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School Me on Home Audio/Theater, Please!

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School Me on Home Audio/Theater, Please!

Old 03-05-2012, 02:41 PM
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Default School Me on Home Audio/Theater, Please!

The Admiral decided we are re-doing the living room. Who am I to argue? Along with re-painting (done) and new furniture on its way, that meant getting rid of an old 3000 lb. entertainment center and disconnecting a couple hundred miles of speaker wires and component jacks, etc., from my old 1982 Vector Research amp and Cerwin-Vega speakers.

I have a feeling I'm gonna miss that system.

Anyway, we're going to some big flat screen thing and I want to plumb in the following:
500 CD Jukebox
Sony VCR (yeah, I still got a bazillion tapes)
BlueRay/DVD
Sansui AM/FM digital tuner
Dish satellite box
Wii sytem
A/B speakers (control the patio speakers separate vs. the main speakers)

Already decided to let my turntable and dual cassette deck start collecting dust in that wasteland known as the "attic". Along with a JVC 3 DVD player and a JVC CD dupe recorder.

I've been looking at systems, but a lot of the receivers seem like they have more HDMI connections than just plain ol' jack-style inputs. And, I'm still not sure what I'm gonna do about speakers. 5.1, 7.1, 9.2 blah-blah means nothing to me, really. I know old school 'stereo'!

What did you do? Or, what do you recommend? Brands? Love it/hate it?
Thanks!

And oh, on edit, does anybody have wireless speakers? Or am I doomed to crawling around the attic on my belly in the fiberglass to drop speaker wire?
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Old 03-05-2012, 03:18 PM
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As a former engineering employee for a company who made home theater systems, I can give some advice. Particularly wireless.
There is wire which is flat (.060") and about 1.5" wide. Hides under baseboards or carpets very well.
Go with a "System". Some engineer matched the sytem components to be the most natural sounding.
Do not try to buy the hardware and speakers separately.
Wireless speakers are usually substandard speakers, but have electronics with them. Very difficult to find a wireless amp MODULE to put on good speakers. And, when some kid comes on the air with his illegal powered CB, the noise out of the speaker will scare the crap out of you.
For finding a unit with multiple RCA jacks, most of the better ones have jacks for: CD, Auxiliary
input(s) , TV, sat/cable, a front panel aux, etc (My RCA system has 6 sets). Just reallocate their usage.
If the unit has few, such as 1 or 2 auxiliary, make up a box with 6 sets of connectors in, and one out. You can get the connectors at an electronic surplus store, or even Radio shack. Maybe have & 30-40 into it. And, its not rocket science.
I did this for selecting my DVD player or the tape player for my second TV which had only one set.

