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Looking to set up home theater system


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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   adam613

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Posted May 07 2007 - 03:57 PM

(Short-time lurker, first-time poster) I am looking to set up a home theater system in the apartment I'm moving into in a couple of weeks. The living room area is about 15x20. I have a Panasonic PT-AE900U projector, but I don't have a receiver or speakers. (I am currently using my roommate's, but I'm moving out) I live in New York, which means two things: I don't need to produce extremely loud sound or fill a large room, and I don't have to pay shipping if I buy from B&H or J&R, both of whom seem to have good prices and selection, if somewhat obnoxious salespeople. I'd like to hook up: HD cable box PS2 (Will get PS3 or XBox 360 eventually) Computer (with DVI and digital sound output, but no HDMI) DVD player My budget right now is about $500. I don't have a standalone DVD player; if I get a package that doesn't come with one, I'll use my computer (which does a good job of upscaling) to play DVDs until I decide to buy a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player in a few months. All of the equipment will go on a shelf with the projector at the top, so I won't be spending a lot of money on cables. I first looked at the Sony HT-DDW990 or HT-7100DH, but I found out that the HDMI port on that reciever does pass-through, so I will run out of digital audio inputs. These are both still options, although not preferred; does anyone recommend one over the other? What about this new DDW-995? Does that solve the HDMI problem? If so, it's probably the right product for me at about $400. Beyond Sony, I've seen seperate 5.1 speaker sets in the $150 range; is there a $250-$300 reciever that will process the audio from an HDMI signal? I've seen a couple from Onkyo that might fit the bill on Amazon's most purchased list; any specific recommendations? HDMI seems to be a necessity if I plan to buy a next-gen or upscaling DVD player due to HDCP; am I mistaken on that point? Finally, I don't like to hit a lot of buttons when I change sources, and the Logitech Harmony remotes caught my eye. Do they perform as advertised? I'm most curious about the bottom-line one. Thanks all! adam

#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Al.Anderson

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Posted May 07 2007 - 11:00 PM

Based on this quote, I think you're confused. The pass-through means it passes the video signal through. It does process the audio. Your 15x20 room is pretty large. I think you're going to be a little disappointed in the sound you get from HTIB in that price range. My suggestion is to wait until you can get to the $800-1000 range and get a decent receiver ($300-400) and speakers ($500-600). HDMI is not a necessity. (Most say component cables provide an equivalent picture) But it does reduce cables and provides better sound with HD sources when used as HDMI 1.3. (A lot of current HDMI connects are still 1.2; so you may not be getting much besides convenience unless you're selective.)

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   adam613

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Posted May 08 2007 - 06:20 AM

I'm not questioning quality; I am quite satisfied with the picture I get over component cables now, especially since my projector is 720p-native. However, most upscaling DVD players won't upscale over component, and it's only a matter of time until next-gen DVDs will only display in HD over an HDCP-compliant connection. That's why I am under the impression that I have a lot to lose by passing up HDMI now.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Bluzman

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Posted May 08 2007 - 08:02 AM

You're correct that neither HT-DDW990 nor HT-7100DH process audio from the HDMI cable. A quick look at the HT-DDW995 manual (on line at SonyStyle) shows that it's AV receiver DOES handle the audio on HDMI. That frees up all the digital audio connections (2 optical/1 coax) so that this might be a viable choice. If you want to consider separates, take a look here: http://www.avsforum....ad.php?t=809777

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   hodedofome

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Posted May 08 2007 - 08:26 AM

Yes, you would do much better to buy a receiver and the 3 front speakers now, then buy the sub and surrounds later.

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   hodedofome

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Posted May 08 2007 - 08:28 AM

However, the Velodyne CHT Front Row system is $200 for 5 speakers, but only in white. I've seen some comparable Mission speakers for $250 for 5. All you would need is to save up for a sub. This is if you really wanted 5 speakers now.

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   adam613

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Posted May 08 2007 - 01:18 PM

Bluzman, thanks for the link to AVSForum. That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for. I think that I'd rather start with speakers and wait on a subwoofer. I don't need to feel my movies (and my neighbors probably won't want to feel my movies either), but I do like surround sound, so I'll probably set any subwoofer I get to a rather low volume. Also, it occured to me that I don't really NEED an HDMI-capable receiver. The only device I'm likely to get that requires HDMI is the DVD player, and I can run an HDMI cable straight to the projector and an optical cable to the receiver. If I have enough optical inputs. Which leads me to the Onkyo TX-SR504. 3 optical, one coax, 3 component video, and it's about $170. That, plus $80 for a Logitech Harmony 550 (I HATE the 5 different remotes we have now), and I have $250 left to spend on speakers. I can get at least a 2.1 or 3.0 speaker set I'll be happy with for that, right?

