Okay, lemme try to answer some of the questions:
Center: I started with the center aimed up the first time around before I had any cabinetry done, on top of the sub. Then, when I built the cabinets, that raised it up and right now it is directly in line with the main listening position. I haven't tried it up because it seemed like it would 'point' up above people's heads, but I realize it shouldn't be that directional. Now that I have the cabinets finished, and in effect the room geometry finished, I will play with both positions to see what sounds best.
Cabinetry: I did it all. That's why it's taken me so long. I started in Feb 2010 on the cabinets, but I also had to do a kitchen and bathroom too, we finished our entire basement, I have a full construction thread over at AVS forums.
Front sound stage: I knew up front there would be 'sonic compromises' (I made that up) with the design. When we decided to put in a media/theater room, the wife gave me full decision making with just a few caveats: it had to look clean and professional (ie no wires hanging here and there, can't have speakers dangling from every surface in the room, etc) and the speakers had to be as concealed as possible. We have 4 young children, and honestly, I didn't like the idea of having 4 foot tall towers getting knocked over on top of them. We searched online and after seeing several 'built-in' theaters agreed that's what we both wanted. I wanted big speakers. I've always felt the little 2" speakers all around the room was cute but didn't give you that big sound that I wanted. So the only way for me to get full size speakers was to build them in. Imagine my joy when I found that Axiom had in-cabinet speakers for the same price as their regular speakers. Other companies charge a serious premium for in-cabinet speakers and were out of my range.
I actually had several emails with the Axiom crew specifically about the height issue of the front speakers. After emailing Ian, the general feeling was that the speakers are designed to be right side up, and the negative effect by flipping the speakers would offset any gains. The speakers have such good off axis sound that I really haven't noticed a difference. When I listen to stereo, the vocals image right where the plasma is. When I'm watching movies, the front sound stage is so big and seamless that I've only noticed the center drawing attention to itself once, during the Tombstone Blu Ray, and I blame that more on a poor mix since all my other movies don't have that problem.
So my long winded answer is: to me, I can't tell a difference having the speakers up compared to when they were on the floor when I tried them out. Maybe a true audiophile could tell.
I did loose some punch by putting the sub in between the cabinets up front. I'm considering a second sub under an end table or some other solution in the back of the room (again, I have 40 little fingers that like to destroy everything they come in contact with so I have to protect the sub somehow) to even things out, but the EP500 still rocks the house, literally, and I got significant gains after running the room EQ on my amp after I put it in the cabinet. Not perfect, but again, the other option was a Bose type system with tiny speakers. The other option is that there are other companies that have built in subs, but they come with built in price jacks as well. (Axiom dudes, I'd be happy to beta test a built in subwoofer for you guys !!!) I did build the bottom cabinets with double thick walls, tops, and the bottom frame is filled with sand to minimize any resonance from the cabinets themselves. The sub is actually sitting on the base between two cabinets, the top and front are open.
Edited by rprice54 (07/05/11 10:45 AM)