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hello all,

I apologize in advance... this is another one of those "what system should I get" threads. I've read a bit here and a few other places, but am really a noob when it comes to these things. Well, I guess that is not entirely accurate, been around HT for some time... hooked some up, showed people how to use their various electronics, but am no expert.

My situation: I've had a $249 sound-bar solution for my TV for some time. Overall, I've been reasonably happy with it though the delay in sub out for the wireless subwoofer is perceivable and a bit distracting at times (that an there isn't sufficient sound separation (can hear higher-range audio being outputted from the sub). I share this to demonstrate that I am not an audiophile by any means... Moving on...

We've recently purchased a new house and are working on getting settled in it. The house came with four in-ceiling speakers in the family room, as well as two on the rear patio and two in the master bedroom. As part of my 'buy-in" for my wife wrecking out the stacked-stone fireplace in our family room, I got her to agree that I could get a proper home theater setup (well, a receiver anyway). I'd like to take advantage of the in-ceiling speakers and possibly build an Atmos setup. Worthy of note, all the in-ceiling speaker wiring goes to the family room wall where I've mounted my TV. Because the master and patio are separate areas, I was thinking it would be nice to be able to "call them" separately.

Back to the setup, we do stream music, play Xbox and watch movies/ stream shows in equal parts and would be interested in an "all-around" performer. As mentioned before, not an audiophile and maybe going deaf (or so my wife tells me) so super-high-end isn't critical but budget is. I'll likely need to do this in stages. Perhaps adding only the receiver for now and taking advantage of the soundbar/subwoofer where/if possible. Then, layering on as money permits.

Room specifics:
- The TV is centered on the wall at approximately 5ft vertical (to midpoint).
- Kitchen and Family room make a large rectangle measuring approximately 21 x 35
- ceiling height is 10 ft and has 1ft soffits that near-equally divide the space (kitchen and family room).
- flooring is currently concrete but will eventually be wood plank tile.

Budget: (as inexpensive as possible while maintaining decent feature/benefits). I don't have brand loyalty (really have no contextual experience here). If looking for a number... probably <$600 USD

TLDR: I'm cheap, want decent sound for music, tv, and movies and a fairly decent size room with possibly important architectural and build details.
 

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I apologize in advance... this is another one of those "what system should I get" threads.
No need to apologize for that. One of the greatest values to a forum dedicated to any topic - not just HT- is the ability for someone not very familiar on the respective area to get information and assistance from those who are. Frankly, it's one of the key reasons on-line communities exist.


We've recently purchased a new house and are working on getting settled in it. The house came with four in-ceiling speakers in the family room, as well as two on the rear patio and two in the master bedroom. As part of my 'buy-in" for my wife wrecking out the stacked-stone fireplace in our family room, I got her to agree that I could get a proper home theater setup (well, a receiver anyway). I'd like to take advantage of the in-ceiling speakers and possibly build an Atmos setup. Worthy of note, all the in-ceiling speaker wiring goes to the family room wall where I've mounted my TV.

Back to the setup, we do stream music, play Xbox and watch movies/ stream shows in equal parts and would be interested in an "all-around" performer. As mentioned before, not an audiophile and maybe going deaf (or so my wife tells me) so super-high-end isn't critical but budget is. I'll likely need to do this in stages. Perhaps adding only the receiver for now and taking advantage of the soundbar/subwoofer where/if possible. Then, layering on as money permits.

Room specifics:
- The TV is centered on the wall at approximately 5ft vertical (to midpoint).
- Kitchen and Family room make a large rectangle measuring approximately 21 x 35
- ceiling height is 10 ft and has 1ft soffits that near-equally divide the space (kitchen and family room).
- flooring is currently concrete but will eventually be wood plank tile.

Budget: (as inexpensive as possible while maintaining decent feature/benefits). I don't have brand loyalty (really have no contextual experience here). If looking for a number... probably <$600 USD

TLDR: I'm cheap, want decent sound for music, tv, and movies and a fairly decent size room with possibly important architectural and build details.
There are conflicting needs in this situation I'm afraid, some of which will tug heavily on your budget during a time when money is probably tight.

21x35x10 is 7350 ft^3, so a rather significant amount of space. Large volume = large everything (speakers, subwoofers, AVR) so the spend will surely be more than you're anticipating. Then there's the fact it's a concrete environment, which means your subwoofers - yes, plural - will have to be very big and very powerful to overcome the stifling affect of a solid structure.

