More Picture! Sounds Great!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Clint Walker, Jan 14, 2003.

  1. Clint Walker

    Clint Walker Stunt Coordinator

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    [​IMG] Okay gang here's the next topic for the "Monthly Post" in the mag... As Plasma's continue to drive sales of higher-end display devices, many speaker and amp/pro companies are losing sales to "home theater in a box" solutions. There seems to be an unbalance in sight and sound...what is your take on this? How do you spend your budget and why? Speak up and speak out...let the fun begin. [​IMG]
     
  2. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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    Wow no replies to this one yet.
    Ok I'll start. [​IMG]
    This past holiday season I saw 6 HTIB systems being bought by friends and family members. Probably near 20 if you count online friends. For nearly all of these people this was their first jump into surround sound or any speaker system besides their stereo. They couldn't be happier even if the sound isn't up to our standards. I was just like that with my first solution which was a HTIB solution. As soon as the novelty of surround sound wore off I started listening more and discovered that there was plenty that I could improve upon, and I did.
    I always recommend people to buy everything seperately rather than going with the all in one solution like a HTIB. I explain the advantages like being able to upgrade later on. The importance of timber matching speakers. That total watts on a receiver isn't the end all, be all of receiver specs.
    I'm not an expert on what receivers work best with which speakers and I know some people even have formulas for how much they spend on the receiver in comparison to the speakers. My system is probably 25% for receiver, 65% speakers, 10% cables. I know the receiver is in need of an upgrade to better match my speakers. [​IMG]
    I have found that for many size is a big factor when buying speakers for their living room setup. Small, slim and sleek is in and this is where HTIB solutions are making a killing. Most of these people don't want 80lb floor standing speakers in their living room. Many don't have the room.
     
  3. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Don't get me wrong, I love my Mitsubishi HDTV, but the audio part is, and always has been, much more important to me. I guess different people lean toward different sensory experiences or something. Personally, though, I could live without TV a lot easier than I could turn away from music. And, for this reason, I'm a lot more critical of my audio than I am of the picture on the screen. I probably listen to music a good five times more than I watch TV.

    Part of the reason consumers don't concentrate more on the audio side is the fact that they still view the picture on the screen as the primary factor in the home theater experience. They also haven't felt the visceral impact that good sound can produce. Most stores are set up poorly for audio and visual as far as I'm concerned. Nonetheless, I think the audio side suffers the most. Whenever I go into a chain home entertainment retail outlet, the first thing I notice is the bloated bass they have playing. For this reason, I doubt many have had the opportunity to truly experience home theater the way it could be.

    I personally don't think it's all speaker size, but a number of factors that repell the consumer. Afterall, they do put the TV into their rooms willingly and TV's are generally significantly larger than speakers. But, then again, TV's can be plugged in and up and running in a short time, whereas the same can't be said about the audio part of the equation. Home theater in a box is something that they view less intimidatingly. Simply pull it out, attach a few cables, and you're off to the races.

    Finally, the convenience is extended by the fact that the whole package is prearranged. There's no more worrying about whether the individual components with work together symbiotically, no more of wondering what watts/channel, distortion, sensitivity, etc. mean. Surely Bose, Onkyo, Sony, Kenwood, etal know what a good home theater needs. Afterall they're in the business. I can trust they're judgement. I surely have no clue as to what works well together.
     
  4. Clint Walker

    Clint Walker Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for kicking this off Jason--you make several excellent points. [​IMG] Do you think that another possibility in this HTIB equation has to do with most people lacking the knowledge of "how" to listen" -What to listen for? i.e. People believe what they see--but not always what they hear? And Dana you touch on a very important point--ease of set-up/operation. (If you only knew how many phone calls I received on/after Christmas.) Do you thin that manufacturers should work on making the set-up and operation more intuitive? I mean sub on/off. Speakers large/small, crossover points, digital in/out options, multi-zone, etc. Should they just install a "Joe-switch" that by-passes all the hoopla? Maybe one solution is just to offer higher-end HTIB's. Marry a couple of companies like Paradigm and Onkyo or something?
     
  5. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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    No problem Clint. [​IMG]
    DanaA, I completely forgot about ease of setup. I totally agree with you and with what Clint talked about. It took me sometime to figure out exactly what crossover was and calibrating and setting delays etc. The boomy bass is one of my biggest pet peaves.
    Clint, I don't know of other stores do this, but Soundtrack (Ultimate Electronics) does have a high end "HTIB" solution. It isn't really a HTIB but they are all in one solutions that the store puts together that can cost from $999 to $5,000. One package for instance is a Pioneer Elite receiver, and the Klipsch RF7 reference speakers and a reference dvd player. A very respectable setup IMHO. The price includes in home setup by the store. Could this be the future of HTIB solutions?
    I do think it is getting more and more complicated especially as we get into DD EX and DTS ES setups. It would be nice to have a "Joe-switch", as you put it, to ease people into it. Heck well illustrated diagrams speak for themselves. Perhaps with the complete setups manufactures should bundle a DVD similar to VE or AVIA that helps explain the ins and outs of a system and also gives them a quick tutorial on how to calibrate it to maximize the performance?
     
