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Need Some Home Theatre System Help

Old 02-04-07, 09:00 PM
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Need Some Home Theatre System Help

A couple years ago, I bought a crappy home theatre in the box. It was 150 watts. Then it started screwing up, I recently redid my room and I figure I would rather buy a new one than untangle the speaker wire from when I took it down. 150 watts was loud enough in my room for a flick like Freddy Vs. Jason, a movie with a strong track always came across fine.

But, then there's the mono (even some 2.0) flicks/VHS (sorry... the format will never die for me) I have. You could only turn them up so loud before you'd hear the speakers hiss, but the dialogue still wouldn't be up to the level you would want it to be at. A 5.1 example of this would be Suspiria. The Goblin score played fairly loud, but the dialogue was low to the point of barely being able to hear it. Obviously with horror being my primary viewing, I need to get a system that can meet my needs.

I'm not really out to put down $500 on a system, but I found a few non-name brand systems here for $100-$150, the $100 one being a 450 watt system and the other 800 watts. Each carry a year warranty, which isn't bad. So, I'm curious, from your experiences, what's the ideal amount of watts needed to handle these flicks. I am sure the 450 watt one would be fine, but are there any benefits to just going out and getting the 800 watt unit?
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Old 02-04-07, 09:12 PM
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I don't know what to respond. More power isn't better, especially if it is not clean. I have my receiver, DVD player and speakers for about $850, but is could be had for less than $400 now. I have heard decent thing about the LG HTIB.
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1140391860842

I would also caution you get what you pay for, with the exception of Monster brand stuff (and Bose).

Last edited by jonw9; 02-04-07 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 02-04-07, 09:27 PM
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If you're going to spend 100-150 on a cheap no=name HTIB, see if you can scrape together another 100 bucks and get the "entry level" Onkyo HT-S590S. It's currently 250 from CC
http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Onkyo...oductDetail.do
Usually HTiBs aren't worth the box they come in, but from what I've heard Onkyo uses "real" speakers and recievers in their HTiBs, and price them well. I've got the 780 and have definitely enjoyed it.
Regarding the audio, I've noticed that as well, where center channel dialog is less easily understood than the surround music, but some of that could be due to not 'calibrating' the speakers/audio levels.
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Old 02-04-07, 09:29 PM
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Yes, bump up to the Onkyo. Evaluating those systems by the wattage listed on the box is fruitless. None of them has any real power and those numbers are absolutely meaningless.
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Old 02-04-07, 10:40 PM
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I would pretty much ignore the Watts.

My poor little H/K has only 40 or 45 watts per channel. But it rocks out my media room. It is awesome. We were rocking to Prince at half time! Room is about 15X18.

Plus I have another H/K, much older one in my living room set up. room is about 18X40 and easily fills it.
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Old 02-04-07, 11:03 PM
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All respectable points. The thing is I am not so much into the 5.1 aspect of hearing special things from each speaker, I just like the pounding/better sound the home theatre can offer. I mean I think the 150 watt one I had was fine, I just needed it to be louder. If you can't tell how loud it'll be by how many watts it is, how do you tell? I was thinking if a 150 watt one did me fine, a 450 watt one should be about what I'm looking for. It seems weird that it may be less loud than the one I had...

I'm in Canada, so online ordering is more tricky. My room is small... 12x10 or so. This is why I was going for the cheaper units, I figured the stronger units would be better for a larger room, but a room of this size, it'd be worthless. There's this unit, but again, why risk the $300 when it may not be as loud as my 150 watt one that can be had for $40? http://www.thesourcecc.com/estore/Pr...roduct=3116006

EDIT: There's this one as well. http://www.thesourcecc.com/estore/Pr...roduct=3116016

Last edited by old-boo-radley; 02-04-07 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 02-05-07, 02:15 AM
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Pioneer HtiB or Onkyo ..spend the extra $$$..still get them pretty cheap
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Old 02-05-07, 04:41 AM
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Can't find those ones, my hands are tied.
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Old 02-05-07, 07:01 AM
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I mean I think the 150 watt one I had was fine, I just needed it to be louder.
This is a common misconception that is exploited by marketers and vendors.


Wattage means nothing and adding the watts together to produce a totally unrealistic number is absurd.

In order to get what you desire you need two things, clean power and speakers that can handle the power.

The hissing you were hearing was a result of a cheap chip amplifier and poor quality speakers that likely could not handle the volume you wanted.

