All-in-one home theater?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dan Whalen, Sep 23, 2001.

  1. Dan Whalen

    Dan Whalen Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm looking to put a h/t setup in my living room, and I was wondering if those all-in-one h/t packages are any good? The only reason I'm looking into them is b/c 1) I'm on a budget, 2) I don't have a whole lot of room to work with. I don't really have a set budget, but I know that I can't spend thousands of dollars. I've got a decent sized living room, but my wife doesn't want big speakers sticking out of places and b/c of existing furniture I don't have a whole lot of room for a large sub enclosure. I was reading some old posts and a few people discouraged using the h/t packages. So I'm stuck on what to do. I currently have a Boston system on my computer that I'm using to watch DVD's with, and it's pretty impressive for the small sub it uses, but I know that Boston makes some great speakers (I'm a car audio nut). So are the h/t packages really that bad? Should I seriously consider one, or should I continue to use my computer for the time being and buy equipment a few pieces at a time so I can look for what I need (like a small sub enclosure)? Any help on this problem would be greatly appreciated. BTW, are there any good websites that sell h/t equipment? Thanks.
    Dan
     
  2. Dan Whalen

    Dan Whalen Stunt Coordinator

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    A few more things. This system will be used for about 90-95% movies, and 5-10% music (my wife will use it for music, so it doesn't need to sound excellent [​IMG] ). My living room is 18' long by 13' wide and it opens up into the kitchen. So, it's like there is no doorway to the kitchen, just a big opening between the living room and kitchen. I don't know if that makes a difference or not, but I just thought I'd mention it. Anyway, I mentioned in my original post that I don't have much room for a large sub enclosure. About the only place I'd be able to put a large enclosure is between 7' and 13' away from the couch that faces the tv (depending where you are sitting on the couch) in a corner behind a chair. If I were to go with a large sub enclosure, and put it in the corner, would this affect bass performance? Since I'm using it for mostly movies I want to be able to feel the bass more than hear it. So what would you all recommend I do? Go with the boxed home theater, or slowly build a system up piece by piece? Sorry for sounding like an idiot, but when it comes to home theater, I am. [​IMG] Thanks.
    Dan
     
  3. Larry Hoffman

    Larry Hoffman Stunt Coordinator

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    For a reasonable sum, you should be able to buy a decent DVD player, reciever and surround speaker setup, rather than a Theater-in-a-box system.
    I'll leave it to the more experienced members to make specific recomendations, but an entry level DVD player from Panasonic, Sony,Pioneer etc., with a reciever from Kenwood, and a speaker system from Energy (Take 5.2) or a similar quality set of speakers, would be a better choice IMHO.
    Larry.
     
  4. Dan Whalen

    Dan Whalen Stunt Coordinator

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    I was reading a post from a while back about the boxed sets. It was talking about a JVC (can't remember the model) and from what almost everyone on the thread was saying was that the boxed sets do a fairly decent job. Where can I find the Energy speakers online? Also, what are some good sites that sell home theater equipment? The only one I know of is Crutchfield and I've found a few thing there I'm considering. Thanks again.
    Dan
    BTW, I'll probably be getting a DVD player for Christmas, so I think that part is covered. Are the Panasonic DVD players from Wal-Mart good?
     
  5. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Dan, welcome to the forum!
    Listen, don't let these horror stories about all in one HT systems scare you away from getting one. I have a friend who bought a Sony based HT in a box, and it sounds great, the only thing that you'll have to replace is the subwoofer, the one that they come with are pretty pathetic, they bottom out at the slightest little thing, so my friend replaced it with a better sub and now it rocks the house, literally! But other than that, an all in one system is ideal for you, I would go for it, just be sure and get a Sony based setup.
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    God bless the USA and the men and woman of our military and their families!
     
  6. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

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    I own a Sony HTiB. Don't let these horror stories scare you, I've been very happy with my Sony set-up. I think it works good for a small room however it probably wouldn't work as good for a large room. I do think though that after a while you will want want to upgrade the speakers or sub. The reciever will serve as a nice reciever though and will serve as a nice stepping stone for getting into DD5.1 and DTS. Hope this helps.
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  7. Rob Robinson

    Rob Robinson Second Unit

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    i got a decent deal on the harman kardon HTIB, and I think it's great in my apartment setting.
     
