Looking for advice / opinions on HT upgrades

P

pronator

Enthusiast
I have an entry level 5.1 system in the corner of a pretty large basement (floor plan and pic attached). I am not usually unhappy with the sound, but I would like to upgrade, starting with the sub. It recently bottomed out (port noise?) during the scene in Ready Player One where Sorrento detonates the Cataclyst.

Current Setup:
I read many sub reviews here, and am considering the Monolith M-10 V2 and SVS PB-1000 Pro. I am willing to pay $$ for good customer service so my tentative plan of attack is:
  • upgrade sub to SVS PB-1000 Pro
  • upgrade center channel to something not too big I can mount on the wall
  • upgrade front LR speakers
I am open to advice or criticism on anything really, I'm here to learn.

I'm not in the market for:
  • towers - my spouse will object and I love the satellites on the wall honestly. I have Polk RM-6751 satellites and RM-6752 center in my LR and they are totally fine. I'm fine mounting a heavier center above the screen, there's not really any room below.
  • Atmos - ceiling is 7' and I'm happy with 5.1.
Thank you!
 

Attachments

TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
I have an entry level 5.1 system in the corner of a pretty large basement (floor plan and pic attached). I am not usually unhappy with the sound, but I would like to upgrade, starting with the sub. It recently bottomed out (port noise?) during the scene in Ready Player One where Sorrento detonates the Cataclyst.

Current Setup:
I read many sub reviews here, and am considering the Monolith M-10 V2 and SVS PB-1000 Pro. I am willing to pay $$ for good customer service so my tentative plan of attack is:
  • upgrade sub to SVS PB-1000 Pro
  • upgrade center channel to something not too big I can mount on the wall
  • upgrade front LR speakers
I am open to advice or criticism on anything really, I'm here to learn.

I'm not in the market for:
  • towers - my spouse will object and I love the satellites on the wall honestly. I have Polk RM-6751 satellites and RM-6752 center in my LR and they are totally fine. I'm fine mounting a heavier center above the screen, there's not really any room below.
  • Atmos - ceiling is 7' and I'm happy with 5.1.
Thank you!
Puny speakers=Puny Sound.

So talk to your wife. You can change what you want, but if you insist on speakers the size of postage stamps, you will waste money and time.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
Per customer service, Monoprice's is OK, but they won't offer you things like set-up advice, and their technical assistance will be rudimentary. If you have problems, they will take care of you, but not to the extent that SVS would. Another sub to consider that has high performance with good customer service is the Hsu Research VTF-2 mk5. Their customer service would be on par with SVS. If you are willing to spend more for something that has a premium build quality, the Arendal Sound 1961 1V is being discounted for $1.1k at the moment. Arendal also has top-notch customer support.

For your speakers, to get a real upgrade, you will need something more sizable than what you have, and they will need sturdy wall mounts. In my experience, these Videosecu ones are very good. It's trickier to find a good wall mount for a serious center speaker, and for that reason, I would just look at installing a shelf. If you can accommodate that, then you have a lot of very good speaker sets to choose from.
 
P

pronator

Enthusiast
I would just look at installing a shelf
Great suggestion @shadyJ I hadn't thought of! I also very much appreciate the sub and wall mount suggestions. $1100 is a bit more than I really want to spend on, and 80 lb. is way more than I want to lift.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Ninja
The Energy Take Classic were considered a good budget surround system over 12 years ago. Things in home theatre have improved since then. The question is what do want to achieve with the system? That system was designed for small to moderate rooms at moderate listening levels. It was not designed for movie theatre level sound. The weak link is the subwoofer which likely has little output below 30Hz. I am not surprised that it can not handle the sound track from Ready Player One which is known to have some deep bass and is a good test for subwoofers. The PB-1000 Pro will be a big improvement over the Energy sub. I upgrade from a 10" Klipsch to the SB-2000 Pro and it made a very notable improvement in the overall sound of the system.

With the boiler room behind the TV wall I think you have a lot of options here. I like wall mounted TVs and putting that TV on a wall mount would not be that difficult a job. If you want to hide the wires, you can install a brush plate for running wires behind the TV and the console.
white-commercial-electric-a-v-wall-plates-5038-wh-64_300.jpg

You could then fit a larger centre speaker under the TV on the console, but ideally you want the speakers aimed ear height which may require angling the speaker up (or down if mounted above the TV). There are also TV stands that could sit on your console which raise the TV up and allow a centre speaker to fit underneath. Also the option to install a shelf above the TV as mentioned.

Small wall-mounted box speakers limit your options. Whether it is worth the upgrade depends on your budget. Shady mentioned the Hsu VTF-2 MK5 for subwoofers ($689). Hsu make great subwoofers. They also make the excellent CCB-8 speaker. This is a coaxial design, so it can be used both vertically and horizontally, which makes it a great option for use as L+C+R front speakers. It has a high sensitivity of 94dB so these can get loud. You're looking at $389 per speaker though. They do discount bundles. For example, 3 of the CCB-8 plus the VTF-Mk5 would be $1,761. That would far outperform what you have now and would be a pretty killer compact setup. They bundle 5 plus the sub as well, but I imagine that replacing the rear speakers may not fit your budget.
 
