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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone! So I've been contemplating on buying a new home theater system for a while now ever since I bought my 40" samsung lcd hdtv. My old home theater system's dvd player doesn't work with the new tv anymore since it doesn't have any hdmi ports and no upscaling so the outcome is horrible using composite obviously and all the speakers etc go into the back of my dvd player so I think i'm sol. Now I'm trying to buy a good system for under say 800 bucks...now granted most of you are probably spending something in the 1000's + but I'm just a college student looking for something really good for my price for movies and my xbox. The reason I'm here is because I can't decide whether or not I should just go and buy separate parts here and there and make up my own home theater or if I should just go ahead and buy a home theater in a box. People tell me to stay away from those, but I have no clue! And should I get one that has an amp in it? Does it make a difference? I'm so lost ... I've seen some good deals on stuff like onkyo at some websites like newegg etc. My room also is pretty small. My bed is only around 7 feet away from the TV and i was to estimate i would say my room is something like 11' X 11' (not too sure). I live in Tallahassee which is a small city so there aren't really any good places to go check them out except for retail stores like best buy....etc and the advice forum said to pretty much avoid that... I know my question is really vague, but if I can get some advice or pointers I'd greatly appreciate it!

-Raz
 

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Welcome, Raz. of course, your budget will determine what you can buy. There are some pretty good HTIB out there, which will save you some money. If you go separates, you might want to look at some of the used forums for higher dollar equipment at a lower price. Have fun. Dennis
 

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Hi Raz, Welcome to the Shack.

I understand your situation. Let me give you some reading first. Have a look here as to why you should not go with a HTIB system.

Going with separate components as money allows will give you a much better system. for $800 your going to get a decent receiver but it leaves out getting good speakers and a sub. is there any possibility of upping your budget?
 

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Welcome to the Shack,...
I'd say do your own system. The big money grubber will be a Blu-ray player.
If you plan to stick with a SD DVD then here is an example of what you could put together.
Onkyo and Infinity make for a nice entry level system and add a Dayton sub and Sony DVD. That would be right around $800 excluding taxes and shipping. Course if you're patient you could probably find deals with free shipping or close outs, sales etc.
 

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Hey Raz!!

Your budget is about where mine is. If you don't mind refurbished. Check them out. I did and ended up with the Onkyo 706 for around $400. But look around at all the brands. Each one in that price range all has their own little perks. For me it was the 4 HDMI repeatable and 1 out route that grabbed me (THX certified with the full range of Dolby's and Tru-HD also didn't hurt). But if you only need 2...you can find those a bit cheaper. However I wouldn't get less than 3 HDMI if your planning on blu-ray, hi-def cable, and X-box. If you do go refurb. Check out how much warranty you can extend on them. I'm cheap and just stuck with the one-year warranty. I figure if it's gonna go. It'll go in the 1st year. But most of the people I've read about on refurb's haven't had any problems. Tough call, but you can get bigger bang for the buck this route.

Boom! The receiver's gonna eat half your budget.

Speakers, I'm no help. If your in a hurry (like I am). Read up in speaker forum on the Yambekas. For your room. A 5.1 system is probably gonna get ya by. The Yambekas have a good price and some of the members here have given it good reviews.

Or just take your time on the speakers, pick out a killer set, and buy as you can afford them.

Then there's the sub.

Whoops...your gonna go over $800 at this point.

So depending on what receiver you get. Is probably gonna make or break your set budget.

Look around and figure out what you need and then trying squeeing your budget from there.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thank you for all your comments and thanks for the welcome. Most receivers I think have just the ports for speakers etc if I could find one that has the mini Ethernet cables (I don't know what you call them) then I would be able to use my old system and just worry about that and slowly change/upgrade as I go.

tonyvdb, I technically can make my budget higher, but if I am able to get what I want under my $800 or so (before or after tax doesn't matter) then I would be happier.

paints I will have a look at refurbished and see if I can find something I like.

As for blu-ray I don't think I will be getting into that at the moment I am still fine with normal dvd's...or if not I'll probably just buy a ps3 eventually lol

I think my main problem is the fact that I am not so knowledgeable about surround sound. For instance, everyone seems to tell me that the receiver is the most important part. My old system did not even have a receiver or if it did it was like part of my dvd player or something. I have a really nooby question and please don't burn me at the stake for this lol...but is the receiver the same thing as an amp?
 

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Most receivers I think have just the ports for speakers etc if I could find one that has the mini Ethernet cables (
Not sure what you mean here?

