Hello, all – I’ve just recently joined this forum, because my wife and I are weighing the home theater options for our den. I’m hoping that some of you more experienced folks will be able to help me make informed decisions on what to buy and how to configure it. I’ll give some background info before I start jumping into questions. The room is a lower-level/”sunken” den. I would guess it is somewhere around 13’ x 15’ in size, or a bit smaller (I’ll have to do some measuring for a more accurate number). The only planned addition will be a home theater audio system. Existing furniture, TV armoire, television, and DVD player will remain as-is. The main use of the audio system will be for DVDs and digital cable TV. I’d like to keep the budget under $800 if possible. As for room layout: the television, a 32” Sony Wega, is in a TV armoire, located in a recess at the southeast corner of the room. The main seating location is a couch placed about midway along the west wall, with secondary seating being a loveseat about midway along the north wall. A couple of unique features of the room: daylight windows occupy much of the upper portion of the west wall, and the upper 3’ or so along much of the north wall is open to the kitchen above. Also, the floor is carpeted (berber). I’ll post sketches/pictures of this once I take some measurements. Why am I doing this? Please don’t laugh… up until now, we’ve been using a pair of (very nice) Klipsch bookshelf speakers and a Klipsch subwoofer hooked up to a Pioneer receiver (not sure of the models of any, I can check on this as well). But for over a year, the speakers and sub have sat ‘hidden’ on the floor near the armoire, because I haven’t been able to come up with a ‘satisfactory’ way to install them. My wife is very insistent upon not having any visible wiring, and no ‘obtrusive’ speakers or sub. She thinks the Klipsch speakers look too big, so I can’t mount them on the wall, on stands, or anywhere visible; and when we tried to hide the (non-shielded) sub behind the TV, it played havoc with the picture. Since our pets have started to take an ‘interest’ in the speakers/sub lately, they’re not really safe out in the open on the floor anymore. So I was told that the Klipsch stuff has to go – fortunately, I get to keep it for my basement rec room. We have done a little shopping for a replacement setup. I was thinking that a 5.1 system could be cool, although I’m not sure how well that would work in this room, due to the TV location and seating layout – plus, I was shot down due to the ‘no visible wires or obtrusive speakers’ rule. So we checked out a couple of ‘simulated surround’ 2.1 setups – the Bose 3-2-1 and the Sony DAV-X1. The Bose’s size was nice, but the sound (and price) didn’t appeal to me – from what I’ve read on here, it would seem I’m not alone in this. The Sony was also small and sounded a bit better (and had a MUCH better DVD player), but I think it’s basically trying to do the same thing sonically. I think the same goes for similar systems I’ve read about (Denon S-301, Niro 1.1 Pro II). I’m afraid a setup like this just wouldn’t work right in my den, because our seating is up against walls, rather than out in the middle of the room. Well, that’s enough background, I think – sorry for giving you my whole life story. On to the questions: 1. Am I wrong about the ‘simulated surround’ systems – might they actually stand a chance in my den? 2. Are there any other ways to simulate surround (i.e. using normal speakers) that sound decent? I’m not so much concerned with rear imaging, but at least something that spreads out the front soundstage well? 3. Going along with #2, does a 3.1 system seem like a good idea? If so, are there any speaker recommendations that will allow me to keep the speaker size to a minimum and still get good sound? Magnetic shielding is desired if possible. Black finish is a plus. 4. Any suggestions for relatively small receivers? Again, black finish is a plus. 5. Any subwoofer recommendations? Again, compactness and magnetic shielding are desired if possible. Finish isn’t so important here, since the sub will be behind the armoire, totally obscured from view. You guys have a great forum here, and I look forward to more discussion with you. Thanks in advance!