Sad but true – budget HT 10 years in making

While I realize you generally get the home theater you pay for, I also subscribe to the notion there are occasional outliers on this exponential curve of diminishing returns – and occasionally the right combination of equipment (used and new) punches well above its weight.

It was with this premise that I purchased a Yamaha RX-V659 receiver about six years ago - my decision based largely on this excellent review:

I’ve moved into a house where I can now set up my first proper home theater – in a raised basement with 7’4” ceilings, wood floors, brick rear, and sheetrock front and side walls. This room will only be used for watching HDTV and movies (mostly streamed with very infrequent Blue-ray). The 20’ by 15’room is wired for 6.1 sound, with in-ceiling or ceiling-mounted surround and rear speakers, and front or rear sub.

The speakers I currently own (but are not married to) include B&W DM CCS2 (specifications: center and DM 601S2 surrounds (specifications: These would be mounted up front in/on stereo cabinet and stands (yet to be purchased).

I am now looking for L/R surrounds, a rear speaker (all three to be mounted in or on the ceiling) and a floor subwoofer. I’m ready to buy used and would like to keep overall expenses between $900 and $1,500 - but could go up to $1,900 if I sold the B&W’s.

Since I can’t afford to be ignorant, I’m asking for help to make some very smart speaker decisions!!


If you like the sound of your current B&Ws, it would make the most sense to remain within that product line. This will provide you with timbre-matching and a much more seamless soundfield. And those characteristics are VERY important for the best sound quality.

Folks who mix and match speakers in a multi-channel system are cheating themselves of the opportunity to have a truly immersive multi-channel experience...

Did you audition Pioneer's Andre Jones designed SP-BS22-LR for the L/R surround? For the "one rear" speaker you can go with the center channel speaker in the same series. Do you HAVE to spend $900-$1500? As RW mentioned above, if you are happy with the current sound, then stick with B&W. The Pioneers will let you splurge in the subwoofer. I see a lot of subwoofers in the Audiogon used section.
Nothing to be sad about. Cheerup and watch a nice movie :-)
Have a look at Hsu Research subwoofers. Excellent value.
If you are going to use B&W, you may want to pick a different amp. Your Yamaha will work but it may have trouble driving the speakers to their full potential. If you go in under powered, your system will never sound right.
This is so helpful!

What I am hearing is that I should avoid mixing speakers in a multi-channel system - and therefore, because I am not particularly enamored of my B&W's, I could sell them and go with Pioneer's Andre Jones designed SP-BS22-LR all around - four monitors and two centers at a cost of $720.

I couple of further questions:

Is it important to also match the subwoofer or could I mix in anything with the Pioneer's (like one from Hsu Research)?

Also, is it possible to mount the surrounds and rear speakers to the ceiling? I guess the front center and L/R would go on a stereo cabinet or stands (which I have not yet purchased).

Thanks for your help everyone!

- Sam

Sam, though missing the latest features, the Yamaha RX-V659 is a great AV receiver, and does have one of the best amplifier stages of units in its price range. It will have no trouble driving the B&W DM601’s, however once a subwoofer is added, it will be best to set them to “small” in the 659’s setup menu. During the time that these were current, I worked at an audio dealer that sold Yamaha and B&W. I heard the 659 with many different speaker systems on display and in customers’ homes as well, and the absolute best sound for a surround setup was using 3 pair of DM601’s and subwoofer. This provided a perfect timbre match for all 6 channels. I totally agree with RW’s advice that timbre matching is VERY important, and other brands should be avoided. You could just add a pair of 601’s and CC6 for the rear, or use 3 DM601’s since singles show up on ebay at times, or sell the CC6 and get 2 more pair of 601’s. Timbre matching is for the 5, 6, or 7 channels, and not the subwoofer, so it can be any brand.

The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR is a great budget speaker, however, has a 3db less sensitivity than the 601’s, which will decrease the overall dynamic capability of the system. The result of this 3db difference will be the same as using the 601’s on a receiver with half of the 659’s power output. In your room size, it will be an advantage to use the higher sensitivity speaker. Dynamics and deep bass are important for a good home theater.

As an alternative to the 601’s in your price range, take a look at the Hsu Research HB-1 MK2. It has excellent reviews and its sensitivity is 4db higher than the 601’s, which will result in better dynamic capability compared to the 601.

Yes, it is possible to mount speakers to the ceiling. There are many different types of mounts available. Just make sure you choose one with an adequate weight limit for the speaker, and attach securely to the ceiling joist.

Tls49, thank you for spending the time to respond.

Your knowledge of the RX-V659 is very helpful and confirming… it is a great AV receiver!

Given that you have heard the DM601’s powered by the Yammie, I am much more inclined to go with B&W over HSU or Pioneer (as I take it you have not heard the 659 with either of them). Thanks also for the setup tip (set the 659 to “small” in the menu once a subwoofer is added). I assume you would also recommend setting the 601's up with 8 ohms?

So now I am on the lookout for a used pair of 601’s and a CC6 for the rear!

All I will need then is a subwoofer – and I would greatly value your ideas of what brand and model sub might fit in well with this system. Again, I’m ready to buy used.

Any good sources for ceiling mounts, stands and stereo cabinets, would be welcome as well!

Sam, yes, use the 8 ohm setting in your 659 for the B&W's. Also, as you look for 601's, try to get the DM601 S2, and definitely stay away from the original 601, as it did not have the Nautilus tweeter tube like yours. At the time I was selling these, we primarily used B&W subwoofers with them, but there are many good subs available today. Do you have a budget for one?

As far as mounts and stands, sorry, don't have a recommendation, but there is so much available if you do a google search. Again, just make sure any ceiling mount has the adequate weight limit for the speaker, and attach securely to the ceiling joist.
I'd like to spend no more than $400 or $600 on the sub. I'm not looking to rattle the house - just fill out the cinematic experience.

Curious, do you recommend the S2 over the S3 as well, or are you just recommending the DM601 S2 to match the ones I own?

Sam, the Hsu Research VTF-2 MK4 looks like a good choice in your price range, and yes, the DM601 S2 would be the best for the rear to achieve a perfect match to the front. The S3 would be a better choice than the original 601, however it is still different from the S2.

What do you think about Hsu's VTF-1 MK2, might it also mate well with the B&W 601 S2's?

Also, separate question, have you actually heard the HB-1 MK2 or have you just heard good things about these monitors? I'm interested because I'd rather take your advice on a speaker you have actually heard play. Also, did you ever hear the B&W 601 S3's with the RX-V659?

Thanks so much for your help!

- Sam

Sam, I think the VTF-2 MK4 would be better for your size room, and it does have much better low bass output. I'm sure either one can mate with your 601's.

No, I have not heard the HB-1 MK2, but suggested them because of the excellent reviews.

After looking back at the years when the 659 was current, it was probably the 601 S3 we sold at that time, although I do have experience with all of the 601's. As I said, the most difference is between the original and the S2. Again, for a perfect match get S2's to match yours, however, S3's would probably work fine, but definitely stay away from the original.

You are right.

The HSU series has received excellent reviews. As soon as I started researching the VTF-2 MK4, I became sold on the whole package. I'm now strongly considering:

1 x VTF-2 MK4, sub
1 x HC-1 Mk2, center
2 x HB-1 Mk2, front L/R
3 x HIW-1), in-ceiling surround and rear

In fact, I've listed the B&W for sale.

Thanks for your great advice!

- Sam

How did the Hsu system compare to the B&W system?