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cost conscious newbie (1 Viewer)

Shawn Bridges

Apr 17, 2003
Hello everyone. I am very excited to find this forum. Before I make any purchases I do research, and lots of it. This forum has provided me with more than enough! Maybe even too much.:D I am new to HT but have always wanted to have one, even if it’s not top of the line. With all the major fiscal priorities, entertainment funds have been next to nothing. I have just got rid of my 16 year old GE 21 inch console TV, and replaced it with a JVC AV32D303. I am quite happy with it, though as I have learnt here I need to calibrate it.:) Now I want to move on to the HT experience, so every dollar I make on the side, which is not that much, I am socking away.

The only questions I have right now are pretty generic. Is it possible to configure a decent system piece by piece in the $500 to $700 range (preferably closer to the $500)? Or is HTIB the way to go? If HTIB is an ok option are they all upgradeable or are some too integrated. For instance I have heard that some of the Panasonic’s HTIB have hard wired speakers so that even changing the wire is out of the question.

Sorry for the long winded intro,



Feb 19, 2003
FWIW, here's what I did. I was also on a next to nothing budget.

Pioneer VSX-D411 - $150 on sale at 6ave.com (incl. shipping)
Sony SS-MB300 (fronts) - $69 on clearance at Vanns.com (normally around $99)
Sony SSC-R305 (center and surrounds) - $95 from CC
Sony SA-WM40 (sub) - $129 from Sears (hurry! when they're gone, they're gone!)

I think I did as good as one can possibly do for around $500. My only other option was a HTIB, and the above sounds FAR better than any HTIB's I tested. The only other thing I'll be doing in the near future is replacing the surrounds with Sony SS-MB100's.

Good luck, and feel free to PM me with any questions if you want.

Bob McElfresh

Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
For a HTB that gives you all the toys that are separates, check out things like the Kenwood HTB-509 (or whatever current models are). These usually include:

- stand alone receiver
- 5 tone matched speakers
- self-powered sub
- DVD player

For about $600. They are decent quality out-of-the-box, but you can slowly upgrade all the parts as your need and finances increase.

If you want to take some time to audition/price shop, a lot of people buy a set of JBL speakers from Best Buy and a budget receiver.

Remember 2 things when shopping for speakers:

- Music is about accuracy, but HT is about impact. This is why there are many budget speaker systems are available for HT that do a great job. Not very accurate/musical for critical listening, but they dont need to be for movies.

- Speakers have "flavor". People often ask which speakers are 'better' for a price range and it's like asking Coke vs Pepsi. You are more likely to get owners of each speaker simply telling you how they like their speakers. Good reasurance, but not really telling which you would perfer. So you just have to go out and audition.

Hope this helps.


Stunt Coordinator
Jan 10, 2003
My setup could be had for under $500.

* Kenwood 6050 receiver ($249 at CC)
* Onkyo speakers ($180 refurb at Onkyo website). These are the speakers that come in the Onkyo HTiB that is well respected on this forum
* Toshiba 2900 DVD Player ($75 at Sears on sale)

The DVD player at that price range is probably interchangable depending on the features you want. The Toshiba not only played DVDs, but also had support for Audio, MP3, WMA, jpeg and other photo formats, if that floats your boat.

Jack Briggs

Senior HTF Member
Jun 3, 1999
Shawn, welcome to HTF.

A console TV, eh? Haven't seen one of those in a while!

If you're willing to spend another couple hundred dollars, you could find a really good entry-level receiver (many of which now offer 6.1-channel capability) and nice, pre-matched home-theater speaker ensembles (that include dedicated center-channel speakers and powered subs).

Consider, among others, the Energy Take 5 system and Acoustic Research's excellent (and aesthetically stunning) HC6 system.

Shawn Bridges

Apr 17, 2003
Thanks for all the responses so far! It appears I have plenty of options to choose from. I may start with a dvd player since the one we are currently using is a VERY low end dvd/vcr combo that we picked up for the kids, but they decided to put it in the living room as opposed to their bedroom.

A console TV, eh? Haven't seen one of those in a while!
:) Yup a console. If not for two rapidly growing boys and a big mortgage, and of course the spouse resistance factor, it would have been gone a long time ago!

Funny how they resist yet once the item is in the house they love it!:)


Apr 19, 2003
I just put together my first HT recently too. My best advice is don't be in too much of a hurry to get everything. I shopped around and I think I got one hell of a deal on everything I bought. You just have to keep your eyes open. I spent under $1000 on everything. Here's what I paid for what just to give you an idea

Harman Kardon AVR325 $435
JBL S312's $305

For $900, I don't think it could be beat. CC wants $800 just for the receiver. Keep checking ebay and look at different websites. You can almost always get 30% to 50% off of retail. You don't have to settle for cheap equipment because you don't have a lot of cash. You just have to spend a little time.

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