  6. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Funny thing is that this is exactly what I was thinking with regards to a counter to the home theater in a box. When I first got into audio, dealers would package together a lot more systems. Oftentimes, they'd advertise good, better, best systems and these systems would be set up in the showroom for comparison. Now, you go into a room and there're usually a lot of receivers, speakers, etc., but no systems. While, to many of us, picking and choosing each component for ourselves is part of our enthusiasm for this hobby, to others, it simply is too intimidating. We have to remember that quite a few of us enjoy researching our HT interest via such things as reading publications like yours and spending time on the boards where we share individual impressions of equipment. Most people don't. They have no idea that Harman Kardon and Onkyo receivers can sound different or that their power spec listings might not be uniform. For them, its "100 watts/channel. That must be pretty powerful." Or, they simply read an advertisement and swallow what is said. It would be wonderful if stores had different packages of components, each callibrated properly, and allowed consumers to actually hear the sonic differences at certain price points. It would be nice if the packages also included the cables that the systems would come with. And, for the dealers to actually come out and hook everything up properly as part of the system price would be wonderful.
     
  7. Rothwell

    Rothwell Auditioning

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    The core of the question is to explain the unbalanced nature of the video versus audio purchases made by new home theater buyers. The ease of having the audio pieces pre-assembled accounts for some of the popularity of the HTIB speaker sets. I think for most people, however, the visual is the predominant part of the movie experience, not the sonic.

    When going to commercial theaters, folks pick the movie they want to see, and go whereever it is playing. Few consider whether they will be at a new theatre with an elaborate sound system, or at an older one with a basic sound system when they decide to see "Shakespeare in Love". I hear more complaints about the small screen sizes at multi-plexes than kudos for great sound systems. Putting to the side Bruce Willis shoot 'em up movies or other movie genres specifically trading on big sonic effects, seeing a film in either type of theatre is a very similar experience. This carries over to the home theatre. People care more about picture quality than sound, and vote with their dollars accordingly. This doesn't mean they aren't impressed by a more balanced system, just that they value the visual most.
     
  8. ChrisMcK

    ChrisMcK Stunt Coordinator

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    As a newbie to this board maybe I can offer some insight into the HTiB phenominom. I too was looking at a HTiB until I came to this board. But as a novice I wanted ease of setup without a lot of components. I also wanted to be able to upgrade in the future. I think i've found my solution. Cambridge soundworks offers their MegaTheater. They have a main unit (receiver/dvd player and a sub). From here you pick your speakers or you can go with their pre-configured speaker packages. There is a 45 day home trial period during which you can return the entire system or parts of it. I have already upgraded my rear surround speakers and I'm happy with them. I have done this knowing that in the future when I purchase a home I will upgrade when I have a dedicated HT room. I can replace their dvd/receiver with seperate components of my liking with this particular set up. Let me now what you guys think. Also, I pay much more attention to the audio aspect than the video aspect of my system
     
  9. Clint Walker

    Clint Walker Stunt Coordinator

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    [​IMG] Hey Guys...thank you all for your excellent responses. Look for this thread in the April issue of DVD ETC. Magazine. -Thanks again! And any suggestions for future point/counterpoint threads are also welcome! [email protected]
     
  10. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    I agree that most people are concerned with the picture and forget about the audio, but in some respects, it might be a no brainer when you compare Visual with Audio and wonder why the average consumer would go with a High-end TV and a HTIB audio system.
    When purchasing a TV, all you really need to be concerned with is the TV. When you're talking about audio, you have Receivers, Speakers, Wires, Cables, How many speakers, Subs, etc. Buying audio components separately might be WAY too overwhelming to your average consumer so they stick with the "all-in-ones".
    Also, we'd all like to think that our neighbors are the nicest people in the world. Maybe most consumers can't blast a 300watt Harmond Kardon system to it's fullest. The size of the tv has nothing to do with your neighbors, but the sound system might. [​IMG]
     
  11. Joe Bernardi

    Joe Bernardi Supporting Actor

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    I don't have a dedicated Home Theater room. My lovely wife reluctantly accepts my Mitsubishi 65" HDTV in the family room, but five large speakers would be too much for her, so I reluctantly have a HTIB (5.1 speakers and receiver, DVD player not included).

    I have a Sony DVP-NS755V Progressive, DD/DTS DVD player.
     
