College student needs cheapest possible solution for complete hi-fi system

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Geoff I, Jul 24, 2001.

  1. Geoff I

    Geoff I Auditioning

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    Hi, I'm an excessively poor college student. I'm going to say something that will probably make you guys gag: I want to put together a setup for under $1000. I mean DVD player, tv, and surround sound setup. Basically, I'm looking for the best bargains, or the best of the worst, whichever way you want to look at it. I'll take any advice, even if you want to say I'm a moron for trying this.
    Geoff
     
  2. PhilShen

    PhilShen Extra

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    A budget of a grand? And you call yourself poor? [​IMG]
    First of all, it's definitely doable to get a respectful system in that budget. You may want to clarify some of your wants & wishes, and your "environment" -- Are you more interested in Video than Audio, or vice versa? Are you in a small dorm room or an apartment/condo?
    For a dorm room you may want to build a HTPC with a TV tuner card, a DVD player with decoder, then throw some good PC speakers around. You can use the PC for your schoolwork as well. (As if!)
    For a more traditional HT setup, you can look at some "Home Theater in a Box" solutions from Sony, Kenwood, and so on. I think you can get a package that includes surround speakers & a sub, receiver & dvd player, for around $600. Then spend around $400 for the TV.
    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    $1k is more than enough, or close to it! [​IMG] I am a poor college student like yourself and did much research before I went out and bought my HT gear, here's what I recommend for the current models:
    Kenwood HTB-504 receiver and speakers- DD/DTS/DPL 2 @ 100wx5 with a kickass 100w powered sub
    ~$400
    Panasonic RV-31k DVD player- plays cdr/cd-rw/vcd/mp3
    ~$200
    JVC 27" - s-video input & good size for a college dorm room, plus VERY easy to do the anamorphic squeeze trick on.
    ~$400
    You won't be disappointed with those choices, they are all very solid components. Good luck & don't forget about pricescan.com !
    [Edited last by Scott L on July 24, 2001 at 05:06 PM]
     
  4. John.J

    John.J Auditioning

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    You can make yourself a decent system for $1000
    Spend about $400 on 27inch TV Toshiba etc
    About $170 on DVD Toshiba SD1600 or look for pioneer
    Audio Get kenwood htb504(hometheater in a box ) excellent value about $400
    For Reviews Checkout audioreview.com
     
  5. Geoff I

    Geoff I Auditioning

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    Wow, thanks for the info and encouragement. Actually...$1000 is a rough estimate, I figure with guys here spending 10's of 1000's of dollars on stuff, I didn't want to sound like a fool! I'll check out what you guys recommended.
     
  6. Geoff I

    Geoff I Auditioning

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    Ok, I just read the replies more closely. I have limited space, but I'm definietly opting for a "real" system as opposed to a pc driven one. Scott, I'm new to this, what does the anamorphic squeeze trick do?
     
  7. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Geoff: here is an old post I posted on another board, I hope you can use it...
    If you have a 4:3 television and set your DVD player to do 4:3 letterbox there is a horizontal resolution loss of about 120 lines due to the television using lines of res to paint the top & bottom of the screen with black bars. (Take a quick glance of the top part of the pic below)
    The viewing material that was originally 480i is now at 360i, a pretty dramatic decrease. Plus the worst thing of all; your DVD player has to downconvert the 480i image to fit in a 360i box. This usually causes a glimmering effect (Toshiba players) or an overall "softer" picture (Sony players). Either way, you aren't enjoying your DVD to its fullest potential on your TV set.
    Now if you did tell your DVD player that your TV was 16:9, then it would send the full 720 x 480i lines of res, but since your TV is 4:3 the picture would look vertically stretched and everything now looks taller. The upside is that there is no resolution downconversion and your player is sending the DVD video signal as is, not to mention you're upping the resolution by 120 lines.
    The trick here, while your player is sending out a full 480i lines of picture information (no black bar info), is to get your televsion set to decrease the picture vertically, causing the image to shrink to a normal size.
    [​IMG]
    Vertically shrinking the 480i image is called the "anamorphic squeeze trick" which is a pretty popular method that is used by many-a-home theater fanatic. Plus, even the higher end Sony Wegas have this trick available on the remote, but for the rest of us, shrinking the picture invloves a little bit of know-how.
    The way to do it can be extremely simple, or somewhat of a pain depending on your set. Just about every TV has a secret service menu that can be unlocked by pressing several keys on your remote. The reason manufacturers have it hidden is that if you fool with the values too much, it can damage your set or render it useless. So of course you continue at your own risk blah blah blah...
    Current JVC's - Very easy
    Current Sony's - Hard
    Current Toshiba's - Very time consuming
    I'll stress this again; unless you have a JVC, pay extra attention to each set of instructions. I wouldn't want you to take your set in for repairs because of this thread. btw- If you guys know of a better site with more TVs listed, please post em!
    As for my personal recommendation, I have a 27" JVC and the squeeze trick is such a dramatic increase in quality when watching DVDs. Not to mention the trick invloves under 5 button presses. If I were to buy another 4:3 set for under $600 it would be a JVC soley for this reason. Good luck!
     
