20k budget for HT (Equipment Selected)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ali_Jafari, Jul 10, 2002.

  1. Ali_Jafari

    Ali_Jafari Agent

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    I am in the process of building a HT in the family room and have a 20-25k budget in mind for a Plasma Display, Receiver, DVD player, and 5.1 speaker system. I've done a ton of reading online at this forum and at AVS, as well as testing at my local boutique, and have to come to the following conclusion regarding my purchases:
    Plasma display:
    Panasonic TH42PWD4U ($4,000)
    DVD Player
    Denon 3800 or 9000 ($1,000-$3,000)
    Receiver
    Denon 5803 ($3,500)
    5.1 Speaker System
    M&K S-500 THX Ultra System ($4,500)
    M&K MX-5000 MK II THX Sub ($2,500)
    Total Cost ($18,000) including misc. cables & installation. It even leaves a little room for me to consider M&K's S-150's [​IMG]
    My goal is to get the best audio/video performance for the budget that I have allocated for each piece of equipment. The next step in the process is continued testing, and feedback from this forum, relative to performance, pricing, and interaction of the different components. Any feedback would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Jim FC

    Jim FC Stunt Coordinator

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    With that budget, why not get a plasma that is capable of displaying 720p? The Panasonic model you listed is a great looking display, but it's an "EDTV," which means it maxes out at 480p. I'd suggest a Pioneer PRO800 and a PIODV47 for your DVD player, which should keep you pretty close to that budget. Good luck!
     
  3. Ali_Jafari

    Ali_Jafari Agent

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    Jim--

    Thank you very much for your response. The Panasonic TH42PWD4U specs are listed at:

    Equipped with component video (YPbPr) inputs, it enables viewing of DTV broadcasts in either scaled 1080i, or 480i. In addition, a 3-Dimensional Progressive Scan function elegantly converts interlace signals (1080i and 480i) into progressive signals for optimal viewing. 720p and 480p progressive signals remain in their native scan format and are also fed via the component video inputs.

    Am i missing something or am I reading that the set does display 720p? Also, I've seen the Pioneer 800 that you are reccomending listed for arund 7k, is that a fair price, and have seen it in action? Thanks again.
     
  4. Mike Burke

    Mike Burke Stunt Coordinator

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    I like your suggestions to far but regarding the M&K s150's instead of the 5000's. In speaking to my local dealer, they felt there was little difference in sound of the 150's v 5000's warranting the price gap.

    Also I take it from the size of your TV and speakers that the room is not that big. If I am incorrect, for $4k there are better/arger TV's out there. I like the Toshiba line. Another option for speakers are the Revel M20's and C30's for the front. With stands they are $4200.00. The M20's are a fantastic speaker and only a hint larger then the M&K S-150. For Music, the Revel's will smoke the M&K's and I LOVE M&K so I am not smack-talking M&K's!. read the review on stereophile.com on the M20's.

    best of luck!
    Mike
     
  5. Matthew_Ba

    Matthew_Ba Extra

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    Hmm,

    I'll offer some suggestions as I have just finished ordering everything for a system in the same price range sans TV and DVD player (those get done next year).

    If you listen to music I would suggest listening either to Dynaudio or Revel. I picked Dynaudio but the Revel the previous poster mentioned are also nice. I have listened to several M&K setups and on music they just did not do it for me. Movies were great though but the Dynaudio does that too for me. Watching the Matrix was VERY cool.

    I am trying a SV Sub right now that I got for $500 based on all the rave reviews on the forum. You might want a bigger one than what I got or maybe not. I haven't had a chance to hook it up so I can't give personal opinion.

    Have you considered separates instead of a receiver ? I went the Rotel RSP-1066 route with seven channels of Parasound amplification (you only need five so it would be even cheaper). That gives you the ability to change one or the other without having to replace it all.

    Prices below are retail and you can get discounts on pretty much everything listed below...

