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With only a $1,500 budget for speakers, what do you recommend?


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#1 of 21 OFFLINE   ews2001

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Posted July 03 2013 - 08:35 AM

I have about $1,700 that I can put towards getting a 7.1 surround sound speaker package for my home theater room (13'6" wide x 20' deep).  The purpose of the theater room and what we enjoy breaks down to 50% movies, 25% TV-watching, 15% gaming and 10% listening to all kinds of music.  Haven't picked up the amp yet, but it will have ~100 watts per channel RMS.

 

At the moment, this is the package I've come up with:

 

Polk Audio Tsi500 x 2 (front) => $700

Polk Audio CS20 (center) => $225

Polk Audio RC85i (left & right surround) - I have to use in-wall for my side surrounds because there's very little walkway room with my sectional couch to fit in 13' 6" => $170

Polk Audio PSW505 (sub) => $230

Polk Audio Tsi200 x 2 (rear) => $350

 

Total => $1,675

 

Any changes you'd make to my existing package?

 

I've listened to both Polk Audio and Klipsch speaker packages around my budget range at Best Buy and would be satisfied with either.

 

Are there other brands I should look at where I can hit my budget target?  Klipsch is nice, but that seems to put me around $1,800+ for a reference 5.2-type setup.  BIC? Others?



#2 of 21 OFFLINE   ews2001

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Posted July 03 2013 - 08:39 AM

I just noticed my subject says $1,500 and post says $1,700...it is $1,700 that I have to work with...



#3 of 21 ONLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted July 03 2013 - 08:57 AM

The Polks should serve you well and if you've listened to them and like them, they offer decent performance.

 

I would reconsider the sub, though.  You can get better value elsewhere, and most speaker makers do a marginal job with subwoofers anyway.

 

Your budget, though, falls right around the point where there's a gap in terms of price/performance.  Some good options in the $200-300 range, then not a whole lot until you really jump up in price.

 

You could consider the 12" Lava sub (less than $300 if they still offer a HTF member discount).

The Bic F12 is frequently recommended and is considered by many to be the best under $200 subwoofer out there.

 

I think both of those will outperform the Polk.

 

Folks around here love SVS, but you're looking at $500 just to start shopping there.

 

One other option may be going 5.1 with a high-performance subwoofer (like SVS or similar) to start and add the rear surrounds at a later point.  This approach would mean you'd "buy once" all around, rather than upgrade/replace later on.  7.1 is becoming more common, though, and if your room geometry is conducive to 7.1, then it can be a compelling option.


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#4 of 21 OFFLINE   ews2001

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Posted July 03 2013 - 09:20 AM

Some great points.

 

What would you suggest if I was to only get 2 fronts, a center and a sub?  I have some spare speakers that I could use in the meantime for rear channels and I could hold off on the left/right surrounds.  Is $1,700 enough for a "higher end" speaker package with just 2 fronts/center/sub for now?

 

Either way, if I choose Polk, I will go with either the Lava or Bic sub.

 

I am more drawn towards the "buy once" idea...

 

What would you recommend if I was to go this route?



#5 of 21 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 03 2013 - 09:42 AM

If you were to go that route...use existing for the surrounds...upgrade those later on...

 

Polk RTi A7

 

The RTi and LSi(the fronts, without center, would eat the budget) are speakers you'd be proud to own the next 25 years. The TSi, while good, will have you "wanting something more" in 5 years.

 

But, my choice if you chose to "buy three" now...upgrade the sub into the $500-$700 range. Before you buy new...check Craigslist, Ebay and Audiogon. You can search Ebay and Audiogon by "nearest to you" to avoid shipping. Sometimes the best deal is something used that is too good to pass up.

 

And, if we knew where you were, we could help you look. We do not have a problem if you find stuff on Craigslist and post here to get opinions. Ebay is "not allowed to link"(I do it though...and not been told to stop...), but you can say "I found X on Ebay locally...what do you think about it for Y dollars?"...



#6 of 21 OFFLINE   ews2001

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Posted July 03 2013 - 09:51 AM

Good idea, I'll keep an eye out for some RTi or LSi's near me (Austin, TX).

 

As food for thought, here is another option that came out right at $1,700.  This provides a 5.1 setup for now, then I could add the 2 surrounds later.

 

Klipsch KF-28 x2 => $900
Klipsch Icon 5-1/4" center => $250
Lava LSP12 Sub => $300
Klipsch Icon 5-1/4" bookshelf (pair) => $250

Total: $1,700

 

Any reason the Polk package looks better/worse than this one?

