$2000-2250 for a new home theater

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by AlexDW, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. AlexDW

    AlexDW Extra

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    We are in the final steps of redoing our basement to create a home theater. So far, we have the TV, a Samsung HL-R6168W (61" DLP), the DVD player, a Samsung DVD-HD850, a hi-def comcast cable DVR and hi-def DirecTV (for NFL Sunday Ticket). The main seats (when they eventually come) are 6 (2 rows of 3) 'home theater chairs' situated in front of the tv one behind the other, with the back row raised 8" on a platform.

    So.. I have $2000-2250 to spend on a receiver, (an amp?), speakers, and a sub.

    Looking around, the Denon 3806 caught my eye; but that would set me back half of my budget. I have very little knowledge of this stuff, but I doubt I'd make use of the Denon 'caliber' sound with $1000 worth of speakers.

    A couple things:
    -The reciever needs to have 2 HDMI inputs (Cable box and DVD player, the satellite will go in through component and coaxial [that's the best audio input, right?])

    -I saw something about an ipod dock in a receiver. I think it was the Denon 4806. Can I find this in any cheaper receivers that fit the rest of my needs? This would be a nice addition, though it is not mandatory.

    -I'm assuming most of the money should go towards the two front mains (floor standing for these). I think a 5.1 or even 5.0 would be ok as long as the fronts can handle some bass.

    -As I said before, the 2 front mains are floor standing. The front middle would be hung over the tv. The two front rears would be hung behind from the ceiling. I have no idea where I'd put the subwoofer. I'll draw out a blueprint of the room and maybe you guys can help out with that.


    So that's it. If you can't give me suggestions for specific models, a general opinion of the top brands for each item would be appreciated, as well as how I should go about budgeting my money for each part. Thanks in advance, Alex.
     
  2. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    Welcome to the forum bro!

    Look here for room layout: Dolby Labs

    That link should take you to the layout for 5.1. Click the tabs to see 6.1 and 7.1.

    A couple of things -- your surrounds in a 5.1 system should be to the sides, slightly behind you, not on the back wall. That space is for your rear surrounds in a 6.1 or 7.1 system.

    If you are going to be listening to a good bit of music, by all means, get the floorstanders for your mains. If not, you can use bookshelf speakers just as well for movies as long as you get a sub. And you must get a sub! The sub provides the punch for your HT. It's an absolute must.

    Why the need for a receiver that does hdmi? Do you have a long run from the receiver to the tv? If not, I'd spend more money on the speakers and sub and compromise on the receiver. It's a lot easier to switch out a receiver later on if you need more power. While digital signals lose little, if anything, when switched through a receiver, if you don't need to do it to save a long cable run, there's no need for it. You'd be paying for a feature you didn't need. Connect your video feeds directly from the sat/cable/dvd to the tv using hdmi or component connections. Connect the audio outs of the sat/cable/dvd to the receiver using digital optical or coaxial. Some people prefer one over the other, but both perform just fine.

    Connecting this way will give you the best audio and video by minimizing the cable run lengths and the number of connections between the source and display/speakers.

    Nobody will recommend speakers to you until you audition some for yourself. Go to a store and listen to Paradigms. They are among the better speakers available commonly in brick and mortar stores. Then statr to compare them with other brands till you find what you like. You can then post here looking for people in your area that will let you listen to their systems so you can get a feel for the internet brands -- Rocket, Ascend, Swan, etc.

    For subs, staying with either Hsu or SVS will make you happy. The size depends on the size of your room. Post the room dimensions, including ceiling height and whether it is fully enclosed or open to other rooms.
     
  3. Alex Prosak

    Alex Prosak Supporting Actor

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    For your budget, I'd definitley recommend going 5.1 for now and adding on later. You should also as you said but the lions share of your budget into your receiver. I'm not sure off hand if it has 2 HDMI inputs but I'd recommend checking out the Pioneer 1015, it's a solid piece of gear and reasonably priced. I wouldn't worry about Denon quality sound either. I haven't listened to their top of the line stuff recently but I haven't cared for the midline stuff recently. I friend of mine is using a 2805 until his pre/pro and amp come in and I think it sounds lifeless.

    Listen to all the speakers available to you locally and try to arrange for auditions of internet direct speakers too.
     
  4. AlexDW

    AlexDW Extra

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    Ok now I have two different opinions on this lol. About the HDMI.. I thought I had to send the HDMI through the receiver because it transmits sound too. But if I can use HDMI for the tv (for video) and coaxial or optical for sound in the receiver, I'll just do that. Then I can get a receiver that doesn't support HDMI, which should be a lot cheaper.

    Back to the receiver/speaker thing. I realize that the receiver can be upgraded in the future, but I know that it will not be. I'll be leaving for college in a couple years and my parents won't bother trying to find a replacement just so they can get HDMI. However, a $1000 receiver with 5 $150 speakers and a $250 subwoofer may be a little weak.

