Need help: 5.1 “cross-grade” for a better fit or go higher end 2.0/2.1 in an awkward media room

shawntp

Novice Member
TLDR:
  • Have a media room with a old/used stuff that I got cheap (which drove my decisions) - 166" screen/old PSB 5.0 speakers/Anthem MRX310
  • Old projector died, I updated to 4k not realizing my 2014 "4K ready" AV receiver could not do HDCP2.2 and projector only can pass stereo back through optical out or HDMI ARC
  • Sound has always been compromised (Center almost on the floor, enormous towers 20' deep, never added a sub, surrounds positions end updirectly to the L/R or in front when reclined)
  • Time to change things up, a new receiver?(the HDMI audio splitter things seem riddled with quirky bugs) but also am thinking I should get more appropriate speakers.
  • Given the room/constraints I am also considering 2.0/2.1 including the KEF LS50W II's and maybe a sub (and just skip the receiver and keep it simple).

Long Version:

Hey folks, I have a basement media room with a main seating area of 20' x 15' (with a bulk head/partial wall that kicks back another 15 feet to a bar cove). I set this up with a minimal budget 7 years starting with the 166” screen I got cheap. Its too big but we love it :). I purchased a BenQ projector, Anthem receiver, and a set of used PSB Image 6T towers/center/surrounds all used so put in ~$1500 total.

Recently my Projector died so I moved to 4K (given the size/viewing distance) and got a BenQ HT3550 with a Roku 4K stick. The image quality is great for what I need and I love it.

The sound has always been just ok (these speakers are not the best in the PSB line and they are bit tubby but for the price they got things done). My center is (and can only be) low to the ground due to screen size. The surrounds are directly to the left/right of the main seating (and when you recline its almost a little in front. I have the receiver set for no sub (huge towers were ok) - so literally 5.0 with my weakest points being the most important for surround.

I always wanted to upgrade to something nicer eventually (have owned B&W/Totem acoustic stereo pairs in the past) and inadvertently totally messed up my audio in upgrading to 4K (my projector only sends stereo back through ARC HDMI or Optical and my receiver despite being 4K is too old and doesnt do the HDCP2.2 to the projector).

So here I am, minimally needing a new AV receiver - but I also have bulky old speakers (20” deep) that don’t work the best (need lots of juice and were never chosen specific to the room/placements).

I have thought about what speakers might be better if I am going to need to update the receiver so I guess that is what I have come for guidance on. Say I have $500-$1000 budget on the receiver and $1500 on speakers - its hard because I feel like I am going to downgrade in pure audio in some regards just to get things that can be positioned better and catch up on technology. I have also thought about skipping it all and getting a pair of KEF LS50W II’s for $2500 (either go wireless or running the long ARC 2.0 HDMI feed I have already to them) and going 2.0 (probably would want 2.1 and to add a sub) and go for better imaging.

I have attached some images to gather thoughts. Thanks!
 

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Last edited:

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Have you listened movies in 2.0 how it sounds? Do you miss the rest of speakers, watch some blockbuster movie first. Of course it`s not going to sound same as when you have sub or two which your room really needs if you are heavy on action/scifi/horror type flicks. Also if the center channel doesn´t sound good due to being low you could turn it off from receiver menu and run 4.1 so the information would be played by mains. It could work at least in the center seat, maybe little toe in for the main speakers then also. The mains looks to be quite wide apart vs. speaker to couch distance, but with such big ass screen you don´t have much choices. The main speakers large towers should be pushed more forward, but they look quite deep and not sure is that possible. If they are rear ported speakers played full range now due to no sub, they aren´t going to sound best so close to boundaries. So giving them some space, crossing them around 80hz with large woofers doing the heavy work they could sound lot better.

The room looks quite large and LS50W II are quite small speakers, maybe asking bit too much from them.

