Building first non HTIB surround sound system

Discussion in 'Beginners and Audiophytes' started by Evo, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. Evo Audiophyte

    Evo
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Hey guys I have what I hope is an easy question, but maybe its not, I did a quick search and couldn't quite find exactly what im looking for.

    So I dont know if home audio works the same as alot of other products but I find when looking at a product you get a to a point of X amount buys you a great piece of equipment but you start seeing very little gains until you get to say Y amount.

    Example: Say you find that, and im just spit balling numbers here, 2500 or 3000 bucks will get you a really great sound system at home. But things between that number up until about say, 5000 bucks you start seeing less noticable gains. Once you break past that 5k limit you see the next be step in product.

    With that being said, I could be wrong, I just dont know. I am reaching out for some advice to find that sweet spot of a really great sounding system. My space is a small, I can get dimension later, but think smaller 2 bed room apartment with a kitchen attached to the living room. I don't know if towers or book shelves would give better bang for buck, I can make both work I just need opinions.

    So to get to the meat and potatos I am trying to get the best bang for buck recommendations in that 2500 to 3000 range (give or take on both ends a little). I live in the DFW area of Texas (Dallas Fortworth). I have been to a couple of best buys and listed to the magnolia center speakers. I heard some MartinLogan Motion systems they seem to sell as a package. I thought they sounded really nice, I listend to some B&W HTM 6 and 700 speakers, again sounded really nice to me. Both locations really pushed me away from Definitive tech, which was the other option they carried.
    I didnt really get into receivers which I know very little about, they just seemed to point at what cost the most and said you need this.. This is something I am researching and learning so any tips or advice would be great.

    Anyways, Can you guys give me some advice of maybe other speakers or systems in my price range I should seek out and listen too? I see great reviews for KEF t305 and I think they look great but I haven't heard them yet, or what about ELAC, I keep hearing great things about ELAC, but again, have never heard them.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can share with me.
    Evo,
    • Like Like x 1
  2. rojo Audioholic Samurai

    rojo
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2014
    Messages:
    2,589
    Likes Received:
    980
    Location:
    Johnson City, TN
    @Evo very well composed question. Thanks especially for including your location. Sometimes when there are budget constraints knowing the location can help us help you find some used bargains. And thanks for describing your room. New members don't usually think to do that.

    To answer your tower vs. bookshelf question, yeah, typically bookshelf speakers are the way to go. You often pay more for towers for very little to no audible benefit once you add a subwoofer and set a high pass filter on your mains.

    Re: diminishing returns and tiers of improvement, yeah, home theater does seem to conform to that pattern.

    Are you concerned about neighbors complaining about the noise? Is your $2500 - $3000 intended just for 5.0 channel speakers, or that + subwoofer, or all of the above + receiver? (Hint: You can probably get away with a relatively inexpensive receiver if you don't mind refurb. Accessories4Less usually has some great deals.)

    You'll typically get more for your money if you're willing to purchase Internet direct, so the best bargain might come from a speaker you won't be able to audition until it's in your home. If you're willing to take a leap of faith, then my vote is thus:
    FWIW, here are measurements of the Sierra-1s. They're pretty good, and a drastic improvement over your HTIB.

    I regard ELAC as overrated. If there's a Best Buy who carries the LSiM line of Polk Audio, those might be worth a listen. Adorama has a sale on them for $1500 for a 5.0 package. You'll still need a subwoofer and AVR.

    Re: AVR being the most expensive component, I disagree. Better sound comes from better speakers, not from better electronics. You can pay $1500 for an AVR and still end up with much the same sound as you could've gotten for $400 buying a refurb from A4L. Putting more of your budget into better speakers nets you better sound.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
    rojo,
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Evo Audiophyte

    Evo
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Rojo,

    Thank you for the prompt reply, to address neighbors. They are pretty loud as it is. With that being said I am also a drummer and practice on an electric kit that gets pretty boomy. They never seem to complain and we have a mutual respect for the hours we are noisy so I am not that worried about that. I am planning in the next 2 to 3 years on buying a home so this will be a temp living condition but would like to feel like i'm making a purchase I can enjoy in the future.

    Pricing, I tossed a number out hoping for everything to fit in that figure, as I said i'm flexible but I am trying to be cautious of that diminishing return I spoke about above. As it stands right now, that number is what I have on hand if I went out today and said 'sell me this'. I am not in a hurry to get this said and done so I could buy in parts. For example start with a nice 2 or 3.1 setup and build on to this.

    When I first started to think about this move forward I was thinking this will be 90% movies 10% music. Now im leaning more towards a 70 - 30 split or even 60 - 40 split. I tend to listen to most music with headphones as most do not like my style in music, though thinking towards the future I would really like to crank up the tunes and have a nice experience without the phones.

