Home Theater starting options

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bob Whiteside, Jan 3, 2003.

  1. Bob Whiteside

    Bob Whiteside Auditioning

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    I currently have a 36" Sony TV hooked up to an older Technics receiver thats uses 2 bookshelf speakers. I'm looking to upgrade the speakers and was hoping to move into a home theater type setup. My receiver has only 4 speaker outputs and no output for a sub-woofer. I really don't want to buy a new receiver. Can I get into the home theater arena with what I have or do I have to start over with new audio equipment. What would be a good first/next step? My focus is to move to home theater/surround sound as I watch more movies than listen to music, but my wife listens to music. Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. Alf S

    Alf S Cinematographer

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    Alfer
    Welcome Bob,

    If you want to enter the surround sound world of Home Theater, you won't be able to do it with an older "stereo" receiver.

    You will need to jump into a full blown surround sound receiver that offers Dolby Digital etc etc....If you're on a budget you can find many Home Theater in a box options available at many stores these days. You can do a search here to find out what the "favorite" one is..search for "HTIB" or "Home Theater in a Box".

    If you want to step up a notch, you can buy a very nice and well liked receiver, the Pioneer VSX 811, it's at Best Buy for $299 right now. It offers the most bang for the buck.

    As for speakers, there are so many, you may have to look at your budget, and listen to a few, and decide what you like...I haven't been in the speaker shopping mode for a while, so maybe others can offer some bargain speakers....Be sure though to get the same brand/model for all 5 speakers when possible.

    I do know the 10" Sony SAWM40 subwoofer at Best Buy is an awesome sub for the price.

    Again, do some research at local stores and on the web and I'm sure you'll find what fits your needs.

    Alfer
     
  3. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    also, be sure to read our FAQ primer. there's *tons* of good info in there.
    as alf already mentioned, you will need to start with a new receiver and add at least 5 speakers.
    receiver
    the receiver will become the heart of your ht. it will decode a special audio signal (called "dolby digital" or "dts") coming from your dvd player and "route" the sound to 5 speakers (front left, front center, front right, rear left & rear right).
    speakers
    you need at least five speakers (which i listed above) for ht. keep the concept of "timbre matching" in mind - essentially that means that all 5 speakers have the same tonal quality. in other words, all the speakers sound the same. that'll keep the motorcycle in the left speaker from sounding like a moped when it gets to your center speaker. most companies now offer speaker "packages" that are designed specifically for this purpose.
    you didn't mention if you already had a dvd player or not? if you don't have one, you must add that to your list. they're pretty affordable now and literally blow-away vhs tapes.
     
  4. Bob Whiteside

    Bob Whiteside Auditioning

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    Thank you for the advice. I do have a pretty new DVD player and I agree about DVD vs. VHS, unfortunately many of the accumulated movies are on VHS. Starting over in painful in many ways.
     
  5. AaronJB

    AaronJB Second Unit

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    In your last post, you say that you have quite a few VHS tapes. Quite a few new recievers have DTS NEO-6 or Dolby Pro Logic II, both of which provide an enjoyable "surround" experience from two-channel material like VHS or CDs. While it would be better to upgrade these tapes to DVDs, these features will provide a new way to enjoy the tapes you currently own.
     
  6. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    aaron's right on the money. as long as you get a receiver with dpl ii, then you can "simulate" the surround experience with your vhs tapes. although i've never heard dpl ii, i hear it's pretty darn impressive.

    it should hold you over until you're ready to make the next leap!

    like i said though, at the very least you'll need a new receiver and 5 speakers.
     
  7. AaronJB

    AaronJB Second Unit

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    This is just a thought - and I may not be right (or this suggestion may not be optimal, I mean) - but maybe you could still use those two bookshelf speakers that you mention with your new set-up.

    You would buy a new reciever (solid budget recievers include the Pioneer 811 and the Panasonic SAHE100 or its bigger brother, the SAHE200). You could get new fronts, a new center, a new subwoofer, but use those two bookshelf speakers that you mention as surrounds and then eventually upgrade them when you see fit.

    Again, I don't know about the size of these speakers or whether or not they'd work as surrounds in your listening room, but it was just a possibility I thought of.

    ------------

    If you are looking for a budget all-in-one package or just something that's home theater but not a major leap into it, I would recommend the Onkyo HT-650. For $499 total, this offers a very nice reciever and a very fine set of speakers for the price. I don't own the reciever, but I own this speaker set (SKSHT-500, which is available separately for around $250-275 at Circuit City) and I highly recommend them for the price. The set includes a center, two front mains that are about 16 inches tall, two surrounds that are fairly sizable and a 150-watt subwoofer that's pretty big (it weighs in at something like 25-30 pounds). The subwoofer that's included in this set goes for $150 alone on Onkyo's website. You could either get the Onkyo set w/reciever and speakers or get the speaker set and another reciever of your choice (for example, the recievers that I mentioned above are capable of 6.1 (ES/EX) audio, while the reciever that comes with the Onkyo set is not, but the set is a bit less expensive than the option of getting the speakers and pairing them with a different reciever.

    Either of these options would be a fairly easy way to begin your Home Theater experience. If you have a larger budget in mind, then I'm sure that many people here at HTF could provide suggestions for equipment at whatever budget level you are considering. Any way you decide to go and however much you would like to spend, I highly recommend doing some research both on here and other sites such as audioreview.com and the websites of the manufacturers. Familiarize yourself with the various features and terms and see which products offer a good feature set and build quality for the price. Try and find a place to get a listen to them. Consider the size of your room and how big/small you want/need the speakers to be.

    Researching these systems is fun (even at a low/mid budget, there's so many options to choose from that half the fun is doing the research on what's out there) and ensures that you will have a greater chance of ending up with something you like and that's right for you. Although you will likely end up with "upgrade syndrome" ("Gee, those new speakers look awfully nice") not too far after your purchase (everyone gets it), getting something you're very pleased with will likely ensure that you won't be tempted by other HT items as soon.
     

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