HT setup in an apartment

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JonnyB, Feb 4, 2002.

  1. JonnyB

    JonnyB Extra

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    Hi folks! I'm new to the forum, and am looking forward to learning and sharing with this vibrant, knowledgeable commuity.

    Anyway, I live in an apartment New York City and am planning a HT setup. Unfortunately no room for separate theater, just dropping right into my living room. While the current room is fairly small, we plan on moving to larger quarters within the next two years.

    So, I have between $2k-$2.5k to spend now on a receiver, DVD, and speakers. My initial thinking was to spend good money on a serious receiver (in range of Onkyo 898) as an investment in the core of the system, and buy speakers that will hold me over until we move. Seems that speakers can always be moved around and repurposed, but the receiver is really at the heart of the system.

    Though it seems most of you folks are fortunate enough to have basements and dedicated rooms, I was hoping that I might get some advice on my space-challenged HT quest.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have...

    Regards from NYC
     
  2. Ron Eastman

    Ron Eastman Second Unit

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    Welcome to the forum!
    My opinion is just the opposite of yours. I recommend spending the bulk of your money on speakers and make due with a lesser priced receiver for now. Two good reasons to do this:
    1. Speakers tend to last much longer than electronics and you can expect to get 20 good years from them if they are properly taken care of. Electronics are constantly evolving with newer and better sound formats coming out. Just a few years ago Dolby Digital in the home was a new thing. Then came DTS, followed by DD-EX and DTS-ES 6.1. If the trend holds, we'll likely be seeing 8.1 or 10.1 within a few short years.
    2. Speakers effect the sound you hear much more than electronics. Why? They create the soundwaves that you hear. A receiver, in theory, is simply the director of your system, providing processing, tuning and amplification. An amplifier is intended to provide the power for your speakers without coloring the sound in any way. In reality, different amplifiers can color the sound somewhat but the differences are minimal when compared to the coloring that speakers put on sound.
    In your apartment situation, having buttloads of power is probably overkill since you won't be listening at reference levels without disturbing your neighbors. A more practical solution for your situation would be to forego the 898 and get a 595 or 696 and buy some really great speakers that your electronics can grow into through upgrades.
    If you look at some of the systems that people on this board have you will discover that most have spent 2-3 times as much money (sometimes much more) on speakers than they did on their receiver. Trust me, speakers are by far the most important part of any system and it will pay off greatly if you spend tons of time auditioning the different brands, models and types available. This is not the area of your system where you want to be thrifty nor make a hasty decision.
     
  3. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Jonny,

    I agree your original instinct was certainly logical- but I'd have to agree with Ron on this one.

    The only asterisk I might add to Ron's post is the idea of a PRE/PRO system.

    You see, a receiver itself serves 3 real functions:

    1) it serves as a processor that can decode multiple audio formats (digital formats like Dolby and DTS as well as analog inputs, and even analog processing modes like Pro Logic and others).

    2) it serves as a pre amplifier, controlling various levels for channels, controlling tone control like bass and treble, providing signal to the amplifier.

    3) it serves as the amplifier taking the decoded and processed signals and boosting the signal for your speakers.

    Now, a receiver does all this- and does it quite well-- however these steps can be divided up among seperate components. YoOu can purchase amplifier units and then purchase a self contained PRE/PRO (preamp & processor) to supply these amps with signal.

    As Ron suggested in his post- audio formats are changing all the time, so even a major investment in a receiver might mean an upgarde within a few years. If you're set on doing it the way you had originally thought-- you might be ahead to look into a seperate system. This would allow you to invest in very nice amplifiers and then swap the PRE/PRO out as needed.

    Unfortunately- these types of systems are pretty expensive. Outlaw audio supposedly has a Pre/Pro in the budget range... but amps will require a decent investment.

    I personally would go with Ron's suggestion of getting a nice set of speakers and a mid level receiver... but I thought it would be smart to outline another 3rd option which might work for you-- investing in nice amps you could keep for years.

    -Vince
     
  4. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i can't really add anything except to say that i also agree with ron and vince.

    speaker technology really hasn't changed that much...and i'm not sure if it really will. my uncle still uses the same altec lansing speakers he's had for at least 15 years! when i hear them i'm still impressed. i bet a lot of people on this forum also have speakers that are older. heck...mine are probably close to 6 years now.

    but like the guys said...receiver's have changed dramatically in only the past 3 years. my receiver is already semi-obsolete.

    definitely focus on some good speakers first!
     
  5. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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  6. Scott Hayes

    Scott Hayes Second Unit

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    I live in a small apartment and plan to move in a few years, with that in mind what I did was spent the majority of my money on the TV and speakers. I bought speakers that would probably be more appropriate for a larger room. Like the guys before me said you should not have to upgrade your speakers for quite some time. So knowing that my next apartment would be larger, I got speakers that would sound nicely into a larger room.
    Check out the speaker forum if you wish to research speakers. For what you want to spend you may want to check out Polk or Paradigm, they are excelent speakers at a great price, Paradigm may be a little more expensive but well worth the price. I run Polks and my Dad runs Paradigm, its a never ending argument when we get together.[​IMG]
     
  7. JonnyB

    JonnyB Extra

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    Thanks everyone for your responses. This all seems very logical now, and will change the way I shop for this system. For the receiver, I'll focus on getting a lower-cost unit that just has the key features I'm looking for, and reallocate some of the funds to better speakers (and an impactful sub).

    I'm glad to be a part of this forum, and look forward to contributing in the future.
     
  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Hey, this HTFer lives in a space-challenged urban apartment too. So, compromise is the name of the game. You're receiving excellent advice here, with the differences being in the nuances. If it were my money, yes, I'd try to get the best I could afford in all component categories. But, since you're in close quarters with neighbors sharing all walls as well as the ceiling, that means you have to keep the volume levels low. Therefore, the audio portion of the system could, for now, play second banana to the video end. But I like the idea of going for as high-end a receiver as you can afford for now.
     
  9. Dan Lindley

    Dan Lindley Second Unit

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    Hi,

    the only thing I would add about components is that it is the subwoofer which (for me anyway) made the difference between my old stereo/hi-fi and an HT. You are limited wooferwise by the apt, and I by my family, but still when it rumbles, it's great. I also really like having a TV that does the 16x9 'trick' for 16x9 DVDs.

    Have fun. It's great to be in 'quest mode'.

    Dan
     

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