  8. Geoff I

    Geoff I Auditioning

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    Got it, thank you. I checked, and there seem to be several varities of JVC 27" tv's, varying from $200-$500. What should I be looking for?
     
  9. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    What if one gets one of the Toshiba TVs that has 600 or 700 lines of resolution? Wouldn't such a TV display all 480 lines without needing to resort to the squeeze trick? I believe the 27A50 and 27A60 have 600 and 700 lines respectively.
     
  10. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Geoff: Something with at least S-video input and at least 600 lines of res. You can always get 2-tuner PIP if you want to pay the extra amount. The D-Series tv's have a component video input and are supposedly higher quality but I am more than satisfied with the picture on my standard JVC. Check out their site and see what features/price range you're looking for.
    Suarav: the 480i image is scaled to fit on 700 lines of res. If you're dvd player is sending out 4:3 letterboxed video, there will always be a horizontal resolution loss no matter how many lines of res a tv has. That's because the player is sending out about 120i lines of black bar info, the squeeze trick elimnates that.
     
  11. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    I see. I guess there's no other way to trick the DVD player/TV, so that the DVD player sends out a 16:9 picture, and the TV displays it using only the letterboxed portion of the screen. That way, the TV's scan lines would be wasted on the black bars, but the DVD player would be sending a full resolution picture.
    Maybe I'm talking nonsense, this isn't an area where I know anything at all.
     
  12. Eric Baugh

    Eric Baugh Auditioning

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    Scott, I'll second your recommendations on Kenwood and Panasonic.
    Re: TV lines of resolution
    When a TV set is listed as "700 lines of resolution" it does not have anything to do with the (approximately) 480 scan lines which comprise the visible portion of NTSC video. These are HORIZONTAL lines of VERTICAL resolution which all standard NTSC video contains, be it from a crappy source like RF cable TV or a high quality source like component video from a DVD. The 480 scan lines are digital (i.e. discrete).
    What differs between sources and TV sets is the HORIZONTAL resolution measured with VERTICAL lines. These are analog (i.e. NOT discrete). A poor quality source or display cannot transmit or resolve fine detail in the original signal and so has a lower number of lines which can be distinguished. These "lines of TV resolution" are also defined for a square region, thus the (highly theoretical) maximum resolvable number of vertical lines of the display is (4/3)*(number of TV lines [TVL]). Typical TVL resolutions are 240 VHS, 330 cable TV, and 500 DVD. All of these, and all NTSC sets, will have 480 scan lines. On a display with a low resolution you would not see all of the detail present in the source.
    Anamorphic squeeze has no relation to TVL resolution. It simply uses more of the 480 scan lines for picture info instead of black space as Scott's graphic shows.
     
  13. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    OK, that makes sense now [​IMG]
     
  14. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    Geoff:
    i'm about to head off to college myself and had a budget of $1500 planned for a new HT. i decided to use my monitor and computer dvd player, but i'm gonna hook everything up to an Onkyo TX-DS595 ($359 at http://www.jandr.com
    4) i have a tv card in my PC
    i'm still under $1000 if i buy the RAVA and scrap the sub that came with the Cambridge Speakers. that leaves $500 in the bank to grow until i'm ready for better speakers.
    that's kinda a mix b/t a HTPC and a regular HT, but it works for me. i hope it helps you in some way!
     
