If you had 10K to spend on HT, what would you get?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Steve Armbrust, Jul 29, 2004.

  1. Steve Armbrust

    Steve Armbrust Second Unit

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    It's been my dream to put in a nice home theater system in the basement, and recently my wife has become accepting (actually, a bit positive!) on the idea. So I need to get working on this before she changes her mind.

    I've currently got a setup in my living room with a 36" Panasonic superflat, a Sony DE-925 receiver, Pioneer 434 DVD, Infinity minuet surrounds and center, Infinity BU-120 sub, plus a first-gen ReplayTV (which we love, except that the video quality sucks).

    I want to step up to something a lot nicer, and I arbitrarily put a $10K limit on my spending (and I'd be happy to spend less!). Here's what I'd like to get for my 10K:

    HD TV (DPL?)
    Receiver
    speakers (at least 5.1)
    DVD player
    a DVR that lets me playback in HD
    Cables
    Stands for speakers and racks or stands for the TV and other electronics

    I'm overwhelmed by the number of choices and possibilities and I'd love to hear any suggestions, even general ones, about what to get. I'd like to listen to the sound system and view the TV before purchase, so that probably means a local dealer. I'm also concerned about ongoing maintenance (not wanting to spend $600 a year for bulbs on a CRT set, for example).

    I've heard some Paradigm speakers that sounded nice (but the reference speakers sounded a lot better than the monitors, especially when hooked up to Rotel tuner and amp). Also some M&K speakers that weren't bad, but they were at a different store, so I couldn't compare.

    I'd value any or all suggestions for brands or models to consider, TV technologies and sizes that might be better, stores in the Portland, OR area to check out, and other resources to consider.

    Oh yeah, my viewing area in the basement is about 15' deep by 12-1/2' wide. 7.5' ceiling.
     
  2. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    10K is enough but it has to be done carefully...If I could do it all over again Id have boughten alot more used goods.

    I have tallyed up my budget theater and it comes to around 10K ...it has taken alot of experience and years to compile it though. Of course this does not include the money I have lost buying and selling items but I consider those learning/experience costs and they are well worth it....ad a few more thousand bucks for those losses.

    Sorry if this was of no help but I just find it kind of difficult to answer your question since we all have different needs and tastes.
     
  3. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    I would focus a larger portion towards speakers and video.
     
  4. John S

    John S Producer

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    Alot will depend on how large of a room, I would presume this is going to be a nice dedicated home theater room?

    The room size, will have a bearing on both the screen size, and audio equipment. Take it sort of one at a time, I'd start with the HDTV, I suppose.

    How large and even of a display is sort of dependent on your closest seating position.
    After you decide on a display, this can help narrow the choices on the audio side, dictated somewhat by the budget left over.

    With that budget, and a dedicated room, I think I would have to put most of my money into Front Projection, I think I would even redesign the room to maximize it.

    On the lowest side more inline with the system I have, pretty darn impressive though.

    $250 for a decent DVD player
    $500 for a decent Subwoofer
    $550 for a decent AVR maybe a refurbished one
    $1000 for speakers
    $1600 on the low side for a decent CRT RPTV display. 50" to 60" display
    $500 for the DVHS HD recorder per your HD recording requirement
    $300 or so for a Sat. and/or OTA HD reciever, because you surely will want to see some real / true HD on your new HDTV..
    $600 on the low side for cables, stands, racks, ect..ect..


    That comes to $5300 and that would all be considered on the low side of what it is possible to get decent equipment for.

    So add DLP to the mix, and your at or very near $10K for sure.

    Best of luck, heck, I already had my audo in place, and I went crazy try'n to decide on just an HDTV, you have your work cut out for you, that is for sure.

    Only you can decide how good, is good enough though.
     
  5. Steve Armbrust

    Steve Armbrust Second Unit

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    Thanks much for the advice. The room will essentially be devoted to the home theater, except that the sofa we have there has to be a hide-a-bed, so as to accomodate the one time every five years or so we have two couples visiting at the same time (a compromise I had to make).

    I estimate the closest seating position at about 10 feet. I was assuming a TV in the 50-55" range might be appropriate.

    Front projection is certainly interesting, and the room is dark enough for it. But I'm leery about going that route because of cabling issues, mounting issues (again, the couch has to fold out into a bed and the ceiling is only 7-1/2' high), and ongoing costs (expensive bulb replacements).
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    My HT is about $8K right now, and I'd say it is respectable.

