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Looking for help finding compact speakers

1928 Views 44 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  Slevin73
Hello all,

I've been lurking AVS for a while now, and this is my first post! You guys always have helpful tips and recommendations and figured I'd turn to you for help.

I just renovated my basement, and I have this great room that is 12' x 20'. I had previously used it as a home theater, watched a couple movies every week, but I honestly half-assed it by just projecting onto the wall and placing speakers here and there. Since then, I also upgraded to a motorized 120" screen. Now that it's renovated, I have a great opportunity to make it right, and I'm struggling to find the right audio gear.

My current gear is a Pioneer VSX-580 amp with an old 5.0 Mission speakers setup. The speakers are just too large. The new screen fills up the entire wall (120" out of the 125"), and the speakers end up being in the way if placed on the left and right side. Furthermore, the screen is now a little closer and not entirely backed up on the wall to allow some room to place future bookshelves on the wall so that the room ties in together when the screen is closed. I have a small column on the top and right sides that are about 5.5" and could be used to place the center channel and right speaker, but still need to figure out the left side. I have attached two pictures to show the current setup.

3135304


3135301


I basically see three options:
  1. Find compact speakers like the Cambridge Audio Minx S215, the Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 or the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR;
  2. Install a soundbar on the top column with two surround satellite speakers behind the couch;
  3. Go with in-ceiling/in-wall speakers;
  4. Place speakers behind the screen?
Option 1 sounds great, but I still have a bit of an issue with the left side placement. I'm also concerned that compact speakers won't be as good as traditional full-size speakers. Option 2 is also great, but the soundbar placement is not ideal as most of the soundbars are front and top firing, making it bounce off the ceiling. I also keep hearing that soundbars will never achieve the quality of a good speaker setup which is a concern for the price. Option 3 is probably more expensive as I'll likely need to purchase gear + hire an electrician/professional, but not entirely out of the question. Also unsure what the options are and if the quality will match a traditional speaker set and I'm not even sure if option 4 makes any sense?

My budget is around $1,000 CAD, which can be stretched a little bit if it covers my needs. 90% of the time this setup is used to watch movies, 5% for gaming and 5% for music. I think for the size of the room, a 5.1 setup would work well, but I'm not against trying a 5.1.2, 7.1 or 7.1.2 surround set. My amp is limited to a 5.1 I believe. Ideally, the speakers should be aesthetically pleasing and blend into the room, but that's a minor concern. I also need some suggestions for a quality sub to pair with the setup as I don't have one currently.

Thanks!
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I assume that's not an acoustically transparent screen?
I assume that's not an acoustically transparent screen?
It isn't, no. It's rather thick actually.
No AT screen means no speakers behind screen. A home theater is an audio/video system where bigger screens work together better as a system with bigger speakers that produce bigger sound. This looks like a classic case of painting oneself into a corner without planning ahead for a matching speaker system. With the non-AT screen essentially filling up all the usable real estate there just isn't enough space for decent size speakers to produce a big sound to match up with the big screen. Whatever is done is going to be a compromise.

One compromise would be to reduce the larger black borders at the top and bottom of the screen to the size of the side borders in order to create a little more space under the screen for LCR. It's possible to have floor mounted horizontal speakers under the screen angled up at listeners' ears. But you need a few more inches of free space under the screen to make that happen with decent sized speakers.
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No AT screen means no speakers behind screen. A home theater is an audio/video system where bigger screens work together better as a system with bigger speakers that produce bigger sound. This looks like a classic case of painting oneself into a corner without planning ahead for a matching speaker system. With the non-AT screen essentially filling up all the usable real estate there just isn't enough space for decent size speakers to produce a big sound to match up with the big screen. Whatever is done is going to be a compromise.

