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Complete newbie getting first home theater. Tell me what to get!


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#1 of 21 ScubaERDoc

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Posted September 25 2012 - 02:11 PM

Hi, please excuse my complete ignorance, I am new to the home theater world and doing my best to learn! After more than a decade of hooking up computer speakers to my TV, I am planning to get my first home theater system to compliment my soon-to-be wall mounted 70 inch Sony TV. I want to get something not outrageously expensive (looking for value, hopefully under $1000 but am flexible with price) but something good enough that my face will melt off slightly. My new place looks pretty modern and would like to deal with minimal wires as possible, especially since I have 0 experience setting up these systems. I was at Costco looking at this Sony system yesterday. Does anyone have any experience with this? http://www.costco.co...t.11759103.html Thanks!

#2 of 21 Dave Upton

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Posted September 25 2012 - 03:44 PM

HTIB systems are very varied in terms of performance - i'd strongly recommend looking for some reviews on known systems to get a baseline. Some of the better contenders in this space are combination systems. Something like the Definitive Technology Pro Cinema 600 and a mid range receiver would be a great option. Or if you can handle slightly larger speakers - piecing something together like the Energy Take series with a receiver and sub could sound excellent. So, to help find you the right solution let me get a couple of questions answered: 1. Are you okay with full size speakers (towers) or do they need to be smaller? 2. How comfortable are you with having wires running to an area behind you for surround? 3. Is it okay to have a moderately sized subwoofer in the room somwhere? 4. How many HDMI inputs do you need, do you need AirPlay or DLNA support?

#3 of 21 ScubaERDoc

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Posted September 25 2012 - 04:01 PM

Thanks for the reply. That makes sense. I think I will hold off on the Sony and look at more well known systems. Will be interested in seeing more recommendations. Here are answers: 1. Yes I am definitely OK with full sized speakers. My living room is a good sized and very open in floorplan. Only have one wall (where my TV will be) and the rest open and glass. If I got smaller speakers, will need to find places to rest them anyways. 2. I would really prefer to keep wires at the minimum. I have never had surround before so am not sure if this is really viable. It seems wireless systems may be too pricey for me... 3. Yes I am ok with a moderate sized subwoofer. 4. I have never used a receiver before (yes I am as novice as you can get) so am not sure about the input selections. Can I just run an HDMI from my TV to the receiver and have that be good enough for my Blu-Ray, streaming player, game sysyem? Thanks for the help!

#4 of 21 schan1269

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Posted September 25 2012 - 04:21 PM

Running all your sources into the AVR, then one cable to the TV is the point of buying the AVR... If you have any legacy equipment(VCR/Wii etc), then you need HDMI up-conversion. Otherwise do you listen to online content? (Spotify, Slacker...internet radio???)

#5 of 21 wdalton11

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Posted September 25 2012 - 04:38 PM

I cant reply to your message schan.. hopefullly you see this

#6 of 21 wdalton11

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Posted September 25 2012 - 04:39 PM

maybe this will alert you, I cant reply due to only 2 per day

#7 of 21 ScubaERDoc

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Posted September 25 2012 - 05:36 PM

Thanks schan, I see. I never quite understood the point of the AVR...but that makes sense. What qualities separate an ok AVR from a great one? Any equipment I incorporate will have HDMI in it. I can see a WD internet streaming device, a Blur-Ray and my TV DVR as well as possibly my PS3, if I ever move it out of my man-cave. The only online content I listen to is Pandora, although I have heard there are ways to play your itunes library from your Mac...will be looking into that. Besides that its Hulu and Netflix

#8 of 21 schan1269

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Posted September 25 2012 - 05:46 PM

Spotify, which I have no idea if a Spotify app in an AVR is free to use, can also run your Itunes. Onkyo have a Spotify app. Not sure what you are asking in regards about OK or great... Essentially, you buy the AVR capable of doing to job you want it to do... Want Zone 2, 3 or 4? Buy one that has the ability. Want the ability to run the AVR from an Ipad? Buy one with an Ipad app. Want to run DPL IIz or Audyssey DSX? By one capable of that. Want to run DPL IIz or Audyssey DSX while still doing 7.1(which means having a 9.1)? Buy one capable of that. Want one with a remote that will run all your other sources, so you don't have to buy an aftermarket remote? Buy one with a good remote. Want one where you can add outboard amps? Buy one capable of that.