    $2000 on GR Research A/V-2 mains (center new, mains used), A/V-1 rears (used)
    $1500 on Marantz SR8300 (new)
    $300 on Marantz MA500 monoblocks (used)
    $1600 on Sony KV34HS510 (new)
    $550 on DVD - Denon 2200 (new)
    $300 on VTF-2 (used)
    $300 on Sony 222ES SACD player (used)
    $150 for PS2 (new)
    $800 on cables & wire (new and used)
    $300 on Panamax 5100 (new)

    $500 for a custom configured Salamander Synergy twin 30 w/glass doors (demo)

    In total, for all new prices, this is over $10K. Used and internet direct are VERY good ways to keep costs down if you know where and what to look for. I put together a decent little system for a friend for just $700 with new, refurb and used gear.
     
  7. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    If I had 10 K to spend on HT.....

    - PSB Stratus Mini x 4 (fronts and surrounds)
    - PSB Stratus C6I x 2 (centre and rear centre)
    - SVS PC+ Ultra 20-39
    - Yamaha RX-V2400 receiver

    - rest on RPTV, dvd player, misc items of your choice.
     
  8. ChrisHeflen

    ChrisHeflen Supporting Actor

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    Steve, your in my neck of the woods and I sent you a pm.
     
  9. John S

    John S Producer

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    Steve, I just hate to suggest specific products / model numbers ect.....

    It is all so subjective these days. Lucky for me, I still tend to prefer good ol CRT Rear Projection tehcnology best overall. I was able to get a 60" for $1248 to my door and I got pretty lucky as it has exceeded my expectations in everway regaurding picture and overall quality. I looked hard at DLP though, but just wasn't feasable for my $1800 budget.

    As I said, I already had my audio in place, the HDTV took me 3 months of leg work to decide upon. I also used sites like this for research and opinions, help'd alot.
     
  10. John S

    John S Producer

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    Wowsers.... I have never been a big fan of LCD HDTV's in general, but over lunch I decided to stop into a b&m store to have a look.


    They were just completing the display setup of a Sony KDF-70XBR950.....

    Man was that one nice super big 70" set. I think this one is going to be my new most favorite display period.

    So there ya go, Swing one of these for around $7k, spend the rest on all your other stuff you need. lol
     
  11. ScottLR

    ScottLR Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd wait for 3-chip LCOS.
     
  12. Steve Armbrust

    Steve Armbrust Second Unit

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    I apologize for my ignorance, but I'm not sure what LCOS stands for. (I assume it has to do with the DLP technology? eliminating rainbow effect, etc?) In any event, is a three-chip LCOS set coming soon? Who's coming out with one.

    Based on my current limited research, I think I'm interested in a DLP set in the 50" to 55" range. I know I'll want DVI. Any other features, brands, models, you'd recommend looking at?

    Thanks again. I really appreciate the expert help. Diving into this again after a few years out of the business is overwhelming.
     
  13. Kelly Grannell

    Kelly Grannell Second Unit

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    Liquid Crystal on Silicon.

    JVC and Toshiba, IIRC, are two of the LCOS users.
     
  14. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Steve:

    Let's start with the video subsystem:
    Projector: Sanyo PLV-Z2 (about $2K)
    Screen: Carada 92 to 100 Diagonal inches/80-86" Wide ($600)
    Receiver: Denon AVR-3805 ($1200)
    Universal DVD: Denon DVD-3915 ($1200)
    Subwoofer: SVS PB-2+ ($1200)
    Speakers: About $3800 left, which is a good starting point [​IMG] Maybe try 5 to 7 Gallo Due` which will run you between $3000 and $4200 at MSRP.

    There is no substitute for matching speakers, and the small footprint of the Gallos would allow you to do so in just about any room [​IMG]

    There are many other recommendations that are possible, but IMO if you want a home theater, you really should be going Front Projection.

    Cheers,
     
  15. Steven.W.T

    Steven.W.T Stunt Coordinator

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    Something very nice.
     
  16. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    John Kotches suggestions look good. My best suggestion is to focus on the best quality speakers and displays you can afford. IMO those are the most critical components. For the rest consider used or closeouts. If you've got the discipline, put it together over time by careful shopping since you can get outstanding equipment at significant discounts by doing this. As far as brands go...

