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Paying for a name?

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#1 of 26 robWD



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Posted June 21 2007 - 09:49 AM

I am looking at new speakers for my small theater room.

It measures approx 12x15. I have a Panny 50" and a Denon HDMI upconverting receiver (cant remember the model offhand).

Now, for speakers I see the Polk LS series that will set me back $1700 lsi9/7/c for a 5.0 system

Polk Monitors for the $600-700 range 40's/30's combo with center

SVS for the 600 range as well SCS fronts SBS rears

Axioms for $1300 M22, M3 rear, vp100 center.

I don't know if I am comparing the appropriate sizes. I tend to over-buy on size.

Are the Polk LS that great? They would be at the top of my price range.

I can't really listen to these. Magnolia room has not even helped me the last 2 times I went in there. The time before that, they recommended Mirage's. They carry Klipsch and Definitive and I think Athenas.

Circuit City in Fresno carries Polk, but their sound room looks like it was looted in a riot. The candy wrapper that is on the shelf next to the Denon receiver is the same wrapper that was there a month and a half ago. Again, no salesperson ever approached me.

I used to have Polk RT towers so I am familiar with their lower lines and I am familiar with their name, but is that what I am paying for?

Judging from price, I would assume that the SVS sound better than the Polk Monitors.

And then there's KEF, NHT, and countless others.

People talk highly on this forum about the SVS. Is it because they are a good value for their price range?

Are the Axioms the same way? Are they equivalent or better than the Polk LS series for less money?



#2 of 26 Brent_S


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Posted June 21 2007 - 11:45 AM

Based on reviews and price, I'd probably throw AV123's X-ls on the pile for consideration as well.

I think main speakers sound quality is largely a matter of personal taste. You've really got to listen in your environment to be sure. Chances are, you'll be satisfied with any of your listed choices. CC/BB and most of the ID vendors have user friendly return policies so you can get the best audition of all...return what you don't like.

For example, I have Polk RTi38s in my theater room powered by separates. I have RS150s powered by a $200 receiver in the living room. Easy proof of the 80/20 rule. The RTi38 sold for roughly $300/pair IIRC, the RS150s I got for $50/pair. I think I could easily be happy with the living room system, at least up to its power limits. The theater room system does sound a bit better...probably not 10x better which is the rough price differential for the systems. I've never bothered to mix the speakers for an in depth comparison.

IMO, subwoofers can be compared a bit more objectively. With a room that small, you don't have to spend a lot. Something like SVS' PB10-NSD should be more than enough and will trounce anything at CC/BB. I'm sure Hsu has something price/performance comparable. Depending on tastes and available square footage, the SB12+ would also do well in that size room.

Some of the pricing is parts/labor/shipping/warranty + % for profit...while some add an additional markup for perceived value or low volume/slow movers. Some vendors, due to economies of scale, can source parts cheaper than others. Etc. Ultimately, manufacturers can only charge what the market will bare.


#3 of 26 JeremyErwin



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Posted June 21 2007 - 01:54 PM

a couple of things-- the lsis are polk's top of the line speakers. You aren't paying for the name. It's not like they're entry level speakers, with corners cut potentially at every opportunity.
some of the lsis are 4 ohm speakers.
and here's a review done by a guy who likes the Rti25i.

#4 of 26 Paul Mor

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Posted June 21 2007 - 02:51 PM

The LSi's are great, but they require a lot of power to make them sound their best. If your Denon isn't 4ohm stable, you could run into problems if you drive them hard for long periods of time. You could always buy a 2 channel amp and run the 9's off of that...if it has preouts. Another option would be RTi6's for the fronts with a CSi5 for the center and either RTi4 or 6 for the rears. My understanding is that the RTi's are very good for home theater. As for the sub, you can't go wrong with SVS.

$1700 for LSi 9/7/C?? That's a good price. I'd think that setup would cost around $2100 new.

