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Man in the Box

New to Klipsch! Love my RP-160s but disappointed with performance of classical music. What to buy next?

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On 7/11/2019 at 1:19 PM, Man in the Box said:

Yeah youtube is pretty bad. Does anyone here stream high res audio for convenience? Which is the preferred service aside from Tidal? I found Primephonic to be pretty decent (though quality does vary from record to record). I shared a couple of clips above. Let me know what you think, if you get around to listening to them — though you won’t be very impressed with the streaming quality. 

 

I don’t know even have a CD player or any CDs in the house anymore. I’ll try to borrow one to see if it’s worth the hassle and cost. They take quite a bit of space, too, all those CDs. 

 

I think leaning toward the 10 inch SVS makes the most sense at this point. Thanks for the advice!

 

One if the most important ways to improve the audio quality of classical music reproduced in the home is to focus on the quality of the recordings.

 

Classical music lovers sometimes must decide which is more important:  performance quality, or audio quality of a recording.  I’m not a music scholar, and I’m not hyper-critical of a performance.  However, I have no tolerance for poor audio quality.  I therefore choose modern performances of classical music that were recorded in hi-res (i.e., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD).    (In contrast, some classical music fans are willing to tolerate less-than-state-of-the-art audio quality in order to enjoy what they regard as the best performance of a classical composition – which may have been recorded decades ago.) 

 

My goal for the sound quality of recorded classical music played via my home hi-fi systems is to have the illusion that I’m in the symphony hall or opera house where classical music is performed live, with no electronics involved (i.e., no sound reinforcement system).  

 

My preferences for consumer deliverables:

  1. My favorite is Blu-ray audio/video (featuring DTS-HD MA 5.0 surround-sound).   (A few Ultra HD Blu-ray opera recordings are starting to become available.)   High-definition audio/video is particularly relevant for ballet and opera.  Additionally, I think that high-definition audio/video is very enjoyable for classical concerts.
  2. My second choice in formats are SACD and Pure Audio Blu-ray that feature surround-sound.  (No video.)
  3. My third choice are 24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz FLAC stereo downloads (e.g., HDTracks).

In all cases provenance of the recording is critical – i.e., modern recordings that were captured and mastered as hi-res.   (In a few cases high quality analog master tapes have been digitized at hi-res with fairly good results - e.g., some RCA Living Stereo - however these pale in comparison with modern hi-res recordings.)

 

I use Oppo UDP-205 universal players to directly drive vintage tube amps (i.e., using the Oppo’s built-in DAC, pre-amp, and bass management) for surround-sound, and stereo. 

 

Following are some posts relevant to the reproduction of classical music that might interest you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you want the capability to try newer "hi-res" recording formats, and try audio/video (e.g., hi-definition classical concert videos), and possibly multi-channel (which is very useful in larger listening rooms), you need to carefully consider the bewildering range of options for music playback.    (Ripping CDs to a hard drive (or converting them to FLAC) won’t improve their audio quality.   You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.  Garbage-in / garbage-out.  If you want top-quality audio, you need to start with a top-quality hi-res recording.)

 

If you want the capability to play newer "hi-res" recording formats, you need a “universal player” – i.e., a player that supports all modern digital recording formats.  

 

If your receiver has an HDMI connection (which I don’t think your current unit does), you can buy an inexpensive player that supports only an HDMI connection.   I have no experience with the Sony UBP-X700, but it appears to support all modern hi-res disc formats (audio and video).  I have no affiliation with Crutchfield; they sell the Sony UBP-X700 for $180.  

 

If your receiver does not have an HDMI input, then you’ll need a universal player with analog audio outputs (i.e., red & white RCA connections).   (I suggest that you be very wary of outboard DACs.  Can you use an outboard DAC to play the SACD layer of an SACD (i.e., NOT the CD layer)?   Can you use an outboard DAC to play the DTS-HD MA 5.0 track of a Blu-ray disc?  How many outboard DACS support multi-channel (e.g., 5.1)?  FWIW, I would not invest in a technology solution that only plays the 30+ year-old Redbook CD format.)   I use Oppo UDP-205, but they’re no longer manufactured.  For stereo only (i.e., not multi-channel), consider the Sony ES UBP-X1100ES.  (You might be able to get a deal on the previous model Sony UBP-X1000ES.)

 

A universal player is where I’d start in your quest for better audio quality.  And then start buying hi-res classical recordings.
 

If you’re interested in this path, I can recommend Blu-ray audio/video classical recordings.   Following are just a few examples that might whet your appetite.

