Home Theatre on a Small Budget

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by StephenBrandon, May 20, 2005.

  1. StephenBrandon

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    I've also posted essentially the same thing over at AVSforum.com so appologies if you see this twice. This one does have some updated information though!
    Ok, in the past I've been able to use my roomates speakers to put together a good 5.1 or at times 6.1 set ups, but sadly no more.
    Anyway, I'm looking into getting some new speakers. I have a Marantz SR 7200, and I'll be setting this up in a pretty small room. (I don't have the exact dimensions, as I haven't moved into it yet, but it's fairly small, probably like... 12x14). I'm looking to set up a 5 speaker system to use for both movies and music. I'm also looking to pick up some new speaker-wire and some bannana plugs.
    Ok here's the kicker. I really don't have more than about $400-450 to spend on all of it. Yes I know that I won't really be able to "do justice" to my receiver on that budget. I managed to find it for an amazing price. For the moment I'm not as worried about getting a sub, I know i'll need/want one eventually but I can probably make due without it for a while until I can save up a little bit for one (I'm looking at the Dayton 10" over at partsexpress). Anyway, I'm looking for a 5 speaker set to last me for a little while, at least until I can afford to really upgrade.
    Anyway, I've been looking at the Fluance SX-HTB set. I was looking on their website and can get the set, along with 250 feet of 12 gauge wire, a set of bananna plugs, and shipping for about $400 (The speakers themselves are about $260.) I'm not decided just yet by any means and I'm looking for other suggestions/thoughts on the Fluances etc. My friend has the AV-HTB's which are the step just below the SX's, and I've been pretty impressed with them considering the price etc. I haven't had a chance to listen to these exact ones, but I'm hoping to soon. (They dont' have many brick and morter dealers but a few, I'm trying to find one in the DC area so I can go and really give them a listen).
    I'm also considering the slight possibility of waiting a little while longer and saving up a little bit more and putting together a more "custom" Flunance package, with some floor standers, their center speaker, and some of their surrounds or possibly bookshelves.
    I'm also now looking at getting an Athena Audition setup, as can see they're very very cheap right now, to make room for the next line of Auditions. I could put together a set of the AS-F1's, some AS-B1's for the surrounds, and an AS-C1 for the center, which comes to about $330 (plus Tax) (The Fluances plus shipping are about $330). I'd still have to find speakerwire and bananna plugs, which sadly probably won't be had for quite as cheap as on the Fluance site but I already have some decent wire and a few bannana plugs lying around, so I probalby wouldn't have to buy too much more of that stuff anyway.
    Anyway, any advise, ideas etc would be much appreciated. I've given all the info and details I can think of to help, but if there is anything else I can add to help, please feel free to ask. Also any suggestions on where to look for the best prices etc would be much appareciated.
     
  2. MichaelPR

    MichaelPR Second Unit

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    If I were you and it were my money....I'd take my money and buy a pair of Swan 2.1s.....then I would slowly piece together the rest of my system whenever I had the cash for it. I think you would be much happier in the long run if you went that way.
     
  3. John S

    John S Producer

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    If you looking at more mainstream manufactures, take a look on the Harmon Group Ebay Store. Lots of sweet by now deals there. Look for factory Refurbs with the same new product warranties / accossories / manuals / ect..ect..

    http://stores.ebay.com/Harman-Audio_...eNameZl2QQtZkm
     
  4. RyanJE

    RyanJE Second Unit

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    Are you a patient person? I ask because you can save yourself a lot of time and money by piecing this together over time rather than buying now and upgrading later, i.e. wasting your money on something your already planning on getting rid of soon.

    Spend your budget on some quality mains and piece the rest together as you can afford. Get some crappy surrounds for now.

    I say this because this because I went through the same thing you are and bought the Fluance. Then I upgraded and wished I would have just gone the piecing route in the first place.

    For example, I sold my Fluance set up and got 2 Paradigm Mini Monitors upfront. Using these with no center channel sounds much better than all 3 Fluances did up front. Also they sound excellent in stereo.

    If you have any questions about Fluance Id be happy to help but I feel you really should do yourself a favor and consider piecing together a higher quality system over time.
    Plus, this way each time you get a new piece your satisfying the upgrade bug and you dont have junk any parts of your system to do it.
     
  5. Jean D

    Jean D Screenwriter

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    I have the Fluance SX-HTB's and they are worth the money for a decent 5.1 setup on a budget. My cousin also liked the quality vs. price and got himself the same set just last week. He is very satisfied. Ive had mine for several months now and I love them.
    Worse case scenario, later down the line you want to upgrade, you can sell them and not be out a whole lot of money.
     
  6. Mark--M

    Mark--M Stunt Coordinator

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    Defenatly spend the money on good fronts and a decent center as others have reccomended. A good set of front speakers with nothing behind you will sound 10 times better then crappy speakers all around.

