Getting Started

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Kenny Li, Dec 7, 2003.

  1. Kenny Li

    Kenny Li Agent

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    Hello all!

    I'm new to this forum and this is my first post. I am new to home theaters, so I have a feeling that what I say will come back to haunt me when I start getting serious later on down the road.

    Anyway, the reason I am looking at setting up a home theater is I am renovating and I've heard that this will be the perfect time to set up wiring so that the wires can he hidden.

    Now a little background information. I live in an apartment, so my living room will be my home theater. This is an open area with the dining room. The total area is approx. 350 sq. ft.

    I plan on using a 37" LCD TV. Please feel free to suggest projectors if you deem appropriate. However, the reason I decided against a projector is operating in daylight. I also usually watch more TV than movies.

    Anyway, to the setup. I currently have nothing. Because I am still a newbie, I'm still very much into aesthetics. Everything has to look good. I really prefer not to have several huge speakers sitting in my living room. Plus given that I have neighbors, I don't think I'll get to blast the system too loud anyway.

    So, I went to a home theater store and they suggested that I need to spend roughly HKD 50,000 (approx. USD 6,500) for speakers and an amp. They suggested the Denon AVC-A1SR amp (it seems like a top of the line amp) and said that they will come back to me with speaker suggestions. They mentioned using something like a bipolar rear speaker (what's that?). They also said that I need floor speakers.

    Now here's my question. It sounds like he's hooking me up with a good system, but is it too good? I really think that USD 6,500 is a lot to spend. I'm looking more at the USD 4,000 and below range for an amp and speakers. Am I cutting myself short for the size of my room? Or is the salesman selling me too advanced a system? I know it's all relative, but I would like to see what you guys think. How much should I set aside?

    Also, any suggestions for speakers? I've read the many posts on Bose, so I won't go there, but I really like something less overwhelming in terms of speakers, so are there any better looking speakers you guys suggest that will blend more easily into a living room, so that it will not overwhelm my significant other? Or should I stay away from such sat/sub speakers? I'm also looking at the B&W line of speakers and they look rather good looking, but expensive. I have to add, that Nautilus - WOW!!! What do you guys think about using a bookshelf for my situation?

    Sorry for the long post. I have no idea what I'm doing, don't want to cut myself short and at the same time, can't justify at the moment spending too much an a home theater, so to make a long story short - any suggestions?

    If you've gotten this far, thank you for reading my post. I'm sorry for the long post, but I wanted to make sure I included everything. Thank you in advance for your answer. I've been going through this forum and I must say it is awesome and it has helped a lot in giving me a crash course in home theaters.

    Thanks,
    Kenny
     
  2. GrahamT

    GrahamT Supporting Actor

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    welcome to the forum Kenny,

    I would say that he is trying to sell you a system that is too good. You should buy what sounds an looks good to you not him. Floorstanding speakers are good but they dont seem ideal for your situation. Bipole speakers for surround duty are good in some rooms but not others so do the research. I think that wall or stand mounted bookshelf speakers should suffice. Try to stay away from very small speakers though because they have weak low frequency performance. B&w make some great speakers as do many other companies like paradigm, polk etc but I am not sure what is available to you. You could go with a stereo or 5.1 system with a budget of 4000 but dont rely on the salesman, take your time and get what sounds good to you.
     
  3. Kenny Li

    Kenny Li Agent

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    Thank you Graham.

    That was quick! I'm glad to hear that I don't need to spend that much money to get started. I guess people here in Hong Kong do spend a ton on equipment. I've been looking at magazines here and for the small living quarters that we have here, these guys have their living rooms decked out with huge speakers and big big displays. That's why I thought this forum might help me cause I think that people in the US (where I used to live) and Canada, where you're from, are more practical and have more of a concept of value for money. But man do the people here have very sweet setups. I was salvating at the pictures of their systems, but since I'm new, I'm not at the point where I'm willing to spend too much yet. Just enough to soak my feet into this whole home theater hobby. I'm definitely going to shop around more. Will check out some other stores today.

    Thanks again,
    Kenny
     
  4. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Kenny,

    First, welcome to the Forum!

    Based on the information you’ve provided in your opening post, I agree with Graham that your salesman is trying to push you towards more than you really want or need. The first clue was that you said you didn’t want huge speakers all over the room, yet the salesman is trying to push floor-standing speakers on you.

