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Shopping for Surround Sound System


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#1 of 39 OFFLINE   sensualspirit

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Posted February 28 2010 - 09:48 AM

Hi all,

I've been looking for a new system for a few months now as my old one from '94 (she's lasted me this long LOL) is finally on her way over to the other side. :) Also been looking for someone to install it for me, but that's another story. <sigh>

My budget is on the low side & I don't need anything that BOOMS out the sound, but I do like the sound to be clean so I can actually hear the TV, DVD or VHS playing. I of course want to hear things behind me as well, although I thought that was a given, but after talking to some people, I wonder.

My budget is around $300.

What are the brands that would be suitable for me & if you have model #s that would be great too.

I keep seeing 5.1 1,000 watts, so that's what I was shooting for even though I don't really know what it means.

Costco has dropped their price on this LG model, but I've never purchased anything LG before, so I'm not sure how good it is. Can you tell me pls.

HT904SC

Thank you for any help & hope you all are having a great day.


Michelle

Always looking for new like minded compatible friends.

#2 of 39 OFFLINE   Ed Moxley

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Posted February 28 2010 - 03:51 PM

This is about the best you're going to get for that price:
http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S3200-5-1-Channel-Entertainment-Receiver/dp/B001VEI2NG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1267418552&sr=1-1
But, I doubt you'll be happy with it in the long run. It's HDMI "pass-thru", so you won't get audio over HDMI. You'll need separate digital cables for audio (optical/digital coax). If you plan on having a blu ray player, you won't be able to get the HD audio soundtracks from blu ray movies. That's not possible with optical or digital coax cables.

If you're planning on having blu ray, and want to hear the HD audio soundtracks from blu ray movies, and if you want audio over HDMI, so you don't have so many cables connected, the minimum system to get is this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S6200-7-1-Channel-Entertainment-Receiver/dp/B002C73WS6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1267418529&sr=1-1
Good luck with whatever you decide on.

Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#3 of 39 OFFLINE   sensualspirit

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Posted February 28 2010 - 05:24 PM

Hmm, ok, I don't have blue ray yet, but I didn't realize you have to have a certain surround sound system for that.

So the LG one is out?

Seems you only like the Onkyo brand. Why is that?

I live in Canada, so I'd have to either find it here or have it shipped across the border.

Thanks


MIchelle

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#4 of 39 OFFLINE   Ed Moxley

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Posted February 28 2010 - 11:47 PM

You can use blu ray with lesser models, but won't get the HD audio from the blu ray movies. The HD audio isn't possible over optical or digital coax connections, and all you'll have with lesser models. For HD audio over HDMI, it must be a receiver with "HDMI v1.3a repeater", which the lesser models isn't.

I, personally, prefer Onkyo because they are more bang for the buck. Other models, with the same features, will cost more. Onkyo also gives you a real receiver with their HTIBs (home theater in a box), so there's usually more inputs and better upgrade ability.

The LG will work, but see statement above about optical and digital coax connections. You'll get basic surround, just not the HD audio, which to me, is half of the reason for having blu ray to start with.


Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#5 of 39 OFFLINE   sensualspirit

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Posted March 01 2010 - 07:20 AM

Yes, but I don't have an HD TV yet or the blue ray. Both I want to purchase, just not sure when b/c of money.

If I get the blue ray, but still have my non HD TV & an HD surround sound, can I still hear the HD audio from the blue ray movies?

Thanks


Michelle

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#6 of 39 OFFLINE   Ed Moxley

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Posted March 01 2010 - 10:44 AM

Maybe.............
Someone else may know for sure. I say maybe because it will work over HDMI, but without an HD tv, you won't have an HDMI cable going from receiver to tv, and receivers don't down convert from HDMI to whatever. I really don't see why it wouldn't work like that, since audio is going straight to the receiver. Maybe someone has tried this and will chime in. /img/vbsmilies/htf/smile.gif

Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#7 of 39 OFFLINE   sensualspirit

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Posted March 01 2010 - 11:02 AM

Ok guys (& gals) pls. chime in : )


Michelle

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#8 of 39 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted March 01 2010 - 11:09 AM


Quote:
If I get the blue ray, but still have my non HD TV & an HD surround sound, can I still hear the HD audio from the blue ray movies?

 

Yes, you could still get the HD audio, with the proper equipment.

Quote:
I keep seeing 5.1 1,000 watts, so that's what I was shooting for even though I don't really know what it means.
 