    Rather then have absoloutly nothing for rears i'm sure you can come across some kind of garbage speakers that wont cost anything (old portable cd player, car speakers in custom box or something??). I used a crappy set of sony cubes (they didnt even have a tweeter) for rears well over a year and to be honest, the difference was not huge when I got real speakers.

    Anyway I suggest to spend what you have on fronts and a center, try and salvage something free or extreamly cheap for rears for now and upgrade the rest down the road. I'd purchase a sub before getting decent rears as well. Its always better to do without until you can get what you really want rather then buy junk in the mean time, thats just wasting money. Good luck.[​IMG]
     
  7. StephenBrandon

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    RyanJ, MichaelPR, and Mark--M,
    I have definitely considered just trying to be patient and very slowly building a full system made up of much higher quality parts, and I realize that's probably the smarter thing to do in the end, but it's taken me a very long time to scrap together even as much money as I have to spend now, and I know that to put together a quality system will take me a LOOOONG time. I'm basically looking right now to get something decent (for what I can afford), and probably keepting it for several years before upgrading anything (ie wiating until I have a better, higher-paying job). Honestly I can only just barely justify these purchases just now to start with, I have to keep telling that little voice in the back of my head that says that I really should be saving even this money to shut up. On the other hand you do have a good point about that being a good solution to "the upgrading bug problem."
    Usually though I can hold out on the upgrading urge for a while once I have something I like, and will fill all my needs for a little while Right now I'd really like a 5 speaker system for surround sound during movies, it's been about a year since I've had surround sound as an option, and the recent realization/discovery of brands that can provide a certain level of quality for this kind of price range has got me interested in getting back to a surround system.
    However, should I let reason prevail, and go the slow rout as you all are suggestion, what would you suggest I look into for this kind of price range? Obviously the Swans have been suggested, I'll look into those, what else?
     
  8. Jean D

    Jean D Screenwriter

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    Might I add that the SX-HTB's are very elegant looking [​IMG]
     
  9. Anthony*B

    Anthony*B Stunt Coordinator

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    stephen, i say go for the Fluances...i got them & rather like them, especially for the $$$
    i think i would have been pretty unhappy had i followed the advice i so often see here about "dont waste your money on a bad 5.1 setup, just piece it together over time & get decent L + R speakers"...first of all, just because the Fluances (or Hsu's or Athenas or whatever you consider) are inexpensive doesnt mean they are "bad"...I, & I suspect many other "budget" home theater buffs really care very little about just 2 channel sound, we just want to be able to do a decent job at having some semblance of "theater-like" sound on what little money we have...if i had gone the route that many advise here, I would STILL not have surrounds OR a subwoofer & would be much less happy for it [​IMG] no offense at all to anyone here (I love this forum & the people who participate!),
    my advice: if you want a 5.1 system, get it! do your research...i think, from personal experience, that you'll be happy unless you have a "golden ear" or an overflowing pocketbook [​IMG] beleive me, if i had the dough, I would certainly have Martin Logans all around, but all things considered, im pretty darned happy w/ my Fluance / PE sub combo.. [​IMG]
     
  10. RyanJE

    RyanJE Second Unit

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    Sorry all, if you think Im bashing Fluance, but Im not. I had a Fluance set up for about a year, and while yes you do get a "whole lot for your money" you can do better if you buy high quality not high quantity.

    Its a Fact that the "sound" of Fluance cant touch any of the higher end gear out there, you get a whole lot as in a lot of wood and materials and good looks but the sound quality isnt there.

    Stephen, if you use this for mostly HT your best bet would be getting some decent quality bookshelves and a good subwoofer. I saw you were looking at Athena you could get 6 AS-B1 in your price range and still afford a good sub. This is if you have to have 5.1 now. It would actually be 6.1 with one B1 as center and rear.

    Again Im not saying Fluance is bad it just seems better than it is, All steak and no sizzle. Sorry but thats just my opinion.
     
  11. Don Scott

    Don Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    I think that the Fluance or Athena setup would be fine. You said it's been a year since you've been able to enjoy surround sound, are you willing to go another year or more? What if down the line some unexpected expenses pop up, like they usually do, whatever money that you've set aside for speakers will be used and it may be even a longer wait for surround sound. I'm not saying that the other members recommendations are wrong by any means but this is something to think about. I guess it all depends on how picky you are with your sound, are you someone always searching for a better sound and never satisfied? If you are then maybe piece by piece is the safer road to take. But you said that you liked the AV-HTB's and the SX-HTB should be a step up from that setup. The price is good and if down the line you get a higher paying job or whatever, you could upgrade if you feel the need and you could sell your old setup and not be out that much money. Until then you could have fun and enjoy your movies in surround.
    I started out with a sony HTIB, it's all I could afford at the time and I wanted 5.1 setup. It served its purpose and I enjoyed it for 2 years then when I could afford it I upgraded. Something to think about anyway, good luck!
     
