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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, long time lurker, first time poster here.

I just got budget approval from my wife to upgrade our dedicated home theater room with new speakers. The budget is $4k. I would like to solicit some opinions with what would be good value/quality. My HT is primarily for movies, but I can foresee music listening increasing there too. I'd say now it 80/20.

I do have SVS SB-13 Ultra sub to take care of lows. Also HT powered by Anthem PVA 7 and MRX 510 as pre. I have various sources (Media center with Asus Xonar Essence ST sound, PS4, Pioneer Elite BD, etc.).
I listen wide variety of music, anything from classic rock to modern violin (Lindsey Stirling) to Queen to Mogwai and deadmou5 (a lot of trance).

I also feel that I do need towers for the L/R channels. I just think bookshelves neither look impressive nor fill the room. I've read a lot of posts where people recommend bookshelves with couple of subs (like Sierra 2 + SVS or Rythmik), but I am not sure how I feel about that.

This is the layout and size of the room, it's kind of open from one side as shown:


I've read some good reviews about:

  • Ascend Acoustics (Sierra Tower, Horizon and some B-stock Sierra 1 rears and surrounds) - I would want it with RAAL which pushes it out of my budget.
  • Salk Songtower - probably would pick Ascend over Salk
  • Philharmonics 3 - just can't get past the look of them and out of my range
  • Focal Aria 900 line - like it, but can afford if I get 40% off (is it realistic?)
  • KEF R-series (R500, R200C, R100, R800DS) - like it, but can afford if I get 40% off (is it realistic?)
  • There are some others that I haven't done whole lot of research like Sonus Faber, PSB, Martin Logan ESL, and some more affordable options like EMP Tek, Chrane ARX, HTD Level THREE, etc.

So far I outlined the following systems what I will try to hear:

Aperion Verus Grand
Verus Grand Towers
Verus Grand Center
Verus Grand Bookshelf
Verus Grand Bookshelf or Verus Surround


GoldenEar Triton Three or Seven
Triton Three Tower or Triton Seven Tower
SuperCenter X
Aon 2
Aon 2

SVS Ultra
Ultra Towers
Ultra Center
Surrounds
Bookshelves

Focal Chorus 800V-series - I do like it from price standpoint
836V Towers
CC800 Center
806V Bookshelf
SR800V Surround

I am newbie it this process so I'd like to ask if I am missing anything or some other options I should consider. Appreciate your help in advance.
 

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I can vouch for the SVS Ultra speakers and say they sound AMAZING. Although I don't have the towers, I went with a 7.2.2 system consisting of SVS Ultra center, 6 SVS Ultra bookshelf speakers and dual SVS PB12 Plus subs. The ceiling Atmos speakers are still being determined. I haven't heard the other speakers you mentioned.
 

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You might want to consider adding 2 or 4 overhead speakers for Dolby Atmos/DTS-UHD/Auro3D.
 

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Are you handy at all? You can buy DIY speaker kits with pre-cut cabinets and assembled crossovers, and stretch your dollar A LOT further. Youl could go with something like the Fusiob Alchemy kits, three of the MTM speakers would be an impressive front sound stage. These are high efficiency theater speakers that offer superior dynamics and output, and can give you crystal clear sound at reference levels. With the cost savings, buy a second SB13 Ultra, and I think you will have a fantastic theater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Are you handy at all? You can buy DIY speaker kits with pre-cut cabinets and assembled crossovers, and stretch your dollar A LOT further. Youl could go with something like the Fusiob Alchemy kits, three of the MTM speakers would be an impressive front sound stage. These are high efficiency theater speakers that offer superior dynamics and output, and can give you crystal clear sound at reference levels. With the cost savings, buy a second SB13 Ultra, and I think you will have a fantastic theater.
Thanks for info guys.

I was kind of considering DIY at some point and think of myself as handy, but don't know if I have time to dedicate to it. I was thinking of Seas Thor Speaker Kit but it required custom build cabinet. I don't really have tools to build it from scratch. But DIY idea is still interesting.
 

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Thanks for info guys.

I was kind of considering DIY at some point and think of myself as handy, but don't know if I have time to dedicate to it. I was thinking of Seas Thor Speaker Kit but it required custom build cabinet. I don't really have tools to build it from scratch. But DIY idea is still interesting.
You can get pre-cut flatpacks from that size, and all you do is glue them together. They also have an Alchemy tower, but the flat packs should be available soon. I think it's a great way to get high end performance without dropping several thousand. Look up JTR speakers as something you would be recreating, for a fraction of the price.
 

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You can get pre-cut flatpacks from that size, and all you do is glue them together. They also have an Alchemy tower, but the flat packs should be available soon. I think it's a great way to get high end performance without dropping several thousand. Look up JTR speakers as something you would be recreating, for a fraction of the price.

