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Not Sure Where to Begin

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by JSHeacock, Sep 22, 2019.

  1. JSHeacock

    JSHeacock Agent

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    I live in a smallish town and the choices for evaluating what I need to set up a home theater/media room are Walmart, Target and Best Buy. Online evaluations aren't much better. The AV department manager at Best Buy would love to sell me stuff that seems a bit over the top. So I found this forum and have looked through several of the threads and hope I can get some realistic guidance from you fine people.

    Here's my situation: I'm building a house - a retirement home - that will have a media room that isn't huge - it measures 12.5' wide by 16.33' deep. There will be one window (that I will have blackout curtains on). This will be the place where the family goes to watch movies. (I'll probably have one of those theater-type popcorn machines outside the door to set the mood.)

    I have about 1300 movies stored on a 4TB HD that I intend to move onto a NAS on a home network. I hope to have another 4 or 6 TB in the NAS case at some point to store 4k movies on once I can view them and decode the sound. I intend to stream movies there using Emby either installed on the NAS or my Dell desktop as the media server, which I currently use to stream over a wireless system in my current home using a Roku connected to an older 55" Sony 1080p television.

    But I intend to have a 4k TV - a 75" Sony that I like (at Best Buy) or a projector and screen to view 4k material. I know I will have to improve my modem and my router to handle the 4k stream. But I've read comments and articles about spotty streaming to projectors and for a room that is only 16.33' deep, do I really need that or is a 75 - 85" TV more practical? That's the first question I'll pose here; if you guys would like to weigh in, I'd truly appreciate it.

    The Best Buy guy is recommending a Onkyo NR696 AV receiver and about $1100 in Klipsch speakers, including a pair of Atmos height speakers. After all is said an done, I'm looking at about $3800 in costs. That doesn't include the modem and router. If that's sound advice, fine - I'll shell out the money but I'm not made of money and this is a retirement home which means I'll be on a fixed income. If it's overload, I'd like to know that and how to scale down a bit.

    There's also a question I have about a home theater PC vs a Roku ultra to handle the streaming to the AV receiver. If anyone responds to the first question and has a thought about the need for a HTPC, let me know cause I have a lot more questions.

    Thanks for reading this and considering giving me a reply.
     
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  2. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I'll confess one thing. There's more than one speaker brand. I say that because it seems to me that it's almost the impression that Klipsch is the only speaker company in existence. The fact is, there are probably thousands of speaker brands.

    A second thing that drives me nuts these days, is how much ignorance there is regarding placement of Atmos speakers. Since you are looking at new construction, you are in the perfect situation to do Atmos correctly. Correctly means in-ceiling Atmos speakers, over your head, not just height speakers.

    Look at THIS GUIDE from Dolby. there are a lot of potential configurations, but I suspect you will be looking at a 5.1.2 or 5.1.4 setup, based on the dimensions of your room. Scroll down a bit, and like I said, since this is new construction, you might do it right. It won't cost any more than doing it wrong, and it'll be significantly better. Look at the 5.1.2 and 5.1.4 Overhead Speaker Setup examples. Even those have one detail wrong, since they show the side surround speakers on stands. They should be on or in the wall. the best is bookshelf speakers on small wall-attached shelves. I would recommend NOT using in-wall speakers, just because they are so limiting. The Atmos speakers need to be in-ceiling, simply to accommodate proper placement.

    BTW, count on everything anyone at Best Buy tells you to be wrong.

    Personally I would spend more on the receiver, and get a previous year model to take advantage of closeout deals. I don't know Onkyo models, so I can't lend much advice there. I do know Denon and Marantz, and you can get previous year models like the Denon X3500 for $700, or the Marantz SR5013 for $600 ($500 refurbished). Those all were over $1,000 a couple months ago, so you're getting a lot more for your money.

    Personally for budget speakers, I like the ELAC Debut 2 line, but like I said, there's a ton to choose from.
     