  12. MichaelPR

    MichaelPR Second Unit

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    I honestly think you'd be happier right now with a pair of quality front speakers like the Swans 2.1 and use some crappy back speakers as surrounds. Then when the time comes add a PB10ISD from SVS. I don't think you will be missing much going without that center....you can use the two fronts to phantom the center...which the Swans do an excellent job of...I used to have a Paradigm CC170...when my swans came to replace my titans I used the CC170 as my rear and phantomed the center until I could get the Swan C3 center....It honestly sounded better than with the CC170....so take that as you will. Either way I am sure that you will enjoy whatever choice you make!
     
  13. StephenBrandon

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    Sorry accidentily posted this before it was done. is there a way to delete replys?
     
  14. StephenBrandon

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    Ok first, Michael,
    How much are the Swans anyway? I will start looking into them but honestly don't know much of anything about the company or their products.

    Ok, next item: I went to Best Buy yesterday to check out the Athena's that are on clearance and got a chance to listen to the F1's a bit. I liked them quite a bit and actually plan on heading out there again later today with some of my own CD's to check out their performance on my own music. I'm leaning toward picking them up this afternoon too as they're out of stock, but I can get the floor models for about $150 for the pair (that's like 25% off of the sale price!) there is some scratching on the side of the case and such but it's not really horribly noticable and doesn't really make much of a difference to me. I checked out the feet and the binding posts, and as I said got a chance to listen to them a bit and was pretty impressed with them. I'm still not totally sure if I want to get them just yet, but it's looking more and more likely. For $75 each I'm pretty tempted. They were out of the C1's, but I've alrady chacked and found I can order that online pretty easily. If I decide to to get the Athena's I'm thinking I'll get the C1 just so it'll be timber matched with the other tww fronts. For the surround speakers I think I'm actually going to pass up the B1's becuase after thinking about the room they're going to be in, they may be a little too big (read deep) for my purposes. Instead I think I may order the Fluance surround speakers (bi-polar etc), as they are supposed to be pretty excellent surrounds and they are much less deep (only about 5.5 inches) which will work for the setup I'm putting them in much better than the 9.5" deep B1's. The room is not ideal, and I'm probably going to have to be hanging one of these on a door, (luckily not one that has to be opened and closed all that often) and the thinner the better so it's less likely to be smacked into the wall everytime the door is opened. Plus I would like to be able to try out at least one Fluance product on my own and these seem like a pretty good choice.

    Oh and one more thing, What sort of connections would you all suggest I use? I am a big fan of Bananna plugs and will probalby use them for all the connections to my receiver, but on the other end I noticed the Athena's wont' take Bananna plugs, so would you all think I should just put bare speakerwire in there? Or is there another kind of connection I should attach to the speaker wire to use? I honestly don't know all that much about these sorts of connections, just that I really like the convenience of Bananna plugs. (That is one point if favor of the Fluances, they all have bannna plug compatible gold plated binding posts)
     
  15. MichaelPR

    MichaelPR Second Unit

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    The Swans are over at theAudioInsider.com...They are $300 if you go for the black cherry finish. As for connections what you use to terminate won't really effect your sound quality. It will just make hooking things up or disconnecting things alot easeir. Ande might I also suggest some 12ga speaker wire.
     
  16. Don Scott

    Don Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    From athena's website:

    "So are they really easy to hook up?

    The hook-up for a pair of athena TECHNOLOGIES™ AUDITION series speakers is simple, and flexible. The connectors on the back are high quality gold plated 5-way binding posts, that accept either bare wire, pin type connectors, or banana-type connectors. You are free to use the best wire and connectors the industry has to offer. Your athena TECHNOLOGIES™ AUDITION series speakers are up to the task."
     
  17. StephenBrandon

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    Well then, I'll have to take another look at the binding posts on the ones I looked at, I couldn't see a way to connect bananna plugs, there seemed to be some red and black tips on the binding posts that would prevent one from plugging a bannana tip in, maybe those are removable or something...
     
  18. Don Scott

    Don Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    Those little caps were on my JBLs as well. Just unscrew the knob until it comes off then remove the caps then screw the knobs back on all the way.
     
  19. StephenBrandon

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    Don Scott,
    Thanks!
     
  20. Kenneth Harden

    Kenneth Harden Screenwriter

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    Yeah, those caps come right off. Easy as...somthing.

    Yeah, get two or three (stere pair - or stereo pair and a center) GOOD speakers, and find some lame rears, and you will be good to go!

    In out downstairs system, we have some 2-way KLH surrounds (4" 'woofer' with a WIZZER CONE! and a ~3/8" poly tweeter) - they do very well for surrounds.
     

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