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Help me spend $5000 on a home theater

Old 02-28-03, 10:26 AM
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Help me spend $5000 on a home theater

My friend's dad just bought a Panasonic TH-50PHW5 50" 16x9 plasma HDTV, and he wants awsome sound to go with it. The room is approximately 2300 square feet. The budget is $5000 for everything including cables.

Here's what he wants:

1. Speakers (Must be white and wall mountable except for the subwoofer. Can be 6.1 or 7.1 if within budget. No Bose and please no Bose discussions in this thread.)

2. Receiver (Might need component switching. The TV only has one component input, but he's going to have a DVD player and an HDTV sattelite. I don't know if the sattelite uses component output.)

3. DVD player (Must have progressive scan, DVD Audio and SACD. Would prefer a 5-disc carousel, but can live with single disc.)

He wants to go to a store and pick up the components therefore no online-only brands. He lives in Orange County CA so he can drive to Los Angeles or San Diego.

He's also looking into HDTV sattelite, but it is not included in the budget. I know next to nothing when it comes to sattelites. Any suggestions or advice in this area is also greatly appreciated.

Here's what I've found so far:

Speakers: NHT SB-1 for mains, center and surrounds. Velodyne CHT-15 subwoofer.

Receiver: Denon AVR-3803

DVD Player: Pioneer DV-45A (Would be nice to find a 5-disc changer version of this player)

Please enlighten me with your suggestions. Also if I go with a 6.1 or 7.1 setup where should the 6th and 7th surround speaker be placed?
Old 02-28-03, 12:19 PM
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Spend $300 on a magnavox dvd HTIB. And give the rest of the money to me.
Old 02-28-03, 12:26 PM
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Originally posted by Mopower
Spend $300 on a magnavox dvd HTIB. And give the rest of the money to me.
I would, but it's not my money.
Old 02-28-03, 12:29 PM
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Since you are considering the NHT SB’s, I assume you are looking for something small that can be wall mounted as opposed to towers. The NHT’s are fine speakers. I like them quite a bit, though the sound is a bit on the “cool” side of the spectrum for some tastes.

Other smallish speakers available in white you might listen to ….

• M&K LCR-55 system (or K series if you need to go smaller).
• Definitive Technology ProCinema 200 (or the smaller PC100 )
• Linn Classik Unik (or Katan—might be a tad large for your application)
• B&W’s are nice but only a few models are available in white; e.g. LM1 and VM1 which I have not listened to.

A few manufacturers also offer towers or bookshelf models in white so these might also be an option if size is not a constraint.

In terms of subs, you might also consider the HSU 1220 or one of the SVS models. I have both a HSU 1220 and a Veoldyne F1200 and find the HSU to be more authoritative and cleaner than the Veoldyne.

Receivers:
The Denon 3803 is an excellent receiver and in my experience mates very well w/ the NHT’s. Some others you might try:

• Outlaw 950 + 7100 pre/power combo (about $1700)
• Harman Kardon 525 (about $1k)
• NAD T62 (around $1300)

Re a 5.1 vs a 6 or 7 setup--I would rather have a great 5.1 system than dilute my $ on additional speakers. Your friend could upgrade down the road.
Old 02-28-03, 01:29 PM
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Cool. Thanks for the recommendations. I'll have to check those out. Personally I have B&W speakers and I love them. My girlfriend doesn't care about color or size so I haven't had to work with aesthetic constraints before.
Old 03-01-03, 11:11 AM
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What do you think about Difinitive Technology subs. I was thinking of the ProCinema 200 system, but replacing the sub with the SuperCube I or II. Also, how well does the Denon 3803 mate with the Def Techs.

Does anyone know of any other DVD players that play DVD Audio, SACD, and are progressive scan other than Pioneer, Onkyo, and Yamaha? And, does anyone manufacture a multi-disc changer that does all of this?
Old 03-01-03, 11:14 AM
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Also, SVS and HSU would be nice, but this guy doesn't want to buy online. He wants to go into a brick and mortar store and pick up his stuff. (Don't ask me why.) So if anyone knows of a B&M that is authorized to sell SVS or HSU please feel free to advise. Thank you.
Old 03-01-03, 12:17 PM
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I did notice the no online purchase reference in your post, but forgot mention that both SVS and HSU are only available online—AFAIK.

