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Decent cheap 7.1 speaker system


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21 replies to this topic

#1 of 22 OFFLINE   FrankBooth

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Posted March 24 2009 - 04:44 AM

I just bought a denon avr-1707, now I need to get speakers for it. What would be the best set for listening to music and watching movies that I could pick up at around 300$? Thanks

#2 of 22 OFFLINE   Jim Mcc

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Posted March 24 2009 - 01:58 PM

7 speakers and a sub for $300? That's not very realistic. Are you looking for bookshelf speakers? You can get a decent sub for about $100, and that leaves only $200 for 7 speakers.

#3 of 22 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted March 24 2009 - 03:42 PM

I think these are more cheap than decent but...Onkyo SKS-HT 750. And they are on sale for $296 shipped.

Then there's this one...Polk 6750. It's a 5.1 but maybe you can find another pair of the satillites for the $84 you have left over.

Here's another Onkyo system, but it's on order. Onkyo SKS-HT540.
"Everyday room": Panasonic 58" Plasma, Dish HD DVR, Pioneer Elite vsx-23, BDP-23 BR, dv58avi universal dvd player, Paradigm Studio 20 V1, CC-450, Dayton HSU-10 subwoofer.

"Movie/Music room": Toshiba 65" DLP, Dish HD receiver, Marantz 7005, CC-4003, BD-7006, Polk LSI25's-LSi7's-LSiC, 2 original Dayton 10" "Mighty-Mites" subwoofers. (subject to change without notice).
 
Also have  MB Quart Vera VS05 +.....too much to list. Help me.
 
 

 


#4 of 22 OFFLINE   FrankBooth

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Posted March 24 2009 - 05:06 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by gene c
I think these are more cheap than decent but...Onkyo SKS-HT 750. And they are on sale for $296 shipped.

Then there's this one...Polk 6750. It's a 5.1 but maybe you can find another pair of the satillites for the $84 you have left over.

Here's another Onkyo system, but it's on order. Onkyo SKS-HT540.
Thanks, does anyone have a suggestion on which one to get?

#5 of 22 OFFLINE   LanceJ

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Posted March 24 2009 - 08:11 PM

Sony's speakers don't get much love on A/V forums but I doubt most audiophiles even gave them a chance (and the economy of scale aspect comes into play so Sony can price these really low and still have them sound decent). I've actually listened to these, two weeks ago actually, using my own CD and thought they sounded good, and not just "good for their price" either*:

Sony SS-B1000, $50 per pair.

Don't look cheap in person and are built nicely (knocking on them with my knuckles produced a solid thunk). 5.25" woofer uses a rubber surround so should last a long time.

They sell a matching center channel too.

Sony's subs also sound good to me though they don't get very loud - at this price point you can have either loud bass........or depth/quality of bass.....but not both (this is why high quality subs cost so much).

SA-W2500

This seemed to sound good but wasn't able to properly audition it because of its location (plus I couldn't determine its crossover point or any other settings). It's woofer looks much more heavily built than the woofers in other subs at a similar price point.

I nearly bought their dual-10" push-pull subwoofer (SA-WX700) a few years ago but my car needed major work so had to pass on buying any sub at that time.

Pioneer sells - or sold, their own site doesn't have these listed anymore as of last week - an equivalent speaker to the SS-B1000 and I thought these sounded good too:

Pioneer S-HF21, just $30 per pair as of 3/25. That picture is actually of the 6.5" woofer version, the 5.25" version is a bit narrower.

Here's a full review of them: GoodSound! "Features" Archives

Pioneer builds all their own drivers so they too can price their systems less expensively.

* I also checked out their floorstander with a single 8" woofer. Nice! And to me much more bass output than a pair of $400 Polks sitting right next to them, and more importantly the Sonys to my ears didn't have the Polk's icepick-in-your-ears high frequencies.

#6 of 22 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted March 25 2009 - 01:02 AM

Regarding Lance's response... I have a set of Sony towers from the 90s in my bedroom system and have been very satisfied with them. Based on my experience I would buy Sony speakers again. The center channel speaker is a Pioneer which I got at about 2000 which is also excellent. Those Pioneer sattelites at Parts Express are probably excellent, and you could set up a full matched set all around with them.
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#7 of 22 OFFLINE   SHS

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Posted March 25 2009 - 06:13 AM

I would suggest spending $300 on a decent set of bookshelf speakers then ghosting the center for now. These from a brand and model that have matching center channels available. Then I would save for the next step which could be a center channel or a sub. Then as the system grows you could either keep the bookshelves and add surround speakers that are sonically acceptable or move the bookshelf speakers to the rear and replace them with upgraded floorstanders(of course from the same line). This will help you build a good system in stages and you will not fight what almost all of us have done here by wasting the initial $300 on a system that will soon be a dissapointment to you.

