Quotes, Quotes and More Quotes . . . . Oh My!!

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Ahoyloy, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. Ahoyloy

    Ahoyloy Auditioning

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    So . . . I've finally jumped off the Bose Speaker Train and am starting my HT over. After adding here and there and getting professional counsel and quotes . . . I am thoroughly lost.


    One says stick with the current Onkyo and another says, go with a new AVR-791 Denon . . . "You won't be sorry". One says, stick with the current Bose ACM10 speaker and another says, lose the Bose and go with Episode 300's and a Pinnacle Digital Sub 100. While yet another says do something else. AHHHHH . . . HELP!!


    Bottom line, we watch sports, blueray/dvds, listen to all range of music, play the Wii, watch TV. Room is our primary family room . . . 22X22 with big open room concept (Open to Kitchen and eat-in). We are redoing the entire room: cabinetry, flooring, furniture, hanging 52" Samsung over fireplace, new speakers, new audio componetry. Quotes range from $2570 to $11K for the exact same info we gave to all. Denon AVR-791 is a great machine as I have done my research. Episodes are new and less info on them . . . any thoughts? Pinnacle as Sub?

    I'm not a novice but no expert as well with AV. I ran and configured the current system (Bose, TV, Cable, DVD, Wii) and all the speaker wire and would consider the challenge again. This time, however, I want it to be my last and with quality (does not need to mean over the top expensive). Will add a Logitech single remote and RF gear for componets behind doors. What I really need is your expert advice on surround sound speakers to include center channel and lft/rt frnt/back speakers. Do I / should I buy a sub to go with?


    Any and all counsel is welcome and appreciated.


    Thanks!
     
  2. Ahoyloy

    Ahoyloy Auditioning

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    Casey -


    Thanks for your feedback. I understand that its always about the speakers and that I should put my $$$ there for the best results. Thanks for your suggestion on the Monitor series by Paradigm. The suggested speakers are offered through SnapAV and sound like a very nice option. Local AV install guy speaks very highly on them. My major concern with them revolves around the center speaker as the installer wants to use a typical wall speaker for the center speaker. Not totally cool with that.


    Thanks as well for the counsel on the TV. Yes, we have it already. 52" Samsung LCD. Fortunately, the sofa will be back a bit from the TV (almost 12 - 15'), so hopefully we'll be ok. Power should not be an issue as I am running an independent line dedicated to the TV and components. Also are using a Wire Path power bridge to get the power to the TV.


    Appreciate your feedback.


    Mike
     
  3. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    Speakers are the most difficult portion of the system to give advice on, because they are such a personal preference. Other than stay away from Bose, the standard advice is to listen to as many as posible, preferably in the room they'll be in. You'll find a lot of internet companies that will let you return their speakers for just shipping. Once in a while they'll even pay that. I happen to like Axiom; thay are a very "accurate" (/clean) sounding speaker and come at a very reasonable price. Paradigm is also very nice. They both have their lineage as "Canadian" sounding speakers using Canada's NRC for initial design criteria.


    You'll definitely want a sub. Easy recos are Hsu and SVS, but you pay a bit for those choice. Others are Lava, Velodyne, and ... I forget. But you'll get more sub recommendations. Since your viewing room is open to other rooms you definitely will not want to skimp on the sub either. If your not familiar with what a good sub adds you'll have to trust us. (I had no idea either until I took advice and added a good one, then it was a "holy sh*t" moment.) Too small of a sub and you'll wonder what everyone was talking about, so for that size room you'll want at least a good 12".


    Placing your TV over the fireplace is generally a bad idea. The viewing angle is too high, and if you use the fireplace, the heat and soot are not compatible with electronics. Many people are stuck with that as their only choice, and then you do what you have to. But if you're doing it because of pictures in decorator magazines, well, they may know interior design but are lacking in the HT department.


    Also, you didn't ask, but save yourself some money and use Monoprice or Bluejeans cable for your wiring. (Similar to Bose, do not under any circumstances use Monster; they are well overpriced and perform no better than good quality cables you can get anywhere.)


