Originally Posted by adcondos
Thank you for your in depth response I really like what Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 loudspeaker has to offer. After speaking with you I think my mindset of wanting the instant gratification of having a complete 5.1 setup instantly at a marginal price point may not be in reach without sacrificing the quality of sound. Before reviewing the speakers that you sent over to me which are all amazing my initial thought was to purchase the following listed below. This would place my speaker budget at $840 minus the fact that I already have a subwoofer. What do you think about this setup or if you had a $900 max budget for a 5 speaker system what would you change knowing the sound quality that I am looking to obtain? Also an option should I just purchase a 2 speaker system and add to it at a later date?
Denon AVR-S700W 7.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Polk monitor 60s = Front * $260 for the pair
Slim Design houses a 1" dome tweeter and three 5.25 drivers
Measures 8-1/8"W x 38-3/4"H x 13"D
Frequency response: 38Hz-25kHz
Power rating 20-200W
Polk cs2 = Center * $130 each
8 Ohms 20-175W
Polk monitor 30s = Rear * $150 pair
55Hz - 25kHz
8 ohms 20 -100 w/channel
Yes, don't rush into buying all 5 speakers right off the bat. To be honest, most people don't really need rear surrounds---only if you watch LOTS of action movies on original DVDs and BluRay (since cable and streaming video usually doesn't have fully encoded surround sound audio to begin with) or do a lot of gaming. And they don't really need a monstrous sub, unless they are in a huge room and also have an action movie habit.
Since you value full and smooth midrange response, the Polk Monitor series would be an incredibly poor choice---a few years ago I made the mistake of ordering the Polk Monitor 30s myself, seduced by a $100/pair Newegg.com sale, and unloaded them on Craigslist within a month. The Monitor line is Polk's second from bottom line, known for a harsh yet veiled tweeter, bloated mid-bass, and actually a RECESSED midrange. In short, I found them unlistenable, and I'm hardly a "golden ears" type. They do have somewhat attractive cabinets though. Polk's next model line up, the RTi line, is relatively decent if a little thin sounding at higher volumes. The only Polks that have ever impressed me were their LSi speakers, but those are very pricey and until very recently, demanded higher level amps due to their 4ohm impedance (the newest ones now are 8ohms, apparently).
Speaker frequency response are the single most unreliable spec in audio, second only to "watts per channel"---particularly at the entry-level mainstream pricepoint, the big-name manufacturers will shamelessly fudge and lie about them for sales/marketing reasons. I would take a conservatively rated "50 watts per channel" Marantz, NAD or HK receiver with minimal electronic bells and whistles over the typical Best Buy Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer, etc. claiming "110 wpc" or "150 wpc" any day. If you truly can't live without WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity you can easily buy external aftermarket devices for an extra $30-80, which usually provide better performance/reliability...if they break down you just replace the device instead of having to ship the entire receiver back to the factory for repairs, a costly and time-consuming process.
For a receiver that has decent musical performance, this is what I'd be looking at with a $300 budget:
(Manufacturer refurbished is often more reliable than brand new, since any defects that might've occurred during the manufacturing process will have been fixed and the product systematically re-tested. I've bought plenty of refurbed electronics, computer-related as well as audio/video, and never had a hiccup.)
For the speakers, in addition to the Wharfedales you should also look at the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170SE and its big brother the CMT-340SE.
Both will give you immaculate full mids, with more treble detail and faster transient response than the Wharfedales which are voiced to reproduce the sounds of musical instruments as realistically as possible but with a certain compromise in terms of treble detail, transients, and a ruler-flat frequency response. I used to own both the 170s and 340s and enjoyed their precision and neutrality/accuracy which is especially well-suited for HT, but for sheer musical pleasure I still prefer the Wharfedales' warmer presentation and mid-bass presence, which invites me to sit and listen to music on them for hours...but it all depends on YOUR tastes of course. The main disadvantage of the 170 is its functional boxy appearance, which some people (esp. women) tend to dislike after being bombarded with cubes and sleek looking speakers like B&W. The 340 costs almost twice as much as the 170 but it will fill larger spaces more readily, and the voice reproduction is so good that you might even decide you don't need a center speaker with them.
The WaveCrest speakers I originally suggested are designed by the same guy behind the Ascends, so they will have the same attention to midrange production, and as I understand it they have more of a treble roll-off and a slightly "warmer" presentation. If you wanted to get all 5 speakers at one time on your budget, they'd be a solid choice. Plus they are front-ported so they don't need as much space behind them as rear-ported speakers do.
Maybe what I'd do is just dip your toes in the water: order the receiver, and a pair of different speakers---the Wharfedales and the WaveCrest or CBM-170SE. Ship back the pair you like less---think of the $30 return shipping as an in-home audition fee. It's not unreasonable, since an in-home audition is the only way for you to really know which ones you really prefer.