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post #1 of 98 Old 07-15-2019, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Question Need Some Low-Budget Help

Some history ... I've always loved sound, but never had the budget for premium stuff. Still don't, but I'm at least going in the right direction.
Currently my system is truly mismatched, with a Polk CS1 center, Technics sb-t100 towers, and JBL Loft 30s for surround. Currently no subwoofer, though I definitely want to get a 12" (I used to have a 15" Cerwin but sold it a few years ago). Receiver is a Onkyo HT-RC360 at 100w/channel.

I'd like to purchase a new Center and Towers (and Sub, but that's a different topic).

Centers: I'll upgrade either way, but for now and for my testing I just tried 2-channel stereo without a center.

Towers: I had my eyes on a number of different Klipsch speakers as well as some Polks. My budget GOAL is approx $600, give or take (less is better though, obviously).
I have heard that Klipsch and Polk have very different sound signatures and very different from my Technics, so last week I bought two Klipsch 620F's on sale at Best Buy for $175 each, and two Polk Monitor 60s as well (they run ~$110 each).

I haven't tried any movies yet, only music, but right off the bat a few things were clear. The Technics' highs were muddy compared to the Polk and Klipsch, but the mid-range bass is solid. The Polks are showing nearly no bass, and I was disappointed to hear that even bi-amped the bass was less than the Technics. However, the highs were super clear and I was impressed. Put on the Klipsch, and the bass by comparison was much better, but it seemed the highs weren't as clear as the Polks (still better than the Technics).
Bass ... Klipsch > Technics > Polks
Highs ... Polks > Klipsch > Technics

I'm going to run a sub eventually, so I figured that'd help with the bass, but I worry I'll be missing a whole section of bass frequencies with the polks. And I worry that going with the Klipsch I'll never get that clear high end.

Is that the stereotypical result from Polk and Klipsch speakers in general?
Or are these deficiencies just the result of the models I chose to test?

Do you have any recommendations on low-priced speakers which will meet my criteria more closely? I'm not an audiophile but I do appreciate solid sound and surround sound.
I will be using my setup primarily (90%) for movies and home theater, not for music (10%).

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 98 Old 07-15-2019, 07:48 PM
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I’d recommend the Chane A2.4, you can get 3 for $750 and they will offer incredibly clear and dynamic sound with strong bass.

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post #3 of 98 Old 07-15-2019, 09:29 PM
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Ascend 170's - currently on sale. Probably the best-measuring $300 speaker pair. Add a third for a center, or use one of their 340's.

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages...70/cbm170.html

These are internet-direct only, as are many of the better speakers nowadays.

HTD Level Three would also be a strong setup: https://www.htd.com/Products/Speaker...three-speakers

These will have just a little more energy up top if that's your taste, but smoother and less harsh than the Polk or Klipsch you have.

The new PSB Alphas would also be very good: http://www.psbspeakers.com/products/alpha

I wish I could tell you how they compare, but I can only go off of reviews and measurements at this point. However, reviews and measurements help you sort out the wheat from the chaff and narrow down your choices.

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post #4 of 98 Old 07-15-2019, 09:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Keep in mind I'm not looking for anything high-end. This is very much a budget setup :-/
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post #5 of 98 Old 07-15-2019, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceman936 View Post
Keep in mind I'm not looking for anything high-end. This is very much a budget setup :-/
Always great to max what you can get for your money.

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post #6 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 12:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceman936 View Post
Keep in mind I'm not looking for anything high-end. This is very much a budget setup :-/

Both of the things you have listened to aren’t exactly budget kings, you can get a lot of performance in a “budget” setup.

I had the Monitor 60’s. Ascend CMT340’s (and even the CBM170’s) blow it out. Clarity, midbass, even bass.

The Klipsch are eh. The R series isn’t as good as the RP which would be closer to the Ascends in quality, but are out of your budget.

