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The Official "What Speakers or Subwoofer Should I Buy" Assistance Thread (4 Viewers)

theJman

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I am about to finish our unfinished basement, and I have an area designated for a 'home theatre'.

View attachment 81148 .

Now that's a man cave! HT, poker table, wet bar, office, that place is tricked out. Those images were a great help in visualizing the space and your situation. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.


I need to go with in-wall speakers to keep it cosmetically/wife friendly.

In-wall speakers, also called architectural speakers, are not a popular option so it might be difficult to get many recommendations. The reason being they sacrifice sound quality for appearance so there's not a huge market for them. Speaker designers spend countless hours trying to minimize the size of the front baffle on their speakers in order to mitigate the issues from reflected soundwaves, something that tends to wreck havoc on what our ears hear. Speakers mounted flush turn the entire wall into a front baffle, the exact opposite of what you want. For surrounds and Atmos speakers the issue is less of a concern as they individually only contribute a small portion of the soundtrack, but the front 3 really shouldn't be in-walls as they provide the lions share. If you have no option then try to find speakers that have their own baffle rounded or canted at an angle. That might ameliorate the problem to some extent.

Assuming the picture is mostly to scale... no matter what you get, I would suggest you move the left and right closer to the TV than the corners. Were they placed in those locations for real the impact to overall sound quality would not be limited to just having a massive front baffle. Another consideration is the center, it's too low. That speaker needs to be at eye level, not knee level. If you ultimately can't do anything about that then ensure the speaker chosen can at least be angled upwards. You don't want voices being directed at the coffee table.

If you end up having to go the in-wall route here are some companies that make architectural speakers...
For highly regarded in-ceiling check out RSL.


Room Size: 12'2" x 19',4"

And to continue with the theme of "news you probably don't want to hear" (sorry)... if bookshelf speakers are considered unacceptable, what's the size limit on the subwoofer? Your above quoted room size isn't accurate in this case, not as far as a subwoofer is concerned anyway. If aimed correctly you can - to an extent - get away with speakers too small for the application/room, but that doesn't apply to a subwoofer I'm afraid. The physics of it is a sub will 'see' the entire volume of open space and try to fill it, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. That means the poker area and office space are in play, and when that gets calculated into the equation it's a very large area. A subwoofer equals the area; small area small sub, large area large sub (or more often in the case of the latter, subwoofers plural). Based upon where the windows are it suggests a basement environment, and if so the word "concrete" is likely going to be some or most of the room construction. That makes the problem 10x worse as an inert substrate sucks the life out of bass waves. In order to combat that you need to throw a lot of large drivers and powerful amplifiers at the problem. Like with some other things, size matters. ;)
 

NathanEddy

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Hi everyone! I'm putting together my first "real" home theater, from scratch. Real = not dirt cheap. I'm not even sure where to begin with questions, so I'll just fill in the blanks:

What are you looking for (Speakers, Subwoofer or Both)? Both. I like Paradigm, but open to suggestions.

Primary Use: 60% Music, 40% TV & Movies

Desired Configuration: 5.1 minimum, but the more the better.

Room Size: 19'4" x 14'8"

Is the room open to other areas of your home: Yes, the back is open to the kitchen

Do you already have an AV receiver or amplifier? Yes, but in desperate need of upgrade.

What's your budget (low to high): $3000-$5000.

Any special requirements (Wife Acceptance)? My money, my speakers. :)
 

JohnRice

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Emphasis on music is an important factor for you. That makes a difference. Paradigm is an excellent choice, and they have a wide range of speakers to choose from. Currently, my personal suggestion to try is also the ELAC Debut 2, or the new UniFi 2 line, taking you to the higher end of your budget. I think ELAC is currently having a huge sale on the Debut 2s. Subwoofers I would suggest looking at a sealed sub (again, the music emphasis), but even ported ones. HSU and SVS have models in your range, which is probably going to be $500-700.

For a receiver, there were recently some closeouts on the Marantz SR6014, but they're probably all gone by now.

