Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 13 Old 03-31-08, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

Hello All! I just found this forum online and have been impressed with the wealth of knowledge on the boards and am starting to understand just how little I really know about home audio and home theater options. I finally have a limited amount of extra income (about $2000) that I can justify spending on some upgrades to my system and am looking for suggestions on how best to spend my money. Here's my current setup:

TV - Samsung 56" DLP - model HLN567Wx (DVI connection, no HDMI)
Receiver/Speakers - Kenwood HTIB w/ AV Surround receiver VR-208 (includes fronts, center, two surround satellites, and powered sub)
DVD - Samsung DVD-HD931
DirecTV HD DVR (not sure on model but recently upgraded by DirecTV installer in last couple months)
Monster Power HTS 3600
Microsoft xBox
Nintendo Wii

Frankly, I was pretty happy with the sound produced by the Kenwood system, which will probably tell you quite a bit about my expectation level for my system. However, the infrared pickup on the receiver broke somehow in one of my moves and this has given me the motivation to start looking into upgrading things (someone at an audio store told me that it would be fairly expensive - $100-200 - to fix the infrared pickup so I figured I might as well consider upgrading since I really don't enjoy having to get up and walk to the receiver every time I want to change something). We moved into our current house in 2006, and I have just been running the front and center channels along with the sub since we moved b/c my wife didn't want me running wires all over the room for the rears and I have neither the skill set nor the confidence to run wires through the walls and/or ceiling to get them set up. Now that we are in a house that I expect to stay in for quite some time, I would like to get this room set up better for home theater use. I figure if I'm going to go to the trouble to do it, I might as well try to do it right.

Ultimately, I would like to have a system that looks clean enough for the wife (translation: I can get away with having speakers mounted on the walls and/or from the ceilings but it needs to be a professional install - she would prefer in-wall or in-ceiling speakers but I gather I'll get much more bang for the buck with "external" speakers so I can talk her into that concession) and is geared toward movies and tv. I'm happy with my TV picture and will eventually upgrade to something more current with HDMI connection but that is not a high priority for me at this point. I would also like to add a decent universal remote that the rest of the family will be able to use so that we can all get the most out of the system. I believe I'll be able to handle the necessary programming for this as long as it's not super-complicated.

My main question for all of you experts out there is this: what would you do in my situation given my current setup and my near-term budget ($2000).

Btw, the room is approximately 24' east to west and 20' north to south with the TV sitting on a media center table at the approximate center point of the west wall (this can't be moved without major changes for a number of reasons). The walls are finished drywall and the ceiling is 8' with a drop section that runs horizontally through the middle of the room for an HVAC conduit - also all drywall.

I've read a lot of good things on here about some Onkyo receivers and SVS speaker systems and as such have come up with the following as a potential list for my budget:
SVS SBS-01 5.1 system - $999
Onkyo TX-SR605 - ~$400
Logitech Harmony 890 Remote - ~$300
Professional Speaker install - ???

What do you think? Is it reasonable to spend half of my budget on the speakers at this point? Will the SVS speakers likely be too large for my wife who is very sensitive to aesthetics (there is no such thing in her mind as an "attractive" speaker)? Would I be better off spending on a nice receiver and remote today and running the existing somewhat speakers until I can afford a good solution for the room?

Sorry for the ridiculously long post - not a lot of experience posting on boards and just excited to start the process of asking for help from all you people who know way more than I do about all this. Any and all advice is very much appreciated. Thanks so much!

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post #2 of 13 Old 04-01-08, 05:40 AM
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Re: Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

I think you have a decent idea of what you want. Speakers are probably one of the most critical elements in a lower budget system and therefore a good investment. They are also one of the easiest things to upgrade later on. I've had good experience with in-wall speakers for surrounds, but that is a matter of personal preference. I think you could save some cash on the remote unless you have a specific need for RF capability. I've seen 880s for 100$ and other harmony or universal models for even less.

As for install....I'm sure there are plenty of us DIYers on this website that would be happy to talk you through the ropes of installation. We have a lot to tricks to make it easier than you think. So I would try to tap the tribal knowledge here before pulling the trigger on an installer. Of course, this is coming from a DIY guy, so I'm a little more optomistic about that sort of thing.
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post #3 of 13 Old 04-01-08, 07:38 AM
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Re: Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

Skip the pro-install and just ask us along the way. There may even be a member in your area who can help you out for a 6-pack.
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post #4 of 13 Old 04-01-08, 03:03 PM
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Re: Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

I agree with Matt and Marshall ... forget about paying for installation; most of us installed our speakers following instructions from members with experience (is not hard running wires along the baseboard or hidding them) ...

Forget about spending money on the receiver and remote and use your current speakers ... is better to get new speakers and use your old receiver (which you can't use because of the remote)

Go ahead, get the SVS and receiver, and look for another cheap remote control ... and start having fun installing your HT ... you can involve your wife with the accoustic treatment (you'll need it to get the best response system, read this thread and see how his wife helped with the HT
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post #5 of 13 Old 04-04-08, 10:20 PM
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Re: Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

are you building a dedicated room or just seting up in an existing space?
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post #6 of 13 Old 04-20-08, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

Thanks everyone for the responses! And sorry for not getting back here sooner to reply...I've had a crazy last couple weeks and haven't been able to find the time.

To answer the last question, I am setting things up in an existing room in my basement that is already completely finished - trying to do the best job I can in the existing space without going into any major work on the structure of the improvements already in place. I'm still leaning toward the SVS package with the Onkyo receiver but I haven't pulled the trigger on anything yet.

Thanks again for the feedback,
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post #7 of 13 Old 04-21-08, 03:36 PM
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Re: Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

I'd skip the Harmony for now and use the $300 to put towards the Onkyo 805 instead of the 605. Or upgrade the speakers to something like Axiom Epic Midi - 125 or 175's or the SVS package with a PB12-NSD instead or have them pair them with a SB12-Plus.

Speakers are something you can keep around for 10 or more years. It's really only the styling that changes as the basic technology has been the same for a long time. The receiver on the other hand is something that may be replaced every 5 years (or more if you're an AV nut like me).
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post #8 of 13 Old 04-23-08, 10:45 AM
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Re: Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

I have always recommended to people to spend half of their budget on the speakers. Do this and all will be well in the universe. What kind? You have to listen to them, with the exception of that sub as those are highly rated by people, but the mains and surrounds you need to hear them first.
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post #9 of 13 Old 04-23-08, 01:53 PM
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Re: Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

I should add that you might want to look at the secondary market and pick up some used speakers. New is nice, but gently treated used speakers give excellent bang for the buck. You could even go with a used receiver to cut or reallocate your costs. A good used HDMI 1.1/1.2 receiver could be had for under $500. Check out, Ebay, or your local classified advertisers. Some audio stores do trade-ins and sell older equipment also.
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post #10 of 13 Old 04-23-08, 03:38 PM
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Re: Newbie Needs Advice on Basement HT

The SVS speaker system is a fantastic deal A great review here. For the receiver I would recommend going new particularly if you are planning to go with a BluRay player soon as the receiver will support the new High Definition audio formats. The Onkyo 805 is the best bang for buck and at less than $700 here through the Shack you cant go wrong.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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