An absolute beginner

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rob.R.S, Nov 17, 2002.

  1. Rob.R.S

    Rob.R.S Auditioning

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    Hello all,

    Need a bit of advice. Just bought my first house and discovered that it is wired for surround sound, so I've decided to try something new. To this point the only radio I've ever owned is a boombox. I less than 10 cd's, but I would like to try this. Yesterday I bought a 57" HD Toshiba tv. .

    The tv is going in a two story family room that's 17'x24'. The existing wiring consists of speaker wires coming out of the walls about 10' off the floor, two on the wall behind the tv and two on the opposite wall. Now here's the fun part, Now I need EVERYTHING ELSE and I don't even have a clue.

    I need a receiver and was told by someone to buy Harman Kardon 520 because I need two zones. I was told to by toshiba dvd progressive scan w/5 discs for playing music upstairs in family room. Also told to by Harman Kardon cd player for cd's for speakers to be set up in basement. As far as speakers, I have no idea. They have to be wall mountable and it would be nice if they came in white, but if not I just have to convince my wife. My concern is that the wires are 10' off the floor, so the speakers would have to point down. The only thing that was mentioned was Klipsch quintet or jamo 330pd but I have no idea about either and the problem is at this point do not have any training to discern what sounds good or not. My total budget would hopefully not exceed $2500.00.

    Anyone who could give me any feedback would be greatly appreciated. As I stated, I know absolutely nothing about this.
     
  2. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Rob, first of all, there are others here that know a lot more about this stuff than I do, but at least I have read a lot about it and have the experience of putting a couple of home theaters together around the house. First of all, the Harman Kardon has the reputation of being a wonderful sounding receiver, but you needn't restrict yourself to only that receiver because of the two zone capability as many receivers incorporate this option. I own a Toshiba progressive scan DVD player and love the thing, but a lot of people around here would also have you consider DVD players such as the Panasonics, which also have similar price points. They sell 5 disc changers as well. Many consider the Panasonics the best you can buy at the price you can buy one for. Speakers are the hardest. I really think you need to audition those for yourself with in-home auditions being far more valuable due to factors such as room size and accoustics. I will say that the speakers you're describing sound a lot like those offered by Bose and people generally hate Bose around here and, in my viewpoint, they're justified. Besides, Bose might gobble up your budget very quickly for what you get. I'd suggest that you and your wife go out auditioning together, but remember to take your own software to audition your speakers with, something you're very familiar with. DO NOT allow the places to use their own software as often they are chosen or even created to emphasize the particular strengths of a particular set of speakers. Try to use a HK receiver in your auditioning as this could influence the sound also. The people hear can help you quite a bit on options to Bose in small speakers, but you'd do much better to start a separate thread in the Speakers section of Home Theater Forum. They'll help you with better sounding options that will cost far less than certain alternatives.

    Finally, good luck to you. I think you're doing this just right by asking the right questions BEFORE you buy. In the end, you have to make the decision, but you'll go in wide eyed and knowledgable when doing so.
     
  3. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    One more thing I didn't mention. When you're auditioning speakers, be careful. A lot of times speakers that sound great to you at the time might annoy the heck out of you later. For instance, someone might hear a big boomy bass sound and equate that as being good because it dominates the sound of other speakers in the showroom Later on, they might scream, "How do you get that thing to go away!!!" Try to listen analytically. How wide and deep is the sound. How do the instruments and voices sound in the speakers. Do they sound natural? Do they have their own individual spot separated from the other voices/instruments? Do the speakers produce effective jumps from low to high sounds?, etc. The more you train your ears, the better off you'll be. But remember, it is your ears (and your family's) that matter the most. Not someone of this board and certainly not the salespersons.
     
  4. Rob.R.S

    Rob.R.S Auditioning

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    Any suggestions to what sounds good to you for surround sound speakers?
     