    Edit: I almost forgot, your instinct on the center was correct. Don't dial down the center, it's a very important speaker carrying all the dialog. In-walls *can* be good speakers, but not some generic center. The three front speakers should match (timbre matching, you can do a search). Also, unless you're getting pressure from the wife, in-walls are not advised as you'll get better performance for the price with bookshelfs, and you can move them around to boot. (Once you cut out that hole, you're pretty much locked in.)


    Also, from the scope you're aluding to, you can do this project without external help. Unless you're doing something complex, whole house audio, the cost of the contractor is not worth it. We can help with selection, connections, and placement. You seem to be able to run wire. If needed you can get an electrician to do any in-wall wire pulling. (If you're going through walls, don't forget to get in-wall rated wire to meet code.)
     
  4. Ahoyloy

    Ahoyloy Auditioning

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    Al. A - Thanks so much for your time and counsel. Just hearing you say "Book shelf speakers" instead of in-walls really made my day. We intend on building cabinets and presentation shelves (not book shelves) on either side of the fireplace and being able to use book shelf speakers would be perfect. The rear speakers are pretty much a done deal with being in the wall due to room configuration and set-up.


    The center speaker is very important to me and getting just another in-wall to be the center was not my idea of a win-win. The company we had give us the quote assured us that it was done all the time and it would work "fantastic". The 5 in-wall 300 series by Episode were his choice at a total of $699. I did my research but noticed that they were only being sold by an on-line company that worked only with installers called SnapAV. I even went as far as asking SnapAV some questions about their product and they were very hush-hush because they said they do not deal with the public.


    I'm inclined to want to do it myself as I am already running the speaker wire and new dedicated power. In the end, it will save me more than $500 just in labor costs.


    I'm thankful for your direction and counsel and look forward to your advice and thoughts. Thanks in advance.


    For discussion purposes, here is the info from his quote sheet:


    1 DENON AVR-791 Receiver w/Zone 2 $349.99

    1 Strong SM-LP-F Large Flat Mount $124.99

    1 Wire Path WPELEC Power Bridge for TV $124.99

    1 Binary B3-HDMI-4 4 Meter HDMI cable $89.99

    2 Binary B3-HDMI-1 1 Meter HDMI cable $59.98

    1 Episode 300-IW 5 Speaker Pkg $699.99

    1 Pinnacle DIGSUB100 Powered Sub woofer $249.99

    1 HTC RP1 Remote Program $74.99

    Installation Ins

    Installation $449.00


    Mike
     
  5. CB750

    CB750 Screenwriter

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    I just wrote a post to another thread concerning my experience with placing a TV over a fireplace. It is something you should try to avoid for many reasons. My experience lasted through two nights of stiff necks before I lowered the height. Over the fireplace mantle also causes many conflicts with proper front stage speaker placement.


    As far as speaker selections the best guide is not what professionals will tell you but what your ears tell you. As humans we all perceive and process sound a bit differently, as we all have different hearing strengths and weakness. A system I might like you may not. Your speaker selection will be the major factor in what the system will sound like. Devote as much of your budget as possible. Done right the first time a good speaker system will last many years, much longer than TV's, receivers, and other equipment that you will want or need to upgrade. As Al says your center speaker is very important and should be timbre matched to your L & R, made by the same company of similar components. If one were to cut back it should be in the surround speakers.


    Come to think of it I can only think of two company's we don't recommend that is Bose Cube speakers, and Monster cables.
     
  6. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Hmm, $150 for three HDMI cables...


    Get one of these and two of these and save yourself about $120.
     
  7. Ahoyloy

    Ahoyloy Auditioning

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    Bill/Jason/Casey -


    Grateful for your time and great counsel. Suffice it to say, I am taking all of your comments and suggestions to heart and am moving quickly toward doing this all myself and putting some more effort into speaker selection.

    Casey - Thanks for thinking through the receiver for me. That is a great thought and one that I would not have considered since the 791 had a bunch of HDMI slots to start out with. However, this is my 3rd rcvr in 5 years (many stories!) and I want it right the 3rd time!


    Jason - Thanks for the tip on the HDMI cables. I always believed that the cable made the connection and therefore it would be best to pay a little extra. Appreciate your straight talk and link toward other options.


    For all - Would love your thoughts on 3.5 things:


    1) Top three speakers. I know it is an arbitrary question as I may get completely different answers, but maybe there is a surprise in your comments.

