I'd say this is my two cents on the "micro speaker/subwoofer" home theater speakers. However, I know so little about it that I'm pretty sure my opinion's not quite worth two cents. I'm the ultimate newbie. I didn't even know what a SPL meter was, let alone how to use one. I don't have a very good vocabulary for describing sound, so please bear with me. Please comment and/or provide suggestions. I haven't bought anything yet. If you think I'm going down an "perilous path" with my selections, let me know. Is there a better way to go about comparing speaker systems? Overall Impression: Almost all of the systems seem to be able to handle the "home theater" function. All of them appeared to me to have enough bass for the "action/adventure" genre films that the sales folk like to demo. I could hear significant differences between speaker systems when listening to music. Unfortunately, I had to go to a number of different places to hear all the speakers. It seemed to me to be very hard to compare speakers when each place had a different setup and room size. In general, most of the systems that I listened to sounded a little more "harsh" than when I compared them to the sound of a system with larger (and in most cases more expensive) speakers. I explained it to my wife as the difference between drinking a good young cabernet sauvingon and a excellent mature complex cabernet sauvingon. Not a perfect analogy, but the best I have at the moment. (I'm a better drinker than listener). Note: Almost all of the systems seemed like they had way too much bass when I first listened to a CD. In many cases, I had to ask the salesperson to turn down the bass. I guess movie sound effects are more impressive with a heavy infusion of bass. To my ears, many of these systems sound pretty bad with bass settings are cranked all the way up. Is there a vast difference between salespeople in the business? Some guys appeared to know every detail and nuance of all the systems. At other stores, the salespeople seemed to only know the difference in price and had a very difficult time getting the systems configured properly. Assuming the systems are similarly priced, does the receiver manufacturer make a significant difference in the sound? Would a typical casual listener notice the difference between receivers with the speaker systems I listed below. My Speaker Systems Notes: 1. B&W LM-1 with a B&W Sub that I don't remember the name of. I liked the sound of these alot. They sounded very clear, but not as harsh as some of the other systems. If I shut my eyes, I got a good sense of where instruments were located on an imaginary stage. They sounded quick. Not as harsh as most of the other systems. A little too big but pretty cool looking to my eyes. Integra 9.1? Receiver Sound 8, Appearance 6. 2. Boston Acoustics System 9500. Great with movies, very dynamic. Sounds a little harsh (shrill?) at louder levels. Nice size but a little boring. Yamaha RXV-3000 receiver. Sound 6.5, Appearance 7. 3. Boston Acoustics System 9000 II. Very Good with movies, very dynamic. A little less bass then the 9500. Otherwise, very similar sound. Very similar look to 9000. Yamaha RXV-3000 receiver. Sound 6, Appearance 7. 4. Energy Take 5.2. Heard in a different room than Boston Acoustics. However, it sounded very similar. Maybe a little less bass punch. Definitely sounded "cheaper" (tinny) than some of the other systems I listened to. Sound 5, Appearance 6. 5. Energy Encore. Bigger Speakers...But I really liked the sound of this system. Definitely the choice of the two Energy systems. Satellites seemed well integrated with bass. Richer more complex sound. Liked significantly better than Kef system. The big shiny speakers won't fit well with my wife's plan. Sound 8.5, Appearance 5. 6. Bose Lifestyle 35. Terrible listening environment. Great satellite speaker size. Got the feeling I was being pressured to make a decision. DVD Demo sounded impressive. Sales people didn't want to spend much time with me so I didn't get a real good impression of how they sounded with music. Sound 5, Appearance 8 7. Definitive Tech Cinema Pro Cinema 100. These had a terrible hissing, crackling popping sound. I'm guessing the speakers were damaged, but, the salesperson seemed to think they were ok. All of the people that I was with heard the same sounds. It even sounded like it was having problems while listening to a movie. They are a nice size, if a little boring to look at. Sound 3, Appearce 6 8. Kef 2005. Listened to these in the same session as products from Energy. I didn't really care for them a whole lot. I definitely liked the Encore system better. The Encore system seemed simultaneously warmer and more focused. However, the KEF system appeared to do pretty well when you weren't sitting directly in the center of the room. Nice size, kind of wierd looking to my eye. A little too George Jetson. Sound 6, Appearance 5. Unknown Onkyo Receiver 9. Paradigm Cinema 90. Same store as definitive tech system. Sounded a little harsh at high levels. Bass didn't seem well integrated with satellites but at least no hissing, cracking, popping sound. Listening is constantly interupted by someone playing James Taylor somewhere else in the store. Starting to think it's not the speaker system but, instead the system is setup properly. I'm getting the feeling the people at this store are pretty clueless. Very impressive when listening to the effects on "The Fast and the Furious." Denon 2802 10. Gallo Micro Systems. These seem softer and less harsh than the other systems. Sound excellent when listening to female vocals. Initially, the bass was over bearing. This was corrected by adjusting the level on the powered subwoofer. Smaller demo room than some of the others. Very cool looking particularly in stainless. Don't care for the stands. NAD Receiver..not sure of model Sound 8, Looks 9. Conclusion: I really liked the Gallo system. Excluding price, it was the best compromise between sight and sound. To me, the Gallo's seemed more mellow than most of the other offerings. I really liked the sound of the Energy Encore. It's just a little to "big and shiny" for the room. Now, if I can just get some of you experts to suggest an appropriate receiver for the gallos, I'll be all set. Feel free to skip this stuff if you want...it's just some background info. Background: In the process of redoing our family room, I convinced my wife to let me install a home theater system (60% movies/40% music). Our family room is pretty small; roughly 14x14x9 and pretty irregularly shaped. Prior to looking for speakers, I already decided that I was not going to replace the "display device." I already own a 2001(?) 32" WEGA Sony TV which seems to fit the scale of the room. My original thought was to get one of the Sony "Dream" systems or the Bose Lifestyle system. My wife liked the Bose system when we saw the demo at one of the outlet stores. She really liked the fact that the speakers were so small that they didn't dominate the asthetics of the room. The moral of the story; no big speakers need apply and no black boxes. To make a long story short, my buddy suggested that the "integrated" systems didn't perform as well as the "component systems." He suggested that I go with him to a "high end" audio/ home theater stores and "demo" some systems. Needless to say, I went with him and listened to systems that sounded much better than the Sony or Bose offerings. Being anal retentive, I had listen to "a whole bunch" of systems before I picked one. Listening Habits: I'm no audiophile or videophile. I've never really even had a good stereo system. I did grow up with a family with eclectic taste in music. My dad loves swing music, Benny Goodman, Les Brown, Glenn Miller... My brother, the keyboard player, was always blaring Emerson, Lake and Palmer, some kind of early R&B song. My mom only listens to country and gospel music. I mostly listen to jazz; Early Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck Stan Getz, and Dexter Gordon. I like vocal music from Diana Krall, Chet Baker, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra,Rebecca Pidgeon and Nat King Cole. I like some classical music and will occasionaly go to the symphony. When I get a chance, I'll listen to some more modern groups. Over recent years, I've liked the Wallflowers, Smashing Pumpkins, Blink 182, Lenny Kravitz, Gravity Kills, Sheryl Crow, and Santana.