$25,000 HT budget - what should I buy?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JamieC, Dec 11, 2001.

  1. JamieC

    JamieC Auditioning

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    I am new to the Home Theater Forum and new to A/V. But I recently decided to devote considerable financial resources to getting the best audio and video equipment I can for $25,000 (Canadian dollars, I am in Toronto). I don't have any equipment yet, but will be starting to buy over the next couple of months. $25,000 is the amount that I'll spend on equipment (TV, DVD/CD, pre/pro, amp, surround seakers, cables and installation). The room is 15x15. Any ideas on proportion of budget for each of these items? I am currently renting a townhouse so the equipment will need to be transplantable to a house when I move in a few years. I am interested in RPTV or plasma monitor, but not sure if I'll be spending too much of my budget on TV as I am also interested in extremely high audio quality from both music and movies.

    Any ideas on the above, or good Toronto-based resources would be appreciated.
     
  2. Mike Witt

    Mike Witt Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd budget about 50% of that on speakers all around, then get a projector for your video, fill in the rest with preamp, amplification, digital audio sources (DVD-A, SACD, CD, etc.), and digital video sources (DVD, HDTV, etc.). Sorry no specifics. You should find a local Home Theater custom installer for that budget and gather information and get advice from them. If you have competing dealers nearby, get bids from both. Share their bids and suggestions here, let HTF recommend and go back and tell them to modify their bids. Get professional advice on your project with this kind of budget.
     
  3. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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  4. bryan_chow

    bryan_chow Agent

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    50" Panasonic plasma, around $8000
    Faroudja NRS scaler, around $3500
    Lexicon MC-1, used, around $2500
    M&K S-150P THX Ultra powered 5.1 speakers, around $10000
    non-progressive DVD/SACD player (NRS does not accept progressive), less than $1000
    Oh darn, that's $25000 US. And this is definitely more of an HT rather than audio system (MC-1 does not have analog inputs for SACD).
    [​IMG]
    Too bad the room is small and you need to be able to move. Otherwise I'd pick:
    42" plasma, $4500 more or less
    Stewart 52x92 StudioTek 130 Electriscreen, $2500
    used CRT Projector, around $3000
    M&K 750THX 5.1, around $2500
    Denon 4802 or Onkyo 898/989 receiver ($1000-$2000)
    progressive DVD/SACD player, less than $1000
    professional installation, $1000
    (This is basically my system.)
    Anyway hopefully that'll give you some ideas.
    Bryan
     
  5. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Hi JamieC:

    With that kind of budget, you should be able to put together a very impressive HT. I also went into this with my priority on the audio side -- just personal preference. There are just as many here who choose to spend a proportionate amount on the video side. To use half of your budget on speakers, I believe, is good advice. Speakers are one the few things you're not going to upgrade on a frequent basis. Amps also fall into that category. You'll have to decide if you want to go 5.1 or 7.1. Your room isn't huge so that might be determining factor, but that's your decision. And of the speaker budget, put upwards of 50% of the speaker budget in the 2 mains.

    Assuming you do spend half of your budget (which could include a nice subwoofer as well), I would allow the remaining amount on the following; $5000 video and would suggest perhaps a nice LCD/DLP projector and screen. There are a number of affordable projectors around for $3 - $5K which would leave approximately $1K for a decent screen. With this type of budget, I would avoid separates and go with a pre/pro & amp. Not knocking receivers but you'll eventually get the itch to upgrade. Do it now while you can and don't take the $$ hit. You'll have to decide what bells & whistles you want on the pre/pro ie. multi-channel music DVD-A SACD, DPLII etc etc. Having said that, I would allow $3 - 5K (depending on the configuration) on the pre/pro, $5 - 6K on your amps and $1K on a good DVD/CD player. Finally, you should be able to hook everything up with very good cables for under $1K (not goin near the cable discussion)... It's always easier to go and add a $100 pair of cables than it is to add a $5K pair of speakers after you've blown the wad. All of the above suggestions give or take 1 or 2K.

    You're going to get many suggestions and for the most part, very few of them will be "wrong". They will be just that; personal preferences. You're going to have to hit the pavement and listen to a number of items and align your budget with your preferences.

    There isn't much in Ham town, so I've had to purchase most of my stuff in Toronto/Mississauga and I have some excellent references for you if you're interested.

    Lastly, remember our dollar right now is slightly ahead of the Peso in terms of economic strength.... take advantage of buying whatever you can that is Canadian IF there are CAN items you favour eg. Paradigm, Bryston, Classe etc etc. You'll be surprised how much cheaper some of these things are up here compared to the US. Bryston is an excellent example.

    If you want some names and numbers, just let me know.

    Regards,

    Herb.
     
