Is it time to upgrade my home theater speakers?

I bought some Pioneer CS-G203 loudspeakers in 1992 when I was 13 years old. I think I paid $50 each for them, brand new from Montgomery Ward.

I was super excited to get them. Back then my goal was to get as big of a woofer as I could afford. Which for a thirteen year old without a steady job, wasn’t much. So to get a cheap set of 3-ways with a 10 inch from a brand like Pioneer. I thought I did alright. To be fair, I kind of did. But this was also at a time when brands like Cerwin Vega and JBL with their huge drivers were all over stores like Best Buy. So ten inches seemed pretty average back then. Today I really don’t see them in most loudspeakers for sale, at least at stores. The trend seems to be a series of smaller five or six inch drivers.



Thing is, I still use these Pioneers today. They are my main left/right speaker in my five channel home theater setup. I’ve been using them in this configuration since 1993 when I got my Sony AV Receiver (STR-D711) that had pro logic on board. When I got that receiver, I also got a cheap set a KLH surround speakers and a center channel. I think they were included as freebies. Part of some Best Buy holiday deal or something. That or I bought them separately for really cheap. It’s hard to remember.


I’ve since tossed out the old and always terrible from day new KLH surround speakers and replaced them 

several years ago with my little Klipsch speakers and came with my old Klipsch Pro Media 2.1 setup, after the subwoofer died and I could no longer use them with my computer. But I still use that KLH center channel.


It wasn’t even until 2017 that I replaced my old Sony Pro Logic receiver with a new Onkyo TX-SR737 entry level 5.2 channel DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD receiver. Now I think it’s time I maybe update my speakers overall. Maybe even finally add a subwoofer for the first time ever.

Problem is, I’m still on a budget. A few years ago I might have been able to drop a few hundred per speaker for a new 5.1 channel setup. Today I’m hoping to accomplish the entire setup for around $500. Which has me looking at the Polk T series. I’d like to finally have a matching set for speakers for all five channels and possibly add a subwoofer.


The sub, center channel and rear speakers for the T series all look fine, but those T50 loudspeakers are throwing me off a bit. Right now they’re on sale for $79 each, which is a great price. Externally they look nice, but when I found out that these are not three-way speakers but two-way speakers and even more the two bottom drivers are not actually powered drivers but instead they are passive radiators, this all threw me for a loop.

The first question. Would this even be an upgrade for me?


While this is mostly used for a home theater setup, watching movies/shows, I do still pump music through my system on occasion, listening to stuff from my computer via bluetooth and from my small vinyl collection.


Second question. Assuming I don’t buy a subwoofer, will the bass be any good out of these loudspeakers alone?

Bonus question. Is any of this even worth it for me?


I’ve gone 27 years with this five channel setup (for the most part) without any real complaint. Changing out my receiver alone a few years back was a huge help, it finally gave me true five channel audio. For the first time in nearly twenty years I could hear the Dolby Digital audio from DVDs I bought back in 1998 rather than just a pro Logic variation. It also gave me a much needed boost to my center channel speaker. My old Sony receiver had low powered center and rear channels, which made it difficult to hear dialog. The new Onkyo drives even the old KLH center channel to a point where things can be understood. So in that sense, new life was breathed into my old speakers as is.

Even today I don’t have any real complaints. I’m not even sure I want to add a subwoofer, I’m in an apartment now and afraid I might upset neighbors with bass notes that vibrate too much. Whereas my ten inch woofers can get low, they never vibrate the room and turn me into that annoying guy with a sub in his trunk or in this case, family room.


In fact, outside of just feeling compelled to upgrade for the sake of upgrading (and getting everything to match sonically and visibly), I’m not sure any of this is needed. Part of me fears I’ll spend this money and not notice any significant improvement in sound quality, or worse, a downgrade in quality.

The big question is, have speakers improved drastically on the low end (entry level) from 1992 to 2020? At least enough to notice and merit dropping half a grand.

This entry was posted in Audio.

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