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About to order my first home theater system (budget $800-$1000)


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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   BishopUser

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Posted February 08 2011 - 09:06 AM

I have never bought, set up, or played around with a home theater system so I need some recommendations and tips on what to do.  Based on reading reviews on amazon/newegg and reading other posts on this website I have narrowed my speaker/receiver combos to the following (in order). Speakers: 1. Energy 5.1 Take Classic http://www.amazon.co...97201809&sr=1-3 2. Polk RM705 http://www.amazon.co...97201809&sr=1-7 3. Polk RM6750 http://www.amazon.co...97201886&sr=1-1 Receivers: 1. Pioneer VSX-020-K http://www.amazon.co...97201923&sr=1-1 2. Onkyo TX-SR608 http://www.amazon.co...97201923&sr=1-2 What are your guys opinions on the above picks?  I have a 42 inch Vizio 1080p TV.  My room dimensions are 15ftx30ft, and about 12 feet from TV to the couch.  I have a blu-ray player and HD cable box (both HDMI). Also, what else should I consider buying with my new HT system?  I have never hooked one up, but from what I read you need to buy speaker wire.  Is this 16 gauge speaker wire sufficient http://www.amazon.co...d=1POV2N44A6BAX ? Do you recommend just plugging the bare wire into the back of the receiver?  Should I buy banana plugs?  How should I hide the wire?  Should I just run it along the wall or is it better to run it right under the carpet? How do you guys recommend I put the speakers, on the floor, on stands, on wall mounts?  Right now my top pick are these wall mounts to mount the 2 satellites and 2 rears http://www.amazon.co...d=1POV2N44A6BAX .

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted February 08 2011 - 09:53 AM

Hi there, welcome to the forum.


You've done a good bit of research, and the choices you've listed all seem like good options.  For the speakers, if you have a chance to audition any of them in person at a local retailer, do so.  The best way to choose speakers is to listen to them (which I know is virtually impossible with the Energy speakers).


Your receiver options are two very good models.  I happen to be a long time Onkyo user, so my loyalties lie with them, but lots of folks like the Pioneers, too.  Both of those models are comparable in features and connectivity - the two biggest criteria when shopping for a receiver.


Either model should work fine with any of the speaker sets you listed.  Sorry I can't provide a concrete "you should get XXX" but you should feel confident in whichever you choose.


There are folks here who will say that 12 feet away from a 42" screen is too far away.  For comparison, I have a 96" front projection setup and sit about 11 or 12 feet away.  It's all a matter of what works in your room, though.


16 gauge speaker wire is fine, many of us use 14 gauge.  Not much of a reason to go any thicker, really.  I can vouch for speaker wire (and all cables, really) from www.monoprice.com, but that's a pretty good deal on Amazon, though it doesn't mention if it's CL-2 rated for in-wall use.  If you're going to make in-wall runs best play it safe and get something that meets code for in-wall use.


Banana plugs offer no performance improvement at all - they're simply a convenience thing.  I find it maddening trying to feed bare wire into the sides of the binding posts when all the binding posts are grouped together on the back of the receiver.  It's a lot easier with banana plugs, but then again, how often do you disconnect/reconnect them?


There are tons of ways to hide wire.  Under carpet is usually not recommended because over time you will get little ridges wherever the speaker wire runs.  There is usually a roomy channel between the tack strips and the wall along the edges of the room which is great for hiding speaker wire.  If you have access to a basement or attic, you can always go for the really clean look and go in-wall.  Other folks have hidden speaker wire behind crown moulding, too.


I wall mounted my surround and surround back speakers.  The surround back speakers use this style mount.  I've had them for years, and they hold my bookshelf sized speakers very well (they are VERY robust and can maintain ANY angle).  My surround speakers have a simple keyhole/screw mount that holds them flush to the wall (they're bipole-style).  For the satellite speakers you listed, you should be fine with a smaller mount.


For the fronts, if your TV is wall-mounted, I would suggest doing the same for the speakers.  If your TV is on a stand, wall mounting would probably put the speakers a bit too far "behind" the screen.  Putting them on stands or even just on the TV cabinet would be best.


Good luck.


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#3 of 11 OFFLINE   David Willow

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Posted February 08 2011 - 09:53 AM

Based on the subwoofer specs alone, the Energy wins.  However, you still have to like the sound. If possible, try to listen before you buy.


I would choose the Onkyo over the Pioneer.  I'm biased to Audyssey is the reason.


I would get cables and wires from Monoprice.com.  While there's no 'need' for banana plugs, they can make it easier to hook everything up.  I use them on the back of my receiver since I have to bend over awkwardly to connect the speakers.


"My" favorite entry level package is the Fluance SXHTB.  Get the Onkyo 508 instead of the 608 and add a killer sub like this one.  Total package will be about $1000.


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#4 of 11 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted February 08 2011 - 02:18 PM

Can you get a 5.0 system and a sub from a different company?  If not, still good choices. I would choose the Pioneer over the Onkyo.  I'm biased to MCACC is the reason. I agree with David. I also agree with David.  If that stretches the budget too much, a comparable sub from Elemental Designs is still worth the money.

