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AV Rant #401: Budget Speaker Recommendations

September 25th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Special thanks to Niels and Todd for supporting the podcast. We can’t do this without you! This week, an announcement about our Audyssey interview with Chris Kyriakakis and an update about our interviews with the Digital Media Zone guys. If you have HTPC or home integration questions, get them in now. Camereon sent us a link to the first reported sighting of Dolby Atmos in a tablet – the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (LINK). Dolby also released more information about Atmos Mobile (or whatever they are calling it). (LINK) Mike is interesting in more speakers on his ceiling, Nick compared three of our favorite speakers and reports and he also has a sub recommendation, and Sim wants to know what we think of multi-tweeter speaker designs. Infinite Gary has some questions about powered speakers, Atmos speakers, and whether a reflective floor or reflective ceiling is worse. Bill is planning his home theater and has questions about screen size and projector choice, Damon asked for some budget speaker recommendations (LINK) and Rob forgot to mention EMP Tek (LINK), and Tim is upgrading his 90’s equipment and wants to know what to keep and what to toss. Rob and Tom disagree on that one. Cameron has some questions about localizable bass and what to do with his OTA antenna, Jay is curious about amplifier ratings, Dan wants to know who to trust when shopping for a TV and our specific recommendations, Michael is having DVR issues, and Leighton wants to know if he should upgrade his speakers. Thanks for listening. Check out our Facebook Page. Click here for our YouTube channel where you can see the recordings of our show videos. Download Tom’s FREE superhero-themed ebook Bob Moore: No Hero wherever ebooks are sold (or given away in this case). Visit Tom's website for download links as well as links for the two full-length followups -  Bob Moore: Desperate Times and Bob Moore: Hostile Territory. Check out AVGadgets.com where Tom is the new Editor-in-Chief!

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  1. Rob H
    October 13th, 2014 at 07:33 | #1

    SVS is now handling Canadian sales directly from their own website.

    Shipping takes place from their warehouse in Ontario. The 45-day trial remains intact, but shipping is only free to the customer, return shipping must be paid if you send a product back within Canada.

    Prices remain in US dollars. No word yet on what this means for Sonic Boom Audio.

    http://www.svsound.com/support/Canada-FAQ

    SVS is also moving into retail in the US is a pretty big way.

    SVS products will now be available in Magnolia Design Centers within select Best Buy store locations.

    Audioholics has the scoop:

    http://www.audioholics.com/news/svs-magnolia-best-buy

    AV Rant Listener Cameron K. —

    spotted the first tablet with Dolby Atmos headphone processing.

    The Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 has Atmos on board so that you can enjoy a simulation of full immersive audio via any pair of headphones:

    http://blog.dolby.com/2014/09/dolby-atmos-goes-mobile/

    AV Rant Listener Nick B. —

    directly compared some of the $1000+/pair bookshelf speakers that we frequently recommend on the podcast.

    He auditioned the:

    SVS Ultra Bookshelf: http://www.svsound.com/speakers/ultra-series/ultra-bookshelf

    a pair of Aperion Audio Verus Grand Center speakers used as L/R Mains: http://www.aperionaudio.com/speakers/speakers-by-series/verus/verus-grand-center-channel-speaker

    and the Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2: http://ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRM2/srm2.html

    He was also interested in, but unable to directly audition the:

    Philharmonic Audio Philharmonitor: http://philharmonicaudio.com/philharmonitor.html

    and RBH Sound Signature SX Reference SX-61/R: http://rbhsound.com/sx61r.php

    Out of the 3 pairs he was able to audition and compare directly, he wound up keeping the Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2, and he’s very happy with them. But he found all of these options to be excellent speakers with various subtle strengths and weaknesses compared to one another. No “night and day” differences, but small audible differences that might make a potential customer prefer one over the rest. For him, the superior level of clarity and excellent imaging of the Sierra-2 made them his personal favorite out of the group.

    AV Rant Listener Nick B. —

    also wanted to make sure we mention some other subwoofer brands outside of our usual list of brands.

    Power Sound Audio is growing in popularity as their combination of big 15″ drivers, tons of output, power, and extension, and low prices make for an obviously attractive combination for bass enthusiasts!

    Nick is a fan of their sealed XS15se in particular: http://www.powersoundaudio.com/collections/subwoofers/products/xs15se

    AV Rant Listener Sim —

    wanted to share his short list of speakers that use multiple tweeters.

    The following models are all speakers that Sim thinks are particularly good sounding:

    M&K Sound S150 MK II: http://www.mksound.com/150-series/s-150mk11

    Ken Kreisel KK-Q125: http://www.kreiselsound.com/_images/Product_Manuals/KEN%20KREISEL%20Q125TFX%20Owners%20Manual%20R6%20K8P%20sm%20sec.pdf

    XTZ Sound Cinema M6: http://www.xtzsound.us/shop-en/Speakers/cinema-m6-left-center

    AV Rant Listener Gary —

    was reading through the Pass Labs SR2 speaker manual. He noted that on page 6 of the manual where they’re talking about speaker placement and setup, they wrote that, “reflective floors, while not ideal, are typically less disruptive than highly reflective ceilings”.