  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i do not have any personal experience with the htb sets so i cannot really comment on them. i suspect they're probably not that bad, but the fact that most people say you'll have to upgrade one component or the other should tell you something. my brief observations of these systems in the stores did not impress me - especially in the speaker quality.
    that being said...
    i always recommend going components when possible. you may have to pay a little more in the long run, but you'll have something that'll last you much longer - especially the speakers. if you find speakers you like now, you'll be able to keep them for years. i hear people on these forums say they're using speakers they had 5 or 10 years ago! mine are already 3 or 4 and i have no intention on upgrading anytime soon. if i do, they'll be at the bottom of my list.
    so, get yourself a dvd player ($250), a receiver ($450), and some decent main speakers ($no clue). add a center ($250), the rears ($no clue), and finally a sub ($no clue). sorry, can you tell i haven't priced stuff in some time?
    finally, go and listen for yourself. if you find you like the sound of the htb systems, then that should be good enough for you. just give yourself the chance to listen to a component system so you have some kind of idea about the differences. ultimately, trust your ears!
    anyway, hope that helps.
    [edit] oh yeah...i forgot to mention. i believe there are some pretty decent 5.1 speaker packages that are relatively inexpensive. i don't have any experience here, but maybe someone else can recommend specific brands & models.
    ------------------
    You step in the stream,
    But the water has moved on.
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    [Edited last by Ted Lee on September 24, 2001 at 12:25 PM]
     
  9. John Morton

    John Morton Stunt Coordinator

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    I started with an Infinity "minuette" package (4 small satelites, a small center, and an 80 watt sub) a Sony receiver, and a Sony vcr. This was something like 5-6 years ago (just before 5.1 was introduce, and I was upset when I found that 5.1 was available 3 months after my purchase, but I got over it). The whole thing cost about $1200. It got me into surround sound and was excellent at the time. Heck, it still sounds great when I go over to my friend's house. You can get roughly the same thing now , but with DVD, DD, and probably DTS for around $700. If that's your budget, I say go for it. It'll get you by for 2-10 years, depending on your addiction level - and what equipment your friends have. :)
    I would also like to add that I've now spent about $6000 on my home theater hardware and wouldn't go back!!!!
    If you've got the extra cash, my experience is to get a really good center chanel ($300+). Get the best sub you can find ($650+). Use 12 gauge speaker wire and high quality interconnects (I just spent $250 on 3 wires and my picture and sound are dramatically improved). Put an inter tube under your receiver and DVD player. Make sure all 4 of the other speakers are identical and are timber matched to the center ($1000++?). Get a high quallity receiver with a sound you like ($400++). Get a DVD player that has a good track record and has the features/functions that are important to you ($300+).
    By the way, the above are my rough estimate on internet prices, so you may find better deals and you can easilly double these if you're looking to pay retail.
    If you're new to HT, also plan to spend at least 150 hours reading and tweaking to get the full potential out.
    Again, these are only my experiences and thoughts. The items above are what I found to have helped my system, in my room the most.
    No matter what you decide, spend as much time as you can doing research and you'll be very happy.
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  10. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    Dan- if you can give us a price cap, we'd be able to give a solid recommendation. i'm not a personal fan of HTiB systems; i'm a college kid on a budget and bought separates. it'll help you lots in the long run when you look to upgrade in parts.
    as most people say (and i agree with Ted completely), a good pair of speakers will last you ages. spend the most you can on those. here's what i'm gonna suggest right now though:
    JBL Northridge series speakers (package of 5 for $299 at http://www.jandr.com)
    ------------------
    -Thomas
    Click here to visit my webpage.
     
  11. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    I too will offer some advice about the HTIB. I chucked to myself when a friend went out and bought a HTIB (Kenwood). After hearing it, I was amazed at how good it really sounded. Sure it doesn't go real loud and the sub was small.
    Like the above post related, those JBL N Series speaker packages will surprise you, a good receiver doesn't have to cost you much, then with a dvd player, you are set. I am building a system for my bedroom and like you, trying to get good but inexpensive. I bought a new Yamaha RXV 396 for $169 (ebay). Only has Dolby Digital but it's great and couldn't beat the price. With the intro of ES or EX receivers, lots of people are upgrading and there are certainly some deals to be had on some great equipment.
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    "I am part of all that I have met, yet all experience is an arch wherethru gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades forever and forever...."
     