Emotiva, Ascend, Chane, HTD, are all much better brands that will give you more performance for your money.
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Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #7 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 05:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Both of the things you have listened to aren’t exactly budget kings, you can get a lot of performance in a “budget” setup.

I had the Monitor 60’s. Ascend CMT340’s (and even the CBM170’s) blow it out. Clarity, midbass, even bass.

The Klipsch are eh. The R series isn’t as good as the RP which would be closer to the Ascends in quality, but are out of your budget.

Emotiva, Ascend, Chane, HTD, are all much better brands that will give you more performance for your money.


I'm not necessarily against Bookshelves instead of Towers (my wife would surely prefer the smaller footprint), but I assumed that towers would sound better and have better bass response and overall better sound than a bookshelf speaker due to the increased volume within the cabinet, etc?


I've never heard of the premium brands (let alone seen them or heard them in person) like Ascend and so forth which I suppose is why I'm slightly hesitant to purchase. Would bookshelf speakers like that truly put out the same quality sound (highs AND lows) as a tower?
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post #8 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 06:09 AM
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If you really want towers, the QAcoustics 3050i are $639 right now and very well liked: https://www.qacoustics.com/3050i-flo...aker-pair.html
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post #9 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 06:38 AM - Thread Starter
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If you really want towers, the QAcoustics 3050i are $639 right now and very well liked: https://www.qacoustics.com/3050i-flo...aker-pair.html


Unfortunately those are budget busters lol
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post #10 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 06:47 AM
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This is a really good sale on the popular Jamo S809: https://www.crutchfield.com/p_701S80...09-Walnut.html

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post #11 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
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This is a really good sale on the popular Jamo S809: https://www.crutchfield.com/p_701S80...09-Walnut.html


I saw a Jamo deal today as well, S809s. Wonder how they'd compare against the Monitor 60s or the Klipsch 620s?
Anyone heard them before? Or better yet, can compare them?
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post #12 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by iceman936 View Post
I saw a Jamo deal today as well, S809s. Wonder how they'd compare against the Monitor 60s or the Klipsch 620s?
Anyone heard them before? Or better yet, can compare them?


The Monitor 60s are bright sounding with a muddy mid range, the Klipsch 620 are their more entry level range and I am not a big of them. The RP series sounds much more refined.

I’d take the Jamo over those two easily, but my first choice is definitely the Chane speakers.

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post #13 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by iceman936 View Post
Some history ... I've always loved sound, but never had the budget for premium stuff. Still don't, but I'm at least going in the right direction.
Currently my system is truly mismatched, with a Polk CS1 center, Technics sb-t100 towers, and JBL Loft 30s for surround. Currently no subwoofer, though I definitely want to get a 12" (I used to have a 15" Cerwin but sold it a few years ago). Receiver is a Onkyo HT-RC360 at 100w/channel.

I'd like to purchase a new Center and Towers (and Sub, but that's a different topic).

Centers: I'll upgrade either way, but for now and for my testing I just tried 2-channel stereo without a center.

Towers: I had my eyes on a number of different Klipsch speakers as well as some Polks. My budget GOAL is approx $600, give or take (less is better though, obviously).

I will be using my setup primarily (90%) for movies and home theater, not for music (10%).

Thoughts?
90% HT use on a $600 budget with no subwoofer and a weak receiver, I'd toss the whole idea of towers straight out the window. The center channel does 70-90% of the output and is therefore the true backbone of any HT setup, closely followed by the subwoofer unless you don't watch action/thriller movies that have all the LFE.

And you should NOT be using MUSIC to evaluate speakers that you're going to be using for 90% HT ... that's like selecting a car for daily commuting by seeing how fast it can go 0-100mph!

With your budget & usage this is what I'd get:
Polk S15, $160/pr
Polk S30 center, $200
(Amazon, but you can get Best Buy to pricematch for maximum ease of return if needed)

The S series is Polk's next step up from the Monitor series, which often garner a lot of complaints around here especially their CS1/2/10/20 line of craptastic centers.

