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Help deciding on what to do.


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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 Peter_J_B

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Posted April 29 2003 - 08:07 AM

Hey, I've been lurking on this site for quite some time, and decided to finally post as the time possibly is now for me to make a purchase. The reviews and posts here are great, but the fact that the search engine barely ever works is pretty horrible. It's funny that bandwidth maybe the issue with the search being down, yet because the search function is down, people like me need to create posts to get the answers we need which use up more bandwidth and server space.

Anyway, I'll try to make this simple. I'm new to the HT scene, and have recently bought a house that will be completed in September. *knock on wood* I will be building a low end home theatre, and currently am just going to start out with a receiver and speakers, and keep my existing 32" Sony which is 7 or 8 years old. When I get all that up and running, I will check finances and the room potential, and ideally buy a front projector, if not a rptv.

This will be in the basement, which is pretty big but I'll probably section off maybe a 12x20' area for my HT.

So I am now thinking of buying a receiver. And currently I can buy the Onkyo TXSR600 for $321 refurb from their website, I believe with free shipping. This seems like a good deal for a receiver that I've read outstanding reviews for. I'm just not aware of the array of receivers in it's class that compete. Price is definitely an issue. I've seen some mention the Denon AVR 1803 and wonder if this is a better option, or if it's even available refurb or whatever and can be kept at the same pricepoint, or if there are still yet better options.

My last option, is to wait. Should I just stop wondering what to buy for now, and wait until my house is constructed, and then see what's on the market? I don't know if I'd get much use from the receiver right now, as I don't even have speakers, and would need to get those, and currently live in a smallish condo.

I know this is probably a common question, and I've done quite a bit of searching. I'd really appreciate some feedback if possible, and would be eternally grateful to you all.

Thanks. Posted Image

#2 of 15 Jason GT

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Posted April 29 2003 - 09:13 AM

This is coming from someone who does not, and will not for the forseeable future, have a dedicated HT-erized room:

If you don't even have speakers right now, I wouldn't worry too much about equipment specifics. Rather I'd try to set up the room right (ie, try to decide what I'd want hardwired into the walls and stuff) both for convenience and (since you're building your own house) perhaps acoustically.

Maybe at this stage it's better to set up the room right so it's built right (ie, whether the room is dedicated HT or a family room, maybe if you're going to be using floor standing speakers vs satellites, etc).

Unfortunately I can't give price specifics, not being from the states, but some of the usual receiver suspects are:

Onkyo
Harman Kardon
Denon
Marantz
Yamaha

The lower-end Sony and Pioneer stuff has, from what I've read here, met with mixed reviews.

#3 of 15 Paul Clarke

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Posted April 29 2003 - 09:34 AM

I agree with Jason. Some of this you can plan out ahead of time because it's fun and you have to make choices in the planning and construction phase which can help you out in the future. But I would not be worried about receivers at this point without having some idea of what your speaker situation will be...In-wall or cabinet, Towers or Bookshelfs or a mix, what sensitivity and impedance, etc.?
The last two will help you firm up the receiver/power side of the equation. As to the Onk 600 or anything else in its usual price/performance class, if you are eager to purchase make sure it can drive 4 Ohm speakers just in case. You don't want to buy any piece of equipment ahead of time only to find out it doesn't match up with the latest thing you fall in love with.
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#4 of 15 Peter_J_B

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Posted April 29 2003 - 01:06 PM

Hey guys, thanks for the replies. I guess I should have given more info. I'm not going to be able to do anything during the construction phase to tweak it for HT unfortunately. If you know how builders are, they charge you to make even the most minute changes, such as where the plugs are and stuff like that.

What I can say, is that I will be in charge, and I will be able to take advantage of the full basement, which the builders are finishing, so drywall and carpet. There are no posts, but there is a lot of low headroom because of the bulkhead covering the ducts. So normal 8' ceilings, but areas with the bulkhead are only something like 6'5" or about that.

If I buy the receiver now, I will get speakers. I'll also set things up now and use them for the 4 or 5 months, rather than let them collect dust in the box, so they would get used. I will most likely buy bookshelfs, as I don't feel the need for big floors, I won't be blasting the volume too often down there as it's more for movies. Sure if I have people over I can play music through them, but I'm past my years of full out volume now. Posted Image I am not budgeting too much money for speakers, perhaps between $1000-1200 in Canadian pesos. So maybe something like an energy take 5 or paradigms. I will get 5.1, and then depending on configuration when I move in, get the 6th rear centre. So as you can see, I think the SR600 is more than enough receiver for my needs considering my budget.

