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ALL NEWBIES: Want a Home Theater System real cheap? There is hope! I am shocked!

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#1 of 57 ONLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 02 2000 - 05:40 PM

I hope that anyone who is thinking of buying
their first Home Theater system on a budget gets
to read this thread.

I think it is very important that I relay to
all of you that if you are on a budget, and want
to get into Home Theater, there is absolutely hope.

I had a sort of "awakening" this evening, and
I'll start off from the very beginning.....

People I work with know I am a big shot who
runs his own Home Theater Forum Posted Image

They always come up to me saying they just
bought their first DVD player, have a family,
and not a lot of cash to throw into a Home Theater
surround system. They always show me these ads
for these $400-$500 packages that includes a
receiver, 5 speakers and a subwoofer.

I always scoff at those systems. I tell people
not to buy that crap. Being the Home Theater
professional that I am, I always tell people
that you need to spend good money to buy decent
speakers and a decent receiver. What you get
for $400-$500 is merely a toy. That's how I felt.

My friend and co-worker, Brian, just bought
his first DVD player. He wanted to add surround
to his system but did not have a lot of money to

He told me about this JVC Home Theater package
that Costco was selling for $350. I laughed.
He went and bought it anyway, and asked me to come
over to help him hook it up.

I come over, and he already has the speakers
hanging on the wall. Cute speakers -- look good.
He even has the subwoofer in the corner all set up.

I look at the receiver. It's a real lightweight
(not like the 40-50lb. quality heavyweight receivers).
Still, the receiver looks pretty nice, and it has
built in DTS and DOLBY DIGITAL decoding. There
are TOSLINK and FIBER OPTIC digital inputs. The
receiver even rates at 100 watts per channel.

I help him hook everything up, and I throw in
a DTS demo disc. Well....I gotta tell you...I
was blown away! The sound off of this baby was
pretty damn good. Sound was very clear and crisp
even at blasting level. The bass was very prominent
and full of thrust, thanks to the subwoofer. The
directional surround was excellent.

Now mind you, this was a small living room. I
don't think this setup would have sounded as full
in a huge room - but that has yet to be tested.

I was just absolutely stunned that a cheap $350
surround receiver package could sound this good.
There was no distortion in the sound, and we were
amazed at the clarity of the instruments while
listening to The Eagles in DTS.

Most of all, the greatest satisfaction I got
was watching this guy's wife, mother and two
young boys sitting their with their jaws gaped
open. They were experiencing Home Theater for
the very first time, and were just knocked out
silly by the gorgeous deep, rich sound that
came from every direction of the room.

So this is what I am saying and not saying...

I consider myself to be a person that can pretty
much tell if a Home Theater system sounds good or not.
I own an above average audio system over $2k. Still
not the best -- but not too shabby.

I would always tell people that if you can afford
it, you should buy a top-grade receiver that has
heavy amplification and not cheap circuitry. I
then would tell them to invest in quality speakers.

But most people just starting out in Home Theater
don't have that kind of cash. Most all of us
started out with something small at first, and
slowly, we upgraded over the years.

After this evening, if someone asks me if a
$350 surround receiver w/speakers package is the
way to go, I think that I would say YES! --
at least, to the JVC Home Theater Package.

For the average family who is not looking
for anything expensive, this package will give
you AMAZING Home Theater sound. It is the ideal
package for anyone with a DVD player that wants
to turn their living room into a Home Theater, and
not worry that a cheap system will sound like crap.

Most of all, to see a family that went into buying
this system blindly -- not knowing what to expect --
suddenly sit in total astonishment while the dragon
from DRAGONHEART flew across their heads, is one
of the most gratifying experiences that anyone
could have. I was an absolute HERO to this family.

I have to step back and realize that while I can
afford to buy expensive Home Theater components
from time to time (because I am single), there are
families who have too many expenses to be able
to make Home Theater their luxery. For that reason,
I am a true believer that this JVC package will
deliver outstanding sound for anyone looking for
a startup system. It will change the way you
and your family watch movies.

Posted Image

Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
Circa 2000
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#2 of 57 OFFLINE   Jeffrey Forner

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Posted December 02 2000 - 05:57 PM

Great story, Ron. It is really exciting to see this technology, which had previously been so exclusive finally make its way to a wider audience.

Some people might say that the wider availability of home theater technology is diluting the hobby, and that such as system as you described would not be worthy of the label "home theater," but I don't see that as being the case. Sure, there may be many more J6Ps running around with DD/DTS-capable receivers and DVD players these days, but there are many more who actually do care about a quality presentation and want to see and hear something that will blow them away. With surround sound systems running at prices as low as $350, now everybody who wants good sound and a clear picture can have it. Spread the joy, I say.