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Bluzman

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Posted May 08 2007 - 02:38 PM

Sounds like a good plan. I'm in the process of moving from a Sony HTIB to separates myself and folks have been generous with advice and suggestions. It's nice to be able to pay it back a little. BTW, check out Onkyo's on-line store. Although I have no personal experience, all that I read says they sell refurbished gear at good prices with an excellent support. You might be able to step up a little without blowing the budget.Posted Image

#9 of 15 OFFLINE   Al.Anderson

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Posted May 08 2007 - 11:44 PM

I apologise for giving bad information. I usually check these things first if I'm not sure. On the way home from work I realized I neve actually used receiver HDMI (just component). I'm glad you got better advice quickly.

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   adam613

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Posted May 09 2007 - 07:34 AM

No worries. We all make mistakes, and it didn't make sense to me the first time I heard it either. So my shopping list right now looks like this: Logitech Harmony 550 ($77.88 shipped) Onkyo TS-RX504 ($179.95, no shipping) 1 Pair Polk R150 speakers ($79.99, no shipping) So that leaves me with a 2.0 system and about $162 left to spend. In that price range, it looks like I have the following options, in order of preference: 1) 5.0, with a Polk RM6752 center speaker ($72) and another set of Polk R150s. This is what that AVSForum thread recommends. 2) 3.0, with a Polk CS1 center speaker ($130). This is what Polk's website recommends for the R150s. 2a) 4.0, with another set of R150s. 3) 2.1, with a Dayton 10" subwoofer. This is what that AVSForum thread recommends. It seems to me that, since I don't prefer a lot of bass, I'd do the best to get as many speakers as I can now and hold out for a good deal on a subwoofer, which is option 1. Is there any reason not to do that? Is there a good reason to spend the extra $58 on the CS1 center speaker instead of the RM6752? From what I understand, the center channel is a bigger factor in movies than the surround channels. If that's the case, option 2 is a no-brainer as opposed to 2a, right? Last question for this post: How much do I need to worry about speaker wire? Can I just pick up the cheap 100' coil and expect it to work reasonably well? Thanks for everyone's help so far...

#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted May 09 2007 - 01:28 PM

Speaker Wire: Try to use 12 ga for the long runs and get oxygen-free wire if you can (it will oxidize less quickly). I like the inexpensive Carol or Dayton brand from www.partsexpress.com. ~$38 for a 50 ft spool. You might be able to get Carol brand from a local Home Depot store.

While I love the Logitech Harmony remotes, thats a huge chunk of your budget and it's a luxury because your other components all come with remotes. I'd go with a sub before that remote.

I realize you say you are in an apartment and dont care much about the Bass - but there is a huge difference between low/poor quality bass and none. You will totally be missing out on sound without a sub.

I'd go with:

2 R150 speakers
1 Polk RM6752 center speaker
1 Dayton sub

This will give you a 3.1 system which will give you a wide soundstage up front.

Then scour Craigslist for 2 more R150 speakers for the rear over the next few weeks/months.

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   hodedofome

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Posted May 10 2007 - 01:58 AM

Amazon has the Harmony 880 remote for $99 refurbished right now, fyi.

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   adam613

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Posted May 10 2007 - 08:35 AM

Yeah, I realized the remote is a big chunk of my budget. What I might do is set the system up with 3.0 speakers, see how it sounds, and then figure out what i want to do in terms of a subwoofer, the remote, etc. It looks like I may be able to spend a bit more than I originally thought, too. I'll keep y'all posted on what I decide to do, but your information has been extremely helpful.

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   adam613

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Posted May 18 2007 - 06:34 AM

I'm leaning towards an HTiB, just because it's easy and I have a lot of other things to deal with right now. And I'm leaning towards one with a good receiver, such as the Onkyo 894, because that is the part I least want to replace later. I What do we hear about the Onkyo 894? Through various discounts and a little luck, I can get one for about $550. I listened to it in the store and was satisfied (not impressed, but nothing in my price range has impressed me, and that's fine). The receiver for this model is excellent; it has HDMI with audio processing and more inputs than I'll ever use. The only downside is that it has HDMI 1.1. Should this be a dealbreaker? The PC features of HDMI 1.2 aren't really an issue for me, because my projector has a VGA port, as do the vast majority of HDTVs. So I lose out on the audio features of HDMI 1.3, and when I buy a next-gen DVD player I'll need to make sure I get one that can decode TrueHD and DTS-HD. That won't be hard, right?

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   joseph westcott

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Posted May 20 2007 - 01:20 PM


I would go with the new Onkyo TX SR605 with HDMI 1.3a and HD Audio support.

http://www.hometheat....ead.php?t=5441

Preorder priced for about $400 at JR.com




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