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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've always wanted a theater room but due to my first house not having a suitable space for one and then living in various apartment situations I've never been able to have one. I've just gotten by with a Yamaha YSP-1100 sound bar and BIC H-100 sub for my basic TV/Movie watching needs.

We've recently however bought a new house that has a full basement. 75% of the basement is unfinished...over the next couple years we'll be turning the space into a workout room, workbench space and a "mother-in-law" studio apartment. Luckily the other 25% was semi-finished (walls framed but no drywall yet) and I'll be able to turn this into the dedicated theater room I've been wanting.

The room is 19'x17'x7.5' or approximately 2400cf. It's fully enclosed with two doors (one leading upstairs on the back wall, the other to the rest of the basement) and with only a couple small basement type windows.

I'll be putting in a ceiling mounted projector with fixed screen mounted on one of the 17' walls.

I've got a $3,000 total budget for AV equipment...half of that is going to the projector, screen, AVR, BR player....which leaves $1,500 for the speakers/sub. The room will be used for probably 70% movies, 25% TV watching (sports), and 5% music.

The following are some things I think I know (I stress the word "think") after doing some research on here.

- Since I'm definitely gonna have a sub, I'll be going with bookshelfs instead of towers for the stereo fronts for some $ savings
- Since monopole speakers seem to be just fine (or maybe preferred with modern sound formats) in HT surround setups, I'll be going with bookshelves for the rear surrounds instead of bi/dipole...again getting some $ savings
-I'm only going to get one sub at first but will be getting a second (as this seems to give better bass performance in theater settings) later in the year as a birthday gift to myself so I'm wary of getting a sub that might be great and powerful enough by itself in my space but would potentially be overkill when paired with a twin.

So I'm hoping for some suggestions for which speakers/sub I should be looking at. Some things i'm unsure of is whether I should have identical bookshelves for the LR mains and surrounds since I've read that the best sounding setups will have identical speakers (due to matching timbre and such) or if I should get cheaper surrounds (since they're doing less work) and put the extra $ towards the LCR/sub.

Also unsure if I should have a dedicated horizontal center or use the same bookshelf (again for that whole matching thing) as the LR's...although i might need the space savings of a horizontal due to my low ceiling height and projector screen.

Anyways, any suggestions/insight would be much appreciated.
 

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If you hold off on the sub 'til later, so you don't skimp on its quality... I would highly recommend this much-better-than-starter 5.0 setup (with towers no less) from SV Sound (SVS) at just a sliver over your price goal. Receiving great reviews (even from picky AVS Forum! :D). They also make high quality, well-regarded subwoofers (and have been in the business for quite some time), but so does HSU Research, Rythmik Audio, etc.

Yes, that will end up costing you a little more in the long run, but your current resource allocation is not skewed heavily enough towards the very critical speaker/sub purchase. That truly is the most important part. A/V budgets need to have some wiggle room, so you don't end up with equipment you'll regret purchasing.



http://www.svsound.com/systems/prime-systems/prime-tower-surround-system

SVS is now offering a 45 day in-home trial with free shipping both ways, which would definitely ease the burden of trying them on for size.

With a front projection system, I would recommend going with the matte black ash finish as shown above. Piano gloss would be a spectacular looking mistake for obvious reasons (a better choice for a music only setup).

Then use the smaller satellites that come with the system (along with a second pair) as front and rear height or (even better) overhead speakers later on in a Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive surround setup (very, very much worth it - you'll die and go to Heaven!!), and switch to their Prime bookselves (for more robust bass response) for the side and rear surrounds. Your room could easily handle a 5.1.4 or 7.1.4 layout.

Blu-ray players are super cheap, so that leaves you more money to invest in a receiver that handles 5.1.4 or 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X coming in a few months. With UHD media (like the new Blu-ray format) just around the corner, I wouldn't be putting a lot of money down on a 1080p projector and screen... just get adequate ones for now to hold you over. We're in an industry-wide transition phase right now.

The popular BenQ HT1075 and 1070W budget 1080p projectors are at excellent prices (well under $800) right now at various stores like Amazon. They're even 3D capable. Elite Screens aren't bad for a starter fixed frame unit and are fairly inexpensive. Screen material choice depends on room brightness (the darker the colors, the better), ambient light conflicts (hopefully can be easily controlled), projector's calibrated lumens, etc. If you're not sure what size screen you might need in comparison to your seating distance, here's a handy calculator. http://myhometheater.homestead.com/viewingdistancecalculator.html

Something to think about anyway.