For brands, I like: Sony, JVC and such. My system is 10 years old, and a 5.1. Works for me.
5.1: R&L front, R&L rear, front center, subwoofer
Over that, Center ( between the front and rear) speakers are added, and/or a rear center.
What I got is good enough for me.
You will appreciate watching a movie with sourround, however, wait unitl you watch a football game and people are yelling or cheering in back of you. Makes you more of "being there".
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Old 03-05-2012, 03:24 PM
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I feel your pain. I recently redid my system. First thing I learned was that the number.number receivers mean how many speakers.subwoofers you will have total. A 5.1 mean you will have 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer or rather thats what the receiver is capable of powering. A 9.2 can power 9 speakers and 2 subwoofers. Second thing I learned is to love the HDMI cables. They carry everything. They do audio and video to and from components with a single cable and they have great signal quality as well. Todays basic systems are in the 5.1 format. The 5 are your Main (LEFT and RIGHT) speakers, a CENTER speaker, and rear (LEFT and RIGHT) speakers. The .1 would be the single subwoofer in that system. Your components are going to be a matter of your taste but I recommend upgrading everything you can to units that use those HDMI connections. I purchased a Pioneer VSX-1020 receiver and it works great. I put a 300 disk CD jukebox in the attic and I am using an older iPod in its place.....talk about saves space. I dare not recommend any specific brands or models as I have seen the guys here tear into each other on simularly insignifacant topics (MAC vs PC). I will stick my neck out on one specific though, get yourself a Logitch Harmony One remote control. That was arguebly the best electronic purchase I have made. If your are going to have your components out of sight then the model remote you want is the Harmony 900. It allows you to put your stuff in a cabinet and still be controled remotely. I hate to sound like a comercial for Logitech remotes but when I can pick up the remote and press one button (watch DVD) and my whole system powers on, inputs are automatically set, DVD player turns on and ejects its tray so that I can put the DVD I want to watch in, that makes the praises earned. Enjoy the process and there is nothing wrong with using those Cerwin Vegas you like as your main Left and Right speakers.
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Old 03-05-2012, 03:36 PM
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Here is some sound advice. Unless you have a room that is close to acoustically perfect dont spend money on the latest , greatest, most expensive speakers because the room will kill the sound. To get better sound you need to stop the sound waves from bouncing off hard surfaces. This means carpet or an area rug and furniture. If you want really good sound then consider acoustic panels on the walls but unless this is a dedicated room with four walls and not three then save the money.
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Old 03-05-2012, 03:38 PM
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2.1 is a right and left spreaker plus subwoofer (the .1). 5.1 is centre spreaker, right, left, two rear and sub. I personally don't do well with wireless and they're version of wireless is no wire for the audio from source, but a wire for power! Bs wireless.
A Home Theatre In A Box is a great option like kaptharv said and the flat wiring. I'd check out the Mirage Nanostat. Tiny spreakers but full of clear umph...some like to upgrade the centre channel though. A lot of people settle with the sound bars with sub and it's good enough, especially if you dont want wires. You can get so many good brands for WAY less than Bose (some will strongly disagree). Hdmi is the way forward. The one cable carries video and audio in better quality.
make sure you get good speakers. DVD player etc doesn't matter as much.
Good luck. Nice that the Admiral gave the all clear.
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Old 03-05-2012, 03:39 PM
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Power, power, power. Like your boat, whether you think you'll ever use it or not, get it. HDMI is the best. Make sure if you have any other TV's/systems within earshot of this that they also use HDMI (the exact same model). I have a TV in the kitchen just off the family room and when watching a big game I'll run both on the same channel. Before I matched up the HDMI (and spend $$ for good quality here, it makes a difference) there was lag.

We have some decent wireless speakers from acoustic research that we bought which weren't too expensive. Our thought was to use them out on the patio when we entertained. Turns out they worked so good we use them as part of our standard setup. This weekend we entertained 25 people and I had music throughout the house just by strategically placing the speakers. The only issue we have with feedback from outside the system is when the source is off but the independant speakers are on. It's like they scan looking for something. So we basically turn them on when we want to have them on and off when we don't. I don't know what models they have now but they were a great buy for us.

I also looked at the Bose wireless just recently and considering changing because they look good and they are Bose, but couldn't bring myself to spend the jack when what we have works well.

What I would like to do is add some tower speakers to mine but I'm all tapped out on power. Anyone know of a good secondary amp that might be able to plug in and expand the power?
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Old 03-05-2012, 03:40 PM
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I re-amped recently with a Yamaha RX-V671 to match my Yamaha F150's ... brand loyalty I guess. That's a 5.1 set (5 speakers plus a subwoofer). I believe Sansui makes a comparable unit. It has the A/B speaker feature ... just like two receivers in one, capable of playing different inputs in different places. I like it a lot. I kept my modest 100W JBL speakers in place ... 4" 2-way satellites, dual 5" 2-way center and booming 250W 12" sub-woofer. If you're talking sound you gotta spend on the speakers.

I did the attic thing years ago. I wouldn't do that now on a bet ...I'm just too old for that. You better get up there before it gets too hot. Take plenty of water.
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Old 03-05-2012, 05:03 PM
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Wow the old cerwin vega speakers bring back some memories. I work for the first guy to bring them into North Tampa 'Lonnie Johnson' at Trans Love & Electronics next to the Collage Saloon, turned out that was my future hangout :-). It was 1969 and I use to run flyers over to USF and put em on the windshields of cars and we bootlegged 8 track tapes from an akai reel to reel and sell em. I saved and saved and after a few years I purchased the mac daddy cerwin - vega 92's speakers. It was a couple years later some bass turd broke in when I was off and stole my entire stereo system, I think I was 16. I was sick, the biggest single purchase I ever made between 12 & 16.
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Old 03-05-2012, 05:36 PM
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I suggest not to buy a "home theater in a box". I have sold and installed these systems, you will get a lower end amp and speakers. Buy the best speakers you can afford, it really does make a difference. Find a local systems contractor and listen to there demo rooms, this will help you. Also, don't discard your turntable yet, vinyl is making a come back.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Budget View Post

2.1 is a right and left spreaker plus subwoofer (the .1). 5.1 is centre spreaker, right, left, two rear and sub.