P

pronator

Enthusiast
The question is what do want to achieve with the system?
Excellent question, thank you @Eppie, it really helped me clarify my thinking. I have reconsidered and towers are fine.

Mostly, I want to watch sci-fi and action movies and not lose the immersion with weird artifacts. I don't want anything so loud it will wake sleepers 2 floors up. Sometimes, I want to listen to vinyl or CDs and have more midrange. I want the system to be attractive but not visually overpower the basement. I want to be practical and to me that means less than $2k.

I see a used Polk Audio Signature Series S50 towers + S30 center + S10 rears for $500 that I think might be a good upgrade, together with a new sub.

I knew nothing of coaxial speakers. It really surprises me to think this could compete with MTM designs. Thank you, this is educational.
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic General
I've had CCB-8s for the LCR (Fronts) in our Atmos system since October 2018 and they've been fabulous. Most critical audio types will advise MTM center channel speakers designs are flawed due to lobing issues. The CCB-8s don't have these issues, and vocal clarity is superb. Check out the @shadyJ CCB-8's review .

I have the L&R ones on stands at the recommended height, and like what @Eppie has suggested, the Center is below our wall mounted 75" Samsung TV and angled up towards the prime listening position. It's a great soundstage for music & movies.

Whatever you get I hope you can enjoy it for years to come. ;)
 
O

Oddball

Junior Audioholic
Towers will not do wonders in this budget, especially for action and sci-fi movies. In your case, and in any case, they just might help with positioning as they don't require stands or mounts.

You would need capable sub/s for the action and sci-fi movies. How many and what caliber will depend on your definition of adequate SPL, FQ response and distortion, as well as budget. You can ultimately EQ out the frequencies that would wake up the sleepers after hours, or use dynamic range compression at the hours where dynamic range is an issue.

I would also think more of a centre channel than the towers in this budget. Centre will always need to work hard, subs or no subs, and will lift more weight than the LR towers.

Mounting TV on the wall and having the centre under TV would likely work better than mounting it above the TV on the stand - although both could be viable options provided implemented correctly.
 
P

pronator

Enthusiast
For my room and TV I feel the CCB-8 is too big for a center, and the picture from another thread when it is above the TV kind of settled it for me. So now I will raise my TV 6-14", see if I like it, then consider a pair of KEF Q150s and a KEF-Q250c under the TV. Maybe it is not as good as the CCB-8, but it is 2-1/4" shorter, and for me that would be a big win. Thank you @Oddball and @-Jim- for helping clarify my thinking.
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic General
Almost all folks rotate these coaxial speakers when used in the center position under a TV. There is no sonic impact in doing so. In fact some folks rotate all three (see WAF). The KEF Q150s are 7- 1⁄8"W and the CCB-8s are 10 1⁄2” W which become the height measurement in this orientation. The enclosure size difference is due to the speaker diameter difference of 5 1⁄4” vs 8".

I'm not a fan of putting a center speaker on top of a TV. No science to it, I just think it's a visual distraction.

Just for grins, try swapping the turntable & existing Sub locations. You'll get a bit more room gain in the corner while you decide on your next move.

By the way, just based on the photo, you TV does seem a bit low.

Enjoy!
 
P

pronator

Enthusiast
TV does seem a bit low
Dammit, @-Jim- , you are right! I made a new plan: raise the TV and use 3 KEF Q150s as LCR (I saw it recommended in another post). I think I'm happy with this plan. This is to scale with Q150s, and a custom stand for the TV. Now for a sub...

.
IMG_20240621_0002.jpg
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Ninja
Dammit, @-Jim- , you are right! I made a new plan: raise the TV and use 3 KEF Q150s as LCR (I saw it recommended in another post). I think I'm happy with this plan. This is to scale with Q150s, and a custom stand for the TV. Now for a sub...

.View attachment 68067
The Q150 is not as good as the CCB-8 but it's also a concentric design and can lay flat for the centre. Sensitivity is considerably lower at 86dB, so you will need more power to reach the same volume as the CCB-8, but I think you mentioned that you do not intend to play them too loud. KEF is known to have good mid-range response and should do well with dialogue, so it's a decent lower cost option. The Energy TC is rated at 89dB, also higher than the Q150, so bear that in mind.

While the PB-1000 Pro or Hsu VTF-2 were recommended, if you're on a tight budget Audioholics did a review of $500 subwoofers. Bear in mind that you have to take the entire room into account which makes it a larger space than just the seating area. For a room that size the $500 models are likely undersized and the extra coin for the SVS or Hsu is worth it. Good clean bass really improves the overall sound quality of a system.
 
