Sorry in advance for the length, but I've had all this spinning around my head for a few days. I originally posted this on an Australian forums so all the prices mentioned here are in Australian dollars.
First off, I am looking to set up this system in a 3mx4m bedroom at the moment. Space is an issue which is why I am restricted to bookshelf speakers. I currently dont have room for stands for the bookshelves either. I am looking to spend around $2500-3000, but am planning to get the bookshelves and avr first then later when I have the money pick up the sub. I am looking for a fairly future proof system, in a year or two I will be moving out to my own place and may choose to add rear/centre speakers to the system. I recently purchased a 32" Samsung LCD which kicked off this whole thing. I use my laptop as a home theater PC, and also have a xbox 360 to connected up to the system. I use an external sound card with my laptop which has optical out, and play dvds through the laptop. I would say the system would be used 40% music, 40% movies, 20% gaming.
I spent some time down at West Coast Hifi over the weekend and had a good listen with the new B&W 685's($999) and the Focal Chorus 706($800) (not sure if it was S or V model). They were set up side by side on the rack powered by a Denon 2ch amp, didnt catch the model. Was listening to some Crowded House and old Powderfinger, lots of male vocals and acoustic guitar. The room was fairly large, 8mx6m.
The 706s sounded great to my ear. The vocals sounded natural and detailed, the highs were clear and also detailed, the soundstage was large and imaging was great.
The 685s by comparison didnt sound nearly as detailed. They had a bit more in the lower end but they just didnt seem to pull the same detail out. The male vocals just sounded far more natural on the 706s. It was almost like somebody had put a sock over the microphone when I listened to the vocals on the 685s. The soundstage also didnt sound a large on the 685s, though imaging was great. Now the salesman said the 685s had only been in store for about a month. I am wondering if they had been burned in properly, especially after listening to the 686s next to them which sounded really terrible. Does anybody own a pair of 685s that have been properly burned in and if so is the lack of detail I heard something that improves dramatically over time? I really like the look of the 685s but based on what I heard im leaning toward the 706s, especially as they are $200 cheaper. Are there any other bookshelf speakers around the $1000 mark that I should consider?
Now for where I really need some help. I have done a bit of reading on recievers and have identified the Onkyo 605($950) and Yamaha 661($750) as possibly a good match for me. I currently dont have any devices that output in HDMI so I am not too sure how important the HDMI 1.3 on the 605 is? I am considering buying the HD-DVD addon for my xbox 360. The xbox is hooked up to my TV through component, and will be hooked up to the reciever through the xboxs optical out. Basically I am wondering if it is worth it to spend the extra couple of hundred on the Onkyo? From what I have read the Yamaha may sound better for music, and since I dont really need the HDMI 1.3 I might just be better off saving a few hundred and going with the yammy? If I decided to buy a stand alone HD-DVD player in the future would the lack of HDMI 1.3 hurt me?
As far as sub goes, I have been looking at the Krix Seismix 3 mk3 for ~$1000. It is probably too big for my room at the moment but I guess I can just turn it down for now. Would this be a good match for the bookshelf speakers mentioned above?
Thanks for any help, as you can see I certainly need some