My first home theater - Comments please

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Jeremy Tebo, May 5, 2003.

  1. Jeremy Tebo

    Jeremy Tebo Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok, folks, here is my situation. I'm less than a year out of college, and it's time to put together my own home theater. (Always had roommates with nice stereos) A few months ago, I spent a lot of money on a TV (Sony 36" HDTV - 36HS500), and now it is time to start on a home theater. I also have an old Aiwa mini system, so I'm basically starting from scratch. I'm on a limited budget (under $1000 total, including new DVD player), so any suggestions are much appreciated. I'll show you what I'm thinking about, tell me what you think.

    Reciever:
    Sony DE885 (Probably black)
    I know Sony doesn't make the best quality audio stuff, but I like the idea of using the same brand as much as possible, and you get quite a bit of bang for your buck. This has HD component in/out, 5.1, and I can pick one up for about $250 + $30 s/h.

    Or maybe the DE685, but I don't think I can run HD component through it.

    Question: If I run my DVD player w/ component and my cable box w/ s-video both to the reciever, do I need to run both comp AND S from reciever to TV, or just comp?


    DVD Player:
    Sony DVP-NS755V
    I was going to get the NS715, but for about $100 more, this gives me SACD capability. ($210 + $20 s/h) Also, the 755 got better reviews. I'd like to hear what you all think about this, but I figure the Floyd DSOTM album in SACD would be worth it alone. I tried a P-scan Phillips DVD player, but I thought it sucked, and brought it back. Now I'm back to using the PS2. [​IMG]


    Speakers:
    This is the part where I really need some advice. I want a system that is good with movies and music, probably used more for movies/tv. Keep in mind, this is very budget constrained, I can always upgrade later.

    Sony MF550H, CN550H, MB150H.
    I know, I know, Sony speakers suck, right? I would agree, but I listened to these at Best Buy, and they sounded really good for the price. I can get a 5-speaker set for under $300. They clam to be for "high resolution audio" for sources like SACD. Is this true or BS? I want some bigger speakers like these, because the little ones I've listened to all sounded hollow and puny. Also, they look cool, which is most important, right? [​IMG]

    OR

    Fluance AV-HTB
    These are really cheap ($200 + $50 s/h) and got good reviews on this board. However, they seem a little small, and I don't get to hear them before I buy. (Not to mention that I've never heard of them before I saw them here) I would go up the next step to the SX-HTB, but that wood grain would look like crap with my Wega TV & stand.

    OR

    Onkyo SKSHT500
    Another entry-level set of speakers, I listened to these at Circuit City. They sounded better than the crappy mini-speakers, but still nothing great. Good price, though, and it comes w/ a sub, however stands would be required for the fronts. ($250)

    OR

    JBL NSP1
    These got good reviews here, but I'm scared of getting itty-bitty speakers that sound itty-bitty. Also, these would require stands for the front speakers. Good price, good brand. ($210)


    Subwoofer:
    I'm in a 1-bedroom apartment, so unfortunately booming bass isn't an option. (My puny Aiwa system is loud enough to wake the neighbors already) I'm thinking about a sony 8" that I saw for $99, or a 12" for $199, but maybe I'll just hold off on the sub altogether for now.

    Thank you for reading my novel, I look forward to constructive criticism and suggestions.

    -JT
     
  2. Aaron Chiandet

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    well, as far as the speakers go....


    I agree with you on the sony's. I was at best buy a few days ago and I didn't hear anything that sounded phenominal. So I had a salesman show me what the best setup they could sell me was. Basicly a slew of JBL speakers. After his demo, I thought "are you joking." So I had him write up a price sheet with model #'s and everything else I needed to know. While he was gone, I wondered over to the little sony display and set up the EXACT speakers that you mentioned above w/o a sub and was blown away compared to the JBL stuff. To top that off, the 5 speakers all together totaled just under 500$ on the net where as his JBL setup was 1400$ at BB.

    So to sum things up, everyone will tell you there are better options for the money, which there very well could be. I just havent had the chance to hear anything from companies like AR, or energy etc. Personaly those floorstanding speakers made a good amount of bass that you could get away with somthing like the sw40 for a sub and be totaly set.

    This is just my opinion. Ill be honest, I dont know a fraction of what a lot of these guys know. Im just giving you my feedback on what I have heard
     
  3. Aaron Chiandet

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    CORRECTION

    The speakers I was listening to was the

    SSMF750H(main floorstanding)
    SSCN550H (Center)
    SSMB150H (Rears)

    Now you can get the

    SSMF650H(floor) at mysony.com for 159$(pair)
    SSMB350H(rears)for 75$ at the same place.

    now you just need a center channel and sub.
     