Questions, comments?
 

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I think you’ve done some good research and your ideas are all sound. The best front stage (imo) are three identical bookshelf speakers placed at the same height. This cannot always be done because of the obvious tendency that the center channel will block your viewing area. That is where dedicated horizontal center channels come into play. However, if your speakers have good dispersion characteristics (height and width), turning a speaker on its side is a viable option. I have done this. Other speakers may require the tweeter to be rotated 90 degrees in order to lay it on its side and get good dispersion.

If one has a lot of 5.1 concert videos, getting identical speakers all around is a great idea. But for movies, it’s not that important. Doesn’t mean that you can get cheap junk surrounds. Surround speakers, while carrying limited sonic information, is what immerses you into the theater experience. They should be of good quality, but don’t have to be the price or quality of your front stage.

Getting one subwoofer now, and another sub later (usually, identical to your first sub) is another great idea. The price of your front stage is what will dictate how much subwoofer you can buy. And here is where your budget may take a hit (you knew that would be coming, right?). I bet you know the usual suspect in the subwoofer arena. If not, look at Hsu Research, Outlaw Audio, Power Sound Audio (PSA), Reaction Audio, Rythmik Audio and SVS for subs around a grand or under. Take a look at what each company offers, what their shipping and return policy is and their warranty.

As far as speakers for your front stage, go out and audition as many speakers as you can. Find the sound you are looking for, but understand you’ll be looking for good highs, excellent midrange and good output. Bass will be handled by your sub, but I’d be looking for bass response down to at least 70 Hz. The usual suspects for speakers in and around your price range are Ascend Acoustics, EMP Tek/RBH Sound, HTD Speakers, Hsu Research, NHT Speakers and SVS (and several others). And just like subwoofers, take a look at what each company has to offer.
 
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You could do 5 identical HSU Research HB1 bookshelf speakers and their STF-2 sub for under $1500 shipped. That would be pretty awesome. Having 5 identical speakers sounds fantastic. There are dozens of options you could choose from a that price. I also like Wharfedale Diamond 10.1's or 10.2's for fronts, 10.0/10.1/ or dipoles for surrounds, 10.CM center. All on clearance at music direct and under budget.


Don't skimp on the receiver. Get something with good power with headroom for the peaks. No $300-$400 avr. Look at refurbs from accessories 4 less. You can get a good $800 - $1200 avr for $400 - $600.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies, definitely some good stuff to think about. I didn't even know that the whole dolby Atmos format existed. So now i'm heading down that research rabbithole to see if it's something that I can incorporate. The idea of adding some heights to my room is very intriguing to me...some of my specific space considerations are my low ceilings (7.5 joists now and they'll get lower when i install drywall) so i'm researching into whether in-ceiling or the reflective modules are better options. The other consideration is that my rear surrounds have to be mounted higher up (like a foot or so from ceiling) on the side walls behind the listening position...can't do them at ear height (which is optimal i guess for atmos) due to room layout and I can't put them on the back wall since that whole wall is either fireplace or a door into a storage space.

I am indeed going with some cost saving picks for the video stuff...definitely getting the BenQ (i'll probably even go with the W1070 since it's mid $600) and will likely go with Elite or Visual Apex for screen at $300

For the receiver it will likely be one of the Atmos-firmwared Onkyo's (probably 737 or maybe 838) at approx $600...and due to cost I'd need one that can only do 5.2.2 rather then the four heights....just can't go over like $700 on the receiver. since BR players are so cheap I'll likely move the panasonic one i've got for my upstairs TV to the theater and buy a super cheapie for the living room.


Right now i'm drawn to the Emptek bookshelves due to their great "bang for the buck" rating. The idea of getting four of them for $500 is awfully inviting. if i add the R56 (or would the R56 be an uneven match for the bookshelves?) for $400 that'd leave me with $600 for the sub/heights. Although i may just wait on the heights (but have the ceilings wired in case i go that option) and put all $600 in the sub. Right now looking at either the VTF-1 or 2.
 

