Need Home Theater Audio Advice/Opinions... Newbie here!

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Jamie Peters, Jan 15, 2004.

  1. Jamie Peters

    Jamie Peters Agent

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    Hello, I have recently been bitten by the home theater bug and need some help / opinions before I run out and buy something that I won’t be happy with…. I found this site and have been “lurking” for a couple of days reading and learning from other posts. I feel that I have specific enough questions now to post, so I signed up….. Here goes….

    First of all, I am starting from scratch…. My end goal is to have a new home theater audio system and an HDTV ready widescreen rear projection. I feel that I know what TV I want (Hitachi 51” S500) but I am still uncertain of the audio portion. I will not be building a dedicated room but will be outfitting the system in my current family room. It is an L shaped room with a 7 ft to 10 ft vaulted ceiling. The main listening position is about 12 feet from the TV and the TV is approximately 18 feet from the “back” wall. The “L” portion of the room that the system will be in is approximately 14 ft wide. My goal is not to have the system that all Home Theater enthusiasts would kill for but to have a system that makes listening to DVD movies exciting. From reading on this site and from other literature, I am thinking that I want to put together a “Receiver Based” system where my Digital Cable as well as DVD player and VCR all go thru the receiver then to the TV/monitor. For my receiver/speaker portion of my HT system, I would like to spend around $1200 - $1500 or so. Sorry for the long winded entrance here, but I wanted to give as much info as possible so that the guru’s here might better help me.

    I have listened to several systems at local retailers as well as the systems that my friends have and really like the Onkyo product line. That is where my questions start. I don’t know whether to buy an all in one HTS-760 system or buy a receiver and add speakers/sub. Any comments?

    If the separate component approach is taken, I am thinking that the choice for me would be the 601 or 701. Do I really need THX? That is the main difference right? Also, what speakers would you suggest for either of these two receivers? It sure is convenient to just purchase the “box” system but I don’t want to handicap myself if I can get better sound for just a little more money by going with separates….. I also don’t want a system that will be limited in technology and make me have to start from scratch again if I ever feel the need to upgrade a little……

    Thanks for reading my “long” post. Any comments or opinions will be greatly appreciated…..

    Jamie
     
  2. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    Welcome, and let me tell you once you get started in doesn't end either. First, the price for the receiver is a very good one, that will get you some really close to top shelf products. Now I'm not familiar with Onkyo as that model but Onkyo has some great sound receivers. Also look into Harman Kardon 7200 receiver. Now some questions for you, how do you want your set up, 5.1 configuration, 6.1 or 7.1. These options are available you know and that's the difference in deciding speaker purchase. So many to choose from, JBL has some reasonably priced and good sounding speakers including sub. Polk, a bit expensive but a good choice as well. Now if you are looking for higher end speakers B&W are outstanding.
     
  3. Jamie Peters

    Jamie Peters Agent

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    Thanks for the reply....

    I am thinking that I want to set it up for 6.1 I know there are not many 6.1 dvd's out there right now but I would think that most newer movies offered will go that route. Is this right?

    I have been doing somemore research on speakers and Polk has a really nice website with good info..... What do you think this system would sound like?

    Onkyo 701 Receiver
    Polk RTi8 Mains
    Polk CSi3 Center
    Polk RTi4 Surrounds
    Velodyne CHT8 Sub
    What would you use for the rear channel speaker another CSi3 center or another RTi4?
     
  4. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    IMHO, the Polk choice is a good one, certainly above entry level as well as the receiver. Definetly a good sounding system. Now as to the sub, that Velodyne would rock, but the room dimensions especially the 10' vaulted ceilings may create a slight problem as to bass. You may want to look into a 10" or better yet a 12" sub for volume and lower bass. As to the rear center channel I would use timbre matching speaker for seamless pans so I would go with the RTi4.
     
  5. John S

    John S Producer

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    The sub is very important for theater like impact during movies. I suggest moving to a CHT-15!!!, or at least a CHT-12....
     
  6. Jamie Peters

    Jamie Peters Agent

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    Thanks for the reply......

    I am going to go locally this week/weekend and listen to the polk's thru an onkyo.... Probably Circuit City since they carry both.

    If this system sounds good to me, anybody got any suggestions on where I might buy Polk or Onkyo cheaper and still get the MFG warranty?
     
  7. John S

    John S Producer

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    Well check out ecost for sure online...