One compromise would be to reduce the larger black borders at the top and bottom of the screen to the size of the side borders in order to create a little more space under the screen for LCR. It's possible to have floor mounted horizontal speakers under the screen angled up at listeners' ears. But you need a few more inches of free space under the screen to make that happen with decent sized speakers.
I appreciate the honest answer. So no matter what, smaller sized speakers will always sound like smaller sized speakers, right? I kinda hoped that there would be a technological leap I wasn't aware of to be honest.
A subwoofer can help compensate for the small mains but your midrange will still be lacking. I'd probably leave that screen down and fabricate a table/base/ledge across the bottom to house speakers angled slightly upward.
Yet another example of a guy who wanted the entire wall to be a screen and did not take into consideration what to do about the audio. Just mount 3 Minx Min 12s to the fascia above the screen and be glad your room allowed for that option.

For any other newbies reading this thread, it is Exhibit A of what not to do when designing your room.
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How old is the install. Can that screen be returned for an AT screen?
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Hi,

Redesign this so that your screen is audio transparent material and put whatever speakers behind it. Even better would be to do a false wall with audio transparent screen with the speakers flush (with their face) to the wall.

Don't skimp with tiny speakers and in-walls that are tiny and not even facing you from the front. Get big cabinets and put them behind that screen. Just get the right kind of screen to allow it to pass the wavefront.

Very best,
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I appreciate the honest answer. So no matter what, smaller sized speakers will always sound like smaller sized speakers, right? I kinda hoped that there would be a technological leap I wasn't aware of to be honest.
Even with a subwoofer you don't want to go too small on your LCR if you're trying to get a cinematic audio experience. Unless you go with an AT screen with speakers behind it makes sense to try to fit the biggest speakers you can horizontally either below or above the screen angled at the audience. I previously mentioned reducing the screen drop and placing speakers under the screen. But you could also drop the screen down further and mount above. There are some smaller but not teensy horizontally oriented speakers that could work if you maximized open space either below or above the screen.
Yet another example of a guy who wanted the entire wall to be a screen and did not take into consideration what to do about the audio. Just mount 3 Minx Min 12s to the fascia above the screen and be glad your room allowed for that option.

For any other newbies reading this thread, it is Exhibit A of what not to do when designing your room.
This screen was a gift from an uncle and actually collected dust for months as I couldn't see it fit. Pretty much installed it to take pictures and test it. I don't mind being used as an example of that can help other newbies like me.

Do you really feel like the Minx Min 12s would be good enough or should I go through the hoops of selling this screen and downsize to a 100" like I used to have?

Appreciate all the replies by the way!
I have a similar-size room. AT screen with PA speakers behind. Started out with a $10 full-size flat sheet, worked surprisingly well. You don't need a baffle wall, just a suspended screen -- much easier. So don't throw good money after bad, ditch (sell) that screen and put two Behringer B215-XL's behind it, with the sub(s) of your choice.

Your most challenging issue is all of that bare drywall bouncing sound around like a handball court. Unless treated this will handicap the quality of sound you will get regardless of speaker choice.
How old is the install. Can that screen be returned for an AT screen?
The screen was just installed and it was a gift from an uncle. Figured I'd test it to see if it fits. I can definitely put it for sale on the marketplace and replace it with something else. Any suggestions of AT screens or just 100" ones that would fit better?
I have a similar-size room. AT screen with PA speakers behind. Started out with a $10 full-size flat sheet, worked surprisingly well. You don't need a baffle wall, just a suspended screen -- much easier. So don't throw good money after bad, ditch (sell) that screen and put two Behringer B215-XL's behind it, with the sub(s) of your choice.

Your most challenging issue is all of that bare drywall bouncing sound around like a handball court. Unless treated this will handicap the quality of sound you will get regardless of speaker choice.
Do you mean the sound will bounce between the AT screen and the wall? Is that a common issue? I guess you're better off placing the screen closer to the wall in that case, right?
A subwoofer can help compensate for the small mains but your midrange will still be lacking. I'd probably leave that screen down and fabricate a table/base/ledge across the bottom to house speakers angled slightly upward.
I thought about adding a box either at the bottom or top, but I guess that means I have to rethink the whole wall section when the screen is closed. Aesthetically, it just doesn't make sense to have a box laying on the floor randomly.

