Help with HT audio set up options (gear and layout)

A

ara777

Enthusiast
Hi all,

It's finally my turn to start sprucing up in the home theater area in the house we moved in to, and I am evaluating options. Feeling lucky to have come across this forum and I am super excited!

The basement has a space that already has the area demarcated for the purpose. This is an open area in the complete finished basement that takes a footprint of 8.5x14 ft. There is a built-in area for the TV, which I am planning to partially tear down and make room for a larger TV (75").

Been trying to come up with a decent audio setup for this area and I'm thinking to start with a 5.1 set up and if it makes sense upgrade it to a 5.1.2 later on. Not opposed to double subwoofer too if it is not too much overkill to this small space. I am not considering floor standing speakers for the front as the entire are has a row of cabinets and bookshelf speakers or mini-towers seem to fit the space on the counter-top better.

I've though about the following combinations for audio and would like some thoughts from you guys here who have better experience working with these.

Option 1:
Polk S35, 2xPolk S20, 2xPolk S15, Polk HTS12 Sub

Option 2:
Ascend CMT-340 SE, 4xAscend CBM 170, HSU VTF-2 MK5 Sub

Option 3:
Ascend CMT-340 SE, 2xAscend CMT-340SE, 2xAscend CBM 170, HSU VTF-2 MK5 Sub

Option 4:
Emotiva C1+, 4xEmotiva B1+, HSU VTF-2 MK5 Sub

Thinking to drive this with a Denon AVR-X3500H or similar. I would like recommendations on this too.

I've attached a picture of the basement layout and where the HT would go along with the speakers.
 

Attachments

D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
Hey I apologize I got off late from work but I will hit you back up on this thread with a few more questions and some ideas

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Unless you just really like Polk, particularly their subs, I would pass on that option. Might consider Ascend's deals with Rythmik for subs, but Hsu is a great choice and probably a bit higher value depending on the deal. If you're in socal you could visit both Hsu and Ascend, too. I've got a variety of Ascend speakers, altho not the 340SE (I have Sierra-1 NrT, 170SE and a coupla pairs of 200SE) and think they're quite good, I'd lean towards having the 340SE all across the front. Keep in mind your subs will interact with the whole basement volume unless you build a room....the speakers are more about the distance between them and your seat, tho.....you just might want dual subs. The avr I think would be fine. Hard to know overall what speakers you'd like, tho. Ever hear any of these?
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
Is this just a “space” in an open area? Or is it closed off?

5.1 is a very respectable way to start off. Expanding to atmos later is a good plan.

Regarding your speaker options, I would look closer at Ascend, and not at the other two. There are also other choices out there perhaps worth considering, including the ccb-8 + subs from Hsu.

Denon and Marantz have some great options for AVRs, and I would suggest stepping up to any of the models that offer the XT32 version of Audyssey. It will give you much better control of your system.

Also, cubbies and shelves aren’t necessary friendly to AV setups. Why not wipe the slate and start clean? ;)

Anyway, there's a lot that can be done in terms of how you proceed... do you have plans for the rest of the basement already?
What is your budget?

Cheers!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Is this just a “space” in an open area? Or is it closed off?

5.1 is a very respectable way to start off. Expanding to atmos later is a good plan.

Regarding your speaker options, I would look closer at Ascend, and not at the other two. There are also other choices out there perhaps worth considering, including the ccb-8 + subs from Hsu.

Denon and Marantz have some great options for AVRs, and I would suggest stepping up to any of the models that offer the XT32 version of Audyssey. It will give you much better control of your system.

Also, cubbies and shelves aren’t necessary friendly to AV setups. Why not wipe the slate and start clean? ;)

Anyway, there's a lot that can be done in terms of how you proceed... do you have plans for the rest of the basement already?
What is your budget?

Cheers!
FWIW the 3500 has XT32.
 