I think my main problem is the fact that I am not so knowledgeable about surround sound. For instance, everyone seems to tell me that the receiver is the most important part. My old system did not even have a receiver or if it did it was like part of my dvd player or something. I have a really nooby question and please don't burn me at the stake for this lol...but is the receiver the same thing as an amp?
Dont worry, all of us started the way you are and had to learn by asking questions.
A receiver is the "heart" of the system as it houses all the amps for all 7 speakers as well as electronics that switch video, process the audio and controls the volume.
For a receiver I recommend the Onkyo 706 for $611. I know this eats up a fair bit of your budget but its necessary if you want quality.
For speakers have a look at Yambika audio for $299 thats about as good as you can get for the price, is only 5 speakers but for starters that all you need.
You will then need to save up for a subwoofer I recommend the SVS PB10NSD at $429.

I realize these are all from internet direct companies but you save a lot of cash going this route over buying in a store.

You will have to buy a DVD or BluRay player on top of theses items to complete your system as well.
 

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The receiver is a multichannel amp that has the electronics in it to decode surround signals and send them to each individual speaker. Most receivers are adequate to meet your needs, but, do some research. You might want to visit both the Dobly (http://www.dolby.com/index.html) and THX (http://thx.com/) websites to read about 5.1 surround info. Have fun. Dennis
 

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I think my main problem is the fact that I am not so knowledgeable about surround sound.
Don't worry about that, we all started off there and there are plenty of good folks here that are happy to help you.

For instance, everyone seems to tell me that the receiver is the most important part.
Depends, many people feel the display is the most important, some feel the sub-woofer is, some the receiver,... Me, I think the speakers are the most important. As for the receiver, well, it's an electronic device and every couple years they seem to get new features; Dolby Pro Logic, S-Video, Component Video, Pro Logic II, DVI, HDMI, Audyssey EQ, YPAO, RS-232, USB, Satellite, Bluetooth, IPOD, ethernet, DTS-HD, Dolby True-HD and on and on and on :sweat:. Point being, good quality speakers will be around for many years, the receiver will be one of the first things you'll likely upgrade due to some feature or other that will soon be introduced. So starting off with an inexpensive receiver is not necessarily a bad thing.
But then, that's just my opinion :bigsmile:

In the end, it really depends on you, what your priorities are and what your budget is.
 

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Welcome! You've gotten some good advice from others. I have a few thoughts given your budget constraints.

I agree with going with a DVD player that upscales and has HDMI. Even on my 8' front projection screen, a high quality DVD upscaled can look amazingly good. When you have more money, definately get a PS3. It's amazing!

I also suggest you get an off the air HD tuner (eg http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=210-172). Tallahassee should have all the major networks as well as a PBS station. Nature, Masterpiece Theater and other PBS HD programs are amazing. The signal quality is actually better than the same content over cable or satellite, because it is not compressed. Now that stations have gone digital, my wife and I are seriously considering cancelling satellite service. Between OTA and Netflix, we get all the content we need!

Here's a suggested system for you:
Yamaha DVD HDMI Player - $90
Onkyo TX-SR506 7.1 Receiver - $ 212
Winegard HD Tuner - $160
Ascend HTM-200SE L/C/R - $400
Total: $862

The Ascends are amazing little speakers (http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/htm200/htm200.html). I have them for my back surrounds. I only priced L/C/R because of budget. Adding surronds would add another $200.

You'll also want to add a subwoofer later. Right now one would bust your budget. For your space, you could consider one in the $300 range.

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
wow you guys are awesome. Thank you all so much for your comments and advice and suggestions. I greatly appreciate all your help!

Not sure what you mean here?
Well like for instance my current speaker cables are connected to the dvd player via cables (such as an ethernet network cable except it's smaller and thinner)...and the other side that hooks up to the speaker is just the copper end with strings coming out that you put into a snap on thingy behind the speaker.....whereas majority of the cables used for new speakers just have that normal output like a pin (I would post pics but it won't let me due to spam restrictions for noobs!) and this is what all receivers so far i've seen handle which makes my old speaker system totally useless. (Correct me if I'm wrong).



Considering your room size and budget constraints, here is something else that may work for you.
Yamaha DVD w/HDMI[/URL]
Energy 5.1 Take Classic Home Entertainment System[/URL]
Closer to $900, there are lots of options
The yamaha you pointed out is only 1080i and my tv is 1080p so should I not try to get a dvd player that is 1080p? Also that 5.1 system you showed me looks really nice, but I had a question regarding it. It only mentioned that the sub is 200 watts. What about the speakers? Or is this something you can control using the receiver? I used to be obsessed with wattage, but after learning more I realized that a system of 400 watts can sound way better than one at 1000.


