Home Theater Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by john hay, Nov 17, 2002.

  1. john hay

    john hay Auditioning

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    I am looking to upgrade my current home theater setup. I don't know much about home theater but I know I want mine to sound better. I currently have the following:

    TV: Sony KP 43HT20 (43 inch rear projection HD Monitor, 2 months old)

    Receiver: Sony DA30ES (this is about 4 years old, has dolby digital)

    DVD: Panasonic DVD-RP91 (dvd audio, progressive scna, etc., two months old)

    Center speaker: Infinity CC-1
    Front speakers: Infinity RS-5
    Rear/surround: none
    Subwoofer: none
    Game system: X-Box

    OK, so I have between $3000-$4000 dollars to spend to upgrade this system. My thoughts were on upgrading the receiver and speakers. Keep in mind that I live in manhattan and my living room is only about 10 by 10. Upon hours of research, and various arguements seen, I have decided to allocate the bulk of the purchase price to speakers. The Atlantic Technology 270 system sounds good (around $2K) and the Onkyo TX-NR900 receiver (this is a new receiver and there are no reviews for it yet, but the Onkyo's seem to get good reviews in general for price/performance, I also looked at the Marantz SR8200 and the Denon AVR-4802 but felt they were too expensive and I did not need everything they had to offer). This receiver would run around $1200.

    My question is, given my current system, does anyone have any suggestions on how the money should be spent (i.e. should I spend $3500 on speakers like the atlantic technology 370THX or similar and $500 on a receiver, or should I buy a top of the line receiver like the Onkyo or Denon that run around $2200 and only spend $1000-1500 on speakers). Also, does anyone have any other points such as upgrading the DVD, TV, etc. instead of buying new speakers and receiver, or just adding two rear speakers to the current infinity's. I use the system mostly to watch DVD's and Television, with very little music. Any advice is appreciated. Feel free to email me directly with any advice you have. The sooner the better as I would like to take care of this asap. The research and conflicting opinions are driving me nuts.
     
  2. Stephen Hopkins

    Stephen Hopkins HW Reviewer
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    I'm in a very similar situation as you are space wise. I'm in an apartment style dorm at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. My living room is about 11x10 w/ a kitchen adjacent to it. I'm running a Hitachi 43" HDTV monitor on a stand, Denon 1803 receiver, JBL N28 mains on stands, 4 JBL N24 surrounds and back surrounds on stands, and a rather large sub tucked under an end table.
    Any way you go, you should always spend more on speakers than a receiver. That said, the ration shouldn't be ridiculously disproportional. 2:1 or 3:2 (speakers:receiver) are the usually suggested ratios. Also, whatever you spend on speakers and receiver, you should add 10% on top of that for cables.
    If you're looking to spend $4000, you'll defiantly want a solid receiver in the $1000 range. A couple to look at are the Pioneer Elite 45TX and the new Denon 3803.
    You have a great DVD player, so you're set there.
    Speakers are greatly a matter of taste. Some people like a crisp, forward sound. Others like a warm, laid back sound. The best thing to do is listen and find something you like. Some brands to defiantly take a look at are Paradigm (Studio), Klipsch (Reference), and the JBL Studio series on the lower end. In a room your size, a 5.1 setup would be fine, but you may want to go 6.1 to take advantage of the newer format. That is also a personal preference. A 7.1 setup would be tough to pull off in that size room, although I do, using 4 JBL N24s in the rear, N28s in the front, and an N Center on top of the TV.
    For the sub, i would look at the smallest SVS PCi sub. Since you're in a 10x10 room, it will be PLENTY of sub. If placement of a large 16" diameter tube would be a problem, you may need to consider a more traditional sub.
    Since you're asking for opinions as well, i'll go ahead and tell you what i would spend the amount of money you're talking about on.
    Receiver - Pioneer Elite 45TX ( < $900)
    Mains - JBL S38 ( < $275)
    JBL S Center - ( < $150)
    Surrounds - JBL S38s ( < $275)
    Back Surrounds - JBL S38s ( < $275)
    Subwoofer - SVS 25-31 PCi ($550)
    Speaker wire - 150ft 12 AWG Home Depot ( < $60)
    Various cables - Acoustic Research Pro series ( < $250)
    Speaker Stands - 24" Medium Mass Parts Express ( 3 x $60)
    Estimated total w/ shipping - $3300
    This is just what I would by w/ that money. Other people will tell you completely different things. In my opinion, this is one of the best systems you could put together without getting into separates and crazy expensive speakers.
    Either way, w/ that kind of money to spend and plenty of research, you'll be able to put together a great system.
    Hope this helps. Good luck and have fun. [​IMG]
     
  3. Gary Thomas

    Gary Thomas Second Unit

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    I'd start by adding a decent 6.1 receiver ($500 - $750) from someone like Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo, HK, etc. I don't believe the additional power of the more expensive models will be needed in your size room.

