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Best Home Theater Audio for $500-$1000?

Old 02-17-07, 11:40 AM
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Best Home Theater Audio for $500-$1000?

Hi,

I just ordered a Sony Bravia XBR2 52" LCD TV and a PS3 for Blu-ray...And I'm wondering if I should upgrade my receiver and speakers (I've got an Onkyo HT-R520). My understanding is that HDMI carries both audio and video signals to the TV, so I'm wondering how the audio is hooked to the receiver...To take advantage of the new audio types available on Blu-Ray, do I need a receiver with HDMI inputs? Are optical audio cables obselete?

If so, what is my best option for a new receiver/speakers in the $500-$1000 range? I've liked Onkyo and I always hear good things about them...

Also, how do I go about picking the right speakers to go with the receiver?

Thank you very much for any help!

- Aeron
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Old 02-18-07, 09:45 AM
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IMHO you have left yourself little room for getting any kind of quality audio to match your video.

How big is the room, how many speakers do you need, do you need a sub too?

Finally the way to pick speakers is to listen to them, sounds simple but many people overlook this and buy based on price or what someone else tells them to buy.
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Old 02-18-07, 11:07 AM
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Brian,

How am I leaving myself little room for quality audio? By the amount I'm willing to spend? What is an example of a quality setup and how much would it run?

In terms of number of speakers and subwoofer, that really depends on what I need to take advantage of the new audio formats. I've heard a lot about lossless audio on high-def discs...Does this need a new kind of equipment? My current Onkyo setup came with a woofer and 7 speakers, so that's what I currently have...

The room is about 20 ft by 20 ft.

- Aeron
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Old 02-18-07, 11:32 AM
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For that budget I would look at the lower end of the "usual" suspects:

Speakers,

Paradigm
Celestion
Kef (tho not sure you can get in your range)
NHT
Klipsh (personally I'm not a fan, but they have a big following)
Boston Acoustic
Maggies (tho again, not sure for your budget especially when you tho in a receiver that can drive them)

Receivers,

H/K
Onkyo
Denon

When I buy audio the first and by far overriding factor is sound quality. Everything else is a far distant second. I can live without fancy switching, special effects, cool displays, I want good sound.

You can get cheaper Sony's, Yamaha's, Pioneer receivers with HDMI switching, but I do question their audio quality. But to get HDMI switching in the Onkyo, H/K and Denon will likely blow your budget.

I very, very happy with my lowest end H/K receiver and Celection speakers (cleared out at best buy a couple of years back). I have no desire to "move up" to HDMI or anything like that until the prices drop on the H/K, Denon and Onkyo's. Remember by setting a budget in that range you are automatically going to have to make compromises. But again, IMHO, I'd go without all the fancy extra's and try to concentrate on sound quality.

You can always get a nice remote controled HDMI switcher from monorprice for like $140 or something.

As for how to hook hook when your HT receiver does not have HDMI, you would use optical or coaxial from the DVD player/HD box/game station to the HT receiver. Then use HDMI or compont from the DVD player/HD box/game station to your display or HDMI switching.

Any decent univerversal remote will set you up with macros to switch everything for you with a single press of the button.

Last edited by Sdallnct; 02-18-07 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 02-18-07, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by aeron
Brian,

How am I leaving myself little room for quality audio? By the amount I'm willing to spend? What is an example of a quality setup and how much would it run?

In terms of number of speakers and subwoofer, that really depends on what I need to take advantage of the new audio formats. I've heard a lot about lossless audio on high-def discs...Does this need a new kind of equipment? My current Onkyo setup came with a woofer and 7 speakers, so that's what I currently have...

The room is about 20 ft by 20 ft.

- Aeron
I am confused. Are you replacing everything you have? You could use your current system but if you want switching, that budget alone would just about cover the receiver. A quality sub and speakers to fill that room would exceed the budget.
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Old 02-21-07, 12:13 AM
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i would keep that receiver and get some better speakers. av123.com, svsound.com, or something from Sdallnct's list. They say SVS's speakers are great, I know their subs are untouchable in this price range.

Screw HDMI, use the 5.1 input instead. Future proof, and maybe better quality sound than a cheap HDMI receiver can muster, anyway.
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Old 02-21-07, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian Shannon
I am confused. Are you replacing everything you have? You could use your current system but if you want switching, that budget alone would just about cover the receiver. A quality sub and speakers to fill that room would exceed the budget.

i am confused too.

why would you group Yamaha with Sony?

I, and most people I have run in to, would group them with Denon, Onkyo, etc.
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Old 02-23-07, 12:07 PM
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SoSpacey, I never said anything about a Yamaha or a Sony, except that I have a Sony TV and an Onkyo receiver/speakers. I don't think anyone mentioned a Yamaha...(?)

Brian, I have a new TV and I'm going over to Blu-Ray via HDMI. I'm really just wondering if I need a new receiver and/or speakers to take advantage of the new technology...

In particular, the HDMI carries audio and video together...My Onkyo receiver has no input for HDMI. So how do I get audio? Do I run the Blu-Ray HDMI to my TV and then output optical or whatever from my tv to receiver? If I do that, will I lose quality?

Secondly, I don't really know much about it, but I've read a bit about "lossless" audio on the high-def Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. Is this on the disc end, so that I can automatically take advantage of it with my Onkyo receiver? Or do I need some new hardware for it?

So, to clarify, I'm really wondering whether I should get new hardware; and, if so, whether it should be a receiver/speakers or both.

