The Home Theater - Audio Setup

jeddy leejeddy lee Registered User regular
For being a longtime musician, I can't believe i'm asking this question. I guess I just know how to make good sounding things, not make things sound good if that makes sense. The extent of my speakers for gaming has always been plugging the R/W av plugs into the back of a cd player/stereo and having at it. This no longer is an option as I don't own a cd player anymore, and frankly that only made things louder, not sound better.

My current tv has good sound, but not very dynamic sound. What do I want to look for for getting decent to good sound without spending $$Texas? Does my HDTV need some special cord for the audio out as the HDMI cables are feeding into it.

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    You'd get a receiver. $$Texas is not a real number, what real number are you looking at for everything. Is your heart set on surround sound right now?

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • jeddy leejeddy lee Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Not set on surround sound at all. Just something more Dynamic. Honestly I would hope to spend less than $200, but I suppose if only crap is available on that budget, maybe $400.00. All I am looking for is a grade above my stock tv speakers, I don't need huge sound as I'm in an apartment.

    jeddy lee on
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    0/8

    PS2
    FF X replay

    PS3
    God of War 1&2 HD
    Rachet and Clank Future
    MGS 4
    Prince of Persia

    360
    Bayonetta
    Fable 3

    DS
    FF: 4 heroes of light
  • Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Then you're looking for a sound bar. Vizo is supposed to have a good one, not sure of the cost though.

    Dark Shroud on
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Not sure if a soundbar is what he wants; they're usually a collection of tiny drivers setup in an array to simulate surround sound.

    Minimally you'll want a 2-channel power amplifier and 2 full range speakers (with at least 1 x 5" driver and 1 x tweeter in each cabinet if you were getting bookshelf speakers). Though that setup may sound thin during say explosions compared to your friends 5.1 setup, to get more low end you can get speakers with larger drivers OR supplement smaller speakers with a powered subwoofer. Moving past bookshelf speakers there are floorstanding models that may have either multiple low/mid-range drivers (say 6.5") plus a tweeter or they may have a low, mid and high (8", 4", and 1.5").

    If you want to hook up mulitple audio sources you will want a stereo receiver. If you want to hook up multiple video sources and ever want to do multichannel home theatre you may want to spend a little more and get a multichannel home theatre receiver.

    Perceived audio performance, particularly for those who fancy themselves of discriminating audio taste, is highly subjective and you should take some source materials (with which you have a lot of familiarity) to the store to listen to their gear setups.

    Djeet on
  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836121120&Tpk=z-5500

    These are actually pretty damn good for the price, but they're not some audiophile shit by any means. It may be a bit more than you're looking for, but you can't get much easier or better for the price.

    You'd probably feed it optical, check if your set has an optical out.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882339104&cm_re=optical_cable-_-82-339-104-_-Product

    Cabezone on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Djeet wrote: »
    Not sure if a soundbar is what he wants; they're usually a collection of tiny drivers setup in an array to simulate surround sound.

    Minimally you'll want a 2-channel power amplifier and 2 full range speakers (with at least 1 x 5" driver and 1 x tweeter in each cabinet if you were getting bookshelf speakers). Though that setup may sound thin during say explosions compared to your friends 5.1 setup, to get more low end you can get speakers with larger drivers OR supplement smaller speakers with a powered subwoofer. Moving past bookshelf speakers there are floorstanding models that may have either multiple low/mid-range drivers (say 6.5") plus a tweeter or they may have a low, mid and high (8", 4", and 1.5").

    If you want to hook up mulitple audio sources you will want a stereo receiver. If you want to hook up multiple video sources and ever want to do multichannel home theatre you may want to spend a little more and get a multichannel home theatre receiver.

    Perceived audio performance, particularly for those who fancy themselves of discriminating audio taste, is highly subjective and you should take some source materials (with which you have a lot of familiarity) to the store to listen to their gear setups.

    Dude did you read his post on what his budget is?

