If you had $1500 and no equipment what would you buy?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jonathan Lofgren, Nov 26, 2001.

  1. Jonathan Lofgren

    Jonathan Lofgren Stunt Coordinator

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    I know there have been a million posts about this, but I'm trying to ask the question a little bit differently. Say you have a 27 inch TV with decent picture and an S-video connection and nothing else. There's the possibility of more money in the future, but not in the very near future. Let's say $1500 is all you'll have for a year. You have a budget of $1500 and it can't be strecthed. You are purchasing this system for your own personal use. Knowing what you know about upgrades and best-bang-for-the-buck and diminishing returns and all of that, how do you spend the money?

    Would you buy a nice pair of speakers and skimp on everything else? Would you go for a home theater in a box? Would you spend $1000 on a TV? What would you do?

    NOTE: This is a hypothetical situation. I'm not describing myself, but only what an average person might have-a 27inch TV and $1500. I'm just looking to see what you would buy for yourself if you had to start over.
     
  2. BryanZ

    BryanZ Screenwriter

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  3. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    What are your priorities regarding watching movies and listening to music? Do you even want to listen to music on this system? If you do, do you have an adequate CD player, or does that need to be included in the budget? By adequate, I'd ballpark $200 MSRP, that's about what most decent players cost - in other words, a dedicated CD player that's not a discman.
    If music is a priority and you think you might invest more in the future, you might want to look at getting lesser number of better quality speakers. So, a receiver and 2 speakers, or the 3 front speakers, or 2 speakers + sub, or 3 speakers + sub, and so on. You get the idea [​IMG]
     
  4. Michael Yung

    Michael Yung Stunt Coordinator

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    Depends on if you want your system to be more for H/T or music. If you are just interested in H/T then one of those HTB setups will do. But if you also want a nice music system then you're better off buying each component.

    Speaker technology doesn't change as fast and often so I would suggest for a newbie to spend more money on speakers first. Next I would get a decent receiver to drive the new speakers. In case you catch the upgrade bug, make sure you get a receiver that has at least 5.1 input and 5.1 output. The output is for the amp if you decide to get an external power amp in the future. CD/DVD player is up to you. I would start w/ something simple b/c of the uncertainty in the market w/ DVD-A and SACD. Also, since your TV right now isn't HDTV you might want to save some money by not buying a progressive scan DVD player right now. I also suggest you to stay away from Monster cable. Not b/c they are bad but I just think Monster cables are overpriced. Try some Radio Shack Gold interconnects and speaker cables instead. For your first system these should do fine.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. PaulHeroy

    PaulHeroy Stunt Coordinator

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    I just helped a friend put together a basic starting HT, though her budget was way less than yours (she won a DVD player, and has an old 27" TV with only RF input and wanted to spend $300 to complete the HT, so I had to gently break it to her. [​IMG] ) I convinced her that, especially as she likes music too, getting a cheapo HTIB would be a waste of money but starting with a decent pair of speakers would work well for now and allow adding on later. Anyway, at $1500 you could get a decent receiver and a pretty good 5 or 6 speaker setup, or a very good 2 speaker setup to enjoy and then add to later. Depends on your preferences; if music is a big part of the mix then I'd recommend starting with a very good pair of speakers and a good receiver, and later add the center/surround/sub. OTOH, you might also want to look into the special that av123.com has on a Diva speaker setup for $1200, and get an inexpensive receiver that could be upgraded. Since electronics are in a more constant state of flux there are advantages to that approach. I tend to like starting out with very good speakers and amps (if you're doing separates), and upgrade the electronics/processor as time goes by because the speakers/amp technology changes much less quickly these days.
    Have fun, either way. [​IMG]
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Stick with the TV (unless it only has a composite in). TV should at the VERY least be S-Video capable. I say good tuner and good speakers come first. That means no HTiB. Many say spend most of it on the speakers because you will likely have them longer, and I think this is a good idea. I also have to say that the backbone of the system is the tuner, so don't skimp on it too much.

    Receiver:

    Onkyo TX-DS494 or -595 $400-500

    Denon 1802

    Marantz SR5200 or -6200 - $500-600

    Go to your local stores and see if there are any of last year's floor models/demos hanging around. This is often a decent way to get a good deal on a higher model than you could get of the current model year, though it may be missing one or two of the latest features.

    Sub:

    Starter sub: Sony SA-WM40. Does 20Hz for only $150-$200.

    Speakers:I would say this is where the most difficulty comes into play, as personal taste varies widely. Don't skimp here either.