    Dynaudio Contour 1.3MK II 2400
    Dynaudio Contour Center 1400
    Dynaudio Audience 52 for sourrounds 800
    Total 4600

    Dynaudio Contour Sub 3000 I can't remember exactly -or-
    SV Subwoofer 500-2000 depending on number and model

    Rotel RSP-1066 1500
    Parasound 2205 (220 watts/channel) 2000 or go with the slightly smaller 1205 for 1200 and 145 watts/channel
    Total 3500 + cables to connect

    just stirring the pot a bit I guess.
     
  6. Marc_E

    Marc_E Supporting Actor

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    I will second the separates recommendation. Add the AVM-20 from Anthem (SRP 3100 but had for 2700) and Rotel amps (RMB-1095 SRP 2000 had for 1600-1700) or Sherbourn (5/1500A SRP 2000 but had for 1500-1600), also you are aware that those Denon players have the Chroma bug? I would recommend the Denon DVD-1600 that is an enhanced RP56 (panasonic) w/DVD-A and some bass managment (SRP is ~500 but had for 450). Couple that with the anthem and you dont have to worry about bass managment.
    Marc
     
  7. Ali_Jafari

    Ali_Jafari Agent

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    Do the Camelot Roundtable ($3,000) or the Proceed DVD transport ($5,000) or other high end players have the chroma bug? Please note that video performance is more important for me in the system that I'm building, hence no separates. My movie to music ratio will be 80/20.

    I want a heavy duty player that will last until HDVD is a reality and I'm not sure if Denon's 1600 or the Panasonic RP-91 will provide that based on build quality and what I've seen in testing.
     
  8. John A. Casler

    John A. Casler Second Unit

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  9. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

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    Considering the display you've chosen, I think you've allocated far too much money to the DVD player. DVD players get significantly better with each passing generation, so today’s $4000 nearly state of the art DVD player will most likely be a $4000 boat anchor next year. Unless you're talking about a flagship 9" CRT projector with a state of the art scaler and a 100" screen, you don't need to spend that much for a DVD player. If you're sold on plasma, you'd be better off with the 50" Panasonic and a $200 DVD player than a 42" Panasonic and a $3000 DVD player. Also, the chroma bug is blown way out of proportion.

    Regarding audio, $3500 for a receiver is absurd. Mid-fi separates are the way to go with that budget. The M&Ks are great for movies, but they're not very good for movies. Consider Revel, Dynaudio, Vienna Acoustics, or any number of other brands for a double-duty system.
     
  10. Kirk Mango

    Kirk Mango Stunt Coordinator

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    I checked out the M&K system along with sunfire amps and a Lexicon MC1 pre/Pro 7.1 and the Sony KV61XBR300 for under 20K. However, I ended up with the B&K Ref30 / B&K Ref 7250 & Ref 2220 amps / Sony DVPS9000ES DVD Player / Mirage OM5 fronts, OMC-2 center & OMR-2's as surrounds and backs / Rel Storm III as a sub / and the KV61XBR300 Rear Projection Television. This system fits into the same budget with more headroom for a better Display. I purchased the Sony knowing full well I will be upgrading that first. M&K was very good for movies way to bright for music. Mirage was superb on both counts. Especially pleased with the Omnipolar design of these speakers. Also, like the idea of seperates much better then a reciever as others have stated. Especially with the budget you mention.

    Kirk
     
  11. John A. Casler

    John A. Casler Second Unit

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    Ali,

    I have a tendency to agree with Justin about the screen and player. I would suggest the following changes:

    Plasma display:
    Panasonic 50" ($8,000 street)

    DVD Player
    Toshiba 5700, 9200 or Pan RP91 ($350-650 street)

    Receiver
    Haman Kardon AVR-8000 ($2000 street) Why pay for two extra amp channels and not get Logic 7?