#5 of 26 robWD



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Posted June 21 2007 - 04:43 PM

Ok, for some reason I thought that the Denon AVR 2807 was 4 ohm stable. It is not. It is only stable down to 6 ohms.

Part of my problem is that CC has no selection and no employee has EVER come in the sound room to assist me in my last 5 visits (last 4 years or so). It is like they have already gone out of business by the looks of the sound room shelves.

BB - Magnolia room - Klipsch, Definitive, Mirage. Top that with nobody coming in to help me there either. I have gone in there on a weekend wearing shorts and I have gone in there during business hours wearing beige pants and a button down shirt (work clothes) and it didnt seem to matter. Klipsch have such a polarized fan base- either love or hate em. All I could compare them to is the Definitive sets provided a sales person actually turned them on for me.

I'll look at the AV123's as well.

So, would you say that you get what you pay for or are there some that perform above their price point?

I realize that it depends on each persons ear but I do not have the chance to listen to all of these different models. If I lived in So Cal or the Bay area I would have many more options for listening in person.

#6 of 26 Keith Mickunas

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Posted June 21 2007 - 05:26 PM

AV123 has just announced a sale on systems with RS760's or RS850's for the mains. Perhaps that would be in your price range, especially since right now they are throwing in shipping.

Rockets use a similar (maybe even the same) tweeter as the LSi series. However I imagine their crossovers are better as they keep improving them. And one thing AV123 does that Polk doesn't is occasionally offer upgraded crossovers. For instance if you bought the original RS850 you could by the Signature Series crossover to bring it up to the level of the new ones.

I had the RS850s, RS250s and RS200 for about a month, then they had a special sale on one of their higher end systems and I exchanged mine for that. I was able to do a direct exchange, however there are times where they do trade-ins on stuff people have had for a while. I can tell you that the Rockets were a good bit better than my old Polk system, which consisted of RT800, RT55 and a CS350. And from listening to the LSi-9 on occasion I think the Rockets have some clear advantages.

The X Series is their more budget minded line. I haven't heard them myself, but from what people are saying they are incredible for the price.

Service from both SVS and AV123 is exemplary, with the edge in my experience going to SVS. I only say that because SVS never made a mistake and responds to e-mails even on weekend nights, however AV123 dropped the ball a bit on my original order, but boy did they make up for it. When the owner calls you from Columbia to apologize and refunds the shipping, you know he cares.

#7 of 26 MaxL


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Posted June 21 2007 - 05:39 PM

try here:



use the yellow pages. there are places to listen.

i think athena are generally better sounding than their price implies, but that doesn't mean you'll like em.

good luck
HT: Marantz SR8000, PSB Alpha B fronts, Alpha C center, CSW Newton S200 surrounds, Martin Logan Dynamo Sub, Marantz DVD, Sony CRT TV

Stereos include vintage Sony receivers/amps into vintage AR and KEF speakers.

#8 of 26 Shannon W

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Posted June 21 2007 - 06:34 PM

I have Polk Lsi in my HT. I run LSi 9's, LSiC,LSi FX's and LSi 7's. I run them off a Sunfire Cinema Sig. 7 and they sound great.

50" Samsung Plasma AKA. Liquid Love
Sony STR-DA4ES "use as Pre/amp" AKA. The Old Man
Sony PlayStation3 AKA. Rick James "B*TCH"
Pioneer Elite DV-45A DVD Player AKA. Vito
Directv HR-20 (Black) Sat. Rec AKA. Charlie Murphy Sunfire Cinema Grand Sig. 7 AKA. The Juggernaut "On Fire"Monster Cable...

#9 of 26 robWD



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Posted June 22 2007 - 08:50 AM

Thanks for the feedback and the links.

I'll chew on this for a bit and see if I can get a listen somewhere.

Since the room is so small, should I be pro or con for bipole/dipole speakers for the surrounds?

