Do I really need Expensive Speakers for Home Theater?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Vin_G, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. Vin_G

    Vin_G Stunt Coordinator

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    I am looking to buy speakers for a home theater, but I need the low down.

    I keep reading reviews on high end speakers and how people compare them side-by-side using the same classical music, etc. I believe in a good investment in a sub and an amp.

    However, the fronts, center and rears. I am not that interested how speakers will image a classical band, but whether it will be able to play an action scene from Star Wars without blowing up. To me what audiophiles chose for their music may not be a good fit for home theater.

    To me home theater speakers need to produce just enough imagining (for a movie) while having the power handling to take on some explosive scenes. For example, I know B&W are excellent speakers, but are they the best bang for my buck for playing loud (and clear) movies?

    P.S. Any advice on speaker helps me too [​IMG]
     
  2. Vin_G

    Vin_G Stunt Coordinator

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    I have been doing a lot of research on speakers for my home theater as I have already bought two 15" MFW's. When people are really reviewing speakers, they compare them side by side to music such as jazz or classical and they comment on the imaging, depth, chestiness, etc. When I go to high-end stores they give me the same music to listen to, and I can't really tell a big difference between one good brand to the next.

    Now I am sure high end speakers such as B&W, Martin Logan, Paradigm, Focal, etc are all very good when you are listening to classical music and trying to imagine the instruments in the room. However, I am concerned with what speaker sounds good and can dish out the power required for an action scene from a movie, as I only care about home theater.

    So what's the low down? Are high end speakers required for good and powerful home theater, or are they only really needed for music? I am just imagining spending $1500 on B&W bookshelf fronts that sound great but melts when an explosion happens in a movie.
     
  3. MaxL

    MaxL Supporting Actor

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    well good speakers are good speakers. yes there are some high end speakers that don't do really loud well, but i don't think that's what you're worried about. any speaker can be overdriven, any amp can find a use for which it would be underpowered. but loud does not have to be expensive.

    The reason some people recommend different gear for music vs HT is that, for the money, one might have different priorities than the other. one example - bass: music priorities - tight, fast, accurate tone down to 30-40Hz for most rock, jazz, classical; HT priorities- loud, room filling power down to 20Hz or lower for theater-like experience.

    when you're working on a budget you have to make compromises. so if my priority is HT, i might sacrifice some audiophile ideals like short and clean signal paths for HDMI connectivity. To have a powerful, tight sub that gets down to 20Hz or less costs a bit so you might have to choose between sound quality and quantity.

    so your observation is a valid one. if you go audition gear and don't hear a difference, don't waste your money on the more expensive stuff. (of course there are some other reasons to get the better or more expensive stuff. 1 - something about the auditioning environment doesn't allow you to have a good listening comparisson. 2 - sound's not that different but build quality is. 3 - looks) some people have very acute senses of hearing and others less so. maybe you just don't notice differences that are really there. that's fine. taste is personal. if your taste doesn't require that you spend double the money, consider yourself lucky, and enjoy.
     
  4. Gerald LaFrance

    Gerald LaFrance Supporting Actor

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    I lost my thought !! [​IMG]
     
  5. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    What the hell is "chestiness"? Is that the same as "chocolaty"? [​IMG] (I've seen that word used to describe sound, I kid you not).

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    H
     
  6. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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  7. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    You left out the good stuff from the same link:


    That clears that up.

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  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I don't think that's what Max said.
     
  9. Vin_G

    Vin_G Stunt Coordinator

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    Here is an example of selected systems and their prices (I already have my subs):

    B&W
    684 Fronts
    685 Surrounds
    HTM61 Center
    $2,550

    Focal
    Chorus 716 Fronts
    Chorus 705 Surrounds
    CC700V Center
    $2,413

    Paradigm
    Monitor 11 Fronts
    Mini Monitor Rears
    CC-290 Center
    $1,835

    SVS Satellites
    SBS-01 Fronts/Surrounds
    SCS-01 Center
    $1,259


    What do you guys think for home audio....bang for buck? Any other suggestions I should look at?
     
  10. Ennsio

    Ennsio Second Unit

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    You can definitely build an awesome sounding home theater without spending a ton of money on speakers. I have Athena LS-100s for my front three speakers and they sound great for action movies and for music, all for less than $400.
    I've listened to $1000 speakers and there definitely is an improvement over my speakers, and would be worth it if I wanted to spend the money. But at the same time, my bookshelf speakers and decent center channel also have a huge difference over what you get in a HTIB system, and would make most people happy for life.

    If you want great sound for home theater, you could get decent bookshelf speakers in the $200/pair range and buy a good sub. That will help make a good system sound great for powerful action scenes. Without a good sub, it will sound lacking. Check out SVS for subs. They also have full speaker packages that have gotten many great reviews. For other speaker options, you could look at Athena speakers like I have, available here, or Paradigm monitor series speakers here. All of these options, paired with a sub from SVS would make an awesome home theater on a modest budget.