I'm a prime example of all this. As a college student without oodles of money pouring out of my pocket, it's amazing I have a system that looks and sounds as good as it does. Ten years ago, it would have probably been impossible for someone in my position to enjoy a movie on anything better than a VCR and a stereo TV. Nowadays someone like me can have it all: DVD player, DD and DTS, five speakers and a subwoofer, and a decent TV. I got all this for less than $2,000. No, it's not the greatest set up in the world, but it does the job.

Thanks for the great story, Ron.

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#3 of 57 OFFLINE   CRyan



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Posted December 02 2000 - 06:15 PM

Great post Ron. I have a decent sound system as well, and many of my friends come to me for advice. I have, at least twice, turned people away from these "theater in a box" systems. I am glad to know that all of them are not the crap that you would expect. In both cases, my friends ended up not getting anything, because they simply did not have the cash to get what "I" wanted. This was also due in part to the fact that they had both been over to my place and heard what I had. They decided to wait till they could afford "better" stuff. That can be a good idea, but we all have to remember that not everyone desires to make this a hobby. Anyway, I now know to listen first and comment later. Thanks, C. Ryan

#4 of 57 OFFLINE   Bruce Hedtke

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Posted December 02 2000 - 06:15 PM


Though I've submerged myself expensively into Home Theater, I see nothing wrong with someone buying a HT in a box. The obvious point is that you appreciate what you have. I know that I have saved and bought what I could afford and for that, I am quite proud of what my Home Theater has become. Other people have other hobbies or aren't as fortunate financially as I am. That's life. I can say this: those people will love and admire that "cheap" system because they made a commitment to it. Money can do many things and sadly, one of those things can be loss of appreciation. They don't get the same satisfaction of watching a movie on a HT that they had to save all summer for. Or years, whatever the case may be. I have little respect for those who scoff at people who can't afford the biggest and the best. As if they don't deserve to be a part of the Home Theater community. I applaude the manufacturers who are making quality components more available to all economic classes. This is a step in the right direction. Hell, I've a number of friends myself who have chosen this route and while it won't compete with my system, I think it gives a good, quality presentation on its own and one I would be proud to show off.


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#5 of 57 OFFLINE   KeithH


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Posted December 02 2000 - 06:31 PM

Good post, Ron. I have a decent system that I am happy with, and I too have dissuaded people from buying HTBs in the past. Your experience has me curious. I would love to hear that JVC system.

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#6 of 57 OFFLINE   Eric Scott

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Posted December 02 2000 - 07:30 PM

Thanks a lot Ron!

A couple weeks ago this story could've saved me $700-$800! Now I'm stuck with a HT in 3 Boxes.

I know plenty of people who drive modest cars but have money coming out of the kazoo, when they get out of the car they have to walk backwards to pick up the cash falling out of their pant legs! Not everyone feels the necessity to have the best money can buy, even if they can easily afford it.

Budget priced HT like an inexpensive car can certainly serve the same basic purpose of "getting you there."

I suggest you open a new area, "Home Theater on a Budget"
where people can go and discuss good starter/low priced systems and equipment.

And for any of you Newbies, beware...

WARNING: Prior to purchase of Home Theater Electronics you may suffer from acute indecision. Side effects can include confusion, anxiety, restlessness, tension, dry mouth, agitation, weight loss or gain, sexual dysfunction, sleeplessness, drowsiness, constipation, withdrawal from social activities, marriage and relationship difficulties, headaches, blurred vision, grandiosity, employment disturbances and bizarre thinking.

You may want to consider professional help! Posted Image


#7 of 57 OFFLINE   Brian Lyerly

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Posted December 02 2000 - 08:40 PM

Sounds Wonderful (no pun intended). Any chance you could let us newbies know what the model number is for this system? TIA Brian

#8 of 57 OFFLINE   David Ely

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Posted December 02 2000 - 08:58 PM

I should give that system a listen. I've been pointing people in the direction of the Kenwood boxed systems. While none of these systems would replace my $2,000+ setup, they definately provide some extreme performance given their price. One reason I normally tell people to checkout the Kenwood set is that one of the packages comes with the VR-407 which is a decent DTS/DD 100W/ch reciever. This way they have a reciever with enough power to allow them to upgrade their speakers at a later time.
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#9 of 57 OFFLINE   Stacy Huff

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Posted December 02 2000 - 09:36 PM

I've never heard one of those all-in-one packages, but my feeling has always been that even if it can't beat a higher priced setup, it will certainly beat the living tar out of anything you get from your TV speakers. So if that is all you can or want to spend, I've always told people go for it. If you have more to spend, yes, you can get better. But even a low priced system is better than just a tv. ------------------
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#10 of 57 OFFLINE   Brian Price

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Posted December 02 2000 - 09:54 PM

Ron, I'd love to have that model number so I can check out that system for my girlfriend. Great review/story. Brian

#11 of 57 OFFLINE   Vince Maskeeper

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Posted December 02 2000 - 10:59 PM

I posted a thread similar a few months back about my Girlfriend's folks and their Kenwood system which was well under $1000 including Panasonic DVD, Kenwood Receiver, Kenwood Speakers, JBL Sub and a Kenwood CD player.