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Going bookshelfs with a sub is a good idea- no sense in spending on towers with capabilities that will not be used in a system with a subwoofer. For a 5.1 package in 1500 with identical speakers, I would go for a Hsu Hybrid 2 package. Very good speakers and sub for the money. The sub is considered one of the very best values at its price. However, I think its worthwhile to jump up to the Hybrid 3 package in which you get the new VTF3, which has 2 to 3 times the performance of the Hybrid 2 VTF2 subwoofer. The new VTF3 sub is a performance monster for the price. Is it overkill, yes, but your friends and family will be blown away on movie night when you put in Godzilla or something like that.

A couple of notes on something you mentioned in your post: you said you might not have room for a vertical center due to the low profile of your ceiling- I really would not place the speaker near the ceiling. That type of placement has been known to cause havoc with the frequency response due to acoustic reflections off the ceiling. I would place the center speaker below the screen. If you can accommodate a identical bookshelf speaker for the center, I would recommend you do so- better off axis coverage and less expensive. If you need mounts for the bookshelf speakers, use the videosecu side-clamping mounts, these are truly the best mounts for the price for serious bookshelf speakers. Do not buy any cables at BestBuy or any other electronics store, they all have delirious markups in those places. Get your cables from Blue jeans or monoprice for sane pricing on good products. For speaker cable, you could just buy a roll of 12 AWG stranded copper from Home Depot, that will work just as well as a roll of Monster Cable's premium line or whatever and is much less expensive. One more thing, what is nice about the Hsu speakers is they have a matching in-wall that can be used as an in-ceiling just as easily- this makes it very easy to put on the overhead 'top' speakers in an Dolby Atmos or DTS X setup, which proscribes that all the speakers be timbre matched, if you ever wanted to upgrade to that point.
 

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Right now i'm drawn to the Emptek bookshelves due to their great "bang for the buck" rating. The idea of getting four of them for $500 is awfully inviting. if i add the R56 (or would the R56 be an uneven match for the bookshelves?) for $400 that'd leave me with $600 for the sub/heights. Although i may just wait on the heights (but have the ceilings wired in case i go that option) and put all $600 in the sub. Right now looking at either the VTF-1 or 2.
No one but you can determine the sound you like from any speaker. It is THAT subjective. And there are a lot of very good speakers on the market for under $600 / pair. I will assume that you have read Andrew Robinson’s review on the E5Bi’s (now named R5Bi’s), or perhaps have seen his video review. Yes, he absolutely loves these speakers. It was his review that convinced me to audition them. But if you’d like to read an owner’s perspective, you can read my review here: http://www.avsforum.com/forum/dbtreview.php?do=view_review&id=4850&ri=review

I think you might be better served with 5 identical speakers, but that is up to you. EMP Tek’s surrounds are basically two R5Bi’s assembled together. For me the extra expense wasn’t worth looking into, but it will depend upon your seating arrangement whether it is a viable alternative.

If it were me, I’d be looking at a more powerful subwoofer. Nothing can improve your home theater more than a capable subwoofer. But hey, maybe that’s just me.
 

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The EMP bookshelfs look good, but for a dedicated home theater, they do not look like they have enough dynamic range for that application. I would look at more robust bookshelf speakers (ie something with 6.5" woofers) unless you do not intend to listen at loud volumes. Another inexpensive bookshelf speaker which does have punch is the Infinity Primus p163.
 

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Thanks for the replies, definitely some good stuff to think about. I didn't even know that the whole dolby Atmos format existed. So now i'm heading down that research rabbithole to see if it's something that I can incorporate. The idea of adding some heights to my room is very intriguing to me...some of my specific space considerations are my low ceilings (7.5 joists now and they'll get lower when i install drywall) so i'm researching into whether in-ceiling or the reflective modules are better options. The other consideration is that my rear surrounds have to be mounted higher up (like a foot or so from ceiling) on the side walls behind the listening position...can't do them at ear height (which is optimal i guess for atmos) due to room layout and I can't put them on the back wall since that whole wall is either fireplace or a door into a storage space.

I am indeed going with some cost saving picks for the video stuff...definitely getting the BenQ (i'll probably even go with the W1070 since it's mid $600) and will likely go with Elite or Visual Apex for screen at $300

For the receiver it will likely be one of the Atmos-firmwared Onkyo's (probably 737 or maybe 838) at approx $600...and due to cost I'd need one that can only do 5.2.2 rather then the four heights....just can't go over like $700 on the receiver. since BR players are so cheap I'll likely move the panasonic one i've got for my upstairs TV to the theater and buy a super cheapie for the living room.


