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Go Back   Blu-ray Forum > Audio > Speakers

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Old 08-14-2020, 10:13 PM   #1
JBowen JBowen is offline
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Default Speaker debate: do they really matter?

If I have a 5.2 surround sound setup and a decent receiver, do the surround speakers actually matter? Or is it fully dependent on the receiver output? I believe the subwoofers matter for the bass, but can the brand or quality of the 5 regular speakers sound any better, clearer, louder, or sharper? Iím rocking some cheap Boston speakers that came with a Denon sound system about 6 years ago. Looking for to an education lesson! Thanks
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Old 08-15-2020, 11:02 AM   #2
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After hearing the difference myself with successive upgrades, yes!
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Old 08-15-2020, 01:35 PM   #3
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The front LCR and subwoofer are by far the most important part of any sound system. Surround speakers, by their very nature, require less because they are only supporting the main soundstage. A pair of even halfway decent surround speakers, properly placed, will deliver great results.
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Old 08-15-2020, 02:51 PM   #4
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If you have to ask then quite possibly for you they really don't, but to many others, absolutely. I believe in a balanced setup. That means video, audio, and room characteristics working together to create the best overall results. However, you will find the preferences of other's all over the map, from a $3K OLED TV with a $150 sound bar, to a 43" LCD flat panel with a monstrous sound system.
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Old 08-15-2020, 04:55 PM   #5
JBowen JBowen is offline
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I have a great Samsung 4K OLED tv and the picture is great. Now Iím Focusing on Sound. I could always upgrade, just wondering if itís worth it. Right now my problem or issue is that I donít have the full surround experience. I mean itís noticeable but subtle. I want someone screaming on the right behind menina. Movie and I want to make it seem like thereís someone actually behind me. If that makes sense. I understand surround sound is suppose to support the main speakers, but I want that, Ďwhoaí experience.
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Originally Posted by smithb View Post
If you have to ask then quite possibly for you they really don't, but to many others, absolutely. I believe in a balanced setup. That means video, audio, and room characteristics working together to create the best overall results. However, you will find the preferences of other's all over the map, from a $3K OLED TV with a $150 sound bar, to a 43" LCD flat panel with a monstrous sound system.
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Old 08-15-2020, 06:15 PM   #6
CreasyBear CreasyBear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBowen View Post
I have a great Samsung 4K OLED tv and the picture is great. Now Iím Focusing on Sound. I could always upgrade, just wondering if itís worth it. Right now my problem or issue is that I donít have the full surround experience. I mean itís noticeable but subtle. I want someone screaming on the right behind menina. Movie and I want to make it seem like thereís someone actually behind me. If that makes sense. I understand surround sound is suppose to support the main speakers, but I want that, Ďwhoaí experience.
What's your budget?
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Old 08-15-2020, 11:27 PM   #7
JBowen JBowen is offline
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Quote:
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What's your budget?
For speakers....I wouldnít want to spend more than $500 on just the speakers. But thereís leeway in that depending on the benefit. The setup should last a good ten years before upgrading again I would thinkz
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Old 08-15-2020, 11:45 PM   #8
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I use a pair of Polk Audio OWM5's ($150) on the ceiling for height and pair of Bose bookshelf speakers mounted on the wall for the rear right and left. They were under $200 and frequently surprise my wife during movies or shows by accurately putting the sound right behind her. It also helps that my living room is small so the rear speakers are close by.
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Old 08-16-2020, 12:23 AM   #9
CreasyBear CreasyBear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBowen View Post
For speakers....I wouldnít want to spend more than $500 on just the speakers. But thereís leeway in that depending on the benefit. The setup should last a good ten years before upgrading again I would thinkz
Is that for all of the speakers or just the surrounds? If that's all you have to work with, save your money until you can buy better speakers. $500 for a 5 channel speaker system isn't going to get you anything that great.
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Old 08-16-2020, 03:53 AM   #10
JBowen JBowen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CreasyBear View Post
Is that for all of the speakers or just the surrounds? If that's all you have to work with, save your money until you can buy better speakers. $500 for a 5 channel speaker system isn't going to get you anything that great.
Itís for a start on speakers. What is a good speaker to go with? Recommendations so I can price them
Out and save?
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Old 08-16-2020, 05:53 AM   #11
smithb smithb is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBowen View Post
For speakers....I wouldnít want to spend more than $500 on just the speakers. But thereís leeway in that depending on the benefit. The setup should last a good ten years before upgrading again I would thinkz
I have a 7.1 speaker setup that cost me around $6000. Each of my surround speakers costs more than what you are hoping to spend on the complete package. I've had my speakers since 2004 with no interest or need to upgrade, so they were worth the investment to me. Also, speakers upgrades may include a receiver upgrade to match. Now, I'm not saying you have to spend several thousand on speakers, but I'd think for a decent 5.1 setup you would likely need to get closer to $1000. Especially, if you are also considering a sub.

I'm also not sure you are going to find the "whoa" experience you are looking for. You seem focused on the surrounds as something lacking. Are your current surround speakers the same models as your fronts or are they much smaller? How is their placements? Are they above head level and a little behind or directly behind? What is their distance away from the listener?

The fact is that while surrounds improve the experience and can provide an enveloping sound and some directed effects, they are still only a minor aspect of the overall audio. In addition, while some movies and TV shows may be more aggressive in the surrounds, many almost ignore it all together. Thus, the biggest benefit of upgrading your speakers will be to improve the front stage.

