Newbie-Advice on Receivers building system.

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Richard Ferns, Aug 22, 2006.

  1. Richard Ferns

    Nov 5, 2003
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    I am a newbie to Home Theatre and sound systems. I do not have time to do much reading on the plethora of knowledge and systems that are out there. Hence I am seeking your help in this area. I wish to start building my system slowly within the next 6 to 8 months. Initially, I would like to purchase a reciever and some good speaker mainly for music. Althought eventually I would like to expand to a full blown HT system. I do own a Sony DVD player which is an older model but works just as well for me as I dont watch a lot of DVDs. At the moment I am mainly looking for something that produces good quality crisp sound for tunes.

    Firstly, let me ask am I starting on the right foot buy first purchasing a receiver and maybe a couple of speakers ? To this reciever I hope to hook up my DVD player, CD player, TV and PC. I hope to watch movies from my PC and DVD player and play MP3s from my PC and also tunes from my CD player.
    If the price does not go too high I would like to have multi-room capability for the reciever. I dont know anything about the various techonologies/formats that are available for recievers now. So here are some questions that I hope you can answer.

    1) What is HDMI and do I really need it ?
    2) Is THX a big factor or is it fading out ? Considering I've never had a HT system will I really find the need for THX ?
    3) To start with, how many speakers are most essential ?
    4) Which recievers (brand names) should I consider, which models and why ?
    5) Which speakers should I consider ?
    6) Is it disadvantageous to mix manufacturers when building a system with say a Denon receiver with a Sony DVD player and a Marantz equilizer or Amp ?
    7) Is it best to buy online or local only ?
    8) What should I have as a minimum on a receiver and should I go 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 capability ? HDMI, DVI, dolby... ??
    9) Which receivers (brands) and speakers should I stay away from ?
    10) If I am looking at a budget of $1200 for a reciever and speakers what combinations would any of you recommend ?
    11) In the 70s and early 80s, seperates included Amps and equilizers, are these still necessary ? What is the difference between an Amp and PreAmp ?
    12) Is there a good website, where I can use a compare tool to compare various receivers across manufacturers and also comparing pricing ?

  2. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

    Jul 17, 2006
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    The first thing to stay away from is some mass marketed stuff, Sony receivers or other Sony audio products that aren't ES. Lower end Pioneer, Kenwood, or other in house brands such as Insignia of Best Buy. Looking at your current budget it would not be likely you would be looking at these products.

    HDMI is an all digital interface that can transmit High Definition video and audio through a single interconnect. It has hand-shake routines for an easy set-up. Though easy ends with the set-up. Currently HDMI has a lot of issues and quirks it needs to rectify. HDMI 1.3 is the newest version and is fitted for the new high definition video sources of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Currently HDMI 1.3 compatible audio components, receivers and prosessors, are not available and will not likely be available untill next year. If you do not have plans to buy into these new HD formats and are mostly concerned with music I would not look for HDMI as a feature in a audio product to be a deciding factor.

    THX is a marketing ploy for audio companies to mark up prices on otherwise nothing but a label of certification they pay George Lucas for the rights to use it. THX certified equiped audio/video products claim they are rigorously tested to match THX standards. Usually the rigours go as far as specs and good sound isn't based souly on specs. Realize that you will not ever likely see a tube amplifier with THX certification, and most tube amps possess awesome sound capability. This does not however exclude products with THX certification from being good, just know you are likely paying more than what it is worth if you do.

    Mixing different brands of equipment can be good or bad. Even if you you purchase all of your audio/video products from the same company it will not garauntee good sound. More often than not, Mixed systems are supperior to those of all same make. Sony makes descent video products and shakey audio products, putting the two together will not likely produce desired results.

    Depending on the listening room you may either have to limit yourself to 5.1 or if you have a larger room maybe you would be best off with a 7.1. None the less, if you have surround sound, you will probably end up watching more movies than you previously did.

    The first and most important things are your receiver, front left/right speakers and possibly a subwoofer. On your budget and basis the system will be for music mostly I would recommend a receiver and front speakers just for now. Later you could get a center, sub, and surrounds when you get more money to spend.

    Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, Pioneer Elite, Rotel, Onkyo, Outlaw, Sherwood Newcastle, and Harman Kardon all have good receivers. Look and listen to the ones that are available in your area. If nothing you listen to matches your needs look at other peoples opinions of receivers that you couldn't see or listen to yourself on Cnet or There are many choices and many differences in each pieces of equipment of each brand.

    Speakers to listen to: Paradigm, B&W(Bower & Wilkins), Kef, PSB, Klipsch, Ascend, and the list just goes on and on. Ones not to look at: Anything Bose, Sony, and white van specials. If something turns up that you haven't heard of before or you aren't very knowledgable on, just post what it is and some one here will take a look at it. Use the same basic rules to pick the speakers as the receiver. Listen and read reviews.

    Online or local, just depends on the situation. If you see a pair of speakers at a hi-fi store for $550 and then the same ones on a trusted website or Ebay for considerably less, maybe do it there. If the Hi-Fi store offers excellent service and support and helps you to make the decision without being forceful and instead is more helpful, then it could be in your interest to buy from them. I just depends on how you feel and the underlying factors of either alternative.

    Also Denon, Marantz, Mcintosh, and Boston Acoustics are all part of D&M Holdings Corp.

    I hope all this isn't to much and helps you to find what you need.
  3. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

    Jul 2, 1999
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    Given the $1200 budget mentioned by the original poster, I will take a shot at a $1200 system.

    Forum co-owner Parker Clack has Premier Acoustic speakers and likes them. For $900 delivered you get the bookshelf version in cherry, no less. Tricky thing is, you save $100 by getting the bookshelf version, but then you need stands for the mains. For the $100 difference, the floor standers might make sense. Then, as a receiver, I would suggest the Pioneer 816. Various reputable on-line sources sell this for about $260. Just search it. So, you could get the floorstander package and the Pioneer all delivered to you for $1260. I would be pretty comfortable making this suggestion to folks with a $1200 budget. I think you would be pretty impressed with this combo set-up properly. That means setting all speakers to small, and redirecting bass to the subwoofer.

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