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HT-in-a-box VS. decent system for under $700?


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#1 of 39 OFFLINE   Kevin Stefanich

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Posted July 13 2001 - 04:00 AM

Question for all...

I have a friend who wishes to take his first dive into HT, and is considering a Sony HT-in-a-box, the HT-5000D. This has the Sony DE445 (I think, but it is definitely not better than the de575), a satellite set of speakers (4+center) with a small Sony sub (not the sawm40). It also comes with a 5 disc dvd changer, and is currently selling at $700.

I would love to recommend something else for him, and actually gave him the specs on the JBL-N (4+1) with Onkyo 595, but I do not know if I can put anything together for a maximum of $700. His budget is set (I did convince him to go with a 32" wega), so there is no moving him above $700.

He needs a receiver, the dvd player (he does not have a cd changer so the dvd needs to be a changer), and all the speakers, including sub.

Any ideas?



#2 of 39 OFFLINE   Chris Juzenas

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Posted July 13 2001 - 06:18 AM

I would recommend the Kenwood HTB-503. Look for the one with the active subwoofer. I have a couple of friends that wanted to get into HT for a little money and I think that is one of the easiest ways to go.

I cannot say it compares with my setup of Paradigm Monitor's all around but it is very satisfying. Actually impressive for the sound compared to the cost.

Hands down it will BLOW AWAY the Sony. The speakers the Sony has are a joke IMHO. Full of distortion even at medium levels.

Just looked at Kenwoods site and they seem to be on the HTB-504. Different configuration then the 503 but has DTS, DD, DPL-II and other features. Maybe find a local store that carries it and give it a listen. I know HH Gregg around here stocks the kenwood line.

Also, no DVD with it but the HTB-503 was only around $500 so that leaves $200 for a DVD player of choice. Good luck!
http://www.kenwoodus....?productId=770



#3 of 39 OFFLINE   Jerome Grate

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Posted July 13 2001 - 06:56 AM

I concur with the Kenwood reccomendation. The sound is quite impressive and the sub really does rock. One of the few systems I did hear a difference between DTS and DD.

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#4 of 39 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted July 13 2001 - 07:07 AM

i'm not up on current prices for gear (especially speakers), but i would try to steer him clear of any HTB setups.

i just don't feel they perform as well (especially the speakers) or provide as much flexibility. i think the only attraction is the fact that he'll be able to get everything in one shot.

i know the onkyo is a great receiver and can be had for about 300. other brands i would consider would be denon & yamaha. that only leaves about 400 for the speakers.

my personal recommendation is that he only buy the front three (or two), then work on getting the rest as his budget allows.

imo, it's worth the wait to get some decent quality gear. i think he'll be much happier in the long run.

take him around...show him some good component setups. if he's any sort of true ht-enthusiast, i think he'll see the difference in value & performance in going with separates.

just my .02

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[Edited last by Ted Lee on July 13, 2001 at 02:08 PM]
 

#5 of 39 OFFLINE   Greg S

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Posted July 13 2001 - 07:49 AM

You may want him to consider something that my sister/brother in law did:

They bought a solid low end receiver, sony 845 (got it for about $350 I think and then bought an inexpensive 5.1 Sony speaker package for $400. This came with 5 small sattelites and a sub (model below the famous 140). I have to admit while I am not a fan of HTBs or prepackaged speaker sets like this there setup sounds surprisingly very good!! The satts are small and unobtrusive (sister likes that part) but they and the sub fill their room well and it can get pretty loud in there.

So I think the key is to go with a separate receiver and then speaker package then dvd. Only other option is to pick up some used stuff which would give him much more bang for the buck.

Good Luck as this is a tough one.

Greg


#6 of 39 OFFLINE   JoelH

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Posted July 13 2001 - 07:58 AM

My first foray into HT audio was with the HTB-503. While it certainly doesn't have the impact or appeal of higher end gear, it does very well for standard use. Someone who is just getting into HT can appreciate its flexibility and sound and not risk purchasing something that they will ultimately regret. After a while using this system, your friend can begin to upgrade the speakers and the wiring and will find that the receiver lasts quite a while.

By the way -- I priced matched an Internet price (I can't remember where) for just over $400 at Sears. This was about a year ago.

-Joel

[Edited last by JoelH on July 13, 2001 at 02:59 PM]

#7 of 39 OFFLINE   Kevin Stefanich

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Posted July 13 2001 - 08:04 AM

Thanks for the input...

