Living room Home Cinema upgrade

LiMaK

Member
Hi all.
Thanks for checking this thread at all.
I've only joined few days ago so correct me if something is wrong.

Attached are pictures of my current set up with a sketch. Little squares are speakers in case it's not clear.

1. Denon AVR-X2600H
2. Epson EH-TW3200
3. Sapphire manual 120" screen
4. KEF Kube-2 Sub
5. 7 speakers - leftovers from old DENON surround system
20220626_215855.jpg20220626_215831.jpg20220627_094428.jpg20220627_104200.jpg
I'm looking at a budget of around £2000 so idea is for this year to only upgrade speakers, maybe leave sub as it is, unless funds allow an upgrade.
I'm aiming at 7.1 system but not so sure about setting up rear and Atmos speakers - advice much appreciated. Was thinking rear behing sofa and atmos under the ceiling.

Speakers I'm considering:
  • Fronts: KEF Q550 or other Q models
  • Centre: KEF Q250
  • Rears: KEF Q150
  • Atmos: KEF Q50a
Above choice is kinda random tbh so I'm open to all ideas and based on what I read, people here have very good ideas.

I'm actively researching second hand options as well.
Don't mind used as long as speakers are in great condition.

Please excuse the mess.
any comments welcome and greatly appreciated,

PS: Can't wait to get this upgrade :)

Many thanks.

Kamil
 
Last edited:

gibbsy

Moderator
Because your sofa is basically against the rear wall and looks as though the door will stop it from being brought forward I would stick with 5.1.2. You really need around a metre behind the seating for a 7.1 to be effective.

The KEF Q would work for you and the Denon would just about be capable of driving them. Little tight for floorstanding Q550s on the left but the same argument would be made for the Q350 standmount. Same amount of footprint once you factor in the stands that would be needed. If you can bring the Q550 into the room a little then they work quite well, otherwise backed into the corner the Q350s would be best. The Q350 is regarded as the sweet spot in the range.

Q250 for centre which does need to be centred to the middle of the screen. The Q50a for Atmos also poses a question. Because of the screen position and the proximity of the wall mounted Q50s to the left hand wall I would be very much tempted to experiment with them in the upfiring position sitting on top of which ever fronts you go for. They can be angled in taking away some of the effect of the left wall. If you're dissatisfied then you've lost nothing as you still have the wall mounted option. I've been running upfiring KEF R50s since they first went on sale.

Surrounds in a 5.1 configuration, further apart than your plan in the corners and angled in slightly. For these you could use a wall bracket such at the B-tech bt77. You could also think about using a different type of speaker such as the Monitor Audio FX range. These will fire the audio at the opposite walls and give a much more diffused audio which would make it better for those listening on the edges of the sofa.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
You are sitting too far away vs. 120" screen size and also with the LCR speakers in mind as you have over 5meter distance from listeners to front speakers which carries the most information in films.
I would bring the couch in front of the door opening at right side so you would be closer to screen and speakers. But i can imagine that proposition might not get much love from Mrs. 😁 If she let`s you push the couch even 0,5m forward do so as generally you don´t want to sit against rear wall and the closer you get LCR/screen the better. You probably can´t push speakers lot forward.

The Kef Q550 should work ok close to boundaries as there is no ports (i would still push them forward if possible) and by feedback they are very much the opposite of bass heavy speaker. They look much better than Q350 with stands, but sadly costs extra too. The Q150 are too large for rears unless the couch goes forward and put them on stands on each corners. Otherwise look something like Kef E301 / HTS3001 "Eggs" if you planning to wall mount them. These would be bought used. The Monitor Audio Bronze FX speakers would work great too as Gibbsy mentioned. As for center channel with Kef go with the Q650c if it fits!! It´s easily worth the small price jump as you have big room and long distance to listeners. Center channel pushes +/- 70% of the soundtrack making it the most active channel in your system so more reason to spend bit more.

If you buy new speakers the "jungle" as in the plants must go elsewhere as they are blocking one speaker.

As Gibbsy mentioned you need to have the centre speaker more centered so move that wall bracket stand for receiver so the speaker would be middle of screen and sadly then you need to find new spot for the receiver. I would mount the thing so that the centre channel sits as high as possible without blocking the screen and i would also tilt it shooting more upward toward ears by putting something under the front of the speaker. You just missed the best deals for Kefs by 2-4 weeks, they are now back at high price. :( Q350 costs 550£ as they were 350£ and Q550 were something in the 500£ region and now 850£. Personally i would never pay for such prices. You could call around different dealers and ask what kind of deals are possible Say that you missed the low prices which were few week / month ago. I think the Q650c was like 100£ cheaper too. What ever you choose you don´t need to pay list price though, always negotiate and ask deals from few places.