I feel bad for the receiver change, it hurts to move from good working receiver just due to getting too old. But that´s how it is with tech going forward fast. You could get something like Marantz SR6014 / Denon X3600H for 1k$ and pay 40$ for extended warranty (3y total). These are 9.2 machines with 11.2 processing (7.2.4 atmos is possible) and little bit more powerfull than your Anthem. Some might argue that the ARC room correction is better than Audussey, but with the new phone app (20$) if you limit the correction to room transit frequency it should sound great without messing up your speakers "natural" sound too much (not correcting full range). And it should do similar good job regarding subwoofer eq for one or two woofers. These are 2019 models so no HDMI 2.1 if you can live with that (non gamer). The latest model costs 200$ more. This is really the sweet spot with your budget. Yamaha haven´t put out new models yet, Onkyo&Pioneer models come out June-August.
Amazon product



I think you need to do things in step and if you want to keep the surround sound. Get the receiver and subwoofer first. See how the system sound when you add good subwoofer. With that room the advice at any forum would be get the largest you can afford and add second later. Probably not something you want to hear, haha. If you are looking the most bang for buck under 1k$ in US then HSU would be tough to beat. You could also consider two smaller (12") models if you can´t see yourself spending for another of this price (first two options). The benefits are quite clear when you have two woofers placed optimally. What i worry is the space available. I can´t see is there space at the front right corner. In that case you could fit 2nd at the rear right next to left seat in that corner, so diagonally opposite. Another option could be the front side wall.. Where ever they give you best response. If you are 100% sure you want only one subwoofer then get the best you can afford, largest ported subwoofer as that space opens up so it´s not just your listening area which the woofer "sees".

 

shawntp

Novice Member
Have you listened movies in 2.0 how it sounds? Do you miss the rest of speakers, watch some blockbuster movie first. Of course it`s not going to sound same as when you have sub or two which your room really needs if you are heavy on action/scifi/horror type flicks. Also if the center channel doesn´t sound good due to being low you could turn it off from receiver menu and run 4.1 so the information would be played by mains. It could work at least in the center seat, maybe little toe in for the main speakers then also. The mains looks to be quite wide apart vs. speaker to couch distance, but with such big ass screen you don´t have much choices. The main speakers large towers should be pushed more forward, but they look quite deep and not sure is that possible. If they are rear ported speakers played full range now due to no sub, they aren´t going to sound best so close to boundaries. So giving them some space, crossing them around 80hz with large woofers doing the heavy work they could sound lot better.

The room looks quite large and LS50W II are quite small speakers, maybe asking bit too much from them.

I feel bad for the receiver change, it hurts to move from good working receiver just due to getting too old. But that´s how it is with tech going forward fast. You could get something like Marantz SR6014 / Denon X3600H for 1k$ and pay 40$ for extended warranty (3y total). These are 9.2 machines with 11.2 processing (7.2.4 atmos is possible) and little bit more powerfull than your Anthem. Some might argue that the ARC room correction is better than Audussey, but with the new phone app (20$) if you limit the correction to room transit frequency it should sound great without messing up your speakers "natural" sound too much (not correcting full range). And it should do similar good job regarding subwoofer eq for one or two woofers. These are 2019 models so no HDMI 2.1 if you can live with that (non gamer). The latest model costs 200$ more. This is really the sweet spot with your budget. Yamaha haven´t put out new models yet, Onkyo&Pioneer models come out June-August.
Amazon product



I think you need to do things in step and if you want to keep the surround sound. Get the receiver and subwoofer first. See how the system sound when you add good subwoofer. With that room the advice at any forum would be get the largest you can afford and add second later. Probably not something you want to hear, haha. If you are looking the most bang for buck under 1k$ in US then HSU would be tough to beat. You could also consider two smaller (12") models if you can´t see yourself spending for another of this price (first two options). The benefits are quite clear when you have two woofers placed optimally. What i worry is the space available. I can´t see is there space at the front right corner. In that case you could fit 2nd at the rear right next to left seat in that corner, so diagonally opposite. Another option could be the front side wall.. Where ever they give you best response. If you are 100% sure you want only one subwoofer then get the best you can afford, largest ported subwoofer as that space opens up so it´s not just your listening area which the woofer "sees".