Of course this requires patience and time to build it depending upon your budget.

I'd have to say that a 7.1 at $300 will be a dissapointment to you. (especially when listening to music and the sub could not be much more than a boom box)

My 2 cents....
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#8 of 22 OFFLINE   FrankBooth

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Posted March 25 2009 - 06:26 AM

Lets say I got these : SS-B3000 | Performance Bookshelf Speakers | Sony | SonyStyle USA . Would it affect the sound if I had then horizontally on my wall instead of vertically? I'm a total newb with this stuff. Also, would it be better to piece together a system with those Sony speakers or just buy a complete onkyo set? If I went the Sony route, what type of center channel speaker should I get? Could I just leave it out and run no center? If I got a bunch of sony surrounds should I get a Sony sub? Would a different brand of sub sound weird with Sony surrounds? Thanks for all the help.

#9 of 22 OFFLINE   SHS

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Posted March 25 2009 - 07:57 AM

Mounting direction is not going to affect them as much as mounting them to begin with. Speakers are designed to have some space around them. Admittedly these are not top of the line bookshelves and I'm sure you are aware of that but a speaker stand will do more to bring them to life than the angle you mount them.

I don't know what center channel matches these Sonys. You may run without a center channel, it's called "ghosting the center" and your Denon should support that. However, you will notice a marked improvement when you do get a center channel.

Don't worry, we are all learning here, we will just try to keep you from wasting money, God knows most of us have done that!

The price point you are looking at here between the Onkyo and the Sony are at the level that you might not notice much difference between the two. If you could listen to each it would be better. Everyone has preferences.

The sub does not have to match the brand of the speakers. The center does need to match the model and brand of the fronts in most cases. Google "timbre matching speakers".

I still hope you look at speakers like; Axiom M3's outlet priced at ~$300 a pair Bookshelf Speakers: Millennia M3 v2 - Axiom Audio Or the SVS SBS-01 ~$209 a pair
SVSound - Speakers or the like.

I really feel like you will get more long term enjoyment out of them.
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#10 of 22 OFFLINE   FrankBooth

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Posted March 25 2009 - 11:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SHS
Mounting direction is not going to affect them as much as mounting them to begin with. Speakers are designed to have some space around them. Admittedly these are not top of the line bookshelves and I'm sure you are aware of that but a speaker stand will do more to bring them to life than the angle you mount them.

I don't know what center channel matches these Sonys. You may run without a center channel, it's called "ghosting the center" and your Denon should support that. However, you will notice a marked improvement when you do get a center channel.

Don't worry, we are all learning here, we will just try to keep you from wasting money, God knows most of us have done that!

The price point you are looking at here between the Onkyo and the Sony are at the level that you might not notice much difference between the two. If you could listen to each it would be better. Everyone has preferences.

The sub does not have to match the brand of the speakers. The center does need to match the model and brand of the fronts in most cases. Google "timbre matching speakers".

I still hope you look at speakers like; Axiom M3's outlet priced at ~$300 a pair Bookshelf Speakers: Millennia M3 v2 - Axiom Audio Or the SVS SBS-01 ~$209 a pair
SVSound - Speakers or the like.

I really feel like you will get more long term enjoyment out of them.

I could do that, but then It would take a few months before I could get it all put together. I'm not looking for a top of the line setup, just something that would work for my bedroom that isn't that big (11x14). I would get floor speakers but my room is crowded already so they're gonna have to be mounted on my wall. Whatever I get, it's gotta sound better than the shit speakers I have right now, they came with my computer about 6 years ago and have no bass whatsoever. I listen to a lot of dub and reggae tho, so If I went with that onkyo set, would it be able to reproduce the bass clearly? Has anyone heard that sub that's included with the set? Thanks

#11 of 22 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted March 25 2009 - 12:14 PM

I just came back from Best Buy and while I was there I listened to those Sony speakers. At $49 a pair the price is right and I certainly respect the opinions of the other members here, but I just feel the sound is flat and lifeless. The Insignia bookshelves sounded much better to me. Even the Polk T15's (bright sound not with-standing Posted Image ) had much more presence than the Sonys. If you have a BB near you go have a listen.