If the bulkheads don't make it impossible, I'll check my budget once I'm settled and buy a front projector, probably LCD. Nothing high end though, probably some starter model like the Sanyo Z1 or Epson 53c, or equivalent model that is out when I'm ready. For cable and day to day needs, I'll have my 32" Sony Trinitron, purchased in '97, which still works perfectly fine and has had no problems.

So to sum things up, basically needs will be to run a front projector, regular direct view tv, I'll be getting a satellite, but will cross that bridge later. Dvd player, vcr, and maybe a console game unit like an xbox. Other than that if it's possible, maybe I'll hook up my pc too it. I've only scratched the surface on the HTPC subject, and will see what is possible or logical in my case. I'll have my pc down there anyway.

Wow, another longwinded post. Sorry to make you read all this, but I'd rather give you too much info than not enough. There are plenty of HT gurus here, and I just want to be pointed in the right direction before I spend a significant amount of money. I wish I didn't have to furnish my new house, or spend money on stupid crap, like drapes, and appliances, and direct it all to toys, but unfortunately reality sucks. Posted Image

Thanks again for your further guidance.

#5 of 15 Peter_J_B

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Posted April 30 2003 - 12:55 AM

(not just a shameless bump Posted Image )

I forgot to include one rather significant detail in my thinking of purchasing now. Living in Toronto, means that many of these great refurb deals, and especially the Onkyo deal which I believe has free shipping is not available to me. But I do have a friend in Rochester that will be visiting a couple times in the summer months. So she is willing to order it for me and deliver it, so in essence I am getting free shipping, and *crosses fingers* no duty or taxes as well.

So basically, I'd get the Onkyo receiver for $321 and all I would be paying is the US exchange rate.

I went to the crutchfield website yesterday and did a comparison on the SR600, the Denon 1803, and the HK AVR225 which I could also get refurb for a great price. The features still stood out on the Onkyo. Especially with the remote, which I think is quite important, since it's the main interface you would use on a day to day basis, and the more programmable/learning it is, the less hassle to make instant changes.

The only other potential receiver I saw, was was significantly more at $400 refurbed. It was the AVR 320Z which I'm thinking is a discontinued model, as there is a 325 out and they don't list the 320 on their main website. This is maybe a bit out of my range, as I'd have to pay for shipping as well. But if anyone can make a really good case for me spending the extra dough, I guess I could maybe splurge.

#6 of 15 Jason GT

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Posted April 30 2003 - 04:40 AM

Well, since you're on a canuck budget that means that maybe I CAN point out a couple of things. Posted Image

If you like HK, you can get refurbed HKs from Matthew Golden at demodeals (refurb arm of the Canadian HK distributor). Tell him that Jason sent ya Posted Image

info@demodeals.com

He'll probably match the prices you find on Harmanaudio.com, accounting for exchange and taxes.

Speakerwise, you're probably best off picking up a Canadian speaker (Paradigm, PSB, and to a lesser extent Energy/Athena, if you're going on a straight "how much of a benefit do we get over those damn yankees Posted Image basis"), but it seems like you already know this...

#7 of 15 Peter_J_B

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Posted April 30 2003 - 05:24 AM

Jason, thank you for your replies. I am now going to look into the 325Z. I noticed that the 325Z is available, the "Z" meaning it's refurb for $400. This is stretching things a tad, if I have to pay taxes AND a hefty shipping price, but I will look into it, and perhaps email the contact you listed.

Here is my final question on this subject regarding the receiver I'd buy.

Option 1:

Refurbed Onkyo TX-SR600 $321, but would have to either travel from toronto for any warranty work, or ship it to friend in Rochester for work required.

Option 2: HK AVR 325Z for $399 + shipping? + taxes. But from Canadian source, so I assume warranty work can be handled locally.

The net difference when factoring in conversion to $ CAN, rough shipping estimate of $30 US, and Canadian taxes works out to be approximately $250 Canadian or roughly $170 US.

So, I guess my ultimate decision, is whether or not the HK is worth the added cost. I am new to this stuff, but don't plan on upgrading anything anytime soon. So I'd be stuck with my decision for some time.

From what I've read on a comparison at crutchfields, the differences are less power on the HK, although it may be more powerful considering a continuous 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 feed. (don't laugh at my newbie terminology or logic. Posted Image) Also, the HK has 8 pre-amp outs and is of course 7.1 versus 6.1. Then the Onkyo has a bit better bandwidth +10 on component video, but then the HK as multi zone support, and a few more in and outputs, including a coax digital out.