  4. Andre Barros

    Andre Barros Stunt Coordinator

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    Jeremy,

    I had the same thoughts as you did when I first decide to get into the HT world. I thought it would be interesting to have everything of the same brand (Technics) since I had a Technics stereo set-up I liked and I thought I would keep some of the old stuff. I'm glad I changed my mind about that before I started purchasing stuff. It's not that you can't get a nice set-up in one single brand but because I think it limits you psicologicaly and you end up not paying atention to other brands when you are out shopping. That happened to me a couple of times and was enough to drive me away from the single brand idea. I ended up buying different brands of components and keeping some of my Technics comkponents. Now I'm very happy, considering I couldn't spend as much as I wanted. The result?

    Pioneer Receiver
    Pioneer DVD
    Panasonic VHS
    Technics CD player (purchased previously)
    Technics Cassete deck (purchased previously)
    Sony TV
    JBL Speakers
     
  5. Jeremy Tebo

    Jeremy Tebo Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the input, guys. Has anyone else heard Sony's new speakers? I'd like to hear some more opinions on which speakers you'd recommend, Sony or other.
     
  6. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Jeremy,

    I found a good deal for a refurbished Onkyo TX-SR500 for $150.00. Check it out. I ordered one for less that $170.00, including shipping from the East Coast to the West Coast.

    As for the Sony speakers, I heard them briefly and I like them a lot. If you like how they sound, then go for them. I still have a pair of Sony speakers from 20 years ago that works perfectly, despite much abuse from my sister singing karaoke on them at ear-splitting levels.
     
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    don't be fooled into buying the same brand for convenience sake. it's a falacy. get the best gear you can...regardless of who makes it.

    receivers
    i'm not a big fan of sony receivers (except for the ES series). i've had a couple and they're just too "gimmicky" for me. i can't help but feel that all the extra bells and whistles cost me in the sonics department.

    check out some other brands if you can. i like onkyo (great bang for the buck), but take a look at denon, hk, and yamaha too. sorry i'm not up on prices but if it costs you a little more it'll definitely be worth it.
     
  8. Jeremy Tebo

    Jeremy Tebo Stunt Coordinator

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    Ted, thanks for the input. When you answered my question about component/s-video switching, you said, "most will convert over to s-video." Did you mean that the receiver will convert s-video to component? This way I can run only component to my TV, even though I have s-video going to my reciever, right?
    Thanks,
    JT
     
  9. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    doh! yeah, sorry about that. i still get composite and component confused sometimes. i'll edit my original post so i don't cofuse anyone else. [​IMG]

    so..yes, some receivers have the ability to convert composite and s-video to component. but it's usually the higher end models. also, you may need to run another video signal for the receiver's on-screen menus.
     
  10. Myo K

    Myo K Stunt Coordinator

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    the sony speakers plugged my ears, my friend told me that its probably because the the speakers had crappy crossovers..

    either way, i know one thing and it would damage my hearing overtime, i mean if they plug my ears after listening to them for 2 minutes..

    the jbls over there never plugged my ears, so i already know the jbls have to be better then the sonys for obvious reasons. how my ears not plugging is a good indication [​IMG]
    ---

    regarding jbl at bb, Best Buy is not necessarily the Best Buy, they charge you pretty steep prices for anything audio, look aorund, you can probably find jbl speakers significantly cheaper online.
     
  11. Aaron Chiandet

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    what do you mean they plugged your ears? Do you have health problems or somthing? Im not aware of this.....
     
  12. Jeremy Tebo

    Jeremy Tebo Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't say I've ever heard of a speaker "plugging" anyone's ears, but thank you for the input. I've never heard the JBL's, but I liked the Sony's. Those little JBL speakers would be more likely to lodge themselves in my ears than the big Sony's, so I think I'm safe on having my ears plugged by them. I'll just try to keep myself from actually putting the speakers IN my ears. I agree with you on Best Buy, pretty much everything I have found cheaper online. It's nice to use them for auditioning, though. Just bring some q-tips. [​IMG]
     
  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    You might want to consider Acoustic Research in your speaker options.

    Their HC4 models are quite modestly priced at ~$250. And the HC6 for another ~$150 are really very nice.
     
  14. Myo K

    Myo K Stunt Coordinator

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    when i refer to my ears "plugging" thats what it is, they plug my ears, similar to standing right next to a subwoofer for too long, but nowhere near that drastic, but the feeling is similar, its neglegiable(but seriously annoys me listening to anything on them) maybe i have some kind of imbalance in my ears [​IMG], but i do know that the jbls did not do this, i think it has something to do with how the sony speakers create a sound stage, it actually hurts my ears imo

    but then i can also hear high pitched frequencies that electronics emit from televisions and other components that a lot of people cant pick up. along with over tones and undertones in voices and intruments and total harmonic distortion in receivers as if they were blantant and screaming in my face.
    i am not an audiophile by any means, but i do have really sesitive ears. and i know the sony speakers hurt them.




    have you ever heard that if you listen to bad speakers too long you can actually damage your ears over time? i guess that applies to me, but if the sonys sound good to you, i say buy what makes you happy.
     
