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Different recs from consultants for multi-room sound & home theater - need advice! (1 Viewer)

speedyalice

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Jorie Sligh
Hi,
After many weeks of reading posts on HTF I find myself getting more confused about what to do (Sonos? Multi-zone receivers?) & would love some help from people who know about this stuff, and aren't trying to sell me $$$ cables while they're advising me of what's in our best interest. :) I hope I"m posting this in the right forum. Sorry this is so long, and thanks in advance to anyone who can offer some advice.
We've just moved into a fairly new home & have two different levels we're working on w/ sound/home theater. We've had two consults w/ people/businesses; I'll describe the room setups we have and try to summarize what the two advisers recommended, as they differed. Any feedback, observations, recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
Main level - Living room needs a Blu-ray player & sound; sunroom & patio need sound.
Lower level - theater needs projector, screen, Blu-ray player & sound
Living room (20' 7" deep x 17' 6" wide); We have a 55" Panasonic plasma ST30 (I did go ahead and get that after reading LOTS of posts on HFT!) in an entertainment center against the 17' 6" wall w/ a 9' 3" high ceiling which rises to 18' 6" and is open in the back to the kitchen; the 20' 7" measurement is the half-wall in the back that comes down from the 2nd floor. There are two round built-in speakers (not currently hooked up to anything) on the sloping ceiling, maybe 9 feet or so from where the ceiling and the wall meet. People on the sofa will be about 10' from the tv screen & there will also be a couple of seats on the side. We're currently watching programming online via router but the tv can be hardwired to the Internet - hookup is right behind the entertainment center - we just don't have the cord to do it. We 'd like to get a Blu-ray player and also (can we do this?) keep our VHS player for those tapes that aren't available as DVDs/Blu-ray discs. Both consultants said surround sound wouldn't work in the living room due to the open back. We thought a sound bar under the tv might be a good idea (one consultant recommended that, and one didn't) in addition to the existing speakers in the ceiling.
Sunroom (20' 7" x 14' 5") is next to living room; we'd like to have music in here w/ the option of it being different from the living room.
Patio is off the sunroom; there is existing speaker wire coming off two of the corners near the roof. Music there could be the same music that's in the sunroom.
Theater:
The wall the screen will be on is 13' 10" wide, although the screen can't be centered because there is an access door on the wall that extends from the left corner by 32". So for practical purposes, the wall w/ the screen is 11' 2". At about 10' 6" from the screen the room widens to 20' 6". The length of the room is 25' 8". We were thinking a 120" screen, two rows of seating, and a high table/high chairs a little farther back.
Recommendations for this:
Person A:
Living Room: Sony Blu-ray player, Denon 1312 receiver, Harmony One remote & RF control for remote, surge protector (we don't have his recs for the sunroom and patio; I wasn't there for this consult & my husband was more focused on the TV & theater room). He also recommended Dish satellite, a single tuner HD/DVR, & a dual HD/DVR hard drive.
Theater: Mitsubishi HC4000 projector; 106" fixed screen w/ frame, Denon 1712 Surround sound receiver, Pinnacle wall mount speakers (4), Pinnacle wall mount center speaker, Pinnacle 12" sub woofer PS 225, equipment rack, rack mount surge protector, Sony Blu-ray disc player. $1500 to install & set up - includes speaker wires. Ceiling is a dropped ceiling.
Person B:
For Living Room: Sonos Zoneplayer 120, Bose Cinemate SR speaker system, Samsung BD-D6500ZA 3D Blu-ray player, Harmony 900 15 device remote w/ RF; Sonos bridge, Monster Powercenter 8 outlet home theater surge protector, Monster cable, calibration, Sonos bundle install & warranty were also included in his recommendation.
For sunroom: Sonos Zoneplayer 12, (KS 14) Klipsch Icon Dual 4" bookshelf speakers, 4 yr protection plan, and $100 to install.
For patio: Sonos Zoneplayer 120, KHO-7 Klipsch indoor/outdoor speakers (pair),4 yr protection plan, and $100 to install.
For theater: Epson 3010 Powerlite HD projector; Samsung BD-6500ZA Blu-ray player, Martin Logan Motion 4" flat-panel speakers (4), Martin Logan Helos10 6 1/2" Ceiling speakers (2), Yamaha RX-V671BL Home theater network receiver, Elite screen R120WH1, Logitech Harmony 900, Monster Powercenter 8 Outlet surge protector.
Person B added warranty plans on to everything and specified $$$ Monster cables as well as the $100 "installation" of each of the Sonos. Person A charged quite a bit higher than the street price of the components but didn't specify expensive cable nor additional remotes or warranty.
 

