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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I currently use an Onkyo SKS-HT750 7.1 speaker setup. It sounds pretty decent for the price I paid 7 years ago. Was looking to upgrade just the front two speakers, mostly to improve music listening. Any suggestions would be very appreciated! Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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Hsu HB-1 Mk2 or Ascend CBM-170SE's fit in your price range and I think both are excellent. The Ascends have a more forward sound than the Hsu's. Both are internet direct brands.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hsu HB-1 Mk2 or Ascend CBM-170SE's fit in your price range and I think both are excellent. The Ascends have a more forward sound than the Hsu's. Both are internet direct brands.
Both look great! Thank you. I'm guessing if you had to choose, you'd go Ascend?
 

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Thanks! I don't mind buying used. But those are 10+ years old and don't seem to be supported by the manufacturer any more...I'm guessing the bang for buck is that good?
I understand, this model was discontinued in 2011, but there's are still some NIB's around, thing about these used, is that much of the time they were well taken care of simply because of their cost when new ($660.00 pr).
Sound quality in these is excellent and DefTech's customer service is exceptional, I've had them send me parts for 20 yr old speakers that I purchased second hand (they were aware of this fact) for free, not even shipping, under many conditions they will honor warranty well passed advertised limits.
But yes I do understand your concerns, just thought you should know.

Good luck in your search.
 

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For $300 or less there are a number of speakers to choose from.


A few recommendations to add:


- Ascend Acoustics has the CBM-170SE's on sale for $295.80/pr. with flat rate ground shipping of $32.00. Rear ported.
- Ascend Acoustics has the HTM-200SE's on sale for $253.30/pr. with $24 shipping. Sealed design.
- Wave Crest Audio has the HVL-1 for $199/pr. which, I think, includes shipping. Front ported.
- SVS Prime Satellites in the premium black ash finish for $134.99/Ea. with free shipping. Rear ported.
 

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Both look great! Thank you. I'm guessing if you had to choose, you'd go Ascend?
You're welcome. :) I used to have the Hsu speakers and currently am using the Ascend 170SE's as surrounds. Personally I prefer the Ascends but I guess it depends on your taste. The Ascends are more forward and brighter sounding, whereas the Hsu's focus more on the mids and the highs are more rolled off than the Ascends (which some would describe as non-fatiguing). Bass is about the same on both and I would say either one you need to use a sub with them. I think they are both excellent speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Appreciate all these great suggestions! Thank you all so much. Last question...is there anything I would need to know/do as far as "integrating" these into my current 7.1 setup? I would re-run the AccuEQ calibration on my Onkyo AVR again, but otherwise didn't know what else would be recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Man alive, I've fallen down a rabbit hole. Now I'm already thinking of a full Ascend Acoustics 5.1 replacement set.
 
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Former Ascend (340 and 170) owner here. I love their accuracy and neutrality, and for mixed HT/music usage I'd highly recommend them.

However, if you CARE more about music than HT even though you use your system for both (this describes me), then you might want to try a less accurate yet more "musical" and "involving" speaker---I'm referring to the intangible qualities of the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 which I currently use. (Google up the pro reviews for them.) For the music I listen to---jazz, classical, acoustic and vocal-dominant alternative/rock---they have a lush and lovely, laid-back quality that makes me want to sit and listen to them for hours at a time...which I never experienced with the Ascends. Yes you do give up a little treble detail (they have a roll-off which is very forgiving of poor recordings and low-bitrate content such as streaming music) and transient speed however; to some people this comes across as a "veiled" or "dark" sound which they dislike...so as with most things audio, it comes back to your subjective preference in the end.

Music Direct is closing them out for about $300/shipped new, or $225 "demo" (I'm using quotes because mine appeared to be brand new, immaculate wrapping, zero scratches/marks, and still requiring the usual 20-30 hours of break-in time). They have the same 30 day money back policy as everyone else.

For your center, you can go with a completely different speaker for maximum detail/clarity during HT (I used to own the Ascend 340 center which I loved, but this time I went cheap with a $100 BIC FH-6 horn-loaded center at 1/3 the cost and 90% of the performance) since the center does 75% of HT content (mostly dialogue), and for surrounds you can go with something smaller and less expensive like the NHT SuperZero ($100/each on Amazon). As long as you volume match your center to your L/R speakers, the conventional wisdom that "you MUST match your front 3 speakers as closely as possible" doesn't really apply unless you are one to deliberately listen FOR subtle timbre discrepancies during brief scenes in blockbuster action movies with front-panning sound effects (assuming you're watching those movies on a DVD or Blue Ray rather than a cable or streaming signal which usually don't have the full surround audio content).

Plus I do all my music listening in 2-channel anyhow (much more natural soundstage)...so this mixed-front setup reallyprovides the best of both worlds!
 
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Discussion Starter #19
Wow, Zorba922...THANK YOU! That was truly, truly helpful. I would say most my HT usage is 40% TV/movies, 40% gaming, and 20% music. So it sounds like the Ascend is the way to go for front channel. Do you have a sub recommendation perchance? Let's say maybe I drop $750 total on a new 5.1 speaker set.
 

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My recommendation, since in your initial post you said that your upgrade motivation is "mostly to improve music listening:"

Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 L/R = $225 "demo," shipped from MusicDirect.
BIC FH6 center = $103 pickup at local Wallyworld

The remaining $230 can go into any of the surrounds + subs combos below (you could skip the surrounds for now in order to get a better sub). Surrounds only do maybe 10% of the output in HT, so they are basically irrelevant IMO, unless you watch a lot of concert DVDs or SACDs which have multi-channel music audio.

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$750 would only get you a pair of Ascend CBM-170SE for your front L/R, a CMT-340SE center, and a pair of HTM-200 for surrounds...plus around $100 for shipping. No subwoofer.

Unless you mix the Ascends: three 170SEs across the front for $500 shipped, with the remaining $250 can go into any of the surrounds + sub combos listed below.

Subwoofers:
Martin Logan Dynamo 300, $130 shipped (Amazon)
BIC F12, $215 shipped (Amazon)
BIC PL200, $325 shipped (Amazon)

Surrounds:
JBL Loft 40 for $55/pair shipped (Amazon)
Klipsch B-10 for $100/pair shipped (Amazon).
 
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