Thanks everyone for the replies! I'm sorry if it was unclear!
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Old 02-23-07, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by aeron
In particular, the HDMI carries audio and video together...My Onkyo receiver has no input for HDMI. So how do I get audio? Do I run the Blu-Ray HDMI to my TV and then output optical or whatever from my tv to receiver? If I do that, will I lose quality?

Secondly, I don't really know much about it, but I've read a bit about "lossless" audio on the high-def Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. Is this on the disc end, so that I can automatically take advantage of it with my Onkyo receiver? Or do I need some new hardware for it?
For your budget, there is no way that I would upgrade both receiver and speakers especially if you want HDMI switching and the such. You simply cannot get quality speakers, receiver with the features you want for that price range. It is just not going to happen (IMHO).

You are exactly right on how you run audio/video if your receiver does not have HDMI. You run HDMI or Component for video directly from your source (HD receiver/game station/DVD player) to your display. Then you can run optical or coaxial for audio from your sources to your ht receiver. This is exactly how I have my current set up. Now I use a projector instead of a tv, but it is the same process.

You are not going to lose any video quality by going directly to your display device. In fact some will argue with the direct connection is should be better.

There is even a general argument as to if HDMI is an upgrade over component or if it is just a different connection.

As for audio, I'm not sure your going to gain anything by using HDMI with to days receivers. Spikey or others who know more about it then I can chime in, but I believe few receivers (mostly very expensive ones) use the latest/greatest HDMI standard which would allow for some of these nicer audio formats. Still I think I could make an argument that if you are getting a $500-$1000 set up you won't have the quality components necessary to hear the differences in these newer audio formats anyway....
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Old 02-23-07, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by aeron
SoSpacey, I never said anything about a Yamaha or a Sony, except that I have a Sony TV and an Onkyo receiver/speakers. I don't think anyone mentioned a Yamaha...(?)

Brian, I have a new TV and I'm going over to Blu-Ray via HDMI. I'm really just wondering if I need a new receiver and/or speakers to take advantage of the new technology...

In particular, the HDMI carries audio and video together...My Onkyo receiver has no input for HDMI. So how do I get audio? Do I run the Blu-Ray HDMI to my TV and then output optical or whatever from my tv to receiver? If I do that, will I lose quality?

Secondly, I don't really know much about it, but I've read a bit about "lossless" audio on the high-def Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. Is this on the disc end, so that I can automatically take advantage of it with my Onkyo receiver? Or do I need some new hardware for it?

So, to clarify, I'm really wondering whether I should get new hardware; and, if so, whether it should be a receiver/speakers or both.

Thanks everyone for the replies! I'm sorry if it was unclear!
I'll try to answer in generalities since there are some variables here.

You only need to connect things to your receiver if you need to switch between sources. You can do as you already know, hdmi to the tv and optical to the receiver, no you wont lose quality.

As far as the lossless audio I will defer to another expert as I am not part of the next generation war as yet. I will not upgrade until the hdmi issue is sorted out, one dvd format exists and I can upgrade everything at one time.

As far as the original point, I still maintain that you have a beautiful video setup that may or may not be complimented by the budget you have left for the audio portion. I ALWAYS advise people to audition speakers with material that they know and choose the speakers that work for them, their room and their budget. Lastly you can then choose a receiver to power the speakers you want.

I always give the same advice, some choose to heed it others do not.

Good luck.
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Old 02-23-07, 05:09 PM
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Ran across this. Don't know about the seller, but this is a nice system.

http://www.accessories4less.com/cgi-.../KEFKHT1005BLK

I have the Celestion version of this (sort of sister version of the product) and am very, very happy. But I'd recommend a nice receiver to go with these. Maybe a low end H/K and you might and I me might be about to find a mid level Onkyo with HDMI switching that would run them nicely.
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Old 02-24-07, 12:52 AM
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Unless my memory plays tricks, that receiver you own has a 5.1 analog input. It is already a low-mid Onkyo, just not with HDMI. Run audio from your BD player via analog. You will get better sound this way than through HDMI to a cheap receiver. But if you have crappy speakers there isn't much point to worrying about TrueHD and DTS-HD audio.

I think you'd be astounded if you picked up the SVS speaker/sub set at the improvement. It fits in your budget, IIRC. Whatever you do, if you are trying to be serious about sound, you need to stop at Radio Shack for an SPL meter. And pick up a test DVD from Avia or Video Essentials. The greatest speakers in the world will only sound mediocre if not tuned properly.

PS: someone did mention Yamaha and Sony together, but I don't think any comparison was implied. Yamaha is certainly above Sony in audio.
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Old 02-24-07, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Spiky
Unless my memory plays tricks, that receiver you own has a 5.1 analog input. It is already a low-mid Onkyo, just not with HDMI. Run audio from your BD player via analog. You will get better sound this way than through HDMI to a cheap receiver. But if you have crappy speakers there isn't much point to worrying about TrueHD and DTS-HD audio.

I think you'd be astounded if you picked up the SVS speaker/sub set at the improvement. It fits in your budget, IIRC. Whatever you do, if you are trying to be serious about sound, you need to stop at Radio Shack for an SPL meter. And pick up a test DVD from Avia or Video Essentials. The greatest speakers in the world will only sound mediocre if not tuned properly.

PS: someone did mention Yamaha and Sony together, but I don't think any comparison was implied. Yamaha is certainly above Sony in audio.
Good advise Spikey...as usual. I've started doing some research on subs as that may be my next upgrade. Right now SVS is the only product on my list. I actually didn't know they made speakers as well. Based I reputation alone, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them as well.
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Old 02-24-07, 03:13 PM
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And a deal on a nice receiver w/free shipping. Stolen from obesewallet.

http://www.amazon.com/Harman-Kardon-...&s=electronics
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