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Home theater recommendations please! (1 Viewer)

jesse51786

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Jesse Houldsworth
Hi folks,

Let me start out by saying I'm totally lost when it comes to home theater systems. I have a technical background, but I've never looked into the different brands or models of the home theater systems out there.

I'm now looking to buy a decent home theater setup for my new place, and I'd like to hear any/all input and recommendations you have for me.

I'm looking for a 5.1 system with a receiver. I just got a new HDTV that has 3 HDMI inputs. I'd like to hook up an XBox 360 and also perhaps a BluRay player/CD changer in the future. I'd like to keep the total cost under $500. I know I won't be able to have a system that will impress a true audiophile for that amount, but is that enough to buy a decent system? In that price range, do you have any specific models you'd recommend?

Thanks for all your help!
Jesse
 

chuckg

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$500 is enough to get a decent starter system. Onkyo has some decent HTiB (home theater in a box) systems for that price. I installed one for my father, and was favorably impressed with what you get at that price.
 

Jeff Gatie

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I second the Onkyo route. They have component systems with real receivers (stay away from integrated "systems" with the receiver bundled with the DVD in the same box). You want as much upgradability as possible. Also, the receiver is often of great quality from the Onkyo receiver line. The speakers/sub leave something to be desired, but these can be upgraded in pieces without losing any functionality from the receiver. Just look for something in your range with a powered sub (stay away from passive subs).

One more note: You may want to extend the budget for the Onkyo HT-S6100, which offers 7.1, a powered sub, HDMI switching, and HD-Audio (Dolby True-HD and DTS-HD/MA) support for Blu-Ray, plus 4 HDMI ins. This will get you completely up to date with HDMI/HD support. It's available for the bargain price of $599 at Circuit City this week: Buy the Onkyo HT-S6100 7.1 Receiver/Speaker System with iPod Dock and other Home theater systems at circuitcity.com
 

jesse51786

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Jesse Houldsworth
Thanks! I checked around and found this system... the price ranges from $300-450, anyone have any comments?

crutchfield.com/S-UaKMhLx0oyX/App/Product/Item/Main.aspx?I=580HT3100B
 

jesse51786

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Sorry Jeff, I didn't see your reply before I made the previous post.

For the average person, is 7.1 really that much better than a 5.1 that it warrants nearly doubling the price? I've seen a similar Onkyo setup on Crutchfield that I posted above, what do you think of that?
 

Jeff Gatie

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It's not the 7.1 that matters, it's the HD audio, the HDMI 1.3, overall power and sub that matters. The system you have listed only has HDMI video pass through. It won't upgrade other video sources to HDMI, and it doesn't do HDMI 1.3 audio, which is necessary to get the most out of the HD audio formats (True-HD and DTS-HD/MA) on Blu-Ray. Essentially, that system is 2 years behind the times on these issues.

In addition, the newer system will save you money on cables because you only have to attach 1 cable from each HDMI source (Cable box, Blu-Ray, DVD, X-box, etc.) and one cable to the TV.

Plus, the newer receiver has significantly more power (130W/channel vs. 60W) and the system has a powered sub instead of a passive sub. A powered sub is self-powered, whereas the passive sub will need to take its power from the already enemic 60W/channel going to the other speakers, and sub frequencies are very power hungry (hence the need for a self-powered sub).

In short, the system I listed will not need to be upgraded for long while, whereas the system you listed is behind the times from the get go. It's really a question of pay now or pay later, with the later being sooner than you think in this hobby.
 

Bluzman

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You may also want to look at the Sony HT-7200DH. It's 5.1, powered sub, 3 HDMI inputs, stand-alone upscaling DVD player, audio over HDMI including lossless from Blu-ray if player decodes, etc. Can be had for ~$400 @ B&H.
 

Al.Anderson

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I heartily second what Jeff said - definitely, absolutely, don't even think about it, splurge on the S6100. (Comparing those two.)

Plus, in case you're thinking that placing the extra two speakers is overkill - you can just set it up as a 5.1. These systems let you configure them as you wish (in fact, you have to as part of the initial set-up).

And for what it's worth, I like the Onkyos; not so much a fan of the Sonys.
 

Dreldan

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The Onkyo HT-S6100 7.1 Receiver/Speaker System with iPod Dock is the exact system I was drawn to when I went into my local video only store they are selling it there for $649 looks like CC might get me a better deal though. This system was truly amazing i really liked the versatility of the system. I live in an apartment right now and don't have a realistic way of setting up rear speakers. So i may end up storing the extra speakers away till i move into a home. I've asked around on these forums and everyone recommends this system for my budget. With a little persuasiveness i may be able to convince my wife we should get it today!
 