 

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos Danish NSO 

  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1–9
  • Joaquín Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez
  • Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
  • Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony), Op. 64, TrV 233

 

41+EYqMSRUL.jpg

 

 

 

Audio options:

 

·         PCM Stereo

·         DTS-HD MA 5.0

 

 

Video:  1080p

 

Excellent performances.  State-of-the-art audio and video quality.

 

-----------------------------

 

Jean Sibelius: Complete Symphonies

 

71Xp1l2S4oL._SX522_.jpg

 

Audio options:

 

·         PCM Stereo

·         DTS-HD MA 5.1

 

 

Video:  1080i

 

Excellent performances.  State-of-the-art audio and video quality.

 

--------------------------

 

"Tchaikovsky, The Complete Symphonies".

 

Audio options:

 

·         PCM Stereo

·         DTS-HD MA 5.1

 

61jmWGKBD0L._SY445_.jpg

 

Excellent performances.  State-of-the-art audio and video quality.

 

-----------------------

 

I also have Blu-ray audio/video box sets of symphonies by Brahms, Bruckner, Schumann, and Mahler. 

 

Plus several other classical concerts on Blu-ray. 

 

Plus numerous modern opera and ballet audio/video recordings on Blu-ray.  (And a few in Ultra HD Blu-ray.)

 

After experiencing modern audio/video concert videos featuring high-def video, and hi-res audio featuring surround-sound (played via my vintage tube amps, large hi-end Klipsch speakers, plus 2 powered subwoofers), I greatly prefer this to listening to CDs.  And the audio quality is fabulous.

 

Often, I’ll find new hi-res recordings (e.g., SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray) just by searching Amazon.  There are several web sites that catalog hi-res recordings. 

 

https://www.hraudio.net/ lists some, but certainly not all hi-res recordings. 

https://www.nativedsd.com/

https://www.channelclassics.com/

http://store.acousticsounds.com/superhirez

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical

 

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As I said in my previous posts, IMO Step 1 is to equip yourself with the ability to play modern high-quality digital audio and video recording formats, and start buying high-quality hi-res classical recordings.

  

The second step I’d recommend is to upgrade your speakers.   I respect the fact that different people have different budgets.   With that said, my advice is to wait and save up more money, and buy the best you can.  That way you’ve invested in speakers that can serve you for the rest of your life, and you won’t have to upgrade again.   My recommendation (if it’s an option in Bahrain):  Consider Klipsch RF-7III.  (I use RF-7II for classical music.) 

 

With RF-7III, subwoofers aren’t necessary in order to enjoy classical music.   With that said, subwoofer(s) can enhance the experience of listening to large-scale classical music.   However, subwoofers can be a PITA, because audio recordings and movies are not consistent in bass content.  When my sub is adjusted to a natural level for classical music, with some Hollywood movies there is over-powering bass content.    I reject any assertion that I must listen to a movie based on the LFE (low-frequency effects) levels that some audio engineer or producer want.   Explosions are a common problem.   Or, a movie character walks into a nightclub and there is obnoxiously loud pop music with thumping bass.   I hate that.   I refuse to be assaulted by moronic levels of LFE.   IMO, a remote volume control (preferably with multiple presets) is a very useful feature for a subwoofer, so that when watching a movie, with one button push I can adjust the subwoofer to a tolerable level (i.e., an explosion doesn’t shake my listening room).   Then, when listening to music that has natural tonal balance (e.g., classical music), I can restore the “normal” sub setting via a single button push (i.e., the double bass sound like what I remember hearing in the symphony hall). 

 

My suggestion for the next step, consider 5.1 surround sound.  (Perhaps your existing speakers can be redeployed to the rear channels.) 

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You invested quite some time putting together those last few posts, thank you for that.

 

One notion in particular was given emphasis throughout: use "high-res" sources.  It may be hotly contested, but I believe that's primarily by the vocal minority of people who merely disagree with the notion that Red Book CD Audio has handily been established as more than sufficient for the task at hand.  I belong to the "it's been established" camp but I'm not here to debate that at this time.

 

At any rate, it's more about what the engineers do to/with the signals they're using to "lay down the tracks" than whether the track is ultimately high-res (CD) or higher-yet-res.  Just because a collection is produced in higher-yet-res doesn't ensure it's of lifelike, much less merely acceptable, audio quality.  It just means the end result has such-and-such bit rate / frequency.

 

The audio quality of classical / chamber / early music recordings is as "all over the board" as it is with any other genres of music.  The engineers used good equipment and made good judgement calls or they didn't.

 

What I'm saying is that the (provenance of - in part, and) delivery medium of a recording itself is no indication of the contained quality.  I'm not claiming you're of a contrary mindset, merely that it could seem so. 