And this sub, $450 shipped before $90 credit/points:
https://www.dealnews.com/Monoprice-M.../18080519.html
The 12" version of that sub is also available for $640 shipped from Amazon if you can stretch your budget a little.

If you're really hellbent on towers, I'd look at the Emotiva T-zero or T1 currently being cleared out at rock bottom prices.
https://emotiva.com/collections/loudspeakers
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post #14 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
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90% HT use on a $600 budget with no subwoofer and a weak receiver, I'd toss the whole idea of towers straight out the window. The center channel does 70-90% of the output and is therefore the true backbone of any HT setup, closely followed by the subwoofer unless you don't watch action/thriller movies that have all the LFE.

And you should NOT be using MUSIC to evaluate speakers that you're going to be using for 90% HT ... that's like selecting a car for daily commuting by seeing how fast it can go 0-100mph!

With your budget & usage this is what I'd get:
Polk S15, $160/pr
Polk S30 center, $200
(Amazon, but you can get Best Buy to pricematch for maximum ease of return if needed)

The S series is Polk's next step up from the Monitor series, which often garner a lot of complaints around here especially their CS1/2/10/20 line of craptastic centers.

And this sub, $450 shipped before $90 credit/points:
https://www.dealnews.com/Monoprice-M.../18080519.html
The 12" version of that sub is also available for $640 shipped from Amazon if you can stretch your budget a little.

If you're really hellbent on towers, I'd look at the Emotiva T-zero or T1 currently being cleared out at rock bottom prices.
https://emotiva.com/collections/loudspeakers




$600 ISH was for the Center/Towers only, not the whole setup. Willing to go a little further to find ideal, but can't drop $1000 or the wife will kill me haha
I do enjoy listening to music as well, hence the emphasis on the towers - I worry about being totally deflated whenever I do listen to music on bookshelves.
As for subs, I have questions out in a different thread (https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-s...l#post58302262). Tried two Polk 108's hooked together and they were garbage. Right now looking at $150-$250 for a sub, such as the Dayton 1200, Bic F12, Bic PL200, hoping for a deal on Infinity 12 or Klipsch 12 in that price range.
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And you should NOT be using MUSIC to evaluate speakers that you're going to be using for 90% HT ... that's like selecting a car for daily commuting by seeing how fast it can go 0-100mph!
This is where we disagree. It is much harder to discern a speaker's timbral weak points during a movie with all its randomness and dynamic range.

If you can nail accuracy with music, you've got a good speaker, regardless of it its intended use. Good sound is good sound. Some may prefer the speaker EQ'd a little brighter for HT, and that's fine.

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post #16 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
90% HT use on a $600 budget with no subwoofer and a weak receiver, I'd toss the whole idea of towers straight out the window. The center channel does 70-90% of the output and is therefore the true backbone of any HT setup, closely followed by the subwoofer unless you don't watch action/thriller movies that have all the LFE.

And you should NOT be using MUSIC to evaluate speakers that you're going to be using for 90% HT ... that's like selecting a car for daily commuting by seeing how fast it can go 0-100mph!

With your budget & usage this is what I'd get:
Polk S15, $160/pr
Polk S30 center, $200
(Amazon, but you can get Best Buy to pricematch for maximum ease of return if needed)

The S series is Polk's next step up from the Monitor series, which often garner a lot of complaints around here especially their CS1/2/10/20 line of craptastic centers.

And this sub, $450 shipped before $90 credit/points:
https://www.dealnews.com/Monoprice-M.../18080519.html
The 12" version of that sub is also available for $640 shipped from Amazon if you can stretch your budget a little.

If you're really hellbent on towers, I'd look at the Emotiva T-zero or T1 currently being cleared out at rock bottom prices.
https://emotiva.com/collections/loudspeakers
t0 + c1 + a decent sub would be a nice combo...