  5. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    Hello Rob. Let the adventure begin!
    First, check out the Home Theater Primer. It offers a wealth of information.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=55635
    Here's what I'm about to say:
    Speakers are important, so get good ones. Get a lesser receiver to start with. Get a progressive-scan DVD-player to go with the TV.
    ----------------------------
     
  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Welcome to Home Theater Forum, Rob, and to home theater. Looks like you have to start some other threads, in Speakers/Subwoofers and in Receivers/Amps.

    So, let's focus on A/V source components in this thread—i.e., DVD players, CD players, and, should you be interested, DBS receivers.

    In your other threads, state your situation up front and request specific advice on your amplification and speaker-system requirements.

    There is much you can do with the additional $2,500 you've budgeted for this project.
     
  7. Rob.R.S

    Rob.R.S Auditioning

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    Thank you for all of your help, it is much appreciated. I was going for a two zone receiver because I would eventually like to add speakers to the basement, which also is already wired. The family room has 17' ceilings so I was a little worried that things may start to echo but I am going to check out all of the resources you have pointed out.

    Thanks again.
     
  8. Trey Jones

    Trey Jones Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, if I was looking into that arena, I would start with pictures as I love to look at other's home theater.
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/bbs/equipment/
    or
    http://www.avsforum.com/photopost/index.php
    find speaker setups you like (size, style) and then try to find them or post for suggestions in the realm of these speaker types
    Since it sounds to me like size will be an issue for speakers, look at Paradigm Cinema, Energy Take 5.2, or inwalls from Polk, Paradigm and the like. You will get better sound quality for the money over comparable (Bose) products. Remember however, that you will need a very good subwoofer with these products. Your room size is large so definately a very good sub.
     
  9. PaulHeroy

    PaulHeroy Stunt Coordinator

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    Rob.R.S posted:
     
  10. PaulHeroy

    PaulHeroy Stunt Coordinator

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    Oh yeah, a lot of good info about the Omnisats can also be found in this thread. You can get the complete system with 5 Omnisats and a sub for $1700 (retail).
    There are several good receivers at the $600 price from Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, etc. from which you should be able to find one that fits your needs.
    Add $200 for the Panasonic CP72 5 DVD carousel (does progressive scan, DVD-Audio and most other DVD/CD formats), and you're set.
     
  11. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    First, welcome to HTF!
    Second, STOP! Dont buy anything.
    You have 2 roads you can go down:
    - Take the advice of the sales person and buy the equipment. Or take the advice of many of our very experienced members on what to buy.
    - Decide to make HT a hobby and spend many happy hours in learning/anticipation.
    One of the over-looked parts of this hobby is ANTICIPATION. We spend hours reading magazines, going to stores for auditions, etc. We slowly build our systems while learning the tech stuff. We are very happy to welcome new members.
    So...which do you want to be?
    I CAN give you a check-list of things you want to buy:
    - A Sat system so you can get good-quality signals and High Def programming. (Most cable systems do not provide HD signals)
    - A Personal Video Recorder system that is a part of your Sat system for network/local TV channels. These things are replacing VCR's and people who have them just love them. The 2 big names are DirectTivo (from DirectTV) and the PVR units from Dish Network.
    - A Progressive Scan DVD player. (That TV will take a progressive feed)
    - A Home Theater AV receiver.
    - A set of 5 speakers and a external subwoofer.
    I STRONGLY suggest you run out and buy the November 2002 issue of Sound & Vision. It has a receiver buyers guide that is just great.
    Note: You can right now go out and buy the Kenwood HTB-509 that has EVERYTHING you need for DVD movies for about $700. (Yes, a receiver, 5-disk progressive scan DVD player, 5 speakers, external subwoofer). So you dont have to spend $$$$ to get a great HT experience.
    But if you are willing to budget that $2500 (or some other sum you care to name), we will try and advise you on good-quality equipment that will give you years of pleasure.
    Let us know do you want to make HT equipment a hobby, or do you just want shopping advice?
     
  12. Ralph Bru

    Ralph Bru Stunt Coordinator

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    lets hope I dont step on any feet as I seem to have before......