...DVD player etc doesn't matter as much.

There are no rear speakers on a 5.1 set up. You can certainly put the side speakers there, if you want to, but the spec is 1 center, 2 front, and 2 side speakers. That is the spec, the adio is mixed for that configuration. Rear speakers come in with 7.x surround sound. There is a quasi 7.x surround with some processors that takes 5 discrete channels and derives the rear 2 channels from data in the left/right channels. Then there is true 7.x surround sound that actually has 7 discrete channels. I believe the original spec for THX was something like 9 or 12 speaker, some in the ceiling for overhead sound in those rear moments something in the movie flies overhead.

Also, there is a differnce between a subwoofer (audio) and a LFE speaker used for home cinema. A LFE (Low Frequency Effects) speaker can reproduce sound below what you can hear. You can "feel" it as much as you can hear it. Some LFE can make the plaster fall off the walls at around 17 cycles ... something below our hearing but you can certainly feel it.



ETA: I forgot to comment on the DVD player ... it makes a huge difference in both image and sound quality. The better your audio kit is able to resolve sound, the more important it is to have a quality source for that sound. The difference in image quality can be night and day between DVD players. Some companies develop the decoding algorithm, some buy it a per-programmed circuit from a 3rd party. They do not give the same results.

Last edited by Eyeball; 03-06-2012 at 04:16 AM.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by joestina View Post
I suggest not to buy a "home theater in a box". I have sold and installed these systems, you will get a lower end amp and speakers. Buy the best speakers you can afford, it really does make a difference. Find a local systems contractor and listen to there demo rooms, this will help you. Also, don't discard your turntable yet, vinyl is making a come back.
X2 buy the best speakers you can afford, if you want to save money, save it on the HDMI cables, the cheap work every bit as good as the high priced ripoff cables. If you are looking for smaller speakers on somewhat of a budget, these are the bomb. http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages...SRM1/srm1.html

Epik subs http://www.epiksubwoofers.com/

home theater receivers are a whole other subject. The technology changes so fast that I would not spend over $1000 on a home theater receiver, in this price range you will get it all, including a receiver that will separately power another zone (like deck speakers). This is nice because if your wife is watching a movie in one room, you can listen to music on the deck through the same receiver. Allot of $600 receivers will do this now. There are many good ones out there to chose from. Receivers come and go, good speakers do not.

Originally Posted by Dulcecita Lures View Post
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And oh, on edit, does anybody have wireless speakers? Or am I doomed to crawling around the attic on my belly in the fiberglass to drop speaker wire?
What ever you do, do not go wireless, yes you will have to get on your belly and run wires, but only one time. It will be worth it in the long run.
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Old 03-06-2012, 08:04 AM
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Start with a firm budget and go backwards from there. You can talk yourself into anything now, and it may or may not get used in the future. I have a Denon 7.1 system, a Marantz 5.1 system and a tube amp system in my house. WIth NHT speakers, Paragon Spaeakers.. If I were a smarter man, Id have..

A matched system, the home theater in a box systems and store-matched systems are tough to beat nowadays. My two amps are in the high end of their market and I can use 1/10th of their capabilities and don't desire to learn more. The features are all menu driven, so the owner's manual has tons of bent pages, dog-ears and notes. All to make sound, albeit good sound. PITA.

I am suggesting this as it is today's version of what you had back then with a Vector amp, Cerwin speakers. Your old stuff was solid middle of the market stuff, which is what I am suggesting. Most systems will accommodate a second set of speakers. VCR? Have mine- it is in the box, used once- I had to buy it to show a movie of my mom's friend's kid's wedding. Email me and it's yours. Panasonic, black.

My favorite brand for a receiver? Harman Kardon. Why? Simple, robust, clear sound, high current, low power. A friend of mine builds systems for the rich and famous- stuff like sewing ribbons of speakers in couches, plastering speakers inside walls, Crestron stuff. www.bgcorp.com - check out his stuff. His sound engineers all use Harman stuff when they can as they have the best hardware for the buck, and they don't get a bunch of calls about troubleshooting menus. I loved mine, my buddy loved it more, I bought a Marantz to replace it, he loves it still, I miss it.

