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Audio Home Theatre System Recommendations.

I'm pretty much completely fed up with the built-in terrible audio on my LCD-TV, and was looking for some good home theatre audio system recommendations. Can anyone here recommend a good setup for a reasonable amount of $$? I don't need some crazy $1,000 dollar top-of-the-line system, I just need something that's going to perform well and be somewhat easy to set up. I have an apartment so don't have tons of room to mount speakers everywhere (not to mention having neighbors) and don't want to be fishing audio cable through my walls. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

After some quick research, I found the following systems, but I am completely unversed in this area...
http://www.costco.com/Harman-Kardon®-White-HKTS-16-WQ-5.1-Channel-Home-Theater-System-with-Pioneer-VSX-821K-Receiver.product.11758069.html (The white speakers suck, but oh well)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882120200
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=82-005-096

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Posts

  • ShoemakerShoemaker Registered User regular
    I've seen Onkyo recommended as one of the better brands at least for home theatre in-a-box. I don't think they're too expensive either.

  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    I've heard some pretty great things about this Denon DHT-1312BA set. decent receiver, pretty good speakers for a sub $500 set. Unlike most htib it's basically just a good budget receiver packaged with some decent speakers, and leaves your room to change things out for better equipment as you want later on.

    Stay away from things like that LG set, combining the blur-ray player and receiver just leads to lower quality on both, and if you need to upgrade in the future it makes it a bigger pain.

    Onkyo also make some nice sets, but the point at which they get really excellent is around $1000

    Foomy on
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  • number13number13 Registered User regular
    Actually, as far as Onkyo goes, any of their HTiBs that use powered subs aren't too terrible as far as all-in-one systems go. Still, even those go for around $500-650, so judging by @Wavechaser links, they may be a little outside of his range.

    In my opinion, anything around the $250 range is going to be the same performance wise. Certain models may offer a few more extraneous features, but the majority of them are going to be blu-ray/receiver combos, passive subs, around 150w per channel. I rank more affordable HTiBs along the same line as I rank TV manufacturers, so the more reliable options, in my opinion, are either Samsung or Sony.

    My recommendation, however, along the lines of what @Foomy said, is look for an HTiB that has a full-sized receiver that's separate from the DVD player, and if possible, a powered subwoofer that isn't powered by the receiver. The full-sized receiver will use regular speaker wire rather than the proprietary connections that the majority of HTiBs use, so you have the option of upgrading to better speakers in the future if you ever wanted that option. They also offer more inputs and, generally, more efficient amplifiers. Again, though, for those you're going to be looking into the $500 range.

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  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    If the OP's budget is that low, how about a nice set of 2.1s? Or a good soundbar?

    Bolthorn
  • number13number13 Registered User regular
    The Denon DHT-1312BA that @Foomy linked to is actually one of my favorite all-in-ones, and meets all of the things that I look for in a good entry system. It gives the room for growth, which is the best thing about it. You bring up a good point, Chris, though I don't know of any 2.1 systems or soundbars that I like for $250. We still start to get into the $400-450 range when I take a look. Like, a Denon 1513 ($250), a pair of Polk T15s ($100), and a basic powered Yamaha YST-SW012 subwoofer ($100) is still $450. Alternatively, the only soundbar I like that I don't consider complete junk is the Energy soundbar for $400. In that range, he might as well just get the DHT-1312BA.

    @Wavechaser, keep in mind with everything I say that I am... completely and utterly biased against the majority of soundbars, I will be the first to admit that. A soundbar might be exactly what you're looking for, and they do work for a lot of people in a lot of situations, and I know a lot of people who love their soundbars. You don't want to fish wires or have a lot of stuff to set up, and you want it to be simple and a soundbar meets a lot of those requirements.

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  • RderdallRderdall Registered User regular
    Denon and Onkyo are both the consumer level families for high-end custom electronics. Denon is the sister division of Marantz, and Onkyo is the sister to Integra. Denon and Onkyo are to Marantz and Integra as Toyota and Nissan are to Lexus and Infinity. I would lean to a Denon or Onkyo over something like a HarmonKardon or Yamaha.

    I do custom home theatre and home automation for a living, and we work with Marantz and Integra primarily. I recommend Onkyo product to my friends who can't afford an Integra receiver, and I've used a couple of Denon receivers in the past and haven't had any trouble with them.

    If you have a TV stand, or shelf where your gaming systems and PVR are sitting, then you've probably got room for a receiver. A sound bar with built in amplifier may save you space, but it won't give you near the value and sound quality a standalone receiver would. You'll need to buy speakers though, to complete the system.

    My advice, buy the best receiver you can afford. Get something that has decent power per channel (nothing less than 75W per channel), has HDMI switching and up-conversion of lesser cable types to HDMI, and has 3D and 4K support. You may not need those features now, but spending more on a receiver now will save you the bankroll needed to buy a new receiver in 3 years when everyone has 3D and 4K. The Onkyo TX-NR515 would be a good starting point. It may be more than you wanted to spend, but you'll feel a lot better about your purchase because you won't look back and think "if I just spent $100 more, I could have had this feature, and that power".

    Then, spend the rest of your budget on decent bookshelf speakers. You can upgrade the speakers at any time, and save up for a good pair while you enjoy your system now. Even a cheap pair of bookshelf speakers will sound 100x better than your TV speakers. And since you're in an apartment, I wouldn't worry too much about getting a subwoofer right now either. Yes, it will complete the sound spectrum, but you're looking at another couple hundred dollars for that too.

    Hope this helps,

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  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    I just picked up the Sony HT-CT150 which actually sounds really nice and acts as a hub for all your HDMI devices. Can't beat it for the price.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

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  • TyrantCowTyrantCow Registered User regular
    hey, christmas time and my pops has been talking about more music in his house

    i've done a bit of googling and i'm mostly confused. any recommendations for wireless speakers? preferably something with like an adapter he can plug in to a laptop or receiver and plant a few speakers around the house (4 to 6).

  • BurtletoyBurtletoy Registered User regular
    both 4 and 6 are....weird....for the number of speakers.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    There's no such thing as wireless speakers since you have to route audio or power over wire. Something like the JamBox looks like it might output decent sound, but to hook up a receiver to it you'd need to attach via headphone cables, and bam! Wires.

    It would work if he pumping in the music via Bluetooth. Also why 4-6 speakers? Is he looking for multiple zones? If he's into DVD-audio or SACD then he's probably not going to be happy with the audio performance of any "wireless" system.

  • TyrantCowTyrantCow Registered User regular
    4 to 6, to go through various rooms of the house. that's not set in stone i'm just guessing at the number of rooms he'd ideally have sound in.

    wireless in the sense that we don't have to run something from the receiver/source to every room. power is a given, as, you need power! but, he wants to avoid running copper through the walls/floors/etc. i was thinking something like a transmitter that hooks up to a receiver or computer and broadcasts, then you would just turn on the speakers in the desired locations.

    he's definitely not an audiophile, he just wants to listen to his classic rock collection as he moves about the house.

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