their necks. However, speaker options were limited due to the layout. I am now considering a much larger screen via projector on a different wall that gives me much more options for speakers. However, I'm evaluating projector/screen options in a separate thread in an attempt to maintain forum integrity. smile.gif

Tying this back to speakers, Bill has indicated that towers aren't really mandatory if you've got good subs, so it has reopened the TV-over-fireplace possibility. Analysis paralysis in its most evil form. biggrin.gif
post #16 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carp View Post

I can't stand phantom center set ups but there are people who swear by them. Make sure you have experienced a phantom center so you will know if it will work for you before making a purchase.
I didn't know that it was even possible to do a phantom center setup until I demoed some B&W CM5's last week. I couldn't even tell there wasn't a center channel. It was a fantastic little ventriloquism act and not every speaker can do it effectively. I'll have to inquire from some 228HT owners.
post #17 of 257
Thought I'd just throw this out there. Do you have another room availble that might be better suited to a home theater?
post #18 of 257
Until you nail down where you're placing everything, asking for speaker recommendations is an exercise in futility.
post #19 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyng_fool View Post

Thought I'd just throw this out there. Do you have another room availble that might be better suited to a home theater?
If you mean carpeted, yes I do - it's my living room, where I currently have a 42" plasma and a 3.1 setup. However, if you're talking a basement room or some other form of dedicated room, that's not going to happen. The reason I'm trying to create a setup in the family room is because the amount of people who come over our place to watch movies is becoming increasing large and the living room is getting to be too small/cramped. We have an annual movie marathon in August and we might have upwards of 20 people, hence the desire for bigger room and bigger screen.
post #20 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post

Until you nail down where you're placing everything, asking for speaker recommendations is an exercise in futility.
This has been incredibly helpful thus far. I don't think any of the recommendations or advice presented will be less useful because I haven't chosen which side of the room. Am I missing something? (I'm playing my newbie card)
post #21 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post

You guys are awesome!
This is a very valuable insight for me. It widens my options to good bookshelf speakers since I already intended on getting a good sub (or two). However, I was just reading up on some Def Tech towers with some good built-in subs (e.g. Mythos STS and BP-8060) and it made me ask myself, "Would this be the equivalent of two medium subs and could I leverage those to pressurize the room with the aid of a single large sub? Or would I be better off a couple of good bookshelves and let a pair of large subs do what they do best?"


Is there some math that relates to this topic? Screen size and distance (i.e. where I place the sectional) are still flexible, so I want to keep this in mind.


Would I fix that via area rugs, furniture, etc.? From some of my earlier (albeit newbie) reading, I had the impression that such floors can be useful for "gain" - I think for subs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

'Built in' subs don't allow for the subs and mains to be placed separately, and very seldom do subs and mains both work best with the same placement.

Yes, ask on a video forum.

Bare hard surfaces are reflective of mids and highs, and should be avoided. That includes ceilings and walls. My floor is fully carpeted, my ceiling is acoustical tile, and my walls are covered with thick textured wallpaper. As a result the room is virtually perfect, with no other treatments.
Low frequencies are unaffected by absorbent materials unless they're on the order of four or more inches thick. Most so-called bass traps really don't work on the bass, below 100Hz, they work in the midbass. It takes a lot of material to affect below 100Hz.

I had a pair of Mythos ST a few yrs back, they left much to be desired in the bass dept, despite their claims.
post #22 of 257
With large groups of people you might want to rethink running a phantom center. The phantom center only works when you're sitting in the speakers sweet spot. Get off axis and things start to change.
post #23 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post

With large groups of people you might want to rethink running a phantom center. The phantom center only works when you're sitting in the speakers sweet spot. Get off axis and things start to change.
Ahh... problem solved then! smile.gif Doing a phantom center for the fireplace wouldn't work out. Looks like the projector setup in front of the large window prevails. Thank you for saving me from a ton of unnecessary analysis.
post #24 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post

  • I've got a fairly large room (23' x 27' x 9.5' = ~5500 cu. ft.)
  • The purpose is 100% movies/TV - i.e. I'm not interested in the perfect reproduction of orchestral music.
  • Ballpark budget for LCR and surrounds is $2K to $3K for LCR
  • Ballpark budget for sub(s) is $1K to $1.5K - not sure if I should be targeting a single large sub or multiple medium/small subs.
  • The room has hardwood floors throughout
  • I'm expecting to purchase either a Denon x3000 or x4000 for the setup (still deciding)

I agree that your room size is up there.

A good system is a good system. If you want the best reproduction of movies, you will get the best reproduction of music, and vice versa.

I agree that speakers with horn drivers maximize efficiency and if well designed they can provide the most ideal control over directivity. However they can be costly and can be sometimes be surprisingly approached by conventional drivers at a far lower cost. In your price category, you may want to avoid horns. I think you are better off with well-designed domes and cones than with cheap horns.