    I'm partial to Paradigm for speakers, so I would recommend Atoms or Titans (~$200/pr) and a CC-170, or for a bit more $$ the Mini-Monitor and a CC-370.

    My setup cost me just over $1500 - 4 Titans (with stands) & CC-170, a Marantz SR6200 and Yamaha YST-SW500 sub (not including the CD, DVD or TV).
     
  7. Jonathan Lofgren

    Jonathan Lofgren Stunt Coordinator

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    Thank you all for your replies, but I think my first post was unclear. I'm not talking about myself or what I want. This is a completely hypothetical situation where you pick what you would buy if you were to start over for one reason or another and were limited to the $1500 budget. I am just starting out in home theater, but I'm not looking for you to directly advise me as to what to purchase. I'm wondering what you would purchase if you started over again. It's your preference for music vs. HT and anything else like that.
     
  8. Jeff Aguilar

    Jeff Aguilar Stunt Coordinator

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    If I was to start all over again and I only had $1500 to spend, I would do this:

    Reciever: Dennon 1802 - $330

    Front Speakers: HomeTheaterDirect Level 3 mains - $199 pair

    Center Speaker: HomeTheaterDirect Level 3 center- $139

    Rear Speakers: HomeTheaterDirect Level 1 rear - $39 pair

    Sub: SVS 20/39PC - $749

    Total = $1456

    Jeff
     
  9. Len Cheong

    Len Cheong Second Unit

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    Well, first of all, $1500 is a good budget to start with and it gives you many possibilities. Assuming you will keep your tv, then you could easily get a decent 6.1 system for that money. When I started with a budget, I decided that video was really important to me so I went for the largest and best tv possible and then tacked on a HTIB. I lived with this setup until I could afford a better sound system a couple of years later. That's another thing. If you can't wait, get an overall average system rather than what I did.
     
  10. Marshall Alsup

    Marshall Alsup Second Unit

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    I'd go

    Reciever: Onkyo595

    Speakers: JBL nsp-1 (thats 5 speakers)

    Sub: Sony SA-WM40

    DVD Player: Not sure

    The reason I'd go this route is Its a nice sounding system and reasonable cheap If you shopped online (like jandr.com) you could get this whole setup for 850 not including DVD. This system will sound great, but the main point is that it will keep you satisfied while you save for some really great gear. Then later, you could move this into a bedroom or give it to someone who is HT challanged.

    I'm a poor college student and my system isn't even this good and I still think it sounds great. So in my opinion this is a great place to start.

    Good Luck

    Marshall
     
  11. Shad R

    Shad R Supporting Actor

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    hmmm...
    htb=reciever,5 speakers,dvd player=500 bucks(RCA maybe, or sony)
    1000 on a kickin' sub(just have to set the crossover to 100 hz or more[​IMG] )
     
  12. Trey Jones

    Trey Jones Stunt Coordinator

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    Denon 1802 $330

    Panasonic RP-31K -$180

    Paradigm Blockbuster but not the sub $400

    paradigm cinema fronts

    paradigm cinema cc

    paradigm cenema surrounds total

    Sony SA-WM40 Sub $150

    My reasoning on the cinema series is that if I only was going to spend 1500 I might stop there, so this is a nice system. Also if I was willing to only spend 1500 I would not be into the large boxes in my living room. The cinema provides this while giving me good sound at the same time.
     
  13. Jon_R

    Jon_R Stunt Coordinator

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    I think I'll take a stab st this.
    A friend of mine ordered some PSB Alpha A/V's for a stereo only setup, and they really rocked.
    My suggestion is as follows

    Front Stands
    - $100 - attractive looking stands btw
    Rear Stands - (optional) add $100 if so
    Receiver:Denon 1802 - $320
    DVD player:Panasonic RV31K - $180
    Subwoofer:Sony Saw-M40 $150 - $200
    Remote:Radio Shack 15-1994 $30
    Total : $1336 w/ one set of stands
    $1436 w/ two sets of stands
    $164 left over for wires and misc shipping
    keep in mind the speakers are given prices as shipped!
    I think this would be a really great system. Clarity of the PSB Alphas I found to really be astounding. Audiophile magazine really liked them, if that means anything to anyone. The 1802 is a nice solid foundation and of course the standard bargain sub. I add some extra touches with the stands, which compliment nicely and the all-in-one remote because Denon's remotes on lower end models really stinks.
    Oh yeah, and 5 Ch. stereo is just draw dropping with the Denon. I know some audio purists are stereo only, but with cheaper speakers it really helps. I got a Denon for 5 ch. stereo, and have never once been disappointed.
    Thats my 2 cents,
    Jon
     
  14. Kelly N

    Kelly N Agent

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    Off the top of my head, (and while I'm watching "Shrek " and not thinking too hard) I'd go with something like this:

    (5) RCA ProLX55 bookshelf speakers

    regularly $150 each, on sale

    nationwide for $50 each until

    they're gone.