    1.5) Best place to get a listen to speakers other than HH Gregg and Best Buy?

    2) Speaker cable. These will be in wall and I want to do it right.

    3) Universal Remote - Considering a Logitech Harmony series. Thoughts?


    Thanks to you all.


    Mike
     
  8. CB750

    CB750 Screenwriter

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    Mike,


    Answers


    1. You didn't give us a speaker budget or a style of speaker. But since you were considering Bose then I will assume you have over $1,200 to spend and are looking for smaller satellite 5.1 system. Since those were also my budget and goals I selected the B&W M-1 system, and after having them for two years my wife and I are very happy. They work well for both video and music listening. My second place was the Definitive Tech 1000. I don't like to recommend speakers as they are a personal decision but I would take a look at both the B&W's and Def Techs. One system I did not like were a Klipsch 5.1 can remember the model. They were two bright and lively for me. At first they sound impressive and after 5 minutes me ears had enough. But if you like that kind of sound you might like them.
    2. In my area of SE Michigan I found the best place to listen to speakers where the independent mom and pop AV stores. They had the best HT layouts and or listening rooms as opposed to the big box stores and were less high pressure and would spend more time with you. However, do not discount many of the on line speaker sellers. Two that come to mind are SVS and Axiom. They offer quality products at good prices as the eliminate the middle man. They allow you to try out your speakers in your home for trial period and you can return them if you don't like them.
    3. For 45 years of I have used nothing more than regular 100% copper lamp cord that you pick up at places like Lowes and HD. I have never had any problems with it but I don't go through walls with it, but have used it under carpet and under base boards with no problems.
    4. Most would agree Harmony remotes.
     
  9. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    The power bridge looks like it's just a simple way to move power from an outlet without running a new line: http://www.powerbridgesolution.com/. I'd prefer to run the line so you have unshared power.

    I can't comment on the Episode speakers, they could be just fine. However, if you are still considering them, they should be more than willing to bring some to your house and let you audition them. If not, it should be the end of the negotiation. Like someone already said, for the price the sub appears to be underpowered. That's a bit unfair as no specs are present; but I'm working off you get what you pay for - and the contractor loses any price/performance benefit of the doubt with the HDMI cables. Actually, if I can generalize, I think the installer you mentioned is making his niche as putting in a slightly better system, for a reasonable amount of money, than someone who didn't know anything would get if they walked into Best Buy. That's not a bad business model actually; but anyone coming to this site can do better, for less.


    You will get no better sound or picture from any cable that what you will get for a reasonable price from Bluejeans or Monoprice. Like Bill (almost exactly like Bill since it's been 45 years for me too) I've always used copper zip cord for speaker wire. But you don't want to do that in-wall (although I've done it once in ignorance). Two reasons: (1) You probably don't want to die, and (2) If you do (die), you're beneficiaries would really like the insurance company to not dis-allow the claim because you didn't use flame retardant wire. (The in-wall wire reduces the ability of the fire to spread by way of the wire coating.) You can also get speaker cable from Monoprice/Bluejeans.


    Harmony remotes are your best bet; but I confess I don't find them as trouble free as almost everyone else on the forum seems to. I almost alway have to use the help feature to correct the remote's set-up. But even with that annoyance it simplifies the remote shuffle.


    If you can find a place to listen to speakers, great; but there seems to be fewer brick and mortar options all the time. If you wind up using internet direct (Axiom!), I'll reiterate that it's worth picking your top three and having them send a pair. (I think you can make a decision just playing the speakers in stereo.) The roughly $200 it may cost to send the also-rans back will be money well spent since you'll be living with the speakers for years, and after the first day, they are the only part of the audio system you'll ever care about.


    BTW, in case it hasn't come up already, there's no reason to get the sub from the same company as the main speakers, and usually not done that way. And it's not even that important to have either the surrounds or the rears (if you are using rears) to be from the same manufacturer as the front three; although most people do use the same speaker. But if you want to reuse your current surrounds that's okay.
     
  10. Ahoyloy

    Ahoyloy Auditioning

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    Bill / Al -


    Thanks for your continued time and feedback.


