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2.1 vs 5.1: Small room and small budget - which is best?


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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Michael:M

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Posted March 23 2010 - 06:19 AM

As noted in my other thread, I'm in the process of buying my first home. I'd like to have my first true home theater system in it.

I'm going to have stay on the low end - very likely HTiB, despite knowing how many here feel about it. After doing some searching and reading, I'm considering an Onkyo (sp?) 5.1 system. However, given that the room is small and I have limited space and budget, I was considering one of the various 2.1 systems available.

I'm going to take a wild guess (I don't have the room specs at my fingertips) and say the room is roughly 12 x 18. It might be a bit smaller. Don't know if that helps, but thought it might. I'm also a bit concerned about where I'll put speakers #3 and 4 in a 5.1 system, considering the size of the room and placement of furniture. I'd likely have to purchase some speaker stands.

Any thoughts, recommendations or things for me to consider would be really helpful.

"Life began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between." - Diane Ackerman

#2 of 3 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted March 23 2010 - 07:15 AM

Congratulations on the house!

A great resource for learning about speaker placement is Dolby's site.

Yes, HTiB systems make some compromises in order to meet the price point, but your research has served you well - of all the HTiB systems out there, the ones from Onkyo are probably the "best" simply because they generally include a "real" receiver at their heart.  The speakers are almost always the weak link, but if you've only experienced TV speakers, they will still be a vast improvement.

Do you have a budget in mind?  Have you chosen a display yet?  Is Blu-Ray a consideration?

If Blu-Ray is in the cards, then it's important that you get a system (receiver) that will let you realize the audio and video benefits that come with Blu-Ray.  That means getting a receiver that is "HDMI 1.3 Repeater" (as opposed to "HDMI Pass-Through").  A repeater is capable of processing the HD audio formats from Blu-Ray, the pass-through cannot.

The lowest-end Onkyo system that is HDMI Repeater is the 6200 - currently about $600 on Amazon.  It's a 7.1 system, but could be used as a 5.1 system without any problems.

Onkyo will soon be releasing a new Home Theater system, the 3300 which is 5.1 and HDMI 1.4.  Amazon has it available for preorder for under $400.  Not sure when it will be available, but it may be worth waiting for.

Aside from the display and Blu-Ray player, you'll also need to remember to get cables.  Don't let any local retailer talk you into getting outrageously expensive HDMI cables from Monster or any such manufacturer.  It's a digital cable - no such thing as "faster"... monoprice.com is a great resource for high-quality cables at very affordable prices.  The only consideration in your case might be if you hold out for the 3300 you would want to make sure any HDMI cables you get are 1.4 certified.  On Monoprice.com it won't make that much of a price difference.

Good luck!

Are you new to the Home Theater Forum? Stop by the New Member Introductions area and introduce yourself! See you there!


#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Michael:M

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Posted March 23 2010 - 07:36 AM

Jason, I intend on going Blu-Ray, so I very much appreciate the heads-up on pass-through vs repeater. I had no idea about that, so will keep an eye out for it.

I saw the 3300 system on Onkyo's site - it might be worth waiting for, as it's in the price range I'm considering and has the features I want.

"Life began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between." - Diane Ackerman




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