DrewGooden

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Sorry. Not sure how to edit my previous post.

But, how would you say it also compares to this one?


circuitcity.com


Just curious about the drawbacks compared to the price drops.
 

Jeff Gatie

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That one also has HDMI pass-thru and would not be fully compatible with the Blu-ray HD audio formats. It's technology is also 2 years behind.

If you want the best up-to-date features for the best price, the one I listed is the most modern Onkyo system at the lowest price. Anything lower is only going to give you basic Dolby Digital and DTS. Which isn't bad, but it will not take advantage of the better audio available from Blu-ray disks.

In my personal opinion, the real quality from an Onkyo HTiB is in the receiver. If you are going to go the HTiB route, I'd get the best receiver I can, because eventually I'd rather update inferior speakers and keep a modern receiver than spend the money to update both speakers and receiver.
 

DrewGooden

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Does the size of my room have any relevance? The receiver/speakers would go into my bedroom which is a bit smaller than the living room, obviously. I would assume not though.

And thanks, Jeff.
htf_images_smilies_smile.gif
 

Jeff Gatie

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No, the size of the room would not have any relevance, except when you consider the power limits. As I've explained before the big difference is the handling of the Blu-ray audio formats. The models you have listed will only play Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks, like the soundtracks on standard DVD's. But Blu-ray disks have the ability to contain much higher quality sound, all the way up to true lossless sound via Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD/MA, which means the soundtrack undergoes no compression and is identical to the original master recordings done for the film. The HTiB I listed is capable of playing back these lossless formats from Blu-ray disks, all others listed will only accept the old DVD formats, so your Blu-ray player will have to downconvert your audio to a lesser quality format.

If you are unconcerned about being completely up to date, then a lesser unit will do. But I would be in the wrong if I were to recommend the units you have listed as being suitable for Blu-ray playback, which is what you requested. My advice, hold off until you get more funds. You will be happier if you do.
 

DrewGooden

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Well, funds aren't really an issue. I have enough money for just about whatever I could want. I could afford the $650 one you linked to no problem, and could buy the individual parts seperately.

Thing is, I'm not sure I want to go down that route right now since I'm new to the home theater gig. It sounds like your recommendation would be the best bet for a starter like myself.

I think I might have to go with it.

Question though; If I'm buying the pieces (receiver, speakers, etc) seperately, and they are all good to top of the line stuff, how much would it run me to get quality sound?

And thanks again.
htf_images_smilies_smile.gif
 

Al.Anderson

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Rough estimate for decent equipment: about $400 for the receiver; $500 for the speakers. Top of the line is big, really big; so if we're in this discussion we should be leaving out top of the line.

But the big plus is that you would get to select the speakers that sound best to you. This can't be underestimated, as speakers are very subjective. The speakers that come with the HTIB are most likely just fine in both cases; but that doesn't mean they're the best choice for you.
 

Jeff Gatie

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I think the minimum I'd (personally) put out for a decent system would be $1500. If you got say the SVS package w/ the PB10-NSD ($999+shipping) or even better, the PB12-NSD ($1149+shipping), plus an Onkyo 606 (~$400), you'd have a better home theater than 90% of the population and would wow the pants off your friends and neighbors. It is no where near top of the line, but it is far, far better than an HTiB. HTiB speakers/subs are usually the weakest link in the chain. The SVS system has real speakers and even better, a real subwoofer that outperforms anything at twice the price.

Note: The SVS stuff is just a suggestion. There are certainly other systems that offer quality at the same price. Well, maybe not but a few subs that offer the same performance, but for speakers there are plenty others.
 

DrewGooden

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Justin Latini
Thanks for your most recent replies, fellas!

I ending up going with the HTiB that Jeff linked to earlier. I felt that I didnt want to end up spending about $1500 (which I would have done to get something really decent) by buying everything seperately.

I was able to get that deal for $578 off of Amazon (free shipping) so that'll be arriving probably sometime next week.

Thanks for your help!
 

Jack Sampson

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Can we revisit this thread with suggestions in the $300-400 range? I am looking for a HTIB that I can later add a blueray player to. I don't think I need more than a 5.1 setup. I would also like one with wireless rear speakers if possible. Thanks.
 

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