DVD & Home Theater Gear Discuss DVD and Home Theater Equipment.

101 questions about a Dolby Digital/DTS home theater

Old 09-02-00, 06:08 PM
  #1  
Cool New Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 41
Hello, first I'll start off by listing my current setup. I have a 32" Sony Wega TV, Panasonic 5DVD changer/330W dolby digital system, and Aiwa 80W sub.

Recently a few things have made me consider changing from this all-in-one HT to a separate receiver, DVD player, and speakers. However, I don't know a lot about individual speakers, and even less about receivers. Here are the questions I have.

1) Most receivers have plenty inputs for various devices. If I were to hook up a DVD player, Dreamcast, and other components by S-Video to the receiver, could I then connect the receiver to the TV by S-Video with little loss of signal?

2)The only requirements I've set for a receiver so far are that it have at least 4 S-Video inputs, Dolby Digital 5.1, and DTS. What are some of the better brands at an affordable price?

3)Are there any other receiver features I should be taking note of? I don't know a lot about the output levels of receivers. Is 100W the absolute max that can be output by a channel, even if other channels use less?

4)It seems most good front speakers are over 100W. Are these usually powered? If a device is powered, does the output level of the receiver still matter?

5)As for a DVD player, I have been considering the Onkyo 6-DVD changer, as well as some Toshiba models. I will also be using the DVD player for music, so a player with fairly low noise is important. Another minor feature I'd like is the ability to switch from 4:3 to 16:9 while a DVD is playing. Any recommendations?

6)Now, onto a difficult recommendation: speakers. There are a ton of brands out there, and I'm sure everyone has there favorites. I'd just like any helpful information, such as brands to stay away from, brands that perform well for the price, etc. I'm looking for front speakers which have at least 8" subs, and a good center channel. Aside from that, I'm open to opinions.

This is quite an overwhelming list of questions, but if you'd like to help a fellow member out, I'd really appreciate it.
Sabs is offline  
Old 09-02-00, 07:08 PM
  #2  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 2,041
1) Yes; S/b no problem.

2) There are many good brands available. I’m not sure what you mean by “affordable” but some good choices < $1k are: Outlaw (www.outlawaudio.com), Denon 3300, Marantz 7000/8000 to name a few.

Do a search and you will turn up lots of threads on this topic here. Also check these forums: www.hometheaterforum.com), www.digitaltheater.com/.

3) Be very wary of manufacturer specs. There is no standardization in reporting AV receiver specs; most power claims are for only 2 channels driven and if they do spec all 5 channels its generally at a much higher distortion level.

How much power you need is a function of your speaker efficency (how efficient they are—higher number = less power) and how loud you like to listen. Also, it takes 10 times as much power to play twice as loud. The difference between a 60 watt and 100 watt power rating is not that great.

Some features worth looking for: 1) multiple power supplies—more is generally better; 2) user interface (ease of use); 3) remote control—not all are alike; 4) quality of speaker binding posts. Many receivers include features like DSP (hall, stadium, etc.) to simulate various sound environments; while people’s opinions on these vary, I find them annoying. However there are some good DSP’s (e.g. NAD, Lexicon, etal) which can make listening to 2 channel music on a 5 speaker system more enjoyable.

4) If I understand your question, the rating you mention is for power handling---how MUCH power the speaker can use. I don’t find this spec very useful, there are too many other important factors that influence how a speaker sounds. In general, you are more likely to damage a speaker by using an under-powered amp, than a higher powered one. If you drive your amp too hard it can clip and produce a large power spike.


5) There is no reason to change from 4:3 to 16:9 on the fly. This should be set once, according to which format monitor you have; unless perhaps you are using the "squeeze trick."

6) Getting tired. See my comments on the “Speakers” topic by Markja. And know in advance you will get lots of conflicting opinions. Also do a search here and at the other forums mentioned.
audrey is offline  
Old 09-02-00, 07:19 PM
  #3  
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 221
You should Check out the Kenwood Line, especially the VR407, it has LOTS of svideo inputs, i know therse 4 or more... 4 Digital inputs, 600watts of pwer., Auto-signal switching.

1) It shouldn't have any significant loss of quality.

2)Like i said, the Kenwood VR407, DD/DTS reciever, got it got $243 by calling ONECALL.com's 1-800 number. Its a great deal, it has many inputs, i bet about 5-6 svideo inputs including the Front Svideo/AVjacks.

