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post #1 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 06:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Suggestions for sub-$300 front speaker upgrade

Hey all,

I currently use an Onkyo SKS-HT750 7.1 speaker setup. It sounds pretty decent for the price I paid 7 years ago. Was looking to upgrade just the front two speakers, mostly to improve music listening. Any suggestions would be very appreciated! Thanks.

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post #2 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 07:07 AM
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If you don't mind used these are on e-bay right now.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from...y+450&_sacat=0

Really Good sound for their size.
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post #3 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ALtlOff View Post
If you don't mind used these are on e-bay right now.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from...y+450&_sacat=0

Really Good sound for their size.
Thanks! I don't mind buying used. But those are 10+ years old and don't seem to be supported by the manufacturer any more...I'm guessing the bang for buck is that good?

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post #4 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 07:17 AM
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NHT SuperOne 2.1
http://www.amazon.com/NHT-SuperOne-2...t+superone+2.1
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post #5 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 07:28 AM
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Hsu HB-1 Mk2 or Ascend CBM-170SE's fit in your price range and I think both are excellent. The Ascends have a more forward sound than the Hsu's. Both are internet direct brands.
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post #6 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by monkuboy View Post
Hsu HB-1 Mk2 or Ascend CBM-170SE's fit in your price range and I think both are excellent. The Ascends have a more forward sound than the Hsu's. Both are internet direct brands.
Both look great! Thank you. I'm guessing if you had to choose, you'd go Ascend?

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post #7 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adcustom View Post
Thanks! I don't mind buying used. But those are 10+ years old and don't seem to be supported by the manufacturer any more...I'm guessing the bang for buck is that good?
I understand, this model was discontinued in 2011, but there's are still some NIB's around, thing about these used, is that much of the time they were well taken care of simply because of their cost when new ($660.00 pr).
Sound quality in these is excellent and DefTech's customer service is exceptional, I've had them send me parts for 20 yr old speakers that I purchased second hand (they were aware of this fact) for free, not even shipping, under many conditions they will honor warranty well passed advertised limits.
But yes I do understand your concerns, just thought you should know.

Good luck in your search.
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post #8 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 07:44 AM
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For $300 or less there are a number of speakers to choose from.


A few recommendations to add:


- Ascend Acoustics has the CBM-170SE's on sale for $295.80/pr. with flat rate ground shipping of $32.00. Rear ported.
- Ascend Acoustics has the HTM-200SE's on sale for $253.30/pr. with $24 shipping. Sealed design.
- Wave Crest Audio has the HVL-1 for $199/pr. which, I think, includes shipping. Front ported.
- SVS Prime Satellites in the premium black ash finish for $134.99/Ea. with free shipping. Rear ported.
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post #9 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 07:54 AM
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I picked up 3 of these:

http://www.wavecrestaudio.com/

Left center Right

Recommended by @zorba922

Was an awesome recommendation.

There is a great youtube review too


Give those a try...
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post #10 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by adcustom View Post
Both look great! Thank you. I'm guessing if you had to choose, you'd go Ascend?
You're welcome. I used to have the Hsu speakers and currently am using the Ascend 170SE's as surrounds. Personally I prefer the Ascends but I guess it depends on your taste. The Ascends are more forward and brighter sounding, whereas the Hsu's focus more on the mids and the highs are more rolled off than the Ascends (which some would describe as non-fatiguing). Bass is about the same on both and I would say either one you need to use a sub with them. I think they are both excellent speakers.
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post #11 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 08:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Appreciate all these great suggestions! Thank you all so much. Last question...is there anything I would need to know/do as far as "integrating" these into my current 7.1 setup? I would re-run the AccuEQ calibration on my Onkyo AVR again, but otherwise didn't know what else would be recommended.

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post #12 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 08:31 AM
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No personal experience, but many folks have raved about the Pioneer Andrew Jones speakers...

a 5.1 system is about 550 on Amazon. Not sure how much pairs or individual speakers are... They seem to have a pretty good reputation around here for bang for the buck.
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post #13 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 09:06 AM
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Hey check this guy setup very nice imo.
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post #14 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 09:11 AM
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These would also be a great choice. $225 for the pair, sound great, and really good looking to boot!
http://emptek.com/r5bi.php

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post #15 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 09:14 AM
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adcustom, these are exactly what you are looking for:

http://www.amazon.com/Pioneer-SP-FS5.../dp/B008NCD2S4

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Man alive, I've fallen down a rabbit hole. Now I'm already thinking of a full Ascend Acoustics 5.1 replacement set.
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post #17 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 12:22 PM
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Man alive, I've fallen down a rabbit hole. Now I'm already thinking of a full Ascend Acoustics 5.1 replacement set.
And so it begins, my friend. So it begins.
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post #18 of 34 Old 08-06-2015, 01:22 PM
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Former Ascend (340 and 170) owner here. I love their accuracy and neutrality, and for mixed HT/music usage I'd highly recommend them.

