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New HT.....Starting with LCR for under $400.


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48 replies to this topic

#1 of 49 RyanJE

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Posted April 11 2005 - 08:48 AM

Well Im building a new system starting from scratch. My main goal so far is obtaining the mains and a center for under 400 bones. I cant stretch the budget thats as far as I can go.

I have some ideas so far and am going to try and audition everything. However I dont have access to all of the possibilities so im looking for some good opinions.

My main objectives so far are.

(1)They have to be Bookshelf or CC.
(2)I want extension to around 60hz or lower, I have a sub I x-over at 80hz.
(3)All three can be bookshelf (I dont have to have center).
(4)Looking for imaging, clarity and detail.

Heres my prospects so far.....

-2 Polk monitor 30's and the matching center.
-4 JBL E30
-3 Athena AS-C1
-6 Athena AS-B1. This would give me a full 6.0 setup, but quality comes before quantity.
- OTHER GOOD SUGGESTIONS IM MISSING.


Thanks in advance for anyones input and for reading this lengthy thread!!

#2 of 49 Eric C D

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Posted April 11 2005 - 09:22 AM

Well, since you are asking the question in an online forum, these both are "just" out of the price range you are talking about, but they are killer products available online. Also, if you just wanted to get a stereo pair now (both will have pairs for around $300) they have ways of filling out for very nice complete HTs using their bigger brothers later and moving the ones close to your price to the back as surrounds.

Oh yeah, the product names: Ascend Acoustics CBM-170s or Onix ELTs (look up AV123) Posted Image

best of luck,

#3 of 49 RyanJE

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Posted April 11 2005 - 10:30 AM

I looked at those and the aperions but they are just strecthing it to far. I would really like to get the 3 upfront.

#4 of 49 VinhT

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Posted April 11 2005 - 10:38 AM

I suggest auditioning the Infinity Primus 150 ($200/pair) and C25 ($180) at Circuit City if you can. The center is sealed (not a bad thing), so it doesn't go as low as you specified. Might be still worth a look though.
Vinh Tran

#5 of 49 RyanJE

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Posted April 11 2005 - 10:41 AM

I was actually looking at 3 160's. Would that work out ok? The center in the lineup doesnt have low enough extension.

#6 of 49 Eric C D

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Posted April 11 2005 - 11:40 AM

No worries mate. But I forgot one other thing I meant to add in that earlier post. Here's another thought for online that would meet your price range - Home Theater Direct. You can actually go to their Level 3 line for the front three at your price range. Or you could do 5 speakers in a level 2 for under your price. I haven't seen them stated as much now as they were back a couple of years ago, but they do have the same kind of try-it-at-home guarantee as those others I stated.

Best of luck in your search,

#7 of 49 RyanJE

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Posted April 12 2005 - 06:36 AM

OK Ive added the HD 3's to my list, those will be the last thing I audition since ill have to wait for ship. Any thing im missing or other suggestions??

#8 of 49 Nhan_H

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Posted April 12 2005 - 06:50 AM

I was going to suggest the HTD Level 3s (L3), as well. I may be picking up the L3 center in about 1 month's time to go with my L4 bookshelves for the bedroom set.

#9 of 49 Chad A

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Posted April 12 2005 - 07:28 AM

You might wanna check out some Wharfedales.
They have several speakers that fit your criteria and some are at rediculously low prices right now.

Diamond 8.1 bookshelves are $140 a pair
Diamond 8.2 bookshelves are $196 a pair
at www.ayselectronics.com

Crystal 10 bookshelves are $70 a pair
Crystal 30 floorstanders are $110 a pair
Crystal 40 floorstanders are $150 a pair
at www.tsto.com

#10 of 49 RyanJE

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Posted April 12 2005 - 11:24 AM

Damn, every time I think Im narrowing it down something else intruiging pops up. So many choices so little patience. Thanks so far guys. Anyone know about these wharfedales? I cant find any nearby.

#11 of 49 Nick Bum

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Posted April 12 2005 - 03:18 PM

Dont worry about the center speaker so many people say its the most important but I find that they tend to detract from the sound. I would just go with a good stero pair but thats me...(i just tryed out a center its not matching which might be part of the problem but i did not like it)

#12 of 49 RyanJE

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Posted April 12 2005 - 04:13 PM

Yea actually I was thinking about getting 3 bookshelves and using one on its side as the center. Ive never done this though so I dont know how well it works.