#10 of 26 LanceJ



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Posted June 22 2007 - 05:40 PM

In a room that small those Mirages might not be a bad idea. Because they "spray" sound pretty much everywhere they would produce a more open and spacious surround soundfield vs. a conventional speaker where the sound will be almost literally pointed at your face which will not help generate a seemless soundfield.

Though the flip side of such omnipolar designs is that front imaging would not be quite as precise as a conventional speakers', but hundreds of thousands of people over the last few decades swear by such designs (including for example similar speakers by Martin-Logan, Magnepan, Quad electrostatics, certain Infinitys, Bertagni, Apogee and even - gulp - Bose's 901).

For me anyway, Polk's speakers sound extremely analytical, bordering on harsh - IMO badly recorded movies sound awful through them; same with music - so I would rather have the Mirages anyway.

Klipsch's Reference bookshelf and floorstanders are rather "forward" to me but not harsh sounding (unless the recording is really subpar); and they have very punchy bass for their size though they don't go as low as similar-sized speakers from other manufacturers.

Definitive sounds nice to me too but that small room might not let their dipolar design "breathe" properly.

Don't like KEF anymore.

NHT is supposed to sound very neutral, are thought of by many as hi-end speakers with a mid-fi price; and are in fact on my short list of speakers to check out for an entry-level/hi-end 2.0 music system.

I own Boston Acoustics myself, a nice blend of a crisp-but-smooth high end with a slightly "fat" bass response. BTW, don't let self-proclaimed audiophiles convince you they suck until *you* hear them (for some reason they never explain WHY they don't like them, even when I directly ask them). BA puts the money into the components that actually produce the sound, rather than unseen "secret" proprietary technologies, exotic veneers or flaky & unproven audio voodoo features.


Fun factoid: Boston Acoustics was founded by former employees of Advent (when Advent was a respected name), and NHT by people who worked for Acoustic Research in ITS heyday. Both manufacturers had a sound created mostly by this one M.I.T. graduate who helped start both companies.....then who went on to start Cambridge Soundworks in the late 80s. So both were part of the large set of manufacturers who shared the "East Coast sound"* i.e. accurate but with an overall laid back personality layered on top of that which included a softened (or veiled to their detractors) high end. For many people such speakers can be listened to for hours, even with subpar soundtracks, without listener's fatigue setting in so quickly like with so many modern speakers which tout their hyper-accuracy.

* BA's speakers aren't quite as laid back as these and have punchier bass and so don't require quite as much power to operate. And they are almost always rated at 8 ohms (I've never seen a 4 ohm BA myself). Starting around 1997, AR completely moved away from their original sound.

#11 of 26 robWD



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Posted June 24 2007 - 06:27 PM

Ok, trying to narrow it down.

Since the room is a bit small, I will go with 5.1

Option 1: AV123 Rockets bookshelves $700, Surrounds $600, Center $600 Approx $2100 Plus I would need brackets (a bit over my budget)
OR the X series XCS x3 $420, Surrounds $219 = $640 (a bit under my budget)
AV123 may not be the best choice as I am "in the gap" between lines.

Option 2: SVS - Also inexpensive but will use their sub - pb10 or pb12.

Option 3: Axiom QS4v2 surrounds $428, M22v2 front $470, VP100 center $255 Total $1155 approx.

NHT and DefTech are also viable options but they have so many different models in the same price ranges (or similar models in different price ranges)that I am a bit confused.

So, the axiom setup would allow me to afford either sub.

I could use AV123 Rocket mains and Axiom (or other) surrounds. I would rather they matched but I dont know that it really matters.

I could also look at NHT and Deftech (I can actually listen to these locally).

I really don't see many complaints on any of these brands except for maybe NHT.

Ok, I'll stop rambling and go to sleep now.

I would appreciate any more input on my conclusions.

#12 of 26 Keith Mickunas

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Posted June 25 2007 - 03:03 AM

Rob, on the Rockets I don't think you took into account the package pricing.
So it's about $1600 plus maybe $200 in shipping.