  6. JamieC

    JamieC Auditioning

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    Wow! Thanks Herb. That's a lot of great information. Its going to take me a bit to digest all that. But I'll definetly be back to you. Could you give some more names of Canadian brands? Thanks.
     
  7. Len Cheong

    Len Cheong Second Unit

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    Hey Jamie, that's a great budget. How about this:

    Pioneer 710hd - 8000

    Panasonic rp91 -750

    Monitor Audio Reference 60 system (FB212 sub) - 12000

    Used Lexicon DC-2 V.4 - 2500

    Used ATI 1505 5 channel amp - 1500

    Whoops, no room for tax. Damn that Canadian tax.
     
  8. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    Look into:
    Definitive Technology speakers ( www.definitivetech.com )
    Pioneer Elite tv's
    Yamaha, B&K, Marantz, Integra, Denon receivers
    or Parasound, Krell, Macintosh, Bryston amps/preamps
    Good luck!
     
  9. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    JamieC:

    Other CAN companies are: Anthem (Sonic Frontiers), Athena Speakers, Axiom, Blue Circle, Energy Speakers, Gershman Acoustics, Mirage Speakers, Monitor Audio, PSB Speakers, Tannoy. I may have missed a few, but this should get you started.

    Not saying you should head out and only look for these brands, just saying the dollar will go a bit further if you happen to like and or choose any of them..... OK, for Bryston, I'll say it! Head out and look for it.....! I didn't necessarily follow my own advice in that my only CAN items are my amps (Bryston) and one of my subs (Paradigm Servo 15).

    Herb.
     
  10. BryanZ

    BryanZ Screenwriter

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    So we are talking $15K US. Buy for your future HT room and not your present one. Of that I would dedicate $3,500 or so to the video side of things. I will not give suggestions for that part because, quite honestly, I am not that up to date and likely will not be able to give you ideas of what to look for. For the audio part:

    Outlaw 950 - $900

    Outlaw 750 - $1,099

    SVS SS w/eq/amp/interconnects - $4,000

    nOrh marble 7.0 fronts & center - $3,500

    nOrh marble 4.0 surrounds - $1,000

    And that leaves you with over $700 for speaker wire, power cord upgrades, Outlaw ICBM, etc. Again, that is just an example of what I would do with that money. Another idea would be to get:

    nOrh marble 4.0 package - $2,500 (including duty taxes, etc.)

    SVS CS-Ultra w/amp/eq/interconnects - $2,100

    and stick with the Outlaw preamp and amp. - $2,500

    Use the remainder for current room treatments and save what is left to upgrade equipment when you need to.
     
  11. Miles_W

    Miles_W Second Unit

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    Jaime,
    yo can get a nice system for that money. How much regular tv do you think you would be watching or is the display device reserved for movies. The reason I ask is Herb is correct if you can allocate 4-5K you can get a nice little digital projector and still have a great soundstage [​IMG]. Bargains can be found in the great white north. Here is what I would propose. 4700 get a plus piano, this is a little dlp projector which will give you a fantastic dvd image ( much better ( impact wise than an RPTV) then get an Anthem av-20 for about 4500, then allocate 2-3K on you amp, if you buy Canadian or find a deal on Acurus on the net you can get good value, for the speakers well very personal preference but you will get good value by buying PSB or Paradigm. DVD player depending on whether you want multichannel music I would go Panasonic RP91 for dvd-a or sony dvp 900 for SACD. I didn;t put prices down on the speakers depends what you want but you have a fair amount of room in your budget. If you can try and track down some "B" stock PSB's or Paradigms, most of the time the reason they are "B" stock is a small cosmetic blemish, nothing that affects the sound, this can save you hundreds...
    anyway good luck
    If you need some dealer names let me know!
    Miles
     
  12. ling_w

    ling_w Second Unit

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    Why in the HT world, is there such a heavy emphasis on displays, if not display, then speakers.

    I guess the rule of emphasize spending on the source end does not apply to this field.

    I've seen too many systems with $20k plasma display, $2k receiver, $200 DVD player and wires that came with the equipments.

    Also, you didn't specify what do you mean when you said you prefer high quality movie sound. Did you mean reference level? bass that will make your building collapse?

    I would put $4-5k (USD) in display system (RPTV, plasma, FPTV/screen & maybe scaler,) $1-2k in DVD/CD transport, maybe even one with the Cinematrix mod, so you could skip the whole scaler step, $4-5k in pre & amp. $4k in all speakers.

    So with that proportioning, personal preference and a slight emphasis toward canadian product, I would go with:

    Audio:

    Used Meridian 565 $2k. Had to stick a meridian in, if you are serious about music.

    Anthem MCA-5 $1500 or some Classe setup. I prefer music companies' gears as opposed to HT companies.