 

40 minutes ago, robert_kc said:

I reject any assertion that I must listen to a movie based on the LFE (low-frequency effects) levels that some audio engineer or producer want.  

 

This can exactly be applied to what I just said above, so it seems that we're in agreement at least in part.  It's unclear to me how you apply that notion to the content apart from from LFE in deliverables which have it, or those which don't.

 

"Bravo" to everything else!

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I’ll agree to not rehash the hotly contested debate about whether “hi-res” consumer deliverables generally sound better.  I suggest that each listener decide for themselves.

 

OP:  If you haven’t already tried the following, I’ll suggest an easy, fast, and cheap way to try a “hi-res” classical recording, and assess its quality for yourself.

 

Find a modern classical recording on hdtracks.com that was recorded in hi-res, and is delivered in a hi-res format.   Here’s a few examples that I own.   (There are probably newer recordings with higher sample rates.)

Download the file to your computer, and copy it to a USB drive.   Unplug the USB drive, walk it over to your Yamaha R-N602 receiver, and plug it in.  See page 36 of the Yamaha R-N602 receiver Owner’s Manual for instructions for playing the USB file.  (Of course, these recordings do not have video, and are stereo - not 5.1 surround-sound.)   If you try this, please report back your findings.

 

Switching gears, I didn’t intend to imply in my previous post that you can’t realize good sound quality with your existing Klipsch speakers.  (RP-160M?)   Augmenting these with a subwoofer might produce very good results.   I’m certain that the SVS SB-2000 is a good choice.   (I own an SVS SB16-Ultra.)  I’d get the biggest subwoofer you can accommodate, because IME large-scale orchestral music can have significant bass content.

 

P.S.  If DLNA networking is easier for you (vs. USB drive), see page 29 of your Yamaha R-N602 receiver Owner’s Manual.

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2 hours ago, robert_kc said:

As I said in my previous posts, IMO Step 1 is to equip yourself with the ability to play modern high-quality digital audio and video recording formats, and start buying high-quality hi-res classical recordings.

  

The second step I’d recommend is to upgrade your speakers.   I respect the fact that different people have different budgets.   With that said, my advice is to wait and save up more money, and buy the best you can.  That way you’ve invested in speakers that can serve you for the rest of your life, and you won’t have to upgrade again.   My recommendation (if it’s an option in Bahrain):  Consider Klipsch RF-7III.  (I use RF-7II for classical music.) 

 

Robert, thank you very much for this. It opened my eyes to options I wasn’t aware of. 

 

Investing in a universal player shouldn’t be a problem at all, especially given that inexpensive options are available. I’ll look into it. I appreciate your recommendations too. I’ll revisit them if I end up buying such a unit. 

 

But the RF III is well beyond what I can afford. They can be had at $1,800 per speaker, which isn’t unusual in markets outside of North America. I imagine that they may also compel me to buy a more powerful (and presumably expensive) receiver. Then there’s the heavyset stature, which seems to be too big for my space. 

 

Do you think the RP 280s would be a decent compromise, though? I can justify getting them over the 260s, especially if they’ll let me forego purchasing a sub. 

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14 minutes ago, Man in the Box said:

Robert, thank you very much for this. It opened my eyes to options I wasn’t aware of. 

 

Investing in a universal player shouldn’t be a problem at all, especially given that inexpensive options are available. I’ll look into it. I appreciate your recommendations too. I’ll revisit them if I end up buying such a unit. 

 

But the RF III is well beyond what I can afford. They can be had at $1,800 per speaker, which isn’t unusual in markets outside of North America. I imagine that they may also compel me to buy a more powerful (and presumably expensive) receiver. Then there’s the heavyset stature, which seems to be too big for my space. 

 

Do you think the RP 280s would be a decent compromise, though? I can justify getting them over the 260s, especially if they’ll let me forego purchasing a sub. 

 

I have no experience with the RP-280F.  I'm certain it's a good speaker.  If it were me, I'd get the RP-280F in PIANO BLACK.   

 

Here's the good news:  Your Yamaha receiver has tone controls, so you can tailor the sound for your speakers, in your room, for your ears.   

 

I can't say if your existing bookshelf speakers plus subwoofer would sound better than the RP-280F without a subwoofer.   I don't think that you will go wrong buying either the SVS SB-2000 sub, or the Klipsch RP-280F.  I think that they're both good quality products.  You could buy one, and if your budget allows later, buy the other. 

 

If you like organ music, perhaps start with the subwoofer.

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5 hours ago, robert_kc said:

Switching gears, I didn’t intend to imply in my previous post that you can’t realize good sound quality with your existing Klipsch speakers.  (RP-160M?)  