    Rob:

    you say you dont want to exceed $2500, thats a great starting point if thats what you have to spend. I dont agree with advice of a HTIB as you obviously have cash to spend on something above average.

    when I started out on this forum I didnt have much to spend and against what most said I did go with advice of buying a HTIB and was very disappointed and found out later if you look around you can find a quality above average reciever,speakers & sub for the same money you might spend on a HTIB. you live you learn. I dont see the reason to make multiple upgrades when you have a limit that you can spend on something above average. it seemed to me to be a waste of money but yes I did learn a good lesson in recievers. audition stuff in home if possible then buy online as you can save $$$$$$ . bringing the equipment home to audtion really helps although it is a pain to have to setup then bring it back but atleast you will know what your getting, this is very important especially with speakers. I recommend a Onkyo, harmon kardon or yamaha reciever for you total HT limit and well speakers I went with JBL's but with your spending limit I think someone here can give you a better recommendation on speakers. with that spending limit you will find yourself a very nice sounding , above average system. If I did it over I too would go with a panasonic dvd player.
     
  13. PaulHeroy

    PaulHeroy Stunt Coordinator

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  14. Rob.R.S

    Rob.R.S Auditioning

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    I appreciate all of the advice that's been given and I feel the most important thing I have received from this forum is that there is a tremendous amount I need to learn. Given the choice of just buying something that would work or taking the time to buy what I would truly like, even if it is more expensive, I would pick the latter. If I am going to purchase something, it's going to be done carefully, i.e. it took three years to find the house. Now what I must do is continue to read, absorb and analyze the incredible helpful information I am finding in this forum.
     
  15. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Paul: It was just an example of a low-priced system that gave all the parts and could be upgraded.

    And keep in mind: a HT system is not trying to fill every corner with sound like a 2-channel music system. Instead we surround one position with an array of 5 speakers all focused on a few seated positions. It does not take huge speakers or 200+ WPC for a great movie experience.

    You may not have been around to hear the story, but a member of this fourm went to his in-laws where they proudly showed him their new $499 HTB system. Bravely, he installed it, mounted the speakers, calibrated, etc. Then they listened to it. And they listened to it some more. Then the guy left and went home to listen to his system which he had put together over the years to the tune of about $10K. Sure, his system did sound better, but not 20 times better like the price-difference would indicate.

    He related the story here and it caused weeks of talk over how a set of inexpensive, but tone-matched speakers, modest receiver and external sub can do a great job for HT.

    The system? The now discontinued Kenwood HTB-503.

    Based on this, I have recommended the Kenwood systems to several people, and have even installed two of them for friends. They historically have performed very well for the $$$.
     
  16. Ralph Bru

    Ralph Bru Stunt Coordinator

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    well for what it sounds like he is looking for a HTIB is not a wise investment for someone who can afford a better system. I bought a JVC HTIB and was extremely disappointed although at first I thought it was decent. but my ears learned. so I thought the reciever would be fine and instead upgraded my inadequate speakers. well it turns out it was the reciever that was also inadequate and learned that most of these recievers(HTIB) are not going to give your speakers(given the speaker configs lacking) the power and quality they need. I mean real power not over rated power. although I have heard the Onkyo HTIB model#:HTS650 and was impressed for a boxed system and would have bought that instead when I first started out if it was available. I have heard alot of good things about the kenwood 503 HTIB but no experience here. still I think for the money you have to spend you can avoid the hassels and many upgrades by going with a quality setup your spending limit gives you. good luck Rob!
     
  17. JohnBMarsz

    JohnBMarsz Auditioning

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    I have just installed my Onkyo HTS650 system, and am pleased with it as well. It's not top of the line, but you definitly get what you pay for.
     
