Audio system for my parents under 2000€ - i need some help

My parents have tasked me with selecting the components of our first “real” audio system. They have no idea what kind of system they want - they couldn’t even tell me if they wanted 2.1 or surround sound. I need some help to put together a system that will impress them enough to actually give a damn about audio.

2000€ is the absolute limit, I only want to go that high if it provides a noticable difference in audio quality.

I already own a cheap sony 5.1 receiver and some super low end bookshelf speakers which I might be able to use as rear channels.

The audio system will be connected to our TV in the living room and it will be used for both movies and music. The room will be renovated soon. I don’t think they will agree to putting up any kind of acoustic treatment, but if you have any tips about making the room sound better, please let me know. After the renovation the room will look something like this:

I can’t think of any place where i can put tower speakers. The cupboards in the front are about 1.5 m tall, is it ok to put bookshelf speakers this high?

The position of the sofa makes a 7.1 or 5.1 setup quite challenging. I thought about trying Zeos’ trick of bouncing the sound from the side channels off the walls and ceiling so that the person sitting on the right doesn’t have a speaker next to their ear. Has anybody tried this?

I’m not quite sure what speakers i should choose and whether i should go with 5.1, 4.1 or 2.1.

The Klipsch RP-600M and 600C have caught my eye, but the high directionality of the horn might create some problems combined with the suboptimal position of the speakers.
If i abandon the center channel and go with 2.1 or 4.1, the KEF LS50 look like a good choice. I can probably fit a more powerful receiver into the budget that can deal with the low efficiency.

I think a sealed sub is the best choice because of the fast transient response. The only cheap one I could find is the SVS SB-1000, I have no idea if it’s loud enough for the room.

Please tell me if you know of any speakers that might work in this situation.

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With the upcoming renovation, would putting in-ceiling speakers in be an option? The layout you show looks like it would be a decent fit for a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X setup. Here’s a rough setup guide:

The back corners of your room look well positioned to have approximately ear-height rear speakers and then in-ceiling speakers above your sofa. As to some of your other questions…

For movies and while using a center channel speaker, it’s probably not a huge deal. If you’re looking for great imaging and soundstaging from a stereo setup, no, this is not ideal. Can the speakers go more at ear-height inside the cupboards or do the cupboards close? If they are just shelves, you could put speakers on the shelves closer to ear-height, but get a sealed or front-ported model. A rear ported speaker on a shelf or pushed up against a wall will create boomy, bloated bass.

I wouldn’t recommend this. It sounds like you’ll have multiple people watching at the same time. An actual center channel speaker will be more important then because not all people will be able to sit in the sweet spot to hear the center image. Zeos also says this. I think it was his second home theater basics video where he says he gets away with no center channel because he can sit in the sweet spot.

Yes, I have! It does work well if you have flat wall space above the speaker and nothing over the speaker. I think the sofa being along the wall will muffle that speaker a bit too much. That’s why I was thinking in-ceiling might be the way to go for your situation.

Maybe, maybe not. I get the impression that your parents are not the audiophile type. That means you can probably breathe a little bit. They are likely to be easily impressed. Big, rumbling bass on movie soundtracks might draw them in more than fast transients for music - and you’ve already realized that the room is not setup well for optimal stereo playback. Some lower cost subwoofer options come from Dayton Audio. Their distribution is handled by I just checked and they do have international shipping options you could check out (which might mitigate the savings they come with too, but it’s worth checking).

How do your parents listen to music? Do they sit and listen intently or do they just like to have music in the room while they do other stuff? If it’s the latter, gear the system toward movie sound and show them how to use something like Dolby Pro Logic II Music mode or even 6-channel stereo. That will fill the room with music and create a party-like atmosphere.

I hope this is helpful.

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Thanks for the help! I never really thought about Dolby Atmos before, it looks like a great option. I’m still not sure about the ported sub, i’ll need to dive a bit deeper into that topic.