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post #17 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 07:52 AM
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$600 ISH was for the Center/Towers only, not the whole setup. Willing to go a little further to find ideal, but can't drop $1000 or the wife will kill me haha
I do enjoy listening to music as well, hence the emphasis on the towers - I worry about being totally deflated whenever I do listen to music on bookshelves.
As for subs, I have questions out in a different thread (https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-s...l#post58302262). Tried two Polk 108's hooked together and they were garbage. Right now looking at $150-$250 for a sub, such as the Dayton 1200, Bic F12, Bic PL200, hoping for a deal on Infinity 12 or Klipsch 12 in that price range.
I would drop the idea of a $150-250 sub and get at the bare minimum the Monolith mentioned above, or the RSL Speedwoofer: https://rslspeakers.com/products/rsl-speedwoofer-10s/

This will make the biggest difference. And you will have NO worries about music with bookshelf speakers, nor any movies sounding lackluster.
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t0 + c1 + a decent sub would be a nice combo...


"t0 + c1" ??
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post #19 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by iceman936 View Post
$600 ISH was for the Center/Towers only, not the whole setup. Willing to go a little further to find ideal, but can't drop $1000 or the wife will kill me haha
I do enjoy listening to music as well, hence the emphasis on the towers - I worry about being totally deflated whenever I do listen to music on bookshelves.
As for subs, I have questions out in a different thread (https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-s...l#post58302262). Tried two Polk 108's hooked together and they were garbage. Right now looking at $150-$250 for a sub, such as the Dayton 1200, Bic F12, Bic PL200, hoping for a deal on Infinity 12 or Klipsch 12 in that price range.
I would spend less on the speakers and more on the sub then...$150-250 subs tend to be flabby, boomy one-note wonders (one possible exception is the JBL 550P which the JBL website has for $200 maybe twice a year). Decent ones usually start at $400.

You will NOT be "deflated" when listening to music on bookshelves as long as you have a decent subwoofer filling in the low end. I'd take the right $200 pair of bookshelves with a solid $400 sub over a $600 pair of towers any day.

Still, if your heart is set on towers then Amazon has the Polk S50 for $400/pr so you could get that with the S30 center for an even $600. Emotiva has their allegedly "factory renewed" (most likely just heavily discounted excess stock) T1 towers and C1 center for $623 shipped.
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Originally Posted by iceman936 View Post
$600 ISH was for the Center/Towers only, not the whole setup. Willing to go a little further to find ideal, but can't drop $1000 or the wife will kill me haha
I do enjoy listening to music as well, hence the emphasis on the towers - I worry about being totally deflated whenever I do listen to music on bookshelves.
As for subs, I have questions out in a different thread (https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-s...l#post58302262). Tried two Polk 108's hooked together and they were garbage. Right now looking at $150-$250 for a sub, such as the Dayton 1200, Bic F12, Bic PL200, hoping for a deal on Infinity 12 or Klipsch 12 in that price range.
you are MUCH better off (even for music, imo) to combine the $200 or so you might spend on a sub and combine it with the $600 or a bit less for speakers , for that $800 or so you could (and maybe should,imo) get some bookshelf speakers and a *good*($500 ish ) sub.. it's gonna pay dividends right out of the chute...a big pair of books , like the polk s20 and a $500 svs sub (or rythmic or monoprice monolith) will blow a $600 pair of towers and $200 sub away ...you could even get a pair of emotiva t0(refurbished) towers and a nice sub for just a bit over $800 .. it's a bit more than you want to spend , but you may well be a bunch happier in the end , and avoid the upgrade bug ..
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post #21 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by iceman936 View Post
"t0 + c1" ??
emotiva t0 towers and a c1 center.. they are good budget speakers .. *very* good for the low price..