I also suggest you get an off the air HD tuner .
WOw are you serious? If this is what I think it is..then it is amazing. I am so sick of watching regular cable on my tv since it doesn't look that great...but after reading this I have to wonder how this is legal? Aren't you just picking up airwaves you didn't pay for? This is ok? Or do you still have to have some sort of cable package from your cable provider? I'm just curious :D I was contemplating on getting a comcast HD package, but if this will get me the same thing w/o having to pay monthly then I'm in..

Also those ascends you showed me look really sweet. That seems to be the new design everyone is coming out with. One question I had about that 7.1 receiver is....if my receiver is 7.1 it doesn't mean I HAVE to buy 7 speakers right? It just means that is its max?


One thing I wanted to make sure on....the receiver is what everything plugs into so my tv, my xbox, my dvd player would all hook up to the receiver via hdmi cables and my speakers and sub would connect to it using their own cables. Is this correct? My 2nd question is, does it really matter what kind of hdmi cable? I bought the philips cables (gold plated..) from walmart for 30 bucks, but I've been told that the $120 monster hdmi cables are not that much better if even noticeable. Now that was advice given to me in regards to video. How much does it differ when we are talking about audio? Because if I have to buy 3 separate HDMI cables that can get pricey too. I also have a friend who works at best buy who can get me the 80 dollar rocket fish hdmi cables for 10 bucks...i've never heard of that company but apparently it's like a best buy version of monster cable? lol
 

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If your only wanting to use HDMI. Make sure your receiver is repeatable. Some are only pass through and you'll need to use an optical cable for your audio. I'd also look at making sure your receiver supports 1.3 HDMI.

7.1 Receivers also will do 5.1 systems. Just make sure whatever receiver you get. You read the manual on which back outputs to use for 5.1.

And the off air HD tuner if I understand Doug correctly is just for for your local channels (need HD antennae). I may be wrong...but it won't get you free HD cable. You'll need to subscribe to your cable company and get an HD cable receiver.

Nova's probably on the right track. Good speakers will last ya a long time. But make sure your receiver will drive all the toys you want for your system.

Take your time. Figure out your needs and piece it together. You'll probably suffer from paralysis of analysis (I did). But your bound to run into deals if you go slowly rather than rush out and get it all at once.

Have fun!
 

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RaZmAn,
Here's some clarifications.
The OTA HD receiver I discussed just picks up broadcast TV. I think I confused the issue by mentioning giving up satellite. If I gave up satellite, I'd give up all the channels such as HGTV, FX, the Weather Channel, HBO, etc. A survey of our viewing habits shows we're paying a lot (>$70/month) for very little return. 90% of our viewing is either broadcast TV (PBS had a great show on Marvin Gaye last night) or Netflix movies). There are 6 OTA TV stations in Tallahassee covering all the major networks, these are what you'd get.

Yes, 1080p would be optimum, but it comes at a price and that price just for the receiver could consume your entire budget. It could be argued that on most content you wouldn't be able to seed the difference, especically on upscaled DVD content.

"I also have a friend who works at best buy who can get me the 80 dollar rocket fish hdmi cables for 10 bucks..." That pretty much sums up the secret to high priced cables, it's mostly, if not entirely markup. This is especially true when you're sending digital signals (HDMI). It's pretty much "go" or "no go". There are special situations, such as extremely long runs, where you have to be concerned, but not in your situation. Buy your cables from Parts Express or monoprice.com. I have a 25 foot HDMI cable from my receiver to my projector that I bought from monoprice that works great. I think it costs $40 and that's because of its length. Do not, under any circumstance, purchase any Monster Cables product. They are an evil company (http://www.audioholics.com/news/industry-news/blue-jeans-strikes-back).

When you get closer to your final decision, we can help with what cables you need.

BTW, the nice thing about the Yamaha RXV465BL that someone recommended is that it has 4 HDMI ins and sound calibration. It looks like a nice receiver.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you for your response. Thanks to you guys my knowledge is ever increasing and I feel like (even though still a noob) I have a way better understanding of everything. One more thing I was wondering is, someone mentioned something about a pass-through hdmi on a receiver. I think I know what that means but can someone correct me if I'm wrong?

Say for instance i have a xbox, tv, and dvd player hooked up to receiver via 3 hdmi cables. Pass through means I can only have one hdmi cord working at a time? Is there a disadvantage to that? I don't really get it because if I play a movie out of my dvd player then does that mean I will only get video and audio out of the tv and none through the receiver?