  15. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    forgot to add that my WinTV card came with a wireless 21-button remote! love it!
     
  16. Ed_A

    Ed_A Stunt Coordinator

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    ScottL,
    that was great info on your post. Very thorough. Thanks.
    I was thinking about getting a JVC 36" set (I believe it's model # 36260); would this squeeze trick be possible on this set?
    Do you have any recommendations on 36" TV sets in the $1000 price range?
    I like the idea of getting the most out of the DVD's...those black bars are really annoying me; but not so much that I would spend $2K on a Wega...
    Thanks,
    Ed
     
  17. Greg Thomas

    Greg Thomas Second Unit

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    After doing the squeeze trick, how does this affect the TV when watching normal cable and on air broadcasts? Is everything going to be squeezed there too?
    I have a Toshiba Cinema Series 36" TV with component inputs.
     
  18. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Greg, the image will look stretched/distorted horizontally. When a tv doesn't have a user level or automatic mechanism to do the vertical compression for an anamoprhic 16x9 dvd, then one needs to manually go into the service menu on the tv and change some system variables to squeeze the raster size down to a 1.78:1 size and possibly fix any geometry problems that may crop up. When done viewing the anamorphic 16x9 signal, one needs to then change the values back to what they were before - in order to watch cable and any 4:3 programming.
    hope this helps,
    --tom
     
  19. JohnRyan

    JohnRyan Stunt Coordinator

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    I was also looking for a system under $1000. I had been researching the bejeebers out of everything to see what would be the best bang for my buck. I had decided on the following:
    JBL NSP1
    Sony SA-MW40 Subwoofer
    Onkyo 494 or Kenwood VR-507
    Panasonic DVD CD-51 5 disc changer
    This setup would have cost around $1000. Unfortunately, this was still more than I wanted to spend at this time.
    So, after frequenting HTF and audioreview.com and other various sites, I discovered that the Kenwood HTB-504 was an exceptional bang for your buck.
    Here is what I finally ended up with:
    Kenwood HTB-504 (Fry's Electronics, $399)
    Panasonic DVD CV51 (Costco, $229)
    It sounds awesome (Ask my neighbors, I'm sure they would happily tell ya!) [​IMG]
    The receiver has DPLII along with a ton of other nice features.
    Good luck.
    ------------------
    "I've got to get me one of them DVD rewinders!"
     
  20. Kieran Coghlan

    Kieran Coghlan Second Unit

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    Eric Baugh:
    Great post. I was just about to write almost the exact same thing. Leave it to the TV marketing world to confuse the hell out of people with TVL and scan lines... made all the more confusing now that HDTV has introduced several new formats with different amounts of scan lines, interlaced, and progressive, etc. Many people are rightly so confused about the difference.
    Anyway, the only thing I would add (or change rather) in your explanation, is your use of the terms digital and analog, to refer to the difference between scan lines and TVL resolution lines. You are of course correct that the scan lines are discrete, whereas the TVL's are not. However, using the term "digital" is misleading, and IMO, we should try to use the least amount of misleading terms in explanations like this, as possible (the industry already misleads everyone enough as it is!) While the industry likes to call HDTV compatible displays "digital TV's" there's nothing "digital" really, about scan lines. Sure, they're discrete seperate lines, but they are not digital by any means. A crt-based video monitor (be it a FPTV, RPTV, direct view, HDTV, HD-ready, SDTV, computer monitor or whatever) is an analog device plain and simple. [​IMG] The electrical signal sent to the CRT's is an analog electrical signal. Using the term "digital" implies a 1's and 0's encoding of a sampled analog signal, which is not happening here.
    A corrollary: I sort of stated this above, but let me clarify: contrary to what the industry marketing folks would like you to believe, an HDTV is NOT a "digital" TV. There are very few truly digital displays on the market (all of them have either LCD, dlp, or some similar type of display method). No matter how high the resolution capabilies of a crt display, it's still an analog display, requiring any digital signal to be decoded by a DAC first.
    ------------------
    -Kieran
    My HT Page
     

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