Request for guidance: 5.1.4 Speaker choices - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 17 Old 04-16-2018, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Request for guidance: 5.1.4 Speaker choices

Hi all, relative newbie to posting in these forums, although I've been using all of you as a great resource for years. Searching around, I can't seem to piece together a solution to my current home theater dilemma, which is as follows, and I'd love some advice:

Original HT setup (5.1):
Pioneer VSX-523K, KEF T100 (the original) 5.1 surround system consisting of five T101 satellites and one Kube-1 sub.

New HT setup (5.2.4 Atmos):
Denon AVR-X4400H, two new SVS PB-1000 subs, the same five KEF T101 satellites, and four new Polk MC80s for Atmos ceiling speakers.

Overall I'm really enjoying the new setup (along with a new 4K projector) and the Atmos experience is a legitimate upgrade IMHO. The new PB-1000s are adding some major depth to the system, and the Polk MC80s are doing a nice job as affordable overheads.

However, the KEF T101 speakers seem to sound a bit "thin" compared to the new subs and overheads, especially with regard to dialog and the mid-range of musical scores. I'd like to round this sound out a bit more, and I'm not sure what the best approach is. I've run the Audyssey setup through the Denon AVR, and currently have the T101s crossed over at 100Hz, with the PB-1000s running in LFE mode with an LPF of 120Hz. This has helped to fill in the mid-range but (whether it's my imagination or not) the bass seems more directional than when I set the LPF at 60Hz or even 80Hz.

The options I'm considering are as follows:

1) Buy a KEF T301c center channel (I have access to a nearly new one for $300 CAD) to try to increase the sound on dialog and vocals. The frequency range for this speaker is the same as the T101s though, with the bottom end at 80Hz, so I don't expect it will provide any difference in the richness or depth of the overall audio.

2) Buy a new set of 5 surround speakers. Options I've considered are:
a. SVS Prime Bookshelf x2, Center, Satellite x2
b. SVS Prime Tower x2, Center, Satellite x2
c. ELAC Debut 2.0 Tower x2 (F5.2 or F6.2), Center (C5.2 or C6.2), Bookshelf x2 (B5.2 or B6.2)
d. ELAC Uni-Fi Tower x2, Center, Bookshelf x2
Any of these would allow me to set a much lower crossover of 50-60Hz and limit the LPF on the subs to 60Hz, which I assume will make a big difference in the overall sound -- looking for advice/correction on this assumption though!

I'm looking for advice on the general path forward as well as speaker recommendations. I am happy paying for good quality at value-focused prices, which is why I chose the PB-1000s. I don't want bargain basement by any means, but please no elite audiophile recommendations.

Thank you all in advance!

- Sam

Last edited by SamF; 04-16-2018 at 04:49 PM.
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post #2 of 17 Old 04-16-2018, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by SamF View Post
....
2) Buy a new set of 5 surround speakers. Options I've considered are:
a. SVS Prime Bookshelf x2, Center, Satellite x2
b. SVS Prime Tower x2, Center, Satellite x2
c. ELAC Debut 2.0 Tower x2 (F5.2 or F6.2), Center (C5.2 or C6.2), Bookshelf x2 (B5.2 or B6.2)
d. ELAC Uni-Fi Tower x2, Center, Bookshelf x2
Any of these would allow me to set a much lower crossover of 50-60Hz and limit the LPF on the subs to 60Hz, which I assume will make a big difference in the overall sound -- looking for advice/correction on this assumption though!
....
- Sam
Hi Sam, I think getting new front L/R, center (those in particular) will really make things sound better. However, I would not set your crossover lower than 80, and would not reduce your LPF for LFE to 60. I have powerful front L/R speakers and center, and have all mine crossed at 80hz, and my sub LPF for LFE at 100 (120 sounds good too). I think others will also suggest that you keep your crossovers higher than your are suggesting, and the LPF for LPE at 100 or 120. FWIW, after running Audyssey and then using software called REW to check what is going on in the room, my frequency response curve for the room is better with my main L/R speakers set at 80 rather than 40 or 60, even though they have really good low frequency response. Your subs are good, and you should use them more than you will be if you set your crossovers low and the sub low.
Mark
[Edit--on the directionality of the bass, that will be affected by where they are in the room, so I would try the settings I suggested and try to deal with the bass directionality by moving your subs around. Where are they now?]

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post #3 of 17 Old 04-16-2018, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Mark, interesting advice on the crossovers. Given that you wouldn't recommend setting the crossover any lower than 80, I'm curious what the advantage would be of getting speakers that go below that threshold? Most floor-standing speakers and even many bookshelf speakers go as low as 45Hz. Is that just so you can run them without a sub if you wanted to?