    The key to having a good sounding home theater is proper placement of your speakers, and calibration. There are many threads here on how to place your speakers and how to calibrate them using a DVD like Digital Video Essentials or Avia, along with a sound level meter. This would be the next step after you purchase your speakers.
     
  11. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I think Ennsio hit the nail right on the head. You don't need a huge budget to build a decent system - so you need to start with a budget and then come up with a plan to audition what is available to you in that price range. It is also a tolerance level for each person - how much are you willing to spend to get the sound quality that you desire? At some point you either have to spend more to get good quality (an HTiB might not be good enough) and on the other side, you may be able to spend less and still be happy with the quality that you get(B&Ws are great, but maybe something less expensive will work). So the first step would probably be to listen to what is in your initially estimated price range as well as a level or two above that and then decide what is going to make you happy without completely emptying your pockets.
     
  12. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    The Reference Studio 60s should be around the same price as the Monitor 11, and should be much better. The Monitor 11 is a lesser speaker with extra bass that you don't need since you have a sub. Even without a sub I would still go Reference Studio at that price.

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    H
     
  13. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    What currency are you using? SVS charges US$799 (plus shipping) for a 7.0 set.
     
  14. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    Imaging is still important in cinema-- and the musical score still sounds better on speakers that image. When you listen to a hail of gunfire, the bullets should come from all around you, not just from 7 precise points.

    Dialogue should be clear and precise, and intelligible from off center.
     
  15. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    Hmmm... do you really need to post two threads where the only difference is a pronoun? [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I have always subscribed to the notion that speakers that play music well will always play movies well. In my experience, I have found this to always be the case. Music for me is the easiest way to audition the quality of the speaker, particularly between two speakers that have a small difference in tonal quality. Auditioning speakers using movies is good to get a general idea but for me, music helps narrow it down much further. Since movies are the primary motive for your purchase, you would want to consider music that has a wide dynamic range using deep bass to high highs for your auditions. If it reproduces these sounds well, it will play your movies well.
     
  16. troy evans

    troy evans Screenwriter

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    Something else to consider is, what are you using to drive these speakers? You mentioned that you don't want them to blow up. How hard are you going to be pushing them? I would definately recommend floor standing fronts. They don't have to be expensive and I like the overall effect floorstanders bring to the sound field. When it comes to explosive scenes, you will notice improved handling and performance in floorstanding speakers as opposed to using bookshelfs for your fronts. Some might say that as long as you set your speakers to "small" and direct all the bass to the sub it wouldn't matter if you had floor or bookshelf fronts. I would disagree.
     
  17. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I would be in complete disagreement there. If you set them to small, with a good bookshelf speaker, yes there should be little or no difference than using a tower speaker. In a properly setup system, bookshelf speakers operate in a narrower range and focus only on what they are doing anyway, so with the right crossover and a good sub, you are giving up nothing.
     
  18. troy evans

    troy evans Screenwriter

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    John I agree with what you say in regards to center and R/L surround speakers. However, if we're talking lesser end speakers here, which is what I thought this was about, bookshelf fronts are pathetic. The cheapest floorstander will no doubt beat out the cheapest bookshelf any day of the week. Now, good bookshelf speakers, perhaps there is no contest in that regard. You said yourself "bookshelfs operate in a narrower range and focus only on what the're doing." Where as I feel fronts should operate in a wide range for best effect. All other speakers in the system can have a narrow range and be fine, but, not the fronts.
     
  19. Vin_G

    Vin_G Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry about the double-post guys. The first post didn't show up for 24 hrs so I thought that it didn't go through.

    Anyways, if you recommend towers over large bookshelf fronts (i.e. Paradigm Titans) would you suggest I get something like the Paradigm Monitor 11 or a smaller B&W tower for the same money?

    By the way, the reason I keep asking for advice is that I have tried to demo speakers in Edmonton, but all of the "high end" stores don't carry any inventory, or just refuse to demo. So I have to go completely by word-of-mouth here!

    Any suggestions on speakers helps immensely! (p.s. I have a Denon 1804 amp and I just purchased 2 MFW-15 subs)

    Thanks for any advice you can suggest on speaker packages......hopefully under $2,500 (not including subs of course).
     
  20. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    If I were setting up a system for mostly HT use (not music) I would concentrate on the center channel and the sub. Then I would choose the matching fronts and surrounds. For music it would be the fronts first. Just my opinion but that's what I would do. As far as the tower vs. bookshelf thing, bookshelves are usually a better value but towers can provide a little more umph! in the 80 to 150 hz range. But again JMO. I wouldn't want to recommend anything since the most I've spent on speakers is $1375, but I'm sure the other guys could help out.
     

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