Before spending any money, I would look into whether your surrounds are properly placed. Next, if your five speakers are identical I would invest your money in the fronts and/or sub since that would provide the biggest improvement. However, if your surrounds are different than the fronts, you might try an experiment of swapping your fronts with the surrounds. If you notice a difference then maybe your surrounds are lacking and upgrading them will help. If not, and you are still thinking upgrade, I'd follow the first option of upgrading the fronts first and surrounds later.

The other possibility is that you are just expecting more from the surrounds then is really there.
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Old 08-16-2020, 06:02 AM   #12
smithb smithb is online now
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Quote:
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Itís for a start on speakers. What is a good speaker to go with? Recommendations so I can price them
Out and save?
The best thing to do is go listen for yourself. Try going to a real audio store that has rooms setup for listening (not a BestBuy type). For one, you'll get a better understanding of what a true surround sound system can be like. Second, you can select speakers that sound good to you. Third, you will be working with more knowledge people.

You will likely come out with one of their lowest-end systems and may see the benefit of upgrading in pieces over time, but in the end, it will be better than just ordering something based on someone else's recommendation or picking something up from a BestBuy.
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Old 08-16-2020, 09:25 AM   #13
CreasyBear CreasyBear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBowen View Post
It’s for a start on speakers. What is a good speaker to go with? Recommendations so I can price them
Out and save?
What do you currently have with regards to an audio system? Do you have a receiver? Subwoofer?

I would seriously just wait until you can spend $800-$1,000 for the front LCR speakers and then go from there. All in all, you can probably get a solid 5.1 speaker system for $1,500. As for brands, given your budget, you'll almost certainly need to go with the big brands - Polk, Klipsch, etc. I personally have Klipsch and adore them. My five Klipsch speakers cost roughly $1,300, with $900 of that going towards the front LCR, plus another $500 for an SVS subwoofer. And mine is generally speaking a pretty budget conscious system compared to some. Your front LCR are where you want to spend the bulk of your budget. That's the heart of the speaker system. I spent a lot more in the past on cheaper speakers to end up here. I wasted a lot of money - a lot of people do, trying to cut corners. Speakers are the one area where you will not have to upgrade for years. Good speakers will last you decades. It's worthwhile to save up and get quality speakers.

Last edited by CreasyBear; 08-16-2020 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 08-16-2020, 01:05 PM   #14
JBowen JBowen is offline
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I currently have a Denon avr-650h receiver, two knock off subs I got cheap, and all the speakers are Boston acoustics I got from bestbuy a few years ago. The speakers are the type that came with a receiver all for I think $500 or something. The left and right surround speakers are about two feet behind me and about five feet to my left and right. The front speakers are 2-3 feet to my left and right, but about 10 feet in front of me. So I’m sure the speakers are cheap or the original receiver was garbage. I like the idea of going to an audio store and hearing true surround sound. Maybe I am expecting too much from the surround sound. I’ll have to hear some other samples. In the meantime, I’ll be shopping OfferUp and Facebook market place for some decent speakers, see if there’s deals out there. I appreritate everyone’s input. Thanks everyone!

*one last question: when I’m looking for speakers, is there an technical aspect I should pay attention to? Is there any spec with a speaker I should look for?

Last edited by JBowen; 08-16-2020 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 08-16-2020, 01:21 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBowen View Post
If I have a 5.2 surround sound setup and a decent receiver, do the surround speakers actually matter? Or is it fully dependent on the receiver output? I believe the subwoofers matter for the bass, but can the brand or quality of the 5 regular speakers sound any better, clearer, louder, or sharper? Iím rocking some cheap Boston speakers that came with a Denon sound system about 6 years ago. Looking for to an education lesson! Thanks
This isn't a "debate"

Those 5 speakers are the most important contributing factor to sound quality. A cheap receiver and good speakers will sound better than your "in box" Boston setup.

Go used. Speakers dramatically lose their value like new car of the lot, but perform just the same for decades.
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Old 08-16-2020, 01:43 PM   #16
JBowen JBowen is offline
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Default My setup

All speakers are bookshelf. And with my living room setup this is the most efficient. Have to move furniture around maybe later
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Old 08-16-2020, 02:54 PM   #17
CreasyBear CreasyBear is offline
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You're not going to get any kind of "wow" factor with a $500 budget. Save your money and buy better speakers later. Don't worry about the receiver. The one you have is fine. If you give us a budget, we could probably put together a set for you. Also, you could go to Lowes and get some covers for the wire so you don't have bare wire running along the wall.
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Old 08-16-2020, 03:23 PM   #18
JBowen JBowen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CreasyBear View Post
You're not going to get any kind of "wow" factor with a $500 budget. Save your money and buy better speakers later. Don't worry about the receiver. The one you have is fine. If you give us a budget, we could probably put together a set for you. Also, you could go to Lowes and get some covers for the wire so you don't have bare wire running along the wall.
The plan is to go back in the attic when itís not 1,000 degrees up there. My budget is $500-600 at a time. Whether that means one speaker or two speakers or just sub. I started looking at speakers and thereís so many options within a brand, itís overwhelming. Whatís a decent set look like?
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Old 08-16-2020, 03:45 PM   #19
CreasyBear CreasyBear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBowen View Post
The plan is to go back in the attic when itís not 1,000 degrees up there. My budget is $500-600 at a time. Whether that means one speaker or two speakers or just sub. I started looking at speakers and thereís so many options within a brand, itís overwhelming. Whatís a decent set look like?
$500-$600 will get you a good pair of front Left/Right. I'll look soon and put together a few options.
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Old 08-16-2020, 04:14 PM   #20
JBowen JBowen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CreasyBear View Post
$500-$600 will get you a good pair of front Left/Right. I'll look soon and put together a few options.
Sweet! Thanks.
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