#9 of 21 Jason Charlton

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Posted September 26 2012 - 01:32 AM

Originally Posted by ScubaERDoc 

What qualities separate an ok AVR from a great one?


The more "sources" you have, the more you need a "real" AVR rather than a HTiB - HTiB generally have little to no support for additional sources.


Better AVRs will have more connectivity options (upconverting older analog video signals to HDMI, etc.) - you say all your sources are HDMI, so this doesn't really apply to you.


Better AVRs will have some sort of automatic setup/calibration utility that uses a microphone that you connect to the system. This setup utility will do a reasonable job of setting the individual speaker volume levels properly so everything sounds nice and balanced to the listener.  "Audyssey" is the utility used in Onkyo and Denon receivers, MCACC and YPAO are utilities used by other manufacturers (Pioneer and Yamaha).


Better AVRs will have a generally better build quality - binding post terminals on the back for connecting your speakers (look like red and black cylinders) versus spring-clips found on lower-end models; overall heavier weight is a good indicator of a decent power supply.


In terms comparing AVRs "on paper" - don't fret over wattage numbers.  They don't mean a whole lot.  Stick with a reputable manufacturer: Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha, Pioneer.  Manufacturers to avoid include LG, Samsung, RCA, and Sony (Sony surround sound systems are at the "low end" of reputable - they simply aren't great for their price until you get to their top-tier models).


You can get great deals on refurbished AVRs from accessories4less.com - they are authorized dealers so you get a 1 year warranty with anything you buy from them.


In terms of budget, I would say you should spend as much on the sound system (AVR + speakers) as you did on the TV (it's only fair - audio is 50% of the "audio/video" experience, right?).  Posted Image


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


#10 of 21 Dave Upton

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Posted September 26 2012 - 02:11 AM

If you're okay with full sized speakers, and stretching your budget ever so slightly, here's what i would throw together. You could also save some serious money on the surrounds if you went with something smaller, but this would be the best sonic option. I have selected black but other finishes are available for the speakers: Left & Right (x2): http://www.newegg.co...N82E16882290206 $300 Center: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16882290212 $150 Surrounds (x2): http://www.newegg.co...N82E16882290202 $170 Subwoofer: http://www.parts-exp...tnumber=303-436 $220 Receiver: http://www.accessori...Receiver/1.html $290 Total: $1130

#11 of 21 Robert_J

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Posted September 26 2012 - 02:36 AM

I can see a WD internet streaming device, a Blur-Ray and my TV DVR as well as possibly my PS3, if I ever move it out of my man-cave. The only online content I listen to is Pandora, although I have heard there are ways to play your itunes library from your Mac...will be looking into that. Besides that its Hulu and Netflix

There are dozens of streaming options. My Blu-ray does Netflix and Pandora but I decided to go with Roku since they are constantly adding "channels" and providing updates. I've tested RoxBox which allows me to stream music, pictures (slideshow) and video from my ZyXel media server NAS.

3. Yes I am ok with a moderate sized subwoofer.

You need to give us some dimensions to work with because "moderate" means different things to different people. Subs range in size from a shoebox to a refrigerator. Here's a good example of a "larger" sub - http://www.polkaudio...l=1#post1390357 Dave's recommendation of the BIC sub is one of the best value subs on the market and you can sometimes find it on sale at Amazon.

#12 of 21 ScubaERDoc

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Posted September 26 2012 - 06:48 PM

Thanks for all the great advice: Schan: I literally had to look up most of those terms. Very good for my education about home audio equipment! Jason: Thanks for the breakdown. I agree that given that I just sprung for a 70 inch TV, I should back it up with a decent sound system...will be expanding my budget. SinDave: That was awesome. You pretty much hit it out of the park for me. I am gonna get the exact system you outlined with just one question. I am still having some difficulty figuring out how I will wire my surround speakers in an unobtrusive manner. I might get that entire setup except for the surround speakers. Are there any wireless options you recommend for surround?? Or if I get everything but the surrounds, will it be strange and unbalanced? Robert: That BIC subwoofer is around the size I am looking for. Dude that "larger" sub is massive. My downstairs neighbors would be coming for me with torches and pitchforks if I owned something like that Probably will be looking to see if these units are carried by one of the local audio shops near my place in San Francisco. Likely they wont have what I am looking for. I havent purchased stuff from Newegg before. Have people here been satisfied with their service?