Thanks for the comments - you do bring some good points - I suppose its very risky to change too much at once but the subwoofer has been an obvious hole. The L/R towers are triple driver + tweeter and front ported so I always just set the Anthem profile to no sub and to pump extra bass but this could actually make everything perform worse. I guess the receiver upgrade is just something I need to do no matter what to stay up to date - I will check out those models above as well as the subwoofer options. At times I’ve wanted to get the L/R higher (get over top arm of side couch) and consider bookshelves or wall mounts but I also never want to move things further from the cetner. Experimenting with 4.1 with a good pair of main towers is not something that ever occured to me (will have to see how they image that far apart but it is almost a triangle to the listening position as the wide lens on my camera phone probably makes this look a little bigger than it is). Thanks again for the tips.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the comments - you do bring some good points - I suppose its very risky to change too much at once but the subwoofer has been an obvious hole. The L/R towers are triple driver + tweeter and front ported so I always just set the Anthem profile to no sub and to pump extra bass but this could actually make everything perform worse. I guess the receiver upgrade is just something I need to do no matter what to stay up to date - I will check out those models above as well as the subwoofer options. At times I’ve wanted to get the L/R higher (get over top arm of side couch) and consider bookshelves or wall mounts but I also never want to move things further from the cetner. Experimenting with 4.1 with a good pair of main towers is not something that ever occured to me (will have to see how they image that far apart but it is almost a triangle to the listening position as the wide lens on my camera phone probably makes this look a little bigger than it is). Thanks again for the tips.

Well do the test first then with 4.0 Turn center channel off from Anthem menu and watch some movie. Maybe angle the main speakers more toward the listener if necessary.

I doubt you would regret much of the receiver change as the models i mentioned should sound great with movies after some tweaking. They also all come with the Dolby Atmos Virtualization feature which means you can get a sense of height for movies without having physical speakers mounted on ceiling or high up on wall. It´s mentioned in this review. Denon and Marantz are owned by same company so they are very similar and it will be up to you which way to go. As mentioned these are 2019 models so don´t have HDMI 2.1 input/outputs for new gaming consoles (PS5/XBox) so you might want to think about is that something you need in future. Then the X3700H makes sense if required.

You are quite lucky that you live in US (this is UK forum by the way!) cause you also have other brands like SVS which offer 45days buy&try at home, with free shipping/return. So you can see what kind of difference adding the woofer makes to your whole system! If not happy you can return. :) But seriously i can´t see that happening if you like the usual action/scifi/horror stuff. SVS is most known company for subwoofers and has the best support and the bill of rights shows what benefits you get owning one. With other brands you do get little bit more performance for lower price, but not similar support/service and the things mentioned in the link.

With SVS you would be looking these models then:
 

shawntp

Novice Member
Well do the test first then with 4.0 Turn center channel off from Anthem menu and watch some movie. Maybe angle the main speakers more toward the listener if necessary.

I doubt you would regret much of the receiver change as the models i mentioned should sound great with movies after some tweaking. They also all come with the Dolby Atmos Virtualization feature which means you can get a sense of height for movies without having physical speakers mounted on ceiling or high up on wall. It´s mentioned in this review. Denon and Marantz are owned by same company so they are very similar and it will be up to you which way to go. As mentioned these are 2019 models so don´t have HDMI 2.1 input/outputs for new gaming consoles (PS5/XBox) so you might want to think about is that something you need in future. Then the X3700H makes sense if required.

You are quite lucky that you live in US (this is UK forum by the way!) cause you also have other brands like SVS which offer 45days buy&try at home, with free shipping/return. So you can see what kind of difference adding the woofer makes to your whole system! If not happy you can return. :) But seriously i can´t see that happening if you like the usual action/scifi/horror stuff. SVS is most known company for subwoofers and has the best support and the bill of rights shows what benefits you get owning one. With other brands you do get little bit more performance for lower price, but not similar support/service and the things mentioned in the link.