You already know to over-spend on speakers when you can, but newer systems are all about balance...
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Old 03-06-2012, 08:25 AM
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if you are not hung up on picture size, buy a Bose TV and forget the rest! i think they only make a 48" now but it is awesome!
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by joestina View Post
I suggest not to buy a "home theater in a box". I have sold and installed these systems, you will get a lower end amp and speakers.
While I mostly agree with this. Onkyo makes a good HTIB and some are THX rated.. Here are some.
http://www.us.onkyo.com/prod_class.c...Source=hdrmenu
I have had an Onkyo HTIB 7.1 system for a few years that is very good IMO. I researched it and others on AVSforums before selecting it. BTW the box it is dellivered in is the size of a medium (not dorm size) refrigerator. It replaced a non-HTIB sony 5.1 system and is far better. The Sony now lives at my dockside bar. Definitely go wired with the speakers and consider running cat5/6 for a network connection when you are doing it. AVSforums is an excellent resource for anything audio/video.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:29 AM
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Thanks, guys! Lots to chew on here. I've been researching online, but it's time for the rubber to meet the road and hit Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, etc. and do some touchy-feely looking and listening. I wouldn't say my budget is limited, but probably middle of the road. Will compare package systems to component pieces and definitely not scrimp on the speaker budget.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyeball View Post
There are no rear speakers on a 5.1 set up. You can certainly put the side speakers there, if you want to, but the spec is 1 center, 2 front, and 2 side speakers.
Understand your point and half agree. They are labeled as rear speakers in the installation guide/manual. Some say put them behind the listener, others say on each side of the listener. I think the general agreement is 90 - 110 degrees from the listener.


Originally Posted by Eyeball View Post
The difference in image quality can be night and day between DVD players. They do not give the same results.
Agreed. Don't buy the cheapest you can find, but no need for "the best" IMO.
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:41 PM
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After reading the curious range of replies above, I'm really not sure this was the best place to ask. (which surprises me)

You need to give us a ballpark idea for your budget.

I will just throw out a couple of comments:

- You probably don't want wireless speakers anywhere
- 5.1 is good enough for a reasonable budget entry home theater setup
- From the looks of what you are "plumbing in" you are not exactly leaping headfirst into the 2000s.
- I'm not sure that sticking your toe in is really worth it aside from a TV upgrade
- HDMI is a very, very good thing. My second happiest home theater day was chucking every non HDMI cable I owned in the trash. (my first happiest was bringing home a pair of B&W Matrix 802s)


- You may very well find that you miss your vector research amp and your CVs, or rather, you may find that you've spent a lot of money on stuff that turned out to be very different from what you had before but may not be quite as satisfying.

I really don't know where to begin, but a budget is first. Subtract from that what you're prepared to pay for a TV and give everyone a number and some goals of what you want to accomplish with your "upgrade" and I think you can get a bit more directed help. A "home theater system" can cost anywhere from $499 to $15,000 and that's staying mainstream - stuff you can buy at Best Buy, not "high end."

Last edited by Flot; 03-06-2012 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 03-07-2012, 07:26 AM
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Take a look at this website for tons of information, definitions and suggestions. Great customer service too if you decide to purchase from them: www.crutchfield.com
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:04 AM
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These speakers and a good hdmi receiver is all you need. They're matched. But you can use the Vegas for the front still because the yamaha will set the level of each speaker according to room acoustics.

Fronts x2.... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290206

Center...... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290210

Rear......... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290200

Sub..... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290035

These are excellent speaker that won't break the bank. Check the reviews. All five stars.

I suggest a yamaha rx-v667 from amazon for 350. Do a price search and you'll see that the 667 usually goes for around $600. Discrete amps for each channel separate the 667 from previous models that suffered from low power due to the use of one amp.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Bugbuster View Post
These speakers and a good hdmi receiver is all you need. They're matched. But you can use the Vegas for the front still because the yamaha will set the level of each speaker according to room acoustics.

Fronts x2.... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290206

Center...... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290210

Rear......... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290200

Sub..... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290035

These are excellent speaker that won't break the bank. Check the reviews. All five stars.

I suggest a yamaha rx-v667 from amazon for 350. Do a price search and you'll see that the 667 usually goes for around $600. Discrete amps for each channel separate the 667 from previous models that suffered from low power due to the use of one amp.
Nice!! Do you know if "zone" functions on the Yamaha the same way as Speakers A/B? I'm assuming so, but want to be sure I have separate control of the patio speakers from the main home theater speakers. The Polk Audio speakers look great and within budget, too. Thanks!
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