Right now i'm drawn to the Emptek bookshelves due to their great "bang for the buck" rating. The idea of getting four of them for $500 is awfully inviting. if i add the R56 (or would the R56 be an uneven match for the bookshelves?) for $400 that'd leave me with $600 for the sub/heights. Although i may just wait on the heights (but have the ceilings wired in case i go that option) and put all $600 in the sub. Right now looking at either the VTF-1 or 2.

I would hold off on the receiver purchase for now. You don't want to get stuck with a receiver that only has Dolby Atmos included. Onkyo/Integra, Yamaha, Denon/Marantz, Pioneer, and others are releasing 2015 models that include DTS:X (DTS's answer to Atmos) shortly. Most will have the added bonus of the new HDMI 2.0a chipsets with HDCP 2.2 encryption necessary for UHD (4k) Blu-ray discs.

The boys in the Dolby Atmos thread are going to mostly say "why wait?," but a lot of them have money to burn and can probably afford to buy a new receiver whenever something new and different comes along. Some studios will release Atmos discs and others will release DTS:X discs, but not both. Food for thought. :D

From what I've read, if you go with something like the SVS Prime Bookshelves all round (or four Bookshelves and a Prime Center), they'll be able to pump out more clean audio at higher levels with their larger drivers and greater power handling vs. those EMP Tech mini speakers. And they have a wider frequency response too. More expensive, yes, but well worth the investment.



With the obstructions in the back, I would probably go with a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos/DTS:X configuration. Front left/center/right with two side surrounds just slightly above seated ear level. Use SVS Satellites for the heights or overheads. Top it all off with an SVS, HSU, or Rythmik sub and you'll be rockin'! :D

Four overheads with 3D audio will give you better front to back/back to front, side to side, and circular object panning that you won't get with only two overheads.
 

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^ I just love a matter-of-fact opinion on speakers that one hasn’t heard, but I’m probably as guilty as the next guy :eek:. Mini speakers? Not saying the SVS wouldn’t be good (I haven’t heard them, and Andrew recommended Ultra bookshelf speakers and the Hsu as options to consider in his EMP Tek written review). It’s understandable that one would recommend something one thinks highly of. We all do. I have heard the Hsu speakers and liked them and think they are a good value. I also think SVS is a safe bet because one can audition them and SVS pays the return shipping. I also liked the Def Tech Studio Monitors, especially the SM-55s. I do try to give personal opinions on the brands I’ve heard, or at least those I have researched thoroughly. There are dozens of great speakers out there, but we can only audition a fraction.

Loud? Dynamic? The R5Bi’s get very loud, especially with a sub.

Andrew Robinson review: http://hometheaterreview.com/emp-tek-e5bi-bookshelf-speaker-reviewed/
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes, Andrew's review (i read your user review too) definitely lead me to the Emptek's

I'll be looking into the SVS, Infinity and HSU suggestions as well thanks everyone.

My center channel will definitely be below my screen....the thinking was that a horizontal would be needed for space but it'll definitely be below no matter what type i get.

Putting a bookshelf on it's side is ok to use as a center channel? I've got no problem with doing that aesthetically and if the performance will be just as good as a specifically made center channel speaker then that sounds good to me. Those center channels are spendy in comparison Again more $ savings.

As far as the sub goes you guys don't think the VTF-1 or VTF-2 would be sufficient? Remember I would be adding a matching twin later in the year. So if only having one of those subs in a 2300cf space would be underwhelming that's fine since it'd be a temporary situation....I just need the matched set to be up to snuff.
 

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^ I just love a matter-of-fact opinion on speakers that one hasn’t heard, but I’m probably as guilty as the next guy :eek:. Mini speakers? Not saying the SVS wouldn’t be good (I haven’t heard them, and Andrew recommended Ultra bookshelf speakers and the Hsu as options to consider in his EMP Tek written review). It’s understandable that one would recommend something one thinks highly of. We all do. I have heard the Hsu speakers and liked them and think they are a good value. I also think SVS is a safe bet because one can audition them and SVS pays the return shipping. I also liked the Def Tech Studio Monitors, especially the SM-55s. I do try to give personal opinions on the brands I’ve heard, or at least those I have researched thoroughly. There are dozens of great speakers out there, but we can only audition a fraction.

Loud? Dynamic? The R5Bi’s get very loud, especially with a sub.