I use the little Def Tech Pro Sub 80 in my bedroom system. I didn’t spend much time evaluating their more expensive models like the Super Cube since I was working within a very limited price point. The Pro80 is fine for what it is—a bit flabby—but on par with other subs in this price range. I would expect the larger models to perform better; the Super Cube has received excellent reviews. Perhaps others with more direct experience will chime in. You might check over at the AVS forum: www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/index.php?s=


If your friend needs something very small, another option is the Sunfire sub. It’s a bit of a controversial product—people love it or hate it. I’ve used it in several installations and when used within its design constraints, performs quite well (for what it is).

The Denon mates very well with the Def Techs—especially on 5.1 sources. I think the H/K is a tad more musical with 2 channel sources; but the Denon wins on movies.

Based on your comments, it sounds like your friend would like one-stop-shopping. So you’ll probably need to find a good store and chose from the products they offer.
Old 03-01-03, 07:42 PM
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Originally posted by karnblack
Cool. Thanks for the recommendations. I'll have to check those out. Personally I have B&W speakers and I love them. My girlfriend doesn't care about color or size so I haven't had to work with aesthetic constraints before.
"""My girlfriend doesn't care about color or size so I haven't had to work with aesthetic constraints before"""
Old 03-02-03, 03:45 AM
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I believe my HK DVD5 has all of those features...I would look at some paradigm speakers....Denon 5800...if you can still find one, it should cost $2000 and will definately be the best bang. You can still get the HK DVD player at Circuit City, although they may need to order it...should be $300-350...paradigm system should be $400/speaker, so another $2000, leaves you about $700 to buy a HSU Sub
Old 03-02-03, 04:07 PM
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Did you mean to say that the room was 2300 square feet or 230. If so, that's a big space to fill. No to mention a small screen in relation to the room size.
Old 03-02-03, 10:40 PM
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Sorry. I meant to say 2300 cubic feet.

I went and listened to the NHT SB-1 today and was able to compare them to the B&W LM1. Now the NHTs are off my list. I'm gonna try to listen to some DTs this week, but currently the B&Ws are the leader.

I was at a store today and the sales person told me that the Denon receivers aren't very user friendly. A sales person at another store said Denons are user friendly. Does anyone have experience with Denon receivers?

Also does anyone have experience with Yamaha compared to Denon? I love my Yamaha but I'm not very experienced with Denon so I don't want to be too biased in my recommendations.
Old 03-02-03, 11:02 PM
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Hmmm....you might ask the salesman for clarification as to why he thinks the Denon is not user friendly. I have a 5700; it's about as easy/difficult to use as every other receiver I've owned or used.

If you are concerned about usability, two thoughts. 1) download the manual for the model you are considering. 2) Purchase a good universal remote (e.g. Pronto, Home Theater Master MX-500, Sony 3000, etc) to simplify system use. If you are concerned about usability I would definitely get a good aftermarket remote.

For more on remotes, check out www.remotecentral.com
Old 03-04-03, 04:17 AM
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How about Paradigm speakers? I think they have many different finishes under the sun. They also have in-wall speakers too.

www.paradigm.ca
Old 03-04-03, 11:49 PM
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I listened to Def Techs today. The ProCinema 200s are too big. The ProCinema 100s sound great so it seems like a toss up between them and the B&W LM1s. At least until I go listen to some Paradigms.

I also listened to some Tannoy in-wall speakers. They sounded the best of all. So far my recommendations look like this for speakers:

Option 1: Tannoy in-walls (x5) with a Def Tech Supercube I subwoofer.
Option 2: B&W LM1s (x5) with a Def Tech Supercube I subwoofer.
Option 3: Def Tech Pro Cinema 100s (x5) wth a Def Tech Supercube I subwoofer.

The salesperson recommended the Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX Receiver to go with the speakers and the Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD/DVD-A/SACD player to go with the system.

I think I'm going to recommend a Panasonic XP50 for DVD and DVD-A playback and maybe a Sony SACD changer instead of going with the Pioneer Elite.