A

ara777

Enthusiast
Unless you just really like Polk, particularly their subs, I would pass on that option. Might consider Ascend's deals with Rythmik for subs, but Hsu is a great choice and probably a bit higher value depending on the deal. If you're in socal you could visit both Hsu and Ascend, too. I've got a variety of Ascend speakers, altho not the 340SE (I have Sierra-1 NrT, 170SE and a coupla pairs of 200SE) and think they're quite good, I'd lean towards having the 340SE all across the front. Keep in mind your subs will interact with the whole basement volume unless you build a room....the speakers are more about the distance between them and your seat, tho.....you just might want dual subs. The avr I think would be fine. Hard to know overall what speakers you'd like, tho. Ever hear any of these?
Polk was my budget option, and that's the only one I've listened to at a Best Buy. I'm in Ohio, so unfortunately too far off from Socal unless there is someone I can find in the area who don't mind giving me a tour of their setup. Yeah, the space is open on either side, so might make sense to do dual sub.
 
A

ara777

Enthusiast
Is this just a “space” in an open area? Or is it closed off?

5.1 is a very respectable way to start off. Expanding to atmos later is a good plan.

Regarding your speaker options, I would look closer at Ascend, and not at the other two. There are also other choices out there perhaps worth considering, including the ccb-8 + subs from Hsu.

Denon and Marantz have some great options for AVRs, and I would suggest stepping up to any of the models that offer the XT32 version of Audyssey. It will give you much better control of your system.

Also, cubbies and shelves aren’t necessary friendly to AV setups. Why not wipe the slate and start clean? ;)

Anyway, there's a lot that can be done in terms of how you proceed... do you have plans for the rest of the basement already?
What is your budget?

Cheers!
What you see in the picture is all open. The HT area is not closed off. It's a 'section' in the overall basement.

lol.. actually my initial plan was to completely rip out the entire section. But then the cabinets below seemed harmless and useful for storage of the AVR and all. So thought of only ripping off the shelves and making the area above the cabinets fully open for the TV and speakers.

So I have these 2 small walls close to the sides of the front. Speakers would be very close to these. Is the reflection off of these a good thing or should I be padding them up?

Yeah the rest of the basement are already being used for one thing or the other. I am pretty much stuck with this space. For the audio, I was blindly thinking around $2k.
 
A

ara777

Enthusiast
I'm willing to hear other speaker combinations too. These are just what I came across with my online research for the most part.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Might consider SVS speakers and subs, too....and they have an excellent in-home trial/satisfaction guarantee deal. RSL might be another to consider (and also have a killer in-home trial/satisfaction guarantee deal). Getting out and listening to speakers can be hard I know....I've taken my chances on the internet a few times and been happy with the results....haven't returned anything and beats a 4-5 hour drive to an area that I could do some listening at a few stores.
 
A

ara777

Enthusiast
Might consider SVS speakers and subs, too....and they have an excellent in-home trial/satisfaction guarantee deal. RSL might be another to consider (and also have a killer in-home trial/satisfaction guarantee deal). Getting out and listening to speakers can be hard I know....I've taken my chances on the internet a few times and been happy with the results....haven't returned anything and beats a 4-5 hour drive to an area that I could do some listening at a few stores.
Didn't know about RSL. They seem great and got some interesting bundles! I will add this to my list. Thank you! Know how these compare to Ascend, Emotiva etc? SVS seemed expensive, but I will take another look.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Didn't know about RSL. They seem great and got some interesting bundles! I will add this to my list. Thank you! Know how these compare to Ascend, Emotiva etc? SVS seemed expensive, but I will take another look.
My brother has some of the original RSL speakers from many years ago which are really good (basically RSL was fairly recently re-born but with new designs, by the original founder's son, who is very active in the business....it's not unknown for him to answer questions personally from what I've read......similarly, I've had personal interaction with David Fabrikant, the designer/owner of Ascend).

Try the reviews/articles here on AH for RSL gear https://duckduckgo.com/?q=rsl+speaker+review+audioholics&t=ffab&atb=v136-1&ia=web
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Hi all,

It's finally my turn to start sprucing up in the home theater area in the house we moved in to, and I am evaluating options. Feeling lucky to have come across this forum and I am super excited!

The basement has a space that already has the area demarcated for the purpose. This is an open area in the complete finished basement that takes a footprint of 8.5x14 ft. There is a built-in area for the TV, which I am planning to partially tear down and make room for a larger TV (75").

