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Micro Budget Home Theater


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6 replies to this topic

#1 of 7 OFFLINE   CollinTiegs

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Posted October 19 2003 - 11:48 AM

Ok, I'm a poor college student, I want to start building a home theater. One step at a time. I think ill start with
the audio since video technology is moving along at such a rapid pace I would hate to invest in a new TV justt yet.

Here is what I've got on hand right now.

Audio:
1. Two tower speakers by paradigm.
2. A center speaker made by KLH.
3. Two KLH surrond speakers.
4. A KLH sub.
5. One of those cheap all in one system stereo things I got when I was younger.
6. A pair of grado SR60 headphones.

Video:
1. A TV that looks like it might have been cutting edge way back in the late 70's early 80's.
2. An extra 17inch CRT monitor that i currently connect my iBook to in order to play dvd's.(audio is supplied via
the sr60's)
3. An Apple Ibook (which is only kinda video.)
4. A PC, sporting a geforce 4 ti4200 with s-video out.

I have pictures of all the gear but I cant post them yet.

My plan is this:
Purchase a reciver that will be able to amp up speakers well enough that I wont have to replace it any time soon.
After that pick up a set of really nice well made speakers, something that has the build quillity to last quite some
time. I really like the idea of buying equipment once and having it last forever simply because it was designed
right in the first place. Once audio is out of the way I will obviously have to update the tv. However that seems
pricy so ill leave that for last. Oh and I'll have to get a DVD player somewhere in there.

What do you think would be the best course of action? Any recomendations on recivers, or speakers would be great.

#2 of 7 OFFLINE   Bill_Wil

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Posted October 19 2003 - 12:55 PM

Collin,
Welcome to the forum!! Getting a decent receiver to start off sounds like a good idea considering that you already have a set of speakers. Are your Paradigm speakers very old? Do you think you could find a center to match them? I think you should keep the Paradigms and try to get a matching center and then some surrounds. Thats assuming that you like the sound of the Paradigms. And then like you said pick up a DVD player. If you listen to a lot of music and will be interested in the SACD and DVD-A formats then maybe you should check out a universal DVD player that also plays both those formats like the Pioneer DV563A. You can find those for around $180. Just make sure that the receiver you choose includes the analog audio-in jacks to accomodate SACD/DVD-A players if you think you'll be going that route. A regular DVD player can connect with a digital connection like optical or coaxial but the SACD or DVD-A players connect with analog connections for each channel.

#3 of 7 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted October 19 2003 - 01:42 PM

Always like to help a fellow college student!

What paradigms are they? Paradigms tend to be quite good, unless they are extremely old or something. A budget would probably help, although I'll assume you're constrained in those regards(aren't we all?).

I think a solid HT receiver for maybe 500-600 bucks will get you great performance, and all the current formats. Many brands here are oft mentioned, denon, hk, marantz, outlaw, yamaha, pioneer elite, sony es, integra/onkyo, etc etc. I own a marantz more for the SQ cause i'm a music buff, but it covers all the bases for HT as well.

As for speakers, I recommend paradigms, so perhaps you should build a setup around what you have, if they aren't too old?

So budget, plus what paradigms they are would be a more helpful start for info, i think. As for TV... hard to say what you want/need. It's pretty hard to beat a great CRT computer monitor, you could get a cheapie TV, you could get a projector, there are lots of things you could do.

#4 of 7 OFFLINE   CollinTiegs

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Posted October 19 2003 - 04:03 PM

Thanks for the advice, and the quick reply.

Sorry I didnt include a real specific budget, basically I'm looking at whatever ammount of money I can spare per-paycheck on HT gear. Most often about something close to a hundred bucks a month(pending car insurance rates...).

The paradigm's are not that old. I think we have had them for maybe 6 years, and I dont think they got much play time so they should be in good mechanical condition. They are the Paradigm Esprit Monitor Series, I really wish I could post a link to show you. However if you do a search on ebay there is a pair of them going for $439.00 right now, so maybe they arent as old as I once thought(I probably shouldnt be using one of them as a plant stand).

Bill, being such a newb I didnt even know that the SACD format existed. However I'll be sure to look into it. My main use for the system, untill I get a new TV, will be to play music. So I was thinking about geting one of the dvd players with mp3 cd playback. That way I could cue up a huge playlist and just let it go for a while.

As for the ammount of money I'm willing to spend on a reciver, I was thinking about 300 dollars. However if that is way too low and nothing adiqute can be purchased for that much, I would be willing to pay more. The marantz brand attracted me, maybe because I had never heard of it(I'm kinda a sucker for off-beat companies no one in the mainstream knows about. Foolish as that may be...). I do currently work at Best Buy and would like to use my employee discount on a reciver, however if the selection at Best Buy is to limited I would be willing to look elsewhere.

Could I hook up a plain old CRT monitor to a reciver? That would be great if I could. I play dvds on that thing and the resolution is just fantastic compared to a TV.

What are your opinions on constructing a HTPC? I have enough left over parts to be able to do so for minimal cost. Not something big just enough to stream radio from the web and play mp3's.

