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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello HTS,

I've been scouring the internet the past couple of weeks reading reviews and forums to learn about the best budget audio options to build my first home theater. I'm hoping to hear back from experienced HTS members about what I have come up with so far and if it can be improved in anyway. The goal is to have the best audio experience for watching movies for under $1250.

Budget: I'd like to stay under, or around $1,250.
Room & size: This will be for my living room. I'll have to get the exact dimensions later, but I would estimate it's around 15 x 20 feet with the back of the room opening into the dining room/kitchen.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

Speakers: Pioneer SP-PK52FS 5.0 package ~ $438 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IRH0QMA/?coliid=IDUK2HDNHERWD&colid=38RCRJV8M3DPR&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

Height speakers: Pioneer SP-T22A-LR add on speaker to add in height channels for a 5.1.2 set up. ~$199 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0148NPHO8/?coliid=IFC818SIS9D7L&colid=38RCRJV8M3DPR&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

Sub: BIC America F-12 ~$220 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015A8Y5M/?coliid=ISCXB161MT962&colid=38RCRJV8M3DPR&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

Receiver: Denon AVRS730H ~$350 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XYHTQTH/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=themasswi0f-20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B06XYHTQTH&linkId=87fc9b0a330cdd95248f23906f3f424e

All this totals up to about ~ $1200

Special note - Having the height speakers for the 5.1.2 system is not a must. From my initial research, I thought the pioneer speaker system was offering the best value for the money and decided to go with their 5.0 system. After more research I found they offered the height speaker add on and figured it would be a good add for the money being spent.

What do you guys think? Can you come up with a better system for the price? Should I choose different speakers, different sub, different AV? Let me know your thoughts, and ultimately how I can get the best sounding system for around $1,250.
 

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HTS Moderator , Reviewer
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Welcome to HTS.

As designed, your configuration is a pretty solid entry system that should serve you well. The only area of concern I see is the Pioneer center channel; it's likely too small for your room. The front 3 speakers, often referred to as LCR (left/center/right), are the most critical, with the center probably most important of all. The center in that system only has dual 4" midranges, not really a good foundation for a room the size of yours (unless you happen to be sitting very close).

If you want to consider other options check out the Premier Acoustics Monitor 4.4 speaker/subwoofer system. It has a better center and comes at a very reasonable price. The HTD Level Two systems are another potential option. I reviewed one of their setups a few years back.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the feedback and welcoming Jim,

I will check out your two recommendations.

Update on the dimensions - I confirmed that the room is 20 feet wide and 15 feet long with the space being open on the back wall to another area. The seating area is about 9 to 10 feet away from where the front speakers would be. Would you still stick with your recommendation with only being 10 feet away? Regardless of the distance, would you say your two recommendations are better quality anyway?

I really value the thoughts of you guys who dive in to this stuff everyday, vs. the countless review sites just trying to make ad money haha.
 

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Update on the dimensions - I confirmed that the room is 20 feet wide and 15 feet long with the space being open on the back wall to another area. The seating area is about 9 to 10 feet away from where the front speakers would be. Would you still stick with your recommendation with only being 10 feet away? Regardless of the distance, would you say your two recommendations are better quality anyway?
If the back wall opens up to another space that might cause some issues for a 12" subwoofer as it 'sees' the entire volume of space, not just the viewing area. That would make it a pretty large area for a sub with a modest sized driver. However, that can be partially mitigated by proximity; if it's close to the listeners the drop-off won't be so noticeable. The same will hold true for the center as well. While a little undersized, if you're only sitting about 10 feet away you may not have an output problem. Dual 4" drivers can't produce the human voice with full clarity and depth, but it should be able to provide sufficient character to make the viewing experience enjoyable.

While typing this I did think of another option, the Dayton AIR series. Those speakers are quite nice for the price, so that may be another possibility. The center is only slightly larger than the Pioneers, but the towers and bookshelf speakers should provide even more output.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Jim,

After hearing your thoughts about room size, I'm looking at increasing my budget slightly to look at larger speakers.

I've been looking into the Elac debut series. Another question that's come up that I haven't been able to find a solid answer to is are floor standing speakers necessary if I'm purchasing a sub-woofer?

For example, I'm looking in to the debut series (f5, c5,b5) and found to get a set up with floor standing speakers the cost is about $970. If I were to get 4 b5 speakers the cost would only be around $700. While I like the look of the large floor standing speakers, I'm after sound quality more so than appearance.

Does getting floor standing speakers actually provide a benefit considering I'm using a sub, or would I just be throwing my money away? Would love to hear your thoughts.
 

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For 2 channel music listening a subwoofer may not be necessary if you have tower speakers with a wide frequency range, but for HT a subwoofer is a must. What it adds to the experience is rather significant and can't be adequately duplicated with speakers alone. Given that your stated goal is "to have the best audio experience for watching movies" you should not forgo a sub.

Larger more capable speakers (towers) offer a presence and depth that bookshelf speakers are not able to provide. If you use an 80Hz crossover point for a set of towers and bookshelf speakers you might think the results will be the same, from an audible perspective, but they won't. The more capable your speakers are the less they work to produce sound, and that lack of effort can be heard (generally due to less distortion). Larger drivers and more cabinet volume are your friend when it comes to speakers and subwoofers, especially if you like to listen at volume. That being said...

In the end it all comes to down your own situation and unique set of circumstances. What I consider important you may not, what I'm looking to achieve might be different than what you want. For me, speakers that are not the least bit strained make for a better experience as they have a lower distortion profile. I prefer quality over quantity though, which is not the same for everyone.
 
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