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Home Theater System

Last response: in Home Audio
February 4, 2009 7:39:03 PM

Ok, im not sure this is where i need to post this but,

I need to get two home audio systems, like this:

one is for a budget home theater, the other i money is no object.
i really wanted something that was 7.1 or more surround sound, although the budget system doesnt have to be that big.

for the audio system with no budget, the speakers will be paired with this tv:

any suggestions are welcome

More about : home theater system

February 5, 2009 2:12:27 AM

No budget restraint?

Do you really mean that?

If so, there are a lot of choices. What (honestly) is your budget - $5k? $6k? $2k? $20k? One option that gets quite good reviews is this setup: The 7.1 config with a PB13 ultra sub (I hope you don't have back trouble - that's a 150lb sub) is an incredible combination.

Alternatively, there are other options from a wide variety of manufacturers. The ideal would be to get to a fairly high end audio store and listen to some speakers yourself to chose, but there are definitely some options that are a good consideration. One example is B&W - I'm quite partial to their 700 series floorstanding speakers, and their 703 or 704 models ($3200 and $2400 per pair, respectively) would make stunning mains. Add in some nice surrounds, and a good Velodyne or SVS sub, and you'd have an even better sounding setup than the SVS above. All would wipe the floor with the bose setup you linked to. Of course, with any decent setup, you need a receiver too - I have a Denon 2808 and love it, and I would highly recommend Denon. Onkyo is also excellent. The Denon AVR 2809CI (the successor to my 2808 model) goes for around $1200, and the Onkyo TX-SR706 goes for around $1100. Both are excellent. Moving slightly up the ladder, there's also the Denon AVR 3808CI for $1700 and the Onkyo TX-SR876 for $1800. Other manufacturers are good to - don't discount others, but I've had personal experience with the ones I've mentioned here (Denon, Onkyo, SVS, Bowers and Wilkins), and found all of their products that I have used to be excellent.

As for the budget setup, again, what is the budget? For a fairly low budget, a full set of these runs fairly cheap:
Admittedly, for any kind of bass, they desparately need a sub (something like this: With the sub and speakers linked, a full 7.1 setup would run around $1229, or about the same as the Bose setup you linked to. However, they would run circles around the Bose for sound quality. Again, an amp is needed, and again, I would recommend Denon or Onkyo. The Denon AVR 689 is excellent for around $400, and Onkyo has the TX-SR506 for around $380. If this roughly $1600 setup is still too much, you can get a decent setup for cheaper. It'd be nice to know exactly what kind of budget range you're talking about for better recommendations.
February 5, 2009 3:42:35 PM

for the non budget system that is exactly what i mean. No budget. any price is fine. But, i dont want a system just because its expensive. i want the because they sound Superb.

for the budget system, i would like to spend about 1500-2000 dollers for a tv, maybe 600 for sound system, and then im going to have a media center pc for each of these, but thats extra.

What is a receiver? how do you use it in the tv-sound system set up. also do any of the systems you mentioned have amplifires? you mentioned that an amplifier would probably be necessary.

Newegg has some Onkyo sound systems, are any of those ones that you would suggest for the budget system?
Related resources
February 6, 2009 4:08:13 AM

The receiver is a multifunction unit, though its main purpose is the amplifier. As for the Onkyo systems on newegg, I wouldn't know how they sound. I've only ever heard/worked with an Onkyo receiver, not their speakers. For $600, the selection is definitely somewhat limiting. Those Onkyo setups probably wouldn't be too bad though. Alternatively, you could go for the SVS 5.0 channel SBS-01 setup, which wouldn't be that great at bass, but probably quite a bit clearer in the higher frequencies, and just upgrade it with a subwoofer at a later point in time. You still need a receiver for that though, and the cheapest good 5 channel receivers I know run around $250-$300, bringing the initial cost up to $900 or so for this route. Also, if you like bass, these may be somewhat less satisfying than the Onkyos, because even though they would be noticeably clearer, they do sacrifice bass response to do so, and they only reach around 70Hz or so at their lower limit.

