Need Advice On A Home Theater System

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Alex S, Jan 21, 2003.

  1. Alex S

    Alex S Second Unit

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    I'm looking to buy a receiver,5 speakers and a sub-woofer. I already have a dvd player.

    I only have around $400 to spend.
    Can any one recommend a brand or model to look at ?

    I saw the Pioneer HTP-220-S at Best Buy on sale for $349
    http://www.bestbuy.com/detail.asp?e=...=1552&scat=242

    the Sony HT-DDW740 at Best Buy for $299
    http://www.bestbuy.com/detail.asp?e=...=1552&scat=242

    and the Sony HT-DDW840 for $399
    http://www.bestbuy.com/detail.asp?e=...=1552&scat=242

    Are they any good ?

    I will be using it for my cd player as well.
     
  2. Alex S

    Alex S Second Unit

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    Please not everyone all at once.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Alf S

    Alf S Cinematographer

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    Alfer
    If I was forced to choose, I'd probably go with the Sony 840 since it does offer ProLogic II and possibly a better sub than the Pioneer.

    It will by no means blow you away like seperate components and speakers etc, but if your in an average size room etc, you'll be just fine I'm sure.

    Good luck!
    Alfer
     
  4. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    have you had a chance to audition these? if not, you absolutely must do so.

    the biggest factor will be how these things sound. so, the speakers will play a huge part in your decision.

    when you go, try to bring a song or cd that you're really familiar with. if a playback device isn't hooked up (which i don't think it is) then ask them to plug something in for you. do NOT use the fm radio to audition.

    if i had to do a guesstimate, i would probably go with the pioneer.
     
  5. Alex S

    Alex S Second Unit

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    Ted,

    I just came from BB. I listened to all 3.
    The Sony 840 blew away the Sony 740.
    It was a huge difference.

    The Pioneer was close to the Sony 840 but the Sony 840
    sounded a little better.


    Alf,

    After listening to them I have to agree with you.
     
  6. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    very cool alex.

    looks like you have an 840 coming into your hands soon! congrats!

    btw - make sure you give it a good critical listen when you get home. it'll certainly sound different (and probably even better) once you have it in it's final resting place.

    also, don't forget to calibrate!

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Bill**H

    Bill**H Stunt Coordinator

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    Do you have a CC near you? If so, go give the Onkyo HT-S650 a test drive. Granted it's a hundred bucks more than you have to spend, but I feel you will think it is money well spent. Do a search for posts by me to see everything I have said about it. It has a problem when the Subwoofer Mode is set to Mode 3 (just make sure it is set to Mode 1),but I still think it will blow the others out of the water.
    Let us know if you go try it out and how you think it compares.
     
  8. Alex S

    Alex S Second Unit

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    Bill,

    Yes, I have several CC's near me.
    I will give it a try.
    Thanks for the suggestion.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Kelly W

    Kelly W Second Unit

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    Alex,

    I just wanted to say that I am very interested in your final findings because I will be in a similar situation to you in a few months.

    Currently, I live in a small apartment and bought a cheapo Aiwa surround sound system. We'll (hopefully) be buying a house soon, and I want to upgrade a bit. The thing is, while I like the separate sound channels, I was never happy with the quality of the sound-- I miss the "full" sound of floor speakers. With my dingy system, the sound is quite tinny and muted. I often just watch movies through the TV speakers because it isn't always worth it to turn on the receiver.

    So, while I'm sure that a better quality system should provide better sound, I'm wondering how MUCH better it could be. I paid $299 for my setup a couple of years ago, which isn't much cheaper than the models you're interested in. I guess I have to go listen myself, but when you say that the Sony 840 "blew away" the 740, what do you mean? Does it even approach the sound of stand-alone floor speakers, or is it still obvious that it is a mini speaker system?

    Basically, I want to get a sound system I can be proud of, but I want to spend as little money as possible. (Don't we all?) I'd like to keep the total cost under $1000 including receiver and speakers, but less is better. The room will be ultra tiny (maybe 10' x 10'), so space is a concern both audibly and physically. (I don't know if I have the floor space for free-standing speakers.) I guess if ANYBODY has advice for me, I'd be most grateful.

    Thanks!!!

    -Kelly
     
  10. CaseyLS

    CaseyLS Second Unit

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    Alex definately take a look at the Onkyo. I have the speakers and I really like them. A friend has the whole setup. Just one thing you really have to crank the volume number high on the reciever.
     
  11. Alex S

    Alex S Second Unit

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    Kelly,

    I have 2 big floor speakers right now too.
    I want to get rid of them because they take up too much room and look ugly. Plus, I always wanted to get surround sound for watching my dvd's. For me it's a no brainer.

    For your room (10x10) the 840 should be plenty.

    When I went to BB they had the Sony 740 and 840 side by side.

    I turned them both on and then muted one while I listened to the other one. I went back and forth for a while.
    The 840 was much more powerful than the 740.
    I had to crank up the volume on the 740 where as on the 840 I barely had to turn it on. Also the sound was much cleaner
    on the 840. You really have to listen for yourself to decide.