Been trying to come up with a decent audio setup for this area and I'm thinking to start with a 5.1 set up and if it makes sense upgrade it to a 5.1.2 later on. Not opposed to double subwoofer too if it is not too much overkill to this small space. I am not considering floor standing speakers for the front as the entire are has a row of cabinets and bookshelf speakers or mini-towers seem to fit the space on the counter-top better.

I've though about the following combinations for audio and would like some thoughts from you guys here who have better experience working with these.

Option 1:
Polk S35, 2xPolk S20, 2xPolk S15, Polk HTS12 Sub

Option 2:
Ascend CMT-340 SE, 4xAscend CBM 170, HSU VTF-2 MK5 Sub

Option 3:
Ascend CMT-340 SE, 2xAscend CMT-340SE, 2xAscend CBM 170, HSU VTF-2 MK5 Sub

Option 4:
Emotiva C1+, 4xEmotiva B1+, HSU VTF-2 MK5 Sub

Thinking to drive this with a Denon AVR-X3500H or similar. I would like recommendations on this too.

I've attached a picture of the basement layout and where the HT would go along with the speakers.
I would consider entirely different kinds of speakers than what you are considering. All of those speakers are wide dispersion speakers, but you are placing them in a congested area, and that means that diffraction from nearby surfaces will be that much worse. When speakers have to be placed so close to boundaries such as walls, the thing to do is get narrow dispersion speakers, so that not as much sound reflects off nearby boundaries. I would look for horn-loaded speakers like Klipsch or Hsu speakers. The aforementioned Hsu CCB-8s would make for a good front stage in your situation. You should to factor the acoustics of the speaker's intended placement when considering what speakers to get.

Another problem is the close proximity of the surrounds to your seating position. There is just not a good way to use surrounds in a situation like this where you are seated against a wall. The surround speakers will also be met with a lot of diffraction plus you are so close that they will be sharply localizable. If I were you, I would just consider going with a 5.1 setup but put the surrounds where you are looking to put the Atmos speakers, but perhaps spread further apart. Use in-ceiling speakers. There are decent, simple in-ceiling speakers you can get from JBL, Klipsch, and Revel. RSL Speakers also has some nice in-ceiling speakers. I would forget about Atmos in your arrangement. Trying to cram a bunch of speakers in that situation is bound to make things sound worse, not better.

I would also consider putting some kind of acoustic absorber behind the sofa that you will be listening at. Maybe a broadband acoustic absorbtion panel from GIK acoustics. The room and its layout is as much a part of the sound system as the speakers and AVR.
 
A

ara777

Enthusiast
I would consider entirely different kinds of speakers than what you are considering. All of those speakers are wide dispersion speakers, but you are placing them in a congested area, and that means that diffraction from nearby surfaces will be that much worse. When speakers have to be placed so close to boundaries such as walls, the thing to do is get narrow dispersion speakers, so that not as much sound reflects off nearby boundaries. I would look for horn-loaded speakers like Klipsch or Hsu speakers. The aforementioned Hsu CCB-8s would make for a good front stage in your situation. You should to factor the acoustics of the speaker's intended placement when considering what speakers to get.

Another problem is the close proximity of the surrounds to your seating position. There is just not a good way to use surrounds in a situation like this where you are seated against a wall. The surround speakers will also be met with a lot of diffraction plus you are so close that they will be sharply localizable. If I were you, I would just consider going with a 5.1 setup but put the surrounds where you are looking to put the Atmos speakers, but perhaps spread further apart. Use in-ceiling speakers. There are decent, simple in-ceiling speakers you can get from JBL, Klipsch, and Revel. RSL Speakers also has some nice in-ceiling speakers. I would forget about Atmos in your arrangement. Trying to cram a bunch of speakers in that situation is bound to make things sound worse, not better.

I would also consider putting some kind of acoustic absorber behind the sofa that you will be listening at. Maybe a broadband acoustic absorbtion panel from GIK acoustics. The room and its layout is as much a part of the sound system as the speakers and AVR.
Great info! This is the kinda critical evaluation I am looking for. Thank you.

