I have a 15x32 living room with a plasma TV above a fireplace in the center of the 32-foot wall. I would like to put in a pseudo-home theater with 5.1or 7.1 surround sound, but I'm limited to a 5-inch-high center speaker/soundbar (up to four feet wide) under the TV, two in-wall speakers in front, and two or four in-ceiling speakers. What do you think of Polk, Gallo, Revel, and Episode (or other) in-ceiling and in-wall speakers, and what would you get on a $3000-4000 budget?
First of all, is there any way you can put the TV somewhere other than over the fireplace? That's the absolute worst place for a TVnot because of heat (unless you have a glass or metal heat radiator in front of the fire), but because viewers must look up to see the screen, which puts undue strain on the neck. If there's any way to put the TV somewhere else, I'd start with that, which might also open up more possibilities for the speakers.
Home Theater reviewed the Episode ES-HT700 in-ceiling speaker system, and reviewer Darryl Wilkinson (no relation) liked it very much, though he didn't give it a Top Pick designation because they are eight inches deep, limiting the installation possibilities. Also, the 7.1 system he reviewed lists for nearly $6200.
The other brands you mention are all excellent, as are Definitive Technology, Atlantic Technology, Triad, and others. Perhaps you might consider on-wall speakers for the front, such as the Definitive Technology Mythos XTR-50, reviewed here. This system did get a Top Pick nod, and the 5.1 system Darryl reviewed lists for under $4000, but the center-channel speaker takes up six inches of vertical space. Also, the surround speakers he used are not in-ceiling, but Definitive makes plenty of in-wall/in-ceiling models that would tonally match the XTR-50s.
Take a look at Home Theater's in-wall/on-wall speaker reviews for more ideas. I have no direct experience with this type of speaker, so I can't make a personal recommendation. However, I do recommend that you get a complete system from the same manufacturer to ensure that they tonally match.
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