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Need help picking main speakers 5 ch system under $3k

Hammer77

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I'm building a media room in a newly finished basement. I've listened to a bunch of speaker at several stores and am starting to go crazy.

Looking to build a 5.1.2 system now, maybe expand to a 7.2.4 system eventually. System will be 95% home theater, 5% music. Will be used by entire family ( wife and 3 school age children) - could be on at typical TV listening or background levels for up to 6 hrs per day between all users. Occasionally would be run at reference levels for movie night.

I have a Marantz SR7013 receiver I purchased a short time ago to run the system. I have separate old 5.1 surround upstairs with Monitor Audio Silver RS, Pioneer Elite AVR and Def Tech Supercube but want to start fresh in media room.

The space is 23' long x 17' wide, the TV and entertainment console on the long wall , sectional and theater seat around 10 ft from screen. Drywall ceiling mostly 9 ft high so approx 3500 ft^3. Immediately adjacent in same space is 14x14 bar area, approx 1700 ft^3. So total volume of open space about 5200 ft^3. Other rooms in basement closed off by doors. Open stairs in back of room behind seating area. Realize that room will need some treatment to help with reflections.

Budget is approximate, looking for good sound quality and great value products. Need speakers that are not fussy with setup, relatively neutral and clear sound with full bass, and will have wide soundstage given layout of theater seating. Not really concerned with aesthetics (this is the basement) or famous names.
-Front pair $1000-1600,
-center $ 300-600,
-surround pair $300-600,
-Subwoofer $400-1000 (will get that later)

These are speakers I've listened to that I like for the main channels:
-Elac (Debut reference)
- PSB (Imagine X2T) - compared better than compared to Martin Logan motion 20i (thin base, slightly harsh), and though it was warmer and a bit richer if slightly less detailed than more expensive B&W 603
-Paradigm (premier 700f vs Monitor SE 8000f)
-SVS (Prime Pinnacle) compared better than more expensive Focal Chora 816, B&W 603 , Monitor Audio Silver 300
-Triangle (Borea 08) had more detail and clarity than KLH (Kendall) and also had more bass thump than Monitor Audio Silver 300

Also Interested but not available to listen:
- Monolith (THX460 tower)
-Emotiva (T2+)
-Dali Oberon 5 or 7
-Q acoustics Concept 40

Lower preference:
-KEF Q550/750 - not as much definition as I hoped, seemed muffled (or was it the Best Buy setup?)
-B&W 603 - great speaker but beaten by cheaper options (Prime Pinnacle)
-Focal 816 -great speaker but beaten by cheaper options (Prime Pinnacle)
-Monitor Audio Silver 300 and Bronze 200 - Silver was nice but pricey, bronze was too harsh in upper range
-Martin Logan motion 20i-thin bass, not rich sound
-Klipsch RP 6000/8000F - sound was too forward / blaring

I understand that a lot is personal preference but can't really do A:B comparisons of all. Really interested on your opinions on speaker selection since direct head to head of speakers above not possible - I feel a little lost. Is there one or two brands heads and shoulders above? Or a brand that is overrated? Is there something else obvious I'm missing? Should I pick based off the center channel instead of the main front pair? (ie - should I look for the best 3 way center ?).

Right now, I'm leaning towards the Monolith or Emotiva based on price / performance and ease of returns nut of course haven't listened to them.
 

sweetchaos

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Welcome to ASR. :D

I'll tackle the sub question...

You wrote:
So total volume of open space about 5200 ft^3.
Your room size is Extreme, so you'll need very capable subwoofers just to hit reference level.
Standard reference level is 75db at listening position, with peaks of 105db for each speaker (and 115db peak for LFE channel).
Most people listen at -10 to -15db from reference, and thus a peak of 115db at listening position is a realistic benchmark for large rooms (3000 to 5000ft^3 in volume)...or 123db for extreme rooms (>5000ft^3).

To hit reference levels for your room, you really should be looking at "Extreme-rated" subs, at the minimum, capable subs like:
- HSU VTF-3 MK5 HP (US$900/ea) or
- SVS SB-3000 (US$1000/ea)

You wrote:
-Subwoofer $400-1000 (will get that later)
Which means for your budget, you're looking at a single sub for now.
But really you need to double your budget ;), since you'll need dual subs for your room to even out the bass from seat-to-seat and get rid of room modes.

