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Newbie - Need HT suggestions/comment!


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#1 of 18 BryanSD

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Posted October 05 2004 - 07:23 AM

Hi – I’m looking to put together a home theater set up. (sorry if this is a re-hash) My room is long and narrow – I have a 46” RPTV and the sitting area is around 12’ from the TV. I’ve been researching for quite a while and have a few questions – and would love to hear some of your comments. I am looking specifically for a receiver and speakers and I’d like to keep everything under $750 if possible. But I’m fairly open to suggestion.

For a receiver – I’ve been looking at the HK AVR130, but I’m worried that I might just end up paying for the name and not getting much of a receiver for the $300 they are asking.

Any other suggestions on a solid receiver in the $300-$400 range?

Side note worth mentioning – I’ve had so many problems with the BBs and Circuit City’s of the world that I absolutely refuse to send my business their way (just a personal thing – been screwed too many times). . . .so I’ve been looking mostly at online retailers.

Speakers – I’ve heard good things about HTD and Fluance. I really like the looks (and price!) of the Fluance HTB, but I’m a little worried about the size of the fronts. HTD seems to get good reviews too, but if they aren’t exceptionally better than the Fluance, it seems like the Fluance would be the best bang for your buck. ???? Any other brands that would be worth looking into??? Also the look is very important – there's a wife involved here.. . .

My other thought is to be a little more patient and really put together a nice setup piece by piece. If I want to do this. . . what are your suggestions for where/how to start? So for instance I could up my receiver budget to $500 and then pick up a really nice center channel for $250 or so. Then save up a little and pick up some nice fronts for about $500 and so on. . . . . . Would that be the best order to do that? Or should I start with the fronts instead of the center channel?

Sorry for all the questions. . . .but I’ve been stewing over this for a few weeks and I think I’m starting to obsess a little.

Many, many, many thanks for the help guys!!!!

#2 of 18 Eric C D

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Posted October 05 2004 - 08:08 AM

If you're willing to have the final budget be more and pick them up piece by piece, I'd probably try the following order for you.

1. Receiver and L/R speakers.
2. Subwoofer (or last, depending on how deep your L/R speakers go)
3. Surround speakers
4. Center Channel

Reason for holding off on the center channel is that you said the room is long and narrow, so you won't have people sitting so off-axis. The "phantom center" setting should work pretty well.

just an idea.

#3 of 18 Hank VT

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Posted October 05 2004 - 09:07 AM

Look for a refurbed Denon at ecost.com or the HK. The HK will not disappoint. You can get a good refurbed Denon for less than $300 and use the additional money to buy speakers.

I have the SX-HTB and you won't touch them for the price. Nothing seems to come close.

#4 of 18 Chris Quinn

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Posted October 05 2004 - 09:30 AM

If this is for HT the first speaker to consider is the center channel. About 80% of a soundtrack is on the center channel.

#5 of 18 Craig Chase

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Posted October 05 2004 - 09:54 AM

Ecost.com has a Denon 484 Refurbished receiver for $159. It has a pretty nice array of features. That would leave more $$$$ for your speakers...

Refurb still gets the factory warranty... and the unit has a real 5 x 75 WPC into 8 ohms...
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#6 of 18 Eric C D

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:09 AM

I'd agree that the center channel is muy importante in a HT setup, and that it carries 80% of the info, etc. But to get just a center channel? That's reverting to mono. And maybe I'm just not up with it, but when I last bought a receiver, they typically had phantom center modes, but I didn't know of phantom Left and Right.

Basically, I just don't see what utility he'd get out of a receiver and one speaker. I'm kinda split on whether it's better next in an incremental purchase situation to get the surrounds or the subwoofer - probably depends on what is important to him. But the reason for putting off the center channel until the end was totally pased on his statement that his room is "long and narrow" So I don't think that it's as important to have a center channel to localize middle audio information for off-axis viewers.

Again, just my opinion. I bow to those more knowledgable.

#7 of 18 BryanSD

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:12 AM

Thanks guys - this is helpful.

Okay, couple more newbie questions. . . .

Eric - Would you mind explaining the "phantom center" idea - I kind of like the idea of not having to deal with a center?

Craig - why is the 5 X 75 into 8 ohms important (I have a feeling that is a really stupid question). I guess I'm just a little confused about what the whole "ohms" thing is about.

I can't quite recall much of that elec engineering class my freshman year. Posted Image

#8 of 18 Craig Chase

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:18 AM

Bryan... It also lists a spec of 5x110 WPC ... THAT is into a 6 ohm load a 1000 Hz.