  15. Jeremy Tebo

    Jeremy Tebo Stunt Coordinator

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    Lew, have you (or anyone else) heard the AR speakers? I found the HC6 on ebay for $350, they look pretty nice. I also found a factory refurbished set at "factory clearance center" for $199. Any opinions/experiences on buying refurbished stuff? I'm no audiophile, but I can't imagine a 3 1/2" woofer on the satellites could sound too great. These would definitely require stands, but I could handle that.
     
  16. David Lawson

    David Lawson Screenwriter

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    Jeremy, one of the moderators (Jack) owns the HC-6 and seems quite impressed with it. I have AR Performance speakers all around and am very pleased with the sound for the price (under $350 for all five, including towers for mains), though I can't push them as much as I'd like due to the fact that I also live in an apartment.

    I'm not sure what part of the country you're in, but if you have an h.h.gregg store near you, see if they're blowing out their AR stuff. All of the locations here in the Cincinnati area are, and there are some phenomenal deals to be had. The stores here carry both the HC-4 and the HC-6, while supplies last. [​IMG]

    Also, forget about the Sony 8" subs. I had the SA-WM200 for two days, and it barely added anything to the bass I was already getting with my mains, regardless of where I (realistically) placed the sub in the room. I returned it and found an open box JBL PB10 for under $150, and there's no comparison. Also, I think bass shakers are a nice accompaniment to an apartment theater, since they'll give you more "feeling" without disturbing the neighbors. Two shakers and an old stereo receiver (used as an amp) ran me $50 total.
     
  17. Jeremy Tebo

    Jeremy Tebo Stunt Coordinator

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    I checked out hh gregg's site, nothing out here in Colorado Springs. I'm not sure who carries AR around here, and AR's website is down. I'll look into the bass shakers, maybe that would work for me. However, I'm not too concerned about disturbing the heifer that lives above me, I can her her hooves stomping around all hours of the night. [​IMG]
     
  18. ScottRCapt

    ScottRCapt Stunt Coordinator

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    Jeremy,

    If you buy a Sony Receiver, buy one from the "ES" line.

    Like the DA2ES, DA3ES, DA4ES, DA5ES etc.

    These "ES" line Sonys are all discontinued (or will be very soon) as Sony is now bringing thier new digital amp receivers to North America. Look on E-bay, you may be able to pick up an "ES" at a nice price. I would not be concerned about buying a Sony ES used (they have a 5 year warranty).

    If you like the Sony speakers buy them, bring them home and try them out. You can always return them if they came from a major retailer. The money you save on the speakers, you can put into the "ES" receiver. An "ES" will allow for sonically challenged speakers to come alive, because each speaker has it's own EQ and setup. Once you get used to the Sony "ES" you will be very happy you bought it, it does have a learning curve, but that is part of the fun... Right?
     
  19. ScottRCapt

    ScottRCapt Stunt Coordinator

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    Also...

    I have to agree about the Sony 8" Sub, It was just a rumble box, not helpful at all! Don't go there!

    You will find many recommendations for the next size up Sony Sub (I can't remember the model number). People have even posted a suggestion to fill the sub with fiberfill from a sewing & craft store. They say it tightens up the sub and makes it sound much better than the price would reveal. A good sub, set up right, will not rumble and shake. It add's low frequency acoustics that your other speakers cannot reproduce.
     
  20. Jeremy Tebo

    Jeremy Tebo Stunt Coordinator

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    Today I went to a few stores to listen to speakers. Here's what I found and how I rated them on a scale of 10. Keep in mind that I'm a beginner in the HT arena.

    SoundShop (An actual A/V store)
    9.0 - Paradigm (Not sure what model - the entry level I think)
    These sounded awesome, as I expected. The front towers alone are about $330 per pair, around $1000 for a 5.1 setup. Maybe when I get some more $ to upgrade I'll get these, but they're out of my budget for now I think.

    Soundtrack
    8.0 - Infinity (Again, not sure which model, entry level towers)
    Sounded very nice, still a little steep. Probably a little less than $1000 for the 5.1.
    9.0 - Definitive Technology (Entry level)
    These were also great speakers that are out of my price range. Over $1000 for entry 5.1 setup

    Best Buy
    6.5 - New Sonys (MF550H, CN550H, MB150H)
    These didn't sound nearly as good as I thought they did before, but keep in mind that I was listening to some very good speakers before this. Only around $350 for package w/o sub
    8.0 - JBL towers w/ 8" woofers
    Better than the Sony's, as expected. A bit pricey, $400 per pair

    Circuit City
    9.0 - Polk (R30, CS130, R15, PSW202)
    Quite a setup, the R30 towers are on sale for $99 and sounded great. All together, this setup was very nice, around $580 w/ sub.

    8.0 - Onkyo SKSHT500 (5.1 setup)
    For the price of $299 including sub, I think these were the best sounding that also fit my budget. On ebay, I get get em for $170 refurbished, $220 new, plus s/h.


    Let me know what you think about how I rated these, and if you have any other suggestions. I'd like to hear some Accoustic Research, but don't know where to find them.
     

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