Help with buying receiver/speakers for games

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by MatthiasSmitty, Jun 29, 2003.

  1. MatthiasSmitty

    MatthiasSmitty Auditioning

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    Hey all. I'd like to take the opportunity of this being my first post to introduce myself. My name is Matt, and I'm new here. I have been on a few forums in the past, and I really hate it when newbs just come in and start asking questions, but I'm going to do just that, for my HT situation is perhaps a little unique. Anyway, if anyone has any help to offer, I'd greatly appreciate it.

    I currently have a nice 27" Sony VVega TV, a PS2, Xbox, and GameCube. I have the component video cables for the PS2, Xbox, and even the GameCube ones (that’s right, the ones you have to specially order from Nintendo’s site). I know I'm not getting a true progressive signal on this TV (it's unable to display true HDTV, so right now I am outputting at 420i, I think). Anyway, I also have a JVC JX-S111 Component Video switcher; it allows me to display all systems in as high a resolution as possible, plus I have two extra inputs for composite or S-video connections. It's pretty nice, especially considering most receivers (from what I understand) only have one or two Component inputs.

    Anyway, my query is this: I'm not running an extremely high-end system by any means, but I like to get the most out of the equipment I have. What I am looking to invest in is a receiver that could output a 5.1 signal, specifically, one that works well with the Xbox. I use it as my main DVD player (I know some HT enthusiasts are cringing at that idea, but I simply don't have the resources to buy nor the equipment to enjoy a high-end stand-alone DVD player), and I also am looking forward to hearing some of the great in-game 5.1 sound. I am looking for a receiver that is capable of outputting Dolby Pro Logic II as well, or whatever that "fake" surround sound technology is that is used in many PS2 and GameCube games.

    In short, what I am looking for is as follows: I am looking to spend between $200-$400 on a receiver with at least one (preferably three, but I have the switcher) component video inputs, capable of Dolby Digital 5.1 output (the source I have in mind is an Xbox), and is also capable of the cool Pro Logic II "fake" surround sound effects used on the GameCube and PS2. As you can see, I don't need a cutting-edge system. I don't need Monster Cables or anything like that, because frankly, the technology I am working with won't allow me to enjoy whatever enhancements those would bring to the table. I hear that your connection is only as strong as your weakest link, and with run-of-the-mill component video cables from Radio Shack (should I upgrade?) connecting my component receiver to my TV, and the standard Component AV packs going from the consoles to the switcher (i.e., not Monster brand cables), I don’t think that investing my money in something that high-end is wise at this time. At the same time, I want to invest in equipment that will last me as long as my TV does, so something that will be good and trustworthy for many years to come is also a must.

    Finally, if anyone has any suggestions as to how I should acquire my speakers (in a set, or piece by [carefully-selected] piece), or what brand of speakers/subs to buy, I am all ears (no pun intended).

    I look forward to reading any and all suggestions. Thanks!
     
  2. AaronJB

    AaronJB Second Unit

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    Below is my advice; I'm sure that other members will also be able to provide other good suggestions for different models/brands.

    Keep in mind that connecting the XBOX to a reciever requires a digital optical cable (about $15-20) and the XBOX's advanced A/V pack (about $24.99)


    Panasonic SAHE100 - $239 online at jandr.com. (Receiver)
    or
    Panasonic SAHE200; $319 online at jandr.com (receiever)
    ------
    Onkyo SKSHT-500 Speaker Set - $260ish at Circuit City ($240 factory refurbed at shoponkyo.com)
    Onkyo SKB-100 - $40 at shoponkyo.com ($32 refurbed).

    Although I've never used them, 6th Ave. Electronics (6ave.com) also seems to have good prices for receievers

    More options listed below.

    Thoughts:

    The Panasonic SAHE100 is a receiver that provides good quality and fine features at a reasonable price. Although the receiver states 100w x 6, Sound and Vision magazine tested it at 70w x 6 and 78w x 5, which is still more than enough to fill a small-to-medium room. The receiver offers DTS-ES (discrete/matrix), DTS NEO-6, Pro Logic II and an extended surround mode that is Panasonic's equivalent to Dolby Digital-EX.

    This is a receiver with back surround (EX/ES) capability. I recommend that you do strongly consider a receiver that has back surround capability, not only for the movies that offer it, but because XBOX games in 5.1 do sound better forced to 6.1. "Halo" is an example of a game's soundtrack that I feel opens up even further with the back surround enabled - it gives you a truly 360 degree feel. Many PS2 games, which are only in Dolby Surround (although a few PS2 games offer DTS soundtracks) also sound quite enveloping when DTS's NEO-6 or Pro Logic II are engaged. The only issues I've found with the Panasonic is that it does run quite warm and the remote is on the generic side.