What kind of sub would compensate for smaller speakers? Any recommendations? There has to be a few models of compact speakers worth their weight, no? I can't be the first one with limited space...
This screen was a gift from an uncle and actually collected dust for months as I couldn't see it fit. Pretty much installed it to take pictures and test it. I don't mind being used as an example of that can help other newbies like me.

Do you really feel like the Minx Min 12s would be good enough or should I go through the hoops of selling this screen and downsize to a 100" like I used to have?

Appreciate all the replies by the way!
How much room do you have on that fascia? Can you fit a larger speaker? What is the exact measurement, so we can eliminate all the speakers that are too large. The 12s are a pretty good speaker, for being a 3.5" cube, but it will be limited to reasonable volumes and will require a subwoofer that can produce output up to about 200Hz. In any case, that approach will probably be far more cost-effective than replacing the screen, as they can be quite expensive (especially if acoustically transparent). Nothing to lose by trying the inexpensive solution first.

How far away do you sit? What volume levels are you expecting? What kind of overall experience are you going after? Do you want Atmos?

EDIT: To answer the sub question, the RSL Speedwoofer has good response to 200Hz, so it would be towards the top of the list, assuming the room size is reasonable (the stairway and any open areas above count).
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Do you mean the sound will bounce between the AT screen and the wall? Is that a common issue? I guess you're better off placing the screen closer to the wall in that case, right?
The sound will bounce freely off all of those bare surfaces: walls, floor (even with a rug), ceiling and front wall, in that order of significance, interfering with the direct sound from the speaker. In a small room like this with reflections building up quickly, you need as much absorption between you and the speakers as you can muster.

The beaming directivity of the B215XLs will help somewhat.
If I were you I would just get a smaller screen so I could build from there with larger, better speakers.

But if you choose to keep your screen, I don't think it's a total lost cause. Small satellites + sub are better than a sound bar. My brother-in-law has a 20-yr old M&K 5.1 system with 5 satellites that have 4" woofers. The universal crossover is 100hz, and they're hang-mounted from the ceiling, pointing down toward the MLP. The room is 20x11 in the front part and ~15x15 in the rear.

Is it ideal cinema-sound? No. But I'm always surprised that it throws up a decent surround soundstage at loud levels (not reference-level, as my sister wouldn't allow that). On the other hand, their soundstage is elevated because of the ceiling mounts, and soundstage depth is limited. Just my stereo pair of Hsu CCB-8s throw up a much larger, deeper, and more transparent soundstage, with sharper imaging. But frankly, neither he nor his family are pining for more. It's good enough.

You might consider something like the RSL CG3 5.1 bundle, which is on sale for USD $999. Or the Def Tech you mention. Remember, if you do get a small satellite system you can always move it to a smaller den if you change your screen to accommodate larger speakers later.

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Many options are being offered and they could all work to varying degrees. It's a matter of trade-offs. The bigger screen offers a more cinematic viewing experience but limits speakers if it's not acoustically transparent. A smaller non-AT screen is less cinematic but allows bigger speakers with more cinematic audio. A large AT screen allows the best of both worlds. Decide which way you want to go with the screen and then start looking for the optimum speaker setup to match the screen.
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AT screen. Spandex. Lot's of "how to" posts to explain it on here.
Epson 5050ub projector. It's bright w/ acceptable blacks. Refurbished or used is good, too.
Place normal sized speakers at ear height behind your screen (which being AT could go from wall to wall).
Subs could go behind screen or in room. Your call.
JBL 590/580/ or even three 530's would be plenty. You could also get by w/ just 2 speakers and a "phantom" center channel. Sometimes this can actually work better in some set ups.
Sound deadening material on the walls to stop the reflections from the speakers as needed.
Don't let a "free" hand me down screen dictate your room. IMHO.
Good luck! ;-)
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