    I recently bought Onkyo AVR's there, and I called Onkyo directy to ask them about them being an "Authorized" dealer, and they would not say one way or the other, but did indicate they would honor warranty on any new or refurbished product purchased from ecost.
     
  8. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    That's not a bad idea, listen to what you want and get it online, cheaper prices. The only thing you may lose is immediate customer service if there's a problem.
     
  9. Jamie Peters

    Jamie Peters Agent

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    Went to CC last night and listend to the 701 pushing RTi8's, RTi4's, CSi5, and Velodyne CHT-10. AWESOME!!! I really like the sound ALOT. Played the movie clips again thru the RTi10's and everything else and couldn't tell much difference..... MUST HAVE!!!

    I do have one question though.... Since CC did not have a CSi3 hooked up and I listend throught he bigger CSi5, how much difference would the smaller center channel speaker make.....

    Thanks for eveyone's help.....
     
  10. Sean_P_O'Brien

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    Jamie,
    Good luck on the purchase. I can share one piece of advice since I recently set up my HT utilizing the Onkyo TX-SR701E receiver...

    I love the receiver and the sound it produces. I have a small glitch that I posted about earlier, but I'm not overly concerned. I think I hit one wrong button in the set up and negated some variables in my THX playback. Hopefully someone in this forum may recognize the source of my error.

    Beyond that however, the sound of the 701 is awesome, especially with a great speaker system. I have listened to Polks and they are certainly a good speaker system. I ultimately settled on the Aperion Audio 5.1 Intimus system on speaker stands, and absolutely love it, especially for home theater. I purchased the 701 with the speakers and saved $200 through the package deal. It was $600 instead of $800-1000 elsewhere in B&M stores or online.

    Given the L-shaped configuration of your room, and (I'm assuming) potentially long cable run that will occur between receiver and television, I might suggest you save some $$$ by running your cable (I'm assuming "component" cable here) from you DVD player directly to your television input, rather than running to your receiver's input, then out again to the television. It's just one more expensive run of component (albeit a 1 meter length) that you can save by running it directly to the HDTV. Believe me, if you decide to put some $$$ into quality cables (an I recommend you do), it will add up quickly, especially in a large room. I also recommend going with the Toslink cable connection for the audio portion, although there are definitely two schools of thought out there for fiber optic vs. coaxial.

    Best of luck.
     
  11. Jamie Peters

    Jamie Peters Agent

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    Thanks for the reply Sean...

    I was hoping someone with a 701 would chime in and give me a good review...

    I have noticed that once you buy the receiver and speakers that the cables are another large purchase.... I plan to use the best cables I can find.

    I noticed that onecall has the 701 right now for $599. Which turns into $625 with shipping. I am thinking I am going to buy the reciever there, the polks at Crutchfield ($199 rebate with $499 or more) and then get the sub locally or somewhere else. Crutchfield does not carry Velodyne....
     
  12. TimGRA

    TimGRA Stunt Coordinator

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    jamie,
    If I may, I know how the juices start to flow and you want to get this all done. You are about to make not only a purchase but an investment. Another speaker that you should listen to are Paradigm. Find a local dealer and go listen. There are many options you have with that speaker. It continues to win multiple awards for the budget minded. As well as a complete upper end reference series. One of the nice things about working through an independent is allot of them will allow, in the future to upgrade on Paradigms. Be patient and make the right decision. All of the information on this site is incredible, but trust your ears with the music you listen to. I would also encourage you to take YOUR own music to listen to equipment. Music and movies that you are familiar with. Don't let the dealer just put something in that you have never heard or seen. Lot's of smoke and mirrors out in this business. Your doing a great job in your research.
    Good Luck-
    tim
     
  13. Jamie Peters

    Jamie Peters Agent

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    Thanks for the input Tim.... It is funny that you mention Paradigm. Last night when I was in CC listening to the Polks, I noticed a guy kind of lingering until the CC guy left. He told me that I needed to stop by this local "High end" audio store that is local and listen to the Paradigm speakers. He said I would be impressed and would spend about the same money or less. Before I buy, I plan to listen to everything I can..... The polks were just my first stop......

    I appreciate the advice.

    As far as reseach goes, I think I have become obsessed with this HT technology..... I have become a sponge for info....... But like everything else I do, I think the "hunt" and the decision making part of purchasing things (car, house, engine parts, Audio Equipment, TV's etc) is half the fun!!!!!
     
  14. Sean_P_O'Brien

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    Jamie,

    Sounds like a good deal. I figured the cost would soon come down for the Onkyo 701, especially since they are marketing their latest lines out there. The $599 investment will be well worth it. I understand you can't go wrong a Denon alternatively, however I have always stuck with the brand that I've liked from the beginning.