I have JTR 228's and have heard the 1099's from the DIY sound group plenty of times now, and I say that the 1099 is easily 95% of what my 228's are. Exceptional value/performance! Anyone that can use wood glue, clamps and a brad nailer should seriously consider them!
 

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When it come to speakers, what kind of "sound" do you like? High efficiency, sparkling highs - JBL. Lively, slightly bright - Paradigm. Warm, laid back - maybe KEF? Less bright, smooth mids - maybe NHT.

What do you have now? Do you like them and if not what is your primary objection? Are they too bright? Lacking dynamics?

Without knowing where to point you, I would suggest some of the most balanced for music and movies:

Paradigm speakers are great for music and movies:
Fronts: Paradigm Monitor 9 - $600ea
Center: Paradigm Center 3 - $600
Surrounds: Paradigm Mini Monitors - $299ea

You could get the NHT Classic Three - a three way large bookshelf (which is the same speaker less the Four's built in "sub") or you could get the Classic Four Tower and have two MORE subs in addition to your powered sub which you could re-position to smooth bass.
Fronts: NHT Classic Four Towers - $950ea
Center: NHT ThreeC Center Channel Speaker - $600
Surrounds: Absolute Wall Speaker - $220ea
 

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Most of your list are not theater speakers. Based on your 80/20 movie/music mix, I'd recommend going with a more theater focused speaker. JBL pro comes to mind. You could get 3 3677s and 4 8320 surrounds for ~$3k. JTR is the other obvious choice though you won't get 5 much less 7 speakers within your budget. But you could get JTR 228HT fronts coupled with the JBL 8320 surrounds for right at 4k. Thats a commonly used pairing and either of these suggestions would IMO give you the best theater experience possible. The tradeoff being that neither JBL or JTR makes pretty speakers. If WAF is a factor... then maybe go with paradigm?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
When it come to speakers, what kind of "sound" do you like? High efficiency, sparkling highs - JBL. Lively, slightly bright - Paradigm. Warm, laid back - maybe KEF? Less bright, smooth mids - maybe NHT.

What do you have now? Do you like them and if not what is your primary objection? Are they too bright? Lacking dynamics?

Without knowing where to point you, I would suggest some of the most balanced for music and movies:

Paradigm speakers are great for music and movies:
Fronts: Paradigm Monitor 9 - $600ea
Center: Paradigm Center 3 - $600
Surrounds: Paradigm Mini Monitors - $299ea

You could get the NHT Classic Three - a three way large bookshelf (which is the same speaker less the Four's built in "sub") or you could get the Classic Four Tower and have two MORE subs in addition to your powered sub which you could re-position to smooth bass.
Fronts: NHT Classic Four Towers - $950ea
Center: NHT ThreeC Center Channel Speaker - $600
Surrounds: Absolute Wall Speaker - $220ea
Good questions.
I do have polk monitor (60, CS2, 40, 30) which are ok, but nothing to rave about. I don't think the clarity is there with them and even though there was a significant quality increase when I got Anthem MRX 510 (with arc 2 setup) and Anthem PVA 7 amp I started feeling that Polks now are the weakest link in my whole system. After I added SVS SB-13 Ultra I felt big improvements in musicality since it takes a good care of lows, but again in mids and highs lack clarity and detail.

I also want to have speakers that don't require only SACDs to sound good!
I do have some flac, but my main source is my ht server (some flac, some 320 kbps mp3) and Extreme on Spotify (about 320kbps).

I haven't heard whole lot of speakers, so far I know I do like wide soundstage and depth in sound, but gotta do some listening to figure out how to describe what I like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Most of your list are not theater speakers. Based on your 80/20 movie/music mix, I'd recommend going with a more theater focused speaker. JBL pro comes to mind. You could get 3 3677s and 4 8320 surrounds for ~$3k. JTR is the other obvious choice though you won't get 5 much less 7 speakers within your budget. But you could get JTR 228HT fronts coupled with the JBL 8320 surrounds for right at 4k. Thats a commonly used pairing and either of these suggestions would IMO give you the best theater experience possible. The tradeoff being that neither JBL or JTR makes pretty speakers. If WAF is a factor... then maybe go with paradigm?
I don't know about you, guys, but WAF is ALWAYS a factor! ;)

As I said, today it's about 80/20 but down the road I can see it's getting closer to 50/50, so I'd be interested in speakers working well for HT as well as for 2 or 2.1 channel music.
 

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Well the best multi-use speakers in all the shootouts are the JTRs. If those are not WAF approved, then I'd recommend Paradigm simply because they are typically decent on sensitivity and they make good center channels +dipole surrounds if you dont have space for bookshelfs. Also good looking speakers.
 

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I do have polk monitor (60, CS2, 40, 30) which are ok, but nothing to rave about. I don't think the clarity is there with them and even though there was a significant quality increase when I got Anthem MRX 510 (with arc 2 setup) and Anthem PVA 7 amp I started feeling that Polks now are the weakest link in my whole system. After I added SVS SB-13 Ultra I felt big improvements in musicality since it takes a good care of lows, but again in mids and highs lack clarity and detail.