The 5x75 WPC was into 8 ohms and was a 20 to 20 KHz, or full range... a much more meaningful spec.

8 ohms represents a static amount of resistance, and most amplifiers will put out more power into a 6 ohm load... long story here... but if you always look at the full range output into all 5 channels, you will get a true picture. And 5x75 WPC is escellent performance , especially for $158.
Craig Chase

#9 of 18 Garrett Lundy

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:22 AM

"phantom center" :Basically your Left and Right speakers will function and sound will seem like its coming from the center! Before 'home theater' was a catch-phrase, this effect was called "good stereo reproduction".

Its nothing magical. Just set your reciever to 'no center channel' and left the L/R's do their stuff.
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#10 of 18 Eric C D

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:22 AM

Here's a writeup I found using Google on the words "phantom center mode receiver" since reading your reply. It looks like it should help explain:

http://www.donlindic...ndsurround.html

P.S. What Garrett said. For normal stereo, it's just normal stereo. Pretty much the same for DPL. But for discrete channels (dolby digital, DTS, SACD, etc), it will split the center channel data evenly to the left and right.

#11 of 18 AlanZ

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:34 AM

Wow, it's nice to see people actually advocating the phantom center. I have been running my system like this for over a year and love it.
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#12 of 18 Craig Chase

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:40 AM

Alan, One of my favorite places to watch a movie is with my two channel system... a McIntosh stereo Amp and a pair of Onix Ref 3's with four UFW-10 subwoofers... LOVE that system.
Craig Chase

#13 of 18 AlanZ

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:49 AM

Craig:

I know what you mean.....I give in to the DTS/DD thing most of the time, but I have fond memories of my old B&K amp, Mod Squad passive line drive, and Monitor Audio bookshelves. In some ways, I am partial to a 2.1 system because I can't help but feel like the pieces I paid for are actually doing all the work they ought to be. It's hard for me to justify 2k for a new pair of Paradigm Signature S2s if I know I'm going to have to spend another 2k on the matching center. But I can easily justify 2k on a pair of S2s if I know that they are going to not only pick up the slack of the missing center channel, but also sound as good (sometimes even better) to my ears than if I actually had a center channel. In fact, I can even feel good about spending 2.5k on the S4s Posted Image

Everyone has differing views on HT and what works best for them.....and that's how it should be. But finding out that I didn't need a center was one of the best things that ever happened to me!
"Come on you Fockers....CONGA!!!"
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#14 of 18 Chris Quinn

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Posted October 05 2004 - 10:52 AM

Eric is right to get a pair of front mains before a center if buying piece by piece. I meant put the most importance on the CC it carries the load.

I've always been skeptical about Fluance. Look at the weight of the Fluance CC and the HTD level two CC. They are about the same size yet the HTD weighs nearly twice as much.

#15 of 18 Eric C D

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Posted October 05 2004 - 11:04 AM

I'm not advocating a phantom center it as a permanent solution, not unless you're going to watch by yourself all the time. Those out of the sweet spot (and how many of us are guilty of hogging the sweet spot and banishing our sweeties to the hell-of-off-axis-response!) will want the center channel to localize center information - most notably the dialogue - to the screen. But I do think Craig's comments speak to the enjoyment from good quality L and R speakers.

And I think Chris makes a valuable point about what emphasis ($$) to put on the center channel. It can make a lot of difference in being able to hear dialogue in the midst of movie noises. I love my center channel speaker!

enjoy!

#16 of 18 AlanZ

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Posted October 05 2004 - 11:09 AM

I think some of you who are indicating that you have to be directly in the middle of the sweetspot in order for a phantom center to work either 1) aren't really trying it, or 2) don't have very good off-axis speakers. I have two very large, oversized queen anne chairs that are on either side of the center line sweetspot. I can go a good ways out to the side of the listening area before the dialogue begins to fail and get noticeably bogged down in one of the mains.
"Come on you Fockers....CONGA!!!"
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#17 of 18 cabreau

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Posted October 06 2004 - 01:21 AM

I've tried phantom center before on an older Yamaha receiver and it sounded like crap. Maybe it was the setup, but I'm reminded of how fat people always say "beauty is on the inside". Posted Image
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#18 of 18 Sheldon-m

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Posted October 06 2004 - 03:47 AM

You will be fine if you go with Fluance. I have them and they will impress. I have them be pushed by an onkyo 601.
trust me it will be the best cash you spend. with the money you saved you could pair them with a dayton 10" or a svsPosted Image my wish this xmas is a nice svs under the tree. well maybe sitting next to the tree.