Regarding sub placement, my options are pretty limited. Currently I have them at the front right and back right of the room. The front left corner isn't really an option, and the back left corner produces a really boomy echo (not a good spot). The PB-1000s are not little guys, so putting them at the front under the screen isn't really feasible either.

Thanks.
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post #4 of 17 Old 04-16-2018, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by SamF View Post
Hi Mark, interesting advice on the crossovers. Given that you wouldn't recommend setting the crossover any lower than 80, I'm curious what the advantage would be of getting speakers that go below that threshold? Most floor-standing speakers and even many bookshelf speakers go as low as 45Hz. Is that just so you can run them without a sub if you wanted to?

Regarding sub placement, my options are pretty limited. Currently I have them at the front right and back right of the room. The front left corner isn't really an option, and the back left corner produces a really boomy echo (not a good spot). The PB-1000s are not little guys, so putting them at the front under the screen isn't really feasible either.

Thanks.
Hi, on the 'why get other speakers, in particluar towers', I suppose the answer is that larger, better speakers may sound better to you. You seem to be feeling like you don't like the sound of what you have, so getting more capable speakers, towers or bookshelfs, may please you. As for towers, as you note, you can do 2 channel music with just your main L/R speakers, which sometimes sounds better than bookshelfs with a sub. The crossovers are also not a cliff, they cut frequencies below the cross gradually, so you don't have an abrupt change. Also, even though a speaker may ' go down to 45 hz', it may start to drop off significantly before that, which supports passing those frequencies off to the more capable subs. It is interesting, as I noted above, that even with tower speakers that are pretty flat down into the 20s like mine, it sounds (and measures) better in my room when I cross them at 80 and let the subs do more work. This is particularly noticeable on movies, and not so much on music. On the placement question, I also have a lot of constraints, but was able to move one of my subs around some, and it made a difference in avoiding localization. Can you move the rear sub to the opposite wall, or over to the middle of you rear wall?

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post #5 of 17 Old 04-16-2018, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi again. In terms of what I feel I'm missing, the KEFs are really clear on the high end of the spectrum. For example, the strings and horns in a movie like Star Wars sound great. What's missing is the register just below that. The Audyssey results wanted to set the crossover at 150Hz for all of the KEF speakers, but wanted 80Hz for the Polks. Unless I'm misunderstanding the results, that means that Audyssey feels the KEFs aren't much use below 150, whereas the Polks are. I will say that playing with the crossover for the KEFs, from 150 down to 100 or even 80, doesn't seem to make a difference in the overall sound. Maybe I'm just imagining it, or the introduction of the 19-40Hz range in the sound system, which is entirely new to me, is making the mid and upper ranges seem less impactful? I wish I was able to audition other speakers in this room, but we Canadians don't seems to have as many risk-free options (e.g. SVS direct from their website) as our American friends.

I can play around a little bit with sub placement, but the room is a 23x17 room where only the 11x17 half at the end of the room is dedicated to my HT, with the sitting area butting up against the end wall, and the screen on the side wall. Essentially the right side of the listening area is closed off, allowing for sub placement in the front right and back right corners, but the left is open and putting subs in either the front left or rear left position is inconvenient.. especially considering the size of the PB-1000s. They're not huge but a speaker jutting 19" into the room is not insignificant.

[Edit] Thank you for the additional info .. learning as I go and appreciate the input.
[Edit 2] I could try the middle of the rear wall but the port would be firing directly at the primary seating position from about 4' away. Not sure if that would be too much...

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post #6 of 17 Old 04-16-2018, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by SamF View Post
Hi again. In terms of what I feel I'm missing, the KEFs are really clear on the high end of the spectrum. For example, the strings and horns in a movie like Star Wars sound great. What's missing is the register just below that. The Audyssey results wanted to set the crossover at 150Hz for all of the KEF speakers, but wanted 80Hz for the Polks. Unless I'm misunderstanding the results, that means that Audyssey feels the KEFs aren't much use below 150, whereas the Polks are. I will say that playing with the crossover for the KEFs, from 150 down to 100 or even 80, doesn't seem to make a difference in the overall sound. Maybe I'm just imagining it, or the introduction of the 19-40Hz range in the sound system, which is entirely new to me, is making the mid and upper ranges seem less impactful? I wish I was able to audition other speakers in this room, but we Canadians don't seems to have as many risk-free options (e.g. SVS direct from their website) as our American friends.

I can play around a little bit with sub placement, but the room is a 23x17 room where only the 11x17 half at the end of the room is dedicated to my HT, with the sitting area butting up against the end wall, and the screen on the side wall. Essentially the right side of the listening area is closed off, allowing for sub placement in the front right and back right corners, but the left is open and putting subs in either the front left or rear left position is inconvenient.. especially considering the size of the PB-1000s. They're not huge but a speaker jutting 19" into the room is not insignificant.

