Question 5.0 / 3.0 speaker setup for a flat?

OneMoreDave

Novice Member
First of all, please excuse the rather lengthy post... ;-)

I'm looking at putting together a sound system to go with my new TV. Having pretty much decided against a soundbar/soundbase, I now need to work out what sort of speaker setup I need.

I'm aware that home cinema setups normally involve subwoofers, but I live in a flat and don't want to annoy the neighbours. I'm not massively into action movies, so not too bothered about huge impact anyway, but I do want a reasonably full, atmospheric sound with clear dialogue.

At the moment I'm using an old, cheap Logitech sub/sat combination I normally use with my PC, which is an improvement on the built-in TV speakers, but there's not much in the way of lower midrange (so dialogue suffers) and even that small sub is turned right down and sitting on a foam cushion to isolate it from the floor.

So, I'm wondering whether instead of a sub, I could get away with slightly more full-range fronts - something like the Monitor Audio Radius R270 slim floorstanders with a Radius 200 centre, and possibly either Radius 45 or Radius 90 surrounds. I'm actually not totally convinced I want surrounds at all; previously I've found they tend to distract me rather than add to the experience, though that might just be down to poor quality/integration, as they were plastic sats that came free with my old Toshiba CRT. If I did have surrounds, they'd need to be about 45 degrees behind the sofa rather than to the sides, which I gather isn't ideal.

Would a 3.0 or 5.0 setup of that quality provide a decent movie experience without neighbour-annoying potential? My hi-fi uses TDL RTL3 floorstanders, and I've never had a complaint about those. Also, would a compact receiver such as the Yamaha RX-S601 be up to the job of driving/controlling the MAs? Are there other slim floorstanders (or bookshelf speakers with reasonable bass extension) I should look at?

Or, should I just save myself a load of cash, and go for a slightly better 2.1 option (e.g. Ruark MR1 with a "desktop" sub)?
 

camelot1971

Well-known Member
My view is removing the .1 from a 5.1 set up means you miss a lot of the impact of having a surround system in the first place.

Unless you are spending serious money, full range front speakers will not deliver "proper" home cinema style bass and from what you have said, you don't want that anyway.

If it was me, I would keep your hifi as is and get a good soundbar for films. Yamaha products are well thought of - just bear in mind you get what you pay for (except Bose, of course, where you get a lot less ;))
 

OneMoreDave

Novice Member
Thanks, camelot1971.

I would like an atmospheric and involving sound with plenty of warmth and detail, I just don't need the excessive bangs and crashes - the one time in recent(ish) years that I actually went to a cinema, I was pretty shocked at how loud and in-yer-face it was!

A soundbar/soundbase is probably out - my TV (Samsung UE48JU7000T) has a very wide, low stand, so a soundbar would have to be less than 40mm high, which limits it to a very few options (none of them Yamaha). The stand is 85cm wide so a soundbase would have to be very big (e.g. Canton DM100). I'm not convinced that soundbars (especially very slim ones) would have the sort of midrange / dialogue perfomance I'm looking for, as they typically have very small mid/treble drivers plus a subwoofer - not too dissimilar from what I'm currently using!

I'm toying with the idea of a Q Acoustics 3050 / 3090C / 3010 setup - I think that might give me plenty of deep-ish "normal" bass, without excessive amounts of subwoofer-style thump to annoy the neighbours. The 3050s aren't all that compact, but would probably be just about acceptable size-wise, and should also be pretty good when playing 2-channel music (my existing hi-fi will remain my main system for music for the moment, but it's 20 years old and will die eventually). I guess the only way to find out would be to audition my proposed setup (preferably with a home demo).
 

Andydigital80

Active Member
I live in a flat and I am using Monitor Audio floorstanders, I bought two ten year old RS6's from a local music teacher and they sound fantastic. They have more than enough bass and kick for action movies in a small room. I'm currently using my Pioneer VSX 930 in 4.0 and it sounds awesome compared to the Bose Solo (don't judge me :)) I had before this.