    I do listen to a decent amount of music. So yes, I do want floor-standing mains. Should I go with most of the money going into the front mains, woofer, and receiver. Then use the remaining for two rears and a front center if I have enough left? That seems like a logical course of action to me.

    I'm probably going to need a $500+ subwoofer because the room is pretty big and it is open to other rooms. I'm drawing a diagram and measuring the walls and I'll scan it and post it here when I'm done.

    Thanks for your help so far guys, I really appreciate it.
     
  5. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    I stand by my opinion of putting more of the budget in the speakers. But it may not make a difference since Alex recommended the 1015. I think they're about $500, leaving you $500 for a sub and $1000 for speakers. It's important to match your speakers, especially for home theater where the moving effects (think a plane flying overhead) should match seamlessly. If you have high end mains and tiny little surrounds, you will notice the difference in the sound of the plane as it moves from front to back, ruining the effect. In addition, 80% of the sound in movies comes from the center channel. Be careful compromising there. You can get matched deals for the 5 speakers from many of the internet direct companies. If they don't have a package, give them a call, tell them the basics of your room and your budget and they'll work with you. You really do need to go out and listen first to get an idea of what sounds good to you. Oh, and speakers often sound different at home, so be ready for that. Isn't this fun?
     
  6. Alex Prosak

    Alex Prosak Supporting Actor

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    Whoa! Looks like I had a major brain fart somewhere in there. My post doesn't even make sense. Hey it was really early here in Alaska (5:50 AM my time) what can I say. I meant to say do NOT put the lions share of your budget into the receiver. Put your money into the speakers. Sorry. That is why I suggested the $500 receiver over the $1000 receiver.
     
  7. Alex Prosak

    Alex Prosak Supporting Actor

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    Could you possibly boost your budget to around $2400? There's an excellent sale on this package right now which is a fantastic system. Add in a Pio 1015 and you'd be good to go. Note that this budget wouldn't include a sub but the mains do produce some darn good bass on their own and you'd be WAY ahead in terms of sound quality.
     
  8. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Actually the best performance-to-price ratio by a very long shot would be the $250 all-digital Panasonic sa-xr55, IMHO. This puny-looking 10 pounder singlehandedly retired my Marantz 5400 and NAD separates (which cost 3x and 6x more, respectively), easily surpassing them in both sound quality and most surprisingly, real power.

    Read up on all the buzz, including people with much more expensive gear than me who ended up preferring the Panny, and you'll see why:

    http://forum.ecoustics.com/bbs/messages/1/160136.html

    http://forum.ascendacoustics.com/sho...1&page=1&pp=10

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=530504

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=417894

    As for the speakers, I'd recommend the Internet direct brands like Ascend Acoustics for speakers and either Hsu or SVS for the sub...again far better bang for the buck than paying local retail since there's no middleman's markup involved. All 3 brands are extremly well reviewed, just do a Google search and you'll see.

    For example:
    Ascend CMT-340center, CBM-170 L/R, CBM-170 surrounds, and Hsu STF-2 subwoofer ... $1321 shipped from ascendacoustics.com

    That coupled with the Panny would leave you well under budget, so you could go with an even better subwoofer like the STF-3 for an extra $200 plus have change left over for speaker stands, cables, etc.
     
  9. MikeLi

    MikeLi Supporting Actor

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    Also take a look at the offerings by AV123.com
    Great sales going on right now on their 750 packages which are killer.
     
  10. AlexDW

    AlexDW Extra

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    I ended up getting a $2000 package at Circuit City: 2 Polk Monitor70BK (floor-standing mains), 2 Polk Monitor40BK (rears), 1 Polk CS1BK (center), 1 Polk PSW12BK (sub), and an Onkyo TXSR702. Add 100 ft of audio cable (probably returning), an HDMI cable, an optical cable, and a coke, and it came to 2361.84 with tax.

    The reaasons I went with this so quickly are one, they have a 30-day full money back return policy, and two, the set sounded fantastic in the open store (it wasn't set up in their sound room, it was out in a large room; granted, I was about 8 feet away from the tv and in the 'hot seat'). The fact is though, I loved the sound and it's essentially a $500 discount by buying the package.

    I'm in the process of setting up the system. The only problem so far I've run into is the rear speakers are pretty big, and I'm going to have to mount them from the ceiling in a relatively small area. Is it ok to mount them sideways, so they take up less head room (the ceiling is only at seven feet). If it is, what brackets can I use to do this?

    One last thing. At the moment, the receiver isn't even turning on. I have the power cable connected, the front mains are connected, and the center is connected and sitting on the floor (which I also need a bracket for). I remember the salesman at Circuit City say something about a safety feature on the receiver that keeps it from turning on if it is not set up correctly. Could this by what is happening?
     