5.1 means 5 channels + a sub woofer. The sub woofer only produces the very low frequencies so they only give it a "point" 1 (or 10%) not a full number, or so I've been told. The 1000 watts is the amount of power the system is advertised as producing. These numbers are very generously over-stated to make them seem better than they really are. Most of these home-theaters-in-a-box don't come close to their rated power.

Quote:
I of course want to hear things behind me as well, although I thought that was a given, but after talking to some people, I wonder.
 

This is one of the more complexing issues with home theaters. The rear surround speakers were never meant to be as active as the front speakers are. They are simply used to give the feeling of being surrounded by ambient sound and not for continuous use. The same can be said for the sub woofer. It should only be heard when needed, not all the time.

Here's my take on this. Even though the new HD formats found on BluRay movies are an advancement over the older Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound, with the components available within your budget I really don't think you would hear much of that improvement. In a nice well calibrated yet in-expensive system, DD and DTS can still sound very, very good. With $300 to spend on a sound system I would buy the BluRay player for it's picture quality and not so much the HD audio. If you could advance the budget to include a good HD audio system then that would be great. Otherwise, I'd spend the money in the future on the display and BluRay player. As much as I love audio, HD video is a bigger improvement than HD audio in my opinion. Especially in your budget. 

As for which brands to consider, as Ed said, Onkyo receiver/speaker packages give a great deal for the least amount of money, and they have real receivers, which is important. Denon also has some nice speaker/ receiver systems but they are not as popular. If the all-in-one systems still appeal to you then I would suggest LG and Panasonic. LG (Life's Good!) is a growing name in electronics, and even appliances, and their BluRay players are very well received. I think they have a connection to Zenith, but I could be wrong. But HTIB's have major obstacles to over-come. If some part mal-functions the whole thing must be replaced. They also have fewer connections available for future add-on's like game consoles and cable/satellite boxes. And their performance is generally weaker. But there are certain instances when they are a viable option.

Quote:
HT904SC
 

 What is this? A model number? I did a search and came up empty  .



"Everyday room": Panasonic 58" Plasma, Dish HD DVR, Pioneer Elite vsx-23, BDP-23 BR, dv58avi universal dvd player, Paradigm Studio 20 V1, CC-450, Dayton HSU-10 subwoofer.

"Movie/Music room": Toshiba 65" DLP, Dish HD receiver, Marantz 7005, CC-4003, BD-7006, Polk LSI25's-LSi7's-LSiC, 2 original Dayton 10" "Mighty-Mites" subwoofers. (subject to change without notice).
 
Also have  MB Quart Vera VS05 +.....too much to list. Help me.
 
 

 


#9 of 39 OFFLINE   sensualspirit

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Posted March 01 2010 - 01:06 PM

Ok, there's some confusion here :) I'm not buying a Blue Ray, I'm only buying a surround sound system. Ed started talking about the Blue Ray & how if I buy a SS system that doesn't work with a Blue Ray, what's the point. Down the road when I can afford it & after getting a computer hooked up to FINALLY record all the shows off the TV, I will invest in a Blue Ray, so it was something I needed to know & didn't. Thanks Ed.

Here's the URL to the one that I found that's very reasonably priced. Now I'm not sure, Ed did you look at this to see if it works with a Blue Ray?

http://www.costco.ca/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=10332320&lang=en-CA

Thanks :)


Michelle

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#10 of 39 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted March 01 2010 - 03:04 PM


Quote:
Ok, there's some confusion here :) I'm not buying a Blue Ray, I'm only buying a surround sound system.
No confusion here /img/vbsmilies/htf/smile.gif"> . I realize you are only buying a surround sound system. But you were asking questions about BluRay player compatability.

Quote:
Now I'm not sure, Ed did you look at this to see if it works with a Blue Ray?
 
While a BluRay player would work with the LG system it would only be standard definition audio. The BluRay player would down-convert any higher definition audio to what is compatible with the LG via an optical cable, which doesn't support HD audio. Most likely Dolby Digital and/or DTS 5.1 would be the result which can still sound very good. 

Sony makes an HD compatible system in your price range, the  .




"Everyday room": Panasonic 58" Plasma, Dish HD DVR, Pioneer Elite vsx-23, BDP-23 BR, dv58avi universal dvd player, Paradigm Studio 20 V1, CC-450, Dayton HSU-10 subwoofer.

"Movie/Music room": Toshiba 65" DLP, Dish HD receiver, Marantz 7005, CC-4003, BD-7006, Polk LSI25's-LSi7's-LSiC, 2 original Dayton 10" "Mighty-Mites" subwoofers. (subject to change without notice).
 
Also have  MB Quart Vera VS05 +.....too much to list. Help me.
 