As for the Onkyo sub, they get bashed around here pretty good, but for the price I never thought they were that bad. In a room that small it should suffice. BTW, 11 X 14 might be a bit too small for a 7.1 system but that's up to you.

The 540 looks like it would be much better for music than the 750. If you do decide on an Onkyo system, I would wait for the 540 to return to stock. An e-mail to Vanns.com with an eta might be a good idea.

The idea of a good pair of bookshelves and a sub in a 2.1 setup is also a good idea, but I understand your wanting to go 7.1 right away. For $249 shipped the 540 would be hard to beat. Just keep your expectations reasonable. Here's some Onkyo 540 user reveiws from Vanns website.
"Everyday room": Panasonic 58" Plasma, Dish HD DVR, Pioneer Elite vsx-23, BDP-23 BR, dv58avi universal dvd player, Paradigm Studio 20 V1, CC-450, Dayton HSU-10 subwoofer.

"Movie/Music room": Toshiba 65" DLP, Dish HD receiver, Marantz 7005, CC-4003, BD-7006, Polk LSI25's-LSi7's-LSiC, 2 original Dayton 10" "Mighty-Mites" subwoofers. (subject to change without notice).
 
Also have  MB Quart Vera VS05 +.....too much to list. Help me.
 
 

 


#12 of 22 OFFLINE   LanceJ

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Posted March 25 2009 - 04:09 PM

Quote:
At $49 a pair the price is right and I certainly respect the opinions of the other members here, but I just feel the sound is flat and lifeless.
Well you know what they say, one man's flat-n-lifeless* is another man's neutral and e-z to listen to. Posted Image Posted Image

What can I say, I'm an Advent fan - the REAL Advent not the one that appeared after The Takeover of 1996 - so smooth and "liquid" sounding speakers are my thing, too bad they aren't around anymore but if someone has the $$$ Dynaudio and Vienna Acoustics share that overall gentle sound (along with increased detail & overall refinement [of course]). Infinity's Primus series also has a reputation for having smooth high end.

Quote:
I'm not looking for a top of the line setup, just something that would work for my bedroom that isn't that big (11x14).
Yikes, just 11x14 feet? That's the exact same size room my own HT is located in, and personally I wouldn't bother trying to set up a 7.1 system in there. 7.1 is really for wiiiiiide rooms where using just two surround speakers would create a "sonic hole" behind the listener's head.

Frank: that Sony B3000 sounded good to me also (Best buy stopped selling it though a few months ago I think), and that size of speaker is one of my favorites.........which is why I use four similar-sized bookshelf speakers for my own HT system. Boston Acoustic CR9s in the front and Pioneers in the back, all using single 8" woofers. This system was originally chosen for a 16 x 21 ft room - WAF issues forced it out Posted Image - but works out fine in the smaller one.

Speaking of smooth: Cambridge SoundWorks still sells (after nearly 20 years!) a speaker based on a classic KLH model sold in the 60s; both were designed by the same person, Henry Kloss: CSW Model Six. 150 clams per pair.

Most such speakers usually get down to the low 40s which is where the bass for a lot of rock & pop is located and so they sound quite "full" and rich. But for movie soundtracks they will be lacking - e.g. Attack Of the Clones could cause my CR9's woofers to loudly bang against their frames - so a sub will be needed for frequencies below that point.


* and gawd knows how the receiver that powered them was set up - after some bad experiences I asked the salesguy here to let me check out the Yamaha that drove the little Sonys: I set bass/treble to "0", deactivated all surround modes (Pro-Logic was turned on at the time), etc etc

#13 of 22 OFFLINE   HiDefRev

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Posted March 25 2009 - 05:18 PM

I have used the Onkyo 750 7.1 system and I believe that it is exactly what you want for your bedroom. You'll have perfectly matched speakers and a sub that will rattle your walls, should you desire. No need to wait for upgrades...though you can certainly upgrade in the future, if you want to, though I would wonder why, since this is your bedroom set-up. Posted Image

#14 of 22 OFFLINE   sestamuch

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Posted March 25 2009 - 08:19 PM

The newegg one is alright I guess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gene c
I think these are more cheap than decent but...Onkyo SKS-HT 750. And they are on sale for $296 shipped.

Then there's this one...Polk 6750. It's a 5.1 but maybe you can find another pair of the satillites for the $84 you have left over.