    5.1 Speaker System
    VMPS TowerII or RM1 main ($1600 street)
    VMPS QSO626SE center ($430 street)
    VMPS QSO626SE rears ($860 street)
    VMPS Original Sub w/amp ($900 street)

    Total Cost ($16,000) including shipping, misc. cables & self installation. (or pay an installer $2000)

    This would give you the best "video" presentation and even though you are not concerned with Music, the VMPS offer one of the best combination (music and HT) presentations available.

    The Tower II option for mains would give you "bigger bass" over all, and the RM1 option would provide the best musical presentation.

    They all come in a "Piano Black" which is "to die for" and the Panasonic has a rather dark to black bevel.

    Just an alternative that could enhance the Video "and" the audio.

    John
     
  12. Ali_Jafari

    Ali_Jafari Agent

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  13. TimG

    TimG Second Unit

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    Unless it is a very small room why aren't you going with a projector instead of a plasma? Ambient light issues?

    TimG
     
  14. Ali_Jafari

    Ali_Jafari Agent

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    Small room w large bay windows, so yes, there are lighting issues. I would go with a good picture tube like Sony's xbr's, which generally deliver better video quality than a plasma, but the plasma is much more efficient in terms of space and ergonomics and the wide screen xbr's top out at 34'. I would also have the same lighting issues with a rear projection set.
     
  15. stephen_z

    stephen_z Stunt Coordinator

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    Ali,
    As you can see from the postings, you'll probably get as many different recommendations as you have postings. I'll assume that you will be using the system for your music listening needs as well as HT and that you've settled on the the M&K's for speakers. I would lean towards the 50" Panasonic Plasma... you'll appreciate the larger screen. Just from ergonomics of weight handling, plasma screens are the way to go (and then there's your ambient light issues). You might check if the latest has DVI... there are some issues down the road with HDTV and the media moguls.

    I agree with some of the previous posts that you should go for separates (either Rotel RSP-1066 or Anthem AVM-20) with the appropriate amp and cut back on the DVD budget. If you're interested in SACD, some of us are still waiting for the Philips DVD962SA to come out which has Faroudja progressive scan.
     
  16. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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  17. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    You might also want to consider a HTPC instead of a progressive scan player. I understand them to be capable of producing images with better resolution than most any standalone DVD player.
     
  18. Claire Panke

    Claire Panke Second Unit

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    While $18K-$25K won't buy you "state of the art HT", it ain't chump change. It should get you to at least "pretty darned good."

    You *can* get SOTA DVD/CD playback, however, with the new Arcam FMJ DV27. Fabulous progressive or interlaced DVD, and wonderful CD sound. Arcam is a leader in audio digital and this new DVD player has superior video quality. Arcam products are usually modular and upgradable as well. I also like their amps, but don't know much about their controllers. If they are anywhere near the amps/DVD/CDp quality the controllers will be excellent too. The Arcam DV27 has MSRP of $2599 but the street price will be less. If you want very good picture and sound, and don't care about SOTA, then the Panny RP91 or the Denon 1600 will do very well indeed and save you a lot of money. (More to spend on your display, and neither has the chroma bug.)

    The Denon is a very good receiver but I can't imagine dropping this kind of money and going for a receiver unless your kids listen to FM radio a LOT. You will get much more bang for your buck, better flexibilty and superior sound quality going with separates. I know you don't care as much about music listening as some of us do, but believe me, better *quality* sound will pay you back in spades for movie soundtracks too - soundtracks are mostly music y'know! And better sound is very important in complex soundtracks - you don't want boom and sizzle. Good sound will greatly enhance your video experience. You don't need tons of power in a small room, but you do need sonic excellence. Many soundtracks are very bright and can easily become annoying in a smallish room.

    The options are many. Anthem (AVM20), B&K, Parasound (a personal favorite, along with their superb amps), Classe and Sony (the 9000ES) all make great, reasonably priced controllers, and all the above (EXCEPT SONY) make excellent multi-channel amps. Rotel also makes a nice amp, the RMB1095.

