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A little input from the crew.... (1 Viewer)

Alan Lackey

Apr 13, 2000
I had posted this in the HT Basics area with little response tonight...so if the mods don't mind I thought I would drop it here too:

My friend is building a new house and has tasked me with putting his first home theater together and has given me a budget of about $9000 [not necessary to spend every penny I don't guess]. I have put about 3 configurations together tonight, but thought it would be of interest to get some ideas from the group here.

I have prioritized the dollars as follows:
1. RPTV 57" [he specified this]
2. Speakers
3. Receiver
4. Progressive DVD

I would appreciate hearing what the members would buy in those categories with the monies allocated.

I only wish I was doing this for myself!

Thanks in advance...



Stunt Coordinator
Mar 26, 2003
Does he realy need a 57 inch RPTV? With a 9G budget and a little scrimping on the sound(Easily upgraded down the road if the better half is in a good mood!) I'd say try to talk him into an LCD front projector. Life at home isn't the same again once you plop your rump down in front of a 10ft 16.9 screen and a proggressive scanned anamorphic DVD. If he has the room to sit at least 15ft back(20 is even better), or you do the math with the screen size, any way ya' slice it, front projection rocks! As an added bonus, he won't ask you to break your back hauli'n that 57inch, 12 ton mamma around! I've seen the Sony VPLW11HT on sale on the net for as little as 3 grand. Throw in a thou for a screen(Stewert Firehawk with 1.3 gain) and you still got 5G's left to work with. And, hey, even my mother could set one of these up, easy as pie! Even if ya' go 5G's on the projector/screen, your still in good shape. I just read a good review on an Epson 16.9 LCD, lists about there. I'd stick with a 16.9 LCD panel so you get all the pixels with film. Yes, D-ILA and DLP are a tad sharper, but at twice the price. Okay, say you got 4G"s left to spend. Lets see. Any progressive scan DVD player around 200 bucks is pretty good. Panasonic, Phillips, and Toshiba all make good units in this price range, though I'd go with a PS Sony. $200 will get you a good unit and SACD to boot! A reciever these days should be at least 6.1 capable. I like the OnkyoTX-SR700 at about $800. Heck now you got 3 grand to blow on speakers and a sub, easily done. Alot of that depends on how fussy this lucky fell'a is, you know, does he want them exposed? If he's the practical sort, I'd go with towers all around. Cambridge Sound Works still has some great deals on the TowersII at about $600/pair. Heck, if you went with a sound perferated screen and had the room you could get by with 6 identical speakers in almost a true symetrical circle(Check out the main theater setup at Widescreen Review Magazine) Or a smaller matched center channel goes for about $200. No matter what, you still got at least $1200 for a sub. I am not up on subs right now, I'm still using a 15 year old 15inch DBX, so Lord knows I am no expert here! So there, my humble opinion. Of course, if the $9000 includes the room itself, all bets are off! I swear, some people in some of those magazines spend at least a gazillion dollars on silk wall coverings and the such, yet slouch on the electronics, but, to each thier own. God luck and have fun!


Nov 29, 2001
WOW 9k is allot to work with, here is my suggestion your friend obviously does nto knwo allot about HT since he is asking you to do his shopping for him, so the display device is what will have the most impact with him. So I suggest spend 3k on the TV either get a nice big RPTV or a front projector, you should be able to do nice thigns in that budget.

DVD player, go with a Yamaha S2300 or a Denon 2900 depending on the timing, either can be had for 1k and he will not feel a need to upgrade that anytime soon.

then you still have 4-5k to play around with speakers and a receiver, I would avoid separates and just look at one of the many nice receivers made by Yamaha, and Marantz, and Denon. Personally I ahve listened to the Yamaha's and Marantz's and the Yamaha's sound better IMHO it had a cleaner sound (that was comparing the Yamaha RX-V1300 and the Marantz SR7300, you could even afford to go a step above that.) as for speakers I suggest PSB, I am very fond of mine, you can get a pair of Image5t's for under 1000, so get 2 pairs, then 2 center channels for under 1000 combined, and finally pick out a nice SVS Sub again for under 1000, (if you go this route you will have to stay with a receiver in the range of the Yamah 1300 or marantz 7300, but those are both very fine receivers.

that leaves the total at

TV -3000
Speaker (front) -1000
Speakers (rear) -1000
Speakers (2 center)-1000
Sub (SVS) -800

total of 8700 pick up some good cables and wires for the rest and he is set with a very nice system.


Dec 23, 2002
I like my NAD T752 A/V receiver. Not a common brand but not that expensive--about $900. Very powerful and full featured. Try it if you have a dealer nearby.