  12. George_W_K

    George_W_K Screenwriter

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    I too think the audio is more important. During my current HT research, I am looking to upgrade my speakers first, then my receiver, then my DVD player, and finally, my tv. I figure the speakers will last the longest in terms of future upgrades because of new formats and the like. That's why they are first. The receiver is next because the latest thing I have heard rumored to be in development for surround sound is THX 10.2 and that is far down the road, if ever. So I figure that'll last awhile. The DVD player is next because I want one that will play all formats and they are starting to come out now. I can't afford the early adopter price, so after my other purchases, they should be more affordable for me. Plus, the recordable DVD thing and maybe even HD DVD coming, I figure I'd like to wait a little bit with this. The tv is last because plasma set, DLPs, LCOS, are all getting better and the prices will drop. Plus, front projectors are a lot more affordable than they used to be. But, more importantly, I am satisfied with the picture on my 31" JVC. The sound is what brings me into the movie. (After the acting, script, etc. Of course.)

    As with all things, just an opinion.

    See ya,
    George
     
  13. Tim Tepas

    Tim Tepas Auditioning

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    Although HTIB products are capturing a significant share of the market due to their entry-level cost and ease of setup, overall this may just turn the average video watchers into home theater buffs yearning for better equipment down the road. Not everyone can program the clock on a VHS machine (VHS, what's that?) so not everyone is inclined to mount up a 7.1 surround system to a pre/pro and related equipment. Sure, inexpensive separates and speakers may yield better sound quality, but simplicity is key to many of the new DVD buyers out there.

    Tim Tepas
    DVD ETC. Magazine
     
  14. Greg Robinson

    Greg Robinson Stunt Coordinator

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    Tim, you make a great point regarding the future purchases of HTIB buyers. Along a similar line, my father just purchased a Honda Pilot SUV. (Don't worry, the connection will soon become clear.) He said he was considering several different vehicles, but he ended up with the Pilot because Honda is selling a TON of CR-Vs lately. His argument was this: a lot of people who may be new to SUVs are buying the inexpensive and simple CR-V today. In a few years though, these same Honda SUV owners are going to want to trade up, and his Pilot should have a strong resale value. For once, my father made an argument I agree with. [​IMG] I suspect we will witness a similar trend in the HT market, with HTIB owners looking to move up to Receivers and then maybe even separates. Evolution of the species...
     
  15. ManojM

    ManojM Stunt Coordinator

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    I completely agree with Tim that simplicity is part of the allure of these systems, besides the low cost. I would not be surprised to see a category of these HTIB systems that exceeds the performance of today's systems in the near future, so there may be some hope for the future. One of the major disconnects has been that those who make great electronics don't necessarily make great speakers. I just got through reviewing an DVD/CD/SACD/AM/FM all-in-one receiver from Sony for $800- the AVD-50ES. I was frankly surprised at how good it sounded hooked up to B&W Nautilus speakers, better than it had any right to. This is a nice way to create a system when combined with a good Energy/Celestion/AR/DefTech speaker package, and certainly would perform at a higher level than the average HTIB.
    I have also noticed that Sony is introducing this type of product with speakers as a higher level HTIB. Sony has made a some good high-end speaker systems in the past, so it may well be that we may see a higher level of performance from such a system.
     
  16. Tim Tepas

    Tim Tepas Auditioning

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    I just recevied a new Product from NAD, the L70 DVD receiver like the Sony Manoj has been auditioning. Perhaps these HTIB systems minus the speakers will start a new niche class of products. Speakers are a pretty personal buy, so I applaud the companies for building these systems that give the freedom to add your own speakers rather than make an extra buck with the all inclusive parts.
     
  17. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    I personally believe that these systems offer a "turn key" approach to getting into HT. Many home owners, when getting their first house, like to buy a house that they don't have to do to much to it when they move in. Others like to buy houses that they can "fix up".
    I believe that these HTIB setups cover those people that want to have a "turn key" entry into home theater. They plug it in and it works. There is nothing else to add.
    I think this is great because it gets people into the HT market in the first place. Eventually many of them will want to upgrade to something even better and selling their present HTIB to another friend that is getting into HT is a lot easier than trying to sell them just a receiver or DVD player.
    Although there might be an apparent unbalance between video and audio in what people are buying it really is just the ease of setup and operation that is at issue here. It seems unbalanced to us because we know what can be done. To the average consumer though these "plug 'n play" devices allow them to getting into HT with the least amount of operating hassle.
    I am surprised that companies like Sony and Pioneer, etc. don't include an HTIB with their RPTV units to really have a Home Theater In a Box. They could call these HTIVBB or Home Theater In a Very Big Box. [​IMG]
    Parker
     

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