As you live in London you must have local Richer Sounds, Seven Oaks Sound Vision etc. big shops which carry many brands so that you can ask to listen/compare 2-4 brands if you book demo time.

Few other options (best price):


Found white Q550 for the old price, black pair costs 300£ more. The Q750 would been more ideal for the room, but it`s so expensive and you probably can´t push the speakers much forward.


My vote is forget Atmos for now and use the money first in to better front three and subwoofer. If you were planning atmos system then i can imagine your taste leans toward action/scifi/horror/war movies and series so you would appreciate more impactfull bass. The small Kef Kube2 is going to be bit lost there. We have something much larger in mind, but depending of placement options and size/finish if Mrs. have a say what comes there.
 

Htfanboy

Active Member
5.1.2 over rear speakers any day of the week.
I went from 7.1 to 5.1.2 and the overhead speakers make a new dimension of surround sound!

Make sure you have the speakers in the right places otherwise it may sound from the wrong direction etc and out of place.

Calibrate as best you can for the speakr levels as you dont want one louder than the other.

As said previously sit closer. You could even go up to half the distance if you really wanted a great Immersive experience.

The most important speaker is the center speaker so don't cheap out on that one.
Having a decent subwoofer is also important and I would encourage you to upgrade it too even if it's at a later date.

Regards.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
A lot is going to depend on that sofa and if moving it forward is possible. You'll also be well served by placing a fairly big rug down in front of the screen when you get your new speakers. Lot of reflected audio coming off that bare floor.
 

LiMaK

Member
Thanks for your responses.
Honestly, I wasn't even aware and had no idea what 5.1.2 set up means. I literally had to google it but then I started to understand what people meant when I read other threads and people have even larger setups.
Thanks for clearing that out for me and truly 5.1.2 would be ideal but I'll see how it will develop.
Will definitely pop in to nearest Richer Sound store to talk to them.

Centre speaker I was thinking of placing on a stand and YES, I'll move the shelf with Denon to make space for the speaker.

The jungle will go away too :)

Subwoofer is currently behind the sofa by wine rack - sorry, forgot to put it on the sketch. It's there because after placing it all over the room it is the best place soundwise in my opinion and it doesn't create a massive pressure in the corner where dog sleeps. It may also be that I like earthquake experience on the couch :)

I can't push sofa forward - it would take so much space and let's not forget - it's still a living room. It's too big for it and I must find another way.
I'd love to have a dedicated cinema room but for now, need to make the most out of what I do have.

BTW: in most cases we use the round chair placed in front of the sofa when having a "cinematic experience" so maybe speakers behind the sofa wouldn't be such a bad idea after all? or would it?

Thank you ALL for your comments.
This is a whole new level of science I need to face.
Will talk to someone in the store and keep you updated.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thanks for your responses.
Honestly, I wasn't even aware and had no idea what 5.1.2 set up means. I literally had to google it but then I started to understand what people meant when I read other threads and people have even larger setups.
Thanks for clearing that out for me and truly 5.1.2 would be ideal but I'll see how it will develop.
Will definitely pop in to nearest Richer Sound store to talk to them.

Centre speaker I was thinking of placing on a stand and YES, I'll move the shelf with Denon to make space for the speaker.

The jungle will go away too :)

Subwoofer is currently behind the sofa by wine rack - sorry, forgot to put it on the sketch. It's there because after placing it all over the room it is the best place soundwise in my opinion and it doesn't create a massive pressure in the corner where dog sleeps. It may also be that I like earthquake experience on the couch :)

I can't push sofa forward - it would take so much space and let's not forget - it's still a living room. It's too big for it and I must find another way.
I'd love to have a dedicated cinema room but for now, need to make the most out of what I do have.

BTW: in most cases we use the round chair placed in front of the sofa when having a "cinematic experience" so maybe speakers behind the sofa wouldn't be such a bad idea after all? or would it?

Thank you ALL for your comments.
This is a whole new level of science I need to face.
Will talk to someone in the store and keep you updated.

I recommend you make some type of plan on paper and the models you are intrested. Then call to local RS and/or other similar shop that carries many brands (Seven Oaks, Hifix, Audio-T etc) and ask do they have the specific models you want to listen and compare. One member just visited some RS and they didn`t have the gear for demo so waste of time driving there. I would be also cautious as if you are going there telling that you are basically "newbie" to audio world looking some good gear then they can take this advantage and try to sell you something they benefit most.

Let`s assume RS could still sell the Kef system for old prices if you mention them. It would look something like this:

Q550 - 550£/pair
Q650c - 419£ (if you can fit this big boy, check dimensions!!)
Q150 - 319£/pair
-------------------
1288£. You are going to get some type of discount, but how much...

