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I want to build a 6.1 system for $300-$400 (for the speakers alone). My most important characteristic is detail, and crisp, strong midrange. There are so many speakers out there with great treble and bass, but drowned out, weak midrange! I don't need a big or powerful subwoofer, just something decent for movies in a small room, and good for moderate volume music. I live in an apartment, so something very big or powerful is not a good idea! In fact, I'd prefer the main sats to go as low as possible before relying on the sub. My best speakers in the house right now are ceramic hyper olefin 3" cones in a cherrywood enclosure, part of my JVC FS-7000 mini that I use for all music listening. These have no sub or tweeter, but sound amazing. I've heard the speakers on the Onkyo S760 HTIB... not too impressed. The speakers on Yamaha YHT-440 HTIB seemed better. I've also heard JBL N24II speakers which I thought were pretty amazing.

For the $400 max I have to spend on speakers, I'm looking at two options right now, but can I do better?


1) JBL NSP1II (consists of an N-Center II and 4 N24II sats). I'd get an extra N24II and add some small sub of some kind to round it out.

2) Yamaha NS-6490. I'd buy 3 pair of these, and add a small Yamaha sub.


Can I do better based on my criteria above? If not, which of these two best fits my criteria? I don't have any place where I can go listen to any of the "fancy name" speakers. Fanciest I can hear are Infinity and Polk, most out of my price range.


As for the receiver, that's still up in the air right now, but will probably be a Panasonic SA-XR45 or an Onkyo of some kind... budget there is under $300.


If no one can help here, I'll just have to get some kind of HTIB.... I know I'm a newbie and I'm TRYING to not go the HTIB route, but there are just so many speaker choices and pitfalls.


Thanks for any help!
 

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It's going to be hard to find a good 6.1 setup for under $400. Cambridge SoundWorks has several 5.1 packages in the $250-$500 range, but they're borderline HTIB (in fact, CSW includes these same speakers in their HTIB packages).


I would recommend the Athena Point 5 MKII ($400 at BestBuy). More info at http://www.athenaspeakers.com . No sub included, but the satellites have great treble and enough bass extension (well below 80hz) for most music. Then you can add a subwoofer and additional rear speaker(s) when you have some extra money.


As for receivers, I am very happy with my Pioneer VSX-D811.
 

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One of the best 'inexpensive' speakers I've heard are the Polk R15. I think they are being replaced with a newer model so you might be able to find them pretty cheap. Circuit City has run specials on them often for about $80 a pair. Good luck.
 

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I know you said you don't want a HTIB setup, but you should consider checking out the stuff that fluance has to offer. My brother just picked up the SX-HTB (5 speakers, no sub) from them... It's around $250 or so I think for the 5 speakers. I can honestly say that I really like the sound of them. I've got a lowend B&W setup at home, and honestly his speakers made me feel sick to my stomach. Now, that's not to say that they sounded as good as my B&Ws at all, but they sounded close enough to make me wonder what the extra couple of thousands of dollars got me.


Seriously... consider them.
 

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3 pairs of the Yamaha NS-6490s you mentioned would be my recommendation. I've had just one pair of NS-6390s (the same thing with a slightly different cabinet) running for a couple years in my living room setup which is a fairly large space with an off center vaulted ceiling. They really sound phenomenal for the price. The midrange is very full sounding, as you seem to be looking for, and their listed bass extention to 45hz is conservative (with test tones, I've gotten 40 with barely noticeable drop of, useable bass down to 35 and could still hear it, to probably with close to 20db drop off at 30), so they should meet your criteria well.


In, fact, I would recommend just getting the speaks, setting them up and living with them for awhile before you start looking for a sub to integrate with them. I've borrowed a 10" Yamaha sub (can't remember the model number off hand; its the larger one Best Buy currently carries), and set it to cross over at 80hz, and the difference, while noticeable, wasn't IMO worthy of the $300 purchase (and in fact, my wife prefered the setup without the sub; she's a performer and music teacher, and this is HER living room, so I can't muck with it too much). These speaks won't sound anemic at all, and you'll likely want to save up some more $$$ to start shoping for subs in the $500 range (or research some DIY sub projects; I'd love to build my own tube sub).


Anyway, good luck and report back once you've bought something and set it up. We always want to hear about fellow members' experiences.


Kensai
 

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I'd second the Fluance SX-HTB set. They're clean full and undistorted.

For a sixth speaker I'd get the AV-SC center and transfer the original center to the back as the sixth speaker. The drivers are bigger on the AV-SC center. It will give you better dialogue.

The mains will give you some good bass. They're not as good as a low pressure sub but they'll keep you entertained.
 

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After spending a few weeks going through posts here, as well as listening to speaker systems set up in about a dozen stores, I purchased the Athena Point 5 system plus a P300 subwoofer at Best Buy when they had them on sale. I paired them with a Panasonic SA XR45, which has gotten some pretty rave revues here on AVSforum. Total cost, including tax and shipping, under $900.


With only a week of running the setup, and not yet testing it to extremes, I'll tell you that I'm very pleased, and would recommend it to anyone in a small room setting, unless you intend to bleed from your ears.
 
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