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.