Originally Posted by rdclark 1) Since I was going to get either the Cin Pro 800 or 1000 originally, can I get the SM55’s with Pro Monitor 800 as the rear surr’s? Is there any technical or quality of sound reason why this is a bad idea?
No, there's no reason that won't work. It will work less well with a Pioneer receiver (and a handful of others) that require the same crossover frequency (the frequency where the subwoofer takes over) for all channels.2) If answer to 1 is something like ‘there is no problem at all and it would sound great’, then I’d hold off on the center and try something call phantom center. If that didn’t sound good then I’d add the Pro Center 1000. I’ve read that the SM is capable of producing low sounds so I’d hold off on a sub also. If unhappy then later on I’d add a Pro Sub 1000 as well. Does that sound like a plan?
Phantom center is a fine solution as long as )1) there is only one listener, who is positioned in the "sweet spot" and never moves, and (2) you have sufficient amplifier power. Keep in mind that the center channel amp in your AVR will go unused, while the left and right channel amps will have to reproduce not only their own content but that of the center channel as well. This will be exacerbated if there is no sub, because now the L and R channels will have to play all the bass from all the channels as well, which requires a lot of amplifier power.
No sub is a bad idea, IMO. First, while the SM55 is a nicely balanced bookshelf speaker with pleasing sound, it can't reproduce the bottom 1.5 octaves of sound found in movie soundtracks -- and sometimes even in ordinary music. If you want a system for movies, you want a sub. If you want a system for music with significant bass played at substantial levels, you want a sub. The sub doesn't have to be from DT -- look at the subwoofers thread for extensive discussion of budget subs; there are many good ones, even at price points of $300 and below.3) I’ve read the HT speakers don’t normally make good music speakers. What is the reason for that thinking? (Given my decision between SM55 and Pro Mons 1000 and using them for music listening and movies.)
Nonsense. Except in very specialized circumstances, a good speaker is a good speaker, particularly in typical home settings. This is not to say that certain speakers won't work better in some rooms than others, or set up in certain ways versus other ways. But as a general rule? Silly.4) Is it safe to say that the rear surr speakers don’t really need to be up to par with the fronts? That maybe you can get by with a little less quality since all they are used for is those limited scenes in a move such as when the jets are fly over head or the dinosaurs are approaching. Before you purest gasp for air, my thinking is to justify the SM55 up front with the PM 800 in the rear. Trust me; I’m not putting up rears from Target or Kmart.
The surrounds usually have less work to do, particularly in movies and videos. The only application where I wave a flag is for listeners who play a lot of multichannel music, particular hi-rez surround recordings made in the studio (and some concert recordings as well) where the instruments and vocals are distributed equally amongst the channels. Having matched speakers can matter with such sources.
Finally, a word about packaged systems vs mixing and matching. You can't go wrong with a packaged system from a source like DefTech, but you can go "more right." You're already finding that out -- upgrading the main left and right speakers upgrades the whole system. It's important in an HT system that the five or seven channels blend well, and the easiest way to achieve that is to use speakers designed to match. Identical speakers are the obvious optimum, but choosing models from within the same manufacturer's line is usually satisfactory; there's a commonality of components, manufacturing techniques, and design/voicing philosophy that works to make things come together sonically.
But subwoofers should be considered separately, IMO, because sometimes the design goals of a particular sub may be of more or less importance to you. The biggest trade-off is size vs performance. DT mostly makes small subs that are easy to place, easy to move, easy to hide. They perform very well for their size -- but you pay for subs that small that produce as much bass as they do. You can get more bass and lower bass for less money if you're willing to accept larger cabinets, bigger drivers, and more weight.
The other thing about subs is that it's not particularly important to "match" them to the full-range speakers they're used with. It's not that "all subs sound the same" -- they don't, particularly when used with very small speakers. It's that their differences aren't in "timbre". They're not duplicating sounds also being played by the main speakers of the sort that give audio its character. It's far more important to match a sub to the room it's to be used in, to the types of source material being played, and to the preferences of the owner.