    Speakers - you have to choose what you like. There are lots of quality choices at all different price ranges. My favorites are Paradigm Studio if music is the main priority, but if TV viewing and movies are the priority then I like definitive technology.

    Receivers - Most of the major brands like Yamaha, Denon, Onkyo are very capable. Shop for the features you want and look for a deal.

    DVD players - same as receivers

    Television - bigger is better[​IMG] I wish I had the space for a front projector. IMO bigger screens are more engaging.

    Subwoofer - SVS or Hsu.

    Cables and stands - don't buy the really expensive stuff.

    One more suggestion - get a good universal remote like Home Theater Master MX 500 - or MX 700. The remote will dramatically improve the whole family's enjoyment of your system. A sophisticated system like you're putting together is very complicated and difficult to operate especially when dealing with different remotes.
     
  17. Stephen Hopkins

    Stephen Hopkins HW Reviewer
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    I would definitely go Front Projection IF you have control over the light in your room. Given that, I would personaly go with the following components:

    Projector: Panasonic L500U - $1800
    Screen: Dalite Model C 106" - $400
    DVD: Denon 1900 DVI Upscaling Player - $270 (release in late august)
    Receiver: Denon 3805 - $1000
    Amp: Rotel 1075 - $1000
    Subwoofer: SVS PB2+ - $1200
    Cables: Canare Cables & Decent DVI cable - $330 (over-estimate, makes math easier)

    This leaves $4000 left for speakers and furniture. You could get by with as little as $1500 on speakers and still have AMAZING sound. If you wanted to keep costs down you could also skip the external amp since it's merrits will be heard less on less expensive speakers. Speakers should really be auditioned, especially in this price range. Speakers are extremely subjective and what one person loves another may hate. For the best bang-for-buck you should also research the internet direct brands like Axiom, Rocket, and my favorite, Swnas. You could get Swan's 5.2 mains, 2.1 surrounds, and C3 center for under $1500 (in black cherry finish) and would be hard pressed to do ANY better for pure home theater, even with the full $4k, at a bricks & mortar store, especially when paired with the PB2+ sub. If you do alot of 2ch music listening w/out the sub then you might want to step up to the 6.1 mains, but that's only another $170 extra. I would also suggest a good learning remote, perhaps a pronto, look around online and you can find them for under $200.

    Hope this helps [​IMG]
     
  18. Steve Armbrust

    Steve Armbrust Second Unit

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    You guys are awesome. Thanks for all the advice.

    I know front projection is the way to go for a true theater, but with the compromises I must make for the family, I probably can't go that route.

    I did forget about the remote, and that is something I'll probably have to include. One of my wife's favorite expressions (to me, at least) is: "I can go to any hotel in this country and watch TV, but I can't figure out how to do it in my own house." And I already have an HK TakeControl programmed for our setup and I've written step-by-step instructions including a troubleshooting section if she gets in trouble. So a better remote is a must!

    I've heard lots of good things about the Swan speakers, but I really do want to demo speakers before purchasing. I haven't found any place in Portland to do that.

    The Denon upscaling DVD sounds interesting. I'll check more on that.

    As for the receiver, I had seen and liked the Denon 2805. I assume the 3805 is like it but with more power (sorry, haven't done my homework this morning).
     
  19. Steve Armbrust

    Steve Armbrust Second Unit

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    You guys are awesome. Thanks for all the advice.

    I know front projection is the way to go for a true theater, but with the compromises I must make for the family, I probably can't go that route.

    I did forget about the remote, and that is something I'll probably have to include. One of my wife's favorite expressions (to me, at least) is: "I can go to any hotel in this country and watch TV, but I can't figure out how to do it in my own house." And I already have an HK TakeControl programmed for our setup and I've written step-by-step instructions including a troubleshooting section if she gets in trouble. So a better remote is a must!

    I've heard lots of good things about the Swan speakers, but I really do want to demo speakers before purchasing. I haven't found any place in Portland to do that.

    The Denon upscaling DVD sounds interesting. I'll check more on that.

    As for the receiver, I had seen and liked the Denon 2805. I assume the 3805 is like it but with more power (sorry, haven't done my homework this morning).
     
  20. ChrisHeflen

    ChrisHeflen Supporting Actor

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    Steve did you get my pm?
     

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