    Had the opportunity to listen to the Episode speakers today in a showroom setting. Room was about 12X12 and set up for show. Speakers were nice. Good sound, though anything would be an improvement to the Bose. Some negatives were that they are all in-wall speakers; no options for book shelf speakers. The other is that there was no dedicated center speaker, just another in wall. There are, of course, options . . . but ones that make the intial cost much more than originally discussed. The base module was not there to listen to, but he did have another Pinnacle that was being used but was a 250 watt driver and very nice.


    I also took the time to research and then listem to the Klipsch HD 500 series and the Definitive 600 and 100 series. Klipsch was . . ehhhh. Definitive 600 was very nice, clean and crisp. The 1000 series was off-the-hook. The big difference between them was the 600 series was a set of 5 to include center and powered sub (250w). The 1000 series was a la carte' and quickly became $1400 before the sub. Something, of course, to now think about.


    Al - Do appreciate the "dieing" advice. Rest assured, I'll be sure to get the right speaker cable for the wall.


    Bill - Hoping to listen to the B&W's tomorrow. REad some good gouge on line and will take the time to compare.


    Two last questions - Any advice on a tilting TV mount or fixed since it is going over the fireplace? Should I consider it being really close to the wall or does it matter? Is a mount, is a mount, is a mount?


    Linking home computer to system. Any thoughts or advice?


    Any other advice for this rookie?? If so . . . give it to me now. I think I'm about to make the big purchase.


    Thanks!


    Mike
     
  11. Ahoyloy

    Ahoyloy Auditioning

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    Casey -


    Thanks. I looked at a Sanus today and that is the way I am going. Appreciate your sage advice.


    Gents - Do you ever feel that you just think about it to much. Went in today and listened to a bunch of great speakers and think I have that wired. Then the young man who was very knowledgable about all things AV (I kid you not . . . he was fantastic) told me that the Denon was not for me with the type of use I would have and told me to look at Panasonic Elite. So . . . I did. He's right . . . and wrong . . . about some stuff, but made me pause.


    Anyone have a moment to share good, bad or uglies as it pertains to Panasonic Elite -vs- Denon or other?


    Mike
     
  12. Ahoyloy

    Ahoyloy Auditioning

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    Casey -


    You are correct . . . Pioneer Elite. He had all the models you mention as I went to a Magnolia Theater in Best Buy. He seemed to be very knowledgable and went on to say that for the amount of TV and Movie viewing, the Pioneer was a better model due to internal VGA componentry. He did note that the 791 is not in the same league as the Pioneer Elite and that if I was sold on Denon, to be looking at the 2111 or 3111 models.


    I may just be putting to much thought into this, but I want it to be right (finally) and not have to deal with this again for a long time.


    Thanks for your advice and comment. Keep it coming.


    Mike
     
  13. winniw

    winniw Second Unit

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    Hey Mike,


    You may want to check out the Def Tech Pro Cinema 800 system which falls between the 600 and 1000 that you looked at. It is a 5.1 system, complete for $1200.

    http://www.amazon.com/Definitive-Technology-Pro-Cinema-800/dp/B001JQZXCO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304131777&sr=8-1-spell


    12' to 15' is a long way back for a 52" TV. You are definitely getting close to the max distance there. Perhaps you should consider a front projection system 100" would be so much nicer, wouldn't it? You could put your 52" in your bedroom.


    You didn't mention your seating, but I would recommend recliners of some type. Recliners will allow you to view at that high angle without straining your neck.


    Nick
     
  14. Ahoyloy

    Ahoyloy Auditioning

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    Nick -


    Thanks. Stumbled upon those last night and I believe will be exactly what I get. COuple more articles to read so as to thoroughly confuse me, and I should be just about perfect for making a decision!


    Mike
     
  15. CB750

    CB750 Screenwriter

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    Mike,


    In wall speakers are a different bag. You should use them if your goal is to have the so called clean or hidden look to your room. As a general rule for a given price range they don't perform quite as well as stand alones. While your home may present a different environment than a show room for any speaker. In walls add a different factor as your wall actually become your speaker enclosure.