 

Augmenting these with a subwoofer might produce very good results.  

 

I’m certain that the SVS SB-2000 is a good choice.   (I own an SVS SB16-Ultra.)  I’d get the biggest subwoofer you can accommodate, because IME large-scale orchestral music can have significant bass content.

 

We've been discussing this.  Specifically @garyrc @Mallette and several others immediatly recognized the situation and suggested adding a sub.  I suggested speakers with bigger woofers.  Gary the others may be right on this.

 

I've been listening all weekend to the RP-600M with a 15" sealed sub in a 2.1 setup.  I have to tell you the sound was impressive compared to the RF-83's which are my current mains.  The characteristic sound was very close between the two speakers. 

 

To rule out the power advantage the Marantz 6011 125 wpc has over the Yamaha with 80 wpc I ran the 6011 in Eco mode, which means the power gets choked to 40 wpc.  The 600M didn't seem to care, they still sounded big and dynamic.

 

Another place I was wrong is now that I am doing critical listening there is no question the sub added depth to everything I listened to which was TV to some horn oriented jazz via Youtube.  If those 160's are even close in sound to my 600M then the speakers are not the problem.

 

My next step is to pull the 15" sub and then add the 10" Paradigm in a 2.1 and do some more listening.  This time with the classical genre @Man in the Box suggested.

 

 

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I have full season tickets to the symphony, performed in a world-class symphony hall.   And full season tickets to the opera, performed in a world-class opera house.  I attend more than 20 live classical performances each year.  One of the things that strikes me when listening to large-scale orchestral works in the symphony hall is the power of the sound, and the amount of bass content, particularly when 6 or 8 double bass are playing.  The bass drum and tympani also have significant bass power.   And, of course, the pipe organ.

 

Here's my basement system:  Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch RF-7 II.  (Each RF-7II:  Dynamic 1.75" titanium Tractrix™ horn-loaded compression driver.   Dual 10" high-output Cerametallic woofers.)   A single rear speaker is a Klipsch RF-7.   Subwoofers:  SVS SB16-Ultra, Klipsch R-115SW.   Even though the RF-7II are not "wimpy" speakers, the 15" and 16" powered subs really help recreate the feeling of being in the symphony hall.

 

P.S.  I'll reiterate a recommendation I made above:   Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 "Organ"  FLAC  24bit/176kHz   https://www.hdtracks.com/saint-saens-symphony-no-3   A hi-fi system should be able to recreate this hi-res recording's delivery of the sweet sound of Noah Geller's violin in "Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor for Violin and Orchestra", the dynamic impact of the orchetra, and the deep notes of the organ in Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3.

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Just saw that the bookshelves are only 6 1/2 inch woofers but go downto 45 hz(?)...and the op is happy with, other than classical.

I would go with any sub available, even  a 10 or 12 borrowed or used read cheap just to check classical out. If alright then maybe something better. Think op would like the 280's but buying them and still not happy then now buyer is back to the buying a sub anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, billybob said:

Think op would like the 280's but buying them and still not happy then now buyer is back to the buying a sub anyway.

 

Good analysis, and pending my listening to my 600M's with a ten inch sub I think I agree with you. 

 

What I hadn't counted on (which we'll be blaming on my poor audio memory) is that the 600M's are really good!  They are so balanced from top to bottom.  Then when you add a sub there is a depth and power to the music I didn't get with the speakers alone.

 

Even with the DIY Dayton Audio Reference 15 I don't hear the sub, I hear stronger and more immersive bass from the speakers.  If the Paradigm 10" sub can strengthen the low end even close to that I think that might be the next best purchase.

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17 minutes ago, wvu80 said:

 

Good analysis, and pending my listening to my 600M's with a ten inch sub I think I agree with you. 

 

What I hadn't counted on (which we'll be blaming on my poor audio memory) is that the 600M's are really good!  They are so balanced from top to bottom.  Then when you add a sub there is a depth and power to the music I didn't get with the speakers alone.

 

Even with the DIY Dayton Audio Reference 15 I don't hear the sub, I hear stronger and more immersive bass from the speakers.  If the Paradigm 10" sub can strengthen the low end even close to that I think that might be the next best purchase.

Trying to stick to logic.Not the best option for me to say just upgrade the bookshelves. Sub of a sort likely still required for those

low passages. And before asking op to shell out a sackful of $ on a sub to test theory,an inexpensive test is called for. And doing this before opting for floors standers

Is monetarily the way to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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45 minutes ago, billybob said:

Trying to stick to logic.Not the best option for me to say just upgrade the bookshelves. Sub of a sort likely still required for those

low passages. And before asking op to shell out a sackful of $ on a sub to test theory,an inexpensive test is called for. And doing this before opting for floors standers

Is monetarily the way to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Considering that OP lives in Bahrain, what "inexpensive test" do you recommend?

