Polk Monitor 60 + CS2 vs Infinity Primus 250 + C25 for 3.1 setup
It looks like I'll soon be in a position to attempt to upgrade my Home Theater setup after many years.
I currently have 2 Infinity Sterling SS-2003 + Infinity Sterling Center (remember those Circuit City days?!) and an Infinity BU-1 sub in a 3.1 setup.
I recently had to re-foam the disintegrating surrounds on the center, but otherwise the speakers have held up incredibly well.
I picked up a 2nd BU-1 sub to experiment with detecting localized bass, but I haven't set it up yet.
This setup is used pretty much exclusively for TV/home theater, and everything runs through a Denon AVR-S730H receiver.
The sound's pretty good considering that the speakers are 25+ years old(!). If I have anything to "complain" about it's that the BU-1 doesn't reach very low (45Hz-150Hz +/- 3db).
It definitely has an impact, but without auto on/off, I rarely get up to turn it on, since the "Bookshelf" speakers have 8" woofers (50Hz-25KHz +/- 3db), and have "good enough" bass for most viewing.
I toy with the idea of getting 2 front-firing budget subs that reach from down low to higher frequencies (for directionality, hence my test above), but haven't chosen from several candidate subs yet.
I only recently started looking again because I didn't move quickly enough on 2 sales at Adorama on a Klipsch 5.0 setup, and now I'm curious.
The Klipsch system had 2x R-610F towers + R-52C center + 2x R41M surrounds for $500.
I may wait to see if these deals or ones like them come back for Black Friday, but I also found some other options:
There are currently 2 used surround systems I see that I can afford, and I'd like some opinions on all these options or other recommendations please.
The Polk 5.0 system has 2x Monitor 60 Series II + CS2 Series II center + 2x Monitor 40 Series II surrounds.
The Infinity 5.1 system has 2x Primus 250 + Primus C25 + 2x Primus 150 surrounds + PS-8 sub.
All of these fall under my "budget". Cost isn't really the deciding factor here, but sound is. I'm not likely to spend more than the $500 the Klipsch sale cost. The used speakers cost less.
I put quotes around "budget" as I'm paying for my HT upgrade (including a TV) by selling off other AV stuff that's coming my way or I already own. I'm trying to keep the net cost to zero or cash positive.
The Polk system is more expensive than the Infinity, but what I'm focusing on is the CS2 center channel. From everything I read, it's a gem, and a notable upgrade over my current center and the Infinity (and I imagine even the Klipsch). Any confirmation on that, or opinions about this specific speaker are especially appreciated.
The "room" is a finished section of the basement. It's a long rectangle in shape, primarily a play area for the kids when they were young. They're out of the house now, and it's mostly empty, with the viewing area to the far right, across the short side of the room. Seating is a sectional sofa in the corner where the right side and rear are directly against exterior walls, which is why we dropped from 5.1 to 3.1 years ago. Listeners are about 11'-12' from the screen/speakers. I'll most likely sell off any rear surrounds of these 5.0 systems, and any small down-firing subs I have or acquire, so any 3.0 recommendations should cost accordingly. I've picked up some Polk OWM5s I may try to cram into the corner and opposing side for rear surrounds, as normal bookshelf speakers are too bulky to fit the setup without moving furniture.
The L/Rs are on stands specific to their height for the listening position, the center is on an AV console below the TV, angled up to listening height, and the TV is mounted on the wall, a bit above viewer's sight line.
Having the net cost be in the red, moving furniture, or re-orienting the layout so the screen/speakers are against the short wall (and surround placement easy) all have very low WAF, but not impossible.
Any opinions appreciated!
The CS2 (and its CS10/20 brothers) are the second most complained-about center speakers on this forum, after the Pioneer Andrew Jones CP-22. I would avoid it like the plague if I were you.
If you're happy with the Infinitys (especially if the Infinity center is giving you decent voice clarity) then I'd keep them, to be honest, and just spend your $500 on a muscular sub (unless you seldom watch big budget action/thriller movies in which case never mind).
Klipsch R series should only be bought from someplace with an easy return policy if you have never heard them in person---they are infamous for ear-piercing brightness/harshness esp. at volume. The newer Klipsch RP series on the other hand is said to have mostly fixed that problem.
Also do a forum search for DCM speakers, these are the current budget champs and should fit into your $500 budget cap. Of course you've never heard of them but that's why you should look into them, as opposed to mass-marketed, overhyped junk like the Polk and AJ Pioneers. The Infinity Primus system isn't bad though, if you absolutely must have everything right now. Just keep your expectations low on the sub...a decent one starts at around $400.