  18. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Rob: I'm going to take a different route here.
    Do you want to become a home theater hobbyist, or do you just want a quality theater system to enjoy music and movies with?
    If you don't want to be a hobbyist, make sure when choosing a system it's easy to use. Many of today's HT components are jammed full of features that only appeal to "tech-heads" that enjoy constantly fussing with tiny & subtle details of their system, details that others can barely see or hear. The "chroma bug" is a perfect example of this (do a search, you won't be disappointed in the # of results!). A typical "fussy" receiver is any Sony model-I personally can't stand them. Denons can be hair pullers too. Make SURE you play with--in the store--whatever component you are considering buying!!!
    If possible, put your front main speakers on the floor, level with the TV's image. And the center channel must be on top of the TV. Speakers 10 feet off the floor, whether or not they are pointed downwards, will detract from watching movies and is really bad for music: it will almost sound like you are listening to a department store PA system this way.
    And, you don't HAVE to use a subwoofer: it does make certain movies more fun to experience, especially if you're into sci-fi & adventure types. But sometimes subwoofers can be difficult to "tune in" properly & they don't always look good in a nice room (the "wife approval factor" or WAF comes into play here!). A good pair of floorstanding front main speakers can suffice for most movies. And you are really into music, tuning in a sub properly is very important or else you'll get some weird sound effects Mick Fleetwood or Paul McCartney never intended!
    But the Big Rule for me: spend the most money (& time looking) on the speakers. Nothing can make up for low-quality speakers. Most things electronic sound extremely similar, but not speakers!
    My brand of speakers:
    http://bostonacoustics.com/
    Other brands I like & that are easy to find:
    Infinity:
    http://infinitysystems.com/homeaudio/default.asp
    Mirage:
    http://miragespeakers.com/first/index.htm
    Polk Audio:
    http://polkaudio.com/polk.html
    And if you like LOUDspeakers [​IMG] (they do make more subtle-sounding ones nowadays):
    http://cerwinvega.com/
    Good luck, and don't stress out!
    LJ
     
  19. Rob.R.S

    Rob.R.S Auditioning

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    Thank you again for the help. I think at this point I need to do some fieldwork and start exploring all of the good suggestions I have been receiving. As to the question of whether I intend to make this a hobby or not, I do not feel that I can properly answer that question yet. To me all of this is brand new. It's like learning a new language. It can be overpowering at first, but once you get used to it, it may become your favorite language.

    Thanks again.
     
  20. Neil Weinstock

    Neil Weinstock Stunt Coordinator

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    Rob,
    This hobby can be overwhelming in many respects, but you've come to the right place to learn.

    When I bought my townhouse and decided to put in a home theater, I had a little knowledge but basically had to start from scratch. I spent a few months learning and picking equipment, and when I was done I had a pretty decent system put together, and was pleased.

    That was two years ago. As I look back, I now realize that I knew almost nothing compared to what I know now. And that's OK. If I had waited until I had truly mastered all the different areas of home theater, I'd have missed out on a whole lot of viewing (and listening) enjoyment and probably gone mad in the process.

    So my first advice is to learn what you can, but don't go crazy to where you can't decide on anything. You can always upgrade later, and besides it's virtually impossible to make all the correct decisions the first time around. So don't sweat it too badly.

    Also, don't be afraid of some of the internet-only vendors. Some of them, like SVS (just to name a prominent one) have sterling customer service records, and will let you try the equipment for a while to decide if you like it. So keep those options open.

    As for specific recommendations:

    DVD Players: I second the recommendation for the Panasonic CP72. I'm really enjoying mine; it does everything pretty well. And for only around $200 from J&R (plus a $30 rebate), it's an easy item to upgrade later if needed. I would not recommend spending much more than this on a DVD player to start out.

    Receiver: Many, many good choices out there. I agree that you should find one that you like the look and ergonomics of. You should be fine for $500-$600.

    Subwoofer: I'm in the camp that strongly believes in good subwoofers for watching DVDs, and not just for action or sci-fi. In your large room you're going to need plenty of woof. Do not feel the need to get your sub from the same company as the rest of your speakers; a good quality sub from any vendor should blend just fine with your speakers. Allocate about $500 for the sub, though this is an area where a few hundred more would be well spent as well.

    Speakers: That should leave you $1250 or so for your five other speakers, which should net you a nice system. There are a zillion options here, and there are indeed many that come in white. I share the concern that mounting your front left and right speakers 10 feet off the ground is not ideal, but maybe you can work with it. If you can get them down to ear level it would definitely be a big improvement.

    Have fun!
     

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