For the high end setup, if you truly mean that there is no price limitation, the best speakers I have ever had the joy of listening to (and I do mean joy) are the Bowers and Wilkins 800 series floorstanders. I have heard both the 802D and 803D speakers, and they truly make any other speaker I have heard sound like a joke. However, they are big (>100lb), expensive ($9k per pair for the 803D, $14k per pair for the 802D), and require a more powerful and expensive amp to get the most out of them. If you really want to be looking in this price range, then there is quite a bit available, and I recommend finding a high end audio store and auditioning speakers for yourself. There really is no better way - some people prefer a slightly different sound to others, and different brands of high end speakers provide slightly different sounds. I would probably go with SVS for the subwoofer though - their PB13 Ultra sub gives up nothing to far more expensive subs, and you could run a pair of them for the price of a single Velodyne Digital Drive 15 (another fine subwoofer). Paradigm makes some excellent speakers as well (from what I hear), although I've never heard them in person. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of hearing main speakers yourself before buying though. It really is the best way to guarantee happiness with your purchase.
February 6, 2009 4:23:54 PM

ok, I will check out Onkyo receivers. how do you tell how powerful a receiver is, other than picking out one that is really expensive. also, what am I looking for in a subwoofer? how can i tell from just reading a spec sheet that this subwoofer is better than another. also, do I really need a receiver if I am hooking this tv/soundsystem up to a computer? does it go in between the computer and sound system/tv. Thank you so much for your help, this is some great information. I will try to get by a sound store sometime soon.

also, if i were to say.. get three of the 802d speakers, how would i set that up. can i still buy like a 5.1 audio system (receiver/computer) and hook it up to x-amount of ports, or do i have to get a system (receiver/computer) that will only drive those three speakers.
February 6, 2009 6:52:30 PM

The power is in the specifications - if you look at the website, the specs are right there. For example, right here on Denon's website, you can see that their AVR 4308CI is good for 140 watts per channel, and 7 channels. I have to run now, so I'll add a longer reply in a bit (I have to get to class).
February 6, 2009 8:20:01 PM

OK, so to respond to the other questions...

For subwoofers (and speakers in general as a matter of fact), the specs are only useful for a very basic comparison. They are not anywhere near enough to determine which is the better one, especially as the method of rating a subwoofer's specs varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. The best way to do it is reviews and listening - I recommend SVS and Velodyne because I have heard both, and they are both excellent. SVS gives a better value, hence my recommendation for their PB13 ultra.

You do need a receiver for the system pretty much regardless - in the case of hooking it up to a computer, the cables would go from the computer to the receiver to the TV and speakers. All modern receivers can take HDMI as well, so if your computer supports HDMI out with sound, you could just plug one HDMI cable from your computer to the receiver, one from the receiver to the TV, and the receiver would do the job of stripping the audio off of the signal and sending it to the speakers (along with all of the amplification).

Next, for the question about the 802Ds - what do you mean by 3? They aren't really designed as surrounds, nor are they designed to be a center speaker, so even if you decide to go for this, I would just get one pair of them (for the front left and front right). Bowers and Wilkins makes a center speaker designed to pair with these called the HTM1D. This is sort of like an 802D on its side, so it easily fits below the TV without blocking the image. For surrounds, there are other speakers designed for that purpose, such as the DS8S. However, as I said, I am partial to the high end Bowers and Wilkins. Other people like the sound of other speakers, and that is why it is so important to hear them before buying if possible. Also, don't shy away from listening to lower end speakers as well. You might be perfectly happy with something like the 703 or 704 that I mentioned above, and if you are, there's no reason to spend 5 times as much for the 800 series speakers. Also, take your own CD to listen to - that way, you know what it should sound like, and what you like. Listen for a decent amount of time, and listen to as many speakers as you can. This really is the best way to guarantee happiness with your final decision.

