Front Stage Advise


Hello all, brand new to the community and in need of some advise about a front stage from our home’s dedicated home theater.
About me, been out of the component audio game for a long time and after several months of research I feel I have learned a great deal, but all of the information has created more confusion for me. Especially on amps.

I am looking for advise on a front stage that will give the theater room (18’W x 22’L x 10’ H) a great experience. There are nine dedicated theater seats situated in two rows.

I would really like to know your preferences for the speakers and amp/s that would make a great front stage. Right now my budget for this portion of the project is around 10-12k.
Thanks in advance for all recommendations and responses.
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My home theater is smaller, however there are two important considerations for the front speakers.

1. CENTER DIALOG HEIGHT. very good center, very close to the image, to anchor the dialog/center sounds to the screen not the speaker’s height if too far above or below.

Your mains do not do these sounds in surround modes, the coding strips those frequencies, takes signals out of the mains as the director intended,

Thus the mains do NOT always make a phantom center image as they always do in 2 channel mode.

2. WIDE center image from mains, especially when full range is sent to them and they do make both distinct l/r and create phantom center/slightly l/r.

This is important for both 5.1 and very important in 2 channel mode. A lot of programs are still 2 channel, the cable box and/or your AVR inadvertently make pseudo surround. I often go to 2 channel and find improvement, thus pseudo center more important.

I do not know what is out there, I got these way back when, I suggest you read about their method of achieving a wide center image, then ask questions about current front wide imaging.

http://www.hifi-classic.net/review/dbx-soundfield-100-135.html

Center IS most important for HT.
A perfect center is the Ascend Horizon.
If you want to reduce cost go with a single Ascend Sierra-2. The ribbon can be in either orientation. Done by them or you, 4 screws.
3 Sierra-2’s will get a fine "stage" but you’ll want a big amp as they are 86db speakers.
Thanks for the input. Ascends look very interesting.
I have been looking at Goldenear, can't figure out how there speakers have subs. Wondering if they would work in concert with the other independent subs or conflict.
I have been attempting to study up on what elliottbnewcombjr posted, gonna take me a while.
Thanks.
Yeah, Elliott’s getting a bit into the weeds here whereas I think you’re looking for more of an overall general sound approach at this point. Before going any further, is this system only for home theater or is 2-channel music also of importance? Also, what sound characteristics and system performance aspects are most important to you? Since you’re asking for amps, does that mean you already have a prepro?  Are you also requiring speakers for surround duty as well or have they been installed as in-walls already?
Soix3,
The room is still studs only. No insulation, electrical, or sheet-rock.
To answer your questions in order:
  • I would say almost always multi channel AV. We are hoping to watch some television shows and sports in it as well.
  • We are really hoping for a theater quality experience with the audio that is powerful and responsive. Whether it be movies or concert blu-rays we want to have a great experience, not a good one. We like lots of action movies from the 70s and 80s classics to modern films as well.
  • As far as amps or processors, I have no equipment yet. Amps seem to be a complex topic for me. There appears to be a wide variety of "quality" that I am trying to figure out. The specs seem to mean almost nothing, the quality of the power appears to be the main item a buyer should consider.
  • Because of the size of the room, we are strongly considering a front stage of "box/free standing" speakers with the remaining four surrounds (RS/LR/RR/LR) being architecture (In-Wall) speakers. Our main concern and budget was towards the front stage.


We are really hoping for a theater quality experience with the audio that is powerful and responsive. Whether it be movies or concert blu-rays we want to have a great experience, not a good one.
Given what you’re looking for I thought of ATC speakers. They make professional speakers frequently used in recording studios and are built to generate clean and powerful sound — just what you want in a movie experience. And Anthem makes home theater electronics with audiophile roots and are a cut above the more mainstream products out there IMHO. And SVS makes great subwoofers with high quality/$ and also offer exceptional customer service. So, given your budget and using these brands, one option would be:

ATC SCM19 Monitors - $4000/pr
ATC C3C Center speaker - $2200
Anthem MRX 1120 A/V Receiver - $3500
SVS PB2000 Subwoofers (2 of them) - $1700/pr
TOTAL - $11,400

If you really want to be blown away with a special movie experience, this system would do it IMHO. In looking around I found a review in “Secrets of Home Theater and HiFi” from this past May that actually used this receiver and speakers (different sub though) so you can read their impressions FWIW. Anyway, just one option for you to consider, and best of luck building your new theater.
soix3,
Thank you for recommendation. I will look in to it right away. Do you have any advise on amps? Thanks again!
The Anthem MRX-1120 is a receiver so it does all amplification as well as all the signal processing in one box, and given that it worked well in the review mentioned previously it may well be all you need.  If you want to go the separate amp route I’d still recommend going with the MRX-1120 and use it to power the surround speakers and a d-sonic M3a-1200-3 three-channel amplifier ($2175) for the more critical front three speakers.  But, frankly, I think you’ll be thrilled with just the 1120, and you can always add a separate amp later if you still feel the need.  Hope this helps. 
Cheers soix3,
Thanks for all your help!
I'll try saying it differently.

home theater is complicated, especially when using HT in 2 channel stereo mode (both 2 channel video and 2 channel music only).

Surround sound (recorded/streamed/reproduced right) is terrific. However, much streaming video sounds better in 2 channel mode. Learn how to over-ride the decoder when something is not great, to select/listen to 2 channel, stay or back to surround (you will be surprised). Knowing this, more frequent use of 2 channel mode, influences your selection of front l/r mains.
.......................................

2 Channel Video, or 2 channel stereo, center speaker is OFF
MUSIC: Dedicated listening spot needs a narrower center image
VIDEO: needs to create a WIDE center image, i.e. 3 people on a couch.
Thus, choose front l/r mains, and position them accordingly. 
............................................

Center speaker HEIGHT. Any surround mode: center channel is definitely needed, and it's height location is very important to connect the dialog to the image. I find just below the image most successful with my small HT 55" monitor. Other's can discuss their solutions for very large screens to get the dialog height correct. 

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SUB(s) can be great, 

CROSSOVER where? in AVR; in SUB; Separate component?
Always ON, or Sometimes OFF, depends on connection method.
Thus, choose your mains' bass capabilities accordingly.

ONE SUB, omni-directional, position anywhere that works
TWO SUBS, directional, near front l/r, preserve imaging i.e. Bass Player's location, dinosaur coming from which side?

simple, right?