And I agree about movies theatres being obnoxiously loud these days, the last movie I went to see was Guardians of the Galaxy and that was ridiculously loud, now I remember why I prefer to watch movies at home on my ZT65.

When I finally finish my setup it's going to be 7.0, plus having the option to switch to 5.0.2 for Atmos movies. Eventually I'll upgrade the 930 for something better too with DTS:X support and 7.0.2, I'll worry about that later when there is actually some decent content encoded with it.
 

camelot1971

Well-known Member
I think you should demo some speakers with a matching or appropriate sub - you might be surprised! Good bass doesn't have to be boomy or loud (although the loud bit is great when watching an appropriate film!)

I too live in a flat and have SVS Ultra speakers in 5.1 with the SB13 Ultra sub. I could wake the dead with it however even at low volume it just adds to the "fullness" of the sound.

The other thing a good demo will show is if you switch the .1 in and out and see what impact it makes to the film/content you are watching.
 

OneMoreDave

Novice Member
Thanks Andy, that's useful information - and it's good to know I'm not in a minority of one when it comes to modern cinema sound! ;-) I've always liked Monitor Audio, many years ago I had a pair of R525MD standmounters which had lovely treble. I sacrificed them in the quest for deeper bass (for music), though - hence my RTL3s.

Camelot1971 - yes, if I end up spending any more than a few hundred quid, a demo is a must - especially if I'm looking at floorstanders that might eventually replace my TDLs. I guess it wouldn't hurt to hear a quality sub for comparative purposes, though as mentioned, even the little Logitech X230 desktop sub I'm using adds a bit more "thump" with movies/TV than is ideal in a flat situation - though, curiously, it isn't too bad when playing music on my PC, so I guess a lot of that is the way tv and film audio is mixed - plus my TV is below a sloping ceiling (attic flat), which probably isn't helping.
 

camelot1971

Well-known Member
I've always found those Logitech subs very "bass heavy", if that makes sense? They are great if you want thumping great bass all the time but won't get close to a "proper" AV sub that's integrated into your system.
 

OneMoreDave

Novice Member
Thanks, that does make a lot of sense. Obviously, they're meant to add impact to tiny satellites that have no lower midrange to speak of, so I guess the crossover frequency is pretty high, and they're about bass quantity rather than extension.
 

camelot1971

Well-known Member
Exactly right. They are much more a full range driver than a proper subwoofer. They make perfect sense for PC use, especially when gaming, but much more limited for film use.

Like most things I think it just depends on what you like and your expectations. I've used 5.1 Logitech speakers before on my PC and loved them for what they are. :)
 

Paul Smith

Well-known Member
In my experience 'desktop' subs are usually the worst thing for annoying neighbours and other people around you.:thumbsdow
I'm not sure what it is about them, I think perhaps their inherent boomy nature and the lightweight build that means they put as much force into making the cabinet resonate as making any sound. And what they do produce seems to travel through floors and walls as good as anything I've ever encountered.

A well chosen 'quality' sub on the other hand can be surprisingly sociable! So don't rule it out too quickly.
Years ago I had a massive Boston acoustics THX sub in a small bedroom setup.:eek: It could rock the furniture nearby, yet could hardly be heard downstairs.
With a bit of effort and care it's surprising how much of an in room effect that you can get, whilst still remaining very neighbour friendly.

I found heavily built ported subs faired best (less general cabinet vibrations and pulsing due to no build up of pressure and a denser cabinet, at least that was my view at the time).
Sat on a good layer of foam or several layers of underlay for isolation (like your cushion) and close to the listening position to keep the level down and to add a nice bit of feel to the proceedings.

I suspect to get the same effect using full range mains might alert the neighbours quicker than a well chosen sub. Just my view.

Oh and on the subject of Cinema's I've been to more than one where I've been forced to stuff tissue in my ears just to make it bearable! There's some shockers about out there it's true.
 

OneMoreDave

Novice Member
Thanks, Paul. What you say about the desktop subs does make sense. As discussed above, I think they're about adding lots of upper/mid bass to compensate for the lack of lower midrange in tiny satellites, rather than about adding true bass extension - and yes, poor build quality is obviously not going to help anything.

