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Discussion Starter #1
Hey,

I am looking to complete my budget 5.1 surround sound system meant to be used in both a medium sized bedroom and a small dorm room (I am a student). This, and the fact that I need to be able to transport these to and from school (~300 miles) means that floor standing speakers are most likely out of the question because of the limited space in a car. This is what I currently have:

2x Cambridge Soundworks M55 Bookshelf speakers as Front Left/Right
1x Bose Acoustimass center channel.
1x Epiphany 130W 10" powered subwoofer

Receiver: Sony STR-DG510

What I am looking to do is to complete the surround aspect, and replace the center channel. The only reason that I have that particular center channel is that I found it for $20, and since I am building on a budget, it caught my eye; I have decided that it is time to get something a bit better.

I have about $300 to spend as a maximum, but I would not be opposed to spending less. What I have been looking at so far is something along the lines of the JBL ES20 bookshelves to either serve as Front Left/right or surround left/right and the corresponding ES25C Center Channel. The total of those speakers would be $320 shipped.

Please help me to find some good sound for the money that I am looking to spend. Any and all help is greatly appreciated
 

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There has been quite a bit of talk about the Yambeka speakers I know they are towrs for the mains but for the price its tough to beat.

SVSound makes some really good speakers (the SCS-01) but a little bit higher than your budget.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The yambekas look like a great deal, but I don't think that it will fit my needs of being portable to and from school. As for the SVSounds I will take those under consideration, but unfortunately they are ~$180 over what I am looking to spend and being a student, I can't really justify spending that much.
 

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The insignia's found at best buy were the darling of the super cheap crowd a while back. They were running only ~$50 back then rather than the ~$88 they are now, but could be what you're looking for. They also go on sale occasionally, so if needed, you could just wait for a sale. I've also seen a few threads around that show some mods that can be made to improve the sound. Or, if you're like me and get a lot of best buy cards because you're hard to buy for, that would be another way to go.

Other than that, maybe keep an eye out on Audiogon.com for some good deals. One I'd look for is the Paradigm mini-monitors. I've always thought those were a great bang for the buck speaker. If you got them at a discount, then even better.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So I managed to pick up a pair of Polk Audio T20e's off craigslist for my front 2 speakers. Since I got those for only $60, I was considering using the remaining money to build a DIY center channel. I was browsing several designs and landed on the Cynosure center channel. Would this be a good build for the money and not extremely difficult so that as my first DIY project, it would be manageable?
 

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I don't think these would be a good match. Since you were able to find the polks so cheaply, I'd see if you could find another pair and use one for the center channel and one maybe in the back for a 6.1 setup. For me, having the same tone/timbre/etc panning across the front three speakers is pretty important for movies. I think that Cynosure is going to be too different. And at $310 for the parts, it seems like you'd have an unbalanced system. For $310, I'd get those polks all around.

But then, that's just me.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Is there another speaker design that you could recommend that would have a similar sound? I would like to do some sort of DIY speaker work, and since I have the money and the time during the summer it would be a good time.

Also, I may be able to get a Polk CSi30 center channel speaker for $60, would you recommend this to match with the other speakers I got?
 

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Is there another speaker design that you could recommend that would have a similar sound? I would like to do some sort of DIY speaker work, and since I have the money and the time during the summer it would be a good time.

Also, I may be able to get a Polk CSi30 center channel speaker for $60, would you recommend this to match with the other speakers I got?
I think with most store bought speakers, it would be hard to timbre/tone/etc match with a DIY project unless you could find the exact drivers used in the l/r speakers. Then you'd have to match up the voicing of the speaker itself. In other words, I think that it'd be difficult to find anything that would do as well as finding something from Polk itself.

I don't know about that particular center channel. It looks like it's designed for another series in Polk's line up. When I look on their website, I couldn't find what the matching "center" channel speaker would be for that line -- finding another T20e would be ideal in any case. Barring that, I'd shoot them an e-mail and see if they have a matching center.

If you're looking for a DIY project, you could build a new sub. I don't know your sub, but maybe a bigger driver to get more oomph might be fun. I do like the looks of those other Epiihany speakers!

Or a new l/r/c for the system where you would then move the polks to the back for surround duty. That'd be a little more scratch, but could be a lot of fun. I really enjoy the whole DIY thing.

Anyway, that's my $0.02.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
The CSi30 is from a different series, but from what I can tell uses almost identical drivers to the T20e's so that it should match pretty closely.

I would like to find another T20e, but as I got the other pair off craigslist, the odds of me finding another low priced one is unlikely.

I will look into doing a DIY subwoofer. Would it be reasonable to use the plate amp that I have in my current sub for a DIY version? or would this cause difficulties of matching specs/etc. The most difficult thing for me is my budget. I am a college student so, naturally, money is a bit tight. I may have to put off doing DIY speakers for a few years when I get more of an income and more space. I may just stick with building some of my own speaker stands as that shouldn't be too expensive and would at least be some DIY work.

I have arranged a meeting for me to check out/demo the Polk CSi30 later today (6:30), and if everything goes well I will pick that up for $60. Thank you for all your help, I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your opinion. I have only a little experience with sound equipment, and the opinion of people who have lots more experience is greatly appreciated.


EDIT: also, can anybody recommend a proven subwoofer plan that the total cost is under $200?
 
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