HTIB's are limited by their price points.
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Old 02-05-07, 07:38 AM
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You are just going to have to either trust Brian and I or not that trying to buy based on the wattage printed on the box is absolutely useless. I assure you that the Onkyos in this genre/price are the best you can get, both for quality and quantity of sound. What you have described is abuse of a non-powerful system until it died. Buying another one to abuse hardly seems worth the effort.

It really sounds like what you want is some decent equipment, but your current price point is not going to reach that. You could get a pair of speakers (maybe NHT bookshelf speakers) for that or a receiver, but not both at this point. If you are truly more interested in noise and impact than surround, a 2 channel setup could be a good direction to save money.
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Old 02-05-07, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by old-boo-radley
All respectable points. The thing is I am not so much into the 5.1 aspect of hearing special things from each speaker, I just like the pounding/better sound the home theatre can offer. I mean I think the 150 watt one I had was fine, I just needed it to be louder. If you can't tell how loud it'll be by how many watts it is, how do you tell? I was thinking if a 150 watt one did me fine, a 450 watt one should be about what I'm looking for. It seems weird that it may be less loud than the one I had...

I'm in Canada, so online ordering is more tricky. My room is small... 12x10 or so. This is why I was going for the cheaper units, I figured the stronger units would be better for a larger room, but a room of this size, it'd be worthless. There's this unit, but again, why risk the $300 when it may not be as loud as my 150 watt one that can be had for $40? http://www.thesourcecc.com/estore/Pr...roduct=3116006


EDIT: There's this one as well. http://www.thesourcecc.com/estore/Pr...roduct=3116016
What you have to understand (and Spiky and Brian are much more knowledge then me) is that there is no universal rating system for watts. For example, my 40 watt per channel H/K was much, much louder then my 85 watt per channel Sony with the exact same speakers. Not only that, but the H/K was cleaner, better separation, etc.

And even if there were a universal rating for watts on the amp, the speakers themselves (as mentioned) will effect how loud they can get.

IMHO, in your room ANY Onkyo, Denon, H/K will provide more then enough power if you have the speakers that can handle it. Even tho I'm very happy with my current set ups, I'm always looking to upgrade. But to be honest, I would only buy one of these three brands, and I would not even look at the watts. For my size rooms, with my speakers any of them would be more then powerful enough.
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Old 02-05-07, 06:35 PM
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You will read differing opinions on whether the receiver or the speakers are most important, but if either are junk, it doesn't matter what the other is.

Not sure if you can buy through Onkyo in Canada, but you can get a really cheap refurb from the direct: http://www.shoponkyo.com/detail.cfm?...il=1&ext_war=1

You could pair that with a decent pair of speakers (since you're not interested in 5.1) for $200-$250 total. I know my boss had read good things about these and was considering them, but I haven't researched them myself: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1138085354138

Although, adding a subwoofer to your setup will also make it seem "louder' by adding bass.

As others have said, different companies "measure" power differently, so ignore those numbers. Go with a brand like Yamaha, Onkyo, H/K and you'll have plenty of clean power even with the lower level models.
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Old 02-06-07, 02:38 AM
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So Panasonic/JVC/Sony aren't good? I know a guy who is selling a Sony, and those are the three name brands easily available here.
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Old 02-06-07, 04:21 AM
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Pioneer , Panasonic, JVC, Onkyo=good
Sony = bad (esp. receivers)
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Old 02-06-07, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by old-boo-radley
So Panasonic/JVC/Sony aren't good? I know a guy who is selling a Sony, and those are the three name brands easily available here.
The only Sony receivers I buy (and have owned) are the ES models. Stay away from anything else.

As for Panasonic and JVC it is not that they are bad, they simply are hitting price points and compromising on the performance to get there.
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Old 02-06-07, 07:47 PM
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Another vote for the Onkyo, I have the S680 6.1, it was alittle over 300 after tax and shipping and all that, haven't had any problems with the system and comes with a really powerful sub.
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Old 02-08-07, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by old-boo-radley
So Panasonic/JVC/Sony aren't good? I know a guy who is selling a Sony, and those are the three name brands easily available here.
Panny/JVC make a couple decent receivers. But their bottom models seem to crap out on people fast. There's another thread here with a guy looking to upgrade. You'd want to stick to the upper ones, although they don't go very high.

Sony is crap. Their top models are about as good as Onkyos, Denons, Yamahas costing half as much. Their low-end models should be banned.

Pioneer is nice, but I think a little overpriced compared to Onkyo and others.
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Old 02-08-07, 04:28 AM
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Essentially, I am buying the system in the box, so it's the quality of that, not necessarily a receiver.

