What Receiver/Speaker combo would you recommend for a newbie on a budget?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 30, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I have many co-workers that ask me about
    entry-level Home Theater systems.

    It is difficult for me to give advice because
    my Home Theater is more towards the high-end side.

    I suppose I am approaching those of you that
    have cautiously entered the Home Theater market
    on a budget.

    What would you recommend for a receiver/speaker
    combination at about the $1,000 range (more or less)?

    The receiver would have to be DD/DTS compatable
    and the speakers should be a 5.1 setup.

    If $1K is too low a figure, give me a ballpark
    price on what you would consider being a satisfying
    entry-level setup at a modest pricetag.

    As always, thank you in advance
     
  2. Chad Isaacs

    Chad Isaacs Supporting Actor

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    I am not sure of the exact model number but I know Yamaha has a #440 for $299 that looks really good,it is 6.1 channels and I seem to remember it having decent power.

    As for speakers,I have read alot of good things about Fluance,an online brand.I am sorry I do not have the link but I will search for it.They have a package for under $300.It comes with tower front speakers,matching center and surrounds.

    So that leaves $400 for a sub and connections.I have not really been in the sub or connections market lately so.
     
  3. Chad Isaacs

    Chad Isaacs Supporting Actor

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  4. Dan Stone

    Dan Stone Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron,

    While I'll leave it to others to make recommendations in regards to brands or specific systems, I will make the recommendation that you urge your friends to highly consider the entry-level systems that consist of a seperate receiver and DVD player (of which there are several under $1000.00). That way, when they do decide to make an upgrade, it can be done in pieces. Likewise, this also makes it easier from a repair standpoint as the receiver doesn't have to be replaced if only the DVD player goes out (and vice versa).

    Hope this helps,

    Dan
     
  5. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I will probably be lambasted for this recommendation on this forum.

    However,

    Anyone for whom Home Theater will not be a major hobby, will IMO be very well served by something like a Sony Dream system. Simple connections, small footprint, and SIMPLE OPERATION make systems like this perfect for people simply wanting a neat surround experience.

    Not everyone will have the "upgrade bug" that so many of us have, and simple units like this are perfect for many people; my brother loves his Dream system.
     
  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I should point out that he already has a
    DVD player.

    Just needs receiver and speakers.
     
  7. DavidNighorn

    DavidNighorn Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a high-end system at home and a low-end system that I travel with. The low-end system consists of the Onkyo 494 receiver and the Level 2 speakers from hometheaterdirect. For the price, this combo produces some very good sound for movies and even better for music. I can honestly say that I don't notice enough difference between my two systems to make the low-end one distasteful.

    I know that this particular model of the Onkyo is discontinued, but its replacement is quite comparable. For the price, the Onkyo is very very musical but still provides enough ooomph for Bruckheimer movies.

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out why there are not more reviews of these internet direct AV products. It would be nice to see an unbiased review of the HDT speakers in comparison to more mainstream products.

    My $.02

    David
     
  8. gregD

    gregD Second Unit

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    For a newbie-on-a-budget, I'd recommend a system package with speakers by Cambridge SoundWorks... very decent affordable speakers... paired with entry-level Sony / Onkyo / Marantz receivers... systems start at $500... great way to get started, and better sound than HTIB... they have some outlet stores (dunno about NJ), and they're online: http://www.hifi.com/
     
  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Ron, the system I'm running in my bedroom would fit the budget: a Denon AVR-1803 and the Acoustic Research HC6 speaker suite. It's hard to find the Denon below its $499 list, but the $800 AR HC6 system can be found heavily discounted below $400. And it's not just a budget system, but a very well-designed and -engineered exercise in accurate, flat response and transparent sound (and highly rated by the editors of The Perfect Vision). The piano-black lacquer finish exudes class.
     
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    sigh, double-post
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Two recommendations, the first is a repeat of Jack’s: the Acoustic Research HC6 plus a lower-end Denon receiver. I would diverge a bit with Jack here and suggest that the Denon 1603 would be more than ample to drive this system—and it can be found for ~$300.

    The second is a bit more upscale, and is my current favorite for entry-level systems for those with a bit more money and desiring good sound and appearance but well below audiophile standards: the Rocket ELT package at $900 and either of the Denon receivers listed above. I heard this system in Dallas recently and I think that it is a very fine system indeed.

    Of course both of these recommendations come with the usual caveats about value at their price points—and as to how suitable they are for larger rooms. I think the HC6 system well suited for bedroom/office setups and the ELT for bedroom/medium-small rooms, where reference levels are not expected.
     
  12. Victor Chan

    Victor Chan Stunt Coordinator

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    Ouch Lew!... I think MLS would be hurt to hear you call his ELT a system that is WELL BELOW audiophile standards. While obviously not in the league of the Onix Refs, ACIs, VMPS, and other wonderful speakers that can be had at comparatively bargain prices, from what I understand, the ELT is a very good system in its own right. But then again, you have heard it and I have not.
     
