My Home Theatre Room Challenges - Is It Worth It To Upgrade Speakers

I have a very nice 2-channel stereo room where I love to listen to music by myself.  I am happy with the equipment and set-up in this room (at least for now).

Our family room (on the other side of our home) serves as our Home Theatre room and my wife and I watch a movie in this room together almost every night.  We recently upgraded to a Sony 83" A90J television and we love the picture quality.  

I consider sound quality to be just as important as picture quality when it comes to watching a good movie.  The 5.1.2 sound equipment in this room currently features:

  • Yamaha RX-1080 Surround Processor
  • Paradigm Prestige 15 Front Speakers on stands 
  • Martin Logan ESL Center Channel
  • Polk PSW1000 Powered Subwoofer
  • Paradigm Millenia 1 Overhead Speakers
  • Polk In Wall Rear Speakers
  • Room size = 20' wide X 18' deep (no rear wall)
  • Ceiling Height = 20' tall

The room has two big challenges:

  • WAF is critical - this is our family room, having front speakers that sit 4' out into the room is not going to happen
  • there are two couches that sit directly between the Front L&R speakers and our two primary listening chairs.

I would love to make a big and impactful improvement in sound quality in this room. I am currently considering replacing my two front main speakers (Paradigm Bookshelf 2-way speakers with 6" drivers) with full-sized speakers.  I am considering speakers, like perhaps a nice used pair of B&W 803 D2's, with the intent to dramatically improve base and be able to better fill the large room with sound.

Question:  Will the two couches block the sound improvement that I am trying to achieve?  (Right now my bookshelf speakers sit on stands which allows the soundwaves to not be blocked by my couches.)   Does this upgrade of front speakers in my large room seem like a logical first step?  I would love to hear from someone else who possible made some similar changes.




Absolutely upgrade the sound for that nice Sony. I have a Paradigm 9.2.7 HT you can see in my profile. Step 1, don’t change the bookshelves, for a surround system with a sub you are fine. Change the CC to get the matching Paradigm 45C center channel. Critical that F-C-L are perfectly matched. You can also keep the bookshelves on stands so they are not blocked by the couch. What do you think?


You ask a great question. I would give this a lot of careful thought. 

You can see my systems under my ID. I have B&W 805’s with two B&W 800 series subwoofers. It is great you can keep HT separate from your two channel music system. They have different objectives.


Our HT audio has always cost many times what our TV cost. It is worth it… but it is still not as critical as two channel audio. I am really happy with our stand mounted B&W 805’s with subwoofers. I would not want furniture get in the way of the mid range drivers. So really high quality stand mounted speakers are required.


You want them voiced the same… so, all the same brand. Moving to all one voicing will really help. 

Also, you have a tremendous opportunity to get a better surround processor. I would get a surround processor and separate seven channel amp. Your receiver is a “does everything” box. Look to NAD and Rotel for these. 

I would love to make a big and impactful improvement in sound quality in this room. I am currently considering replacing my two front main speakers (Paradigm Bookshelf 2-way speakers with 6" drivers) with full-sized speakers.

For this, I’d simply add another sub. It’ll give you much more impact and even out the bass in the room. I really think that’s all you need. Look at something like an SVS SB1000 that’s not too big but still gets down to an honest 20Hz (-3dB) for only $400 with free shipping and a 45-day, in-home trial with free return shipping if it doesn’t work out. They also offer great customer service if you need help integrating the subs. Best of luck.

I don't think you need larger speakers. In fact, given the placement of the couches small stand-mounts are probably ideal.

Your 10" sub is probably too small for the room.  I'd recommend upgrading to a 12" or 15" unit instead.  And make sure your crossover is high enough, at 80 Hz. 

Look for the AM Acoustics room mode simulator.  Try to keep your main and subs out of the lowest room modes. 

LCF speakers should be of the same series.

Center speaker is about the most important in a Home Theater system
Two subs are better than  one.

If your room’ s acoustic is difficult maybe change the Yamaa receiver for a new Denon with’´ Dirac Live ´´ room calibration option.

Dont get me wrong , Yamaha is a flawless brand. But for room’s calibration, ???


Wow, thank you all for the feedback and ideas.

I'm going to proceed with this plan:

  • Use my existing bookshelf speakers, since the couches are going to stay where they are.
  • Replace my center channel with a new Paradigm Founder 600c center channel - this will be a big step up from my existing and it will match my Paradigm front speakers
  • Add another subwoofer to my system
  • Recalibrate everything using the Yamaha YPAO room calibration tool

I will use my local dealer for each step, as they have provided excellent equipment and advice in the past.

Thank you again for all of the advice.