Oh, and receivers are perfectly happy driving fewer channels than they have. I have a Denon AVR 2808CI (7 channels, 115 watts per channel) driving a 2.1 setup right now (a pair of Bowers and Wilkins 685 mains, with an SVS 16-46 PC-plus subwoofer). At some point, I'm hoping to upgrade to full surround, but for now, this setup is working great. As I said, the brands I'm recommending are ones that I'm using right now, and I love them. Specs alone are not sufficient (although for receivers and amplifiers, specs do a much better job of describing the quality than they do on speakers - there is less variation in sound quality between amps than there is between speakers).

Oh, and if you do get to a decent high end store, don't let them talk you into spending too much on cables. A decent speaker cable should not be a tremendously expensive device, and if they are trying to sell a $500 cable to you, it is not worth the money.
February 7, 2009 3:53:42 PM

LoL ok ill remember that about the cables. one more quick question. If i am buying speakers individually, how do i tell which one go's where? like you said you have a 2.1 setup, well lets say i purchased 4 seprate speakers, how do i choose which one goes in front, or on the left and so on?
February 7, 2009 11:04:59 PM

Typically, the biggest, best, and widest range speakers go on the front left and right. Center speakers tend to be designed to be low profile so they can fit easily below or above a TV. As for surrounds? You can use whatever seems like it would work in your room, though typically they are smaller, easier to position speakers than the mains. If you really wanted though, you could do ridiculous speakers all around though - there's nothing inherently bad about that (aside from convenience and cost).

For example, look at this image:

You can see that in this demo setup, there are 800D speakers (similar to 802Ds, but slightly bigger and they extend slightly deeper due to larger main cones) not just for the front, but also for the surrounds. That is a fairly uncommon setup though, mostly due to the extreme cost and difficulty. Besides, the surrounds are usually used for ambient sounds and a few effects rather than primary dialogue or music, so on a limited budget, it is usually better to sacrifice somewhat on the rears to get better fronts.
February 8, 2009 5:36:53 AM

Ilovebarny, on your low budget setup where are you putting the system and how big is the room?

If you don't want to do much wiring like myself and your living room is not that big, I would recomend the Niro Nakamichi or anything similar. That is where the budget is going, is it not?

I'm assuming you are going to put your un-budget to your basement as a Home theater. You should speak to a Axiom representative as they are very helpful to asist you. They have good service and good reviews on their products . One other thing to go with their recomemdation is that if you're not satisfied, they will try to do their best to make you happy on your project, they might even send somebody to asist you setup your equipment.

If you are to spend that much cash then I would suggest get someone and maybe spend a little on your basement for soundproofing or/and acoustically design for your entertainment room. You may end up spending less on your audio equipment.

As cjl recomended the SVS units are good you should to speak to them too.

I was thinking of replacing my old equipment last year but I end up spending my cash on my vehicles. :( 
February 8, 2009 7:12:16 AM

I have heard good things about Axiom. I've never heard their speakers in person though, so it's hard to say.
February 9, 2009 5:56:14 PM

sorry it has been a couple of days since i checked this thread, i was busy over the weekend. The budget system is for a friend, and it will be in his living room (i think). the non budget system is for my family, and it will be upstairs in the "rec room", which is about 20 by 20 (not exact, just its over the garage and thats about the size it might be, we havent built the house yet). we live in the south eastern side of the US, so we dont have basements.
February 12, 2009 5:01:37 PM

cjl said:
I have heard good things about Axiom. I've never heard their speakers in person though, so it's hard to say.

I never heard of SVS in action myself but the specs are pretty good. What I like about the Axiom is the low power requirements, at 10 Watts even a mini system can play those speakers which is a good when you play it low like at night. The SVS is also good @ 20 Watts it’s like my pass Dahlquist speakers min power req. @ 20 Watts. But B&W and other more expensive speakers, their minimum power requirements start at 50Watts where you need more powerfulful Amp to drive them.

The budget system is for a friend, and it will be in his living room (i think)

He may want to have a real 5.1 or 7.1 then. The Amp cjl suggested are good amps. Denon in particular. even their low bugget amps can be compaired to $200 to $300 more to other brands. Something to remember it that other Recievers gives more options and connectivity but does not necessarily produce quality.

