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DVD & Home Theater Gear Discuss DVD and Home Theater Equipment.

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Old 02-26-01, 08:49 AM   #1
mxy15
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Hi All,

I am looking for an entry level home theater receiver and speakers. I want a AC-3 and DTS receiver with enough power b/c it is going into fairly large living room with high ceiling. And for the speakers I prefer something smaller like the Bose Acoustimass speakers but are there any cheaper alternatives out there? I am totally clueless when it comes to which brand of receivers is better and why the big price difference between different models?

Please share your thoughts on a REASONABLY PRICED system and not a top end system b/c I am not looking to get a 2nd mortgage for a home theater system. Preferably something about a grand or less that I can live w/ for at least a couple of years. Thanks for your help in advance.

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Old 02-26-01, 09:45 AM   #2
DigIt
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Quote:
Originally posted by mxy15
And for the speakers I prefer something smaller like the Bose Acoustimass speakers but are there any cheaper alternatives out there?
In short, yes, there are cheaper and better alternatives. Try the Energy Take 5 system which seems to be popular and is a sub/satellite system for about $500. There are many other bookshelf systems that are worthwhile, such as Polk. Most people will tell you to avoid Bose because they sound bad. The best reason to avoid Bose is that they are very expensive, difficult to upgrade, and not ideal for home theater audio.
Quote:
I am totally clueless when it comes to which brand of receivers is better and why the big price difference between different models?
You should expect to pay >$500 for a good receiver, but you can spend a little less and get very good quality as well. You should look for something that decodes DD and DTS, has several digital inputs, and about 100 watts. S-video switching, EX/ES/6.1/7.1 audio, and THX certification are other options you might want to consider for more $. If you browse the pages in this forum, you will find many recommendations. Onkyo makes several good models, Denon is often praised, and the Sony ES models are pretty good. When you buy an expensive receiver, you are mostly paying for cleaner, more powerful sound, which may not be obvious to you in the store. If you decide to buy a cheaper receiver, there are some good alternatives, but you are likely sacrificing clean power and bells & whistles. Yamaha makes some nice budget receivers for <$300.
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Old 02-26-01, 10:28 AM   #3
Static Cling
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Do you already have a TV you're sticking with? Hope so, although, the way the home theater bug works is that whatever you've got, you'll want to upgrade to whatever's being talked about in the forums, even though it works fine. I wanted a lower-end, but not bottom-of-the-barrel system... this is what I picked up:

Sony SA-VE315 speakers (5 small satellite speakers and a powered sub), $225
Yamaha DD-5250 receiver, 5x100W Receiver: Yamaha DD-5250 (100W x 5, DTS, DD 5.1) $470
Sony DVP-360 DVD player (with S-video and component outlets, DTS, DD 5.1), $200 (normally $250, but added a $50 rebate from Sony)
Monster Cable Interlink LightSpeed 100 optical audio cable, $40
Monster Cable 2cv component video cables, $70
Monster Cable AV700 audio/video surge protector, $50
Chicago adjustable height speaker stands for rear speakers (I already have some for my fronts), $100

Total comes out to [ka-ching] $1155, w/o tax. Everything looks/sounds great... I don't see myself replacing anything anytime until the products wear out a few years down the road. (ooo, better not jinx myself like that)

I put in all my cables and speaker stands to alert you of the "hidden costs" of picking up an HT system... I didn't realize all the "little things" that would add up tacking another $260 to my HT price. Plus, there are also extended warranties you can buy, although their usefulness has been debated. And don't forget, you're going to want DVDs to play on this great system... I ended up grabbing $200 worth of DVDs in the first month I had this system... EEK! Please have more self-control than me.

There are ways to cut costs, though. I picked up my speakers, receiver, and DVD player as "open box items" at Best Buy... for some reason, they're returned items. The "open box item" sticker will tell you if anything is missing. With the "open box items" I've purchased, you could stand them up beside their "new" item counterparts and not be able to tell the difference. I bought the speakers for $175, the receiver for $400, and the DVD player for $130 ($180-$50 rebate), bringing the total down to [ka-ching] $965, without tax... a savings of $190.

You can get lower-end/different brand models... I'm pretty sure I could've found a less expensive receiver and still been satisfied. http://www.audioreview.com has owners opinions on HT products, and I used it a lot to prep myself for what I wanted to buy when I walked into the store later.

You can get S-video cables instead of component... S-video cables are less expensive, and opinions vary on the difference in picture quality between these cables, from "can't tell" to "big difference."

You can get less expensive non-Monster Cables... MC's may be a little over-hyped, and over-priced, too.

You can get a 10% off deal on Sony products when you apply for a Sony credit card... I believe the offer expires at the end of the February, though... call 1-800-284-3113 for details. According to their customer service line, as long as you apply for the card before the end of the offer, you are eligible for the discount.

Sears stores also price match Internet prices OR give you 10% off when applying for a Sears card... unfortunately, the will NOT do both, as I found out the other day. Some Sears stores include shipping costs in the price match, some don't... you may want to try different salespeople/stores to see who gives you the best deal. http://www.mysimon.com is a good site to find good Internet deals.

Best Buy doesn't match Internet prices (boooooo!), but they do have great same-as-cash financing plans. I ended up buying all my stuff (except my speakers and stands) at Best Buy... I figure when I move somewhere (I'm in the military), I can get my stuff fixed at any Best Buy. If I would have bought from a smaller, local store, there could be problems with returning stuff.

So, that's that. Sorry if this post is a little long... but I know what it's like to want an HT system on the cheap, and I thought I'd pass on ways that I did it to save you some time in finding some of these offers. Enjoy!
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Old 02-26-01, 03:28 PM   #4
matchpenalty
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Old 02-26-01, 03:58 PM   #5
mxy15
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Thanks

Big Thanks to the quick responses to my original post. The additional links are invaluable and I'll be much more confident when I make my final purchase decision. Thanks again for all your help.

MY
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Old 02-26-01, 08:11 PM   #6
Alfer
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Yet another possibility:

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/...ML/030184.html


Alfer
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Old 02-27-01, 01:35 AM   #7
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The Energy Take 5 system is amazing for it's size and money.
You've got to hear them to appreciate their capabilities.
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Old 02-27-01, 08:51 PM   #8
Joel White
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I get the "sub thousand dollar" system question quite often and I usually answer it the same way, Onkyo 484 receiver and HomeTheaterDirect.com Level III speaker set. I recommend buying the 5 speakers without the sub and getting a Sony SA-WM40 sub instead. You can save some money and I prefer the Sony vs the HTD Sub.

These are really nice speakers for the money. If you want to save some cash, buy Level II's all the way around (or maybe just for the rears).

Check out our website for a full review on the 484. We are working with HTD to get a review set of their newly revamped speakers very soon.
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Old 02-28-01, 02:22 AM   #9
Static Cling
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Maybe it's just me being paranoid, but I'm not into making big purchases from online stores that don't have local B&Ms where I can return items. I'd rather drive a faulty component down to the local B&M than worry about packing it up, shipping it, then having it possibly get banged up when it's shipped back to me.
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Old 02-28-01, 08:54 AM   #10
Joel White
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Michael,

I agree there is an intrinsic risk with on line ordering, but you can get a considerably better deal with on line ordering.

I have no problems with on line ordering, but I always tell people if its not worth the extra money saved, but locally.
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