Add cheap stands ~50£/pair for the Q150 surround speakers if you place them behind couch (check size again as they not small!) and if you prefer the sub in rear corner then you could consider SVS PC2000 which doesn`t take much floorspace (cylinder) and would be nearly hidden there so the special looks should pass wife too. This would create quite different earthquake feel as you mentioned liking it. Gloss black or black ash top. The new version of this is called PC2000 Pro costs 1169£ so this old one is going out cheaper.



That would be 2k£ spent. You can buy the atmos speakers later when funds allow as this upgrade would be night and day better what you have now.

Nice to hear that you can sit closer, but the round chair should ideally be placed always in same spot as you will setup the system with that specific seating location in mind. Speaker & sub distances, levels, delays are calculated when you run the Audussey setup and put the mic+cardboard stand in specific spots (fairly tight area). If you place the main speakers each side of screen then the "round chair" would be somewhere around 3-3,5m away from screen if you could decide. Not sure how close you feel is comfortable to sit with that 120" screen. I think folks sit quite close to it, but they have 4K so there is clear benefits doing so.
 

LiMaK

Member
I recommend you make some type of plan on paper and the models you are intrested. Then call to local RS and/or other similar shop that carries many brands (Seven Oaks, Hifix, Audio-T etc) and ask do they have the specific models you want to listen and compare. One member just visited some RS and they didn`t have the gear for demo so waste of time driving there. I would be also cautious as if you are going there telling that you are basically "newbie" to audio world looking some good gear then they can take this advantage and try to sell you something they benefit most.

Let`s assume RS could still sell the Kef system for old prices if you mention them. It would look something like this:

Q550 - 550£/pair
Q650c - 419£ (if you can fit this big boy, check dimensions!!)
Q150 - 319£/pair
-------------------
1288£. You are going to get some type of discount, but how much...

Add cheap stands ~50£/pair for the Q150 surround speakers if you place them behind couch (check size again as they not small!) and if you prefer the sub in rear corner then you could consider SVS PC2000 which doesn`t take much floorspace (cylinder) and would be nearly hidden there so the special looks should pass wife too. This would create quite different earthquake feel as you mentioned liking it. Gloss black or black ash top. The new version of this is called PC2000 Pro costs 1169£ so this old one is going out cheaper.



That would be 2k£ spent. You can buy the atmos speakers later when funds allow as this upgrade would be night and day better what you have now.

Nice to hear that you can sit closer, but the round chair should ideally be placed always in same spot as you will setup the system with that specific seating location in mind. Speaker & sub distances, levels, delays are calculated when you run the Audussey setup and put the mic+cardboard stand in specific spots (fairly tight area). If you place the main speakers each side of screen then the "round chair" would be somewhere around 3-3,5m away from screen if you could decide. Not sure how close you feel is comfortable to sit with that 120" screen. I think folks sit quite close to it, but they have 4K so there is clear benefits doing so.

Thank you, looks like a dream setup to me.

Will shop around, thanks for advice.

Yes, I know sitting possition should always be the same and that's fine as thats what generally happens. I would make sure Audussey setup is done properly.
I'll end up with 4k eventually too. Thats my next phase of an upgrade after atmos.


My original plan was to purchase new setup by Xmas this year so still have time but thought i have to plan what to aim for which is why I started looking for an advice.
Based on your experience, is there a better time buying or it's random?
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thank you, looks like a dream setup to me.

Will shop around, thanks for advice.

Yes, I know sitting possition should always be the same and that's fine as thats what generally happens. I would make sure Audussey setup is done properly.
I'll end up with 4k eventually too. Thats my next phase of an upgrade after atmos.


My original plan was to purchase new setup by Xmas this year so still have time but thought i have to plan what to aim for which is why I started looking for an advice.
Based on your experience, is there a better time buying or it's random?

There seems to be greater deals at certain point of year with some specific brands like Kef and B&W (not many others that i remember), but as i said you could try your luck if they could still sell for those lower prices as you rarely need to pay RRP. Richer Sounds still has the old price for Q550 white so you never know. Rather than waiting 6months you could also buy things slowly so start with new front main speakers right now (run without Denon centre setting it off from Denon, but use the rears so 4.1) and then add center channel, subwoofer and last surround speakers when funds allow. For Kef models those prices i listed were the lowest seen (pricespy). Then you have ex-demo / ex-display models going cheap too.

Remember that you don`t need to buy anything if you visit hifi stores and ask to listen certain models. Just say that you are going through a list of different speakers to find out which you like best. They should happily let you listen em.
 

LiMaK

Member
Richer sounds in Eton - superb service.
So they recommended me going for DALI instead.
What do you all knowledgeable people say?
Oberon 5 or Spektor 6 were options for the front.
 

