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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've just purchased a Yamaha RX-V657 receiver, and have decided to bite the bullet and get new speakers. Here's where I'm at:


* Room is 15.5' deep, 14ft wide (with 3.4 of the left side open to another room)

* Middle of couch is 11' from the entertainment center (can be moved back a bit)

* Use will be 80% DVD/Satellite, 20% music (CD's)


I'm now thinking I would get a decent setup for watching movies/tv, then add better fronts later for music when I can afford it. I've seen many people recommend the opposite (start with fronts and a sub, add rest later), but since I'm mostly watching movies, I don't think that makes sense for me.


After a lot of reading (and listening), I *think* I've narrowed it down to a few possibilities:


Polk 104 system (1 pair Polk Monitor 40 and 30 bookshelf speakers, CS1 center channel and PSW10 powered subwoofer.) $699 at Frys. If I go this route, then I could add some R50's (or similar) later. I haven't heard this exact setup, but it seems well recommended.


OR


Polk RM20 system ($899). I've heard the RM20, and it sounds very good. Is it worth $200 more than the 104 system? Is the 104 system too "big" for such a small space? (Room size is what initially drew me to the RM20...)


OR


Polk RM6800 system ($679) + Polk RM50's ($179/pair on ebay). Not sure if the RM50's are too big for the room, or will even sound OK with the RM6800. This is just a thought...I think I'm better off with either of the first two, then adding better fronts later (if it's even necessary.)


Final thought: would the RTi4 or RTi6 be better all-round than the Monitor 40's for the fronts? I could get the RTi6's for $279 a pair, get the 104 system and sell the Monitor 40's on ebay...No idea if that's even a good idea, or just stick with the 104 setup as-is.


I've looked at too many speakers and my head is spinning...


Thoughts on these options would be great. Thanks.
 

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I've heard them all too. I think you are getting more bang for the buck with the 104 package for the 40,30 and CS1 over the RMs, but think you'll be happier w/ another sub.


The RTi6/4 are better than the 40/30 combo, matched with a CSi3 or 5.


The RM packages sound great together, but don't have the image of the bookshelves, IMO, but are prettier.


The R50s are a great deal at Frys on sale. I have a pair. Why go to ebay, Frys sells them for as low as $120/pr. A steal. They sound great with R30s or 15s, but the Monitors and RTis are brighter and more forward to my ears. I prefer the Rs to the Monitors, but like the RTis a lot. If I were doing RTis, I'd go 10s and 4s. I don't think I'd put 50s in front of 6s and 4s, they'd be dominated. The Rtis need more juice too.


Don't mean to be confusing, but each line as a slightly different signature. I'd either go all Rs, Monitors or RTis in a 5.1, then fill in the 7.1 with the best speakers from the same line.
 

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The difference between 5 inch and three inch speakers is night and day especially on the center channel and front left and right. I suggest you go to Frys and take your favorite music that you know well and spend a few hours sampling speakers. I did this and was fortunate to own the same receiver brand used in their demo. Doing speaker comparisons can be a revelation for many. For example, I thought the Polk RTi10 looke like a great speaker until I compared it to the Rti12 and even the RTi8 sounded more open. I must admit I went in there hoping to purchase an RTi set up as it LOOKS like it should sound great but to my surprise I found the Monitors to be very good contenders and very capable. The difference in the monitor 50 and 60 tower was also evident as the 60 had a much fuller sound with a better low end. The R50 sounded flat to me and the sound was harsh at very loud volumes but they are still way better sounding than most satellite sub combos I have heard.


The 104 package is strongly recommended over satellite speakers which lack the resolution to accurately reproduce the entire bandwith of a given musical track. Dialogue in movies is greatly improved as well as special effects which on the center channel take up over 50% of a movie. Frys had a special with a free Sony receiver sell it or keep it its still a $200 value. Add a pair of towers and you are all set. People should care about good audio quality as well as video - in my case going from a Bose system all of my music sounds new to me. Im still deciding on what towers to add but have narrowed down to M60 or possibly M70 due to recent Polk sale $350 vs $630 a pair vs $560 and $800.
 

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Please do an A/B comparison in your home for a few days before deciding. I found the 1" fabric tweeter on the Polk Monitor to be very harsh. It was more detailed than the small metal tweeter on the similarly priced JBL Northridge, but it was so much more harsh, I couldn't stand it. I had always heard that metal tweeters were supposed to be harsher than fabric, but I guess that isn't always true.


Intresting note: I also tested the Polk Monitor against an Ascend HTM-200 (the Ascend blew it away... much more detailed, yet not as harsh) and physically compared the tweeters. The Ascend tweeter looks like they used very finely woven fabric, you can hardly see the individual threads. The Polk tweeter on the other hand looked like it was made out of a burlap bag. I'm not exaggerating! :eek: I honestly don't know if that had anything to do with the huge gap in sound quality, but it was interesting to see.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by apodaca
The 104 package is strongly recommended over satellite speakers which lack the resolution to accurately reproduce the entire bandwith of a given musical track.
I and many other on this board will disagree with you here. Good satellite speakers with a properly integrated sub sound better to us than a good set of tower speakers.