I felt the dispersion will be a factor but didn't know enough to evaluate. What you say helps. Does it help if those surfaces close to speakers will have acoustic panels? Or is that a waste of speaker output of a wide dispersion soeaker whereas making it more directed allows to get most of the energy towards the listener?
 
A

ara777

Enthusiast
Also isn't it a valid layout for 5.1 if the rear surrounds are inline to the listener? Will it help if I move the speakers further out, add the acoustic panel on the wall and potentially turn down the surrounds a bit? I probably could move the couch about a foot forward if that helps.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Great info! This is the kinda critical evaluation I am looking for. Thank you.

I felt the dispersion will be a factor but didn't know enough to evaluate. What you say helps. Does it help if those surfaces close to speakers will have acoustic panels? Or is that a waste of speaker output of a wide dispersion soeaker whereas making it more directed allows to get most of the energy towards the listener?
You could put acoustic panels on the surfaces next to the speakers, and that would help, but keep in mind that acoustic absorbers do not absorb one hundred percent of pressure waves that hit them. You will want wide band acoustic absorbers as well, and those tend to be thick, but narrow band absorbers will only affect a narrow band of frequency, of course, and my be worse then doing nothing.
Also isn't it a valid layout for 5.1 if the rear surrounds are inline to the listener? Will it help if I move the speakers further out, add the acoustic panel on the wall and potentially turn down the surrounds a bit? I probably could move the couch about a foot forward if that helps.
If you move the couch forward, that would be a big help. Also, if you move the surround speakers a bit out and place some acoustic absorber on the back wall, that would all help. Again, it might help to get a narrow dispersion speaker if it has to be placed near a wall. Less reflections to interfere with the direct sound.
 
A

ara777

Enthusiast
You could put acoustic panels on the surfaces next to the speakers, and that would help, but keep in mind that acoustic absorbers do not absorb one hundred percent of pressure waves that hit them. You will want wide band acoustic absorbers as well, and those tend to be thick, but narrow band absorbers will only affect a narrow band of frequency, of course, and my be worse then doing nothing.

If you move the couch forward, that would be a big help. Also, if you move the surround speakers a bit out and place some acoustic absorber on the back wall, that would all help. Again, it might help to get a narrow dispersion speaker if it has to be placed near a wall. Less reflections to interfere with the direct sound.
I agree with your inputs. I wish I had a better space to work with. The only thing with those horn speakers is that they really sound harsh to me and almost gives me headaches. I try to stick to a warmer tone and that led to my speaker selections. What if I do a bunch of sound absorption panels (probably checkerboard small wide band and narrowband panels) around the walls in front and back? Added picture highlighting those areas in yellow.
 

Attachments

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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
You could cover the area with acoustic absorbers, and that could help, but that whole setup partly defeats the point of wide dispersion speakers; you want side wall reflections, just not that close to the speaker. Horns don't have to sound harsh, they just get a bad resp from oldschool Klipsch speakers and cheap PA speakers. The newer Klipsch reference premier speakers are not bad. Hsu's HB speakers are pretty mellow. Hsu's CCB-8 is a bit hot on axis, but they are not supposed to be used on axis, they are voiced to be used at a 20 degree angle.
 
A

ara777

Enthusiast
You could cover the area with acoustic absorbers, and that could help, but that whole setup partly defeats the point of wide dispersion speakers; you want side wall reflections, just not that close to the speaker. Horns don't have to sound harsh, they just get a bad resp from oldschool Klipsch speakers and cheap PA speakers. The newer Klipsch reference premier speakers are not bad. Hsu's HB speakers are pretty mellow. Hsu's CCB-8 is a bit hot on axis, but they are not supposed to be used on axis, they are voiced to be used at a 20 degree angle.
Ok, really appreciate your thoughts here. I'll try out the Klipsch RPs again. Any models you recommend for this space? For fronts and surrounds. Do ribbon tweeters (ex: Emotiva B1) disperse wide too? Also could I move speakers towards me past the walls on sides? Will that cause any acoustic issues apart from looking crowded.
 

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