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Well, I'm back from a self-imposed exile of about a month. Been listening to my new set up and wasting less time on line. Not a bad thing. Just wanted to post my impressions and maybe provide some help for others making purchasing decisions.

Gear av123 x-cs speakers L-C-R; Speakercraft Aim5 Ones for surrounds; Onix ULW-10 sub; Yamaha RX-V659 AVR; Sony DVP-NC85H 5 disc DVD player; Sony CX455 400 disc CD changer . Cost a little under 2 grand for equipment + cables from Monoprice and Parts Express.

Set Up. Breaks most of the rules. Front speakers are in a built in entertainment center. Center is above L&R and is horizontal. Using in ceilings for surrounds. Sub is on bottom shelf of EC. Room is 15'Wx28'Lx8'H and has an open doorway leading to a hallway and stairs. Carpeted floors; sheetrock walls. No treatments.

Impressions. I am very happy with system. Sound is not awe inspiring, but I wasn't really expecting it to be. I am very impressed with x-cs speakers in 2.0 mode. They hold up well to the various nuances of my music collection. Acoustic blues has more detail than ever before; brass and piano on some jazz tracks just blow me away. Punk, hard rock and electric blues all chug along happily. Speakers don't seem to care what you play. I could be happy with 2.0 and no sub, I think, but definitely happier with the ULW-10. It fills in the bottom without ever letting you know it is on.


In 5.1 for music I am happy with Speakercraft ceiling speakers. They sound very good to me, and are not a bad mix with the the x-cs up front. In 5.1 for HT use they do their job of "background sound". As a side note, I trialed and returned a pair of in-ceilings to HTD. They sounded "lacking" to me; a clear SQ compromise for going in ceiling. I don't feel that way about the Speakercraft. They also cost about 2x as much, so I guess that isn't a total surprise.

Comments. I don't think the compromises I've made with set up are very big deals. I played around with L and R x-cs speakers in the EC (at the front edge and pushed back) and in front of it on a makeshift stand. I played some different CDs, and tried hard to hear a difference. Can't find one. Not saying that issue can't be real, but I'd be hard pressed to vouch for it. I also don't notice a comprise with surrounds in ceiling. Speakercrafts are "aimable", so maybe that helps. Not saying 5 matched speakers on stands wouldn't sound better if I tried it that way, but I am pretty darn happy with the sound I am getting.


The ULW-10 is certainly overmatched in my room, but for most movies I don't notice the difference. I borrowed LotR and cranked volume. I can tell in that case that more sub would make a difference. The marching armies sound good, but the floor doesn't feel like they are marching next to me, for example.


I listened to a lot of
 
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