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   BishopUser

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Posted February 09 2011 - 08:36 AM

Thank you for all the good suggestions. I looked up some viewing distance charts and was surprised by the distances.  Most recommend about 5-7 feet for a 42" TV. I'll try some moving around and see how a closer setup works out. Those speaker recommendations are tempting, but I sometimes get nervous about buying products from companies I haven't heard of (SVSSound, Fluance). I noticed that the 5.0 speaker set was only $300 and the sub was $400.  Is the sub the piece that you should worry about spending the most on?  Is it worth it to go slightly cheaper on a 5.0 and more expensive on your sub?

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted February 09 2011 - 09:14 AM

Some folks prioritize deep bass more than others and would be disappointed if their system didn't have a solid bottom end.


That being said, I'm not sure I would skew my speaker budget quite THAT far in favor of the subwoofer (though SVS does make OUTSTANDING subwoofers).


There are some less expensive subwoofer options like this 10" model from Lava that's relatively new.


If you could give us an idea of what your total budget is, that might help keep recommendations from getting too far out of hand.

Edit: Whoops - I should remember to read the thread title now and then...


The downside is that speakers, generally, represent the single biggest investment in a home theater system.  Purchase wisely, and they can last decades.  Far longer than any other part of your system.  Unfortunately, few of us have the ability to make our first speakers our last speakers - inevitably there will be upgrades.  A speaker system consists, really, of three "parts" - the front soundstage (three speakers), the subwoofer, and the surrounds.


It's debatable which of the first two should demand the bulk of your money.  I'm of the belief that the front three are king, followed pretty closely by the subwoofer, and most would agree that the surrounds bring up the rear - simply because they aren't used as much as the rest.


The nice thing about the package that David suggested, was that it puts you in a position where the subwoofer won't need to be updated any time soon.  In addition, if you have a good subwoofer, you can set up your system in such a way that the subwoofer actually helps the mains do their job better (the sub takes the strain off the mains by handling the low frequencies) whereas a system with good mains won't really be able to do as much to overcome a poor subwoofer.


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#7 of 11 OFFLINE   David Willow

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Posted February 09 2011 - 10:53 AM

My opinion (and just remember it is an opinion

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#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted February 09 2011 - 02:03 PM



Originally Posted by BishopUser 
I sometimes get nervous about buying products from companies I haven't heard of (SVSSound, Fluance).


There are fewer reviews of Fluance but there are more than enough comments about SVS here and other places.  As a site, we are also a little biased towards them since the two founders are/were members here.  In fact they "met" in the DIY section when one was helping the other build a subwoofer.  They have grown and pulled in other members from here as employees and grabbed a great engineer from their old driver build house.  In full disclosure, I have no current SVS products.  Just older ones that their current engineer had a hand in building while he was at TC Sounds.



#9 of 11 OFFLINE   BishopUser

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Posted February 11 2011 - 10:51 AM

How do you guys feel about going with a 5.0 set of something like the Polk RM85? http://www.amazon.co...97467948&sr=8-1 and pairing it with the suggested lava sub http://www.lavasubs...._subwoofer.html Would this be much superior to the energy 5.1 take classic? Edit: I've also heard a lot of good things about the BIC F12 as a decently priced sub for the money http://www.amazon.co...&pf_rd_i=507846 Edit 2: I also read the polk monitor series is on sale on newegg until 2/16 http://www.newegg.co...onitor&x=0&y=0  I could build a 5.0 from scratch with those polks if the performance per price is there. Edit 3: Ok.  How does this setup fair with all the other ones i mentioned. Center speaker: Polk CS2 ($110) http://www.newegg.co...0-212-_-Product Front speakers: Polk monitor 40 ($130) http://www.newegg.co...0-202-_-Product Rear speakers: Polk monitor 30 ($90) http://www.newegg.co...0-201-_-Product Subwoofer BIC F12 ($199) http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B0015A8Y5M Receiver Pioneer 1020k ($350) http://www.amazon.co...d=1POV2N44A6BAX Total: $879 Maybe instead of the monitor 40s for the front speakers I could go with the montitor 60 floor standing speakers ($110 each), which would bring the total to $969

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   BishopUser

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Posted February 13 2011 - 03:46 PM

Well, I ended up buying the setup I listed in my last reply:


Center speaker: Polk CS2 ($110) http://www.newegg.co...0-212-_-Product

Front speakers: Polk monitor 60 ($110/each) http://www.newegg.co...0-206-_-Product

Rear speakers: Polk monitor 30 ($90/pair) http://www.newegg.co...0-201-_-Product

Subwoofer BIC F12 ($199) http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B0015A8Y5M



#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted February 14 2011 - 12:52 AM

I think you'll be very satisfied with the results.  Congratulations on the purchase(s) and have fun with it. Don't hesitate to ask any installation questions - we've all been there before!

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