Robert_J

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You described the rooms and what equipment you have and what was recommended but you forgot what YOU want out of each room. What are your goals?
Sonos looks to be great for multi-room music if you stream from the internet or have all of your CDs ripped and stored on a media server. As far as "setup", from what I've read it's plug and play.
Have you listened to any of the recommended speakers to see if YOU like them?
My personal opinions (ignore them if you want) - Anyone recommending Bose and Monster is just after your money. He gets them wholesale and gets the %%%%% mark up.
I hate, hate, hate Dishnetwork. I used them for a year and a week (1 year contract). It was raining the weekend after my contract ran out and that's the only reason that extra week was on there. Their equipment was sub standard to say the least. I was a DirecTV customer before the Dish experience and I have been for the last 11 years. Why DirecTV? It's not their customer service but then again, I must rub them the wrong way. When I networked all of my receivers together and called them to turn on Whole House DVR (you can't activate it via the web) they said it was impossible that I could set things up. I argued that it wasn't impossible and I had done everything correctly down to the test connection screens. We agreed that they wouldn't support any issues and I wouldn't have to pay for a service call to have someone look at my network. They flipped the switch, I told them it worked and promptly hung up on them.
But that's it, it works. I stream music from my NAS media server. I view pictures. I even watch YouTube videos and check Facebook all from my couch. Their new media server DVR can record 5 channels at once and feed networked video to players in every room.
 

speedyalice

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Jorie Sligh
Thanks for the reply. My first post was so long - I hesitated to add any more to it! Our goals... the set in the living room is the only tv in the house. We don't watch a lot of tv but we'll use it to stream tv shows, occas. sports events, & DVDs/Blu-rays. Maybe also to listen to Pandora. We'd like the sound to be good but the fact that we can't have surround sound in the living room is ok, since we'll use the theater room downstairs when we want to have excellent sound and a more movie theater-like experience. :)
We plan on using the theater downstairs for watching movies and occasional bigger sports events (college playoffs, Super Bowl, etc). We'd like both the theater room and living room to have 3-D capability, not so much for watching things in 3-D as for the better overall picture quality and equipment quality that seems to come with the 3-D tvs/projectors.
We decided not to get satellite or cable service, since just about everything we want to see we can get from Hulu, Netflix, etc. and pay-per-view for sports events.
Ease of use for the sound system would be nice so that changing music in different rooms is intuitive and not complicated to do.
RE: the Monster cables - yeah, it was kind of discouraging to have one of the guys give me a long spiel about how important it was to use high quality $$$$ cables to make sure that we were getting the best audio/video, etc. Hard to have much trust in someone that will knowingly try to sell you something so overpriced and unnecessary ("I don't get a commission, so it doesn't matter to me what you buy..." Hmmm, right). If I had more trust in the person giving me the recommendation this would be a no-brainer and I'd just get what they advised.
I don't know a lot about speakers/sound systems, but I'd read enough in HTF that I had a feeling that the Bose recommendation might not be the best way to go, value-wise. We'd like the sound in the sunroom and patio to be good quality and I wondered whether the sound quality of a Sonos system would be good enough (i.e. are we limited as to which speakers we can use?) We haven't listened to any speakers...haven't had a chance to drive to a city where we can do that. And after reading so many posts about ohms and amps & other considerations, I'm not sure where to begin looking to know which speakers are an option for what we want to do, which is why I'm hoping someone here (*not* trying to sell me $$$ cables/speakers that they get a big markup on!) could point me in the right direction.
I hope that info helps - thanks again.
 

Steve Tannehill

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Jorie, welcome to HTF! I'll be brief and leave it at that, except to add that I'm not a fan of Bose and Monster cable, although I have used both.
 

Robert_J

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With Sonos, one of their players lets you use any speakers you want. Quality is as good as the source material. I first heard of them when I toured http://egglestonworks.com/ and they had just installed it. Did it sound as good as the $300,000 system I also heard there? No. But it was very good.
Don't get bogged down on the technical details of speakers. Go listen to some and tell us what you like and don't like. For some, Klipsch is "bright". For others they sound "harsh". It all depends on how sensitive your ears are. Your other option is to trust us and go internet direct on speakers from companies like Axiom, Fluance, SVS or Elemental Designs.
When we got our theater room up and running, we had the same ideas you did. Use it for some movies and big games while the living room TV would be used for everything else. WRONG!!!!! We turn on the living room TV during holiday overflow so it gets used 3 or 4 times a year. We watch everything on the 103" projector screen. Football, basketball, movies, series, local news, weather radar, home movies, pictures from my media server, etc.
Why are you using a consultant/installer? Do you have in-wall cables to run? Overwhelmed by the equipment?
 