3) Some other features may be what kind/how many Digital inputs there are (Kenwood has 2Coax and 2 Optical inputs). Maybe some DSP modes (Kenwood doesnt have any, but i find the DSP-sound sound less natural).

4) Mains are usually not powered, the only powered speaker should be the subwoofer. 100Watts is quite enough.

I dont know much about higher models of DVD players, and not much about speakers...

------------------
A NEW DIMENSION to MP3... Bring life to your stereo system, your computer speakers, your home theater system, any size, any amount of speakers, these high-bitrate MP3s will bring life to your system:

MP3FX - CLICK HERE

Check it out... No matter how good or bad your speakers are, this will give sounds you never thought yout $8 computer speaks could put out!
electronix_kid is offline  
Old 09-02-00, 10:33 PM
  #4  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 2,041
electronix_kid is correct about powered speakers; only a few manufactures offer powered models (speakers w/ built in power amps). Linn and Paradgim come to mind, but these are expensive. Despite some significant design advantaves over passive speakers, powered models have never really caught on.

BTW: when you use powered speakers you connect the speakers from the line out on your receiver or pre-amp, not the speaker connections.
audrey is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 12:35 AM
  #5  
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 52
I own the Yamaha RXV995 and am too happy with it. plethora of inputs and outputs, and it accepts 5.1 future format. detects dd/dts without hesitation, solid build and runs cool through the hardest dd/dts jobs...

am also using PSB Image 5T towers, Image 2B bookshelf as surrounds and Image 9C center channel. I'm far from saying the RXV995 and PSB combination as the greatest, IMHO but it should provide a lasting and nice HT/music experience considering for its monetary value...

Just my opinion ....
Idisappear is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 03:50 AM
  #6  
Cool New Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 41
audrey: the new Wegas offer the equivalent of the squeeze trick as a menu option, so I switch between 16:9 and 4:3 depending on whether I have an anamorphic title in.

I'm still unclear on the wattage output of receivers and speakers. If a front speaker has an output greater than 100W, will I need to purchase an amp as well? I haven't seen many front speakers with outputs of less than 100W each.
Sabs is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 05:12 AM
  #7  
pmf
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 78
Sabs:

As Audrey says, don't get too hung up on 'power', it's all relative esp. with the ambiqious rating system most manufacturers love to take advantage of by playing the fine print words game.

When you said 'power' in speakers should actually be 'power rating' and even that doesn't hold much ground in real world situation. Yes, if all else equal a speaker with higher power rating may be able to take more power than one with lower rating but that does NOT necessarily means that it would play louder esp if the other speaker has higher efficiency. On the other hand if you are to have clipping/distorted signal feeding them then chances are either one will survive disregard their power ratings.

For comparison sake most reputable brand speakers of bookshelf size or larger should have power ratings close to 100w and would work for most consumer graded receivers since most receiver manufacturers exaggerate on wpc outputs esp. with all 5 channels driven simultaneously. In situation like this it's actually more important to get a receiver that can output the power (which translate to volume depending on again, speaker efficiency as well as other intangibles such as room size, acoustics, etc.) cleanly without clipping.

That's why the best audition one can do in audio equipement shopping is to do it in your own environment.

PF

pmf is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 05:49 AM
  #8  
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 186
Speakers that have it's own amplifier built in are called powered or active speakers. There are relatively few out there. An eg: Paradigm Reference Active 20
They don't need external amps to drive them. They need a pre-amp output from the receiver or the preamp, usually in the form of a RCA jack, to carry the unamplified signal to the power amp inside the speaker. Therefore, there is no speaker cable.
Then....there are speakers that have built-in subs. They have an amp to drive the subs, but still need external amplication to drive the rest of the speaker.
Most commonly, speakers are unpowered. They need power (from a power amp, or a receiver, or an intergrated amp) to drive them.

Most A/V receivers today have 80w x 5 channels or more. And that is plenty. DD and DTS with lots of power is easy to get. But there is so much more to quality sound than just power. Power is cheap. A well-built chassis, heavy transformers, quality parts are not. Still, budget models from Sony, Kenwood, JVC, Technics, and Pioneer do provide satisfying HT performance for many people. But if you want to go higher, check out offerings from NAD, Marantz, Denon, Onkyo or Yamaha.