Sounds like a very good plan.  I assume you mean the Premier 600C center speaker?  That should be a huge and impactful upgrade as the center is so critical to good HT performance, and Paradigm makes excellent center speakers.  Between that and adding another sub I think you’re gonna meet all your goals and be very happy with the results.  

Oops, yes - the Premier 600C.

I can't wait to hear the results.  I will post back with my feelings and feedback after I have made the changes.

Full range main speakers are a necessity but augmenting with powered subwoofers is also a good idea.

Even more important is to have the room analyzed, treated if necessary and set up properly,

I would also throw out jumping up to an Anthem MRX740. Having their room correction software will also make a big jump in the sonic output. 

The basic premise of a surround sound system is to replace the room acoustics with the surround sound acoustical environment. To succeed at that room treatment is an absolute necessity. Given that your room is almost a cube, you are going to notice a huge difference from sidewall panels and bass traps. The ceiling will also benefit from acoustical panels, but at 20 ft high, you likely don't have the equipment or experience to do-it-yourself.

Our living room ceiling slopes from 12 to 15'  with a lot of glass on the side behind the listener and 4 - 2X4 ft and 4- 2X2 ft 2" panels, covered to match the white ceiling absolutely transformed the room from unlistenable to pretty good. It even makes conversation easier. 

Definitely match your RCL speakers and at a minimum add another Polk subwoofer.  Replacing it with a pair of SVS (your choice of model0 would be even better.

Absolutely recalibrate your system using the Yamaha YPAO tool, then tune it by ear to your taste. Especially listen for speech intelligibility. Some TV shows (Billions, for example) seem to almost whisper their soundtracks, I suppose to make the script sound more conspiratorial. As a result it can be very difficult to follow if the room is just bouncing sound off all the walls. Again, in our treated room, soundtracks became much easier to understand - without raising the volume - after we treated and recalibrated the system.

Good luck!

I just added it to the Virtual Systems section, labeled hikerneil's system.

(Forgive me, I'm new and am still trying to figure things out!)





Great room… great to see what you are working with.


Sounds like your planned steps are good choices. 

WAF is very important in this room - if it was 100% about sound quality I would go with some big full-sized speakers, add some huge subs, and add acoustic treatment - but that is why I have my 2-channel room.



If you have your two channel room… then your plan is even better. Sounds like this will bring your home theater to a great place… and future expenditures can be on your 2 channel system. HT is about credible sound with good bass punch for explosions and special effects. I think your plan gets this. 

One more question:  I am zeroing in on adding the REL T7x sub to my system.  This sub has the ability to be wired with both High Level wiring (to speaker outputs) and also the LFE channel.

Should I add this sub to my Center Channel outputs, or the Front Right / Left outputs?  It seems like if I add the High Level wiring to my Center Channel that I would capture deeper voices etc on the center channel, while if I added it to my Front Left Right's I would hear it more on musical tracks.  Is that a simple way to look at it?

Since I only use this room for Movies and TV I am leaning toward adding it to my Center Channel.  In either case I will also hook up the LFE as well to take advantage of high impact sounds while watching movies.


You have to try both to see what you prefer, if you add subs see the tips for sub placement Ihave posted in my virtual system page.

Not sure why you’d pick this Rel over the SVS SB1000 Pro for HT. The Rel has a 200W amp and goes down to 30Hz -6dB while the SVS has a 325W amp and goes down to 20Hz -3dB. Both are about the same size and have high-level and LFE inputs, but the SVS also offers integration software and is $400-$500 cheaper depending on finish. Plus, SVS offers excellent customer service and offers a truly risk-free, 45-day trial including shipping both ways. I suppose if this was for music you could make an argument for the Rel, but for HT the SVS would seem to be a better choice given its more powerful amp and ability to go so much lower in bass. Lastly, for $50 more than the price of the Rel you could get TWO SB1000 Pros! At that point you could consider selling your Polk sub that also only goes down to 30Hz to offset some some of the cost of the SVS subs, and you’d now have two matched subs with integration software to make your life easier. Just a thought.



Don't complicate your subwoofer setup.  Use the LFE output and let the receiver or processor handle everything.  It's going to do a better job than anything you can do via speaker level inputs.




BTW, nice pic of your room, you may want t consider bringing the millenia one height channels down a bit to about a 30-55 degree angle from the MLP:

5.1.2 In Ceiling Atmos Speaker Placement - AVS Forum | Home Theater ...


About a month ago, I started this thread and my intent was to gain input for ideas on improving the system that we use for movie watching in our family room.  I have a separate 2-channel room on the other side of the house that I use for the best possible listening experience with my music collection. Our family room is used primarily for entertaining and relaxing, and sound quality is not the main priority in this room.  (WAF outweighs speaker selection, acoustic treatment, etc.)