If you're not listening at -10 to -15 db from reference level, then you could downgrade to a "Large-room-rated" sub.

See my 'subwoofer comparison' spreadsheet to pick the right sub for your needs.
 
OP
H

Hammer77

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Thanks for sub suggestions - realize room is big and will need two sub. I figure I’ll get the 5 channels first, then one sub and the other.
Was thinking about svs sb-2000pro or hsu Ila-15mk2 or paradigm defiance x10
 

HooStat

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In my opinion, I would spend most of the budget on a good center and subs. That is 80% of home theater. L & R are next. I would save $$ on surrounds and use the $$ for the subs. And find something inexpensive (used or on sale) for surrounds. I would definitely not overspend on L and R to make them full range for home theater given the budget. Just my 2 cents.

I think coaxial center channels might be optimal for home theater as well, so I might focus on those. There are not many options, but they include KEF and ELAC. But there are well engineered center channels that are not coaxial, so you could look at those too.

I might allocate $1000 for center, $1200 for 2 subs, and $800 for L & R.
 

RobL

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Don’t scrimp on the center speaker.
I have a Kef q650 center and iQ3’s for l/r. Sounds terrific and got everything for under CAD$1000.
 

Jim Matthews

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It's heretical, but I've been very happy with a Yamaha soundbar and wireless sub. They were inexpensive, and suitable for the purpose.

Something like this might stretch your budget a little farther.

Unlike top level center channel speakers, all the drivers are hidden from little fingers. The sub is good enough for action movies, but not up to my standards for serious music.

YAS-706
 

richard12511

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JBL Stage series worth a look. Neutral, can play reference levels with low distortion, extreme value.

Also JBL 5xx series. I had 580s here for awhile before passing them to a friend. Very dynamic and very neutral sound, and I actually preferred them over my Infinity R263 and Emotiva T2+ a little bit. I think I paid $400 each($800/pair). They go on sale for that price several times a year, as does the 570, 590, and 530. For that price, I'm not sure what is really out there that can compete for HT. This what I would go for with OP's budget, and I'd use all the savings to get much better dual subs. Good dual subs(HSU is hard to beat at the low end) and a good center channel are the most important items for getting great HT sound imo. Both are more important than the FR and FL(imo).
 

Chromatischism

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Budget is approximate, looking for good sound quality and great value products. Need speakers that are not fussy with setup, relatively neutral and clear sound with full bass, and will have wide soundstage given layout of theater seating.
You seem to like the PSB speakers. I have the PSB Imagine B and compared them to my S400's. They are good, but I preferred the latter as they are more neutral and lifelike. PSB Imagine is great at used prices, though, so price-wise it's not a fair comparison.

I bought my Buchardt S400's for these reasons. Broad and consistent sweet spot (check out the directivity heatmap), neutral sound, and great bass through the upper bass where most speakers this size fall off and sound thin. And something about the waveguide gives a pristine clarity to the highs without any harshness at all.

With subwoofer(s) loudness shouldn't be an issue, but they will do 90-95 dB before complaining so it's your call if that's loud enough for family movie nights.

However, you don't have to get those. Look for speakers that measure flat from the low through upper bass. Most speakers drop off there. I think this is an under-rated ability and separates "full" sounding speakers from "thin" sounding speakers. Also look for treble that doesn't have any uppity-areas (new term I just invented). You want neutrality and consistency to the sides of the speakers, and you want to be able to listen without getting tired of them.

If going towers, the Prime Pinnacles and Emotivas would be on my short list, along with the ELAC DFR52's or a used set of Revel F35's. Perhaps with those choices you could get a subwoofer NOW and have a proper home theater experience.

Surrounds: I really like my Polk LSiM 702's, and for subs I always recommend the HSU VTF-15H MK2 for starters, with Rythmik FV15HP as an upgrade option. Monolith is also very good for something in between.

Center: Emotiva C2+ is the big dawg, if you can make it fit.
 
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