[Edit] Thank you for the additional info .. learning as I go and appreciate the input.
[Edit 2] I could try the middle of the rear wall but the port would be firing directly at the primary seating position from about 4' away. Not sure if that would be too much...
Hi, I might try the middle of the rear wall. Some people really like close quarters subs. You might like it. On the Audyssey front, if it is suggesting a 150 cross for those speakers, you should use it. The rule on crossovers is it is ok to raise them from what Audyssey suggests, but not lower them. I believe that Audyssey doesn't do any corrections on a speaker below the crossover it suggests, so if you lower it from the Audyssey number it means you are playing content through it that isn't being modified. I didn't know that Audyssey was suggesting 150 for your main level speakers, or I would not have suggested you set them to 80. The fact that it is suggesting 150 for them is another reason that you might like new speakers, which would probably have more output below the 150 hz your speakers are now capable of. I suspect that if you get speakers that Audyssey measures and suggests an 80 crossover, and you abide by it, and set your subs LPF to 120, you will like the sound you get.

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post #7 of 17 Old 04-17-2018, 08:41 AM
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Those Kef, with 4.5 inch drivers, are likely producing little meaningful content under 100hz. 120 would be the lowest I would put the crossover point with those. Even really capable front speakers, maybe one that can play down to 50 hz -/+3 db, you would still be recommended to set the crossover to ~70 and I would let the sub play about 70. I cut my sub off at around 120, even though i have crossover points set to 70 for my EMP mains.
my friend Ray demo both the SVS prime and the SVS ultra bookshelves versus his Ascend Acoustic CMT340 and determined that neither was better than the AA CMT340, in his opinion...so the Ascend Acoustic might be something to look at. Phil AA, EMP, Chane (when available)...all really good choices for more fullrange speakers and not overly expensive.

Set up #1: EMP e5Ti, e5Ci, and EMP e5Bi surrounds, Outlaw LFM1 Plus sub, SVS NSD SB12 sub, Marantz Slimeline 1504 AV receiver
Set up #2: Def Tech SM450, CLR2002, SLS Qline surrounds and EMPtek10i10i sub, Denon 1910 AV receiver
Set up #3: Philharmonics- BMR in a 2.0 system, music only, Yamaha RXV-363 AV receiver
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post #8 of 17 Old 04-17-2018, 11:29 AM
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Thank you all in advance!

- Sam
From Sound and Vision's review of your rather expensive but thin speakers.

"There's only one thing you need to be careful with here: You have to set the subwoofer crossover point on your receiver to 120 Hz. With the usual 80 Hz crossover point, you'll get distortion and a sonic "hole" between the sub and the main speakers, because those skinny 4.5-inch midrange drivers don't deliver enough energy at 80 Hz to blend properly with the subwoofer."


Read more at https://www.soundandvision.com/conte...9jJukqKQsm7.99

Geoff A. J., California
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post #9 of 17 Old 04-17-2018, 11:43 AM
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Sam, you describe the typical issue with these type of speakers (small drivers, small enclosure), weak mid-bass response. That is the thinness you hear in the sound. There are two ways to attempt to correct this issue, replace the speakers or up the crossover point.

First, try the cheap solution, upping the crossover point. Place the sub in the front of the room (remove the second sub for the time being), near the front three speakers, then change the crossover point to 140 or 150. If that fixes the problem, then all is good. Try some different positions for the sub to see if it makes any difference.

Yes, the bass will become more directional at any crossover point above 80, that is it's nature. Thus, having the sub near the front speakers is key to maintaining the proper integration between sub and speaker. In addition, if you are running your sub "hot", this will make it stand out and the bass more directional. Have the sub set up at the same volume level as the rest of the speakers to help combat this issue.

After playing with the crossover and sub positioning, if it still does not sound right, then you probably need to move to option 2, new speakers.
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post #10 of 17 Old 04-17-2018, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks all, helpful tips here and I'm trying things out. I ran Audyssey again and now it's recommending 150 Hz crossover for the F/C/L speakers and 20 Hz (!!!) for the surround L/R speakers (all KEF T101). I just don't think these are producing anything meaningful in that range, to the point you made, @Elihawk .

I have two sets of these speakers and they do a really nice job for TV and casual movie watching in my upstairs living area. They also fit in great with the decor, which is much more important in that room as it is in the basement cave I'm working on now. I bought the second set when they were on sale for $600 CAD at Costco up here in Toronto, and I don't regret it since that's a really great price even today.

@gajCA : While they are expensive in general, mine were not, and they've served me well until now. Thank you for the link to that review, it's confirming what I'm experiencing.

@RayGuy : I've done a sub crawl to the limited extent that I can, although the room configuration really limits my choices.

@markmanner : I put the sub in the middle of the back wall but I had to split apart two side-by-side media cabinets to do so. They are all the same height, coincidentally, but it looks a bit odd.