    You can find the Sound and Vision review of the SAHE100 at the link below.

    http://www.soundandvision.netscape.c...aid,190,00.asp

    You may also want to consider the SAHE100's bigger brother, the SAHE200, which is rated at 130w x 6 and has stronger build quality, among other features. It can be found for $319.

    There are other receiever options, as well, such as the Pioneer 912. JVC also has some receievers in the price range, although I don't much about them.

    The Onkyo SKSHT-500 5.1 speaker set is an affordable set that offers good sound quality that is an improvement over the kind of sound that HTIB (home theater in a box) speakers provided. This set comes with a large and - in my opinion - quite powerful downward-firing subwoofer. The SKB-100 is a back surround speaker that Onkyo sells online, but you can use a different speaker as the rear surround if you like. The only thing that is a concern with the SKSHT-500 speakers is that they are quite large.

    The CNET review of the SKSHT-500 set is available at the link below:

    http://reviews.cnet.com/Onkyo_SKS_HT...tml?tag=review

    If you have a larger budget for speakers, you can probably find a reasonable set of Polk or JBL fronts and center (Polk can be found locally at circuit city, while jandr.com has good deals on JBL). For surrounds, I'd recommend considering Wharfedale's WH-2 bipole surrounds. These bipole speakers offer a wide, quality sound. I use them and I've been quite pleased with them. They're $99 a pair.

    You can see what the Wharfdales look like at the link below.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...#more-pictures
     
  3. MatthiasSmitty

    MatthiasSmitty Auditioning

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    Wow, Aaron. Thanks a lot. That was exactly the kind of help I was looking for. Just two quick questions:

    1.) What would the advantages of buying the Panasonic SAHE200 over the SAHE100? The SAHE100 seems to pacck almost everything I'd need. Other than a few extra outputs on the 200, what else is the cause of the $100 price difference?

    2.) That Onkyo speaker set sounds like what I am looking for. Let me ask, is the Onkyo SKSHT-500 a set of 6 speakers? I am looking for at least a 5.1 system. I am unclear as to what this Onkyo system contains (I will read the reviews soon), and what role would the SKB-100 play in the whole setup? Thanks for all your help.
     
  4. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    In addition to Aaron’s recommendations, you might look at the Acoustic Research HC6 speakers: 4 satellites, 1 center and an 8” sub. These are available for $400, although I’ve seen some postings recently that indicate that there have been some available for a little over $300.
     
  5. AaronJB

    AaronJB Second Unit

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    The SAHE200 offers official Dolby Digital-EX vs. Panasonic's EX equivalent on the SAHE100. Also, the SAHE200 is rated at 130w x 6, while 100w x 6 for the SAHE100. Although the actual power is less than the rated, given the fact that the SAHE100 has been tested at 70 x 6, I'd guess that the SAHE200 is likely somewhere in the 100 x 6 neighborhood. The SAHE200 (I believe) offers binding post connections for all speakers, vs. the SAHE100, which only offers binding posts for the front main speakers, while the remaining speakers are hooked up via the less sturdy (although certainly quite usable) spring clip connections. In addition, I'd guess that the SAHE200 also offers more inputs. The SAHE200 also has a somewhat different appearance.

    Overall, the 200 does have its advantages, but if you are looking for a basic (yet quality and feature-rich, considering the price) movie/games system, you may want to stick with the 100.

    Although Consumer Reports isn't exactly the most highly regarded source for home theater reviews, I believe they did rank the 100 quite highly - I don't know if they looked at the 200.

    I've heard that the SAHE200 used to come with a back surround speaker and a "Rush Hour 2" DVD. I'm not sure of whether or not this promotion is still ongoing - given the recent price drop of the 200, I'm guessing it isn't. You would have to check with your local/online retailer.

    The Onkyo SKSHT-500 speaker set offers two large front speakers (about 16-17 inches tall), a center of considerable size, two surrounds and a very large (about 29 pounds) downward-firing subwoofer. Onkyo also offers a rear surround speaker (SKB-100) sold separately on Onkyo's website for about $40 ($32 refurb). Onkyo's website (shoponkyo.com) also has refurbed SKSHT-500 sets available.

    The SKB-100 would be the surround on the back wall of the listening room. Both the SAHE100 and 200 are 6.1 receivers, capable of powering 6.1 channels (back surround, L/R surround, L/R front and center). You could probably use a different speaker as the back surround if you have one, but the SKB-100 is the back surround that matches with the SKSHT-500 set.

    Although the SKSHT-500 comes with color-coded speaker wire, you should certainly consider replacing the thin, flimsy wire that is included with wire of better quality. You may want to consider speaker posts for the surrounds, but if you are going to hang it on a nail or screw, have one with a fairly small top because the hole to hang the speaker on is on the small side.

    The 150 watt subwoofer (20 inches tall, about 15 inches deep and 9 inches wide) with the SKSHT-500 is powered (you plug it in on its own).
     

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