    Then I'd add Infinity surrounds and a rear center speaker. ($350 to $500)

    Finally, I'd add a solid subwoofer. I've owned the HSU VTF2 & a Klipsch KSW10. The HSU was superior, but both were solid. There are lots of choices. Infinity also makes good subs. I'd spend $500 to $750 here as well.

    The addition of surrounds and a good sub will give you the impact you are missing.

    Since I've still got lots of budget to play with, I'd get either a satellite PVR system or a Tivo. Since most of us still watch lots of tv, a PVR or Tivo is the only way to go. You'll never watch live tv or commercials again! Plus, I'd hate to spend a few grand just replacing current gear without buying something new! ($500)

    You can spend the remaining $500 on DVD's, CD's, etc.
     
  4. Stephen Hopkins

    Stephen Hopkins HW Reviewer
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    I made my suggestions assuming you would want to replace your current speakers, but what you have now is defiantly good enough to build around. This would save quite a bit of money. Most anyone around here will still tell you SVS is the way to go for a sub in that price range.

    Also, the Pioneer Elite 45TX can defiantly be had in the $800 range, and the 43TX, which is pretty much the same minus some features such as MCACC and a better remote, can be had for around $700. I would take that over the similar offerings from Yamaha or Onkyo. I've always liked Yamaha's flagship receivers, but have never been impressed w/ anything lower down in the line. Denon also makes very solid receivers. The 3803 or 3802 would both be solid choices in your price range.

    If you planned on building around your current Infinity speakers, you have enough money budgeted to move into separates, but i think then your processing and amplification would outclass your speakers, and usually it's better to have it the other way around. Regardless, separates would be one way of going. A used Lexicon DC-1 and some Parasound amps could be had for under $3000, leaving you enough $$ for the rest of a 6.1 or 7.1 infinity set up and a good sub. Still, you would have much more processing and amplification than you would need, and better speakers would be a better allocation of funds. Speakers will last you years. Processing will come and go.

    TIVO or ReplayTV would be a great addition if you watch alot of live TV. If you have a HD source, you might want to consider DVHS also. If you think you'll be watching recorded TV anywhere other than your home system, DVD-Recorders are also becoming available at reasonable prices.

    With the amount of money you're budgeting, there are several directions you could go. You really need to figure out some priorities and break the budget up based on that before you make any big decisions.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. James R. Geib

    James R. Geib Stunt Coordinator

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    Adding a new receiver(Onkyo, Denon, Pioneer), rear speakers and small subwoofer to your current setup would be the most cost effective way to upgrade.

    However, if you are like me and you simply want to upgrade everything, your best bet would be to upgrade your receiver to a newer model ($800-$1000 price range), and start looking at higher-end front speakers, surrounds, center and a subwoofer. You already have speaker cables for the fronts/center and interconnects for the DVD/TV, so you don't have to spend a lot on cabling at this point.

    Atlantic Tech makes good speakers, but you should also be listening to offerings by B&W, JMlab, and others of that caliber. ($600-$800 fronts, $600 surrounds, $500 center, and $600-$800 sub (retail))Get the dealer to throw in a couple of decent stands!

    Given your space, you don't need floorstanding speakers. Smaller bookshelf/monitors for the fronts, a good center and surrounds to match, coupled with a decent sub would be excellent. What a difference an excellent speaker can make!
     
  6. john hay

    john hay Auditioning

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    Thanks for the responses, this is just what I was looking for. I appreciate everyone taking the time to respond. I am going to take all of your advice and go to a dealer around here. The problem is that certain dealers only carry certain brands, so it might take a while to find the ones you guys are talking about. I like the tivo idea, is it easy to use and compatible with cable? Does anyone have any experience with it?
     

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