The original poster said he is using this mostly for Home Theater. He said he thinks he wants to add better fronts later. I think he should just get some nice bookshelf size speakers and a sub and not worry about upgrading the fronts, as the sound will be great as is.


To the original poster: Find the satellites/bookshelfs that sound best to you, then add a subwoofer and use the x-over on your reciever to direct the low sounds to the sub. Forget about tower speakers. Stupid giant obsolete things. :D
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by S_rangeBrew
I and many other on this board will disagree with you here. Good satellite speakers with a properly integrated sub sound better to us than a good set of tower speakers.


The original poster said he is using this mostly for Home Theater. He said he thinks he wants to add better fronts later. I think he should just get some nice bookshelf size speakers and a sub and not worry about upgrading the fronts, as the sound will be great as is.


To the original poster: Find the satellites/bookshelfs that sound best to you, then add a subwoofer and use the x-over on your reciever to direct the low sounds to the sub. Forget about tower speakers. Stupid giant obsolete things. :D


Bookshelvels are not satellites and any good set of bookshelves will sound better than any good set of small satellites - that is a fact. The monitor 104 package consists of four bookshelves and a subwoofder plus a center channel all consisting of five inch woofers. There are no magic speakers - its all about accurate and efficient air diplacement its simple acoustics and physics. At some point, if low quality towers with low quality materials and or poor design are compared then yes I agree but I dont consider the Polk Monitor bookshelves or towers to fall into that category. Comparing similarly priced and buit quality components the sub sat combo will lose every time.


And remember I am talking about the satellites NOT the sub which can easily be included in a bookshelve or small tower set up which is exactly what I had in mind when recommending the 104 over the a small sat -sub combo. Try switching the center channel on any movie back and forth between the CS1 dual 5 inch woofer center channel and any small satellite with three inch or smaller drivers and you will notice the difference night and day not to mention the small speaker will be stressed during special effects and possibly suffer from clipping. Small speakers should not be used for a center channel especially on movies which offer a much more complicated sound track with a larger dynamic range than regular music.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by S_rangeBrew
Please do an A/B comparison in your home for a few days before deciding....


Intresting note: I also tested the Polk Monitor against an Ascend HTM-200 (the Ascend blew it away... much more detailed, yet not as harsh) and physically compared the tweeters....
First of all, thanks to everyone who's replied. Now, specific to this poster:


Excuse my newbie ignorance, but what's an A/B comparison? I'm guessing that means try both speakers in the home for a few days, and return the ones I don't like? Hmmm...that's a possibility.


Second: interesting you should mention the Ascend HTM-200. Being a newbie, I had never even heard of Ascend, but saw a couple people recommending them on these forums while I was perusing late last night. I went to Ascend's website, and could put together this package for $1300 + $78 shipping. It's a bit more than I want to spend, but if it's night and day better than the Polks (again, mostly for movies, but also some CD...), then it may just be worth it:


Fonts: CBM-170

Center: CMT-340

Surrounds: HTM-200

Sub: Hsu VTF-2 Mk 2


This is essentially one of their recommended "packages", but with upgraded center and sub. (Or, it's their highest recommended package with downgraded surrounds (HTM-200 instead of another set of 170's. I'm afraid the 170's will be too large for where I'm putting them...Although, really, the 200's don't seem THAT much smaller.)


Thoughts?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by apodaca
Bookshelvels are not satellites and any good set of bookshelves will sound better than any good set of small satellites - that is a fact..
My apologies, I didn't realize when you said sats, that you were speaking of REALLY small speakers. I don't even consider speakers that can't go below 80hz worth talking about.... sorry again.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gecko85
First of all, thanks to everyone who's replied. Now, specific to this poster:


Excuse my newbie ignorance, but what's an A/B comparison? I'm guessing that means try both speakers in the home for a few days, and return the ones I don't like? Hmmm...that's a possibility.
Yes, that's exactly right. When I compared speakers like that, I was astounded by the differences I heard. Best Buy and Circuit City have no problem with you returning the speakers you didn't like, if that makes it any easier for you. The online retailers like Ascend and ********** also allow this, but you have to pay some shipping costs.... which I think would be worth it. I just plugged one set of speakers into the "A" terminals on the back of my reciever, and one set into the "B" terminals, then switched between them. It was really amazing. If you do this though, make sure to account for differences in volume. One set of speakers can sound louder than another with the same amount of power, and some people mistake louder for better. The differences I heard had nothing to do with volume however. The Polk Monitors just sound much worse than the other speakers, in my opinion.