If you want to coax your budget a little (still might be workable with sale Debuts) a reputable seller in Colorado has the Marantz SR7013 on closeout for $1,600.
 

IrishODocks

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Greetings!

I have just started planning and building a home theater room in my basement, but am already on the look out for the best set of speakers for my room. Hopefully the little questionnaire below will provide the required outline but I am happy to provide more details if required.

What are you looking for (Speakers, Subwoofer or Both)? Speakers

Primary Use: 10% Music, 90% TV & Movies

Desired Configuration: 5.1.4 (I already have brand new Russound 6.5" in-ceilings with a pivoting tweeter that I had bought many years ago but never ended up using. I know I would ideally have the same brand of speakers all around, but I am less worried as they will be the Atmos speakers).

Room Size: 10' wide x 16' long

Is the room open to other areas of your home: No

Do you already have an AV receiver or amplifier? No, but I've got my eyes on the Denon AVR-X3600H (99% confirmed).

What's your budget (low to high): $2000-$2500 CAD

Any special requirements (Wife Acceptance)? I would rather have floorstanding speakers at the front. Quality of sound is paramount, but I also want to "feel" the film scores. Also, the sub will most likely be a SVS PB-1000 (again, 99% confirmed).

I have done some research as to what is available in my country within the price range above that would also fit my criteria and came up with a short list of 3 potential contenders. I would like to know what would be the best option in your opinion or if it only comes down to personal preference with no particular option standing out more than another or no big red flag for either option. Obviously, if I over looked another potential option from other brands in same right price range, I am all ears :)

1- Emotiva
Fronts: T2+, Surrounds: B1+, Centre: C2+
Pros: Centre channel seems to be the most robust and highest quality on this list as well as general appreciation for the fronts and centre (could not find any contraindication for them).
Cons: A bit on the expensive side on my side of the border with relatively difficult to estimate duty fees and taxes, although shipping to Canada itself is free.

2- SVS
Fronts: Prime Tower, Surrounds: Prime Satellite (or Bookshelves?), Centre: Prime Centre
Pros: Sub and speakers would all be the same brand. Cheapest option on my list according to my findings. They are also available with a local retailer, therefore I could buy them directly from the store rather than making a blind (deaf?) purchase online.
Cons: Swapping the Satellites for the Bookshelves would place this option on the high end of my budget.

3- KEF
Fronts: Q950, Surrounds: Q150, Centre: Q250c
Pros: The KEF Q series seems to be an all-around good pick.
Cons: Definitely on the higher end of my budget, even when downgrading to the Q150s and Q250c. Some comments mentioned that the Q950 could also be overkill/too loud for a small theater room like mine.

Thank you all in advance for your input!
 

theJman

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Great amount of detail, thanks for providing that. It's very helpful to have a full understanding of the situation.


Desired Configuration: 5.1.4 (I already have brand new Russound 6.5" in-ceilings with a pivoting tweeter that I had bought many years ago but never ended up using. I know I would ideally have the same brand of speakers all around, but I am less worried as they will be the Atmos speakers).

Pros: Sub and speakers would all be the same brand.

Using speakers and/or subwoofers from the same manufacturer is not required. While you want at least the front 3 to be from the same company - and even from the same product line - the rest are less critical. You should be fine using the Russound speakers.

Primary Use: 10% Music, 90% TV & Movies
Room Size: 10' wide x 16' long
Any special requirements (Wife Acceptance)? I would rather have floorstanding speakers at the front. Quality of sound is paramount, but I also want to "feel" the film scores. Also, the sub will most likely be a SVS PB-1000 (again, 99% confirmed).

If you want to "feel" film scores you are going to need a larger subwoofer than a PB1000. That model is 8 years old now so it's no longer current tech. It's still a solid product, just not the value it once was. Also, a single 10" driver can only do so much. To really get that immersive experience you should be looking at 15" subs instead. At the very least, high-end 12" ported. If you're 90% TV/Movies you won't regret going larger there.


I have done some research as to what is available in my country within the price range above that would also fit my criteria and came up with a short list of 3 potential contenders.

