Originally Posted by baneling
I can't afford 98db speakers. the 91db paradigms i'm looking at are out of my price range already. Hopefully they are still available when I finish my basement.
If you have any Diy skills whatsoever yes you can. Heck I'd go as far as saying yes you can even without any Diy skills if you are at all handy. The DiySoundGroup kits are designed to be put together by even the most novice of hobbyist and all but fall together. These kits are designed by members of the forum here and are truly insane value for money but more than that are extremely high quality high fidelity regardless or price.
The part of the process that requires the most thought and care is the finish of the cabinets exterior, but even that can be as easy or complicated as you wish. Today you can find how-to videos online for all kind of simple faux finishes or you can go the route I did and use Duratex cabinet coating. Duratex if you don't know is the type of finish that comes on guitar amps and roadie cabinets. It is a textured finish by design but one can use a smooth foam roller and achieve a smooth almost non-textured finish if you wish.
As for faux finishes there are several that entail staining the bulk of the cab then using black spray paint on all cab edges giving a beautiful final look. This finish is easy to achieve and cheap but the looks are anything but. As with any finish the prep work and sanding are the most important part but the SoundGroup flat pack kits are laser precise and require very little sanding compared to building cabs from scratch. I'll include a few pics of some finish options that can be achieved cheap and easy at the bottom of this post.
DiySoundGroup has kits in all shapes and sizes and most are high efficiency designs, except for a few of the "Home Audio Kits", that will reach reference on under 60watts up to a 12' listening distance. I just built 3 Htm's and 4 Volt's after selling my all NHT 5.x.4 speaker setup and the upgrade in all metrics is simply staggering. I can say with 1000% certainty that a system built out of all Volt's, for instance, would compete with or outperform almost anything you can buy retail for under $10k and would leave the Paradigm's in the dust for music and movies. Don't get me wrong I love Paradigm's and even had them on my short list since purchasing my first HT gear back in 1998, but after hearing what ultra high quality, purpose designed, high sensitivity pro-sumer speakers can do with compression drivers(CD) I couldn't go any other route.
The CD's are super smooth but are very detailed without being bright. This when paired with the extreme quality drivers and integrated with an audiophile quality crossover design, form a speaker that will give even the best a run for their money. I for one love the CD sound and could not go back to dome tweeters of any design or material. The CD's allow you to listen at higher volume with less distortion all while never sounding strained or harsh. And if you happen to go with one of the SEOS designs you get the added benefit of controlled directivity which can aid in the need for heavy room treatment or lack thereof. Also by using heavy toe-in with waveguide speakers, like any of the SEOS designs, you can also take advantage of "time intensity trading" and create a massive sweet spot across an entire row of seats instead of a single MLP dead center of the 2 speakers. I have my Htm's setup this way and it has reignited my love of music listening simply because of how good they sound. I just can't spend enough time in front of them.
I could go on and on but don't want to prattle. I have assembled an all Diy system and finally couldn't be happier. I spent loads of money and over 10yrs looking for the performance I wanted from retail designs and never achieved it until building the SoundGroup kits. They offer a crazy value, extreme performance and are a blast to build. You also have the satisfaction of saying I built that.
If you are interested and need more info please feel free to PM me and we can discuss further. I can't recommend them enough and know you would be overjoyed with the performance as myself and countless other Avs members are. The high efficiency would allow you to focus on the features you want in a receiver instead of power ratings because even the cheapest of receivers will have plenty of power and then some to power any of the high sensitivity DiySoundGroup designs.
The money saved could also allow you to buy more speakers and better subs(of which the importance can't be overstated) from the beginning instead of having to piece together your system over time if budget is a concern, or even allow you to go with immersive audio like Atmos/Dts:x instead of only 5/7.1. But don't let the low price of the kits fool you, if sold assembled, at retail pricing, by someone looking to make a profit instead of helping fellow enthusiast like Erich at SoundGroup, they would easily be priced 3x-5x higher and still be worth every penny. To get a speaker from the JBL line equal to the Htm-12 for example would approach the $1000-1500ea. range new, and the Htm's have been found to measure and sound as good if not better than the JBL's by members here at Avs.
There are also loads of build threads that can be followed and even some videos that show step by step assembly of some of the DSG kits. There are also plenty of members, like myself, that would happily help you along the way if you need too. It all comes down to limited time or personal aesthetic preference as the only reasons not to go with DSG kits and I would urge you to make the time or find a finish you like if those are the only reasons.
Give them a serious look and do some forum research. You will quickly find I'm not the only person to wholeheartedly recommend the DSG kits. Erich the owner of the company is a joy to work with and is always an email away. I have sent Erich an email and received a reply in less than 20mins at least 4 times and never waited more than 2 days for a reply even around the holidays. The kits are masterfully packed and ship all over the world without damage. The designs and kits are all top notch and are backed by Erich's staggering customer support. He really has thought of everything and made it easy for even the most novice to build their own reference quality speakers.
If you are on the fence and don't know if you can build them, you could start with just a pair of Volts and see how easy to assemble they really are. If for some crazy reason you don't find them right for you, which is highly unlikely, you could always just sell the here on the forums(possibly even for a profit) and only be out your time.
Here is an example of one of the faux finishes that can be done cheaply and quite easily.
Feel free to PM me if I can answer any questions or just to go over which kits would be the best option for your use case. No matter which route you go don't skimp on the speakers or the subs, especially the subs. High quality speakers and subs can last a lifetime and through several receiver/processor upgrades. The speakers and subs are the biggest deciding factor, other than the room itself, in the sound you hear. All modern receivers and processors under $3k with room correction are within a small percentage of each other from a sound quality perspective so spending the bulk of your budget on the speakers and room treatments is usually the best course. Smart speaker choices can help you control the room acoustics and get the best performance from your system in your room.
Finally don't get caught up in power ratings on receivers no matter the speakers you choose. If you spend a few minutes playing with an spl calculator, like this one, http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html
you will see that small differences in power once over say 50watts wont make large differences in overall spl. It takes a doubling of power to achieve a 3db increase in volume.
So let's say you have a 94db sensitive speaker and a 50watt amp, that combo with the speaker less than 6ft away from 1 wall, at a 12ft listening distance will reach 102db peak. Now increase the power to 100watts and the same speaker will reach 105db peak but increasing power further to 125watts only raises peak spl by less than 1db to 106db. 1db difference is near completely imperceptible because it takes a 3db difference to sense a volume change.
The spl cal. I linked breaks down every metric including dispersion loss and boundary reinforcement. Spend the time to play with the calculator and you can get a good handle on spl in relation to power and speaker sensitivity.
Good luck on your journey and building your system. Let me know if I can help in anyway.