It doesn't hurt to educate yourself about this area especially when it's your hard earned cash.

Things to look for: Amps and speakers.

Amps have different classifications. Class A, Class B, Class AB, Class C and Class D for Digital. Read more about these classes.

THD = low (avg = .07 or .08) (.05 THD are more expensive units)
Impedance = can accept very low (at least 4 Ohms or less)
Decible = should be High (87 db but higher is better)
Amperage = your speakers must be 100% or 150% more powerful than the Amp.
Amps should carry new DTS-HD or Dolby True-HD Formats.
You also might want to check if the amp can be updated.

Compare the specs of the amps you're interested in. Other Manufacturers have their specs better than others until you check for THD. Anything close to ZERO is better. Low THD is better than High Wattages - means your system can produce good sound not noise.

When you have your pick, check for reviews. Another thing to remember when you pass $5000. A $10000 system does not mean it's wice as good.

I do not claim to be an expert about this things but I share the few things I know.
February 13, 2009 6:50:24 AM

The minimum power is nice for a budget system. For a high end though, 50 watts should not be a problem at all. The amps I would recommend for something like that would be at LEAST 130W per channel, and preferably more. Keep in mind, this is for a high end. For the low end setup, I would pay more attention to numbers like that. Besides, more power is a benefit even if the speakers don't really require it. My speakers, the Bowers and Wilkins 685s, have a recommended amplifier power of 25-100W per channel (into 8 ohms). My amp can deliver 110 watts per channel, but it works great with the speakers, even though it's actually above the recommended upper limit. Also, note that even the lowest end Denon delivers 75 watts per channel.

The main reason the high end B&Ws recommend 50W or more per channel is actually because they are full range speakers, and therefore need to output far more bass than small, bookshelf sized speakers do. This requires more power, and they are able to handle extra power in order to do it cleanly and powerfully.

Also, it is true that a $10k setup is not necessarily twice as good as a $5k setup. It can however be noticeably better. It all depends on what level you are happy with, and what sounds good to you.
February 15, 2009 6:31:59 PM

The Axiom M80, Infinity Classia C336, Wilson audio Sophia Series 2, to name few, are full range speakers that required power start from 10W.

I know it's not the measured of sound quality but it prove that the speakers are very flexible. I also know that it would be a waste connecting these types of speakers with low grade amplifiers. I don't dismiss that fact.

I'm only pointing out that when you bring your amplifier on producing only 10W then speakers with 10W minimum requirement will sound fuller than one requiring minimum power of 50W.

B&W are very good speakers and so the Wilsons. The question is how much we are willing to pay to satisfy ourselves.
February 16, 2009 7:33:29 AM

The main thing to look for there isn't the minimum power though (where the heck do you get a 10W home theater amp anyways?), it's the sensitivity. By that spec, you should really look at Klipsch - they have >100dB sensitivity, so they will be the fullest and most powerful on a relatively anemic amplifier.

The B&W 803 has a sensitivity of 90dB, making them decent, though not great for sensitivity (this doesn't mean they sound bad- just that they need a relatively more powerful amplifier to get a loud volume out of them). However, for comparison, the SVS system despite having a lower amplifier requirement, actually has a sensitivity of around 87-88dB, making them quieter at a given amp power than the B&Ws. The Axiom M80 is around 91dB, making it roughly comparable to the B&Ws for a given amp, the Wilson Sophia series 2 is 89dB, making it again comparable. I could go through your entire list, but I don't really need to to make this point.

Basically, if you wanted high volume for a given amp, you shouldn't be looking at those (which would all sound about the same volume level), but rather at something like the Klipschorn, which at a rather remarkable 105dB sensitivity due to the full horn loading, would absolutely blow away almost all other speakers out there for volume off an anemic amp.
February 16, 2009 2:44:06 PM

Klipsch speakers are not a bad but its bright speakers and can be very fatiguing in long listening period. If you're into rock music then this is the speakers you put #1 on your list.