However, if you CARE more about music than HT even though you use your system for both (this describes me), then you might want to try a less accurate yet more "musical" and "involving" speaker---I'm referring to the intangible qualities of the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 which I currently use. (Google up the pro reviews for them.) For the music I listen to---jazz, classical, acoustic and vocal-dominant alternative/rock---they have a lush and lovely, laid-back quality that makes me want to sit and listen to them for hours at a time...which I never experienced with the Ascends. Yes you do give up a little treble detail (they have a roll-off which is very forgiving of poor recordings and low-bitrate content such as streaming music) and transient speed however; to some people this comes across as a "veiled" or "dark" sound which they dislike...so as with most things audio, it comes back to your subjective preference in the end.

Music Direct is closing them out for about $300/shipped new, or $225 "demo" (I'm using quotes because mine appeared to be brand new, immaculate wrapping, zero scratches/marks, and still requiring the usual 20-30 hours of break-in time). They have the same 30 day money back policy as everyone else.

For your center, you can go with a completely different speaker for maximum detail/clarity during HT (I used to own the Ascend 340 center which I loved, but this time I went cheap with a $100 BIC FH-6 horn-loaded center at 1/3 the cost and 90% of the performance) since the center does 75% of HT content (mostly dialogue), and for surrounds you can go with something smaller and less expensive like the NHT SuperZero ($100/each on Amazon). As long as you volume match your center to your L/R speakers, the conventional wisdom that "you MUST match your front 3 speakers as closely as possible" doesn't really apply unless you are one to deliberately listen FOR subtle timbre discrepancies during brief scenes in blockbuster action movies with front-panning sound effects (assuming you're watching those movies on a DVD or Blue Ray rather than a cable or streaming signal which usually don't have the full surround audio content).

Plus I do all my music listening in 2-channel anyhow (much more natural soundstage)...so this mixed-front setup reallyprovides the best of both worlds!
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post #19 of 34 Old 08-07-2015, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow, Zorba922...THANK YOU! That was truly, truly helpful. I would say most my HT usage is 40% TV/movies, 40% gaming, and 20% music. So it sounds like the Ascend is the way to go for front channel. Do you have a sub recommendation perchance? Let's say maybe I drop $750 total on a new 5.1 speaker set.

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post #20 of 34 Old 08-07-2015, 12:02 PM
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My recommendation, since in your initial post you said that your upgrade motivation is "mostly to improve music listening:"

Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 L/R = $225 "demo," shipped from MusicDirect.
BIC FH6 center = $103 pickup at local Wallyworld

The remaining $230 can go into any of the surrounds + subs combos below (you could skip the surrounds for now in order to get a better sub). Surrounds only do maybe 10% of the output in HT, so they are basically irrelevant IMO, unless you watch a lot of concert DVDs or SACDs which have multi-channel music audio.

===

$750 would only get you a pair of Ascend CBM-170SE for your front L/R, a CMT-340SE center, and a pair of HTM-200 for surrounds...plus around $100 for shipping. No subwoofer.

Unless you mix the Ascends: three 170SEs across the front for $500 shipped, with the remaining $250 can go into any of the surrounds + sub combos listed below.

Subwoofers:
Martin Logan Dynamo 300, $130 shipped (Amazon)
BIC F12, $215 shipped (Amazon)
BIC PL200, $325 shipped (Amazon)

Surrounds:
JBL Loft 40 for $55/pair shipped (Amazon)
Klipsch B-10 for $100/pair shipped (Amazon).
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I've steered my friend toward Philharmonic Audio's new modded Dayton towers - $180/pair. Discussion of monitors, towers and beta test here.