I feel the agony that anyone who has taken that step beyond entry level audio feels when the here "all-in-one" package...

I haven't gotten much beyond entry level, but have the sony STR-DB940, with 2 pairs of JBL S-38s and the s-center, and the sony sawm40 sub. I am very happy with the set-up (I also didn't pay retail so that adds to the enjoyment).

But my concern is that I need to get:
5 disc changer dvd
5.1 speakers
Receiver

All for under $700. I am pretty sure that this limits the quality to a point most of us would find unacceptable, but $700 is a hard ceiling.

I am sure that in three or four years he will need to upgrade to something better, and I will get him then.

Thanks!
Kevin S.



#8 of 39 OFFLINE   Jerome Grate

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Posted July 13 2001 - 08:30 AM

I was able to avoid box systems, but I have to admit it cost a bit more than 700.00. But if he has a receiver and DVD player, then it's just a question of what speakers to get. www.audioadvisor.com and www.hometheaterdirect.com have great deal on really top quality speakers and subs. I actually just looked at HTD and they have the Level 2 with 5 speakers and 125w 10inch Powered sub for 479.00

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[Edited last by Jerome Grate on July 13, 2001 at 03:38 PM]
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#9 of 39 OFFLINE   Jerome Grate

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Posted July 13 2001 - 08:40 AM

To follow up on my post, for another 300.00 you can probably get a good Onkyo or Yammie or Kenwood that will probably sound better than any box system.

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#10 of 39 OFFLINE   Greg S

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Posted July 13 2001 - 08:46 AM

Sadly he may SEVERELY hurt his chances by staying at $700, if he sucked it up and went to $1000 than it would certainly make a big difference.

Based on that budget I think used equipment is the only way to go.

I know a friend of mine who was selling a factory refurb Onkyo 484 does DD/DTS for $169 earlier this week. It even carried a 1 year factory warranty. So that could leave you with a little more than $500 for the rest.

Greg


#11 of 39 OFFLINE   Greg S

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Posted July 13 2001 - 09:00 AM

Just from the HTF FS/FT Forum

DVD - http://www.hometheat....ML/002101.html

Receiver - http://www.hometheat....ML/002112.html

Here is what I think is an excellent used setup for the dollars. Has receiver, DVD player, and 5.1 speaker setup. Excellent deal if youask me and would be way better than any HTF in a box (IMHO).

http://www.hometheat....ML/002052.html

Just a few thoughts

Greg


#12 of 39 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted July 13 2001 - 09:09 AM

Here's my ultra-frugal suggestion:

Onkyo 494 - $300
or Yamaha Receiver (HTR-5440) - $300

KLH 6-Piece Home Theater Speaker Package with 50-Watt Powered Subwoofer (HTA-409) - $160

Toshiba 5-Disc DVD Player (SD2705) - $230

Total: $690 + tax

These are all retail, not sale prices. You might be able to haggle the price down.

The real problem are the speakers. Speakers are just expensive, especially when you need three pairs and a powered subwoofer. The KLH are a good value for the price.


(Further complicating things...)
You said you talked your friend into a Sony 32" Wega ($1000). Perhaps it would be better getting, say a Toshiba 32" TV ($500). You would then have $1200 for the rcvr/dvd/spkrs, or about $650 for the speakers.

Consider: most people don't mind having multiple TVs (can move cheaper TV to bedroom, when a better TV is later bought). But people don't normally want multiple speaker sets. In other words, the TV may be upgraded much sooner than the speakers. So, get good speakers now. Upgrade TV in the future.

Just my $0.02


#13 of 39 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted July 13 2001 - 09:17 AM

no offense to davef Posted Image but i would not recommend the klh speakers. i just can't consider them anywhere near ht quality. maybe for a pc or something.

but, it's all a matter of preference...

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[Edited last by Ted Lee on July 13, 2001 at 04:18 PM]
 

#14 of 39 OFFLINE   Kevin Peak

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Posted July 13 2001 - 09:36 AM

I agree with Dave H when he suggests maybe going with a smaller TV. Starting a home theater on a budget is all about balancing and compensating. I definately don't think that your friend would be happy with the KLH. He apparently is showing some commitment to this HT by considering a 32' Wega, so i am guessing on his dissatisification with the KLH.

