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question for the audiophiles

by MPTarheel / October 25, 2006 8:53 PM PDT

I'm setting up a new home theather from scratch. For picture I'm doing the Sony 40" V2500 LCD through a Sony DA3200ES Receiver, all with clean power, high end cables, HD, etc. I have not yet added the sound component, and thought you gurus could offer some help. My current stereo is set up with Boston Sub Set 6 (2 satelites w/ passive sub). I'm definitely planning on going to a powered sub. My qestions are -

-Would you recommed saving money by incorporating my current speakers into the surround somewhere (i.e. using for rear channels and thus spending more on the front/center)? IS that a bad idea for any reason?

-If I were to spend around $1000 - $1500, what's YOUR favorite speaker set (either full 6 piece set or 2 fronts/center/sub) NOT IN WALL (moving in a couple years)

-Why doesn't cnet review many Bose products? How do they compare against Paradigm, Klipsch, Boston, AR, etc? I'm generally leary of the best branded/marketed products' value.

Thanks in advance.

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Using your speakers is worth a try
by NM_Bill / October 26, 2006 2:39 AM PDT

I've put friends onto Bostons in the past due to availability & value. They have been very satisfactory for them.

Having Bostons is a reason to consider their up to date ones. If you've read much here, you know the dollar invested emphasis is strongly on the speaker element of the whole system. Go for the best primary speakers in your budget. Advisable to match brand & even model series to assure same performance characteristics.

I've long admired Klipsch. Haven't had AR experience - obviously they can be good. I currently use Paradigm for my primary A/V set, & am impressed. The group of Canadian speaker companies have a real one up on medium size alternatives as they get the benefit of using the modern Canadian acoustic research facility. That cuts their research expense & gives pass through value. Paradigm has been very successful in selling for a decade.

My grandson was a winner of the Bose national contest. Lucky for him. His gift horse does perform well. That said, if you check out past threads regarding Bose, you'll quickly see an almost consensus negative towards Bose because their plastic speaker innerds are cheap drivers. Dr. Amar Bose started a moneymaking juggernaught good for him. Bose capitalized on the ''lifestyle'' segment of neat look more highly acceptable to wives than dangling cables. They are the masters of over hyped marketing & overpriced.

There are many choices of good speakers. Some here have their own highly regarded choice. There is even a differing of opinion on spending serious listening time auditioning speakers at dealers. It is a serious choice. True, no listening setup out there will sound like your room will. So there is some legitimacy about taking general opinion about the speakers & buying online for best price. Your choice toss up. I'm still inclined to want to hear if they are pleasant to me as I will live with them for some time. The manufacturer direct brand that C/NET rates so highly would be a case in point about some trust in others opinion. I believe that company has liberal policy allowing for your acceptance or return.

Hey, I've wandered on. If Bostons are handy for you for availability give them a try. My satisaction with Paradigms recommend looking at them. They are pretty well distributed.

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by RoadRunner6 / October 26, 2006 4:47 AM PDT

.....give us some info about the size of your listening room and your music preferences and how loud? If you have a preference, what about the general size of the speakers? Very small or are small or medium size bookshelf speakers OK, either on stands or mounted on the wall? Do you have any restrictions here? BTW, I won't recommend full size floor standing speakers.

I will give you some recommendations including a powered sub (5.1 system, 6.1 or 7.1 possible) in your price range but first need this info for meaningful help.

Forget using the BA speakers in your new system. Passive subs are a mistake and your new system should have the identical tweeter in all 5 speakers for excellent and smooth surround voicing, this is very important. Buy only 5 speakers from the same brand and the same series of models. The sub can be from any brand as long as it blends well, more on this later.

Sell or use your current BA system for a bedroom, etc.

I have several systems in mind that will simply amaze you for the price, $1000-$1500. They both will have excellent sound for both music and movies and also subs that are superb and go very low; extremely important for the best movie sound.

There are many excellent brands including the ones you mentioned, (Bose is not one of them; cheap construction inside, mediocre sound, no low bass and way, way overpriced). Forget the idea of in wall speakers, they are very expensive for decent ones and nowhere as good as conventional speakers for correct imaging and sounstage.