  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Well Victor, I hope that Mark does not feel that way, as he personally ran the demonstration for me.

    Of course, this was at the Dallas road show where we were crtically listening to the Refs, Rocket 750/200/300/550 setup and some MBL (the floor standers were close to 5 figures) speakers. Pretty rarefied company and this is what I meant by audiophile standards. Of course I recognize that there are those who can afford $20,000 plus systems and would consider the Refs not up to audiophile standards.

    Regardless of the definition of audiophile, I think that the ELT system is an awesome price-performer—to the point that I’m not sure how this has been accomplished. It was a real hit with all of those who listened to it at the road show—at least those that I talked with and have since corresponded with (and some of these guys were true audiophiles). . It just does not meet my definition of ‘audiophile equipment’.

    Right now, this is my choice for my bedroom system, and I did not recommend it to Ron because I thought it second-rate. I just did not want it to sound as though $900 bought several thousand worth of equipment. Too often I have read statements that I consider to significantly over praise equipment that is not well known in the community. I’d like to avoid that hyperbole.
     
  14. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    I tell everyone who asks, plan on spending:

    Speakers: $1500-2000 CDN
    Receiver: $800-1000 CDN
    DVD player: $200-300 CDN

    Total: $2500-3300 CDN

    For that price you'll be set for a while longer than you would a entry level. Don't waste your money cause you think you have to get into HT ASAP. Save, Save, Save. Unless a deal of the century falls upon you lap. Such as my Rotel RMB-1095 for $1550CDN(5+4yr warranty)

    Kevin
     
  15. Mike>Mob

    Mike>Mob Auditioning

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    Ron,

    I've recently purchased the Acoustic HC6 Research system through Best Buy for $325.00 w/ tax. They have a nice lacquered "Piano Black" finish and are really attractive speakers for that kind of a price.

    I then went to OneCall.com and ordered the Onkyo TXSR500 Receiver for 175.00 w/ shipping. (factory renewed, but it's in perfect condition). 501 models go for around $299.00

    I've been thoroughly pleased with my setup and it cost me less than $500.00. If you figure in the cabling (Speaker Wire, digital cables) that will be involved, you'll probably see the cost of everything come to about $550.00-$600.00.

    This may be too low end, but I would definitely recommend this setup to anyone that's on a budget.[​IMG]
     
  16. Jay Foster

    Jay Foster Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Ron,

    I know I may get a lot of flack for suggesting this but here goes:

    Go to Rex (30 day return policy) and get the JVC amp for $300.

    Also, while at Rex get 2 Cerwin Vega tower speakers and one center channel.

    Now, with the virtual surround on the JVC amp, you will not quite get the perfect surround sound, but this sounds great and is more than adequate to power a large room. You can always upgrade later for the 2 surround sound speakers and you have not sacrificed a whole lot in speaker quality at this price.

    This will keep you under a $1000.

    I personally have the JVC amp and cerwin vegas all around and although I'm no expert, it sounds great to me: the sharpest selection on the JVC amp makes the dialogue clear even during explosions such as Saving Private Ryan.
     
  17. Drew_W

    Drew_W Screenwriter

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    Since I'm from up north, I really don't know where to go to get good deals, but for $1000 you can do this:

    Energy Take 5+1 (incl sub) $699.99
    Denon AVR1603 $299.99

    at www.goodguys.com, and I should also add that there is a 10% off promo, so you'd get this for $900, with no sales tax and free shipping. The Takes from Energy have been very highly acclaimed on numerous occasions.

    I have the newer Take 5.2 + S8.2 setup (which I have and absolutely adore). If he has extra cash, you can do:

    Energy Take 5.2 $599.99
    Energy S8.2 $299.99
    Denon AVR1603 $299.99

    That works out to $1080 with the 10% discount, also with no tax or shipping.
     
  18. Skyler

    Skyler Stunt Coordinator

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    I was just in the same boat for my bedroom. I splurged on the stands after trying some cheap Wal-Mart stands. The StudioTech SNB's are incredible. Sand fillable bases, adjustable, & removeable carpet spikes. Sean from AV123 turned me on to these at the Dallas road show. They are great. Here's what I did.

    Receiver - Sony DA4ES $540 delivered
    www.sammans.com (authorized)

    Speakers - Acoustic Research HC6 $325 delivered www.bestbuy.com

    Speaker Stands - StudioTech SNB $75
    http://www.hififorless.com

    Surround speaker mounts $9.99
    Walmart
    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ...A77622%3A78837

    Another GOOD receiver choice is the Denon AVR-1082 (3802) from www.6thave.com (authorized) for $596 delivered.
     

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