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  3. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    For the Emby question (I use it as well and have 4k content) the best device that will play anything and everything you can throw at it is the nVidia Shield TV. It is by far the most expensive device ($150+ compared to less than $100 for a Roku) but it will play it all. And that will be cheaper than an HTPC (and easier to maintain).
     
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  4. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    And, if you do end up buying from Best Buy do not let them sell you the super expensive cables. The only thing better about them is the profit the sales people make.
     
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  5. JSHeacock

    JSHeacock Agent

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    John/David: Thank you guys so much. You've given me some really good information that I can cull through and it helps de-mystify a bit of what the guy at Best Buy was pushing.

    John - Denon was my first choice but the guy waved me off and pointed me to Onkyo. I had read that Denon (and Marantz) were top notch systems. The BB guy kept trying to sell me on the Sonos connectivity with the Onkyo and I am not interested in a Sonos sound system throughout the house. Didn't seem to phase him so I appreciate the re-direct to Denon or Marantz.

    I also appreciate you pointing me to the Dolby website - you're right: tons of good information there. I had not considered the ceiling mounted Atmos speakers (I am going with a 5.1.2 system as you surmised) but will now. I WILL NOT mount other speakers in wall...but I do agree, the bookshelves on stands aren't for me either. I had planned to mount them on the wall. Was a bit surprised they were mounted behind the viewer; I thought they were mounted 2/3rds of the way from the TV so thanks for pointing me to that set up pdf.

    I had been looking at Polk audio speakers for the set up and again, got waved off by the BB guy as he pointed me to the Klipsch. I'm not married to any of them; just want a good sound at a reasonable cost. Again, thanks for dragging me back from the precipice on those speakers.

    David: I appreciate the comments on the nVidia Shield streaming system. I had little information on them as far as their capability so glad to hear from someone who uses it that it's capable. I have a Roku and it's fine for standard 1080p stuff and has worked great for years so I was just going to go with the Roku Ultra not knowing if it was capable or not. I'll take the nVidia Shield any day if it works. So thanks for that.

    Do you stream content exclusively from content providers or do you have your own stuff to stream as well?

    Thanks for the breathtakingly fast responses - I was shocked this morning to find that I got something other than someone telling me to read more stuff before asking a question.
     
  6. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Producer
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    Actually, Vudu is having a problem streaming 4K to the nVidia Shield and has disabled that feature until further notice. All Vudu streams on nVidia Shield will now be HDX.
     
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  7. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    In a 5.1.x system, the surround speakers really should be more or less directly to the sides of the main viewing area. Directly to the sides is ideal. Then, in a 5.1.2 system, the in-ceiling speakers should be around 35-45 degrees in front of the main viewing area. If you think you might want to do 5.1.4, then make sure the receiver you choose is capable of it. Off the top of my head, I don't think the X3500 or SR5013 are, but the X3600 and SR6013 are, but double check that. The SR6013 is a good deal right now at $900 or $750 refurbished.
     
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  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    BTW, if you are going to mount your speakers on a wall, as in on a small shelf, make sure you get speakers that are either sealed (no ports) or front ported. Rear ported speakers sitting against or close to a wall don't preform well.
     
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  9. JSHeacock

    JSHeacock Agent

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    Thank you for weighing in Todd. As far as streaming services, I plan on Netflix and maybe HBO Go. I'll do OTA broadcast for everything else and live with what I get. The channels I do watch are mostly available on the Roku/nVidia devices.

    What do you use for media streaming? Do you have any problems with it (freezing, buffering, etc)?
     
  10. JSHeacock

    JSHeacock Agent

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    Thanks for the follow-up John. The diagrams from the Dolby site had me believing I needed to have the rear surround speakers as far behind the viewing area as the front speakers. I appreciate the clarification and that actually works better for my anticipated set up since I'll be having most of the seating pressed as far back as I can to accommodate the larger screen TV.

    I'll check out the receivers you mentioned!

    Thanks again.
     