 

And now to do some Craigslist/eBay hunting!


Edited by ews2001, July 03 2013 - 09:51 AM.


#7 of 21 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 03 2013 - 09:57 AM

Houston is a Craigslist goldmine. I've driven down there to pick stuff up to bring to the Chicago market. 

 

I buy/sell AV equipment for (part of) my living. I usually pick it up at estate sales.

 

And Klipsch is a love it or hate it proposition. I would never own the Synergy line(costs too much compared to BIC PL), but you went to the reference line anyway. 

 

Another interesting tidbit...you could buy a pair of the LSi(or stick with TSi) and a pair of Klipsch and do your own A/B comparo at home...then return the ones you liked least. In store demo is not conducive to speaker buying.

 

By the way, if you are honest to the sales people(or clerks at Best Buy) and say "I'm taking a few speakers home to see which I like best"...they'll typically look for open-box/returns and sell them to you for a 10%(or more) discount anyway. Then you won't feel so bad for returning anything. And if you tell them you are going to do that, the sales people can tone down their "this is why you buy this one" market-speak.



#8 of 21 ONLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted July 03 2013 - 10:00 AM

What would you suggest if I was to only get 2 fronts, a center and a sub?  I have some spare speakers that I could use in the meantime for rear channels and I could hold off on the left/right surrounds.  Is $1,700 enough for a "higher end" speaker package with just 2 fronts/center/sub for now?

 

The front three and the subwoofer are what matter the most, so focusing your budget there first, with an eye towards expanding later will ultimately yield a much superior system.

 

Also, just so you're clear, the "side surround" speakers are the ones used for typical 5.1 setups. The "rear/back surrounds" are the extra speakers that a 7.1 setup provides.  I only mention this because if you do opt to start with 5.1 and are configuring a 7.1 AVR for 5.1 playback (many folks do that) you'll really confuse the auto setup/calibration tools if you connect speakers to the "rear surrounds" while leaving the "side surrounds" empty.  Maybe they've gotten better/smarter since my last AVR upgrade, but just in case.

 

Klipsch have a pretty distinctive sound to them (horn tweeters vs dome), so be sure you have a chance to do some extended listening before you make your final decision.  Go with whatever sounds best to you.


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#9 of 21 OFFLINE   Gerald LaFrance

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Posted July 03 2013 - 03:33 PM

yes for speakers you will need to get out there and listen to a few.. As for the Sub I would budget a bit more and if WAF is an issue look into a ID sub, HSU, SVS.. OR if you really want a good sub DIY..

For the Sub do you want Pure SPL or a How low can you go type..

For Pure SPL a Horn Sub is hard to beat.. for Low with decent SPL a Ported sub.. Sealed I have never heard but they some like them over the other 2??

I myself preferred the ported.. I built a IXL 18.4 Cabinet that monster does not disappoint Im in the process of building its Twin..

Edited by Gerald LaFrance, July 03 2013 - 03:35 PM.

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#10 of 21 OFFLINE   Mr645

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Posted July 04 2013 - 03:10 AM

I also say go with 5.1 at most and put a little more of the budget into the front three and sub if you can.  There is even something to be said for a serious 2 channel system with sub that can be really impressive. 

 

But the extra 2 speakers to go from 5.1 to 7.1 I feel are something that can be added later and add the least bang for the buck



#11 of 21 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted July 04 2013 - 07:13 AM

I also agree with the suggestions to consider dropping to a 5.1 system, and putting more money into the sub.

Maybe things have changed. I don't recall seeing great $200 subs a few years ago. But I see some suggestions here for options there.

#12 of 21 OFFLINE   Type A

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Posted July 05 2013 - 07:08 PM

Welcome to the forum Evan :)

With your listening habits I would skip towers all togeather and spend the savings on a good sub. If 10% of your listening is music then 90% of the time towers will be wasted. Get good book shelf speakers that go to 60 hz and if possible (you have the vertical clearance) skip the center channel design and make all three fronts identical book shelf speakers. $500 and up is the sweet spot for subs.  Spend properly now and youll never need to upgrade and you will have a true sub that goes below 20 Hz from the very beginning.  SVS, Hsu, Outlaw are all great sub choices.


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#13 of 21 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted July 06 2013 - 08:26 AM

Can you build a box?  A set of quality DIY speakers and a sub are easily in your budget.