1- Emotiva
2- SVS
3- KEF

Good choices for sure. One note on the KEF's... concentric drivers, like the Uni-Q, can provide amazing detail (I'm a big fan of them myself and own more than one set) but they can be position sensitive. With a center channel that's less of an issue - because it is facing right at you - but the L/R need to be angled correctly in order to get the full benefit. It's not hard, and certainly not a deal breaker, just something to consider.

Another potential option are the Chane speakers. Not a household name - and not the prettiest to look at - but they are an extremely good value. Their stock-in-trade is exquisite detail and precision. I reviewed an earlier series and was very impressed with what they were capable of so I'm sure with all the updates since then they are even better.
 

IrishODocks

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If you want to "feel" film scores you are going to need a larger subwoofer than a PB1000. That model is 8 years old now so it's no longer current tech. It's still a solid product, just not the value it once was. Also, a single 10" driver can only do so much. To really get that immersive experience you should be looking at 15" subs instead. At the very least, high-end 12" ported. If you're 90% TV/Movies you won't regret going larger there.

That's a very interesting point. At this price point, I had only heard good things on the PB1000 so far. The challenge becomes budget-related, because I figure if I move to high-end 12" or even 15" I will be well over the $1,000 bar if not over $2,000, correct? This would therefore throw my 3 speaker options out the window. If my assumption is correct, I will want to correct my statement and clarify that although I would ideally like to "feel" the film scores, overall sound quality is a higher priority. I can always upgrade later on, so that's a less of a concern to me. However, I am definitely interested to hear about what options I should consider if any that would not bust my budget.

Another potential option are the Chane speakers. Not a household name - and not the prettiest to look at - but they are an extremely good value. Their stock-in-trade is exquisite detail and precision. I reviewed an earlier series and was very impressed with what they were capable of so I'm sure with all the updates since then they are even better.

I had a quick look at the Chane Speakers and for some reason, I only see the A series available on their website, but maybe this is the only one they have available? Also, all their speakers are out of order and from what I'm reading, it's been like this for almost 2 years now :(
 

JohnRice

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I had a quick look at the Chane Speakers and for some reason, I only see the A series available on their website, but maybe this is the only one they have available? Also, all their speakers are out of order and from what I'm reading, it's been like this for almost 2 years now :(
Since you're in Canada, you certainly should look into Paradigm speakers. A wide variety available.

On the sub issue, if you really want to feel it, you'll definitely want to raise your budget. I'd check out Hsu. I suspect they'll be the cheapest that will be getting into what you want.

BTW, I have the SVS SB-2000 in my living room, and while it's a very nice sub for the price, it won't rock your world, so the PB-1000 certainly won't. I'm perfectly happy with it in that system, but it would never come close to suitable in my good system.
 

IrishODocks

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Since you're in Canada, you certainly should look into Paradigm speakers. A wide variety available.

On the sub issue, if you really want to feel it, you'll definitely want to raise your budget. I'd check out Hsu. I suspect they'll be the cheapest that will be getting into what you want.

BTW, I have the SVS SB-2000 in my living room, and while it's a very nice sub for the price, it won't rock your world, so the PB-1000 certainly won't. I'm perfectly happy with it in that system, but it would never come close to suitable in my good system.

Again, with Paradigm and/or going bigger on the sub side means busting my budget. For one, I think it's not worth considering anything below the Premier series with Paradigm, which takes the bill to $3,400 without the sub. Also, the PB-2000 Pro is $500 more than the PB-1000 and although I could potentially manage to make this fit in my budget, this would limit my options with regards to speakers.

Keeping in mind that my HT will be in a dedicated closed and fairly small room (10 x 16) with heavy sound proof and acoustic insulation, would the PB-1000 still give me a run for my money or should I stay away from it at all costs (no pun intended)?

Thanks for the clarifications, it really helps shaping up my mind about what I need and will potentially be getting.
 

JohnRice

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Again, with Paradigm and/or going bigger on the sub side means busting my budget. For one, I think it's not worth considering anything below the Premier series with Paradigm, which takes the bill to $3,400 without the sub. Also, the PB-2000 Pro is $500 more than the PB-1000 and although I could potentially manage to make this fit in my budget, this would limit my options with regards to speakers.