Need some feedback.


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OK, here's what I got.......
by MPTarheel / October 26, 2006 6:17 AM PDT
In reply to: Please.....

The current room is small, about 12'x18'x8'. TV will be on the longer wall (effectively shortening depth and widening the "theater"). Hardwood floors, standard other construction materials. I could do very small or small-medium, I'll just have to weigh style vs. performance for individual options. I'm sure the Mrs. would like very small. They will either be wall mounted or placed strategically on furniture/shelves (in the small chance that works out perfectly), stands are not a consideration. One important consideration is that my intention is to create a system that I'll be using for 10 years, which will be long after I've moved from my current home and into a new home theater space. My point there is that while I want the system to work well with the current room, versatility to work in diverse spaces will also be important as I don't know what the future room will be like. I can say that I will never have a true dedicated "home theather" in the sense of theater seating, lighting, etc. I also am unlikely to have some giant cavernous space, altough I guess I cannot rule out vaulted ceilings.

Thank you very much for the help. What you mentioned regarding the current BA satelites is exactly what I was concerned about, and my office could use a nice sound system anyway Happy Thanks again, I look forward to some more insight/recommendations.

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by Riverledge / October 26, 2006 1:08 PM PDT

Among others.
Truth is you're going have to audition any of these speakers. Only your ears know for sure.

Good listening, river.

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Some Thoughts
by RoadRunner6 / October 26, 2006 9:08 PM PDT

The only negative I see in your post is the ''stands are not a consideration.'' You have just eliminated the very best placement method for the left and right speakers for the best sound (the center can go directly on top of the TV or below it and the surrounds on the side walls). A slight negative is the hardwood floors. Hope you have throw rugs and lots of sound absorption materials. Hard surfaces tend to produce overly ''live'' and excessively reflective sound.

I highly recommend to people with standard types rooms to use a TV stand with two shelves below to hold the components and possibly the center speaker just below the TV on the top shelf or the center speaker directly on top of the TV (which is only practical with small speakers). This allows for very short and neat conncections between all the components and the TV. Short cable means much lower costs.

The left and right speakers on stands to the side of the TV or slightly forward and several feet away from the wall makes for superb sound (in your room the left and right speakers would be about 6-8 feet apart). (Some models of speakers are designed for wall mounting, but this is the exception for the front three speakers, however surround speakers usually do go on the walls).

Here are a couple examples of what I have in mind, there are many different styles and colors available. This is an excellent online dealer for these products. There are hundreds of options here in all colors and sizes. Small bookshelf speakers usually go on about 30'' or higher stands and medium size bookshelf speakers on 25-30'' stands.

I think you'll get the general idea here. The surround speakers normally are mounted on the side walls (using a bracket or usually the keyhole in the back of the speaker) up about 5-7 feet high and directly to the side of the main listening position or several feet to the rear and facing in to the listening position or slightly forward. (in other words, somehwere in the 90 degree to 110 degree location in relation to the front). If you ever get a 6th and 7th speaker then these are the rear surrounds and go on the rear wall. In your particular room, if your listening position is almost against the rear wall (and the rear wall is 18' wide) then you might place the side surrounds on the rear wall about 6-8 feet (or farther) to each side of the listening position and rotated facing inwards at an angle. They can go on the side walls slightly out from the corner, 6" or so. Just be sure you keep all speakers off the floor, and at least a foot away from the corners and ceiling (the exception here might be the sub in a corner).

If the answer is still no to stands then here are some thoughts. Try not to just place the speakers here and there haphazardly on any available shelf or piece of furniture. The room acoustics and exactly where the speakers are placed has a huge effect on how they will sound. The best speakers in the world will sound lousy or mediocre if not place correctly.

So if the stands are not an option then I would go for on the wall mounting for the center, left and right as well as the surrounds. Do not put the center on the TV Stand and then the left and right on the wall. If one of the front three speakers goes on the wall then they all go on the wall. The front three on the wall would be placed up a foot or two higher than the top of the TV so that the sound of the center is not firing at the rear of the TV (unless of course the TV itself is mounted on the wall.