Save money as follows:
1) ignore those expensively-acquired "THX Certified" ratings--they're not necessary.
2) Use 14 gauge lamp wire (zip cord) for speaker runs.
3) Don't get hung up on a premium powered sub--give them a listening test and look for one that has a tight, controlled sound--play an action film. I use a 12" MTX downward firing that I got for $150 at CC. Get good hi-fi spkrs for the fronts (I use old Polk 10's--don't use those tiny satellites for goodness sake) and a good center (Polk forgot the model number) and don't worry too much about the rears (I dusted off old Radio Shack Optimus's from my junk box).

DVD players? Not sure--at 480p max they all kind of stink in my opinion, especially when you feast your eyes on native 1080i. I wouldn't spend more than $300.

Put the money into a recvr and spkrs that can make the stomach jump, that makes you leave your seat an inch when the car hits the wall. And adjust the monitor with AVIA--it makes a big difference.


Bob McElfresh

Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
Some questions:

Does he really want a 57" display size, or does he have a space that is only 57" big for a TV? Learn what is behind this requirement.

What are his viewing habits? Does he mainly watch DVD's or is he a sports fan? Does he/his spouse watch network TV? Do they want HDTV broadcasts or just DVD movies?

The small stuff

Here is some small things that might catch you by suprise unless you plan for them first:

Radio Shack analog SPL meter: $40
Avia setup DVD: $50
10 Dual Banana plugs (Radio Shack 2xx-308) $60
Home Theater Master MX-500 remote: $150
ISF Calibration for the HDTV: ~$400
Cables: Budget 10% of the electronics for wires/cables: $900
Rack for the equipment: $600

Total: $2,200
Remaining: $6,800


If the 57" size is the diag screen size, a quick search shows these canidates:

Toshiba 57H82 $2000
Mitsubishi WS-55711 $3800
Hitachi 57UWX20B $2500
Sony KDP-57XBR2 $4200

Let's budget about $3,200 for the TV.

Remaining: $3600


Budget about $1200. Either receiver below would be great:

Yamaha RXV-3300 $1299
Dennon AVR3803 - $1199 (video upconvert)

Remaining: $2400

DVD Player:

I think some good Panasonic units are selling for about $300. Check the audio/video sources fourm for exact model numbers.

Remaining: $2100


Unless you are in a major area that can pick up HDTV with an antenna, you need a satelite based system. And you MUST get a Personal Video Recorder if your friend watches network shows. It totally replaces a VCR. It will change the way he watches TV.

DirectHDTV: $600 (receiver & dish)
Tivo HDRV: $249 (receiver only)

Remaining: $1250


Here is a problem: Could you buy a 5 year supply of one brand of beer or one flavor of ice-cream? Thats what you are talking about with speakers. They each have a "flavor". This is why you cannot ask "what speaker is best" - everyone has different tastes. Your friend may have some Spousal Acceptance Factors (SAF) which means you need to buy small, unobtrusive speakers.

So while you can get advice, you really need to go out with your friend to audition speakers.

Budget about $1500 for the speaker set, including an external subwoofer. Some brands to consider:

Energy Encore: $1500

Remaining: -$250

Toy Catagory

An XBox video game system will output progressive video which will really show off that HDTV. Monster also makes a custom cable the bypasses the need for the Microsoft Advanced AV pack:

XBox: $199
Monster HD Cable: $60
Monster Optical Cable: $40
Extra Controller: $30
2 Video Games: $100

XBox Subtotal: $430

Remaining: -$680

Shopping Advice:

You can save money by buying:

- Sound King 12 ga speaker wire from www.partsexpress.com
- Component and SVideo cables from www.bettercables.com

This will Dramatically reduce your $900 cable budget.

I would strongly suggest you find a local dealer and buy the HDTV, Sat system, Receiver and the speakers from the same dealer. This is important because:
  • You can often get a 10-15% discount from a store by buying a package.
  • This gives you a single-source to take things back if there are problems. A friend went through 3 HDTV's in one month before finding one that was stable. And if there are problems, your friend may call you instead of the store.
  • For a package like this, the store will often deliver and install for a nominal fee/free. This will save YOU lots of time/hassle.

My advice would be to make a list of all this equipment & aproximate prices/budget, make copies and take copies to several stores. SHOP FOR A SALESMAN and pick one. Spend 5 minutes with them and give them the list and ask them to come up with a quote. Tell them you will come back in a day or two for their response. This gives them time to put things in a package, offer discounts & services, and lets them know you are comparision shopping. Go back and collect the quotes, then pick the best 2 or 3 and bring your friend to audition the speakers & TV.

Check with us on the electronics before your friend buys. Check with your friend on the speakers and appearance of the TV.

Make sure your friend pays for everything! You want his name on all the financials & warrenty cards.

Hope this helps.

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