  12. Dan Whalen

    Dan Whalen Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the replies guys. I think I'm looking at probably spending around $1000. But if I get equipment piece by piece, then I could probably spend a little more since I won't be spending it all at once. I'll probably be getting a DVD player for X-mas (Panasonic from Wal-Mart), so that area should be covered.
    One question I mentioned before is would the bass of the system still sound good if I placed the sub in a corner, that is between 7 and 13 feet from the viewing area (depending on where you are sitting on the couch)? I hope so, b/c that is about the only place I will be able to put a moderately sized sub enclosure.
    Also, what are some good reputable websites that sell h/t equipment? I'm looking for good deals and (hopefully [​IMG] ) low prices. Thanks again for all the help.
    Dan
     
  13. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    Man, you're an early bird....
    Yes, a corner sub is usually a good place for bass since the walls become a sort of passive radiator.... if it is rear firing, make sure it is about 12 inches off the wall.
    Ebay is a good place to shop... Just watch who you deal with (feedbacks, etc). Most people are reputable and I buy a lot from there. For $100 bucks, you are gonna get a system that will be the envy of some multi-thousand dollar setups.
    JandR.com has some good products and prices, as does onecall.com. If you get the JBL N series speakers, you'll have a lot left to get a great receiver and a bunch of dvds too. Good luck with it and have fun. And don't let some prima-donna tell you it ain't good!!!!
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    "I am part of all that I have met, yet all experience is an arch wherethru gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades forever and forever...."
     
  14. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    some other websites to consider:
    http://www.800.com/
    ------------------
    You step in the stream,
    But the water has moved on.
    This page is not here.
     
  15. Dan Whalen

    Dan Whalen Stunt Coordinator

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    I had just gotten off work when I posted that, that's why it was so early. I know about firing subs into walls (I'm really into car audio) but I just needed to know if it would affect the performance at all with the sub being so far away from the viewing area. I didn't think it would, but I jus wanted to check. That's all I can think of for now. Any more suggestions for me, just fire away. [​IMG] Again, thanks for all the help so far.
    Dan
     
  16. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The sub seems to universally be the weak link in HTIB setups. If you can find a small speaker package without a sub, and then pick up a decent sub somewhere else, you will be all set. On a budget, the Sony SA-WM40 seems to be the one to beat (~$149)
    The second point of contention would be the integrated amp/DVD/decoder. They typically are underpowered and do not do an effective job at doing everything. They are a compromise at best, and it is the amp section that usually suffers.
    IMO, start by getting a decent inexpensive receiver. Onkyo TX-DS494 or -DS595 or Marantz SR4200. These are excellent receivers for $400 or less. Even consider going down to a local brick & mortar and seeing if you can get a deal on a floor demo. Sometimes you can find great prices on last year's gear.
    DVD - Sony or Panasonic both have very decent players for ~$199.
    Main speakers - I agree with Ted Lee, this is where you should bite the bullet and get decent speakers to start with (decent relative to your budget). They have the potential to live through a few receiver upgrades that way, and will likely save you money in the long run. My setup is not earth shattering, but it was done on a budget: 4 Paradigm Titans and a CC-170 center - $600. They more than do the job for both music and HT. [​IMG]
    I'm not saying that HTIB will not work on a budget, but for a little more, one can have better performance. My first system was an HTIB a long time ago, and now I have a nicer system in my bedroom than I used to have in my living room.
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  17. John Gates

    John Gates Second Unit

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    Dan,
    What's your budget? You can get an Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 package with a HSU-VTF2 sub included for about $1150, I think. You'd have to buy an integrated receiver to power them, but this seems like a very strong overall offering from Ascend.
    You should also consider Home Theater Direct's Level III system, or maybe the nOrh 4.0 package + SVS, Sony WAM-40, HSU, or Adire sub (depends on budget).
    Lots of choices, but they depend on budget.
    For receivers, look at Outlaw 1050, Onkyo, Denon, etc.
    http://www.cheaphometheater.com has done some reviews on inexpensive systems (relatively speaking) that might be useful to you.
    John
    ------------------
    System:
    Onkyo 787
    Mains: nOrh SM 6.9 (shipping NOW)
    Center: nOrh marble 4.0
    Surrounds: nOrh wood 4.0
    Rear Center: nOrh prism 4.1
    Subwoofers: 2 x SVS 20-39 CS w/Fidek Amp
    Pics: http://www.geocities.com/givinit2him/
     
  18. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    if you're in the $1000 range, i stand behind my earlier post:

    Quote:



    JBL Northridge series speakers (package of 5 for $299 at http://www.jandr.com)
    ------------------
    -Thomas
    Click here to visit my webpage.
     

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