My hi-fi floorstanders are notorious for being very bassy, but I've never had a complaint about them. That's probably partly because I don't listen to them all that loudly at home - one of the reasons I wanted speakers with a good bass response in the first place was that they'd sound decent at low volumes. Similarly, I wouldn't be cranking up any action movies, but of course film soundtracks are very different from 2-channel music.

I guess I'm going to need to do audition a few different setups to work out what I actually need.
 

PC1975

Well-known Member
The Q Acoustics 3000 range is very highly rated at it's price point, in fact I'd say you can't get better. I don't think there'd me much point buying smaller speakers like MA Radius without a sub as it would sound tinny - satellites like that really need a sub to fill out the bass whereas you could get away without one with standmounts or floorstanders.

If you don't want a sub or speakers that will annoy the neighbours a pair of 3020 for fronts and 3010 for rears may well suffice (with the matching centre). 3020 standmounts won't give thumping bass but will still provide a very decent amount and by the sound of it you're not looking for a lot anyway.

Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with the Q Acoustics speakers, I've owned 2010i and they were great little performers. Dali Zensor is an equally good range imo and well worth a look too. (Zensor 3 for fronts & Zensor 1 for rears with matching centre)

You could always try that set-up and add a small sub such as a BK Electronics Gemini 2 at a later date if you wanted to try one. I have standmounts and a sub and I pick and choose when to use it. Most of the time I just use the speakers without it. I also live in a flat and have an Auralex Subdude sound isolation pad underneath it which helps to isolate it from the floor below.

A £500 avr would be ideal to get the most out of that quality of speaker and you could pick up a good one in the classifieds for a lot less than new. My first avr was the Onkyo TX-NR609 which is a fantastic receiver that can be picked up for around the £100 mark second hand now.

Good luck,
Paul.
 
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OneMoreDave

Novice Member
Thanks Paul (PC1975). I had come to much the same conclusion myself on the Radiuses, after some thought. The point of going for floorstanders in the first place would be to have at least some bass extension (and something that would make a decent job of 2-channel music), and I'm not convinced that the Radius compact floorstanders without a sub would do the job.

I'm very limited on size for both the centre speaker and receiver, hence the 3090C which would just about fit the rack below the TV (something like the MA Silver centre wouldn't), and the Yamaha RX-S601, which looks to be about the best quality/height compromise I can get - though I've just noticed there's a slim Aventage model (RX-AS710D) which should be even better, if I'm willing to shell out a few hundred more.

What I might do as a quick test, is to run an action movie through my existing floorstanders to get an idea of how they deal with movie soundtrack bass, though of course I'd be feeding them a signal mixed down to 2 channels by the TV (or my blu-ray player), rather than whatever an a/v receiver would send them. I reckon that if the bass isn't OTT with RTL3s, it won't be with the 3050s.
 

Member 729553

Active Member
Hello OneMoreDave,

Many thanks for considering Q Acoustics loudspeakers.

And also thanks to PC1975 for your kind (and highly perceptive) description of Q Acoustics:
"at it's price point, in fact I'd say you can't get better."

Needless to say, our advice is not entirely impartial :). However, if you can fit in a pair of 3050 floorstanders and the 3090C centre channel, we're completely confident you would be (a) simply astonished by how good they are and (b) never regret that excellent decision.

We also reckon that this 3.0 configuration is likely to be the perfect solution for you (rather than 5.0 or 5.1). However, we expect your dealer would lend you a pair of 3010 to try out 5.0 for yourself.

Best regards
 

PC1975

Well-known Member
I've changed my TV unit a couple of times to accommodate upgrades. I'd change that every time before considering a compromise in electronics or speakers to fit your old one.

Richer Sounds do a good one that's fairly cheap and has enough space for a good sized centre speaker and avr, bluray player etc: Richer Sounds

I have a Kef R200c centre speaker on the middle shelf and an av receiver, cd player & bluray player on the bottom. I don't have the support section at the back in place so there's more space for all my cables etc and it's fine without it.