Maybe a smaller TV with more money going into the speaker setup would be more along his likes.
Thanks,
kevp

#15 of 39 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted July 13 2001 - 10:52 AM

quote:
but i would not recommend the klh speakers. i just can't consider them anywhere near ht quality[/quote]But what else can you get for $150 that would be suitable? (assuming $300 rcvr + $250 dvd changer) I doubt anything will beat the KLH in that price range.

For the record, I have the KLH speakers (impoverished grad student mumble grumble), and while I have no illusions about their quality, no one who's been over for a movie has said they were disappointed by the sound quality. Even my apt-mate, a hobbyist-musician, finds them good for movies. For the average consumer, who wants to spend <$300 on speakers, I don't think you can beat them.

(Of, and no offense Ted. But donations are gladly accepted, for the DaveF Grad Student HT Fund Posted Image )

[Edited last by DaveF on July 13, 2001 at 06:07 PM]

#16 of 39 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted July 13 2001 - 11:05 AM

those are two excellent points dave.

1. for that price-point, it is hard to beat.
2. my golden rule of audio is that if it sounds good to the person, then that is all that matters. as long as you enjoy them, screw everyone else!

i've just "personally" never heard klh speakers that i liked.

thanks for not flamin' Posted Image

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#17 of 39 OFFLINE   Manuel Delaflor

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Posted July 13 2001 - 11:07 AM

Take a look to this link:

http://www.hometheat...chives.cgi?38:0


Then think about this, the most important component of a setup are the speakers...

And you can choose later whatever you like!

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Here was my gear info... Now is on my profile, in case you want to know

#18 of 39 OFFLINE   Greg Thomas

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Posted July 13 2001 - 11:45 AM

I'd recommend the Kenwood HTB 504 system. It comes with the Kenwood 507 receiver which features Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital and DTS. I'm pointing a friend in the same direction who has similar pricing constraints.

Price is $499 at Crutchfield
$379 at APlusDigital.com
$384 at Etronics.com

You can probably price match at Sears which will leave you $300 for a carousel DVD player. I think Pioneer and Panasonic both sell one in the $250 range.

VR-507 A/V receiver:
Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II decoding
digital inputs: 2 optical, 2 coaxial
4 audio inputs (including phono), and 5 A/V inputs (including 5 S-video, 1 front-panel, and one 5.1-channel)
100 watts x 5 into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.7% THD
Circle Surround mode
multibrand A/V remote control
40 AM/FM presets
17-3/8"W x 5-11/16"H x 16-1/2"D

Left and right main speakers:
video-shielded
two 4" woofers
1" dome tweeter
frequency response 80-20,000 Hz
7-1/2"W x 15-1/4"H x 8-7/16"D

Center channel speaker:
video-shielded
two 4" woofers
1" dome tweeter
frequency response 80-20,000 Hz
12-3/4"W x 5-7/8"H x 6"D

Surround Speakers:
built-in wall brackets
4" full-range driver
frequency response 100-20,000 Hz
7-7/8"W x 5-7/8"H x 5-9/16"D

SW-35HT Powered subwoofer:
8" woofer
100-watt amplifier
preamp-level mono RCA input
frequency response 40-200 Hz
continuously variable low-pass crossover
11-13/16"W x 13-1/8"H x 19"D



#19 of 39 OFFLINE   Peter McM

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Posted July 13 2001 - 02:32 PM

I, too, am contemplating a Kenwood HTB system. I just launched the comparison tool for the 503 and 504. I noticed the 504 has a magnetically shielded center speaker, while Greg lists a video shielded center for the 503.

Is there a real difference? Is one better than the other?

[Edited last by Peter McM on July 13, 2001 at 09:32 PM]
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#20 of 39 OFFLINE   Vin

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Posted July 13 2001 - 03:42 PM

Quote:
I just launched the comparison tool for the 503 and 504. I noticed the 504 has a magnetically shielded center speaker, while Greg lists a video shielded center for the 503.
Is there a real difference? Is one better than the other?


They both mean the same thing, i.e., the speaker can be placed next to your TV without causing any distortion.

I would recommend the 504 which is the replacement for the 503. The main difference is the receiver upgrade included in the 504.....it comes with the VR-507 with DPL II. The 503 will still get you an excellent system for the money IMO, but no prologic II.

Hope this helps.





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