    For me the extra $100 bucks is well worth it.

    Good luck.
     
  12. Alex S

    Alex S Second Unit

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    CaseyLS,

    On the Sony 840 I barely put the volume up on the receiver and it was loud !

    I'm going to listen to the Onkyo and compare it to the Sony 840. But I was very impressed with the 840.
     
  13. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    kelly -

    a grand is about the minimum for a solid ht, but i definitely think it's doable. you should figure about 300-350 for the receiver and the rest on the speakers. when you're ready, do a search in the appropriate forum. your question has been asked many times and i'm sure you'll find some answers.

     
  14. CaseyLS

    CaseyLS Second Unit

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    Alex from what my friend said there is still plenty of volume to crank it up but where at say 40 on the sony you get quite a bit of volume, at 40 for the Onkyo you get very little.
     
  15. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    casey -

    don't forget...those numbers are completely arbitrary. they can call it 40 or 400. it wouldn't matter as there's no standardization.

    also, just because something plays louder doesn't necessarily mean it plays better. think distortion. sure, the thing is loud, but does the music sound clear?

    typically, better gear can reproduce sound clearer at a lower volume - that way you don't have to crank it to hear anything.
     
  16. CaseyLS

    CaseyLS Second Unit

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    "don't forget...those numbers are completely arbitrary. they can call it 40 or 400. it wouldn't matter as there's no standardization."
    Yeah thats what I was saying. I was besically telling him to crank it up because that system should run at around "65."
     
  17. Alex S

    Alex S Second Unit

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    Should I upgrade the speaker wire if I go with the Sony 840 ?

    Will it make a noticible difference ?
     
  18. Iver

    Iver Second Unit

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    Alex,

    If you are interested in the Onkyo system, check out the posts on the TX-SR500 receiver (or whatever they call the unit included in the 650 HTIB -- it's identical to the SR500).

    Reports here indicate that it doesn't playback the distinct LFE track (the "x.1"). So, you are only really getting 5.0 playback with the lower tones (not the same as discrete x.1 LFE track) filtered off to be combined and fed to the subwoofer output.

    Personally, I would consider the Yamaha YHT-300 which is an HTR-5540 receiver ($300 list) mated with five identical satellite surround speakers and a small sub. The YHT-300 lists for $400 and can be found on sale for $350 or less.

    The nice thing about the YHT-300 is that it has a decent, basic five-channel A/V receiver and the package costs only $100 more than the receiver by itself.

    The HTR-5540 is of suitable quality to drive better speakers when you want to upgrade your system.

    You could probably even get back a fair amount of money on the speaker package that comes with the YHT-300, which I believe is known as the NSA-200 package. You might get $50 or $100 or maybe even a little more for the speaker package on e-bay. Just something to keep in mind for down the road when you want to move up to better speakers.

    The Sony system you are considering is also built around a basic surround-sound A/V receiver, though I'm not sure which model it is. The receiver in the Sony package is probably OKAY, though Sony does not have a sterling reputation for the quality of its receivers.

    As someone once said, any of these systems are way better than your TV's integral speakers.

    Happy listening,

    Iver

    p.s. My reccomendation to you would be to go with the Panasonic SA-HE70 ($150 from J&R) and a pair of Paradigm Performance line speakers such as the Micro or Atom ($150 or $190 list per pair).

    For the Paradigms, you'll have to go to a decent audio dealer because Paradigm only sells through reputable dealers. Although some Paradigm dealers may seem a bit high-end oriented, a few of them will be far more willing to bargain with you than the sales people at CC or BB. Keep in mind that Best Buy sales people are not ALLOWED to let you leave the store without you having purchased a four-year extended warranty.

    On the speaker wire, Sony probably will include wire of a sufficient gauge its length. For runs up to about 20 feet, 16 gauge is plenty. Trisonic, Magnavox, Recoton -- anything labeled speaker wire and coded for polarity, usually meaning different colored wire on each side, will be fine. Hardware and discount stores usually have the best deals on speaker wire.

    At this electronics engineer's (30 years at McIntosh) site you can get more information on wire gauge reccomendations, but your Sony wire is probably fine (it would not behoove them to save a few pennies on wire if doing so would negatively impact the sound quality of their system):

    http://home.earthlink.net/~rogerr7/wire.htm
     
  19. AaronJB

    AaronJB Second Unit

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    The other thing that I recommend consideration of is the combonation of the Panasonic SAHE100 (6.1) reciever ($250-299) & the Onkyo SKSHT-500 ($250) speakers. It's not the world's finest set-up, but it's a fine set-up for the money, w/quite a few features.
     
  20. Alex S

    Alex S Second Unit

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    Thanks for all the advice.
    I bought the Sony 840 tonight at BB with a price match from CC for $379.

    I need some help setting it up (see new thread) if some of you would be kind enough to help.
     

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