HT upgrade assistance needed

I just moved into a new house this year and want to finally get a nice home theater setup. I’m replacing everything I have, but can use until upgraded. The overall plan is to upgrade piecemeal so I can get good quality components over time instead of the instant gratitude route. My upgrade plan is: AVR + fronts or AVR + CC, CC/Fronts (Whichever wasn’t picked up in the first round), sub, surrounds (Or better L/R and use current for surrounds), side channels, heights/atmos. Is that a logical path?

I will be mostly using these for HT but would like to enjoy some occasional music on the system as well. My room is pretty big about 14’ x 20’ (Opens into Kitchen) and a high sloping ceiling (12’ - 8’).

I currently have: Pioneer VSX-1020, and a Dayton Audio HTB-1200B HTiB system w/ a small Dayton sub (I think it’s either 8" or 10"). During the move I lost at least two speakers, this is what prompted me to finally upgrade, and the inability to hear any dialog with my TV speakers.

I’m planning on getting the Denon X1500 AVR, but for speakers I seem to keep adding stuff to the list of possibilities not the other way… I’m not really sure if I should get a center first or a pair of bookshelves, but I’m leaning towards L/R first. I’m generally looking in the $300 and under range (But willing to go up to $500 if it will make that big of a difference) of bookshelves, but I’m leaning towards the ones with really good centers for my next purchase. The plan is that these will eventual go to surround duty and I will pick up nicer fronts last. But if I can find a pair in this range that sound good enough I’d just get Miccas for surround duty.

Some possible issues: I have a 2 year old that likes to touch and push stuff, so I would likely want grills of some sort to discourage any fingers smooshing my equipment. I don’t have a lot of space away from the walls for placement. If needed I can always move the stands out into the room when using the system but I can see that get tiring after a while. I can be a little sensitive to highs, not drastically so, but I do tend to get fatigued by highs before most people I know. But this was also when I was much younger and I’m now in the age range where my upper range hearing is diminishing.

Here’s what I’m eyeing right now:

  • KEF Q150s (I can’t find any to listen to, so I’m not sure if they will be too fatiguing for me. And the center channel options are quite pricey).
  • Emotiva B1+ (Currently unavailable on their site, sadly. I hear people rave about their centers though and price isn’t bad)
  • Chane A1.5 (I’m not too familiar with Chane but it’s another one I hear a lot of glowing remarks about so I added them)
  • Elac Debut B6.2 (I should have a little more placement flexibility with these since they are front ported, and with Black Friday sales I should be able to get them at a great price. Not too sure how good the matching center is though)
    -Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE

I am open to other suggestions as well, these are just the ones that have caught my eye so far.

I have the Elacs and like them quite a bit for home theater. They have really good imaging, and while they’re not gonna dig crazy deep, I would say they do a good job as standalone speakers. My 2 cents on the upgrade path is that I would go for good L/R in front, get a sub next, and personally I wouldn’t spend tons on surrounds. I’ve played around quite a bit with swapping different speakers to the surround position, including some older towers that my parents had, and I just haven’t noticed much of a difference in terms of quality of surround from speaker to speaker. As long as the speaker can handle the volume you like to run the rest of the system on, it shouldn’t have any trouble being a surround speaker. I would do center channel last, because you can get most of the effect of a surround system without it. As long as your fronts have good imaging, the lack of a center channel generally isn’t going to make a HUGE difference.

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Thanks for the input DrDave! I think the Elacs will end up being the cheapest on my list with Black Friday sales. The fronts will be relatively far apart, around 10-12’, will that impact phantom center performance?

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Hmm, I don’t think it would impact it much, if at all. As long as you angle the speaker in towards you a bit it should be fine. I don’t think mine were quite that far apart when I had them at their farthest, but they were at lease 8’ apart and I didn’t have any problems with them there.

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And yeah if memory serves they had them discounted to like $150 for the pair last year for Black Friday, and that’s when I got mine. I’d say they’re tough to beat at that price

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Awesome input, thank you again! I think this really points me in the right direction. I’m also following your sub recommendation thread, since that will be my next upgrade.

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I’d add in that the B6.2 are pretty amazing speakers. I was planning on selling mine and when I was setting up a demo/audition, they sounded so nice that I decided to keep them. Great value for sure.

If you are willing to expand your budget a bit, Adorama has a sale on Polk LSiM703 for $449/pair, which is a significant discount. I don’t have any personal experience with them though.
People also rave about the Klipsch RP-600m for a more dynamic sound. Also, don’t have personal xp, but I own RP-280FA towers and I assume they sound kind of similar.

Just trying to give you more options, good luck!

Klipsch stuff is very good for home theater because they have a wide sweet spot, great volume handling, and a good price

Yes, and fortunately, you can run into a lot of good sales. Feel free to lurk on and you’ll commonly find a sale at Fry’s or Adorama.
I got my pair of RP-280FAs for $599 by doing this.

Thanks for the input everyone. I’ve definitely been eyeing some of the RP line Klipsch speakers, especially the PR-600M, but it’s a bit out of my budget it seems. Are the regular R line speakers as good for a home theater, or are there better options at the price? Or if anyone can suggest other good Klipsch for home theater that are in my range? At least I should be able to find a place to listen to some Klipschs.

I’ve also had my eye on the Polk LSiM703s at Adorama. For $450 a pair how much better would they be than the current options people have suggested, especially the ELACs. And does anyone know how good the matching centers are? Is the smaller one, LSiM704C, good or is the 706c recommended? Thanks for all the assistance and options everyone, very much appreciated!

I see Focal Chorus 706s are down to $349/pr. Does anyone have any insights on these speakers?

They’re pretty good, but I don’t think they are the best value. I just think there is better for the money. For 350 a pair, it’s not bad but I think they would be more suited for music rather then theater. They do offer a center channel and surrounds if you did want a theater setup

Okay, that’s all I need to know to not get them lol. Thanks for the info!

Actually the Focal’s are pretty nice for HT use in that series.
Could be that they aren’t the best value but with at least in friends one child house hold they have been left along and have covers that have plastic rig inside so no pushing the drivers in. Big tower speakers + Center also available so they kinda give hole HT package.
Chorus 706s could be in the rear surround later on if upgrading front’s.

In my mind they are cheap also so if something happens in the next 10 years with kids & friends it’s not the end of world. Easy to wrap if they get bit extra coloring and external damage.

Interesting, thanks for the input! In your opinion, in that general price range are there better speakers that would be ideal for HT but not sacrifice musical quality and aren’t too fatiguing to listen to? I was starting to expand my selections (Of course, my list only gets larger not smaller…), and was looking at the Wharfdale’s. Are there any Wharfdales that fit my criteria? Thanks again for adding to the conversation!