#14 of 21 OFFLINE   ews2001

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Posted July 08 2013 - 06:13 AM

Wow, some interesting feedback.  If I'm to take the collective suggestions on this thread I would say:

 

#1 Spend a good $500 or so on a really good sub

#2 Spend the rest on the front channels and center, add the rest as time allows

 

So, are floor-standing speakers really about the music and that I just need 3 good bookshelf speakers for my movie/TV watching, that's the first time I had heard that advice?



#15 of 21 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 08 2013 - 06:41 AM

There is a longtime fundamental argument...that will forever rage on...

Large speakers(if talking the same brand/line) are more efficient than their littler siblings. But, smaller speakers are more accurate.

Yes you can find the rare series of speakers where the tower speaker is less efficient than the bookshelf.

Back before the 80s, when the only woofer material was paper, sure a 6" woofer was more accurate than a 12". But this is 2013.

The weight advantage of a 5" woofer over an 8"(cause those have become the favored sizes) is negligible. Therefor both should be "equally accurate"...if both are constructed the same way.

But, the longtime "drag racing adage" still holds...

There is no replacement for displacement.

I always will recommend the largest speakers you can live with in all 5/7/9 spots.

#16 of 21 OFFLINE   Type A

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Posted July 08 2013 - 07:15 AM

Wow, some interesting feedback.  If I'm to take the collective suggestions on this thread I would say:

 

#1 Spend a good $500 or so on a really good sub

#2 Spend the rest on the front channels and center, add the rest as time allows

 

So, are floor-standing speakers really about the music and that I just need 3 good bookshelf speakers for my movie/TV watching, that's the first time I had heard that advice?

 
 
This is in general terms.
 
A tower will be superior to a bookshelf/sub combo, but only slightly.  However this superior performance is in very specific areas that don't apply to a medium-sized home theater. The benefits of a tower are two fold; greater audio range and higher sonic pressure.  In other words a tower will go lower and get louder.  This benefit is derived from a larger cabinet, and/or larger drivers, and/or more drivers to share the sonic load.  If you want to take advantage of a tower's ability to go lower and get louder you had best be prepared to feed it good power, the lower you ask a speaker to go the more power it will require to achieve it.  
 
Now the caveats. No tower will achieve the depth that a sub will achieve.  The only way to achieve "full range", in a home theater application, is with a sub.  Also consider that placement of speakers in a surround sound environment are very specific to properly create a sound field.  This placement may not be the best choice for bass response, making a bookshelf/sub combo that much more flexible. Sound becomes very directional above 80 Hz, this is why speaker placement is critical and why a 80 Hz crossover is generally recommended.  Book shelf speakers are smaller, lighter and easier to place.  Depending on manufacture and design it is also possible that a bookshelf will image better and provide better mid range performance verses its bigger tower brother. Im sure thats open to debate but it kinda makes sense that the simpler the design (fewer drivers and more simple crossover) the easier it is to get multiple driver integration correct and create a more seamless sound.  Finally, book shelf speakers are cheaper than towers and often cheaper than center channel speakers.
 
Keep in mind that center channel design has come a long ways, and has improved drastically,  but a different speaker for your center channel will always be some kind of a compromise.  Here is an excellent guide created by Big Daddy, its lengthy and a little sciency but its a great read to understanding the benefits of an identical front stage:
 

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#17 of 21 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 08 2013 - 08:53 AM

But, when it comes to imaging. Towers can be set 40hz(or 60) adding in a MBM aspect. Hsu makes a dedicated MBM.

So, if you've got 7 speakers all capable to 40hz...you subwoofer can be left alone and play down deep, where it does its best work.

Find me a capable subwoofer <35hz that doesn't become a mess by 60hz...for under $800.

#18 of 21 OFFLINE   Type A

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Posted July 08 2013 - 09:35 AM

Thats pretty picky for a $1700 system Sam. Personally Ive never liked a crossover that low, towers or not. But to each his own I suppose.
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#19 of 21 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 08 2013 - 09:47 AM

With his Onkyo, the 3 main pairs(and center) can all be on their own crossover...while the sub sits at 80,

 

So his main pair can sit at 40(I think...been awhile since I've seen the lowend -3 of that speaker) alleviating all of the bass going to the sub. From 40> the towers will help the subwoofer...evening out the bass.

 

How many times here it is recommended to do two subs???



#20 of 21 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 08 2013 - 10:01 AM

By the way, that is what is great about this hobby.

 

There are no incorrect answers. There are the "wrong ways to do things"...but those are easy. Once set up to your taste...the fine tuning is whatever you want it to be.

 

Keep in mind I listen to a lot of SACD/DVD-A.






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