Help a home theater neophyte out!

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by John_Rhett, May 10, 2004.

  1. John_Rhett

    John_Rhett Auditioning

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    I was recommended to this message board by a friend, so I thank you ahead of time for any recommendations you may give me.

    I have suffered for too long now with just a plain ol' TV, and it's time to spice it up. I have a DVD player already, and now I want to get a receiver and surround system to go with it so I can enjoy the audio part of the digital experience. I have all these great DVDs I haven't been able to enjoy because my audio goes fuzzy when I turn up to "7," much less "11."

    I live in an apartment with neighbors I don't want to annoy, but I wanted to get one of those surround systems. There's some really cheap out-of-the-box speaker systems, like the KLH HTA-9706 6-Piece 100-Watt Home Theater Speaker System for only $70 plus shipping. The amazon user ratings are all pretty good. That's the kind of price I like! I'm just wondering if it's money well spent, or if I could spend a little more for something far better. For all I know, this system is actually a piece of junk. I don't want to buy a piece of junk.

    Also, I need to get a receiver. How does the HARMON KARDON DPR 1001 Digital Receiver stack up? $500 ain't bad. Or is there something better out there? I am starting from scratch here, folks, so I can go with just about anything. I don't want to spend a buttload of money, but who does? I'm thinking I'd like to spend as much as I can on a good receiver, since it's something I'll use alot. I have intentions of getting an SACD player soon (one day, can't afford right now....,) and eventually moving into a larger apartment or a new home, where I can really crank stuff, so I would like to buy something I can use for awhile.

    Since I'm using DVD and SACD for both video and audio, I want to make sure I'm up to date on all the 5.1 and 6.1 stuff.

    Also, I've read here and there that I might need to upgrade on some good cables to connect components to my receiver. I really appreciate any help and advice someone can give me. I'm starting from total scratch right now.
     
  2. Tim Stumpf

    Tim Stumpf Stunt Coordinator

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    If you're really starting from scratch, take the time to read as many posts as you can on these boards. After awhile, you start to learn what to move towards and what to avoid.

    Set a budget. Then start listening to the different gear that's out there at as many places as you can. You'll start to develop ideas about what sounds good to you and what does not. Trust your own ears and buy what you like.

    I personally think that you'll find the biggest differences in gear when listening to speakers. There are so many different sounds and brands and price points. I think a good set of speaker is the best investment you can make in this hobby. A good set of speaker that you trully like can last many years and get you through several upgrades of receivers etc. Also, don't underestimate the importance of a good subwoofer, surrounds and a center channel.

    I think that many people who buy a cheaper system initially only end up upgrading and sometimes wasting money. If you do your homework and audition the gear before you buy, you'll be happier in the long run. That's my .02. Happy hunting. It's can be almost as much fun to put together a system and tweak it as it is to listen to your content.

    t.
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    1) settle on an actual budget

    2) go listen to speakers that would be reasonable for that budget. $100 for 5 speakers with a $500 receiver is a mismatch.

    3) decide on a receiver - features first, then sound properties, amplification level, etc... for the top 2-3 choices of speakers. Since you want to crank it, get something with plenty of power, but don't expect it to make cheap speakers sound great.



    Explain? You will need a receiver with multi-channel analog inputs to utlize DVD-A and SACD. All decent receivers in the last 5+ years should have this, and those will all be compatible with 5.1. Most current (decent) models of major manufacturers are 6.1 capable, certainly in the $500 range where there are quite a few good choices.

    Get this stuff first, worry about cables later.

    Less expensive speakers that seem to be pretty popular:

    www.hometheaterdirect.com

    www.fluance.com
     
  4. John_Rhett

    John_Rhett Auditioning

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    Thanks to both of you for your advice. I'm going to take you up on it tomorrow, by checking out some stuff at a couple local stores here. Thanks for taking the time. I'm not all that hard to please. The way I see it, that one set of speakers is a steal at $70 if it's even remotely serviceable. Yeah, maybe it's a mismatch for a higher-end receiver, but I don't have that huge a budget to spend on right now, and if I can save money on one side of the equation, I'd like to do it. I don't see many quality receievers out there for $70! [​IMG] (Please tell me if I'm missing any!)

    I'm looking at buying a house sometime next year, so if I can get a decent set of speakers for $70 for a year, that's cool with me. I don't want- however- utterly craptastic speakers, so if anyone has anything really bad to say about this choice, lemme know! I really appreciate it- this message board is a great resource, I've been reading alot of the threads.
     
  5. Drew_W

    Drew_W Screenwriter

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  6. Tim Stumpf

    Tim Stumpf Stunt Coordinator

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    $70 dollar speakers are going to sound like $70 speakers. If you don't really care, go for it. Re-evaluate later after you've decided if this is good enough for you or not. It's a little bit of an addicting hobby for me and others. For you, maybe not?? It comes down to priorities and how much money you're willing to spend on your gear vs the fun it brings you.
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I don't see it as a problem to get the $70 speakers, and they will likely still be a step up from TV speakers. However, as Tim said, starting with really cheap speakers most likely means you will be looking to upgrade much sooner than not, so while it seems like you are saving money, all you are really doing is delaying the inevitable, so to speak. [​IMG]
     
  8. John Brill

    John Brill Supporting Actor

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    If you are considering $70 speakers and spending $500 on the Harmon Kardon DPR 1001 that gives you a budget of $570.