Keeping in mind that my HT will be in a dedicated closed and fairly small room (10 x 16) with heavy sound proof and acoustic insulation, would the PB-1000 still give me a run for my money or should I stay away from it at all costs (no pun intended)?

Thanks for the clarifications, it really helps shaping up my mind about what I need and will potentially be getting.
The PB-1000 is definitely worth considering. You just won't get anything that moves the earth for under $1K. You might consider the SB-1000. Don't worry about it being an older model. Technology of subs isn't something that changes rapidly.
 

IrishODocks

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The PB-1000 is definitely worth considering. You just won't get anything that moves the earth for under $1K. You might consider the SB-1000. Don't worry about it being an older model. Technology of subs isn't something that changes rapidly.

Thanks, very reassuring! I have read a bit on the differences between the SB-1000 and the PB-1000 and would be interested to know why you would lean more towards the SB than the PB? From what I could gather, the SB is larger (12") but does not go as low as the smaller PB (19-270 Hz vs 24-260 Hz). When it comes to subs, does the size of the driver trump the frequency range?

Lastly, if I was able to increase my budget slightly, would you recommend the SB-2000 Pro or should I look at something else in this price range?

Oh and before I forget, I meant to ask many times but it kept escaping my mind, wouldn't a bigger and more powerful sub like the SB-2000 Pro be a bit of an overkill in a small 10 x 16 room or when it comes to subs, is overkill not a real concern?
 

theJman

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That's a very interesting point. At this price point, I had only heard good things on the PB1000 so far. The challenge becomes budget-related, because I figure if I move to high-end 12" or even 15" I will be well over the $1,000 bar if not over $2,000, correct? This would therefore throw my 3 speaker options out the window. If my assumption is correct, I will want to correct my statement and clarify that although I would ideally like to "feel" the film scores, overall sound quality is a higher priority.

That's because the PB1000 is a good sub, just that it probably won't give what you're after. I wrote a review of one almost 8 years ago, which means it was being designed 9+ years ago. Drivers, amps and DSP have made big strides since then so it's not the class leader like it once was. If budget prevents getting a larger sub check out the RSL SpeedWoofer 10s. Same size driver but a physically smaller subwoofer with excellent sound quality.


I can always upgrade later on, so that's a less of a concern to me.

This isn't really a good approach. If you're able to stretch the budget a little now you can get something that will work better and last for years. If you buy something now and find it's not adequate then you have to spend even more money to replace it. In the long run it is always cheaper to get what you need up front then to buy it twice. Circumstances don't always allow that of course.


I had a quick look at the Chane Speakers and for some reason, I only see the A series available on their website, but maybe this is the only one they have available? Also, all their speakers are out of order and from what I'm reading, it's been like this for almost 2 years now :(

The A series is their current offering but they have some very nice products about to land. Check out the forum. I'm not sure where you read they haven't had stock for 2 years but that's highly inaccurate. Chane does tend to only get a few containers at a time so they sell out fast, but they are available most of the time.


From what I could gather, the SB is larger (12") but does not go as low as the smaller PB (19-270 Hz vs 24-260 Hz). When it comes to subs, does the size of the driver trump the frequency range?

Subwoofers are essentially big air pumps; the more air they can move the better, so all things being equal a larger driver is typically better. But the PB and SB are not equal because one is sealed and the other ported. The latter utilizes the backwave off the driver to enhance output which is why you see a difference in frequency response. The smaller the driver the more the contribution from the port matters.


Lastly, if I was able to increase my budget slightly, would you recommend the SB-2000 Pro or should I look at something else in this price range?

Another option in that same price range is the Rythmik LVX12. Rythmik is a company renown for sound quality so that one would give you the best of both worlds.


Oh and before I forget, I meant to ask many times but it kept escaping my mind, wouldn't a bigger and more powerful sub like the SB-2000 Pro be a bit of an overkill in a small 10 x 16 room or when it comes to subs, is overkill not a real concern?