Power handling of a speaker is just that....how much power it can take before damage occurs. But how much power it's getting from an amp is a function of its sensitivity, how loud you're driving them, and the type of music you're playing. I have always regarded this spec "useless" because every speaker I have owned are sensitive and I never use them at concert levels. Popular brands such as Paradigm, Mirage, Energy, Mission, Polk, Definitive Tech, Infinity and PSB are generally sensitive, and therefore do not require much power to play loud. If your room is like most living rooms, 80w x 5 is enough. All of these brands are popular because they all offer good bang for the buck and you can't go wrong with any of them. But the most important part of buying, especially speakers, is to listen to them. I cannot stress this enough. Ignore the specs and trust your ears.

Are you sure you want front speakers that have built-in subs? Because this really limits your choices. Separate fronts and subs perform every bit as good, if not better. A separate sub will also give you more flexibility in placement. And..what if you want to buy a bigger sub one day, but you like the sound of your fronts? Or the other way around....you like the bass performance, but you're tired of the midrange and treble? I strongly recommend buying them separately.
Receiver recommendation: Marantz. Because they sound good, they're made with quality parts, and they look sexy.
Speaker recommendation: Mirage FRX series

Please consider these recommendations as starting points only. Remember, you will learn more about speakers in one day of testing than one week of reading posts here.
Lush is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 06:01 AM
  #9  
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 186
Sorry for the spelling mistakes.
What I have forgotten to explain was why 80 watts/ch is enough. I am estimating that at moderate levels, with sensitive speakers (90db or more), you will use on avg no more than 15 watts. With loud bass transient, it might go to 25 watts. Can other supports this estimate? It's just that I have tested many small British integrated amps rated at 50watts or less and they all had more juice than I needed.
Lush is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 08:01 AM
  #10  
Cool New Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 41
Thanks, you've really cleared things up. I always thought it was strange that some subs are rated at 1000W+, as the power consumption would be enourmous if that were the case. I know that I won't be needing the ability to play at very high volumes, so it sounds like an amp will not be necessary for me.

I think the best thing for me to do is visit a Hi-Fi shop and hear for myself, even if I do end up buying online.
Sabs is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 01:49 PM
  #11  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 2,041
One nice feature, which has not been mentioned, is THX re-equalization circuitry (many brands offer a similar circuit under a different name) to tame harsh soundtracks. IMO, Re-Eq does a much better job than you can achieve with tone controls (or even an equalizer) and is far more convenient.
audrey is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 04:20 PM
  #12  
pmf
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 78
Sabs:

One other word of advice. Try NOT to audition at your local B&M store and then turn around to buy online. Unless the store is so snobby not to work out some kinda package discount with you at all or if it doesn't carry the brand you want (but then the audition wouldn't make much sense either). Some people may just go browse and listen on during other customer(s) audition without taking up the salesperson's time. Whether this is considered service rendered is still debatable.

Yes, for an average living/HT room 80w/ch will be enough but that also depend on how these specs stack up when all 5 channels are driven simultaneously. In general, entry level brand/models like Sony, Pioneer, JVC & Kenwood receivers will give you may be 50w/ch the most with all channels driven even though their spec may say 100w x5. While higher level brands/models (Sony ES, Pioneer Elite, Marantz, HK, Denon, NAD, Yamaha & Onkyo, etc) tend to have more conservative ratings and can often deliver what they claim.

If you are to go with an entry level receiver but need to play them at loud level either as your preference or room size you may want to match it with more efficient speakers (those give higher db's e.g. Klipsch) 'cause you don't want to drive the receiver to clipping. On the other hand, if you don't need high SPL or can go with one of the higher level brands/models receivers most speaker brands mentioned earlier by Lush will work out fine.

Have fun shopping.

PF
pmf is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 06:29 PM
  #13  
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 52
even if you buy online, definitely audition the speakers that you are interested in. i know there's a lot of ongoing debate regarding the ethical side of this, but if you really talk to the sales people of the B&M stores they'll always be able to tell you how a guy would come to the store and spent 20k just like that. my point, there's always this unique market segment of buyers that will always make that retail purchase regardless..

audition-audition-audition...a good B&M store will always acommodate you...


------------------
---I_disappear!----
Idisappear is offline  
Old 09-03-00, 08:18 PM
  #14  
Cool New Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 1999
Posts: 41
I value the help of a sales associate just as much as the next person. I work in sales myself, but I'm not paid on commission. I have purchased at Ultimate Electronics/Audio King before, and knowing the associates are paid by commission, I'm okay with spending a little extra money for the help of a store's sales staff. Although I purchase most of my electronics online, it is because I already know what to expect. If not, I visit retail stores. From there, it all depends on how the retail store is able to accomodate me.
Sabs is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.