Quote:
Second: interesting you should mention the Ascend HTM-200. Being a newbie, I had never even heard of Ascend, but saw a couple people recommending them on these forums while I was perusing late last night. I went to Ascend's website, and could put together this package for $1300 + $78 shipping. It's a bit more than I want to spend, but if it's night and day better than the Polks (again, mostly for movies, but also some CD...), then it may just be worth it:


Fonts: CBM-170

Center: CMT-340

Surrounds: HTM-200

Sub: Hsu VTF-2 Mk 2


This is essentially one of their recommended "packages", but with upgraded center and sub. (Or, it's their highest recommended package with downgraded surrounds (HTM-200 instead of another set of 170's. I'm afraid the 170's will be too large for where I'm putting them...Although, really, the 200's don't seem THAT much smaller.)


Thoughts?
Yes. You have a small room, just like I do. I think you could get away with all HTM-200s all around, and the STF-1 sub for $898.00. The HTM's are actually quite a bit more compact than the 170's, and don't need as beefy wall mounts (if that's what you are doing). The HTMs go down to 80hz, which is where the subwoofer takes over. It sounds great, and your small room won't look like it is being eaten by giant speakers! :D

I did a LOT of research into small speakers that could go down to 80hz, and the HTM-200s were as small as I could find that still had good quality/value. (There are others, but someone else will have to tell you about them)

If you are able to spend more than $898.00, I'd put the money into a bigger subwoofer, not bigger speakers.


Oh, and I don't want to confuse you more, but if it's your own house, and the layout allows it... a Infinite Baffle subwoofer is the only way to go: Link to the Cult of the Infinitly Baffled
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by S_rangeBrew
Yes. You have a small room, just like I do. I think you could get away with all HTM-200s all around, and the STF-1 sub for $898.00.
If I just swapped out the 170's for another set of 200's (for the fronts), the price only dropped $50...so I think I might as well stick with the 170's for the front.


I can save $100, though, by dropping to the STF-2 sub. ($200 if I go to the STF-1) However, I think I'd rather spend the extra for the better sub (VTF-2) so that if/when I get a bigger house/living room, it'll still be fine. (I wouldn't upgrade to a huge room, but another 3-4 ft in every direction would be nice.)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gecko85
If I just swapped out the 170's for another set of 200's (for the fronts), the price only dropped $50...so I think I might as well stick with the 170's for the front.


I can save $100, though, by dropping to the STF-2 sub. ($200 if I go to the STF-1) However, I think I'd rather spend the extra for the better sub (VTF-2) so that if/when I get a bigger house/living room, it'll still be fine. (I wouldn't upgrade to a huge room, but another 3-4 ft in every direction would be nice.)
Sounds like a good plan. That will be a great setup. :cool:
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by S_rangeBrew
The HTMs go down to 80hz, which is where the subwoofer takes over. I did a LOT of research into small speakers that could go down to 80hz, and the HTM-200s were as small as I could find that still had good quality/value.
What about the Athena Point 5 MKII system? 4 matched S.5 speakers which hit 80Hz, and the center hits 60. $200 at Amazon and other places online. Add your Hsu VTF-2 subwoofer and you still come out less than the Ascend system. And they are smaller to boot...

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kahn
What about the Athena Point 5 MKII system? 4 matched S.5 speakers which hit 80Hz, and the center hits 60. $200 at Amazon and other places online. Add your Hsu VTF-2 subwoofer and you still come out less than the Ascend system. And they are smaller to boot...

Steve
Hmmm...hadn't seen/heard of the Athena's. Any thoughts on how they sound? For $200 I doubt they come close to the Ascend's, but what about the Polk's? Price-wise, it sounds tempting, but not if I'm losing significant quality. I don't mind spending a little...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, after searching through these forums for more info on the Athena MKII's, and looking elsewhere on the 'net, I've decided to buy a set and try them out. Looks like not that long ago they were selling for $800 w/o a sub, then $500, and now they're $200 from Amazon. Every review I've read has been glowing. So, I'm going to pair them up with a Hsu sub and give them a try. Once they're broken in (Athena recommends at least 50 hours), I'll pick up the Polk 104 system from Fry's and do an AB test. I might even spring for the Ascend's to test also. Worst case, on the Ascend's, it costs me $70 in shipping ($35 each way) to give them a try. I can live with that.


Thanks for all the advice...I'm getting closer.
 

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I was going to tell you to read elsewhere in this forum, but I see you did that and decided! I think you'll like them. I recently bought a set, but I am still breaking them in, have them hooked to a new (digital Panasonic XR55) receiver, and don't have a subwoofer yet, so I can't really give an official opinion yet. But if you liked the RM20 system, you should like this system better. The Hsu sub is way better than the Polk sub, and the Athena speakers, while probably not as good as the larger Ascends, are certainly better than the Polk RM20 speakers. For reference, the Polks have a 3/4" tweeters, 3-1/4" woofers, and a frequency response of only 100-20,000 Hz, whereas the Athenas have 1" tweeters, 4" woofers, and a frequency response of 80 to 20,000 Hz (sats) & 60 to 20,000 Hz (center).

The Athenas are also really small and quite pretty - even the wife approves!

Steve
 
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