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Need a versatile home theater setup, no idea where to start.


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12 replies to this topic

#1 of 13 OFFLINE   JT1047

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Posted July 05 2012 - 08:55 PM

Hey my names JT, i've recently decided to upgrade my 1000watt home theater system from best buy, to something much more powerful and suitable for my new house. I've had this little stereo for about 4 years now and for $300 it's cool but blown out. I'm looking to custom build a stereo for my living room, i'm really looking for BIG bass and clear sound. Upgrading is not a concern, it's mostly about music capability but something I can watch movies and have a crisp, clear surround sound to go along. 3D isn't important, or bluray, nothing too special as far as the receiver goes. I'm looking for a setup with the absolute best bass possible, combined with just crisp sound. Music is the primary use, and something clear enough to enjoy movies also. What can you guys recommend for around $1500? If it's really worth spending more than that I'm open to suggestions.

#2 of 13 OFFLINE   Mr645

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Posted July 06 2012 - 12:04 AM

With a $1500 budget, I would look to spend about $400 - $500 on a receiver, Pioneer, Onkyo, Yamaha, Denon are all good brands to look at. Don't worry about "watts" and those numbers are pretty meaningless. Then spend the rest on speakers. Some things you can do to save money. Perhaps you can use your existing rear speakers since they are basically effect speakers, and do you already have a BluRay player you can use? Some popular good quality, lower cost speakers brands would be BIC, Pinnacle, Polk and others. For the best value in a sub look for the direct sellers, like Lava and others often suggested on this site. Also read up on speaker placement and setup. That will have a big impact on the bass output.

#3 of 13 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted July 06 2012 - 01:15 AM

What can you guys recommend for around $1500? If it's really worth spending more than that I'm open to suggestions.

If you spend a little more you can do this. And if you spend a little more than that you can do this. That type of thing can go on and on. What's your real budget?

I'm looking for a setup with the absolute best bass possible, combined

Your budget doesn't cover the sub if this is really what you want. But your budget will allow you to purchase a very good sub and with proper setup and calibration, it can sound like a great sub. If you can go DIY, you can build a great sub that can sound awesome. How large is your room? How much space are you willing to sacrifice for a sub (they can be the size of a shoe box to the size of a refrigerator)? In the $500 range, the Epik Legend is a great sub - http://www.epiksubwo...com/legend.html Starting with Jon's suggestion of using your current speakers for surrounds, let's concentrate on your front speakers. Towers or bookshelf? How often do you watch movies? Could you live with a phantom center channel if that meant you could buy better main speakers?

#4 of 13 OFFLINE   JT1047

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Posted July 06 2012 - 05:30 AM

No I don't have a bluray, the stereo I have now played regular DVDs and that's all I ever used. I have saved the surround speakers tho so I can still use those. The real budget I guess would be around $1800, which I know doesn't get me top of the line obviously but I get completely lost searching for speakers and subs with so many options. So i'm just wondering what the "best possible bass" in my price range is. I watch movies probably once a week, I have music playing every day. I like the towers better than bookshelf, and yeah I can live with a center channel that's what I had before

#5 of 13 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 06 2012 - 05:40 AM

One of my favorite subs of all time... I was at a garage sale and bought a JBL DPS12 that "doesn't work $5". It took all of 10 minutes to take off the plate amp, cut the wires leading to the sub and add them to one of the speaker lines in the sub had. Then I bought a Sony TA-N110 on Ebay for not much money. Later I swapped out the original driver for one of better material(don't remember what I bought, but it has been in there for years). Essentially... $5 for the sub. $90 for the Sony TA-N110(you can pick them up for less now...but they don't show up often). Dayton has the "bread loaf" design for under $200. $65 for the replacement driver. $160 and I have had this sub for years...and I'll probably have it "forever". If you buy a "dedicated amp" like that Sony or Dayton(Jamo has a similar one you can find used)...you'll NEVER need another amp for your sub(by the way..."My plate amp died in my sub, what do I do?" is 99% of all sub related problems). If you know how to build a box with MDF...you can make a subwoofer yourself. Other than that, Dayton also makes "Build it yourself" kits for speakers. They are like the Ikea of the speaker world.

#6 of 13 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted July 06 2012 - 06:37 AM

yeah I can live with a center channel that's what I had before

I said phantom center. The receiver converts the center channel information to a mono signal and sends it to both the left and right speakers. Your brain thinks the sound is coming from between the left and right speakers. With the extra budget, you can maybe upgrade from a Legend to an Empire.