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P

pronator

Enthusiast
The Q150 is not as good as the CCB-8
I believe you but they are smaller and half the cost. Dang that's a great callout re: sensitivity. I'll test and see if they get loud enough, then decide on a sub.

Can I ask @Eppie why you went sealed (SB-2000 Pro in your sig) vs. ported? It does look beautiful in piano black and of course it's shorter.
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic General
I certainly get it that the Q150s may better budget wise / WAF, but no one I know has ever complained about the value proposition on the CCB-8s. And they can get very loud once in a blue moon when the mood strikes. ;) I have a Denon AVRX-4400H on the 7.2.4 Atmos system in the Games Room and it's not lacking anything driving the CCB-8s.

If you looking to a budget Sub, I happen to have a Klipsch R-121SW in my 5.1 -2.1(Zone 2 for my PC system) Man Cave /Junk Room in the basement which I got for a song (about $120 USD plus taxes) last fall after reading @shadyJ review of the Klipsch R-121SW when I stumbled across the deal. After letting Audyssey manage the Bass, it does quite well in a room similar in size to yours. But at retail list price I would be looking the RSL Speedwoofer 12S Subwoofer Review and try to scratch together the cash for it.

If you give the Team here an idea of what you want to spend on a Sub, then I'm betting lots will chime in with suggestions.
 
Teetertotter?

Teetertotter?

Senior Audioholic
@pronator I might suggest a bookshelf, metal frame, all open, for your Electonics and TV. I raised up the TV by using a stack of painted 4 X 4's, to allow a center channel to slide underneath the TV, and center channel at ear level.

My bookshelf has 3 shelves, counting the top, and was not wide enough for my 55" feet, so I painted a 1 x 10 x 5' foot board. My set-up is in the basement and not that concerned about appearance vs functionality, in my case. All front speaker tweeters are at ear level.

Center channel is critical for movie dialog and suggest not skimping on that. The center channel does not have to be of the same mfg as the mains.

The best quality 4KTV viewing distance, based on 55' size, is said to be 6 feet or so. My front L/R bookshelf speakers are 6.5 feet away. Sub measure 8 feet. Side surround tweeters are 2 feet above the ears, angled down, and a bit behind.

Good luck with your new upcoming set-up and enjoy. Here you will find some speaker reviews: Erin's Audio Corner (erinsaudiocorner.com)
 
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P

pronator

Enthusiast
the Q150s may better budget wise / WAF
WAF I didn't know that one :) I did a lot of planning / mockups and while I don't think now the CCB-8s are as huge as I feared, they are still quite wide to my eyes at 10.5" and I would have to raise my TV another 1.5" and I feel it's already too high. I did find the Q150s in the Top Six $600 review, but honestly I did not understand sensitivity yet.

give the Team here an idea of what you want to spend on a Sub
I'm willing to spend $1,000 on a sub. So far I have noted in order of price:
* Klipsch R-121SW ($500 if limited budget)
* Hsu Research VTF-2 mk5 ($689)
* RSL Speedwoofer 12S ($800)
* nod to SVS PB-1000 Pro ($800)
* Arendal Sound 1961 1V ($1,100)
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Audioholic General
Well done with the cardboard cut outs. Although you'd get a better feel for how they blend in if they were black.

Did you notice any improvement by moving the Sub to the corner?
 
P

pronator

Enthusiast
Did you notice any improvement by moving the Sub to the corner?
I didn't get a chance to test it out yet, but my daughter was watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse last night and said the speakers sound nice !! Two exclamation points, which I think means non-sarcastic. That move and moving the TV up and the center under were I think winning suggestions !!
Spray painting the cardboard black is a fabulous idea and quite low effort.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Ninja
I went sealed solely because I have limited space and the ported options at the time were a bit large for the room. I went with the SB-2000 Pro as I wanted a sub that was rated down to at least 20Hz and still had some output at 16Hz (which I get from boundary enforcement). I'm only 9ft from my speakers and don't play at reference levels so the sealed version has worked out fine. If the room was larger I would have opted for ported as the general consensus here is that ported performs better.

The Hsu, RSL and SVS all perform well so it might come down to aesthetics.

Your TV may seem high with the CCB-8 because you're used to it being on the low side. The console you have is not very tall. A wall mount is $40 on Amazon and you eliminate the stands. The TV does end up being a little further away. With the TV higher you can stick the Wii sensor under the TV with two-sided tape or even place it on top of the centre speaker. I think it would really clean up the look. You would also have space for the turntable. ;)

My console is quite a bit taller so I am used to having my TVs higher up on the wall. It's an outside wall that is insulated, so I have not hidden the cables; I just have them bundled. I could get some plastic channel to hide them inside and paint the channel to match the wall. I used a tilt mount which angles the TV to the seating position and helps with reflections.

 
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