 

 


#11 of 39 OFFLINE   Ed Moxley

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Posted March 01 2010 - 03:34 PM

That system is nowhere to be found on LG's site. The link you provided to the LG system doesn't tell you enough about it. According to that page, there's one HDMI input, but don't know if it handles audio over HDMI. There are no optical or digital coax inputs. So, I would say no.

I suggested the Onkyos, so when you got everything else, you wouldn't have to worry if it would work. Get something that works, now, and be ready. Or, buy something now that won't work later, and have to buy all over again. Equates to losing money. I suggest Onkyo because of bang for the buck. You can get Denon or Yamaha also. These are about the only decent HTIBs, that I know of. If you're not going to have blu ray for several years, buy the LG and enjoy regular surround from the dvd player part of it. Since it doesn't really tell you anything about the HDMI input, I wouldn't count on connecting the tv, blu ray player, Xbox, or anything else. The dvds should sound ok...........
Good luck!

Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#12 of 39 OFFLINE   sensualspirit

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Posted March 01 2010 - 04:22 PM

Hi guys,

No, not really more confused, I do appreciate the help :)

Actually I didn't really plan on using their DVD player as I have 2 already so why do I need a 3rd. I was just going to sell it, mind you it has an IPod doc, but I don't even have an IPod to dock :)

Is there a reason why they add in those DVD players to the SS sets? I've been confused about that for a while.

So Gene, you think that Sony is of less quality than the LG? If I could find a Sony I'd probably want to go in that direction only b/c the TV is Sony & my DVR is also Sony (love her to death), BUT, if it's that bad, I can put up with the extra remote & go for the Onkyos that Ed mentioned that allows for Blue Ray, but that's really over my budget. :(

Does the 3200 allow for that Gene?

Once I know what model #s I need, then it's just pounding the pavement to find the best price.

Why in the world does LG not have that on their site, unless they manufactured it just for Costco which sounds plausable.

Thanks Gentlemen :)


Michelle

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#13 of 39 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted March 01 2010 - 10:56 PM


Quote:
Is there a reason why they add in those DVD players to the SS sets? I've been confused about that for a while.
 
It's just a convenience thing for people who just want to buy one thing that does it all and be done with it. But they have many problems that crop up later. A seperate receiver/speaker package is much better in the long run.

Quote:
So Gene, you think that Sony is of less quality than the LG?
 

I've never heard it but I would think it probably is. Anytime something is added (BluRay compatability) then something else has to be removed (probably lower sound quality by way of inferior speakers/sub woofer). You can only do so much with $269. But if you can find one to listen to it just might fill your needs. But atleast listen to the 3200 as well, if you can.

Quote:
Does the 3200 allow for that Gene?
 


The 3200 doesn't process the new formats. You would need the 6200 for that which is quite a bit more money. But the performance would be qiute a bit better as well since the 6200 uses much better speakers and sub woofer than anything else that has been discussed.

Quote:
Why in the world does LG not have that on their site, unless they manufactured it just for Costco which sounds plausable.

Thats exactly the reason. There is an HT-904SA on their site which looks identicle but prevents price matching by other retailers who can't really match Costco prices. If LG (and others) didn't do this then those other retailers who price match might not be able to carry LG products.

Bottom line is, you get what you pay for. Good luck with your decision.
"Everyday room": Panasonic 58" Plasma, Dish HD DVR, Pioneer Elite vsx-23, BDP-23 BR, dv58avi universal dvd player, Paradigm Studio 20 V1, CC-450, Dayton HSU-10 subwoofer.

"Movie/Music room": Toshiba 65" DLP, Dish HD receiver, Marantz 7005, CC-4003, BD-7006, Polk LSI25's-LSi7's-LSiC, 2 original Dayton 10" "Mighty-Mites" subwoofers. (subject to change without notice).
 
Also have  MB Quart Vera VS05 +.....too much to list. Help me.
 
 

 


#14 of 39 OFFLINE   CB750

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Posted March 02 2010 - 05:29 AM

Welcome Michelle

Most folks migrate to 5.1 or 7.1 Surround because they purchased a HD TV and want to take advantage of both the picture and sound quality found in the HD format.   In your posts you don't indicate if you receive HD programs in Canada either over the air or by cable or satellite.

When purchasing any new equipment these days you are going to have to investitge if you new equipment will work with the rest of your existing system.  But just as important you will want to know if you new equipment is compatable with other components that are being sold today so that when you are ready for other upgrades like a HD TV or Blue Ray you will get the maximum performance from you system.   This is what some the other responders were trying to point out to you. 