#7 of 13 OFFLINE   JT1047

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Posted July 06 2012 - 07:21 AM

Oh sorry I read that wrong, well yeah the way the speakers are set up, the type of speaker (bookshelf or tower) I mean I don't have a lot of experience with these so I honestly wouldn't know the difference. I just want a more advanced stereo than the one I have now that came out of a box and isn't even as good as what I have in my truck right now. I don't know exactly what kind of setup I want, i'm kind of just hoping for suggestions on a good basic setup for that price. Something people more experienced than me KNOW sounds good and works so i'm not running around the hundreds of sites all day GUESSING which speakers will sound good ya know?

#8 of 13 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 06 2012 - 07:31 AM

What sounds good to me, won't sound good to you, or the next guy...or the next guy. That said, "Something is always better than having nothing for sound." A $50 boom box with a cassette deck with one of those "cassette adapters" with the other end stuck into the headphone jack of the TV will still sound better than pretty much every modern flat screen(Mitsubishi not-withstanding). So, your "budget" starts at $50 and goes up to whatever you are comfortable spending. It used to be "easy" to listen to speakers, pick something...and take it home. Now? Not so much. B&M has darn near died...and the B&M out there for AV is a shadow of its former self from 15 years ago. What to do? Buy a few pairs of speakers for an in-home audition. Amazon, NewEgg, BB-online and others have a "pre-owned/clearance" area of speakers you can buy for a "bit less" than factory fresh. Get a few pairs and listen to them for a few days. Even the most tight return window in AV is 14 days(as far as I know), so keep the box and learn how to file an RMA...before you buy. Even if you have a BB close...you can't listen to anything there. If they have it in stock(about the only thing that has a re-stocking fee is TV, unless even that has changed)...buy something from two or three different manufacturers. Listen to them at home. Take back the ones you didn't pick to exchange them for the ones you do want. Even if you "get stuck" with a 10% re-stocking fee...if you bought a total of $500 in speakers...and you are returning $350...that is $35. What is $35 in the grand scheme of figuring out what you want? Edit: I've been doing AV since the days BEFORE it was fashionable. My father had bought a 27" RCA Colortrak 2000(this is back when the 27" TV itself was "new") and it had an audio output. We had a Panasonic "single piece" rack system sitting next to it. I figured out to connect the two. There we are listening to football with 100wpc behind it...a decade before "rear channel" was even thought of.

#9 of 13 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted July 06 2012 - 08:45 AM

isn't even as good as what I have in my truck right now

Factory or aftermarket? If I know what you have in your truck, I may be able to meet or probably beat the quality. I've been in and out of car audio since the 1980's. My latest install was in my wife's Lexus. It's geared towards sound quality on a budget but it can get uncomfortably loud.

#10 of 13 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 06 2012 - 09:15 AM

What kills me about speakers...and the greatest lesson learned... Watts don't matter...efficiency does. By an efficient speaker and you'll be amazed at what happens.

#11 of 13 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted July 06 2012 - 11:19 AM

By an efficient speaker and you'll be amazed at what happens.

Speaker Builder Magazine had a great interview with Paul Klipsch back in the late '80's. His system was never more than 30w/channel connected to Klipshorns.

#12 of 13 OFFLINE   JT1047

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Posted July 06 2012 - 11:22 AM

Aftermarket, has an amplified Clarion head unit, 4 Infinity Reference 6820cs door speakers, with a 1200 watt Precision Power amplifier, plus 2 Kicker CVS154 15" subs with a 2000 watt Precision Power amplifier. Not actually all done by me, I put the head unit and subs in but it's pretty exciting to listen to and that's what i'm looking to get out of my home theater too

#13 of 13 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted July 06 2012 - 01:52 PM

You will never get the SPL of a car system unless you go with pro audio speakers and a lot of them. But you can get the full sound that you like in your car. I'm not the best guy to recommend speakers since I built my own but I can help you with the subs. Epik or Elemental Designs will be your best value for a sub unless you build your own. It's not difficult. I'm using two subs similar to this - http://www.danmarx.org/blog/?p=378 except I use a Behringer EP-2500 (call the EP-4000 now) to power them. There's a link in the blog to the plans to build one. It's not cheap. On the other hand, for 1/2 the price you can get within 80% of that sub in both quality and output. Actually, you can match the quality. Since we are on the DIY subject, these are my speakers - http://stories.parts...16/redirect.htm They are 4 ohm so it takes a decent receiver to power them. Quality wise, they are great. The best I've heard? Not even close. My wife and I had a chance to audition a pair of $55,000 speakers powered by a pair of $44,000 (each) amps. She said "They sound better than your speakers but not THAT much better."