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Seeking advice on a $1100 5.1 speaker set. Athena? Premier Acoustic? Or...? (1 Viewer)


Dec 9, 2002
Hi guys,

Long-time lurker here, but it is time for me to build an HT setup for my parents. I'm operating within some pretty significant constraints, but I hope to find an acceptable solution that will fit my requirements for functionality, the geometry of the room, and my parents' budget.

The goal is to put together a 5.1 system with a pair of full-range tower speakers, bipole / dipole surround sound speakers, a sub, and a 5.1 receiver for $1400. The reasons for towers and bipoles are due to the listening habits of my parents, and the configuration of the room. All speakers should be aesthetically pleasing, and be made by the same company, so individual boxes don't look out of place.

My questions for you guys:
1) So far, I've found an Athena system (AF-F2.2 mains, R1.2 surrounds, C1.2 center, AS-P6000 sub) that fits my budget, along with Premier Acoustic PA-6F system. Both come in at under $1100 shipped. Can either system be recommended, and will a typical $300 mid-fi receiver provide enough power for it?

What concerns me is this: Athenas are sold in Best Buy (which leads me to believe that the same level of quality can be found in other brands sold online, and for a little less money) and Premier Acoustics have generated enough controversy with their reviews that I'm more inclined to believe Luis Gabriel Gerena's negative impressions of them.

2) Below I outline the room I'm working with and my reasons for insisting on floorstanding speakers in the front and real surrounds in the back. Are there any faults in my logic, am I missing the point anywhere?

3) Are there any other alternatives for a $1100 speaker setup that you think will work in this room?

First, the listening area:
The living room itself is vaguely P-shaped, and the room is about 26 feet by 14 feet. However, the listening area is the right half of the room - 11x14 feet. The area to the left is dominated by my mom's baby grand piano (she is a piano teacher, so that was a nice tax writeoff). The two areas are not separated by any partitions or dividers - that's just the architecture of a house built in the 1970's

The living room has high ceilings - about 17 feet in the back, over the couch, sloping to 11 feet over the TV. A lot of air volume to fill.

| CTR |
| F|
| 12ft P|
| |
| |W
| 15 feet |N
---------------| |D
2ft -> |SL couch SR|W
8 ft wall

To the left of the 12ft wall is a 3 foot wide passageway into the dining room and kitchen. (the dining room is behind the listening area of the living room) There is no door.

Surround speakers will be mounted 7 feet off the ground, and will fire sideways, towards the couch

FP: Fireplace
WNDW - Window

Self-imposed design constraints:
Front speakers must be full-range towers. The system will be used for stereo music at least 30% of the time. I've always found listening to music on a small-sat / subwoofer system to be a little unsatisfying, so I want full-range fronts.

Side speakers must be dedicated surround units, not small sats. The room architecture dictates that the side speakers are on the same vertical plane as the couch, not further back, and have to be aimed inwards. So, to avoid the "I have teh speaker over my left ear yay" effect so prevalent with small sat surrounds in small rooms, and make the back speakers provide more of an enveloping atmosphere, I feel that I HAVE to use actual surrounds.

I still haven't picked out a receiver (open to recommendations!) or where I will place the subwoofer.

Other equipment in use:
LG LDA-511 upconverting DVD player
Logitech Harmony 676 remote
Sony 32" Trinitron SDTV. HDTV purchase planned in 1-2 years.

Thank you very much in advance, and I appreciate any help and advice you can give me.



Dec 20, 2005
for the front, what about Ascend Acoustics 340se's? I know you said they must be towers (and these are something between a tower and bookshelf)... but they deliver some amazing sound, especially if there will e a fair amount of music listening being done. if they must be towers for primarily aesthetic purposes, you could always get the matching stands which turns them into tower lookalikes. the 340s could be paired with htm-200s in the rear. you would probaly run just a bit over udget though.

if ascend is out of the question, then i think that athena system you have selected is pretty nice. audition it first to make sure you (they?) like it.


Dec 9, 2002
(I just realized that my ASCII map of my room has been eaten by vBulletin. I'll have to try to fix it)

Basically, there are walls to the left and right of the couch, and speakers will have to be mounted to face inwards, directly towards the couch. By using dedicated-purpose surrounds, I'm hoping to get more of a rear ambience as opposed to the "I have teh speaker over my left ear yay" effect that's so prevalent when small satellites are used as surrounds in a small room.

I'm hesitant to use bookshelves / monitors as surrounds because of the small width of the listening area, and because they will be aimed directly at the listener, mounted on the side walls.

Since Ascend doesn't offer surround speakers, and my folks insist on having a matching system for looks (and, wanting a timbre-matched system I can't disagree) I am a bit hesitant of going with regular satellites as surrounds.


Senior HTF Member
Dec 17, 2003
Here's another option -- BIC Acoustech.

I have the subwoofer from this setup and it's great. I do believe there are some greatly exaggerated claims about this setup in various reviews, but nonetheless I think it is probably a very solid contender in the price range and seems to meet all of your requirements.

It can be had with woodgrain sides or in all black.


Ivan M

Jan 28, 2001

I thought you said it was for you parents??? :)Why would it matter how you like to listen to music??? That being said, I will put a vote for Athena, I have four ASB2.2 with an ASC1.2 and a ASP400 Sub and I'm pretty happy with it. I find the B2.2 on the large side, and the F2.2's are huge. I'm only mentioning this because it's for your parents and aesthetics might be an issue. I have no problems listening to Music using only my B2s, mind you the sub is there and I usally have it on for music. As for a budget sub, I'm using a pioneer516. it's not bad at less than cochlea crushing volumes. But i'm sure someone else would have a better receiver reccomendation.


Dec 9, 2002

It's likely the subwoofer will not be placed in an optimal location, so I want to have the music handled without the sub if at all possible. Hence the emphasis on full-range speakers in front.

It looks like I'm going to have to give the Athenas more consideration :)


Stunt Coordinator
Dec 11, 2005
I have the Athena F2.2's and have been very happy with them. They are pretty solid sounding for bass, however I prefer to play them in 2.1 with a 15" sub. I would check out online dealers for them, however. I found my F2.2s for $400 /pair at audioadvisor.com and they were about $600 /pair at best buy...

Either way, they are really transparent sounding speakers, which is nice. However you also deal with the issue that if your receiver isn't really clean sounding, you'll hear the noise from the speakers (fairly high eff.) (I played these speakers with a old, yet higher end pioneer stereo receiver and it sounded much better on that than it didn on my sonn receiver with "twice the power."

Hope it helps.


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