I have been experimenting with various approaches and am currently using 3 each Infinity Primius P351 center chanel speakers and a Paradigm center channel speaker. The L/C/R speakers are on a shelf just above the 60" TV set. I also have a pair of Primus P363 tower speakers that I have been mixing and matching with them.

I find that center channel speakers can be effective L & R speakers when used with a subwoofer. They don't need to have response below 80 Hz because that is the subwoofer's job anyway. Having all 3 speakers across the front be identical goes a long way towards timbre matching since they are all the same speaker. I think it is better to use speakers that are designed to be used when laid on their side when that is how they are installed. The P351s seem to be very robust speakers with 2 midranges and 2 woofers. Again they don't have a lot of response below 80 Hz but they don't need to. They actually look pretty cool. While there are no complete technical tests on them they should be somewhat directional in the horizontal direction which is usually a good thing.

If you bought 3 P351's, you would have another $800-900 for a good subwoofer which is a reasonable budget for a starter system.

I also have a listening room with hardwood floors. My room has a lot of diffusion - it is an irregular shape and has a lot of large trim elements. I've realized that there is a lot of symmetry between the ceiling and the floor. While you can only practically put a so much absorptive material on the floor, there is far less of such a limitation on the ceiling. Many things are possible such as mixing and matching absorptive and reflective areas as well as 3D effects, etc.

I like Denon receivers, but if I was going to buy one I'd look at refurb and closeout models, such as those sold by www.accesories4less. com.
post #25 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by stormwind13 View Post


I had a pair of Mythos ST a few yrs back, they left much to be desired in the bass dept, despite their claims.
^^I agree.^^ Took a year to get them and 6 months to get rid of them.rolleyes.gif
My 2 cents would be to get the best pair of speakers and subwoofer you can for now and look to the future for the center channel. A Phantom center sounds a lot better knowing someday down the road it will be replaced by a matching center.
I would also stop looking at anything that sells for MSRP or close to it. ID companies offer great value over DefTech and other MSRP oriented companies.
Good Luck
Chris
Edited by countryWV - 6/24/13 at 12:05pm
post #26 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

If you bought 3 P351's, you would have another $800-900 for a good subwoofer which is a reasonable budget for a starter system.

It seems to be a common theme to recommend saving money on front speakers in order to buy bigger, better subs. What does the unofficial budget priority hierarchy look like for home theater? Subwoofer >> Center >> L/R >> Surround?

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I like Denon receivers, but if I was going to buy one I'd look at refurb and closeout models, such as those sold by www.accesories4less. com.

I'll check it out. Thank you for the tip.
post #27 of 257
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by countryWV View Post

My 2 cents would be to get the best pair of speakers and subwoofer you can for now and look to the future for the center channel... I would also stop looking at anything that sells for MSRP or close to it. ID companies offer great value over DefTech and other MSRP oriented companies.
On this note, would you discourage me from attempting a Hybrid 15 - 5.1 package from Hsu? The reviews seem fantastic, the price inexpensive, it comes with a fantastic subwoofer, comes rated (supposedly) for 6000 cu. ft., and leaves me with plenty of money for another large sub. Thoughts? Potential regrets?

Update: Home Theater Review suggests that for large rooms, the HC-1 MK2 could be used for LCR (similar to what Arnold suggested).
Edited by jklick - 6/24/13 at 12:16pm
post #28 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post

It seems to be a common theme to recommend saving money on front speakers in order to buy bigger, better subs. What does the unofficial budget priority hierarchy look like for home theater? Subwoofer >> Center >> L/R >> Surround?

I think a good sub can hide imperfections in a speaker and make them sound better, but the opposite is not always true. Furthermore, there is a big difference between a $200 sub and a $600 sub, I feel that is not always the case with speakers. The differences are more subtle and you need to make larger jumps to get a similar increase in performance. For movies, a sub is really the work horse and makes the entire experience much more dynamic and immersive.
post #29 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post

On this note, would you discourage me from attempting a Hybrid 15 - 5.1 package from Hsu? The reviews seem fantastic, the price inexpensive, it comes with a fantastic subwoofer, comes rated (supposedly) for 6000 cu. ft., and leaves me with plenty of money for another large sub. Thoughts? Potential regrets?

HSU is a great choice, and that sub is fantastic. If you had two it would really provide a wonderful experience. The HSU's are easy to drive and would work well in a larger space.
post #30 of 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by jklick View Post

It seems to be a common theme to recommend saving money on front speakers in order to buy bigger, better subs.
Each drop of one octave in response requires either that the speaker cabinet be made eight times larger or that it have four times the power handling capacity, or that a combination of increased size and power be employed to give the equivalent result. The simple physics is that mains only have to produce 14 foot and shorter wavelengths, subs have to produce up to 60 foot wavelengths, and large high powered speakers are more expensive than small low powered speakers.
Quote:
On this note, would you discourage me from attempting a Hybrid 15 - 5.1 package from Hsu?
They don't look bad, but using a two woofer center and a single woofer L/R is a mismatch, using the dual woofer HC-1 in all three positions makes a lot more sense.
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