Advice for changing home theater speaker philosophy/configuration (long)


#1

Hello All,

I could use some perspective, advice and guidance on a possible speaker upgrade for my modest media/home theater room. First, I’ll provide some background info…

My home theater is a dedicated 11’ x 13’ x 9’ room, with a single, 40" wide, open entry way in the middle of one of the long walls. Floors are limestone tile and I have room treatments on the sidewall first reflection points. Seating is a large couch right up against one short wall. Equipment consists of an Anthem MRX-300 AV receiver, Meridian Audio 558 amp (5x200W @ 8ohm, all channels driven), Pioneer 60” plasma, Sony bluray, Fluance turntable, Apple Mac Mini, and a Logitech Squeezebox 3 aka Classic.

Speakers are an ever rotating mix of various items I own. Rear surrounds are B&W DS6 dipoles. Sub is currently a Meridian M2500 (2 x 10” sealed), but sometimes I swap that out for 2 x SV Subwoofers 2039-CS subs, 12” ported cylinders, tuned to 20Hz.

Front LCR is where I usually have the most churn. My longtime running favorite setup consists of B&W Matrix 804’s L/R with a Matrix HTM center channel, which I’ve owned since ’98. I’ve always regarded the HTM as the weak link, but it sounds reasonably satisfactory with Anthem ARC room correction. Due to a recent reconfiguration of my family room casual TV viewing setup, I’ve moved the Matrix HTM there, matched up with Matrix 805 monitors, to provide LCR duties.

As such, in my home theater, I’m back to using an Audax DIY Home Theater speaker setup for LCR. The Audax HT speakers were designed by Dr. Joe D’Appolito for Audax, which I assembled from components purchased from Madisound. The Left/Right speakers are two-way MTM, ported D’Appolito configurations, and the Center is a 3-way WTMW, ported configuration. The rear-ported nature of these speakers has resulted in me placing them well into my room, about 3.5’, leaving 30” between the ports and the wall. Generally, they sound darn good, but are somewhat visually imposing. The center speaker performs pretty well, but seems to occasionally suffer from a hollowness/cupped hands sound, depending on the source material.

I do really enjoy good sounding stereo music. I’m still haunted by the memory of hearing a perfectly reproduced solo piano on a pair of small monitor speakers at an Audio store in the mid ’80’s in Champaign, IL. Wish I had noted what speakers they were or the piece of music being played. But, admittedly, the majority of my listening these days consists of movies and television.

As such, I’ve been contemplating a change of direction and “throwing in the towel” on trying to achieve an awesome two-channel result and move to a more home theater centric speaker setup. Trying to minimize the visual impact of the speakers and placing the focus on the video. This thought has been recently reinforced by Paul’s thoughts on separating two-channel from home theater and doing each in different rooms.

So, I’ve been re-reviewing possible speaker options that could accomplish this, but cannot find good discussions around high-end home theater speakers, as compared to the discussions around high-end two-channel audio speakers. Especially nothing that matches the level of competence on display here at the PS Audio forums!

For minimizing visual impact, my gut tells me that I need sealed speakers (or possibly front-ported) to make placement up against the wall more practical. I find a disturbing lack of sealed speakers these days, especially bookshelf/monitor style speakers.

Now, in contrast to my thoughts on going incredibly minimal on my home theater speaker setup, I’ve always lusted after speakers from Aerial Acoustics. I first heard Aerials back in the early 2000’s at an AV store in Nashua, NH and entirely fell in love with them. Especially the CC5 center channel speaker, which to this day is still regarded as one of the best center channel speakers ever constructed (I believe). Offhand, I cannot recall what Aerial L/R speakers I listened to, but the CC5 made an ever-lasting impression on me.

Sort of out-of-the-blue, I have the opportunity to acquire an Aerial CC5 and possibly matching 7B or 9 tower speakers for left/right. While the 9’s are the ideal match to the CC5 center, they are well beyond my current fiscal means, but I might be able to talk myself into stretching to afford the 7Bs.

The CC5 aligns with my current thoughts on wanting a sealed speaker for placement closer to the front wall, but the 7B is rear-ported, so would still need to be placed well out into the room for it to sound its best.

Anyway you slice it, though, the Aerials are large speakers, so are in direct opposition to my current thought of minimizing the visual impact of speakers in my home theater. But, the Aerials are extremely well-regarded and should provide for awesome two-channel music. Again, in opposition to the thought of not attempting to do both two-channel and multi-channel in the same room.

So, what to do… what to do… Talk myself into fiscally stretching and acquiring extremely well-regarded speakers that I’ve always admired and lusted after, the Aerials, or continue along the path of optimizing for home theater and visually minimal speakers, something along the lines of Elac Debut B6.2’s or Power Sound Audio MTM-210’s or ???

Thoughts, guidance and recommendations welcomed!

Thanks for reading, if you’ve made it this far. :slight_smile:

Dan W.


#2

Dan your biggest problem is that great memory you and how wonderful it made you feel when listening to music. If you do not get them you will always wonder if your memory was better.

Having said that, I would first do an internet search for the manufactures manual and find out how they recommended those speakers to be placed in a room, back wall clearance and sidewall clearance.

Then make some cardboard cutouts the size of you speakers and place them in the recommended place. To get the optimum Sound as you remembered they will need to be very close to this location. Next can you live with that placement. If not keep the fond memory but get different speakers which match your room and livability best.

My $.02 worth


#3

Add a Sprout100 to anything you have setup and a pair of KEF R300 or Dynaudio X18 and that can happily deliver two channel simple audio listening or integrate into the HT setup. Doesn’t take lots of space and expands flexibility at the same time. Just a thought.


#4

There are many excellent speaker manufacturers that cater to the home theater market. You should be able to find a pair of speakers that will work for your situation and get center and surround speakers that will match/work. You did it with your 804’s. B&W added more capable center speakers in later years.

As you have noted, and Mr. Meader alluded too, you need to find main speakers that will engage you, and make you feel the “magic.” You have listed space and placement restrictions that will limit your choices. You will never be satisfied until you get a speaker that makes you feel good. You are going to have to use your ears, no one’s opinion is going to do it for you.