They even have a large room with vaulted ceilings and this system does a very very nice job. Suprisingly so.

I think a large portion is simply the room, having a good room sound to start with is often overlooked!

And it just goes to show you that you can get 90% of the performance for $500 and the last 10% can cost another $10,000!


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#12 of 57 OFFLINE   RicP



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Posted December 02 2000 - 11:19 PM

I agree totally Ron, that's a great story! I bought something similar for my Parents and they were just stunned by the difference.

My setup (with the exception of my CD Player a Sony XA7ES)is by no means high-end, and I'm always a fan of getting the most performance with the lowest budget. They really have made amazing strides in HT. I'm all for these systems that allow more people to be able to enjoy this great hobby!

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#13 of 57 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted December 02 2000 - 11:37 PM

Isn't it great that the price of entry into our hobby can be so low, that enjoying the home theater experience doesn't have to mean a second mortgage or a degree in electrical engineering? I've got several co-workers who've gone a similar route and have become true ht enthusiasts. Now if they could just make a good 56" 16/9 tv for $1500!! ------------------ Steve S. I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.
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#14 of 57 OFFLINE   Matt_M


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Posted December 03 2000 - 12:07 AM

Good post Ron

As a University student I can certainly relate to being on a budget. Posted Image
That is why bang for the buck was a big consideration in my HT setup. I certainly don't regret that I did not get more expensive equipment.

Eric, good point about the cars. Sometimes I wonder why people spend so much money on them especially if they don't know how to drive or spend most of their time being stuck in traffic.

#15 of 57 OFFLINE   Oliver


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Posted December 03 2000 - 02:03 AM

Very good post, Ron. And I belive it is as Vince said, you can get quite a lot for a few $$$ if you are lucky to pick up the right package. Only if you are looking for the extrem experience you may invest 10 to 50 times more than the package for $ 500.

#16 of 57 OFFLINE   Kevin M

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Posted December 03 2000 - 02:24 AM

Not trying to be too picky Ron but you said..
"It had Toslink and Fiber Optic digital inputs..."
..aren't both these the same thing?
Juuuust askin'. Posted Image

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#17 of 57 OFFLINE   Gary Kellerman

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Posted December 03 2000 - 02:45 AM

Over the past few years, Brandsmart here in S. Fla. has on occasion had a JVC box set hooked up though not ideally to evaluate. The one thing I must say that they usually had very nice sound quality for the money. What is good here that a company has the capability to match their speakers to their receiver on a lower price level that will deliver maximum performance for the dollar. For the NEWBIE, this is an excellent approach into home theater. For the OLDBIE's, you should know by know that involvement with home electronics is a never ending learning process.

#18 of 57 ONLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 03 2000 - 02:52 AM

I will post the model number for all of
you in this thread in the next 24 hours.

I wasn't planning to write a review on this
unit, but during my drive home, I realized that
this forum needs to cater to newbies and families
on a budget who wish to get into this hobby. This
is why I am making such a big deal out of this
Home Theater package. I was just so surprised
that a $350 HT in a box could sound so good.

As far as Toslink cables....

Excuse my ignorance -- this is one of those
grey areas of my Home Theater knowledge. I thought
the thick RCA digital cable was the TOSLINK. When
I looked up the fiber optic cable in one of the
electronic catalogs, they called it something else.
If I mislabeled the fiber optic cable, I apologize.

I'll post the model number late today -- in
the meantime, you SHOULD find it at Costco
for about $350.

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Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
Circa 2000
Home Theater Forum Administrator
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#19 of 57 OFFLINE   Steve--M



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Posted December 03 2000 - 03:46 AM

I think this is what you are talking about JVC DS-TP230


#20 of 57 OFFLINE   Scott_ R

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Posted December 03 2000 - 06:09 AM

Great post on the JVC Home Theater In A Box.
I recently purchased a Sony HTDDW-820.
A nice package that works well in my den. I hope this will lead to a newbie section in the forum.I recently put together a home theater set up in my den with out the knowledge of this and other forums. I just went looking for a new T.V. and walked out with :Sony kv36 xbr400-awesome
Sony dvp-570d -works very well .Plus I purchased a hifi
Mitsubishi hsu-775 vcr, bettercables ultra component cables
for the dvd to xbr. Also optical for dvd to receiver.
What did i get myself into? $3750 and change. Posted Image
I love IT!!! I think it is starting to get in the way of my wife and I Posted Image
Thanks for this great forum!!!

Scott R

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