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Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Richer sounds in Eton - superb service.
So they recommended me going for DALI instead.
What do you all knowledgeable people say?
Oberon 5 or Spektor 6 were options for the front.

Did you listen them / did they have Kef Q550 for listen there? As i said it really doesn`t matter what they say if the speakers aren´t your liking. :)

If you go with Dalis then Oberon 5 for front mains and Oberon Vokal. For "rears" either Oberon 1 or Spektor 1 if you want to save little. Another option is Oberon On-Wall which are slim speakers to be mounted on rear wall and then you save the money going for speaker stands.


The prices are rather poor. You should get discount from other dealers like Peter Tyson if you contact them about package price (5.0). I would never pay list prices (699£ for O5 example). I have always heard members getting good discount from Dali`s which are quite expensive to begin with.

Kef Q and Dali Oberon are going to sound quite different. Which is better for you we don´t really know. I hope you could find dealer locally that keeps both in stock so you can at least compare the front main speakers side by side. :)
 

LiMaK

Member
Thanks. Yes, listened to Q550 and Oberon 5 and DALI did make better impresion.
I was actually surprised how small they are. Both of them brands.

I'll shop around and see what others say.
Like you said, I don't have to buy anything and also, didn't really ask for any discount which I will when they call me to follow up in few days.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Richer sounds in Eton - superb service.
So they recommended me going for DALI instead.
What do you all knowledgeable people say?
Oberon 5 or Spektor 6 were options for the front.
Don't be too surprised if dealers push a certain manufacturer. It's a business and there are probably deals being done behind the scene. Trust your own ears. All of us can recommend speakers, I'm an unashamed KEF fan. Doesn't mean you'll like them as well.

I have a pretty simple ethos when auditioning. Pick the kit that puts the biggest smile on your face but don't go above your budget unless you get a gold plated deal.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thanks. Yes, listened to Q550 and Oberon 5 and DALI did make better impresion.
I was actually surprised how small they are. Both of them brands.

I'll shop around and see what others say.
Like you said, I don't have to buy anything and also, didn't really ask for any discount which I will when they call me to follow up in few days.

Great! Yes they are very compact, most people are always suprised how slim they are in real life cause the pictures doesn´t do justice. However they won´t sound small when partnered with good subwoofer. You aren´t running them full range in surround setup.

Can you describe the differences you heard? Did Dali sound brighter? What about soundstage which was better? Last time i heard the earlier version of Dali Oberon 5 they throw massive soundstage compared to other brands. That was something special as it was so three dimensional and airy, but i felt the highs were not natural for my ears. But as we have seen many times two people listen same speakers they can feel very different so own ears are best judge.

If i had known you go listen the Dalis i would also mentioned the Bronze 200 which are exactly same sized and priced slightly better. I picked the older version of these over the Dalis many years ago as they just sounded more balanced as i was fearing the pronounced highs getting tiring over time. I did love certain areas with Dalis though. With Monitor Audio all day lasting serie/movie marathons were never issue and i had about 36m2 apartment which they filled with ease. So definitely good option and worth a listen if in stock.


Also i would be very curious hearing the Focal Chora range which i linked you earlier. Focal comes from France. Judging from feedback i think they could be more closer to Dali`s. They are slightly larger than the models listed earlier. So larger cabinet with larger 6,5" drivers including the center channel. They also have front port design if you were to place the speakers close to front wall.

AVForums has reviewed them using the one model larger mains if intrested reading about them:
 

LiMaK

Member
Don't be too surprised if dealers push a certain manufacturer. It's a business and there are probably deals being done behind the scene. Trust your own ears. All of us can recommend speakers, I'm an unashamed KEF fan. Doesn't mean you'll like them as well.

I have a pretty simple ethos when auditioning. Pick the kit that puts the biggest smile on your face but don't go above your budget unless you get a gold plated deal.
Thanks ... will definitely pop in to another store or two. Maybe another RS for comparison
 

3rdignis

Well-known Member
The loudest I listen is peaks of 90db, these should do that at 4.5m




5 takes care of your budget


Or you could go 2.1

 

3rdignis

Well-known Member
If you both find the sound of the room unpleasant.


Cover 25% of ceiling and back wall should do it.

no more nails, plastic ducting and heavy duty velcro tape to create an air gap.
 

LiMaK

Member
Did the dealer call you and give good deal for Dali/Kef? Have you considered other brands / other dealers?

They followed up by email. I asked about some discount and they said they will be able to do something about the price once I'm ready to purchase. Discount tbc when the time comes.

Now I'll be going away in a week or so for couple of weeks so I figured I'll deal with it when I return.
My girls will be away so I'll have more time to shop around properly and visit 2 or 3 additional stores.
 

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