All Rockets get discounted when you buy more than a pair, and then you pay lower prices for everything in the future. I don't know how that applies to the X line, I believe those are as low as they can go and still make a profit.

Also with the RS250 MkII you can buy a pair, try them for 30 days and if you don't like them get a full refund and they pay shipping. If you keep them and order the rest of the package, your total price will be what it would have been had you ordered the package initially. So you can go that route and not lose out on anything.

#13 of 26 robWD



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Posted June 25 2007 - 08:43 AM


Those Rocket bookshelves are deep. 13.5" plus wall mount. That may knock them out of the running. I'll measure tonight when I get home.

I found a local retailer for Definitive (besides Best Buy). They only had the Mythos or their powered sub bookshelves. At first he was only hooking up one speaker at a time. They also had the surrounds, but when I asked him if those were surrounds he said "no, those are towers". I just checked the DefTech website and they are certainly surrounds. I may go back there and take some of my own music because I was unimpressed in listening to their music disc. At first, I thought the DefTechs were very muddy in listening to their string classical disc. Then he put in a jazz cd. It sounded horrible. It was some sort of Hip Hop/Jazz with extremely harsh highs. So, I will have to go back with some of my cd's.
I can't let one idiotic salesperson discount a whole brand.

#14 of 26 LanceJ



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Posted June 25 2007 - 12:18 PM

I really don't see many complaints on any of these brands except for maybe NHT.
What was the complaint(s)?

I'm *only* asking for informational purposes because I'm not going to argue with their opinion - a speaker's sound is sooooo subjective that doing so is like arguing over which is better Coke or Pepsi i.e. useless.

ALWAYS take your own CD or CD-R with a variety of songs you like & listen to regularly, not audiophile recordings that sound great but that you can't stand spending time with. I used to do that in my early days of this hobby and found speakers that sounded great with, say, that album from Sheffield Labs that had nothing but drums & was recorded direct-to-disc with no signal-altering gear in between i.e. VERY realistic sounding. But when I played a "normal" music album through those same speakers......Posted Image

#15 of 26 robWD



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Posted June 25 2007 - 01:08 PM

I don't specifically remember what the complaints were. They were not really complaints so much as minor grumblings. My poorly illustrated point was that those companies seemingly have nobody complaining about them but I do remember seeing some minor "perceived" infractions from NHT.

On the way home I was able to listen to some Dynaudio Focus speakers. They seemed impressive for bookshelves but were out of my price range. They do have a lower cost line by the name of Audience but there were no demos of those.

This is getting way too confusing.

I could drive across town and listen to another quality set of speakers and be just as impressed. The fact that I can't tell the difference without hearing them literally side by side leads me to believe that my ears could not tell the difference between a $1200 set and a $2500 set of speakers.

My intent is not to make this thread an endless string of speaker opinions although that seems to be what I am doing.

SVS, AV123, Axiom, DefTech, Dynaudio. At some point there has to be a significant jump. If the $500 pair speakers have reviewers saying that they sound better than most $1000 speakers then how is anyone supposed to be happy with their $1000 speakers?

So, if I liked the sound of the Dynaudios then what should I add/eliminate to my potentials?


#16 of 26 robWD



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Posted June 25 2007 - 01:55 PM

Just noticed that the dynaudios are 4 ohm.

My receiver is 6 ohm stable. does not go down to 4

#17 of 26 LanceJ



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Posted June 26 2007 - 11:59 AM

Over the years I've read/heard lots of people - including myself - that confessed they couldn't really hear much difference if any between "mid-fi" speakers and "hi-end" speakers to justify the huge price difference. And many times the hi-end models simply sounded different than the less expensive brands.

So to make things much easier I would simply pick out speakers based on whether or not you like how they sound. Sounds like an obvious & common sense thing to say, but its true....and you could save a lot of $$ doing so.