Here's another Onkyo system, but it's on order. Onkyo SKS-HT540.


#15 of 22 OFFLINE   Thirsty Ear

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Posted March 25 2009 - 10:12 PM

Price per channel

Trying to run a multi channel system on such a low budget means that the rear channels cost in your overall budget will rob the quality from your main front speakers. If I were you I would spend the $300 on two book shelf speakers and maybe a sub.

For my room I went with two book shelf speakers with 6.5” woofers and 1” tweeters. The room is 10’x12’x8’ and with the layout running wires around the room and speaker placement was just too much of a problem. My two speakers fill the room with sound. I also listen to more TV and music then movies so a stereo system is better for me.

I have a friend with a 5.1 HT in a box and he paid the same for what I paid for my two speakers. He has surround sound but the quality of the front sound stage is terrible compared to my setup. All of the on screen details and sound effects along with dialog are far more clear and explosive with just my to speakers. I would give up ambient sounds behind me and panning effects for better front stage sound any day (which is where most of the audio is coming from anyway).



Try buying used on ebay if price is an issue.

You can find great bookshelf speakers with 6.5” woofers for $100 to $150 a pair.

If you want a sub, I like velodyne and the VX-10 is only $163.33 at AudioAdvior

Velodyne - VX-- Subwoofer - Factory Refreshed-Audio Advisor



If go two channel first then save up later for the other channels, you will have great sound now and add to that great sound in time. Rather then spreading your money too thin across so many channels all at once. Which gets you fair to lousy sound now and for ever until you get more money down the road and have start all over again.

Yes a cheap 7.1 will sound better then your present setup but only a little better, where as two good quality bookshelf speakers will sound many times better then your present setup.

#16 of 22 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted March 25 2009 - 11:19 PM

Quote:
Well you know what they say, one man's flat-n-lifeless* is another man's neutral and e-z to listen to.
Quote:
Infinity's Primus series also has a reputation for having smooth high end.
Lance, it wasn't a lack of top end that bothered me. I thought they did a decent job of covering the frequency range. And I have Infinity Beta's in one of my rooms and luv'em. It was the stereo separation and soundstage and all that stuff that I felt were lacking. The Onkyo's also wouldn't excel in that area but they'ed have to be better than what I heard from the Sony's. But as always, everyone hears these things differently Posted Image .

The reason I'd opt for the 540 is it uses dual 5" drivers for the front three channels vs. 3" for the 750 and Polk 6750. They might be a bit large to mount on the wall but they should be much better for music.
"Everyday room": Panasonic 58" Plasma, Dish HD DVR, Pioneer Elite vsx-23, BDP-23 BR, dv58avi universal dvd player, Paradigm Studio 20 V1, CC-450, Dayton HSU-10 subwoofer.

"Movie/Music room": Toshiba 65" DLP, Dish HD receiver, Marantz 7005, CC-4003, BD-7006, Polk LSI25's-LSi7's-LSiC, 2 original Dayton 10" "Mighty-Mites" subwoofers. (subject to change without notice).
 
Also have  MB Quart Vera VS05 +.....too much to list. Help me.
 
 

 


#17 of 22 OFFLINE   LanceJ

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Posted March 26 2009 - 06:29 AM

Quote:
All of the on screen details and sound effects along with dialog are far more clear and explosive with just my to speakers. I would give up ambient sounds behind me and panning effects for better front stage sound any day (which is where most of the audio is coming from anyway).
Even though I'm a major fan of surround sound, for movies but especially music, I actually agree with this. Using five truly dreadful speakers just to be able to hear a Jedi knight's spacecraft roar over your head and in the process sacrificing overall clarity & accuracy is not a good tradeoff IMO. But Frank said right now he is using sh*tty speakers from a computer and IMO pretty much anything calling itself a bookshelf speaker from a reputable brand and used as an HT satellite would be an improvement over those.

So I guess what needs to be figured out here is what is more important to the listener: surround sound produced with five "decent" sat speakers; or no surround sound but increased clarity and accuracy by using more-than-decent sats. But when this latter choice is...er....chosen, there's the question of when that person will be able to afford more of those more-than-decent sats to finally assemble a fully functional surround system, which really means just one more pair, since the center channel has nothing to do with generating the surround soundfield itself. And with today's economy, we literally do not know what we'll be worth by tomorrow (financially speaking that is Posted Image), so that's another factor in a purchase decision like this.

