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A home theater from scratch.

Chases Street DemonsChases Street Demons Registered User regular
edited October 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Wifey and I closed on our house yesterday and we're in the market to set up our living room with a home theater system. This is where I admit I've got no idea where to start. I don't know the difference between a plasma and LCD TV, I have no idea how to mount one on a wall, it's a mystery to me how to get the cables hidden, et cetera. I am a noob.

The budget is, at absolute most, $2500. Our needs are fairly simple. We want a big ass TV that looks great, connected to a DVD/Blu-ray system (likely staying with DVDs for now but may geta blu-Ray player in the future). I don't want to run everything through a computer. Consoles are not currently a consideration, I've got a PS2 and XBox, but not a PS3 or 360. I would say that the possibility of me getting a new console is about 10%, I just prefer to do my gaming on a PC.

So, I'm looking for advice. How do i know I'm getting a good TV and not getting ripped off? What sort of cables do I need to get? Is there anything I need to tell the cable company in order to get the best picture possible? What about speakers, should I get wall mounts or standing speakers? How do I hide cables?

I'll take any advice, we've got about two weeks to go through the design an purchase process. Thanks a lot.

Chases Street Demons on
"Sometimes things aren't complicated," I said. "You just have to be willing to accept the absolute corruption of everybody involved."

Posts

  • ChanusChanus Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Plasma is much better picture quality, but they suck energy like a... an... energy sucking thing that likes a lot of energy. I have a friend who can heat his living room in the winter by having his plasma TV turned on.

    $2500 will buy you a pretty badass LCD TV, you can get a quite decent one for around $1500. If you'll be gaming on the TV, the specs matter more than if you're just watching movies. Contrast ratio should be high... 1080p, rather than 720 (if you're gaming, for movies and such it's not a big deal unless you're getting like 40"+ screen diameter)... Higher refresh rates are good, but you probably wont be able to notice much difference over 60Hz.

    Your cables will depend on your components... You can buy cable covers to keep the cords out of sight (not endorsing that site, just the first one on Google to give you an idea what to look for).

    The cable company will probably offer a HiDef package, which is usually a couple bucks more per month (for the box) and then can vary depending on what package you get. I don't personally find they're worth it unless you're going for a big package with a ton of channels.

    As for speakers... I'll defer that to others, I'm not really a guru. I've always preferred standing ones, but I don't know brands so much.

  • GanluanGanluan Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Check out avsforums. The dudes on that site are fanatical and have tons of good advice for buying in any price range.

  • AumniAumni Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    When buying cables consider monoprice.com.

    For the actual TV/Speakers advice definitely check out avsforums.

    http://steamcommunity.com/id/aumni/ Battlenet: Aumni#1978 GW2: Aumni.1425
  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Honestly, for $2500 you're not going to be able to set up much of a home theater system. Typically to set something like that up you'd need:
    The TV
    The TV mount (if you want it on the wall - a stand if not)
    A receiver
    Speakers
    Cables, etc.

    You're best off either trying to get the most tv out of the $2500 as possible (which would be a great TV) or getting a mid range TV with a home theatre in a box set up. The home theaters in a box aren't the best things in the world but they may be enough for you for now.

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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I set up a full home theater system for under $2500, including a PS3.

    I got a 50" plasma for $1300, a PS3 for $400, wallmount for $80, a receiver for $300, and a 5.1 speaker system for $250. I ordered cables from Monoprice for everything, and the total for that was easily under $50.

    That was almost 2 years ago. I'm sure you can do much better now. It was all well-reviewed stuff, too, so I wasn't cheaping out on refurbished Woot-quality items. It was going in a 13x13 room and I planned accordingly -- no need for giant, earth shattering speakers in a space like that, and a 50" is a pretty good size when you're sitting just a smidge over 10 ft away from it.

    FYI, there's not much point in getting a nice big HDTV if you don't have some way of showing HD content on it. I would suggest you at least look into a stand-alone blu-ray player, which are significantly cheaper today than they were 2 years ago.

    I got an Onkyo receiver which has been really great. I mean you can spend a lot of money on receivers and speakers if you want to, but if you spend a little time on CNet and Amazon (and NOT just looking on the shelf at best buy), you can find some really good stuff that fits within your price range easily.

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  • KidDynamiteKidDynamite Registered User
    edited October 2009
    This is just from shopping at best buy for a minute.

    TV, 52 inch is large

    I've had good luck w/ Yamaha, and I know the home theater in a box is less desirable, but mines been fine.

    Blu ray player you say?

    I think I'm under the limit here.

    Eggytoast was writing when I was too. He basically said the same thing.

  • KidDynamiteKidDynamite Registered User
    edited October 2009
    Ganluan wrote: »
    Check out avsforums. The dudes on that site are fanatical and have tons of good advice for buying in any price range.

    QFT. Those guys can definitely help you out, and usually they are more than happy to.

    It helps to sign up for the forum, so you can search for particular models and what not.