  11. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Producer
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    In my office, I have a Roku Premiere (horribly slow with its 2.4 GHz WiFi and no Atmos on Netflix), Apple TV 4K (for Netflix in Atmos) and Amazon Fire Stick 4K (for Hulu in 5.1). In the living room, I have a Roku Streaming Stick+ (which works great with its dual-band WiFi except that some apps are not "fully featured" like no Atmos on Netflix) and a Chromecast (used mostly for whole home audio and the occasional "look what I found on YouTube"). For the most part, I don't have any major freezing or buffering issues other than the Roku Premiere taking much longer for Netflix and other streaming services to ramp up what I'm watching to maximum resolution - I blame that more on the weak WiFi chipset Roku installs in their lower-end devices. We have 400 Mbps service from Spectrum and eero mesh routers all around the house.
     
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  12. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    A 5.1 or 5.1.2 system doesn't have rear surrounds, just side ones. Then you add rear surrounds when you go to 7.1.
     
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  13. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    I can stream my own UHD discs but I almost never do (unless I'm really feeling lazy and don't want to go downstairs to dig out the disc). I have tested it with a variety of them and they all worked flawlessly.

    I also sometimes stream Netflix 4k and I have tried Amazon. I haven't messed with anything else. Go to the nVidia forums and ask questions there. There's a HUGE following and tons of great info. Plus nVidia is still updating my 2015 model 4 years later. That seems to be a rarity these days.

    I'm have not tried Vudu. I'm sure they'll get it sorted out.
     
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  14. JSHeacock

    JSHeacock Agent

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    Thanks Todd. Good info and I appreciate it.
     
  15. JSHeacock

    JSHeacock Agent

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    That's reassuring. I'll slide over to the forums you mentioned. I had not even heard of nVidia Shield until about a month ago. I always figured I'd use the Roku devices since I was familiar with them. So thanks, David.
     
  16. JSHeacock

    JSHeacock Agent

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    Okay - I must have gotten a bit lost in all the arrangements the Dolby site provided. What you've explained is how I understood it initially.

    I may be way off the mark but I think a 7.1 is too much for that size of a room - not that they wouldn't sound great with the right set up but I can't imagine that I'd get that much of an advantage over a 5.1.2 system in a room that is only 12 1/2' by 16 1/3'.

    Or am I way off the mark?
     
  17. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Yeah, there needs to be a decent amount of space behind the listening position to take reasonable advantage of 7.1. If you’re against the back wall, you might benefit a bit from 5.1.4, but 5.1.2 is probably the best configuration.
     
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  18. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    For example, in my HT is about 20' front to back. The listening position is about 8' from the front. There's an additional 4' behind the TV and front speakers, but that's due to the ideal placement of my main speakers and definitely isn't what many people do with their setup. My #1 priority is two channel music, and that's the ideal placement for my speakers, especially with music. Then there's about 7' behind the listening position, which makes a perfect layout for 7.1. Ultimately I will be installing 4 in-ceiling speakers for an ideal 7.1.4 system, with the Atmos ones about +/- 35 degrees from the viewing position. I have everything except the in-ceiling speakers, which need to be wired first.
     
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  19. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    So I ventured over to the nVidia forums since I haven't been there for a while and, OMG, what a frickin' disaster. White text on black background with bright green borders. Everything is stylized - I couldn't spend 10 minutes there. It reminded me of the mess HTF was for a while when they jumped on the latest forum nonsense. I had to leave then and I have to do the same at nVidia. Only difference is they stand to lose money since it will influence my future purchases. I hope the new Roku that were just announced will be the answer when my Shield TV finally dies.

    Sorry, just had to vent (since I mentioned the forum in a previous post). Why do all these companies think they have to change to these terrible forums is beyond me....
     
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  20. JSHeacock

    JSHeacock Agent

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    Wow! That IS a unique set up. But if it's best for listening and that's you're priority, it makes sense to set it up that way. II wish I could have extended the depth of my HT to about 20 feet but with the layout of the rest of that floor, I just couldn't do it.

    Because it's more of a media room than purely a true home theater, I'll want to have it for just listening to music at times as well. I presume the 5.1.2 set up for the theater will sound alright for listening to some instrumentals and some quieter environmental-type music???
     

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