    Hsu VTF-2 $500.

    Magnepan 1.6/CC1/1.2 $3500. This is an religion for planar people, so I can't in good conscious recommend something they belive in. But your room might be a tad small. If it is the case, then you are on your own on this.

    Outlaw ICBM $300. apparently an requirement now by magnepan.

    Video:

    You are on your own.

    If on the other hand, you insist on reference level or ability to go down to 15hz, then you would emphasize more on high efficiency HT speakers and super subs.

    If you want DVD-A or SACD, then go with a inferior pre/pro with direct 5ch input.
     
  13. Bernard L

    Bernard L Stunt Coordinator

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    for a TV at least...

    I went and checked out what's new for RPTVs and the salesrep at bay bloor radio said there's a new 10" Sony GRAND WEGA coming out mid january.

    They had a prototype of it on display last week (now it's somewhere in vancouver) and the CSR said it was almost as good as the 61" Marantz Flat Panel. It was placed side by side with the marantz.

    Price for Marantz Flat Panel = $40000

    Price for Sony Grand Wega = $12000

    craziest thing is, they've booked for 6 of these for the first shipment and 4 of them are already paid for.

    There's a little article on this TV on the Sony Evolve magazine... some pretty interesting technology they've implemented.
     
  14. Mike Burke

    Mike Burke Stunt Coordinator

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    Well I would recommend the following systems as a couple of options!

    #1 I 2nd the vote for the Lexicon/M&K 150P setup..I LOVE those M&K's!

    #2 The setup that I am saving my pennies for is:

    Tag McLaren AV32EX $4500.00-new

    Theta Dreadnaught $4100.00-used

    Revel F30's $3500.00-new

    Revel C30 $2K w/stand

    Revel S30 $2200.00

    Revel B15 Sub $3000.00

    Cables $1000.00

    Toshiba 65H80 $3200.00

    Sony 9000ES $1100.00

    Total before tax $24600.00

    If purchased from the same dealer expect about a 15-20% package discount of $3600-4900.00 and apply some towards some acoustic panels and a Phillips Pronto Pro.

    One thing I would say is do NOT be afraid to look at the used market for higher quality products at cheaper prices!

    Good Luck

    Michael
     
  15. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    *****Total before tax $24600.00*****

    REMEMBER.... the exchange rate is about .60 right now to buy. $24600.00 US works out to about $39360.00 Canadian.... BIG difference.

    Herb.
     
  16. JamieC

    JamieC Auditioning

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    If I watch cable television as much as movies, would a projector be as useful as plasma or RPTV? What are the strengths/weaknesses of each? Also, how far does the projector have to be from the screen (I am worried about the usefulness of a projector if I move and the new A/V room is not large enough).

    Jamie.
     
  17. NathanP

    NathanP Supporting Actor

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    Jaime-

    A projecter will function in any room over 4 feet wide/long.. Its just the farther back you go, the bigger the picture is..

    My projector is 9.5 feet back, and I can get a pretty spiffy picture.

    Projectors are also great for watching TV!

    I believe if you really want to get into HT, you'll settle for nothing less then a projector-- it really adds depth and feeling to any movie.
     
  18. Miles_W

    Miles_W Second Unit

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    Jaime, the way I look at it, Plasma's are so expensive you can get a nice 36" tv and the projector and probably have change left over! that way you can have your event driven stuff on the proj and the rest ( casual viewing/video games) on the TV... wrt room size, that will impact your decision. If the projector you select does not have a zoom... It could be a probelm in a small room, however it beats the heack out of trying to move a 300ib tv up and down the stairs...
     
  19. ling_w

    ling_w Second Unit

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    Projectors are actually great since do not occupy a space between your speakers and destroying the soundstage. And if you get microperf screen, so that you don't have to worry much about the sound difference between screen up and down, along with the fact that you could put your center speaker behind the screen so that it is at ear level.

    The main thing with projectors is that you have to have ambiance light control, unless you get a pretty powerful projector, which would cost quite a bit more money, and it is a bit more permanant. You have to figure in installers' cost for wiring in all the trigger, AC power, unless you go for a manual unit, or a wall mount. You will have to see if wall mount is feasable by how much space you have btw your L&R speaker, and how offset will the viewers be.

    Also, the fact that when you move, whether you new space will have the same available space for the screen. It is OK to replace a cheap manual non-tensioned screen, but to replace a Stuart microperf, high reflective, remote operated, motorized tab tensioned screen will not be cheap.

    A projector's bulb is of finite hours, so if you want to channel surf and waste time, a projector is not really something you want to do it with.

    So if you are one of those deadbeat renters that constantly move out in the middle of the night, stay away from projectors.
     
  20. Mike Witt

    Mike Witt Stunt Coordinator

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