You can overdo anything, including subwoofers. In a room that size 4x 18" drivers would be overkill - for most of us anyway - but a single 12" is definitely not too much. You actually want some excess capacity because soundtracks have a wide range. If your subwoofer(s) don't have the ability to accommodate that the signal will be clipped and you'll miss the transitions, often called dynamics. If you have enough capacity to handle any soundtrack then you'll get better detail and nuance. Think of a car, do you want to floor it all the time just to get moving? If you have enough power then it's not straining to do what it needs to.
 

IrishODocks

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Thank you @theJman for some reason I am only seeing your reply now, but I do appreciate you took the time to dumb it down a little bit for me as I am still far from knowledgeable in that field. This all makes more sense to me (at least, the subwoofer component) and will enlighten my decision with that regards.
 

JohnRice

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Yeah, I hear good things about thr RSL Speedwoofer. Incidentally, there is currently a special on the discontinued SVS 2000 (not Pro) subs. That makes the SB-2000 $500 here in the USA. That’s a good option.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Thanks, very reassuring! I have read a bit on the differences between the SB-1000 and the PB-1000 and would be interested to know why you would lean more towards the SB than the PB? From what I could gather, the SB is larger (12") but does not go as low as the smaller PB (19-270 Hz vs 24-260 Hz). When it comes to subs, does the size of the driver trump the frequency range?

Lastly, if I was able to increase my budget slightly, would you recommend the SB-2000 Pro or should I look at something else in this price range?

Oh and before I forget, I meant to ask many times but it kept escaping my mind, wouldn't a bigger and more powerful sub like the SB-2000 Pro be a bit of an overkill in a small 10 x 16 room or when it comes to subs, is overkill not a real concern?

John mentioned Hsu as another option, especially if you want to go 15".

Hsu's VTF-3 Mk5 HP (w/ 15" driver) might be affordable enough for you? And you can adjust whether to run it (fully) ported (or partially/singly ported) or sealed to suit you. Right now, it costs same as the SVS SB-2000 Pro, but shipping isn't free (and probably adds another ~$100USD). Not sure why Hsu isn't running much of any sales so far this BF week, but maybe they'll offer something on Friday -- I bought my VTF-3 Mk5 HP 2 years ago around BF/Cyber week w/ modest discount and have been very happy w/ it (and might add a 2nd one when I revamp my HT setup and move it to a dedicated room ~18x18ft size).

_Man_
 

Matt Fisher

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Hi all, reposting a modified version of an individual thread on the advice of a fellow member. The last time I was buying speakers was for a small Brooklyn apartment where a pretty basic setup wound up doing the trick just fine. But I am now in a house with a proper living room and have been slowly upgrading pieces of the puzzle. The parts we bought when we first moved into the house a few years ago were a a Sony 55" XBR-55X700D, Denon AVR-S720W receiver and Sony UBP-X800M2 4K/Blu-Ray Disc Player. The reason I picked up that player is because many years ago, I used to collect SACD and DVD-Audio discs. I'd like to get back into that groove again, but I want to have speakers that will make it worthwhile. We do not watch a lot of big epic films, with a young one we tend to veer more towards cartoons and family fare, so in terms of functionality, sure I want TV and movies to sound really good, but I'd place high-res audio discs above those.

I'm looking to spend up to $1,000, I understand with this setup I am not going to have the best of the best, I just want something that'll take the system up a notch and enjoy my music in a bigger square footage. As far as a center channel speaker, the only issue I have is that I'm either going to need to mount it on the wall, or it has to be low profile enough to fit in our entertainment console unit, because we don't want to mount the TV on the wall and don't want the speaker sitting right in front blocking the TV. Also if they're available in some sort of wood finish as opposed to solid black, it'll go a long way in pleasing my wife. I am OK omitting rear channels and a subwoofer for now, I have serviceable options I can work with.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Hi all, reposting a modified version of an individual thread on the advice of a fellow member. The last time I was buying speakers was for a small Brooklyn apartment where a pretty basic setup wound up doing the trick just fine. But I am now in a house with a proper living room and have been slowly upgrading pieces of the puzzle. The parts we bought when we first moved into the house a few years ago were a a Sony 55" XBR-55X700D, Denon AVR-S720W receiver and Sony UBP-X800M2 4K/Blu-Ray Disc Player. The reason I picked up that player is because many years ago, I used to collect SACD and DVD-Audio discs. I'd like to get back into that groove again, but I want to have speakers that will make it worthwhile. We do not watch a lot of big epic films, with a young one we tend to veer more towards cartoons and family fare, so in terms of functionality, sure I want TV and movies to sound really good, but I'd place high-res audio discs above those.

