Originally Posted by sadllama
I'll be using the system almost exclusively for movies and TV
, with the occasional (but rare) bit of music listening. The system will be going into my apartment living room, which is 15x14
and opens up into a roughly 8x14
My budget is around $4k max for speakers+sub+receiver
, though if I can get great sound lower than that I'm happy with that too.
If I need to spend more..let me know and I can think about it.
Hi Sadllama. Your $4000 max is a nice generous budget which should set you well on the way to a high performing HT audio system for your space. But
... (and I feel a bit like a voice in the wilderness here) you will not
achieve anywhere close to full performance potential if you blow $1000 - $1500 on a (current) AVR and go skinflint with a small $500 sub, as has been suggested. These budget allocations should be reversed... at least.
Let's start with what I see as the priority components and see if we can wrap up with a few suggestions...
: Based on your ceilings being about 9ft high and including a guestimate for the hallway opposite the kitchen, the total enclosed volume of your space is approaching 3000ft^3. This volume is the lower bound of what Audioholics categorise
as a "Large Room". As you may know from car audio, the sub(s) interact with (or "see") the total enclosed volume
when attempting to fill it with low bass.
This volume, along with your almost exclusive movie and TV use, means that the sub should be a priority if you want to achieve an optimum level of HT audio performance for your budget. I'd recommend allocating around 1/3rd of your total budget to a well engineered sub. This will get you a high performing ported 15" sub or sealed 18" sub. You may slightly favour a sealed 18" sub for reduced bulk and subsequent placement flexibility.
I wouldn't consider the idea of not
running a sub for a second. Contemporary AVR's are designed (and movie soundtracks created) around the assumption that a sub will be part of a multi-channel audio system. You don't want the hassles this fella had figuring out the best way to not
run a sub: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-spe...subwoofer.html
. Long wavelength, low bass does penetrate more readily through structures, but the best ameliorative action is turning the sub trim or LFE channel level down &/or engaging one a number of dynamic range limiting options on the AVR, if
an issue eventuates.
Some background first. Speaker design is governed by Hoffman's Iron Law
, which dictates that with speakers you may
have three attributes: digs deep
, plays loud
, is compact
... PICK TWO! To achieve a relatively compact speaker for home use, a speaker designer must make a call on where to strike a balance between sensitivity (how loud) and low frequency extension (how deep). The majority of mainstream speaker designers pick the middle ground to produce a more marketable "jack of all trades" type speaker. (Consumers also find it the idea of a deeper frequency response easier to digest than the implications of lower sensitivity.) For example, a 6.5" 2-way speaker like the highly regarded SVS Ultra Bookshelf
has a claimed extension of 45Hz (-3dB) and sensitivity of 87dB/2.83V/1m.
, given you'll be running a sub 100% of the time and it's crossed over at a typical 80Hz or higher, why would you want the type
of speaker that's traded off sensitivity for LF capability you won't utilise? It just doesn't make sense.
The type of speaker you do
want is one that's specifically designed for use with a sub and hasn't sacrificed high sensitivity for (unused) low end capability. A combination of high sensitivity and benign impedance (8Ω nom. ideally) allows this type of speaker to be driven cleanly to very loud levels (if required) with "budget AVR power". This in turn frees up funds for a better calibre of speakers and sub. (See comments on the AVR below.) In addition, when higher sensitivity is also combined with good power handling, distortion and power compression is minimised because the speaker is operating well with it's design limits, and you have the ingredients for a speaker capable of more faithfully reproducing the dynamic peaks of a movie soundtrack.
Off the top of my head, there are at least three outfits producing a speaker that meet the above criteria and are manageable with your budget.
All three speakers are 8Ω nom. impedance and rated 94 - 95dB/1W/1m sensitivity by virtue of their pro-derived drivers. The JTR and RA use coaxial compression drivers and are simply placed on their sides for centre channel use. The JTR is the premium speaker of the bunch and uses a custom high-grade Neodymium magnet coaxial driver
(that alone sells for more than the cost of the PSA or RA speakers) and has very high power handling. All three are internet direct makes and offer a 30 day trial period. (You pay return shipping with the JTR's though.)
Please do not overspend! Notions of an AVR consuming up to $1500 of a $4000 max budget is just crazy stuff (IMO) and a recipe for compromised audio performance. The actual contribution of solid state electronics to the final sound we hear is often greatly over-emphasised, leading to "deluxe" spending. With the possible exception of the AVR's auto-EQ/room correction routine, their actual
contribution is positively tiny. The budget allocation should reflect this and be heavily skewed
towards the speakers. In addition, if you select the right type
of speaker for the job, a powerful AVR is not warranted at typical domestic listening distances.
Getting sucked in by the tractor beam (I got your Star Wars reference!) of fancy electronics - often rationalised as "future proofing" - when you're running a firm budget can have only one result: squeezing the budget allocation for speakers/subs, leading to long-term sub-optimal performance for the audio dollar.
If you simply must
have the latest/greatest in AVR wiz-bangery, at least wait until all speaker and sub purchases are done 'n' dusted and the credit card is paid off.
Although the Reaction Audio system would appear to offer a high level of performance, I'm very reluctant to recommend them at present, given the company's apparent tribulations at the moment. (See: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-su...d-5-years.html
) Also, I believe the new AXIS series of speakers are not shipping yet.
The AVR's above are indicative of what's required and are interchangeable between systems. Their output is all that's required for very loud listening levels. To illustrate, when dissipating 75W (19dBW) of power a 95dB/1W/1m sensitivity speaker like those listed above, theoretically generates 114dBSPL @ 1m. Now, for a typical 87dB/1W/1m sensitivity speaker to generate 114dBSP @ 1m, it theoretically needs to dissipate over 500W (27dBW) of power! (dB Power Ratio calculator
) Not only is this well beyond the output capability of any current AVR, but it's also beyond the power handling capabilities of most speakers in your price range.
Of course, all of the above is based on objective criterion. You should still satisfy yourself that you like how a speaker sounds (subjective) before making a final decision. I encourage you to demo all speakers on your shortlist if possible; either in your own room (preferred) or at a fellow member’s place.
Wow! Long post and lots to absorb, so I'll leave it at that for now.
Good luck and have fun!