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Hi all. I've been reading through the many posts on this forum (and the video forum before that) in the process of putting together my first HT. My prior experience with the world of audio/video has been limited to a $90 Sony boombox purchased sometime in the early '90's, and a few CRT TV's along the way.

So my current project of putting together a quality AV experience within a financial, spacial and aesthetic budget is most daunting. Particularly so as my lack of knowledge about audio in particular leaves me without even the ability to ask the right questions. So I will start with what I know, what I'd like to know, and open the floor to any additional information that you think I aught to have.

The HT will be in the family rooom, which is 12x20 feet with a 12' high ceiling. The family room is carpeted, but the back opens up onto the kitchen, which has hardwood floors. The seating area is ~7 feet from the TV/front speakers.

The center of the room has a fireplace, above which the KDL-52XBR3 will be mounted. Flanking the fireplace on either side is wall-length built-in entertainment cabinetry, which is immovable.

The room is pre-wired for 7.1 surround sound with four ceiling speaker slots, and will be powered by a Yamaha Rx-2700 receiver.

My listening needs will be 80% movies/TV, 20% music. The type of music we listen to is very variable, from hip-hop/RB, Jazz, classical, Indian (heavy on high-frequency vocals and instruments).

I have a budget of approximately $4.5k for the 7.1 speaker setup.

So far, I've visited our local Mangolia AV and listened to some 1300/pair Vienna Acoustics, which I didn't particularly like, and 1300/pair Martin Logans, of which the floor speakers (Montage) were excellent, but the bookshelf speakers were very average.

So in summary:

I have:


Yamaha Rx-2700 Receiver (soon to have, anyways)

My needs:

7.1 Surround sound system for 80% movies, 20% music

Bookshelf speakers preferred, but may be able to acomodate closely spaced (5 ft appart) floor speakers on either side of the fireplace if bookshelf speakers just can't provide the same level of sound.

My budget: $4500 + installation

My questions:

1) Are bookshelf speakers inherently inferior in sound quality to similarly priced floor speakers?

2) How much of a degredation in sound would occur from having the floor speakers too close? I'm limited by the fact that the cabinetry only opens up in the center by the fireplace, leaving about 5 feet between the speaker-centers. Putting the speakers out in front of the cabinetry would both look bad and place them a bit too close to the seating area.

3) What other brands and models besides the Vienna Acoustics and Martin Logans would be in my price range and needs?

4) Anyone have a recommendation for good AV stores in the Sacramento area?

5) What is the practical difference between bipoles and dipoles, and would one be the obvious choice for me based on my needs?

Thank you for your help.
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