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I've steered my friend toward Philharmonic Audio's new modded Dayton towers - $180/pair. Discussion of monitors, towers and beta test here.
Bad link:


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^^^

You're too quick for me . I found the mistake soon after. Fixed now.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
My recommendation, since in your initial post you said that your upgrade motivation is "mostly to improve music listening:"

Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 L/R = $225 "demo," shipped from MusicDirect.
BIC FH6 center = $103 pickup at local Wallyworld

The remaining $230 can go into any of the surrounds + subs combos below (you could skip the surrounds for now in order to get a better sub). Surrounds only do maybe 10% of the output in HT, so they are basically irrelevant IMO, unless you watch a lot of concert DVDs or SACDs which have multi-channel music audio.

===

$750 would only get you a pair of Ascend CBM-170SE for your front L/R, a CMT-340SE center, and a pair of HTM-200 for surrounds...plus around $100 for shipping. No subwoofer.

Unless you mix the Ascends: three 170SEs across the front for $500 shipped, with the remaining $250 can go into any of the surrounds + sub combos listed below.

Subwoofers:
Martin Logan Dynamo 300, $130 shipped (Amazon)
BIC F12, $215 shipped (Amazon)
BIC PL200, $325 shipped (Amazon)

Surrounds:
JBL Loft 40 for $55/pair shipped (Amazon)
Klipsch B-10 for $100/pair shipped (Amazon).
Holy smoke. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Wish I could buy you a beer!

I saw a pair of used MartinLogan Motion 20s on Amazon for $700 and it's been toying with my heart all day. I know it's way overkill for my needs, but man that price...

Thanks again, Zorba922. Gonna continue researching all your recommendations. :-)

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Holy smoke. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Wish I could buy you a beer!

I saw a pair of used MartinLogan Motion 20s on Amazon for $700 and it's been toying with my heart all day. I know it's way overkill for my needs, but man that price...

Thanks again, Zorba922. Gonna continue researching all your recommendations. :-)
Lol... wait....here's Another "Rabbit Hole" issue you're going to have to deal with...
In this hobby, Overkill is a good thing, you'll never regret/wonder if it's enough by setting Overkill as the norm.

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post #28 of 34 Old 08-08-2015, 07:33 AM
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I saw a pair of used MartinLogan Motion 20s on Amazon for $700 and it's been toying with my heart all day. I know it's way overkill for my needs, but man that price...
Have you ever heard Martin Logans in person? They are quite dangerous, in terms of completely destroying all of one's original budgetary restraints!

At least the $1500/pair ML floorstanders I listened to a few years ago were...would be curious to hear these bookshelves myself.

But if you are interested in ribbon tweeters, here are some much more affordable and quite well regarded internet direct ones:
http://www.chanemusiccinema.com/chane-loudspeakers
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post #29 of 34 Old 08-09-2015, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
Have you ever heard Martin Logans in person? They are quite dangerous, in terms of completely destroying all of one's original budgetary restraints!

At least the $1500/pair ML floorstanders I listened to a few years ago were...would be curious to hear these bookshelves myself.

But if you are interested in ribbon tweeters, here are some much more affordable and quite well regarded internet direct ones:
http://www.chanemusiccinema.com/chane-loudspeakers
I talked the private seller on Amazon down to $250 each for the Motion 20s. I'm very excited! I sold my Onyko speakers and am going to rebuild my system. Getting a Motion 8 center for sure. Might wait until the holidays for surrounds.

Question: is the Dynamo 300 too small/weak to pair with the Motion 20s? Also, yay or nay on bi-amping the Motion 20s?
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post #30 of 34 Old 08-09-2015, 09:01 AM
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I talked the private seller on Amazon down to $250 each for the Motion 20s. I'm very excited! I sold my Onyko speakers and am going to rebuild my system. Getting a Motion 8 center for sure. Might wait until the holidays for surrounds.

Question: is the Dynamo 300 too small/weak to pair with the Motion 20s? Also, yay or nay on bi-amping the Motion 20s?
Good for you!

One of the beauties of Amazon is its superb return/refund policy...use it to experiment! It all depends on the size of your room and what you want your sub to do. If you want wall-shaking, chest-kicking deep bass for the explosions and rumbles of typical Hollywood blockbuster action movies like "Independence Day" on DVD or Blue Ray (which you probably wouldn't get from a streaming or cable signal) then no, you'd want to go with at least a BIC F12 or move into the $400-600 range of subs by Hsu, SVS, etc. If you simply want satisfying fill-in bass for music that's tight and accurate then yes, unless you have a really big room in which case having two Dynamo 300s would double your output.

SVS also has a great two-way free shipping return policy, but its subs start at $500...great if your budget allows.
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