With SVS you would be looking these models then:
Thanks again for all the information - I really did throw my original room together based on what was in front of me at the time and did not spend a lot of time making decisions on what was best (and I come from 2.0 systems as this was my first install in moving from a flat/condo to a house). We really use the room a lot and now that I am forced to do things I want to spend a little more time/money and do them right.

I did go back and listen to some dynamic sound/action movies (had to revert back some things to get my old source working with the receiver) but its night and day with movies like Godzilla KOM so I do want to keep the 5.1 (adding the .1 this time). My budget is pretty good right now so I think I will try the pb-3000 above (SVS is even regional to me as I live in the midwest US).

I do listen to a lot of music (and even records on a nice VPI turntable) so I do want to keep a system that is at list 1/3 music and 2/3 theather. I used to have my stereo on the main floor but its a bad listening environment so I am moving that to the theater room as well now that my kids are a little older and its no longer a play room.

With that, I am considering if its worth the jump up to the new Anthem MRX 740 or NAD T778 (sounds like the NAD is great for music and I really like the home streaming server options as I do a lot of this now with plex which I am pretty into for everything). I would love to not be in the same hdcp x.x situation if I need to replace my projector in 5 years but it seems like these have plugable modules (and from what I read NAD has a good track record with these).

Anyways - planning to get the sub + receiver in the near term and then re-assess how the rest performs once I get a proper sub in the mix. Receivers all seem to be out of stock via normal channels for a little bit so I might need to be patient.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Thanks again for all the information - I really did throw my original room together based on what was in front of me at the time and did not spend a lot of time making decisions on what was best (and I come from 2.0 systems as this was my first install in moving from a flat/condo to a house). We really use the room a lot and now that I am forced to do things I want to spend a little more time/money and do them right.

I did go back and listen to some dynamic sound/action movies (had to revert back some things to get my old source working with the receiver) but its night and day with movies like Godzilla KOM so I do want to keep the 5.1 (adding the .1 this time). My budget is pretty good right now so I think I will try the pb-3000 above (SVS is even regional to me as I live in the midwest US).

I do listen to a lot of music (and even records on a nice VPI turntable) so I do want to keep a system that is at list 1/3 music and 2/3 theather. I used to have my stereo on the main floor but its a bad listening environment so I am moving that to the theater room as well now that my kids are a little older and its no longer a play room.

With that, I am considering if its worth the jump up to the new Anthem MRX 740 or NAD T778 (sounds like the NAD is great for music and I really like the home streaming server options as I do a lot of this now with plex which I am pretty into for everything). I would love to not be in the same hdcp x.x situation if I need to replace my projector in 5 years but it seems like these have plugable modules (and from what I read NAD has a good track record with these).

Anyways - planning to get the sub + receiver in the near term and then re-assess how the rest performs once I get a proper sub in the mix. Receivers all seem to be out of stock via normal channels for a little bit so I might need to be patient.

Great, the PB3000 should be fine option or PB4000 from their outlet store cheaper. The difference would be the extended mode (15hz) if you crave the lowest bass, if not then PB3000.

I scrolled few pages in the owners thread of NAD. It´s the same story as with new Arcams. You are beta tester for the product. It seems to sound great, but there is lot of bugs. No idea how it´s going to be with new Anthem, but yeah it feels sad to purchase new receiver and not to get the latest spec HDMI for future proofing for 3k$ product and also you are battling with some bugs. You can get the hdmi board changed later, but it won´t be cheap. Anthem should be available soon and the 740 should be good step up from your 310 with the latest version of ARC Genesis. But i understand if you want to try something new/different. 3k$ is lot of money of course compared to 1k$ for Marantz which for sure won´t sound bad be it movies or music. The 6014 doesn´t have the latest HDMI spec, but then again it won`t cost much and it works bug free.


 

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