Currently I watch most of my dvd's off of my xbox or I stream xvids from my laptop to the xbox. I can use the xbox adaptor that enables me to use an optical cable but then I won't be able to use hdmi anymore since the optical port is only there if I use the component cables adaptor. I don't know how much better hdmi is than component but i'm sure it makes a difference.

you mentioned that 1080p would consume my entire budget but i was only talking about the dvd player itself. 1080p dvd player upscaled are only like 80 bucks or so, but I see that you might be talking about the receiver being able to handle 1080p?? I was not aware that receivers also had to be 1080p compliant. It is starting to make more sense now.
 

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...someone mentioned something about a pass-through hdmi on a receiver. I think I know what that means but can someone correct me if I'm wrong?

Say for instance i have a xbox, tv, and dvd player hooked up to receiver via 3 hdmi cables. Pass through means I can only have one hdmi cord working at a time?
I believe pass through as used by the prior poster is what I consider a common use for the term. It means that the receiver can send a video signal totally unaltered from your source (BD, DVD Player, Cable box, etc.) to your display. There are some good reasons to look for this feature.

Here's an example. I have a PS3 and its upconversion is well regarded, some think it's about the best there is. I have a 720p projector. I set my PS3 to upconvert standard DVD's to 720p. I then hook the HDMI cable from the PS3 to the receiver, then hook the HDMI out cable to my projector. Since I've already upconverted, I want the receiver to just pass the signal through to the projector. Now, if I had a TV or projector that did a great job of upconverting, I'd want the PS3 (or whatever DVD player) to send out a signal in native resolution, pass it through the receiver and let the TV or projector upconvert.

If I had a really great (read expensive) receiver that was renowned for it's upconversion, then I'd send a native signal from the source to the receiver and let it upconvert before passing the signal to the display.

If you get a receiver that offers HDMI passthrough, it will still capture the audio portion of the signal, process it and send it to your speakers.

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If for example there is this product: Yamaha RX-V363BL 500 Watt 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver

It says 500 watts. If my speakers have a total of say 1000 watts, does this mean that only 500 will be used since the receiver is only 500 watts?
 

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The wattage rating of the speakers is the limit the speakers can take before damage will occur. It has nothing to do with the amount of power the amp can produce. You will not be listening to 500 watts! Most material will fall into the 5-50 watt level, with some peaks above that. As long as you don't play distorted passages at loud levels, you will be fine. I believe that receiver has about 100 watts per channel with 500 being the combined total output. Dennis
 

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I love a good challenge :devil: Let's keep in mind tax and shipping costs - that's where Amazon really shines.


For the LCR, I'd look to the Boston Acoustics Classic series. You can get some decent floorstandersxand a center channelxfor a total of ~$442 shipped from Amazon.com. Boston always put out good performance for the dollar, I think you'd be hard pressed to top this LCR in this range.

That said, go with something really cheap for your surrounds in a starter system, that's where you can cut corners the most. These Sony bookshelves Sony bookshleves are about as cheap as I could find without delving into satellite territory. This brings you up to ~$492.

This Sony receiverSony receiver is about as inexpensive as you can get while maintaining the bare essentials. 5 x 100 watts, HDMI switching, and ~18lbs for $155 shipped is tough to beat. Now you're up to ~$647.

The subwoofer that screams decent performance on a budget is the Dayton ported 12". At $155 and tuned ~25hz, I doubt there is anything competitive. Now you're up to ~$847, as shipping probably costs close to $50.

I've read that this Toshiba upconverting dvd playerToshiba upconverting dvd player is pretty decent, and a great deal at $82.50 shipped.

This brings you to a grand total of $929.50 shipped. All you'd need to add are a few cables from Monoprice.com and you're all set for under $1000. The speakers in this system, inlcuding the sub, should be very good for this price range - if you wanted to upgrade one of the areas, I'd maybe spend a bit more on a receiver myself. If you step up to the ~$300 range, you can get a better amp section.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Greetings....

Just a FYI...semester is almost over and I am about to get some more money which means I can finally start buying my system (I am projecting to start buying beginning of may cuz then I'll be totally free and have time for it)

Totally off topic but have you guys ever heard of these speakers?

http://www.sounddistributors.com/buynow.asp?action=detail&prid=516&crid=63&cat_name=Home+Theater+Systems

I'm not sure if it's ok to post such links so I'm sorry in advance....but someone just showed it to me and I was just wondering ..I know it would make my budget way over but I was just curious :D

Also what about these: http://www.vocopro.com/products/product_info.php?ID=113

I am for some reason getting into those floor standing speakers...they have an appeal to me...I just don't know anything about the specs and etc :|
 
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