speedyalice

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Jorie Sligh
Thanks for the welcome, Steve! I've been lurking here on and off for the past 3 years for general interest and minor electronic purchases - never dreamed that we'd be moving and would end up having to make major purchases, so I'm very grateful that I know about HTF.
Robert, my husband had the first guy come over at the recommendation of a friend, since we knew we'd be pretty much starting from scratch and would need someone to do the install. I wasn't there for that consult. The second guy is from the Geek S & I signed up for that consult because I wanted a second opinion and it was the only other consult option I could find
We're definitely overwhelmed since technology has changed so much since the last time we set up sound in our home (probably 15 years ago!). We don't own a Blu-ray player nor, until a few weeks ago, a flat-screen/HD tv. I love to research stuff but even so, you don't know what you don't know, which means that I wouldn't be looking up info on stuff I didn't know existed/was possible (hadn't heard of Sonos until the second guy came out and mentioned it).
We do have some cables to run, mostly for the theater. I think we can hardwire the projector with a 25' or 30' HDMI cord & that it shouldn't be too complicated, since we have a dropped ceiling on the lower level. I could probably do the tv and Sonos in the sunroom - it's just hooking up the components, isn't it? The outside speakers w/ and the projector/theater room we'd want to have someone with experience do.
Interesting about your theater room! It does seem a shame to spend so much $$$ on a room and then not use it very often - we might find we use it more than we think we will. Since the kitchen opens into the living room and I can see the tv from the kitchen it makes it a little easier to be social when there's more casual viewing going on... we don't watch the news, for example, but maybe if there's a tv show on my husband wants to watch while I'm making something in the kitchen...
That's good to know about speaker choice and Sonos! I've been reading about it but must have skipped reading about that particular model.
As much as I like to research to pieces buying decisions, I'd be happy to trust the advice here. I can tell the difference between speakers when I hear them side by side, but when they're alone - as long as the quality is good I don't think I'd notice too much whether the sound is brighter or not (I think, anyway). We can try to get to the nearby city this weekend to listen to some different brands, though, to see if we have a preference.
There is a lot more experience and discriminating taste here than I can hope to pick up on in the short run & from what I've read in other posts about home theater/ sound set up I'd feel very comfortable taking advice here. For example, Person B recommended Bose, and if I hadn't been reading the forums here I wouldn't have questioned whether that was the best choice (well, aside from all the insistence on very expensive cables, which made me start to question his other choices)...
Plus some things I think don't come down to personal preference but are based on knowledge & experience, eg is Sonos or would a multi-zone receiver be better for what we're doing? Yes, I'm ready to trust. :)
 

Robert_J

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Plus some things I think don't come down to personal preference but are based on knowledge & experience, eg is Sonos or would a multi-zone receiver be better for what we're doing? Yes, I'm ready to trust. smile.gif
I don't have a multi-zone receiver so I'm just wondering about this. Let's say you go that option, when you turn it on for zone 2, how will you control the source equipment? Will zone 1 turn on as well? What about zone 3? Do they send 3 remotes? All the more reason I would lean towards a Sonos. How will you blindly choose an album or radio station?
I went a dug a little more to find this video. A few button presses and you have a new zone in your house. The installer wanted to charge you what per zone?
[VIDEO]http-~~-//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV31ZX68Ygk[/VIDEO]
since we knew we'd be pretty much starting from scratch and would need someone to do the install
We recommend installing it yourself because you will know how it works and can usually troubleshoot it. We also know that some people don't have time and there's a few who have trouble working a screwdriver without instructions. I have to be brought back to reality because I am first cheap and second, consider installs like this a challenge. It's not that I don't know how to do something, I just haven't had the opportunity to do it yet.
 

speedyalice

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Jorie Sligh
Casey, thanks for the reply. Person A in my example is from a small business; he was recommended to my husband by a friend. When I checked out his website it looks like his focus is Dish/Satellite TV and then the installation of components goes along with that. I didn't get the feeling that the focus was audo/video... rather those came about because they sold Dish/satellite services. Not to say that he isn't knowledgeable, but it doesn't look like he has a store, and maybe that's why his prices are higher. Taking your advice I did a little more looking around and found a place in a nearby city that specializes in audio/video equipment and carries quite a number of brands. They say on their website that they do a lot of installations and also work directly w/ builders, and will make recommendations based on needs & prices (they state that their prices are comparable to the big box stores) or else will install equipment we already have. So I'll give them a call and see if they might be a good option, at least for installation of the stuff in the theater room.
Robert, thanks for your input. RE: the multi-zone speakers - I wish I knew! I don't know enough about multi-zone receivers to know how easy they are to use compared to Sonos, how much more complicated the installation would be (wires in walls?), etc. The ads for the Sonos, like the video you posted, sure make it look very easy and also flexible to use. I've read a little about multi-zone receivers but not enough yet to really know how they would compare to Sonos and whether either system has limitations RE: playing music from various sources (Internet, iTunes/computer, CDs in a Blu-ray player, etc).
RE: installation... the Sonos wouldn't be a problem, but I think the installation of the projector/cables/components in the theater room would be better handled by a professional. I like your philosophy of knowing how the system works & being able to troubleshoot, though, and so I'd probably watch the installation so I would understand how it all goes together.
We did go to a Best Buy yesterday to listen to some speakers but there were just 3 brands that they had: Polk, Klipsch, and I think Pioneer. The Klipsch sounded quite a bit better than the other two we listened to. I don't know what models they were; I think the Klipsch was HTIB.. Good idea to listen to different speakers - very interesting how different the sound was. I'm going to be out of town for the next 10 days and will try to do more of that, since I'll be in cities where there should be more audio/video stores available.
 

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