    I’m estimating your room is about 3000 cubic ft. (based you your square footage and estimating ceiling height at 9ft.). This is not a terribly big room and you will have no problem filling it with sound with good set of bookshelf-sized speakers. Something with a 6” woofer will do nicely – reasonably small in size, yet with enough bass response to blend well with sub. For a sub a good-quality 12” model will work fine for your room size.

    As Graham noted, you have to be careful what room you use bipolar speakers in. They typically fire from both the front and back. The purpose of the design is to give a large, ambient sound; however that effect is accomplished by bouncing sound off the front and rear walls of the room. So if your room is say, open at the rear to the dining room, or if right or left side of the listening area opens to the dining room, then bipolars probably won’t work well for you. Bipolars work best when the listening area has symmetrical dimensions.

    Since you want to keep the clutter of speaker boxes in the room down, you might consider in-wall mounted speakers for the rear, if they can be situated in a symmetrical arrangement to the seating. Typical locations would be to the sides and just behind the seating area, or behind the seating area. If your ceilings are no more than 9ft. they could even be mounted there. In all these situations, the speakers would have to face the seating.

    You are correct that the AV-1SR is Denon’s flagship model in Hong Kong, and according to info on Denon’s Singapore Website it puts out an impressive 275 watts per channel - way more than you need.

    If Denon is the brand you’re most interested in, I suggest looking at their line of A/V receivers. One with about 100 watts per channel will be perfectly adequate for your situation. You will have to do some research to find out which receiver offer the features you need; that will largely be determined on the number of inputs you will be using, the type of video signals you wish to route through it, and so forth.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  5. Kenny Li

    Kenny Li Agent

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    Thanks Wayn. Your post has been very informative.

    Ah, so that's what bipolar speakers are. Yeah, it doesn't seem like they're right for me. I have a diamond shaped living room (terrible). Definitely not symmetrical. And it does open up into the dining area. Unfortunately, I don't have a straight wall behind to install in-wall speakers. I really wish I could. Therefore, I think I might be better off with a pair of ceiling mounted speakers. Do you think I can get by with small Bose-sized like surround speakers?

    No, I don't have a preference as to what brand my amp/receiver I use. I'm again the idiot newbie who's looking at how good I think the amp/receiver looks, so any other brands you would recommend me? I was looking at Harman Kardons, but they are now Made In China. Don't know if that's a bad thing.

    By the way, I was looking at your equipment list - WOW! Don't know half those brands or what some things are, but seems very impressive.

    Thanks,
    Kenny
     
  6. GrahamT

    GrahamT Supporting Actor

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    The small cubes have no bass and lack midrange. Like Wayne said, around a six inch midrange driver will do for the speakers. As for the amp, Denon, Onkyo, Marantz, Pioneer, Yamaha, Harman etc are all good but audition before you buy. Harmans are made in China but designed in the US and I have heard that quality control at the factories has improved. I own one and haven't had any problems.
     
  7. Kenny Li

    Kenny Li Agent

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    Thanks again Graham.

    Sorry with all the questions, but the more I check out stores, the more I learn, but the more confused I get.

    Is there a breakdown as to the amount I should spend on receivers/amps to speakers? 50-50?

    So lost. So many questions. But as frustrating as it is, it is starting to get fun. I can finally see how people spend so much on home theaters. It's addictive and I haven't even started.

    Thank you all for your help.
     
  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    kenny - make sure you read our beginner FAQ. lots of good info there.

    some random thoughts.

    4k will get you a very decent amp/speaker combo. you don't have to spend a ton of money to get good performance. bookshelf speakers accompanied with a sub will work for you. don't worry about the bookshelfs being able to handle a lot of bass because the sub will take care of that part for you -- after all, that's what it's designed for.

    make sure you listen to as many speakers as you can. you want to get an idea of what different speakers sound like - that way you'll make an informed decision. you wouldn't buy the first car you test drove right? also, when auditioning speakers, make sure you bring material you're familiar with.
     
  9. Kenny Li

    Kenny Li Agent

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    Thanks Ted.

    This HT thing is addictive. I keep trying to edge up on my budget and soon, I'm in way over my head. I keep having to slap myslef back to the reality that I only have about $4,000 to spend.

    You're right, I really need to start listening to systems.

    Thanks!
     

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