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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings all. I hope everybody is staying safe and sane.
I've just purchased an Onkyo 696 A/V receiver. The more I read, the more uncertain I am about a speaker setup. Within my budget constraints my thought is to go with 2 pairs of Polk Atrium 5's (1 pair height and 1 pair rear surround), a Polk S35 center and a Polk HTS10 subwoofer. My mains will be a pair of Celestion 442's I purchased in the 80's. My room is 14' x 18' with a ceiling height of 7' with bulkheads on either side and the TV will be at the long axis. I'm looking for advice, tips, hints - anything that might help steer me in the right direction. Thank you in advance to everybody who makes this a great site for help.
 

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The weak link in your system is the Polk HTS10 subwoofer. Better subs start at $500 and go way up. For $500 the Monoprice Monolith vented 10 inch THX sub would be an upgrade. For even better performance the HSU VTF-3 MK5 is the bang for the buck champ in mid priced subwoofers at about $895 delivered.
 

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The weak link in your system is the Polk HTS10 subwoofer. Better subs start at $500 and go way up. For $500 the Monoprice Monolith vented 10 inch THX sub would be an upgrade. For even better performance the HSU VTF-3 MK5 is the bang for the buck champ in mid priced subwoofers at about $895 delivered.
What are your thoughts on the Polk PSW505?
 

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Within my budget constraints my thought is to go with 2 pairs of Polk Atrium 5's (1 pair height and 1 pair rear surround), a Polk S35 center and a Polk HTS10 subwoofer.
The HTS10 is ok if you can get it dirt cheap, like $150.

The real problem IMO is the S35. A lot of complaints about that one...no lack of clarity, but tiny 3" woofers = thin sound, making male voices androgynous.

Sound output distribution during HT/TV viewing, depending on content:

1. Front L/R speakers = 10-20% (theme music and front panning effects)
2. Center speaker = 70-80%
(99% of dialogue, at least 50% of front sound effects and some music)
3. Surrounds (and Atmos speakers) = 5-15% (ambient sounds & spatial effects)

As you can see, the center speaker is the true workhorse/backbone of any HT setup and thus the absolute LAST place you should ever cut corners. Smaller centers (4.5" or smaller woofers) almost always produce tinny voices and often, terrible voice clarity.

Speaker companies and speaker salesmen especially don't want to clue you in on #2, because they always want to sell you at least 5 new speakers not just 1, hence they love to push the myth of "timbre matching" as if it's some life-or-death necessity. (It's not, unless you do a lot of multi-channel MUSIC and/or multi-channel GAMING...in which case it may be worth it to get FIVE IDENTICAL speakers in vertical alignment because THAT is the only way to get a REAL "timbre match.")
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The HTS10 is ok if you can get it dirt cheap, like $150.

The real problem IMO is the S35. A lot of complaints about that one...no lack of clarity, but tiny 3" woofers = thin sound, making male voices androgynous.

Sound output distribution during HT/TV viewing, depending on content:

1. Front L/R speakers = 10-20% (theme music and front panning effects)
2. Center speaker = 70-80%
(99% of dialogue, at least 50% of front sound effects and some music)
3. Surrounds (and Atmos speakers) = 5-15% (ambient sounds & spatial effects)

As you can see, the center speaker is the true workhorse/backbone of any HT setup and thus the absolute LAST place you should ever cut corners. Smaller centers (4.5" or smaller woofers) almost always produce tinny voices and often, terrible voice clarity.

Speaker companies and speaker salesmen especially don't want to clue you in on #2, because they always want to sell you at least 5 new speakers not just 1, hence they love to push the myth of "timbre matching" as if it's some life-or-death necessity. (It's not, unless you do a lot of multi-channel MUSIC and/or multi-channel GAMING...in which case it may be worth it to get FIVE IDENTICAL speakers in vertical alignment because THAT is the only way to get a REAL "timbre match.")
Thoughts on the Polk TSi CS10? 5 1/4" drivers.
 

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Thoughts on the Polk TSi CS10? 5 1/4" drivers.
Also horrible. Polk doesn't offer a decent center speaker until their top-shelf LSi series, with the 706C. Like most big brand speaker companies, the slimy SOBs want you to splurge on all 5 overpriced speakers from that series, hoping you will fall for the "timbre matching" sales gimmick.

Don't do it. Get a good center from a different brand, like the Emotiva C1+ or C2+ for a lot less money and be happy.
 
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Greetings all. I hope everybody is staying safe and sane.
I've just purchased an Onkyo 696 A/V receiver. The more I read, the more uncertain I am about a speaker setup. Within my budget constraints my thought is to go with 2 pairs of Polk Atrium 5's (1 pair height and 1 pair rear surround), a Polk S35 center and a Polk HTS10 subwoofer. My mains will be a pair of Celestion 442's I purchased in the 80's. My room is 14' x 18' with a ceiling height of 7' with bulkheads on either side and the TV will be at the long axis. I'm looking for advice, tips, hints - anything that might help steer me in the right direction. Thank you in advance to everybody who makes this a great site for help.
That AVR will be just fine and you're off to a good start with the 442's. The sub and center are the most critical pieces of a good HT setup. The S35 has small drivers and is often the reason behind people coming in here asking for upgrade advice. That sub is a little weak and doesn't dig down to anywhere near 20hz so itmight be passable as a small bedroom setup. In Canada, the best bang for buck center is the Paradigm Monitor 2000c. Good HT subs options are a little limited, an SVS PB-2000 though not exactly cheap is your best option. If the PB-2000 is over budget, go with the PB-1000 and add a 2nd one later. Get the best layer (5.1) as possible before even considering back surrounds and effects channels
 

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the "cheap" sub that is often available is the jbl 550p (when on sale , which is often) for about $190....
 