Because there are only 4 ceiling speakers they were likely used for surrounds or Atmos. Since you want to go the latter route that means you have a start already, but it also means you have to buy the other speakers before the ones in the ceiling are of any value (5 or more, depending upon how immersive you want the system to be). The soundbar won't have a play in the new system so you can discount that piece. If your current sub was used with a soundbar it's probably very small, and if so it will be rendered moot in a large concrete structure. That doesn't preclude you from using it for the time being, just don't expect it to be able to do anything noticeable. Speakers can be aimed at the listeners so even if they're too small you can partially overcome that by directing them at the seating positions. Subwoofers work differently; they 'see' the entire volume of space and will try to fill it so they have a more difficult time in larger rooms. The inert nature of concrete exacerbates the problem, so combined you'll need more than one very powerful subwoofer in order to get any reasonable HT experience.

You might be better off waiting until things settle down and there is more of a budget available. Even if you opted for inexpensive products, in order to create an effective entry-level HT system (speakers, subwoofers and AVR) it will probably be no less than $2000.
 

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All of the above are a useful bit of info and I suggest you keep these in mind as you progress.



The very first thing i would do is to take a look inside the ceiling speakers to be sure they are aimed at your planned seating area especially the tweeters. Most decent in-ceiling speakers are internally movable and can be aimed.


Your idea to start with a receiver is a logical second step. There are many suitably effective choices of amazing quality and with a reasonable price tag. The following are receivers with all of the Home Theater (HT) bells and whistles including Atmos, DTS:X etc.



Begining with and I am extremely impressed with Denon AVR's for its theater surround programming capabilities with a long list of associated features. i am equally impressed with Denon as a dedicated 2 channel music listening pre-amp with nice A/B/D amplification and it also has a pre-out feature if you prefer tube amplification or you if have a favorite amp. In any case, digital or analog i am very pleased with Denon' overall sound characteristics/quality. Your $600 budget is enough to get you into the 150watt range adequate for 5.1-7.2 systems if you focus your speakers to your seating area. Also has the ability to play music in two additional and seperate zones simultaneously(wirelessly with WiFi) as most other AVR's do. https://www.amazon.com/Denon-AVR-S750H-Receiver-Channel-165W/dp/B07QQ87Y6M compare with Onkyo or any other brand.



Another moderately priced AVR is Onkyo. Onkyo has long been a favorite here at Home Theater Shack (HTS) and i don't believe you'll hear a bad word anout Onkyo. I would only suggest Denon offers a few additional features for the dollar at any price point. A point to consider is Onkyo offers consistent wattage ratings with all speakers driven and claims are varified accurate here at HTS. https://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-TX-RZ820-THX-Certified-7-2-Channel-Receiver/dp/B071VF518B/ref=pd_cp_23_3?pd_rd_w=EokBF&pf_rd_p=ef4dc990-a9ca-4945-ae0b-f8d549198ed6&pf_rd_r=NWCEZDG03CA8KG4GCBFZ&pd_rd_r=7e08c614-0fb5-4eb6-9e7e-1c9af2fb00fd&pd_rd_wg=tdW0R&pd_rd_i=B071VF518B&psc=1&refRID=NWCEZDG03CA8KG4GCBFZ
THX cert. not something you hear often enough I am impressed. If i were in the market i would consider this @ $399



The following choices are higher priced but still budget friendlyif you consider buying used equipment. Anthem, Cambridge Audio, Marantz, NAD, Rotel and a few others.


The following are names to avoid unless you buy their top dollar offering. However mostly are absent of one or another A/V reproduction feature or quality is compromised somehow, Sony, Yamaha, pioneer, Harmon Kardon and many more.





Prices vary with wattage output ratings..., more power = more money. Also some higher priced features include up to 11 and more speaker connections..., Happy Listening


Whatever you do, before you choose you should first visit a nearby Home Theater retailer with decent amplification and speaker choices you can actually listen to in house before you buy.
 

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No need to apologize for that. One of the greatest values to a forum dedicated to any topic - not just HT- is the ability for someone not very familiar on the respective area to get information and assistance from those who are. Frankly, it's one of the key reasons on-line communities exist.




There are conflicting needs in this situation I'm afraid, some of which will tug heavily on your budget during a time when money is probably tight.

21x35x10 is 7350 ft^3, so a rather significant amount of space. Large volume = large everything (speakers, subwoofers, AVR) so the spend will surely be more than you're anticipating. Then there's the fact it's a concrete environment, which means your subwoofers - yes, plural - will have to be very big and very powerful to overcome the stifling affect of a solid structure.