  11. AlexDW

    AlexDW Extra

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    One other thing. Is there a noticable difference between different 'quality' optical cables? One cable is $30 more expensive than the other. It is supposedly 'extreme' or something. Is this just a marketing gimmick? What exactly is the difference between these?
     
  12. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Alex,

    YIKES!!! I'm sorry man, but for $2000 you could have done WAY, WAY better than that...especially on the speakers and subwoofer. Unfortunately without ever ABing anything else with what you've bought you really have nothing to compare it against except whatever you might have had already. But hey if you just want to get the process over with and you decide you are happy with what you have then it's your choice and money, I wish you all the best on it, I don't want to be a party pooper.

    > One other thing. Is there a noticable difference between different 'quality' optical cables? One cable is $30 more expensive than the other. It is supposedly 'extreme' or something. Is this just a marketing gimmick? What exactly is the difference between these?

    Total marketing scam. Never ever buy cables or interconnects from a big-box store like Best Buy or Circuit City, they live to rape you. Especially if they have "Monster" written on them, this is the Bose of audio accessories, a huge international scam machine.

    However since these places do have nice return policies if you want to make sure for yourself, buy one and then AB it with some cheapo generic Phillips or RCA generic cable from Walmart or HomeDepot.

    Here’s a short but very incisive article, “The Ten Biggest Lies In Audio” by Peter Aczmel that debunks a lot of common audio myths, hyperinflated cables/interconnects chief among them:

    http://www.theaudiocritic.com/cwo/Sample_Articles/?id=5

    I do disagree with what Aczmel says about amps all sounding the same though, among a few other things.
     
  13. AlexDW

    AlexDW Extra

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    Ok after we realized that the rear speakers were too large to mount, and since this was apparantly a bad deal anyway, we are going to return it. We are going to go with the Ascend set you mentioned, except with the STF-3 subwoofer. A few of the speakers are on backorder right now so we're going to have to wait a few days before they ship it out.

    Ascend gives you a 'personal sales rep' when you buy something from them, and I asked my guy if he could send me the DTS Demo Disc 9, but he had never heard of it. Does anyone know where I can tell him he can find it? I know it's not available to regular consumers, but I assume that he should be able to get it from DTS.

    I did actually get a copy of the DTS Demo Disc 9 from Ciruit City. The thing is, the sound does not work. It doesn't work on my computer or in my dvd player. The video plays perfectly but for some reason the sound doesn't work. Do you know what could be wrong?
     
  14. Louis Howard

    Louis Howard Auditioning

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    You might want to check your DVD player and make sure you have the audio settings set correctly so you can utilize the DTS audio format. Hell, I have buddies who have DVD players that can't decode DTS at all!
    Just a note to say that you're making a good movie IMO by getting away from the Polk subwoofer for sure- I tried one at home and didn't care for it at all.
    As for your speakers, make sure you get what sounds to you like a GREAT center channel speaker to go along with your mains. If you're a movie lover, most of what you watch will be handled in large part by your center speaker. Most people will be adamant in telling you to match your main and center channel speaker timbre, and since you're starting from scratch that shouldn't be hard to do.
     
  15. AlexDW

    AlexDW Extra

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    I have a Samsung HD850. I'm pretty sure it can use the DTS audio format. And I'm even more sure that my computer should be able to use it. Could the DVD be messed up?
     
  16. AlexDW

    AlexDW Extra

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    Nevermind the DTS disc. I was wrong, I didn't use the HD850 I used an older samsung and that one doesn't have DTS. On the computer, I downloaded the cole2k codec and now the sound works [​IMG] Sorry for the mixup there, it's all good now[​IMG]
     
  17. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Alex,

    good choice! Your ears will thank you many many times over, and for many years to come.

    When the speakers come in, if you have the time and are curious, drop by CC and pick up that Panny. I'd love to hear your thoughts when you AB it against the 702.
     
  18. AlexDW

    AlexDW Extra

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    Thank YOU for the help Eddie, I would've been stuck with a $2000 Polk set if it wasn't for you heh. I probably won't be able to do that for a little while because in a few days I'll have bought and returned about 10k worth of stuff from CC (was testin out tvs [​IMG] ) but I might try that sometime in December when the theater chairs are worked in. If I remember I'll get some pics and post em here when it's all done. Thanks again for all your help!
     
  19. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    You're very welcome, but I simply consider it my religious duty. [​IMG]
     
  20. MikeyWeitz

    MikeyWeitz Supporting Actor

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    OOOh you went with the Ascends huh?

    Worth the backorder wait [​IMG].

    I absolutely love my 340s across the front 3.
    AWESOME speakers with AWESOME customer service.

    Those Polks not in same league, or universe for that matter!
     

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