    I will have to look up the recommendations you provided as I am not familiar with them.
    Evo,
  4. rojo Audioholic Samurai

    rojo
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2014
    Messages:
    2,589
    Likes Received:
    980
    Location:
    Johnson City, TN
    Putting a couple grand into your mains and building as you go, you can start moving into what I would consider heirloom quality speakers. For around $2400 or so you could get a pair of Philharmonic BMR mains in furniture-grade cabinets + MTM center. Your 40% music will sound outstanding, and the BMRs will play deep enough that you could probably live without a sub for a while. The Salk SongBirds and SongCenter would also be worth considering in that price range. I think the SongBirds might offer better sensitivity, but the BMRs will have more consistent off-axis and early reflected response. This is getting into the level of detail and quality you might expect listening to a $10,000 set of speakers in a brick and mortar shop.
    rojo,
  5. shadyJ Audioholic Spartan

    shadyJ
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Messages:
    5,742
    Likes Received:
    1,677
    Hey Rojo, here are some third party measurements for the Sierras via Soundstage. I would put more trust in those measurements than Ascend's own, since Ascend can't really be regarded as impartial to present their own measurement set (soundstage is also almost certainly using a better measurement lab than Ascend as well).. Here are also some measurements of the Polk LSiM703s from soundstage. For all the praise that Ascemd gets, and all the bashing that Polk gets, the Polks look to be a more accurate loudspeakers (but than again the MSRP on the LSIM703s are a lot higher than the Sierras). The nifty thing here is that you can get the Polks at accessories4less at $350 a pop right now, that is a really good deal at the moment. And that Adorama 5.0 set is a pretty killer deal too.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  6. William Lemmerhirt Audioholic Samurai

    William Lemmerhirt
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2,063
    Likes Received:
    466
  7. Evo Audiophyte

    Evo
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Evo,
  8. William Lemmerhirt Audioholic Samurai

    William Lemmerhirt
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    2,063
    Likes Received:
    466
    I’m pretty sure it’s not a get what you pay for. I’ve only ever seen that you get more than you pay for. Plus 30 day trial, free shipping, etc.
  9. Evo Audiophyte

    Evo
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    I did some more research last night after my initial response. I have to say that the reviews from several sources are very impressed with this setup. I admit the price point is fantastic, Do you have a recommend receiver that would work great with that setup?
    Can you or anyone else think of any negatives to them because so far I keep reading nothing but positives.

    I am doing some research and comparisons between the RSL and the Sierra -1 mentioned above. Its a tuff choice because they both seem to have stunning reviews. Maybe if I try my best to describe my needs or wants it will help you guys really push a recommendation my way.

    I wish I could describe the sound im looking for other then saying something pretty basic or cliche' such as I want to create an amazing movie theater type experience when I have some friends over.
    Perhaps music taste will help a bit more. I listen to a pretty wide spectrum of music, but what you find me playing most is, not in order because I listen to these all in the same frequency - A. Heavy metal or hard rock (Tool comes to mind), B. Jazz with a lot raw drum, C. OST type of music (think Hans Zimmer) D. Electric swing or heavy synth electric (So Caravan Palace, waveshaper or even daftpunk). I really don't listen to a lot of pop ,hip hop, or country, just about anything else I do cycle, with the 4 listed above the most.

    Lastly to you and rojo, thank you guys so much for giving me some suggestions. I wish I understood the data behind speakers that rojo pointed out, gives me something else to research a bit.
    Evo,
  10. rojo Audioholic Samurai

    rojo
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2014
    Messages:
    2,589
    Likes Received:
    980
    Location:
    Johnson City, TN
    I tend to trust objective data over subjective. Glowing reviews notwithstanding, I think you can do better than the RSLs.

    When looking at response measurement graphs, flatter = better. You can tweak the house curve as desired with tone controls / EQ, but it's better to begin with as neutral a canvas as possible.

    RSL CG3 measurements (Sound & Vision)

    Polk LSiM measurements (Sound & Vision)

    Polk LSiM bookshelf measurements (Soundstage)

    I changed my mind about the Sierras. I agree with shadyJ that for the money, the Polk option will be difficult to beat. Polk's entry level stuff is not very. The higher end stuff at full MSRP offers performance one can usually match with a less expensive alternative brand. But the LSiM package on Adorama is higher end stuff at lower end prices. It's a good deal.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
    rojo,
  11. Evo Audiophyte

    Evo
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Rojo,

    As always, thank you for the prompt reply. I hadnt really thought about the polks before but now adding them to my list of goodies to look at. Also, thanks for the quick notes on the graphs. I have to admit, I don't understand them all that well but I am smart enough to put two and two together and objectivity compare charts.