Because there are only 4 ceiling speakers they were likely used for surrounds or Atmos. Since you want to go the latter route that means you have a start already, but it also means you have to buy the other speakers before the ones in the ceiling are of any value (5 or more, depending upon how immersive you want the system to be). The soundbar won't have a play in the new system so you can discount that piece. If your current sub was used with a soundbar it's probably very small, and if so it will be rendered moot in a large concrete structure. That doesn't preclude you from using it for the time being, just don't expect it to be able to do anything noticeable. Speakers can be aimed at the listeners so even if they're too small you can partially overcome that by directing them at the seating positions. Subwoofers work differently; they 'see' the entire volume of space and will try to fill it so they have a more difficult time in larger rooms. The inert nature of concrete exacerbates the problem, so combined you'll need more than one very powerful subwoofer in order to get any reasonable HT experience.

You might be better off waiting until things settle down and there is more of a budget available. Even if you opted for inexpensive products, in order to create an effective entry-level HT system (speakers, subwoofers and AVR) it will probably be no less than $2000.
Hi Jim,

I appreciate your having taken the time to provide the detail you did in your reply. It is very helpful. You mentioned that the smaller speakers can be aimed at seating positions (would assume this is the atmos (ceiling speakers) and the floor-standing units i've yet to acquire). If we envision the space as a rectangle (it is) and imagine the living room occupies the "front half of that rectangle, with the TV/focal point being the one of rectangle's "short sides" (it does), the kitchen/dining room space occupies the other (back) half. If my wife were to allow me to put floor-standing rear speakers in the space would they be able to mostly overcome the lack of a "back wall"? Also, other details not mentioned in the original post are as follows: Adjoining formal living room area is accessed via the longer side of the rectangle (through an unobstructed archway). Additionally, the hallway to the secondary bedrooms is accessed (unobstructedly) via the wall (opposite the TV) on the same wall as the aforementioned archway. Do I need to account for these details in design or do my rather unsophisticated ears (whose performance capability is noticeably diminished) negate attention to such detail?
 

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Hi Greg,

Thank you for taking the time to craft your detailed reply. I have a number of follow-on questions and comments:

Regarding speakers, I know the tweeters are movable but am not sure whether the mids are. I think starting with the receiver makes the most sense as it will enable me to play music over the existing infrastructure whilst I explore speaker options.

Regarding the receiver, I have questions regarding physical zones. As previously mentioned, I have 2 ceiling speakers in the master bedroom (owner's suite) and two speakers on the back patio. I would like to take advantage of them (lowest cost of entry in my estimation) by purchasing a receiver with multi-zone capability. When looking at those options, most of what I saw appeared to share or repurpose speaker outputs depending on deployment. For example, the speaker labeling for the referenced Onkyo, shows a shared or dual-purpose output for speakers 9 and 10 -labelled "Height (Zone 2b). Is that accourate, or is this my limited understanding of the options? While still on speakers, some reference 'works with Sonos', this is not someone I am opposed to but would require additional hardare investment (sonos speakers). In that scenario, am I increasing my "zone" capabilities, or is more of an "either/or" configuration?

You mentioned that Onkyo has a good price point and similar features, but the Denon wins out at any price point. Can you comment on what types of features the Denon would bring that the Onkyo does not? (probably a loaded and ambiguous question).
 

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If we envision the space as a rectangle (it is) and imagine the living room occupies the "front half of that rectangle, with the TV/focal point being the one of rectangle's "short sides" (it does), the kitchen/dining room space occupies the other (back) half. If my wife were to allow me to put floor-standing rear speakers in the space would they be able to mostly overcome the lack of a "back wall"?
In the case of speakers, yes (assuming they are aimed correctly of course). That's not the case for a subwoofer unfortunately as they only acknowledge physical boundaries. You're likely to have a bigger struggle getting the low frequencies to where you want them more so than the higher frequencies.


Also, other details not mentioned in the original post are as follows: Adjoining formal living room area is accessed via the longer side of the rectangle (through an unobstructed archway). Additionally, the hallway to the secondary bedrooms is accessed (unobstructedly) via the wall (opposite the TV) on the same wall as the aforementioned archway. Do I need to account for these details in design or do my rather unsophisticated ears (whose performance capability is noticeably diminished) negate attention to such detail?
Typically any large entry to another area is factored in, but if your requirements for sound quality are not very exacting than it becomes less critical to account for the total volume of space. Subwoofers, due to how the couple with the room, will still pose an output problem but if the expectations are not demanding in that regard either you may be OK with less powerful equipment. I still suspect total cubic volume and concrete floors will create noticeable issues, but what I find acceptable and what you consider that to be may be different.
 