I have been involved with Audio equipment for over 50 years but when I decided to put together my first HD TV and Surround System I had to do the same research I am suggesting that you do.  Failure to do so can result in you buying the wrong equipment or not getting the most bang for your buck.   I would suggest that you follow Ed's advise on his HTib suggestion http://www.amazon.co...67418529&sr=1-1  This unit features a real receiver that will be connection compatable with most of the other components that are currently on the market.   When it's time to replace your TV or DVD player you are going to want a receiver that won't be obsolute.  

Perhaps the largest trap that those who are new to Home Theater fall inton is to buy a inexpensive HTib and find out that do to it's low price that many compromises are made in connections found on the reciever.   The saying that you get what you pay for is usually true and all HTib are not created equal. 




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Posted March 02 2010 - 06:48 AM

 The DVD player in that LG is built in so you have to use it.

#16 of 39 OFFLINE   sensualspirit

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Posted March 02 2010 - 09:31 AM

So to confirm, buying a system where the Blue Ray & the receiver are built in together is NO good? I'm calling a place now & she said most of their systems are like that.

She did have this one, but it's still a lot even though she lowered the price down to $675 - HDS7200 - 7.1 & that doesn't even come with the Blue Ray I don't think & then do I need special connections/wires other than what I have now?

Thanks


Michelle



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#17 of 39 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted March 02 2010 - 12:51 PM


Quote:
 So to confirm, buying a system where the Blue Ray & the receiver are built in together is NO good?

Correct.  Such systems give you NO room to expand or to upgrade one of the components.  You either stick with what you start with or scrap the whole thing and start over.  The other problem is that if one component (either the receiver or the Blu-Ray player) breaks, you're in trouble.  While the system is under warranty the whole thing has to go in for service, leaving you with nothing in the meantime.  And once its out of warranty, you're also out of luck if something breaks.  You almost certainly won't be able to connect the Blu-Ray player to an AV receiver or hook other components up to the receiver section of the all-in-one HTiB.  They just don't have the connections to support that sort of thing.

For that same $675 you can certainly pick up a quite decent HTiB (speaker and receiver bundle) from Onkyo and a stand-alone Blu-Ray player to go with it.  There are plenty of decent entry-level BD players out there for around $100.  Catch the right sale and you can get more feature-rich models for not a whole lot more.  (I paid $130 for an Insignia model with wireless networking and Netflix video-streaming right before Thanksgiving.  The model normally sells for $180.)  

Regards,

Joe


#18 of 39 OFFLINE   sensualspirit

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Posted March 02 2010 - 07:09 PM

Hi Joseph,

That is a Onkyo actually. I was hoping someone could tell me if that's a really good deal b/c it's even one model up from the one Ed recommended. Supposedly Onkyo is coming out with new models in the next 2 wks.

Thanks for the info.

Thanks


Michelle

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#19 of 39 OFFLINE   Ed Moxley

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Posted March 02 2010 - 11:03 PM

Onkyo system is HT-S7200, not HDS7200. Maybe that's why Joseph didn't realize you were talking about an Onkyo? A different company may have similar numbers.
Quote:
then do I need special connections/wires other than what I have now?
Since your tv isn't HD, you'll need an HDMI cable from blu ray to receiver, for audio, then from receiver to tv with whatever connection your tv has. If tv has component inputs (color coded red, blue, and green), that would be the best connection. Then s-video, and then composite (yellow RCA type cable). Only thing left then is the RF cable from cable company or antenna.

Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#20 of 39 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted March 02 2010 - 11:10 PM

The biggest differences between the 6200 and the 7200 are the 7200 has taller front speakers which might sound a little better and the receiver will take an analog signal, like from a vcr or cable box, and convert it to digital for output thru the hdmi cable. Amazon and others sell the 7200 for $799 so $625 does seem like a good price for that system but that is a lot of money for just an O.K.system.

You will need at least a couple of hdmi cables and some speaker wire depending on what else you hook up to it. Don't spend a lot for either one. Stores make a big profit on cables and wires to un-suspecting customers.

"Everyday room": Panasonic 58" Plasma, Dish HD DVR, Pioneer Elite vsx-23, BDP-23 BR, dv58avi universal dvd player, Paradigm Studio 20 V1, CC-450, Dayton HSU-10 subwoofer.

"Movie/Music room": Toshiba 65" DLP, Dish HD receiver, Marantz 7005, CC-4003, BD-7006, Polk LSI25's-LSi7's-LSiC, 2 original Dayton 10" "Mighty-Mites" subwoofers. (subject to change without notice).
 
Also have  MB Quart Vera VS05 +.....too much to list. Help me.