Based on your stated budget of $1000-$1500 for 5 speakers and a sub here are some various suggestions. The thin ones like the Energy, or the Axiom's which sound eqaully good on or off the wall (I won't get into the technical explanation but it is due to the shape of the Axiom) will be good for wall mounting as well as stand placement.

Speakers will many times sound completely different in your room than a dealer's shoowroom. That is why I study carefully the pro reviews and put a lot of credence in their evaluation. These speakers will all sound very impressive in your room if placed correctly. Some of these are buy directly from the manufacturer type companies and are all highly respected companies with excellent customer service and money back guarantees.

I place a lot of emphasis on the sub for the best sound for both music and movies. Even with small speakers you will have excellent full range sound down to very low bass with subs I recommend below. The proper crossover setting on your Sony receiver will send all bass signals below about 80Hz to the sub. You will be able to place the sub most any place in the room and still have great sound equal to very large main speakers. Some of these subs are quite large (necessary for the best sub performance) but a very understated classy appearnce that will not draw attention to themselves whether placed in the corner, against the wall or behind the sofa.

#1 A great system with an extremely impressive sub for only $999 (or more for a larger sub). Speakers stands are only about $55 for the pair.

#2 An even better system because of the superb surround speaker design. Available in four different colors (and also in many custom vinyl and wood finishes for extra costs). I have recommended a better sub from a different company. (I have personally just ordered a system from Axiom and Outlaw Audio almost identical to this system below)
(if you mount all three front speakers on the wall then I would order three of these for the left, center and right instead of the center channel below)
(use this center channel if you place it on or below the TV on a rack shelf)
(choice of QS4 or QS8 here, $420 vs $530, QS4 is fine for small to medium room)
(an alternate to this is the LFM-2 ($280 less) which is smaller but still excellent sound....they look much better than the website picture...if you like, e-mail me and I'll send you a photo of the LFM-1 I just took at my and my wife's opinion, it is a gorgeous looking has a inlaid top plexiglass sheet)

Total cost for 3ea of the M2i and two QS4's and the LFM-1 is $1434. This the identical system I just ordered for my own home, except I ordered custom woods finishes and the LFM-1 Plus.

#3 Energy is an excellent speaker company also from Canada. I have owned Energy in the past and they are great speakers. These particular models are very flexible for mounting and placment options and available in silver or black. Here is a general section on their Take series and then a specific system I put together for your room.
(see, you have a choice of smaller or larger)
(you would buy three of these for the left, center and right....the center can be placed either horizontally or vertically)
(2 of these for your side surrounds)
(the Take LCR's at this online dealer are $188 each and the Take SAT are $130 for these 5 speakers is $824....then add an Outlaw LFM-2 8'' sub for $299/total $1123....or an HSU 10'' STF-2 sub for $399/total $1223.....or an Outlaw LFM-1 for $570/$1403)
(note the STF-2 is available in silver for $359)
(the Outlaw's were designed by Dr. HSU and really the same sub with some differences, Outlaw doesn't have a 10'' sub so I put the STF-2 here as an intermediate size option)

There is a lot here to digest. Read all the reviews at these websites on the individaul models.

Let me know if you have more questions or want more options. You can go even smaller in the Energy Take line and still have very good 5 of the Take SAT's for the front and surrounds and the Outlaw LFM-2 for $949 total. These four systems all would give you very fine home theater peformance and superb low bass performance.


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by MPTarheel / October 27, 2006 3:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Some Thoughts

Thanks for all of the info! That certainly is a lot to digest, but things are already coming into focus for me. I will actually reconsider on the speaker stands, and have found a dealer in my area that carries several top end brands where I can go take a test drive.

Thanks again, the insight is much appreciated.

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Since RR6 and River have given a lot of good info,,
by jcrobso / October 27, 2006 12:24 AM PDT

I will only add, go to a store and spend some time listening to speakers. Take some of your CDs and listen.
As for "No highs, no lows, most be Bo$e" avoid like the plague. John

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