I do have some flac, but my main source is my ht server (some flac, some 320 kbps mp3) and Extreme on Spotify (about 320kbps).

I haven't heard whole lot of speakers, so far I know I do like wide soundstage and depth in sound, but gotta do some listening to figure out how to describe what I like.
I don't hear you saying that your Polk speakers lack dynamics or punch - that is what people usually complain about when they want more volume or SPL which those very efficient, high SPL speakers will provide. If those were your complaints, I would agree that JTR / JBL speakers will give you that.

You have a huge amplifier, I should have also asked - "Do you listen at loud volumes and find your Polk speakers lack dynamics?"

If the Polks are giving you enough volume and dynamic range but are not detailed enough, you may just want a better speaker with a similar "sound". The Polk are a great budget speaker, but like other good budget speakers many people just want a more detailed, refined sound with better sound stage and life-like presentation - these things are designed into speakers when the designer has the budget - low cost usually means trade offs in design and they can't design a perfect speaker at that price point.

I also want to have speakers that don't require only SACDs to sound good!
Once you have really good speakers you may not like the way that some of your lower bit-rate lossy compressed music sounds - you will be able to hear the difference between them and original CD / lossless compression and will even be able to hear problems in the original recordings or the production (of CDs and even some SACDs)!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If the Polks are giving you enough volume and dynamic range but are not detailed enough, you may just want a better speaker with a similar "sound". The Polk are a great budget speaker, but like other good budget speakers many people just want a more detailed, refined sound with better sound stage and life-like presentation - these things are designed into speakers when the designer has the budget - low cost usually means trade offs in design and they can't design a perfect speaker at that price point.
I think you kind of nailed it with the description of what I am trying to achieve! There is nothing wrong with Polks, they've served me well in the past 4 years. Now I feel is the time to step up.
 

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You're on the right track. Start your listening sessions. Once you educate your ears, it will be easier to make a selection that you will be happy with for a long time.

Bring along a wide variety of music that you like, both MP3 and higher resolutions. Try to be consistent with listening levels (low and high) and take your time with each speaker ... letting your ears get used to the sound. After a while, you will better understand your likes and dislikes. If you still haven't found the speaker that floats your boat, bringing back the knowledge you've gained from the listening sessions will assist us in helping you.

Have fun and don't be in a rush. Only get something you are really in love with. Be sure to negotiate a liberal return policy, as speakers sound very different in different rooms.

Lastly, your list is a good one. Many folks here would be ecstatic to own any of them. That said, there are a lot of good speakers available in your price range. Other possible listening options would be Vandersteen and Totem, as well as PSB and Dynaudio. These are all good speakers with different sonic signatures, and should, with your list above, give you a wide variety of experiences from which to deduce what you want. If they are available in your vicinity give them a listen!

Enjoy the ride!
 

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Personally, I would opt for Goldenear. The folded ribbon tweeters are exceptional and the speakers have high sensitivity (easy to drive). The Sevens are incredible...

For your setup, I'd look at the following:

L/R: Triton Seven ($699 each)

Center: SuperCenter XL ($799)

Surround L/R: Aon 2 ($399 each)

Back L/R: Aon 2 ($399 each)

Total: $3800


*You could upgrade the Surrounds L/R to AON 3 ($499 each) and your total would be right at $4000.

Find yourself a dealer and give the sevens a listen. Damn near every review on the planet (publication or user in forum) is gushing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Personally, I would opt for Goldenear. The folded ribbon tweeters are exceptional and the speakers have high sensitivity (easy to drive). The Sevens are incredible...

For your setup, I'd look at the following:

L/R: Triton Seven ($699 each)

Center: SuperCenter XL ($799)

Surround L/R: Aon 2 ($399 each)

Back L/R: Aon 2 ($399 each)

Total: $3800


*You could upgrade the Surrounds L/R to AON 3 ($499 each) and your total would be right at $4000.

Find yourself a dealer and give the sevens a listen. Damn near every review on the planet (publication or user in forum) is gushing.
I will try to listen Goldenears tomorrow. Too bad they don't make a true surround speakers.
 

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Personally, I would opt for Goldenear. The folded ribbon tweeters are exceptional and the speakers have high sensitivity (easy to drive). The Sevens are incredible...

For your setup, I'd look at the following:

L/R: Triton Seven ($699 each)

Center: SuperCenter XL ($799)

Surround L/R: Aon 2 ($399 each)

Back L/R: Aon 2 ($399 each)

Total: $3800


*You could upgrade the Surrounds L/R to AON 3 ($499 each) and your total would be right at $4000.

Find yourself a dealer and give the sevens a listen. Damn near every review on the planet (publication or user in forum) is gushing.
This is another good recommendation, I have these on my short list if/when I ever upgrade. Since you have a great sub already the Triton Seven is the best choice in my opinion.
 
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