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New HT setup - replacing everything


Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2005
It's finally time to upgrade my entire setup but before I go crazy I'd appreciate some advice or recommendations. I'm currently running a 5.0 setup and to say it's a bit long in the tooth is putting it lightly:

Onkyo TX-SR601 (bought refurbished in 2005)
Cerwin Vega E-712 x2 (front L/R) (from my college days; bought in 2005)
Cerwin Vega VE-5C center (bought over six years ago)
Pioneer CS-X5 surrounds (recently added - took from my parents)

Don't get me wrong, I like it for what it is. The E-712s really put out a metric F-ton of (good, IMO, though I have nothing to compare them to) sound, especially when listening to music, and I don't have any complaints, but it's time to graduate to a real HT setup.

I watch movies all the time and when I'm not watching something, I'm listening to music. I would say my usage is 80% movies and 20% music, but I don't critically listen to music very often unless I have the time; the vast majority of it is just having it on while I'm cooking or hanging around. The right set of speakers could probably change that.

Budget - up to $6k, but this is flexible
-$1k for receiver
-$1-1.5k for a subwoofer (or two)
-$3k for LCR and surrounds

Space - living room, 12'x20'x7.5', with a 5' wide opening into a 21'x13' kitchen/dining room. Not sure if that matters for the subwoofer. A bit more than half of the living room is directly above my garage, with the other area being above my basement. There is only your basic framing and batt insulation, with the garage being drywalled, so I am worried about excessive boominess or noise due to this. The living room also has two HVAC supply vents along the right wall, and a large return vent between the left front speaker and left wall.

I'm not concerned about optimum seating; I spend most of my time in either the loveseat or recliner.


-Start with a 5.1 setup, but eventually upgrade to an Atmos setup - either 5.1.2 or 5.1.4
-Great for music, better for movies.
-I don't watch movies at reference level - I'm usually at -30 to -25dB which is plenty loud for me, plus my house is only ~30' from my neighbors' and I don't want to disturb them.
-No WAF to be concerned about, but I do want a clean look.
-Don't want floorstanding speakers, and I am thinking about building some built-ins for a projector setup. Any front speakers would likely be put into the built-ins (with enough room to breathe, of course).

Here's what I'm looking at:

Receiver - Denon AVR-X3600H or AVR-X4500H
-The X3600H is cheaper/newer and I'm not certain that the extra 20W/channel of the X4500H is necessary, or worth it. Seems the X3600H tends to go for ~$800 on Amazon, while I could buy the X4500H refurbished for ~$900. Besides that, they're pretty much the same in terms of features that I would be using.

Front L/R - Sierra-2EX

Center - DUO LCR

Surrounds - CBM-170 SE

Subwoofer - Rythmik LVX12 or FVX15?

Any advice or other speaker brands to check out would be great. I briefly looked at others (Chane, Kef) but it seems like the Ascends are universally liked, especially the Sierra-2 line with the RAAL tweeters.

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Sep 13, 2001
That is a decent budget. If I were you, I would buy used. You can get a much better system for that $6k if you buy used rather than brand new. I would probably get an AVR new though so I could get something current. But speaker tech hasn't changed much.

Also keep in mind depending what sub you get, you may need an amp to power it too.

My mains were $2200/piece new - I got 3 for $4500 used.

My subs were $1800/piece new - I got 2 for $2200 used.

My rears were $800/piece new - I got 2 for $600 used.

So that is like $4500 I saved by buying used. I wasn't in a rush either so I pieced it together over like 2 months I think after I knew what I wanted.

I would also highly recommend listening to setups before you buy anything. I nearly bought a full Klipsch setup just based on reviews and research, then I found a store that had the same setup for demo and I was very underwhelmed. I also found someone on AVS forums that had the same setup and he let me come over and listen to it too, with any movie I wanted to bring. Before I went there he actually told me he wished he had listened to em first because he didn't like them that much either, but he bought without listening. People on AVS forums love to show their shit off and a lot of people are willing to demo for others.


Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2005
Good advice. After getting some feedback on AVS forum and considering my usage is mostly HT, I think my current plan is to try to demo the following, though I am leaning towards the Chanes based on user impressions and my own music preferences.

Ascend Sierra-1 (either Sierra-1 or CMT-340 as center, CBM-170 surrounds)
Ascend CMT-340 (CMT-340 center, CBM-170 surrounds)
Chane A2.4 (A2.4 center, A1.5 surrounds)

Going cheaper on the speakers lets me save some money for a nice projector and screen.

As for the subwoofer, I'm considering dual Rythmik LVX12s.

I think I've made the decision to get the AVR-X4500H over the X3600H, so I'll have to get that setup before I try to demo anything.


No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
Maybe go listen to speakers? They do sound distinct and what I like may not be your cup of tea