Another option is the Dayton Air system, by accounts not bad at all for $250:
Or, if you insist on towers:
Monoprice has a <$100 8" 200W sub, model 14567, that lists in the specs going from 40Hz - 1.3KHz. At the high end, it should definitely provide localization, and it reaches a little lower than the BU-1, with more power.
The Wirecutter sorta liked it in their budget sub comparison, but recommended the Dayton SUB-1200 and low-profile SUB-1000 as the budget subs of choice. Their upper frequency response is only 140Hz though, which I don't think will help for my localization test.
The only other subs I've seen besides monoprice ones that go to at least 250Hz on the high end are the Goldwood/Acoustic Audio ones, which I'm leery of spending money on for an experiment since I don't know about their return policies, and few people have heard of them if I wanted to sell them via ebay/craigslist.
... but how do you really feel about the Polks and Pioneers? :D
How about Sony Core bookshelf and towers? Lumped with Polk and Pioneers, or decent for the price when they're on sale?
The Dayton Airs don't look like a match, since they have even less on the low end. The MK442Ts seem OK spec-wise, but not sure how 2 4" woofers can produce bass like the 8" woofer on the current Infinity. Interestingly, the Monoprice MP-T65RT towers may be more suitable, but I'd want further investigate a mod I was looking at for the bookshelf to add a cheap crossover.
As it stands, the Infinity Primus system (if it hasn't been sold yet) is cheap enough to buy and compare to the current system. If I sell off the stuff I don't like, it should come in cheaper than any other comparable "new" speakers. I can use that as a starting point to compare with the DTMs or anything else.
I remember the Infinity Sterling series from Circuit City, they are not bad -- but I like the DCM TFE and TP series better -- but if you like what you hear with your Infinity fronts and center, then work on a decent/nice sub -- I do not consider the Primus much of an upgrade over the Sterling series. That BU-1 sub needs to go -- There is also the Premier Acoustic 15 inch sub
Have fun with your audio journey.
Once you've heard a decent sub in your room, you will NEVER want to go back to less. By "decent" I mean going down to 30Hz at minimum, and for HT, rolling off no sooner than 20Hz (some subs go into the subsonic 10Hz range which is more of a "felt" than "heard" bass experience) is ideal.
It sounds like you rarely watch big budget action/thriller movies though, so a less muscular sub but one that delivers quick, tight and punchy bass would be a better---if your room (and by "room" be sure to include all adjacent areas it opens up to not just the listening area) is small to medium an RSL Speedwoofer would be enough to put a smile on your face:
The only Dayton speakers I'd recommend are the 6.5" woofer ones. And again, mainly as a last resort budget option.
The Sony Core bookshelves are great as long as you have a quality sub behind them since they produce very little mid-bass...it's their mids and highs which are stunningly good, especially if you don't listen at super loud levels where they will show noticeable strain. They go for as low as $80/pr a couple times a year on Amazon and Best Buy, which is highway robbery...the towers and centers get mixed reviews compared to the bookshelves. I'd just get an extra pair and use one as the center (preferably standing up, aligned with the L/R) if you want to go that way.
But in your situation, first I'd upgrade the sub. :)
Something I noticed when I ran test frequencies to my speakers, and some smaller ones I was trying out when setting up the Denon AVR was that at some point as the frequency dropped, the speakers couldn't produce the low sound (at least not loudly), but I could detect where the sub was for a little bit, then I "lost" it. The same happened for family members. What I interpreted from that was that there's a "hole" between the low-end of the speaker and the high-end of the sub where there's sounds that we could localize, but the system wasn't capable of playing. But since the sub was playing low frequencies from both L/R channels, I was "missing" a small window of stereo separation. My theory was that if I had a sub dedicated to the left channel and one to the right, I might be able to fill the hole and pick up sounds that _could_ be localized before they dropped off to being positionless. At those lower frequencies, I'd simply have the benefit of 2 subs.
So, I picked up the 2nd BU-1 for cheap, and connected the 2 of them to the 2 sub channels of the Denon, but couldn't tell them apart. I later read that the line-level sub channels didn't separate left and right, so they both were getting the same signal. I didn't have extra speaker wire at the time to each L/R channel to the sub and speaker, so I stopped for the moment.
In theory, if I had a single speaker that was capable of a frequency response of 20Hz - 20KHz fairly flat, I could tell the AVR I had 2 big front speakers and no sub. I could then try to direct all frequencies to L/R and low frequencies wouldn't be able to be localized anyway. I got the idea from looking at Martin Logan speakers in Best Buy one day. The one I looked at could be described as a big sub fixed to an electrostatic speaker that plays from 22Hz-21KHz +/- 3db for a measly few thousand dollars! What the heck, it only cost me $60 to test the theory. I was simply stopped by my own lethargy and lack of wire :)
Which leads me to ask about subs like I'm describing - Auto on/off, front-firing, with speaker level input/output, and frequency response from "low" to maybe 250Hz, though I guess it could be less, so I could try to make a virtual single speaker.