    $250

    Def Tech Prosub 200 $350

    I have a friend at a dealer.

    Kenwood VR 409 receiver

    $300 online

    Dish Network PVR-501

    $300

    I'd break the rules and sell plasma,

    sperm, or whatever to get an extra $50 so

    that I could round it out with

    an Apex 7701 DVD-A, SACD,DVD-V, CD,MP3

    player for $350 when they come out

    in a couple of weeks.

    Total = $1550

    Although it just occurred to me that I'll have to wait to listen to or watch anything b/c I left out interconnects and speaker wire. Maybe I'd drop the sub back to a Prosub 100 for $75 - $100 less.
     
  15. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

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    I actually had this option back in January! Well, I already had a reciever and speakers, but I had $1500. I bought a 32-inch Sony Wega and the Sony DVP-CX860 301-disc DVD player. I have loved them with all my heart ever since.
     
  16. Kevin N

    Kevin N Stunt Coordinator

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    Starting off with just a TV? hmm. I picked the progressive DVD player for future upgradeability reasons. I mean, $185 for a progressive scan DVD player that uses the Faroudja chip is a good deal, imo. I also decided to not emphasize any one area too much, and instead get as much as I can with the budget while still trying to get quality components in each area. These are all based on average prices from Yahoo! Shopping. I think I made $1500 go a ways. [​IMG]
    Denon 1802 Receiver - $330
    Energy Take 5.2 + eXL8.2 Sub - $595
    Panasonic RP56 DVD - $185
    Hughes DirecTiVo - $129 (after rebate)
    Sony 24" DirecTV Dish - $149
    Panasonic PV-V4520 HiFi VCR - $100
    Total: $1488
     
  17. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    well, first of all i'd get a receiver with pre-outs. i made that mistake...here goes:

    Outlaw 1050 ($499)

    JBL NSP1 ($299)

    SVS 25-31CS ($369) + cheap one-channel amp ($100)

    Panasonic RP56 ($225)

    = $1494

    thats a KILLER system right there! it'll be over by about $100 when you factor in shipping and cables, but WOW that'd be an awesome system for ~$1500!!
     
  18. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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    Quality over quantity.

    Denon AVR3802 or Sony DA3es Receiver $600-$700

    B&W 602 (pair) or NHT SuperOne (three)$400-500

    Panasonic RP56 DVD or Pioneer DV334 ($150-200)

    DIY Tube sub $150 (use old receiver as amplifier)

    Use existing old cheapo speaks for surround for now

    Live w/out center with B&W but would be next purhase OR use three SuperOnes for L/C/R. Could move Superones to rear and get new front three as next upgrade.
     
  19. BryanZ

    BryanZ Screenwriter

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    On my suggestion, I forgot to add that if you have any money left over then you could get a pair of cheap surrounds or borrow a pair from a friend. The trick is putting together a system that will sound better than entry level yet offer a clear upgrade path. I want quality over quantity so my choices make some sense. The speaker and subs will remain in the system the longest, so that is where the money should go (IMO). Part of the trick as well is including the dvd player into the mix. If it isn't required, then more money could be spent on the speakers. With more money possible in the future, if you feel comfortable taking your chances go with a lesser dvd player, such as an Apex one.

    Through this hypothetical situation I have noticed a common theme. Quality low cost items, especially the Panasonic RV-31 and Denon AVR-1802. It seems those two items offer the best value for the money now when starting a new system from scratch and requiring all the audio (dvd included) components. Another one is speakers and subs. A few of the names have been nOrh, Energy, Adire Audio, B&W, Sony SA-WM40, Paradigm, PSB, etc.

    There is no substitute for a quality system that you are able to upgrade later on, even if it is as simple as adding a pair of surrounds or a center speaker.
     
  20. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    All,

    First rule of a system... Don't skimp on speakers. Everything is heard through them. Shortchanging for other options, especially at this price point is a mistake.

    Speakers: Home Theater Direct, Level 3X ($749)

    Receiver: Outlaw Audio ($499)

    DVD: Panasonic RP-56 (< $250)

    This gets you going pretty well.

    Regards,
     

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