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In my first response, i was making some assumptions about Denon suitability to your needs without even looking at the specific receiver referenced. I was looking at price-point for comps. It would appear you will need to up the pricepoint with Denon to find a pre-out feature and accommodation for separate zone speaker connections even with X1600H and the like series.

As far as focusing speakers and speaker placement, consider actual frequency width. With tweeters the width of the high-frequency sound waves crossed over at 2500-3000hz is somewhere shorter than 6in. and a good reason to focus tweeters to fire directly into the primary listening area. Although a 1" tweeter dome is convex and actual soundwaves reaching the listening area are somewhat wider compared with frequency width from the driver face and in consideration of off-axis volume diminishing the conversation with regard to ideal aiming of tweeters is very much personal preference.

FYI Audussy XT32 (available in most modern AVR at price point) and earlier versions along with other room correction programs/devices do compensate for volume and timing issues nicely. However, speaker placement and aiming along with to a great degree reflected sound waves, remain a personal preference and/or specific to speaker manufacture and even speaker drivers proper.

Next, Mid-range speaker/drivers playing programs between 3000hz down to 80hz (80hz being theater and 2 channel preferred) or between 6" and 16' are more dependent of mirror matched L/R speaker pairs and creating the illusion of "sound stage imaging" of instruments.

Next is the subwoofer with frequencies as low as 20hz and often crossed at the upper end at a frequency of 80hz with sound wavelengths between 15' and 55' are obviously easier to place individually only with pairs become a bit more placement sensitive.

As far as which AVR brand and feature set per each price point and how each is used/implemented/integrated and identified you will have to search specific sales ads and owners manuals and familiarize yourself with terms and features this way or...

Happy Listening
 

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i do prefer Denon but at the referenced price point it appears Onkyo has the feature you need first, lseperate zones and pre-out especially if your wiring for bedroom and patio are run into the tv area already? Otherwise wifi with seperate amps or HEOS with transmitters and receivers with amps in/for specific areas.
 

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Hi Greg,

All current speakers are wired back to the "family" room where the TV is and the receiver will be. You all have given me a bit to think about.
 

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Gonzo, Hey


If you had been around HTS these past few years (could do a search for Onkyo) you would have read much about member testing of Onkyo Receivers etc and learned, as i have, Onkyo specs are consistantly "as advertised" as opposed to marketplace hype of most other manufacturers except Denon. So, I am NOT surprised by the THX cetrification in a $400 Receiver/AVR..., but i am flabergasted. Also, HTS once upon a time, founding principal and most held the view - one does not have to spend "big money" on electronics to get great sound. In fact speakers are more important than electronics (in the average pricepiont arena especially) though low prices still get you nothing notable. I would only add, decent electronics, matched with adequate wiring quality, and great speakers "form a synergy" in detailing sound quality. Some electronics work in synergy with specific speakers but only with adequate wiring while other combinations actual detract from sound field.



I believe the above is my attempt to convince you the $399 Onkyo receiver referenced above has the qualities you need now. I do not believe you are compromised in the least with it. When next in the market for front and center speakers and adequate surrounds, this is where you will want to save in order to spend real money on the best quality speaker you can afford. And ten or fifteen years down the road swap out the Onkyo for a nice Krell or Mark Levinson or Cary, LOL just sayin'



I am happy with the Denon i own now but if i were looking for the best bang for my buch..., you will not find a $400 AVR that checks more of the feature boxes while offering decent sound quality.


I would only add, one of the HTS members has a retail website "accessories4less.com" where he offers unbelievable prices on Onkyo and Denon new and refurbs.



I hope this helps
 

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Oh, sorry i didn't answer the wiring q.


With all of the wires in one place and using the Onkyo AVR - after connecting the patio/bed speakers to Zone 2a, i would connect whichever is closer to the TV for zone2b height sound.



I believe (you will have to verify) when playing theater programs using the Atmos setting the zone 2b "height" speakers will convert your (future) 7.2 speaker array to a 9.2 (or 9.1 with one sub). Also using (Audyssey NOT in this Onkyo) to balance speaker output to balance for 9.2 speaker array may work to some degree. Not sure but i would think the zone 2b would function normally with 7.2 or less programing - you would have to check the manual for specifics.
The manual is available for download on linE


Don't forget - Enjoy
 

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Advertisements. You could learn much from simple ads and ads can help with developing research questions. When a question is beyond you expretise there are plenty of sound and video reproduction geeks eager to describe their interpretation of the facts on forums like HTS. But the greatest teacher of all, bar none, is..., time.



Like everything else in life: the more time you invest the greater your level of expertise.


Another great place to gather info is your local Boutique AV Retailer and their showrooms/soundrooms/theaters



Most importantly, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.
 
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