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Discussion Starter #102
Some other notes while scrolling through Crutchfield for the twelfth time (for my own benefit) :

Polk RTi A9 in the Cherry finish for $450 each from Crutchfield were interesting, until I saw the 21+" depth.

Monitor Audio Bronze series has a decent appearance, but smaller 5 1/4" woofers at my price point, doesn't seem as though these would have enough bass for a *.0 system, and there must be a reason nobody's brought them up yet.

I forgot the white Debut Reference was an oak cabinet with white front baffle, that's actually not too bad, and only a touch over the price point of the others. Maybe it's worth buying these for a three-way showdown against the Infinity and JBL.

Kef Q550 look nice, but again, smaller woofers and unimpressive frequency response for towers without a sub.

Wharfedale Diamond we discussed previously, 11.4 in walnut looks nice, but tweeter design may not be as good in my space as the Evo.

OK, this should help me remember so I don't keep going back to Crutchfield and trying to remember my thoughts on the different options.
 

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There are two possible outcomes here: first, she hates the speakers' appearance and I'll have some nicer options to show her and explain that it will require us to increase the budget, or she'll decide that sticking to the current budget is more important and she can live with the utilitarian looks of these budget options.
I like this.

Her: "Ugh, I just think they're not a good look in here".

You: "Well, honey, all the better-looking speakers cost more." ;)
 

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There are two possible outcomes here: first, she hates the speakers' appearance and I'll have some nicer options to show her and explain that it will require us to increase the budget, or she'll decide that sticking to the current budget is more important and she can live with the utilitarian looks of these budget options. In the meantime, I've never had any real speakers in this home, so at least the demo will give me some ideas of what I like or don't like.
Or...the 3rd scenario:
Maybe we should get a soundbar? I think that would look the best. Look, some of them even come with a subwoofer!
 

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Discussion Starter #105
Or...the 3rd scenario:
Maybe we should get a soundbar? I think that would look the best. Look, some of them even come with a subwoofer!
Just last night she asked me about replacing our Playbar with an Arc instead... Ugh.
 

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Discussion Starter #106
Like a dummy, I forgot to order the Infinity towers so I went to do it tonight, and they only have one in stock. I'll keep my eyes open and hopefully still grab them in time for a comparison against the JBLs, but I'm not confident that they'll be available any time soon since they aren't even listed on Infinity's own website.

Edit - I just searched for them to see if they were available elsewhere, and Crutchfield has them listed as discontinued.
 

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Edit - I just searched for them to see if they were available elsewhere, and Crutchfield has them listed as discontinued.
That means nothing. It just means that CRUTCHFIELD will probably not carry them again. The direct manufacturer on the other hand, may well continue to do so from time to time.
 

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You have such a large, nice looking space that if it were me I would focus my budget on a nice set of main speakers first. You can always add in the filler pieces for surround or atmos later, but a really nice set of main speakers will handle music with more authority than a low end full system.

I bet you would be more pleased with a full range set of speakers that run your full budget than a budget system in a box type setup that cost the same.

Looking at your finished room and TV area, I could see a nice set of mains like these canton's sitting there. These have a really nice ceramic tweeter.

Or for a few more bucks, these are in cherry. Same ceramic tweeter.

They are efficient enough to work with a reasonably priced receiver like a Denon 3600 or 3700, or Yamaha 1080/2080, but could also benefit from an outboard amp down the road as you add to your system. They have enough range to play low end well and would provide a great sound stage with full sound.

Start off with a 2 channel setup with an AVR and nice main speakers, then add a center and surrounds and sub as you can add more budget.
 

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Discussion Starter #109
That means nothing. It just means that CRUTCHFIELD will probably not carry them again. The direct manufacturer on the other hand, may well continue to do so from time to time.
That's what I hoped, but while the RC263 is listed on the Infinity site but with a status of backorder, the 263 towers don't appear at all. I'll keep checking back.
 

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All that space for towers...