So again I admit I'm new, and probably don't even know what's best for me right now. I have done quite a bit of research, but having never even had a component stereo system, let alone HT I must admit I am out of my league. So I beg *gets on knees* just to have a bit more patience and give me what you consider a good breakdown of whether or not the HK would be a smarter move, given the background info I've shared. I really do appreciate the help, thanks again.

#8 of 15 Jason GT

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Posted April 30 2003 - 11:11 AM

My experience:

bought a 320 from demodeals. Shipping was $20 to BC, throw in GST but no PST.

I wouldn't really count too much on not getting hacked on taxes if you are planning on postal importing stuff from the states (and maybe even duties on top of that).

The Onkyo is probably a wonderful unit. The HK is not shabby either. Listen to both of them. ONe thing that I can vouch for, though, is that Logic 7 is quite nice, IMO better than PL II.

Perhaps, once again, before going into specifics, you should figure out your needs -- like if component switching IS important to you, if you think you'll ever use multizone, etc.

#9 of 15 Peter_J_B

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Posted April 30 2003 - 12:15 PM

Don't both have component switching? Or the HK doesn't? That seems like serious neglect on HK's part if a receiver hundreds less has features such as that and it lacks them.

Multi-zone would be nice, but I'd have to think on running wires from downstairs to the main level I guess. I was under the impression that the HK pretty much had all the features of the Onkyo with a few more such as more inputs and outs, and preamps.

Although, I don't have many toys now, I'm under the impression that component switching is a good feature to have, or am I mistaken.

As for the Onkyo, I doubt I will be hit with duty or taxes. My friend has come across border many many times and never been asked to open the trunk. So it would be logical to believe this wouldn't be the exception. If shipping is only $20, and I can get a reasonable price and exchange rate, I will probably order from demodeals. I emailed them after your previous post, so hopefully they can get back to me with a price for the 325Z.

#10 of 15 Peter_J_B

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Posted April 30 2003 - 12:19 PM

Sorry just to confirm, the 325 DOES have HDTV compatible component video switching, and also has PLII and Logic 7. So so far, you have steered me towards this unit provided I get a good quote. Maybe the 320 you have lacks those more updated features?

In any case, you've been great help, if you have more to add I'd appreciate it. If you are ever planning a visit to Toronto, email or PM me and I would re-imburse you for your excellent advice in beer and nachos. Posted Image

#11 of 15 Jason GT

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Posted April 30 2003 - 03:49 PM

I guess I wasn't the most clear Posted Image

I do own the 320, and have never heard the Onkyo. (I just don't want to sound like a HK booster).

The 320 and 325 are quite similar, the biggest difference being that the 325 has 7 amplified channels whereas the 320 has only 5 (to go 7.1 with the 320 you'll need an external power amp). Oh, and the 320 has a bit less in the department of bass management and doesn't decode DD-EX. Not a big deal if you're only planning to go 5.1.

With regard to PST, demodeals is based either in Quebec or Ontario, so you might get dinged.

The Onkyo does have PL II as well, fwiw. And from the photographs the Onkyo looks like it has a slightly better remote. The Onkyo also has a/b speaker switching which the HK does not.

My experience with the HK remote is that... it could use improvement, particularly with the number keys and transport keys which are small, and in the case of the number keys, very oddly laid out.

Perhaps though I should kind of refer you to the beginning of this thread, and try to figure out what other components that you're going to toss in this system. It Would Suck to get components that yu're not happy with.

Try to listen to the two receivers with comparable speakers and see if you have a preference. Take your time right now and have fun -- from the sounds of this you'll only get to do it once or twice Posted Image in a loooooong while.

#12 of 15 Peter_J_B

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Posted May 01 2003 - 12:48 AM

Well, I can't list every component I MAY use in the future. But probably withing the first year of moving in, I'd expect to have the following:

Sony Trinitron (old model)
LCD Front Projector
DVD Player
VCR
Satellite (not sure how this works with receivers, since they have their own box and converter as well)
X-Box
5.1 speakers for HT
2 speakers for zone II
PC if it adds any benefits to the system. My PC currently has a DVD player installed, and an ATI Radeon with S-video out.
5.1 speakers for HT
2 speakers for zone II


Here's another question, and maybe this isn't the right forum, but this is a good informative thread for me, and hopefully you can continue to give me some more advice. How does the zone II work? I understand that I'd need to be an IR port or something, I'm guessing it's wired to the receiver for the second remote to work? That would mean either keeping zone II close to my HT, or running wires all over the place to get the second set of speakers some distance away, such as upstairs living room versus downstairs HT?