YAMAHA TSR 5790.. front l/r emotiva b1's and /or kef q100's ..BIC v1220.....Emotiva basx10.... ascend cbm 170 center.. polk t15 rears..samsung 55" j620d
bedroom .. YAMAHA r-xv 383... front l/r.. wharfedale 10.1s... ascend cbm 170 center ... Emotiva basx8... samsung ku6300 50 in
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post #22 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
It is much harder to discern a speaker's timbral weak points during a movie with all its randomness and dynamic range. If you can nail accuracy with music, you've got a good speaker, regardless of it its intended use. Good sound is good sound.
True, but there is a tendency for newbies to use music to evaluate speakers mainly based on how much mid-bass (which they confuse with "bass") it produces, which is totally irrelevant during HT if you're using a half-decent subwoofer. They also tend to end up buying the "matching" center by default without actually HEARING the damned thing first, since most showrooms only do 2.0 or 2.1 sound demos.

In other words, a recipe for disaster at home.
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~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #23 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 08:02 AM - Thread Starter
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If I could drop $400-500 on a sub, I would, but unfortunately I can't. Same goes for the Klipsch RP series towers at $500 each and so on so forth.
And while I get the whole pay-as-you-go idea of buying one piece at a time over the course of many months/years, I don't want to do that either.
I'm hoping to upgrade what I've got with something I'm going to enjoy, if it means stretching the budget a little that's fine, but I want to maximize what I can within the reasonable budget.
The WAF is a big deal in my case when it comes to overspending. She doesn't understand why I need to change what I have at all (as I'm sure some of you can understand or might have also experienced).
Not easy, which is why I'm looking for help lol
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post #24 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 08:25 AM
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You could get the Polk S55 towers open box at Crutchfield for $195 each

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_107SIG..._signature_s55

then add this killer Polk LSiM 704c center speaker for $279

https://www.adorama.com/pkalsim704c....urce=adl-gbase
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post #25 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceman936 View Post
If I could drop $400-500 on a sub, I would, but unfortunately I can't. Same goes for the Klipsch RP series towers at $500 each and so on so forth.
And while I get the whole pay-as-you-go idea of buying one piece at a time over the course of many months/years, I don't want to do that either.
I'm hoping to upgrade what I've got with something I'm going to enjoy, if it means stretching the budget a little that's fine, but I want to maximize what I can within the reasonable budget.
The WAF is a big deal in my case when it comes to overspending. She doesn't understand why I need to change what I have at all (as I'm sure some of you can understand or might have also experienced).
Not easy, which is why I'm looking for help lol
you might want to think of the whole project cost rather than portioning it off piece by piece.. it's going to save money long term if you get what you want sound wise the 1st time out.. we are recc'ing through experience.. ours and others.. the *sub* (and center,2nd most important, for home theater movies) is *it*, the most important dual use tool you have ,it replaces tower low end in music and blows away towers in home theater applications..you can take our word for it or find out the hard way($$$).. sorry to be blunt , but "it is" ,as they say,"what it is", and a pre-conceived budget doesn't change the issue...we are here to help

YAMAHA TSR 5790.. front l/r emotiva b1's and /or kef q100's ..BIC v1220.....Emotiva basx10.... ascend cbm 170 center.. polk t15 rears..samsung 55" j620d
bedroom .. YAMAHA r-xv 383... front l/r.. wharfedale 10.1s... ascend cbm 170 center ... Emotiva basx8... samsung ku6300 50 in
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post #26 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 09:08 AM
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ok , here is something that would work , money wise: 3 nht superones across the front and *any * good sub you want , add thrift store rears when you get some extra coin...
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YAMAHA TSR 5790.. front l/r emotiva b1's and /or kef q100's ..BIC v1220.....Emotiva basx10.... ascend cbm 170 center.. polk t15 rears..samsung 55" j620d
bedroom .. YAMAHA r-xv 383... front l/r.. wharfedale 10.1s... ascend cbm 170 center ... Emotiva basx8... samsung ku6300 50 in
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post #27 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 09:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Not sure I can take the NHT's seriously given how tiny they look, rec'd or not lol
The Emotiva's are intriguing (I imagine the recommendation for T0 > T1 is because the sub would pick up the bass instead of the 6" woofers on the T1?) and are smaller than most competitors, but the low impedence and low efficiency came as a surprise when I saw the specs.
It's the first time I've seen Polks recommended in a space like this. I heard a Signature set at Best Buy next to the Klipsch and they sounded inferior, but I know those setups aren't really necessarily apples to apples comparisons.
If the Ascend CMT-340's are tower-ish quality, those are intriguing too, but a little above what I'd prefer to spend.


