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taking HD plunge...have a few questions

Old 02-06-09, 05:55 PM
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taking HD plunge...have a few questions

Hey all…so I finally took the plunge and bought the Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ800U, and will have it next week. Got what I think was a good deal at BH Photo Video. I am planning to get a TiVo HDXL and use that as the main watching machine. I also plan on getting a Playstation 3 (not a gamer at all, but it seems like the standalone Blu-Ray players aren’t really that much cheaper and I’ve read PS3 is the best way to watch Blu-Ray films). I will also be keeping my regular DVD player/recorder with hard drive, which I want to connect through the TiVo—I want to be able to save things to disc if need be.

With all of that spending, my lower priority is a new receiver and speakers. Currently, I have an older Technics (Receiver SA-DX930) that has no HDMI portals. If it would be a good idea to get a new one, I was thinking something like the Onkyo TX-SR806, about $620 (http://www.onecall.com/ProductDetails.aspx?id=92048). However, I am certainly not ready to get new speakers—I have the Bose 5.1 Acoustimass 15 setup, which apparently according to audiophiles are pure crap. I’m guessing my ears probably won’t notice too much of a difference. My biggest confusion with setting things up is knowing what needs to go through the receiver besides the speakers. So…

1. Would a new A/V receiver with HDMI portals make the picture on the new TV any better, or does the HDMI connection between my TV and TiVo do the job?
2. Would a new receiver with HDMI make the sound any better if I kept the 5.1 Bose speakers?
3. If I do get a new 7.1 receiver, I can still use the 5.1 Bose speakers, right? Or would that be a pointless purchase?
4. Any advice on the recommended flow of connections is appreciated. Cable goes to the TiVo, my regular DVD player gets connected through the TiVo. But do my Tivo and Playstation have to go through the A/V receiver? (I’m assuming the TiVo would…I know one has to…). I just want to make sure that I can record saved TiVo programs to disc on my regular DVD player.
5. Are cheaper HDMI cables from a place like monoprice.com just as good to use?
6. Is there a speaker/subwoofer set that isn’t ridiculously expensive that would make me notice a dramatic improvement in sound over my Bose speakers? (again, I feel like my ears are probably enjoying what I have just fine, and don’t want to upgrade if it’s not a huge difference)

Thanks all!

-Cameron
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Old 02-06-09, 06:41 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

I'm by no means an expert, they'll be along shortly I'm sure, my answers are based mostly on my experiences...

1. Probably not. An HDMI connection on most new receivers can be set to simply pass the video signal straight through or to do some "scaling" of its own. I've tried it both ways on my new Denon receiver, and my eyes couldn't tell a difference.

2. I would guess not. Chances are, investing the money in speakers (to use with your old receiver) would make much more sense than buying a nice new receiver to use with your old Bose speakers.

3. Like I said in #2, you're probably much better off investing in new speakers first, a new receiver 2nd.

4. Does your old receiver have optical/coaxial audio inputs (what's the model #?)?

5. Yep, just as good. For less than $10 you can get what Best Buy would charge you $30-100 for.

6. While Bose speakers definitely get beat up by audiophiles for a reason, I think one situation in which they are still decent is in a smaller room - so if you are in a small room, they would probably be OK. But since you got a 50" TV, I'm guessing the room isn't real small. There are "Home Theaters in a Box" (HTiB...includes 5 or 7 speakers plus a subwoofer plus a receiver) that would probably knock the socks off of the Bose speakers for $500 or less, I think.

I'll use $600 as a price-point since you mentioned considering spending that much for a receiver...these are Onkyo's offerings, and are generally thought of as the best bang for your buck HTiB setups - http://www.onkyousa.com/prod_class.cfm?class=Systems - the suggested price on the HTS5100 is $600. Not sure if it can be had cheaper elsewhere, but a setup like that would probably be a pretty safe bet to make your Bose system look pathetic.

But you're right that a lot of it is what you're used to. However, spending that much on a TV, Tivo, and PS3, I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice continuing to use the Bose system with all the new HD audio.

Oh yeah, that's a hell of a TV to start your HD adventures with!

Last edited by aktick; 02-06-09 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 02-06-09, 07:10 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

Well I got to #2 and didn't wanna help you anymore.

BUT I swear I just seen that onkyo 806 for $450 just last night on several other websites. Keep looking.
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Old 02-06-09, 07:18 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

hmmm...if I can get a much better sound experience with a HTiB set that includes all of the components, including the receiver, for $600ish (maybe a little more), I'd be willing to take recommendations. My room isn't huge, probabaly about as much as it should be for a 50incher (I actually live in a large efficiency that is bigger, but with the setup one of the rear speakers couldn't be too far behind me...)

OneCall (which I like to use; good history of service, bought from them before, and I don't mind the 12 months no financing!) has the Onkyo HT-S9100THXB for $1000, the Onkyo HT-S7100 for $700 and the Onkyo HT-S6100 for $600. I suppose selling my receiver and Bose speakers on craigslist could offset a little of that. Thoughts on those three Onkyo offerings are appreciated.

Last edited by Cameron McGaughy; 02-06-09 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 02-06-09, 07:33 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

I know you asked specific questions, but you made some specific assumtions as well.

You should spend as much on audio as you do video.

There are now better (or at least as good) stand along BD players then the PS3. That wasn't always the case, but it is now. And some can be more versital (analog outs).