    The speakers are by far the weakest link in your configuration IMO. I must confess, I don't care for most M&K speakers, they are too bright and sound mediocre to me. For the price, you can do much, much better. The poster above is correct, the Revels will SMOKE the M&Ks, as will a number of other brands: Dynaudio, Audio-Physic, Alon by Accarian, Vandersteen, even (gasp) Phase Technology among others. I haven't personally heard the VMPS speakers but they have many knowledgable fans. Kirk's Mirage speakers are nice but be aware that dipole speakers need "breathing room" i.e. must be positioned well away from back and side walls, sometimes a difficult thing to do in small rooms. (That's why Maggies, wonderful though they may be, probably aren't for you.) The REL subs are among the very best available. I would strongly recommend you check out the Revel, Dynaudio and Audio Physic lines.

    The rub to the above is that you may have to go your local high end audio store(s) to find these speakers - in my area, the best displays aren't necessarily in the same stores as better speakers. In fact, many HT specialists carry very mediocre speaker lines. But, please, please do check out speakers other than M&Ks.

    I don't have much opinion about plasma displays becuase I haven't done serious homework on 'em - I'm hyperventilating over DLP & LYCoS. But I have seen the 50" Panny and it looked lovely. Burn-in and reliability scares me on plasma sets.

    Last but not least...Invest in good cables (not Monster) and after market power cords, and save some dollars for a line conditioner - it *will* make a big difference in video quality and digital gear is very sensitive to cruddy power (especially if you don't have dedicated circuits).

    Happy hunting!
     
  19. Ali_Jafari

    Ali_Jafari Agent

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    I auditioned the Panasonic 42' and 50' inch plasma's with "Dark City" (a film with a good black level) at my local HT dealer today, and I was completely under whelmed. The black level was pathetic and the pixelation was unbearable at a 5-10 ft. distance. Made me completely rethink my strategy relative to including a plasma for my HT.
    I also saw a CRT demo on a 72' Greyhawk and was very pleased with the picture. The black level and picture clarity were still not at the level of Sony's direct view XBR series, but that really isn't a fair comparison given the size difference between the 2 displays since Sony's direct view tops out at 40'.
    As such, I have decided to go with the 40' (Sony KV-40XBR700), for my display, which still provides the best picture quality for DVD and is HDTV compatible, although it is a 4:3. This set will be used mostly for TV and daytime DVD viewing. For the HT, I am now leaning towards a Stewart screen (preferably with a high gain to compensate for the lighting issue in the room) and DLP projector (CRT's are too expensive and bulky). The screen and the projector will be in the same room, directly next to the TV. Ok, I have some research to do on this forum and AV but any feedback on DLP's in the 5k range would be much appreciated.
    Last but not least, I heard the Triad platinum series speakers at my local HT dealer this afternoon, and all I can say is "oh my god!" It was an experience that bordered on religious. The speakers were powered by the Lexicon MC12 Pre/Pro & LX7 amp (pretty nice, eh?) Now, although the Triad's are completely out of my price range and impractical for the size of my room, I have realized that separates are the way to go and will continue to research them on this forum, and test them at the boutique. I do wonder though as the journey continues if there is a noticeable difference between the Lex and say, Krell's Showcase, to an untrained ear such as mine? I know, only I can answer that question, but I thought I'd toss it out there :wink:
    As with anything of this magnitude, this is a process, and I am enjoying the education and deliberation tremendously. Thank you all, and please continue the feedback. The posts in this thread have expanded my list of potential speakers, etc. and have given me much more to do on the weekends [​IMG]
     
  20. Newell

    Newell Extra

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    You should really audition the Vienna Acoustics speakers. Very musical and equally impressive for movies (the rosewood finish...furniture+ grade is awesome). I also suggest the REL Storm III subwoofer. It has both a high level (runs off your speakers) and low level inputs.
    Sumiko, the importer of VA and REL is located in Berkeley. Their website address has recently changed. I think it's www.sumikoaudio.net.
     

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