So far, it hasn't cost me much to try, and I can give up and get the bigger single sub from the great recommendations made here.
Or, you can play some test tones and see where your sub and speakers currently roll off:
We were surprised as well, since the Infinitys seemed to play pretty low previously. It could very well be that we set the "floor" high to protect the smaller speakers we were playing with, and forgot to reset the receiver. Considering that the speakers sound pretty good, we may have actually reset the receiver, and I'm just focusing on my memory of the test we did.
I'll have to retest when I get the chance. Hopefully, while it's too late to stop me from spending money on the 2nd BU-1, I'll at least save on the speaker wire! :D
Thanks for the reminder to check settings!
Thanks much to Zorba922 and zieglj01 for their advice and recommendations.
Hopefully my "issue" is nothing more than a bad AVR setting and/or bad memory.
If so, that let's me spend less on speakers/subs and more on other stuff, specifically the TV, which was the original focus of the upgrade.
If anyone else was curious, here's the list of speakers and subs considered based on recommendations made here and elsewhere:
Speaker Options (I'm only considering the 3.0 fronts. I'd likely sell off any surrounds and/or subs)
Infinity Sterling SS2003 + Center (used). Free to me since I already own them. No real complaints now that the center has been refoamed.
Infinity Primus C250 + C25 (used). $200 for the 5.1 set. Maybe only on par with the SS2003s, but less ancient, and easier to find replacements if needed.
Polk Monitor 60 + CS2 (used). $325 for the 5.0 set. I wouldn't take them over the Primus at this point.
DCM closeouts are creeping up in price, but seem to be a great buy. If I focused spending on speakers, I'd consider the towers.
DCM TP160S + TP160C (bookshelf + center). $165 - Guessing not worth considering over the SS2003s.
DCM TP160 + TP160C (single woofer tower +center). $240 - Guessing on par with the SS2003s.
DCM TP260 + TP160C (dual woofer tower + center). $350 - I'd like try these, but at this price, I'd probably spend $$ elsewhere.
JBL Arena 180 + 125C (refurb). $425. I think I'd go with the DCMs first at this price. Black Friday may turn up something.
Klipsch R-610F + R-52C + R41M. $500 at Adorama on the sale I missed. Maybe it comes again for Black Friday. Another sale included a Yamaha receiver for $250 more.
At this point I'll probably stick with what I have or maybe the cheap Primus if still available. I'll save the money for a sub or the TV.
Infinity BU-1. I have 2 of these now. They'll almost certainly go unless I need the money for upgrading something else.
Infinity Primus PS410/PS312 (refurb). $130/$200. Decent power, frequency response down to 25/27Hz +/3db, good reviews, friendly price, but...
They apparently have refurbs for a reason. Amps are known to overheat and die rapidly. It looks like a serious problem has been identified by the community, and there's at least 1 "fix" that I'd be willing to try at this price. Opinions on these would be appreciated.
Premier Acoustic PA-150 for $250, recommended by zieglj01 above. Looks good for the price.
Anything else is "over budget" unless I have these amounts after the TV decision.
RSL Speedwoofer 10s for $399, recommended by Zorba922 above.
Hsu VTF-1 MK3 for $399. May be discontinued. I'll call if it comes to that.
SVS SB-1000 or PB-1000 for $499. I think I can get under $450 for these.
These are "overkill" range for me, but may be interesting to others:
Hsu VTF-2 MK5 for $539.
Monoprice Monolith 10" for $550.
Monoprice Monolith 12" open-box for $680 available at the moment.
You keep talking yourself into and out-of what you want to do.:):) .. you tend to be riding a merry-go-round. ... if you are happy with the Infinity front 3 speakers, then you are set for that.
If I were to spend for speakers, then I would take the DCM TP260 over the Klipsch R-610 and JBL Arena 180 and Infinity Primus and Infinity Sterling series
The subwoofer is where you may need to go if you are happy with the Infinity Sterling series -- but if you are happy, then get a TV
The Monolith 10" will probably have a discount code around Black Friday taking the price down to $400-450...if you can wait, that would be the way to go.
The only urgency was with the used 5.x systems as I might miss out on those cheap deals, but they don't sound like a notable upgrade over the Sterlings. Anything retail I can afford to wait and see what Black Friday has to offer, and hopefully I'll have sold the other gear by then.
As it stands right now, I'll stick with the Sterlings and hopefully will be able to scrape up enough for a notable sub upgrade.
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