Your surround receiver will never "improve" the video your display.

You don't need to upgrade your receiver if you like the sound of it. Assuming it of course at least does 5.1 (DTS). See my signature, my receiver does not have HDMI and I use a PS3 and HD DVd and HD Dish

You will get no love for Bose speakers. And I see no real reason to upgrade your audio until you upgrade your speakers. That should be your starting point.

Don't get a HTiB.

More later if you want...got to run.
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Old 02-06-09, 08:32 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
Don't get a HTiB.
While I generally agree with this, in certain situations (where the sound can never be too loud - apartment - or where the buyer doesn't envision themselves ever wanting anything top quality) a HTiB, particularly a "better" one, would be perfectly fine, IMO.

My parents have an Onkyo HTiB, and a lower end one at that, and it's really all they need or want. They don't blast the sound when watching movies, and while they are Blu-enabled, the newest audio formats are something they'll never need to be able to get.

But by all means, if you are willing to build a sound system piece by piece over time so that you have a beautiful sounding and looking setup, do so. Good quality speakers will last a loooooong time if taken care of. Most of us that have done this will recommend it as the first choice almost every time - start out with a good receiver, and a 2.0, 2.1, or 3.1 speaker setup, and add center/sub/surrounds as funds become available.

Again, the common theme here is invest in quality speakers before spending money on a nice new receiver. A top end $1000 receiver can't make crap speakers sound good. Top end speakers can be made to sound wonderful with a decent old receiver.
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Old 02-06-09, 08:42 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

#7 Absolutely. Monoprice's HDMI cables are just as good. Don't spend hundreds of dollars on Monster cables - not worth their price at all.
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Old 02-06-09, 09:29 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

for right now, I can't invest a lot into the audio; I'll probably never have the patience or room to make a killer home theater experience; if I upgrade receiver and speakers, for right now that needs to be, at the most, $1000.
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Old 02-06-09, 11:47 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

Originally Posted by aktick View Post
While I generally agree with this, in certain situations (where the sound can never be too loud - apartment - or where the buyer doesn't envision themselves ever wanting anything top quality) a HTiB, particularly a "better" one, would be perfectly fine, IMO.

My parents have an Onkyo HTiB, and a lower end one at that, and it's really all they need or want. They don't blast the sound when watching movies, and while they are Blu-enabled, the newest audio formats are something they'll never need to be able to get.

But by all means, if you are willing to build a sound system piece by piece over time so that you have a beautiful sounding and looking setup, do so. Good quality speakers will last a loooooong time if taken care of. Most of us that have done this will recommend it as the first choice almost every time - start out with a good receiver, and a 2.0, 2.1, or 3.1 speaker setup, and add center/sub/surrounds as funds become available.

Again, the common theme here is invest in quality speakers before spending money on a nice new receiver. A top end $1000 receiver can't make crap speakers sound good. Top end speakers can be made to sound wonderful with a decent old receiver.

In fact there are some excellent HTiB. But they are all more expensive then separates and not what the OP is talking about.

In addition, quality does NOT = volume. A bad sounding system sounds bad at low volume or high volume levels. A good sounding system sounds good at low or high volume levels. And I'd argue a nice sounding system might be better in a small room. It is more balanced, detailed and has a nice sound stage that might cause one to not turn up the volume as much.
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Old 02-06-09, 11:59 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

Yamaha RX-v663 - $350
Polk Monitor 50s - $99 x 2
Polk CS2 center - $150
Polk r60 for rears - $70

that is $770

sell your Bose system on craiglist for $500

buy

ed a2-300 sub - $350

total is $1120 - Bose sale and it will blow your current set-up away.

you can even get better rears than the ones i suggested and still keep your OOP under 1k
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Old 02-07-09, 12:02 AM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

Originally Posted by Cameron McGaughy View Post
for right now, I can't invest a lot into the audio; I'll probably never have the patience or room to make a killer home theater experience; if I upgrade receiver and speakers, for right now that needs to be, at the most, $1000.
Actually with careful shopping...that is a nice start. I'm not necessarily saying you should get these, but just some quick looking and I found;

http://www.accessories4less.com/make...-Silver/1.html
+
http://www.onecall.com/ProductDetails.aspx?id=91169

I'm a KEF pimp, and the Onkyo 606 is the standard recommendation right now.

What receiver do you have now? Assuming it is decent and will do 5.1, you could continue to use it. My point of mentioning my sig was not to brag, but to point out I don't have a HDMI receiver and get by just fine thank you. My H/K sound very nice and I'm very pleased with the sound. Especially for what I paid.

I'd also look at the H/K 254....about $400. I have had my eye on it for a while....

Last edited by Sdallnct; 02-07-09 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 02-08-09, 09:21 AM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

BTW, standalone bluray is now half the price of a PS3 or less. While it may still be a good buy, the price is no longer the same.
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Old 02-08-09, 02:36 PM
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Re: taking HD plunge...have a few questions

I would follow So Spacey on his speaker suggestions. I would however go with a onkyo 606 receiver. I don't remember why I didn't go with the yamaha, maybe it had one less hdmi in port, I don't know. WIth the 606 you can't go wrong. I also used onecall to get it. I see they still have my review on there site, I did it on 09/05/08 and I still stand by it.
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