    At $200-400 you are going to be getting some sort of Home Theater in a Box setup (edit: or comp speakers like posted above me). I ran this from Newegg as a start, though I'm not really too familiar with the options at this low a price. I'm familiar enough to say that if you spend less than $400, and try to buy a receiver and two speakers to go with it, unless you're buying used it's gonna be extreme low-end.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2100310501%204019&name=%24300%20-%20%24400

    Scrublet on
    subedii wrote: »
    I hear PC gaming is huge off the coast of Somalia right now.

    PSN: TheScrublet
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Yep. For $400 you can get a pretty decent 2 channel power amp and pair of bookshelf speakers. A stereo receiver can be had for about as much or a bit more depending upon what power amp you're comparing it to. And if you hunt you could probably find a 5.1 channel HTR for around $200 (though it likely will not have HDMI switching). If you want HDMI switching your floor is probably $300 for the HTR.

    Edit: And he's upgrading from the inbuilt tv amplification and speakers, it's not like he has to spend a whole lot to get discernably better performance. Though since he's investing in an amp or receiver, might as well put as good a unit in as he can afford, as its replacement cycle is probably 5+ years.

    Djeet on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Djeet wrote: »
    Yep. For $400 you can get a pretty decent 2 channel power amp and pair of bookshelf speakers. A stereo receiver can be had for about as much or a bit more depending upon what power amp you're comparing it to. And if you hunt you could probably find a 5.1 channel HTR for around $200 (though it likely will not have HDMI switching). If you want HDMI switching your floor is probably $300 for the HTR.

    Edit: And he's upgrading from the inbuilt tv amplification and speakers, it's not like he has to spend a whole lot to get discernably better performance. Though since he's investing in an amp or receiver, might as well put as good a unit in as he can afford, as its replacement cycle is probably 5+ years.

    I was actually going to type something very sarcastic here.

    Then I ran across this deal.

    I had the B-2s through out college. I got rid of them for good reasons (for me), but at that price this is exactly what the OP should get for speakers. Then get the most expensive amp or receiver you're willing to buy.

    Scrublet on
    subedii wrote: »
    I hear PC gaming is huge off the coast of Somalia right now.

    PSN: TheScrublet
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Those are good speakers that can be re-purposed into a different future set-up. Buy them.

    Improvolone on
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  • psychotixpsychotix __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2009
    To be honest, 400 bucks isn't enough to be looking at audio upgrades. A good receiver alone will chew up more then that. It's best to wait and save up.

    psychotix on
  • Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Just a reference, a 3.1 Sony Sound bar system that is $250 with free shipping. And it uses HDMI.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882105290

    Dark Shroud on
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Scrublet wrote: »
    I was actually going to type something very sarcastic here.

    Why is that?

    Do you think it's going to take $$$$ to beat the awesome sound coming from the shitty 15-20 WPC stereo amp* and paper cone drivers** on a tv? Fitting all the components within the chassis (whose concession to audio consists of adding holes) and keeping the cost rock bottom were the primary determinants in audio reproduction decisions: audio being dead last in design considerations for tv's, behind the panel choice, thickness of the bezel, scaler/tuner choice, number of ports available, and who knows what else.

    You could pick up a $100 stereo amp or receiver and $50 bookshelf speakers from radio shack and it'll sound better then what's on most tv's. Though I'd likely hunt around partsexpress or tsto or audioadvisor to find a deal if price constrined like that, or buy used.

    Of course you have to pay more if you want 6+ speakers making sound or if you'd like some nifty remote-controlled video switching as you could get in an HTR, though I saw this receiver in the paper today for $170.


    *Not that low wattage = bad amp, but it's not like they stuck an SET amp in a tv.

    **There are nice paper cone drivers, but these aren't the 3" jobbies for $0.25 per in lots of 10,000 that you'll find in many flat panel hdtv's.

    Djeet on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I was going to be extremely sarcastic because I think it's a waste. For the purpose of simplicity, let's take reliability out of the discussion. Let's pretend that while it may sound like shit, the $100 amp/receiver and $50 bookshelf speakers aren't going to break or blow or otherwise embarass themselves beyond their shitty quality. Better then what's on most TVs? Maybe, but it's still going to sound like absolute shit. To make a receiver + two bookshelf speakers NOT sound like absolute shit generally costs above 400, thus I was going to be very sarcastic until I saw my old Klipschs up there for that retarded low price.