I'm looking to spend up to $1,000, I understand with this setup I am not going to have the best of the best, I just want something that'll take the system up a notch and enjoy my music in a bigger square footage. As far as a center channel speaker, the only issue I have is that I'm either going to need to mount it on the wall, or it has to be low profile enough to fit in our entertainment console unit, because we don't want to mount the TV on the wall and don't want the speaker sitting right in front blocking the TV. Also if they're available in some sort of wood finish as opposed to solid black, it'll go a long way in pleasing my wife. I am OK omitting rear channels and a subwoofer for now, I have serviceable options I can work with.

Given your desires and constraints, I'd suggest considering going w/out a center channel and just focus on getting the best front/main speakers for now unless you have to keep the front/mains far apart, especially in some odd, poor performing placements to satisfy your wife. You can always add the rest later.

And if you're willing to consider used speakers, your options also increase. I went thru a similar phase many years ago starting a young family (also in NYC area) and went w/ a pair of used Vandersteen 2Ci (for ~1/2 its then-new price, including shipping, good bi-wire speaker cables and Sound Anchor stands that normally sold separately) that performed waaay better than anything new I could’ve afforded back then. Those used Vandies served us very well as the mains in our livingroom HT for over 20 years (most of which I even went w/out a sub at all), and I’m finally about to retire them to (glorified?) surround duties in a few months when I’ll finally have a dedicated HT room -- will be upgrading to a pair of used Thiel CS 5i’s for the mains I recently agreed to buy from an audiophile in Lower Manhattan... and maybe add a 2nd Hsu VTF-3 Mk5 HP. :cool:

Anyway, in the used market nowadays, you might find a good, used pair of Vandy 1Ci or maybe even 2Ce Sig 2 fall just w/in your budget. I actually recently got tempted to bid on a used pair of 2Ce Sig 2 (Anniversary Edition?) on eBay for local BK pickup (from what seems like a decent, dedicated, online used audio dealer) because the bidding stayed so low... but lost it in final secs to someone who got a major bargain below $1.1K (plus shipping) -- if I didn't already have my used Thiels purchase lined up, I woulda gone higher and maybe won it at $1.2K or so. Of course, you most often won't be able to audition or get a (truly) free trial buying used online (due at least to shipping costs), but at the sub-$1K level, I'm not sure you're really getting much of any real value in that w/ the purchase of whatever new speakers anyway...

Offhand, don't know what other speakers are worth considering in the circa $1K used market. Probably Thiels, except you'd probably need a (substantially) better amp to drive any of them well, so probably not realistic. For instance, I spotted someone up in West Nyack area recently selling a pair of CS3.6 for just $800 on Audiogon. I was very tempted, but ultimately went w/ the CS5i's instead. That Audiogon listing expired, and it's not clear if the seller ever found a buyer -- the seller was moving far away (to West Coast IIRC) and definitely couldn't bring them along.

_Man_
 

ManW_TheUncool

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You can try the Bowers And Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition. Steve Guttenberg just named it speaker of the year. It is $699 a pair and is available in Black, White, and Oak.


Looks like a very solid choice in that range... though I imagine he may want to get a subwoofer sooner than later w/ something like that...

I might've gone w/ one of its predecessors myself if I didn't get my used Vandies way back when...

@Matt Fisher, you might also want to check out the ELAC Uni-Fi 2.0 speakers that have been getting their share of raves in this price range...

_Man_
 
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