Getting Started?????

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Wil_J, Jul 8, 2001.

  1. Wil_J

    Wil_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok guys, as I'm sure you can tell, I'm a newbie to all of this home audio stuff. I have a little background in Car Audio, but I'm sure that it's not the same.
    My question is this, 'Where should I start?' I don't know anything about building a decent home theater/audio system.
    My priorities that I want of this system are as follows:
    1. Best for MUSIC listening
    2. I still want a decent sounding surround sound though.
    Anything else you guys need to know, please tell me. I want to learn how to do this, but there seem to be so many things that I don't know. Like, what kinds of hardware there are (besides speakers, I know I will need those already), and what kind of hardware I will need for the type of system that I want.
    That about sums up my situation right now, any help would be apprieciated...........Wil
     
  2. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    what kind of budget do you have? without knowing that it'll be hard to make recommendations. i'll assume you're an "average" consumer:
    1. get a decent receiver. brands i like include outlaw audio, denon, yamaha & onkyo (which i have). my experience with denon's say that brand will give you the best 2-channel sound. i'd probably stay clear of most other "mainstream" recievers, but that's personal preference.
    2. if you stick with the above mentioned receivers, you'll probably want something in the 60-100 watt/ch range. with those brands, you can trust their wattage ratings to be reasonably accurate.
    3. be willing to spend a fair amount of your budget on the speakers. some people say 1/3rd, but i don't know if that's a good rule. you can find some really good sounding speakers for not too much money. brands i'd look at include paradigm, energy, polk, klipsch, energy, psb, definitive technology, etc. those are fairly well-respected brands and i think they can fit into almost anyone's (high or low) budget.
    4. if you can't afford all the speakers in one shot - be patient. don't scrimp or sacrifice just so you can have all the speakers at once. your priority should be left/right, then center, then surrounds, then sub. that way you can slowly build your system as your budget allows.
    5. finally, take the time and compare and audition as much as you can. as long as you know what's out there and have experienced as much different gear as you can, when it comes time to purchase, you'll know you've made an informed choice.
    that's all i can think of...i'm sure other people will also have good recommedations. remember, these are my personal opinions - it'll really be up to you to decide what you like.
    [​IMG]
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  3. Wil_J

    Wil_J Stunt Coordinator

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    It would be right to assume that I am an 'average' consumer. But I do plan on saving for each piece individually, so I do want decent brands, but not so fancy that it confuses me. In other words, I'm looking for nice entry level components.
    Ok, part 2. You say I need a reciever, what is that? What does it do? What else do I need besides speakers? Do I or will I need an amplfier? Do they even make seperate amplifiers? I need to know ALL of the components that make up a system. What does a reciever look like? I need to know what will or should be on the reciever, to what kind of wire is good.
    There you have it. Help guys, Please!...........Wil
     
  4. Jeffrey Forner

    Jeffrey Forner Screenwriter

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    Wil;
    Essentially the receiver is the heart of the home theater. It receives audio and video signals from various components like your CD player, VCR and DVD player and sends the signals back out to your TV and speakers. Most, if not all, entry level receivers carry an internal amplifier to power your speakers, so you don't *need* to buy an external amp. You could buy seperate amps for each speaker, but that would probably cost more money than you can spend at this point.
    Here's a quick list of what I believe comprises a home theater system:
    • TELEVISION
      Well obviously you can't have a home theater without a display device! You have many options available in this area, but I would stick to upgrading your audio for now.
    • RECEIVER
      As I said before, a receiver is the heart of any home theater. If you need a visual, check the Onkyo TX-DS595 . Click on the picture in the upper right to get a better look at one.
    • DVD PLAYER
      If you want the best sound and picture quality, this is an absolute must. VHS will never look good again.
    • SPEAKERS
      If you want real surround sound, you'll have to get at least 5 speakers for each channel: left, right, center, left surround, and right surround. The left and right channels go in the front on opposite sides of your TV (like a stereo) while the center channel rests above or below the TV (whichever works best for you) and handles the majority of dialogue in movies. The surround channels would then be behind you and to the side.
    • SUBWOOFER
      This is the gravy of any good home theater. A really nice subwoofer can add a lot of power to your home theater. If you want the best, look at an SVS . The foundation of your house will never forgive you!
    Again, could you give us an idea of what your budget is? How much total are you willing to spend on all of these components?
    ------------------
    -J.Fo
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  5. Steve_Ma

    Steve_Ma Second Unit

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    Sorry if I missed it but did you give a budget?
    Given your emphasis on music...IMHO You should look at spending the majority of your investment (money/research/listening time)initially on decent main speakers (with a matching center) and a good AV receiver. If you do well on these items, the rest will fall into place easier.
    I might get flamed for this, but I am of the opinion that speakers which reproduce music well, should have no problem with most Home Theater applications.
    Consider a good musical sub. It really is a benefit for HT apps and when calibrated properly, a musical sub can enhance your music listening immensely.
    Good Luck,
    --Steve
     