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A borrowed sub or inexpensive one. If indeed

anything like that exists there.

Bahrain... thanks for cluing me in...😥... nevermind ... unless op has a sackful...

8 minutes ago, robert_kc said:

 

Considering that OP lives in Bahrain, what "inexpensive test" do you recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OP:  Here's my 2 cents, based on great comments by several contributors:

  • For approximately $20US you can download a hi-res classical recording from hdtracks.com.  (I'm assuming you can do this in Bahrain.)   This clearly represents an inexpensive test.
  • If you can buy an SVS SB-2000 Subwoofer in Bahrain, and this is within your budget, this seems like a good investment, regardless of what you end up doing regarding your main speakers.

Please keep us posted.

 

 

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2 hours ago, robert_kc said:

 

Considering that OP lives in Bahrain, what "inexpensive test" do you recommend?

The inexpensive test is me.  B)  I'll rig up a similar test bed and play the suggested classical pieces to see how it sounds.

 

I have a similar RP-600M to his RP-160.  I have a ten inch sub and I have his classical music play list.  It's not perfect but I'm listening now as we try to figure out how he can get the sound he wants out of his current setup.

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16 minutes ago, wvu80 said:

The inexpensive test is me.

 

I have a similar RP-600M to his RP-160.  I have a ten inch sub and I have his classical music play list.  It's not perfect but I'm listening now as we try to figure out how he can get the sound he wants out of his current setup.

Thanks, you were talking about this earlier...

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On 7/10/2019 at 10:30 AM, Man in the Box said:

I listen to music from the romantic era, mostly, starting with late Beethoven through Brahms up to Tchaikovsky and Shostakovitch. Here's a couple of examples of what I've been listening to. I find the slow third movement of the Brahms concerto (@ 28:41) to be beautiful, as is Kissin's performance of Mikhail Glinka's material in the second link:

OK, I've got some listening impressions, and frankly they are all good.  I'd like to do this in chunks.

 

Brahms:  I started with the Brahms link.  Piano is very good. I hear good dynamics and the Paradigm 10" ported sub w/250 wpc plate amp added some fill to the bottom end, but not as much as the sealed Reference 15 which not only added depth, but power in the lowest octave.  The upper octaves were full and articulate.

 

Glinka:  I thought I had not heard of Glinka but actually I've very familiar with some of his music.  I listened to The Lark which was mostly piano.  I heard the same good dyamics as I had with Brahms. 

 

It turns out I am most familiar with Ruslan and Ludmilla.  This piece really cooks and is a more recent recording so it is clear as a bell, dynamics are great.  I played this one pretty loud and it filled my medium sized living room, I am sitting about 10 feet from the 600M's.  There was no distortion even though these are small speakers.  Again the sub was helpful to make the timpani pop and 36" bass drum provides about a third of the SPL.  The 600's and 10" sub are a very close match for my RF-83's.

 

I'm going to listen to some Shostakovitch and Tchaikovsky here in a minute.  I will probably settle on a piece of Shosty's 10th Symphony.  Tchaikovsky I'm not sure of which piece, maybe March Slav.  I'll be back shortly.

 

Here is what I just listened to:

 

 

 

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On 7/10/2019 at 10:30 AM, Man in the Box said:

Your setup looks neat and so carefully proportioned! Very efficient use of space. Do you move the 600s to the back when watching movies or are they permanently stationed there? What's your rationale for stacking them on top of each other?

 

I stacked them just to try a new concept, bi-amping both speakers leaving the jumpers on.  The bi-amp from the AVR sends a full range signal to both sets of speakers.  The result was a full bass sound from the triple 8" woofers, and using the extended 25 Khz top end of the 600M's.  I used Audyssey to help them play nice together.

 

This worked pretty well but not earth shaking better.  I had a bigger front sound stage especially vertically, there is no drop off when sitting or standing.

 

I'm telling you the 600M's with 15" sub are very close in sound to the RF-83's and sub.  The RF-83's have a "bigger" sound but not by much.

 

I'm going to use this as a test piece, something I'm again very familiar with:

 

 

 

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Valid enough, I  my limited opinion.

If the OP should want the SVS mentioned by Robert, It should be fine for some time. from your test a 15 Klipsch sub ... Or other decent sub may well not just suffice but be suited. If OP wants at a later time buy the 280's, all needs is a center for5.1 theatre... thanks

Robert has valid points of interest already covering earlier... thanks

 

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