    Now I understand not everyone wants to throw tons of money at audio. But if $400 is going to buy you a shitty amp and shitty speakers, or a shitty home theater in a box, why not go for the box setup? Especially with how "advanced" some of the receivers are that filter down into those lines. For instance, at $500 this Home Theater In A Box has an actual receiver, DVD changer, surround sound, and some good features. Why the fuck would you settle for shitty speakers and an amp with barely any connections at that point?

    I'm not arguing that your recommendation will beat the TV speakers. I'm saying that if you're going to get shitty sound either way, you might as well go with the box setup and have an actual receiver and surround sound. Until I saw that deal on Klipsch, which offers an alternative that isn't shitty sound.

    Scrublet on
    subedii wrote: »
    I hear PC gaming is huge off the coast of Somalia right now.

    PSN: TheScrublet
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    In short, you should spend money on something that you don't want to throw away as soon as you can.

    Improvolone on
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  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I just had this exact thread, pretty much, and I bought a nice 5.1 onkyo reciever and a pair of Polk Monitor 50s from Newegg for $500 total. I'm sort of kicking myself for not spending the extra $40 to upgrade to the Monitor 60s, but I still felt like I got a really good deal; the stuff is miles above the built-in speakers and I can upgrade to surround when I have more money (which probably won't be for a while for various reasons I'm dealing with in H/A).

    The receiver doesn't do any fancy shit like video HDMI upconversion, but it turns audio from HDMI, SPDIF, and line-level stereo into speaker-level outputs which is all I really needed, so whatever. The speakers are pretty decent.

    Basically, putting together a decent reciever and a pair of speakers and then expanding later is probably a better bet than buying a box of 5.1 crappy speakers at once for the same price.

    Daedalus on
  • UEAKCrashUEAKCrash heh Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    So, on the talk of cheap end sound...

    http://www.walmart.com/Vizio-High-Definition-Sound-Bar/ip/11046520

    I have a Wal-Mart gift card that needs spending. My wife and I have decided I can spend around $130 for some audio for my TV. Does that look decent? I know everyone is recommending saving up, but that is not an option for me.

    Anyway, I like the fact that I can slap a subwoofer on it later if I want. Should I push the button?

    UEAKCrash on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Not to be a dick, but if $130 is your budget, it doesn't really matter what you buy. I would listen very closely and decide whether your TV speakers are REALLY much worse than anything you would buy at $130. My guess is that Wal-Mart gift card could be better spent on something else.

    Scrublet on
    subedii wrote: »
    I hear PC gaming is huge off the coast of Somalia right now.

    PSN: TheScrublet
  • UEAKCrashUEAKCrash heh Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    My TV speakers suck. Pretty bad. I'm really just looking for something to boost the sound a bit, as I can stream my music collection through my 360.

    UEAKCrash on
  • kitchkitch Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    $130 won't even cover a sound bar. If it's a super wal-mart, just use the gift card on groceries.

    kitch on
  • UEAKCrashUEAKCrash heh Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    It's an online card, and it's only for part of the amount. Plus my wife works at a Wal-Mart and can get 10% off.

    UEAKCrash on
  • falsedeffalsedef Registered User
    edited December 2009
    I don't get these "save your money" arguments, as if there's no improvement to be had unless you spend outrageous sums. Doubling the price of a 300 dollar system to 600 is going to be a less noticeable improvement for the average person going from builtin TV speakers to 300 dollar sound. We all have to limit ourselves at some point.

    Do you guys all live in your own houses with a custom theater room with excellent acoustics? My old roommates had really nice sound equipment in our apartment, yet we had neighbors right across the wall, and ambient noise and reflections all over the place.

    falsedef on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    falsedef wrote: »
    I don't get these "save your money" arguments, as if there's no improvement to be had unless you spend outrageous sums. Doubling the price of a 300 dollar system to 600 is going to be a less noticeable improvement for the average person going from builtin TV speakers to 300 dollar sound. We all have to limit ourselves at some point.