    At that price I'd consider:

    1) Onkyo HTiB: HTS760 for $499 at Circuit City
    2) Yamaha HTiB: YHT450 for $495 MSRP (Yamaha.com)
    3) Denon HTiB: DHT-484XP for $549 MSRP (Denon.com)

    All of these come with not so great speakers but probably better than the $70 speakers on amazon... and decent, entry level receivers. I've noticed that all of these are also available on Amazon.com for cheaper...

    Bottom line, set yourself a budget and go from there.

    JB
     
  9. Jimi C

    Jimi C Screenwriter

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    Have you listened to that KLH set before? They have a similar KLH set at Best Buy you should go check it out.
     
  10. John_Rhett

    John_Rhett Auditioning

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    Well, I've looked at some of those systems Jon Brill mentioned, and the Onkyo HTiB is available through Amazon for $450 (through J+R) for only $450 free shipping. IT's gotten pretty good user ratings there, and it's definitely within my budget. I'm probably leaning towards that right now. I've had nothing for years, so I'm pretty good at dealing with less. One day I aim to have something perfect, but I am not financially there yet, nor do I own my own home, which seems to me to be a large determinant to what I would eventually want anyway. This Onkyo deal looks like a winner to balance finances and a decent product.

    Is the receiver that comes with it something I'll wanna continue living with if and when I decide to invest into superior speaker systems?

    And, once again, thanks for all the help and advice you're all giving. You've gone out of your way and I really appreciate it! I just want something that will make my DVD movies sound good and I can listen to my Bob Dylan SACDs in style. [​IMG]
     
  11. Tim Stumpf

    Tim Stumpf Stunt Coordinator

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    John, listening to you talk about your needs, I actually think that you'll be happy with the Onkyo set. The receiver is similar to one I own, the SR501, which is a well regarded entry level receiver. The one that comes with the HTIB is virtually identical, maybe the only difference being the 501 has one extra surround channel. Hard to tell from the specs listed on the website I found that had the product. Onkyo is a well regarded brand in home theater. I have no idea how those speakers are gonna sound, but it's going to be better than just the TV, especially when you get the DVD player fired up with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.
     
  12. Robert Cowan

    Robert Cowan Supporting Actor

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    one thing that is rarely mentioned, but often encountered is the myth that more expensive speakers go louder. not true. the cheapest of speakers can do loud.

    very nice speakers sound good (or should) at all volume levels. getting nicer speakers (with good power), will allow you to have it lower and still sound great.
     
  13. John Brill

    John Brill Supporting Actor

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    The Onkyo Receiver in the HTiB HTS760 is the AVR 502.

    The reason I recommended Denon, Yamaha, and Onkyo HTiB is that they actually use their actual AVR's models and pair up decent but not spectacular speakers. The main weakness with all three tends to be the subwoofer. On the other hand, a decent subwoofer will run you over $350 at a minimum so what you do get should do, especially in an appartment setting where you don't want to annoy the neighbours too much.

    I didn't, however, recommend the lower end JVC, Sony, Panasonic, Kenwood HTiB's because, in most cases, they would use $70 speaker combos and the AVR's, IMHO, are much weaker. But, if your budget was more in the $200-$300 range, these would be your only options... Of course, some of these companies also offer more $$$ models.

    JB
     
  14. John_Rhett

    John_Rhett Auditioning

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    I went ahead and ordered the Onkyo HTiB set through J+R for $450 flat with free shipping. Don't know exactly when I'll get it, but when I do I'll need to run out and get some cables. I've heard alot about Monster cable, that's good stuff, right? I can get that at Best Buy or Circuit City? I ducked into a Radio Shack today and checked out their cable supply, do they sell good stuff?

    I also received a private email from someone on this board that tipped me off on a special Sears was running on the Yamaha HTR-5660, which is too late for me to take advantage of since I already ordered my Onkyo, but my buddy and I headed over there and sure enough got the last one on clearance. So now he's got a good receiver and needs to get some speakers now.

    I told him about that KLH deal and he really liked that price, but we're gonna do a little research to see if he can do better. Does anybody have anything nice to say about that Yamaha? Or anything bad about it? He got a great deal on it.
     
  15. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    The Yamaha will most likely be quite fine. As for your cable question, if you do a bit of searching, you'll find that there is an almost religious fervour surrounding the benefits, or lack thereof, of different brands of cables. I don't know if you're aware, but there are cables out there that sell for over 5000$ (not a typo) a foot. I'm firmly in the camp that states you don't need to spend a fortune. I mostly have Radio Shack cables and they work just fine (my HT cost over 6000$ if you include the TV). Particularly if you're spending less than 500$ for your system, you don't need to splurge on cables. Don't worry, you'll soon get a bunch of recommendations for cables, if I'm not mistaken.
     
  16. John Brill

    John Brill Supporting Actor

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    Radio Shack will be more than adequate for your needs!

    Do wait until you get your HTiB as it will probably include about 50' of speaker wire (more than likely 18 or 16 guage but with the speakers in the set, you won't need 12 gauge [​IMG] ). The only thing you might need will be an optical/coaxial cable for your DVD to receiver (this will be determined by your current DVD player and the digital output it has) and possibly a subwoofer cable (though for this you can probably use a standard RCA cable)

    As for your friend with the Yamaha 5660, again, I'd stay away from the $70 speakers set mentioned and try and push your budget a little. A 6.5 inch subwoofer just isn't going to be of much use!

    JB

    P.S. Monster Cable would probably cost you more than you HTiB will [​IMG]
     

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