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I agree with others saying to put your budget into the center channel and subwoofer.

I second the suggestion for the Emotiva c1+or c2+ center channel. I have the c2+ and it completely changed the way my entire 5.1 speaker system sounds, along with the upgraded subwoofer I bought.

I upgraded my old Boston subwoofer. Found a SVS pb12-nsd open box subwoofer (from IQ home entertainment on amazon. They’re a licensed dealer) for a really good deal. They quite frequently have open box Pb1000’s for $425. You could also watch the used speaker market in your area for a good subwoofer.

Upgrading my subwoofer and center channel made a drastic difference in my home theater setup. I definitely wouldn’t skimp on either, even if you have to buy each piece one at a time (like I did).
 

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Keep in mind that it looks like the OP is in Canada, so adjust your pricing/shipping accordingly.
The HTS-12 would be better than the 10. When on sale at 50%-off, they are the best budget subs available in the country. The Paradigm Defiance subs would be the next tier up, roughly competing with the SVS offerings, but including Anthem Room Correction built-in (a serious upgrade, IMHO). Yes, Paradigm sometimes puts their subs on sale, and I'm sure a dealer can work with you.
The S35 is a terrible option for a centre speaker. If you have the room for it, get the biggest, baddest centre speaker you can. As @Zorba922 can verify, Emotiva ships to Canada, so they may be an option. Once you are able to provide a budget, we will be able to offer the best options.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've been doing some searching for used equipment and have found - Energy XL S12 sub and Energy XL C2-1 center. Thoughts?
 

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May I ask where you're located? My Kijiji-fu is usually pretty strong, so I can do a search for you.
That sub is old, but still fairly capable, certainly better than not using one. The older Energy speakers were from the original company, before it was bought out. They are generally considered to be much better than the more recent ones.
Also - budget? It looks like it's roughly $1000CAD. Is it possible to find a 5.1 set, new or used, with that budget? Yes.
Would it be a better idea to start out at 2.1/3.1 first and be able to get better speakers? Yes.
The Atrium 5 speakers look fairly decent, would make amazing Atmos speakers (for their mounting options), but I'm not sure about their sound quality. Honestly, the Polk S15/S30 combo would sound much better than them, but you could use them for surround speakers if you feel the need, and cost a total of $620CAD. That leaves you $380 for a sub, which may be do-able if you get the HTS-10 on a great sale.
 

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I've been doing some searching for used equipment and have found - Energy XL S12 sub and Energy XL C2-1 center. Thoughts?
Depends on the asking price. Buying a used sub is always a toss-up, especially older models. The amp could die on you in the first week or can keep ticking for 5 years.
 

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May I ask where you're located? My Kijiji-fu is usually pretty strong, so I can do a search for you.
That sub is old, but still fairly capable, certainly better than not using one. The older Energy speakers were from the original company, before it was bought out. They are generally considered to be much better than the more recent ones.
Also - budget? It looks like it's roughly $1000CAD. Is it possible to find a 5.1 set, new or used, with that budget? Yes.
Would it be a better idea to start out at 2.1/3.1 first and be able to get better speakers? Yes.
The Atrium 5 speakers look fairly decent, would make amazing Atmos speakers (for their mounting options), but I'm not sure about their sound quality. Honestly, the Polk S15/S30 combo would sound much better than them, but you could use them for surround speakers if you feel the need, and cost a total of $620CAD. That leaves you $380 for a sub, which may be do-able if you get the HTS-10 on a great sale.
I'm in Red Deer. You are correct in your $1000 budget guess, good one!! Re: the Atriums - exactly what I was thinking about the ability to aim them. My system right now, speaker wise, consists of my Celestions. I'm thinking to buy a new sun and try for a good used center.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Depends on the asking price. Buying a used sub is always a toss-up, especially older models. The amp could die on you in the first week or can keep ticking for 5 years.
Good point about the sub. I think I'll look for a new sub and maybe a good used center.
 

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After a quick look, I found a few interesting things.
The best speakers available: Monitor Audio Speakers for Sale | Speakers | Red Deer | Kijiji
A complete 5.1 Klipsch Synergy set: Speakers - Klipsch Synergy Series | Speakers | Red Deer | Kijiji Might not be better than you already have, though.
Nice sounding LCR: Mirage Omni 350 Floorstanding speakers and matching center | Speakers | Red Deer | Kijiji He already dropped the price, so will probably negotiate.
Best of the rest: Paradigm Phantom v3 Tower Speakers | Speakers | Red Deer | Kijiji I am a Paradigm fan, but these are already 18 years old.

Calgary or Edmonton would have more options. The Polk setup I suggested is pretty good and within budget. You may even get the S55 towers if you keep your sub for now.
 

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Good point about the sub. I think I'll look for a new sub and maybe a good used center.
You got a decent AVR and and those 442's look pretty decent so you're off to a good start. As previously mentioned, the center and sub are key pieces so I recommend going with those first. A good quality 5.1 setup is a lot more enjoyable than a cheap atmos setup put together with satellite or HTIB speakers. More isn't necessarily better. Think quality of quantity.
 
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