There's a 1000 watt RCA or JVC one I'm looking at now for $300. A Yahoo! brand 800 watt one at Wal-Mart had me scratching my head...
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Old 02-08-07, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by old-boo-radley
Essentially, I am buying the system in the box, so it's the quality of that, not necessarily a receiver.

There's a 1000 watt RCA or JVC one I'm looking at now for $300. A Yahoo! brand 800 watt one at Wal-Mart had me scratching my head...
And everyone's point has been, especially if you're expecting both receiver and speakers, that at that price point you're not going to get much in terms of quality. To get much quality with your budget is just not realistic. Stop paying attention to watts, and has been stated above over and over. Buy a quality brand, and watts are not a concern. I would stick to Onkyo, Yamaha, H/K, Denon. Pioneer can be OK for receivers, but I would definitely not consider RCA, JVC or Panasonic.

My advice is to take a two-stage approach. Use your current budget (and increase it a little if at all possible) and buy just a receiver or speakers - whichever you feel is the weak point of your system. Then save for a while, and replace the other. You will come out way ahead, and be so much happier.

When I started my quest for an HT setup, I took it one step at a time - although I really wanted it all immediately. I bought my receiver, saved for a while then bought a center channel, saved then bought a sub, then front speakers, then surround speakers, then an HDTV. It took a lot of time - two to three years, but it was the end result that was worth it in the long run. Heck - you're budget would buy a single one of my speakers, and I don't even have "high end" equipment.

Take some time to save some extra money - you will be glad you did. As much as you want new equipment right now, you'll be much happier in the long run if you take your time and buy better as you can afford it. If you buy cheap, you'll be right back asking what's wrong with your equipment - when it's just a matter of quality.

It's like someone saying that they bought a brand new car for $5000, then complaining that it doesn't have enough engine power or options. Just because they may offer something at that price point doesn't mean it's any good. If you skimp on price, you'll lose out on quality.

There's a lot of great advice here. You're asking for advice - listen to it.

You get what you pay for...
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Old 02-12-07, 03:53 AM
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No, the advice I'm getting is, "you're obviously not an audio nerd, but hey, go and spend way more money than necessary." I just want a unit that won't break down and will be loud enough for my room (about twice as loud as my 150 watt $80 unit) . And so far, everyone says that there's no way to tell how loud a system will be. If a $300 name brand unit is gonna break down, well I will stick to the no-name crap, since it appears to be the same thing. If the advice is "Anything under $500 is hit or miss", then that's fine. But then I will just buy some cheap Durabrand unit like I had before and save $450. Obviously you don't get what you pay for, if this is the case.

I can afford any system I want, I'm just not into it enough to care to spend $1000. I was impressed enough with my $80 unit and wanted a small upgrade. Why in the world would I jump up to a $1000 unit if I'm nearly satisfied with an $80 one? If watts don't matter, then as far as I'm concerned, I need not look for advice because every HTIAB is a crapshoot.

So the thread taught me one thing, if you don't want to spend $1000, buy the cheapest junk you can buy, unless by some chance you live in the USA and can find Onkyo brand. At least that's what I get from it.
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Old 02-12-07, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by old-boo-radley
I'm not really out to put down $500 on a system, but I found a few non-name brand systems here for $100-$150, the $100 one being a 450 watt system and the other 800 watts.

there is absolutely no way you can get a 450-800 watt system for $150. Even though it states that amount of wattage, it is not.
Listen to everyone here. Pioneer, Onkyo (Denon is out of your price range). Even JVC or Panny will be a HUGE step up from your "non name brand" system. Like I said before, I'd go with a Pioneer receiver/speaker combo. Spend $300 on one of those and youll see a difference like night and day if you currently have a non name brand.
Also, your $80 150 watt system is DEFINITELY NOT 150 wattts. Probably more like 15w per channel.
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Old 02-12-07, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by JZ1276
there is absolutely no way you can get a 450-800 watt system for $150. Even though it states that amount of wattage, it is not.
Listen to everyone here. Pioneer, Onkyo (Denon is out of your price range). Even JVC or Panny will be a HUGE step up from your "non name brand" system. Like I said before, I'd go with a Pioneer receiver/speaker combo. Spend $300 on one of those and youll see a difference like night and day if you currently have a non name brand.
Also, your $80 150 watt system is DEFINITELY NOT 150 wattts. Probably more like 15w per channel.
Yeah, I figured I'd spend $300 if I could find a good one for that price, that's why I was looking for info on that RCA or JVC one, whichever it was.

My problem is I just can't find the systems you guys refer to in Canada.
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