    Sound like our ears agree on Klipsch, I found quite a bit of difference in the DT 600, 800, and 1000. product line. If the 1000 are over your budget I think the B&M M-1's are about in the same price range. I liked both the B&W and the DT 1000's but the B&W's were demoed in a good independent store environment and the DT's in a Best Buy listening room. In that price range of around $1,000 you might want to look at the SVS 5.1 system that is sold on line. If features a larger and more powerful sub than either the B&W or DT. But the satellites are a bit larger than the others you have looked at. I already had my B&W's before I found out about them, I have not listened to them but many folks like them.


    As far as TV mounts they are not created equal. I have a Simplicity which I got at Costco. Since my initial installation was going to be over a fireplace I wanted one that would feature a lot of tilt as I would be looking up at it. This is something you are also going to need. With the advent of slimmer TV's many come with a shallow mount that will bring the TV closer to the wall because of the geometry involved the closer it brings the TV to the wall the less of an angle the TV will tilt down. The closer your viewing distance to the TV the more tilt you will need. Also if you have plaster or drywall make sure you secure the mounting plate into your wooden wall studs with the provided wood lag bolts on at least two studs. Don't use dry wall molly's or other devices that don't screw into your studs. If you are mounting into a brick or cinder block wall use lead anchors and drill the holes into the mortar between the bricks. I would recommend doing this with at least 5 or 6 anchors.


    I am not up on connecting a TV to a home network. But the easiest way is to place a network PC close to your HT and connect it directly to your receiver with an HDMI Cable (this will require a graphics card that passes both Video and Audio through HDMI as many do these days). Under this arrangement your TV becomes your monitor and the receiver controls the audio. This way you will have all of the functions of a PC and your network available at your HT site.
     
  16. Ahoyloy

    Ahoyloy Auditioning

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    All -


    Let me start by saying that I cannot thank you all enough for your time, patience and outstanding counsel. You all have been great and I appreciate all of your advice. So . . . . as this is my last post for this topic, I wanted to let you know where I went with everything and share the "Bottom Line" (read that as $$$).


    The quote that we were going to go with came in at $2600 and change. This included install, but did not account for any "aww shucks" additions. With your help here is what I got:


    Speakers: After much deliberation and a lot of music and movie snipets, I settled on the Definitive ProCinema 800 Series. It includes 4 - 800 bookshelf/mountable speakers, a 1000 procenter speaker and an 800 powered subwoofer. Thanks to all for the speaker advice. The Klipsch didn't do it for me, the 600 series was nice, but as soon as I heard the difference with the 800, it was a no-brainer. Best part, I got them from a Magnolia at BB and they price matched. Orig 1199.00 + tax and shipping, I got them at a price math to include shipping and no tax for $1050.


    Mount: There are plenty out there and I decided to go with the Sanus System Tilting Wall Mount. Orig price: $128.00; my price $68.34 with shipping; no tax.


    Cables/Wire - Thanks to all for the counsel on on-line AV direct buy. Orig cost $225 (without break out for speaker wire). My price for spkr wire, HDMI cables, PC cable, RCA cable for sub, banana connectors, wall plates, zip ties, and wall power install kit (little extra to make it clean) for hanging the TV: $81 with tax and shipping.


    Receiver: So . . . I'm still not ready to make a final decision, however, the Denon is where I am leaning and will make that decision tomorrow or Monday.


    I also got a new Harmony remote and IR extender system since I had saved so much with doing this on our own. ($178 for all).


    Thanks to all. I'll send pics to share as I do the project and then at completion.

    V/R


    Mike
     
  17. winniw

    winniw Second Unit

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    Mike,


    There was something that I wanted to mention about speaker placement.


    The ideal speaker placement for the front stage is to have all three speakers lined up at ear level, behind an acoustically transparent screen. However, only large dedicated home theaters with a projection system can do this. Much more commonly, you will see LCD or plasma TVs, mounted or placed at eye/ear level with the L/R speakers also at eye/ear level to the side of the TV with the center channel under or sometimes over the TV.


    Since your TV will be above eye level, I am thinking that the best placement for your three front speakers would be in one horizontal line under your TV, basically on the fireplace mantel, rather than one to each side of the TV and one below.

    This is the way my living room projection system is set up and the sound is very cohesive.


    Nick
     

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