    I recently purchased the AVIA home theater calibration dvd from OneCall and my speaker stands from Crutchfield, and in both cases received good service and prompt delivery as promised.

    One clarification (although I'm sure you know this) my reference to the Toslink cable should have been noted as running from dvd to the input of the receiver, as opposed to the component cables, which I suggested go directly to the television. Toslink is expensive enough (~$60 for a four foot length) and you ultimately want it going directly to your speakers via the receiver, and not the television.

    Best of luck.
     
  15. TimGRA

    TimGRA Stunt Coordinator

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    I could not agree more. I am currently researching speaker cable and pre-pros. I enjoy it. I am so glad that guy walked up to you and told you about Paradigm. I cant stress enough that ultimately your ears and your budget (wife) will guide you. I noticed you had questions on cables. It is true that you need a quality cable and I can assure you that there is much better than Monster for the same price and even sometimes less. Just keep asking questions. A good rule of thumb is no more than 10% of your budget should be spent on cables. Although you need good ones. Keep in mind that sound is current. That is what you are moving to make sound. When you begin to understand that, you will then begin to see that different companies use different circitry to move current. That is when you will hear bright,natural,warm and every other term out there to describe sound. The receiver/Processor has ALLOT to due with the overall sound.

    With the layout of you room I would suggest a 12" sub if you can.

    Dont forget that it is not only what you buy, but also room layout, is critical.

    I am thinking that I want to put together a “Receiver Based” system where my Digital Cable as well as DVD player and VCR all go thru the receiver then to the TV/monitor.

    Your chioce on televisions is fantastic. Make sure you go with the 51S NOT the 51F. Big differences in the guns between the 2.

    Looking down the road. Most would agree that it is very nice to run you DVD player through the reciever for convinience and with the sound its obviously a must. The video side should be run directly to the TV. The less circitry you go through the better.
     
  16. Jamie Peters

    Jamie Peters Agent

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    I knew that was what you meant on the toslink Sean.... That is one thing that is hard for me... to discuss the hook ups in word form and not by sketching on a piece of paper.... I guess that is the Mechanical Engineer in me....

    I am having fun trying to find the "right" system for my needs... I am glad I decided not to buy a plug and play "box" system.... I would have missed a lot of fun.

    I still have the question about my "L" shaped room and what to do with my Right Hand surround. Where would be the correct forum on this site to discuss that? Don't want to break any rules since I have only been a member here less than a week!!! ha.

    I am going to get a tape measure out this weekend and measure the room do an electroic sketch to post maybe even with some pictures so that I can get some good advice...
     
  17. TimGRA

    TimGRA Stunt Coordinator

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    jamie,

    Take those measurements to your local dealer that you are going to use to hear the Paradigm's. He should either be able to help you with speaker placement and what speaker will give you the best performance or I know there is a web site out there that you can plug your measurements into I just don't know what the name of it is. I will be important that you place your speakers in the correct area. As an "L" shaped room will have many null areas.

    Your an Engineer. OH boy this buying decission could take awhile. HA!
     
  18. Sean_P_O'Brien

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    Jamie,
    I agree with TimGRA in having a professional first offer suggestions for the eventual speaker layout. As a follow up to that I highly recommend the purchase of a Radio Shack SPM (Sound Pressure Meter), around $49 and the AVIA calibration disk, between $40-50. It's well worth the price since it will calibrate no matter where you eventually place the speakers. Have fun with the selection process. I listened to many demos in the stores and ultimately gambled on the Aperions after reading numerous reviews, and because they have a 30-day no hassle audition period (where they pay all shipping costs to your door and back again if you're not satisfied). I am thrilled with my choice in the end, but also enjoyed every demonstration along the way. Like you, I was happy I made the choice to go components instead of the all inclusive HTiB route.
     
  19. TimGRA

    TimGRA Stunt Coordinator

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    jamie,
    I would also agree with Sean about the Radio Shaq (hey IM a Laker fan!)SPM.

    When your finally ready to place your sub in the room you wont believe the best way to do it. Its comical and I will be happy to explain when you are ready.
     
  20. TimGRA

    TimGRA Stunt Coordinator

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    sean,
    The Aperion warehouse is just down the street from my home. Interesting that my nieghbor is the local sales rep for them. Another VERY good speaker for the price. Somthing you might consider jamie.
     

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