Anyway, I could ramble about this for hours, so ill stop now. Thanks for the help so far guys.

#5 of 7 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted October 19 2003 - 04:43 PM

The ones on ebay are some strange mix of old model names. Look here:

http://www.paradigm.....hiveIndex.html

And you should be able to find the precise model, or look on the speaker.

I wouldn't worry a whole lot about DVD-A/SACD.

You could get a decent receiver for $300, but I think finding a solid unit used, or spending a bit more will ensure a quality unit that won't just be an tnry level unit that you're always going to doubt. something like the outlaw 1050 receiver, while a little outdated, would still be great on a budget. Outlaw is one of those more "obscure" value names. Marantz is not what I would call "out of the mainstream." Mid-high end yes, but pretty mainstream. What it is not, is mass-produced crap, like some of the entry stuff from sony, etc. (sony ES is quality stuff though).

I think you could get some solid electronics from best buy by taking advantage of their employee discount. Just remember, a crappy receiver discounted down to, say $500, is still a crappy receiver. Another, stunning unit at full MSRP of $500 or so, just because you're not getting a discount, is still the better deal.

For a computer monitor, you'd need to use your computer as the video/audio source, as an HTPC.

You already have a PC. Why not use that as your HTPC also, you can run the audio out digitally to your receiver, and feed the video to the monitor, and you've not spent anything except for a receiver. You can add better speakers, and sell off some of those KLH's to fund it if you want.

If i DID get a receiver at best buy, looking briefly at the brands they offer, I'd only really consider Yamaha. I think best buy is getting some better speakers in now, JBL was ok for the money, i think paradigm is pretty impossible to beat for the price though, except with more obscure brands, perhaps, like axiom, rocket, ascend, etc. (ok, so axiom isn't that obscure, but no US dealers :-/).

For HTPC info, peruse the HTPC forum at AVS. They've got lots, and lots, and lots, and WAY too much info over there. The faq is pretty good though. Computer stuff is always a confusing turn-off for me though...

You work at best buy and don't know about SACD?

:b

Posted Image

that's ok, though, there's ALWAYS more stuff to learn...

#6 of 7 OFFLINE   CollinTiegs

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Posted October 19 2003 - 04:57 PM

Heh, yeah I work strictly with the computer end of things at Best Buy. Audio Video stuff is all new to me.

I dig the outlaw unit, any idea where I could find one used? Ebay doenst seem to have anything listed.

Also I just read an article about using a lcd panel in conjunction with an overhead projector. Any idea on how well that would look playing DVD's? I would really like to set up a projection system. Maybe i could find a really cheap older projector of ebay or something. Doesnt have to look that good.

Anyway thanks alot for the help so far, sorry to ask such newbie-ish questions.

#7 of 7 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted October 19 2003 - 05:18 PM

I don't think many people will be selling their outlaw products used. You're looking at internet direct, full price. And most likely WELL worth it.

Also I just read an article about using a lcd panel in conjunction with an overhead projector. Any idea on how well that would look playing DVD's? I would really like to set up a projection system. Maybe i could find a really cheap older projector of ebay or something. Doesnt have to look that good.


Like the overhead projector and LCD panel idea? Posted Image haha, that's not really feasible, and it looks like crap. It's a worthless waste of $$, just like the "turn your TV upside down and put a fresnel lense on it and you have a projector for cheap!" scams. Won't really work.

So, your projector options are as follows: cheapie, crappy, and used digital projector. Could be an older LCD, or DLP most likely, they can be seen on ebay, i don't know how good they'll be. Will probably cost a grand or so. I dunno.

I do have to present the absolute best option for projection technology, which is CRT. (ok, so I'm biased, but it's still true). Best picture, bar none, and very cheap. You could find a basic video-grade projector from probably $500. High-end units will start in at about a grand, high-end 8in EM focused CRTs will begin at $2 grand and go up to 5-6, the highest, more rare ones, like the sony G90 will got for probably 10 or so. I have a Barco Graphics 808 projector, capable of beyond hi-def resolution, and smokes 10k digitals in quality regards. It retailed for roughly 20k i think. The runco versions of it are like 35K. I paid 2k.

But be forewarned, while this is the best option for bargain hunters, and videopurists, it is NOT an easy option. It is more of a hobby. CRT projectors are HUGE, very heavy, a pain in the ass to set up properly, and you do have to keep the convergence in shape. And they are NOT mobile at all, and you REALLY want to do one justice by putting in in a totally dark room. There are a LOT of complicated aspects to this, you want to get a low quality projector if you're gonna feed it low quality video, as a high quality projector may actually look worse set up as such. The higher-end units really demand an HTPC. DVD doesn't do it justice unless processed via an HTPC. On the other hand, all the effort and pain in the ass sacrifices for CRT gets you 20-30k+ video quality in your home for mere fractions of that price.

Just presenting it as an option, although since you're computer literate, an HTPC more and more sounds like the best (and cheapest) route to go.

If the CRT idea interests you, THE place to hit is the CRT forum over at avs. Nowhere else in the world has as much CRT knowledge as they do there for enthusiasts like us.