#13 of 49 RyanJE

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Posted April 13 2005 - 06:49 AM

Any other suggestions??

#14 of 49 AlanZ

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Posted April 13 2005 - 10:02 AM

I agree with Nick. If you choose wisely, a $400 pair of mains will likely be a more satisfying front stage than, say, a $200 pair of mains with a $200 center. You can find some damn nice speakers for $400 a pair, bro. You don't lose any information by not having a center....it's just distributed to the L and R mains when you configure a phantom center. Just something to think about.
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#15 of 49 RyanJE

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Posted April 13 2005 - 10:28 AM

Even for movies? 90% of a movie is dialog. Also if I spent that much on the mains I would have to come up with a near equal amount of funds for the rears, and thats not going to happen anytime soon. Im relatively new to HT and will probably upgrade in a few years anyway.

#16 of 49 AlanZ

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Posted April 13 2005 - 11:15 AM

Ryan:
You'll find there aren't many 'have to' aspects to this hobby. There is no reason at all why you'd need to spend as much money on your surrounds as you do your mains. In fact, that's one of my biggest issues with my own HT. Thankfully I found a speaker line where I can spend a nominal amount on my surrounds and still have the results I want.

Think about it like this: When you listen to music (which I'm assuming you'll be doing with this system in addition to watching movies?), does it sound as though there is a huge hole in the middle of the soundstage when listening in stereo? If you have decent speakers, it shouldn't at all. Should sound like one cohesive image from right to left. Same thing is true of the phantom center, assuming you have some decent mains. And using your number of 90% of the movie being dialogue, you won't lose any bit of that 90%. It will come out of your mains just as if you were listening to music in stereo.

I guess my view is simply this: If you have a fixed budget of $400, how do you get the best bang for the buck in terms of sound quality? I would bet you that $400 mains and no center would sound better to most folks that cheaper mains and a center. I'm not saying this configuration is for everyone.....it's not. But 1) you won't know til you try, and 2) if it IS for you I think you'll be happier with your main speakers in the long run.
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#17 of 49 Eric C D

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Posted April 13 2005 - 11:35 AM

If you're going to be sitting in the sweet spot, phantom center can be a great way to go. It can also be fine for two people snuggling in the sweet spot. Posted Image But if you are going to either sit off center, or have multiple people watching the screen such that they have to be seating at different places about the room, a cc will really help place dialog or other sounds correctly across the front soundstage.

good luck,

#18 of 49 RyanJE

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Posted April 13 2005 - 03:47 PM

OK well I always be in the sweet spot, 2 people max. So I guess my next question is where do I get started?
For a while I was looking at Paradgim Monitors but I have no dealers nearby so I haven't had time to price yet. So what would a set of those run me? Also what other suggestions in that range <400.

Also I have one last concern. How long generally do speaker lines last. I would eventually like to get matching equipment. IE (get some towers that match the line of the rears for new fronts) I like the idea of using the same line all around even though I don't "have to" largely for aesthetic reasons but also I want the best possible imaging and timbre matching. If I were to add on it may take some time, Id Hate to see speaker companies ditch the line and then Id be at ground zero again.

#19 of 49 AlanZ

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Posted April 13 2005 - 04:51 PM

Ryan:
Just my personal opinion, but I think you are on the right track with the Paradigms. Paradigm is a very good, safe choice for speakers. They will give you good solid value at whatever price point you select. I don't remember what the minis go for, but I used to own a pair and thought they were quite good. A step up to the Monitor 5 may be out of your price range, but if you can reach that far with your wallet it's worth the difference. If not, the minis are a good choice. There are lots of good choices in your price range, though, and I think the fact that you are taking time to gather opinions will help lead you to a good decision. When it comes to box speakers, I have always had a thing for the Canadian manufacturers.....have no idea why. Companies like Paradigm, PSB, Mirage, and Energy are all really good. Monitor Audio is a British manufacturer and also very highly regarded. My first 'real' speakers were a pair of MA bookshelves.....they were awesome!
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#20 of 49 Nhan_H

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Posted April 13 2005 - 05:49 PM

You could spend about $450 for a pair of HTD Level 3 towers:

http://www.htd.com/htdlevthreto.html

Or you could get some used Rocket RS550s for $400-$550. These have blemishes (pictures included), if you don't mind them:

http://www.av123.com....stock&brand=15