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post #11 of 17 Old 04-17-2018, 12:08 PM
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Sam, bear in mind that any sub crawl you did previously is invalidated with the new, higher, crossover point. You will need to start from scratch, testing all the frequencies the sub will be reproducing.

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post #12 of 17 Old 04-17-2018, 12:38 PM
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If you have a 2001 audio nearby, you might want to pop in and listen to the newly released Paradigm Monitor SE line. The introductory price is very reasonable for these speakers. I have not heard them yet, but if they're anything like the old Monitor series, they would make for a very nice setup. If you like the Kef sound, the Q100 would be a noticeable improvement over the T-series. I have mine crossed over at 90hz and they easily fill the room. They sound great for both music and movies.

https://www.2001audiovideo.com/en/ca...tor-SE-3000F-W
https://www.2001audiovideo.com/en/ca...itor-SE-ATOM-W
https://www.2001audiovideo.com/en/ca...tor-SE-2000C-W

Kef LS50,Q200C, Q100, SVS SB-2000, Denon AVR-X3400H, NAD 216, Panasonic 50" Plasma, Xbox One.
Bedroom: JBL Loft 50 , Loft 20, Bic F-12, Denon AVR-S710W, PS3, 32" Insigna LED.
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post #13 of 17 Old 04-17-2018, 01:30 PM
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If you have a 2001 audio nearby, you might want to pop in and listen to the newly released Paradigm Monitor SE line. The introductory price is very reasonable for these speakers. I have not heard them yet, but if they're anything like the old Monitor series, they would make for a very nice setup. If you like the Kef sound, the Q100 would be a noticeable improvement over the T-series. I have mine crossed over at 90hz and they easily fill the room. They sound great for both music and movies.

https://www.2001audiovideo.com/en/ca...tor-SE-3000F-W
https://www.2001audiovideo.com/en/ca...itor-SE-ATOM-W
https://www.2001audiovideo.com/en/ca...tor-SE-2000C-W
Excellent suggestions for Paradigm and Kef. A surprising set of speakers that Zorba pointed out are the Emotiva B1 bookshelfs and C1 centre. They are actually LESS than their American prices on Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Emotiva-Audio-...rds=emotiva+b1
https://www.amazon.ca/Emotiva-Audio-...rds=emotiva+c1
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post #14 of 17 Old 04-17-2018, 11:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,

I think I'm settling in on the ELAC Debut 2.0 speakers (although the suggestions above were much appreciated and still being investigated).

Question regarding crossovers... if I am going to cross over the center and left/right speakers at 80hz, will there be a noticeable difference between speakers using a 5.25" driver vs 6.5" driver? Also, is there a major difference between a floorstanding speaker like the Debut F5.2 / F6.2 and the corresponding bookshelf version (B5.2 / B6.2)? Since I'm running dual PB-1000s, I'm not sure what the larger speakers would bring me if I'm crossing them over at 80Hz.

Thanks again!
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post #15 of 17 Old 04-18-2018, 11:01 AM
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Hi all,

I think I'm settling in on the ELAC Debut 2.0 speakers (although the suggestions above were much appreciated and still being investigated).

Question regarding crossovers... if I am going to cross over the center and left/right speakers at 80hz, will there be a noticeable difference between speakers using a 5.25" driver vs 6.5" driver? Also, is there a major difference between a floorstanding speaker like the Debut F5.2 / F6.2 and the corresponding bookshelf version (B5.2 / B6.2)? Since I'm running dual PB-1000s, I'm not sure what the larger speakers would bring me if I'm crossing them over at 80Hz.

Thanks again!
I'd go with the towers only if you listen to music in 2.0 or have issues with kids/pets knocking over stand mount speakers.

As there is so little difference in cost between the 5.25" and 6.5" bookshelves and centers I'd go with the larger 6.5" versions of both as they are a little bit easier to drive and will move more air for a given volume setting.
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post #16 of 17 Old 04-18-2018, 11:20 AM
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Go listen to the speakers, then decide.
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post #17 of 17 Old 04-22-2018, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey all, just checking back in to say that I ended up getting the ELAC Debut 2.0 set (6.2 fronts, 6.2 center, and 5.2 surrounds) and things have settled in nicely. Everything is crossed over at 80Hz, and the sub LPF is at 80Hz as well. Audyssey set the 6.2 bookshelves to 60Hz and all other speakers at 80Hz (including my in-ceiling Atmos speakers), and the LPF at 80Hz, so I just upped the crossover to 80Hz for the 6.2's to make everything consistent. Now it sounds like the subs are happy doing their thing in the 20-80Hz range and the ELACs take over from there. MUCH fuller and more balanced sound. And at higher volumes the whole system sounds a lot more "relaxed", for lack of a better word. No harshness or strain. I think maybe this is what all the reviewers talk about when they use the term "headroom".

Thanks for the help everyone!
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