Andrew Robinson review: http://hometheaterreview.com/emp-tek-e5bi-bookshelf-speaker-reviewed/
That's why I recommended the SVS Primes... good reviews and you can return them at no expense if they don't work out. Plus simple physics are on my side. ;)
 

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Yes, Andrew's review (i read your user review too) definitely lead me to the Emptek's

I'll be looking into the SVS, Infinity and HSU suggestions as well thanks everyone.

My center channel will definitely be below my screen....the thinking was that a horizontal would be needed for space but it'll definitely be below no matter what type i get.

Putting a bookshelf on it's side is ok to use as a center channel? I've got no problem with doing that aesthetically and if the performance will be just as good as a specifically made center channel speaker then that sounds good to me. Those center channels are spendy in comparison Again more $ savings.

As far as the sub goes you guys don't think the VTF-1 or VTF-2 would be sufficient? Remember I would be adding a matching twin later in the year. So if only having one of those subs in a 2300cf space would be underwhelming that's fine since it'd be a temporary situation....I just need the matched set to be up to snuff.
If you're placing a center below the screen, I would recommend a horizontal center speaker rather than a bookshelf on its side. You have to compromise sometimes, but don't sonically compromise too much. ;) The SVS Prime Center is a three-way design with dedicated mid range driver, not an MTM, which helps alleviate any issues with lobing and congestion. Here's a picture of the Prime Bookshelf with Center from the AVS Forum review.



I think one VTF-3 mk5 would work great for now given your room dimensions. Add another later on down the road for more even bass response. I own an HSU VTF-3 (older model), but it can play deeply and cleanly in an open vaulted living room and rattle the windows in their casings. It's fantastic for the money!
 

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Yes, Andrew's review (i read your user review too) definitely lead me to the Emptek's

Putting a bookshelf on it's side is ok to use as a center channel? I've got no problem with doing that aesthetically and if the performance will be just as good as a specifically made center channel speaker then that sounds good to me. Those center channels are spendy in comparison Again more $ savings.

As far as the sub goes you guys don't think the VTF-1 or VTF-2 would be sufficient? Remember I would be adding a matching twin later in the year. So if only having one of those subs in a 2300cf space would be underwhelming that's fine since it'd be a temporary situation....I just need the matched set to be up to snuff.
As long as the bookshelf speaker can created a large soundstage, both in width and height, turning it on its side is indeed a viable option. I simply prefer identical speakers for my front soundstage. Once I tested this out, I had no desire to try out a horizontal MTM configuration. Others may indeed prefer a dedicated center.

Hsu makes really good subwoofers at about any price point. So do many other sub manufacturers. And many have updated their lineups and have hit home runs doing so. Hsu is certainly one of the companies that did just that. I don’t own Hsu, but have auditioned one of their subs and thought pretty highly of it. And yes, you will end up having two subwoofers, but two subs, or three won’t give you deeper bass response. What they give you is more output and smoother bass over the listening area. That doesn’t mean that a VTF-2 won’t do it for you, but I like a lot of tactile feel in my movies. Just something to consider …
 

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That's why I recommended the SVS Primes... good reviews and you can return them at no expense if they don't work out. Plus simple physics are on my side. ;)
I think your recommendation was a good one. That’s not what I was commenting on. And while you may think you have simple physics on your side, I have a dB meter in my lap :D. I admit, I do not play anything at reference levels. I have tested these speakers well above 90 dB peaks, and my room is rather open and around 3,400 cu. ft. I sit 8 to 9 feet away, depending if I slouch or sit up straight ;).

BTW, I whole-heartedly agree with your subwoofer recommendation.
 
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No one but you can determine the sound you like from any speaker. It is THAT subjective. And there are a lot of very good speakers on the market for under $600 / pair.
+1 - I totally agree, you need to figure out what kind of "sound" you like. Some like "warmer" speakers that emphasize the mid's and others like brighter speakers with their high sensitivity and sparkling highs. Listen to what you can and at least figure out the "sound" you like before ordering speakers on the web.

Slightly Warm - NHT, Energy, etc
Slightly Bright - Paradigm, Polk, Def Tech, etc
Bright, High Efficiency - Klipsch, JBL, etc

As you said, I think 4 or 5 identical bookshelf speakers and a pair of good subs would be the best way to go.

My center channel will definitely be below my screen....the thinking was that a horizontal would be needed for space but it'll definitely be below no matter what type i get.