After hearing Klipsch for an hour, I can’t wait to turn the audio off, but switching to Mission speakers after Klipsch is relaxing. If you like the into-your-face felling, like being in a front row rock concert then Klipsch is for you.

Now, if you want to amaze yourself and anybody who can see it your sets of speakers then get a MaxxHorn Lumination Loudspeakers. Cool factor is definitely among the top.

Reviewers comment:
“I could make the walls rattle on the other side of the house with 7 watts...” Say that to any regular 5" driver.
February 16, 2009 6:35:23 PM

Oh, I wasn't saying they are the best sound. Just that they will give the fullest and loudest sound for a fairly weak amp. I vastly prefer the B&W sound to the Klipsch sound for higher end speakers, it just takes more power.
September 1, 2011 9:17:03 AM


I am looking for home theatre system for my new home. The room size will be around 30ft by 18ft and height 11ft. I need 7.1 or higher and i have heard of powered speakers and two amplifiers. I have no idea can any one suggest good system with breakup for speakers, amplifiers, receivers, projector, screen and other stuff required. Budget is around 15000usd.
September 2, 2011 8:44:56 AM

i believe the posts writeen by other members in this thread should give you an idea of which speakers you should now go for.
September 18, 2011 12:59:40 PM

Great advice all over but I think one other crucial part of information is your listening room / home cinema room and the acoustics within. :)  An old/cheap system in a good room sounds better than a new/expensive system in a bad room. I´d suggest you have a peek here:

Sounds Of Science
November 26, 2011 7:51:58 PM

Polk makes some nice sounding small bookshelf R150s that you can get for around $100 per pair for your cheaper system. I have a pair and they sound great for that price.
November 27, 2011 12:16:50 AM

ilovebarny said:
for the non budget system that is exactly what i mean. No budget. any price is fine. But, i dont want a system just because its expensive. i want the because they sound Superb.

for the budget system, i would like to spend about 1500-2000 dollers for a tv, maybe 600 for sound system, and then im going to have a media center pc for each of these, but thats extra.

What is a receiver? how do you use it in the tv-sound system set up. also do any of the systems you mentioned have amplifires? you mentioned that an amplifier would probably be necessary.

Newegg has some Onkyo sound systems, are any of those ones that you would suggest for the budget system?
I guess you are the 1%
December 24, 2011 12:59:56 PM

SweetSpot said:
Great advice all over but I think one other crucial part of information is your listening room / home cinema room and the acoustics within. :)  An old/cheap system in a good room sounds better than a new/expensive system in a bad room. I´d suggest you have a peek here:

Sounds Of Science

We could not agree more. The room accounts for at least 50% of the total sonic presentation. One must find speaker location/listening position that produces the most desirable balance and trade offs in overall frequency response. Side wall primary, secondary, and tertiary reflections must be minimized at the listening position to achieve a balance between the direct sound from your loudspeakers and the room boundary surfaces. Low frequency < 100 Hz. must be dealt with in any room size unless you are fortunate to have a large room with at least one 30' dimension. Rear wall reflections must be controlled through diffusion/absorption to minimize rear wall interference at the listening position. Ceiling surface treatments add height to our sound stage.

We always tell people that you can take a $3,000 system and put it in an untreated room and it will sound like a $500 system, probably worse depending on room surfaces. One can take the same $3,000 system and place it in a room that is acoustically treated and the system will sound like a much higher priced system immediately.

Amplifier and speaker technology have come along way in the past 10 years, especially speaker technology. Unfortunately, room acoustic understanding and its importance to overall sound quality has lagged behind the technical advancements in electronics. You can have the most expensive speaker in the world that produces the"best" sound possible, but if your room is not acoustically correct, you will not hear many of the sounds your equipment is capable of producing because of your room.
December 25, 2011 1:38:52 AM

no budget = Dynaudio Evidence Master
an roland amp should do the job
October 21, 2013 4:51:08 AM

There are several types of home theater systems. Each system needs special attention. But if you manage to connect your system with h-fi digital surround music system then the effect of watching movies will be awesome. To add on some luxury, you can add home theater seating and turn your living space into a mini-theater.