View attachment 3049963
That space is screaming for some beautiful towers. I recently heavily researched the best towers and center channel option that I could get for around $2,000. Although there were other contenders, I ended up landing on a pair of Revel F36 towers and C25 center channel. The towers are quite capable with three 6.5" woofers and 91 dB sensitive, so they play plenty loud off of AVR power. They also offer exceptionally good sound quality for the price. They are designed following the research of Floyd Toole, so they are a very safe bet as far as providing sound quality that the vast majority of folks would prefer. Despite misinformed opinions, we actually all don't prefer a different sound. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of people all prefer a similar sound.....neutral and accurate i.e. how things actually sound in real life. Here's an interesting read:


There are actually lots of excellent speaker companies that follow this research in the design of their speakers. My choice for the Revel was easy because they 1) follow the well established research, 2) met my capability requirements in terms of sensitivity and power handling, and 3) were the top pick once aesthetics was considered.

Just another option for you to consider if you haven't landed on a solid option yet. Driving around to stores trying to demo the dozens of tower speaker options available is next to impossible and fraught with many difficulties, and demoing dozens of tower speakers in your home is equally non feasible. Start your search with well designed speakers that follow the established science..its your safest bet on getting speakers that will sound great. Of course, further narrow things down based on aesthetics, power handling, sensitivity, etc. This should give you a very small list of speakers to choose from.

Here is another good sight that has quite a few very high quality objective tests of popular speakers:


Although it doesn't have every speaker made by any means, it may help steer you towards the companies that have solid design principles.
 

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That's what I hoped, but while the RC263 is listed on the Infinity site but with a status of backorder, the 263 towers don't appear at all. I'll keep checking back.
I seriously doubt the R263 towers are better than the JBL 590s, so if you hear those and like them (and if your wife doesn't murder you for their Darth Vader looks) then I'd just keep those and pair them with the Emotiva C2+ center since I can't imagine any woman who doesn't mind those JBLs would ever complain about Emotivas, lol.

Contrary to popular insidious claims on sites like AVS, there's no need to bother testing out a half dozen different speakers if you like the first ones that fall into your lap. :)
 

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Since you are targeting 5.1, and you have a fairly symmetrical space with lots of room, you need to consider more than just brand and model matching of your center speaker to your left and right speakers.

Budget speaker usually have second order crossovers. Those crossovers incorporate a phase inversion between the bass woofer and mid woofer, and the mid woofer and tweeter, because the second-order crossovers have +90 degrees of phase shift on the top end of the frequency band, and -90 degrees of phase shift on the bottom end of the next frequency band.

If you mix a two-way budget center speaker with a set of three-way budget towers, you are likely to be disappointed with the front imaging. Those phase inversions will happen at different frequencies and that is going to create two discrete frequency bands where the phase is inverted between two adjacent speakers in your front sound stage.

The end result is a hollow image that sounds somewhat like a typical stereo system phase miswire on one channel. The bass isn't nulled, but the phantom imaging between adjacent speakers isn't solid either, and pans across the sound stage won't be smooth and transparent e.g. when a vehicle passes by from left to right.

Your best plan for a budget system is to make sure that all of your speakers are of the same type of crossover, e.g. either no crossover, two-way, or three-way, to avoid such phase mismatches between speakers of varying type. It also helps if those crossover frequencies are identical between speakers of varying type.

I asked Dr. Toole about the phase characteristics of his Revel Salon multichannel speakers after the Harman Revel vs. JBL M2 shootout. The usual question arose about whether a listening test with one channel is a fair comparison, and when someone suggested using two channels instead, I pointed out that just confuses things if they are the same type of speaker system, but if they are two speakers of different crossover design that are intended to work together in a surround system, there's possibly some merit. Dr. Toole didn't respond and as usual someone else just said it doesn't matter, when it clearly does.

I haven't seen many budget speaker manufacturers advertising the phase characteristics of their speakers, but if someone can take nearfield measurements of the speaker you are looking at, you should be able to clearly distinguish the phase over frequency. It's better to do it in an acoustically controlled environment, but not absolutely necessary if it's done carefully and far from any solid boundaries aside from the floor that is should be resting on.

You could have the same issue with your front towers mismatched with your side/rear surround speakers. If the phase characteristic doesn't match, the phantom imaging from front to rear won't be solid.

In a room with no acoustic treatments it's not such a strong factor because the early reflections send the phase through several wraps throughout the spectrum anyway, but the wraps tend to be sharp because they correspond to solid boundary interference nulls, and the averaged phase of each channel does still stand out, so the crossover mismatch can still be audible.

It's far less likely to be a factor with surround speakers because they are placed so radically differently from the front speakers that those phase wraps are combined with other room characteristics that also muddy the phantom imaging. However, I've found that I much prefer my budget multichannel system when I've used only all two-way or all three-way speakers that have identical crossover frequencies and no phase mismatches.