I received lots of great advice from members of this forum and I incorporated many of them in the upgrades to this room.  I am happy to report that the changes that were made produced a dramatically better-sounding experience in the room, while still maintaining an acceptable WAF level.  I am 100% happy with the final outcome!  The changes are outlined below.

1. I replaced my mismatched set of front speakers with a set of three new Paradigm Foundation Series 70 LCR speakers.  I listened to them against numerous other speakers and found them to be the right solution for my room.  I needed bookshelf-style speakers mounted on stands (so that the sound could be projected over the two couches in the room).  These speakers are as large as I felt going to for this setup.  I tested them against several full-sized floor-standing speakers and I was impressed with their full range sound.  Most importantly, I received the major improvement in center channel sound that I sought when I started this project.   Secondarily, I was also able to have all three speakers match each other exactly.

2. I added a REL 7Tx subwoofer.  I listened to several different subs but selected the REL for several reasons including extremely high build quality, ability to Hi/Lo wire to my center channel for added low-end, and the ability to also simultaneously utilize its LFE channel for additional low-end support during certain movie scenes.  I also still have my large Polk sub in the corner of the room for additional LFE support as well.

3. I moved my Front Presence speakers down on the front wall by about 4'.  They are now within the tolerance of the diagram shown above by kota1.  This has made a big difference.  That little adjustment now allows me to hear those speakers, where before I never heard them at all.

4. I moved my Front Right speaker over toward the center of the room to a position that is symmetrical with my Front Left channel and within the 22-30 degree recommended positions for front speakers.  I had moved that speaker over to the far corner because my wife never liked the way it looked sitting near the fireplace.  My concession is: we slide it over (I put felt slides on the bottom of the speaker stand) to the correct position when we are watching a movie then I slide it back on the outside of the fireplace when we are not watching a movie.  The room looks best when it's in the corner, and the sound is best when it's in its correct position so this process is an easy solution.  (I placed a couple of marks on the fireplace hearth to show the exact correct position and angle.)

Lastly, I ran the YPAO room calibration after everything was in its final place and I experimented with adjusting subwoofers, speaker size, etc.  In the end, I increased the Center Channel volume by about 1.5 dB so that we can both hear dialogue clearly without having to use CC.

I'm happy to report that we are back to watching a movie together every night in this room, and most importantly my wife says she loves the new sound system.  The biggest changes are major improvements to the sound quality from my center channel and to the sound stage that you feel in the two main listening positions.

I'm guessing I will be ready for the next upgrade in about two years' time.  At that point, I will tackle installing two pairs of speakers in the 20' high ceiling while also introducing a new processor to the system.  For now, it's time to watch lots of movies!   

Thank you to everyone that provided input, I used lots of groupthink for the changes that were made.  This forum is a tremendous resource.

Congratulations!! Very happy to see your project had the desired result. The room looks great and nice compromise on the speakers with the sliding to the R when not in use. You can get felt pads to slide furniture at amazon if you need them. Just stick them under the speaker and leave them, they slide real easy. Looks fantastic!

In the title the OP asks if it is worthwhile to upgrade speakers. I have 3 systems, a dedicated 2 channel, a basement man cave where I can do what I want with surround sound, and another surround system in our living room. I have the same WAF issues the OP has in the last system, and after experimenting with in wall speakers and other sonic compromises in living room, I decided it isn’t worth it. We don’t watch much in then the way of action films (no Marvel here) and dialogue is the key thing. So no need for Atmos or anything gimmicky there, but a lot of attention paid to voices and the center channel. When I listen to music in this system it is usually background while cooking or doing the taxes.

  I should add that the living room is decent mid Fi equipment and still sounds better than most systems that I owned until I really got into audiophila about 25 years ago.  Anthem Room Correction was a major upgrade

Improving my center channel (for dialogue quality) was absolutely one of my top priorities, and I feel like I accomplished that goal.  We now rarely turn on Closed Captioning, and we find voice quality to be much better - so I feel like we nailed that goal.

We watch lots of movies and I feel like our favorites tend to be more along the lines of drama than big action films, so dialogue is definitely a high priority for us as well.  That said, I love and value the surround experience and my wife values it as well.  I'm always amazed that out of nowhere a sound will appear out of my surrounds and it adds greatly to any movie.  I cannot imagine watching movies without my surrounds.  Even a series like Survivor now places heavy emphasis on a quality sound mix, including content through those surrounds.

I feel like we ended up with the perfect combination of maintaining a high WAF, while also obtaining a very high level of surround sound experience.  For me, a 5.1.2 experience may be good enough for this room.  I need to hear some more examples of 7.2.4 (or higher) before making any further investments in processor, redesign, and wiring runs.

And lastly, I agree with your approach of having a separate room for 2-channel audio.  I love to go to my 2 channel room to listen to music, it's a totally different listening experience in that room (and it fails the WAF test miserably).