For another perspective: after 7 years of pretty much everyday use (at least 4 hours per day but usually more like 8) for TV, movies and music use, my Technics SA-DA8 surround receiver finally started acting up last September. After a loud burst of static once a week/three weeks in a row, fearing for my speakers' health I pulled it from my rack and it's now sitting in my closet. Posted Image A Pioneer SX-6 stereo receiver has replaced it and while I can still hear everything with the same clarity as before*, I really do miss the envelopment aspect of a good surround mix, especially for my sci-fi movies.



* surround music is a different matter: without going into the physics of this issue, a surround mix is capable of revealing more detail in most rock/pop recordings than the stereo versions, because a surround mix literally has more physical space (the recording medium itself and the room it's played back in) in which to place individual instruments & voices. And speaker choice does not alter this aspect.

#18 of 22 OFFLINE   LanceJ

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Posted March 26 2009 - 08:08 AM

Another speaker to check out, but these have some differences some may not like.

MTX Monitor 600i


An all-black narrow floorstander with dual 6.5" woofers (they also sell a bookshelf version w/the same drivers). And for such a simple shape, I think this one looks quite nice with its partial grill and exposed large-diameter port, compared to other narrow floorstanders where the grill covers the entire front face of the speaker resulting in a rather boring & featureless box (I almost majored in architecture so I notice stuff like this Posted Image).

Sound quality: I haven't heard this particular model but in my experience, the MTX (formerly DCM) home speakers I have listened to are similar to Cerwin-Vega's speakers - they have great bass for their size, can reach high volume levels with relatively low amounts of power sent by a receiver, are built decently and don't cost much.

On the other hand........relatively speaking their bass output, while powerful and "punchy" doesn't go that low compared to other speakers of similar size*; and their overall sound can be a bit on the wild side i.e. it's not super-refined. I think of these as the Camaro Z28 of speakers: they get the job done, just without the delicate finesse of a 350Z or other more expensive model but both cars are still fun to drive.

Speakers are all about compromises, especially at lower price points, but this does not mean these or any speaker in its category is BAD, just that the potential owner has to choose which aspect he/she likes the most and choose based on that ---> bass that goes low but lacks volume & punch: mids and highs that are clean and accurate *or* not so clean/accurate relatively speaking but can be produced at high levels for long periods of time; etc etc.

* IMO that "33Hz" bass extension figure is pretty optimistic. To help create a better picture of what the speaker is actually capable of, we need something like the +/- 3dB figure other speakers usually include (at either end of its frequency extremes, the speaker is 3dB lower - or higher - than the rest of its output. A 3dB difference is defintely noticeable but not enough to radically change the sound). I am guesstimating that this speaker gets down to around 50Hz +/-3dB. Going much lower would take away from its power efficiency figure. But this is also why it takes so little power to create that punchy/powerful bass it DOES have.

#19 of 22 OFFLINE   SHS

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Posted March 26 2009 - 01:21 PM

When you finally hear better sound systems the 7.1 HTIB system you are considering will be a dissapointment. IMO and many expert sources your room is not really a candidate for 7.1 anyway. 5.1 would suffice with flying colors.

You are wanting a system that plays music AND HT. These little sats will not produce much quality sound for music reproduction. A decent set of bookslelves WILL produce decent quality music and excel in HT. You could use fairly cheap surrounds for now and then add a decent sub later.

I still stick by my advice that you will get much more enjoyment out of a system you build and piece together, even if it does take a few months to do it.

Hey, I was there, I have had a cheap surround system and I ended up discarding it soon after.I wish I would have done it this way. Now I understand completely the feeling that you want it all now and then you are "done with it". But, I really think you are just beggining with it instead.

I hope you enjoy whatever your choice is. Posted Image
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#20 of 22 OFFLINE   CB750

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Posted March 29 2009 - 05:36 AM

Trying to purchase a speaker system especially a 7.1 on such a strict budget is a real challenge. Others have given you equipment choices but I think you should first scale back your plans from a 7.1 system to a 5.1, 3.1, or even a stereo system. I would start out with fewer speakers and concentrate on getting higher quality one's.

As wealth and prosperity comes your way you can add additional compatible speakers to build your system to your 7.1 goal. This way you would have many options. Your current front speakers could be upgraded and moved to become your rear surround.

Speaker selection is the most difficult part in putting a system together. It will also afford you the opportunity for you to have a system that sounds best to your ears. Notice how many more speaker brands are on the market when compared to the number of companys making TV's, or Receivers.


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