Putting a bookshelf on it's side is ok to use as a center channel? I've got no problem with doing that aesthetically and if the performance will be just as good as a specifically made center channel speaker then that sounds good to me. Those center channels are spendy in comparison Again more $ savings.
The problem with turning a speaker on its side is that most speakers are not designed to be used that way. Most speakers are designed to have wide horizontal dispersion (so they sound the same at different locations in the room) and very limited vertical dispersion (to limit reflections from floor and ceiling). Turning them on their side switches the horizontal and vertical and they won't sound right.

Those horizontal center speakers - especially the mid-tweeter-mid design (Google "MTM center speaker design issues") also have issues. Either use a bookshelf in its correct orientation or buy a 3-way center with a woofer-mid/tweeter-woofer. The stacked mid/tweeter center is a much better speaker design.
 
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I'll be looking into the SVS, Infinity and HSU suggestions as well thanks everyone.

My center channel will definitely be below my screen....the thinking was that a horizontal would be needed for space but it'll definitely be below no matter what type i get.

Putting a bookshelf on it's side is ok to use as a center channel? I've got no problem with doing that aesthetically and if the performance will be just as good as a specifically made center channel speaker then that sounds good to me. Those center channels are spendy in comparison Again more $ savings.
Also look at HTD Level Three speakers

As far as bookshelf on its side - depends on the speaker and overall engineering - I have some that I can turn
on its side, and no one can tell me or convince me that they do not work. However, there are many that I would
not turn on its side.

Also on a side note - all JBL horn speakers are not bright, as I have also owned some of them.

I would also look at the Outlaw Ultra-X12 subwoofer.
http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/ultra.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
oh man...talked to wife and she did not like me mentioning that total budget might creep above $3k. Might have to rethink some stuff (maybe no Atmos and just concentrate on a good 5.2 system). Or maybe go with good bookshelfs for LR and get the matching Center and not try and worry about matching them with the rear surrounds....just get surrounds that are sub $100 each.

stupid budgets....really doesn't help that the theater room is the first in a series of projects in the basement....especially when the others will run around $50k.
 

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^ Yes, indeed. Start off slowly. How much material is available for Atmos anyway? Start with a good 5.1 system, pop in a good movie with impressive bass, and who knows where it may lead?
 

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oh man...talked to wife and she did not like me mentioning that total budget might creep above $3k. Might have to rethink some stuff (maybe no Atmos and just concentrate on a good 5.2 system). Or maybe go with good bookshelfs for LR and get the matching Center and not try and worry about matching them with the rear surrounds....just get surrounds that are sub $100 each.

stupid budgets....really doesn't help that the theater room is the first in a series of projects in the basement....especially when the others will run around $50k.
Okay... here's my advice in this situation...

Buy a little at a time and build upon the foundation of the system. Do not skimp even though the temptation is there. Just piece it together bit by bit. This budget slashing is where waaaaaaay too many compromises creep in and end up spoiling the whole venture.

My advice still stands on trying a pair of SVS Prime Bookshelves and the center for $850 (don't like 'em then send them back for free... you can't do that with EMP Tek's). Then get an HSU VTF-3 mk5 15" sub for $888 (shipping included). Then add the matching surrounds later if you think you can't stretch the budget at this time. Who knows? You may end up enjoying the Primes so much you'll want to add the towers and swap the bookshelves to the surround duties.

If you have a couple cheapo speakers laying about... use them temporarily as the surrounds until you can get a matching pair. Timbre matching your speakers is ideal.

Get an inexpensive 5.1 receiver as a tied me over until you can get an Atmos and X enabled model. Absolutely worth it when you can make the upgrade to 3D surround - it's a game changer in the world of surround sound. The budget line Yamaha RX-V377 is on sale for $180 at Amazon. At least it decodes the lossless audio formats and the Yammies have a pretty good reputation.

However, read up on Dolby's recommended 5.1.4 Atmos layout and be prepared ahead of time by pre-wiring in the correct locations. You may want to wire for the front wides as well (look at their 9.1.2 and 9.1.4 Atmos layouts included in their white paper) to be as future proof as possible. DTS:X will, if all goes as advertised, map to Atmos locations.

Oh, and the Atlantic Tech IC-6 OBA in-ceilings look to be a good choice for "budget" overheads of decent quality designed with object audio in mind if you wish to go the in-ceiling route. Lined backer boxes will help mitigate sound transfer to other rooms. Just search for MDF backer boxes in the dedicated theater construction section and there are good discussions about how to build them.

 
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