#13 of 21 ScubaERDoc

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Posted September 26 2012 - 07:01 PM

Also will be looking at accessories4less as recommended. Specifically that price on the refurbished Onkyo NR609 seem impossible to beat

#14 of 21 schan1269

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Posted September 26 2012 - 07:03 PM

OK... Wireless sucks. And I'll give you the "kinder" version of my phrase when I hear that "wires need to be hidden/non-intrusive"... "So, your room is going to be completely dark cause there won't be any lamps and you won't have a landline phone either...???" Wires are only intrusive if you let them... http://www.amazon.co...ds=wire conduit http://www.amazon.co...le speaker wire http://www.amazon.co...ve speaker wire you can also buy lamp cord that is the same color as your carpet. Green carpet, buy green wire. Red wood flooring, get reddish brown wire... I use lamp cord for speaker wire. If it is good enough for your toaster, vacuum, hair dryer...etc...it is good enough for speakers.

#15 of 21 ScubaERDoc

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Posted September 26 2012 - 07:30 PM

Thanks for the kinder version. Please feel free to be blunt and as harsh as you care to with me. I work in an inner-city ER and not much verbal abuse bothers me at all, especially when I am learning useful stuff from a true enthusiast Those options sound good but my open space is the problem Here is a picture of what my living room looks like as of 2 minutes ago. The problem that I am trying to fix is my laughable entertainment center and older TV in the middle, so imagine it with a new 70 inch mounted on the wall with hidden wiring running through a pre-made vertical conduit to a low slung media stand. No exposed wires at all. I'm ok with exposed wiring for the center, towers and subwoofer. I can conceivably run hidden wires along the right side wall (under that wall of glass windows) but dont have a solution for where to put either surrounds. I have no left sided wall and no furniture to seperate from the open kitchen adjacent. Hardwood floors with no carpets. Installing ceiling surrounds seems rather involved and expensive. For furniture to rest stuff will ruin the fengshui of the place (and potential party space) I may consider not using the surrounds any mostly relaying on my towers/center/sub... [ATTACHMENT=382]Living Room.jpg (1,880k. jpg file)[/ATTACHMENT]

#16 of 21 ScubaERDoc

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Posted September 26 2012 - 07:56 PM

I guess I can use dedicated stands for my surrounds that would look cool like these: http://www.standsand...lacksp-300.aspx But will end up with wiring to break up the space of my left side living room. Or I guess I can wire both from the right low wall Or I can just say forget the surround and focus on getting the max i can from my towers

#17 of 21 Robert_J

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Posted September 26 2012 - 10:42 PM

I havent purchased stuff from Newegg before. Have people here been satisfied with their service?

I've never bought stereo equipment before. They are my primary source for computer parts though. I've never had a problem in the 10 years or so I have been ordering from them. All issues with DOA equipment were handled very well. Service isn't monoprice.com good but it is better than most.

#18 of 21 schan1269

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Posted September 27 2012 - 03:50 AM

That room needs the rears mounted from the ceiling. I created(wish I had a picture at home) cylindrical speaker mounts from... PVC "Mirror" duct tape (Foil tape) Clear vinyl tubing Essentially you wrap the smaller PVC in "mirror" duct tape. slide that into the clear tubing... And voila...an "invisible" speaker mount... http://www.amazon.co...minum duct tape http://www.amazon.co...2" clear tubing You just have to buy whatever size(they have in stock at your local hardware store) PVC will slide inside the clear tubing.

#19 of 21 Dave Upton

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Posted September 27 2012 - 01:42 PM

Running wire from one side (the glass side) shouldn't pose an issue - i imagine you could hide it pretty well with a channel. That said - if you do decide to go with LCR and a Sub - there are some really good options you could upgrade to for incremental cost.

#20 of 21 ScubaERDoc

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Posted October 01 2012 - 02:31 PM

I got the Sharp Aquos 70 inch from Costco for 2 grand. Just set it up and it looks real good. No problems with the screen at all and had it mounted on my wall. http://reviews.costc...ews/reviews.htm I think I am gonna stick with a receiver, two towers and a center and sub. Probably looking at the ones SineDave has recommended. SineDave: you mentioned good options I can upgrade. Better than the ones you have listed already? What do you recommend? Bigger towers or better center? Any specific ones? Will likely run some wires for the rear surrounds in a couple months after I install my ceiling lighting Thanks




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