#18 of 26 Brent_S


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Posted June 26 2007 - 12:38 PM

My quick advice to people when asked about audio equipment is to listen to progressively more expensive gear until you can't hear any improvement, then stop. You should worry less about what the speakers cost and more about what sounds good to you. Take advantage of the local and ID vendor return policies and listen for yourself. We can't tell you what will sound good to you, only what sounds good to us.

At best, cost is a very general guideline to quality. The manufacturers are going to charge enough to cover their costs plus as much as the public can be convinced to spend. There's nothing magical about it. Paid reviewers are being paid by the vendors who advertise in their publication...what's the saying about biting the hand that feeds you?

As I said above, I've got a set of Polks that can be purchased from Fry's for $50/pair running on a $200 Pioneer receiver. I've also got a set of Polks that sold for $379/pair powered by $2600 of amp/preamp. The more expensive system does sound better, but not 10x better to my ears. The 80/20 rule is now in effect more than ever in consumer electronics.

Let's try this another way. The Rti38s I bought, originally sold for $379/pair at Crutchfield as do the current versions, the Rti6. So, you're looking at $1100-1200 plus sub for a typical 5.1 or 6.1 system. However, with a promotion they were running (Circuit City had the same promo) to make room for the current generation, I managed to only pay $90/each for six speakers, shipping and real cherry wood veneer included. There's no way you can convince me that Crutchfield/Circuit City didn't still make some profit at that discounted price. So which did I purchase, a $180/pair of speakers or a $380 pair of speakers? Posted Image FWIW, Stereophile thought rather highly of the 38s smaller brother, the 25 and 28, even at full MSRP.


#19 of 26 robWD



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Posted June 26 2007 - 01:37 PM


I'm gonna go listen to some more speakers tonight. I have the chance to purchase some demo speakers of the Dynaudio Focus line at a bit of a discount. Wrong color, bigger than I wanted, above my price range even after the discount, but those things sounded good and had a lot of punch for a bookshelf. The dealer was certain that they would be fine on the 6-8 ohm Denon 2807 and that they would play well in my room on that unit. He was not certain enough to let me test drive them at home though...

I will see how the DefTech bookshelves do. Still considering the SVS SCS's in 5.1 with the PB12-nsd for the sub. No matter what I go with, the SVS will be the sub.

Are the SVS speakers considered 'bright'?

Going blind from reading the forums...

#20 of 26 robWD



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Posted June 26 2007 - 05:41 PM

Well, I had a huge response typed and was just finishing it up when my toddler grabbed my mouse and somehow made it disappear. (mouse has a bunch of buttons on it that I don't use) I'll create an abbreviated version:

Nothing at the Magnolia room at Best Buy impressed me but many of the DefTechs sounded good. Different models had different personalities. Not necessarily better or worse, but had different strengths and weaknesses. Didn't really like the Klipsch offerings.

Nothing wowed me like the Dynaudio. I dont know if it was the eq settings or better equipment or just plain better speakers at the Dyn shop, but those did impress me. The Monitor speakers he had were nice, but the smaller Dyn bookshelves sounded better.

What would I be happy with? who knows. My current setup is the Denon pushing a set of Onkyo HTIB speakers. As I listen to the Jools Holland show they sound ok at low volume but they cannot keep up with the likes of Tool at moderate volume levels. I bought the HTIB setup when it was going on a 27" tv in the spare bedroom. Now I have the Denon, a 50" plasma, and want some better speakers and sub.

Problem is, I have the equivalent of a Honda (fair performance), am shopping for a Mustang (good performance), but I test drove a Ferarri (dynaudio). We all have budgets that quickly get blown away. Will I be happy with SVS 5.1? Or will I always wish I had bought the Dyn Focus'? The Dyn will exceed my budget by just purchasing the front 3 speakers even after the discount of buying the demos.

And, yes, this is the abbreviated version.

What to do... What to do....