Or is there a wireless solution? I will have one of those basic smart home systems installed, so I'd have home networking capability, not sure if that would help. This stuff comes with all new homes now.

I'm hoping I get a reply from your contact today with a price but will be patient. I looked at both remotes, and I like the fact that the HK has 5 macro options versus 2 on the Onkyo. Also, as you can see I'm not even sure how many other components I'll have in the future, and the HK certainly blows away the Onkyo as far as inputs and outputs go. So that would at least alleviate my concern of being able to use this component well into the future.

I'm not sure what advantage I'd take of a/b speaker switching. With the 7.1 and multizone I can run two rooms of sound with this thing, but I don't think I'd have two different speaker setups in the same room, if that's what speaker switching means.

Let me know if any of my logic or reasoning here is flawed. If I can I'll try to go out and demo them first. But I would also trust the reviewers I've read, since I've never owned one, and I know it'll be more speaker dependent on sound than anything else.

I will probably go on the weekend and demo some speakers. Right now I am looking at probably paradigm's although I may look at this Athena package deal they have now for 5.1, and energy speakers. I think the take 5.2 are a lot less money, so if I enjoy the sound the produce equally with more expensive ones I could save money that way.

Sorry one last question, if you've read this far. Posted Image Could I get away with not buying a sub now? And then getting it when I move to the house and have more space? Or maybe just the front 3 speakers? Or is there a certain order that is ideal for maximum sound with least number of speakers? Just that if I see a setup that really blows me away but is a tad out of my price range, I'd buy it in steps until I've moved in and know exactly where I stand finance wise. I don't want to spend a significant amount of money and want to upgrade in a year because I didn't spend a few hundred more at the start.

Thanks again.

#13 of 15 Paul Clarke

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Posted May 01 2003 - 02:20 AM

Peter,

I'll let others handle the zone questions...My 510 has the capability with another 2 channel amp but I don't use it.Posted Image

As to the speaker question, this is why we referenced the need to think things out as clearly as possible ahead of time. The kind and type of speakers you select will help you run a 'less than 5.1 or higher' setup for awhile if that's the way it goes. I did that for many years (in fact I missed the entire Pro Logic period) and didn't add in a CC or sub until a few years ago. But my mains during those years had 12' paper woofers and were rated down to 35Hz. Of course they didn't really get close to that with any decent SPL's or sound quality but they still gave very useful impact to Stereo HT.

All of that changed with the upgrade to DD equipment and new tower speakers...then the CC...later the sub....finally the rears towers. As my current system was built over time, I enjoyed a subless 3 speaker configuration for quite awhile. But you will not enjoy your system in this configuration for however long it may be without some useful bass capability. So if you go for a speaker package that's all in one...fine. It will likely have a sub...the Energy Take systems are a tremendous value in this regard. If you build it over time try to give yourself the performance capability you will need to do it that way. Bookshelfs will not give you low HT bass without a sub, pure and simple, no matter how many you are running. (That is, unless you're prepared to spend a lot of money.)

Try to keep these things in mind when you audition.
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#14 of 15 Peter_J_B

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Posted May 01 2003 - 05:49 AM

Man, I am starting to get a bit overwhelmed. I just checked out ebay.ca and there are a few receivers on there that are listed at incredible prices, and are in mint condition. I'm also a newbie to ebay, but I'm assuming that it's reliable, as it's grown so big. Also, most of the guys selling the receivers, have online stores and great ratings, so they are making a business off ebay, not just some hack trying to swindle someone.

I could even bid on a TX-SR800 from Onkyo, and it basically fits in my bugdet.

I'm just at the phase now where the more I look, and the more questions I ask, the more options they lead to, and just result in even more questions. If I see a decent deal now, should I spring for it? Or would it be smart to wait the 5 months until my house is complete? Like I said, I can go without, or if I do buy, then I"d get speakers and enjoy things in my apartment for now.

Man, I hate to continue with all the questions, but I'm sure many of you can remember your first frantic system purchase, and wondering whether you should wait or not, and what to buy or spend your money on.

#15 of 15 Jason GT

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Posted May 01 2003 - 03:49 PM

What I know about multizone is restricted to what's inthe manual. But yes, running multizone requires, afaik, running wires to the second zone: one for an IR reader (so you can do basic control from Z2) and a couple for speakers.

Once again, if you're building a house it may not be that difficult to request a bit of wiring in the walls, but that's up to you.

From the best I can determine, A/b Switching is pretty much like multizone, but multizone allows you to process two different sources simultaneously rather than just rerouting the output to a different set of speakers. (ie, you can have the kids watching a movie downstairs while you entertain the family upstairs with muzak).