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There isn't much innovation in the loudspeaker world
Not so. There have been significant advances in driver design and quality, especially in mid priced and smaller speakers over the past 20 to 40 years. It is true that speakers and their enclosures don't look much different and the basic mechanics are the same but the sound quality and accuracy has improved significantly for reputable brands.

I agree that you don't always get what you pay for. There is a lot of junk out there and some speakers are definitely a better buy for certain uses. OTOH, if you slap some drivers in a drywall enclosure and call then in-wall speakers, you are almost guaranteed to get inferior sound. There is a lot more to speaker enclosure design than building a box between two studs.
 

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There have been significant advances in driver design and quality, especially in mid priced and smaller speakers over the past 20 to 40 years.
Citation needed.

What are these design improvements you speak of?
 

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Bean,

looking at your proposed budget I have a couple points:

A) Speakers should have a higher priority in your budget, if you invest in good speakers they will probably last you 15-20 years. If your looking at wall/Ceiling mounted solutions then the need for the right choice now is even more important.

B) Lower your budget on the electronics, if you have a set budget spend more on the speakers and less on the electronics. You can find a very nice sound receiver in the $500 area and probably a nice TV for around $1200. These components will probably change 2 or 3 times during the lifespan of your speakers possibly more especially since the electronics side there are always constant changes in technology

You'll have to do some research on good brands, Paradigm is always a safe bet, I just toured to the energy website and it doesn't look like they carry the series I bought which isn't supriseing since Energy is no longer interested in being in high end sound.
 
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