    Does the suggestion on the AVR - x2300 still hold strong (I have no issue on the factory referb gear).
    Evo,
  12. rojo Audioholic Samurai

    rojo
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2014
    Messages:
    2,589
    Likes Received:
    980
    Location:
    Johnson City, TN
    Yeah, it's got pretty decent room correction, app control and other nice features, a reasonably positive reputation for reliability (as well as can be expected for any Asian-manufactured receiver these days), and it makes things make noise. For the $50 difference it might be worthwhile to get the new one from Amazon. I didn't realize the difference was that low when I first posted that yesterday. I think with a new AVR you get a 2-year warranty. Refurb is only one year.

    Before you ask, don't get too hung up on watts. Double the wattage results in an SPL increase of 3dB, so there's no significant audible difference between a 90wpc AVR and one that's 125wpc. Also, with speaker sensitivity around 85dB/w/m, that means it takes only one watt to make speakers play at a volume similar to a lawnmower. Most typical listening occurs at less than 10 watts.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
    rojo,
  13. zieglj01 Audioholic Spartan

    zieglj01
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Messages:
    5,876
    Likes Received:
    1,841
    The best data you can check and test is your ears -- no person or measurements can guarantee that you would prefer one speaker over another. I listen for the detail, definition and depth, and the overall imaging of the speaker. Measurements are good and beneficial but do not speak for the human ear. I would keep the Ascend and Polk on a short list -- Since RSL has free return shipping, you can test them -- but I do not know how well the smaller driver will hold up with your heavy hitting music -- but one way to find out.
  14. Evo Audiophyte

    Evo
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    This point is very solid, I can look at the graphs and math the hell out of them but as I said before in the end that doesn't mean alot to me being so new to home audio unless I look up the speakers I have heard and match graphs and numbers to others.

    Right now I have only the few systems I listed above to give reference. I will admit, I did really enjoy the sound of the B&W 704 s2 (I also like the book shelf version), HTM72 and DB4S

    So maybe someone can recommend a group of speakers that sound similar to the B&W but at a better price? This is something I just dont know.
    Evo,
  15. everettT Audioholic Field Marshall

    everettT
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2016
    Messages:
    1,628
    Likes Received:
    234
  16. zieglj01 Audioholic Spartan

    zieglj01
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Messages:
    5,876
    Likes Received:
    1,841
    Look for the KEF Q350 and 650 -- Monitor Audio Silver series

    As far as online, if you want to risk return shipping
    Focal Aria
    https://www.amazon.com/Focal-905Ari...pID=51sDsSZs2KL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

    Canton GLE 436
    https://www.amazon.com/Canton-03267...d=1518716277&sr=1-10&keywords=Canton+speakers

    Also note in Plano, there is HTD and they have a showroom that you can demo their speakers
    https://www.htd.com/Level-THREE-Bookshelf-Speakers
    • Like Like x 1
  17. 2channel lover Audioholic Chief

    2channel lover
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2017
    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    226
    I like the option given in post #4...the Phil BMRs in the stock cabinet could possibly be the best value if you cherish accuracy and detail. Larger than a book shelf, smaller than a floor stander...plenty of SPL capability for your space now and can grow with you...there is a pair locally I hope to hear sometime this year.

    The SVS Ultras book shelf are highly regarded. Some owners post in this forum.

    The ML Motion 40 is a nice little floor standing speaker, but if you get into that $2k price range and you don't waiting the Salk Towers would be a lifetime speaker.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. shadyJ Audioholic Spartan

    shadyJ
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Messages:
    5,742
    Likes Received:
    1,677
    Given your tastes, Try to get a good subwoofer or two in your system. Look at Hsu, Rythmik, SVS, or Monoprice Monoliths for that. Also, given your tastes, a couple other speakers to consider with a subwoofer are the JBL LSR308 mk2 and the Hsu CCB-8s.

    Also, going back to that Adorama Polk LSIM setup, the used rating is an 'F.' So I think I might steer clear of that deal. The Accessories4less deal is what I would go for if I were going to get the LSiM speakers.

    One more thing, I am certain you will be listening to more music on a good system after you get it, certainly more than 10%. A good speaker setup is better than headphones, especially if you have some solid bass going.
  19. Evo Audiophyte

    Evo
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    I have been thinking more about a really solid 2.1 or 3.1 to start with. The more I research the rear speakers for starting really do not need to be amazing. This would allow me to focus on a sold left, right, sub and center speaker.

    I have a feeling I will agree with shady J, when I get great speakers I will shift more to music in the end but, hey starting somewhere :D
    Evo,
  20. 2channel lover Audioholic Chief

    2channel lover
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2017
    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    226
    Put as much $ as you can into the 2.1, and go from there....timbre matching CC, if HT is a big part of your listening.

    I was thinking I would be 60/40 music/movies when I started this build...now that everything is in place...it's been more like 95/5 music/movies, but movies will pick up a little more in the spring/summer, never likely to reach 40% though.

Share This Page

  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
  • CEDIA