And thats with a 50" plasma on top :p
 
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PSM1

Distinguished Member
Putting your centre speaker in or on (especially in) a cabinet is not ideal and will adversely affect the sound quality. On top can be partially mitigated with the use of a foam isolation pad. Really, if at all possible you want to either wall mount or use a proper speaker stand to hold the centre. In fact, depending on your layout, you may be better having no centre at all and using the front L/R speakers to create a phantom centre than to have a poorly located one.
On the sub front I would agree with some of the comments above that a well set up sub should be no more disturbing to neighbours than having larger floorstanding speakers.
 

OneMoreDave

Novice Member
Thanks for your comments, everyone.

The centre would definitely have to be within a cabinet, which I'm aware isn't ideal, although I thought it might matter less at low to moderate volumes and with the ports bunged.

I'm beginning to feel that the degree of compromise imposed by my room / furniture arrangement means it's probably not worth spending a couple of grand on a full a/v system. I may just go back to the idea of a pair of Ruark MR1s. They would be easy to accomodate either side of the TV and should be a big improvement over the TV speakers in terms of low(ish) frequency response and dialogue clarity. I could then look at a full system when space allows - the MR1s would then make a great pair of active speakers for the kitchen, spare bedroom etc.

I may still see if I can find a dealer who will loan me a receiver and a 3090C though, just to find out ;-)
 

MemX

Well-known Member

PC1975

Well-known Member
You don't have to spend anything like that to achieve the level you're talking about. Look on the avf classifieds and you'll get everything you need for well under £1k.

Look at Q Acoustics 2000i, Dali Zensor, Wharfedale Diamond, Tannoy Mercury Vi, Monitor Audio BX ranges. All are of similar standard.

You'll pick up a good avr for a lot less here too. I can recommend the Onkyo TX-NR609 from experience and Pioneers are excellent too.

If you don't want to buy second hand that's fair enough but you can save a fortune and get so much more for your money than buying new. The avf classifieds are a great place to pick things up.

Just be careful when dealing with new members with low feedback and use common sense as you do get scammers from time to time. Pick up in person or buy from members with a good amount of positive feedback.
 
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OneMoreDave

Novice Member
MemX - the room itself actually isn't all that small - roughly 5m x 5m. It does have sloping ceilings on two sides (it's an attic flat), and the TV is near the corner where the two meet. I wouldn't choose what to watch to suit the system, though - that's cart before horse IMHO.

PC1975 - personally I wouldn't buy used a/v gear, unless I knew the seller very well - but cost isn't really the issue. I just don't want to throw significant cash at it if I can't get the sort of result I'd want, due to room / placement constraints. Better a small, cheap, tidy compromise than a big, expensive, untidy compromise.
 

PC1975

Well-known Member
I don't know if you're aware but Richer Sounds are clearing the Q Acoustics 2000i range at pretty good prices:

Q ACOUSTICS 2050i GRGraphite Speakers Per Pair

Q ACOUSTICS 2010i GRGraphite Speakers Per Pair

Q ACOUSTICS 2000Ci GRHGraphite Single Centre

£480 would buy floorstanders, centre and rears and if you ask politely I'm sure they'd offer a discount which you could put towards speaker cable. I'd suggest you could get the speakers and all the cable you need for under £500. I also wouldn't have thought there'd be a great difference between the 2000i range and the new 3000 range.

Anyway, best of luck whatever you decide upon,
Paul :smashin:
 

MemX

Well-known Member
MemX - the room itself actually isn't all that small - roughly 5m x 5m. It does have sloping ceilings on two sides (it's an attic flat), and the TV is near the corner where the two meet. I wouldn't choose what to watch to suit the system, though - that's cart before horse.
Of course, one should watch what one wants :) but I was just referring to keeping the crash-bang-wallop action films to during the day or early evening, and watching less bass-oriented stuff later at night! :)

Did you check out my links? 11 cubic feet was the proposed size of the subs, not the area of the room :devil: lol

Mine's about 20' x 14' and my current setup is 'adequate' :p haha
 

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