  6. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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  7. Stefan A

    Stefan A Second Unit

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    Will,
    Jeff and Ted pretty much layed it out for you. Maybe I can add a few things. It seems like money is an object, so unless you don't even own a TV, don't worry about that for now. Eventually you will be in my boat - wanting a huge widescreen TV. But I suggest working on the audio end first.
    Yes, you need a Receiver. No, you don't need separates (although it would be nice). A reciever is kind of like separates in a box. Since you want HT as well as music, I would sugest finding a reciever with Analog Bypass. Also, it would be a good idea to get a receiver with the capability to decode DTS. I know these last 2 sentences may lose you, but go to a decent store where the salesman can actually help. Tell him you want that and he will point them out. He will also explain what those things are. Personally, I own the Yamaha 596 and am very happy with it.
    If you are serious about the HT end of this project, a DVD player is a must. If you only use a VCR, than you could probably find some cheap dolby pro logic reciever on Ebay. If you buy a reciever with Dolby Digital/DTS like we are recommending, you will not use it to its full potential without a DVD player. If you buy a receiver that hand decodes DTS, then make sure your DVD player can pass a DTS signal. Again, ask your salesman. Most players these days will do this anyway - but if you get a 100 dollar player, it may not. I have the Yamaha 796 which does a fine job.
    For music, do you have a CD player? If not, you may want to skip that for now and just use your DVD player for CD's. If you go this route, you may want to think about a dvd multi changer (although not neccesary). Of course, any other music playing sources you may have will also hook into your receiver (phono, minidisc, cassette player) If you have a lot of these kind of sources, make sure your reciever has enough inputs. Ask your salesman.
    You may be starting to get the idea that the receiver is a big deal. Also, that going to a decent store with knowlegable staff is a must.
    Speakers. The order that Ted gave is good. There are people who will debate certain things about the order - like at what point you get a subwoofer - but I think his order is good. Spend a lot of time auditioning main speakers. The brands he recommeded are good, but there are many other brands in similar price ranges that are good. Just listen and see what you like. If you choose a brand that sounds great for music, and also has matching speakers for center and surrounds, this will make your selection job easier. I own Mirage, and am quite pleased with those.
    Here is a hint that worked for me. Maybe you can buy a receiver (or mains) that come with a free pair of bookshelf speakers. These will most likely be bottom of the line speakers, but will do well for surround until you can afford the surrounds you want.
    Good luck and let us know what you do.
    Stefan Antwarg
     
  8. Wil_J

    Wil_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok, Sorry about not giving a budget. Since I do not have money growing on trees in my backyard, it can't be too expensive, but I AM willing to save up so I can get good quality.
    I do already have a few components. I do have a T.V. (in the bearest sense of the word). I have a DVD player, and I'm pretty sure it can read/decode DTS, but I'd have to double check. I also have a VCR. I don't have anything else after that. My current stereo that is in my living room is made by Awia, it isn't much more than a regular boom box in size with 2 main speakers that are not attached, and 2 rear speakers.
    As far as other things like, a sperate CD Player/changer, Tape deck, or anything else like that, they are non-existant right now.
    For a reciever, I was thinking about $300, but absolutly no more than $350.
    For a CD player/changer, no more than $300, and the same for any other main pieces (besides the speakers) that I might need.
    As for speakers, I don't know what the typical price ranges are, so I don't really have an idea on how much to budget to spend. Of the brands that Ted listed, I have only heard of Polk, so I would probably look at them first. Hope this helps............Wil
     
  9. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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    Wil,
    Like Stephan said, you don't really HAVE to buy a CD player ... at least for a while. Your DVD player will play CD's. So unless you just hate getting up to change discs, save the CD changer for last. Ater all, it'd be kinda silly to have a nice reciever and DVD player, but no speakers to play them through.
    At under $350 there are some good receivers to be had. The Onkyo 494 can be had for about $300 including shipping fromwww.jandr.com or you could go for one of the new Kenwood models.
    For good music reproduction you could pick up the JBL NSP1 setup that includes 5 speakers for $270ish plus shipping. Just add a subwoofer and you've got a complete system. There's a guy named Phil Itur...something that has tons of info about them on his web site. Moving up from there (in terms of $) you might look atwww.hometheaterdirect.com for their level 3 speakers. And for even more $, you should look at Paradigms, Definitive Technologys, Klipschs, Ascends, the Swan Diva and the nOrh 4.0
    For subwoofers, definately check out the $400 Adire Rava. It's supposed to be terrific for music (that's high on your priority list) and very good for home theater as well.
    I'm sure there are other great products I failed to mention, but this should get you started. And don't forget that you can often save hundreds of dollars (or spend the same amount and get a much better system) by ordering over the internet rather than buying from a brick&mortar store. This is more important on tighter budgets.
     
  10. Jeffrey Forner

    Jeffrey Forner Screenwriter

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