    You can read through their take on room acoustics in that manual here: https://passlabs.com/images/uploads/manual/SR-2_om.pdf

    AV Rant Listener Bill R. —

    is continuing the planning process for his unfinished 14′ x 19′ 9″ x 8′ 8″ dedicated theater room in his basement.

    He’s on to thinking about front projection screens now, and we made a couple of suggestions on the podcast.

    Seymour AV is a very likely candidate. Their manual masking system is the most cost effective way to have a big, CinemaScope 2.35:1 aspect ratio screen for movies that you can easily turn into a narrower 16:9 screen using the masking panels:

    http://www.seymourav.com/masking.asp

    And if you’re willing to pay the higher price tag, Carada’s Masquerade Masking system ups the cool factor by making those side masking panels motorized so that you can move them in and out at the touch of a button:

    http://www.carada.com/Masquerade-Masking-System.aspx

    AV Rant Listener Damon —

    asked us on Twitter for a list of inexpensive speakers that can easily be purchased online. Here’s what we came up with:

    1) Monoprice 10565: http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=109&cp_id=10906&cs_id=1090601&p_id=10565&seq=1&format=2

    5 small speakers + 8″ sub. Cheap as it gets without being garbage. Plain black boxes but small. Need an AVR

    2) Vizio S4251w: http://www.vizio.com/s4251wb4.html

    and S5451w Soundbars: http://www.vizio.com/s5451wc2.html

    Soundbar with wireless sub. Surround speakers connect to wireless sub making them pseudo-wireless.

    3) Energy Take Classic 5.1: http://www.energy-speakers.com/products/take-classic/?sku=TK-CLASSI-5-1

    On par with Monoprice 10565. Nicer looking and gloss black.

    4) Pioneer Andrew Jones Gen.2: http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speakers/Home+Theater+Speakers

    The best sounding inexpensive speakers out there, IMO. Physically much larger than what a lot of people expect/want, though. I’m showing links to Pioneer’s website where you can buy them directly, but you can often find them at even lower prices. Amazon, Best Buy, Tiger Direct, Parts-Express all carry these speakers and might have them on sale.

    SP-PK22BS is a great, convenient 5.1 bookshelf package: http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speakers/Home+Theater+Speakers/SP-PK22BS

    If there’s a “weak link” in the lineup, it’s the 8″ subwoofer. Therefore, I wouldn’t really recommend the SP-PK52FS 5.1 package with the Tower Fronts. Instead, buy the speakers separately and then add a better subwoofer.

    SP-FS52 Tower (sold individually): http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speakers/Home+Theater+Speakers/SP-FS52

    SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf Pair: http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speakers/Home+Theater+Speakers/SP-BS22-LR

    SP-C22 Center: http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speakers/Home+Theater+Speakers/SP-C22

    I’d mate those with the stellar for its price and size…

    HSU STF-2 subwoofer: http://hsuresearch.com/products/stf-2.html

    5) Speaking of HSU…

    HSU Value 2 Packages: http://hsuresearch.com/products/value2pkg.html

    Fairly large, plain black, horn-loaded bookshelf speakers with an STF-2 subwoofer. Killer when you need higher efficiency speakers.

    SPECIAL NOTE:

    From here on out, I’ll be recommending that no matter which of these speakers you buy, if the goal is to keep the price as low as possible, you keep the HSU STF-2 as your subwoofer of choice. It’s the best value out there, IMO.

    6) Need the loudest output using the least amount of power?

    BIC America Acoustech: http://www.bicamerica.com/showpage.php?brand=1

    Horn-loaded lineup of high efficiency, high output speakers.

    7) EMP Tek: http://emptek.com/theater_build.php

    Probably the best looking speakers you’ll find anywhere close to this price, and they can play extremely loud, too.

    8) Ascend Acoustics HTM-200SE: http://ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/htm200/htm200.html

    One of the most versatile speakers out there with a tweeter that’s a cut above for its price range. These are compact (though not small, exactly. And they’re plain, black boxes) and you can position them just about anywhere – on stands, on-wall, in a bookcase or shelving unit, etc. – and they’ll still perform well.

    9) Aperion Audio Intimus: http://www.aperionaudio.com/speakers/speakers-by-series/intimus

    Very nice looking in gloss black. A good alternative to the Ascend SE series when you want better looks.

    SPECIAL NOTE: Once we get to larger room sizes and these sorts of price points, you might be looking for an even better subwoofer than the HSU STF-2.

    The Outlaw Audio LFM-1 Plus is a fantastic pick for bigger rooms that need a lot of output and genuine 20Hz extension: http://outlawaudio.com/products/lfm1plus.html

    After that, I’d probably just look to the SVS lineup of subwoofers if you’re willing to go even higher in price: http://www.svsound.com/subwoofers/view-all

    10) There are plenty of other options out there, of course. But I consider the options above to be my “go to” suggestions and basically the “best in breed” for various purposes and situations. But there’s no harm in also looking at HTD, NHT, Fluance, and it should be mentioned that accessories4less.com sells discounted speakers, too. In particular, KEF and Boston Acoustics can be purchased there, and they’re great speaker choices.

    And to power all of these speakers (other than the Vizio Soundbar), I’d highly recommend getting your AV Receiver from accessories4less.com . And for a lower price point, I’d recommend Denon most highly so that you’ll at least get Audyssey MultEQ auto-setup and room correction at the very least.

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