With all of these direct-sale sources online, my hesitation is the high return shipping costs if I don't like the sound.


And with the subs, given the relatively lower reliability of a subwoofer versus a speaker, it's hard to justify sinking that much (400-600+ as you guys are recommending) into one piece of equipment. Speakers last forever, subs not so much. That's why I wanted to spend a little less. Even my 15" Cerwin, which was a beast, only made it a few years before the amp went on it. The Technics towers I'm replacing were bought around the same time and continue to work just fine over a decade later.
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post #28 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceman936 View Post
Not sure I can take the NHT's seriously given how tiny they look, rec'd or not lol
The Emotiva's are intriguing (I imagine the recommendation for T0 > T1 is because the sub would pick up the bass instead of the 6" woofers on the T1?) and are smaller than most competitors, but the low impedence and low efficiency came as a surprise when I saw the specs.
It's the first time I've seen Polks recommended in a space like this. I heard a Signature set at Best Buy next to the Klipsch and they sounded inferior, but I know those setups aren't really necessarily apples to apples comparisons.
If the Ascend CMT-340's are tower-ish quality, those are intriguing too, but a little above what I'd prefer to spend.


With all of these direct-sale sources online, my hesitation is the high return shipping costs if I don't like the sound.


And with the subs, given the relatively lower reliability of a subwoofer versus a speaker, it's hard to justify sinking that much (400-600+ as you guys are recommending) into one piece of equipment. Speakers last forever, subs not so much. That's why I wanted to spend a little less. Even my 15" Cerwin, which was a beast, only made it a few years before the amp went on it. The Technics towers I'm replacing were bought around the same time and continue to work just fine over a decade later.
you have a preconceived notion that "tiny " book's will sound small.. when you add the sub it just isn't true , try going to a dealer and listen to some decent book's and sub vs towers.. the emo's are low impedance , but easier to drive than they might indicate (especially crossed to a sub) .. the nht *are * a good option , but you might not like them.. but for dual use they would work well in general...the ascend are also a good option.. btw a sub should last about 10 yrs or so on avg....

YAMAHA TSR 5790.. front l/r emotiva b1's and /or kef q100's ..BIC v1220.....Emotiva basx10.... ascend cbm 170 center.. polk t15 rears..samsung 55" j620d
bedroom .. YAMAHA r-xv 383... front l/r.. wharfedale 10.1s... ascend cbm 170 center ... Emotiva basx8... samsung ku6300 50 in
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post #29 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 10:15 AM
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You are going to have to compromise at that price-point. If you want plenty of bass, then you must invest in a subwoofer. Unfortunately, if you do that, there is no budget left for speakers. Even tower speakers are, at best, going to get you to 45 Hz, with little to nothing below that point. Fine for most music, but inadequate for HT.

What you could do is to move the Loft 30s (those are the best speakers you own) up front and pair with a good sub (RSL Speedwoofer 10s). That would get you half way home, with only a center channel and cheap surrounds remaining.

Alternatively, I suggest you look at the local used market. That is the only way you will be able to get everything you want. If you give us your location, we can look at your local craigslist (what city?) for options.
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Last edited by RayGuy; 07-16-2019 at 10:22 AM.
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post #30 of 98 Old 07-16-2019, 10:19 AM
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Just do sub only and revisit the topic later in the year around Black Friday.
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HT: Samsung PN64H5000 (recommended settings) | NAD T758 V3 | Buchardt S400 (2) | Emotiva E2 (2) | Rythmik Audio F12 (2)
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