    Do you guys all live in your own houses with a custom theater room with excellent acoustics? My old roommates had really nice sound equipment in our apartment, yet we had neighbors right across the wall, and ambient noise and reflections all over the place.

    I get what you're saying. My personal opinion is that the improvement from TV speakers to 300 dollar speakers is marginal, and that the improvement from either of those conditions to 600 dollar speakers is huge. Therefore I always recommend a price floor of 600, and skipping on shit speakers and saving until reaching that point.

    Obviously you could extend that argument way too far, but for me I would rather go without for a few months and then get something decent then buy something shitty right now. So that's what I usually recommend.

    Scrublet on
    subedii wrote: »
    I hear PC gaming is huge off the coast of Somalia right now.

    PSN: TheScrublet
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Personally I think it's likely (depending upon component selection of course) that nothing-to-$300 is going to be a larger improvement in sound quality then $300-to-$600. At least for 2-channel as it's near impossible to get a 5.1 system for $300.

    Like this and this sound better to me then my (more expensive) RX-V730 and Paradigm mains running 2-channel. I suspect it's the amplification, but I'm too lazy to setup a system for blind testing. That setup won't get you a lot of features you'd get in an HTR, and there certainly are important considerations other then just sound quality.

    Djeet on
  • RaynagaRaynaga Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I'm not going to repost any of the stuff from the past three threads. Instead I'll recommend using the search feature, as there are several of these threads from fairly recently and cover a wide range of pricing options.

    Raynaga on
  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Raynaga wrote: »
    I'm not going to repost any of the stuff from the past three threads. Instead I'll recommend using the search feature, as there are several of these threads from fairly recently and cover a wide range of pricing options.

    Hey thanks, that was useful!

    Cabezone on
  • RaynagaRaynaga Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Its not useful to let the OP know that there are several 5+ page threads about this very subject with every bit of info he might require and are rather recently available, rather than let him swing in the wind waiting for something useful to drift his way?

    Ok.

    Raynaga on
  • UEAKCrashUEAKCrash heh Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    This thread is angry.

    UEAKCrash on
  • QuantuxQuantux Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Today it may be angry, but yesterday it was inspiring. After reading it I headed to BestBuy and picked up one of these. I live in an apartment, so I was looking for simple, yet good. And I did indeed find it. Great bass without being muffled/distorted or overpowering, great mid's and highs with an actual center channel. Currently I have the cablebox and ps3 going into it via hdmi and then out to my tv via yet another hdmi. And I have another hdmi port available to add the zune hd dock when I find one that isn't ridiculously over priced. It all works beautifully, sounds great and was cheap ($175 open box).

    I can say though that without the sub, any soundbar just isn't going to give a huge difference over TV speakers. I didn't get a chance to hear the vizio bar, but I would imagine it's probably 3 more of the same speakers in my vizio tv. Of course if you have the space, you'll really want to to go full on 5.1 and invest in a quality receiver and stuff.

    Quantux on
    PSN/Steam - Quantux

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    You don't need a ton of space for a 5.1.

    Improvolone on
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  • Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    You don't need a ton of space for a 5.1.

    No, but you do need equipment that comes at a price that is directly linked to quality. Which is why I suggested a sound bar a sub woofer, which Quantux seems to enjoy.

    With 5.1 you need a good receiver that will run you at least $300 unless you go pass through. Then you need something like a PS3 that can handle all the decoding on it's end. Or a dedicaded box that handles the encoding and then passes the signal along.

    And then there is still the issue of speakers. Only Onkyo & Sony have Theaters in a Box that do not suck big time. Otherwise you're left with the choice of buying low end junk to go with the receiver or waiting and saving to buy good speakers. There is also a speaker set linked to in this article that's a good deal.

    Dark Shroud on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    So you're saying you can either buy shitty speakers or a sound bar and only one of those two will need replacing when you want something better?

    Improvolone on
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