I don't know much about Pioneer Elite receivers compared to Denon and Yamaha so if anyone can shed some light with comparisons I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

I still haven't had time to check out remotes, but maybe one with a macro feature would be nice. I could program it for him so he would only need a few buttons. "Watch DVD," "Play SACD," etc.
Old 03-04-03, 11:58 PM
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Denon receivers definately are the best (and I own Yamaha)
Old 03-05-03, 02:27 AM
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FWIW, Hsu Research is based in Anaheim. When my friend bought his VTF-2, he called them and they were cool enough to arrange for a will-call. Not quite the same as B&M, but they make a nice sub.
Old 03-05-03, 08:07 AM
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Originally posted by belboz
FWIW, Hsu Research is based in Anaheim. When my friend bought his VTF-2, he called them and they were cool enough to arrange for a will-call. Not quite the same as B&M, but they make a nice sub.
Cool. Thanks for the information.
Old 03-05-03, 11:57 AM
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Originally posted by karnblack
The salesperson recommended the Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX Receiver to go with the speakers and the Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD/DVD-A/SACD player to go with the system.

I think I'm going to recommend a Panasonic XP50 for DVD and DVD-A playback and maybe a Sony SACD changer instead of going with the Pioneer Elite.

I don't know much about Pioneer Elite receivers compared to Denon and Yamaha so if anyone can shed some light with comparisons I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

I still haven't had time to check out remotes, but maybe one with a macro feature would be nice. I could program it for him so he would only need a few buttons. "Watch DVD," "Play SACD," etc.
I would reccomend stepping up to the Pioneer 45tx. It adds auto setup via a microphone. Not only does it set up the proper calibration for surround sound, but it gives you the option to add auto eq to either all channels or to make the center/surrounds to match the mains. I own this reciever and love it. The only thing to keep in mind is that the Pioneer Elite receivers will have a hard time driving 4 ohm speakers to reference levels when using the eq. I have listened to several movies at reference with not problem at all (using the eq setting).

I don't use the unit to switch HDTV, but it's supposed to do this. I do use the unit to switch video and even composite video shows no signs of signal degradation.

It also contains a very good remote control. It is a pre-programed/learning/macro remote that has become my main remote soon after purchasing the reciever. Backlit with lcd display, it's as good as any other remote I've tried (MX 500, RC2000).

Another good receiver to look into is the Sony DA4ES. If you are looking at Sony stick to their ES line for quality. Rotel's RSX 1055 is another you should look into.

If you want both SACD and DVD Audio keep in mind that most receivers only have one 5.1 channel input. You may be "forced" to buy a universal player. The good news is that a lot of new models are available versus the few universal players that were out last year.

You should be able to get the receiver and dvd players for ~ $2000. That leaves about $3000 for speakers and cables.

Subwoofer: best bang for the buck is either Hsu research or SVS. I don't think either company makes a product you would be dissapointed with. In a 2300 cubic foot room either the Hsu VTF-3 or SVS 25-31pci would be more then adequate (though they are mail order). Plenty of reviews are available for both on the web.

Speakers: You (and your friend) have to listen for yourself, but you should be able to get 7 speakers with the $2000+ leftover after buying a sub.

One thing to mention is that many speakers in this price range over various finishes that may look better then your friend realizes. If you like the B&W sound they have a cherry finish on many models that looks great.

I don't know about colors, but you should at least look into Paradigm speakers. Another good brand that does make white speakers is Cambridge Soundworks (they do have some stores but they are also mostly mail order.)

A good site for more info. would be www.audioreview.com and for another good forum try www.hometheateforum.com

For cables, if you buy all the equipment at one place they should give you a very good deal on cable. If not, www.partsexpress has very good prices on cables and equipment.
Old 03-08-03, 08:57 PM
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Here's what he finally decided on:



Speakers: B&W LM-1 (White x 6) and a Definitive Technology Supercube II subwoofer

Receiver: Yamaha RX-V3300

DVD Player: Denon 1600

SACD Player: Sony SCD-C222ES





Thanks to everyone for their input.

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