  • truck-a-saurastruck-a-sauras Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Honestly, for $2500 you're not going to be able to set up much of a home theater system. Typically to set something like that up you'd need:
    The TV
    The TV mount (if you want it on the wall - a stand if not)
    A receiver
    Speakers
    Cables, etc.

    You're best off either trying to get the most tv out of the $2500 as possible (which would be a great TV) or getting a mid range TV with a home theatre in a box set up. The home theaters in a box aren't the best things in the world but they may be enough for you for now.

    that is enough to get a decent setup. Sure with that budget your best bet is to put 90% of the TV alone. Don't know what the best to look for in terms of TV is right now, but a few years ago if you wanted the biggest TV possible for your money you wanted to go with rear projection. Yeah you can't mount it on the wall, but it was an awesome trade off to get a 61 inch TV for the price of what a 37 inch plasma or LCD was going for. When it comes to the TV, GO HUGE. In a matter of a week or so the tv won't seem that massive anymore. I know many people who don't listen to that advice and get like a 42 or 46 and wind up saying later oh it really looks small in this room now.

    cables are dirt cheap at monoprice, they are awesome, trust us here. That 20 feet of HDMI that would be $200 if you buy that garbage Monster brand stuff will cost you like $12 on monoprice... I am serious!

    Speakers - avsforums like said will help you out very much. I became a forum member over there when buying my home theater stuff and it is very helpful. I got a 6.1 speaker set for $200 and they are more than adequate. Minimal investment and I've never even been able to really crank those things up because they are powerful enough to shake pictures off the walls. I purchased from Vanns.com and are Onkyo brand or however you spell that.

    Stand/mount can be an extra fee, but if you shop around you can find the right deal. When purchasing I spend enough time researching that I saw a couple of deals come and go, I purchased when I found that I could get the exact TV I wanted with the stand thrown in for free.

    With all that if you can get an Ok setup. Wait till later on the receiver unless you have a ton of components you wish to hook up right away.

    And when shopping for your TV don't be afraid to haggle. I got hundreds knocked off the price of my TV from haggling. Part of my deal was I knew the salesman got a good commission from selling service repair contracts. So I offered him that if he knocked X off the sale price of the TV that I would get the 5 year service contract. Now I only saved like $300 total with that little deal, but the bonus was that I did get that money off and was now covered for 5 years no matter what. The sales guy was happy because he got his money from that too... it was a win/win.

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  • a5ehrena5ehren Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    This TV is a steal at $1100. LCDs tend to get much more expensive in the 50"+ size range (This Samsung for example, is $1500 for 52".)

  • prfntbtrprfntbtr Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    For your surround sound, as others have stated, your best bet is a relatively inexpensive home theater in a box. This is something that would include all your necessary speakers and subwoofer, along with a receiver to power your speakers and send them the proper signals and whatnot. As far as buying a home theater in a box, your best bet is certain to be an Onkyo set. Their sets for the price, tend to beat out anything else for the money, you should be able to get one anywhere for less than $600.

    For television sets, if you are going to buy an LCD, Samsung makes great sets for the money, Sony makes good stuff but it is usually at a higher price point. Toshiba has nice stuff as well, it just depends on what you can find on sale. If you are not going to be using blu-ray or playing newer console games any time in the near future you can go cheap and pick up a set that just does 720p and not 1080p, but you are somewhat future-proofed by going with something capable of the higher resolution, and your budget is such that you should be able to get a nice set. If you decide to go with a plasma, I would stick to Panasonic or Pioneer, their sets are great. As far as best bang for your buck, a DLP set is going to get you a massive size for less money than the other two options, with great picture quality, at the trade off of not being quite so thin.

    And yeah, don't get sold any cables from a retailer when you buy a television set. They may try to sell you $100 Monster brand HDMI cables, but you can grab some generics from Monoprice for like $5.

  • meekermeeker Registered User
    edited October 2009
    Monoprice has some great wall mounts. I have a small arm mount for my 26" in the bedroom and a flat screen mount for the 42" in the Family room. Both were about $25 each. Wall mounts at Best Buy were starting at $150!

  • SliderSlider Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    You will be able to find a decent television for around $1,000. Keep in mind that you want 1080p, a high refresh rate, and at least 3 HDMI inputs. Component, composite, and S-video inputs are also necessities; and a PC input is nice to have.

    For receivers and speakers, I like to build my own system, rather than purchasing a box set.

    You can find fairly affordable towers here:

    ...and receivers here:

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    We've had these speakers for years, and absolutely love them. $200 is a steal for a five speaker set. We do not have a sub, but honestly, we haven't needed one. The bass put out by these is more than sufficient to make our neighbors notice.

    $1100 for the TV mentioned by a5ehren, $300-400 for a nice receiver...

    To say that $2500 won't get you a damn nice home theater set up is crazy.

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  • GanluanGanluan Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I've had an Onkyo HTIB system for a while now and have been very happy with it. I can't imagine playing my 360 games without surround sound now :P

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