For sure, the most audible phase mismatch is in the center speaker. I think it's even more important than timbre matching. The timbre is not good anyway if there's a phase conflict between 800Hz and 1.5KHz creating a broad midrange null that shifts drastically in bandwidth and 'thickness' while moving one's head slightly from side to side, combined with treble decorrelation above 6KHz.

When that phase mismatch is directly in front, it also is placed where hearing is most sensitive to phase anomalies, because there's two ears spaced horizontally apart detecting it. If the phase mismatch is off to the side it isn't as audible as decorrelation and is perceived more as frequency response ripple from phase cancellation. There's going to be plenty of ripple anyway from early reflections and modes.

Fortunately, with quality budget speakers the center is more likely to be three-way like the towers, but it's not a hard rule. Surrounds are almost certainly going to be two-way. There is also the possibility of two-way towers that match the crossovers in the center and surrounds.

Higher efficiency towers are more likely to be 3-way, so you are probably looking at a 3-way center as well, and a mismatch with two-way surrounds, unless you use two more center speakers as surrounds, increasing cost and complicating the mounting. You might as well go DIY instead if it comes to that.
 

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but I just want to know where to buy this Studio 590!
From the same place that the good doc O'Toole got all his wonderful theories and gospels, of course! :D :D :D
 
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That's a two-way tower. It should be a good match for two-way surrounds, but if you match it with a three-way center you might be disappointed. It depends on if the crossover is second order or fourth order. For that price I'd bet it is second order and there's a phase inversion on the tweeter.

The center speaker looks to be two-way crossover also. That should match well with the towers. The crossover on both is 1.5KHz so that matches too.


I'm not seeing a surround speaker in that line, and the Stage line is dome tweeter rather than horn, with different crossover frequencies.


The in-wall Arena line looks to be similar to the Stage line, but I didn't check closely, I just looked at the photos.

I'd be inclined to use two more centers as surrounds in your system to keep the phase all matched and the timbre matched. You should get excellent results. Just be mindful you might have to install custom shelves or brackets to mount your surrounds since they aren't designed for surround duty.
 

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Something else to keep in mind is that you can demo a single speaker against another single speaker. That's actually the preferred method of comparison because it simplifies the room acoustics that might confuse your brain.

Just stand two different towers in the center of your front wall and connect them to your left and right channels with a mono sound mode. You should be able to readily tell if you like one better than the other by panning the balance left to right. Maybe your receiver doesn't have a balance control, and in that case you might have to dig an old 2 channel rig out of your garage for this test.

Who knows, maybe you will decide to wall-mount your TV over three towers too. That odd tower might come in handy when the matched pair arrives.
 

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They are designed following the research of Floyd Toole, so they are a very safe bet as far as providing sound quality that the vast majority of folks would prefer. Despite misinformed opinions, we actually all don't prefer a different sound. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of people all prefer a similar sound.....neutral and accurate i.e. how things actually sound in real life.
I'm sure Revel speakers are excellent. I'd hesitate to make such a generalized claim based on a couple of isolated studies which iirc are based on a relatively small sample group. Granted, I haven't read those studies, but I've read headlines and highlights here.
There is something to be said about studies in general. Many of them are designed to prove a pre-determined claim, and even worse, some are sponsored by those who would benefit from such conclusions.
There may have no been a ton of such studies, so those stand out, but think how many studies you've read about that seemingly reached sensational conclusions. I'm fairly sure you can find studies that "prove" smoking is actually pretty good for you.
 

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I'm sure Revel speakers are excellent. I'd hesitate to make such a generalized claim based on a couple of isolated studies which iirc are based on a relatively small sample group. Granted, I haven't read those studies, but I've read headlines and highlights here.
There is something to be said about studies in general. Many of them are designed to prove a pre-determined claim, and even worse, some are sponsored by those who would benefit from such conclusions.
There may have no been a ton of such studies, so those stand out, but think how many studies you've read about that seemingly reached sensational conclusions. I'm fairly sure you can find studies that "prove" smoking is actually pretty good for you.
You should look into it a bit more. This is actually based on decades of scientific research under Canada's National Research council, not a few small isolated studies. Independent research. There's a reason a good number of excellent speaker companies design according to these principles. Revel is just one of them.
 
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