Beginner Looking for Help with Making an Informed Decision

Claude North

Second Unit
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
332
I apologize if this thread is redundant, or if this question is answered somewhere else on the Forum, but there is so much information here and trying to sort through it only adds to my confusion. (Moderators, if the answer to my question can be found elsewhere on the Forum, please feel free to answer me via PM and delete this thread.)
I'm in the market for an HDTV, Blu-ray player, receiver and speakers. I'd like the TV and player to be 3D capable. I want to make an informed purchase, so I'm looking for a good, practical source of information about what to look for when purchasing these items. I'm going to be using the set-up to watch cable TV and to watch DVDs and Blu-ray discs. I'm not an electronics hobbyist (so sine wave graphs are going to be lost on me :) ) and I'm not trying to set up the home theater to end all home theaters. Also, I live in an apartment, so I have no use for an earth- or wall-shaking sound system.
I know a little bit about these things, e.g.1080p is full high definition and, I assume, preferable to 720p, and that a higher refresh rate (if that is what it's called...) is better than a lower one. Basically, I want to be able to watch a DVD or Blu-ray disc and feel that I'm getting really good picture and sound quality, and so I'm looking for nuts-and-bolts, Home Theater 101-type information.
Thank you!
 

NickSI

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
191
Ok a good place to start is Crutchfield under their research tab. This will help with glossary and basic info such as the difference between 720p and 1080p. As far as gear goes, there is a lot of information here on the forums and it can seem insurmountable but if you keep reading and digesting it will start to make sense.
The best way to decide on a TV is to go to a store and look at them. Avoid plasmas if you have a very bright room with no light control as they typically have glass screens and reflection can be an issue. LCD/LED they are the same thing with different light sources, don't let anyone tell you different, ok maybe in a few years we will have real LED TVs but not right now.
Receivers: stay with a big brand Onkyo, Denon, Pioneer, Marantz. Under $500 they all pretty much sound the same. So choose based on looks, features and price.
Sources: I've got to be honest I don't think you can beat a PS3 for the price. It has great streaming features, a Blu ray, and can act as a media hub over network or with a Hard Drive. Plus you can play GAMES!!!!!!!! lol
Speakers: Again best way is to listen to them yourself and decide. If that isn't possible here are some good rules of thumb. Satelites will need a subwoofer, and in an apartment that can lead to angry neighbors and eviction NOT A GOOD THING! You want Bookshelves, 5.5" woofers minimum, on stands. Then smaller or the same for your surrounds. Your center must match, not just the same brand but from the same line of speakers. Also avoid speakers made by electronic manufactures. Denon, Onkyo Yamaha Sony... these are usually an afterthought and not as good as a speaker manufacture product, the exception seems to be pioneer who has a large speaker division and knows what they are doing.
When it comes down to it, your system will never be put side to side with another so the small differences will be less noticeable. Have fun and make sure to reward yourself with a great movie and some great company to watch it with when you get everything setup :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Greg_sford

Number1AVdork

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
56
Real Name
Umberto Smith
A true HDTV...a basic Samsung model will set you back about 2k...If you can get it for less than retail great. Plasma is more expensive and you must pay greater attention to cooling than a conventional LCD type TV.
The best bang for the buck in terms of AV receivers is NAD. They offer better amplifier power than the other mainstream offerings. Although NAD has now become more of a mainstream brand they still offer greater sound for the buck. If you really enjoy listening to stereo recordings the NAD will deliver an overall better sound than Onkyo, Yahmaha, Marantz...Marantz ain't what it used to be.
As for speakers you can get a modestly good speaker package from Paradigm for under 1,000$. It will create a lively theater sound but the subwoofer won't do "real bass." Bass is expensive to get out of a system.
You didn't specify your budget. We must assume that you don't have a giant expendable income. It's possible to get a nice system put together but be patient. If at all possible max out the old credit card and take home as many systems as possible.
It will be tedious setting each one up. But in the end one of them will give you the sound that you enjoy most and in the end you won't feel like you got suckered into buying something based on hype or reviews.
I personally think the Paradigm systems are a good budget solution to AV needs. However I do feel the Paradigm Millenia Subwoofer is a really big rip off at 1400$.
Since you live in a small apartment I would highly recommend the NAD 748 amplifier. It has a good amount of power and sound quality. It's main compromise is features which since you are a newbie probably won't miss or care. Also be aware that what you hear in the show room will sound nothing like what you bring home...That's why it's important to take home gear and listen in your own environment.
Also don't be scared of buying used gear. Speakers are always a good value on the used market. They carry less risk than amplifiers or tv's....Speakers either work or they don't. Good luck. My 20 year old Celestion speakers still sound great considering I paid 10$ at an estate sale :)
 

NickSI

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
191
I think if you provide us with some sort of budget we can help you even more with specific recommendations. You don't have to spend 2k on a TV... dont worry about having a smart tv let your source be smart its much cheaper. I have a beautiful plasma 42" 720p that I got for $500 at a local tv shop. If you are going to go bigger than 42" or sit very close I would go for a 1080 set but that can still be had for ~1k.
I can't urge you enough to try and buy used nothing can beat the performance of old flagship models had for pennies on the dollars. Its not uncommon for speakers which cost thousands of dollars new to sell for hundreds maybe 10 years later... just make sure the woofers are in good shape and the foam isn't rotting.
 

schan1269

HTF Expert
HW Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
17,111
Location
Chicago-ish/NW Indiana
Real Name
Sam
Even if the foam is rotting on a speaker...if you can use scissors and can operate a glue package...you can buy new surrounds.
My Infinity Crescendo I bought at a garage sale cause on 3 of them(the guy had 4) the woofer and surrounds were separating. Cost me all of $65 to re-foam all 8 woofers. Bought all 4 speakers for $150.
Crescendo 3007
 

NickSI

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Nov 16, 2004
Messages
191
Sam of course you're right i just meant to be aware of it to get some off the price. :cool:
 

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Threads
345,589
Messages
4,746,996
Members
141,492
Latest member
Kiev7385